"....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
Saturday, April 28, 2012
-- Comedy of Errors? --
..... Seven years ago today, Cornell Lab of Ornithology officials made what may have been either the most incredible, or, ultimately most embarrassing, announcement in the entire history of American ornithology. Some of us are still awaiting a verdict on that announcement… (while others have long-past made up their minds). And seven years later, no final compendium of the official search, as promised, has been forthcoming; in fact the principals largely steer clear of public Ivory-bill discussion now -- what was once a great fund-raising tool would now virtually be a fund-raising obstruction.
But the topic continues....
Many (unfortunately) will view last week's mini-fiasco at a local Texas TV station (implying first a Red-headed Woodpecker and then later a Pileated Woodpecker were putative Ivory-bills based on one local observer) as the mere continuation of a (perceived) comedy of errors begun 7 years ago.
Every few months I still get via email a claimed Ivory-bill sighting from somewhere… and I suspect others in the ornithology community hear a lot more stories than I do. Claims for Ivory-bills continue to show up on websites, including Twitter and Facebook. And YouTube receives several "Ivory-bill" videos each year. In short, even after all this time and publicity, claims from the inexpert and inexperienced roll in… and I don't blame people (too much?) for getting excited and jumping to false conclusions based on limited knowledge. …It is odd though when out-of-the-blue, one of these multitudinous claims makes it directly onto a TV station. So, I do blame a knucklehead ;-) news station when they take such a story and run with it to a mass audience without the simplest of verification (the Texas story was no doubt used, because it included video… but THAT of course is exactly why it could've so easily been researched and junked!).
I won't recount the full story here; it's already received more publicity than it ever deserved. One suspects the primary station involved was deluged with a range of polite to riled corrections from a throng of birders/biologists… but I also suspect they simply found it humorous that, in a day of Jihadi terrorists, global warming, and economic plight, folks would so bristle over a mere botched animal/human-interest story. Bristle they (rightfully) did...
Because of the nature of the Internet, and despite a later correction from the broadcast station, the bogus story will continue to bounce around the Web in some quarters for days or weeks, reinforcing the 'laughability' quotient of the whole Ivory-bill topic.
A Texas trademark slogan warns us, "Don't mess with Texas"… I'd prefer to revise that to, "HEYYY, Texas, DON'T MESS with birders… puhhh-leeeze!!!"