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Re: GBBC and Statistics

My last word on the subject:

I think the topic of how much we can believe the
results (and studies based on them) of the bird counts
in the Carolinas is on-topic for this list.  Sorry if
it's bad news that you hear-no-evil types don't like.

I wouldn't have made yesterday's lengthy post if I
hadn't needed to defend myself against an incorrect
accusation (based on emotion, not math or science). 
My first post was a reaction at reporters, websites
(not GBBC's), online forums, etc. increasingly making
a mountain out of a statistical molehill.  

Also: In my first post, I praised the counts for
motivating/educating folks, remember?

Nathan Dias - Charleston, SC

PS Dave: Field biologists do just fine with some
surveys/studies (Breeding Bird Atlas, USFWS surveys,
studes by folks like Point Reyes Bird Observatory,
etc).  -- PRBO goes to great pains to have
statistically valid data and they raise and train
their own army of volunteers, interns, etc.  While I
am not a field biologist, I have participated in many
projects run by them and I understand the temptation
to use low-cost  (yet spurious) results from untrained
citizen armies.  

--- Dave Hewitt <dave_hewitt@ncsu.edu> wrote:
> Nathan et al.-
>   A friend just alerted me of this list a few days
> ago. I have
> thoroughly enjoyed reading the posts and learning of
> the true diversity
> of birds we have in the NC/SC area. I am a relative
> neophyte when it
> comes to birding. I have only had a good field guide
> and a set of optics
> for a year or so, though i am getting hooked fast. 
>   I actually just received my first feeder as a
> Valentine's gift, and
> contributed my first count to the GBBC. It felt
> really rewarding and i
> was glad to be able to contribute, even if most of
> the 13 species we saw
> were common birds for the area.
>   I am finishing my Master's in Fisheries and
> Wildlife right now and am
> getting a minor in statistics. I have always had a
> fondness for
> statistics (somehow!?) and your points about the
> GBBC are well made.
> But, unfortunately for you, most everyone already
> knows what you're
> saying - get off the soap box! You obviously arent a
> field biologist or
> you would understand the struggles we have with data
> and the sacrifices
> we make when using statistics to describe data such
> as that recorded by
> the GBBC. Sure, there are lots of assumptions
> violated and we get into
> all sorts of trouble with the statisticians, but the
> information is
> still valuable. And, as Charlotte mentioned, the
> main point is to get
> people involved and interested (like myself), which
> is working. If
> people publish on the data, so be it... you can get
> ticked off or "red
> in the face," but that's silly and childish.  
>   Basically, I dont think you picked the right forum
> for your banter,
> and i am rather certain you arent gaining anyone's
> respect or
> admiration. I am pretty sure myself and others would
> much rather read
> posts about actual birds.
> Dave Hewitt
> Raleigh, NC

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