"....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
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
-- Searching Tips --
Today a BirdForum participant posted a list of tips for searching in IBWO country that I thought was interesting and worth passing along (in very slightly edited version below):
"1.Move slowly 10 steps... look around with your eyes - then your head.... then move again.. Don't bother looking around while you are moving.. LOOK WHILE YOU ARE STILL - you will see more..... WHEN YOU are moving look at where and what you are putting your feet on.. ie. branches, leaves etc...don't splash... walk in 3 or 4 step patterns.. ONLY humans walk in 2 step patterns...... 2 step walking alerts ALL animals to human presence.... It is painstaking to move like this.. particularly if you have never done it... BUT.. it is necessary...you'll be amazed at how much closer to birds and other wildlife you will get....
1.A.. when you stop it is best to have your sillouette broken up by a large tree or bush... stop in the shadows if you can..
1 B. before you move.. Locate your next stopping point.. and closely analyze the steps to getting there..... look for and plan for obstacles..
1.c.IF you are patient... you can step through weeks worth of dry leaves and still sound natural. poke your foot in with your toes..slightly wiggle your foot and CREATE A HOLE... DON'T go traipsing through sounding like a frosted flakes commercial...
2.wear a hat.... doesn't have to be camo.. but NO bright colors...
3. minimize unneccesary movement.. smoking, pointing with your hands at everything you see... describe it... sort of like... 2 o clock midway up that gum tree....
4. do the scratch test on everthing you wear..... scratch it with your fingernail... if you can hear it... YOU HAVE THE WRONG CLOTHES>> forget them.. start over.....
5. lay out all of your gear in the sunshine.... anything reflective.. replace it or leave it.. unless you can paint it.... this includes paddles.......
6. you may get wet.. but wear shoes that you can walk comfortably and quietly..... what's a little water? I mean really above 65 degrees is not at all uncomfortable....
7. whisper... don't talk loudly..... if at all. the human voice carries a great great distance.... and despite how much you like them... few wild animals/birds like us.....
8. tape loose ends of your clothing and gear... an untimely snag can ruin a lot of hard work..
9. if you have light skinned cheeks... camo face paint... in vertical stripes.....forehead and the backs of your hands too.... or better yet.. wear like mesh gloves....
10. and most importantly MOVE INTO THE WIND......looking back at nearly every reliable IBWO sighting..... the people were moving into the wind or across the wind.. why.... well... ALL predators move into the wind... the reasons are many.. but in our case here... sound is carried away from our target and not TO them... so moving into the wind minimizes your sound and scent pollution.(Based on what I know... ..about waterfowl and IBWOs... they use their sense of smell MUCH MUCH MORE THAN WE REALIZE...) additionaly.. if you are moving into the wind..you will see MUCH More wildlife than you usually do.. trust me....that always cracks me up when i see birders.. they generally just amble off..... hunters on the other hand... always approach from the downwind side....(well good hunters anyway)..
If you are paddling.... sound proof your paddle... have a towel to place your paddle down on so that it doesn't clang everytime you stop... also put foam pipe insulation at the points where it may hit the boat... and.... while paddling through prime zones.. ONE PERSON PADDLES WHILE THE OTHER PERSON LOOKS.. if by yourself.. 3-5 strokes.. drift and watch........
now.... a couple other points..... some things I always bring with me....
1. a whistle.... IF by some chance you need to contact other people.. whistles work much better than you screaming... and you expend a lot less energy.
2.a clean pair of socks......
3. a roll of duck tape.
4. a SHARP knife.
5. brush cutter shears (make blinds, shelter and clear paths).
6. hunter orange vest( I only wear it if I know there are deer hunters or hunting in the area and generally.. I see other hunters LONG before they are aware of me, I am an exception and not the rule......) but in an emergency hunter orange may save your life if people are looking for you...
7. bug spray... don't have it don't go.. even in winter.......
8.10 feet of rope.......
9..OH>. and your camera..... in a zip loc bag.. also ziploc your wallet, phone and always keep an extra zip loc....."
I have, at various times, had quail flocks approach me in the woods while I was not in camo. Even when wearing muted brown or green colors the birds invariably saw me. On a similar occasion, I was in full camo., head to toe, face and hands covered. I had a flock of 10-15 quail actually approach with 2 feet of me WITHOUT EVER REALIZING I WAS THERE!!!!!
I have had similar experiences with other types of game as well. I used the quail experience since they are sharp eyed birds.
So this means on any encounter, they are less likely to return back after being "flushed" because unlike a pileated, they have a larger home range as necessitated by feeding only on recently dead trees, and the larva they host.
