[Taxacom] Alienating the general public

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Fri Jul 24 21:38:52 CDT 2009

Hi Stephen, 
      I am certainly not in favor of alienating the public
("town vs. gown") by using technical terminology for its own sake (or
just to impress others), especially in an inappropriate forum. However,
the name Metazoa is just borderline technical, and has been in use since
the 1870's in a wide variety of popular publications (as wel as being
taught in many of our science classrooms). Still, I have not seen any
public outcry over its use. Metazoa very commonly occurs in general
purpose (non-technical) dictionaries. 
        If you want to alienate the public, you'd have
much better luck using something like Class Sauropsida for the reptiles,
instead of Class Reptilia, just because the latter is paraphyletic. And
furthermore, this would alienate a lot of biologists at the same time.
Try doing a Google Scholar search for Sauropsida. It only gets about
1,220 hits, whereas Reptilia gets over 71,000. And that disparity is
just among scholarly publications. Good luck finding Sauropsida (or
sauropsid) in many dictionaries either. And the name Sauropsida was
proposed almost a century ago, so it's not like it hasn't had enough
time to gain the general acceptance that Metazoa has.  Even though both
are clearly clades, Metazoa has gained widespread acceptance while
Sauropsida has not.  Sauropsida is not even widely used by scholars
(much less the general public), so it is far more alienating to a whole
lot more people.

More information about the Taxacom mailing list