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Weekly reading: Putnam on the corroboration of theories

“There is no logic of discovery – in that sense, there is no logic of testing, either; all the formal algorithms proposed for testing, by Carnap, by Popper, by Chomsky, etc., are, to speak impolitely, ridiculous; if you don’t believe this, program a computer to employ one of these algorithms and see how well it does at testing theories! There are maxims for discovery and maxims for testing: the idea that correct ideas just come from the sky, while the methods for testing them are highly rigid and predetermined, is one of the worst legacies of the Vienna Circle.” – Putnam, 1974.

Putnam offers a passionate rebuttal of logical empiricism but later on became more skeptical about metaphysical ‘evidence’ not directly linked to sensory impressions.

H. Putnam. 1974. The “corroboration” of theories; pp. 221-240. In: P.A. Schilpp, Editor. The Philosophy of Karl Popper, Volume 1. Open Court, La Salle, IL. Available (as a reprint) here.

Adding descriptions to Taxon Profile Pages in SCAN

This is a primer on adding (previously published) descriptions to Taxon Profile Pages in SCAN (or in Symbiota more generally). Examples are related to the Weevils of North America (WoNA) checklist. For sake of simplicity this entry uses descriptions that were previously digitized and are available through the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Here is an exemplary, step-wise procedure to add a SCAN taxon description. Doing so requires permission to be a Taxon Profile Editor (such permissions are granted by portal administrators).

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Weekly reading: Brady on the independence of systematics

Up next week, following Rieppel’s (2007) nuanced dissection of the limits of ‘direct reference’ (Kripke’s causal theory) and emerging lessons for comparative morphologists, we shall pivot to one of the more influential and sophisticated expositions of a pattern-centric view. Ronald Brady played a sometimes under-appreciated role in conversing and shaping views with cladists at the American Museum of Natural History starting in the late 1970s.

Brady, R.H. 1985. On the independence of systematics. Cladistics 1: 113-126. Availaible here.

SCAN presentation at the 2014 iDigBio Education and Outreach Workshop by Melody Basham


Here are slides for the “SCAN: Moving Beyond the K-12 Paradigm” presentation, given by Melody Basham at the 2014 iDigbio Education & Outreach Workshop.

SCAN Education and Outreach Presentation

SCAN presentation video at the iDigBio Education & Outreach Workshop

Neil Cobb presents a SCAN progress update at the 2014 iDigBio Education & Outreach Workshop. Watch all of iDigBio’s Vimeo uploads here:

Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network – Neil Cobb from iDigBio on Vimeo.

Filtered Push team visits ASU to develop remote identification module in SCAN

David Lowery and Paul Morris of the Filtered Push project visited the Franz Lab at ASU from January 6-10, 2014, for a focused Filtered Push/Symbiota hackathon. Ed Gilbert was also present. All enjoyed an intense week of specifying and implementing workflows, schemas, and new components in SCAN (and ultimately Symbiota) to search, display, and annotate images for remote identification and label transcription. The results will gradually come live, starting later this month.

Weekly reading: Rieppel on the performance of morphological characters

Last week we saw that coding inapplicables is tricky; essentially one must understand the limitations of the ‘square matrix’ and utilize reductive coding in such a way that logical and biological dependencies inherent in homology assessments are not distorted by the way in which global parsimony optimization occurs. We also saw a shift from a rather clear-cut stance about the boundaries between data and inference, to a more qualified position where inferences derived from an initial matrix and analysis should caution one to re-examine ‘the evidence’. Taking this dethroning of primary observations several steps further, next week we are reading:

Rieppel, O. 2007. The performance of morphological characters in broad-scale phylogenetic analyses. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 92: 297–308. Available here. 

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Weekly reading: Coding inapplicables

For next week’s discussion in our budding coding cladistic characters series for this semester, we shall read a paper dealing with the ins and outs of coding “inapplicables”:

Strong, E.E. & D. Lipscomb. 1999. Character coding and inapplicable data. Cladistics 15: 363–371. Available here.