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Posted by WW on March 05, 2002 at 04:53:13:
In Reply to: Re: Queries answered and more posted by Scott Thomson on March 04, 2002 at 17:45:49:
: A more broad knowledge is in a lot of ways better than a narrow (though maybe more detailed) knowledge.
Hmmm - that may be true in many circumstances and for some activities. However, when it comes to the systematics of a particular group, I would dispute this.
Broad knowledge, in the shape of having kept umpteen specimens of N species at home or having seen them in some habitats, is exactly what leads to the "any damn fool can see they are different" approach to taxonomy. This in turn leads to situations such as we are seeing here - "amateurs" with a very broad but superficial knowledge describing species equally superficially, without any idea of statistics, species concepts, genetics, scientific taxonomic practice, etc., but based simply on gut feeling and one or two superficial character, recorded from grossly insufficient samples to provide conclusive evidence on the status of these forms. Sure, others who have the same experience will agree that "yep, they are different, always thought so myself". However, science is about evidence, not gut feeling; taxonomy is a science, and therefore, taxonomic practice should be based on sound scientific evidence.
I am not denigrating the extensive knowledge of the non-institutional herpetological community in any way. However, the scenario we see above is an ongoing problem, as we keep seeing, and not only in Australia. The kind of modifications to the Code that we discussed in an earlier thread should go at least some way towards dealing with that, if they are ever implemented.