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

Richard Pyle deepreef at bishopmuseum.org
Mon Oct 25 10:45:05 CEST 2010

> 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,
> 1979

Hmmmm....who said anything about hypotheses?

> > 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.  

I disagree.  A fragment of a "real" organism is no different from a skin of
a "fake" organism.  Neither of these is a "representation" of an individual
-- they are both *part* of an individual.  An image is a representation of
an individual.  A DNA "sequence" is also a representation.  I would argue
that the product of PCR is also a representation.  Actual DNA molecules
within actual organism cells would be a "part" of the individual.

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

Without getting into the notion of what constitutes an "entire" organism
(e.g., when the water inside the cells is replaced by alcohol, was the
displaced water part of the organism?), I would say that both fish and
plants are but mere footnotes on the biodiversity ladnscape, compared with
insects (usually preserved as mostly intact whole organisms).  And, of
course, the insects are mere footnotes compared to the bacteria....but I

> 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 population.

My brain is starting to hurt again.

> 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)...

Indeed.  And I'm sure all such flavors of memories are represented in
databases within our community.

> 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... ;)

My brian hurts a bit less now.  Thanks.

> > This conversation could go very weird, very quickly
> What is this 'could' of which you speak?


Evidently, you have very little experience in the realm of the "very" weird.
Trust me, we haven't even come close yet.  We've only just nudged our toes
across the "weird" line.

Definitely time for some sleep.


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