[Taxacom] global species lists and taxonomy ( was Re: Draft Checklist ...)

Raymond Hoser - The Snakeman viper007 at live.com.au
Wed Aug 28 21:03:05 CDT 2013





Doug Yanega wrote:


“(1: Democracy) if, rather than
having a "select group" 

deciding on the official taxonomy, every single taxonomist, regardless 

of discipline, was allowed a single vote (thus, participation is out of 

self-interest, rather than requiring funding). This is probably 

technically feasible, but people would have to *unanimously* agree to 

participate AND agree to abide by the results of the voting.”


Great theory but easily abused as
seen by Wuster and Schleip with their countless bogus ID’s on the internet used
to present a veneer of support for their warped views that they do not have. Or
better yet in the over 10K votes Wuster, Williams and O’Shea as a trio got for
their “unsung hero” the convicted wildlife smuggler, David Williams in the
Accor Hotel competition a few years back, where they sought to defraud the
company of several thousand dollars.


Wuster et al, won the vote and
were then promptly disqualified for posting thousands from the same IP address
via an automated process.


Yes I can see it now in
herpetology. Wuster renames everything named by Fitzinger and others from the
1800’s (declaring their works “unscientific”) and then posts a million votes in
support, all from his hole in Wales!


I am not proposing any particular
system, but do caution against in haste embracing something that is fraught
with hazards.

 


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The only hands-on reptilesâ shows that lets people hold the animalsâ.

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> Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2013 11:27:25 -0700
> From: dyanega at ucr.edu
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: [Taxacom] global species lists and taxonomy ( was Re: Draft Checklist ...)
> 
> I'll jump in here, and re-title the thread, since no one seems to be 
> referring to the original topic any more.
> 
> On 8/28/13 12:52 AM, Donat Agosti wrote:
> > And there is definitely no cure in sight, if we continue to publish dumb, copyrighted taxonomic publications in print or as pdf.
> >
> > The creed should be: open access, marked-up publications that can automatically be harvested for taxonomic names (and more), at least new taxa being registered previous to the publications at the various domain specific registries (Zoobank, IPNI; Mycobank/Index Fungorum, etc.). The technology and business model is here (see the Pensoft publications Zookeys, Phytokeys, etc.).
> On 8/28/13 1:18 AM, Robert Guralnick wrote:
> > Its very
> > thorny, however, as it requires not just dealing with names entering the
> > system but the names, changes to names, and changes to name
> > circumscriptions eg. taxon concepts separate from the name changes.
> >
> The domain-specific registries are not designed to track name changes or 
> circumscriptions, which are subjective (with few exceptions). The role 
> of subjectivity in the taxonomic enterprise is the fundamental stumbling 
> block - and always has been - in terms of taxonomists communicating to 
> non-taxonomists, and even if we had a complete registry of every name 
> ever published, we would have no *objective* (i.e. "definitive") way of 
> telling anyone how many *taxa* those names represent, OR what ranks they 
> should be assigned to. To accomplish this we would need to create a new 
> administrative entity whose task is to (1) arbitrate all cases of 
> taxonomic "dispute" such that a single definitive taxonomy is achieved 
> [look to the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) for a possible model], and 
> (2) make that single taxonomy available to non-taxonomists via a dynamic 
> "official" interface [look to Wikispecies for a possible model, but with 
> links that allow for instant propagation of classification changes to 
> all online sources]. I'm fairly certain, however, that not only would 
> there be insufficient financial support (to engage the services of 
> enough taxonomists for this to work), but that the concept itself - a 
> select group of taxonomists coming to a consensus about an *entire* 
> classification - is about as realistic as expecting to find a pot of 
> gold at the end of a rainbow. Even the APG is still highly controversial 
> after 15 years, and that covers just one part of the taxasphere, and 
> only a subset of the rankings therein.
> 
> Taxonomists are people, and people have ambitions and egos and careers, 
> and they are collectively, intrinsically, in *conflict*; fighting for 
> jobs, fighting for funding, fighting for *recognition*. Expecting 
> genuine cooperation and collaboration, or even a unified vision, seems 
> extremely naive. I try to imagine how to get all the world's taxonomists 
> to act in unison for the common good, and even the most likely scenarios 
> seem improbable: (1: Democracy) if, rather than having a "select group" 
> deciding on the official taxonomy, every single taxonomist, regardless 
> of discipline, was allowed a single vote (thus, participation is out of 
> self-interest, rather than requiring funding). This is probably 
> technically feasible, but people would have to *unanimously* agree to 
> participate AND agree to abide by the results of the voting. Given that 
> some taxonomists refuse to accept even the premise of peer review, I 
> cannot see how unanimous participation could ever be achieved, because 
> these folks would be unwilling to have their work subjected to a vote. 
> (2: Fear) if the non-taxonomists who control the funding for taxonomy 
> become sufficiently annoyed with being told things like "There is no 
> consensus as to which family that endangered species belongs to, or if 
> it's even a species" then they could potentially consign us to oblivion 
> - and the fear of us all collectively being unemployed if we can't get 
> our act together might sufficiently motivate people (I'm reminded of 
> Benjamin Franklin's famous quote: " We must, indeed, all hang together 
> or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.") The problem with 
> this, even if it should reach that unpleasant level, is that there will 
> always be SOME taxonomists whose funding is secure, and they will not 
> perceive a threat, feel no sense of urgency, nor see a reason to 
> sacrifice their independence in order to help their less fortunate 
> colleagues.
> 
> In either scenario, there would inevitably be some taxonomists who would 
> absolutely refuse to cooperate, because the status quo *suits their 
> purposes*. The ultimate question, then, is whether - in order to achieve 
> a single unified classification of life - people would have the resolve 
> to develop and implement such a system over the objections of all those 
> who oppose it. If not, then any vision of a unified classification is 
> dead in the water, and discussion is moot. If the best we can do is to 
> simply list all the disputes, and tell non-taxonomists that it's up to 
> them to choose which classification they want to follow, then we have no 
> one but ourselves to blame for all the resulting antagonism, disdain, 
> and lack of support for taxonomy. Yes, the existence of things like the 
> APG do give me some hope, but it also highlights just how far we have 
> yet to go.
> 
> Sincerely,
> 
> -- 
> Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
> Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
> phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
>               http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>    "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>          is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
> 
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