[Taxacom] Objective/Subjective Molehills

Robin Leech releech at telusplanet.net
Mon May 31 11:06:02 CDT 2010

But, Ken, without species there are no mystical hierarchies for
us to create.

We create a genus on the precepts that all those critters we put into
the genus, say Canis, are related.

We create the hierarchical trees for ourselves with the hope that what
we are creating represents, reasonably, the actual, historical 

This was a complaint about Linnaeus - he saw things in a 2-dimensional
plane.  He was not looking back in time and down the phylogenetic tree.
Thus even though he placed organisms in this or that genus, he did not
look back and down to see the source of the cluster, say Canis and its
relationship to other canids, and canids to other carnivores.   Things
were clustered on a flat surface; there was no 3rd dimension.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Kenneth Kinman" <kennethkinman at webtv.net>
To: <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Sunday, May 30, 2010 10:58 PM
Subject: [Taxacom] Objective/Subjective Molehills

> Sorry Curtis,
>        We just have long been looking at things from a different
> perspective.  I am a top-down systematist, seeing evolution as mainly a
> very few low level taxa eventually becoming higher taxa (kingdoms,
> phyla, and classes) due to the their long-term evolutionary fitness and
> even luck, versus many other lower level taxa that become extinct over
> time.
>       I therefore find subspecies and even many species as less
> important in the long term than higher level taxa.  Whooping cranes are
> one exception, since I grew up so close to Cheyenne Bottoms that is a
> common stop-over on their twice annual migration.  Many bird enthusiasts
> concur, mainly because endangered big birds are human favorites.   But
> mostly I am more concerned with the worldwide extinction of higher taxa
> (genera and families).  There is a very distinct family of bats with
> only a single surviving species in Thailand that gets almost no
> attention at all.  On the other hand, I find oak species and subspecies
> relatively boring.  The oil spill in the Gulf might be irrelevant to
> oaks, but it is relevant to species that I find of interest, one of
> which might become a separate insect genus that in now in danger of
> becoming extinct due to the current Gulf disaster.  In comparison,
> species and subspecies "synonymies" are relativity irrelevant.  But
> admittedly the concerns of BP executives and their stock holders are
> even more irrelevant and most of them deserve whatever punishment
> (economic or criminal) that they eventually receive.  Sadly, many on
> Wall Street will get off scot free for the disaster that they created.
> Whoever can afford the most lawyers have the edge in the current world
> order.
>       -------Ken Kinman
> -----------------------------------------------------------
> Curtis Clark wrote:
> On 5/30/2010 8:34 PM, Kenneth Kinman wrote: >         Anyway, if you
> spend too much time on trivial semantics, you miss the bigger picture.
> What is this, International Everything That's Not Important To Me Is
> Garbage And The People Who Work On It Are Assholes Week? I hate to be
> the one to break it to you, Ken, but a lot of us are capable of working
> on and thinking about more than one thing at a time. And it seems ironic
> that you should complain about people wanting to converse accurately
> about biodiversity (yes, it's true, we don't just make up the names,
> they are tied to the actual diversity of organisms) when it seems that a
> lack of accurate communication about the functional state of the blowout
> preventer led to the BP disaster.
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