[Taxacom] [iczn-list] Call for Comments: Taxonomic Practice and the Code
stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed Jan 8 14:09:07 CST 2014
I really don't think that the ICZN is qualified or entitled to be an enforcer of ethics (or facilitator of such enforcement by the scientific community). Have ICZN commissioners taken university courses in professional ethics? Do they know what they are talking about? Have they consulted psychologists to understand what the psychological effects might be on people like Hoser of being alienated and marginalised? Let me comment briefly on each of your 4 example cases:
(1) a reviewer takes a manuscript sent to them for review, describing new taxa, and publishes it with their own name on it, thereby gaining authorship of all the described taxa.
This is not a problem restricted to taxonomy! It could happen to any manuscript about anything! Surely, there must be legal safeguards against this? Does copyright only kick in after publication? Of course, even if illegal, a reviewer could do this, and get punished accordingly by the law. So what if the new names stand? It is a technicality. At any rate, this would be a good reason for the ICZN to issue a ruling invalidating those and only those names, if petitioned to do so. We don't need a whole new system to deal with such cases.
(2) an author publishes a work that, due to an oversight, fails to make the name(s) therein available, and another author sees this and immediately publishes a version of the same work that DOES - but without notifying the original author, who could easily have corrected the problem themselves, and might even have been in the process of doing so.
Hard cheese! The original author and reviewers should have been more careful!
(3) an author takes specimens out of a country illegally, and describes them as new.
This isn't a nomenclatural problem! The author should be reported to the authorities and punished appropriately by the law. From a taxonomic standpoint, it might be a useful to have those species named! Why invalidate the names? Again, at any rate, such cases are rare enough for the ICZN to make rulings on each particular case. We don't need a whole new system to deal with such cases.
(4) an author takes specimens of multiple species, breaks them apart, and recombines the pieces to form composites, and describes them as new.
There are already provisions in the Code to deal with cases like this. Such cases are extremely rare. Not even Hoser or Makhan have any reason to do such a thing, although they might if we alienate/marginalise them any further!
From: Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu>
To: "taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
Sent: Thursday, 9 January 2014 7:03 AM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] [iczn-list] Call for Comments: Taxonomic Practice and the Code
I find it a little disappointing, though not really surprising, that
despite my call to NOT initiate a public flurry of comments, several
people have felt compelled to do exactly that. However, it does at least
afford the opportunity to point out a few additional details.
On 1/7/14 6:44 PM, Kim van der Linde wrote:
> I will submit an comment through the formal channels, and it will be
> along the line of: HELL NO!
The solicitation is not phrased as a yes or no question; please read the
final paragraph carefully. If I had to summarize the solicitation into a
single question, it would be this:
"Given that we are about to write a new Code, what, if anything, should
this new Code say regarding ethics?"
Does that make things clearer for people?
On 1/7/14 10:08 PM, Raymond Hoser - The Snakeman wrote:
> Noting I am the target of the attack and this is all it is, an attack,
> it is perhaps worth checking first to see if the alleged problem
> actually exists (in the context given) and the alleged factual basis
> behind the alleged problem!
To paraphrase Carly Simon, "You're so vain, you probably think this Call
for Comments is about you."
Well, Mr. Hoser, for the record, THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. The controversy
in which you are presently embroiled is just one of many awkward
problems that lie outside of the normal jurisdiction of the Code. If you
have any role in this, consider yourself the proverbial straw that broke
the camel's back. For everyone else who has commented, THIS IS NOT ABOUT
MR. HOSER. So far, the comments we are receiving seem to be focused on
this one controversy, rather than what was EXPLICITLY requested, which
are *general comments* about whether the Code and Commission need to
become concerned with ethics, and - if so - how.
Allow me, since it appears necessary, to give real-life examples OTHER
than that exemplified by this particular controversy:
(1) a reviewer takes a manuscript sent to them for review, describing
new taxa, and publishes it with their own name on it, thereby gaining
authorship of all the described taxa. (2) an author publishes a work
that, due to an oversight, fails to make the name(s) therein available,
and another author sees this and immediately publishes a version of the
same work that DOES - but without notifying the original author, who
could easily have corrected the problem themselves, and might even have
been in the process of doing so. (3) an author takes specimens out of a
country illegally, and describes them as new. (4) an author takes
specimens of multiple species, breaks them apart, and recombines the
pieces to form composites, and describes them as new.
Note that the first three scenarios all involve perfectly valid taxa,
but whose authors acted unethically. The Code offers no mechanism,
presently, to reject such names, even though I expect most taxonomists
would strenuously object to acknowledging the authorship of such
individuals - recognizing such names only rewards unethical behavior
(note also that cases 1 and 2 both violate the existing Code of Ethics
in Appendix A of the Code). These examples are very important because
they cannot be dealt with simply by synonymizing them under existing
names, which is what everyone has been proposing as a mechanism to deal
with unethical behavior. There IS a difference between unethical
behavior, and poor taxonomy, and that's why this is a complex issue, and
why the questions and answers are not just simple "yes" or "no"!
In the fourth case, it is a waste of anyone's time to try to formally
synonymize the names, which were generated by unscientific means - and
the question remains why anyone SHOULD, if they could be treated as
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)
"There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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