Biophysicist Kirk Durston of Contemplations writes, re Tree of life morphs into … leaf?:
I studied that new tree of life for a while. It leaves me wondering how much is empirical observation and how much is conjecture. I would much rather see the imaginary parts removed and only the dots plotted. As one involved in bioinformatics, I know that one must be very careful to avoid ‘fitting’ the dots into a pre-conceived pattern. Would could just as easily (perhaps even more easily) fit the dots into clusters representing the various ‘kinds’ of life. My own perspective is that life should be mapped out in clusters of dots; leave out everything else for which there is no empirical evidence for. As my Ph.D. supervisor used to say, ‘If you haven’t got the data, don’t ‘suggest’ it in your paper.
But Kirk, not a Darwinian, was stuck with bare facts, not a grand narrative that everyone earns in school.
Meanwhile, from the New York Times,
Patrick Forterre, an evolutionary biologist at the Pasteur Institute in France, agreed that bacteria probably make up much of life’s diversity. But he had concerns about how Dr. Banfield and her colleague built their tree. He argued that genomes assembled from DNA fragments could actually be chimeras, made up of genes from different species. “It’s a real problem,” he said.
Oh, maybe not.
Picture a compost heap instead of a tree, and we’re good.
See also: Probability Mistakes Darwinists Make: Part I
Taxonomists savage their dead We knew speciation was a mess, just not that it was such a vicious mess.