[Taxacom] article on the decline of taxonomists

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Thu Sep 9 20:58:39 CDT 2010

very true ... taxonomists provide identification tools, in the form of revisions 
and keys, but, in the end, an ID using these tools is only as good as whichever 
is the worst out of the tools themselves or the person trying to use them ...

From: Geoffrey Read <gread at actrix.gen.nz>
To: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Sent: Fri, 10 September, 2010 1:39:24 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] article on the decline of taxonomists

What the article doesn't say is that the vast majority of organism
identifications are not done by taxonomists.  So their accuracy is hardly
the issue. In my marine biology field it is common for ecologists to
report a multivariate analysis and conclusions, but to hide the "hogwash"
layperson ids on which it was based, and hardly mention the name of an


On Fri, September 10, 2010 11:30 am, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
>> Quote: "here is no tradition of - much less a requirement for -
>> independent
>>testing and verification of the accuracy of the
> identifications that taxonomists produce, unlike in virtually every other
> scientific discipline."
> Hogwash! There is a definite tradition of keeping voucher specimens so IDs
> can
> be revisited if need be, though, in my experince, this is not often
> actually
> done. Ideally, you should be able to examine a voucher specimen from any
published ID...


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