"....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
Friday, March 20, 2009
-- The Story That Keeps On Giving... --
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker... what a spell it casts upon us. Earlier this week, Sharon Stiteler over at Birdchick blog, noting the emotional intensity people, including herself, sometimes have to all-things-Ivorybill, muses in a comment:
"None of us are immune. Maybe that's the bird's secret power?"
A wonderful thought, a bird that has secret power over we humans; may not be so, but almost seems so at times. This story of hope raised, hope dashed, raised, dashed, over and over and over again. This week Gary Erdy discovered the buzzsaw that is this topic.
And this week, traffic to my blog doubled (welcome to any newbies still hangin' around), and the average person, according to stats, visited 4+ times per day --- since many folks only stop by once or twice a day, a lot of people must've been clicking here 6-8 or more times every 24 hrs, hooked on this latest story. Lot of interest for one lone iconic, charismatic, compelling species. And I understand people's passion.
But a few days ago Bill Pulliam noted on his blog that it is "occasionally good to remember that the topics that consume the minds of we birders are rather far off on the fringe of mainstream society, even within the blogosphere." Fer sure. And Steve Sheridan laments that his obsession with this bird caused him to "neglect" other aspects of his life, leading to this week's rather irrational outcome. May these be healthy reminders to us all as we move forward.
...Have a good weekend.
(The 'open thread' continues below, and I have linked to Bill P.s blog in the left-hand 'IBWO Links' column.)
Ohhhh... and just one more thing... GO University of North Carolina Tarheels!!
How do we know that Erdy-Sheridan fully cooperated with government entities in the release of their information? Some here, including CT seem to think that they did, not sure why he thought that.
There is a new edit on Pulliam's site that implies however that they didn't and that certain agreements may not have been followed. Whether that was an honest misunderstanding or an attempt by Erdy-Sheridan to get ahead of something that would weaken their case is unclear.
We don't know. Since the agencies have been quiet, it certainly seems that they at best neither endorsed nor were against the eventual release of this information, because it seems the images were private property, as long as there was agency input before the release. That is typical procedure as I understand it.
However, if Pulliam's sources are correct the noose around the Sheridan image was tightening and one can only wonder if Erdy-Sheridan felt that tightening and decided to throw a Hail Mary pass. If so, that didn't work, whether or not Erdy was aware of Sheridan's deception is irrelevant.
Also, it appears that CT's sources who "all" assurred him that reviewers didn't consider the Sheridan image could have been doctored, apparently aren't good sources. Again if Pulliam is correct, at least some reviewers did consider seriously that possibility and were working behind the scenes to clarify the various disconnects that had emerged with a result apparently that led directly to a confession of fakery by Sheridan.
So I'm making up a story here, as we all do when not all the facts are known, but it sounds to me that ultimately the science behind all this worked and exposure of a fraud was the result. Didn't happen overnight, but appears it would have happened regardless of whether or not Erdy-Sheridan had fully cooperated with authorities as they had previously agreed to do. The fact that it became a public exposure is all on Erdy-Sheridan.
I'm satisfied that story is close enough to the truth for me not to worry about this anymore and move on. Others can make up their own stories all they want and have time for (it's a free country).
Surely most bird record committees demand a MUCH higher consensus before any rarity is accepted, and the standard should be even higher for a bird as rare as the Ivorybill--if it still lives, which I think is possible (and for what it's worth, I think the bird in the Luneau video cannot be identified with certainty).
I'm guessing it's because, for the most part, that decision is "off the radar" now. If they reversed their decision it would only bring attention to their error. Undoubtedly in the back of their mind there is also the thought that there's a small chance the bird could yet be found.
I'm not clear what you are saying about a possible "Hail Mary pass" or the irrelevance of Erdy's fore-knowledge (which I think extremely relevant, but I may be missing your point here).
Again this is why transparency and full disclosure is so important, because without, inferences will be drawn. I encourage anyone close to the process who can fill in the gaps of what transpired over the 2 yr. period prior to this evidence release to do so anonymously here. I'm sure all of us just want to understand better how this happened.
Really don't see where a big public vetting process would have been appropriate in any way. It was NOT EVER being claimed as definitive evidence of anything by anyone with any influence. If you are worried/embarrassed that the fraud got revealed so publicly; isn't it actually better that it happened this way so that we all know about it and can be more on guard for the future?
For everyone who says "we need more openness" there is someone else who says "why on earth do you release this crap? Let us know when you have something definite." The pendulum would have swung in the direction of the latter no matter when or how this fraud was made known.
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