Pharyngula

The swiftboating of Eric Pianka

Pianka speaks out. Nick Matzke has a good post on Pianka at the Thumb, addressing the smear campaign against him*. He links to an interview with the good Dr—what he’s saying is simple sense, common in the biological community, and he’s not endorsing mass murder…he’s talking about conservation and planning ahead. Mims is a “crazy kook” who distorted the story and turned it into screaming match.

Get used to it. This is part of the right-wing strategy to attack the academy: when scientists honestly state bad news (and there is much bad news, and it’s growing), they are going to be rabidly accused of all kinds of outrageous crimes. It’s the new McCarthyism. The majority of us do not support short-sighted policy, we don’t endorse jingoism, we are going to urge people to think before acting, we are going to predict the consequences of bad policy, and we are generally going to be critical of demagogues and fools…and that is being treated as a crime.

*Quite unlike the situation with Paul Mirecki; I can’t help but interpret this to mean you’re going to be left twisting in the wind if the right-wing mobs try to lynch you, and you admit you’re godless.

Comments

  1. #1 Mr. Upright
    April 4, 2006

    New McCarthyism? If we’re not careful, it’ll be a new “Cultural Revolution”!

  2. #2 Tom Ames
    April 4, 2006

    Any idea if the swift-boating of Pinaka was planned beyond the vindictive mind of WAD? The same PR firm that did in Kerry’s candidacy has been hired by the DI. Might Dembski be following part of a coordinated campaign?

  3. #3 Corkscrew
    April 4, 2006

    Certainly it’s being treated as a crime by the demagogues and fools. It was ever thus.

  4. #4 That Girl
    April 4, 2006

    I am not godless and I will defend you to the upmost!

  5. #5 mathpants
    April 4, 2006

    the interview mentions an unnamed “rival scientist” to Pinaka. Please tell me they don’t mean Dembski? Cuz that would play really well into the image of science as cranks flinging poop.

  6. #6 PZ Myers
    April 4, 2006

    I think he was referring to Mims.

  7. #7 wamba
    April 4, 2006

    we don’t endorse jingoism

    Speak for yourself. Wamba endorses jingoism, at his usual rates.

    Jingoism. It’s what for breakfast.

    I’d walk a mile for a Jingo.

    Jingoism will make your teeth whiter and your breath fresher.

    You know where to send the check.

  8. #8 BlueIndependent
    April 4, 2006

    I wonder why, with each passing day, I wish I was Vulcan …

  9. #9 David Wilford
    April 4, 2006

    While I don’t agree with Pinaka’s analysis of the ecological problems we face (it’s bad, but it’s not that bad quite yet, IMO), it is no crime to be a Cassandra either. I hope Dembski’s descent into jingoism is a cautionary tale to others in academia to not let your own personal vendettas get the better of you online, because the internet never forgets.

  10. #10 Caledonian
    April 4, 2006

    That’s it, BlueIndependent. Come over to the green side.

  11. #11 Elizabeth
    April 4, 2006

    It’s pretty easy for Pianka to deny what he said once the heat was on. I’ve observed comments in this blog and others from students of Pianka who agree that he has long stated that he looks forward with satisfaction to the reduction of the human race by 90% via disease.

    We’ll probably never know the truth of how he said what he said, now that the issue has been co-opted by the haters on both sides. “Christians are radical anti-science nutjobs!” “Atheists are a danger to humanity and worship science at the expense of morals!” Gah.

    While I in no way believe that Pianka is advocating terrorism or any such ridiculous action, I also think the idea that there is a conspiracy out there to “get” him equally ridiculous.

  12. #12 Praedor Atrebates
    April 4, 2006

    I wonder why, with each passing day, I wish I was Vulcan …

    I think you’re in the wrong thread. The one you are looking for is the thread about “GeekProm”.

    You will not only be welcomed, but cheered, when you waltz in wearing a Starfleet uniform.

  13. #13 Tom Ames
    April 4, 2006

    Elizabeth:

    I’m sincerely curious. Do you think that the Swift-boat campaign against Kerry was a conspiracy to “get” him? If not, why not?

    Also, do you find it odd that the DI has hired the same PR firm as supported the “Swift-boat vets”? Do you think it’s out of the realm of the reasonable to wonder if the same forces that directed the PR campaign against Kerry might be at work here?

  14. #14 roger tang
    April 4, 2006

    It’s pretty easy for Pianka to deny what he said once the heat was on. I’ve observed comments in this blog and others from students of Pianka who agree that he has long stated that he looks forward with satisfaction to the reduction of the human race by 90% via disease.

    We’ll probably never know the truth of how he said what he said, now that the issue has been co-opted by the haters on both sides. “Christians are radical anti-science nutjobs!” “Atheists are a danger to humanity and worship science at the expense of morals!” Gah.

    While I in no way believe that Pianka is advocating terrorism or any such ridiculous action, I also think the idea that there is a conspiracy out there to “get” him equally ridiculous.

    Not a conspiracy, but this issue is entirely consistent with the distortions and lies coming from right wing creationist sources.

    This attack on Pianka is entirely indefensible. And swift-boating is entirely accurate.

  15. #15 Praedor Atrebates
    April 4, 2006

    Umm…feeling some personal satisfaction at the thought of an inevitable population decline (due to disease, famine, whatever) because of the harm we as a species are doing to our home is NOT the same as advocating same.

    I welcome a culling for the same reasons but have no desire to see any particular people die. It is a general, theoretical feeling of satisfaction. We as a species getting our comeuppance due to your thoughtless activities against the natural world. Such an onslaught can ONLY come to ill, not only for humans, but for far too many innocent other species as well (the collatoral damage).

    I enjoyed the fall of the Soviet Union even though on the short term it caused great harm and distress to millions in the crumbling union. I’m sorry for them individually but quite happy with the general fall nonetheless.

    I also fully realize that a human species fall could well include ME. So be it. That doesn’t mean I don’t, in general, get a feeling of satisfaction from the idea of schadenfreude: humans getting their broad just deserts for thoughtlessness, greed, profligacy, and selfishness. Totally different from advocating actively bringing about such a result, which Pianka is accused (falsely) of.

    It is objective fact that the environment would do EXTREMELY well should humans fall out of it. There’s a silver lining to all storm clouds.

  16. #16 wamba
    April 4, 2006

    While I in no way believe that Pianka is advocating terrorism or any such ridiculous action, I also think the idea that there is a conspiracy out there to “get” him equally ridiculous.

    Hmm. Well then, how do you explain the death threats received by Pianka and members of the Texas Academy of Sciences? Perhaps it’s just a tornado in a junkyard, randomly combining internet bits until they coalesce as vicious hate-filled e-mails?

  17. #17 CCP
    April 4, 2006

    I’ve met Pianka several times, at herpetology meetings and seminars etc., and he’s a hard-core field biologist with a very dark, Abbeyesque sense of humor. I can picture the affectation of evil gleeful satisfaction, but please. It’s the attack of the irony-immune.

  18. #18 Elizabeth
    April 4, 2006

    Hmm. Well then, how do you explain the death threats received by Pianka and members of the Texas Academy of Sciences? Perhaps it’s just a tornado in a junkyard, randomly combining internet bits until they coalesce as vicious hate-filled e-mails?

    I think it doesn’t take a conspiracy for nutjobs to send death threats; lots of people can read something and have the same reaction without being told what to do. I should also add that there has been no proof, to my knowledge, that the death threats exist.

  19. #19 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    PZ, have you read the comments from Pianka’s supporters? It is obvious that they are in favor of the deaths of several billion people, and view it as a good thing. Even you don’t seem to understand that it would be a bad thing. And yet, you seem to think that people misunderstand. What’s up with that?

  20. #20 roger tang
    April 4, 2006

    PZ, have you read the comments from Pianka’s supporters? It is obvious that they are in favor of the deaths of several billion people, and view it as a good thing.

    Actually, it might be more obvious that you need some help in reading comprehension; they say no such thing.

    Reducing world population from six billion to two billion does NOT mean killing four billion immediately. You do realize that people die eventually? And that reduction doesn’t have to happen at once?

  21. #21 Elizabeth
    April 4, 2006

    Elizabeth:

    I’m sincerely curious. Do you think that the Swift-boat campaign against Kerry was a conspiracy to “get” him? If not, why not?

    Also, do you find it odd that the DI has hired the same PR firm as supported the “Swift-boat vets”? Do you think it’s out of the realm of the reasonable to wonder if the same forces that directed the PR campaign against Kerry might be at work here?

    Posted by: Tom Ames | April 4, 2006 09:45 AM

    I’d prefer not to get into the issue of the Swift Boat controversy. My father is a Vietnam vet (3 tours) active in the vet community, I’m originally from Massachusetts, and I loathe Kerry and his photo-op veteran bullshit as much as I loathe Bush and his apocalyptic stupidity. Politics is always about someone trying to get dirt on someone else – I’m not sure why “swift-boating” (whatever that means) should be considered different from any other day of shenanigans in Washington.

    I don’t even understand what it has to do with the matter at hand. Pianka may or may not (historical statements from his students seem to indicate that he in fact has used similar language in the past) have said he actively anticipates the wiping out of 90% of humanity, and that he supports China’s one-child policy. I don’t see any conspiracy in finding that offensive and undeserving of scientific honor.

    I certainly, as I said earlier, don’t understand why this has become an “OH NOES! CHRISTIANS ARE TEH EVIL!” discussion.

    Here’s my POV, if it’s not clear already:

    1) Whether overpopulation exists or is a problem is certainly a reasonable matter of discussion.

    2) As is the discussion of what mechanisms might come into play to rectify perceived overpopulation.

    3) Being pro-wipeout is not relevant or appropriate to the scientific discussion above.

    4) Being pro-human-rights-violations is not relevant or appropriate to the scientific discussion above.

    5) It is appalling to honor someone who has such disdain for humanity as a whole, as well as individual rights.

    6) Both sides claiming that the others are out to “get” them is unfounded hysteria.

  22. #22 Daniel Martin
    April 4, 2006

    Seth,

    Who are these supporters? I have seen several comments on this blog that are supportive of Prof. Pianka, yet have not seen one that favors mass violent death. The closest I have seen is the general satisfaction expressed above by “Praedor Atrebates” at humans as a species getting their comeuppance.

    While I don’t doubt that if there were in fact people gleefully plotting the imminent mass death of billions those individuals would support Pianka in this matter, I haven’t seen them here. Where are they?

    As for “favoring the deaths of billions”, I have to say that almost everyone does, in the sense that very few people tend to believe that it is wrong that these physical bodies of ours do eventually wear out and we do die. Since there are billions alive right now, and since I do not believe man is ready for physical immortality, does this make me in favor of the deaths of billions?

    Likewise, if I say that a disaster is approaching, and that it is caused to no small extent by the current huge human population, where does that place me?

  23. #23 Adam Ierymenko
    April 4, 2006

    Sorry, but I still think this is a case of nut vs. nut and I don’t think it’s a case of deliberate “swift boating.” To the extent that it’s “swift boating” at all, it’s opportunistic and spontaneous.

    Pianka stuck his foot in his mouth and chewed, and the right wing jumped on it. That’s that. End of story. Unless someone has a record of the talk, or can provide other information to the contrary.

    Eco-doomsday-wackos are just as loony as Dembski and his crowd in my mind.

  24. #24 David Wilford
    April 4, 2006

    As far as I can tell here Elisabeth, Dembski did contact the DHS about Pianka. If that isn’t akin to being out to get someone given what actually transpired, I don’t know what is.

  25. #25 george cauldron
    April 4, 2006

    I think it doesn’t take a conspiracy for nutjobs to send death threats; lots of people can read something and have the same reaction without being told what to do. I should also add that there has been no proof, to my knowledge, that the death threats exist.

    Wow, I just had this flashback to all those people who suggested that maybe Mirecki beat himself up…

  26. #26 Matthew
    April 4, 2006

    McCarthy was a Communist agitator. Who else gave such publicity to the obscure Commie cause? Who gave microphones in Congress to Commie propaganada mouthpieces? Who went out of his way to pick the most charismatic, professional Commie propagandists, Hollywood Commies, for the limelight before a nation prepared by his Congress to treat the Soviet Commies as our closest military allies? Who botched the whole investigation to protect American Commies for generations, giving anticommunism a bad name in America? McCarthy the Commie mastermind.

    The messenger is the message and Ignorance is Strength. Pianka is a bioterrorist. You may now jail me for terrorism.

    BTW, War is Peace and Freedom is Slavery.

