[Taxacom] Data query, ETC.

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed Jun 26 15:11:12 CDT 2013


John, I think you are confusing two issues; (1) is it science; and (2) is it reliable? An actual specimen is only as reliable as its label data, and thinks do get mislabelled, even by "scientists", so A specimen doesn't necessarily get you much further than a photograph. It all depends on the particular case. For me, "science" is about finding maximum information in the available evidence , be it specimen or just photograph. Also, for many taxa, verification can be achieved by repeatability, i.e. go to the stated location and see if you kind find the species again. Of course, this method doesn't work for historical distributions ...
 
Stephen

From: John Grehan <calabar.john at gmail.com>
To: Quentin Groom <quentin.groom at br.fgov.be> 
Cc: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>; "Walker, Ken" <kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au>; "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Thursday, 27 June 2013 3:20 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Data query, ETC.



Quentin, 

If science is about the method then witchcraft and astrology belong in science departments. 

I was not joking about relying on verifiable specimens to map species to be properly science. Otherwise the records are hearsay subject to verification. This is not to say that the records are not real, but just that one has to take someone's word for the record - which one does to a certain extent anyway or one would have to have a specimen for every square centimeter of a taxon's spatiotemporal occurrence. 

John Grehan 


Hi John,
people have done good scientific studies on the Loch Ness monster, yeti, bigfoot, witchcraft and astrology. These images count as evidence, though some were fraudulent. Science is about the method, not the likelihood of the hypothesis.
I assume you're joking about relying upon verifiable specimens to map species, otherwise ornithologists would have to carry an arsenal of weapons to do a simple field survey.
Quentin




On Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 10:55 AM, Quentin Groom <quentin.groom at br.fgov.be> wrote:

Hi John,
>people have done good scientific studies on the Loch Ness monster, yeti, bigfoot, witchcraft and astrology. These images count as evidence, though some were fraudulent. Science is about the method, not the likelihood of the hypothesis.
>I assume you're joking about relying upon verifiable specimens to map species, otherwise ornithologists would have to carry an arsenal of weapons to do a simple field survey.
>Quentin
>
>
>
>
>John Grehan wrote: 
>I have no problem with the comments by Quentin or Stephen in that both represent perspectives on science. I realize I am probably out of my depth since there have been many sophisticated analyses of what constitutes science. My view, for what it is worth or not, is that the mapping of distributions is science if it is based on verifiable material - i.e. records that ultimately go back to specimens. If not then its just mapping hearsay (?). 
>>
>>
>>To me, citizen science (just a trendy way of referring to the involvement of amateurs or hobbyists?) is science if their data has reference to verifiable material. As pointed out in an earlier posting, images can be very useful when brought to the attention of a specialist and if followed up by obtaining specimens which provide the empirical verification. So perhaps it is that the images may have scientific value if there is a verifiable outcome? 
>>
>>
>>What of images of loch ness, yeti and bigfoot? Do those images constitute science? Do those images provide 'data' that is open to analysis? Presumably yes, whether or not these entities actually exist. The same would apply to efforts to directly obtain such organisms or other empirically verifiable parts.
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>>Witchcraft and astrology may also involve the collection of data, analysis of data, hypotheses, and testable predictions. 
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>>John Grehan
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>>On Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 3:05 AM, Quentin Groom <quentin.groom at br.fgov.be> wrote:
>>
>>I just reviewed a great book on observational science (see http://observationandecology.com/). The best book on science I've read for a long time. It puts the case for observational ecology and charts how, in recent years, we have moved away from experimental ecology. Experimental ecology is not very useful when researching global phenomena.
>>>Mapping distributions is certainly science. There is a clear hypothesis, you collect data, you analyze it and you present your results.
>>>Citizen science is certainly science, but only part of it. It's mainly about data collection, but this is scientific.
>>>Quentin
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>Stephen Thorpe wrote: 
>>>Is it science? Yes and no! Depends on what you mean by "science". Some things aren't "science" in a strict sense, but are still worth doing! Increasingly, natural history is considered to not be science. Mapping distributions of taxa may not be science, but still worthwhile. The verifiability of such observations is a tricky issue, but many species ARE recognisable from good photographs ... others are not ...
 
