[Taxacom] Data query, ETC.

Quentin Groom quentin.groom at br.fgov.be
Thu Jun 27 02:17:57 CDT 2013


Dear Pierre,
a similar program was tried in Georgia, USA to monitor the killing of 
feral pigs by hunters. Hunters had to prove their kill by providing the 
tails of the pigs they shot.
Unfortunately, this led to a trade in pigtails at the local abattoirs 
and resulted in a great over-reporting of kills.
There is a good report on it on Freakonomics Radio 
(http://www.freakonomics.com/2012/10/11/the-cobra-effect-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/ 
)
It just goes to show that even physical evidence can be unreliable and 
that scientists should always be skeptical whatever the source of evidence.
Regards
Quentin



Pierre Deleporte wrote:
> Hi,
>
> a colleague of mine, working on red deer populations control,
> refused to rely on official declarations of deer kills by hunters,
> and imposed the collection of the mandibles of the killed animals
>
> immediately, the annual kill showed a sudden "drop" of some 17 %
> this was due to previous false declarations by hunters
> (there were punished if they did not kill their quota,
> so they tend to declare more than they really killed...)
>
> now, the exhaustive collection of the left mandible
> of each and every killed animal works pretty well :
> the hunters play the game by the rules
> and their benevolent work is very useful to the scientists
>
> so I agree that proto-data become scientific when controlled by a 
> scientist,
> and the scientist is judge of the reliability of the record - and their 
> interpretation
>
> there is much more to scientificity than data quality and testability of 
> hypotheses
> (connexion with other scientific theories, scientific background 
> knowledge...)
> but this is another story
>
> best,
> Pierre
>
> Le 26/06/2013 15:59, John Grehan a écrit :
>   
>> Ken,
>>
>> No problem with 'have'. I was referring images in general. I presume that
>> the photo provides diagnostic information that allowed you to definitely
>> identify the bee species that you named. I presume that the photographer
>> did not collect the specimen.
>>
>> Your reference to the bee work illustrates my point, I think, in that the
>> complete quote is
>>
>> "The image itself is not science as it contains no information until
>> verified in some way."
>>
>> Verification is indeed the key. With that verification the image comes into
>> the realm of science. So images can have scientific value as you have amply
>> illustrated. But to analyze images alone would be problematic for many
>> organisms because the content of that analysis - the 'data' is unverifiable
>> no matter how confident one may be about what that image represents.
>>
>> Another case might be the involvement of the public in recording monarch
>> butterfly migration using the wing tags. If people just called in the code
>> I would view that information as hearsay and outside scientific analysis
>> (even though one could analyze such data). If I recall correctly, the tags
>> are turned in, and that provides the verification necessary to make the
>> data 'scientific' - I suppose.
>>
>> John Grehan
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> On Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 7:51 PM, Walker, Ken<kwalker at museum.vic.gov.au>wrote:
>>
>>     
>>>   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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>
>   

-- 
Dr. Quentin Groom
(Botany and Information Technology)

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

ORCID: 0000-0002-0596-5376

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