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Electric Car Taxonomy





Philidor,
Your metaphors bring up some interesting parallels between government bureaucracy and scientific bureaucracy in some ways, and that resistance and resentment are going to be an enormous problem for phylogenetic taxonomists (perhaps far more than they realize).
However, I wouldn't say that issues of authority and control are nearly as bad in science as they are in government, and I believe phylogenetic taxonomy and PhyloCode are genuinely meant to achieve improvements. I just think they are greatly underestimating the levels of confusion and instability that will occur in the attempt to switch from Linnean taxonomy to Phylogenetic taxonomy.
It is sort of like extreme chemotherapy for taxonomy-----phylogeneticists think that the patient (taxonomy) will endure the procedure and come out cured in the end. Traditionalists rightly fear (in my opinion) that the therapy is so drastic that the patient will not only have the endure the pain of the procedure, but will end up coming out in far worse shape. In other words, the cure will end up being worse than the disease itself.
So I hope it won't be characterized as office politics, or authority and control issues, but more as an intense disagreement on what is best for the patient. Both sides mean well and truly believe their approach will have the best outcome. Unfortunately, non-taxonomists might not understand this and their perception may indeed be that it is mostly issues of authority and "politics", and taxonomists had better be prepared for a backlash of resistance and resentment (particularly if Benton's fears for PhyloCode come about).
So I completely agree with Philidor's suggestion that phylogenetic taxonomists very seriously consider the "public policy" implications of their actions and also the ways in which they characterize those who resist the many changes they are proposing.
------Ken
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