Re-thinking cladistics

Sergio Salazar savs551216 at hotmail.com
Wed Nov 3 14:42:31 EST 2004


Dear colleagues,

Do you remember the last time that one of your teachers or colleagues asked 
you to carefully think about your activities? Or about asking you to consider 
some issues apparently lying beyond the strict duties you are expected to do? 
If you do, perhaps you recall that the first impression was one of 
unhappiness, and thought it involves either a waste of time or an unnecessary 
deviation from your main tasks. In fact, most current education activities 
train us to strictly follow main rules without any reflection, discussion, or 
the like. This makes us both good followers and bad thinkers, and we 
eventually tend to loose any interest in any thought-provoking issue.  

Luckily enough, there are still some colleagues who encourage us to rethink 
and consider some issues before being engaged in some technical tools. Of 
course, they will never be popular since their arguments look so unfriendly, 
especially because they mean more work, as it is always the case when you try 
to do things in a different fashion.  

Well, I’m pleased to inform you that we have had during almost three weeks a 
series of lectures by Kirk Fitzhugh on philosophy and cladistics, and did 
survive. As you may know, at least during the last 5 yr, Kirk has been 
studying the logical and philosophical foundations for cladistics, and perhaps 
some of you have visited his slide shows. Since he is the external advisor for 
Maria Ana Tovar, who is making her Ph. D. on sabellids, he came to Chetumal to 
help her with her research, and to share his opinions with us. At the same 
time, he revised his slide shows trying to improve and make them more 
complete. Of course, we had some problems trying to follow some of the 
arguments, indeed, but hopefully the main result will be a better 
understanding of the implications and limits of cladistic methods.  

Thus, this a public acknowledge for his interest and motivation to share his
experience, for his painstaking efforts for making more accessible the
difficult language of logic and philosophy, and for making us think about how
cladistics ought to be understood and done.

Best wishes,

Sergio

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