  27. #27 Matthew
    April 4, 2006

    I’d prefer not to get into the issue of the Swift Boat controversy. […] I’m not sure why “swift-boating” (whatever that means), should be considered different from any other day of shenanigans in Washington.‘ – Elizabeth

    Elizabeth apparently is not familiar with the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the fake grassroots movement created by Republicans to lie about their Vietnam experience with/near Kerry to discredit his earning the medals that he got for war heroism. Elizabeth is quick to find disgust in a war hero actually claiming credit for his heroism when explaining to Americans why he should represent us during a war, rather than the guy who started the war with a personal military history limited to draft dodging.

    I find it extremely difficult to believe that Elizabeth doesn’t know that “swiftboating” means “organized partisan smearing a politician’s military history”, especially since her father is a Vietnam vet. And especially when she’s posting about politics on a blog that is “Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal“. Even if she’s that ignorant, she has no business – or credibility – shooting off her mouth about attack conspiracies.

    Elizabeth: before you deny someone is being “swiftboated”, learn what the word means, and find out whether the PR team behind the original swiftboaters is also behind the attack on the next person opposing their client’s rightwing agenda. Or even whether just the same tactics are being used for the same result. Otherwise, you’re a swiftboater, too, whether or not you realize it.

  28. #28 That's A Mighty Swift Boat
    April 4, 2006

    The only “swiftboating” I see is against Forrest Mims. You smear him as a “disgruntled Creationist” as if that had any bearing on his reporting of Pianka’s speech. Last time I checked, being a Creationist – disgruntled or otherwise – had no bearing on one’s testimony in a court of law, so why should it have any bearing any place else. You’re all just poisoning the well, that’s all.

    Convenient that the TAS decided to turn off the camera(s) before Pianka’s statements, isn’t it? Had some “disgruntled Creationist” allegedly made some controversial statements and the camera(s) had been turned off and only one atheist evolutionist reported it, you’d all be falling over yourselves to condemn the Creationist and praise the atheist evolutionist. Plus you’d be pissing yourselves silly over the camera(s) being turned off, saying that it was some sort of conspiracy. In short, if the tables were turned, you’d be doing the exact thing the “wingnuts” are doing now.

    As it stands, the only way this all might be cleared up is if Pianka produces his speech notes. Of course, there’s really no way now to guarantee that they’d be the original notes. Again, convenient.

  29. #29 Elizabeth
    April 4, 2006

    Otherwise, you’re a swiftboater, too, whether or not you realize it.

    So let me get this straight – I’m part of a conspiracy even if I don’t know it?

    That sounds pretty paranoid to me.

    I’m addressing the points I made above. If you insist on merging every comment or opinion abount Pianka’s speech into a giant perceived smear campaign, I don’t know what else to say. If I deny it, I’m a member of the conspiracy, and if I admit it, I’m a member of the conspiracy. :^P

    I can disagree with Pianka and find his attitude reprehensible without joining a discussion about “teh evil republicans and how they’re out to get us!” Or maybe not, on this blog.

  30. #30 David Wilford
    April 4, 2006

    Elisabeth, your failure to at least note in passing what William Dembski did regarding his reporting of Pinaka to the DHS is rather telling, as that is a very concrete example of at least one person who is out to get Pinaka.

  31. #31 Elizabeth
    April 4, 2006

    PZ, have you read the comments from Pianka’s supporters? It is obvious that they are in favor of the deaths of several billion people, and view it as a good thing.

    Actually, it might be more obvious that you need some help in reading comprehension; they say no such thing.

    […]

    Posted by: roger tang | April 4, 2006 10:17 AM

    From http://brenmccnnll.blogspot.com/2006/03/dr.html :

    …the bulk of his talk was that he’s waiting for the virus that will eventually arise and kill off 90% of human population. In fact, his hope, if you can call it that, is that the ebola virus which attacks humans currently (but only through blood transmission) will mutate with the ebola virus that attacks monkeys airborne to create an airborne ebola virus that attacks humans. He’s a radical thinker, that one! I mean, he’s basically advocating for the death of all but 10% of the current population! And at the risk of sounding just as radical, I think he’s right.

  32. #32 roger tang
    April 4, 2006

    So let me get this straight – I’m part of a conspiracy even if I don’t know it?

    Perhaps it would be clearer if he said, “You’re thinking sloppily, making poor rhetorical arguments and filtering your arguments through ideological lenses.”

    What Mims says Pianka’s speech is about and what people there did and say it’s about don’t seem congruent.

  33. #33 roger tang
    April 4, 2006

    Elizabeth, read the rest of the blog. It’s not saying what you’re claiming it does.

  34. #34 Elizabeth
    April 4, 2006

    Elisabeth, your failure to at least note in passing what William Dembski did regarding his reporting of Pinaka to the DHS is rather telling, as that is a very concrete example of at least one person who is out to get Pinaka.

    I’m sorry; then let me address that. Dembski is an idiot. He may in fact be out to “get” Pianka. That does not mean that there is a conspiracy out to get Pianka, which is what’s being claimed here (please go back and read my original entry).

  35. #35 Elizabeth
    April 4, 2006

    Roger, here’s another quote from that blog.

    We need to decline in population. A virus is probably the fairest method of extermination (though still not completely fair, I admit) because it’s nondiscriminatory as to whom it targets.

  36. #36 wamba
    April 4, 2006

    The only “swiftboating” I see is against Forrest Mims. You smear him as a “disgruntled Creationist” as if that had any bearing on his reporting of Pianka’s speech. Last time I checked, being a Creationist – disgruntled or otherwise – had no bearing on one’s testimony in a court of law, so why should it have any bearing any place else. You’re all just poisoning the well, that’s all…

    Being a Creationist entails denial and distortion of scientific evidence. If the Creationist well has been poisoned, they did it to themselves.

  37. #37 Bored Huge Krill
    April 4, 2006

    oddly, I haven’t seen anybody point out one rather salient fact about this little discussion, and where it started (apologies if they did and I missed it; there’s a rather large volume of posts on the various threads):

    It just so happens, by a gigantic coincidence, that Forrest M Mims is a fellow of the Discovery Institute Center for Science and Culture.

    Not that I’m suggesting anything orchestrated or anything. Just an observation about what a small world it is.

  38. #38 Elizabeth
    April 4, 2006

    BHK – It has been mentioned a number of times. That’s part of what the conspiracy theories are based on. Association with DI apparently doesn’t just mean you’re an idiot, it also means you’re diabolical and obsessed with taking down all real scientists.

  39. #39 David Wilford
    April 4, 2006

    [i]I’m sorry; then let me address that. Dembski is an idiot. He may in fact be out to “get” Pianka. That does not mean that there is a conspiracy out to get Pianka, which is what’s being claimed here (please go back and read my original entry).[/i]

    Well, Dembski is hardly the only one who is at work here. A conspiracy can be quite open and still be a conspiracy, as long as those who participate in it disavow it when asked directly about their involvement. (The “Know-Nothings” come to mind as the American archetypal example of this.) Given how the slanders against Pianka have spread so quickly on the internet based on little more than hearsay said over and over and over again, I think you miss seeing what is in fact an intentional smear campaign by those with the usual axes to grind.

  40. #40 That's A Mighty Swift Boat
    April 4, 2006

    Being a Creationist entails denial and distortion of scientific evidence. If the Creationist well has been poisoned, they did it to themselves.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! As I said, you’re poisoning the well.

    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/poisoning-the-well.html

    I’m not at all surprised that you can’t admit it. Even if you could admit it, I’m sure you’d be proud of it.

  41. #41 craig
    April 4, 2006

    a couple of observations…

    I don’t think there’s a conspiracy. A conspiracy implies hidden communications, plotting, secrecy, etc…

    I think it has been made perfectly clear in the last few years that right-wingers, christofascists, corporations, etc… don’t NEED conspiracies. Why bother to have a conspiracy when the media isn’t caling you on it, and the public is apathetic anyway?

    Secondly, in light of the lack of people here advocating the death of billions of humans, let me be the first to do so.

    I advocate the eventual death of every single person currently living on this planet. Hell, I’ll go further than that – I advocate the eventual death of every single organism currently living on this planet – and the eventual death of each of their descendants.

  42. #42 Elizabeth
    April 4, 2006

    David – I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree; it seems perhaps our difference lies in the understanding of the term “conspiracy.”

  43. #43 4sinz
    April 4, 2006

    Elizabeth, earlier:“Association with DI apparently doesn’t just mean you’re an idiot, it also means you’re diabolical and obsessed with taking down all real scientists.

    We’re glad you finally get it.

    Discovery Institute’s Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.

    and

    Twenty Year Goals

    * To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.
    * To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its innuence in the fine arts.
    * To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.

    http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html

  44. #44 Norman Doering
    April 4, 2006

    Quoted by Elizabeth:
    From http://brenmccnnll.blogspot.com/2006/03/dr.html :
    …the bulk of his talk was that he’s waiting for the virus that will eventually arise and kill off 90% of human population. In fact, his hope, if you can call it that, is that the ebola virus which attacks humans currently (but only through blood transmission) will mutate with the ebola virus that attacks monkeys airborne to create an airborne ebola virus that attacks humans. He’s a radical thinker, that one! I mean, he’s basically advocating for the death of all but 10% of the current population! And at the risk of sounding just as radical, I think he’s right.

    There is a Hitchcock movie called “Rope” where a proffesor was teaching students about Nitezsche and that uberman thing and they took the whole idea a little too seriously and killed another kid to get passed their moral prohibitions. Eventually the teacher catches them and claims “That’s not what I meant!” and they protest it was indeed what he had taught them.

    I could see that possibility in what Eric Pianka is saying — someone might take it too seriously and actually do something.

    However, not talking about these ideas and possibilities is not the answer. They have to be talked about and explored. These are real questions and real possibilities. Increasing the human population is putting us at risk for all sorts of things — more mutation of virii and germs in us, large carbon footprint of the human race, consumption of resources that can’t be easily replaced… To not talk about these things is to live in denial.

    But yes, we should somehow emphasize that we must committ ourselves to better solutions than murder.

  45. #45 Alex
    April 4, 2006

    I have to agree with Elizabeth. I’m hard-pressed to interpret this as a conspiracy, at least in the sense of a centrally-organized effort.

    Instead it looks like a bunch of right-wing bigots, none of whom actually attended the talk or know what Pianka said, are mistaking their pre-existing stereotype of an imaginary evil professor for the actual guy. There are quite a lot of them building up in the echo-chambers, so the effect can be similar to a conspiracy. But I don’t see any evidence that is actually *is* a conspiracy.

  46. #46 Ambassador Gav
    April 4, 2006

    “I wonder why, with each passing day, I wish I was Vulcan …”

    Because (I suspect) most humans suck…

  47. #47 minimalist
    April 4, 2006

    Alex,

    I think you hit the nail on the head. When gaggles of likeminded folk get together, a shared viewpoint can quickly become an echo chamber — and soon after that, a feeding frenzy. They get to encourage each other’s fantasies with no outsider input to contradict them; or if there is any, they can be banned easily. It’s more a property of human nature than an active conspiracy.

    This is how deviant internet subcultures arise, such as furries or FreeRepublic.

  48. #48 Elizabeth
    April 4, 2006

    Heh.. I think a version of Godwin’s Law should exist for invoking the furry phenomenon. ;^)

  49. #49 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    I advocate the eventual death of every single person currently living on this planet. Hell, I’ll go further than that – I advocate the eventual death of every single organism currently living on this planet – and the eventual death of each of their descendants.

    Okay, fair enough. The mortality rate is 100%. But I think its also clear that Pianka and others are not talking about this, they are suggesting that a sudden, precipitous decline in human population would be a good and beneficial thing, when clearly, from a perspective that values human life and the continuance of our genetic lines, it is not clear that this is true.

  50. #50 Splash
    April 4, 2006

    The Discovery Institute and the Creationists are rebelling against nothing less than the Western Enlightenment.

    They are a disgrace and a danger, they must be stopped, and one way or the other, I certainly believe they WILL be stopped. Sideshows like this little scenario (which certainly does have the appearance of a Swift-boat type campaign) are just a distraction from the real issue here – the attempted domination of society by a large, well funded group of paranoid, vengeful kooks who fear whatever they dont understand.

    There is nothing “conspiratorial” about the movement to reverse the Western Enlightenment. It is right there, out in the open, for all to see, and as far as Im concerned any incident like this has to be seen, without more information, as a likely manifestation of it.

    Launching fake or contrived news reports that seem to marginalize dissenting political groups is standard psy-ops. And the psy-ops flame is being stoked right now. Am I paranoid? Go here:

    http://www.sundayherald.com/54975
    .

  51. #51 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    The mortality rate is 100%. But I think its also clear that Pianka and others are not talking about this, they are suggesting that a sudden, precipitous decline in human population would be a good and beneficial thing, when clearly, from a perspective that values human life and the continuance of our genetic lines, it is not clear that this is true.

