"....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
Saturday, July 08, 2006
-- Worst Case Scenario --
Let's take the worst case scenario: Ivory-bills are never confirmed in the Big Woods of Arkansas -- no..., we'll make it even worse: the original Arkansas sighters all relent and say they are no longer certain of the bird they saw in 2004-5; it may very well have been a Pileated (normal or abnormal) afterall; and advanced techniques in analyzing pixels come along demonstrating conclusively that the Luneau video captured a Pileated on tape; and Cornell retracts their original SCIENCE article now wanting to set the record straight and move on. Where does that leave us...?
Right back at May (or thereabouts), 1999.
In Jan. 1999, most serious Ivory-billed Woodpecker seekers believed any remnants of the species would most likely reside in Florida, Louisiana, and/or Mississippi. Texas and South Carolina were still considered possible by many, and maybe even Georgia or Alabama. At best, for most IBWO students, Arkansas was rarely higher than 8th on the list of possible locales.
April 1999: David Kulivan claims to see 2 Ivory-bills in the Pearl River region of La. (and adjacent to Miss.) generating much new hope for the species, though in the end no confirmation follows -- it is difficult to evaluate how meaningful the results of the extensive search done by LSU almost 3 years later are, since the 2 birds from 1999 could easily have departed the area by then, or never have resided there to begin with (only dispersing or passing through when encountered by Kulivan). In 2006, researcher Mike Collins insists there ARE IBWOs in the Pearl R. area.
Where are we if the Arkansas searches continue to fail -- right back at the need to focus on FL., LA., and MS., and possibly as many as 4 other states that were well ahead of AR. in speculation prior to Apr. 2005 -- which is why those already searching such areas need to be encouraged to continue, not stigmatized by any perceived (or even actual) failings on Cornell's part. If the above worst case scenario were to arise, skeptics would try to generalize from the specific AR. circumstance to any and all other Ivory-bill claims (known as the "hasty generalization" fallacy in formal logic), but neither science nor fairness give a basis for doing so.
And, if continued credible sightings (confirmed or not) DO come out of AR. then other nearby states, southern MO., IL., Tenn., KY., not previously paid much attention, need to be taken more seriously as well.
In short, in a worst case scenario.... not a whole lot really changes, and much work remains to be done.