[Taxacom] Inappropriate accuracy of locality data

Bob Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Thu Dec 2 17:32:30 CST 2010

Hi, Dean.

Happy to hear your views. I also come from an experimental background: my PhD is in biochemistry. My training in chemistry emphasised that you never, ever blindly used the numbers coming out of a measurement - you *always* used judgement to adjust

- the individual values obtained, if those were to be reported
- the mean and error, if those were to be reported

Seeing meaningless figures in a result was a sign that the analyst, or author of a paper, thought that more numbers was more scientific and did not understand error theory.

The one reason I ever keep 1 more significant figure than is justified is if the numbers are being used in further calculations. The final result of those calculations is then rounded off to the 'significance' of the input number with the smallest number of significant figures.

I'm not aware that lat/long locality data are used for further calculations, and if they are so used, any calculations must be adjusted for the known or implied uncertainties in the positions.

For more, please see
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/?articleID=570

More information about the Taxacom mailing list