[Taxacom] I'm furious over article: On typeless species and the perils of fast taxonomy

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Wed May 11 00:17:17 CDT 2016

Hi again Daniel,
I think I have just replied to Jason on some of these points, but again: nobody is advocating the deliberate reduction of available data. If you only have a photo, and little or no prospect of getting additional material, then it is a waste of existing data (i.e. the photo) not to use it. Also, having a specimen might actually give you no more data (and possibly even less data) than a good photo does, as specimens tend to degrade. Anyway, there is nothing, to my mind anyway, that precludes more data turning up after description to help to confirm or refute the original hypothesis (i.e. that it is a new species). I think that you may be thinking of the worst case scenario, and basing your argument on that! By the way, I wasn't accusing *you* of "bashing amateurs", or of misrepresenting the Code! That comment was directed at the articles in Systematic Ent. and BZN.

On Wed, 11/5/16, Daniel Leo Gustafsson <kotatsu.no.leo at gmail.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] I'm furious over article: On typeless species and the perils of fast taxonomy
 To: "Stephen Thorpe" <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>
 Cc: "JF Mate" <aphodiinaemate at gmail.com>, "Taxacom" <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
 Received: Wednesday, 11 May, 2016, 5:05 PM
 We seem to be talking past each
 other, as your post is largely a reiteration of my post.
 Even if the photos are the best photos since the dawn of
 photography, I still have "no way to get more data than
 what was in the original publication, regardless of what the
 code actually says". If the holotype is lost -- whether
 it was released or destroyed in a fire or deliberately
 thrown away -- this is still the case, with the caveat that
 if a deposited holotype existed somewhere in a collection
 between the description and the disappearance, there is a
 chance that some other taxonomist may have had a look at it
 and added information. This is also still the case if the
 species was described by text only, or text and drawings,
 regardless of the quality of any of these sets of
 information. I agree with all of these points; the photo as
 such is a red herring. 
 What remains, and what I sought to illustrate
 with my first example, is that it is tedious and
 time-consuming, not to mention impossible, to try to guess
 what characters a species possess when it is impossible to
 study a specimen, regardless of the reason for this
 impossibility. Just as limiting the sources of nomina dubia
 is a valid way to try to limit the number of (at least new)
 nomina dubia, limiting the sources of guesswork is a valid
 way to limit the number of species for which we have to
 guess the characters because of idiosyncrasies of its
 author(s) (including their having released the specimens for
 whatever reason). 
 For what it's worth, the same author
 who presumably threw away the holotype of the species I
 referred to previously also described virtually all his
 species and genera based solely of host relationships, and
 the descriptions typically contain more text about the
 person he is naming the species after than any diagnostic
 characters. He's also an early version of Hoser, and
 spent his early career going through older publications and
 giving names to any population of chewing lice the original
 author claimed to be slightly different, without every
 having seen specimens. Nevertheless, he was a professional
 in the sense of getting paid to do this. I have not yet read
 the paper that started this whole conversation, so I am not
 here to bash amateurs. I just don't see how
 "promoting good taxonomy" is consistent with
 arbitrarily and irreversibly limiting the amount of data
 available to future workers.

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