Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Comment Offends Blogger

Amy at WildBird on the Fly posted an entry regarding the negative results of the search for Ivory-billed Woodpeckers and was offended by this anonymous comment:
I guess it was too good to be true. Oh well.
In a follow-up post she concluded that the phrasing of that comment
seems to imply that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker rediscovery was false and that the people who say they saw the bird lied
and, furthermore, that she is
not ready to say that ornithologists and birders who say they saw an ivory-bill lied.
.I’m not sure where this reaction is coming from. Certainly none of the prominent ornithologists who have questioned the validity of the evidence provided to date (Jackson, Kaufman, Robbins, Sibley et al.) have alleged fraud or lying on the part of investigators. They have simply disputed the quality of the evidence presented and questioned whether it provides indisputable proof of the existence of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in Arkansas. This kind of discourse is completely fair and legitimate.

I do agree with Amy that the posting of anonymous comments to blog postings should be discouraged. If a person has something legitimate to say, particularly if it is on a somewhat controversial subject such as the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, they shouldn’t object to having their name associated with it. The one thing I object to on the Ivory-bill Skeptic blog, which I otherwise like, is that nearly all of the comments are posted anonymously or with pseudonyms.

10 Comments:

Blogger John said...

Pseudonyms are not bad in themselves, but they should at least be consistent. That way a reader can follow the conversation and see who is saying what, and there is at least some semblance of accountability. The IBS comment threads are a real mess, and even when I read that blog, I stay out of the threads.

May 25, 2006 10:29 PM  
Blogger John L. Trapp said...

Thanks for you comments, John.

May 26, 2006 6:55 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

True, "none of the prominent ornithologists who've questioned the validity of the evidence provided to date (Jackson, Kaufman, Robbins, Sibley et al.) have alleged fraud or lying on the part of investigators." Their skeptical discourse certainly is legitimate and necessary.

My objection lies with skeptics -- like the nameless commenter on my blog -- who seem to allege fraud or lies from behind the veil of anonymity. If we're going to make or imply those allegations, then we should have the courage to put our names to those serious charges, yes?

Thanks for the discussion, John!

May 26, 2006 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Cindy said...

My Grandfather, who roamed the woods/swamps of Arkansas as a child saw them.. but personally, I feel Cornell jumped the proverbial gun on this one. Now efforts that go into preserving habitat for known endangered species are going to take a hard hit.
Great post and links.

May 26, 2006 4:24 PM  
Blogger John L. Trapp said...

Amy:

Your thoughtful comments on what can be a touchy subject are greatly appreciated. I would submit that the kind of discourse that is going on in the comments section of Ivory-bill Skeptic is doing a disservice to true skeptics everywhere. Skeptical inquiry requires critical thinking, careful evaluation, and thoughtful refutation of "facts" generally held to be true, not simply mindless and inane criticism.

May 26, 2006 6:43 PM  
Blogger John L. Trapp said...

Cindy:

I appreciate your comments. Yes, my biggest criticisms of the Ivory-bill affair is the way it has been handled from day one. I took great offense when a non-profit immediatedly started selling IBWO t-shirts for $100 to help support their conservation efforts. Like you, I think it has diverted scarce endangered species recovery dollars away from other species that could have been better served by it.

May 26, 2006 6:55 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I would submit that the kind of discourse that is going on in the comments section of Ivory-bill Skeptic is doing a disservice to true skeptics everywhere.

eggZACKly.

May 26, 2006 10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many anonymous comments such as mine are from insiders. I know people from TNC, the Feds, etc.

Many of us believe that the IBWO rediscovery was wrong.

Sorry Amy, but we have to post anonymously.

June 22, 2006 12:25 PM  
Blogger John L. Trapp said...

Sorry Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, but I don't buy your argument that you must post your comments anonymously just because you "know people from TNC, the Feds, etc." If people aren't willing to stand up and be counted on this issue, I find it difficult to place much credibility in their anonymous comments. I work for one of the Federal government's leading wildlife conservation agencies and I am willing to have my face and name associated with my sketicism about the validity of the purported sightings/recordings of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers.

June 22, 2006 11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But you don't directly work in the IBWO program. Therefore, you have no risk.

June 23, 2006 9:46 AM  

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