[Taxacom] Why Defend the Code?

Scott Thomson scott.thomson321 at gmail.com
Fri Oct 9 20:39:10 CDT 2015


Well I am going to stay out of whatever personal issues are going on here,
I too have been criticized on occasion for my interpretations of the code.
I am not here to argue with that.

I too agree that our system of nomenclature is under attack, but not just
attack it is suffering from complacency. One of the reasons I put in a
comment recently with such a large authorship was not just to impress
anyone, I wanted to show that there is support for the ICZN and its code,
from non taxonomists. Many of the authors of that comment are not
taxonomists. These people also want stability, not the stability we define
in the code, they want the code to stand as it has for many years as this
pillar of how we name our species. But they cannot tolerate what has been
happening either.

Please do not jump to the conclusion I am just referring to herpetology, I
am well aware of cases in other groups of organisms and cited some in fish
in my comment. I am aware this is or has occurred in other organisms too.

I see several major issues for the code and in my response to Harvey and
Yanega I tried to outline some. First of all is the code does need to
evolve with the times, I know there are efforts to come out with a new
version, however, it also needs to evolve within reason. Yes there is no
absolute compliance to the code, we follow it willingly, unfortunately not
everyone follows it the same way. This is in part due to sections that do
need tidying up, their language clarified, we are all aware of this. I am
hopeful that in the revisions of the code that the confusing or ambiguous
language is being removed.

Another major issue is how little taxonomy is taught these days, and what
is taught does not cover nomenclature very well if at all. I try to teach
the code, I even write a blog on it, it's not easy and many biologists do
not have a great understanding of the code. I will say that based on my
experiences of trying to explain the code to many biologists. My blog has
had 3000 views from just under 2000 visitors in the last 12 months. Its no
rock band site for numbers, however, I think that does show there are
people interested and its certainly more than I expected, I receive many
questions about the code since I started writing it also. This means people
still want to comply with the code, they still want it there. We said in
the comment that Nomenclatural Taxonomy is at a tipping point. If the code
is not presented and followed in a way that is scientifically and ethically
viable then it may not last, which I think is a tragedy, and there are
alternatives on the table. This is the tipping point, people are
considering alternatives. But they do not want to, they feel they have to.

So I am not trying to add to a public criticism but we need to stand up for
this code and apply it. We need to make sure all biologists understand it.
Taxonomy needs to be taught again.

Please forgive my moment of rant.

Cheers, Scott

On Fri, Oct 9, 2015 at 9:12 PM, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
wrote:

