[Taxacom] Monophyly is testable?

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Sun Apr 5 00:53:27 CDT 2009

Hi, Jim.

I shouldn't have started this as I was (figuratively) going out the
door, but:

"Find a bunch more characters" - creates new, untested hypothesis.

"...or make a prediction on a character distribution. If they tell the
same inferred story or the prediction works, hypothesis is still good,
no problem." - *agreement* doesn't test a hypothesis, there could be
other hypotheses which make the same predictions. (Apologies to Mr

"If they don't, amend the hypothesis to accommodate the additional
evidence.." - creates new, untested hypothesis.

"or explain away the evidence to retain a comfortable or elegant
hypothesis...or go and find some other evidence that  tells the story
you want..." - some of that in the literature, true.

But you've forgotten: "We tried this by three different inferential
methods and got the same result." Implied: Consensus is a test of sorts,
so our tree must be a *true* representation of history.

More in a week, if this discussion has the legs of the paraphyly one and
is still creaking along then...
Dr Robert Mesibov
Honorary Research Associate
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
and School of Zoology, University of Tasmania
Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
Ph (03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html

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