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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






Friday, March 30, 2007

 

-- A Dangerous Idea? --


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I seem to be promoting a number of books/writers lately who I happen to enjoy, so yet another: Over the last 10+ years, (nonscientist) John Brockman has edited several wonderful anthologies of short essays by top-notch scientists/thinkers on all manner of cutting edge thought. In fact he runs a website, edge.org, that brims with mind-expanding offerings from major scientists for lay readers (and each other). I just picked up his latest volume, in which scientists were asked to pose a "dangerous idea" they had that just might turn out to be true (in a sense, these are largely ideas that might prove to be scientifically valid, but 'culturally' or 'politically incorrect.').

Anyway, in leafing through the book, it occurred to me that for many the idea of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker yet being alive in multiple locales and having escaped human detection for decades, may in fact be a 'dangerous idea' (ok, not truly in the sense Brockman uses it) --- the notion that so many (humans), could've been so mistaken, for so long a time, about such a significant case, is just too much for some scientists (especially if they're in that group) to acknowledge as a real possibility, and they cling to the more comforting and committed view that the species is extinct, lest ornithological gospel and texts have to be re-written. Indeed, if they are wrong in this instance, how many other long-held beliefs about animal behavior/cognition/adaptation are wrong as well...? But in actuality this is often how science progresses, not by being right all the time, but by discovering where it is wrong, and working to avert such error in the future.
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