[Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

Raymond Hoser Snakeman Snakebusters Reptile Parties viper007 at live.com.au
Wed May 15 18:10:52 CDT 2013


Dear all, I don’t wish to derail the very important
discussions here about the Zoological Code and dealing with taxonomic vandalism
and I am reading the comments with interest.

However, it is important that I formally
divorce myself from any association with the practice as described by Wolfgang Wuster

It is in fact Wuster himself who is the
serial offender in this regard, as in engaging in taxonomic vandalism and actively
destabilizing Zoological nomenclature.

I note most recently he co-published Kaiser
et al. in a journal one of the authors is an editor in and controls and
maintains a close friendship with the chief editor, thereby (evidently) bypassing
any effective peer review or quality control and also at the same time
committing the most serious act of taxonomic vandalism imaginable, by in effect
renaming hundreds of taxa, many being placed in genera they had never been in and
to which they clearly should not be – and without a shred of evidence. Worse still
they are telling others to do the same and for any other names and taxa they
see fit (see page 20).

As noted previously, a long response to that
has been published, which everyone here should read and contrary to Wuster’s
recent claim here, recent descriptions of taxa by myself published this year did
not have anything to do with the Kaiser rant (noting it was published by them
in similar form early last year, making their call to step outside the rules of
zoological nomenclature about a year old).

I do however cut and past abstracts of two
relevant papers here, so that you can see that Wuster does not in fact have a
genuine grievance about taxonomic vandalism or the code, but is instead a mentally
unstable person who has been waging an obsessive 15 year campaign to get people
not to recognize taxa and names assigned by myself (contrary to robust
evidence), engaged in criminal activity including fabricating “votes’ to
defraud a hotel chain of many thousands of dollars (for which himself and the
others were caught out) and so on. 

With time, Wuster has lost the battle of evidence,
because the false claims were shown to be lacking in all important evidence and
in spite of countless publications telling people to never use “Hoser names”, most
of my earliest names have come into general usage, due to the evidence, and in
spite of Wuster’s best efforts (e.g. Broghammerus, Leiopython hoserae, etc) and
the Kaiser rant (probably written in chief by Wuster) is in effect his
desperate last ditch attempt to attack both myself and the Zoological Code.

Let’s be clear here, neither myself or anyone
else identified so far poses a threat to the Zoological Code or nomenclatural stability,
except Wuster himself and his co-horts.

You will see from the evidence that his
co-author Van Wallach is also a serial offender and has already resorted to
ripping off and bootlegging the works and names of other herpetologists several
times, including Fitzinger names from the 1800’s, which if allowed to go
unheeded will set a precedent that will in effect destroy any and all stability
in names that the code brings.

It is for that reason I have made a
submission to the ICZN some time ago (last year and predating the first edition
of Kaiser et al) to put an end to the nefarious practices of Wuster and his
mates (whom I might add have lied about the extent of their support) and I note
that in correspondence received so far from the commissioners, the various
commissioners agree with my position.

All the best


Abstract (2013)


The science of herpetology is built on
evidence, ethics, quality publications and strict compliance with the rules of



This is a rebuttal of a dangerous and
dishonest blog by Hinrich Kaiser and eight other renegades.  These are Mark O’Shea, Wolfgang Wüster, Wulf
Schleip, Paulo Passos, Hidetoshi Ota, Luca Luiselli, Brian Crother and
Christopher Kelly. It was published in Herpetological
Review (Kaiser et al. 2013). The
journal is edited by one of the authors (Schleip) and the “paper” evidently bypassed
all standard peer review and editorial quality control as outlined in the Society
for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR) ethics statement (Anonymous
2013a), the SSAR being publisher.

Kaiser et al. make numerous false and defamatory statements against this
author (Raymond Hoser) as part of an obsessive 15-year campaign.

The claims made without evidence
against Hoser are in fact shown to be true for the accusers.

These include, “evidence free
taxonomy”, fraud, “unscientific taxonomic publications”, “taxonomic terrorism”,
plagiarisation, “unscientific taxonomy”, “unscientific practices”,
“unscientific incursions” and “deliberate acts of intellectual

Kaiser et al. seek to break and destroy the rules of Zoological
Nomenclature (Ride et al. 1999)
including the three critical rules of:

1/ Homonymy (Principal 5, Article 52 and elsewhere), 

2/ Priority (Principal 3, Article 23 and elsewhere), 

3/ Stability (Principal 4, Articles 23, 65 and elsewhere), 

as well as the ethics of the Code (Appendix A).

They seek to do this in the first instance by
boycotting established nomenclature and the established rules in a war plan
that must by their own account run for decades (Kaiser et al. 2013, p. 20).

They then seek coin their own names for
hundreds of taxa already properly named by others and attempting to take credit
for the research work of the earlier authors. This will create unprecedented
taxonomic instability and confusion.

Their actions will effectively:

1/ Freeze the progress of herpetological taxonomy
and if copied, perhaps all of zoology; 

2/ Put lives at risk;

3/ Increase the likelihood of extinctions of
rarer taxa.

Their alleged loophole in the Zoological Code
which they assert allows them to create hundreds invalid junior synonyms to
usurp the proper names, as quoted by them, does not in fact exist!

This is because Kaiser et al. misquoted the Zoological Rules in their badly written paper.

Furthermore the repeated claim by Kaiser et al. to have the official backing of
the ICZN for their scheme is also shown to be a lie.

Keywords: Hinrich Kaiser; Wulf Schleip;
Wolfgang Wüster; Mark O’Shea; Peter Uetz; Raymond Hoser; Richard Wells; Herpetological Review; Australasian Journal of Herpetology; Australian Biodiversity Record; Journal of Herpetology; peer review; fraud;
ethics; taxonomy; ICZN; rules; nomenclature; homonymy; priority; stability;
synonym; boycott; Leiopython; Laudakia; Adelynkimberlea; Spracklandus.







Documented here is a consistent pattern of lies, dishonesty and
obvious theft of ideas by a group

of so-called herpetologists or reptile scientists, spanning more
than ten years. Wolfgang Wüster,

Donald Broadley, Van Wallach, Wulf Schleip and David John Williams
in particular have engaged

in fraudulent and morally repugnant activity. This includes
against the ICZN’s published protocols.

Between them, they have used the internet, journals they exercise
editorial control over and other

means to deliberately spread lies,
false statements and censor the truth.

On 21 September 2009 (or thereabouts), in an audacious move,
Wüster and two friends (Van

Wallach and Donald Broadley) falsely claimed in an online paper
(Wallach, Wüster and Broadley

2009), that seven earlier (2009) print publications by Raymond
Hoser (this author), were not validly

published under the ICZN rules, known as “the code”. They
simultaneously attempted to steal

naming rights for the Spitting Cobras (genus Spracklandus Hoser
2009), renaming the genus

Afronaja (as a subgenus) in their own online paper. The lie was
then spread throughout the

internet and elsewhere to destabilize and confuse existing
nomenclature for a wide diversity of

reptiles including rattlesnakes, cobras, pythons, elapids and
skinks. To maintain stability of

nomenclature, this paper needed to be published.

Keywords: Spracklandus, Afronaja, Naja, Cobras,
Hoser, Wallach, Wüster, Broadley, taxonomy,


