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IVORY-BILLS  LiVE???!  ...

=> THE blog devoted to news and commentary on the most iconic bird in American ornithology, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (IBWO)... and... sometimes other schtuff.
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"....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.”

-- Hamlet

"All truth passes through 3 stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

-- Arthur Schopenhauer






Sunday, April 09, 2006

 

-- Kansas City Star Article --

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An article in the Kansas City Star is largely on skeptic Mark Robbins and written from the skeptics' viewpoint, but with these few lines of counterbalance toward the end:
Searchers have seen ivory bills this winter, officials say, and some recordings are promising. “But we haven’t got that 8-by-10 photograph we need as hard proof,” said Gene Sparling of Hot Springs, Ark., who is credited with the ivory-bill sighting in early 2004.
Sparling now makes speeches about ivory bills for the Nature Conservancy, a private, nonprofit conservation group with bottomland forest projects in the search area.“It doesn’t surprise me that it’s taking a lot of time to find this bird,” he said. “We’re looking for a few birds in a half-million acres, swamp land that is difficult to search.”A winter drought left the marshes too dry for canoe travel, but still too boggy to walk on, Sparling said. That has hampered searchers.Search crews can cover only about 8 percent of the potential habitat a year, said Jay Harrod, director for the Nature Conservancy in Arkansas.“The habitat is nearly the size of Rhode Island,” Harrod said, “and it’s swampy.
It's looking more and more like, other than the sort of unsubstantive rumors, hints, etc. that are to be expected, there is likely to be little solid IBWO evidence brought forth in the final few weeks of this search season in Arkansas. We can all wait for Cornell's release of their summary data/reports in May, at which point the debate will continue, but for the next few weeks I suspect skeptics will be getting the bulk of press time.
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Comments:
“The one thing Cornell seems to have established is that there are no ivory bills down there,” Robbins said.

He must have been intoxicated with the idea of a newspaper reporter asking his opinion about something.
 
"He must have been intoxicated with the idea of a newspaper reporter asking his opinion about something"

I am glad to see that believers are recognizing that the media spotlight might intoxicate some people. It is too bad the same believers do not see how "media intoxication" has played itself out in the "rediscovery". I will believe Mark Robbins is “intoxicated” when I see him giving talks to raise funds for his point of view and when he or his wife publishes a book on how the Ivory-billed doesn’t actually exist.

The reporter did get it wrong when he said:
“…Gene Sparling of Hot Springs, Ark., who is credited with the ivory-bill sighting in early 2004.”

I think he meant to say he was discredited with the sighting. With no sightings since 2004 the credit score of the entire IBWO team is likely too low to allow them to get one of those spiffy IBWO VISA credit cards.
 
No proof this year - maybe 2007,
2008, etc. This could drag on
forever. How much time, effort
and money must be spent before
Cornell admits its mistake.If there were Ivory-bills
in Arkansas they certainly would
have been confirmed by now! A bird
as large and conspicuous as an
Ivory-billed Woodpecker could not
avoid detection by the large number
of searchers in the area.
 
"Anonymous said...

No proof this year - maybe 2007,2008, etc. This could drag onforever.
How much time, effortand money must be spent beforeCornell admits its
mistake.If there were Ivory-billsin Arkansas they certainly wouldhave
been confirmed by now! A birdas large and conspicuous as anIvory-billed
Woodpecker could notavoid detection by the large numberof searchers in
the area.

7:30 PM "

Maybe you should learn to type!!
 
It's funny. Every time I see one of these articles, they always mention the $$$. That's what this all seems to be about. All the naysayers, the "mysteriously funded" tom nelsons, and the apparent rednecks who can't seem to use spell check when posting all mention the money. I'll wager that if the IB searches were all privately funded that would shut up most of the pot-stirring muckrakers. Well, that is until they learned that more land would be set aside for habitat protection once that 8x10 glossy comes in. Come on, how many more Wal-Mart’s does Arkansas need? And you can’t do much with swamp land anyway. I for one, would rather have my tax dollars spent on conservation for a change instead of cruise missiles or Halliburton no bid contracts.
 
The only thing wierder than someone obsessed about the IBWO (like me) is someone obsessed with pointing out that they don't believe the bird still exists. In fact, it's profoundly pathetic. Go find something to believe in, i.e. get a life.
 
