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Re: Electric Car Taxonomy

Ken Kinman wrote:

<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.>

  I can say this with a friend and a relative both who've
undergone chemo and come out better in the end. The cancer is
reduced, ineffective, and the result is that it can be excised
damaging little of the brain, if at all. It thus is in the best
interest of the individual's survival dynamic to undergoe the
therapy to reduce the life-threatening cancers. Yes, chemo is
horrible in itsself, but so are root-canals. Better the
treatment than none. We have not the technology to advance
beyond chemo and root canals, they are the _only_ present
technology, we work in the known framework. To say "Pull the
tooth out," or "Euthanize me," when both can lead to more
problems than the immediate treatment or cure, is as useless
(and ridiculous) as trying to drive a buggy on a modern highway.
Toyotas and Chevis are certainly an improvement over the
horse-drawn carriage, though the last may be more quaint.

<Both sides mean well and truly believe their approach will have
the best outcome.>

  I'm reminded of what Chris Rock says in Kevin Smith's _Dogma_
(any religious allusions aside): "It's better to have an idea
than a belief: Beliefs are very hard to change." I'm
paraphrasing, but that's the gist of it. It works in many
arenas: If someone's advocating a particular belief, they don't
belong in science, which holds that all thoeries can and should
be abandoned when newer data indicates their error. One does not
attach wheels to a horse and fix it with a combustion engine
because that would make it run faster (am reminded hereto of the
Bugs Bunny cartoon version of the Tortoise vs. Hare fable, the
tortoise which has fixed motorized equipment to itself in order
to outperform the hare).

<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).>

  Benton has made some good points. I also see the PhyloCode's
statement that all taxa should be _re-applied_ for consideration
and reflection by the code, which would be daunting to say the
least, but this can be done very simply: make a specialized
volume in regards to taxonomy illustrating concensus and unique
views on taxonomy on established taxa, and list _all_ included
genera. One line on a two or three column page will have the
name, and definition. Nothing further is required. Similarly,
the definition gets a citation. The person defining the taxon
should not receive the honor of the name, it isn't new, and I
doubt this is the intent (I've read the Code, perhaps I should
go through it again for a refresher).

  But all this work and effort will be beneficial, if only to
cite Somphospondyli Wilson & Sereno vide Sereno in _PhyloCode:
Animalia, Vertebrata_; Sereno is well versed to provide at best
a whole page in the _Science_ typeset font of names and
definitions, with citations for original nomenclatural coinage.

  However, the public populace has the benefit of being the
stopgap in terms of those who are affected (somewhat) by this
system, but only if they are taught, in school, the intuitive,
phenotypic system of classifying animals as Linnaeus employed.
Does this help? No, you ave people spending whole semesters in
biology _unlearning_ all this high school _mumbo jumbo_ about 
how bats are rodents because they look like rats.... How do you
tell a high schooler that bats are not rodents? Does one decide
there and then to disect all of a rat, a bet, and a primitive
primatomorph? to test phylogeny? Or not tell them, let them pick
up a college biology volume which will argue the points in
detail. Whole papers which demonstrate the aspect of phylogeny
in molecular and morphological terms. One doesn't treat taxonomy
at the level that high schoolers can understand just because
it's _easier_ that way, but to educate high schoolers. I still
get attitude from my friends and family because I use ulna
instead of elbow bone....

Jaime A. Headden

  Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Pampas!!!!

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