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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

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


-- "Extensively" ? --


Following the 5-year effort, Cornell has concluded that "it is unlikely that ivory-bills still exist in the areas that were extensively searched," which suits me fine, but I wish they would elaborate on what areas they consider "extensively searched." No doubt parts of the Big Woods and Choctawhatchee are involved and I suspect sections of the Congaree as well, but exactly which parts, and which if any parts might need further study? And what about the Big Thicket, the Atchafalaya, Pascagoula... are any of these to be regarded as "extensively searched" by now? Are any of the locales visited by their 'Mobile Team' deemed "extensively searched"? Again, the Big Woods and Choctaw. were never really part of the dozen or more major sites with Ivory-bill rumors from the 50's through the 90's (yet that is where the main manpower and energy was expended in the last several years). What sites should still be under consideration, including those only newly-given attention in more recent times? Or have Cornell officials thrown in the towel on the IBWO, just without saying it out loud or in public....
What about those multiple pairs in the Choctawhatchee?

"14 sightings of the birds and 300 recordings of sounds that can be attributed to the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, but also includes tell-tale foraging signs and appropriately sized tree nest cavities" (Hill et al., 2006)

eh? WTF????
If the bird has persisted for 60 years then surely those multiple pairs, making all that noise and all those signs could have hung on since Mr Hill was there?

Interesting and odd conclusion considering that their own statistical analysis found that even in the Big Woods the "extensive" search efforts would not have been sufficient to insure detection of a lone bird moving about through the area. I guess they are saying their bird died in 2004 right after the video was shot? It's also no secret that they think Hill's crew is full of **it and they don't believe anything from there. Reference my own blog for discussion of how Academics view their own crock of manure, their friend's crock of manure, and their rival's crock of manure (gold, silver, and manure, respectively).

Sounds to me like they just want to move on and are trying to make a plausible excuse as to why they won't be looking anymore. They've managed to hit the middle where they will catch flack from all sides. Perhaps a more honest statement would be "We have come to understand the enormity of the task and the vast amount of effort that would be required to comprehensively survey the entirety of the possible range of any remaining birds. We have decided that in a world of scarce resources this is probably not the best investment of time, money, and personnel. Regrettably we must once again leave the status of this species in limbo. We hope for the best for any populations that might still exist."
I think one of the biggest problems from the beginning of official search efforts has been the assumption that there should be "core areas" more or less permanently inhabited by the birds, as opposed to "peripheral" zones that are occupied off and on. This is despite the fact that 6 out of 7 established pairs apparently disappeared from unlogged parts of the Singer Tract over a 5-year period. As far as I am concerned the historical evidence fairly screams of a non-territorial, semi-nomadic bird. Every chunk of habitat may well be occupied intermittently today, although there are still huge areas of private forest that are quite unexamined.
Cy -- on further reading is seems you have somewhat misrepresented Cornell's statement on the matter. Their conclusion was that there is not a "recoverable population" in these areas. This does not preclude scattered individuals or even isolated pairs. As I read that, it means more or less "there are not enough birds in any place we can find for us to be able to work with them in any kind of recovery program." I'd have to say that is hard do disagree with. Even with the most liberal (short of insane) interpretation of recent findings, there's no more than a bird or two anywhere, they don't stay put, they are extremely hard to relocate and impossible to track. How do you recover a species you can't find?

Cornell has obviously decided their resources are better allocated elsewhere; it's hard to argue that they are wrong about that.
It's exactly the kind of get-out clause from them some were predicting way when. No one got it wrong but the birds aren't there. A circle squared.

