[Taxacom] Intuition in taxonomy

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Wed Mar 4 16:07:17 CST 2009

Hi, Richard.

I'm a little confused by what you write. I thought the Yellow button was
where you hypothesised evolutionary relationships, rather than evaluated
them - which is what your rules of thumb seem to be about.

It's possible to come up with an evolutionary hypothesis without using
*any* explicit, let alone analytical, method. In the good old days of
Eminent and Near-Infallible Specialists, I think that happened quite a
bit. Experts had hunches (intuitions) and published them.

As some sociologists of science have observed, that still happens today,
except that people do checking and evidential supporting of their
hunches before they publish, and don't say in their Introduction: 'The
other day I had this amazing insight. When I went into the lab and
checked, sure enough...'.

I don't know what the history of systematic botany is like, but the
history of systematic zoology is full of 'systems' advanced by experts
and argued about by experts who favoured other 'systems'.
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
Ph (03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195
Webpage: http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/mesibov.html

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