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nebularain
2006-Apr-03, 01:34 PM
Someone please tell me this is a hoax or something.

Scientists cheer holocaust wish (http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=49555) - Texas academy honors professor who wants
90% of human race exterminated by Ebola

Donnie B.
2006-Apr-03, 01:53 PM
It looks legitimate.

Forrest Mims is certainly a real person (I own at least one of his books), and the CV for Pianka also looks legit.

Pianka is hardly the first to suggest that a reduction in the size of the human population is desirable. He goes a bit further than most by suggesting a specific agent.

I'm not sure what you find surprising: his suggestion, the audience's reaction, or Mims' response to it. None of them is particularly astonishing to me.


I wonder how many in that crowd realized that, if Pianka's scenario were to occur, their own chance of survival would be only one in ten... and the same for each member of their family and circle of friends. It smacks of the can't-happen-to-me syndrome: "Yes, yes, nine out of ten of the rest of you zombies should die!"

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-03, 02:01 PM
Poking around a bit, I wouldn't consider the news source to be very informative. It's incredibly biased.

Argos
2006-Apr-03, 02:02 PM
hmm, no traffic jams, no waitng for dinner in a crowded restaurant, silent streets, high wages, no job shortage, it wouldn´t be bad idea at all...

nebularain
2006-Apr-03, 02:11 PM
I know people have argued for population reduction; that's not shocking.

What shocked me was the, "We need to release ebola into the atmosphere to reduce the population by 90%." (Not the exact quote, but that's what it looks like he's saying in the article.)

How can anyone say that?!

Fram
2006-Apr-03, 02:18 PM
hmm, no traffic jams, no waitng for dinner in a crowded restaurant, silent streets, high wages, no job shortage, it wouldn´t be bad idea at all...
Noone to serve you dinner, a huge job shortage (you have to work for someone, i.e. the goods or services you produce have to be consumed, plus we have a whole lot of "consumables" laying around, so no new ones would be needed for a while (e.g. TV's, computers, ..., everything with a longer life: one in ten of the housese would be empty, so no new houses would have to be built for a long time, etcetera), ...
There would be advantages, but don't underestimate the disadvantages of such a huge cut in the number of people.

Argos
2006-Apr-03, 02:23 PM
I could live with that. :)

By the way, this story reminds me of Gore Vidal´s "Kalki".

Joe87
2006-Apr-03, 02:48 PM
hmm, no traffic jams, no waitng for dinner in a crowded restaurant, silent streets, high wages, no job shortage, it wouldn´t be bad idea at all...

It would be like the aftermath of the Black Death in Europe, only more so. The restaurant part of your scenario might not work out so well, though. 90% of them would be out of business, and who would wait on tables with so many high-paying jobs available? Better be a big tipper, or you get no service at all.

Swift
2006-Apr-03, 03:01 PM
Forget no servers in restaurants. How about more than 90% of the doctors dead (I say more than 90%, because given their exposure to the sick, they probably would be more affected)? How about the rioting and panic as people discovered what was going on? How about billions of rotting bodies? How about the collapse of civilization and a return to an agro-society with an average life span of less than 40?

This is a horrible idea - at least the fellow who's name I borrowed meant it as a joke and was making a point. What is this guy's point - is he serious?

peter eldergill
2006-Apr-03, 03:11 PM
I think a slow decline in population would be beneficial. Something similar to China perhaps? I'm not even sure if their one child policy is working well or not. In theory it sounds good, but reality?

Wiping out so many people all at once is probably not a good thing. I didn't even think of the doctor aspect, etc.

There is a fabulous excerpt from either "Connections" or "THe Day the Universe Changed" with James Burke where he talks about how would you get food. Do you know how to kill a cow? Bleed it? Cut it? Without electricity? etc...it was fabulous

Pete
Pete

TriangleMan
2006-Apr-03, 03:25 PM
Populations are declining in some EU countries as well as Japan. It appears that with economic development plus empowerment for women will reduce birth rates to around 2.1 per woman, or even a bit less.

Sadly some African nations are also expected to have negative population growth but for different reasons (HIV/AIDS being the prime culprit).

tofu
2006-Apr-03, 03:48 PM
Some amount of population reduction would certainly be a good thing, but just randomly killing 90% of people is ridiculous and pointless. At best they'll just repopulate. At worse they will break down into little warring factions, and the progress of science and civilization would halt.

A better solution is to change the culture so that people are constantly in control of when they have kids, and just let the population decline on its own.

