[Taxacom] [iczn-list] Dealing with taxonomic vandalism without the need to alter the zoological Code, this being relegation of bogus taxa to synonymy

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Fri Jan 10 16:09:32 CST 2014

Since Neal went ahead and commented anyway, I'll do so briefly myself.

On 1/10/14 11:39 AM, Neal Evenhuis wrote:
> Few seem to know or pay attention to history, but it has helpful
> information to allow accurate decision making. When one puts the H/Sche
> situation in comparison to past situations like this, it is pitifully
> small and unimportant in the big scheme of all zoological taxonomy.
Arguable, but even if this is granted, the point remains that the ICZN 
Call for Comments is about ALL forms of questionable practice, not just 
about "taxonomic vandalism", and certainly not just about the Hoser 
dispute. If we were to limit the discussion to plagiarism, for example 
(where the names in question are NOT synonyms), would people's comments 
reflect the same "hands off" opinion? More to the point, perhaps, is 
that the comments we are soliciting cover several serial questions, and 
we are getting a lot of responses that skip all the early questions in 
the series and jump straight to a conclusion (most often focused solely 
on taxonomic vandalism, and not the broader issue). Question #1 is "Are 
ethical violations a problem that affects taxonomy and nomenclature"? So 
far, nearly everyone seems to be skipping over that question entirely. 
If the answer is no, then we could end the discussion right there. Since 
the discussion doesn't seem to be ending, it looks like even you are 
implying that it IS a problem. The question then comes to "What should 
be done about it?". It is entirely possible for that answer to be 
different with regards to different types of unethical behavior!
>   The
> ICZN has, since its inception, rightly refused to "sanction" names or
> "suppress" names in a censorship mode and should not start now -- or even
> devise filters or rules (instead of recommendations) by which names should
> be formed to disallow certain people from publishing. If it does, it is a
> slippery slope that falls into an open can of worms leading to a sticky
> wicket guarding Pandora's box -- and it will it be hard to get out of all
> those clich├ęs. They should only be involved with threats to stability, and
> instability can really only be proven after a long time of usage.
The way I see it, the slope is only as slippery as we make it. That is, 
you apparently believe it is impossible to draw any lines, anywhere, 
that separate ethical from unethical practices. I believe, on the other 
hand, that we, as a community, are capable of drawing such lines *if we 
need to*. The Call for Comments is basically asking for people's 
opinions on exactly that; if lines should be drawn or not, and if so, where?
> I told Doug privately I would not comment -- apparently I lied.
Well, maybe now we're even. ;-)


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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