[Taxacom] Robust argument

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Sun Jun 28 08:34:47 CDT 2009


Sorry - you're in this family for keeps!

John Grehan

> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-
> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Jim Croft
> Sent: Saturday, June 27, 2009 9:23 PM
> To: Bob Mesibov
> Cc: TAXACOM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Robust argument
> 
> Indeed, but you forgot:
> 
> (0) There is a difference between selecting evidence to defend a
> perceived truth and using the evidence to derive a perception of
> truth.
> 
> Aw whatever...  I am _so_ over being a member of the Hominidae... I am
> packing up, leaving the family and going to see in the Amoebidae will
> take me in...
> 
> jim
> 
> On Sun, Jun 28, 2009 at 10:33 AM, Bob Mesibov<mesibov at southcom.com.au>
> wrote:
> > With considerable fear and trepidation, this TAXACOMer sticks his head
> above the battlements and meekly raises a couple of small points of
> informal logic.
> >
> > We're agreed that we'd like to reconstruct evolutionary history, as best
> we can. The following argument seems to have been put forward:
> >
> > (1) Because the genome is passed on from generation to generation, it
> contains information we need to infer evolutionary history.
> > (2) It is possible to infer evolutionary history using information in
> the genome.
> > (3) Morphology also contains information of use for inferring
> evolutionary history.
> > (4) It is possible to infer evolutionary history using information from
> morphology.
> > (5) Literally speaking, morphology is not inherited, so morphological
> information is second-hand data derived from a heritable source: the
> genome.
> > (6) No other kind of information can be used to infer evolutionary
> history, because no other information is inherited.
> >
> > (4) has been the basis for evolutionary inference for a long time, (2)
> for a shorter time. Many people believe that (2) is better than (4)
> because of (5), and because there is more (1) information than (3)
> information.
> >
> > The logic here needs defending. Why should (5) make (4) any less
> reliable than (2)? (I think this is one of Richard Zander's points.) How
> do you compare the reliability or resolution of (2) vs (4), given that we
> have no time machine and no other information (see (6)) that can
> independently be used to infer past events? How do you know that there is
> more independent information from (1) of use for historical inference than
> from (3)?
> >
> > I think these 3 questions go to methodological assumptions. Should these
> assumptions be taken as givens, equally reliable from group to group? It
> worries me that posters have written THEORETICALLY in caps without
> spelling out their thinking.
> >
> > I also point to (6), which is nonsense, and comes from thinking about
> organisms divorced from their geographical location and their ecological
> associations (think of parasitism, insect/host plant interactions, etc).
> (6) should not be confused with (7), which might read "It is possible to
> infer evolutionary history from biogeography and ecological associations."
> That history might be blurrier than (2) and (4) histories, but how do
> total evidence enthusiasts justify their insistence on using (1) and (3)
> evidence to the exclusion of (6) evidence? (Or is it just that *some*
> evolutionary historians can't be bothered studying all the phenomenally
> complicated, ungeneralisable facts of what used to be called natural
> history?)
> > --
> > 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
> > (03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
> > Website: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> >
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> >
> > The Taxacom archive going back to 1992 may be searched with either of
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> >
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> >
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> >
> 
> 
> 
> --
> _________________
> Jim Croft ~ jim.croft at gmail.com ~ +61-2-62509499 ~
> http://www.google.com/profiles/jim.croft
> 
> ... in pursuit of the meaning of leaf ...
> 
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> The Taxacom archive going back to 1992 may be searched with either of
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> 
> (1) http://taxacom.markmail.org
> 
> Or (2) a Google search specified as:
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