    The continuance of our genetic lines?

    Hitler would be proud of you, Seth.

    All this hand-wringing over Pianka reminds me of the way the fundie losers get their long johns knotted up over Dr. Singer.

    You see, folks, in the minds of the fundies, if you ain’t reciting a script about “each human life is sacred” then you’re in league with Horned One.

    The problem, Seth, is that Pianka isn’t talking metaphysics. He’s talking about reality. The reality is there is a finite amount of space on the earth for humans, who are relatively large animals and who require a serious chunk of resources.

    Either humans stop reproducing at their present rate or a catastrophe will EVENTUALLY occur.

    This is reality.

    And please don’t tell me about the space ships that are going to take us all to the moon and Mars.

  52. #52 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    There is a Hitchcock movie called “Rope” where a proffesor was teaching students about Nitezsche and that uberman thing and they took the whole idea a little too seriously and killed another kid to get passed their moral prohibitions. Eventually the teacher catches them and claims “That’s not what I meant!” and they protest it was indeed what he had taught them.

    I could see that possibility in what Eric Pianka is saying — someone might take it too seriously and actually do something.

    Like drop a couple of atomic bombs on civilians?

    Yeah, that’s possible.

    It’s a good thing that only peaceful countries like the United States have tons of atomic weapons. Isn’t it?

  53. #53 That's A Mighty Swift Boat
    April 4, 2006

    The Discovery Institute and the Creationists are rebelling against nothing less than the Western Enlightenment.

    They are a disgrace and a danger, they must be stopped, and one way or the other, I certainly believe they WILL be stopped.

    I can imagine similar things being said about Galileo by the other scientists of his day (who were, incidentally, the primary opponents to his scientific discoveries about the nature of the solar system – the Church just went along with what they said). Galileo rebelled against the “enlightenment” or “inherited wisdome” of the ancient Greeks. I’m sure he was called “a disgrace and a danger” and scientists called for him to be “stopped, and one way or the other.”

  54. #54 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    PZ, have you read the comments from Pianka’s supporters? It is obvious that they are in favor of the deaths of several billion people, and view it as a good thing.

    The Christian deity is in favor of the deaths of even more people than that.

    We can infer this with 100% certainty because holy scripture tells us that the Christian deity is omnipotent and he chose to design humans so that we die easily.

    Every day millions of humans die, according to God’s alleged plan.

    And yet the vast majority of us manage to get up and enjoy breakfast every day.

    Isn’t life a ball?

    Now if only the fundies would all go to Fundietown and mind their own business.

  55. #55 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    Galileo rebelled against the “enlightenment” or “inherited wisdom” of the ancient Greeks.

    Not entirely. Galileo was fond of Greek feta and olives, and ate a Greek salad at least once a week.

  56. #56 Kristine
    April 4, 2006

    “I can imagine similar things being said about Galileo by the other scientists of his day (who were, incidentally, the primary opponents to his scientific discoveries about the nature of the solar system – the Church just went along with what they said).”

    Assuming that you assessment is accurate at all, and I don’t think that it is, that only points out the danger of scientists being entangled with theology (there were no professional scientists as we now know them in Galileo’s time). Even in Darwin’s day, one had to pursue a degree in theology and latin in order to study science, unless one did it on one’s own (and was destitute).

    Galileo’s view prevailed because of the overwhelming evidence for it. That is also the point. That scientists are human, can have knee-jerk reactions, is eventually corrected by the scientific method just as the fact that presidents who want to be dictators is eventually corrected by the separation of powers (assuming we Americans rouse ourselves from the stupor that we’ve been in for the last 5 years).

    The Deception Institute offers nothing but lies and attacks in pursuit of its stated purpose of waging a culture war. If intelligent [sic] design were about science, then it would be about peer review and research, and not try to be a youth movement, or a “culture war” [Dembski], and we wouldn’t see any more websites, press releases, church rallies, or these repulsive, irresponsible, self-congratulatory antics from William Dembski & Co.!

  57. #57 Boosterz
    April 4, 2006

    I can imagine similar things being said about Galileo by the other scientists of his day (who were, incidentally, the primary opponents to his scientific discoveries about the nature of the solar system – the Church just went along with what they said). Galileo rebelled against the “enlightenment” or “inherited wisdome” of the ancient Greeks. I’m sure he was called “a disgrace and a danger” and scientists called for him to be “stopped, and one way or the other.”

    That’s the single biggest load of horse shit I’ve seen all day.

    Quickie question for ya bub, were the other “scientists” that you say were calling for Galileo to be stopped the same guys holding the red hot pokers and wearing the funny hats?

  58. #58 george cauldron
    April 4, 2006

    I have to agree with Elizabeth. I’m hard-pressed to interpret this as a conspiracy, at least in the sense of a centrally-organized effort.

    I think the phrase ‘spontaneous grass-roots swiftboating’ is accurate.

    It’s also interesting to note that there’s really no tangible gain they can expect to get out of this. No election win or the like. Seems like they’re just doing it to get their rocks off.

  59. #59 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    The continuance of our genetic lines?

    Hitler would be proud of you, Seth.

    All this hand-wringing over Pianka reminds me of the way the fundie losers get their long johns knotted up over Dr. Singer.

    You see, folks, in the minds of the fundies, if you ain’t reciting a script about “each human life is sacred” then you’re in league with Horned One.

    I doubt it. I’m an anarchist and an atheist, so I’m pretty much Hitler’s second least favorite kind of person. Thinking that the continuation of a large and diverse human population is good isn’t exactly Nazism, its more like the exact antithesis of Nazism. And thinking that a population crash is a bad thing is not christian fundamentalism, it is the polar opposite of christian fundamentalism.

    And P. definitely isn’t talking reality at all. Reality would be that there MAY be a crash if we don’t take steps. I didn’t notice him advocating any reasonable steps, instead, he advocates the calamity.

    This is a bad and evil point of view, from a humanist standpoint.

  60. #60 Bored Huge Krill
    April 4, 2006

    BHK – It has been mentioned a number of times. That’s part of what the conspiracy theories are based on. Association with DI apparently doesn’t just mean you’re an idiot, it also means you’re diabolical and obsessed with taking down all real scientists.

    Ok. I hadn’t actually seen this mentioned anywhere, although I had seen references to Mims as a creationist. An aside – arguably more semantics, but I wouldn’t describe him as merely associated with the DI.

    I think that, as noted by several others, there’s a semantic disconnect about the precise meaning of the word “conspiracy”; specifically surrounding whether what is going on here is a secret. For sure, I don’t see anything exactly secret, as such, but consider this:

    Mims and Pianka aren’t exactly best of friends, as far as we can tell, and they certainly are well known to each other (Pianka says that Mims is “out to get him”, but I can’t find a primary source for that).

    Mims attends a lecture by Pianka, and is quoted in an article which apparently misrepresents Pianka, and includes many inflammatory interpretations by Mims.

    Dembski copies the text of said article into his blog post (I thought he gave up posting on his blog?), uncritically promoting contents thereof (no attempt made to locate a primary source of what was actually said), talks about reporting Pianka to DHS (and claims he actually has), but doesn’t disclose the fact that Mims is also a DI fellow.

    I agree that “conspiracy” is probably the wrong word to use here. I would say that, at best, this is extremely sloppy commentary by Dembski.

  61. #61 T_U_T
    April 4, 2006

    Galileo rebelled against the “enlightenment” or “inherited wisdome” of the ancient Greeks. I’m sure he was called “a disgrace and a danger” and scientists called for him to be “stopped, and one way or the other.”

    You are writing from an alternate reality, aren’t you ?

  62. #62 SkookumPlanet
    April 4, 2006

    Abstract: Faculty [and campus] are on the same path the Kerry campaign followed to swiftboat disaster.

    PLAN AHEad

    Let’s start with campus. Here’s a detailed analysis of the far right’s campaign to overwhelm progressive college students, Why Conservatives are Winning the Campus Wars. Remember, all that detail [and all that money] accounts for one skirmish [organizing students, framing student thinking], in one battle [fighting for control of colleges], in the larger war [fighting for control of the U.S.].

    What is the equivilant counter campaign doing? Doubt there is one. Who’s designing the strategy and tactics that will comprise a counter campaign? Doubt there is anyone. Who’s thinking about getting such design work underway? Doubt there is anyone. Who’s talking about the need to plan realistic defenses? Just me so far.

    All the weapons and wealth discussed at the link above is just for students!

    For faculty, one important goal the right soon pursue is making academic employment contingent on politics. Listen to the mouthpieces; the skirmishers have already been sent out. I’ll give it a campaign name Target Tenure. Faculty, they want state legislatures to meddle in your job, your research, and so, your public speech. It’s dangerous to think they can’t do this. With all three branches, state and feds, anything on their to-do list is possible.

    Current anti-faculty rhetoric is not a new iteration of McCarthyism. These guys have it figured out much more ruthlessly. They identified tenure as the key. McCarthyesque signs are symptoms, distractions, warm-up for a drawn-out national psychomarketing campaign. Target Tenure.

    Again, where is the counter-campaign, organizers, thinkers, fundraisers, insight? Here’s what not planning ahead gets you —

    Swiftboated!

    There was an even deeper flaw than the reported inner paralysis in Kerry’s campaign about responding to the Swift attack. It was predictable! Content, approach, people, onscreen and off, all happened years before! It was a RERUN!

    Because Kerry wisely ran right at Bush’s strength, **War President**, a counterattack was inevitable. A psychomarketing approach to the predictable attack would be preparing, months in advance, a counter-counterattack-ad campaign in modular form — a few different strategies and scripts ready to launch, pre-recorded voice-overs, 5- and 10-second filmed bios on those behind and in it, footage of the previous Nixon-era attacks, all filmed multiple ways, all ready to load into a film editor so that 10-, 15-, 30- and 60-second counter programming could be constructed in a weekend. If the preparations aren’t used, it’s a pitance of the campaign’s expenses. For once, the Democrats had the money to do this.

    INSTEAD, the Democrats became talking heads mouthing denials, not against other talking heads, but opposite a carefully designed and constructed, dramatic mini-movie that ran on an endless loop.

    The outcome of such a matchup is a no-brainer.

    To add insult to injury, the Texas swiftboat financiers got national saturation coverage spending $250,000[?] in a few local television markets. This is psychomarketing, done the right way and the wrong way. Is this getting through to you?

    The far right’s takeover of the U.S. has been one long, giant, multifaceted, 40-year-long psychomarketing campaign!

    Reread previous sentence.

    Swiftboating is a tiny bit of that campaign and Pianka details unimportant other than as fodder for enlightenment.

    The only way available to counteract that is to counter-program, to counter-psychomarket. Stop arguing about whether it’s a conspiracy, or bemoaning stupid Texans, or being irate, or threatening, or defining terms, or . . . It’s CAMPAIGN not CONSPIRACY! They’re counteracted using different tools. You’ve got brains — use’em. Where are the counter-campaigns? The plans? The thoughts. Read the report linked above. Do you really think a disorganized, poorly-funded, business-as-usual, progressive-student approach has a chance in Hell?

    Issues like these are addressed and campaigned on a national level. One creates national campaigns that build environments/realities in citizens’ minds, that are then activated, specified, adapted, and used locally. This is how the winners do it now in the U.S. Lucid, intelligent, persuasion-based, knowledgable counter-campaigns must start somewhere.

    P.S. Those of you who see psychomarketing technology as dishonest, manipulative, appealing to the worst in people, etc., see an ignorant stereotype It doesn’t have to be so! I provide evidence of that at The Intersection.

    Splash —

    This is not a sideshow or distraction. NO WAY! It’s instructional material of the highest caliber, and provides entry onto the only path the can succeed against these deranged people.

    These are representative building blocks of the technology the right has used to engineer the current state of affairs. Exposed. Pay attention.

  63. #63 Splash
    April 4, 2006

    I can imagine similar things being said about Galileo by the other scientists of his day. …

    Well I can imagine that too, and alot of other things. But what matters in science is evidence, especially when it contradicts the imagination. And what the Creationists are doing is trying to nullify the importance of evidence and substitute faith. This is directly at odds with what I call the Western scientific enlightenment, which promotes evidence over faith, induction over deduction, empiricism over rationalism.

    It has to be added that comparing Galileo to the Discovery Institute is a tad bit of a stretch.

  64. #64 HP
    April 4, 2006

    So, the other day I’m on my way into work, and I see a three-year-old child calmly playing with his toy cars in the middle of the interstate during rush hour, while his mother watches from the shoulder. Cars are swerving wildly, trying to avoid both the boy and each other. A few cars have already been sideswiped and spun off into the meridian. There is smoke and the smell of burning oil.

