• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

Ivory-billed Woodpecker (formerly updates) (1 Viewer)

dave_in_michigan

Well-known member
Incredible! So you think the skeptical review of the evidence has been good and thorough?

I've seen some good skeptical review and lots of crappy "skeptical" b.s. It is certainly reasonable to say that there is not conclusive evidence of IBWO survival. That not a surprize to you, is it?

I think it's a bit tougher to go the next step and believe with very high confidence that they're extinct. I hope you can see the difference. Fact is, the evidence doesn't show anything for certain, and I think reasonable people can disagree on likelihood based on the data. Part of that comes down to how good you think the search effort has been to date.

So if the skeptics have met their obligation as good scientists, what were all your previous posts about? What does it matter if some skeptics are not good scientists, if the evidence has been reviewed to your satisfaction by the good ones?

Bad science brings bad opinions, bad decisions, and bad policies. And public opinion generally has more immediate force than proper science. People everywhere ought to get their sh*t straight, or at the very least learn to recognize the bull.

Just on this page you say that Ilya Maclean, Tim Allwood, Imaginos, BonsaiBirder, and I have all missed your point. So what is your point? Maybe you should read your own posts again and try to figure out how all of these people could read them and come away with the wrong impression.

I can only speculate, but it probably has something to do with projecting some motiviation or intent onto me. I can go back and try to guess how something was misunderstood, but why should I? I'll explain what I mean, and you can explain what you mean.

Maybe you can explain to me how you got the impression that I "think skeptics are not being good scientists and are basing their skepticism on ideology rather than science." Because I never said that. Do you think I'm here just to slam skeptics or something? Or to get people to believe that there are surviving IBWO's out there? That's not what I'm about.

What I would like to see is better search strategies (since they are searching, aren't they) and better discussion of it.

Nice to dream, anyway.
 
I can only speculate, but it probably has something to do with projecting some motiviation or intent onto me. I can go back and try to guess how something was misunderstood, but why should I? I'll explain what I mean, and you can explain what you mean.
.

Dave

I can see what you mean, I just think you're obsessed with methodology and philosophy to the point of almost deliberate obtuseness

I'm a bad scientist cos I use soundbites I guess, and can't be bothered to write reams of irrelevance on an internet forum but hey, a band I like sing this:

Give a philosophy student a glass of limeade,
and he will say “is this a glass of limeade?
And if so, why is it a glass of limeade?”
And after a while, he’ll die of thirst.

Dave, I don't 'believe' they're extinct. I just haven't seen anything yet to make me think otherwise. And there's a lot of sound biological principles against the continuance of the species. A hand-waving dismissal of idiocy doesn't make us 'bad scientists' either. It does save time however.
 

dave_in_michigan

Well-known member
I just think you're obsessed with methodology and philosophy to the point of almost deliberate obtuseness

8-P Nah, just hard to walk away when people so severely misconstrue my statements. Over and over again.

Thanks for the quote, though. Nice one.:t: I'll let you get back to squeezin' lemonade.

Good luck to you.
 

salar53

Well-known member
Bad Scientist

8-P Nah, just hard to walk away when people so severely misconstrue my statements. Over and over again.

Thanks for the quote, though. Nice one.:t: I'll let you get back to squeezin' lemonade.

Good luck to you.

Dave, I'm not a good scientist.
I'm not a bad scientist either. I'm not a scientist at all.
But I am curious, and more than interested in this whole Ivory-billed Woodpecker affair.
And I suppose there are many "ordinary people" like me.
Could you tell the likes of me how you would conduct better searches? What improvements would you make? How would you better cover all the habitat from East Texas and Arkansas right through to South and North Carolina? Would you include areas like South Illinois in your search?
And just for now, could you tell us in plain language? Omit, if even for one post, references to Popper and phrases like "testing the null hypothesis"!;)

I hope this is not an impossible question!
 

dave_in_michigan

Well-known member
Dave, I'm not a good scientist.
I'm not a bad scientist either. I'm not a scientist at all.
But I am curious, and more than interested in this whole Ivory-billed Woodpecker affair.
And I suppose there are many "ordinary people" like me.
Could you tell the likes of me how you would conduct better searches? What improvements would you make? How would you better cover all the habitat from East Texas and Arkansas right through to South and North Carolina? Would you include areas like South Illinois in your search?
And just for now, could you tell us in plain language? Omit, if even for one post, references to Popper and phrases like "testing the null hypothesis"!;)

I hope this is not an impossible question!

I'm not a scientist either. Or a philosopher, or a serious birder for that matter. I'm an engineer and a project manager, and I get impatient with "research" that doesn't lead to results.

No I don't have an answer on how to conduct the searches, just some ideas on how they should go about developing their plans.
 

