[Taxacom] Aversion to Paraphyly (was: New systematics book

Ken Kinman kinman at hotmail.com
Sun Sep 8 12:09:19 CDT 2013


Mike,
 
     You said: "birds are reptiles, get over it"?  But for over a century after Archaeopteryx was discovered, biologists were perfectly correct in alternatively saying that "birds are reptile descendants".   It wasn't until strict cladists developed their aversion to paraphyly that they started insisting that "birds ARE reptiles" or "birds ARE dinosaurs".  It's almost as silly as insisting that "chloroplasts ARE cyanobacteria" or that "amphibians ARE fish", rather than "chloroplasts are descendants of cyanobacteria".
 
      If anyone has an aversion, it is clearly strict cladists with an aversion to paraphyly so strong that they will destabilize nomenclature (and leave valuable information out of their classifications) simply because they have been taught that all paraphyly is bad.  So those of us who realize that some paraphyly is not only useful, but often necessary for a true classification, don't have an aversion (certainly not to monophyly/holophyly).  
 
      If we have an aversion, it is simply an aversion to being preached to (for decades now) the erroneous notion that paraphyly is bad simply because phylogenetics says that it is.  And the strict cladists continue to rub it in with dumb jokes like "I bought a dinosaur to cook for Thanksgiving".  To me that just illustrates how elitist and silly it is to insist that "birds ARE dinosaurs", rather than "birds are dinosaur descendants".  If Richard's book helps a new generation of biologists realize how limiting and destabilizing strict cladism truly is, that would be great.  I encourage them to read the writings of Peter Ashlock and Ernst Mayr as well.   Paraphyly was admitted overused in the past, but strict phylogenetics has thrown out a lot of perfectly good babies with the bathwater.  
 
