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Re: In Defense of Cladistics



>
>No theory in Science is 100 per cent provable, but enough evidence
>can be amassed to allow a fair degree of confidence.
>

Who wrote this? I may have picked it up wrongly, but this statement appears
to support the fallacious concept that science is founded on proof. Nothing
in science can be prooved, so 'degrees  of proovability' is an equally
fallacious concept. Science is only as good as it is not dispooved.


As a contribution to this particular string, I would like to point out that
cladistic is only a tool, one of many, and only as good as the people who
use it. I have just finished a doctoral thesis on fossil crocs that
includes a cladistic analysis and I am conducting an on-going, expanded
analysis of that group with a colleague. The point is that, while
cladistics has provided a useful tool for analysing relationships, there
are certain types of data that confuse cladistic analyses (convergence and
parallelisms being prominent) and so a more flexible approach is needed in
such instances. Hennigian slaves, prostrating themselves on a non-existent
masthead of objectivity are missing the point just as much as their
phenetic opponents. Science is a human endeavour, humans are subjective in
their activities and so science has to be conducted subjectively. If any
cladist doubts that they are being subjective, ask yourself how you select
which characters you decide to include in an analysis out of the
potentially millions of morphological variables in a given group.

In short, I am sick of the boring pseudo-war between the cladists and
pheneticists. Let's get on with the job of looking at nature rather than
dictating how she ought to work.

Cheers, Paul

pwillis@ozemail.com.au