Piltdownwoman

Well-known member
Dave_in_Michigan,

I think your posts boil down to a convoluted and pseudo-intellectual version of the believers' last refuge: There is no proof that the Ivorybill is extinct (there never will be any, of course). Then you present yourself as a paragon of objectivity in search of "good science" and offer the sweeping judgment that "the evidence doesn't show anything for certain" which is true but only in an abstract philosopher can-we-really-know-anything sort of way. That kind of thinking has its place but when taken too far it is just an obstruction to understanding.

For all practical purposes the evidence overwhelmingly points to an absence of woodpeckers. The only evidence that suggests that Ivorybills survive is weak, anecdotal, unverifiable, and refutable. Looking at the data objectively it is only reasonable to predict that future searches will fail to find any Ivorybills, so a working hypothesis that the species is extinct explains the evidence better than any other hypothesis. Since we are practicing "good science", that hypothesis is always open to revision based on any new evidence, but for now it explains the evidence very well.

As you say "Part of that comes down to how good you think the search effort has been to date." If you're not a birder and/or haven't visited these areas, you won't know, but I can assure you that birders have been searching for this prize for generations, and the odds of a population surviving undetected - especially after all the publicity and high-powered searches of the last few years - is essentially zero.
 

dave_in_michigan

Well-known member
either evidence or eliminate areas

Dave_in_Michigan,

I think your posts boil down to a convoluted and pseudo-intellectual version of the believers' last refuge: There is no proof that the Ivorybill is extinct (there never will be any, of course). Then you present yourself as a paragon of objectivity in search of "good science" and offer the sweeping judgment that "the evidence doesn't show anything for certain" which is true but only in an abstract philosopher can-we-really-know-anything sort of way. That kind of thinking has its place but when taken too far it is just an obstruction to understanding.

For all practical purposes the evidence overwhelmingly points to an absence of woodpeckers. The only evidence that suggests that Ivorybills survive is weak, anecdotal, unverifiable, and refutable. Looking at the data objectively it is only reasonable to predict that future searches will fail to find any Ivorybills, so a working hypothesis that the species is extinct explains the evidence better than any other hypothesis. Since we are practicing "good science", that hypothesis is always open to revision based on any new evidence, but for now it explains the evidence very well.

As you say "Part of that comes down to how good you think the search effort has been to date." If you're not a birder and/or haven't visited these areas, you won't know, but I can assure you that birders have been searching for this prize for generations, and the odds of a population surviving undetected - especially after all the publicity and high-powered searches of the last few years - is essentially zero.

Well quite obviously there are purported experts over here who disagree and think there is some chance. And right now we're well past the question of "should we look" -- they have the funding and will continue to spend it.

What bothers me is that they can investigate this for a couple years now and the result is that 1) no conclusive evidence is documented and 2) they've not eliminated *any* areas for further searching.

They should design their searches so that they achieve either 1 or 2, not fail at both. And if they continue on the path of "maximizing their chances of getting lucky", then we're still going to be right at the same point next year (unless they do just get lucky).
 
Last edited:

salar53

Well-known member
Clear imagery

I'm not a scientist either. Or a philosopher, or a serious birder for that matter. I'm an engineer and a project manager, and I get impatient with "research" that doesn't lead to results.

No I don't have an answer on how to conduct the searches, just some ideas on how they should go about developing their plans.

Thank you for that reply. You're not a bad scientist or philosopher - for an engineer!;)
Meanwhile, here's a link to the helicopter searches:

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory/current0607/0708TravelLogs/ARlog0708/document_view

I'm really impressed by the aerial photography. I particularly like the clear imagery of the pileated woodpeckers. If they ever capture a shot of the IBWO, there'll be no mistake.
 

pcoin

Well-known member
Grantsmanship at work...

Well quite obviously there are purported experts over here who disagree and think there is some chance.
I would say self-appointed experts. Look at the top expert on the bird--Jerome Jackson, a long-time Ivory-billed searcher. He disagrees with the Cornell juggernaut and they try to buy him off with co-authorship (see story here).
Legitimate experts don't have to buy off or intimidate other experts in order to respond to criticism.

And right now we're well past the question of "should we look" -- they have the funding and will continue to spend it.
You've hit the nail on the head. They have the funding, and they are going to spend it--no research institution ever returns grant money. They will spend it some way or another. They are rapidly doing this, with, for instance, and insane helicopter search and the pointless meanderings of the Mobile Search Team--they are wandering aimlessly over the Ivory-bill's former range, taking pretty photos of other birds and writing blog entries about the restaurants they eat at. Our tax dollars at work!

What bothers me is that they can investigate this for a couple years now and the result is that 1) no conclusive evidence is documented and 2) they've not eliminated *any* areas for further searching.
See my remarks above. They are obviously trying to play this as long as possible.

