[Taxacom] Semantic Web: What is a species?

J. Kirk Fitzhugh kfitzhugh at nhm.org
Fri Jan 30 13:03:22 CST 2009

I fail to see where total evidence has any relevance to what you've 
said. The requirement of total evidence is not a difficult concept to 
grasp. Total evidence is not intended to solve anything. It's merely a 
principle applied to non-deductive reasoning - the sort of reasoning we 
do all the time when inferring tokogenetic, specific, or phylogenetic 

Data introduce errors? Hardly. Data have no such ability. What can be 
erroneous are our interpretations of facts via our observation 
statements, the types of questions we ask relative to those statements, 
and the inferences we make in light of those observations.


Richard Zander wrote:
> Therefore, discussing species as real or not is quite different from
> discussing a data set, and helps protect the mind set that species are
> not rows in a data set. Data sets can introduce persistent and
> problematic errors. Total evidence can be no solution when data is
> distilled and extracted and treated as taxonomically unlinked.
J. Kirk Fitzhugh, Ph.D.
Curator of Polychaetes
Invertebrate Zoology Section
Research & Collections Branch
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90007
Phone: 213-763-3233
FAX: 213-746-2999
e-mail: kfitzhug at nhm.org

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