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Re: Syntarsus [longish]
George Olshevsky wrote:
> is inherently subjective; and (3) no reliable method exists to weigh
> morphological characters against one another (for example, how many skull
> characters is a postcranial character worth? one? one-half? ten?). There is
> simply no way around these problems, so most cladists ignore them--and
> happily continue to consume mass quantities of grant money producing endless
> streams of cladograms with their computers.
> If at most one cladogram for any group is the correct one, virtually all the
> cladograms so generated >must< be wrong. How does one pick the right needle
> from this huge haystack? What statistical manipulation of 66 cladograms, at
> least 65 of which are wrong, will miraculously produce the right one?
The same can be said for any phylogenetic tree, regardless of whether
it was constructed by a cladist or not. The subjectivity involved in
trying to quantify characters by assigning them a numerological value is a
reservation about cladistic taxonomy I share, but taking the taking the
chances of reconstructing a faulty phylogenetic tree is something all
paleontologists do. I wouldn't want to reconstruct a phylogeny based
exclusively on cladograms, but they do provide usefull information.