[Taxacom] "A Few Bad Scientists Are Threatening to Topple Taxonomy": more political nonsense

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Sat Sep 9 01:47:11 CDT 2017


http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-big-ugly-problem-heart-of-taxonomy-180964629/

This is just another Hoser bashing exercise, with some very dodgy claims, like: 

[quote]If you’re a scientist who wants to name a newly discovered form of life, your first step is to gather two to three lines of evidence—from DNA and morphology, for example—that prove that you’re dealing with something new to science  ... the evidence you present must adhere to the high scientific and ethical benchmark of peer-review[unquote]

Really? Might be true for herpetology(?), but I'm not sure this is in any sense REQUIRED across the taxonomic spectrum? And we all know the realities of peer review.

[quote]The scientific community often opts collectively to reject the names that vandals ascribe, even if they’re technically Code-compliant, according to several taxonomists I spoke with. Strictly speaking, this is against the rules of the Code—the names are official, after all. But according to Wolfgang Wüster, a herpetologist at Bangor University, many herpetologists “are scientists first and nomenclaturists second”[unquote].

If they were "scientists first and nomenclaturists second", then they wouldn't care who named a taxon, for this is mere nomenclature. But they seem to insist that it must be themselves who names new taxa.

[quote]This might sound like semantics. But for you, it could mean the difference between life and death. “If you walk in [to the hospital] and say the snake that bit you is called Spracklandus, you might not get the right antivenin,” says Scott Thomson, a herpetologist and taxonomist at Brazil’s Museum of Zoology at the University of São Paulo. After all, “the doctor is not a herpetologist … he’s a medical person trying to save your life”[unquote].

Keeping track of alternative names (in this case Afronaja) for the same taxon is not really that difficult! It is just one more tiny bit of information to link with the name Spracklandus, i.e. Spracklandus = Afronaja and so both have the same antivenin. What's so hard about that?

As usual, I don't much care if Hoser and his ilk are stopped or not, but I really hate nonsense rhetoric being used against them (or against anyone, for that matter). 

Stephen


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