Bill, I suspect you don't want to address people by name but I'll ask anyway: Was Hill as wrong as I suspected initially? If not more so through his persistence, refusal to admit his mistakes and then writing a book about it all? Was it all just a catalog of innocent errors with well-meaning people getting carried away? Shouldn't he revisit his data and sightings and reevaluate them as it was all done in the name of 'science' and he is, after all, a professional scientist.
Bill -- I've merely lifted a quote from one of their web pages. Yes, they've previously said they don't believe there's a "recoverable" population, but this particular quote implies they believe their search was good enough to preclude any likely residing population (recoverable or otherwise) in those areas covered. And residing or breeding birds continue to be the key, not lone dispersing individuals. (I don't know who wrote the quote, so it's always possible it doesn't precisely reflect Cornell's view.)
interested parties might like to get access to these papers in Conservation Biology, which discuss among others, the IBWO:

Rout, T. M. , Heinze, D., and McCarthy, M. A.
Optimal allocation of conservation resources to species that may be extinct. Conservation Biology. Available online at present as an Early View

and Roberts, D. L., C. S. Elphick, and J. M. Reed.
Identifying anomalous reports of putatively extinct species and why it matters. Vol 24:189–196 (2009)

The Tout paper hinges on just what is determined as a reliable sighting. If you don't see most modern sightings as a problem, then in a Wittgensteinian way, there is no problem! If you do, however, then the mathematical probablility of the species persisting is incredibly small.

Please, any criticisms of the papers should not be addressed as if I were the writer of them. I am merely directing people to them.
Cy -- where is that quote from? It's in direct conflict with what Rohrbaugh has said elsewhere, and he's the boss. "Not a recoverable population" versus "extinct" are not the same thing at all. These terms are generally chosen carefully to express significant differences in meaning and intent. It's not just a semanti distinction.

Inerestingly, the Rout et al paper concludes that IF you accept even one of the recent reports, you should keep looking until 2032 EVEN IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY ADDITIONAL ENCOUNTERS before you give up.
I'm not so sure we can't "find" them. Once reasonable people agree that the bird is extant, there is a good possibility that we can use proxies such as DK's, kent calls, and foraging sign, particularly in combination, to estimate population levels. This won't tell us how much reproduction is going on but it could at least give us a clearer idea of the range of occupied habitats and the presence of "hot zones" (I'm talking about LARGE areas, not little 1000-acre tracts). As technology improves I envision automated listening/filtering systems monitoring huge areas of forest, in addition of course to human efforts. But funding for such projects will not come until clear imagery is produced.

The other thing is that in my opinion there has been far too little research on pileateds. Instead there has been an implicit assumption that large woodpecker populations are limited primarily by forage. The few studies we have of pileateds suggest that this simply isn't the case. We need a lot more. Given Tanner's own proposition that ivory-bill and pileated densities were highly correlated, There has been FAR too little interest in basic questions such as "What habitats are pileateds most abundant in?" and "Why are they more common in some areas than others?"
I agree about double knocks heard by real, experienced, careful people (not by robobirders), but I'll never be convinced there is any diagnostic value in foraging sign without other harder evidence, and kents without sightings or DKs are also very hard to nail down. BUT, none of this is worth anything until there is a consensus that the species still exists. Even if that hurdle were overcome, in the case of DKs, in the areas with the hottest activity the rate of DK detections by careful conservative observers runs around one per 100 field hours. So this potentially most efficient detection method is still pretty inefficient.
Bill: the quote comes from a brief piece about half-way down on a page here:


