Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This ought to be interesting...

It seems that "Mad Bill Smith" is planning on releasing his Ivory-billed Woodpecker book very soon. Though the tone of his announcement of this upcoming event is more than a little troubling, I must admit to being extremely curious to see what he actually reveals. He promises to rock the world with his photos of living Ivorybills from central Florida. As has been well recorded, his earlier photos have not been well received by me or very many other people. My hopes are obviously not high, but from what he says we shall all see for ourselves soon enough.

One point here... he takes exception to the quotation marks that some of us use around his name. Well, there is a very simple reason why we do this. The private e-mails we have received from him have a name in the "from" field that is not "Bill Smith." Messages on other forums from a poster using this same e-mail address and claiming the same part of Florida as his abode have been signed by yet another name, still not "Bill Smith." These other names he has used are regular, ordinary names, not obviously artificial internet screennames. So, honestly, we don't know what his "real" name is; hence I treat any name he uses as a likely alias. Oh, and as for the "Mad" monicker, he claims that for himself (check out the URL of his website).

Does anyone else keep picturing G.O.B. from Arrested Development?

ADDENDUM: A bit of googling etc. reveals that the various names he has used, including Bill Smith, are all various combinations of his legal name. What has been confusing is that he sometimes abbreviates his last name to just the initial, plus he often arranges and/or concatenates his names so that it is unclear which name is first, middle, and last. Hence the difficulty of knowing if he was even using his own name. "Bill Smith" is probably what most people with his full legal name would choose to use as their informal name. So no more quotation marks from me.

6 Comments:

At 3:20 AM, Blogger cyberthrush said...

There are LOTS of reasons for the widespread skepticism surrounding Mr. Bill, the 'Magic Guy,' including his internet ravings prior to the whole Ivorybill saga (which have been largely erased from the Net).
I am more familiar with digital self-publishing than he realizes since one of the biggest such publishers in the country is near me and I have an acquaintance who works there (and by the way I too believe self-publishing is the wave of the future, but is still 1 to 2 decades off).
I'll make a few guesses as follows, and they're nothing more than guesses: his work will be published by Lulu.com, will be well under 100
pgs. in length (unless very large print is used), but will cost over $30 and maybe over 40 (and I could be wrong on all counts).
Since Mr. Bill is persona non grata at certain Websites, don't know how he'll try to advertise/market it (maybe eBay?), but until his material is reviewed by someone with authority, anyone dishing out $$$ for such a volume sight unseen, ought first remove their shirt, look in the mirror, and check for a big "S" on their chest ('sucker,' not 'superman').
If Mad Bill wishes to put his doubters to shame quickly he need only publish all his material on Web for all to see and judge; by going thru a publisher clearly the profit motive is in play here. There's nothing wrong with profit, but in fact he could put it on the Web first, and once his material is accepted, could still go to a publisher and reach a far wider audience.
I won't go thru the litany of problems, self-contradictions, logical lapses, suspicious behavior, in this whole affair, but will simply say it is clearly a case of 'let the buyer beware.'
(BTW for those too young to remember, it was 36 yrs. ago this month that Clifford Irving's autobiography of Howard Hughes was exposed as a total literary hoax.)
And having said all that, I love underdogs as much as the next person, and would be thrilled to see a 'Bill Smith' somewhere upstage all the academics and professionals by being the first to conclusively document IBWOs. In fact, Mr. Bill's story, if true, would literally be bigger than the IBWO story itself.
As I've offered before, I'm still willing to hear from anyone with Florida Fish and Wildlife (and can demonstrate that connection) who is willing to lend Mr. Bill any credibility.
Apologies for the length...

 
At 5:26 AM, Blogger norma said...

The real searchers are out there. Ck out ibwfound.blogspot.com

 
At 5:57 AM, Blogger Bill Pulliam said...

C--

Mad Bill hardly has a monopoly on arrogance, self-promotion, insults, defensiveness, and emotional outbursts in the IBWO world. Indeed, there has been more than enough of each of those flying around from all directions. However, he is the only "searcher" in recent years who raises so many red flags of blatant fraud. Virtually everything about the way he handles his information and his critics sets off the hoax alarms.

I suspect what is perhaps just as likely as your scenario is that he will have another angry breakdown, blame you and me and countless others, withdraw his book promises, never release any more photos to the public, and run off into the sunset cursing his "enemies." And small minorities of people will then continue using him as proof of the shameful oppression of the truth by the ornithological power elites, and/or the lunacy of anyone who claims to have seen an Ivorybill since 1945, depending on their personal proclivities.

 
At 11:39 AM, Blogger cyberthrush said...

B. Pulliam wrote:

"...However, he is the only "searcher" in recent years who raises so many red flags of blatant fraud. Virtually everything about the way he handles his information and his critics sets off the hoax alarms."

Aye! and there's the rub!! The entire affair screams hoax from day one, and outright hoaxes do more damage to the IBWO cause than the 100's of misidentifications of Pileateds as IBWOs over the decades do.
In a kindly interpretation, possibly Bill S. is seeing Pileateds and his mind sincerely (but disturbingly) turns them into IBWOs, although this would still not account for so many of the aspects of this whole drawn out soap opera.
When/if the 'book' is available someone can email me and Bill P. what they think of it, I have a hunch neither of us will be purchasing a copy...

 
At 10:50 AM, Blogger Mike Hendrickson said...

Good stuff and I agree with you both but the way I look at if Bill wants to make some $$ off a hoax then fine.

When this book comes out you know and I know all the bird experts, sit at home scientists and arm chair IBOW experts are going to rip Bill's book into pieces.

I guess you can look as this as good news when the book comes out. Then the Bird Forum IBWO room will be flooded with messages, Cyber's blog ratings will climb in the Nature Bog Network, Tom Nelson will stop briefly from exposing global warming as a hoax and blog about IBWOs again and Mike Collins will make his presence known again. In other words you guys are back in the lime light again. Hey maybe David Sibley will even blog about Bill's book.

So do not look as this as bad news but as good news.

Hey Bill Pulliam do you have redpolls at your feeder this year? Any Hoary's ??

Mike

 
At 6:17 AM, Blogger Bill Pulliam said...

Whoa there, Mike! I think you might wanna reread and reconsider your first sentence there. Are you actually saying that you think it is just fine to try to make money by faking bird records??? I find it really hard to believe you actually mean that; it would be a VERY troubling attitude for a professional birding guide such as yourself!

The last thing we need here is more hyper babbling galloping bullshit all over the internet. I don't give a rat's ass about being in the limelight; I give a whole truckload of rodent behinds about sorting out the sense from the nonsense in the Ivorybill fiasco (face it, no matter where you sit, that's what it has become). If anyone, Bill Smith or Joe Blow, deliberately throws more crap into this mix then s/he deserves to be strung up by his/her metaphorical thumbnails. It's not good for ANYONE; not birding, not ornithology, not conservation, not science.

Nope no redpolls anywhere in TN this winter, which is the normal situation here. Good influx of Purple Finches, Pine Siskins and Red-breasted Nuthatches early in the winter, a few Evening Grosbeaks in the eastern mountains, but no big rarities. TOS is meeting at Paris Landing/Pace Point this weekend, we ought to turn up some goodies there.

 

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