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Re: SICB Report



In a message dated 1/18/99 1:29:55 PM Eastern Standard Time,
Dinogeorge@AOL.COM writes:

<< My understanding of the situation is that under the best of circumstances
 (e.g., fossil record perfect), the analysis recovers the correct cladogram
 about 80-90% of the time.  >>

Having dealt with samples fairly frequently, may I suggest greater caution in
statements like this?  For example, who determines the 'correct cladogram',
the person who wrote the computer program?  Any program can be modified, so a
100% match is possible as soon as someone determines the 'correct' answer.  
Also, is it possible to determine when a fossil record is 'perfect'?  Even 85%
accuracy would appear to indicate that the fossil record approaches perfection
in that there is only one answer which could be correct from the evidence.
That means the evidence is already strong, at least in excluding incorrect
answers.
I'm trying to avoid the impression that the program is being judged on its
ability to produce a desired result.  Any time I hear that a computer finding
is completely objective I want to meet the programmer.
I recognize it's also possible I'm not correctly understanding the mechanism
being discussed.