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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






Saturday, September 02, 2006

 

-- Tanner Redux --

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James Tanner was the typical grad student working on a dissertation, appropriately humble and hesitant in his findings when he wrote his Ivory-billed Woodpecker monograph. Yet, once published, he was raised to an authoritative pedestal to which all who were interested in the species pretty much came and knelt before. As time proceeded his statements and views took on more dogmatic and less open-minded tones as an inevitable consequence of this commanding position that was thrust upon him. Still, I think some of the most important words he ever wrote, came at the end of the "Introduction" to his original study, before that dogmatism set in, and they deserve repeated citation:
"The chief difficulty of the study has been that of drawing conclusions from relatively few observations, necessary because of the extreme scarcity of the bird. My own observations of the birds have been entirely confined to a few individuals in one part of Louisiana... the conclusions drawn from them will not necessarily apply to the species as it once was nor to individuals living in other areas. The difficulty of finding the birds, even when their whereabouts was known, also limited the number of observations. Especially was this true in the non-breeding season. With these considerations in mind, one must draw conclusions carefully and with reservations." [all italics added]
On this, at least, I believe Tanner got it 100% right (I wish he and others since had adhered to it)...
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