[Taxacom] Phylogenetic classification? (and a masterpiece by Knox)

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Sat Jul 25 20:39:55 CDT 2009

Hi Thomas, 
      Well stated. As for "the coup de grace that this
flawed philosophy deserves", I believe that it already exists in an
excellent, 49-page, masterpiece (Knox, 1998). Unfortunately, I fear that
too few people (especially strict cladists) have bothered to read it at
all (or at least not carefully). Here are the last three sentences of
Eric's conclusions:          
      "My suggestions must seem preposterous to those who
can see paraphyletic groups only as a target of opportunity for
dismemberment in print. I regard my analytical approach as being solidly
within a phylogenetic framework, but I think that a phylogenetic
classification can be conceptualized only in an evolutionarily dualistic
framework. With one way of looking at the world, I can see the
genealogical continuity that gave rise to the enormous biotic diversity,
but from another perspective, I can look back and see the bold patterns
of phylogenetic discontinuity."              
       And the abstract to this paper is itself a masterpiece in
miniature.  You can read it at pubmed through the following weblink
(although it so compelling that I would think anyone who reads the
abstract would want to read the paper itself):

            --------Ken Kinman

Thomas Lammers wrote: 
I've said it before and I'll say it again: cladistics is a
philosophically flawed approach to classification. A wonderfully useful
method for constructing phylogenetic hypotheses and inferring past
evolutionary events has been corrupted and perverted into a
scientically-bankrupt approach to classification, by those who seek a
simplistic religious dogma to worship. I wish that I were clever enough,
sufficiently well-read in the pertinent literature, to deliver the coup
de grâce that this flawed philosophy deserves, but I am not. On the
other hand, I am not enough of an organic chemist to thoroughly analyze
the chemical content of horse manure, either. But I *do* know enough not
to step in it.

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