> And that "correspondent in New Zealand" wouldn't be called Rich, by any
> chance, would they? You know, that well-known, objective,
> humanitarian/philanthopist ... cough!
>
> Stephen
>
> --------------------------------------------
> On Sat, 10/10/15, Michael A. Ivie <mivie at montana.edu> wrote:
>
>  Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Why Defend the Code?
>  To: "Stephen Thorpe" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>, "Taxacom List" <
> TAXACOM at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>  Received: Saturday, 10 October, 2015, 12:28 PM
>
>  Stephen,
>
>  Well, since that first line
>  was taken from an email from a correspondent
>  in New Zealand, and was not my line, and not
>  attached to any name,
>  clearly it must not
>  apply to you, because after all, you have an
>  honorary something.  You see, Stephen, not
>  everything is about you.
>
>  Mike
>
>  On
>  10/9/2015 5:13 PM, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
>  > Putting to one side the personal attacks
>  aimed at me, and the associated false claims (e.g., I do not
>  have "no position", I have an honorary position),
>  I actually agree with Mike that "our system of
>  nomenclature is under attack", and that this is a
>  problem to be solved. I disagree with Mike that the way to
>  solve it is to mindlessly defend the Code as it is. The Code
>  needs to change in order to solve this problem.
>  Specifically, it needs to be simplified so that increasing
>  numbers of people don't just throw their hands up in
>  despair about it and walk away. Claiming that anyone with
>  half a brain can easily understand the Code is only going to
>  frustrate those perfectly intelligent people who find it to
>  be more difficult. Make it easy to do nomenclature, and the
>  problem will solve itself.
>  >
>  > Stephen
>  >
>  >
>  --------------------------------------------
>  > On Sat, 10/10/15, Michael A. Ivie <mivie at montana.edu>
>  wrote:
>  >
>  >   Subject: [Taxacom] Why Defend
>  the Code?
>  >   To:
>  "Taxacom List" <TAXACOM at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
>  >   Received: Saturday, 10
>  October, 2015, 12:02 PM
>  >
>  >   This may have been
>  precipitated by a
>  >   recent
>  set of events, but it is
>  >   targeted at a broader group
>  of messages that put me over the
>  >   edge on the
>  >   last one.  No individual
>  person, living or dead, if
>  >   specifically
>  >   referred to below.
>  >
>  >   I just received a private
>  email asking why I would waste my
>  >   time
>  >   challenging someone with no
>  position, no credibility and
>  >   well known as a
>  >   pedant and seeker of
>  attention?
>  >
>  >   Why indeed.  Because I am an
>  educator and a
>  >   systematist.  It is time
>  we
>  >   all wake up to a few
>  things.  First, our system of
>  >   nomenclature is under
>  >   attack.  Few students are
>  given a class in its use,
>  >   most are told the
>  >   rules are difficult and
>  arcane.  This is giving rise to
>  >   a movement to
>  >   simply do away with
>  compliance.
>  >
>  >   Second, compliance with our
>  Code is voluntary.  There
>  >   is ZERO
>  >   enforcement available.  We
>  are just a thin line from a
>  >   break to anarchy.
>  >
>  >   Therefore, when someone wants
>  to, repeatedly, claim the Code
>  >   is poor, is
>  >   difficult, is not well
>  thought out, or otherwise in need of
>  >   endless
>  >   negative blather, there are
>  people who read that.
>  >   Hundreds more are
>  >   exposed to this forum than
>  ever post to it.  If such
>  >   negativity comes
>  >   from someone who projects a
>  facade of expertise, people may
>  >   even believe
>  >   him or her.
>  >
>  >   I understand the Code is not
>  perfect, but it does
>  >   work.  It does require
>  >   diligence, and takes time
>  from other activities that may be
>  >   more fun,
>  >   but it is not that hard.  We
>  need to reinforce in the
>  >   minds of our
>  >   peers, and especially the
>  younger members of our profession,
>  >   that using
>  >   the Code is what is expected,
>  and it is not something to
>  >   dread.  And,
>  >   when mindless attacks are
>  made claiming it is defective,
>  >   difficult or
>  >   irrelevant, we must defend it
>  vociferously.
>  >
>  >   Mike
>  >
>  >   --
>  >   __________________________________________________
>  >
>  >   Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D.,
>  F.R.E.S.
>  >
>  >   Montana Entomology
>  Collection
>  >   Marsh Labs,
>  Room 50
>  >   1911 West Lincoln
>  Street
>  >   NW corner of
>  Lincoln and S.19th
>  >   Montana
>  State University
>  >   Bozeman,
>  MT 59717
>  >   USA
>  >
>  >   (406) 994-4610 (voice)
>  >   (406) 994-6029 (FAX)
>  >   mivie at montana.edu
>  >
>  >   _______________________________________________
>  >   Taxacom Mailing List
>  >   Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
>  >   http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
>  >   The Taxacom Archive back to
>  1992 may be searched at: http://taxacom.markmail.org
>  >
>  >   Celebrating 28 years of
>  Taxacom in 2015.
>  >
>  >
>  > .
>  >
>
>  --
>  __________________________________________________
>
>  Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D.,
>  F.R.E.S.
>
>  Montana Entomology
>  Collection
>  Marsh Labs, Room 50
>  1911 West Lincoln Street
>  NW
>  corner of Lincoln and S.19th
>  Montana State
>  University
>  Bozeman, MT 59717
>  USA
>
>  (406)
>  994-4610 (voice)
>  (406) 994-6029 (FAX)
>  mivie at montana.edu
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Taxacom Mailing List
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> The Taxacom Archive back to 1992 may be searched at:
> http://taxacom.markmail.org
>
> Celebrating 28 years of Taxacom in 2015.
>



-- 
Scott Thomson
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