"....The truth is out there."
-- Dr. Jerome Jackson, 2002 (... & Agent Fox Mulder)
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
"All truth passes through 3 stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer
Monday, November 21, 2005
While we're biding time here's a link to a fairly interesting (and longish) article from The American Scholar (Summer 2005 issue) on the Ivory-bill and the Macaulay Library of natural sounds at Cornell that may be of some interest:
I asked Van Remsen what it was about sound that appealed to ornithologists. Why was the main thrust of the 2002 ivory-billed expedition aural? He didn't choose to talk first about sound. Like many other field biologists, he went straight to refuting sight. "I've spent the last 25 years here at LSU sifting through sight reports, and I can tell you right now that they are the most unreliable things in field biology. In court, eyewitness reports are the least admissible. The same thing goes for biology. I would rather use my ears than my eyes any day, because our eyes are so easily deceived."
[Later on, there is a discussion of possible double-raps recorded by ARU's in the Pearl River area in 2002.]
They were so optimistic that they'd encounter the ivory-billed that some hoped the distant knocking of what turned out to be recorded gunshots was evidence of their target. In his final report on the group's effort, Fitzpatrick wrote that "the signals in question had an explosive onset equally represented by a wide band of frequencies, followed by a tapering 'smudge.' This signature is clearly that of a gunshot, with the smudge representing decaying reverberations of the sound through the forest." Sometimes even the invisible box lies, and in this case, it was the spectrogram, the sound snapshot, that dashed the group's hopes....The irony of the gunshot's false positive was lost on no one. What was left was silence.
[Quote from Audubon's Ornithological Biography about the Ivory-bill]
Painted with human melodrama, the 1842 Audubon folio refers to the ivory-billed as "never uttering any sound whilst on wing, unless during the love-season; but at all other times, no sooner has this bird alighted than its remarkable voice is heard, at almost every leap which it makes."
Links to this post: