[tdwg-content] Treatise on Occurrence, tokens, and basisOfRecord

Jim Croft jim.croft at gmail.com
Mon Oct 25 06:06:07 CEST 2010

On Mon, Oct 25, 2010 at 9:43 AM, Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org> wrote:
> ...  Part of the problem is that a lot of this stuff is
> driven by passionate individuals, who also happen to be highly
> over-committed.

hmmm... passionate...
"I cannot give any scientist of any age better advice than this: the
intensity of a conviction that a hypothesis is true has no bearing on
whether it is true. " Peter B. Medawar, Advice to a Young Scientist,

> Hmmmm...not sure I agree.  If it is so that Occurrence=Individual+Event,
> then a Specimen can be said to *be* the Individual, whereas images, DNA
> sequences, and the like are the tokens.  In other words, Individual "is a"
> Specimen;

That might work for fish, but with *real* organisms, such as plants, a
specimen is a fragment or representation of an individual and thus
conceptually not really different to a chunk of DNA or a image.  It
could be thought of as a token of stuff that was in a particular place
at a particular time.  Think I am with Steve on this one... if only to
provoke a conceept fight... :)

> but Individual "has a" image.

and an individual has a fragment, sacrificed to become a specimen.  It
is just that in fish the sacrifice was entire and ultimate... :)

> Now that I think about it, perhaps
> but if the elusive "Individual" is key to this relationship, then
> perhaps Specimens serve as bot "evidence" of an occurrence, and the "stuff"
> of the Individual represneted by the Occurrence.

The notion of the 'individual' is probably a furphy...  for the
different organmisms the token might be an individual, but it might be
a fragment, or a part of a population, or perfhaps even the entire

The distinction between 'the stuff' and the specimen is only one of
definition, isn't it?  If a museum or herbarium agrees to accept and
curate it, then 'stuff' becomes a specimen.

omg!  ... curation is the point at which 'stuff' becomes 'things'!
(yes, remember this, you heard it on TDWG first) ...

> My brain hurts.

Hey, you only write this stream of subconsiousness... we have to read it... :)

>> Although I don't deny the existence of memory patterns in
>> neurons that are associated with a HumanObservation,
>> there isn't any way that we can receive a representation
>> of that memory directly.

oh oh... metaconcept/metaphysics alert...

> That
> is, there is a species identification, number of individuals, etc.,
> associated with an observation that is based on the memory of the person who
> made the observation, and that memory is represented by a database record
> with associated metadata.

hmmm... thinking... repressed memories (misidentified and forgotten
specimens, or, extinctions you refuse to accept)... false memories
(occurrences you made up because you're the expert and the species
should bloody well be there)... hallucinations (anybody else's
taxonony, identifications and survey results)...

At this point I want to fork to a cosmic metaphycical ramble about
occurrence being a totally scale dependent many to many to many
relationship between stuff (possibly represented by things), time and
place... but I won't... ;)

> This conversation could go very weird, very quickly

What is this 'could' of which you speak?

jim :)

Jim Croft ~ jim.croft at gmail.com ~ +61-2-62509499 ~
'A civilized society is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point
of doubtful sanity.'
 - Robert Frost, poet (1874-1963)

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