[Taxacom] Species Definition?

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue May 23 16:08:21 CDT 2017

I think that the problem here is one of "too many decimal places." What I mean is that species are a real world and therefore not perfectly precise (with exact boundaries) phenomenon, as indeed are most things. They are still however extremely important! There seems to be an odd mindset among some scientists that if something isn't perfectly precise, then it is scientifically useless! We could all start adding decimal places to all the numbers that we use just to make them more precise, but most of the time it would be a waste of time. Pi to 3 million decimal places (or whatever) doesn't have a lot of practical uses! The task of taxonomy is to describe the world in terms of (somewhat fuzzy) boundaries between species, it is not to try to eliminate the fuzziness!


On Wed, 24/5/17, Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Species Definition?
 To: "'Hannu Saarenmaa'" <hannu at bioshare.com>, taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
 Received: Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 6:31 AM
 > So can we please just have
 numbers, or something for IDs of published and not
 > yet named, suggested taxonomic concepts,
 so that we can speak of them?
 Wouldn't that be nice!
 > In real world there are no species.
 Imagine that.
 No imagining
 necessary.  That's the world I live in.  But it is
 still helpful to label groups of things in nature in a way
 that facilitates communication -- whether it be islands (or
 is it an islet?), mountains (or is it a hill?), or species
 (or is it a subspecies?)
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