Update on the Rogue Taxonomist

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Last year I mentioned the antics of Mr. Dewanand Makhan, an amateur taxonomist whose enthusiasm for publication rather outstrips any penchant for quality control. This week a team of myrmecologists has stepped in to reverse some of Makhan’s errors:

All that [Makhan] has done is sample some of Suriname’s common species of Dacetini, and one common species of Basicerotini, and describe them all as new, without checking if any of them already had identities. His motives for writing this paper cannot be imagined and the total lack of investigation of previous endeavour defies understanding.

Source: Bolton et al. (2008) New synonyms in neotropical Myrmicine ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Zootaxa 1732: 61-64.

5 thoughts on “Update on the Rogue Taxonomist”

  1. Bravo! I only wish Zootaxa made the article open-access to serve as an object lesson to charlatans in all fields. Perhaps we ant guys can pass the hat to pay for open-access and “quantify” our collective relief in the successful resolution of this taxonomic problem.

  2. A rather late comment on this issue, but better late than not at all i guess.

    I encountered the strange phenomeneon of this “rogue taxonomist” called. Dr Dewanand Makhan today by accident, trying to figure out the species name of a salticid spider ifrom surinam that i had under my microscope. In the search, i found some articles by the abovementioned author in the already mentioned “journal”. Obviously, reading these articles, i immediately googled the name of the author, as i was quite astonished by the appaling quality of the work… And hence, found out quite some stuff about the guy.

    This person is originally, brobably born in Suriname, a former colony of my country, the Netherlands. There is very little “official” information about this person on the internet (did not find linked-in, researchgate, etc references to him), but he does post repeatedly on this website; in Dutch langguage, try to google translate it.

    http://www.waterkant.net/suriname/2013/08/20/weer-nieuwe-diersoorten-in-suriname-ontdekt/

    My conclusion from this and other posts of similar nature is this: apparently, he is of the opinion that Suriname should be independent scientifically from us, the former colonists. This seems to be the reason why he publishes a lot about species from Suriname. In his view, this is the “right thing to do”: be independent from the Western countries and do science yourself. Unfortunately, he seems to be very poor in conducting exactly that, resulting in the continious flow of taxonomic bombshells dropped on several fields of taxonomy. A quick look gave me a paper in calodema from 2015, so he is still active.

    This also means that every attempt to reason with him is bound to fail, as in his mind, every other scientist from the western community that criticizes his work is only trying to denie Suriname the right to do independent research…

    I have no idea how the taxonomic community is dealing with the calodema issue at this moment (i am an ecologist, not a taxonomist), but it seems to me that introducing peer review is probably the only way to get rid of this problem…

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