[Taxacom] RES: south-west Australia

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Sat Jun 25 13:30:18 CDT 2011


I really think all taxacomers might profit from reading Believing Bullsh.t by Stephen Law. He list 8 ways people immunize their beliefs from contrary arguments. In addition to cautioning and auditing ourselves for our own nonsense, I think certain elements characterize how our favorite panbiogeographers immunize their methods of study from our criticism.

Note here that Michael Heads says the panbiogeographic species concept is "not special." How does one criticize a species concept with such a characterization? Is it a valid species concept? Can we ever get an example?

He also says the species in diffeent groups is different. Like how? Do panbiogeographers recognize the usual list of different species concepts and pick one or the other as appropriate? Or is it something implied and unstated that cannot be discussed?

The reason no one can pin down our panbiogeographers is that their concepts are thin. They can never be strongly confirmed if they are tergiversated and morphed with every challenge. 

Law also cites a Nuclear Option: when backed into a corner, one can also damn reason itself. That is, if everyone looks to some standard, then for every -ism, that's our own trip. Hence we hear the foibles of Darwinists, cladists, and modern synthesists such that all systems of inquiry are so fraught with problems that who are we to criticize anyone else. 

I think exchanges on Taxacom are phenomenally instructive because of the diversity of foibles in thought we all exhibit, and particularly their serious critical discussion by others. The panbiogeographers are disengaged from this process, and the means are clearly discussed in Law's book.

This is not to say that Law does not indulge in his own bullsh.t. His attacks on theism fails again and again because he attaches handles (e.g. total good) to the god concept then attacks the handles, then says if there are no handles, what good is the god concept? He is also the typical philosopher who relies on reason totally, bows to science but is generally ignorant of science. For instance he says science cannot explain the creation of the universe. Nonsense. A physicist named Tryon figured out that the positive net mass energy of matter equals the negative gravitational potential of matter. They cancel out and the universe what thus created by quantum fluctuation involving pair generation in a vacuum. Voila, the creation of the universe (for more see a book by Barry Parker called Creation, cheap used at Amazon.com. 



* * * * * * * * * * * *
Richard H. Zander
Missouri Botanical Garden, PO Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA  
Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/ and http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm
Modern Evolutionary Systematics Web site: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/21EvSy.htm

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Michael Heads
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2011 7:59 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] RES: south-west Australia

Hi Richard,
 
You wrote that 'a species is still defined most generally as the basic unit of taxonomy'. This is true in the Mayrian, antidarwinian synthesis. In Darwin and in panbiogeography the species is not special and the basic unit is the character or, at the taxonomic level, the taxon (whatever its rank). 
   You also wrote: 'Suggesting that one should follow one or the other [biological species concept or darwinian/panbiogeographic species concept] is not helpful since (1) different species concepts can be most effectively used for different groups (paraconsistency)...'. Exactly: this is the panbiogeographic species concept - the 'species' in different groups are not necessarily equivalent in their branch length or degree of reproductive isolation.
 
Michael Heads


Wellington, New Zealand.

My papers on biogeography are at: http://tiny.cc/RiUE0

--- On Sat, 25/6/11, Richard Zander <Richard.Zander at mobot.org> wrote:


From: Richard Zander <Richard.Zander at mobot.org>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] RES: south-west Australia
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Received: Saturday, 25 June, 2011, 1:36 AM


Well, sure, usage matters, but a species is still defined most generally as the basic unit of taxonomy. This extra baggage refers to either process-based theories, e.g. biological species concept, or the panbiogeography concept which is vaguely defined as some step in a ranking. Suggesting that one should follow one or the other is not helpful since (1) different species concepts can be most effectively used for different groups (paraconsistency), (2) sometimes just "basic unit of taxonomy" is good enough for a helpful contribution to science. 

"Real"? What is real? Genera are not real? There are theoretic explanations that describe their evolving, so evolution is not a criterion. I think there is a lot of rejection of theoretic realities going on nowadays, and I don't mean alternate realities. 


_______________________
Richard H. Zander
Missouri Botanical Garden
PO Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166 U.S.A.
richard.zander at mobot.org


________________________________

From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu on behalf of Michael Heads
Sent: Fri 6/24/2011 12:44 AM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] RES: south-west Australia



Hi Curtis,

Panbiogeography has developed many new or unusual concepts for old ideas and terms, e.g. evolution, origin, species, dispersal, ancestor etc. These new concepts are clarified in the panbiogeographic literature, and may often be confusing if you haven't read it. For example, the concept 'species', as used by many biologists, is the 'absolute' concept of Mayr - species are real, subgenera and subspecies are not. 'The species' is the basis of evolutionary theory, biodiversity assesment and so on. Panbiogeography instead used the Darwinian, relativistic concept -  a species is not special, and is just the unit between subspecies and subgenera. Geneticists who work on speciation are now starting to use this and to question why Mayr etc. were so antidarwinian (see the outstanding article: Mallet, J. 2010. Why was Darwin's view of species rejected by twentieth century biologists? Biol. Philos. 25: 497).

Michael   

Wellington, New Zealand.

My papers on biogeography are at: http://tiny.cc/RiUE0

--- On Fri, 24/6/11, Curtis Clark <lists at curtisclark.org> wrote:


From: Curtis Clark <lists at curtisclark.org>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] RES: south-west Australia
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu, Robinwbruce at aol.com, jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Received: Friday, 24 June, 2011, 4:58 PM


On 6/22/2011 9:35 PM, Michael Heads wrote:
> You can use it in any of the standard ways and people will know what you mean from the context.
How did Robin mean it? How did John mean "null hypothesis"?

Panbiogeography can only seem esoteric, and subject to marginalization,
if it uses technical terms commonly used by other biologists, but with
different meanings, and without the differences being clarified. It's
easy for the rest of us to assume "track", for example, to be a
specialized term in panbiogeography, since it has a multiplicity of
meanings in standard English, but most of us with a biometrics
background would assume we know what "degrees of freedom" and "null
hypothesis" mean, and would only be puzzled, and I admit put off, by
what would seem to be redefinitions.

--
--
Curtis Clark
Cal Poly Pomona


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