"....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, August 12, 2006
-- Varieties of Skepticism --
There's skepticism... and then there's schlepticism ; - ), of the sort that overwhelms the Web. Many will be surprised to hear me say I know few people more skeptical by nature than myself -- only my skepticism runs the gamut across all of science (not to mention government, religion, business, art, and oh yeah, tarot reading). Long ago I cancelled membership in a well-known international "skeptics" organization having become too skeptical of their biases and approach to matters. Having worked most of my adulthood in genetics and medicine I remain highly skeptical of those fields (and the life sciences in general) -- they are chockfull of imprecision, built-in biases, unspoken assumptions, and poorly-thought-out methodologies (not to mention fudged data and experimentation), rarely acknowledged in public. Indeed, most money spent in science is poured down a rat hole... BUUUT, that's simply the price we pay for the brilliant and life-changing science which, through it all, bubbles to the surface -- still, few in the public understand the process.
Anyway, my skepticism doesn't begin in 2005 like so much of the Web-based blathering, or for that matter with Ivory-bill reports of the 1950's; it begins with the 1942 release of James Tanner's study and followup commentary. Once one realizes, critically, the weakness of the generalizations/conclusions in that work it changes how one approaches all future claims/reports/evidence on the subject -- extinction was a possibility, but in terms of probabilities, which is all science can ever go on, that possibility (of extinction) was slim given the multitude of ongoing reports to the contrary (technically, there is NEVER PROOF in science, only evidence and probabilities -- go channel Heisenberg, or better yet Godel, if you don't understand this... or just skip it 'cuz it ain't worth arguing over). For 60 years the evidence and probabilities have simply pointed opposite of what most so-called skeptics think about IBWOs. And so while schleptics continue to believe in something (extinction) that CANNOT be substantiated in the near term (and lacks any good evidence) I believe in something that can... and will.
"How long before the probability that the IBWO exists falls below what it was before the 2004 sightings?"
20-30 yrs. minimum
"Did we have a slowly falling line before 2004 then a spike then a faster/slower falling line?"
no, since 1945, the probability of IBWO existence, and the probability of a sighting, in any given year were both in the 90-99% range
"When (if ever) will the two lines cross?"
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