That's how you get a bird that seems
wary in some circumstances but
blase to human encroachment in others.
Paul Sutera - New Paltz, NY
To the best of my knowledge, there are no North American birds that are warier than wild turkeys. You can locate them by sound, and then find them. On quiet mornings, it sure seems like it would be possible, if they exist, to sit quietly in IBWO habit and hear them fly, hear their kents, or hear their double raps, then actually get a photo. Too wary? I don't buy it. Once you find the area, you could sit quietly at dawn, in the bushes, and see the wariest bird alive.
IBWOs, if they survive, must have been nesting all along. I wish one of these people would find a nest and get their photos and put all the debate to rest.
1. The voice recordings are NOT Ivory-bills. Not one time do you hear any "kent" calls nor any calls that could be a "kent" call. The calls were a high squeaky notes like a Starling call or a Rusty Blackbird. NOT a Ivory-billed's call notes.
2. His frames of his "hard evidence" slides show a long distance bird. In reality it looks like a small black dot!
That's it-- That's his hard evidence!
I asked him on Bird forum about his field notes. You think any person who is dead serious about looking for a Ivory-billed would carry a notebook to take field notes. Mike Collins told me " I do not take field notes - I am looking for Ivory-billeds" What in the hell is that? No field notes? So we have to believe in his words? I am not saying he is lying or making this up but could he be mistaken and heard something that did not register to him what the calls were so he said " hmmm must be a Ivory-billed and I better record it"
I wish I had the money to go and look. I would find that damn woodpecker and do things right! I am so damn frustrated at all those privelege birders down there doing things have ass backwards!!! You do not reveal to the public you saw a Ivory-billed Woodpecker unless you have the following --
A clear photo showing a. the underwing pattern b. the upper wing patter c. the bill color d. the hind stripes.
THEY ALL HAVE TO BE SEEN CLEARLY IN THAT PHOTO OR VIDEO!!
Do not tease people with all these weird stories of " I seen the IBWO's calling to each other and then this animal came rushing out of the swamp and the birds left" I am getting so damn embarass by these idiots who go down there and do have the basic birding skills to properly see a bird, take field notes nor get a photo that is not blurred, miles away or in some orange tree!
I am not a huge Jackson fan but maybe he is right and there are going to be some environmental freaks out there that will cry wolf to get there river protected from dredging and other developements. I am sure some wil say " what is wrong with that?"
Do birders or enviromentalists have to lie now to get there piece of the woods saved from developers or other projects that may alter the way of life in these woods??
I do not know Mike Collins from Fishcrow.com but something about him is mighty fishy! Unless he provides something that the birding community can really grasp and give them real reasons to rejoice, Mike better real back and ask himself "is this evidence really HARD evidence?"
Mike Collins is playing with his reputation and credibilty and if he fails in providing better proof his name is going to be a butt end of a lot of jokes!
Good luck Mike Collins!
He's got to keep hold of a paddle for maneuvering as well as have a video camera at the ready. He's probably also wearing gloves. That's enough to manage sitting in a kayak - screw the field notes.
Granted the "hard evidence" claim (if that's a direct quote) is a way big stretch.
IF I was in the Kayak I would pull over to some shore or get steady on the river bank and take out a small notebook and pencil and write down what you saw that the video recorder may not picked up.
I am from Minnesota, I canoed and boated. I been in many situation where you have to multi task and when it comes to a bird like a Ivory-billed that could change the way the Pearl River is managed you have to have all the tools with you to prove your sighting or else its going to be Mike Collins words vs. A ton of skeptics.
I don't think Mike Collins is a faker... He might be wrong about what he's seeing... and I wish to heck he wouldn't put blurry stuff out there because it weakens the cause at this point. Or maybe he's not web-savvy.
Looking at his brightened image, I see what looks like a splotch of mud.
If he finds a nest hole, and it may
be a few weeks early for that, then maybe he'll get clear photos.
Or maybe he'll find really shy pileateds in that nest hole afterall. I guess I'm swayed by the earnestness and clearness of his writing. Just run the tape recorder and get me some kents.
Paul Sutera, New Paltz, NY
Insults and ad hominem attacks serve no one in this discussion. And I hope that cyberthrush will delete posts that include them.
As for wild turkeys, sometimes they're wary and sometimes they're not. When they parade through my yard, they are certainly not shy. While the comparison between turkeys and IBWOs is apples and oranges, the fact that turkeys behave differently in different circumstances seems relevant when considering the wariness of the ivory bill.
If anyone of us were in the Pearl River and saw 1-3 Ivory-billeds and we ran a website what would you tell your audience? Would you mention the white wing patches on the secondaries on the upperwings? Would you mention the hind stripes? Would you mention the underwing pattern as well? What about the way it flew?
