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Petition to AOS Leadership on the Recent Decision to Change all Eponymous Bird Names (1 Viewer)

I'm also weird because I was in favor of changing Scarlet Tanager, Summer Tanager, etc to Scarlet Piranga, Summer Piranga

I must be weird too, because I like that idea. I’ve heard Cardinal-Grosbeak brought up as an option but that’s too much of a mouthful for me.

Dave
 
I must be weird too, because I like that idea. I’ve heard Cardinal-Grosbeak brought up as an option but that’s too much of a mouthful for me.

Dave
I liked 'Pirangas' too. Shame it didn't catch on.
On my personal list I divvy up Cardinalidae into Chat-Cardinals, Grosbeak-Cardinals, Blue-Cardinals, and Red-Cardinals.
In my head it keeps them square with the subfamily divisions in their tanager sister-family.
 
A similar (and even more radical!) debate apparently goes on among ichthyologists, re. conceivable changes of inappreciative, disapproved Scientific (!?!) names (of Fishes).

• Changing Scientific Names on Ethical Grounds: Six Reasons to Say "No", by Christopher Scharpf, ETYFish Project (20 December, 2023) = here.
Abstract
In recent years, biologists have been debating the acceptability and continued use of biological nomina that honor people historically associated with imperialism and colonialism, and/or who advocated sexist, racist or pro-slavery views. Some biologists propose that names deemed offensive or misaligned with contemporary values be retroactively replaced with new ones. Others have proposed the elimination of eponyms altogether, basically arguing that naming an animal after a person demeans the animal. While there is no denying the unfortunate legacies of many nomina, proposals to change existing names based on ethical grounds would disrupt nomenclatural stability, bury taxonomic history, be impractical and costly to implement, and, ultimately, would not benefit science nor conservation. Examples of names (of fishes) are given that demonstrate the disruption and confusion such proposals would bring. An example is also given (again, a fish) that shows how "colonial" and "indigenous" nomina can coexist.
 
A similar (and even more radical!) debate apparently goes on among ichthyologists, re. conceivable changes of inappreciative, disapproved Scientific (!?!) names (of Fishes).

• Changing Scientific Names on Ethical Grounds: Six Reasons to Say "No", by Christopher Scharpf, ETYFish Project (20 December, 2023) = here.
I love this website
 
Presumably because search engines wouldn't find the new name in old works. You'd have to be able to search with the synonym, which means the old offensive name would still be needed.

I hadn't thought about synonyms before. If you keep the old name as a synonym, then the name will still exist in taxonomy. If names must be removed because they are offensive, then the synonyms would also need to be suppressed.
 
I remember an online discussion, which took place at some point around 2010 on one of the Listservs or Yahoo groups of the time, in which a guy explained that he was working on tracing changes in the wintering range of Clangula hyemalis based on records published in the birding literature... And that he would have been completely unable to do what he was doing without using 'Oldsquaw' as a searching term.

An English name that has remained entirely stable on a very official checklist for 140 years (which is the case of many of the eponymous names on the AOS checklist) becomes de facto a 'nearly scientific' name -- people will trust its 'official' status, and at least a part of the information about the species will have been released under that name alone, without a scientific name next to it. If you 'suppress' such a name completely -- to the extent that it becomes forgotten -- you must expect to loose the access it used to give to a part of the information that is 'out there'.

(Information which, of course, should in principle be used to inform conservation measures...)
 
Can we keep this thread specifically to discussion of the petition. There is general discussion thread on the subject.
 
Can we keep this thread specifically to discussion of the petition. There is general discussion thread on the subject.
That's a hard ask perhaps - 3 threads on the subject but it's hard to find the 'right' thread (suspect some posters haven't even aware there were other threads), and a certain amount of crossover?

What was actually closest to a "general discussion thread on the subject", was the thread that was closed 3 months ago (due to uncivil behaviour of some posters).
The thread that was mostly used recently for general discussion was created specifically as a poll, with an explicit statement of intent that "the poll doesn't vanish into the lost depths of the arguments that typify the other". The last thread I'm aware of is in the etymology subforum, where discussing the pros & cons of eponymous vs. descriptive names is, arguably, plainly off topic... Thus, it might be argued that none of the 3 running threads appears 'right' for general discussion, which makes the choice a really uneasy one indeed. Or am I overlooking something ?

Meanwhile, by the way : the petition is now over 5,000 signatures.
 
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What was actually closest to a "general discussion thread on the subject", was the thread that was closed 3 months ago (due to uncivil behaviour of some posters).
The thread that was mostly used recently for general discussion was created specifically as a poll, with an explicit statement of intent that "the poll doesn't vanish into the lost depths of the arguments that typify the other". The last thread I'm aware of is in the etymology subforum, where discussing the pros & cons of eponymous vs. descriptive names is, arguably, plainly off topic... Thus, it might be argued that none of the 3 running threads appears 'right' for general discussion, which makes the choice a really uneasy one. Or am I overlooking something ?

