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Double Yikes!! Avoiding bias.



Rob,
Double Yikes!! I've never advocated changing (or simplifying) "phylogenies" to make them more convenient or useful. Unfortunately, traditional eclectic classifications (which do not explicitly store phylogenetic "sister group" information) do sacrifice too much data and information, and that is why I don't advocate them either. I don't like either extreme.
I use a system that attempts to get rid of the side-effects of both traditional and purely phylogenetic classifications (and keeps what is useful about each). The point my system makes is that there is more than one way to store phylogenetic information in a classification. And much of the confusing complexity (and uncertainty) is stored in a modifiable code, which is preferable to prematurely storing it in the formal nomenclature (which generates man-made, unnecessary confusion and complexity). Therefore non-systematists can ignore the coding and have a relatively stable, convenient classification, while pure phylogenetic classifications force everyone to navigate the complexities unnecessarily.
As I have said before, the cladistic attempt to eliminate human "bias" not only comes at far too high a price, but in practice it usually ends up just substituting cladistic "biases" and arbitrariness in the place of traditional "biases" and arbitrariness. In my opinion, we can only minimize bias by a middle ground approach (which also avoids the pitfalls of both traditional eclectic and purely phylogenetic approaches).
-------Ken Kinman
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Rob wrote:
Yikes. I didn't expect to respond to one of these comments, but none the less, here I go.
Phylogenies aren't created to suit people. We shouldn't say, "I don't like it, so we should change it to suit us." The idea behind cladistics is to have a classification (theoretically) free of bias. So, if we want phylogenies to "adapt to our needs as much as possible," that would not be showing a truer picture of what is going on. I've heard that cladistics causes unneeded confusion and what not. Well, guess what. Life is confusing, complex, and more intertwined than we will be able to unravel in 100 generations. But why not try to understand. With a phylogenetic classification, you (theoretically) get a clearer picture of what is going on in nature without human bias. We should try to make things easy on ourselves, true, but not at the expense of knowledge, data and truth. We should try to understand nature as it is, not as it would be most convenient for us.
Peace,
Rob


Student of Geology
Northern Arizona University
P.O. Box 20840
Flagstaff, Az. 86011
AIM: TarryAGoat
"A _Coelophysis_ with feathers?"

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