Intelligent Design

Would “Dr. Doom” be conceivable apart from evolutionary theory?

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Tonight, THE CITIZEN SCIENTIST has posted online “Meeting Dr. Doom,” Forrest Mims’s first-person account of an astonishing speech by Prof. Eric R. Pianka of the University of Texas.

Pianka was recently named the 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist at the annual meeting of the Texas Academy of Science. Mims is an active member of the Academy and chairs its Environmental Science Section.

In his Distinguished Scientist speech, Pianka advocated eliminating 90 percent of the world’s population by airborne Ebola to save the world. He said we are no better than bacteria and made other intemperate statements.

Pianka

He received a sustained, standing ovation by the vast majority of the audience of several hundred. Today Pianka gave a similar speech in Austin.

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24 Replies to “Would “Dr. Doom” be conceivable apart from evolutionary theory?

  1. 1

    The first newspaper story about Dr. Doom is here: http://www.seguingazette.com/s.....f401da6005

    If you want to add to the outcry:

    E-mail the Regents of the University of Texas here (bor@utsystem.edu). Or write Regents of the University of Texas, 201 W. 7th Street, Suite 820, Austin, TX 78701-2981. Telephone: 512-499-4402. Fax: 512-499-4425.

    E-mail the President of the Texas Academy of Science here (David.Marsh@usafa.af.mil). Or write Dr. David S. Marsh, President, Texas Academy of Science, Headquarters, USAF/DFB, 2355 Faculty Drive, Suite 2P389, United States Air Force Academy, CO 80840-6226. Telephone: 719-333-6031.

  2. 2
    GilDodgen says:

    Pianka is clearly psycho. Where do these messed-up people come from? And why does he care about the fate of the earth or the survival of any living things, based on his worldview? One day our sun will die and become a red giant. Its corona will expand beyond the orbit of the earth and sterilize our planet of all life. At that point nothing will have mattered or have made any sense, in Pianka’s nihilistic universe.

  3. 3
    crandaddy says:

    According to Wikipedia, this is what ebola does to a person: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebola#Symptoms. If this information is correct, the infected person would experience an especially painful death. I’m not surprised by Dr. Pianka’s proposal, though. This is just the sort of thinking you get when you mix neo-Darwinian evolution with nihilism.

  4. 4
    crandaddy says:

    If Pianka’s plan is to be carried out, I think he should be the first one infected! 😆

  5. 5
    carbon14atom says:

    from nearly a mandate to die, as opposed to right to die, seemingly becoming more prevalent (in europe at any rate)after a certain age or disability level (arbitrarily set case by case? I don’t know) and from various news articles, usually bottom of the column behind the classified ads (well, figuratively speaking) I would guess that we are also moving towards mandatory abortion if the child has a defect, I see what is in my mind the very beginnings of that move, now this.
    Philosophically speaking, YIKES!!! I’ve done a lot of things, as a former member of the military, I lived for the better part of a decade under the shadow of having to “face” some of the “worst” people in the world, having to put my life in harms way. This man, this Dr. Doom guy, he scares me, more than any terrorist with a bomb, more than any sniper or artillery round or grenade or anything else in this world, THIS guy scares me…and the fact that apparently, nearly the entire audience in attendance gave the man such a resounding ovation, that terrifies me into near incoherence that is worse than usual

  6. 6
    DaveScot says:

    This is why I avoid going downtown. Pianca is trying to be a poster boy for the Keep Austin Weird movement. He’s got a ways to go yet. The movement however has been quite successful.

  7. 7
    DaveScot says:

    Upon further reflection, if the ebola virus wiped out 90% of humanity, those left over wouldn’t have to listen to the loony left constantly carping about global warming.

    So you see, every cloud DOES have a silver lining. 🙂

  8. 8
    Mats says:

    I was just reading the article and I am totally horrified.

    “Must now we worry that a Pianka-worshipping former student might someday become a professional biologist or physician with access to the most deadly strains of viruses and bacteria?”

    Yes!

  9. 9
    tb says:

    Hey why not just kill everybody that does not have blue eyes and blond hair? Will history repeat itself, Adolf Pianka? Amazing sheit, and scary, I mean really scary! I guess gas chambers were not fast enough either, it only killed 7 Million at times. I guess they will call it guided Natural Selection.

  10. 10
    DaveScot says:

    tb

    Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Why would a Darwinian be so blind to the power of selection? Ebola rained down from above would kill the smart as well as the stupid, the strong as well as the weak. I’m thinking, hey, as long as we’re talking about how to fix a problem why not take the initiative. This is what Marines do, take the initiative. So instead of ebola raining down from above how about MIRVs raining down from above. We’ve already got enough and according to the loony left someone ready to do it with his finger on “the button”. This solves yet another problem at the same time – nuclear proliferation. Use ’em or lose ’em! Someone run this by Pianka for me to see what he thinks. I need a mass extermination Darwinian expert’s opinion on this. Maybe he can help work out a good target list.

