Woody’s Last Laugh

Woody’s Last Laugh

How to identify and avoid 50 common mistakes caused by uncertainty.

Woody’s Last Laugh

How to identify and avoid 50 common mistakes caused by uncertainty.

Paperback £21.99 || $29.95

Nov 26, 2021

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e-book £10.99 || $15.99

Nov 26, 2021

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James Christopher Haney
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Birds, Cognitive science, Endangered species


Woody’s Last Laugh explores a simmering controversy amid scientists, conservationists, birders and the media: the supposed “extinction” of American ivory-billed woodpecker. Among the first to identify rampant mental errors inside conservation and environmental professions, the book identifies 53 distinct kinds of cognitive blunders, psychological biases, and logical fallacies on both sides of the woodpecker controversy. Few species have ever provoked such social rancor. Why are rumors of its persistence so prevalent, unlike other near or recently extinct animals? Why are we so bad mannered with each other about a mere bird? How is it that we cannot agree even on whether a mere bird is alive or dead? Woody’s Last Laugh uncovers why such mysteries so mess with our heads. By exploring uncharted borders between conservation and mental perception, new ways of evaluating truth and accuracy are opened to everyone.

Author Dr. J. Christopher Haney is a biologist, conservation scientist and lifelong birder. For 12 years he was Chief Scientist at Defenders of Wildlife. In 2010, following the Deepwater Horizon oil blowout, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service invited him to lead the largest pelagic study of marine birds ever conducted in the Gulf of Mexico. Since 2013 he has been president of Terra Mar Applied Sciences, an independent public-interest conservation research firm which he founded.

If there is one lesson Dr. Haney hopes his book delivers, it is to not overvalue our thinking skills. Human reason is fallible, even among scientists and technical experts. To improve our essential relationship with nature, conservation practices will need to devote as much attention to the unbridled thoughts as the unswerving sentiments. Dead or alive, however, the ivory-bill got the last laugh on us all.

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