[Taxacom] More precise sound bite

Mario Blanco mblanco at flmnh.ufl.edu
Sat Mar 28 02:43:24 CDT 2009

obviously you are going to get something useful out of a classification. 
It will let you organize the information about the organisms you study. 
And of course everyone wants their classification to be predictive. 
That's not the point.

What I said is that no classification philosophy (evolutionary taxonomy, 
cladistic taxonomy, and phylocode) is intrinsically superior to others. 
They are all predictive in their own way. They simply differ in the 
rules you have to follow and how to interpret the final product. You are 
going to favor one or the other depending on your priorities, personal 
biases, and the way you have been thought things should be. Criticizing 
a classification philosophy by saying that "it makes no sense" to group 
or split certain taxa is a matter of opinion, not a scientific argument. 
(This is a general comment; I am not implying you said something in 
these lines).

Like you, I favor a classification strongly grounded in phylogeny. But 
that is only because of our priorities, etc. And yes, I wish the rest of 
the world embraced a cladistic classification, but I know that is 
unlikely to happen, at least in the short term.

And Mike, sorry for overlooking your earlier post. You were in the right 

Mario Blanco

Barry Roth wrote:
> I'm not sure why I would want to make a classification unless I thought I could get something more out of it than what I put into it.*  And I think this boils down to predictivity.  Because of the fact of organic evolution, the classification that best serves this need / desire will be one strongly grounded in phylogeny.  As Darwin long ago pointed out.  This also makes me more look charitably on monophyletic (i.e., holophyletic) groups than paraphyletic groups.
> *Ruling out purely aesthetic considerations.  Early in my career as a museum scientist, I did love it when a drawer of specimens was all neatly curated, and a notebook page of taxon names likewise.  You have to get it out of your system ...
> Barry Roth
> --- On Fri, 3/27/09, Mike Dallwitz <m.j.dallwitz at netspeed.com.au> wrote:
> Mario Blanco wrote:
>> This discussion is getting too long and going nowhere. Although it should 
>> be obvious, no one in this thread has recognized that classifications are 
>> mere instruments with no existence outside of the human mind. There is no 
>> absolute superior classification. It's all dependent of what your 
>> particular needs are.
> I tried to point this out (perhaps too obliquely) in a short posting on 17 
> March:
> "What do we want [a classification] to _achieve_? General predictivity? 
> Providing convenient names for things we want to talk about?"
> There were no responses. Perhaps the general opinion is that an argument is 
> more entertaining if you don't define what you are arguing about.
>> To say "my classification is better than yours" is merely a matter of 
>> opinion
> Not necessarily, provided that you specify the criteria for evaluating the 
> classifications.

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