[Taxacom] FW: The Gillman & Wright proposal revisited

George Beccaloni g.beccaloni at gmail.com
Tue Dec 8 19:10:50 CST 2020

IMHO people such as these are missing an important point - which is that the naming rules set by the ICZN is just one system of many and anyone unhappy with them is free to set up their own system. In fact indigenous peoples around the world already have their own naming systems for plants and animals - and I really do wonder if any of these people are in the slightest way bothered by how taxonomists name species - has anyone actually asked them? Even if they were, it would be like a tribal group trying to change a rule of a global game like soccer e.g. because in their tribe it was offensive to head-butt ball-like objects. They would be ignored - but of course they are entitled to devise their own version of the game.


-----Original Message-----
From: Taxacom [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Stephen Thorpe via Taxacom
Sent: 09 December 2020 00:49
To: Taxacom
Subject: [Taxacom] The Gillman & Wright proposal revisited

On the train this morning, I had a discussion with Shane Wright regarding his proposal to restore indigenous names in taxonomy. On the one hand, Shane downplayed the issue, saying that it only applied to iconic taxa, so less than 5 percent of all taxa (though that is still a lot of name changes!) He just wants, for example, kauri to be Agathis kauri, tuatara to be Sphenodon tuatara, etc. The rationale behind this proposal is however what is perplexing me. Shane seems to think that current naming practices in taxonomy are a significant barrier to inclusivity, as if names are discouraging and alienating young people of indigenous backgrounds from participating in taxonomy. Personally, I very much doubt if calling kauri Agathis kauri will make any difference at all. The very nature of Western science may not sit well with traditional indigenous wisdom, but abandoning Western science in favour of a return to that would fairly obviously drag the world backwards and I doubt even Shane wants that, so I suspect that the whole thing boils down to making symbolic gestures of a largely cosmetic nature, in the name of inclusivity and other similarly pc concerns. What actual difference would this proposal make, other than having taxonomists waste time on unnecessary name changes? Who is really driving such agendas and what are they really trying to achieve and for whom?
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