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Woese art., archaebact.

Arlin Stoltzfus arlin at is.dal.ca
Mon Sep 2 09:04:48 EST 1996


Andrew J. Roger wrote:

> It is utterly vague propaganda which tries to elevate the importance of
> the Archaebacteria (I personally think they are very important but not
> for silly reasons like this).
> 
> I think that if this kinda stuff keeps appearing we should start calling
> them the "We-hold-the-key-to-every-major-evolutionary-transition-bacteria".

IMHO, it is a bit too cynical to suggest that it was merely a publicity 
ploy to start using the name "archaebacteria" when "metabacteria" might
have been more appropriate.  It wasn't done consciously.  In fact, it
seems to me that "archaebacteria" is a dreadful Freudian slip for "our key 
bacteria", meaning, "those bacteria on which our scientific status depends,
for which we make hyperbolic claims of significance, and which are 
inevitably the centerpiece of our fantastical theories of evolution".  

I suggest that, to redress the flaws inherent in "archaebacteria", we should
continue to speak it as always, but to write it as "Ourkeybacteria".  This
would be less misleading, but would still have continuity with the previous
terminology.

Arlin
-- 
Arlin Stoltzfus
Department of Biochemistry
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H7 CANADA
(email) arlin at is.dal.ca 
(phone) 902-494-3569 
(fax) 902-494-1355



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