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Re: "babble" about cladistics

Thomas R. Holtz writes;

>I guess the big point here would be "define utility".  Is a
>useful character one which helps support a particular tree?  Is it one which
>is easily preserved?  Is it one which can be clearly described and is
>verifiable from specimen to specimen and by different workers?  All these
>are probably good definitions of "utility", and given character in a given
>group of organisms may or may not demonstrate all these properties.

Time to play "Stump The Professor:"

Would this add a measure of subectivity into the cladigram?   If a researcher 
puts in the characters that he/she deems important, would that cause the 
resulting cladigram to be an educated guess (at best) or an opinion (at the 
least)?  Or, is a cladistical analysis similar to a statistical one: the more 
data points (i.e. characters) one uses, the better the results?  If cladistics 
is like statistics, has there been an attempt to find the "standard deviation," 
or at least to define what a "standard deviation" is?

Thank you for playing.


Rob Meyerson

Mawage is what bwings us together today."
        -"The Princess Bride"