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The target audience...and other rantings


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Posted by chrish on January 23, 2003 at 13:18:33:

In Reply to: Re: There's also the statement by some... posted by Kenny Wray on January 22, 2003 at 13:45:20:

The target audience is "Joe Public" but in an indirect manner. I am not suggesting we hold a gun to "Joe P's" head and tell him you better start calling it Slowinki's Corn Snake.

The target audience for such a list is those people entrusted with presenting herp related information to the public, such as zoo and museum people and scientists who interact with the public. And you are right, it isn't tens of millions of people. But the need exists.

When a scientist, like Whit Gibbons, gets up in front of a crowd of dignitaries or schoolkids (which he does dozens of times every year) he needs to be able to present information about Squirrel Treefrogs. It is counterproductive for him to start talking about the animal as Hyla squirella as it will turn off the audience he is trying to educate. And I think it would be bad for him to have to refer to them as "rain frogs" (the local colloquial name for the species). So even scientists who communicate with the public need access to common names. Wouldn't it be better if they were all presenting the same name?

Another target of the standardized lists would be zoos and museums. I would hate to go to a zoo and see them displaying a Texas Ratsnake and labelling it a "Chicken Snake". I have no problem with them including information that they are known colloquially by another name, but they should point out that their "correct" name is Texas Ratsnake. It is part of public education mandate of that institution.

And regarding "Slowinski's Corn Snake". Assuming we agree that it is valid taxon, I think that is a very poor choice of common names for it. Why not something simple like "Midland Corn Snake" or "Western Corn Snake".

I don't think the average Joe gives a rat's a$$ about who something is named for. You want to call the thing Elaphe slowinskii - great! But have the creativity and foresight to give it a meaningful common name (I personally don't like to see taxa named for people. Give them some sort of descriptive scientific name).

That's why there needs to group that can evaluate and standardize common names according to a predetermined set of rules (such as those outlined by Crother, et al). That way we don't end up idiotic names like that.

And I think the scientists who study the organisms are the best choice for providing such a list. Just because you aren;t interested in it and don't want to do it yourself doesn't make it a waste of time.




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