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Re: why scientists don't just give up the names battle

  • Subject: Re: why scientists don't just give up the names battle
  • From: Betsy Feuerstein <ecuador@midsouth.rr.com>
  • Date: Mon, 9 Jul 2001 09:24:01 -0500 (CDT)

Just perhaps Les has hit the nail on the head. If those in the minority, just give
a wee bit with their rigidity, they could have what they basically want. If that is
not acceptable, then the efforts of forcing upon the multitude can continue with
current equal success. Another words, give up the rigidity that there is only one
way. There are many ways to skin a cat if that is what you so choose to do.
Botanics serves a select group basically and it does a reasonably good job of it. I
don't think we are going to teach chemistry to the masses and in the same respect,
I don't think we are going to teach a great deal of botanics to the masses. All
most want is a pretty plant, a different plant, a colorful plant, a whatever plant.
They don't care what you call it. If you make the name so difficult for them, they
will just revert to what they knew it as before. Yes, a few of us like to know what
we are looking at in botanical terms, but let's face it, not many do.


Lester Kallus wrote:

> I'd like to offer a differing opinion on the common versus scientific
> name.  Professionally, I run into frustrations with bacteria names some of
> which are on their third name in the 21 years I've been
> working.  Nevertheless, I do this professionally and so can keep up with it
> as long as they tell me ahead of time.  Fortunately, the lay public doesn't
> use these names so there's no problem.  If they did, we might have to
> reevaluate our position on changing the names.
> Periodically, I've read letters here indicating that some plant I had never
> heard of had been renamed to another genus that I also had never heard
> of.  This didn't affect me and won't affect most other folks.  There's no
> problem if few know about it.  It's the same as when a bacteria is renamed
> by the microbiological and medical community.  The problem does happen,
> though, when it's a plant that's commonly grown.
> If the vast majority of people misidentify Pothos and only a small number
> of botanists and horticulturists can accurately identify them, how complex
> would it be to tell the botanists and horticulturists to find a new name
> for the true Pothos and to allow the previously misidentified Pothos to
> correctly assume the name?  I suspect it would be less complex to
> re-educate the botanists and horticulturists than it would the rest of the
> "uneducated" public.
> Unfortunately, though, the botanists are too stubborn and insist that the
> rest of the world follow their lead.  Come on now - if it's been
> misidentified for 200 years and if few people would recognize the true
> Pothos - why not just change the name of the true Pothos and let everyone
> be right?  Could it possibly be people taking pleasure in calling others wrong?
>           Les

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