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2 questions about characters (long!)



Hi, List

I have 2 questions about characters that have to do with recent posts by
some of you. Due to the neverending frustration of trying to understand your
cladistics jargon I forced myself to open my books and actually STUDY, for a
change, but I have encountered (surprise) more difficulties, here's an
example:

This question sprang while I was reading E. O. Wiley's _Phylogenetics_
(1981):

Are characters with "intermediate apomorphies" the same as multistate
characters?  and when one code these, what is the guide one is supposed to
follow to decide to code it as multistate or as your regular 2-faced
character after all, any quantitative or qualitative, or whatever character
can be transmogrified into a 2-state one with better or worse results, or am
I wrong? what's the good in these multistate characters? I can think of a
couple of examples but perhaps you could enlighten me with another?

Now the second question:

Steven Mahon wrote-

>> If I didnt know
>> something had something, I "assumed" it was a no. Next
>> time I'll make sure the info is more accurate

To which Mickey Mortimer answered-

>Needless to say, that's a bad practice.

Now, I agree, of course, is this the same as saying that everytime one
doesn't know a particular character state, one should use a question mark,
and is this analogous to saying "I have no idea what this means, let's use
another character and let's just draw a '?' here"? (after all Mickey himself
and others have said it in other posts and I've read it in many other
places):

Mickey Mortimer wrote in another message-

<The only reasons to reject characters before you even include them are:
<[snip other reasons...] you don't understand the character (it happens to
<everyone)

I know (I'm quoting again here but I don't remember who said it) that any
cladistic analysis is just as good as its choice of characters and
apparently the choice of characters is a function of how much you actually
know about the groups you are fiddling with (how much you, the analyst,
knows and also how much the entire scientific community knows about the
given groups).

To end this, I would like to ask you for some references that help me get a
little better. I've tried many books, old and newish with the same problems,
maybe I just need time?

Thanks a lot in advance

Charles