Lyrebird mimicry "evidence"

To: Angus Innes <>
Subject: Lyrebird mimicry "evidence"
From: Carl Clifford <>
Date: Sat, 13 Feb 2010 12:15:20 +1100

I am inclined to agree with you. The production of a recording of a Lyrebird call containing mechanical sounds neither proves nor disproves that Lyrebirds mimic mechanical sounds. Give me a week and I could produce a recording of a Lyrebird mimicking 'most anything you want. The sound manipulation software around now is amazing.

In these modern times, unfortunately, just about all evidence is manipulable to a greater or lesser degree and I have seen my fair share.


Carl Clifford ( and no, I am not a Lawyer, but I was an Investigator ;-)
On 13/02/2010, at 3:16 AM, Angus Innes wrote:

Fellow Aus Birders,

As every true sceptic should, Richard Jordan looks to whether the evidence supports the proposition which he queries.

A possible flaw in his approach occurs in the execution of his enquiries. Evidence is not what Richard accepts or rejects, but it is found in the direct observations of reliable witnesses. All our great early bird guides were written by experienced observers who wrote about what they saw and heard. That is still the basis of many accepted rarity records in leading birding countries around the world. So if a relaible observer says I saw a lyrebird and heard it making a mechanical sound of a chain saw, or whatever, that is evidence. The use of camera and tape recorder are latter day aids - and valuable, but do not make observation non-evidence.

In a passing observation that is not directed in any way to Richard, the problem of persons with new kit, or techniques, debunking the old, can be seen throughout the modern world. The observations and opinions of persons on the ground are dismissed as anecdotal - and not properly validated. The validation process employes thousands of consultants at great expense, who often regurgitate what they were told by the experienced persons on the ground.

Back to my short point, you have got to respect reliable observers. What they say they saw or heard is evidence.

Angus Innes (Yes, I am a lawyer).

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