but I think you're reading it hyper-critically... I don't think it contradicts anything they've said elsewhere. They're just acknowledging that the sites they've extensively covered don't appear to have IBWOs residing there. My only question is whether they are mainly referring to a few key square mi. of the Big Woods, or do they regard other areas as "extensively searched" at this point?
I would like to see studies of rates of co-occurrence (per month let's say) of putative DK's and putative kents, using remote sound recorders and automated filtering systems. Specifically, I would like to see candidate areas such as Geoff's study areas on the Choc compared to areas with high pileated densities outside of the historical IBWO range and areas with high blue jay densities, same constraint. Of course you would have to avoid highways and I would always use at least 2 recorders well-spaced to help eliminate distant sounds. No doubt others could come up with additional control/confound protocols. But again, funding for such work is highly unlikely under current conditions. The technology continues to advance and by the time clear imagery is obtained I think people might be surprised at what is available.
On the contrary, Cy, when you are dealing with extinct versus endangered, the difference between 0 and 1 is all the difference in the world.
I agree Fang, but as you say the funding isn't there... even a more basic study I'd like to see is to run ARUs in say the woods of Maine (just for an example) during specified daylight hrs. for maybe a month, and see how many sounds that mimic DKs and kents (to the human ear) are recorded -- I believe there would be several and the question is how consistently can technology rule those sounds out -- we need some sort of rough baseline of how many such sounds occur randomly in remote woodland.
When Cornell analyzed the acoustic data from the 2002 Zeiss Pearl search I had the impression technology was up to the task; I'm no longer certain it is.
we can go 'round and round on this Bill, but what we're dealing with is levels of certainty vs. uncertainty, and they specifically use the word "unlikely" -- all that means to me is, well under 50% chance -- they're essentially just saying (in my mind) that of all the millions of acres of land that IBWO might conceivably reside in, they've now searched some of those areas well enough to think them unlikely locales. I would hope after 5 yrs. they would be reaching such conclusions.
ARUs are a waste of time and resources. They take up money and personnel and produce nothing but thoroughly ambiguous results. An example -- at Moss Island we had a one-week ARU deployment. The results were nothing, at a cost of over $1K. Those negative results were not available until 4 weeks after the deployment began, so even if they did have any hits on them it would not have been helpful real-time. During that same week, 4 observers in the field part-time (probably an average of less than one observer in the area per day) had two double knock encounters, one of them a half-hour long series. Why? Mostly because an observer can hear a DK anywhere within about 1 square km under good conditions; the ARU is significantly less sensitive. Observers were also able to deploy over a wider field than the stationary ARUs.

The problem everywhere is a terribly low detection rate caused in all probability by highly mobile and thinly spread creatures. Robobirders have not proved to help out this situation at all. Given this, there's in fact even now still not enough data to conclude that ANY of the areas surveyed are devoid of birds to a statistical likelihood. Career scientists know the importance of these sorts of careful distinctions when stating their conclusions; journalists, bloggers, and writers of press releases apparently do not.
spatuletail, you (and I) are operating on the wrong premise. Ya see, the IBW is "the ghost bird". They can become invisible at will. They are determined to remain unseen and photographed by humans. The double knocks and kent calls are just a tease.

Those pesky birds are just having fun with us humans and are laughing all the way to the nest hole. They're so smart and tricky that they have even learned how to ride bikes that have squeaky brakes. If they can't afford a bike they just imitate the sound. I have it on good authority (Clem Kadiddlehopper) that IBWs also imitate Blue Jays and tree limbs that rub together.

Maybe we should just realize and admit the error of our ways and jump on the IBW bandwagon? After all, proof isn't necessary and neither is common sense. I'm thinking of writing to the President and asking him to divert billions of dollars from other projects and spend it instead on searching for the IBW.

Just think, if there were an ARU on every tree in every forest on Earth, AND cameras that can capture ghosts, those IBWs couldn't go unseen or unheard unless of course they move to The Sahara or some other place where no one will ever look for them.

Where's Jennifer Love Hewitt when you need her? :)
I didn't have the impression that Mennill's robobirding did substantially worse than humans on putative DK or kent detections. I don't know how Cornell analyzed the ARU data from Tennessee, but I do know that their ARU's-on-loan (rent really) program dictated that those deploying the devices would not even be able to see the data. The Cornell people would analyze it and transmit their findings. In any case I am not at all surprised that their results from Tennessee were nil. Would Cornell have considered even one of Mennill's putative kents to be a "hit"? I doubt it. How many of the putative DK's recorded there would make it past their most recently published multi-layered filter? Bottom line, I think the Cornell ARU program poorly represents the potential of robobirding.
fangsheath said: "Once reasonable people agree that the bird is extant, there is a good possibility that we can use proxies such as DK's, kent calls, and foraging sign, particularly in combination, to estimate population levels. This won't tell us how much reproduction is going on but it could at least give us a clearer idea of the range of occupied habitats and the presence of "hot zones"......"

Reasonable people are never going to agree that the IBW is extant until and unless there's indisputable proof, especially after the absolute fiasco of the last several years.

Alleged "proxies" prove nothing and can't be used to estimate anything. They also can't tell anything about reproduction, alleged occupied areas, or alleged hot zones.

You guys need to get it through your heads that the only thing that will convince any reasonable person is absolute, indisputable proof. Nothing else will do. Nothing.