I know this is controversial, but sometimes I actually think it would be a "good thing" if every child was sterilized before hitting puberty and that this was combined with free, no-questions-asked, reversal surgery on demand - meaning that any person could walk into any hospital at any time and announce, "I want to have the sterilization reversed" and they would have it done right then and there no questions asked. And that would have to written into the constitution.

Basically what I'm getting at is just that present birth control methods have two major problems: 1) they detract from the experience of sex, and 2) it's hard to remember to use them. So, I was thinking one day that the world would actually be a better place if there was absolutely no possibility of an unwanted pregnancy, and that's what I came up with.


I think a slow decline in population would be beneficial. Something similar to China perhaps? I'm not even sure if their one child policy is working well or not. In theory it sounds good, but reality?

Yeah but the problem in China is that they keep killing all the baby girls. There are something like 250 million more males in China today than females. That can't be good. The prospect of having children is a great civilizing mechanism - what I mean is, it makes a person want to work toward a better future. What happens when you have a large group of males with no concern for the future?

tofu
2006-Apr-03, 03:55 PM
It appears that with economic development plus empowerment for women will reduce birth rates

And don't forget education - which also helps with...


Sadly some African nations are also expected to have negative population growth but for different reasons (HIV/AIDS being the prime culprit).

So much of the AIDS epidemic is due to the popular belief that having sex with a virgin will cure the disease. There are actually infected men roaming around in Africa right now like predators, hunting young girls. It's sick, but how do you combat that? You tell someone with a terminal disease, who's going to die anyway, "oh don't bother doing that, it wont help." But there's no other cure so eventually the poor doomed guy started to think, "well, maybe it will help, I think I'll give it a try."

ToSeek
2006-Apr-03, 03:58 PM
Both Mims and WorldNetDaily are rather biased. (He's a creationist, and WND is so far out on many fronts it's hard to believe.) There's a less alarmist report on the lecture here. (http://brenmccnnll.blogspot.com/2006/03/dr.html)

Donnie B.
2006-Apr-03, 04:02 PM
I know this is controversial, but sometimes I actually think it would be a "good thing" if every child was sterilized before hitting puberty and that this was combined with free, no-questions-asked, reversal surgery on demand - meaning that any person could walk into any hospital at any time and announce, "I want to have the sterilization reversed" and they would have it done right then and there no questions asked. And that would have to written into the constitution.Controversial, indeed. But even the practical aspects are problematic.

First, no surgery is 100% risk free. Are we willing to accept even a small number of kids dying each year after the sterilization procedure?

Second, to the best of my knowledge there is no sterilization method for either gender that is guaranteed 100% reversible. At least some percentage of the population would be left sterilized whether they chose to or not.

Third, where is the constituency that will apply the political pressure required to implement this in the Western democracies? If it doesn't apply globally, what good would it do?

If you really want to limit population growth, and if the issue is pressing enough, there are less drastic measures you could take first. I'm thinking of tax and educational incentives for small families and singles, and similar approaches.

Larry Jacks
2006-Apr-03, 04:04 PM
It makes you wonder, if the story is true and certain 'scientists' are calling for mass murder to lower the population, why don't they kill themselves and their families? Of course you know the answer - it's everyone else they want to kill. They - being among the annointed ones - are too valuable to die.

There are somewhere around 6 billion people on Earth. Killing 90% of them would leave about 5.4 billion infected bodies lying around. There would be a complete breakdown of civilization.

It sounds like this guy read the Tom Clancy book, "Rainbow Six". If not, then he should read it. The plot centers around a extremist environmental group that wants to create a pandemic using ebola. He should be sure to read it all the way to the ending and what happens to that group.

Dragon Star
2006-Apr-03, 04:06 PM
Poking around a bit, I wouldn't consider the news source to be very informative. It's incredibly biased.

Thats a joke right? ALL news is biased.

ggremlin
2006-Apr-03, 04:11 PM
I hope this is a sick joke, April 1st type.

As a thought exercise, 90% of the world works out to about 5.5 billion people and Ebola is particularly bad way to die. I would expect the following

1. A nuclear response of some kind, further aggrieving the situation.
2. The end of international transportation and communication as everyone still alive attempts to escape to clean areas.
3. The cities become no man lands as millions of corpses decay.
4. The collapse of civilization as most of the technical people are dead, not leaving enough to maintain our current high level of technology.

