"....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, March 10, 2007
-- A Few Thoughts --
Too much in Dr. Hill's new book for a blog review but I'll mention a few thoughts from a first quick scan of the volume:
1) more information than I've seen elsewhere on Tyler Hicks (for those who need a fuller picture), as well as other figures in the Choctawhatchee story.
2) Like Gallagher's book, a number of interesting yarns related here, I'd not heard elsewhere. The Ted Kretschmann story in chapter 7 is a particular one (I won't spoil it for you), and there are a number of other stories to tell and academic politics or behind-the-scenes activities to relate.
3) Different folks will enjoy different chapters, but I particularly like chapter 5, "Is It a Miracle," where Geoff tackles some of Tanner's generalizations and what I've long regarded as the absurd myth that this species lacked the habitat to survive for this long or couldn't have persisted without being seen. Among other things Geoff notes that Tanner's "one-man inventory of all Ivory-billed Woodpeckers and ivorybill habitat in the United States was perhaps the greatest folly in the history of Ivory-billed Woodpecker conservation and one of the greatest follies in the history of U.S. bird conservation" (while still recognizing the great, but imperfect, job Tanner did). And Hill further concludes that the Choctaw. finding was not so much "miraculous" or "astounding" as it was "inevitable."
Chapter 9, "Good Science, Bad Science, or No Science At All," I think will also be of particular interest to many, dealing with scientific argument, methodology, and evidence, and chapter 10 summarizes the "tangible evidence" compiled from the Choctaw.
4) In chapter 14 there is the first discussion I've seen of the video which was attained of purported ivory-bills in the area but never published due to its quality. And there's a lot more food for thought and debate, depending what your particular interests are, in various other chapters than I can indicate here.
On a complete side note, it's a very handsomely, stylishly (I think) done book, especially coming from an academic publisher.
Near the conclusion Dr. Hill voices a very optimistic note (written before the Choctawhatchee find was publicly announced, let alone the current search season begun) --- I don't know if he still feels comfortable with these words or not, but for 'believers' they are certainly uplifting:
"What I am sure of is that the ivorybills are there. Not one bird. Not a single pair. At least a half dozen pairs and perhaps tens of pairs of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in the extensive swamp forests along the Choctawhatchee River. The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is not extinct. It isn't even hanging by a thread. It has a toehold in the forests on the Florida Panhandle."...May it be so.