[Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology

Raymond Hoser Snakeman Snakebusters Reptile Parties viper007 at live.com.au
Wed May 22 01:25:19 CDT 2013

Doug, I am quite alarmed at certain parts of what you have

1 – You seem to have accepted the demonstrably false and
evidence free claims of Kaiser et al. (better known as Wuster et al.) as fact. My
earlier post here showed this was not the case. Their blog, as it best
described, published in a journal one of the authors is an editor at, bypassing
effective peer review and editorial control or ethics, is a collection of lies
and false statements.  The preamble
stating evidence based, peer reviewed papers are the acceptable medium is not
disputed and has not been by anyone in the recent past. However their hate claims
against myself are bereft of any evidence and therefore must be rejected,
especially noting two of the authors, including Wuster himself have openly and
publicly condemned Hoser papers without reading them!

On that basis much of what you wrote fails.

Doug, you also seem to accept the demonstrably false claim by
Wuster here, of widespread support for the Wuster et al. / Kaiser blog from the
wider herpetological community when the evidence is in fact to the contrary,
(beyond the statement of the undisputed obvious in the preamble).

By way of example, Australia’s three pre-eminent herpetological
taxonomists, Shea, Wells and Cogger are unanimously opposed to the Wuster et al
blog. The ASH refused to make a resolution against Hoser and Wells, contrary to
the false claims by Wuster et. al.

You have confirmed also herein that the ICZN has not issued
a statement in support of the blog and yet Wuster and co have repeatedly stated
publicly this is the case!

So you know yourself, that Wuster and co are habitual liars.

Again, on that basis much of what you wrote fails.

Doug, you write here with tacit acceptance of the false
claims of taxonomic vandalism by myself and others deemed like by Wuster et al.,
and including all non-peer reviewed works and names from the 1800’s including
the likes of herpetological taxonomist Fitzinger and others, who have already
seen some of their many names superseded by junior synonyms of the Wuster gang,
causing unprecedented instability and the need (sooner or later) for the ICZN
to waste time and effort ruling on each and every name that the Wuster gang
seek to usurp by way of submission to resolve issues of stability and priority.

Notwithstanding the tacit acceptance by you here of the
false claims of taxonomic vandalism, I am also astounded at your tacit support
given here for stepping outside of the zoological code and effectively
expressly supporting the taxonomic and nomenclatural vandalism and all the
instability it causes, by the Wuster gang. 
This is even more alarming, noting that if the central claims of Wuster
et. al were correct, (that is my taxonomy is all wrong and “evidence free” ...
OK we’ll ignore their counter claim I have engaged in “mass harvesting of unnamed
clades”) the code deals properly with the issue via the laws of homonymy, and priority,
resulting in synonymy of any indiscriminate taxonomic “mass renaming” as
alleged by Wuster et al..

You have also side-stepped the central critical issue of the
correctness of my taxonomic papers of the last 12 years, noting that all taxonomic
decisions are based on robust evidence and that the obvious and real fear of
the Wuster gang is nothing more basic than a dislike of the idea that they will
have to use the “Hoser-names” for valid taxa and groups first named by the man
they have declared war against for the last 15 years.

The correctness or otherwise of my recent taxonomy is the
only issue Wuster and the gang and others should be interested in, as the code
deals more than adequately with both alternatives.

In summary, do you honestly support the mass destabilization
of herpetology (and in turn wider zoology) caused by the indiscriminate renaming
of hundreds of taxa as advocated by the Wuster gang, (including the serious
acts of vandalism I noted in an earlier post here, to which you have  not bothered commenting on) noting that this group
includes taxa named more than 12 years ago and includes names now widely in use
and noting that to do so is a breach of the central rules of Zoology, being
retrospectively made by more than 12 years by a group of self-appointed and
unqualified “rulers”.

Yours Faithfully.

Snakebustersâ - Australia's best reptilesâ

The only hands-on reptilesâ shows that lets people hold the animalsâ.

