[Taxacom] Semantic Web: What is a species?

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Fri Jan 30 14:28:02 CST 2009

My point is that a datum, though a fact, becomes something different in
the context of a data set. The set assumes the fact is part of the set,
yet the original rejection of a particular datum as not taxonomically
relevant (at higher taxonomic levels) by an alpha taxonomist is ignored
by assuming the datum is unlinked. 

Richard H. Zander 
Voice: 314-577-0276
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA
richard.zander at mobot.org
Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/
and http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of J. Kirk
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2009 1:03 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Semantic Web: What is a species?

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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