Re: does hubey have a point?

David Froehlich (
Tue, 10 Oct 1995 16:20:34 -0500

On 9 Oct 1995, H. M. Hubey wrote:

Once again I can't believe I am answering thia guy. (in no way is my
anserwing this to be considered a validation of Mr. Hubey's ability to do
science (or at least this science))

On 9 Oct 1995, H . M. Hubey wrote:

> Then the fun part comes. YOu can do this will all sorts of bones.
> And you can do this with full bodies too. And then what. Well
> this is where you can finally produce numbers which will
> measure "distances" (morphologically) of skeletons from
> other skeletons.

fundamental assumption here that the transition was continuous and monotonic

> And that is what you want; "distances". Because the analogical
> reasoning that is used is based on "similarity". And
> the word "similar" really means that the "distance" between
> the two is shorter than the distance between two that are
> not similar.

Once again, Mr Hubey demonstrates his ignorance of the methodology that
we use. We are not looking for "similarity" or for "morphological
distances". As a systematist, we use shared derived features,
evolutionary novelties to unite groups of organisms into clades. Why
does throwing numbers at a problem help at all? This does not mean that
I disagree that quantification is not something to be strived for, rather
I disagree that a number is necessarily better than a word. Mr. Hubey
wants us to quantify bipedality-quadrupedality, while I think this is a
gross oversimplification of the problem. Just within ungulates there are
numerous ways of being quadrupedal, and Mr. Hubey wants us to lump all of
that diversity into a single number. Ultimately my concern is that
numbers without understanding is no better than drivel (which I submit
has not been in short supply on these posts).

> Pay attention to what I write. Don't read into it what you
> want to read into it. What you comprehend is a function
> of not only what i write but also your own capability.

And your understanding and ability to communicate. Besides, why should we
bother to pay attention when the reverse is pattently not the case.

David J. Froehlich Phone: 512-471-6088
Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory Fax: 512-471-5973
J.J. Pickle Research Campus
The University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712