"....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
Thursday, November 29, 2007
-- Extinction... --
Probably no other bird species in the history of America has had as many sighting claims over the years (as well as other possible "encounters") as the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and yet been construed by so many to be extinct, based upon shaky evidence and conjecture; nor has any bird species likely been presumed extinct on so many repeated occasions, only to be rediscovered.
There is a huge difference between a bird being rare (or even being very, very, very rare), and being extinct --- "extinction" leaves no room for ambiguity; but the distinction seems lost on skeptics who yet again prefer writing off a species entirely, rather than simply surmising that it might be rare and wary (a perfectly reasonable conclusion with so many sightings in play), and supporting an arduous effort to confirm it.
Too many skeptics are operating on an approach to science that implies, 'a proposition (IBWOs exist) must be assumed false if it has not been proven true and there are alternative explanations/conjectures for each piece of evidence supporting it.' It's the same basic (flawed) approach to science the intelligent-design folks take toward evolution --- human evolution isn't proven true, and the evidence for it has other explanations just as probable or moreso than random mutation and natural selection over time (...maybe Tom Nelson will next take up the cause of intelligent design, since no one seems to take his global warming posts seriously, and he keeps returning to the Ivorybill well to maintain blog traffic).
Once the many Southern areas/habitats of interest have been more systematically searched we may have some real evidence for Ivorybill extinction to discuss --- until then (I'll just keep saying it over and over and over again), we have ongoing sightings claims, and little good evidence for extinction, just conjecture. Much of this has to do with the inherent weakness in the way most biologists (mis)understand underlying scientific method... but that's a subject for a whole 'nother post some day (the life sciences and the physical sciences are quite different critters, though practiitioners of the former often wish to pretend they are on an equal footing).
Speaking of threatened birds, Audubon has recently issued a warning that one-quarter of U.S. bird species face possible extinction (surprise, surprise), in large part due to habitat destruction and global warming. A couple of pieces on their report here:
hmmmm.... maybe also of note:
Links to this post: