[Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

JF Mate aphodiinaemate at gmail.com
Thu May 16 11:08:49 CDT 2013


John,

Generally speaking humans consider certain acts not quite right: killing,
physical abuse, etc. Laws are the imperfect embodiment of the desire to
minimize these negative situations. Laws can be abused of course, but your
suggestion seems to be that doing something and erring is somehow worse
than not doing anything at all. We could argue the philosophy of how
passivity doesn´t really exist (it is an active choice as well) or how
passivity has been used in the name of tyranny as well (the American South
and racial issues for example). Your experience shapes your choices but
they are not the only experience of reality out there. I accept that any
discussion on code of conduct must contemplate how to minimize possible
abuses of power, but not as an excuse for the active passivity that you
appear to endorse.

Best

Jason


On 16 May 2013 17:55, John Grehan <calabar.john at gmail.com> wrote:

> The term 'best practice' is a bit Orwellian. It is really just what a
> group of people decide to be so. Whether it is or not is another thing. I
> have seen people refer to 'best practice' as a bludgeon for imposing their
> authority upon others, as if there may be only one choice - that being the
> one someone/group defines to be so. Tyranny by another name. In taxonomy,
> as in any science, there are circumscriptions of what should be so, or
> rules are made to follow. Whether one follows such 'rules' or not has its
> consequences whatever they may be. As one list member noted, there is some
> pretty bad taxonomy in the "official' journals so these do not even make
> the effort to make sure that the 'rules' are followed.
>
> John Grehan
>
>
> On Fri, May 17, 2013 at 3:46 AM, JF Mate <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> Dear John,
>>
>> you have been variously characterized, but never as a taxonomic vandal.
>> The
>> issue is this, is there a "best practice" approach to taxonomy; if there
>> is, can it even be codified. We can all disagree on what constitutes a new
>> species or a higher unit but wholesale taxon printing is generally frowned
>> upon, so there is a nebulous idea of what constitutes proper taxonomic
>> conduct. Hard rules can be circumvented but Doug´s suggestions are quite
>> good. It devolves some of the decision making to the community at large,
>> which is similar to how the ICZN works currently, but hastening the
>> process
>> through the use of electronic media. No hard rules that can be bent or
>> used
>> to exclude minor players either (in particular if decisions require a
>> supermajority).
>>
>> I realise that there is a mechanism in place (synonymy) that can be used,
>> and it does work generally speaking. But if you are a conscientious
>> taxonomist you want to carry this out carefully, hopefully providing the
>> evidence which drives you to supress a name (OK, ideally this would happen
>> even if it often doesn´t). This methodical work takes time and you could
>> easily find that your life is devoted to cleaning after somebody else.
>> Worse, once in a while you will discover a taxon that is real out of sheer
>> dumb luck. We are still cleaning after the previous Pics, Walkers and
>> Motschulskys, anything that evens the odds should be at least discussed.
>>
>> Best
>>
>> Jason
>>
>>
>> On 16 May 2013 14:50, John Grehan <calabar.john at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> > Characterizing someone as a mentally unstable person because they have
>> been
>> > waging an "obsessive" 15 year campaign to get people not to recognize
>> taxa
>> > and names assigned by another person has nothing to do with whether or
>> not
>> > the person so characterized has a view of scientific merit. Neither does
>> > that person's financial dealings. This comes across as an effort to
>> defame
>> > the person rather than rebut the science.
>> >
>> > I have been characterized by other scientists as obsessive (or worse)
>> > simply for promoting panbiogeography and the orangutan theory of human
>> > origins so I am alert for such practices in other subject areas as well.
>> >
>> > John Grehan
>> >
>> >
>> > On Thu, May 16, 2013 at 11:10 AM, Raymond Hoser Snakeman Snakebusters
>> > Reptile Parties <viper007 at live.com.au> wrote:
>> >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > 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
>> > > herein.
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > 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
>> > > nomenclature.
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > 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
>> > > kleptoparasitism”.
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > 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.
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > EXPOSING A FRAUD!
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > AFRONAJA WALLACH, WÜSTER AND
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > BROADLEY 2009, IS A
>> > > JUNIOR SYNONYM
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > OF SPRACKLANDUS HOSER
>> > > 2009!
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > ABSTRACT
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > 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,
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > nomenclature.
>> > >
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > Snakebustersâ - Australia's best reptilesâ
>> > >
>> > > The only hands-on reptilesâ shows that lets people hold the animalsâ.
>> > >
>> > > Reptile partiesâ, events, courses
>> > > Phones: 9812 3322
>> > >
>> > > 0412 777 211
>> > >
>> > >
>> > > > Date: Wed, 15 May 2013 15:04:54 -0700
>> > > > From: dyanega at ucr.edu
>> > > > To: TAXACOM at MAILMAN.NHM.KU.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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