Friday, March 16, 2007

Argh! The backlash! Meow!

But what gives? Backlash from the Skeptics? :-O
'Gutless wonder' 'witless flack', 'Apparently Collison [sic] hasn't read enough of our blog postings'.
Actually I think I've just read one too many.

Dudes, get this... I can't fight all your battles. Don't make me come over there! But as you've rattled my cavity under the eyes of robo-birder, I'll pop out and preen. Tyler Hicks has twice described sightings that appear to be IBWOs on the basis of seeing more than one field mark. That's the science bit. They are credible sightings, in that some people might believe them. They are a lot of other sightings that I'm 80% sure are total nonsense. This is the birder Martin speaking, not the scientist, it's a gut feeling. The overall pattern of sightings (poor, fleeting, without optics, large number of competent observers dipping out while others get multiple sightings, failure to get photos) screams 'error' to me. As such, even though some of the sightings are credible, I don't believe that Ivory-bills are currently being sighted. None of these records would last 10 minutes in front of a rarities committee assessing a record of that magnitude. That's not so hard is it? Now.... fascinating though the above undoubtedly is, it did NOT belong in BMC Biology. As many of you will have read ad nauseum by now, one photo or video, or even a decent observation, would end this debate tomorrow. The longer this drags on without a decent sighting... well?

Backlash part 2.
This was inevitable, and is in fact welcome. That is the challenge - to prove me wrong and end this debate

Backlash Part 3
Notes from Soggy Bottom
Bill has long been a source of thoughtful analysis of the Luneau video, and I don't dismiss his opinons lightly, or indeed at all.


Clare said...

The IBWO debate has always struck me as quite strange in how entrenched both sides seem to be, and how many on both sides seem to want to ignore basic science in their opinions. I have just as much difficulty understanding someone devoting an entire blog on how the IBWO doesn't exist, as I do the Cornell team's apparent inability to say "Well we're pretty darn sure it exists but no we haven't proved it to a reasonable scientific standard yet".

The emotional side of me says, yes they are out there, the reasonable side of me says no one has done enough to prove it yet. If I'm reading you right I'd say that that is basically your position (or rather that there is some evidence out there but clearly not enough)

Very enjoyable blog BTW

John L. Trapp said...

I can't figure out if you are incredibly courageous or a damned fool for entering into the IBWO fray so publicly, Martin, but I salute you nonetheless.

Following a viewing of George Butler's documentary film, The Lord God Bird, last evening, John Fitzpatrick fielded a question from a member of the audience regarding the Luneau video. Fitzpatrick responded that, in their (CLO's) opinion, the bird in the Luneau video shows characteristics that are consistent with everything that is known about the flight of the Ivory-bill, while being inconsistent with what they see in some 100 videos they have examined of Pileated Woodpeckers in flight.

Harry said...

Hi Martin,
What's up, Doc? I think that the pic in this posting is inconclusive as proof of the continued existence of Woody Woodpecker. In particular, the bill shape is highly suggestive of that of Daffy Duck, as is the overly aggressive facial expression, and the behaviour of holding a gun to his own head is much more indicative of the short-tempered Daffy than the jolly Woody.
That's all, folks!

Martin said...

Cheers All. I think the clever money is on 'damned fool', but it won't be the first time.