This does raise an interesting question, has any studies been done to determine how many people would be required to maintain our current standard of living?

hhEb09'1
2006-Apr-03, 04:46 PM
Both Mims and WorldNetDaily are rather biased. (He's a creationist, and WND is so far out on many fronts it's hard to believe.) There's a less alarmist report on the lecture here. (http://brenmccnnll.blogspot.com/2006/03/dr.html)How do you mean, less alarmist? That blog says "he's basically advocating for the death of all but 10% of the current population!"

And "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."

I don't see much difference between that version and the other, except that the blog writer seems to agree with the position: "And at the risk of sounding just as radical, I think he's right."

Melusine
2006-Apr-03, 04:48 PM
I know this is controversial, but sometimes I actually think it would be a "good thing" if every child was sterilized before hitting puberty and that this was combined with free, no-questions-asked, reversal surgery on demand - meaning that any person could walk into any hospital at any time and announce, "I want to have the sterilization reversed" and they would have it done right then and there no questions asked. And that would have to written into the constitution.

Basically what I'm getting at is just that present birth control methods have two major problems: 1) they detract from the experience of sex, and 2) it's hard to remember to use them. So, I was thinking one day that the world would actually be a better place if there was absolutely no possibility of an unwanted pregnancy, and that's what I came up with.


My sister is at the supervisor level of the Dept of Children & Family Services, and she felt that certain women should be implanted with Norplant when it's obvious that they can't handle the kids they have, and keep having them with the state supporting them, no less. Her biggest concern is danger to the children, and the fact that some of them are just starting life out in an awful way. What does that do for their adulthood? Norplant isn't permanent--it's just put under the arm-skin. The fact is, not always the best parents reproduce, as my sister can attest to having to make life and death decisions about other people's kids. As liberal as I can be, I'm not against an idea like hers. In Africa, if one saw "Darwin's Nightmare," it's just mindblowing the extent of death and poverty...I don't know how to say it...intelligent population decrease? I'm not talking about eugenics--I mean thinking responsibly before populating on a personal/national/global level.

Argos, I think you need to move to a smaller town. ;) :)

hhEb09'1
2006-Apr-03, 04:55 PM
I'm not talking about eugenics--I mean thinking responsibly before populating on a personal/national/global level.If you're talking about making such decisions for other people, though, I think it does move into eugenics. Your sister is to be commended for working in such a demanding and sometimes thankless field--I'm sure she's aware of the limitations of her position, frustrating though it may be.

Argos
2006-Apr-03, 05:18 PM
Six hundred and fifty milllion people would survive. China´s population would still be 120 million people. India´s 100 million. The US would still keep 30,000,000 people (the current population of Canada). More than enough to keep civilization running.

cope
2006-Apr-03, 05:40 PM
This is becoming a cause celebre for various right wing conservative elements of the internet.

A more rational summary of what is going on (including the rabid over-reaction of people to the misrepresentation of what Dr. Pianka said) can be found here, amongst other places:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/04/texas_academy_of_science_getti.php

It is scary to see so many whipped into a frenzy by the misrepresentations of a few. Anybody who doubts that there is a coordinated, on-going assault on science in this country is blind.

Larry Jacks
2006-Apr-03, 05:43 PM
Argos said:

Six hundred and fifty milllion people would survive. China´s population would still be 120 million people. India´s 100 million. The US would still keep 30,000,000 people (the current population of Canada). More than enough to keep civilization running.

That's based on some very specious reasoning. If 90% of the US population died, you can make no safe assumptions about the distribution of essential skills being proportional. For example, less than 2% of the US population is involved in agriculture. That small percentage is dependent on many other people for things like energy, equipment, transportation, etc. in order to grow the food and get it to market. Contrary to what some people seem to think, food doesn't come from the grocery store. Likewise, most people are very poorly equipped to live self-sufficiently. Can you make antibiotics?

As to the consquences of such a massive pandemic, can you imagine the hellish public health prospect of disposing of 270 million infected dead bodies in the US alone? If the article is accurate, both the speaker who advocated such mass murder and those who applauded it should be hounded out of any position of responsibility. What they're proposing exceeds the mass murders of Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot by a couple orders of magnitude.

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-03, 05:47 PM
Thats a joke right? ALL news is biased.

Yes. And some news sources are more biased than others.

There's a difference between a news source that comments on how all liberals murder children, and a news source that discusses, very politely, the topic of abortion and gives both sides (more or less) with a bit of bias.

tofu
2006-Apr-03, 05:56 PM
First, no surgery is 100% risk free.

