fig parrots/John Young

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Subject: fig parrots/John Young
From: "Andrew Stafford" <>
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2007 21:00:10 +1000
John Young is an exceptionally talented naturalist, as anyone who has been out 
in the field with him will attest. And he has indeed been involved in some 
excellent work, for which he has earned admiration.

That in my view only makes the fig-parrot saga more puzzling - why would he 
risk his reputation in this way? - and certainly no less disappointing. Greg's 
scepticism seems to me at this stage to have been vindicated, and until such 
time as John Young documents his claims further we should be thanking him for 
preventing the further wastage of taxpayer's money.

The implications of this case are extremely serious. Young wasn't prepared to 
divulge the location and presented the photographs as evidence; citing fear of 
collectors exterminating the birds. Yet if he has indeed tampered with the 
photographs, then specimens may be the only way claims such as these may be 
trusted in the forseeable future.

I dearly wanted to believe this story but I was always wary of the idea of two 
extremely rare and extremely similar species living sympatrically with each 
other and concerned that the claims were being splashed about in the media with 
scant consideration for the academic channels of proper documentation followed 
by peer review.

John Young has said he has nothing to prove to anyone and will stand on his 
record. That doesn't wash now - it's put up or shut up time. The rest of us 
should not be afraid to call a serious case of attempted scientific fraud for 
what it is, and I applaud Greg Roberts for reminding us all of the value of 
sceptical inquiry. That is a journalist's responsibility. He has done his job 

Cheers - Andrew

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