"....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, June 14, 2006
-- One Leg To Stand On --
Giving the skeptics their due:
It is possible for someone, even someone competent, to see a Pileated Woodpecker briefly and mistake it for an Ivory-bill. A second individual might repeat the mistake, possibly even a third. But as you get to the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th person the likelihood of the same error being committed by different people on different days from different places/angles becomes increasingly small (and there are many more sightings claims for the Big Woods than the original 7 used for publication). Even taking excitement, human foibles, and so-called 'groupthink' into account, vanishingly small. Thus, my persistent emphasis on the 'sightings' evidence over the video and audio evidence. I would love to see better video evidence, but the lack of such remains fully understandable given the size of habitat, possible scarcity of individuals, and difficulty of videotaping in such environs. I would also love to see more examples of suspicious bark scrapings and sound recordings, but again the scarcity of such can be readily explained away. But to give the skeptics their due, there is one lone matter that continues to trouble me...
Early mentions of abnormal Pileateds in the Big Woods with some additional white patching on their wings were not problematic because again I believe such individuals would not be repeatedly mistaken for IBWOs in the field; they could easily be spotted as, lo and behold, Pileateds with some added white in a wing or two. However, Cornell's finding of a more largely albinistic Pileated earlier in the season, was more troubling -- that bird itself couldn't be mistaken for an IBWO, but as I said at the time we simply don't know about that bird's parents, siblings, or offspring. Was there somewhere in the mix a single individual that by sheer chance did have additional symmetric white patterning that might mimic an Ivory-bill's? In flight would such a bird not only flash the pattern of an Ivory-bill, but give off a sense of greater size and bulk with its missing black borders?? As a mutant or abnormal would such a bird have a shortened lifespan and now be long gone from the Big Woods, and thus not re-located ???
Again we are dealing in probabilities here, and make no mistake about it, I think the above scenario highly improbable. But does it give skeptics their one sole thin flimsy rickety persistent and convenient leg to stand on (for the Arkansas claims), unfortunately it does...
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