"....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
Sunday, May 25, 2008
-- A Lil' More History --
"Despite pronouncements [~1900] that the Ivory-bill was going extinct --- then despite pronouncements that it was extinct --- the species held on, unbeknownst to America's amateur and professional ornithologists. Its life largely had been a secret to naturalists and its apparent death a premature conclusion.[ ...and 8 years later, in Louisiana, there was another resurrection, at the Singer Tract along the Tensas River. ]
None of this became clear until well after the turn of the century, when the Ivory-bill, so everyone thought, existed only in the cabinets of natural history and on the pages of Wilson and Audubon.
In 1924, for a moment, everything changed. In spring of that year, Cornell University's Arthur Augustus Allen --- a distinguished ornithologist and popularizer of bird-watching --- was traveling with his wife, Elsa, in Florida. A guide named Morgan Tindle transformed their lives and the course of American conservation when he pointed out one particular nest to the Allens. A nest of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. The astonishment of the rediscovery --- almost like a resurrection --- soon turned to bitter disappointment after the Allens briefly left the nest. Two taxidermists, apparently with permission from the state of Florida, shot the nesting Ivory-bills. In his articles on the Ivory-bill in "The Auk" and in "National Geographic," Allen does not discuss his personal reactions to this tragedy. Though slow to anger and almost always optimistic, Allen still must have felt the loss sharply. Even with Elsa to comfort him, he wondered if they had seen the last two Ivory-bills in the world, now irrevocably gone.
The Ivory-bill suddenly had returned, then departed almost as quickly. The sighting, however, raised the possibility that other Ivory-bills might yet be found in some remote part of the deep South, in some swamp that had escaped the sharp blades of progress. Would there be --- could there be --- another resurrection of the Lord God Bird?"
--- from Christopher Cokinos' "Hope Is the Thing With Feathers," 2000
Some recent books of interest:
Leonard Mlodinow -- "The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives" here and here.
Julian Havil -- "Impossible?: Surprising Solutions to Counterintuitive Conundrums" here and here.
Stuart Kauffman -- "Reinventing the Sacred" here.