Message 2001-06-0030: Re: current usage (blunt talk)

Mon, 30 Apr 2001 17:20:06 +0200

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Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2001 17:20:06 +0200
From: Michel Laurin <>
Subject: Re: current usage (blunt talk)

Hi Ken,

	I think that you don't get my main point, although I may not have expressed=
 it verly clearly.  Cladists have redefined many taxa to make them=
 monophyletic back in the 1970.  The point that I was trying to make is that=
 many of these usages are now accepted by a very large number of scientists,=
 and in some cases, even by laymen (although most laymen are familiar only=
 with a small number of taxa, of course).  Making taxa monophyletic is not=
 the pupose of Phylocode because the Phylocode takes for granted that taxa=
 are monophyletic.  I have not seen a backlash against cladistics because of=
 the new meanings that we give to many names, although I admit that a few=
 people don't like this.  But these are mostly people who don't like=
 cladistics anyway (and they are systematists), so I don't expect them to=
 like the Phylocode, no matter how accommodating we try to be.  Also, no=
 matter what we do, we have to accept that we will not please everybody.  I=
 think that we have to try to get the best, workable code we can get, and I=
 think that (with time, I grant you), it will get increasingly accepted.


>     Excuse me for being blunt, but I think your casual dismissal (of Mike
>Keesey's concerns) is short-sighted.   This kind of attitude (keep shoving =
>down their ignorant throats and they will eventually have to swallow it)
>smacks of Ivory Tower elitism.
>      If PhyloCode is to have any chance at all of catching on, the
>hard-liners had better start listening to more moderate cladists like Canti=
>and Keesey.  Otherwise you not only risk the failure of PhyloCode, but a mu=
>more widespread reactionary backlash against cladistics in general. =20
>      As one who believes cladistic analysis is a valuable tool (as did my
>teacher Peter Ashlock), I fear such a backlash will be directed not only at
>cladistic classification, but at cladistic analysis as well, and that would=
>a tragic swing of the pendulum away from the useful aspects of cladistics.
>     Therefore, if you continue to equate "current usage" only with "cladis=
>current usage" (as your comments below would indicate), you are doing your
>more moderate colleagues a disservice, and PhyloCode won't stand a snowball=
>chance in hell.  Again pardon my bluntness, but I see storm clouds fast
>approaching, and your approach strikes me as similar to a certain lady whos=
>opinion was "Let them eat cake".
>     If you don't face these issues now (and Cantino and Keesey seem to be
>making a sincere effort to do so), the consequences will be just that much
>worse when they finally catch up with you.  An ounce of prevention can go a
>long way.
>                  -----Ken Kinman
>Michel Laurin <> wrote:
>>On Mon, 30 Apr 2001, Michel Laurin wrote:
>>> Hi all,
>>> >Personally, I don't mind using _Synapsida_ (and _Therapsida_) as clades
>>> >I've done so for years. I'm just thinking of "selling" the system to a
>>> >wider audience, some of whom may find these conversions (and those of
>>> >_Reptilia_, _Osteichthyes_, etc.) hard to swallow, especially when othe=
>>> >names for the clades are already in existence (however obscure).
>>>      Actually, I don't think that this will be a problem.  Many
>>> vertebrate paleontologists (including myself) have been using
>>> Synapsida in this monophyletic sense for so long, that I think this is
>>> already considered the normal meaning of that name.
>>Good point. Fine for those taxa, then, but what about groups still used
>>quite commonly (probably mroe commonly) in their traditional senses, like
>>_Osteichthyes_ and _Reptilia_?
>>(_Amphibia_ is not quite so bad, IMHO, since it still refers to the same
>>group in terms of extant taxa, and most biologists work with extant taxa.)
>        Actually, I know many paleontologists (again, including myself) tha=
>have used Osteichthyes, Reptilia, and Amphibia as clades for many years.  I
>think that this is a general issue (I suspect that most taxa have been used=
>clades by now), and that people will just have to get used to the idea that
>the only taxa that are valid are clades (this has been a major tenet of
>cladistics for fourty years, so this should not be controversial), so there
>should be no special problems with Osteichthyes, Reptilia or Amphibia.  I
>think that most people understand that sometimes, progress requires a chang=
>of habits.  Anyway, that's my opinion.
>        Sincerely,
>        Michel

	Michel Laurin
	Equipe 'Formations squelettiques'
	CNRS - UMR 8570
	Case 7077
	Universit=E9 Paris 7 - Denis Diderot
	2, place Jussieu
	75251 Paris cedex 05
	Tel. (33) 1 44 27 36 92
	Fax. (33) 1 44 27 56 53


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