[Taxacom] EOL announces call for 'research wishes'

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Sun Sep 2 16:42:50 CDT 2012


Hi Dan,       Yes, it is discouraging how much a society such as ours spends on sports as a spectacle, and relatively little on conservation of species and their habitats.   I saw on the news a hugely expensive new stadium in Texas, not for professional football or even college football, but for a High School.  I recently watched a debate on PBS on whether college football should be banned.  The team arguing in favor won pretty easily, but I guess not many football fanatics would show up at a PBS debate:  
http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/intelligence_squared/2012/05/ban_college_football_how_buzz_bissinger_and_malcolm_gladwell_won_the_slate_intelligence_squared_debate_on_may_8_.html ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Date: Sun, 2 Sep 2012 10:46:12 -0300
> From: dlahr at ib.usp.br
> To: stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
> CC: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] EOL announces call for 'research wishes'
> 
> 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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