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> Date: Wed, 15 May 2013 15:04:54 -0700
> From: dyanega at ucr.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology
> On 5/15/13 12:48 PM, JF Mate wrote:
> > "To close this supposed loophole you would have to totally redefine the
> > criteria constituting a published work (ie. Article 8), especially if you
> > would restrict all nomenclatorial acts to peer reviewed journals only."
> >
> > It seems that the issue is limited to section 8.1, as to what constitutes a
> > valid work. Adding additional limitations to the effect of avoiding
> > flagrant conflict of interests (i.e. you can´t own the journal, be the
> > editor and publish in it simultaneously) should be possible without
> > impinging too much on the varied offer of publication outlets that we
> > currently have.
> There are a number of possible solutions; to be taken seriously, each 
> has to be evaluated for a number of criteria - (off the top of my head) 
> How easy is it to implement? How easy is it to identify infractions? How 
> easy would it be to circumnavigate? How objective is it?  How easy would 
> it be to apply retroactively? etc.
> In this framework, any proposal to define the *kind* of publication 
> venue that is or is not Code-compliant is going to fail the test. The 
> criterion above is trivial to circumnavigate, as is any proposal to use 
> peer-review (witness Calodema). If one wishes to completely exclude all 
> variants of self-publishing, the most conventional method one could use 
> is to establish a formal "white list" of approved journals, which would 
> even EXCLUDE peer-reviewed journals that did not meet some subjective 
> level of quality - but, even that approach fails the tests of 
> objectivity and implementation.
> Myself, I see two primary approaches as having potential, depending on 
> how much the community wants to delegate responsibility. We could, in 
> the next Code edition, expand and incorporate the "Code of Ethics" 
> recommendations presently in the Code, formalizing them as Articles and 
> making it explicit that names published in contravention of the Ethical 
> rules are subject to suppression. Then, in addition to the present body 
> of applications the Commission receives to vote on, we would also be 
> voting on whether or not to suppress names for which the arguments are 
> convincing that the author(s) acted unethically. This delegates 
> responsibility to taxonomists who are motivated to cry foul, and to the 
> Commissioners who would then have to evaluate the claims and make a 
> ruling. In the present case, Kaiser et al. would be able to submit an 
> application to summarily suppress all of Hoser's works, presenting 
> relevant evidence, and have the Commission vote on it, citing violation 
> of the new "ethics" Articles. The problem is that this potentially drags 
> the Commission into matters of taxonomic opinion; the question is 
> whether we can phrase the ethical guidelines in such a way that they 
> address negative impact on *nomenclature*. While I agree with Neal about 
> the effective "separation of powers," I also see that there are places 
> where the overlap is enough to justify a change - e.g., if an author 
> post-2000 defines a taxon using a type specimen which they never 
> personally examined, or diagnoses a taxon as occupying a certain node on 
> a cladogram, etc., then things like that *predictably and demonstrably* 
> threaten nomenclatural stability, even though not presently in violation 
> of the Code. We could potentially make such things violations in the 
> next Code, if we take a broader view regarding impacts upon 
> nomenclature. One thing Kaiser et al. do make clear is that nomenclature 
> is suffering, and continuing to turn a blind eye to it is not ultimately 
> doing nomenclature any favors.
> The other alternative is to overhaul the present LAN mechanism, so 
> individual names or works can be added or subtracted from the Official 
> Lists in a timely fashion, rather than requiring the entirety of a 
> single taxonomic discipline to be covered in a single massive act that 
> takes years to compile, to debate, and then vote on. However, the only 
> way this fine level of detail would be practical is if there were an 
> online interface which allowed for real-time debate and used verifiable 
> IDs to allow for a democratized voting process; a taxonomic social 
> medium. That is, the Commission cannot be expected to vote one by one 
> for every name or work ever published (which is the ultimate endpoint 
> for the Official Lists), but the *community* could, if given the right 
> interface. In the present case, Kaiser et al. would submit a proposal 
> for a public vote (by registered users) as to whether Hoser's works 
> should be suppressed, and the votes would be visible and non-anonymous; 
> a minimum number of votes would need to be cast, and a specific 
> threshold of a majority would be required. This sort of mechanism would 
> potentially dovetail with the ongoing development of ZooBank, which 
> already requires unique, non-anonymous registration AND has ethical 
> guidelines in place, violation of which can cost users their privileges.
> It is my personal opinion (and, admittedly, perhaps ONLY my opinion) 
> that if we can democratize the Code without sacrificing the underlying 
> principles ("sense and stability") it's a good thing, if for no other 
> reason than a more personal level of involvement - on the part of each 
> individual taxonomist - will *strengthen* people's desire to understand 
> and apply the Code, rather than weakening it. All of the technical 
> hurdles that one can think of have long since been passed; I'm not even 
> convinced that we need to have a hard-bound edition of the Code ever 
> again. As such, I personally favor the latter approach; any time an 
> issue arises, air it out in public, and let the taxonomic community make 
> the call. The Commission would still guide and advise and clarify, but 
> at least certain types of issues would be acted upon in the collective 
> environment (and once a name is on a LAN, it is set in stone, so the 
> potential cleanup work left would be diminished, ratchet-like, with 
> every such addition). If we can have a rational and civil discourse, in 
> which the bulk of the taxonomic community takes an active interest, I 
> think we can do significantly better than the status quo, for a number 
> of issues facing us - beyond just the present topic of taxonomic vandalism.
> Sincerely,
> -- 
> Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
> Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
> phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
>               http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>    "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>          is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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