[Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed May 15 17:14:14 CDT 2013

It is impossible to solve the problem. I would be more inclined to agree with you and call for a total ban against some people, like Hoser, except that the problem isn't as simple as that. There is no clear dichotomy between good and bad taxonomy. It is a continuum. I have seen too many "scientists" from "reputable" institutions publishing rubbish in "reputable" journals, and getting their mates/colleagues to pass it through peer review. The only possible solution, though it probably runs too much counter to current "trends", is to simply consider authorship of names as a mere technicality, with no significant merit to the namer. That way, Hoser can continue wasting his life on mere technicalities if he so wishes, but there would be little motivation for him to do so, and no real harm to anyone else. If he creates a new genus for every species of herp, then the names of any subsequently recognised new genera (based on described species) will likely bear
 his name as author OF THE NAME, but this is just a mere technicality, of no consequence ...

From: Wolfgang Wuster <w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk>
To: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz> 
Cc: "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Thursday, 16 May 2013 10:03 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

On 15/05/2013 22:45, Stephen Thorpe wrote:

But Wolfgang, can't you see that there is no solution here. Your veiled threats to promote the disregard of the Code amongst the herpetological community would just alienate that community from the rest of the taxonomic community, and their non Code compliant nomenclature (and associated taxonomy) would then be ignored by aggregators who are trying to make Code compliant databases of world biota, and possibly rejected by editors of taxonomic journals that are wider in scope than just herps. In effect, the herp community would become a taxonomic vandal to be ignored, and so the problem grows ...

So what solution do you propose? All we ever hear when the issue of vandalism is raised is "grin and bear it" or "we have always done it like that". Can you not see that that is simply not good enough? The latter of these arguments has been used throughout history to justify oppression and failure to reform, and the former sounds rather like the attitude of right-wing religious zealots towards rape victims ("grin and bear the rape, but you must keep the name"). Nobody in herpetology wants to ditch the Code, but there comes a point where we need to look for ways of defending our vital interests. That's not a veiled threat, it's an observation.

Moreover, I think it would be in the interests of the whole of taxonomy to pay more attention to these goings-on. How do you think the outside world will view a science whose public face, in the shape of names for high-profile taxa, is dominated by the kinds of excesses we have been seeing and discussing here? 

Dr. Wolfgang Wüster  -  Senior Lecturer
School of Biological Sciences    Bangor University
Environment Centre Wales
Bangor LL57  2UW                 Wales, UK                       
Tel: +44 1248 382301  Fax: +44 1248 382569
E-mail: w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk http://pages.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/ 

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