Well, for the male side of things:
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/vasectomy/article_em.htm
Quoting from the article: "Risks with vasectomy are few. No death has ever been attributed to this procedure." I was only speaking hypothetically, but if you want to get into specifics a vasectomy really seems like a nearly perfect option.

Note also that sterilization does not necessarily have to mean surgery. It would be enough, I think, to just give away female birth control pills for free, and to develop a male birth control pill.


Are we willing to accept even a small number of kids dying each year after the sterilization procedure?

Please do not have an emotional reaction to what I'm saying. The thrust of my argument was that giving people choice would be a good thing. You completely turned it around and are now talking about "omg think of the children! why wont someone please for the love of god think of the children?"

Maybe we could just discuss the idea - that everyone is sterile until they make a conscious, informed decision to have kids - rather than getting upset about the details.



Third, where is the constituency that will apply the political pressure required to implement this in the Western democracies? If it doesn't apply globally, what good would it do?

You're absolutely right, however...


I'm thinking of tax and educational incentives for small families and singles, and similar approaches.

where is the constituency that will apply the political pressure required to implement this? I'm single and childless right now. Sure, I'd love to have a tax break. But then when I have kids and you take away that tax break, you know what I'm going to say: "omg they are taxing me for having kids! Think if the children! Wont someone please think of the children!!"

If we could just go back to the hypothetical, I also think that Niven had a good idea in his Known Space series. Every person is entitled to have exactly one child. (the penalties for having more is a specific that we can discuss later). What this means is that if you get married you and your spouse have the right to have two kids. This seems like a very fair system to me, and it is effective in controlling population. What happens is that some people die of disease or accident before exercising their right. So the population will naturally decline. When you need to maintain or increase the population, you can grant people the right to have additional children by holding a lottery.

tofu
2006-Apr-03, 06:10 PM
they can't handle the kids they have, and keep having them with the state supporting them, no less.

Yeah, that's really terrible, and selfish. But it's one of those things that our society just will not talk about. I think we're going to run out of food and gasoline soon enough though, and then the whole world will be like New Orleans after Katrina. It will be like that for a while. I guess we'll either deal with it then or die.

Argos
2006-Apr-03, 06:16 PM
That's based on some very specious reasoning. If 90% of the US population died, you can make no safe assumptions about the distribution of essential skills being proportional. For example, less than 2% of the US population is involved in agriculture. That small percentage is dependent on many other people for things like energy, equipment, transportation, etc. in order to grow the food and get it to market. Contrary to what some people seem to think, food doesn't come from the grocery store. Likewise, most people are very poorly equipped to live self-sufficiently. Can you make antibiotics?

Like penicillin? Hmm, it´s hard, but not impossible. There´ll be plenty of labs in town. Also, the knowledge base (libraries) would be intact.


As to the consquences of such a massive pandemic, can you imagine the hellish public health prospect of disposing of 270 million infected dead bodies in the US alone?

If you don´t mind the scent just let nature follow its course. I´d be more concerned with the survivors.

ToSeek
2006-Apr-03, 06:18 PM
How do you mean, less alarmist? That blog says "he's basically advocating for the death of all but 10% of the current population!"

And "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."

I don't see much difference between that version and the other, except that the blog writer seems to agree with the position: "And at the risk of sounding just as radical, I think he's right."

I was groping for a word, and "alarmist" probably wasn't it. Perhaps "sensationalized" might be a better word. Anyhow, the blog says nothing about getting a standing ovation or whatever, just reporting what he said.

Dragon Star
2006-Apr-03, 06:36 PM
Yes. And some news sources are more biased than others.

There's a difference between a news source that comments on how all liberals murder children, and a news source that discusses, very politely, the topic of abortion and gives both sides (more or less) with a bit of bias.

Quite true.

Donnie B.
2006-Apr-03, 06:58 PM
Note also that sterilization does not necessarily have to mean surgery. It would be enough, I think, to just give away female birth control pills for free, and to develop a male birth control pill.

Please do not have an emotional reaction to what I'm saying. The thrust of my argument was that giving people choice would be a good thing. You completely turned it around and are now talking about "omg think of the children! why wont someone please for the love of god think of the children?"

Maybe we could just discuss the idea - that everyone is sterile until they make a conscious, informed decision to have kids - rather than getting upset about the details.Well, we all know where the devil is, don't we?

I didn't think my reaction was particularly emotional. IMHO your second paragraph above isn't an even remotely valid characterization. Could you be reading something into it that wasn't there? I may have done the same with your original post, since I assumed that 'sterilization' did not mean the same thing as 'contraception', whereas you're suggesting they're equivalent.

