… or at least his minions do.
See the interesting article
at Inside Higher Ed about the Eric Pianka/Forrest Mims controversy.
Mims has claimed
Pianka "enthusiastically advocated the elimination of 90 percent of
Earth's population by airborne Ebola" in a speech to the Texas Academy of
Science last month. The IHE article begins:
Environmental scientists haven't been the top targets of intelligent
design advocates, who have generally focused on attacking evolutionary
biologists. But an outspoken environmental scientist at the University
of Texas at Austin — whose research focuses on the damage modern
society inflicts on the Earth — has found his work suddenly under
scrutiny from unexpected sources.
The article goes on to link Mims
to the Evil Forces of Intelligent Design.
And it quotes numerous people
to the effect that Mims has "severely distorted" Pianka's views; that
Pianka "intended no such thing". Pianka himself refused comment.
It's somewhat smelly that the major effort here seems to be the trashing
of Pianka's critics, and a lot of words expended on what Pianka
didn't mean. OK, what did he say?
Mims asserts that someone attempting to videotape
Pianka's speech was prevented from doing so. Quotes from the other
attendees are a mixed bag. For example:
"We would like to state … that many of Dr. Pianka's
statements have been severely misconstrued and sensationalized," David
S. Marsh, president of the academy, said in the release. "The purpose of
his presentation was to dramatize the precarious plight of the human
population. He did nothing more than apply commonly accepted principles
of animal population dynamics to humans; an application not unique to
this presentation and one that can be surmised by any student of
So Professor Pianka was simply bemoaning the "precarious plight"
Hey, nothing wrong with that! But contrast:
John Hanson, a biology instructor at Texas Tech University who attended
the speech, said that at no point was Pianka literally arguing that
"humans are bad and we need to go away." "Rather, he was talking about
human impacts on the environment," said Hanson. "From a
nonanthropomorphic point of view, it probably would be best for the
planet with less humans."
No precarious plight seen there. It's all about what's "best for the
planet". And Dr.
Doom Pianka wasn't literally
advocating mass human extinction. Really. It's just that the planet
would be better off afterwards.
It all sounds much like the blind men expounding on the nature
of the elephant. Except everyone's yelling at the one guy who's got hold
of the trunk.