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Re: Genetics and Morphology Collide

In a message dated 96-02-09 18:49:43 EST, pharrinj@PLU.edu (Nicholas J.
Pharris) writes:

>On Fri, 9 Feb 1996, King, Norm wrote:
>> Don't get me wrong, either (heaven forbid!).  The tremendous predictive 
>> value of cladistics must be clear to everyone.  It is to me.  But what 
>> are we predicting?  It gives us answers, but are they the right answers?  
>> Perhaps the pendulum needs to swing back a little.  Over-reliance on that 
>> one technique may result in "over-confusion."
>Hooray!  I'm glad someone else feels this way.  You all may have noticed 
>that I am a rabid monophylist, but otherwise I am not a particularly 
>vehement cladist.

This is weird but not too weird. Usually it's the other way round: cladistics
is great but insistence on strict monophyly of taxa is not always desirable.

And Norm King is exactly right to wonder just what kind of phylogeny is being
generated by the cladistic methodology. Are we not all just living in a
fool's paradise, because there is no way to confirm that any phylogeny
generated by any method whatsoever is the Correct Phylogeny? Are we not all
just stabbing in the dark, constructing Just So Stories and spending grant
money statistically manipulating countless phyletic trees with no real
assurance that any of this work will be meaningful?