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Double Yikes!! Avoiding bias.
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
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).
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.
Student of Geology
Northern Arizona University
P.O. Box 20840
Flagstaff, Az. 86011
"A _Coelophysis_ with feathers?"
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