[Taxacom] Why Defend the Code?

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sat Oct 10 00:00:27 CDT 2015

Heya Scott,

Gosh, I seem to be missing a lot of points today! Must be gettin' old, or something! I'm sure your written with the utmost clarity, and I, for some reason, just cannot understand! So, let's recap for a mo': You are basically writing an open letter to the ICZN, in which you are pleading for them to render the entire run of AJH as effectively unpublished for the purposes of zoological nomenclature, right? I may or may not want that plea to be accepted, but at least it makes sense. If accepted, it will mean that nobody is obliged (by way of the Code) to use any of Hoser's new names for any taxa. So, we don't have to use a name for genus of dangerous venomous snakes which is based on the name of Hoser's pet dog, or whatever, right? So far so good. Where I lose the plot is all this talk of "dual nomenclature". That makes no sense to me at all! If we take Hoser's newly coined names out of the picture, that solves one problem and partly solves another, but at
 least part of what you seem to mean by "dual nomenclature" is "dual taxonomy". If Hoser wants to resurrect old names, that are not his names (e.g. Aechmophrys Coues, 1875; Caudisona Laurenti, 1768; Uropsophus Wagler, 1830), to split genera, then that is a purely taxonomic matter, and anyone is free to accept/reject those taxonomic changes. They don't have to be published, in the sense of the Code, so the ICZN is powerless, and I therefore do not see the relevance of this issue to the problem. The ICZN cannot stop Hoser from physically publishing AJH, or "unpublish" what is already published. At most, it can only suppress any names that Hoser has coined as new. If people in South America, or wherever, choose to follow Hoser's taxonomy, then they are free to do so, and they can do so in a Code compliant way if they just ignore any names that Hoser has coined as new. In reality, "dual nomenclature" and "dual taxonomy" are more often a result of various
 biodiversity databases (CoL, WoRMS, etc.) either disagreeing with one another and/or being more or less out of date. Maybe taking all of Hoser's newly coined names out of the picture might remove his motivation for tinkering with the rest of the taxonomy and/or might stop most people from paying any attention to him, but maybe not. In the bigger picture, one core group of herpetologists, however powerful, does not have the right to enforce their version of reptile taxonomy on the world, by taking out the competition (in this case Hoser). The reader is free to choose, and that is giong to result in different names being used for the same taxa. Take Nothofagus for a good example. That important genus was recently split by a couple of apparently repectable botanists, but their reasons were at best weak. I'm ignoring their proposal. It is still Nothofagus to me!

Cheers, Stephen

On Sat, 10/10/15, Scott Thomson <scott.thomson321 at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Why Defend the Code?
 To: "Stephen Thorpe" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 Cc: "Taxacom List" <TAXACOM at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>, mivie at montana.edu
 Received: Saturday, 10 October, 2015, 5:02 PM
 Heya Stephen,
 you missed the point of that example, it was not
 about what the ICZN could do about about the taxa concerned,
 you are right that is taxonomy and not the ICZN's
 concern. It was about the impact this had in South America
 where there was confusion incurred when some followed this
 nomenclature and others did not. So it was about the flow on
 effects to other areas of biological research and the
 impacts of a dual nomenclature on species management and as
 venomous species, medical safety. However its still not
 something the ICZN can do anything directly about. These
 were examples that illustrated the harm being done, to
 nomenclature and to the ICZN.
 As we also said in the same paragraph: "This
 example illustrates how the output from AJH can proliferate
 and the harm that can potentially result from this dual
 However, in the comments here I was referring to
 our more generalised comments on the effects on nomenclature
 in general, not to Ray Hoser specifically. I did not mention
 him at all earlier and he is not the only person who has
 done harm to nomenclature, nor is this limited to
 herpetology. I was very specific about what I referred to
 from that paper and deliberately avoided the issue of Ray
 Hoser because this is not about him, its about problems
 facing taxonomy and nomenclaure. Yes I am sincere about that
 because after 20 years of doing it I happen to like this
 field and don't want to see it destroyed. So my
 sincerity is not faked.
 Cheers, Scott
 On Sat, Oct 10, 2015
 at 12:32 AM, Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 just can't resist, can you Scott? "Sincerity, I can
 fake that!" Anyway, Hoser really is an attention
 seeker, and all this must be really getting him off! I'm
 not entirely certain of the best way to solve the
 "Hoser problem", but allow me to comment on the
 published plea to the ICZN that you have co-authored with a
 whole bunch of others, including, I see, entomologist
 Manfred Jach (who has tried in vain for years to stop Dew
 Makhan from publishing, for similar reasons). The main point
 which makes me cringe is passages which fundamentally
 misunderstand zoological nomenclature! For example:
 >An example of developing dual nomenclature is Hoser’s
 attempted resurrection of three rattlesnake genera
 (Aechmophrys, Caudisona, and Uropsophus) from the synonymy
 of Crotalus, along with the description of new genera and
 Resurrection of genera from synonymy is taxonomy, not
 nomenclature! In fact, it is just a matter of rejecting
 published synonymies (i.e. if the scientific evidence for a
 proposed taxonomic change is thought, by the reader, to be
 insufficient, then the reader has every right to ignore it -
 this is the difference between science and dogma!) The ICZN
 has absolutely no mandate to interfere in such matters (i.e.
 matters of validity as opposed to availability). Anybody is
 free to reject proposed subjective synonymies, or to accept
 them as they choose. This has nothing directly to do with
 the Code or the ICZN. There simply isn't a single
 "officially valid name" for any taxon, except by
 default. So, if you are going to go in mob-handed against
 Hoser, at least get your facts right!

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