If you're really convinced that IBWs still exist, get out there and find some and get proof. Preaching your faith-based cause on the internet won't prove anything. Every minute of every day that you don't prove your claims is yet another day that you look foolish, naive, and gullible.

What pisses me off most about all this is that so-called scientists aren't doing things in a truly scientific way. Instead, they (the believers) came up with an agenda and then tried (and are still trying) to fit the so-called evidence to the agenda, no matter how much it doesn't fit.

It's astounding to me that any "reasonable" person would still be trying to tout the existence of the IBW. The egos that are involved are gargantuan and they will obviously be defended at any cost.

There are rehab clinics for alcoholics, cheaters, druggies, etc. Maybe someone needs to open one up for people who need to be rehabilitated from falling for, believing, and promoting the IBW hoax? I mean, seriously guys, are you really this gullible and naive?
Why does anyone care what Cornell says? They're no different from a wacko cult that promotes a religious agenda to drum up donations.

Of course Cornell is going to say things that attempt to downplay and distort their deliberate dishonesty and zealotry. The last thing they would do is admit to doing anything wrong.

Trying to analyze their wording to the endth degree just shows how desperate you guys are to find any microscopic morsel of hope for your IBW crusade. cyberthrush is obviously convinced that the searches haven't been thorough enough to satisfy him and I strongly doubt that any sort of search would satisfy any of you believers unless of course it turns up a living IBW.

Any amount of searches using any sort of technology or any amount of people will never be satisfying to you believers unless an IBW is found. If none are found there will always be a "pocket" the search missed, that must harbor IBWs.

I find it interesting that astronomers can find galaxies that are 13.7 billion light years from Earth, and planets that orbit other Suns, but no one can find an IBW. I guess it's because those galaxies and planets actually exist.
Yo, Whole, are you off your blood pressure medicine, again???
Actually, my blood pressure is just fine. My bad cholesterol is a bit high though.
Part one:

fangsheath, on the IBWO.net forum you said: "No one's views about the ivory-bill's status are necessarily at odds with the guidelines of our forum. We merely feel that this is not the place to debate those views. It seems to me that venues for that have been more than adequate. Just as importantly, our forum is to be a place of warmth and respect for all, quite independent of the debate issue. I like to think that our signal/noise ratio here is pretty good, and we appreciate everyone's restraint."

If that isn't one of the most hypocritical and contradictory statements I've ever read, I don't know what is.

"we appreciate everyone's restraint"? In other words, you're worried that everyone doesn't believe a word of the so-called rediscovery claims and you're afraid that everyone will say so on that forum unless you bar them from doing so.

What you obviously want (and enforce) there is to run your Church Of The Holy "Lord God Bird" without any interference or disagreement from anyone, let alone everyone. Congratulations, you have created and are perpetuating an IBW religious cult.

Your delusional attachment to the IBW and the alleged current existence of the IBW is an obsession that is likely only curable with serious psychological counseling. The rest of the church members, including most of the people on this blog may also benefit from such counseling. Then again, it may be too late for some of you.

You call yourself a "biologist" fangsheath. If you're actually a schooled, practicing biologist, you should be ashamed of yourself for violating any and all respectability of the science of biology and science in general.

It's no wonder so many people believe in imaginary gods, fairy tales, Loch Ness monsters, Bigfoot, aliens from outer space, fire breathing dragons, and a lot of other farcical crap. Pseudo scientists (including "biologists") conjure up and promote things that are every bit as wacky as the things mentioned above. I guess most people feel they have a choice between pseudo scientific garbage and religious or fairy tale garbage. There is another choice though. It's called reality.

It amazes me that you believers will nitpick some things to the point of lunacy while at the same time you'll accept absolute bullsh*t without question. The only difference in your standards is whether the alleged information or claim is supportive of your delusional stance or not. Go to any church and you'll see the same mentality.

Far more people on this planet believe in some form of religious swill and in fairy tale monsters than in reality. As long as pseudo scientists keep stuffing their selfish, delusional agendas into what's supposed to be reality based scientific methods there will always be more faith based believers, in all sorts of crazy things, than in *science*.

