[Taxacom] another ebay auction of naming rights

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Wed Oct 21 22:13:42 CDT 2015


This is why definitions don't matter :)

John Grehan

On Wed, Oct 21, 2015 at 8:18 PM, Paul Kirk <P.Kirk at kew.org> wrote:

> Before anything can be discussed 'we' need a well defined, unambiguous,
> mutually exclusive, understood and accepted by all ... bla, bla, bla ...
> definition of the 'c' word - commercial! Otherwise we have the equivalent
> of the botanists/mycologist/phycologist discussing with the zoologist the
> difference between nomenclature and taxonomy/classification w.r.t. the
> label applied to a combination (cf. the thread on author citations).
>
> Paul
>
> p.s. good luck with the definition :-)
> ________________________________________
> From: Taxacom <taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> on behalf of Doug
> Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu>
> Sent: 21 October 2015 19:32
> To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] another ebay auction of naming rights
>
> This topic has come up for discussion today among the ICZN
> Commissioners, and a few who are not on Taxacom had some significant
> comments. Philippe Bouchet first raised the following point, and Sven
> Kullander has let me forward this follow-up from him:
>
> "Especially in the light of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS, the future of
> taxonomy largely depends on it being considered non-commercial. The sale
> of nomenclatural acts is certainly not non-commercial, and may further
> complicate negotiations for international transfer of samples, field
> work, and the reputation of taxonomists as providing service for the
> Common Good. (The US has not signed the ABS protocol, but will most
> likely respect it.)"
>
> The point he mentions (that Philippe first raised) is one that has not
> been previously emphasized here; if it becomes widely perceived that
> taxonomy is a commercial enterprise (even if not for profit, it IS still
> commercial as most people define it), the entire taxonomic community may
> suffer from the backlash, even if the backlash is not deserved. But we
> are not really in a position to divorce ourselves from it, either, even
> if individual institutions do not engage in the practice of auctions.
> After all, if Museum X loans specimens to Museum Y, and Museum Y runs an
> auction using some of those specimens, then Museum X has been involved
> in an act of commerce. No institution-based researcher collecting
> specimens can guarantee that none of their specimens will ever be used
> for such purposes.
>
> Every package of specimens I mail has a big label on it saying "NO
> COMMERCIAL VALUE" - but that ceases to be true, at least in some
> people's view, I'm sure, if they are used as the basis for an auction.
> While WE might see a distinction, or nuance, public perception counts
> for a LOT, and public perception is easily swayed and frequently
> overzealous; as bad as the situation with the Moustached Kingfisher
> specimen is, imagine how much worse the PR would be if that was a new
> species, and the specimen was associated with a name auction.
> This is a significant argument opposing the use of auctions as a
> fund-raising tool, and it is hard to see a good way to counteract this,
> because it is rather fundamental in that we ask for all sorts of legal
> provisions that distinguish academia from commerce, and this does indeed
> undermine that distinction.
>
> Sincerely,
>
> --
> 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)
>               http://cache.ucr.edu/~heraty/yanega.html
>    "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
>          is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
>
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