"....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
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
-- Sibley etc. --
If any Ivory-bills are flying about these days they must be freezing their tushes off in this unusually frigid winter for the Southeast! A January re-search of the Choctawhatchee (Fla.) is underway [ADDENDUM: search has now been completed without success], while independents continue in multiple other states (including Mike Collins further quest in the Pearl) --- with no help from 'powers-that-be' who have yet to release even a preliminary summary report that might aid independents --- perhaps the level of disagreements and wordspinning involved in such a report will delay it 'til the search season is completely over... (Personally, I'm not expecting much of note to arise from this search season of scaled-back efforts.)
Meanwhile, there seems to be a tad divergent range of opinions on David Sibley evidenced in the comments to the prior post. David is easily one of the keenest and most experienced observers of nature, and particularly birds, in America today (and I might add, one of the most highly/widely-respected). And while some of us may think him likely wrong in this particular matter, his views ought not be taken lightly. For any who have forgotten some of the background to the controversy, a couple of old articles briefly reviewing his experience here:
and the original Sibley et.al. paper that instituted the controversy:
and Cornell's response at the time:
"All sightings to date have been extremely brief glimpses of birds, most were flying away, and most were viewed by a lone observer without the aid of binoculars. All sightings emphasize a single field mark - the white trailing edge of the wing. Some mention vague and subjective (and inconsistent) impressions of size and shape. Other distinctive field marks (such as the large pale bill) have not been seen. Several of the observers actually admit that they are not certain what they saw."
Of course, Kulivan got an excellent extended look at a pair with all the field marks. Tyler Hicks saw the all-black crest and glowing white bill. Many of the Cornell sightings also included more field marks than just the trailing edge of the wings.
Sibley knew about these sightings, but deliberately misrepresented the record to try to make his point. It was a really dishonorable thing for him to do. He may know alot about birds, but he gets no respect from me.
Mike Collins also claimed to have seen things, repeatedly. Eventually he claimed to have gotten the bird before posting a video of what was quite clearly a Red-headed Woodpecker.
Sibley has an understanding of bird identification and birders.
They presented it as if 27KK$ WILL be spent on the IBWO regardless of field success (a willful misrepresentation) and had to be publicly corrected several times by the USFWS service and others like us.
They were using the "good for conservation excuse" as a rationale for purposeful misleading their audiences about the overall impact to the ES budget. Its ethically bankrupt and a convenient argument since none of these people had ever been public crusaders for an increased ESA budget (as far as I know). Their worry was mostly newborn and contrived quickly as any actual increased spending could expose them as wrong on several fronts and Graves certainly is in the market for competitive grant awards.
Their actions smacks of the rationale used by this Sheridan fella for his actions. Some less than discerning "believers" and fence sitters (including CT) considered Sheridan honest even though his drawing of a sighting 25 years before was so bloated with detail it made the fella scream of stink.
Amazingly (or actually not so) some of the same fence sitters seem to not be able to recognize a pattern of misleading statements and works by some of the present actors.
Although I was amazed at the pattern myself, and who was weaving it years ago, it only made me look closer at the rebuttal and their supporting website for any further manifestations of their expectation bias, mixed in with basic ego and status saving attempts.
Sure enough the rebuttal is a very poor piece of science and the separate website musings of the author(s) on flight dynamics are shocking and bewildering. IBWO is predicted to have a Hz of 4 by these "researchers"!!
Every great historical ornithologist/naturalist/birder that was lucky or dedicated enough to see the bird (and make field guides) wrote the bird is a rapid flyer. Dear rebuttal authors, CT, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker would drop from the air with a 4 flap rate. And concommitingly the AR video IS AN IBWO since no PIWO.has ever had a 7.5 Hz 4 secs post take off and shown no bounding.
Their attempts to bias every ambiguity in data, videos or heuristic inferences about the IBWO, to a place that supports their expectations of extinction and always being right is not well hidden.
The fact that they dance with the wise use people should have given us some minor thought. They have stumbled into the curtain, exposing the Wizard as not being a benign and powerful entity.
They are beyond rehabilitation as fair reviewers of any evidence on the IBWO subject.....they are like Sheridan.
This is all painful to relate; who would think these ASSUMED pillars of fairness and conservation would have a grotesquely scewed value system on this subject and try and have us blindly march with them in such an important matter. It was our assumptions and high expectations that hurt us.
Extinction is a very serious subject; its no place for on the job training in video artifact analysis and flight dynamic work ups. Its not like drawing birds where mistakes are a pencil eraser away from disappearing and no one knows this is your third attempt at drawing a toe nail.
Individuals that have shown they will use their hefty reputations to rush upon the public bad science should be aware this became more obvious after the FL data did not trigger a visit from any of you or any support. There is much more to this whole story.
Conservation is secondary to some.
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