Wouldn't any observer no matter what level you are as a birder go into details on what you saw?
Mike Collins sounds like he has been searching for two years for the Ivory-billeds. I would just assume Mike is knowledgeable on Ivory-billeds and knows what field marks to hone on. Today on his website Mike talks about seeing Ivory-billeds and comparing them to Conn. Warblers. That is fine but why is he not talking about what he is seeing on these ivory-billeds?
If birders feel we should just trust Mike Collins and his word that he seeing them then honestly I cannot do that.
Like I said ovr and over -- Mike needs to get a clear photo and a clear video and stop making excuses why he cannot. If he cannot because a kayak is to unstable to get clear videos or photos then he better land across the river from the sighting and take videos on land.
There are waterproof notebooks and pens on the market! Another excuse to get Mike off the hook.
Since I am into sports and I play a lot of them and coach a lot of them. To me the southern swamps where the Ivory-bills are roaming are the playing fields and then you have a player like Mike Collins fumbling and stumbling out there in the playing field. I am trying to coach him and tell others he is making a lot of mistakes in the playing field.
Since I have not met Mike Collins and since I defended observers on Tom Nelson's blog to the point where I am banned from posting on his blog -- I am not against Mike at all -- i just want him more prepared if he so close in getting the proof all of us want. Mike just seems so raw and new to all of this. I talked to many birders and the people I guided this past week and they all said the same thing that Mike should have some sort of notebooks and pens (water proof) to aid in his discovery, a clear photo, a clear video, kent like calls on his recorder.
I want Mike to get the proof and so far I am not happy or satisfied what he calls "hard evidence" in reality is ZIP - ZERO NA-DA and that is sad.
Mike is a scientist, with enough clout to get access to Stennis and work there. It's evident that he is in regular contact with many knowledgeable people in this field. He has no obligation to comply with your demands about how he conducts his search. In any event, there's nothing in your posts here or at birdforum to suggest that you would accept his field notes any more than you accept anything else he says.
He's got his hands full and it's been dark and rainy down in the south for
over a week now, including the day the video was shot. I read a quote about Tanner in his 60s...that he used to leave his graduate students gasping for air on his field trips with them.
Also when Allen went to Florida in the 1920s, it took him quite some time to find the pair of birds that was ultimately shot by collectors who followed him and his wife.
So Mike Soapbox is frustrated
but I don't think he's picking on
Nobody wants Mike C to be the brunt
of skeptics' scorn when he seems
close (maybe) to getting evidence. I've played cat and mouse a few times with a Pileated in good weather. Others have been much more charitable in letting me see them.
Yet eventually he should come up
with a photo...even a slightly
blurry one will do.
Paul Sutera, New Paltz, NY
It's rather ironic that the self-proclaimed skeptics are the ones who are closed-minded and convinced of their rightness on this subject. Mike C. has presented hard evidence - video and audio; the nature and quality of that evidence is certainly subject to evaluation and challenge -- it may prove to be unsatisfactory to some or all who examine it, but jumping to conclusions based on incomplete information and mere opinion ("his evidence SUCKS." "The voice recordings are NOT ivory-bills.") rather than expertise is just bloviating; it leaves no room for debate.
I am not a skeptic! I visited his site, read what he posted and as a birder I have a hard time believing what he says is hard evidence is nothing but blurry photos and recordings of a bird that is not a Ivory-bill. I am sorry if offended anyone but I cannot support Mike Colins with what he has shown us so far.
Also because Mike Collins is a scientist doesn't make him a better field person then you or I. He is a birder and he is searching for a bird that is very rare. I have loads of experince as a birder ( I am a professional birder) and I know written notes is important as a photo or a video. These days notes are important but photos or video is much more convincing. If you ask any state record committees that vote on bird sightings notes play a good part in acceptance of a bird sighting but photos or videos play a larger role in acceptance.
I just want Mike Collins to take notes and YES scan them and display them on website. If he is having issues with vidoe or photos then notes will help him a lot.
Again Good luck Mr. collins.
Of course, he could be wrong about all his sightings and auditory encounters. Similarly, whether this video/audio proves to be good evidence or convincing evidence is another matter entirely. That remains to be seen. But I repeat that you are in no position to evaluate it at this time. You have seen only parts of it, and it appears you lack the technical expertise to analyze it fully.
You repeat that the recording is not of an Ivory Bill. You can't possibly know that; you just believe it. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, but don't confuse your opinion with fact.
As I've said previously, I'm inclined to think that analysis will demonstrate that this is the real thing, but I could very well be wrong. I wouldn't dream of asserting anything with certainty at this point.
