[Taxacom] The more you know the more you lump|split.

Robinwbruce at aol.com Robinwbruce at aol.com
Wed Jul 24 14:57:48 CDT 2013


Hi Tony,
 
I am not sure if Rich called your delivery a 'wide' or a 'no ball';  
whatever, since it is an Ashes summer, I might as well take a free  swing.
 
I suppose any collectivisation of individuals must be problematic; can it  
be otherwise? Similar/different sorting? The recognition of differences 
between  individual organisms and the search for the meaning thereof- are  these 
not the roots of systematics? Arising from the empirical reality of  the 
organism in the hand as compared to other organisms, in hand, in litt.  in 
field? To me it seems that the organism must be in the foreground and in  the 
background are phylogeny/ontogeny/  
evolution/development/heredity/spontaneous generation/witchcraft/trees of  life/whatever. Once one of the background  
processes/abstractions/imaginings becomes the foreground the problems  
start, and nature has to fit an idea; what a curious notion, that we can  
instruct nature?
 
If the evidence from nature is that we should lump, we lump; if the  
evidence from nature is that we should split, we split................sometimes  
we bat and sometimes we bowl, and wicket-keep and field too...
 
Cheers
 
Robin
 
 
 
 
In a message dated 7/19/2013 12:47:04 A.M. GMT Daylight Time,  
gill.anthony at gmail.com writes:

Fair  enough points Rich - and I agree that much of the current changes  in
classification (at least in fishes) are premature - but your email  raises a
range of questions about what counts as evidence in systematics.  My own
take is that prevailing systematics has lost its way in how  we
differentiate evidence from inference (if indeed there is even an  attempt
to present "evidence" in a phylogenetic  study).

Tony


On Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 9:20 AM, Richard Pyle  
<deepreef at bishopmuseum.org>wrote:

> Hi Jim,
>
>  > It would be interesting (and fun!) to know from the Taxacom faithful  
what
> > arguments/research experiences would support either of these  two views
> > and which view they would most identify  with.
>
> I identify with both points of view, depending on the  specific details of
> the circumstance.  My own philosophy has  drifted more towards:
>
> "The more you know, the more you  appreciate the importance of 
nomenclatural
> stability."
>
>  I have always maintained that using (Linnean) nomenclature as the  
de-facto
> proxy for representing phylogeny -- except for the most  well-established
> and
> uncontroversial groups -- is a practice  that ultimately leads to more 
harm
> than good.
>
> Of  course, we have a long tradition of using nomenclature (and
>  classification through nomenclatural clusterings) to represent
>  "relationships" -- and I think that's perfectly fine.  But nomenclature  
is
> a
> tool for human-human communication that is simply not  fit-for-purpose in
> communicating phylogenies to the level of detail  that our modern tools,
> technologies, and practices encourage us to  entertain.
>
> If I were God of Taxonomy, I would impose a  commandment: "Thou shalt not
> destabilize existing nomenclature until  the evidence supporting
> nomenclatural destabilization has itself  stabilized."  In other words: 
use
> cladograms and other  tricks/tools to communicate hypotheses about
> phylogenetic  relationships until there is a robust consilience of 
evidence
> that is  stable and non-controversial.  Once the evidence is stable, and  
the
> evidence points to "relationships" that are incongruent with the  existing
> and otherwise stable nomenclature, *then* change the  nomenclature as
> appropriate (but even in that circumstance, I think  it's a fool's errand 
to
> endeavor to completely eliminate paraphyly  from nomenclatural
> classification).
>
> The gap between  prevailing hypotheses about phylogeny and scientific
> nomenclature  should be inversely proportional to the confidence in the
> phylogeny  (i.e., the greater the confidence, the smaller the gap).
>
>  Aloha,
> Rich
>
> Richard L. Pyle, PhD
> Database  Coordinator for Natural Sciences
> Associate Zoologist in  Ichthyology
> Dive Safety Officer
> Department of Natural  Sciences, Bishop Museum
> 1525 Bernice St., Honolulu, HI 96817
>  Ph: (808)848-4115, Fax: (808)847-8252
> email:  deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
>  http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/staff/pylerichard.html
>
>
>
>
>
>
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>
> Celebrating 26 years of Taxacom in  2013.
>



-- 
Dr Anthony C. Gill
Natural History  Curator
A12 Macleay Museum
University of Sydney
NSW  2006
Australia.

Ph. +61 02 9036 6499
Editorial Board, Species and  Systematics:
http://www.ucpress.edu/series.php?ser=spsy
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The  Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched with either of these  
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(1) by visiting http://taxacom.markmail.org

(2) a  Google search specified as:   
site:mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom  your search terms  here

Celebrating 26 years of Taxacom in  2013.




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