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RE: PLoS T.rex infection paper nomenclature question



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Mike Taylor wrote:

<Sheesh -- do I really need to include the little smiley face? Didn't the p=
hase "Platonic truth" clue you in that I was not in fact being 100% serious=
?>

=A0 Mike=2C given that you wrote a paper whose purpose was=2C largely to es=
tablish that *brancai* and *altithorax* were _generically_ distinct=2C yes=
=2C it does need to be pointed out.=A0 Isn't that the whole point? I would =
actually prefer that whenever someone tries to point out labeling a taxon a=
s _generically_ distinct=2C they at least determine a metric in which they =
can assert this=2C a methodology or a hypothesis by which this can be appli=
ed to other taxa.=A0 Otherwise=2C it really is a "What matters to _me_" con=
cept=2C and that is what the paper asserts on the taxonomic end of things.=
=A0 The name has been essentially available since 1988=2C so whenever *alti=
thorax* or *brancai* fall out closer to one other group that disrupts their=
 structure as an exclusive clade with one another=2C that name can be used.=
=A0 This doesn't controvert the bulk of the paper=2C which is quite good=2C=
 but I think there is a "subtext" (really=2C rather "super"-text) that the =
paper wants to assert that a bulk of characters is what defines a "genus"=
=2C when in fact this metric is a hypothesis that when applied requires a h=
efty sense of relativism on how many feathers can be split into characters=
=2C the value of a character=2C and the nature of certain anatomical or gen=
etic features _as_ characters. I still do not know why or how a researcher =
can argue for generic distinction of taxa on the basis of character _number=
_ without somehow applying this to other named taxa and using that as a met=
ric. It would be a test not of the effectiveness of the hypothesis=2C but o=
f the robusticity of the method used to apply to generic separation=2C and =
how "strong" character selection can lead to wildly different taxonomic out=
puts. Nice project=2C this one seems to suggest it=2C but the author (you=
=2C Mike) doesn't seem to write in such that this is clear. This is why a d=
isclaimer would be nice on the author's part when making statements about v=
alidating taxonomy and opening a can of worms. As I said before=2C the sect=
ion validating the generic distinction of *brancai* is very small in compar=
ison to the work detailing the distinctiveness of *brancai* and *altithorax=
*. I think you=2C Mike=2C missed an opportunity to face the discussion head=
 on.

=A0 Cheers=2C

Jaime A. Headden

"Innocent=2C unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)

"Human beings=2C who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from =
the experience of others=2C are also remarkable for their apparent disincli=
nation to do so." --- Douglas Adams (Last Chance to See)

"Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different lan=
guage and a new way of looking at things=2C the human race has had a dream:=
 to kill him=2C so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of lo=
oking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
                                          =0A=
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