I guess were both NOT qualified to judge him and he may of evidence in his home, in a safe and locked up till he is ready BUT for now you and I are not hearing or seeing a Ivory-billed Woodpecker fro mwhat he has shown us so far.
I'm not going to assume it's impossible that he's seen Ivory-Bills, just like I'm not going to assume he actually saw Ivory-Bills just because he believes he did.
I can only base my conclusions on the evidence, and so far, the evidence isn't good enough for me to get excited about at all.
How many false alarms need there be before people start realizing that most Ivory-Bill reports are from honest, mistaken people?
Not necessarily. If you read his most recent posts on birdforum and on his site, you will see that there's a good deal more to this. He is also in close contact with experts. We'll just have to wait and see.
"I can only base my conclusions on the evidence, and so far, the evidence isn't good enough for me to get excited about at all."
Fair enough. I can't argue with that (although I see it differently), provided you really mean "so far" and are prepared to amend your opinion in the light of new information and expert analysis.
As for Mike (of the Soapbox)
"I guess were both NOT qualified to judge him and he may of evidence in his home, in a safe and locked up till he is ready BUT for now you and I are not hearing or seeing a Ivory-billed Woodpecker fro mwhat he has shown us so far."
This is the kind of statement with which I take issue, vehemently. In fact, we may very well be seeing and hearing an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, or we may not be, but you are not in a position to know that about THIS evidence.
You would do a lot better if you thought through your arguments, presented them in a reasoned way, refrained from bombast and insult, and kept an open mind. At first I thought you were some kind of troll, but now I just think you're on the careless side, both in your language and in your thinking about this subject.
If there really are Ivory-Bills, someone will produce something that doesn't require expert analysis. I don't believe Cornell because they're Cornell, or Jackson because he's Jackson, or the President because he's President, for that matter.
Did you see Cornell's shots of the leucistic and aberrant Pileateds? Now THAT'S proof. Multiple sightings WITH clear photos. If someone gets a series of shots like that of modern Ivory-Bills, you can call me a believer. But not until.
Moving the goal-posts yet again. No proof is going to be good enough for you, is it?
Essentially, you're saying you're close-minded. This is apples and oranges. Pileateds are common, much more approachable and relatively easy to photograph. Their territory is much smaller. It's not rational to apply the same standard to an extremely rare bird that has a much bigger range and is, by all accounts, very wary.
Even Tanner wrote in his introduction: "the conclusions. . .will not necessarily apply to the species as it once was nor to individuals living in other areas. The difficulty finding the birds, even when their whereabouts was known also limited the number of observations."
Baloney. I just gave you an example of what I would accept as "proof." Show me some clear, unretouched photos that don't require analysis to prove where the bird is in the picture (let alone what the field marks are.) I've had about enough of theories about why some decent evidence can't be produced. I don't care what the excuse is and neither should anyone else who is concerned with the truth. There still needs to be irrefutable proof, and lots of rumors and glimpses and faith do not add up to the evidence science needs.
People have a right to believe what they want, just don't expect others to accept beliefs as fact.
Are Ivory-Bills rarer than white Pileateds? Because Cornell, in about a week, got numerous great sightings by different people, including photos and video of this single bird. That's better proof than ALL the evidence gathered on Ivory-Bills in over six decades. What is your evidence for how incredibly wary the Ivory-Bill is other than the fact nobody seems to be able to get a photo of one?
Where is that killer evidence that Cornell was going to release and blow us all away? They had important evidence they were holding back, but it was photos and video of abnormal Pileateds.
What are the odds that this great "discovery" by Cornell occurred in an area where at least 3 aberrant Pileateds were spotted??
In the White River, there have been multiple sightings -- in at least one instance, by more than one qualified person, with field notes. This would be satisfactory for virtually any other sighting.
I don't know who's posting what on this forum, but as a general matter, the skeptics keep demanding more and more, while never providing any meaningful, substantive rebuttal of the evidence that is presented.
Jackson's article, for example, is pretty shoddy in that it refers to unpublished material, personal communications and personal opinion but includes no significant evidence or substantive analysis of date to refute the Big Woods sightings.
At some point, the burden falls on the skeptics, and they have to do more than just naysay.
That's Sibley's standard, and Tom Nelson's standard, and I'll accept that standard too. It's a perfectly reasonable standard, and a standard that has been met many times many years ago. Those goal posts aren't going to move. So far, that standard hasn't come close to being met. If Cornell had something approaching irrefutable proof, they wouldn't be working so hard to prove the bird lives, and to defend their original paper.
The bird has a very small territory.
Smaller than a nesting Ivory-Bill? Or are there no nesting Ivory-Bills anymore?
