Posted April 7, 2006
The wingnut echo chamber has recently gone insane over the idea that Eric Pianka, an distinguished and much-loved ecologist at UT, advocates mass genocide by ebola in order to bring down world population. The allegation was leveled by disgruntled creationist Forrest Mims, and rapidly spread to the blogosphere via places like Dembski's blog (three posts!) and Telic Thoughts, and then went to the Drudge Report and caused a national media firestorm appearing in my local paper by Monday morning. I smelled a rat from the beginning, and now I have been proved right. KXAN News36 in Austin, TX, has just debunked the whole thing, and for good measure has posted a 20-minute unedited interview with Pianka which everyone must watch to realize the full depravity of what the wingnuts have done here. Pianka says several times that Mims is a "crazy kook" that "distorted and changed everything I said." The death threats that have flooded Pianka and the Texas Academy of Sciences are also a nice touch.
Pianka is clearly an ecological alarmist, and his twin theses that (1) a population crash is coming and (2) a disease (not Ebola, says Pianka) will do it are both highly debatable (my own view is that population is leveling off as birthrates decline due to education, and that highly virulent diseases are more likely to burn themselves out than take out the majority of the population), but these are matters to debate scientifically. There is no way to get from that to saying, as Mims and hundreds of braindead, credulous moonbats did, that Pianka advocates genocide and that several hundred scientists at the Texas Academy of Sciences applauded him for it.
It's too late at night for me to transcribe all of the worthy bits of the interview, but the most revealing part of the interview is at the end, when the (mostly clueless, by the way) reporter asks Pianka what he most wants the public to know about him. Pianka doesn't talk about his own reputation or about the dastardly deeds of Forrest Mims -- he talks about the importance of conservation and thinking ahead about the world we leave to our children! A real misanthrope, that Pianka.
If anyone sees any one of the various turkeys out there who freaked out over Pianka advocating genocide apologize and retract their statements, please post the link here. I suspect all we're going to get is strained rationalizations, conspiracy theories that this is a coverup, and attempts to change the topic to the scientific questions.
PS: Oh yeah. Dembski helpfully reported Pianka to the Department of Homeland Security. Good job, Bill.
Originally posted at The Panda's Thumb.