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Thursday, April 06, 2006

What Dr. Pianka said at the Awards nite: The "Dr. Doom" partial transcript

At last, some transcript!

A partial transcript, available at The Pearcey Report, of Eric Pianka's recent acceptance speech* at the Texas Academy of Sciences. As Rick Pearcey notes,

[*Go here if you don't know what I am talking about, and read the top box.]

That such an audio-based document exists at all may be an intriguing part of this story since, according to published reports, an effort apparently was made to ensure that Dr. Pianka's speech was not recorded by video or audio.

Now that I have read some selections, I can certainly understand why the house wanted the video and sound off. On the whole, I've heard better raving in a barroom, ten minutes to the ouster. Get a load of these (relatively sensible) transcribed quotes:

PIANKA ... But I asked a reproductive physiologist years ago about this. I said, "Could you design a molecule that you could administer once that would bind to the DNA to turn off reproduction and make people sterile?" And he said, yeah, theoretically. And I said, well, if you did that could you design an antidote that would unmask it just briefly for as few seconds? And he said, yeah, probably. So this is what we need. We need to sterilize everybody on the Earth [laughter] and make the antidote freely available to anybody who’s willing to work for it.

Immediately you'd get responsible parenthood. No more juvenile delinquents, unwanted kids. You have a kid, you had to work, and you had only a few seconds to do it in. [Extended laughter]

Look, why believe me? I gave you the link. Read it all for yourself. This is Texas's most distinguished scientist for 2006? Aw, can't be. They must be hiding the real one somewhere. But why? This guy isn't making them look good. We need to send science missionaries from Ontario (Canada) to Texas, if this is their idea of science. Disconnected rants and trouble-making about other people's families?

By the way, if anyone wants to know the real state of human demographics worldwide, and not the fever-swamp nonsense from Pianka and his overheated disciples, check out Phillip Longman. You will be surprised, but much better informed.

A steep worldwide crash in birth rates creates a serious imbalance in the numbers of people in a given generation. Will a working age adult willingly support three seniors and still have children? But this real-world question has nothing to do with Dr. Doom's gloom. It's just the usual stuff I have covered all my life. Who lives, who dies, who cares, who pays, who suffers, who triumphs, all that stuff ...

Meanwhile, Forrest Mims, the science journalist who originally insisted on making this story public despite insults, insinuations, and ridicule, informs me that his editor at the Citizen Scientist, which courageously covered the Texas-style doom, received a death threat today. So does that make him as big a victim as Pianka, who was widely covered by US media as receiving death threats?

No way, not merely because the US dead tree media wouldn't care but because - infinitely more important! - editor Carlson would surely despise victimhood, as any decent person would. Carlson's clear-sighted editorials patiently explain why no virus takes out 90% of the population, as Pianka fantasizes. (Even the bubonic plague (1349) only took out a third of Europe, which had no idea how to fight it.)

The entire transcript of a later speech Pianka gave at St. Edward's University, March 31, is available from the excellent Seguin Gazette-Enterprise:
And, I actually think the world will be much better when there's only 10 or 20 percent of us left.

It would give wildlife a chance to recover — we won't need conservation biologists anymore. Things are gonna get better.

[Note: This transcript is apparently not at the site at present, and I have written to ask about it. - d.]

This is a slightly more coherent doomsday rant than the acceptance speech, but hey. I have covered so many doomsdays: Nuclear holocaust. The population bomb. Nuclear winter. Global warming. Y2K. I still think that the book of Revelation in the Bible beats 'em all cold for style, and that's all I can go on. With any apocalypse, I always say, wake me up when it happens.

Still worried? Here's a word of advice from a friendly hack: If you die tonight, the world will end for you. It doesn't matter whether it ends for those who love you or those who hate you, or people you've never heard of, or those who have asked you to pray for them, or cockroaches under the sink. For you, it's over.

By all means, do your best to make this planet a better place - but don't get sucked into doomsdays, because there are only seven days in a given week and not one of them is called Doomsday. Anyway, always take time to look away yonder. There's more to life than you may think.

I was told that the reason the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise pulled the stories about Dr. Pianka's idea that 90 percent of the world could, should, or would die from ebola virus was that the server was Apparently, it's back up now, but you have to search. Here is what I could find from the last month:

April 2, 2006 Doomsday: UT prof says death is imminent

April 4, 2006 Whirlwind of controversy surrounds UT prof

April 5, 2006: Academy of science responds to critics
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

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