Science is only as good as the people who practice it. If those people are faith based nutcases, reality based science will never be the dominant thought process of the masses.
Part two:

People invented religions and other fairy tales because they didn't, couldn't, or wouldn't understand the realities of nature. In the case of religion they wanted (and still want) something that would provide a complete explanation of everything that happened or happens or will ever happen. They couldn't and can't stand the thought of not knowing everything, or at least believing that they didn't and don't know everything. So, they created gods and fairy tales to cover up their fears of reality and their lack of knowledge of it. By creating a god who knows and controls everything, and attaching themselves to that god, they feel that they know everything through and because of that god. You know, like living vicariously through a movie star or other big shot. Being cool and popular is all that matters (self proclaimed of course and also enhanced by the support and adoration of others).

OMG! You saw an IBW! Wow, I wish I were as cool as you are! Write a "paper" or a book and I'll buy it for sure! I'll attend your lectures too! I can't wait to shake your hand! I'll never wash my hand again! Can I have your autograph? Hey, I just thought of something. I could be as adored and famous as you! All I have to do is say I tot I taw a putty tat! I did, I did taw a putty tat, er, I mean an Ivory Billed Woodpecker!

The incredible arrogance and fears of humans drives the continuing belief and promotion of religions and other superstitious beliefs. In the case of the IBW it's based on arrogance, in being all-knowing and the unquenchable (to some) desire to believe IN something.

By believing in such faith based crusades it's always possible, and welcome to other believers, to say that the bird still exists and that no one can prove otherwise, no matter how hopeless and delusional that belief is. Gods, dragons, Bigfoot, little green men from Mars, or
IBWs, take your pick. They're all just a vehicle for people who understand nothing about nature/reality, know nothing about nature/reality, and find fiction more interesting than fact, because they're too ignorant and limited to actually learn anything about nature/reality.

Why look for or accept facts when you can just make them up?

Another thing that causes many people to create and promote religions and other fairy tales is impatience. They want to believe in something NOW. They want to be a know-it-all NOW. They want fame and/or fortune NOW. Even many so-called scientists want to believe in and promote something right NOW and can't or won't wait for or seek real evidence or proof. They want donations and grant money NOW and they want to be a bigshot author or lecturer with numerous "papers" and books NOW.

For them it isn't enough to study and search and learn and observe and verify and test and contribute real, logical, verifiable information for the advancement of scientific knowledge. Nooo, they have to create and promote an agenda and then spend their life trying to fit their selectively and selfishly chosen alleged evidence into their self aggrandizing agenda.

Luckily, there have been and are some scientists who seek and accept truth and reality, and who scrutinize information provided by others with a skeptical and scientific mindset. They don't "groupthink, and they don't just take someone's word or flawed so-called evidence for it and they don't attach themselves to something just because it's popular. They're the kind of scientists that go down in history as important contributors to the scientific knowledge base. The faith based proselytizers with selfish agendas are soon forgotten or ignored.
Thus Spake The Lord.

Let us all now bow down to the Oracle of Truth!

I'm sure you can't even begin to see the molasses-thick irony in your preaching The Absolute Truth against people claiming to know The Absolute Truth.

Quite an army of straw men you have constructed there, as well.

Glad to see you are so secure in your Faith and Revealed Wisdom.
So much for my decision to return to lurking (and only sticking in an occasional off-the-waller for comic relief). I really don't have anything to contribute to the discussion other than a possible mild disagreement with Bill about whether Mike Collins is a kook or not, and so long as Bill doesn't tell Mike to quit climbing trees on the Pearl, I'm content with a bit of ambiguity. And Bill is free to e-mail CT about my day job and general qualifications to determine "kookiness"; I submit they are significant. I'm also guessing even Bill agrees Mike is obviously an individual who believes he's seen one or more IBWO's.

As for Hole-in-the-Truth, I'll wager I and most agree on that one, and so here are a few more field notes: It seems what we have here is not a birder but a bird-brain (is that one politically correct here?), a garden variety attention ho' that, in cuckoo fashion, loudly mimics the calls of others and lays eggs in nests that are not its own.

Strange it had never heard of Glenn Beck, whom it closely resembles, but then educated and well-rounded perceptual abilities were never part of its phenotype since it apparently mistook me for FAV.