Fact: you'll never get a good photo of a bird that doesn't exist. I hope Cinclodes is right. And I definitely believe in his sincerity, but I sincerely believe he's probably wrong. I'm not going to get my hopes up over and over and over to have them dashed once again.
I will accept the existence of living Ivory-Bills if Sibley's standard is met. Will the believers accept that the bird may not exist because those standards have not been met by anyone, anywhere, in six decades?
And you are in the position to know about this evidence? Come on wake up and take another look at those frames again! They are nothing but blobs on the screen and that is all. PERIOD! I asked my 11 year old daughter and said "what do you see on my screen? She replies "a black dot" and I then I shown the same photos to my wife with no birding experience and I ask "what ya see on the screen?" She replies " Where? All I see is a dark tree and a small blob" Is that HARD evidence? Are ya saying you are in position to tell me you are seeing a Ivory-billed Woodpecker in those frames? Come on and be reasonable instead of being a ass!
You cannot say " oh the bird is so shy, it skulks and is so wary" that must be a field mark for Ivory-bills! YOU HAVE TO SEE THE FIELD MARKS! I could careless if Mike is a top scientist in his field his evidence so far is not shaking up the birding community! First he goes on Bird Forum and announces to all of us he has hard solid evidence and then he goes on and on about seeing them and BOOM he posted 4-5 dark frames that do not show anything at all! Then he adds some sound files that sounds nothing like a Ivory-bills!
Those that are defending Mike Collins are not looking at his website and rather defending him because you are just HOPING he has more to offer and if he did have more evidence he would of posted them by now!
Are ya telling me he has a couple sets of clear sharp photos hidden some where? Did he say to himself "hmmm I have these crystal clear images of Ivory-bills and these crummy dark photos that show nothing at all, hmm I think I will post the crummy ones instead and save the clear photos for another time" WHAT??!!
Any rational birder who has a photo that proves once and for that Ivory-bills live will post those photos and announce to the world "look what I found today" Mike does not have those photos and all he has are his crummy photos! PERIOD!
If he goes out and finally gets the photos then we all can rejoice but for now his choice of words and his claims on what he feels is " hard evidence" is really no evidence. I have to credit the lunatic in Florida who put a wood decoy of a Ivory-bill in a citrus tree because at least the photos were CLEAR!
I am tired of excuses and I am tired seeing these so-call well respected scientist going in the field stumbling around and giving the public crummy evidence on their search. If he is in a kayak and IF he sees a bird that MIGHT be a ivory-bill AND if its to hard or shaky to sit in a kayak to take a photo or get a video than pull off to the nearest shore and take the damn video from there. I guess that makes to much sense to some! I guess taking field notes is too HARD! I never read so many damn excuses from so many people for all of Mike Collins claims.
Again if he has better proof some place locked up then why would he post the crummy evidence on his website instead of the hard evidence some feels he has? Because he needs to show them to the experts? What experts? you mean in the telephone book under Ivory-bill there is a listing for Ivory-billed experts who are in the business of verifying woodpecker claims?
Any rational birder who has a photo of a clear shot of a IBWO would post his clear photo over any blurry photo. Why go thru the criticism from the public over blurry photos if you have better evidence in the safe? Doesn't that make more sense except for some of you in here.
Experts - -that is funny! I saw two Hoary Redpolls the other day and have photos of them but before I post them on my website I better have the Hoary Repoll experts look at them first! LOL
If you need a expert to look at a adult male Ivory-billed Woodpecker or adult female Ivory-billed Woodpecker then that is code for I do not know what I am looking at! If you have hard evidence of a IBWO then you do not need experts to look at your evidence.
I am sure this post will arouse all the Mike Collins believers but hey you know I am right and that must hurt right now.
I never said I was, and because you completely misrepresent my argument, I won't dignify your rant with a detailed rebuttal. You really need to learn how to engage in civil discourse and rational debate. This misrepresentation is an example of why I contend that many skeptics are intellectually dishonest. And yes, I know you claim you're not a skeptic.
As to Sibley, this supposed objective standard is in the eyes of the beholder. I believe it has been met in both Arkansas (the Cornell team, Mary Scott) and the Pearl (Mike, Kullivan, others), both of which have had multiple sightings of birds really well seen (at least in some instances). It's all a matter of whose sightings you're willing to accept and how you define "really well seen." Apparently, we disagree about that. But the sightings are supported by physical evidence, both video and audio. In the case of the Arkansas material, this evidence has not been convincingly refuted. It's simply not good enough for Jackson to say, 'I think it's a pileated and other people do too,' which is the core position of his paper. I repeat that the jury is still out on Mike's evidence. We'll have to wait and see, but expert analysis carries enormous weight in determining the validity of any evidence.