    I pull off the road and I scream at the mother: “Your boy’s going to get killed out there!”

    And she just glares at me coolly and says, “Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

  65. #65 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    And P. definitely isn’t talking reality at all. Reality would be that there MAY be a crash if we don’t take steps. I didn’t notice him advocating any reasonable steps, instead, he advocates the calamity.

    Keep spinning, Seth. As for me, I find Pianka a trivial character (never heard of him before this brou-ha-hah). He can wish for whatever he wants.

    Likewise, Bill Dembski can wish for whatever he wants.

    But let’s look at what Bill Dembski just actually DID: he reported Pianka to the Feds !!!?!?!?!

    End. Of. Story.

    To recap: Pianka = trivial dude in Texas; Dembski = professional peddler for anti-science propaganda, employed by the Discovery Institute, who hires the Swift Boaters.

    Got it, Seth?

    Thanks.

  66. #66 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    I pull off the road and I scream at the mother: “Your boy’s going to get killed out there!”

    And she just glares at me coolly and says, “Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you?”

    Except that the scientist in question is actually EXPRESSING said approval, and that is what people have a problem with.

  67. #67 DrKLD
    April 4, 2006

    “Being a creationist, disgruntled or otherwise, does not impact your testimony in a court of law?” May I suggest you read the Dover judges findings to see what he had to say on this issue. Man irony and ineptitude are not dead but at some point all the low-haning fruit will be gone…won’t it?

  68. #68 plunge
    April 4, 2006

    I find Pianka’s eco-hysteria silly. But I find Mims and Dembski’s right-wing smear hysteria sickening. Guess who’s side I’ll be on in a tussle?

  69. #69 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    Spinning? I’m not spinning… I didn’t call YOU a nazi. I’m saying that we should not DEFEND the person in questions STATEMENTS, not that he should be reported to homeland security.

  70. #70 chemparrot
    April 4, 2006

    Well, I didn’t hear Pianka’s speech, all I can refer to is his webpage up at the UT website. And there, he does not gleefully compare the rates of die-off from one disease versus another, and what would be more efficient to kill us off. What he does say, however, is that overpopulation has contributed to the disruption of the natural systems that protect species from pandemics. Doesn’t sound loony to me.

    What his discreditors are accusing him of sounds like a projection onto Pianka of the character in Frank Herbert’s White Plague, where a scientist whose wife and children are killed in an IRA bombing engineers a virus to kill every woman on the planet. Maybe they read too much science fiction.

  71. #71 Hellesfarne
    April 4, 2006

    What nobody wants to hear, but everyone needs to know

    Eric R. Pianka

    I have two grandchildren and I want them to inherit a stable Earth. But I fear for them. Humans have overpopulated the Earth and in the process have created an ideal nutritional substrate on which bacteria and viruses (microbes) will grow and prosper. We are behaving like bacteria growing on an agar plate, flourishing until natural limits are reached or until another microbe colonizes and takes over, using them as their resource. In addition to our extremely high population density, we are social and mobile, exactly the conditions that favor growth and spread of pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes. I believe it is only a matter of time until microbes once again assert control over our population, since we are unwilling to control it ourselves. This idea has been espoused by ecologists for at least four decades and is nothing new. People just don’t want to hear it.

    Population crashes caused by disease have happened many times in the past. In the 1330s bubonic plague killed one third of the people in Europe’s crowded cities. Smallpox and measles decimated Native Americans when Europeans transported them to the new world. HIV is a relatively new disease wreaking havoc in Africa. Another population crash is inevitable, but the next one will probably be world-wide.

    People think unrealistically because they have lost touch with the natural world. Many people today do not really know where and how our food is produced, and on what our life support systems are based. As we continue paving over natural habitats, many think that we can disrupt and despoil the environment indefinitely. We have already taken half of this planet’s land surface. Per capita shares of all the things that really matter (air, food, soil, and water) are continuously falling. Our economic system is based on the principle of a chain letter: growth, growth, and more growth. Such runaway growth only expands a bubble that cannot be sustained in a finite world. We are running out of virtually everything from oil, food and land to clean air and water.

    Some politicians, economists, and corporations want us to believe that technology will come to our rescue. But we have a false sense of security if we think that science can respond quickly enough to minimize threats from emerging diseases. Microbes have such short lifecycles that they can evolve exceedingly fast, much faster than we can respond to them. Many bacteria have evolved resistance to most antibiotics, and viruses are immune to just about anything. Defense always lags behind offense. So far, modern humans have just been lucky. A reactive approach to problems isn’t enough, we also need to be proactive and anticipate problems before they become too severe to keep them from getting out of control. Many people believe that Earth and all its resources exist solely for human consumption, this is anthropocentrism. We should allow other denizens of this Earth some space to live.

    I do not bear any ill will toward humanity. However, I am convinced that the world WOULD clearly be much better off without so many of us. Simply stopping the destruction of rainforests would help mediate some current planetary ills, including the release of previously unknown pathogens. The ancient Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” comes to mind — we are living in one of the most interesting times humans have ever experienced. For example, consider the manifold effects of global warming. We need to make a transition to a sustainable world. If we don’t, nature is going to do it for us in ways of her own choosing. By definition, these ways will not be ours and they won’t be much fun. Think about that.[1]

    If you don’t believe me, read Richard Heinberg’s “The Party’s Over,” Sean Nee’s one page essay “The great chain of being” in Nature (2005, vol.435:page 429), and Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs, and Steel.”

    Pianka does not advocate genocide. What he does observe is that 1) there are a lot of people, that 2) the Earth can’t sustain its human population at its current rate of consumption and 3) that disease will likely do us in as a species. This is all true. There are roughly six and a half billion people. We consume an enormous amount of resources, produce an equally enormous amount of waste and have in one way or another affected every inch of the Earth’s surface. Our only significant predators are pathogens. As human populations increase, diseases like ebola, HIV, influenza, tuberculosis and other organisms will become greater threats to human health.

    So, what’s unreasonable about this?

    Did he really advocate genocide, or did Mims hear what he wanted to hear?

  72. #72 Bryson Brown
    April 4, 2006

    Seth, I don’t know what your source is, but maybe you’d be good enough to reveal it: What evidence do you have that Pianka has actually expressed approval of the cull he’s predicting? To my knowledge, what we have are conflicting reports, one from a creationist member of the DI who says the approval was expressed, the other from Pianka, who says he was merely making a prediction about the likely upshot of our present, ecologically risky behaviour. And I presume you know enough to be at least a little skeptical about creationists in general and the DI in particular, as honest brokers of information. So where are you geting this from? The right-wing buzz? Or some privileged source?

  73. #73 mgr
    April 4, 2006

    I need to point out that Pianka is not a trivial researcher, but whose work is of some standing in conservation circles, specifically in the area of habitat conservation design via modeling of patch dynamics.

    Put this in contrast to this embroglio regarding
    ‘cheerleading for bacteria’, and one gets the sense of what he was being honored for, contra Elizabeth. One does not recieve a Nobel prize for the the Nobel lecture.

    How is it that one, when positing the position that no species is no more intrinsically valuable than another violate accepted ethical practices when the argument is intrinsic to meta ethics, can be judged from an ethical perspective that it brings into question?

    Pianka entertains the POV that we may have reached that point in our apogee as the dominant species to where we need to trade off our burgeoning population to preserve the populations of other species. I don’t see how this translates into endorsing genocide; nor do I see endorsing the draconian Chinese population policies as being anti-human, but as recognition that something drastic must be done. I have not heard anyone offer an alternative pallitive, especially since waiting around for the demographic transistion may be suicide for Chinese and possibly Indian population planning. Some of us like to remain on the side lines and ‘pooh-pooh’ those who get their hands dirty.

    It isn’t cows vs. Arabs, it’s fifty Sumatran tigers vs. 1,000,000 new Indonesians, and, it’s Central Valley Kit Fox vs. housing developers.

    Mike

  74. #74 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    Spinning? I’m not spinning… I didn’t call YOU a nazi.

    I didn’t call you one either, little guy.

    I’m saying that we should not DEFEND the person in questions STATEMENTS

    What is this guy’s name again, what exactly did he say, and why are we talking about his statements today?

    Refresh my memory, Seth.

  75. #75 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    mgr

    I don’t see how this translates into endorsing genocide; nor do I see endorsing the draconian Chinese population policies as being anti-human

    They are anti-human because they don’t cite the Bible as justification for the policies.

    It’s that simple.

    Remember: this is about fundies, not most human beings. Most human beings don’t believe that we should keep brain dead humans alive until their flesh rots off their bones. That’s a fundie thing.

  76. #76 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    Seth, I don’t know what your source is, but maybe you’d be good enough to reveal it: What evidence do you have that Pianka has actually expressed approval of the cull he’s predicting?

    See the highlighted sentence in the post above this one.

    What people don’t seem to be able to understand is that there are two choices: either some species are better than others or they aren’t.

    If some species are better, than the rational conclusion of one who holds no ill will towards humanity is that our own is better.

    If all species are equal, there is no reason to conclude that the world would be any better off without us. We are good for some species, bad for others, but since all are equal it doesn’t matter.

    Pianka is therefore not espousing a rational point of view, but a religious proposition that people, far from being equal to mole-rats, are inferior. He is anti-humanity and therefore evil.

  77. #77 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    As human populations increase, diseases like ebola, HIV, influenza, tuberculosis and other organisms will become greater threats to human health.

    So, what’s unreasonable about this?

    Today? Everything.

    Tomorrow, when the fundies use avian flu or AIDS or some other infectious disease as an excuse to quarantine or marginalize some allegedly unChristian group of human beings, the proposition will suddenly become incontrovertibly reasonable.

    Wait and see.

  78. #78 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    Sorry, that sentence is: “However, I am convinced that the world WOULD clearly be much better off without so many of us.”

  79. #79 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    If some species are better, than the rational conclusion of one who holds no ill will towards humanity is that our own is better.

    Folks, we’ve got a live one!

  80. #80 jbark
    April 4, 2006

    I have nothing to add about the anti-Pianka nonsense that hasn’t already been said, but…

    Specifically regarding the claim about ever increasing population, I thought all the current models were saying that we are nearing a plateau afterwhich population will actually begin to decrease a bit.

    That’s not a magic bullett for our current problems, which are very real, but it is different than a scenario where population growth is assumed to continue unabated.

    I don’t have a cite or anything, that’s just the impression I have from the news over the past few years.

    Is this not the case?

  81. #81 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    However, I am convinced that the world WOULD clearly be much better off without so many of us.

    It’d be better off without so many fucking fundies, that is for sure.

  82. #82 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    Earlier:

    The continuance of our genetic lines?

    Hitler would be proud of you, Seth.

    Later:

    “Spinning? I’m not spinning… I didn’t call YOU a nazi.”

    I didn’t call you one either, little guy.

    And you accuse ME of spin?

  83. #83 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    And you accuse ME of spin?

    Shouldn’t you be somewhere trying to continue your genetic line?

  84. #84 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    If some species are better, than the rational conclusion of one who holds no ill will towards humanity is that our own is better.

    Folks, we’ve got a live one!

    A live what? Rationalist? Humanist? Genius? Moron? Nazi? Please explain, that I may understand your position better.

  85. #85 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    Shouldn’t you be somewhere trying to continue your genetic line?

    Right. Because having offspring is a really radical proposition for a living creature. Wow, what a kook I am, to think that I might want children and to respect your right to have children too. I should probably be locked up with the rest of the Nazis.

  86. #86 John M. Price
    April 4, 2006

    Mortality rate of 100%?

    Well, there is that mesquite tree in California, still alive, after 4,000 years based on the size of its root shoot ring. Probably needs to have CA break off or a volcanoe to die.

    Then there is that fungus in the midwest. Yes, the midwest. It covers a few states. DNA indicates all samples of it taken from these few states are from the same organism. Maybe, once the ocean or ice takes over the area, it will be killed.

    So no, mortality does not seem a promised and certain event.

  87. #87 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    Seth

    If all species are equal, there is no reason to conclude that the world would be any better off without us.

    Did Pianko “advocate” for the extermination of all human beings from earth?

    No, I don’t think so. As best I can tell, he noted that the earth was overly crowded with humans and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

    I think that’s a fair assessment of the present situation. Not only fair, but sorta mundane and obvious and not very interesting.

    So what’s your problem, Seth?

  88. #88 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    I should probably be locked up with the rest of the Nazis.

    Sadly, most neo-Nazis are running free amongst us.

    The world could do with less of those folks, too. They are just as bad as the fundies, in my opinion, or maybe a bit better because they seem to have less money at their disposal for promoting their bullcrap.

