[Taxacom] Do rogue taxonomists need rogue publishers?
s.thorpe at auckland.ac.nz
Sat Jan 30 18:27:03 CST 2010
That is a sensible opinion, largely in accord with my views, in that nobody is prevented from "indulging" in taxonomy, and we just deal with any poor taxonomy in the traditional way, so, providing there aren't a million Makhans waiting in the wings, it shouldn't be a problem. Having said that, I'm afraid you've hit a raw nerve with me with mention of "publicly accessible collections", so I am going to go off on a bit of a knee-jerk rant! I don't know what the situation is where you are, but here it is pretty bloody appalling, viz.
(1) increasingly, collections management is strangling the accession process with red tape, making it cost time and money to deposit specimens into "public collections" and make them available. Who should foot the bill for the deposition of types, especially those by independent (and sometimes a little flakey) taxonomists?
(2) even in collections without such o.t.t. collection management controls, section curators typically have full operational control over what get accepted/accessioned/deposited. Some such people are really just "cladists in curator's clothing", and just don't give a damn about adding to the collection, and have the power to refuse to accept material without needing to give reasons. If they are people who bring in money for phylogenetic work that their institution can claim a big share of as "overheads", then they get the virtually unconditional backing of their institution, and the whole thing goes down hill from a collections point of view, to the point where nobody knows what types are where, and sometimes the types don't even get labelled as such, and find there way into the wrong unit trays ...
In summary: I think your idea is sound in principle, but in reality there is a lot of work to do to get the system sorted out so that this idea could actually work in practice ...
From: mivie at montana.edu [mivie at montana.edu]
Sent: Sunday, 31 January 2010 1:05 p.m.
To: Stephen Thorpe
Cc: Wolfgang Wuster; Bob Mesibov; Mark Harvey; TAXACOM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Do rogue taxonomists need rogue publishers?
This whole discussion is barking up the wrong tree. The way to deal with
names, good and bad, is to require types be deposited in publicly
accessible collections, or the name is not available. Note this is not
just public, but publicly accessible. John G. has pointed out that in
some cases, notably hominid collections, curators will not allow types to
be examined by others. That is not publicly accessible. But, if the
worst taxonomist in the world deposits types where they can be studied
promptly, we can deal with it. We are still unraveling the 38,000 species
names proposed by Maurice Pic, but because the types are in the Paris
Museum, we can do it.
This is a place the Code can act, and should. The type repositories
should be listed, not the publication venues.
And yes, not everything in Calodema is trash. Just like everything in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is not brilliant.
> Clearly, Wales must be an unusually civilised nation, where people aren't
> nasty to each other, and where everything and everybody fits into nice,
> well defined categories! In the rest of the world, some people are forced
> to publish in the likes of Calodema, because they are blocked from
> publishing elsewhere due to territoriality on the part of others who have
> more power. A local taxonomist here was even forced to publish privately,
> because the "political" situation in carabid taxonomy here is just too
> "complicated" now (something that several people have remarked to me). I
> would be very interested to know why independent dermestid taxonomist (who
> is very good, as far as I can tell) Jiri Hava has been publishing lately
> in Calodema? As I see it, the problem is precisely that there ISN'T a
> clear distinction between poor taxonomy and "taxonomic vandalism", nor
> even between good taxonomy and poor taxonomy - it is all just shades of
> grey that any good "politician" can manipulate to suit there own agenda. I
> still doubt the existence of "taxonomic vandalism" - there is no such
> thing! There are just some people, like Makhan and Hoser, to name two, who
> simply aren't very good, have poor access to facilities, but nevertheless
> are determined to make a contribution to taxonomy. One danger with all
> this is that, at the end of the day, Hawkeswood might end up being seen as
> the champion of freedom and justice in taxonomy! Read some of the quotes
> on his website:
> "All truth passes through three stages: first, it is ridiculed; second, it
> is violently opposed; third, it is accepted as self-evident!"
> - Arthur Schopenhauer
> "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre
> - Albert Einstein
> "Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the
> individual who can labor in freedom."
> - Albert Einstein
> All this is somewhat peripheral to the issue of e-only publication, and we
> can all hopefully agree that there has to be some restrictions on "what
> counts" in taxonomy, so it is not a complete free for all, but I am just
> making the point that the issue is a complex one, and peer review as it
> stands is a highly imperfect system which (1) can be (ab)used to block the
> work of genuine taxonomists; and (2) provides only a bare minimum in
> quality control, especially when it is done under time pressure, and/or
> the author deliberately manipulates the work to appear good on the surface
> (perhaps this is real "taxonomic vandalism"?)
> From: Wolfgang Wuster [w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk]
> Sent: Saturday, 30 January 2010 9:56 p.m.
> To: Stephen Thorpe
> Cc: Bob Mesibov; TAXACOM; Mark Harvey
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Do rogue taxonomists need rogue publishers?
> There is a very simple remedy to this problem: restrict new taxon
> description to a whitelist of peer-reviewed journals, irrespective
> whether electronic or paper. Among the advantages of such a system are:
> - it is impersonal - nobody is debarred form publishing taxonomic
> papers. After all, if the Makhans, Hosers and Wells & Wellingtons of
> this world can get their act together and produce evidence-based
> taxonomic papers, then those should be published.
> - it does not interfere directly with taxonomic judgement
> - availability of names is unambiguously clear - the journal is either
> listed as an available outlet or it isn't.
> While I am all in favour of allowing e-only publications to be
> available, unrestricted avaailability would simply lead to what a
> colleague has termed "blog taxonomy". That's not the way taxonomy should
> be heading. Of course that would require the world of taxonomy to accept
> the notion that vandalism is a problem (and there is a clear distinction
> between poor taxonomy and taxonomic vandalism).
> Wolfgang Wuster
> Dr. Wolfgang Wüster - Lecturer
> School of Biological Sciences
> Bangor University
> Environment Centre Wales
> Bangor LL57 2UW
> Wales, UK
> Tel: +44 1248 382301
> Fax: +44 1248 371644
> E-mail: w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk
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