A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Position-Finding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2017 Mar 20, 07:10 -0700
Tony, you wrote:
"I was reading this Wikipedia article and was led to believe that the "S-table" is an independent method of its' own right.
Now it's clear that the article needs revision."
It does need revision, yes. Right now that article is a bit of an orphan that gets very little traffic, and it has had little editing in the time since it was created by Andres Ruiz back in the summer of 2015. The article is misleading in many ways. It was an attempt to publicize the hav-Doniol method of sight reduction, severely distorting the significance of that method at the expense of history and common practice.
In addition Andres is a classification "splitter" which is the source of the problem you're seeing here. The conflict between "splitters" and "lumpers" in the world of classifications and taxonomies has been around since Darwin, and there's even a Wikipedia article on splitters and lumpers. But understand that there is no absolute correct answer here! It is not "wrong" to count the S-tables as a separate method of sight reduction, but it is certainly a fine distinction --a narrow splitting of the classification. At some point a lumper will edit that article and emphasize that there are fewer species here, but in general Wikipedia (and the Internet more broadly) support "splitting" in classification schemes by their nature. Hence every minor linguistic dialect is promoted to the status of a major world language. Anything with "fans" gets split off from natural groupings and treated as a unique, independent entity.
The Wikipedia article includes George Simpson's famous description of splitters and lumpers, which is worth repeating here:
"splitters make very small units -- their critics say that if they can tell two animals apart, they place them in different genera ... and if they cannot tell them apart, they place them in different species. ... Lumpers make large units -- their critics say that if a carnivore is neither a dog nor a bear, they call it a cat."
Not a dog? Not a bear? Then it's a cat... That last bit is a classic.
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