  11. 11
    BarryA says:

    DaveScot

    Your solution also solves another problem — global warming. Remember in the 80’s how Sagan was running around spewing about nuclear winter. Well, if the left is right about global warming now and they were right about nuclear winter then, if one combines the two one gets “global just right.”

  12. 12
    apollo230 says:

    If Darwinian ideas had anything to do with Dr. Pianka’s alleged remarks, then I believe that it’s his interpretation of Darwinism, rather than Darwinism itself, that should be held responsible for his outbursts. Darwinism by itself is just a mental construct – a bunch of ideas. Conclusions derived from and read into a philosophy inspire people’s words (and actions) – not the actual philosophy itself.

    There are lots of Darwinists out there, but clearly not all of them are Nazis. While most of them conclude that only the fittest in nature survive, only a few take that a step further to state “only the fittest should survive”. Since most Darwinists are average “Joes and Josephines” exactly like us, and spawn no more evil than Democrats, Republicans, religious folk or atheists, I strongly believe that Dr. Pianka represents at most a Darwinist fringe rather than its mainstream.

    “Dr. Doom” is conceivable outside of evolutionary theory. History shows time and again that people/groups have used diverse ideologies – scientific, political and “religious” -to craft and execute genocidal plans.

    I am confident that most visitors to this discussion thread feel the same way I do. These words are only intended for those inclined to tar all Darwinists with the same brush.
    Best regards,
    apollo230

  13. 13
    bFast says:

    If genocidal maniacs had never ravaged populations I would be willing to pass this guy off as a quack. However memories of Hitler’s treatment of the jews rings in my ear.

  14. 14
    DonaldM says:

    If guys like Pianka are right and we’re nothing more than the end product of a blind, purposeless process that “did not have us in mind”, then the answer to the question ‘what does it mean to be human’ is “not much”! So, it should come as no surprise that Pianka and those of his ilk would advocate something as strange as offing half the humans on earth with a deadly virus. After all, humans just don’t mean all that much.

    As a matter of logic, though, Pianka seems to overlook a few details. If his worldview is correct, then not only are humans not all that important, neither is any other life form, so what difference does it make if humans are messing things up for other life forms? For that matter, what difference does it make if we mess things up for future generations of humans? Since we’re not that special to start with, why be concerned at all for the well being of other humans, especially those who haven’t arrived yet? Pianka obviously wants to employ a moral argument, but he has no basis upon which to ground the morality to which he appeals. It might make him feel good to think that way, but he certainly can’t claim that this is something others [i]ought[/i] to think as well.

    Further, it seems pretty clear that the group of humans he would eliminate via ebola (or something like it) would not include himself. So, why ought he get to survive while millions of others perish? Perhaps he has some criterion in mind to determine who ought to live and who ought to die, but if so he hasn’t shared it. Whatever the case, it seems pretty clear that his position is one of extreme prejudice.

    Pianka needs to read Charles Dickens:

    “Spirit,” said Scrooge, with an interest he had never felt before,”tell me if Tiny Tim will live.”

    “I see a vacant seat,” replied the Ghost, “in the poor chimney-corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die.”

    “No, no,” said Scrooge. “Oh, no, kind Spirit. Say he will be spared.”

    “If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race,” returned the Ghost, “will find him here. What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

    Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and grief.

    “Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God! To hear the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust.”

    From [i]A Christmas Carol[/i] by Charles Dickens

  15. 15
    DaveScot says:

    BarryA

    Good point. If global warming is such a big problem and popping off thousands of nukes will cause a nuclear winter, shouldn’t popping off a few hundred nukes just serve to arrest global warming in its tracks? We shouldn’t even have to do it all at once. We could do like 50 per year and measure the effect each year. The Gobi would be the perfect place. Nothing lives there so it won’t make much difference if a few billion tons of Gobi sand is turned into stratospheric dust.

    Why hasn’t anyone suggested this before?

    Say, this is off topic but did you know you can rearrange the letters in “Darwinists” to spell “Rats, ID wins”. Spooky.

    I don’t think your nuclear cooling plan would be such a good idea. What about fallout? Like your discovery, BTW! :)–Crandaddy

  16. 16
    GlennJ - Houston says:

    Would Pianka consider other ways to help remove a significant numbers of the population from the earth?

    For example, Pianka could become a Christian and help evangelize the remainder of the world. According to several N.T. scriptures, at the moment the gospel reaches the last set of ears at the ends of the earth, the rapture will occur which instantaneously will remove millions, if not billions, of (mostly rightwinger) people from the earth. He doesn’t have to STAY a Christian if he doesn’t want once it becomes clear the event is near.

    Maybe this is a thought he hasn’t considered. Maybe if he knew about this prophesy, he might think Christianity is not so bad after all.

    Just a thought.

  17. 17
    BarryA says:

    DonaldM

    You are on to something very important here. You say:

    “Pianka obviously wants to employ a moral argument, but he has no basis upon which to ground the morality to which he appeals.”

    According to the Census Bureau’s population clock, the world’s population today is 6,507,315,652. Pianka advocates killing 90% of those people or 5,856,584,087.

