[Taxacom] new opinion publication

Richard Zander Richard.Zander at mobot.org
Fri Feb 2 10:48:04 CST 2018

Dr. Borkent has not gone quite far enough, though he is definitely on the right track.

Here is my own opinion:

Modern methods of phylogenetic analysis cannot model or otherwise well understand evolution, Lack of proper evolutionary models cripples the potential for mitigation of effects of extreme global warming and other thermodynamic consequences of ongoing human disturbance.

Neither evolutionary pattern nor process is modeled in phylogenetics. The optimal phylogenetic pattern of dichotomous trees is an artifact of cluster analysis and Markov chain Monte Carlo analyses. The pattern expected by evolutionary theory, on the other hand, is a branching series of radiations of mostly specialized descendants from generalized ancestors. The phylogenetic process is a continuity of tree nodes, where each node is unnamed and characterized by the traits of all taxa distal to it. Expected evolutionary process, contrarily, is a series of named taxa descended from other named taxa, one species generating at least one other species. 

Strict phylogenetic monophyly is an effort to make up for the inability of phylogenetic method to delimit and characterize taxa. Molecular systematics is further confounded by molecular races of one species separately giving rise to descendant species that appear paraphyletic or shortly polyphyletic. Paraphyly is the expected result of evolution, and demonstrably implies a serial evolutionary process when evolutionary diagrams are made to model species giving rise to species. Dichotomous trees and cladistics nodes giving rise to nodes model nothing in nature. Although cluster analysis based on cladistic methods does generally group evolutionarily close taxa, the details are often misleading because they only reflect the method. Otherwise acceptable taxa are split or lumped based on mechanical cladistic principles.

A method that cannot falsify a hypothesis is as non-science as a hypothesis that cannot be falsified. A perfectly acceptable scientific hypothesis that one particular taxon gave rise to one other cannot be falsified by any phylogenetic method, because sister groups are not serially ordered.

Phylogenetics makes meatloaf of biological diversity, in my opinion.

Richard H. Zander
Missouri Botanical Garden – 4344 Shaw Blvd. – St. Louis – Missouri – 63110 – USA
richard.zander at mobot.org 
Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/bfna/bfnamenu.htm and http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/ 

-----Original Message-----
From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Art Borkent
Sent: Thursday, February 01, 2018 3:50 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] new opinion publication

I would like to draw attention to a recent paper I published that addresses some serious issues in how cladistics/phylogeny is done. It is worth mentioning that the paper reflects, at least in part, the opinions of numbers of colleagues who prefer to remain anonymous (mostly for grant winning reasons). 

I would be interested in responses and discussion!

The paper is open access.

 Borkent, A. 2018. The State of Phylogenetic Analysis: Narrow Visions and Simple Answers – Examples from the Diptera (flies). Zootaxa 4374: 107–143.

http://mapress.com/j/zt/article/view/zootaxa.4374.1.7 <http://mapress.com/j/zt/article/view/zootaxa.4374.1.7>

Dr. Art Borkent
691-8th Ave. SE,
Salmon Arm, British Columbia,
V1E 2C2, Canada.
Phone: (250) 833-0931
Email: artborkent at telus.net <mailto:artborkent at telus.net>
website: www.inhs.illinois.edu/research/FLYTREE/Borkent.html <http://www.inhs.illinois.edu/research/FLYTREE/Borkent.html>
Research Associate of the Royal British Columbia Museum and the American Museum of Natural History
      "Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit"

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