"....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
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
-- Suppose... --
Suppose one looks at a typical collection of 100 Ivory-bill reports/claims... Some skeptics, even without much knowledge of the sighters, will quickly discount all 100 claims based on the presumption that Ivory-bills are likely extinct... and create alternative explanations for the claims willy-nilly.
On-the-other-hand, in reviewing 100 typical reports I'm more likely to find 60-70 that don't seem credible (to me), 5-10 that are credible enough for further study, and the remainder (which is a significant chunk) neither believable nor discreditable based on available details --- and therefore also in need of further scrutiny.
The point is that each and every sighting ought be adjudged independently based on the merits of it's own circumstances and the skills/experience of the observers, not dealt a knee-jerk reaction based on presupposition as is too often the case. And some claims remain forever of uncertain credibility, which does not mean they are not credible, but only that certain information is lacking to tell.
Skeptics insist on saying that it is up to sighters to 'prove' their case... but it is just as true that skeptics must 'prove' their case, faced with so many repeated reports over the years. They must illustrate the inexperience, dishonesty, incompetence, or foolhardiness of all those who feel certain of their claims; one cannot simply postulate or assume these qualities for individuals without any basis for doing so. Casting such aspersions with no demonstrated basis is simply too easy.
It is one thing if someone merely says, "I think I may have seen an Ivory-bill;" it is quite another when someone states, "I'm sure I saw an Ivory-bill." Either show me such an individual's lack of bird knowledge or their previous history of error-proneness, rash conclusions, delusionary nature, prankish tendencies, or outright pathology... or, if you can't do that, then you really have little to offer on the matter; maybe best just to remain silent.
On a sidenote, Cornell's 'Team Sapsucker' won the World Series of Birding for a second straight year with 230 species (...that is, if any of them are to be believed), here and here.
I have to say I may agree with you on fleeting glimpses or maybe even 99 percent sightings.
However, when someone has a 100 certain sighting with multiple field marks, it is hard to forget that. I can understand a person being skeptical if they have never seen one of these birds, but I in having had two excellent sightings, just cannot discount all these other sightings.
Some sightings are obvious mistaken identity, some may be dishonesty................but some are just to credible to be mistakes. I can understand if you choose to say my sightings are not current (from the 1970s), but my sighting data recorded too many small details not recorded in books of the time to be dismissed out of hand.
I recorded (among other things) two extremely specific field marks in my notes that I, myself, questioned for many years. When I first had the opportunity to examine museum specimens of Ivorybills, lo and behold, the specific field marks I recorded were blatantly obvious on these museum specimens. These field marks were huge massive claws (oversize like raptor claws, much bigger than Pileated) and a very pronounced groove on the upper bill (not present in Pileated).
Both field marks were recorded long before the news release of the Cornell Ivorybill in Arkansas. I have documentation of reporting this data back to the early 1980s.
I strongly suspect these birds are still with us, but I can personally guarantee you they where still with us up to 1978.
sincerely, Steve Sheridan
Have you reviewed each and every claim? Over how many of the last 60 years? At least three come immediately to mind that were not "fleeting glimpses" -- Steve Sheridan's, David Kulivan's and the one reported by TRE329 on birdforum and ibwo.net. There are probably other examples, but in any case, your assertion about "fleeting glimpses" is flatly false.
As for independent judgment, you might look at what the Arkansas Records Committe has to say:
At least 4 out 5 members voted to accept the record. That's an independent judgment, and judgments of records committees are generally respected and accepted in the birding world. I guess you just ignore independent judgment when it doesn't fit your worldview. . .kinda reminiscent of the way most members of the current administration approach the world, innit?
Links to this post: