"....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
Monday, April 07, 2008
-- And The 'Expectations' Game --
Another frequent contention of skeptics is that Ivory-bill reports are simply the result of excited people going into the woods "expecting" or "anticipating" seeing the bird, even though many if not most serious IBWO claims since the 50s have come from folks who weren't even looking for the species. Indeed, if expectations were such a driving force, by now one might've expected far MORE reports during the last two years of intense searching; FAAAR more. Instead we are getting precisely what one would anticipate for an exceedingly rare species: occasional, few-and-far-between sightings, not a rash of encounters.
Moreover, expectations cut both ways: BY FAR the PRIMARY expectation for the last 6 decades of birding in southern woods has been that any large black-and-white woodpecker was a Pileated. An important question (with unknowable answer) is how many brief sightings over the years, written off as 'Pileateds,' were in fact unrealized Ivory-bills. It is the heavily-biasing expectation birders have for seeing PILEATEDS in the forest which actually needs to be recognized and adjusted, so that in the future all large B&W woodpeckers might be studied more closely, instead of routinely shrugged off.
What all the skeptics' doubts boil down to is this: no Ivory-bill report of the last 60 years has been followed up with multiple quality sightings, nor clear photos, nor roost or nesthole finds, and skeptics simply find this an unfathomable, incomprehensible, unintelligible circumstance, so great is their trust in human capabilities and thoroughness... a trust toward which, needless to say, I am highly skeptical.
Elsewhere on the Web:
"Black Swan theory" here and here.
Your "blame skeptical thinking" arguments are growing a bit thin. Your negative expectation bias explanation doesn't work very well for the hundreds of thousands of images taken by automatic cameras set up in the most likely places that anyone can find, images weeded through by Believers. And I can guarantee you that any competent birder that watched an Ivory-bill, an actual living Ivory-bill, through binos at close range for a minute or so would know that it was no Pileated, bias or not.
"Instead we are getting precisely what one would anticipate for an exceedingly rare species: occasional, few-and-far-between sightings, not a rash of encounters." Baloney. Everyone, including me, thought that definitive documentation would soon follow the Cornell "rediscovery" and that the birds could be repeatedly located once found. Cornell thought so, Auburn thought so. It's not happening. What is happening is what many predicted would happen if it was all a big mistake: lots of unconfirmed reports, just like has been happening for decades.
The lack of imagination is much more of a problem with Believers than Skeptics. Human observation is very undependable.
(Hicks, Dec 2006)
Seems like it would explain why it hasn't taken many woodpecker photos, if indeed that is true.
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