[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]


<While I'm at nit-picking respectively semantics... agreeing that there is a
reality is a _prerequisite_ for science and not part of science itself,
Well, I did say apprehending reality, inherent and not separate assumption.
Nits itch.

HP Peter Buchholz:
<The point I have been making, and will continue to make is that a
phylogenetic hypothesis, a cladogram, is the DATA telling you OBJECTIVELY
what the hypothesis should and could be.  The just-so-story of Linnean
systematicists is again, the anti-scientific way of looking at
Me (excerpted):
Let's take the Linnaean view as one based purely on observation.
That's of course not true. Linné took an arbitrary part of the characters he
saw. "The just-so-story" refers to practically all pre-cladistic family
trees... HP Peter Buchholz was talking about methods _to find out
phylogeny_, not about ways to classify.

Linnaeus' system has been modified in response to new knowledge.  For one
thing, he never heard of dinosaurs, and now they're right up there with
birds and reptiles (!).  At any rate, I'm taking as a given that a
classification scheme must not contradict evolution.
The statement about objectivity, the data accurately determining
relationships without human intervention, is an issue of analysis, not
classification.  However, he is using the accuracy of the analysis to compel
use of a classification scheme based on the analysis, and saying the
Linnaean alternative is unscientific because not objective.  I'm responding
by saying that it is possible to ignore cladistics and be objective.  Too
limited in what's included in the definition you and/or he may argue, but

In listing the components of a cladistic definition of birds, I noted:
<...and a mrca whose characters are subject to consensus change with
peer-reviewed notice.
You responded:
<Why "consensus"? What characters the MRCA had is predicted by phylogenetic

Yes, and another, superseding hypothesis can change the character list.
What makes one hypothesis supersede another?  Consensus.
This is not complete stability.  The inclusion of Archie could also change
some day.

Relaxing, I said:
<PS  Rereading the Jefferson quote lauding Linnaeus for having found a
classification system everyone could agree upon,...>
You responded:
<Jefferson's predictive powers have turned out to have been limited.>
The Linnaean system had been in place for a long time before Jefferson,
still here more than 200 years later, has a good chance of being around for
a long while.

Still having fun, I paraphrased first Jefferson about the error of using
bones for classification, and then a later President:
<Reminded me of John F. Kennedy's comment to a flock of Nobel laureates that
there was more brain power in the White House that night than on any prior
occasion, save when Jefferson dined there alone.
Whatta guy!  (Jefferson)>
You responded:
<Wasn't it he who said he'd rather believe that 2 Yankee professors lied
than that... whatever they said and has turned out to be correct? All due
respect to Jefferson, and that's much, but he wasn't a demi-god either.>
No, not a demi-god, but an ace generalist.  I liked mentioning ignoring
bones here, considering other discussions on list.
Still, the lurking serious point is that Jefferson appreciated the Linnaean
system because it was accepted for so long.  He knew how difficult it was to
obtain agreement on anything, and his reason for leaving out bones is
(paraphrasing again) that they introduced subtlety and subtlety creates
disagreement.  In retirement, he valued calm.  (Got another good quote about
political life...  Never mind.)

So, meditatively tonight, I think there's good reason for valuing quiet
agreement, rather than disturbance, so long as the settled idea doesn't do
any harm.