Clearly it is self-educated and self-trained; I would never insult its mother by suggesting otherwise...

Or perhaps it's the old nature over nurture; cuckoo's mothers are never successful at overcoming their adopted offspring's genetic predispositions.
I do know this Bill; no one has proven or verified the existence of a living IBW for over 60 years. That ain't faith. It's fact.

The "believers" have constructed the straw-men and distorted the truth.
Actually, that is a matter of judgement, over which opinions of otherwise respected career scientists differ. You probably have not even read my own independent analysis of the 2004 Arkansas video; hell have you actually read ANY of the analyses of this video in detail, looked at the video up close for yourself, and done anything but accept the conclusions of others? THAT is unscientific.

My opinions are based on my own extensive and ongoing analyses of all the evidence that has been made available to the public. That is the way science works, disagreements are par for the course. I have found much of the evidence lacking; I have found some of it difficult to explain without hypothesizing the existence of at least a very few surviving Ivorybills, living and behaving much the same way they were documented to have lived and behaved in earlier centuries.
No Bill,

it's a fact, idiot inept birders aside. Battle lines drawn over fuzzy video is not conclusive either way and is certainly very, very, far from proof of anything. There's been a lot of face saving in the last two-three years but the picture is clear.

You make reasonable and fair points and I have a lot of time for you but when you stand next to obvious 'kooks' like Collins and FAV (who has claimed several recent sightings - which no one seems to have picked up on) it detracts from your arguments considerably.

Anyway, back to my original question: What happened to those nine pairs?
'Idiot inept birders." Ah there's a nice solid argument.

Stand next to Collins? He despises me and spews venom at the mention of my name. As for FAV I can rarely even decipher his writings to get to the point.

"Nine pairs" was a claim by one person on one project before ANY of the evidence had been presented. This is what you chose to harp on? A sound bite? Same strategy as discrediting Al Gore because of his off-hand comment about inventing the internet?

You harp on sound bites, and ignore analyses that disagree with your position. And then you criticize other people's science?
While we're on the topic of ludicrous claims...

What about Sibley et al's magical space-time bending tree trunk that somehow allows the white on their "pileated" underwing to bend and bleed around it and be visible to the camera, even when all the white of a real Pileated's wing would have been completely obscured by an ordinary, non-magical tree trunk? Have they recanted this? Or their magical "black trailing edges" (a.k.a. mpeg compression artifacts) that appear as black leading edges almost as often but in frames that they, curiously, chose not to highlight? Have they retracted this? No, in fact, they continue to promote these errors as facts and have never even acknowledged the existence of these criticisms. Cornell, in contrast, have recanted on the six pixel bird and have greatly pulled back from claims based on their audio evidence in response to and acknowledgment of criticisms. How about Louis Beviers videos of captured Pileateds in escape flight that he tells us precisely match the Luneau video, but somehow have never actually been revealed for public viewing? And what about that supposed population of "abnormal" pileateds in the big woods? Did they ever turn up? No in fact they found one almost entirely white Pileated, and other than that normal Pileateds that show the typical small specks of white in irregular patterns on their mantles when molting. Has anybody found the mythical Pileated with white secondaries? Not that I have heard.

There have been plenty of whoppers on this debate to go around for everyone.

Finally as any birder should know, the absence of a rare bird in an area this year does not directly pertain to whether or not it was there last year, or even last week. Birds move.

I really don't wanna waste time on this game, but eventually someone has to call you folks down on your trash talking
re: Whole Truth, in the immortal words of Abe Lincoln (if you know who he was):

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."
Bill, spatuletail didn't ask you how Collins feels about you. He actually asked you: "Was Hill as wrong as I suspected initially? If not more so through his persistence, refusal to admit his mistakes and then writing a book about it all? Was it all just a catalog of innocent errors with well-meaning people getting carried away? Shouldn't he revisit his data and sightings and reevaluate them as it was all done in the name of 'science' and he is, after all, a professional scientist."

