[Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

Wolfgang Wuster w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk
Wed May 15 17:45:01 CDT 2013


On 15/05/2013 23:14, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
> 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.

See, that's something I would oppose - if he does at some point produce 
a "proper" description in a journal not controlled by himself, then it 
should stand just like anyone else's.

> 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 ...

That's fine in principle, but I just don't think it is compatible with 
human nature. That's partly because the concept of "discovering a new 
species" is centered on naming it (I suppose could be amenable to 
modification in terms of the vocabulary used in connection with 
biodiversity discovery), but also because as humans we attach great 
importance to names - it's just the way we are. If species had numbers 
rather than names, then I don't think anyone would get emotional about them.

On the other hand, Doug Yanega's imaginative and insightful suggestions, 
particularly the idea of a community-based step-by-step LAN system, 
would potentially be able to address many of the issues raised here 
without impinging on the freedom of the majority of taxonomists 
unaffected by vandalism. The current system *is* unfair towards those 
working on affected taxa.  What those of us involved in the Kaiser et 
al. paper want more than anything else is to stimulate a discussion that 
involves thinking outside the box to find solutions to an old problem 
while ensuring that these solutions do not disrupt or hinder the work of 
others.

Wolfgang

-- 
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
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