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Now, there’s something wrong with saying “whales are phylogenetically just as closely related to bass, herring, and salmon as these three are related to each other.” What’s wrong with the statement is that it’s false. Suppose you travel back in time to ancient Israel and try to explain to King Solomon that whales are a kind of mammal and not a kind of fish.Your translator isn’t very good, so you pause to explain “fish” and “mammal” to Solomon.(like the kelev and the parah and the gavagai) You try to explain that no, Solomon is wrong, dag are actually defined not by their swimming-in-sea-with-fins-ness, but by their genes.Solomon says you didn’t even know the word dag ten minutes ago, and now suddenly you think you know what it means better than he does, who has been using it his entire life?Solomon says oh God, you are so annoying, who the hell cares whether whales have tiny little hairs or not.In fact, the only thing Solomon cares about is whether responsibilities for his kingdom’s production of blubber and whale oil should go under his Ministry of Dag or Ministry of Behemah.
Your argument is “conform to the way all the cool people use the word ‘fish'”, not “a whale is really and truly not a fish”.For example, they are large, round, have normal shaped orbits lined up with the plane of the ecliptic, have cleared out a certain area of space, and are at least kind of close to the Sun as opposed to way out in the Oort Cloud.One could imagine a brain that thought about these characteristics like Network 1 here: One could imagine this model telling you everything you need to know.So you try again and say that a whale is a behemah, not a dag. You explain that you’re not an idiot, that in fact all kinds of animals have things called genes, and the genes of a whale are much closer to those of the other behemah than those of the dag.Solomon says he’s never heard of these gene things before, and that maybe genetics is involved in your weird foreign words “fish” and “mammal”, but dag are just finned creatures that swim in the sea, and behemah are just legged creatures that walk on the Earth.