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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.

Web ivorybills.blogspot.com

"....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

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


-- Or, Maybe Not --


An e-mailer reminds me that I haven't done a TOP 10 list for awhile, so without further ado:

Top 10 press releases from assorted skeptics in the event an Ivory-billed Woodpecker is caught on videotape:

10. Jerry Jackson: Hallelujah, hallelujah, I'm a believer!!

9. David Sibley: Get it to my studio pronto so I can sketch those coverts and secondaries!

8. Ilya MacLean: If it looks like an Ivory-bill, and it flies like an Ivory-bill, and it toots like an Ivory-bill, c'mon it's gotta be some sorta duck.

7. The Board of the American Birding Association: huuuuuhhh, say WHAAAAAT????

6. Louis Bevier: It doesn't matter a twit, the Luneau video is STIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILL a Pileated.

5. Kenn Kaufman: DOHHHHHHH!!!

4. Patrick Coin: LORD GOD, what a videotape!!

3. Jane Turner: Ok so it's NOT a Pileated, but are we absolutely positively certain it isn't a bloody-crested, oversized, bi-laterally leucistic crow, with jaundiced eyes and steroidal albino beak-syndrome. Are we sure, huh?....

2. Martin Collinson: CRIIIIIIKEY!!!!

1. Tom Nelson: seeeee, what did I tell ya, yet more evidence that global warming is just a friggin' sham! (...oh, and puhhleeeeze everyone, stop by my blog and read today's 163 scintillating posts).

Hey, I'm highly honored to be included in your list of assorted skeptics, since I'm not even an ornithologist!
--Take care...
If you don't have any decent evidence to support your case, just attack the skeptics. Oh, and write post after post talking about hope. That will convince a lot of people.
Re: cotinis... I'm not so sure but that being an ornithologist isn't more of a hindrance than a benefit in this debate...

As for the evidence, it's been out there for decades; if you choose not to see it as "decent" that's your choice.
cyberthrush said, I'm not so sure but that being an ornithologist isn't more of a hindrance than a benefit in this debate.

Horrors, cyberthrush, now you're starting to sound a lot like Fishcrow, who hasn't earned a lot of respect among ornithologists for his ignorant attacks on the profession. Knowledge of a subject is a hindrance? Come on now! How about a little more respect for the bird scientists?

Besides, ornithology is a broad field, as you well know. To be a Ph.D. ornithologist and not be an expert in field identification is not unusual in this age of specialization.

But I have a great deal of respect for the field identification experts such as Jon Dunn, Pete Dunne, Kenn Kaufmann, and David Sibley, all of whom have expressed a great deal of skepticism about the authenticity of recent IBWO sightings.
My point is simply that trained ornithologists enter the fray with a lot of embedded biases and assumptions they're not aware of or willing to suspend. I believe a scientist from outside the life sciences, knowing nothing about birds and starting from scratch, could objectively review the totality of 60 yrs. of evidence, and study bird behavior in general, and reach a different conclusion than many ornithologists have (just my belief).
Last I knew Pete Dunne still leaned toward belief in the IBWO's existence. Of course, I respect Sibley and Kaufman's ID skills as well, but they are birders, not scientists, and this is ultimately a debate over the nature of scientific evidence. I too am skeptical toward 90%+ of IBWO sightings, but that matters little if there are 2-10% I find credible or at least worth checking further.
Heck, having worked in the field, I'm skeptical of 90% of the money spent on medical research, but that doesn't mean I think they should stop funding it.
Most of the problem stems from ornithologists who are lousy field birders. See Cornell and Hill et al. Especially Hill et al. The more they say, the bigger hole they dig. You just can't find a well-travelled quality field birder who gives these 'sightings', 'signs' and 'evidence' the time of day.
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