Stephen


________________________________
From: "Walker, Ken" mailto:kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au
>>>>To: John Grehan mailto:calabar.john at gmail.com Cc: mailto:taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu mailto:taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu Sent: Wednesday, 26 June 2013 11:51 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Data query, ETC.


Finally John, 
>>>>images that come to attention might represent an unnammed taxon 
>>>>Correction from "might" to "have" see here:  http://io9.com/5933986/this-new-species-of-insect-was-discovered-on-flickr 
>>>>The image itself is not science as it contains no information 
>>>>In 1983, a new species of Australian bee was described as Euhesma tubulifera .  This is a short tongue bee belonging to the family Colletidae but it is an obligate feeder on the plant genus Calothamnus whose flowers hide their nectaries at the end of a long, deep corolla: see http://researchdata.museum.vic.gov.au/padil/bowerbird/2013-06-26_0930.png Undeterred, this bee species has remarkably elongated its mouthpart palps (hence its species name!) to form a fused tube resembling a drinking straw almost the entire body length of the bee itself while its tongue (ie. glossa) remained short and blunt: see arrowed length of fused palps: http://researchdata.museum.vic.gov.au/padil/bowerbird/2013-06-26_0927.png We had presumed that the bee used these elongated mouthparts to reach the deeply hidden nectaries of Calothamnus and through capillary action, the nectar flowed up the fused palpal tube to the short, blunt glossa.  Nothing more happened from the
 "scientific" point of view.

Then in 2011, a group of retired, amateur bee photographers used web-published bee distribution maps to plot a "field trip" for themselves to the other side of Australia to photograph some of these "special" bees that had remarkable mouthpart modifications.  They did not contact any of the "bee scientists" but just accessed our published data on the web.

On Nov 7, 2011, one of them photographed E. tubulifera which showed it clearly using its tube how we had predicted see: http://researchdata.museum.vic.gov.au/padil/bowerbird/2013-06-26_0935.png "The image itself is not science as it contains no information".  I think this picture does contain valuable scientific information.  The image taker had done the necessary research to maximum her chances of finding the bee - let alone photograph it.  Her photo completed the scientific knowledge circle for this species.

The image was geotagged with GPS and date data and was
 entered into our database along with a range of impressive images.

Does "Citizen Science" offer any values to "Science".  If nothing else, it is getting non-scientists to use the outputs of "scientific" research - in this case taxonomic ... God forbid!  (:->!

Ken




From: John Grehan [mailto:calabar.john at gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 25 June 2013 11:15 PM
To: Walker, Ken
Cc: Chris Thompson; Frank.Krell at dmns.org; dpwijesinghe at yahoo.com; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Data query, ETC.

Ken,

Your points are well taken insofar as practicalities go. Certainly one cannot kill every this or that organism when it comes to the larger bodied species. Where identification is regarded as fairly straightforward one might take visuals on trust, but whether its science or not might be another matter. What happens, for example, if a supposed single species of koala becomes two? All those visuals for distribution are problematic if not uninformative
 for science.

Yes, images that come to attention might represent an unnammed taxon, but then that is where the science comes in. The image itself is not science as it contains no information until verified in some way. So even though there is emphasis on 'science' in 'citizen science' I wonder how much of it is science as such.

I have a photo of a koala in the forests of Borneo. So I might say. At what point does that photo become science?

John Grehan


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Celebrating 26 years of Taxacom in 2013.
_______________________________________________
Taxacom Mailing List Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched with either of these methods:

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Celebrating 26 years of Taxacom in 2013. 
>>>
>>>-- 
Dr. Quentin Groom
(Botany and Information Technology)

National Botanic Garden of Belgium
Domein van Bouchout
B-1860 Meise
Belgium

ORCID: 0000-0002-0596-5376

Landline; +32 (0) 226 009 20 ext. 364 FAX: +32 (0) 226 009 45 E-mail: quentin.groom at br.fgov.be Skype name: qgroom
Website: http://www.botanicgarden.be/
>>
>
>-- 
Dr. Quentin Groom
(Botany and Information Technology)

National Botanic Garden of Belgium
Domein van Bouchout
B-1860 Meise
Belgium

ORCID: 0000-0002-0596-5376

Landline; +32 (0) 226 009 20 ext. 364 FAX: +32 (0) 226 009 45 E-mail: quentin.groom at br.fgov.be Skype name: qgroom
Website: http://www.botanicgarden.be/


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