You need to f-ing chill. Mike (the other one) posted what he had, you're not convinced. OK, fine. Why do all you Minnesotans get so damn worked up about this? Mike (the other one) is on his own time and his own money, he can do whatever he likes and post whatever he likes. He's not working for you or anyone else. He's not obligated to you or anyone else.
Personally, I can't get much out of what I have seen of the video. Rather than play with it frame by frame I'm waiting to actually see it in motion at length some day. So what? Who the hell is harmed by that? As for the sound, it's been put in a sonogram and it's not a match for blue jay. Nor is it a match for the old Ivorybill recordings, but that was obvious. Nor is it a rusty blackbird. Nor has it matched up with anything so far, actually. Who is harmed by this? You're not paying a dime for this, none of you. I also know perfectly well that a lot of people are going to say mine and fangsheath's sonographic examinations aren't worth a rat's rear end either, and keep yamping "it's so obviously a blue jay" or "I don't hear anything there at all." Fine. People will think what they will think. No point in worrying about the ones who don't listen or don't care what I have to say, because, well, ya know, they won't listen and they don't care!
I'm just gonna look at whatever information surfaces, and not cuss people out for what they did NOT do especially when they were working for no one but themselves. Hell Mike isn't even taking vacation time to do this, he's paddling in the morning and at work the rest of the day.
The benchmarks in science are published peer-reviewed papers that summarize results and conclusions. In between these benchmarks there is a hell of a lot of iffy data, uncertain results, things that just didn't come out clearly, and often a lot of lively discussion about what it all means. Ain't NOBODY NOWHERE NOHOW expects to get that shining clear result without a whole bunch of blurry ones. If you work in a biochem lab, and you finally get that nice, sharp. electrophoresis gel, everyone says "Ooooo! THAT's the one for the paper!" In the meantime there have been a lot of blurry ones, faint ones, ones, that got contaminated, ones where the new grad student hooked the current up backwards and ran the sample off the top of the gel, etc. etc. etc. You don't throw these in the trash (well, that last one, you do!). You look at them, you show them around, you say "this didn't come out too well but what can you make of it," you squint and hmm and haw, see what you CAN see, and go run more gels. There are sometimes "bingo!" moments when you finally see exactly what you were looking for, or clearly see that what you were expecting is not there. But there's many more "hmmm" moments, and there's rarely one single clear line where you can say "yes we have proven something and no one can dispute it." Often by the time the "irrefutable proof" comes, it's almost an afterthought because the community as a whole has already accepted the likelyhood of the conclusion based on the accumulation of evidence.
I say again, it's not a court of law, there is no final verdict rendered EVER. There is the consensus of opinion, shifting always. ALL legitimate (i.e. not fabricated) information is perfectly valid to be thrown out or scrutiny as it might or might not affect this consensus. Even the benchmark papers are just that -- benchmarks on the never ending road, not final destinations.
If unsubstantiated claims by someone who has not been published are valid to hear, thoughtful analysis by doubters is also valid to hear, even if it isn't published.
I too believe that all valid evidence should be laid out there. I am even more distrustful of Cornell's paper now that we know they sat on their aberrant Pileated photos for so long. Do you think that was good science?
I would respectfully submit that if you have dozens of people trying to spot Ivory-bills, which they "know" to be in the area, and you have several aberrant Pileateds in the area, you are bound to get some Ivory-Bill reports. A perfect match is not required. In my opinion, to deny it denies an understanding of human nature. Look at these video frames floating around, where people can "see" field marks where a bird is barely visible! Cornell never saw the white bill or the dorsal stripes; they never got one decent look at the bird.
If someone claims they've seen an Ivory-Bill, and submits a recording that matches no known Ivory-Bill call, they should expect to get some pretty close questioning. The person is "innocent until proven guilty" and the claim is "unsubstantiated until proven."
Publishing a paper does not make the underlying science any more valid, nor does not publishing make scientific findings any less valid. It is the way the world of academia works though, isn't it? However, I wouldn't spend too much time talking about a lack of a rebuttal paper, because rumor has it one or more will be along shortly. Rumors aren't fact, of course, so you're welcome to not believe it, and just wait and see.
"I say again, it's not a court of law, there is no final verdict rendered EVER."
While there are valid arguments on both sides of the fence, I find this one to be ridiculous.
The verdict is in on Starlings, Long-Billed Dowitchers, Golden Eagles and Whooping Cranes; they exist, for sure. It is knowable, and it is known. Or do you disagree?
I understand evidence and proof and reality just fine.
