[Taxacom] EOL announces call for 'research wishes'

Dan Lahr dlahr at ib.usp.br
Sun Sep 2 08:46:12 CDT 2012


Why do you argue over scraps.

50 million is irrelevant if you think about society's other costs.  No
research program has a fraction of what they truly deserve if you put
things in perspective.

Football players are being paid close to 9 million yearly, you need to
start wondering whether society is really worried about conservation
and whether we should stop arguing over small disagreements about how
things should be done:

http://www.sportingintelligence.com/2012/06/05/worlds-best-paying-sports-teams-interactive-050601/

think that the average salary of a player in the top 10 best paying
clubs is a little over 7 million yearly, and that a club (mixing all
sports) has around 25 players, the top 10 best paying clubs have spent
1.7 billion dollars last year.  You could set up 35 EOLs in a year
with that budget, or land more than 2 Curiosities in Mars in a single
year.

And even though you may disagree over how they are doing or what they
are exactly pursuing, EOL broadly seeks to create a grand human
construct to summarize and distribute the knowledge generated by us
over a very long period of time.  That is admirable.  They could do it
much faster and much more efficiently if we channeled money more
properly.

Instead, we prefer to watch football and discuss whether someone
called you an ass (in latin) or not.

Dan


On Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 5:41 PM, Stephen Thorpe
<stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz> wrote:
>>makes it imperative to have competent review of taxonomic data sets<
>
>
> I agree, but I would also add that it is even more imperative that such a review is done in such a way as to make the information verifiable *by the user*. Otherwise, databases can claim to have "expert reviewed" data when in fact they do not, or are poorly so ...
>
> Stephen
>
> From: David Campbell <pleuronaia at gmail.com>
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Sent: Friday, 24 August 2012 4:05 AM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] EOL announces call for 'research wishes'
>
>> The bottom line is that there isn't enough money for biodiversity.
>> Almost by definition, each one of us will be more or less unsatisfied
>> with where some of that limited amount goes.
>
> Also, it's hardly surprising that almost every project promises to
> provide more than it ends up actually doing.  On the other hand, there
> is a real problem in that major database projects are widely perceived
> among taxonomists as taking large amounts of taxonomic funding to
> produce unreliable, not very useful products.  In turn, these
> unreliable products are being relied upon for broad studies with
> sweeping conclusions.
>
> The perception of unreliability is not always fair.  Discrepancies
> catch our attention; things that look right don't, so perceived error
> levels will tend to be high unless actual tallies are kept.  Also, the
> average taxonomist isn't looking up standard, common species but
> rather obscure taxa, and so is more likely to come across errors.
>
> Nevertheless, the amount of poor-quality data is quite large.  The
> combination of possible misidentifications, errors, or illegibility in
> existing labels and catalogs, along with the high likelihood of some
> taxonomic changes since specimens were last labeled, makes it
> imperative to have competent review of taxonomic data sets.  Even a
> relatively automated system incorporating only new specimens can mess
> up.  I have not searched to figure out how extensive the problem might
> be, but I found a case where the wrong specimen photo was paired with
> BOLD data and found it difficult to flag for attention (both "where
> can I send the notice?" and "which of all these alphanumeric strings
> is the identifier they want?").  Not knowing how the data were
> entered, I don't know if this is likely to be a single swap or a large
> chunk of mispairings.    But anyone with a basic knowledge of
> pulmonate gastropods could tell that the photo and name didn't match
> (DNA matched the name).
>
> The only way to fix this problem of data quality is to support
> taxonomists to work on the problem.  But currently the usual business
> model is that taxonomists will do this for free in their spare time, a
> approach that tends to generate more cynicism than productive
> response.
>
> --
> Dr. David Campbell
> Visiting Professor
> Department of Natural Sciences
> Gardner-Webb University
> Boiling Springs NC 28017
>
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-- 
___________________
Daniel J. G. Lahr, PhD
Post-doctoral Research Associate
Dept of Zoology, Univ. of Sao Paulo, Brazil




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