Arch Virol (2003) 148: 2481–2488 DOI 10.1007/s00705-003-0246-y Viruses are real, virus species are man-made, taxonomic constructions M. H. V. Van Regenmortel Ecole Superieure ´ de Biotechnologie de Strasbourg, CNRS, Illkirch, France Received September 8, 2003; accepted October 2, 2003 Published online December 2, 2003 c Springer-Verlag 2003 Scientists are committed to the study of real, tangible objects and tend to rely on facts rather than on speculation. This steadfast commitment to the real world partly explains the reluctance of some scientists to become involved in classifying the objects they study. Classiﬁcations tend to be perceived as purely conceptual constructions of the mind, useful for bringing some semblance of order into the bewildering variety of natural phenomena, but essentially arbitrary and unworthy of serious attention by scientists engaged in the study of nature. As stated by Milne  many are bored by taxonomy because they think it means spending a lifetime on whether a certain kind of beetle has ﬁve hairs on its bottom or seven – and then splitting the hairs. To many virologists, the current debate [2–5, 31, 33] on the appropriate way of writing the names of virus species may seem equally abstruse and boring, especially
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 1, 2003
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