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IVORY-BILLS  LiVE???!  ...

=> THE blog devoted to news and commentary on the most iconic bird in American ornithology, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (IBWO)... and... sometimes other schtuff.

Web ivorybills.blogspot.com

"....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.”

-- Hamlet

"All truth passes through 3 stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

-- Arthur Schopenhauer

Sunday, February 21, 2010


-- Overview --


Just a little overview today, before tomorrow's post re: the photos...

If David Sibley ever walks in with a photo of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, I'd like to sit down and pore over that picture (while David can go quietly sip tea in another room). But if "Daniel Q. Public" walks in with IBWO pics, I don't initially give a crap about the photos; they can be set aside --- I want to sit DQP down and find out WHO the HELL he is, and what possible credibility he brings to the table. It is concerning that some folks interested in this Sabine River episode seemed to want to focus on Daniel Rainsong's evidence when they hadn't even established his credentials, background, knowledge-level, experience, integrity, motivation etc. to any significant degree (...BTW, maybe worth noting that "tree trimming" and arborist work is part of his family business, and J. Hepperle himself called Daniel a regular "Daniel Boone" at one point --- dare I guess that climbin' trees is second nature to him?). A 2-hour+ grilling of most fellows will crack open any tall tales like a raw egg and put them to rest quickly. That a few have taken this particular story seriously when almost nothing about it appears solid is disconcerting (luckily, a healthy, vast majority, saw through the transparencies --- but those who didn't, really need to take their BS meters in for a major tune-up, and if they have college degrees in science, well, maybe they ought to relinquish them).

And I don't say all of that lightly, because it is certainly possible that some non-birding countrified fellow from the boonies will indeed one day be the documenter of Ivory-bills --- wouldn't surprise me at all (the Mason Spencer story still haunts all of us). But first, unknowns HAVE TO establish their credentials, character, motives, background, WHO they are, etc. It's basic (falls under the rubric 'common sense'); their so-called "evidence" can be dealt with later.

Reminds me of decades ago when some intelligent people (including scientists) fell for Uri Geller's "psychic" abilities because they chose to focus on what they saw with their eyes rather than first investigate Geller's past and training, and find out who the heck the guy was (...DUHHH!).

I've often considered writing a post that would describe for readers how to recognize:

a) a claim that is most likely a hoax vs.

b) a claim that is sincere, but almost certainly a case of mistaken identification vs.

c) a claim that is sincere and actually has some credibility to it

But long ago concluded that such a post would only serve as a playbook for ne'er-do-wells to concoct plausible hoaxes. And I do believe a really careful, intelligent, patient, well-rehearsed individual could hatch a highly plausible Ivory-bill hoax, not the plate of steaming rubbish we've recently seen. The Ivory-bill arena is an absolute buzz-saw for lightweights trying to pull off such a charade... and yet a few clowns will try, and someone with a higher IQ might actually succeed.
Did I forget to mention... I'm a bit peeved :-[

...Tomorrow, a little about the unconvincing pictures (as if they even matter, when all other aspects of this case are considered).
I feel that the best chance of a photo or video of an ivory bill will be by a non birding hunter. Many hunters including myself set still for hours upon hours in the woods. I always have a video camera strapped to my tree as I enjoy videoing deer, other animals, and birds. The problem will be when this happens, if this person comes out and says they have the video, I can only imagine the hell their life will become. Many of us have an interest in birding, but will not be found on birding websites. I guess with no credentials, it will be difficult to convince the bloggers that it is legit. With Rainsong, he has such a shady past, that it is difficult for anybody to believe him (even those that wants to). His recent arrest doesn't help his cause much either.
CT, thanks for a great chuckle........>>If David Sibley ever walks in with a photo of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, <<<<

There was a greater chance of Rainsong getting a genuine pix than in Sibley in 12/09...and all other prior months. If DS had made a timely effort he could have at a minimum heard some convincing kents and/or double knocks in the Choctawhatchee in 2006.

If your impossible, fantasy hypothetical occurred...I unequivocally agree I would accept DS's picture without a look!!! :-O

Seriously your presentation to this point has been a bit vague but effective in exploring an important prerequisite to evidence being taken seriously. It is in line with K. Popper (1989) in The Growth of Scientific Knowledge. There "the criterion on the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, refutability, and testability".

So if you are obviously right, why is Cornell taking so long? They are probably being overly careful as you mention.

One thing that remains in play is that these pixs may show almost all of the required IB field marks. Per Rainsong's own mouth (see my comment ~ 3 weeks ago listing the extensive field marks shown) the small BLACK STRIP on the frontodorsal side of the red crest can be seen via zoom.

Being back with pixs from the fertile, Campephilus ground of C. America where that thin stripe was captured, in general one has to have a resolvable pix of good quality to see this feature.

Independent info to me confirms Rsong was in the Sabine. There are alleged to be many key IB features shown in these pixs. Seems like Rainsong may have worked quite hard on this if it is a fake, requiring some work by Cornell, et al. to comprehensively debunk.

After all we do not want DS coming in with a rebuttal, even if it is unconvincing. ha
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