  89. #89 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    Did Pianko “advocate” for the extermination of all human beings from earth?

    Yes.

    However, I am convinced that the world WOULD clearly be much better off without so many of us.

  90. #90 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    Okay, so we can see from Seth’s April 4 4:15 post that Seth has a reading comprehension problem … in addition to his dissembling habit.

    Really pathetic, Seth.

  91. #91 george cauldron
    April 4, 2006

    Then there is that fungus in the midwest. Yes, the midwest. It covers a few states. DNA indicates all samples of it taken from these few states are from the same organism. Maybe, once the ocean or ice takes over the area, it will be killed.

    Do you have a good link for the Great Midwestern Fungus?

    Also, the Argentine ant colony that now covers most of California will probably still be here when the next supervolcano (probably Yellowstone) pops or asteroid hits. I admit that’s not one organism, tho they are all genetically virtually identical.

  92. #92 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    From CNN

    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.

    “He wishes for it. He hopes for it. He laughs about it. He jokes about it,” Mims said. “It’s got to happen because we are the scourge of humanity.”

    I think we’ve established beyond doubt that Forrest Mims is a lying creationist fuckhead.

    So why does Seth insist on massaging Mims’ nutsack?

  93. #93 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    On Mims

    As Christians, Forrest and Sarah believe that an intelligent Creator designed the universe, and that therefore they can learn more by looking at it as a planned creation rather than a cosmic accident. For example, Sarah suspected that the fungus that turned up in her samples was not there by chance. Fire is one way that fungus is designed to spread. Scientists who follow this approach are part of a growing movement in science called Intelligent Design.

    What do you think, Seth? You think you can trust fuckwits like these people?

    Here’s my prediction: Mims just put another nail in the coffin of fundie credibility (previous nails: Dover, prayer research findings, Dobson promoting the idea that kids should shower naked with their parents so they can compare genitalia, etc.)

    Buh bye, fundie idiots.

  94. #94 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    So, great white, you have the absurdist position that while Pianka thinks something is BEST, he does not advocate it as desirable? And you think I have a reading comprehension problem?

  95. #95 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    Just to be clear to everyone else: I’m an atheist, and I have yet to quote Mims. I just approve of the existence of my species as a general rule.

  96. #96 roger tang
    April 4, 2006

    So, great white, you have the absurdist position that while Pianka thinks something is BEST, he does not advocate it as desirable? And you think I have a reading comprehension problem?

    Well, I certainly think you do, since what Pianka wrote is not what you think it says.

  97. #97 RavenT
    April 4, 2006

    And you think I have a reading comprehension problem?

    Only with the words “advocate”, “extermination”, and “all”.

  98. #98 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    He wrote that the removal of humanity would be best for the world, therefore he communicated that it is a desirable outcome. Seems pretty airtight to me unless you hold the absurdist view that he does not desire that which he thinks is best.

    Please, demonstrate the flaw in my logic if there is one.

  99. #99 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    If you communicate that an outcome is desirable, you are an advocate of that outcome. So, I’m pretty okay there.

    The world being better off without us neccesitates the extermination of the species for the desired outcome.

    He clearly advocates the extermination of the species.

  100. #100 OmegaMom
    April 4, 2006

    Oy, gevalt. I cannot believe I’m diving in here, but here goes:

    Seth: One can believe that something is “best” for the planet/biosphere/universe/whathaveyou, and still not think it is “best” for himself, his friends, his loved ones, etc.

    For instance, I think it is “best” for everyone not to smoke. However, alas and alack, I myself smoke.

    Humans (those special beings) are able to hold such contradictory notions all the time.

    In addition, “better” is not “best”. Saying “the planet would be better off without so many of us” is not equivalent to “advocating the extermination of all of us”, though you explicity state it in your comment above (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/04/the_swiftboating_of_eric_piank.php#comment-62220).

    JMP, I thought the fungus among us was in the Pacific Northwest? In addition, living 4000 years does not equate to “not dying”, it merely means that the critter has lived 4000 years so far.

  101. #101 RavenT
    April 4, 2006

    Please, demonstrate the flaw in my logic if there is one.

    You don’t have logic or reading comprehension; you have only rhetoric. Examples: you keep introducing loaded terms such as “extermination” and “removal of humanity”, when that is clearly not what Pianka said.

    I grant you, it’s probably the best tactic you’ve got when you don’t have a real argument, but it’s still not much.

  102. #102 roger tang
    April 4, 2006

    If you communicate that an outcome is desirable, you are an advocate of that outcome. So, I’m pretty okay there.

    Yes.

    The world being better off without us neccesitates the extermination of the species for the desired outcome.

    Except he DOESN’T SAY THIS.

  103. #103 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    you think I have a reading comprehension problem?

    Um, yeah. That’s what I wrote. You read it correctly, Seth, although I understand that given your problem you couldn’t be sure of what you read until I confirmed it.

    Yes, you have a reading comprehension problem.

    You (Seth) have a problem when it comes to understanding the written word.

  104. #104 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    If you smoke, you do not think it is best not to smoke. You think it is more valuable to smoke than to avoid the health effects of smoking.

    If he thinks that the world is better off without humans, and he says this, he advocates the position that the world would be better off without humans. To achieve the better world that he advocates would neccessitate the extermination of the human species. By his statements of what is best, this would be a laudable thing to do.

    You cannot, actually, hold contrary positions about what is best. That is absurd. You may not KNOW what is best, or you may have NO position, but you cannot rationally hold two contrary positions.

    Pianka advocates for the position that the extermination of MUCH of human race would be the best thing, perhaps 90%. I agree that I was mistaken to say that he is in favor of exterminating all.

  105. #105 ~rhino
    April 4, 2006

    Elizabeth,

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that a cadre sat down to figure out how to get Pianka. What I do see is another instance of a highly organized campaign by the usual suspects. There are several groups out there that do deliberately try to smear professors they don’t like and actively try to get them fired. They all have ties to the right wing of the Republican Party and their claims get picked up and trumpeted by media outlets such as FoxNews. It’s like the good old days in the McCarthy era. You don’t have to conspire to actively get someone, the machinery in place just does it once an attack is made.

    There is however a “conspiracy” that is quite open and opaque to use these types of tactics against college Professors who speak out on controversial issues. It’s not directed against Pianka personally (save in this instance). Their goal is to take extreme statements by extremists such as Churchill, or not so extreme statements by people such as Mirecki and Piank, entirely out of contect, twist them, distort them, and use them to discredit “liberal” academics in general. This allows them to feed their campaigns to try and eliminate “bias” from university campuses and get a hearing for their various fringe theories.

  106. #106 RavenT
    April 4, 2006

    I’m going to type this really slowly, so that even Seth can understand it.

    If Pianka really advocated extermination of the human race–as opposed to warning against the risk of extermination of the human race–then he’s the biggest dumbass in the world for saying anything. If that were what he was advocating, the best way to proceed would be to shut up and let it proceed without interference.

    Read the epidemiological literature on emerging diseases (sorry, Seth, I know that lets you out, but still). As populations increase, as deforestation picks up speed, and as globalization proceeds, viruses have an easier time crossing species and spreading faster across borders. All Pianka had to do, if he were advocating extermination, which he’s not, is to just shut up and let those forces proceed.

    Granted, as other posters have pointed out, it’s not by any means a given that a disaster will happen, but it has a better chance of happening if we don’t address the epidemiology behind these issues. Someone else pointed out above that over time, the long-term risk of even a very improbable event becomes considerable. This disaster may happen, or it may not happen, but refusing to even consider the possibility and to plan accordingly exposes us to much more risk than does dealing honestly with the problem. By speaking out and trying to raise awareness of these factors, Pianka’s acting to foil what Seth perceives as his nefarious advocation of total human elimination.

    Granted, making a point with irony and humor is wasted on people who can’t read or think in anything but the most linear, literal terms, and if Pianka made any mistake, it was apparently to overestimate the lowest common denominator of his audience.

  107. #107 Lancelot Gobbo
    April 4, 2006

    Anyone else notice that CNN is now reporting this on their main web page, but NOT mentioning the Dembski/Homeland Security part?

  108. #108 roger tang
    April 4, 2006

    If he thinks that the world is better off without humans, and he says this

    No.

    He.

    Doesn’t.

    At least, anything you’ve quoted doesn’t say this.

    Pianka advocates for the position that the extermination of MUCH of human race would be the best thing, perhaps 90%.

    And he doesn’t say this, either. (Remember, getting from the current population to one that’s 90% smaller doesn’t equate to extermination.)

  109. #109 Graculus
    April 4, 2006

    If he thinks that the world is better off without humans, and he says this, he advocates the position that the world would be better off without humans.

    No, he didn’t.

    He suggested that the biosphere would be better off without so many humans.

    “Reduction” != “extermination”.

    10 – 6 = 4
    10 – 10 = 0

    By your logic: 4 = 0.

  110. #110 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    And just as an aside, if you argue that a state of affairs is BETTER than current, you are an advocate for that state of affairs. You do not have to think it is best. So, if Pianka states that he thinks that the planet would be better off without so many of us, he is an advocate for a state of affairs with less humans than current. So far, I don’t think we are in controversial territory, right, we can all agree that Pianka expressly advocates this non-controversial position.

    Now, an attendee on a separate blog who supports Pianka reported that at this talk, Pianka quantified that number as 9 out of 10, that is, Pianka would prefer a state of affairs with 10% as many humans as currently are alive. Thus advocating for a massive population crash as a desirable goal. So perhaps “extermination” is the wrong word, and the previous word I used, “culling” is much more appropriate.

    Pianka advocates the culling of the human population by 90%, according to reported statements by his supporters.

    Now, it may be that I have Pianka wrong. It may be that this other person who supports Pianka has him wrong. However, I don’t think so, and the reason I don’t think so is that Pianka thinks that it is clear that the world would be better off without so many humans.

    This is not clear at all. It may be clear that humanity stands a better chance of surviving, as a whole, if we expand our population more slowly or even contract our population. But the world itself isn’t better off with humans or without humans or with only humans or whatever, there is simply no rational standard on which to make that claim that I am aware of.

    BTW, great white and rave, do you have to be such total assholes? It makes it really hard to try to converse rationally with you when you are so completely insulting, belittling, and mean. I’ve got thick skin and all that, but it really is getting tiresome.

  111. #111 Rey
    April 4, 2006

    Perhaps there should also be a variant of Godwin’s law that deals with mentions of Galileo. If there isn’t, then I declare it to be Rey’s Law: “Whenever something outside mainstream scientific thinking is discussed, someone will eventually draw parallels to Galileo.”

  112. #112 AJ Milne
    April 4, 2006

    Open letter to the various deep thinkers fulminating in the blogs against Pianka:

    Sometime last summer, at a table in a Lone Star Cafe, during a conversation about the Massey Lecture given by Ronald Wright on the subject of population crashes in human civilizations (A Short History of Progress), in the course of describing the overall ecological dimensions of crashes in general, I may very well have summarized the larger ramifications of such an event significantly reducing the global population of the human species with a phrase roughly along the lines of: ‘Thus, you could describe such an occurrence as being good for the world’…

    Now. I may not have used these precise words. I might also have qualified whatever I did say with such a phrase as ‘from the perspective of biodiversity, at least’, or ‘in terms of extinction rates of other species’, or even ‘in terms of the potential stability of food supply and overall quality of life for any surviving members of our species’. I may not have. In the context of my entire conversation, and given the fact that my audience of one was a bright and calm sort of fellow not usually given to such excesses as killing billions of people, I may well have omitted those qualifiers, and assumed he’d grasp that there were some. I’d have thought, really, I could have safely assumed most people would have grasped that, and could safely assume, furthermore, that that phrase was to be taken as a very rough summary of a very complicated situation, and certainly not to be taken as a suggestion that such an extinction event was something they should actually undertake to arrange.

    Apparently, however, I was wrong. Apparently there are those of you out there who could have misunderstood. So, just so we’re clear–and you’d better write this part down, just so we’re good and clear, and you don’t lose track of it later:

    If you did happen to be walking through the Lone Star that day, please don’t any of you seek to engineer methods to kill billions of people on the strength of any such phrase you may or may not have heard me say.

    Thank you. You may now resume reproducing like rabbits in an overcrowded warren and driving your @#$% SUVs everywhere you go. All the best, love and kisses, etc. etc.

  113. #113 roger tang
    April 4, 2006

    So perhaps “extermination” is the wrong word, and the previous word I used, “culling” is much more appropriate.

    I’m not sure even THAT is accurate.

    Please support that.

