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

Wolfgang Wuster w.wuster at bangor.ac.uk
Sat Jan 11 03:52:13 CST 2014


Apologies for prolonging this thread, but for the sake of fairness, I believe that the misconception that the problem in herpetology is a small problem involving just a few individuals and their egos should not go unchallenged.

I would like to cordially invite anyone subscribing to that notion to actually read the Kaiser et al. (2013) paper, in particular the closing paragraphs, which list the scholarly herpetological societies that officially support the Point of View (and which collectively represent thousands of academic and amateur herpetologists) and, in the acknowledgements, a list of herpetologists who also individually endorse the stand taken.

The paper can be downloaded from https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/35959689/2013_Herp_Review_PoV.pdf

Table 1 provides an idea of the scale of the problem for herpetologists, but is in fact woefully out of date: since the table was finalised in early 2013, approximately 250 additional new taxon names have been proposed by one single author in his self-published journal.

The question of what, if anything, the Commission or the Code could or should do about problems of this nature is clearly highly contentious, as has been very obvious in this thread. Fundamentally, it touches on the relationship between the Code and the science of taxonomy: should the role of the Code be seen primarily as  supporting the science of taxonomy through the provision of a means of communicating about taxa, or should it be seen as entirely independent of the science of taxonomy?  If the former is the case, then can or should the Code and the Commission really remain entirely above the fray when the strict application of the Code is damaging to the performance of the science of taxonomy itself? If the latter is the majority view, does this not raise the question of whether the Code should invariably be regarded as relevant or binding by taxonomists when it hinders them in the performance of their job? I don't wish to start a debate about this on Taxacom, but this question lies at the heart of the fundamental questions that Commissioners Doug Yanega and Mark Harvey asked biologists to address in their comments, and might be usefully considered by those submitting comments in response to that request.

Best regards,

Wolfgang Wüster
________________________________________
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu <taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> on behalf of Kim van der Linde <kim at kimvdlinde.com>
Sent: 10 January 2014 23:23
To: Stephen Thorpe; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] [iczn-list] Dealing with taxonomic vandalism without the need to alter the zoological Code, this being relegation of bogus taxa to synonymy

Well, if ego is the reason, even more reason for the Commission to stay
out of it.

Kim

On 1/10/2014 5:59 PM, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
> But Kim, the issue is more that the names might end up valid, but with
> Hoser's name as authority! That is what the stink is about!
>
> *From:* Kim van der Linde <kim at kimvdlinde.com>
> *To:* taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> *Sent:* Saturday, 11 January 2014 11:56 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [Taxacom] [iczn-list] Dealing with taxonomic vandalism
> without the need to alter the zoological Code, this being relegation
> of bogus taxa to synonymy
>
> I think the bigger issue is that many are making a big stink about these
> names, and if people would just synonymize them without poaying any
> attenetion to the 'controversy', the whole mess would be far less known
> and would have far less contributed to the 'fame' of the main author.
>
> Really, if a name is valid for the CODE, how badly the ethics might be,
> just deal with it as you would with any other names.
>
> Kim
>
>
>
>
> On 1/10/2014 2:39 PM, Neal Evenhuis wrote:
> > Touché!!
> >
> > Thanks, Mike.
> >
> > 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. 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 clichés. They should only be involved with threats to
> stability, and
> > instability can really only be proven after a long time of usage.
> >
> > I told Doug privately I would not comment -- apparently I lied.
> >
> > -Neal
> >
> > On Stardate 1/10/14 9:07 AM, Star Commander "Michael A. Ivie"
> > <mivie at montana.edu <mailto:mivie at montana.edu>> wrote:
> >
> >> This Hoser/Schleip etc. mess (Sorry to our Canadian members for calling
> >> someone a Hoser in a message, and to our Yiddish speakers for referring
> >> to someone as a Schleip, no disrespect is meant in either case) is a
> >> minor kerfuffle, caused by too many aficionados chasing too little
> >> biodiversity.  It can be dealt with by a combination of time
> (eventually
> >> all the antagonists will die) and good followup scholarship.  We have
> >> lots of examples where this type of silliness has been touted as
> the end
> >> of the world, only to become a historical anecdote 50 years later.
> Cope
> >> and Marsh were the same.  Horn published rebuttals to Casey's papers
> >> regularly, to which Casey responded angrily, there was a move to
> >> suppress all of Maurice Pic's poorly described species, Lindroth even
> >> applauded Pic's death as being good for the field, and in the end,
> >> everyone moved on and we deal with it.  I think the antagonists
> here are
> >> massively egomaniacal in thinking the rest of us should care about
> their
> >> little dispute.  Leave the Commission out of this.  Names are valid or
> >> not, quality is not an issue for the Commission. Unprofessional
> behavior
> >> should be dealt with in other ways.  Don't involve the Code or the
> >> Commission in these tar baby disputes.
> >>
> >
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