I think it's apparent that he would like to know how you feel about Collins.
People who are actually IN the scientific community almost universally and instinctively take a similar approach to reported studies. Our first question is not "what do YOU, the author, think it means?" It is "show me your methods and your data." We then examine these in detail, evaluate what we think of them, and THEN turn to read what the original investigators concluded about it. We may or may not agree with their conclusions, but we do so from an informed perspective. When scientists hear a remarkable claim (Nine pairs of Ivorybills! Magnetic monopoles found! Dinosaurs were warm blooded!), the reaction is not "Wow, that is fantastic!" It is "This ought to be interesting; let's see what they actually have to base this on."

So it was with Hill and his 9 pairs. When it was show-and-tell time, we saw what he had (sightings, field notes, ARU results, some crappy reconyx shots and worse video) and formed our own opinions. Somewhere in there was also some sort of speculative extrapolation that the Choc habitat was big enough to conceivably support up to 9 pairs. These sorts of speculative extrapolations are also normal, never intended as firm conclusions and never taken as such by other scientists. The problem comes when the mainstream media and the blogosphere get involved.
Hi Bill

thanks for the comments on Collins and FAV - much as I expected. I don't in any way lump you with them and I did rather mischievously wish to see you comment in this way here. It's a shame they distort the situation with ludicrous (and loud) claims.

I think Collins and FAV are hopeless cases, Hill and Co. got carried away and the initial Sparling sightings have were also overexuberance. I respectfully disagree with your analysis of the Luneau video and I don't put any store into analyses of any of the videos, whatever their outcome.

I am still firmly of the opinion that no concrete evidence of the species has been put forward in over 60 years and still find the standard of claims extremely poor. Still, who knows. Stranger things have happened.

Bill said: "Nine pairs" was a claim by one person on one project before ANY of the evidence had been presented. This is what you chose to harp on? A sound bite? Same strategy as discrediting Al Gore because of his off-hand comment about inventing the internet?

You harp on sound bites, and ignore analyses that disagree with your position. And then you criticize other people's science?"

You seem to be missing the fact that your claims are by one person; you. Of course you also obviously think that if or when others agree with you that it irrefutably confirms what you have claimed. There's that groupthink thing again.

For some reason you're differentiating and apparently discounting the nine pairs claim from "any of the evidence". You're also differentiating and apparently discounting the "project" associated with the nine pairs claim. Why?

Exactly which projects and claims do you include in your accepted evidence? Which ones do you find unacceptable?

Do you actually think that believers aren't relying on "sound bites"? And don't you rely on sound bytes, ignore (actually, discount and denigrate) analyses that disagree with your position, and also criticize other people's science?

Exactly what foundation do you have that makes your stance the correct one and a skeptic's stance the wrong one? Blurry video, alleged sightings, hearsay, flaking bark, alleged IBW sounds, holes in trees, folk lore, books/papers/movie/blogs that rehash the same old worthless "evidence", and a lot of so-called "analyses", which includes mathematical/statistical/Bayesian mumbo jumbo that is based on assumptions and faith?

Proper analysis can only be done when there is at least a solid foundation to start with. Other wise it's all just guesswork, and guesswork will not prove that the IBW still exists.

Propping up weak or foundation-less extraordinary claims with fancy terms like analyses, or statistical analysis, or any other high falootin' sounding terms doesn't make the extraordinary claims stronger. In the absence of actual proof they just make the claimant look desperate.

The extreme dissection of selectively and selfishly chosen alleged evidence is unnecessary and unproductive. Real proof would be obvious, and it hasn't been found.
Bill, spatuletail may be satisfied but you're still dancing around the questions.

You said: "So it was with Hill and his 9 pairs. When it was show-and-tell time, we saw what he had (sightings, field notes, ARU results, some crappy reconyx shots and worse video) and formed our own opinions."

So, what exactly is your opinion? Leave the "we" out of it.
Hole -- You appear to be nothing but an unscientific troll. You likely don't know a damn thing about my own writings or work in this matter, nor do you care. You appear to be nothing but a fight-picker. Case in point -- you refer to Bayesian mumbo jumbo... uh, Bayesian statistics are the attempt at rigorous quantification of "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" and are the approach that casts the MOST doubt upon the use of collective weak evidence to support a conclusion. If you want to be dualistic about it, you've just dissed YOUR OWN TEAM, dude.