  114. #114 Tiskel
    April 4, 2006

    Seth,

    You are making an assumption that many people make: that what you personally cannot do (or do not think that you can do) points directly to everyone being unable to do that thing. The fact that you cannot personally believe that two mutually exclusive things are true does not mean that others have this innability. From reading lots of other people’s comments, as well as knowing from my own personal experience, Humans seem to be very capable of knowing mutually exclusive things. This is because we are not robots, and we are not logical. We are emotional, and the way we know things is not the same as how computers know things.

    I know many Christians who know that I am going to hell, while still knowing that I am a good person. Logic would say that these are impossible, since hell is a construct to house the bad people (from the many lessons I had as a child. I know that everyone has a different understanding of hell, but this is the one that they believe in, so this is the one I am going to present). Am I to believe that they don’t truly believe in one of these facts? I assure you that they certainly do, otherwise they would stop trying to convert me.

    You keep making a claim over and over again, making the same error over and over again. It’s not reading comprehension, which is a very simplistic attack on you. It’s the fact that you have a different definition of words that are being used, or a different internal representation of a idea, and you cannot see that what you are saying may match what you internally believe, but it does not match the experience and beleifs of those you are talking to.

    This happens all the time when people with completely different world views, or perspectives, or experiences, or native languages, or whatever internal language/logic bases they use for communication try to talk to each other. Here, it’s just become an issue because you aren’t stepping back and asking why people keep stating that you are not understanding what they are saying, or if you are, you are jumping to the conclusion that they must be idiots.

    Getting to the exact topic at hand: According to the reports of people who were present, or who have known Pianka previously, he stated or implied that he believes that with respect to the environment as a whole, the absence of humans would be a good thing, and as someone who has a deep concern for the environment, he would pleased to know that what was best for the environment was likely to happen, regardless for any other circumstance. He has also stated that he has no ill will toward Humanity, and does not personally wish for everyone (or most people) to die, but that this is inevitable, and will likely occur due to some natural phenomenon.

    Lots of people believe that the world would be better off without us. Lots of people find pleasure in thinking about a fresh start for humanity. These people do not personally want to kill those people who would have to die, nor do they all believe that they would be present after the death. Many would even willingly die themselves in order for the species as a whole to survive. This is actually an extremely common belief, although mostly held by extremests who willingly sacrifice themselves for whatever greater good they happen to believe in.

    Haven’t you ever read any of the multitude of books that broach this topic? Nearly every post-apocolyptic story / movie deals with the issue of post-massive-dieoff, not the death itself. This is because we don’t like to think about the dying, but what would be possible afterwords. I don’t know how you can have gone through your life thus far and never thought about it…

    Anyway, I have rambled for far too long.

    -Tiskel

  115. #115 SkookumPlanet
    April 4, 2006

    WOW!

    As I detailed above, “It’s CAMPAIGN not CONSPIRACY.”

    No way I’m going through this thread [with future additions] to tally how many signs are present. But it’s obviously a tutorial.

    Clearly the first 3 apply.

    Recognizing Negative Psychomarketing Campaigns
    ___________________________________________________________

    Some hallmarks of the fingerprint of an organized, professional, negative psychomarketing campaign:
    [These campaigns are often completely, or partially, covert.]

    + focus on “character” of messenger/opponent in a way that allows dismissal of the message/argument
    + distracting w/details in individual incidents/stories/news-events to prevent pattern-recognition of campaign
    + confusion about actual facts at issue
    + repetitious “talking points” or criticism, easily and repeatedly addressed, that continually resurrect
    + the certainty of proponents about the, often erroneous, information their points-of-view are based on
    + focus on rhetorical argumentation, especially noticeable when new, reliable facts are introduced into larger discussion
    + difficulty of getting adherents to discuss data/facts and admit error
    + focus on narrow part of data/issue relative to full amount available [where applicable]
    + obsession with such narrowness to exclusion of readily available overview of issue
    + through time, new arguments/talking points materialize and rapidly spread [information contagion?]
    + kernels of truth in otherwise incorrect but widely held views
    [Tough to differentiate from everyday juicy stories. Journalists constantly chase these, only to find no story.]
    + to varying degrees, belief that opposition succeeds via conspiratorial means
    + overall the larger, usually sociopolitical, issue involves competition between parties for political power and/or money

    None of these signs individually, or even several, are demonstrative, of course, and can arise from other causes. One would want to review a wide array of data, such as mass media, to begin to come to a conclusion about the existance of specific campaigns. I note these signs because the existance of these negative- or anti-PR campaigns and the tools for analyzing them are not widely known. These might be considered part of a robust media literacy, something sorely lacking in the U.S.

  116. #116 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    I’m going to remember the following gems from this enlightened little exchange.

    1. Being accused of massaging someone’s balls for having a position remotely similar to theirs.
    2. Being called stupid.
    3. Being called a Nazi.
    4. Having someone type something slowly, so that even I can understand it.
    5. Being called pathetic.

    I mean, is this really how you guys comport yourselves? Do you expect to win people over with this kind of bullshit? I mean, I’m already ON YOUR FUCKING SIDE, I’m a rational person and I don’t mind being told I’m wrong, especially if people bother to point out my mistakes to me instead of just ridiculing me for making them. But if I weren’t on your side, you would have driven me completely off with your insulting and juvenile manner.

    Further, if you point shit out to people in a polite way, its way easier for them to admit making a mistake, rather than if you make it a personal war by asking “why are you massaging that fundies nutsack?” How the hell am I supposed to respond to that kind of abusive bullshit?

    Anyway, my reading of Pianka’s position was not that he is acting as a canary, but that he is expressing a preference for a state of affairs involving a massive reduction of the human population, and that right quickly. There is at least one person who explicitly hold this position who seem to feel he is on their side, and they were at the talk. Perhaps we are both mistaken.

  117. #117 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    1. Being accused of massaging someone’s balls for having a position remotely similar to theirs.

    Not just “someone’s balls” but Forrest Mims’ balls.

    Like, ewwww.

  118. #118 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    Further, if you point shit out to people in a polite way, its way easier for them to admit making a mistake,

    You know, that approach was tried with you Seth and it didn’t work too well.

    Anyway, my reading of Pianka’s position was not that he is acting as a canary, but that he is expressing a preference for a state of affairs involving a massive reduction of the human population, and that right quickly.

    Sure, just as I expressed my preference for a state of affairs where there were no fundies on earth.

    Now, does that mean I am “advocating” that “we” go out and see to it that all the fundies die as soon as possible?

    No, Seth, it doesn’t.

    But that is the argument you were making here. Go see for yourself. Read your own comments.

    Then politely fuck off.

  119. #119 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    I know many Christians who know that I am going to hell, while still knowing that I am a good person. Logic would say that these are impossible, since hell is a construct to house the bad people (from the many lessons I had as a child.

    Actually, no, Hell is just where non-christians go. According to christian theology, all people are bad people. So, no, your christian friends do not believe you are good person, because they don’t believe in good people by definition. But that is way off topic.

    You can’t believe contradictory things. I will caveat that you have to be aware of the contradiction, of course.

    Lots of people believe that the world would be better off without us.

    If the world would be better off without us, by what standard could they possible oppose the destruction of all of us? Are you saying that they believe something is better but prefer something that is worse? Than in what meaningful sense do they believe it is better? See the problem there?

    I’m simply arguing that this is an evil position that I believe Pianka to hold. As I mentioned, it is entirely possible that I am mistaken about his position but not that I am mistaken about the nature of the position itself.

    What I do see a lot of is a sort of mindless parroting of this position, as if it is self evident that people are bad. This is just the mimicking of a fundamentalist position, and it is a bit of a red flag for me. My original point to PZ was that he was guilty of this in this entry, taking it for granted that somehow humans are special and set apart from everything else, and therefore evil, and that scientists should not advocate that sort of anti-rational bullshit.

    Pianka may not be as extreme as I believed him to be, but he is, at the least, guilty of that.

  120. #120 OmegaMom
    April 4, 2006

    There is also at least one person who does NOT explicitly hold this position who was at the talk, and says that she did NOT get this impression from him. She’s the person who posted the Arnett email in PZ’s comments column; alas, I can’t find that comment anymore? She said that she attended the lecture at the TAS awards, that none of the people around her got the impression that Pianka was “advocating” unleashing a deadly disease, and that she was among the ones who applauded him.

    Tiskel, thank you. You explained my POV quite clearly and plainly, and saved me much thinking and typing!

  121. #121 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    6. Being told to fuck off.

    I could never, in a million years, come up with something that witty, GW. Do you do standup?

  122. #122 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    Sure, just as I expressed my preference for a state of affairs where there were no fundies on earth.

    Now, does that mean I am “advocating” that “we” go out and see to it that all the fundies die as soon as possible?

    No, you would advocate that they stop being fundies, and if I had a plan to change their minds that you though would work, logically, you would support it.

  123. #123 Leon
    April 4, 2006

    Convenient that the TAS decided to turn off the camera(s) before Pianka’s statements, isn’t it?

    Indeed it is, for Mims. With the cameras off, he was free to characterize Pianka’s statements any way he chose, without there being hard evidence for or against. ‘Far as I can see, taht sword cuts both ways. Personally I don’t see any conspiracies here, just a lot of people getting riled up and lining up on the familiar “science good!” and “science bad!” sides.

    Do you really think a professor made statements directly advocating mass genocide and received a standing ovation for it from an academic crowd? Of course it’s possible. But it doesn’t sound probable, such claims definitely need to be backed up and investigated before being fully accepted.

  124. #124 Graculus
    April 4, 2006

    Pianka advocates the culling of the human population by 90%, according to reported statements by his supporters.

    Do you understand the difference between an active verb and a passive verb?

  125. #125 Seth Manapio
    April 4, 2006

    Okay. You win. I’ll go away with exactly the same position I came in with. Good job, guys, way to stand up for reason and enlightened discourse. This last one… wow, Graculus, I mean… wow. You just stopped me cold there with that one, big guy… the massive intellect, I’m just… I… I… I want to have your children, its so fucking brilliant, I’m all wet…

    As requested, fucking off from talking to you assholes.

  126. #126 roger tang
    April 4, 2006

    Good job, guys, way to stand up for reason and enlightened discourse. This last one… wow, Graculus, I mean… wow. You just stopped me cold there with that one, big guy

    Seth, you’re inviting these comments because you ARE acting stupid and imposing what you THINK is being said upon what is being said.

    That’s an observation, not rhetoric. Graculus’s comment had a larger point, which you either did not understand, or refused to deal with.

    And THAT does nothing to futher reason or enlightened discourse.

  127. #127 Graculus
    April 4, 2006

    I’ll go away with exactly the same position I came in with.

    You were going to do that anyway.

  128. #128 Great White Wonder
    April 4, 2006

    I could never, in a million years, come up with something that witty, GW. Do you do standup?

    Just the occasional party.

  129. #129 RavenT
    April 4, 2006

    do you have to be such total assholes?

    You’re the one falsely accusing Pianka of calling for the extermination of all mankind, and I’m the asshole, somehow?

  130. #130 Lubos Motl
    April 4, 2006

    ##################

    If anyone still has doubts that he’s been preaching the extermination of 90% of humanity by ebola for years, see my blog.

    ##################

  131. #131 IAMB
    April 4, 2006

    I’ve got thick skin and all that, but it really is getting tiresome.

    Dude, he’s just getting warmed up. You should have been hanging around Panda’s Thumb early last year. He was great counter for dicks like DaveScot and JAD. Too bad you had to go and “fuck off”… this was starting to get good.

    GWW: good to see you’re still in top form.

  132. #132 hank
    April 4, 2006

    Someone says: “you are making yourself a big, fat target.”

    An appropriate response is:

    a) “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance”
    b) “God is on my side”
    c) “I plan to lose weight next week”
    d) (After ducking) “Thank you, that was good advice.”

    Pianka writes:

    “In addition to our extremely high population density, we are social and mobile, exactly the conditions that favor growth and spread of pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes. I believe it is only a matter of time until microbes once again assert control over our population, since we are unwilling to control it ourselves. This idea has been espoused by ecologists for at least four decades and is nothing new. People just don’t want to hear it.”

    An appropriate response is?

  133. #133 craig
    April 4, 2006

    Seth, I’m going to make one attempt to reply to you in a manner I hope you will comprehend, though I don’t hold out much hope.

    He did NOT advocate the extermination of human life.
    he DID say that the planet would be “better off” with a drastic reduction in the number of people, and apparently that the remaining population would be better off also.

    There are a couple of ways he could be meaning this:
    1. That people should make all efforts to reduce reproduction. This involves NO KILLING.

    2. The other possibility is that he actually meant that if billions of people died off due to some calamity, then the deer and birdies and fishies and even the remaining people would have a better life in the long run. You know what? he might be right.
    have I just advocated extermination? NO.

