[Taxacom] Reproducibility of phylogenetic analysis

Stephen Thorpe s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Tue Jan 26 19:12:16 CST 2010


Absolutely - push the lump in the carpet down in one place, and it just pops up in another! But then, that's politics, isn't it?

Just one slight clarification of what I meant: somebody could think that cladistics invokes parsimony to find just one (best?) way to determine "clusters", but it is still all relative to subjective starting assumptions, and suffering massively from incomplete data (given that most extinct taxa haven't left informative fossils) ...

where do those darn Strepsiptera belong???

________________________________________
From: Dick Jensen [rjensen at saintmarys.edu]
Sent: Wednesday, 27 January 2010 1:54 p.m.
To: Stephen Thorpe
Cc: Bob Mesibov; phovenkamp at casema.nl; TAXACOM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Reproducibility of phylogenetic analysis

Gosh, Stephen,that sounds amazingly like the criticisms of phenetics that lead (in part) to the cladistic revolution - too many ways to determine similarity and find clusters.

The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Dick J

Richard Jensen, Professor
Department of Biology
Saint Mary's College
Notre Dame, IN 46556

tel: 574-284-4674

----- Original Message -----
From: Stephen Thorpe <s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz>
To: Bob Mesibov <mesibov at southcom.com.au>, phovenkamp at casema.nl
Cc: TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Tue, 26 Jan 2010 19:28:50 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Reproducibility of phylogenetic analysis

Objectivity in systematics is a myth, anyway! Take phylogenetic analyses, for example. It is only "objective" in the sense that anybody who starts with the same subjective character weightings will get the same end result. And if you try to avoid subjective character weightings, then trivial superficial characters have too much influence in the analysis ...

________________________________________
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Bob Mesibov [mesibov at southcom.com.au]
Sent: Wednesday, 27 January 2010 1:08 p.m.
To: phovenkamp at casema.nl
Cc: TAXACOM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Reproducibility of phylogenetic analysis

Peter Hovenkamp wrote:

'Illustrative examples are easy to find, but "subjective judgments about similarities and relationships" are not part of them.'

I disagree, Peter. The branch of taxonomy I'm familiar with is rich in papers that say (in one way or another) that the author's subjective judgements about similarities and relationships agree with those of a previous author or authors.
--
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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