            -----------Ken Kinman
 
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> Date: Sat, 7 Sep 2013 17:10:25 -0600
> Subject: RE: [Taxacom] New systematics book
> From: mivie at montana.edu
> To: Richard.Zander at mobot.org
> CC: mivie at montana.edu; kinman at hotmail.com; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> 
> 
> Richard,
> 
> I was rebuked off list for engaging you with my posts on this topic with a
> rejoinder about pig singing. Therefore, it seems this is not a discussion
> that interests the group. I made a joke, you took it seriously.
> 
> To answer your questions, you do not need any response from the list.
> Please read Systematic Zoology, 1975-1992; Cladistics 1985 to date, and
> Systematic Biology 1992- to date, as well as books by Wiley and others. 
> Your points are exhaustively and repeatedly addressed therein, although
> sometimes intemperately and even occasionally rudely. However, you
> probably, actually surely, know all that -- you just don't want to accept
> it.
> 
> You simply don't like classifications constrained by monophyly. Sometimes,
> neither do I, probably at times virtually everyone feels that way. Fine,
> propose classifications that are not based thereon. No one will stop you,
> but you will be criticized by some, and many will not use your
> classifications, big deal. Suck it up and get back to work like everyone
> else.
> 
> However, this personal aversion of your does not require an entire book to
> justify not liking monophyletic classifications. Preference is just that.
> Just state you don't use monophyly. Do understand, however, your
> aversion does nothing to negate the theory or operational methodology of a
> minutely debated series of issues that led to something that is well
> established to have given us a generation of fantastic progress in
> understanding the evolution of life on earth.
> 
> Mike
> 
> P.S. birds are reptiles, get over it.
> 
> 
> >
> > Mike:
> >
> > I detailed two fatal flaws in phylogenetics, two calamitous
> > clarifications of cladistics. You replied with a slogan, an assertion
> > that "we" know all about my arguments, and can deal operationally quite
> > fine with any problems. Operationally meaning, I suppose, purify the
> > data from anything reflecting nonpseudoextinction, run it through the
> > sister-group software, and change classifications based on the
> > sister-group result.
> >
> > Can anyone on Taxacom address my two attributions of error in
> > phylogenetics? Directly? Without regressing into nostalgia?
> >
> > Philosopher of science Lakatos, in his Research Program, averred that
> > rarely must any scientist defend the fundamentals on which his or her
> > research project is based. That "rarely" is now.
> >
> > ____________________________
> > Richard H. Zander
> > Missouri Botanical Garden, PO Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA
> > Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/ and
> > http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm
> > Modern Evolutionary Systematics Web site:
> > http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/21EvSy.htm
> > UPS and FedExpr - MBG, 4344 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis 63110 USA
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Michael A. Ivie [mailto:mivie at montana.edu]
> > Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2013 6:33 PM
> > To: Richard Zander
> > Cc: mivie at montana.edu; Ken Kinman; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> > Subject: RE: [Taxacom] New systematics book
> >
> >
> > Hmmm, these arguments seem to me to be reminiscent of the logic
> > (certainly not the specifics) of the Intelligent Design refutation of
> > Evolution, in that the problems that supposedly negate Evolution are
> > actually not problems to those who understand Evolution.
> >
> > I am a "regular taxonomist" certainly not a Big Science theoretician,
> > and I don't see your issues as anything that we didn't know about all
> > along, and can deal with operationally quite fine without regressing
> > into nostalgia.
> >
> > Mike
> >>
> >> Expected comment, Mike. I got a review of a paper once that said "we
> >> solved all these problems back in the 1980's." Really? The 1980's were
> >
> >> when regular taxonomists gave up and stuck their heads in the sand.
> >> The cladists took over with their version of Big Science.
> >>
> >> It has taken this long to work out that parsimony and other optimality
> >
> >> analyses only work with accuracy with pseudoextinction (dying
> >> ancestor, two new species). The correct optimality for branching
> >> analysis is that which makes the shortest (most likely, most credible)
> >
> >> tree given identified surviving ancestors and their daughter taxa
> >> based on other information. This is merely, MERELY less precise,
> >> correctly less precise and therefore with more uncertainty about
> > evolutionary relationships.
> >>
> >> It has taken this long to work out that molecular "lineages" are
> >> molecular strains, and ancestral taxa in stasis generate lots of
> >> molecular strains before and after generation of one or more daughter
> >> species. The DNA continues to mutate in isolation while expressed
> >> traits remain in stasis for millions of years. Molecular phylogenetics
> >
> >> gives precise sister group analyses of extant strains, not taxa.
> > Evidence?
> >> Molecular paraphyly. What about extinct or unsampled strains? They
> >> could have diverged molecularly long before or after any extant
> >> strain. Oh, oh.
> >>
> >> My stance is that the alternative to cladism must be addressed now,
> >> even if you see it as 1980's stuff that you and your cladist fellows
> > "solved"
> >> way back in the day.
> >>
> >>
> >> ____________________________
> >> Richard H. Zander
> >> Missouri Botanical Garden, PO Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA
> >> Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/ and
> >> http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm
> >> Modern Evolutionary Systematics Web site:
> >> http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/21EvSy.htm
> >> UPS and FedExpr - MBG, 4344 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis 63110 USA
> >>
> >>
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: Michael A. Ivie [mailto:mivie at montana.edu]
> >> Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2013 5:34 PM
> >> To: Richard Zander
> >> Cc: Ken Kinman; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> >> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] New systematics book
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> Wow, it this had not just come in on a communication system not
> >> invented then, I would think I was reading something from 1976! Is
> >> this a 1980's theme party?
> >>
> >> Mike
> >
> >
> 
> 
> -- 
> Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.
> Montana Entomology Collection
> Marsh Labs, Room 50
> NW corner of Lincoln and S.19th
> 1911 West Lincoln Street
> Montana State University
> Bozeman, MT 59717
> USA
> 
> (406) 994-4610 (voice)
> (406) 994-6029 (FAX)
> mivie at montana.edu
> 
> 
 		 	   		  


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