I would certainly support free contraception for all, though that too carries some (relatively small) risks, including its less than 100% effectiveness. But I still maintain that sterilization, however routine these days, is a surgical procedure and carries a certain level of risk. Have you had surgery lately? Ever read the consent form? I guarantee you that "death" will be listed as one possible outcome of the procedure, whatever it is. Legal CYA, sure -- but that's because people do die in surgery sometimes. And that's something that any program of "by default" sterilization would have to face to get passed into law.

You did not address the issue of reversability, either. Last time I checked, no surgical sterilization procedure was considered to be guaranteed reversible. But if you're including contraception I guess that issue is moot.

In any case, if you took my reaction as overly emotional, I'd love to watch you handle the response your proposal would get on almost any other forum -- say, the Jerry Springer show... (is that still on?)

Gillianren
2006-Apr-03, 07:03 PM
With re: birth control that doesn't detract from the experience or require much remembering, let me advocate Depo-Provera, which I get a shot of once every three months. So much easier to remember than the pill.

Actually, two children per couple is negative population growth, given that not all people will a) live to reproduce and b) choose to reproduce. In fact, leaving out immigration, the US currently has negative population growth. Now, of course, in practical terms, you can't leave out immigration, and so the US population is increasing. But not by reproduction within its borders.

Further, would the child I had and gave up for adoption count as my kid or her adoptive parents' kid?

Finally, it seems logical to me that the groups most likely to suffer enormous die-off are the medical profession and the urban poor. I wonder how this affects everyone's calculations of what a world reduced by 90% of its human population would be like.

Argos
2006-Apr-03, 07:14 PM
Finally, it seems logical to me that the groups most likely to suffer enormous die-off are the medical profession and the urban poor.

It follows that faced with such an unprecedented challenge, authorities should take steps to forbid medical assistance to the infected, in order to preserve doctors for the new era.

CJSF
2006-Apr-03, 07:19 PM
"The Pill" and Depo-provera are effective, but can cause serious health problems and side-effects with prolonged use in some women. I have seen that first-hand. And MANDATORY sterlization? By the State? Seems rather totalitarian to me. I can envison all sorts of problems with that sort of infrastructure in place.

CJSF

jt-3d
2006-Apr-03, 08:45 PM
Me thinks the good professor should stick to his lizards...and see a pshychiatrist. The term sociopath comes to mind. I mean if I went around saying 90% of the population should be killed, even if it was by a humane means, I'd be carted away to the Rubber Room Inn. An education and position does not mean he's not a whacko.

Assuming this is not an and attempt to extend April fools day an extra day. I hate April fools day.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-03, 10:14 PM
This is becoming a cause celebre for various right wing conservative elements of the internet.

A more rational summary of what is going on (including the rabid over-reaction of people to the misrepresentation of what Dr. Pianka said) can be found here, amongst other places:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/04/texas_academy_of_science_getti.php

It is scary to see so many whipped into a frenzy by the misrepresentations of a few. Anybody who doubts that there is a coordinated, on-going assault on science in this country is blind.

If the transcript of what he actually said is there, I'm not seeing it. Is it anywhere? What I am seeing are different discussions by people that obviously have very different viewpoints on certain environmental subjects. In each case, the viewpoint is what I would call "biased" in one fashion or another.

I'll note that the death of 90% of the human population could be an environmental disaster of epic proportions. There would be fewer researchers, fewer people to keep things running, and little details like trying to protect the environment would take second place to surviving, even in what are currently the most prosperous countries.

There are local population issues. At the same time, we aren't seeing the population growth that was predicted in the '70s and '80s.

Melusine
2006-Apr-03, 10:21 PM
If you're talking about making such decisions for other people, though, I think it does move into eugenics. Your sister is to be commended for working in such a demanding and sometimes thankless field--I'm sure she's aware of the limitations of her position, frustrating though it may be.
But eugenics is about trying to create a healthier, or more intelligent, or whatever population. Her feeling is if you have a child that never went outside for two years and lived in filth, and then you have another, and another, and you can not adequately care for them, i.e. abuse them, then a reversable procedure could be utilised--I mean all we're talking about is birth control, just one that is a no-brainer. This isn't about race, income level or anything (both poor and educated wealthy people abuse their kids per her); it's about certain people who should not be populating because they are seriously bad parents. On top of that, they cost time and money to the rest of us to monitor their behavior. Seems totalitarian, but in this instance, I have to agree with her, because I hear enough about it. Anway, that's a bit straying from the psychotic population comment.