Clearly you don't actually know what you are talking about, just grabbing words here and there. Cy won't do this, but in my world you just earned an effective lifetime "ban." Bye bye.
Yeah, if it were up to you, and some others, people like me who challenge your pseudo-science would all be stifled forever so that you and your fellow believers could pat each other on the back and congratulate each other on a job well done, without any dissenting voices interrupting your delusional and unfounded celebration.

You and some others use the Bayesian mumbo jumbo with a biased slant that always comes to the conclusion that IBWs must still exist. My point is that none of that stuff is necessary or productive. You need to produce an IBW to prove that there are extant IBWs. No amount of statistical analysis or other gobbledegook will do.

You're reacting exactly like someone whose religious beliefs have been challenged. Just think, if actual, indisputable proof had been found, none of the debate and dissension of the last several years would have occurred. It did occur though and is still occurring, because there is no proof.
Bill... I won't ban W.T. 'cuz I luv havin' here as a representative of that viewpoint; he's a great plus for OUR side.
If it acts like a 16-yr-old troll, and sounds like a 16 yr-old troll, and writes like a 16 yr-old troll... it's a 16-yr-old troll (until proven otherwise).
It's your blog. But folks like him stiffle actual discussion. I don't see whole lot of point in trying to continue to participate here when there's no troll control. It's not about sides. It's about ideas.

I'm not 'satisfied' but I do realise the limitations of debates like these.

Bill walks a difficult path between the credulous believers and credible birders/scientists and he has generously given his opinion on Collins, FAV and Hill and Co., which is a great leap forwards.

That doesn't leave much else as they include the 'best' documented encounters.
Bill said: "But folks like him stiffle actual discussion. I don't see whole lot of point in trying to continue to participate here when there's no troll control. It's not about sides. It's about ideas."

You're just mad because the "discussion" isn't under your absolute control, and you're throwing a temper tantrum and asking mommy (CT) to spank me and make me stand in the corner and keep quiet. I'm sure the IBWO.net forums would welcome you with open arms.

You've been asked for your "ideas", or opinion on Collins and his claims and you still haven't answered. There's no one stopping you but you. CT is obviously sympathetic to your cause so I'm sure he will let you say whatever you want.

Actually Bill, it is about "sides", unfortunately. The believer claimants created a *side* when they claimed that the IBW had been rediscovered, based on extremely questionable so-called evidence and they continue to enforce that *side* by standing up for and promoting worthless faith based hype.

It is unfortunate because if we're all interested in the welfare of birds and other organisms we should all be working together to make sure that science is done correctly, honestly, and openly. None of us should jump the gun and make extraordinary claims that we can't prove. Erroneous or unverifiable extraordinary claims only serve to make scientists look like street corner evangelists, and all science untrustworthy.

If you're afraid of saying exactly how you feel about Collins and his claims I can only assume that you're too wishy washy to have and state an opinion of your own, and that you're worried about upsetting the believers who hold Collins in high regard.

Are you afraid that if you voice your opinion you will be seen as a heretic in The Church Of The Holy Lord God Bird and will draw the wrath of its most steadfast members?

It was Hill that spatuletail originally asked you about Bill, not Collins as I mistakenly typed.

Still, you haven't answered the questions about Hill and you have avoided stating your opinion of Collins and his claims too.

How about stating your opinion of both of them and their claims?
W.T. is finally admitting his mistakes; that's progress!
And it's interesting he cares so much about the opinions of people he doesn't respect.
Bill P. left this comment on a another post, but i s'pose it may bear repeating here:

"Those interested in reading more of Whole truth's stellar prose may find it at his own blog:


Yes, it's the same profile number, not just a coincidentally similar screen name.
Those who seem overly fixated on badgering me for my own opinions may find them in great detail and excessive length at:

Whole Truth - it really doesn't make any difference what Bill P. thinks about Hill or Collins. One person's view of evidence, be it either for the existence of IBWO or the reality of global warming, has no effect on the existence of the topic being discussed. One of the worst things about our 24/7 news cycle and the internet is the large number of people who are taken with stating their opinions rather than just reporting on reality.

Of course, that is just my opinion.
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