Anonymous said:
“The only thing wierder than someone obsessed about the IBWO (like me) is someone obsessed with pointing out that they don't believe the bird still exists. In fact, it's profoundly pathetic. Go find something to believe in, i.e. get a life.”

What in the world could cause someone to have this level of hostility to those who have higher standards of proof than others? The attention and scrutiny now being given to the IBWO “rediscovery” is directly related to the level of hyperbole used by those who announced it and are now using it for fund raising purposes, i.e.:

“one of the most phenomenal conservation stories of the last 200 years” – Sparling

"like finding a dinosaur, when you find something you thought was extinct" – Nature Conservancy

The impact of the “rediscovery” is huge regardless of any subsequent sightings and for that reason the validity of the “rediscovery” needs to be discussed. If other IBWO are seen, those heartened by the initial announcement will find new faith in the ability of species to persist against tremendous odds, while the conservation movement can use the species as a icon in rallying support for their efforts. If no more are seen the reputation of both a major academic research institution and THE major U.S. science journal will be diminished. With no subsequent sightings, time and cooler heads will provide the perspective that the “proof” presented as the basis for the “rediscovery” of the “Lazarus Bird” was never close to being enough.

Then the issue will be whether those who were “obsessed” with the IBWO “rediscovery” and their marketing partners will admit they should have waited for more definitive evidence before going public. If they don’t, then they will be the ones who are “profoundly pathetic” for the damage they will have done to both conservation and science.

As for “getting a life”, I have one thanks and while I believe in many things, one thing I don’t believe in is lowering standards of proof so that things I “want” to be true will seem to be true. And I do sincerely hope that if no IBWO are seen in the future that the principals in the “rediscovery” will indeed “get a life”. The world is going to hell faster than they know, and there are lots of issues where their intensity and fund raising ability could do some good.
 
Regarding the ability to search the Big Woods this year, Cornell is being disengenuous by saying the drought has hampered the searches. I spent many weekends down there this winter and the drought made it incredibly easy to get around. In very few places was the ground "too boggy" to walk on. The fact that they cannot find any birds in these conditions does not bode well.
 
From anonymous 12:10 AM
"And you can’t do much with swamp land anyway."

Well, except drain it, log it, and plant soybeans on it. Which is what they've done to the vast majority of bottomland forest in the Southern US. It's why the IB is extinct, excuse me, "probably" extinct.

"I for one, would rather have my tax dollars spent on conservation for a change instead of cruise missiles or Halliburton no bid contracts."

So would I, and I'd argue that so would everyone else who birds or even has a passing interest in nature. Enough with the straw men. Cruise missiles and Halliburton get their money regardless. The problem is that the funding for the IB search comes, in part, directly from the budgets of established conservation projects. So it IS about money. It's about forcing conservationists to make choices about which endangered species projects and which threatened public lands get paid. And that stinks, so you can see why some people are ticked off that IBs are getting this public money given the evidence presented thus far.
Nathan
 
What in the world could cause someone to have this level of hostility to those who have higher standards of proof than others?

Absolutely nothing if it's all in the name of science. Scientists have been questioning each other for ages, and that's the wonderful thing about science and knowledge. It keeps everyone in check and eventually leads to a higher truth.

Personally, I welcome folks who question the existence of IBWO’s, if they are truly genuine and can leave all the other extraneous things out of the mix and just focus on the science.

But....when those who question have hidden agendas involving politics and funding and money allocation, the science stops being science for science's sake.
 
Personally, I welcome folks who question the existence of IBWO’s, if they are truly genuine and can leave all the other extraneous things out of the mix and just focus on the science.

Personally I would welcome the folks who proclaim the existence of the IBWO if they would leave all of the extraneous things out of the mix (i.e., overselling flimsy evidence, diverting conservation funds and effort urgently needed elsewhere, overselling the global importance of the “rediscovery”, discrediting the conservation movement by providing anti-conservationists with a highly visible case study of “crying wolf”, the VISA cards, books, t-shirts, ad infinitum and ad nauseum).

Not sure what you mean by folks who are “truly genuine” nor why they should seek your “welcome”, but had the IBWO evidence been “genuinely true”, there would be no reason for the believers to be so defensive.
 
