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Mike Gene at Telic Thoughts Wusses Out

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Mike Gene at Telic Thoughts, without having seen a transcript of the Lamar speech where the recording devices were ordered off (the published transcript is only the last 5 minutes of a 45 minute speech), decides that Forest Mims is a liar man of terrible misjudgement and misunderstanding. Mike Gene, who has surely read the student review saying Pianka PREACHES that 90% of the population SHOULD be wiped out by airborne ebola, a student review of Pianka’s class that echoes what Mims heard in the Lamar speech, must also think this student is a liar person of terrible misjudgement and misunderstanding too.

I’m very disappointed in Mike Gene, whoever he is. No wonder Mike Gene refuses to identify himself. Wusses are like that. Get a clue, Mike. Pianka hates humanity and thinks it’s no better or more deserving of life than bacteria or bison. It’s okay for you to say it, Mike. You’re anonymous. The least you can do is be brave enough to call a spade a spade from behind your mask of anonymity.


Observation: This whole Pianka discussion has gone well beyond what the clear evidence merits. Sure, there are possible ways to insinuate, interpret and read things into Pianka's past comments or recent lecture, but not enough to support the most egregious insinuations. Is Pianka a comical sensationalist? Sure. Is he a dangerous man? A lot more evidence is needed.

Question: Why is Pianka's lecture an item of significant concern for Uncommon Descent? It seems that it would have been more judicious to take this a lot more slowly and carefully, rather than being intent on making a big web splash. How has the whole exercise of this past week advanced what one presumes to be at least one of goals of this site: providing a forum for discussion and furtherance of intelligent design? In my humble opinion, the unbounded zeal to scoop a story (the relevance of which to intelligent design is tenuous at best) the broader goal has been hindered, not advanced.

It's just so much fun watching the Darwin apologists circle the wagons around one of their own when the one of their own is clearly a whackjob of some sort. It's not unreasonable given his position that we figure out if he's harmless or not. Personally I think he ought to have his lab access scrutinized and limited in such a way that he has no ability to carry out his daydreams of weaponized biological agents should they become more than daydreams. I'd hope that what's the FBI and DHS are doing as we speak. Plus Forrest Mims has been an inspiration to me for decades and I trust his judgement. I barely know Pianka from Adam and what little I do know isn't good. -ds Eric Anderson
MikeGene has made a followup to his post. It can be viewed here. I would have posted at Telic Thoughts but he closed his comments. His text seems to be more of the same postmodernist drivel, the constant murmuring about supposed "interpretations" is a sign of it. If he hadn't closed his comments it seems his text would be easy to deconstruct. E.g., one rather tiresome theme he has going is trying to get on the high horse of reserving judgment, yet in fact he did not reserve judgment because he is rendering judgments against Mims for terrible misjudgment. Ironic, given that the only missing judgment seems to be Mike Gene's. One probably shouldn't post at all, or do much blogging in general if your goal is to avoid rendering judgments or reserving your judgment. If Mike Gene's own words are any measure, his new judgments against Mims are based on his own ignorant "interpretation" of "incomplete evidence." (A bit of a sophist, this one? It seems rather easy to bend telic thoughts these days, maybe such thoughts are not as telic as they thought.) Note the theme of his subtext, which seems to be that involving the FBI is inherently victimizing...along with a few other facts mentioned to support the theme of victimization, although he can't come right out and make a judgment about it. A touching pathos for a subtext though, is it not? I'm about to cry a little tear for Pianka right now just thinking about it. Not. I've dealt with FBI agents before and they were always impeccably professional. It's really not all that victimizing to anyone, unless you happen to get one of the few oafs on a power trip. If you don't want your words reported in sensational ways in the Old Press then don't say sensational things. He can't have it both ways, getting a kick out of the sensation of making sensational statements yet acting surprised when the Old Press picks up on the sensational, as they always do. And if Pianka really is a man of principle and a sort of revolutionary with Big Ideas instead of just a Mommy Nature type worried that there won't be many lizards left for him to "touch" soon then he should have no problem standing up for himself, whether it is the FBI or the Old Press. What does he expect, to come back from wandering the wilderness as an ascetic prophet and then receive adulation? Even if you're a true prophet rather than a false prophet you should know that no one prophesyzin' the future of Great Doom has ever been without their critics, right or wrong. Ironically, I think Pianka is correct about many things. But anyway, one reason that someone like Mike Gene is likely to be easily confused when it comes to making judgments about a person of Pianka's apparent pscyhology is that such people often have passive agressive tendencies and have to be drawn out of Happenstance and the womb of Mother Nature: "Oh, would you look at that, 90% of the people just died...but I didn't really mean anything about anything. Malevolent design doesn't exist, it is all just another big happenstance!" If his own words are any measure then at a minimum Pianka would stand by rather idly as microbial life killed numerous people, yet supposedly the notion that he would stand idly by if human life in the form of eco-terrorists tried to do the same (All the while, he's not real big on the distinction between microbial life and human life anyway.). Supposedly the notion that Pianka's own words might be made manifest is out of the question and beyond the pale. That's what Mike Gene really seems to be getting at, that everyone should assume it was just a joke and trust the people whose reaction is: [laughter, applause]. It's interesting to note that if Pianka had said that illegal immigrants were overpopulating America and joked that they were probably going to bring in a virus that killed 90% of Americans unless we change public policy now then the attitude among Leftists would probably have been quite different. For that matter, if he had joked about difference between the sexes in a speech maintaining that differences in the sexes is an area of study that should be looked into scientifically as the president of Harvard did he probably would have lost academic standing. It seems that as long as you are a Darwinist lecturing on Mommy Nature's supposed "natural selections" and so speaking into some psychological dynamics that are rather typical to academics ("the choir"), only then you can say pretty much anything without consequence. mynym

ds moderator comment to my quote: "“we’ve got” which explicitely denotes possession by some group." I had not noticed that before. I, for one, agree that the implication that such a biological agent exists is of deep concern.

