The Case of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker: The Scientific Process and How It Relates to Everyday Life

The Case of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker: The Scientific Process and How It Relates to Everyday Life

Dr. Pool – UCOR 3800

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Case Study

Group Name:


1. What is the major con ict between Brad and Mary in terms of the scientific process? Make a list of Brad’s arguments and valid pieces of evidence and Mary’s response to each.

2. What do you think about Brad’s concern that by waiting with the announcement they could miss their chance to save the birds?

3. Imagine you are the owner of a company that owns the logging rights adjacent to the area of the woodpecker sightings, or a biologist trying to protect the habitat of another endangered species in another part of the state. Do you think that they would be satisfied with the same amount of evidence in this case as Brad?

Why/Why not?

4. What is the right amount of evidence? How can you determine the answer to that question?

5. Give other examples of public discourse, policy decisions, or controversial issues where your insights from this case could be applied.

6. Decide how much evidence you would need to accept the claim that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is not extinct.

7. Decide how much evidence you would need to accept that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is extinct.

8. Put yourself in Brad’s position—what would you have told the reporter?

9. Does it matter to you who presents the evidence?

10. Who presented the evidence in the real Ivory-billed Woodpecker case (who was present at the press conference)?


Are you more convinced by the actual primary article than by the Case Study information and video file itself?

What additional pieces of evidence are perhaps more convincing now that you have seen the published work? 

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