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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.

Web ivorybills.blogspot.com

"....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

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


-- Rumor Wrapup --

In response to ongoing emails seeking specifics about "rumors" afoot in IBWO-land, I'll just re-cap what I've essentially already reported here (many in the ornithology community already know more of the details than what follows):

[Multiple] IBWOs have been found in a non-Arkansas state (found quite awhile ago actually) by credible observers; actions are underway for the future study and conservation of these birds (and these things take time). An official announcement will probably follow within 5 weeks-or-so detailing the find, at which point all may assess the evidence. Whether all skeptics will be convinced I can't predict (although I believe some major skeptics of the Cornell evidence are already persuaded). From my personal standpoint there is little that is overly remarkable about this find, but I expect most others will find it quite stunning. To date, those involved have done a remarkable job of keeping the lid on things. There also remain other rumors in other locales, and only time will tell of their status. Now let's try, somehow, to talk about other things while awaiting official word -- it could be a long boring month ahead in the interim! (Lest anyone be concerned about leaks, the information in this post was okayed for disclosure ahead of time by those involved in the find, and there are many individuals out there who already know far more of the specifics than divulged here.)

...Ivory-bills live, as they always have; whether Man has the insight, ability, and will to safeguard their survival well into the future is another question entirely; the acute damage already done by skeptics, over decades, in impeding the process does not bode well.

"the acute damage already done by skeptics, over decades, in impeding the process does not bode well."

Wow! as just a casual, but attentive follower of the Ivory Bill Debate, I am astonished by this comment. Healthy skepticism has fueled science and all of its advances over the last few hundred years. It would certainly be irresponsible of us to say that skeptics are impeding a scientific process. I take it that you mean to say, "believe us or you will doom the Ivory bill". I would like to know more about the specific damages the skeptics are causing. Please don't take my comment in the wrong way, I just want to understand you perspective a little better.


CL- Washington
"healthy skepticism" yes; not dogmatic skepticism. As I've written previously I AM the biggest skeptic around, but in this case, having weighed ALL the evidence, I'm a skeptic of the prevailing view and of Tanner's conclusions. Skepticism in the IBWO case became so overbearing as to be stifling: discouraging people from searching, or from turning in reports of sightings when they did occur -- this is not healthy open science, it is a kind of intimidation (and occurs in many fields where one paradigm dominates over all others -- just now I'm seeing all the complaints among physicists about "string theory's" domination of the marketplace over the last 1-2 decades despite little applied or experimental evidence to support it).
Skepticism is one thing, claims that the IBWO must be extinct (and the inaction that follows) are totally something else, as are aspersions of 'fraud,' 'hoax,', 'scam,' etc. thrown at Cornell, who's case has yet to be disproven by a long shot.
The skeptics will have to accept their share of responsibility for the lack of progress in Ivory-bill studies over the last several decades. With real effort the species should've been rediscovered in the 50s or 60s, by now it may be too late.
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