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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.
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"....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






Thursday, April 03, 2008

 

-- Ruminating --

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Skeptics generally deny having any deleterious influence on the search for the Ivory-bill, noting that skepticism is a 'healthy' thing. And certainly skepticism comes in a wide variety of forms. But the overall effect of IBWO cynicism over 6 decades (especially the more recent sort of piling-on, sometimes-derisive, always-quick-to-criticize-or-castigate skepticism), yes, has been obstructive to open Ivory-bill discussion, and moreover had a very 'chilling effect' on the current free flow of information. So much so, that official search leaders now seem largely afraid to even release information if it falls short of being definitive (i.e., accompanied by a photograph), leaving skeptics and others alike with an impression that nothing is being found, when in fact they have no idea what evidence has been gathered. The healthy, free flow of information in science is often stymied by competitive pressures, but rarely by the sort of browbeating intimidation at work in this instance.

This is likely the last major month of Ivory-bill searching for the season, most official searches likely not venturing far into May. There are probably at least 4-5 IBWO efforts outside of Arkansas and the Fla. Panhandle that aren't much publicized, and may not even publicly release their data this year. I mentioned Tuesday being surprised that Cornell was even publicly acknowledging searching for the Ivory-bill in Tennessee, given how close-to-the-vest they've held most findings. The tight clamp down on the free flow of information for the last year+ is a somewhat unfortunate, but predictable, reaction to the given state of affairs.

My guess (and it is SOLELY a GUESS, based on a few things) is that the season will end with additional sightings, auditory encounters, and signs, like past seasons (maybe even more than past seasons), and maybe even new geographic locales of focus as well, but no photo or anything else at all conclusive. In short, enough to maintain believers' interest and even most true agnostics' hopes, but nothing that hardened skeptics won't easily dismiss... again. I fear that failure to attain definitive evidence may even cause most findings to be withheld from public view --- and various final reports may NOT be released publicly (even Auburn's final report from last year has yet to be publicly released).
Again, all of this is just guessing on my part (otherwise known as blog-post filler ;-) --- so DON'T run with it! Indeed, I hope I'm wrong, and there is better evidence than I suspect, and most findings are openly released, but if that doesn't come about, I know who to blame for it... and then here we'll be 3 years later and not much changed. As some of my old Chicago Cubs fan friends would say, 'there's always next year...'
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Comments:
Certainly skeptics have a deleterious influence on the search. Most want to because they believe it's a big waste of money.

Of COURSE there will be additional reported sightings, sounds etc. Doesn't your rational self realize deep down that there will likely never be confirmation of the species existence?
 
Have I entered the fourth dimension? Scientists can find evidence of muons, gluons, mesons and bosons etc but give them a large, noisy, colourful woodpecker and it seems the laws of physics no longer apply (at any scale). Make your own Uncertainty Principle joke here.

Still, as you say, there's always next year, ad infinitum.
 
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