[Taxacom] "Taxon Filter" (was Re: Electronic publication)

Doug Yanega dyanega at ucr.edu
Fri Jan 13 11:21:11 CST 2017

On 1/13/17 2:13 AM, John Noyes wrote:
> Hi Adam,
> I totally agree. The danger in what Rich, Doug and others is advocating is that papers will be rejected by those that have an alternative view. Is the proposed system to deal with nomenclatural acts alone or is it intended to comment on the quality of  taxonomy? There  is a danger that it may put all the power in the hands of a few which would inevitably lead to a total breakdown of the system.
WHOA. You have this exactly backwards. When there are dozens to hundreds 
of reviews, all made public, then it is no longer possible for a few 
people to control *anything*. Any cliques, any personal grievances, will 
be fully visible to the entire community. Think about it for just a 
second, and consider that the status quo DOES focus editorial control 
into the hands of a tiny number of people - who are absolutely protected 
from accountability through anonymity. That's precisely why we 
desperately need to move away from the present system of "peer review" - 
it is FAR too subject to manipulation without accountability. If the 
"alternative view" you're worried about is an ignorant minority view, or 
a crackpot, the flaws in their viewpoint will be exposed and get the 
rapid rejection and condemnation it deserves. I have confidence that we, 
as a community, can recognize unjustified opinions when we see them, and 
come to a rational consensus, rather than letting one or two people sway 
a decision unfairly for or against a submitted work.

And yes, even though the purpose of the proposed system is to eliminate 
uncertainty regarding the availability of names, it does need to at 
least make a sincere attempt to assess the validity of names, as well. 
There is NO REASON to accept the registration of a proposed name that is 
a homonym; there is NO REASON to accept a name that is an obvious 
synonym; there is NO REASON to accept a name that is being proposed 
against the wishes of the person who discovered the taxon being named; 
there is NO REASON to accept a name based on a tiny fraction of the 
available material, or a terrible type specimen, when additional and/or 
better material can easily be obtained. Those specific problems are 
virtually unmanageable under the present, inferior protocol that we call 
peer review (every single one of these issues keeps coming up in 
present-day publications, even in prominent journals, and that's 
unacceptable), and it is time we adopted a higher standard, to 
everyone's collective benefit. Taxonomy is often viewed as a laughing 
stock by other disciplines because we have no mandated standards for 
quality control. So, let's do something about mandating quality control 
- and it should start, logically, with not accepting names for things 
that cannot be shown to be valid taxa, and putting the review process in 
the hands of the community rather than two or three anonymous reviewers.


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)
   "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
         is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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