Meanwhile, by the way : the petition is now over 5,000 signatures.

Indeed - the Birding thread is titled "Do you agree..." and this thread title is regarding the petition. In the big picture, both of these are about opinions. I think it unfair to ask that neither of these include the reporting of information (e.g. the existence of the Ichthyology discussion - which I find both useful and fascinating).

I think the forum is better served with fewer threads on the patronym topic and also that our posting behavior as a group indicates that all of this is "naturally" related discussion.
 
I think the forum is better served with fewer threads on the patronym topic and also that our posting behavior as a group indicates that all of this is "naturally" related discussion.
One option is to leave one thread open and close the others with a link to the remaining one?
 
One option is to leave one thread open and close the others with a link to the remaining one?
I can only speak for myself, but personally I feel like what we have going on right now is a good system. We have one thread in taxonomy and another in Birds & Birding. I think that's not too much but also caters to the two main "categories" of interest (meaning the general birders, and the more technical ornithological bent we tend to have over here). And like I said before, this situation seems to me to have arisen "naturally" especially after the more contentious thread got culled, so maybe this reflects what forum users by-and-large want. If a lot of little threads were developing, I'd probably be in favor of lumping them... and there would probably be others who prefer more and discreet topics.

But ultimately the forum will do what it wants and I'll be happy to deal with it.
 
I can only speak for myself, but personally I feel like what we have going on right now is a good system. We have one thread in taxonomy and another in Birds & Birding. I think that's not too much but also caters to the two main "categories" of interest (meaning the general birders, and the more technical ornithological bent we tend to have over here). And like I said before, this situation seems to me to have arisen "naturally" especially after the more contentious thread got culled, so maybe this reflects what forum users by-and-large want. If a lot of little threads were developing, I'd probably be in favor of lumping them... and there would probably be others who prefer more and discreet topics.

But ultimately the forum will do what it wants and I'll be happy to deal with it.
Good 👍
 
I don't understand the argument about stability & changing names will lead to not being able to find old references, well I do but there's been far more changes in scientific names in my life time, the so-called unchangeable, stable names, than common names - I had a quick look through the British list last night, its years since I lived in the UK but I used to know the scientific names of most species & I reckon of the 550 or so I used to know, 85 species have changed genus, I didn't bother checking how many more have changed specific name.

You don't have to go far in the taxonomy forum to find someone proposing even more genus name changes, or people saying a specific name has to change because its the wrong gender to match the genus name, or somebody raking up some obscure old name that has precedent

I fully understand there's good reasons for all this but it does make a mockery of saying names can't be changed for stability reasons

The only common name change I can think of that's been universally accepted in my lifetime is Scarlet Grosbeak to Common Rosefinch - I'm not sure if this blows my argument out the water but when Rosefinches bred at Spurn we phoned up the BTO about getting a schedule 1 license so we could search for the nests & were told we didn't need one because Rosefnch wasn't on the list. We were a bit surprised but it wasn't until a few months later we realised the Schedule 1 list still had it down as Scarlet Grosbeak
 
Meanwhile, by the way : the petition is now over 5,000 signatures.

So this makes the number of opponents roughly double that the number of people who supported the BN4B movement a couple years ago. However back then, it had much less publicity and I am not sure that people really knew that there is a sizeable opposition to measure against. I am a bit surprised that there I was not able to find anywhere to express up-to-date support for the eponym removal ... I really wonder what numbers we could raise, seeing that there is a push-back to be pushed back back against.
 
So this makes the number of opponents roughly double that the number of people who supported the BN4B movement a couple years ago. However back then, it had much less publicity and I am not sure that people really knew that there is a sizeable opposition to measure against. I am a bit surprised that there I was not able to find anywhere to express up-to-date support for the eponym removal ... I really wonder what numbers we could raise, seeing that there is a push-back to be pushed back back against.
My sense is that the move to change eponyms has more support now than it did back in the initial BN4B (I know I was against at the time, but I am now in favor of it). It was also I think flying under the radar more as far as movements go...certainly there were more things in the nonworld bird to think about than eponyms. Also you have to take in the factor that I don't think BN4Bs really advertised it as heavily as some folks are doing for this signature. Remsen has practically posted it on every listserve in the USA, a point of irritation for some.

For what it's worth, I gave a talk that was half dedicated to the eponym debate to my local bird club on Saturday. I know there are members who don't agree with it, but they also don't seem too agitated about it. The most resistant folks seem to be more just shrugging and saying they will probably keep using the names they have always used, but birders already do that (I'm still more likely to say Gray Jay and Common Moorhen than Canada Jay or Common Gallinule). Others have a wait and see approach, and others seem perfectly okay with it. People were neither excited about the change, nor particularly angry about it.

I suspect the petition folks and the BN4B folks represent more extreme wings of opinions, rather than either speaking for the majority of the average birder.
 

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