"....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 13, 2009
-- Weekend Catch-up --
New people are continuing to hear about this now week-old story and swing by the blog, so a little summary and catch-up:
1. For newbies you need to first carefully read through Gary Erdy's site to get a sense of the material he has put together and what the discussion/debate has been about. BTW, Erdy modifies the site without announcement so it is worth checking back with some regularity for any changes (material being removed or added --- also note that because photos used on the site have changed over time, some early references to photos in posts and comments may now be confusing):
2. 2nd step is to read Bill Pulliam's initial blog entry on the findings, posted (and later appended) immediately after a news embargo on this story was lifted (Bill was one of 20 reviewers of this evidence for 1+ year during which it was withheld from public disclosure):
He has follow-up posts as well.
My own blogposts on the news begin on the same day (3/9), but are not as necessary reading as some of Bill's material. And even though there is some good discussion and information in the 180+ comments herein, it is sometimes buried amongst repetition, triteness, snark, aspersions, etc. that often ensues in such controversies, so few may want to wade through all the comment sections (I do believe there are many good comments particularly on the earlier post today). Many of the same points already made, will likely be reiterated in the discussion ahead. (I also want to thank all who keep their comments focused on evidence and arguments, not on personalities and individuals.)
3. The #3 Mystery Bird at Gary Erdy's site has been the primary focus of attention (although there is other data of interest there), and of the initial possibilities for its identification Red-headed Woodpecker is probably assigned little probability at this time. The only remaining seriously-considered candidates are normal Pileated Woodpecker, leucistic Pileated (with abnormal white patches), or Ivory-billed Woodpecker. VERY briefly, issues at hand are:
For Ivory-billed Woodpecker (putting aside rarity or improbability), major issues centering around the size and shape of the perceived white saddle, the lack of dorsal stripes, and the appearance of the crest.
For normal Pileated, concerns reside around the possible perception of a white saddle, and the facial and neck patterns or appearance. Leucistic Pileated has same concerns except that now white saddle is explained.
There are many other more subtle issues, and it is conceivable that yet more issues could arise as time proceeds.
By early next week new (and hopefully fairly accurate) measurements for the size of mystery bird #3 may be publicly disclosed (being taken this weekend), and could have significant ramifications for the ongoing discussion, possibly even in unforeseen ways.
In a very skeleton way, that brings newbies up-to-date. I may have multiple posts this weekend (not sure yet) so stay tuned.
Or perhaps it's a fundamental immaturity with a low tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty . . . We get a lot of those here on Planet Utah... Place has been in the news a lot lately; anonymous would fit right in...
Just demonstrating that avatar I use over on the IBWO forum isn't inappropriate...
Carry on folks, I'm just an observer here who's fully capable of heading elsewhere if I didn't find things to my liking... More good advice Dr. Anonymous can safely ignore...
But of course, untamed big cats feasting on occasional net rats is the natural order of things...
Salt Lake City
ALL (so far as I'm aware) Reconyx photos are black-and-white, so anytime you see a color photo it is from another camera or system.
Lastly, any concerns of this sort (clarifying the website) should be passed along directly to Gary -- he has contact info at his site -- I'm not in any regular contact with him to pass along suggestions made here, although he may read them here himself.
The Reconyx pictures at the Ivory-bill Photo project are low-res black-and-white. Reconyx the brand is not strictly black-and-white anymore, so color photos you see in the future could be from Reconyx. From the Auburn Ivory-bill website:
Reconyx has recently upgraded their cameras so they take higher resolution color images and that fixed one weakness of our former camera setup.
So what to do with ambiguous photos? Save them for when someone gets the real proof, and then throw it in the mix for possibly estimating IBWO's range. That would be more useful. And how will we know when a photo is good enough? When the skeptics are the ones on the defensive.
So the lesson from Sasquatch is there is a considerable population of charlatans around...
And I suppose that is discouraging to some; I've relegated it to the "merely painful" growth department...
We know, however, that ivory-bills existed, at least within my parents' lifetime, and beyond the "heroic quest," there are other serious lessons as well.
The larger issue is how are we, as a species, going to shape and re-create the environment of the IBWO (and the grizzly bear and the gray wolf and the trumpeter and whooping crane) and adapt ourselves to coexistence with that environment rather consume it wholesale...
And there are many out there who insist we shouldn't bother; if our discouragement gives encouragment to those forces, then it is indeed toxic waste...
Salt Lake City
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