Remember the strongest leg of the skeptics argument is that all the sightings made with the human eye are flawed and all these people who think they saw an IBWO, actually just saw Pileateds. Including people who are expert birders and including people who study woodpeckers.
It's not completely impossible that all these people, including Mary Scott who saw hers well before Sparling saw his were wrong.
They all got fooled by artifacts of sunlight, overexcitement, a patch of white feathers on a Pileated... you name it.
Harrison's video...wrong too.
Mike Collin's sightings... some kind of black-muck madness.
(And now he's come down with a fever, poor guy)
And Cornell knows it hasn't got anything so it's just wandering the woods pretending to search and
putting up ARUs for show.
They're drunk with media intoxication. And the skeptics
present what seems like a voice of scientific sobriety. It provides a kind of comfort, a kind of certainty. So much so that people are preferring the extinction theory over the "extant" theory.
Well no wonder everyone is so mad
that Cornell/IBWO is getting all this money if this is what is believed. And bad behavior on Cornell's part, and bad science in explaining the video...that serves as more proof of "extinction theory". Much of the skeptics assertions are based on theories too. Theories that say that groupthink, bad lighting, delirium campephilii principalii... all of these MAY fully explain away all
sightings and you MUST therefore believe there are no IBWOs.
Well I just don't like to be told what to think, I guess. I'll leave some doubt open on both theories. I'll keep checking out Mike's site until he admits its all been a cruel joke and he's really a paid skeptic ;-).

Paul Sutera
 
Not sure what you mean by folks who are “truly genuine” nor why they should seek your “welcome”, but had the IBWO evidence been “genuinely true”, there would be no reason for the believers to be so defensive.

I think you know exactly what I mean about "truly genuine". I'm talking about the folks out there who have agendas other than finding out for sure if there are IB's still breathing air.

And why do you keep harping on the IB Visa Cards and other IB related books and sundries? Surely someone such as yourself believes in the free market economy. Just don't buy the books and tee shirts, and get a credit card with a big yellow smiley face on it. I find it ironic that non-believers whine about the money situation and then turn right around and whine about folks trying to raise their own money to conduct the searches themselves. I don't think you'll be happy until Congress passes a law making it illegal to search for ivorybills. Then you would know for sure that the bird would stay officially good and extinct, like an endangered species should.

And as for your "genuinely true" evidence comment, it pains me to think of what type of evidence you folks will accept. Whatever happened to first-hand accounts by experts? Are you saying that every book, journal, and paper that came out before the invention of photography and video is moot since we may or may not have film or video evidence? Poor Audubon and Wilson, little did they know the species of birds they chronicled never really existed until someone snapped a nice clear photo or captured them on video.
 
I believe the differences between the current believers and skeptics mean nothing in the grand scheme of things and do not want to give that impression. However, I would like for some believer to explain their reasons for thinking that people who are not convinced somehow have some conflicting agenda. Having a number of friends who have questioned this from the start - based primarily on the typical level of proof they seek for new state records etc.- I find it hard to think that "skeptics" are people who for some reason don't want the IBWO to exist. Many people who I have talked to are simply not convinced. They will certainly not argue when convincing evidence is provided but there is a big difference in someone saying “I am going to show you a picture of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker” and then having to explain in detail why the image shows an Ivory-bill and someone producing a picture that simply shows an Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

The IBWO issue will be an unneeded distraction until it is resolved. I would love for it to be resolved by convincing evidence of the species’ existence, but until that happens I will continue to have a feeling that there are a number of things amiss. I can assure you that I have no interest in the price of swampland, development in Arkansas, or other related issues. I do care about a range of important areas and conservation issues and hope funds are provided for them. If the solidarity of believers is important to you and is somehow strengthened by portraying the skeptics as evil then feel free to play the “us vs. them” card. And speaking of cards, I dislike credit cards in general and affinity credit cards in particular. The IBWO one is just one more example of how consumerism runs rampant over most everything in our society.
 
"I'm talking about the folks out there who have agendas other than finding out for sure if there are IB's still breathing air."

Specifically who are these folks (names please) and specifically what are their agendas?

Tom Nelson
 
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