    The only conceivable reason Pianka would advocate killing over 5.8 billion people is because he thinks it is a “good” thing. But he does not mean “good” in the normal sense of comporting to a transcendent moral standard. He means “good” in the Nietzschean sense of the “over” or “upper” man (ubermensch). But over 60 years ago G.K. Chesterton explained how Nietzsche’s idea rapidly collapses in on itself. In “Orthodoxy” he wrote:

    “Nietzsche always escaped a question by a physical metaphor, like a cheery minor poet. He said, ‘beyond good and evil,’ because he had not the courage to say, ‘more good than good and evil,’ or, ‘more evil than good and evil.’ Had he faced his thought without metaphors, he would have seen that it was nonsense. So, when he describes his hero, he does not dare to say, ‘the purer man,’ or ‘the happier man,’ or ‘the sadder man,’ for all these are ideas; and ideas are alarming. He says ‘the upper man,’ or ‘over man,’ a physical metaphor from acrobats or alpine climbers. Nietzsche is truly a very timid thinker.”

    So you are right. We cannot escape moral categories by trying to bury them in metaphor. The existence of these categories is a stubborn fact, and in the final analysis it comes down to this: Pianka is saying it would be good to do something that is evil, or, more simply still, he is saying “good = not good.” Yes, that’s right. His statement violates the law of noncontradiction.

  18. 18
    Zoli's Blog says:

    Dr Doom Plans to Save Earth by Wiping Out 90% of Humans

    I am so shocked, I don’t find the right words.  I’d like to hope it’s a hoax… one scientist can go mad, but the entire Texas Academy of Science giving a standing ovation to this nutcase would-be mass murderer?    WTF?Dr. Eri…

  19. 19
    crandaddy says:

    For all his raving lunacy, Nietzsche actually made one good point: Moral paradigms are necessarily fused to metaphysical worldviews; good and evil don’t exist in a worldview that doesn’t define them. To be sure, the nihilist can behave any way (s)he wants, but any notion of good or evil is completely meaningless.

  20. 20
    physicist says:

    Am I the only person here who wonders if his remarks were taken out of context?

    I don’t know anything about Pianka, and perhaps others here know his work and previous comments. But it seems highly unlikely that the vast majority of members of the Texas academy of science advocate killing 90% of people with Ebola. Really, really unlikely.

    It’s difficult to tell without seeing the speech, but perhaps Pianka was making some completely different point, and not seriously suggesting killing people? Just a thought.

  21. 21
    kvwells says:

    Seems that nothing feeds the ego of the Academia Nut like the delusion of having an Original Solution to some global issue. The more outrageous the idea, the more originality is assured. And with the intellectual climate being what it is these days in the U.S., one is guaranteed a hearing (even an ovation, if you offend parochial values deeply enough). Lewis’ That Hideous Strength reflects this, I think. The problem is when the student is infected by the madness.

  22. 22
    physicist says:

    Oh, I see the date this appeared on.

  23. 23
    Patrick says:

    Am I the only person here who wonders if his remarks were taken out of context?

    It’s difficult to tell without seeing the speech, but perhaps Pianka was making some completely different point, and not seriously suggesting killing people?

    I agree completely and that’s why I’d like to see an unedited transcript of his speech. But as I stated in another thread the problem is that students are coming out of his classes with comments like this:

    In his last e-mail, Pianka wrote that I completely fail to understand his arguments. So I did a check and found verification of my interpretation of his remarks on his own web site. In a student evaluation of a 2004 course he taught, one of Professor Pianka’s students wrote, “Though I agree that convervation [sic] biology is of utmost importance to the world, I do not think that preaching that 90% of the human population should die of ebola [sic] is the most effective means of encouraging conservation awareness.” (Go here and scroll down to just before the Fall 2005 evaluation section near the end.)

    Yet the majority of his student reviews were favorable, with one even saying, “ I worship Dr. Pianka.”

    So obviously I’m a bit skeptical of Pianka’s backpedalling and the claim that he’s just being misunderstood.

  24. 24
    physicist says:

    Dear Patrick,

    Let me separate this into two points. One is the issue of the veracity of Forrest Mimms’ report of what Pianka said at the meeting. I too would prefer to read the transcript of the speech before commenting.

    However, it actually shocks me that the vast majority of readers commenting on these threads find it so easy to believe that the `vast majority’ of Texan scientists were vigorously applauding a call to mass murder. For me, such a claim is extremely unlikely, and casts a huge element of doubt on Mimms report. Obviously, others here find it very easy to believe that this is the kind of thing that scientists support.

    The second issue is about Pianka’s views in general. In the blogosphere, the main evidence for this seems to be similar to yours—the student evaluation reports. However, again I would doubt that the `majority’ of his students agree with wiping out 90% of the population, which to me casts some doubt on the single student’s report you have quoted.

    What strikes me is that Pianka seems to make comments which are easy to quote out of context. Maybe he is advocating mass murder, I don’t know—but for the above reasons I’ll reserve judgement. Again, I’m shocked that more people here are so quick to believe the worst! Not only of Pianka but of scientists in general.

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