Saturday, May 27, 2006

Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

I've just been reading about Ivory-billed Woodpeckers on BirdForum.

jeeeeeesssssuuusss I must have been bored! Now don't get me wrong... I would love the IBW to be alive, and the evidence presented in Science magazine is better than anything I'm likely to get... but is the search for the IBW more of a religion?

In my spare time when I need to earn money, I am a professional scientist. Blame my Mum for making me go to school and not letting me skive off to go birding. I have a lot of experience of sending data off to scientific journals for possible publication. If I thought that in my lab we'd found something really interesting, and wanted it published in Science, I KNOW that I would have to make damn sure that my presentation of the data was absolutely textbook - lovely photographs, statistics, a movie, computer simulation etc. If I thought I'd found something really interesting, but we didn't have the record of it, (if, for example, our photos were crap, or the movie was blurry, or the statistics didn't add up) and I sent it to a top journal, I can already predict the response
1) 'Collinson's data are highly suggestive but do not prove that such-and-such is the case'
2) 'hahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaa!!!!!!.... eeeee... we haven't laughed so much since the great lab 4.59 radio wars of 2006'

I have really tried, but I can't see how the evidence published in Science for the persistence of the IBW is anywhere near that normally required by top journals. If the paper had been published in Biological Conservation or some similar, international but lower profile journal, as 'Evidence for the persistence of IBW', I would not have a problem with that. But I'm absolutely astounded that it got past the editors and peer-review and into Science - the quality of the evidence is not in that top league.

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