    I am on disability. I know that from at least some measure, you and others would be better off without me around. I don’t pay taxes, yet I consume resources. I not only eat and breathe and shit, I get a government check and free medical care.

    I understand this, I understand that I am a net drain on the US economy and also I use more of the earths resources that I create (none.)
    If I died, there would be less of a drain on the system. But I am most decidedly NOT advocating my own extermination.

    If you lived in a tenement room with 16 other people, you’d be a fool to not recognize that you would be better off if those 16 other people WEREN’T living in the room with you. that does NOt equal advocating their murder.

    I think you understand this. I don’t think you have a reading comprehension problem, though if you do I wish you the best of luck with that… no, I think you have a worse problem.

    Dishonesty.

    There are some people who just like to be disagreeable, just like to pigfight for the sake of pigfighting… on the net we call them trolls.

    In the real world, they are people like Dembski, people who deliberately misrepresent for their own purposes – and know that by deliberately doing this even when presented with the truth, by never acknowledging the evidence of their own dishonesty, they will sway some people. This is why people like Cheney can deny they ever said something even when presented with videotape of them saying it.

    I don’t believe in evil as a supernatural force – but you used the word evil earlier – well, THESE are the people that I view as evil.

    The world would be better off without them.

    I am not advocating their extermination, and most reading this will not think I am advocating their extermination…
    I think the world would be better off without people like yourself playing the games you play – yet I am NOT advocating your extermination. Can you grasp that?

  134. #134 Gentlewoman in MO
    April 4, 2006

    “Um, yeah. That’s what I wrote. You read it correctly, Seth, although I understand that given your problem you couldn’t be sure of what you read until I confirmed it.

    Yes, you have a reading comprehension problem.

    You (Seth) have a problem when it comes to understanding the written word.” (sorry, I am html-and-every-other-sorta-ml challenged)

    Been lurking here for a while. Just have to say, GWW, you TOTALLY cracked me up. Laughed out loud, woke up cats, neighbor probably calling the asylum wagon now…

    Thanks. I needed that.

  135. #135 bmc
    April 4, 2006

    For fuck’s sake, people. When the population of an organism exceeds the carrying capacity of its environment, the resources necessary to sustain the organism’s existence are exhausted, and predatory organisms arise to prey on that organism. This is about as debatable as evolution (*snrk*).

    Consider the desertification of the Middle East. The Middle East did not START as a desert. Large areas of it are arid, but the shortages of potable water, the soil salinity, arable and grazable land–those are all human-created phenomena.

    By any credible estimate, our current world population growth rates put us far beyond the human carrying capacity of the Earth’s ecosystem in our very near future. Is a fast, dramatic reduction in the resource consumption rate of humanity necessary to avoid an unsurvivable crash of civilization? The people who answer “no” to this question seem to fall into these categories:

    1) Religious fundie nutbags who think the end of the world is coming, anyway
    2) Libertarian kooks who think that repeating “the market will solve it” over and over as a mantra will have any effect on the universe whatsoever
    3) People who simply have their heads in the sand and have not yet realized that, as Dennis Meadows put it, “It is too late to achieve sustainable development, now let us strive for survivable development.”

    That said, this reduction in population isn’t going to come by our own volition. I think it’s just an untenable idea. What IS going to happen, whether we like it or not, is that our population is going to wildly outstrip the carrying capacity of the globe, and our population is going to crash hard, and it’s going to be very unpleasant for all concerned.

    Arguing about whether this is good or bad is a ridiculous waste of time. It’s going to happen. Get ready.

  136. #136 Hellesfarne
    April 4, 2006

    Seth Manapio: Sorry, that sentence is: “However, I am convinced that the world WOULD clearly be much better off without so many of us.”

    Look, we have a few options:

    1. Continue breeding and consuming resources at our current rate. If we do so, there will not be enough water, enough arable land or enough fuel of any sort to sustain billions of people who want to have cars and houses and so on. Eventually, we’ll end up living in a big landfill with the handful of other species we haven’t eaten or driven to extinction. If we don’t destroy ourselves during any number of resource wars, we’ll probably be killed by a variety of pathogens. Probably at the same time.

    2. Adopt a rational ecological policy, i.e. use renewable fuels whenever possible as well as relatively clean fuel sources like hydrogen; tie urban expansion to a region’s ability to support a population; recycle, reuse, etc. Plant some trees, and while you’re at it, strengthen regulatory tools like the (US) Endangered Species Act. You do not have to do so for any sort of warm and fuzzy reason: If you’re a fisherman, it doesn’t make any sense to demolish a fishery. That may produce short-term profits, but in the end you’ll be left with no fish and no means of income. If you want to breathe clean air and drink clean water, then stop treating both like your own private toilet.

    There are variations on either theme, but what it all comes down to is that we can continue to pretend that nothing’s wrong, or we can do something about it before our only options are one of several bad choices.

    One aspect of the second option is population reduction. There are a few ways we can reduce the number of human beings on the planet. Some of them aren’t very neighborly. There are a few ways nature can reduce our population. None of them are neighborly at all.

    Here’s how we can ethically reduce (or stabilize) our population: First, we can reduce the size of our ecological footprint. Second, we can reduce birth rates. It’s worth noting that prosperous, democratic countries tend to have the lowest birth rates: When birth control is readily available, women aren’t slaves and people aren’t compelled to produce as many children as possible, you’ll end up with fewer people. Most “western” countries are at or below the level necessary to maintain their population.

    Pianka absolutely thinks that the world would be better off with fewer people. This does not mean that he’s brewing Captain Trips in his lab, or that he thinks this would even be a rational option. It’s clear from the article I quoted earlier that he does not want to see anything like that happen, however certain he may be that we’ll bring that end on ourselves. There’s a difference between cynically stating that an outcome is probable and wanting it to happen.

    That distinction appears to have been lost on Mims.

    (And… well, I’m saying this to Seth’s back. Hi, there.)

  137. #137 RavenT
    April 4, 2006

    As requested, fucking off from talking to you assholes.

    Which reminds me, when do we hear about our Cobb Award?

  138. #138 PZ Myers
    April 4, 2006

    Gavin has announced that the Cobbs are on the way. We just have to be patient. I think we were going to foist it off on Bérübé, though.

  139. #139 craig
    April 4, 2006

    Lubos, I went to your blog… where I saw you post this quote:

    “I do not bear any ill will toward humanity. However, I am convinced that the world WOULD clearly be much better off without so many of us. Simply stopping the destruction of rainforests would help mediate some current planetary ills, including the release of previously unknown pathogens. The ancient Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” comes to mind — we are living in one of the most interesting times humans have ever experienced. For example, consider the manifold effects of global warming. We need to make a transition to a sustainable world. If we don’t, nature is going to do it for us in ways of her own choosing. By definition, these ways will not be ours and they won’t be much fun. Think about that.”

    A provocative quote, but one that not honest person can describe as advocating the elimination of people – and one that you personally decribe as advocating that.

    Then you link to others incorrectly and dishonoestly characterizing it as advocating that, some of them connected with the Discovery Institute.

    You also spout off about global warming, which you characterize as a myth, some con being perpetrated.

    I don’t know if global warming is really happening and is happening as a result of human activity, but it’s possible.

    You seem to “know” it’s not. The bottom line is, you have your belief system and nothing is going to threaten it.

    I had doubts about his having advocated extermination, and your site showed me nothing to change that… it simply demonstrated your own lack of objectivity.

    Got anything else, or is that it?

  140. #140 Robert Holahan
    April 5, 2006

    The problem with Pianka is simple: he is a prominant evolutionary scientist writing about a social problem. The danger is equally as simple: he is well respected but has no empirical basis for his claims.

    On his website he cites Garret Hardin’s (1968) essay “The Tragedy of the Commons” as evidence that humans are necessarily trapped by an inability to constrain our own consumption. Though the theory is appealing, almost 40 years of debate has since been published, none of which Pianka seems interested in.

    Without boring those who would believe that they’re interested in scientific findings, but in fact rely on vitriolic rhetoric to argue their points, studies by anthropologists, political scientists, and economists have shown an amazing tendancy for humans to manage their environmental conditions. The problem lies in the very beliefs espoused by Pianka–that humans are incapable. His view has been shared by, among others, the World Bank, USAID, and national governments for the past several decades. The result of this belief has been the usurpation of long-standing, efficient, localized governing institutions by external solutions. These “solutions” have exacerbated the problems of environmental collapse because they ignore localized conditions. Thus, the very belief that humans are to blame has contributed to the decline in environmental conditions that Pianka ostensibly seeks to correct.

    To reiterate, Pianka’s view only make the problems worse. Not only for the above mentioned reason, but because the notion that we are “trapped” in some inevitable decline furthers people’s belief that nothing can be done–that it’s too late.

    The solution to environmental problems does not lie in exterminating 5 billion people, but relies on some level, on our acknowledgment that humans are at times capable of successful governance.

  141. #141 Seth Manapio
    April 5, 2006

    There is at least one person who explicitly holds this position who seem to feel he is on their side, and they were at the talk. Perhaps we are both mistaken.

    You know, I’ve made three mistakes here.

    1. I cannot back up my initial claim that Pianka advocates the culling of 90% of the human race. He seems to approve of it to my reading, but as I said about 7 hours ago, I could be wrong about that.

    2. I responded to someone who compared me to Hitler. I should have known that I was up against a genuine, balls to the wall, irrational asshole at that point and just let it go. I can’t compete with that kind of rhetoric.

    3. I didn’t use enough profanity early enough. Clearly, this is NOT a polite blog, and I should have just gone ahead and cursed you assholes out sooner… trying to stay polite just fucks with my head, and I make compound mistakes.

    So… well, fuck you, graculus. Are you really, honestly, so stupid that you can’t recognize someone admitting a mistake, or are you just too lazy and ignorant to read other peoples comments before responding to them?

    Oh, I’m sorry, was my question not rhetorical enough for you?

    And GWW… well, I can’t top your rhetorical style. You are, truly, a genuinely unpleasant mindfuck to converse with. If your hope was to piss me off, I salute you for a job well done. If your hope was to make a point… well, your fellow eco-fundies think you have, but they, like you, probably haven’t caught on to the fact that I am not an SUV driving bible beating Nazi yet, so who the fuck cares? You could say anything to anyone and Missouri Mom would be right there to suck your dick, so… well, congratulations, I guess. All hail the king of crap!

    RavenT: Yes. I may or may not have been mistaken about Pianka’s position, but YOU ARE STILL AN ASSHOLE. See, these are independent propositions, so the truth of one doesn’t actually depend on the truth of the other. I know, that logic is so advanced that its almost like magic to you, but try to wrap your pretty little head around it, ‘kay?

    If I missed anyone who feels that they, too, should be insulted, try harder next time, you loser.

  142. #142 craig
    April 5, 2006

    acknowledgment that humans are at times capable of successful governance.
    Hu,am beings possess the same drives as every other living thing – survive, reproduce.

    As individuals, yes, we are capable of successful governance “at times.” Taken as a whole, the actions of the billions of human beings are pretty much indistinguishable from those of bacteria in a petri dish.

    “At times” so far hasn’t quite cut it.

  143. #143 gwangung
    April 5, 2006

    You know, I’ve made three mistakes here.

    1. I cannot back up my initial claim that Pianka advocates the culling of 90% of the human race. He seems to approve of it to my reading, but as I said about 7 hours ago, I could be wrong about that.

    If you would have stopped there and not gone any further, you wouldn’t have any problems.

    The fact is, you responded mostly to the snarkier comments and mostly ignored the more reasonable arguments.

    The problem, dear Brutus, lies within ourselves….

  144. #144 Seth Manapio
    April 5, 2006

    The world would be better off without them.

    I am not advocating their extermination, and most reading this will not think I am advocating their extermination…
    I think the world would be better off without people like yourself playing the games you play – yet I am NOT advocating your extermination. Can you grasp that?

    Craig,

    Do you notice how in the abstract you said that the world would be better off without “them” but in the concrete you specified my behavior? I might argue (if I were fool enough to argue with the great and wise caretakers of knowledge here) that in the first case your are advocating the removal of the actual people, and in the second, you are suggesting I change my behavior. Or I might not. What is certain, and what I will argue, is that these are actually very different statements, with very different implications.

    If you said the world would be a better place without me, you would, at the very least, think the world was a better place after hearing of my death. If you say the world would be better if I weren’t such an asshole, you are suggesting I change my behavior. There is a real difference between these two positions. Confusing the two is a mistake that both you and GWW have made, so I am curious to hear why you think they are the same.

    Anyway, I am not playing whatever game you think I am. I am not dishonest, nor am I trying to pick a fight with you. If I were, I might, oh, compare you to hitler, or maybe ask you if you can “grasp that” as if I had some magical lock on the fucking language that you couldn’t possibly get, ’cause I’m just so much smarter than you.