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Phones: 9812 3322

0412 777 211

> Date: Tue, 21 May 2013 21:52:47 -0700
> From: dyanega at ucr.edu
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Paper on taxonomic standards in herpetology
> This ongoing "debate" is really starting to wear thin, and I feel 
> compelled to make my feelings on the matter as clear as I possibly can; 
> though I certainly can't claim to speak for other Commissioners (in 
> fact, I know that there are some who will strongly disagree with me), 
> maybe my perspective can help others to think a little more carefully 
> about the central issues.
> First off, all of us must acknowledge that the Code is an evolving, and 
> historical, effort that derives ALL of its authority from the voluntary 
> acquiescence of the members of the scientific community. While it is 
> true that very few people have ever directly contributed to writing the 
> Code, it has been (and continues to be) written with the sincere hope 
> that it will accurately reflect the interests of the larger community, 
> and - importantly - so long as what the Code says and what the community 
> wants are in accordance, the members of the community will continue to 
> uphold and comply with the rules the Code sets forth. When the desires 
> of the community begin to diverge from the Code, however, this leads 
> people to question the Code - to question whether it benefits them to 
> continue to comply with it. My personal feeling is that while the Code 
> should not become a proverbial "political football", subject to the 
> wishes of factions competing for influence, it also cannot be completely 
> unresponsive when very large portions of the community are dissatisfied 
> - that leads to alienation, and non-compliance. The recent amendment 
> allowing for the publication of nomenclatural acts in digital media was 
> not easily achieved - it took a long time, much debate, and much 
> fine-tuning to get it implemented - but the Code WAS changed, in 
> response to the desires of the community. How explicit was the community 
> in expressing that desire? How many actual practicing taxonomists wrote 
> letters urging the Commission to act on this? Well, frankly, it wasn't 
> anything near a unanimous statement, but here's the point that needs to 
> be made: even if the actual number of vocal individuals pushing for 
> change is only a fraction of the larger community, when the argument 
> being put forth clearly and convincingly promises to benefit the entire 
> community, and when any reasonable person can see that the non-vocal 
> part of the community is likely to support it, then the Commission will 
> take the argument seriously.
> This brings me back to the issue at hand. Several people have quite 
> correctly pointed out that the Code has always taken a neutral stance on 
> taxonomic judgment, and that this is a fundamental principle:
> "The Code refrains from infringing upon taxonomic judgement, which must not be made subject to regulation or constraint."
> This assumes that any issues the community may have regarding the 
> quality of science behind a given work, or the ethics of the author(s), 
> etc., are something that the community is perfectly capable of handling 
> on its own, without requiring the Code to back up their actions. The 
> recent paper by Kaiser et al. was, in that sense, an attempt by the 
> taxonomic community to take an action of precisely the sort that the 
> Code could not help them achieve; a constraint upon taxonomic judgment. 
> The response was quite predictable (if one ignores all the 
> name-calling): basically, invoking the Code-compliance of the acts in 
> question as a means of defense. It's too late for that, though - 
> obviously, if Kaiser and the others are taking the matter up outside of 
> the Code's jurisdiction, then any DEFENSE has to be outside of the 
> Code's jurisdiction, as well. The Code cannot force the taxonomic 
> community to recognize anyone's works, or use anyone's names, if it is 
> against the will of the community, just like the Code cannot force 
> anyone to REJECT something that people refuse to reject. That is the 
> status quo.
> That being said, however, the issue is not so black-and-white, because 
> of the larger context I spoke of earlier (the need for the Code and the 
> community to be in accord in order for the Code to have authority), and 
> because the Code ALSO has the mandate to promote stability in 
> nomenclature. Having witnessed a variety of events, debates, and 
> diatribes centered around "taxonomic vandalism" over many years now, it 
> is abundantly clear to me that the taxonomic community DOES have 
> concerns about quality, and about ethics, and people frequently express 
> a desire to have such concerns incorporated into the Code, if only so 
> that people can no longer use the Code as a shield to hide behind while 
> they undermine the work of others. Something can be Code-compliant and 
> also be disastrously disruptive to nomenclature; works of dubious 
> quality can indeed pose a serious threat to nomenclatural stability. Can 
> the Code afford to keep ignoring this? Actually, it doesn't, at least 
> not entirely: for example, one can point to internal "double standards" 
> within the Code itself that reveal attempts to achieve quality control 
> (e.g., the idiosyncratically stringent conditions for the designation of 
> Neotypes in Article 75.3, like 75.3.7). Bearing this in mind, I view the 
> present situation as one that brings different aspects of the Code into 
> conflict with one another; if a lack of regulation leads to instability, 
> or alienates the community, which one of these three competing concerns 
> really needs to be given the highest priority?
> My stance is that the desires of the community trump all other concerns, 
> primarily because if the community abandons the Code, it won't matter 
> how admirably we defend the principle of neutrality. In partial defense 
> of this view, I will also point out that the most recent edition of the 
> Code is set apart from the earlier Codes most dramatically by the 
> incorporation, at various crucial points, of the principle of 
> "prevailing usage" - the rather clear implication being that stability 
> cannot be divorced from the community consensus. In essence, everywhere 
> in the present Code the phrase "prevailing usage" appears, we have 
> ALREADY admitted that the community consensus trumps other concerns (in 
> those particular cases). Accordingly, I would maintain that stability is 
> the second highest priority. That puts the prohibition against 
> "regulation or constraint" as the lowest of these three competing 
> priorities. That does not mean that I advocate a complete abandonment of 
> neutrality! I am ONLY saying that I perceive that there are 
> circumstances where the Code, by prioritizing consensus and stability, 
> might NEED to apply some regulations - mostly in the realm of quality 
> control. Right now, the LANs are the closest thing we have to achieving 
> this objective. I believe we can do better, with the proper development 
> of ZooBank. The Code is presently chock full of Recommendations 
> (including a Code of Ethics), many of which could easily be "elevated" 
> to Article status (not to be applied retrospectively, with few 
> exceptions), with little more impact than improving the mandatory level 
> of quality control in taxonomy - which is ALREADY embodied in various 
> places in the Code, despite its subjective nature. The existing Articles 
> of this type are pretty numerous, and all are accepted, with no one 
> crying out about how subjective it is to insist (e.g.) that a neotype 
> must solve a "complex zoological problem" in order to be validly 
> designated (Art. 75.2), and these subjective measures are accepted in 
> practice precisely *because* the community accepts the premise that 
> quality control helps achieve stability. The Code and the community are 
> in accord. Obviously, expanding quality control should not be done 
> against the community's will, but I don't expect that there will be very 
> much genuine resistance; in fact, I would imagine that such an attempt 
> would find considerable support. More to the point, through interfaces 
> like the ICZN Wiki and the ICZN-list, we now have the potential to 
> interact more directly with the community, to better allow the Code to 
> reflect the community's interests - assuming they choose to express them.
> To sum up, I believe the Code (and the Commission, including myself) 
> must be responsive to the needs of the community, and I believe we are 
> better equipped now to BE responsive than we ever have been. Insisting 
> upon neutrality *without exceptions* is not responsive, when the 
> community is asking for exceptions to be made. But part of that is the 
> community needs to make its collective voice more clearly heard. You can 
> say what you like about the Kaiser et al. paper, but it is an expression 
> of that collective voice, and even if I don't agree with everything in 
> it, I'm going to take it seriously.
> 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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