Poor Willi Hennig...

Joe Felsenstein joe at evolution.genetics.washington.edu
Fri Sep 15 16:48:39 EST 1995

In article <43cdoq$71f at studium.student.umu.se>,
Ludvig Mortberg <Agneta.Guillemot at historia.umu.se> wrote:
>Molecular systematics has as see it done enourmous dagage to
>phyologenetic research. It will take decades to recover from
>the curse of it. Molecular systematics violates all concepts 
>we have developed of how evolution happens and can be studied.
>Evolution is descent by modification. There is no constant clock
>in the genom that makes it possible to deduce relationships in
>organisms just by comparing genes and seeing which sequences 
>are most similar.
... (and so on)
>Don't belive trees of life drawn up from rRNA. You're all beeing
>Willi Hennig would be turning in his grave if he knew how phylogenetic
>research is conducted today.

99% of the inferences in molecular systematics are made without
any assumption of a molecular clock.   So Mortberg's "flame-bait" is
just a "straw man".  Willi Hennig is ill-served indeed, having some
followers who do not understand the methods they criticize.

There is no point in having any big discussion of this unless
Mortberg can explain how existing methods such as parsimony, distance
matrix methods, and maximum likelihood assume a molecular clock.
If he cannot then we must ask him why his rhetoric is so out of
proportion to his understanding.

Joe Felsenstein         joe at genetics.washington.edu     (IP No.
 Dept. of Genetics, Univ. of Washington, Box 357360, Seattle, WA 98195-7360

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