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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

FURTHER UPDATED!: The latest on the Dr. Pianka ebola story:

I just learned from a source that Inside Higher Ed is doing a story on Pianka (Dr. Doom, according to in Forrest Mims). And believe it or not, the reporter wanted to know why the ID guys (Forrest Mims is associated with ID) would care whether the prof thinks 90 percent of humans should die. Hmmmmm. Does it help if you think that other people are just as human as you are, and should not be talked about as if they were a lab culture that was no longer needed? (Update 2)

Bill Dembski over at Uncommon Descent is offering US$1000 for an “undoctored and unabridged” copy of what Pianka actually said, confidentiality guaranteed:

In discussing with my wife Eric Pianka’s Texas Academy of Sciences speech in which he had audience members switch off cameras and tape recorders because the unwashed masses aren’t ready to hear what he has to say, she remarked that this would have been the time she would have turned on her recorder. I therefore expect a recording of his talk does exist. I’m therefore offering $1000 to the first person who sends me a reasonable quality digital version of Pianka’s speech before the TAS (.wmv or .mp3) that is undoctored and unabridged.

He also notes that "In today’s American Statesman ..., one reads: "Fellow professor David Hillis said most people were sympathetic of the nationally renowned professor’s plight. "There’s a strong anti-science sentiment in the country right now,’ Hillis said. Pianka ‘has such a passion for life and diversity. How anyone could paint him as pro-death is unbelievable.'"

Dembski has challenged Hillis to a wager that

... sympathy not just nationally but at UTAustin for Pianka will take a nose dive once his TAS speech goes public. Of course, we need to set the terms of this wager more precisely. But it’s a wager easily settled — Pianka needs merely to make his speech before the TAS public (the actual speech — not a bowdlerized version of it).

Meanwhile, Canada’s CBC has weighed in with a story that portrays Pianka as a mountain man with odd ideas who overcame a physical handicap and became a respected scientist:

Pianka approves of Chinese theories on birth control. But he goes one step further and advocates the use of the Ebola virus to kill off the world's surplus people.

"If we don't control our population, microbes will," he said. "Why do we have these lethal microbes that kill us in the first place? The answer is, there's too many of us."

Starvation and war will inevitably decimate the world's population, he says. But diseases, such as the Ebola virus, offers the most efficient and fastest way to "kill the billions that must soon die if the population crisis is to be solved."

Pianka's unique view of the world extends to his own personality. His website shows an elderly man standing in the scrub of central Texas with a tangled grey beard, ragged clothing and a four-foot long monitor lizard.

Thank goodness they don't even mention Forrest Mims, so the canard that he might have been fibbing has been laid to rest. I understand that there are several chances of transcripts in the offing, so Dembski might have to pay out. WIll stay posted.

- end of current update (1) -

CNN has weighed in, following AP, which finally decided the story was not an April Fool’s hoax:

The Gazette-Enterprise quoted Pianka as saying disease "will control the scourge of humanity. We're looking forward to a huge collapse."

It said he weighed the killing power of various diseases such as bird flu and HIV but decided neither would yield the needed results.

"HIV is too slow. It's no good," he said.

Pianka said that doesn't mean he wants most humans to die.

However, Forrest Mims, an amateur scientist, author and chairman of the Texas Academy of Science's environmental science section, told The Associated Press there was no mistaking Pianka's disdain for humans and desire for their elimination in the speech he heard.

For previous posts, go here and here

I am told that a transcript is in the works, and I will link to it. I won't be surprised if it doesn't settle things, because phrases like "looking forward to" are ambiguous, and I still remember Bill Clinton on "what the meaning of 'is' is."

I'll post my own thoughts later. Just for now, though, there is a fundamental inconsistency between the view that people are no better than animals or bacteria and the view that we should try to do something about the course of nature which, according to Pianka, is doomed on our account. If we are capable of trying to do something, we are not like all the rest, and we might as well get used to it.

Either whatever happens happens, OR we are different. People like Pianka confuse the issue by wanting to have it both ways.

That said, I have heard prophecies of doom for thirty-five years now, and I still think the Book of Revelation beats 'em all cold, for literary style. For track record, they're all the same; haven't happened yet. Meanwhile, I'll see how that transcript is coming ....

Pianka says he has been receiving death threats, but presumably the bullet will only get nine-tenths of the way ....

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being denied tenure at Baylor.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.

The Pope using the term "intelligent design" to describe the Catholic view of origins, go here.

Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams attacked by Darwinist, hits back. Will he now cartoon on the subject?

"Academic Freedom Watch : Here's the real, ugly story behind the claim that 'intelligent design isn't science'?".

Roseville, California, lawyer Larry Caldwell is suing over the use of tax money by Darwin lobby groups to promote religious views that accept Darwinian evolution (as opposed to ones that don’t). I’m pegging this one as the next big story. See also the ruling on tax funds. Note the line that the “free speech” people take.
How to freak out your bio prof? What happened when a student bypassed the usual route of getting frogs drunk and dropping them down the chancellor’s robes, and tried questioning Darwinism instead.

Christoph, Cardinal Schonbon is not backing down from his contention that Darwinism is incompatible with Catholic faith, and Pope Benedict XVI probably thinks that’s just fine. Major US media have been trying to reach rewrite for months, with no success.

Museum tour guides to be trained to "respond" to those who question Darwinism. Read this item for an example of what at least one museum hopes to have them say.

World class chemist dissed at Catholic university because he sympathizes with intelligent design.
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