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Re: synapomorphies not created equal
On Sat, Sep 01, 2001 at 06:22:10PM -0500, Tim Williams scripsit:
> Ken Kinman wrote:
> > I've been thinking very hard about this, and I am still not
> > convinced
> >that all synapomorphies are created equal. Some are "stronger" than
> >others no matter how long or big the evolutionary gap happens to be
> >in which it falls.
> This is a slippery slope - and I'm quite frightened of what might lie
> at the bottom of it.
> I can foresee such an approach leading to a situation in which
> characters are assessed as "strong" or "weak" according to how they
> fit a given evolutionary scenario.
I think character weight being problematic is a side effect of not
having sufficently powerful computers available to the typical
paleontological researcher yet; there isn't anything fundamental that
says a statistical assessment of tree stability couldn't be done to
produce confidences in at least the *relative* weight of the characters.
It would just suck up orders of magnitude more computing power than the
weightless versions, so it isn't on the desktop yet.
To maintain the end is to uphold the means.