They should design their searches so that they achieve either 1 or 2, not fail at both. And if they continue on the path of "maximizing their chances of getting lucky", then we're still going to be right at the same point next year (unless they do just get lucky).

They've done extensive systematic searches in Arkansas, starting in 2004. These are detailed in Cornell's earlier press releases and papers. Problem is, they failed to find any Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. However with their splashy (and trashy) 2005 paper in Science,they had created a minor research juggernaut based on the idea that the Ivory-billed was extant. They cannot go back--they have to continue to go "onward and upward" in search of they bird, and they will continue to do so until the money runs out.

This is all standard scientific grantsmanship when the initial grant is based on bad data--nobody ever admits that they were wrong and returns grant money. You just don't ordinarily see it played out in such a public arena, with so much interest from birders. I predict this will all continue as long as the USFWS, etc., continue to fund it--the evidence does not matter.
 

streatham

Well-known member
The Helicopters are beyond a joke - talk about a ridiculous waste of time and money - I bet it's exciting for those pretending to still look for the birds though.

Luke
 

Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
The Helicopters are beyond a joke - talk about a ridiculous waste of time and money - I bet it's exciting for those pretending to still look for the birds though.
As any birder knows, few things work as well to scare the living daylights out of birds as helicopters: an excellent way to get a flight shot of that hyper-elusive beast — I guess that was their thinking?
Hot air balloons would work well too, but they shouldn't make the joking too easy...
 

dave_in_michigan

Well-known member
accountable?

This is all standard scientific grantsmanship when the initial grant is based on bad data--nobody ever admits that they were wrong and returns grant money. You just don't ordinarily see it played out in such a public arena, with so much interest from birders. I predict this will all continue as long as the USFWS, etc., continue to fund it--the evidence does not matter.

I guess that's where I would expect some kind of pressure from the rest of the scientific community to hold them accountable for results... Who is doing this?

I can understand other professional ornitholigists wanting to be careful about mess with someone else's gravy train, but still... No public challenges from anyone on how the money is spent? Only critiques of their published claims?
 
...the pointless meanderings of the Mobile Search Team--they are wandering aimlessly over the Ivory-bill's former range, taking pretty photos of other birds and writing blog entries about the restaurants they eat at. Our tax dollars at work!.

but it's really sweet!

you wouldn't even guess they were looking for woodpeckers from reading the posts. It's nice to know they're eating well mind, and even better to know they're still hearing 'possible double-knocks', looking for a short while and then clearing off the next morning. (Jan 11th - 12th)

Still, let's hope they don't head up the wrong bayou and come across some 'hostiles' and get some 'deliverance' or 'southern comfort' type action; maybe taken back to a redneck camp full of IBWOs in wooden cages before... well, you know... :eek!: scant compensation I guess for some of you over there :t:

after post 12930, there's very little to say.
 

salar53

Well-known member
Southern Comfort

Hmmmmmmmmm. The film "Southern Comfort" has been described as a rough-and-ready parable depicting the Vietnam war. It just happens to be set in habitat favoured by the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
PCoin, you bemoan "our tax dollars at work" looking for this bird. But think Vietnam, and Iraq and Afghanistan. Think aircraft carriers and warplanes,destruction of environments and countless lives lost.

And I would suggest to you: that's where your tax dollars are working.

By comparison, the small amount of money (some of it from private sources) spent searching for the IBWO, and buying up small but precious tracts of bottomland forest, is a mere pittance.

Chickenfeed.
 

streatham

Well-known member
Salar this has been pointed out before. There is only so much chickenfeed to be spent on environmental projects so there's no point comparing the arms budget. I think some birders here wonder whether this chickenfeed might be better spent on something else. Personally I'd go for working out why the Rusty Blackbirds population has dropped 80% over the last couple of decades and then trying to do something about it or trying to manage/create grasslands so as to turn around the rather worrying declines in grassland birds, or see what can be done for Golden-cheeked Warblers or Black-capped Vireos with the money - rather than splash the cash on some idiots poncing about in helicopters for a few days.

Luke

Hmmmmmmmmm. The film "Southern Comfort" has been described as a rough-and-ready parable depicting the Vietnam war. It just happens to be set in habitat favoured by the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
PCoin, you bemoan "our tax dollars at work" looking for this bird. But think Vietnam, and Iraq and Afghanistan. Think aircraft carriers and warplanes,destruction of environments and countless lives lost.

And I would suggest to you: that's where your tax dollars are working.

By comparison, the small amount of money (some of it from private sources) spent searching for the IBWO, and buying up small but precious tracts of bottomland forest, is a mere pittance.

Chickenfeed.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
Warning! This thread is more than 4 years ago old.
It's likely that no further discussion is required, in which case we recommend starting a new thread. If however you feel your response is required you can still do so.

Users who are viewing this thread

Top