evolgen

Is it just me, or is this just wrong?

I am a big fan of The Science Creative Quarterly. I especially like how they integrate science with humor — sort of like the Onion, but focused on science. Now they are getting into science education.

If you know nothing about phylogenetics and systematics, this introduction to phylogenetics from the SCQ will be quite informative. Of course, if you’re reading evolgen, you probably know something about phylogenetics — and if you don’t, read it and evolgen will make more sense.

The treatment of phylogenetics isn’t wrong, it’s just not quite right. Take, for example, their distinction between taxonomy and systematics. Systematics does not take “taxonomy one step further by elucidating new methods and theories that can be used to classify species.” Systematics is the process of determining the evolutionary relationships between species. Taxonomy, on the other hand, is the process of coming up with arbitrary categories and names for taxa (that’s my passive aggressive way of saying what I think about taxonomy).

Elsewhere in the science blogosphere, Razib offers us a great account of the early days of population genetics. It also reminds me that I still need to read Will Provine’s The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics. For more about Provine, check out this post a wrote a while back.

Comments

  1. #1 razib
    January 29, 2006

    it is a very quick and breezy read FYI. also, i found the afterword kind of amusing and depressing. not a big fan of random genetic drift, he.

  2. #2 RPM
    January 29, 2006

    Provine’s not a fan of free will, either. I have only heard him mention it in passing, but from what I can gather, it stems from the idea that everything is governed by physics and chemistry, including neurons (nothing controversial). Following this logic, all thought is just chemistry. You can see where this leads to a loss of free will.