"....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, February 09, 2009
-- While We're Waiting --
In the event you've got way too much free time on your hands ;-) :
Bill Pulliam has pulled together for easy accessibility his various analyses of the original Luneau video in a recent post here:
For opposing points of view:
Louis Bevier's original analysis of the matter is still up below (...so I guess he hasn't changed his mind yet ;-)) :
http://web.mac.com/lrbevier/ivorybilled/Identification.html (several pages)
And Martin Collinson's study of the matter as published in an open access journal is here:
What I stiiiiiiiiill have not seen anywhere are the conclusions of an extensive analysis Cornell did on a computer-generated, digitized Ivory-billed Woodpecker in flight, to see how it would match up against the pixels of the bird in Luneau's video. If anyone can fill in the results of that analysis, I'd appreciate hearing of it.
Obviously, the variables involved are numerous, and possibly the results were simply inconclusive; I'd simply be curious to know (or maybe they're still awaiting publication?).
...proves that the original analysis of the Arkansas video is wrong. The body of the bird would have to accelerate at about 30 g's (where g is the acceleration due to gravity) according to the original interpretation. It is clear that the body of a bird cannot accelerate at such a rate, but the wings can, and in fact the acceleration of the wingtip of a large woodpecker (easily computed using data from Tobalske's 1996 paper) is -- lo and behold -- about 30 g's.
"Central to the argument is the interpretation of a fuzzy video depicting
a large black and white bird taking flight. This thesis describes the creation of
a physiologically-accurate animation of a flying Ivory-Billed Woodpecker in hope
that it can be one day used to verify the rediscovery."
A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Cornell University
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science
by Jeffrey Michael Wang January 2007
I think it's an ivorybill since the wings show too much white on too many frames to be a pileated. The wing shape is also interesting, and there's a comparison with the underside of the wing of the bird in the 2006 Pearl video at the web site that I mentioned above. In the bigger picture, it really doesn't matter that the original interpretation is wrong, but there's a much bigger picture. There are all the sightings in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and other states. The most recent sighting was by a birder with 770 species on his ABA Area list. There are also the other forms of evidence that have been obtained in Florida and Louisiana. People need to wake up and focus on saving this species from extinction rather than arguing about it.
Yet still no official publication (unless it is in process -- I have previously made some inquiries to which I got no response).
I think it is fairly clear that the reason the grad student picked the IBWO of all the birds he could've chosen to digitize was for this additional purpose of Cornell's use.
"I'm just not interested in fuzzy footage of what people don't recognize in the sky...the challenge goes back to them to produce the evidence befitting the depth of the claim."
Some IBWO searchers are sure they've seen the bird. Many Bigfoot buffs are just as certain of their claims. It's a waste of time listening to any of the claims with the weak evidence being produced.
Obvious to many is the reason such lousy evidence is being rehashed is that there's nothing decent to study, and the reason there's nothing decent to analyze is that the bird is almost certainly extinct.
The above quote is sensible and applicable The Bird.
I haven't "reanalyzed" anything; I just reposted links to the one analysis I did a couple of years ago, during the heat of the debate. In fact I have argued very strongly that there's no point in continuing to yell at each other about the particulars of that video, and that we just have to accept a scientific stalemate (hardly an unusual situation). But everyone on earth has not been following this debate religiously since day 1; there are always new people stumbling in to the discussion who might want to read the old stuff, and old fogeys who might want to re-read it.
As to "almost certainly extinct," there are those two recent peer-reviewed publications that found that (a) the survival of a single-digit population for 60 years is not only possible, it's quite reasonable, and (b) even in the most heavily surveyed areas in Arkansas, and even assuming no valid detections at all there, there still has not been enough effort put in to statistically rule out the occurrence of 1 or 2 birds just in that one region. Of course absence of evidence is not evidence of absence; equally straightforward is that an accumulation of absence of evidence does eventually start to become evidence of absence if the evidence is being actively sought. However, the statistics suggest that in the case of The Bird the pile of negative evidence is nowhere near big enough, even now, to say that the bird is "almost certainly" or even "probably" extinct. It may not be for decades to come; probabilities drop pretty slowly with increasing sample size after a while. Deal with it. Uncertainty is part of life and science.
It is a common error of birders to assume we are far more efficient bird detectors than we really are. Stating that the Ivorybill is "almost certainly extinct" is a leap of faith (or if you prefer, a statement of personal belief) that has not been justified scientifically or statistically.
Who are you to say they are fantasies or mythical?
The analogy between Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and the Ivory-bill is a very good one and I think that's what makes some Believers angry. There are credible reports, blurry still photos, lousy video, books and websites dedicated to the subjects. Similar excuses are trotted out about why the creature can never quite be confirmed: extreme wariness, difficult habitat, people not being taken seriously.
Bigfoot Believers argue that people didn't believe the stories of gorillas. Why can't there be another species to be discovered in the swamps and deep forests? Loch Ness Believers say there really were "sea monsters" at one time. Why couldn't they still be lurking in the deep lake in Scotland? The Ivory-bill? Heck, they were confirmed 60 years ago!
Anonymous is really grasping at straws. It's a shame he can't support his arguments without resorting to allusions to legends and folklore. Really makes it hard to take any of his thoughts seriously.
Hyperbolic rhetoric has been the bane of this discussion from very early on, from Jerry Jackson's "faith-based ornithology" to Tom Nelson and his gang of anonymous trolls who always loved the Bigfoot analogy. I think in Science, Bigfoot and UFOs are probably akin to what Nazis are in popular discourse. According to one version of Godwin's Law, when disputants start comparing those they disagree with to the Nazis, then rational argument is over and the person who employed "reductio ad Hitlerum" has lost the argument by default. Same can be said when you start comparing people you disagree with to UFO believers in a scientific discussion, I think.
It's all empty rhetoric without some solid evidence.
Jane Goodall discussing Bigfoot on NPR: Well now, you'll be amazed when I tell you that I'm sure that they exist... there are people looking. There are very ardent groups in Russia, and they have published a whole lot of stuff about what they've seen. Of course, the big, the big criticism of all this is, "Where is the body?" You know, why isn't there a body? I can't answer that, and maybe they don't exist, but I want them to.
And once again, you ignore statistics and publications in favor of "common sense" and Bigfoot. I think I've had enough of this little circular highway for now.
Geoff Hill feels he now has "a good chance of getting a photo"
the fact that neither his team, nor anyone else, has had any sightings since last spring seems an irrelevancy.
The reason for the optimism? Cameras that work.
All they have to do "is guess where an ivorybill will land."
shouldn't be long then?
Yet another misidentification.
What I Want to Believe + Conviction = Fact
(Sounds British + I don't like the guy = so it most be the guy.)
The author of that article employs most of the major debating points Ivory-bill believers use:
1. All those observers can't be wrong
2. There's plenty of evidence, but people aren't open minded enough to accept it.
3. The absence of evidence is no evidence for absence
4. "Time has come in Wildman research to shift the onus of proof squarely on to the skeptics and to realize that beyond a certain point doubt is not only not any more reasonable but also a positive (or should one say negative?) hindrance to the advancement of real science."
Many more too numerous to mention.
It is easy to see the folly in unreasonable things others believe in, more difficult in those that we believe in.
"open-minded to the possibility the bird exists." A far cry from the heady days after the Cornell announcement.
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