A convincing photograph is produced of an Ivorybill, that all reasonable skeptics agree on (there are unreasonable people on al sides of any dispute). That proves that the Ivorybill was not extinct at the moment that picture was snapped. With a species this extremely rare, there is every possibility that if it is not extinct, it could become extinct at any moment. So until there is a population that can be monitored continuously (which may never happen even if there is a very small extant population,), we will always be in limbo waiting for the next encounter to prove that the bird has still persisted through another season. And what about other areas? Certainly the proven survival of the IBWO in Arkansas would make claims of its survival in other places more credible, but still unproven. And if there was an IBWO in Arkansas a year ago, there might not be one thre now. This is as reasonable as many other hypitheses that are floated.
Understanding of the population and population dynamics of this species or a number of other very rare or hard to detect species is always a best-cotemporary-guess, not a hard and fast declaration of proven fact. A photo from East Jesus Arkasouisiana doesn't make this problem go away.
Oh, and by the way, "ridiculous" is not generally considered a polite word.
So far, the most significant "rebuttal" of Cornell's work has been Jackson's article, which I will repeat is pretty shoddy. All it really amounts to is --
"I think they're seeing Pileateds." Jackson fails to engage the data Cornell presents or analyze the Luneau video in a meaningful way beyond stating his own opinion and those of a few others. Your reference to rumors is relevant in this regard, since the most pernicious aspect of Jackson's article is his statement that:
"Others have independently come to the same
conclusion (about the Luneau video), and publication of independent analyses may be forthcoming."
What is one to do with that? All kinds of things may be forthcoming, but that has nothing to do with the evidence that's been presented. It reflects very badly on Jackson that he would resort to such a tactic.
"I find this one to be ridiculous"
Bill, tell me this, has it been proven that the whooping crane exists. Yes, no, or maybe?
What we need to establish is whether anyone, Cornell, Cinclodes, or anyone else, has, recently, seen an IBWO. Contrary to what some would have us believe, it IS possible to prove that the IBWO is still alive, if it exists. We'll cross the bridge of "will it continue to survive" or "did an owl kill it since yesterday" after we've established that first fact.
"Others have independently come to the same
conclusion (about the Luneau video), and publication of independent analyses may be forthcoming."
Jackson's statement is true. If the truth is harmful, then so be it.
The problem here is that we don't agree on the meaning of "proven". And it's not entirely clear to me that you are being consistent in the way you define it. I am convinced that in Arkansas, the preponderance of the evidence standard (to use a legal term) has been met, which is certainly enough to rebut any presumption of extinction that might have existed. I think the Arakansas evidence, taken in its entirety, constitutes proof beyond a reasonable doubt -- not all doubt -- though others obviously don't agree.
The situation in the Pearl is a little more ambiguous. There have been some good sightings, but I think that thorough and professional evaluation of Mike's data is required before I form an opinion. I also need to see the video in its entirety before I can have a truly well-informed opinion about it . .See, that's true skepticism.
Now as to Cornell's purported suppression of the evidence about aberrant pileateds:
"I am even more distrustful of Cornell's paper now that we know they sat on their aberrant Pileated photos for so long. Do you think that was good science?"
Your prefatory statement smacks of conspiracy theory. Cornell is playing things very close to the vest in all aspects of its work. It's not unreasonable to take issue with this approach, but to imply that there's any bad faith involved is beyond the pale. It's far more reasonable to conclude that the CLO is being very careful and methodical about what it releases and when, and that it analyzed the data and made a careful study of the aberrant pileateds in the Big Woods (albeit with the "skeptics" in mind) before publishing. This is not bad science at all.
It's a McCarthyite tactic to refer to "others" who share his view and articles that "may be forthcoming".
There's is no way to rebut or even address such an assertion.
By "others", perhaps he means Prum, Robbins and Benz, but that's not clear. In any event, their paper was withdrawn, so he's using evidence that is not on the record to make his case.
"Bill, tell me this, has it been proven that the whooping crane exists. Yes, no, or maybe?" These sorts of arguments are irrelevent.
You have missed my point and attempted to dragged my posting back to the usual "Skeptics talking points" for which there are well-trodden, familiar, canned reponses. My point was that science is full of iffy data. Did I say "Mike Collins has produced proof that there are Ivorybills on the Pearl?" If so, please show me where. I said "quit jumping all over Mike and his data because it is not conclusive or even necessarily all that clear; examining mushy data is a big part of science." But instead you started answering claims I never made... what did I say about abberant pileateds? These are tabloid TV debate tactics -- hurl the challenges you have on the shelf, regardless of what the other person actually said.
