[Taxacom] The Gillman & Wright proposal revisited

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Tue Dec 8 19:11:05 CST 2020

Much as I might be offside with Stephen on other matters, I think he hit
the nail on the head on this one.

John Grehan

On Tue, Dec 8, 2020 at 7:49 PM Stephen Thorpe via Taxacom <
taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> wrote:

> 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?
> Stephen
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