"....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
Thursday, May 07, 2009
-- Winding Down? --
Four years of searches for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and likely we're left in the worst of all possible worlds. Limbo. Best-case scenario of course the species would've already been documented to everyone's satisfaction by now. But even a near complete lack of sightings and sounds over the four year period would at least have lent more satisfying closure to the debate, and greater unanimity in the species' extinction. Instead we are left with plenty of sightings and sounds, but scattered amongst different areas, and no way of ascertaining with confidence what they all represent. For lack of a photograph, we meander in a suspended state, occupied by individuals who "know" they have seen the bird, individuals who "know" it can't possibly exist, and those who simply don't know for sure what can be known.
I've never had great confidence (...although others do) that independent searchers could likely accomplish what organized academic/scientific teams, with the resources at their disposal, have failed to do. Yet it may be left to independents to do just that and document this bird (...and if they do, what would THAT say about the skills, wisdom, foresight, etc. of those in charge of this 4-year endeavor???) --- Or is documenting Ivorybills little more than a matter of sheer chance anyway, barely associated with strategy, planning, or knowledge...?
Assuming no last-minute game-changing findings awaiting announcement, for me many disappointments emerge from the last 4+ years, including:
9) failure of remote Reconyx cameras to capture an IBWO on film, even allowing for their unreliability.
8) scarcity of time and resources spent searching in Mississippi, relative to time and resources expended in South Carolina.
7) inability of the scientific community to decipher recorded "kent" sounds with any conclusive precision.
6) the Steve Sheridan hoax in particular, and the diversion of trollsters, hoaxers, pranksters, and the like, in general.
5) unresolvable nature of the Luneau video.
4) generally poor, infrequent, and undetailed public communications from Cornell's Lab of Ornithology and others in charge of the search (almost inexplicable, except by the 'chilling' effects that harsh criticisms may have had on those in charge).
3) overall scarcity of reported sightings from any single given area since the original Big Woods and Choctawhatchee claims, despite scattering of reports from many areas.
2) failure of the ACONE camera system to attain a photograph from the Bayou de View area. (in my view, possibly the greatest chance of documenting the species, and best technological creation of the 4-year effort, but to no avail).
1) ...and perhaps biggest disappointment of all: Laura Bush (of all people), originally being invited to the initial announcement of the Ivory-bill's rediscovery, and cyberthrush not. ;-] (go figure...)
These things can all be explained away, but of course all sightings of IBWOs for 60+ years can also be explained away.