No kidding. That read like a threat from Osama Bin Laden only Pianka is more credible as he's got the expertise and means as a tenured biologist at a major U.S. research university to actually weaponize ebola. The fact that he lives and works a stone's throw from me and my family makes it that much more of a personal concern exactly what this whackjob is up to. He's clearly a mental case. The quesiton is whether he's harmless or not and given his position I'd rather not take a chance that he's a harmless loon. Maybe this guy's ready to lose the last thread of sanity he's got and start acting out his fantasies of giving the earth back to the animals. -ds bFast
MikeGene has made a followup to his post. It can be viewed here. crandaddy
Maybe Pianka misspoke or was taken out of context but given he’s a tenured biology professor at a major research university... What happens when one of the students easily wowed by the charlatans of science these days thinks that it would be funny to join eco-terrorists, following professor Pianka's "funny" notions? More: [Laugther, applause!]? After all, college students seem to be picking up "funny" ideas that it would be funny a grand joke indeed, to burn down churches. Where are they learning who to play their jokes on? Note, I do not believe that Pianka should be censored in any way, etc. I'm a strong believer in keeping the intellectual excrement typical to Darwinism around to grow new ideas about natural selections in, naturally enough. Seems like they did the right thing, pending further evidence. They didn't just sit around like good postmodernists seeking more ways to lack judgment, they judged Mims for a "terrible misunderstanding." There's no "pending further evidence" there. I know he was joking some. It's all so funny, until it isn't. mynym
Even worse are insinuations that he’s actually calling for or inciting others to a terrorist attack
Again, I'd like to see this particular quote in context:
Responding to these very questions, Pianka said, “Good terrorists would be taking [Ebola Roaston and Ebola Zaire] so that they had microbes they could let loose on the Earth that would kill 90 percent of people.”

I note that the transcript begins, "We've got an airborne 90 percent mortality human killing [agent]. Think about that." It seems that the recorder was turned on just after Dr. Pianka made his most inflamitory remarks. I suspect that the person heard something that sounded newsworthy, and turned on their recorder only to miss the good stuff. News can be fleeting.

Let me suggest that Dembski consider reenstating his $1000 reward, but for the portion of the speech that immediately preceeds the one that is posted.

We’ve got an airborne 90 percent mortality human killing [agent]. Think about that. Here's what I think about that. This describes a biologic weapon of mass destruction and Homeland Security would be irresponsible if they did not investigate what was meant by "we've got" which explicitely denotes possession by some group. Maybe Pianka misspoke or was taken out of context but given he's a tenured biology professor at a major research university presumably with the knowledge and means to acquire and modify biological agents he needs to be checked out with a fine tooth comb. -ds bFast

"A group wuss out. How nice. Did you cry about what you’d done to poor misunderstood Eric Pianka? How about we all sing a nice round of Kum Bai Ya and have a big group hug. Gag me with a spoon."

Excellent argumentation, DS.

In their estimation, the evidence doesn't support Pianka saying the things that were attributed to him. Can you really blame them for retracting their statements and saying they're sorry, or are they now subject to your estimation of the evidence? Seems like they did the right thing, pending further evidence.

Give me a break. They've been intimidated by the potential for legal action against them. They were frightened into submission, plain and simple. -ds Aquinas

TT may have crossed a line or two in their rhetoric and level of speculation. There could be liability issues according to one of the contributors at TT. It may be that TT wanted to step back and act responsibly.

My position is that Dr. Pianka and/or the TAS must release the full text of the speech. I don't know if sunshine laws apply in this case, but until the text is available, we have to refrain from judgement regarding Dr. Pianka's TAS speech.

We don't have to refrain from voicing our opinions. Pianka is at least a limited public figure now and it will be exceedingly difficult for him to win a libel case against anyone even if our opinions are dead wrong. -ds DaveW

I'll just make a few quick points here. The decision to retract was not Mike's alone. It was a group decision of our blog. Second, we didn't "wuss out". Yes, it does appear that Pianka has a devalued view of human life. He's got that classic environmental extremist view that we're "bad", and that the world would be better off with a lot less of us, and he appears unnervingly cozy or "interested" in the notion that this could happen in some pretty awful ways. Things we do know he said in the transcript, like toying with the idea of mass sterilization, are pretty repulsive. I think it sucks that the TAS applauds and awards these views, and that kind of thing ought to be reported on.

But, we can't in good faith support many of the accusations against him, such as that he's "calling for mass death" or that he's genocidal. Even worse are insinuations that he's actually calling for or inciting others to a terrorist attack, such that the FBI needs to intervene. These things certainly went too far, and in the light of them, we can't in good conscience assume that the rest of Mims' interpretation was correct. This doesn't mean that he's a liar, and I don't think he is. But since there is doubt, we cannot assume the worst about Pianka either. Some of the things we said in our blog, we do not feel we can support. Also, even if Mims' original interpretation was correct, Pianka has been put through more grief than his remarks merited, and we decided that we didn't want to contribute to it. Because of these reasons, we decided to retract, and I think we made the right decision.

A group wuss out. How nice. Did you cry about what you'd done to poor misunderstood Eric Pianka? How about we all sing a nice round of Kum Bai Ya and have a big group hug. Gag me with a spoon. -ds Deuce

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