    I mean, how fucking ironic is THAT?

    No, if you can explain why the two positions that I say are different are the same, I would be glad to hear your explanation.

  145. #145 Seth Manapio
    April 5, 2006

    If you would have stopped there and not gone any further, you wouldn’t have any problems.

    The fact is, you responded mostly to the snarkier comments and mostly ignored the more reasonable arguments.

    I had already had problems prior to that point, guy. And I mentioned the problem you just pointed out, it is covered by mistake number two.

    What is it with you people?

    Me: I was wrong.
    You: Not only that, you were very wrong.

    What an closed minded little community you run here!

  146. #146 craig
    April 5, 2006

    Seth, I’m not advocating anything.

    If I make a statement “the world would be better off without assholes” (and I’m not referring to you) then I am merely making an observation.

    How could such a world come about? There are a few ways:
    1. kill all the assholes.
    2. turn the assholes into nice people
    3. prevent the creation of new assholes while the existing ones die off naturally.

    I can acknowledge that these are the possible ways to result in a world without assholes without, as you assume, advocating #1… or for that matter, without advocating ANY of them.

    You quoted me and said you might assume I advocated their removal. You also said you might assume I advocate you change your behavior.

    Yep. You might. But if you do, you’d be wrong. I never would advocate ANYONE’S removal. Ever. I knew a serial killer who was executed. I think the world is probably better off without him in it, yet I would never advocate his or anyone else’s execution.

    Why do you assume in the first case I was advocating their removal, and in the second case advocating you changing your behavior? Why not assume I was advocating they change their behavior and advocating YOUR removal? (make no mistake though, I was not.)

    The truth is, when I made that statement I was advocating NOTHING, since I don;t want anyone removed, and since I’m not foolish enough to think that any advocacy on my part will change anyone’s behavior.

    I was just making an observation.

  147. #147 RavenT
    April 5, 2006

    I know, that logic is so advanced that its almost like magic to you, but try to wrap your pretty little head around it, ‘kay?

    Wow, did I fall into a Noel Coward play, or what?

    So you think I’m an asshole, while I think you’re a troll who doesn’t let your lack of direct factual knowledge of the situation or your inability to parse a written sentence stand in the way of repeatedly bandying about libelous assertions about crimes against humanity, and then offering pseudo-justifications when repeatedly called on it. Sound about right?

    I’m ok with leaving it at that.

  148. #148 ~rhino
    April 5, 2006

    Robert,

    I think your perspective is simplistic. It is at least as simplistic as Pianka’s.

    Humans can be capable of successful ecological management. By definition, we have to be to some degree or we would never survive period. But unfortunately, archaeology and anthropology document many instances of ecological maladaptation and long run ecological denigration.

    In an ideal worl, or perhaps even in this one, local management of resources will be part of the solution. I agree, not all solutions can or should come from the Federal or International level. That said, many ecological problems cross local, national and international boundaries and thus require supra-local solutions and management. Secondly, “local management” is often simply a cover for continued corporate abuse of resources.

    Rubber tappers in the Amazonian rain forest have a built in interest in sustaining the rain forest. Alas, cattle ranchers do not. Do you see the difference?

    Pianka’s points are debatable and should be debated. But that is different from launching a campaign of character assasination and smear and calling the Department of Homeland Security.

    By definition, an ecological “problem” is always an ecological problem for humans and therefore, caused by human action. No other species is capable of intensifying production to the point that it so radically alters the nature of the ecosystem. Human alteration of the ecosystem does have the tendency in the long run to undermine the very resource base humans need and use to sustain themselves. Thus by the time humans perceive a problem, it is very clear-humans are the problem.

  149. #149 Caledonian
    April 5, 2006

    Oh, Seth Manapio…

    You said that you could prove that humans were inherently more valuable than other things — even *any* other things.

    Put up or shut up.

  150. #150 lt.kizhe
    April 5, 2006

    Even the CBC seems to have picked up on the (wrong version of the) Pianka story: http://www.cbc.ca/story/science/national/2006/04/04/ebola-060404.html

  151. #151 lurker
    April 5, 2006

    One minor question: if advocating lower birth rates and reduction of the current human population of around 6 billion (I don’t know how we ever got around with less, like the 3.5 billion or so when I was born) is so heinous,
    how about the people actually practicing this? Aren’t they even worse?
    Shouldn’t all people of fertile age with fewer than 3 children be good for a few death threats?
    Go forth and multiply, or else.

  152. #152 xouroboroz
    April 5, 2006

    The total arable land in the entire world is 14,894,000 km2.

    Approximate total population is over 5,000,000,000 people.

    14,894,000 divided by 5,000,000,000 is 0.0029788 km2.

    That is 2.9788 m2 or 32.063536349 square foot per person.

    A square 5.66 ft by 5.66 ft.

    Is that enough land to grow or graze what you need to eat to survive?

  153. #153 lt.kizhe
    April 5, 2006

    14,894,000 divided by 5,000,000,000 is 0.0029788 km2.
    That is 2.9788 m2 or 32.063536349 square foot per person.
    A square 5.66 ft by 5.66 ft.

    Um, no: there are a million (1000^2) square meters in a square kilometer, not a thousand. So there’s actually 2979 m2 per person, or a square about 54 m on a side. (Also your population figure is low by a billion and change).

  154. #154 Kathryn Perez
    April 5, 2006

    Hello. I posted previously on this thread that I was at Dr. Pianka’s talk and I find Mim’s account to be dishonest. We are now circulating a petition to this effect with the other TAS members who were present. It reads: “I was also at Dr. Pianka’s talk at the Texas Academy of Science meeting and came away with a very different impression of his talk than statements by Forrest Mim’s. I think my impression was in the majority judging by the standing ovation given to Dr. Pianka by ~400 fellow scientists. I would like to make clear that Mim’s has dishonestly mischaracterized Dr. Pianka’s statements. Dr. Pianka in no way advocated billions of deaths from Ebola or said anything that would lead a reasonable person to think he was doing so.”

    I sent it out 10 minutes ago and this has already been endorsed by several people who were at the talk. I’ll post updates and the signatory list in a while.

  155. #155 xouroboroz
    April 5, 2006

    excellent!

    I did this for a reason.
    I have been reading this blog since it began and what I read is arguements over misinterpretation of what is actually facts and how facts are being bent towards individual limited perspectives. Also, how statistics may be manipulated towards personal ends also.
    There have been those since the 60’s (…yes, and even before) who have advocated that we as a species are out-growing the environments ability to sustain us.
    I take Pianka’s statements as they are …his opinions; without my injecting my own personal prejudices.
    His statements made me consider if there is factual merit in what he said and prompted me to do my own research in order to come to some educated and informed conclusions which may or may not agree with his.

    My obviously erroneous mathematics were for this reason.
    What are the factual statistics for individual sustainability in this closed environment of ours?
    Are the statistics available accurate and free from personal prejudices which would alter what was being statistically considered?
    How much of the sustainable environment is being decimated in relation to the human population growth?
    Can this closed environment sustain a growth curve of the human species at the expense of other species?

    Also, not to throw fuel upon the fire, but in all this discussion I have not seen anyone put forth the idea that perhaps the Planet itself may be considering the reduction, if not elimination, of the human species; that the Planet may consider the human species a ‘virus’ in need of checking, if not eliminating.
    The concept of this World being a consciousness in its own right is a concept, that it is alive and self-aware, which is much older than either Science (in general), Theory of Evolution , Theory of Creationism or Theory of Intelligent Design.

    Each person, instead of resorting to personal attacks, could possibly seek out the facts for themselves and draw educated conclusions from which a concensus could be drawn.

    In conclusion, I restate my previous question with accurate data, though still utilizing the 5 billion population figure:

    Is a square 54 m by 54 m enough land to grow or graze what you need to eat to survive?

    If it isn’t, then consider that your square has grown even smaller because there are now approximately 1 billion more people.

  156. #156 mgr
    April 5, 2006

    Robert:

    Actually, the argument that humans can make decisions to withdraw from behaviors adverse to impacting carrying capacity is not clear cut that they do so without scientific input.

    BQ Neitzmann’s work with Mosquito Indians in Nicaraqua pretty much indicated that they did not percieve their overhunting of sea turtles being that the population was being diminished, but that the animals were hiding, so they hunted them more intensely. It was not until informed about game management that they then came over to a conservation point of view with the resource.

    What I resent here is the implication that advocating population control is culling or genocide, or some how ‘anti-human’. I think there is a hidden assumption here–is the rhythm method ‘anti-human’? I cull my goat herd, what that means is I sell off or kill the animals I find undesirable. In no way wanting to see the human population reduced by 90% implies this. All that I see Pianka offering is the observation that if we do not reduce the human population, one way is China, then the natural system will do it for us.

    The most palpable example is the role the black death had in Europe during the Medieval Optimum when arguably that population had exceeded its carrying capacity once the climate change began. Of course it did not have to be Yersinia pestis, it could have been ergot, or influenza, it’s just the marmot trade got to the population first.

    If one does take issue with matters in China, I would recommend addressing the culture that favors male children over female, rather than admonishing a centralized government that is only providing inducements for one child per family. If I recall from twenty years ago, there was some consideration of lifting this in regard to rural families in which the children are part of the farm labor pool.

    Mike

  157. #157 hank
    April 5, 2006

    Seth, do you remember reading this when it first came out?
    Is it the idea of evolution working faster for bacteria than for people that offends?

    http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/795_antibio.html

  158. #158 Seth Manapio
    April 7, 2006

    “Why do you assume in the first case I was advocating their removal, and in the second case advocating you changing your behavior? Why not assume I was advocating they change their behavior and advocating YOUR removal? (make no mistake though, I was not.)

    The truth is, when I made that statement I was advocating NOTHING, since I don’t want anyone removed, and since I’m not foolish enough to think that any advocacy on my part will change anyone’s behavior.

    I was just making an observation.”

    I don’t think this is true. This is why. (And yes, I know you didn’t call me an asshat. Just go with this.)

    “Seth is an asshat” is an observation–in both the common and scientific senses–of a scientifically verifiable fact, for a given definition of asshat. That “the world would be a better place without Seth in it” is not an observation, at the very least it is a prediction, and by common definitions it is advocacy for a Seth Free World. You would have–had you said that, which you didn’t–expressed a preference for a world without me in it, in clear, unambigous terms.

    Advocacy does not imply you expect success, it means that you propound and idea or speak in favor of an idea or state of affairs. If you say the world would be better if I weren’t in it, you have expressed your approval of that future state of affairs in which I will not be in the world, although not of any particular method of achieving it.

    Similarly, if you state that the world would be a better place if I pulled my head out of my ass, you are also an advocate. This clearly targets, not my life or my existence, but my visible and egregious level of asshattedness. I can’t really argue with that position, actually, it seems perfectly reasonable that if you believe I have my head up my ass, you would want me to remove it for my benefit as much as yours.

    I maintain that these are both advocacy statements and not observations at all. They express a preference for, and argue in favor of, a desired future state of affairs.

    Furthermore, they are very different advocacy statements with very different implications. For example, its pretty clear from your statements that you unequivocably advocated for the proposition: The world would be a better place if Bill Dembski and his posse were all killed by a serial killer, and if that killer was subsequently hit by a bus, the world would be better still.

    This does not make you an advocate of serial killing or poor driving, but you do laud their results.

    I believe this because you said the world would be (and in one case is) better without them. Not “without assholes” in some sort of abstract sense, but without a specific, named set of assholes, and not without them doing what they do, or being assholes, but without the assholes themselves. This is not ambiguous in its meaning. The only way the world can not have these particular people in it is if they leave the world, and they have to die to do that.

    So yes, you advocated that these people die–although by unspecified methods (perhaps, given your aversion to killing, of natural causes such as being struck by lightning or whatever)–to make the world a better place. You said, in effect, that the world would be a better place if Bill Dembski were hit by lightning, and you are an advocate for that future state of affairs. If you were to tell me to make the world a better place, and I killed Bill Dembski, that would be a reasonable interpretation of your desires given that statement in a vacuum.

    So this is not the same class of statement as “the world needs less assholes” because it lacks the ambiguity of that statement. If you say “the world needs fewer assholes” and I start killing assholes, you can argue convincincly that I am not following your lead at all.

    Okay, I believe I spent too long writing this, and I believe I will regret it later. I advocate that I go take an ibuprofen, walk the dog, and get some fucking sleep.

    Caledonian, can you state with a little more clarity precisely what position you would like to see a logical argument for? And sketch out your contrary proposition and your proof for that? Thanks.

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