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Re: cladobabble.../Some clarification...



Received the thought-provoking responses by Tom Holtz and Jonathon 
Wagner.  I guess I sometimes bite off more than I can chew, because I had 
to cut short yesterday's posting due to other obligations.  Now I need to 
get involved in some other work that is keeping me really busy.  I'd like 
to have more time to discuss this issue immediately--as the comments come 
in.  Some good points were raised again, as well as some I don't think 
are so good.  Incidentally, I just tend not to mention the latter in 
subsequent postings, or maybe even concede certain points without 
comment, again for economy of time.  But, no response doesn't mean I've 
given up.  When people take the time to engage in this kind of discourse, 
however, I feel bad sometimes in not being able to give back a thoughtful 
response.  I am filing the postings by Tom and Jonathon, and hope to get 
to them, maybe bit by bit, in due time.  And I certainly appreciate the 
nice things Jonathon said about me.

Incidentally, in due time I may find that I am finally convinced that all 
of the current practices in PT are the best we can do.  I have said here 
previously that I think PT is, in general, better than the old way.  I do 
tell people that birds are dinosaurs.  I never bring up any of the 
objections that I have discussed here because any of that would go over 
the heads of students, and I recognize that I am not an authoritative 
source of dissent.  But that doesn't mean I have to accept all of PT, 
lock, stock, and barrel.  I see some problems here and there that 
apparently not everybody sees.  In some cases, that is surely because I 
am not a taxonomist and haven't spent the time boning up on the 
conceptual foundations or sitting around thinking about it.  In other 
cases, I think there really are some flaws that can be fixed.  All of the 
objections to certain of my complaints, while graphically demonstrating 
my lack of expertise in systematics (sometimes, showing where I'm wrong 
may be like taking candy from a baby--that's my cliche for this 
posting!), still do not come to grips with some of the more foundational 
points I have raised.  I guess my bottom line concern now is that 
committed practitioners, regardless of what group in the biosphere they 
study, are loathe to concede that fixable problems exist, and since I am 
not going to try to fix things myself, I fear there is little chance for 
improvement.


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Norman R. King                                       tel:  (812) 464-1794
Department of Geosciences                            fax:  (812) 464-1960
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Blvd.
Evansville, IN 47712                      e-mail:  nking.ucs@smtp.usi.edu