Am outta here. No longer will be fodder for these monolithic mantras.
Not as far as I know, did I say you did?
It's a McCarthyite tactic to refer to "others" who share his view...By "others", perhaps he means Prum, Robbins and Benz, but that's not clear.
How's this for clear? (From Jackson's Auk article):
Prum, Robbins, Brett Benz, and I
remain steadfast in our belief that the bird in the Luneau video is a normal Pileated Woodpecker.
I don't think it's very fair to associate the term "McCarthyite" with Dr. Jackson, who has been the great defender of the hope for living Ivory-Bills.
Also from the Jackson article:
Among the first to question the
discovery were two Brazilian ornithologists who believed an alternative hypothesis (i.e. the bird in the Luneau video was an abnormal Pileated Woodpecker) had not been adequately considered and that the possibility that it was an Ivorybilled Woodpecker should only be considered a hypothesis (Nemésio and Rodrigues 2005).
Bill and others, why do you think Cornell didn't show us their photos of those abnormal pileateds, and tell the full story until now (assuming they have?) How can effective rebuttals be written when only part of the important evidence is presented? That's bad science, and it would be rude to describe it in more colorful and possibly more accurate terms.
As to the Brazilians, it is a far cry from suggesting that something should be considered to stating that it is a fact. The CLO has now considered and rejected this hypothesis and has presented evidence to justify the analysis.
I am not accusing Jackson of being an ideological McCarthyite. I'm saying that the tactic of referring to material that is not in evidence (and articles that "may" be published), in vague terms, is a McCarthyite tactic -- because it renders rebuttal or dispute impossible. This is what McCarthy did when he said words to the effect of I have documents in my hand. . .", documents he wouldn't reveal. This is not a method of argument that should be used in honest intellectual discourse.
The possibility of confusion between aberrant/leucistic Pileateds and Ivory-Bills has been central to the debate. Many people would consider it a lie of omission for Cornell to not reveal the photos until now. According to my understanding of science, it wasn't Cornell's prerogative to keep the photos and sightings under wraps, even if they themselves thought they were "immaterial." Obviously, other ornithologists (for example Nemésio and Rodrigues) would strongly disagree. It will be impossible to thoroughly rebut Cornell's paper while they withhold information.
Rather than accusing me of missing the point, being a McCarthyite, etc, please respond specifically to the above.
I never accused you of being McCarthyite (unless you're Jerry Jackson and even then I was referring to the tactic, not the man). This is yet another gross distortion that reveals you as an intellectual comrade of soapbox mike, without his bombast. Still, I will dignify your post with a reply.
It's perfectly legitimate for Cornell to gather evidence in a comprehensive manner, and analyze that evidence before releasing it. That's all they've done, and while I'm a lawyer, not a scientist, it's my impression that this is pretty standard operating procedure in the scientific community. Releasing raw data -- especially partial raw data -- without interpretation or analysis is often self-defeating and irresponsible.
There are, quite simply, no lies of omission here.
Mike C's example is illustrative. He released some of his evidence at a very early stage and has been pilloried for it. That may have been a tactical mistake on his part, since the totality of what he's got could well be a lot more conclusive than it seemed at first glance. Of course, that remains to be seen.
Because you're resorted to misrepresenting my argument, there's no point in discussing this further.
The other aberrant Pileated photo was, acording to the copyright label, taken by Luneau in 2006. So that wasn't really supressed, either.
For all we know, Cornell might have other photos of abnormal Pileateds, but the ones they just posted do not appear to have been "held back" or supressed.
With respect to all of the other points that have been raised, I agree wholeheartedly with what anonymous said.
How in world do you know for sure he has more evidence? Its only logical that Mike posted the best evidence he has gotten from the Pearl. He felt so good about it he posted it on his website and invited everyone to see his "hard" evidence. Logic tells me this is it for now and there is no other evidence for him to show us.
I read on Mike C's site that he rolled his kayak over and all his equipment is shot. That is very sad and from what I read his spirit is till strong. That is good. So we will not be seeing any more evidence from Mike for sometime.
The other aberrant Pileated photo was, acording to the copyright label, taken by Luneau in 2006. So that wasn't really supressed, either.
Copyright notices frequently don't reflect the actual date a photo was taken or when something was written, but rather when they are released to the public.
Fitzpatrick mentioned photographs of this nature (not the "all" white bird) months ago, hence the frequent references to them in blogs and forums.
For all we know, Cornell might have other photos of abnormal Pileateds
They do. From their white Pileated page:
Based on an examination of David Luneau’s photographs [plural] of an oddly plumaged Pileated Woodpecker
Also there's the other, undated photo by Tim Barksdale on the same page.
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