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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

Thursday, February 02, 2012


-- "Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics" --


There seem to be more people involved in individual IBWO searches this month than perhaps there will be the remainder of the season, though I'm doubtful much will come of it (possibly the occasional sightings claim somewhere of course, but probably no photos or other documentation).

Meanwhile, as Kai Krause once famously wrote (only part tongue-in-cheek): "93.8127 per cent of all statistics are useless"..... (though, I'd probably substitute the word "useless" with "silly.")

The drumbeat of IBWO negativity/pessimism continues on with more "statistical" studies of various data at-hand… never mind the innumerable extenuating and immeasurable variables left out of such studies. "Birdwatching" magazine cites the two most recent examples taking this approach (and getting plenty of play around the Web), though it almost borders on pseudoscience to try and apply statistics in a meaningful way to the persistence/extinction of the Ivory-bill (…but then I'd say the same thing about applying statistics to the extinction or persistence of Tyrannosaurus Rex). Number-crunching and math-application is fashionable in many social, and some biological, sciences to lend an aura of empiricism that is... well... illusory.
I wonder how you would feel about someone using the terms lies, pseudoscience and silly when discussing IBWO claims?
I'd find "lies, pseudoscience, and silly" appropriate for elements of many IBWO claims (indeed, perhaps MOST!, and I'm not interested in those particular claims; I'm interested in a much smaller subset).
I've long contended that the whole IBWO debate is essentially not amenable to good scientific analysis anyway, but ultimately is only resolvable by good field study, and "science" is only one small element of field study (Tanner, for example, did fine field work, but necessarily weak science(in my view)... really good science is extremely difficult to do).
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