Jt-3d: I mean if I went around saying 90% of the population should be killed, even if it was by a humane means, I'd be carted away to the Rubber Room Inn. An education and position does not mean he's not a whacko.

It's a strange comment indeed, and an extreme thing to say.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-03, 10:26 PM
It looks legitimate.

Forrest Mims is certainly a real person (I own at least one of his books), and the CV for Pianka also looks legit.


Forrest Mims writes nice intro electronics books, among other things. I don't know his politics, but I wouldn't automatically discount what he said. (He apparently listened to the speech).



I wonder how many in that crowd realized that, if Pianka's scenario were to occur, their own chance of survival would be only one in ten... and the same for each member of their family and circle of friends. It smacks of the can't-happen-to-me syndrome: "Yes, yes, nine out of ten of the rest of you zombies should die!"

Very similar to the way people would think about nuclear war - making assumptions that they would be the one that would live through it, would be healthy, and wouldn't have a problem getting along after the collapse of civilization.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-03, 10:40 PM
Me thinks the good professor should stick to his lizards...and see a pshychiatrist. The term sociopath comes to mind. I mean if I went around saying 90% of the population should be killed, even if it was by a humane means, I'd be carted away to the Rubber Room Inn. An education and position does not mean he's not a whacko.


I'd like to see his actual words before I said too much about him. However, I do remember professors from my university days with a not-too-subtle attitude that humans (or at least most of us) were better off dead. That got into the whole "limits to growth" GIGO calculation issue. Unfortunately, folks like that are still around.

sarongsong
2006-Apr-03, 10:43 PM
...Maybe we could just discuss the idea - that everyone is sterile until they make a conscious, informed decision to have kids - rather than getting upset about the details...That idea alone might reduce the population 90%!

Kesh
2006-Apr-04, 12:29 AM
From what I can tell, it seems that Mims has taken things way out of context, and used that to inflame certain segments of the populace against science.

A quick summary is here on Pharyngula (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/04/pianka_and_mims.php#more).

BTW: I recommend that blog for all kinds of biology-related science news. Great stuff on there, and lots of coverage of the ID/creation science junk that's being pushed on schools of late.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-04, 12:48 AM
From what I can tell, it seems that Mims has taken things way out of context, and used that to inflame certain segments of the populace against science.

A quick summary is here on Pharyngula (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/04/pianka_and_mims.php#more).

BTW: I recommend that blog for all kinds of biology-related science news. Great stuff on there, and lots of coverage of the ID/creation science junk that's being pushed on schools of late.

Well, I would say this is another "biased" source regarding this subject. From that:

I don't know exactly what was said, but I will venture a few opinions and suggestions.
[snip]
I suspect that what we have here is a vocal scientist who tactlessly spoke an unpleasant truth—we are burning through the resources of our world at a prodigious and unsustainable rate, heedless of the future, and we can expect Nature in the form of a devastating disease to strike back—and once again, a kook from outside the reality-based community is using that as an excuse to demonize the messenger.

So he didn't actually hear it, but he has an interesting opinion on what is the "truth."

Edited to add: This guy sure didn't make me feel better about the good professor. Quite the opposite.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-04, 01:39 AM
Take a look at this post from someone who apparently agrees with the good Doctor:

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

Some selections:

Dr. Pianka was named the 2006 Distinguished Scientist by the Texas Academy of Science. He's an ecologist, a "doomsday ecologist" as he puts it, with a CV several pages long and results that have changed the way ecologists think, forever.

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.

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. Rich, poor, black, white, brown, nice, mean, religious, agnostic - we'd all be targeted equally.

Now here are Mims comments:

http://www.sas.org/tcs/weeklyIssues_2006/2006-04-07/feature1p/index.html

He is apparently concerned that somebody that takes this Gloom and Doomer seriously might want to put it into action, Twelve Monkeys style.

As for me, I would really like to see what the guy actually said, but from the hints, I'm liking it less and less. It seems very much the old school "Limits To Growth" thinking taken to its illogical conclusion.

Peter Canuck
2006-Apr-04, 02:40 AM
I won't offer any science links or blogs for anyone to consider. Just remember that any type of sterilization (Pill, procedure, or other) is really the choice of the individual. This is one area where the wishes of society should not run over the person. If a person pro-creates and neglects the offspring, then that is where society can enter the picture.

nebularain
2006-Apr-04, 03:11 AM
Eeewww . . . I was hoping this was misreport or misrepresentation or something.

I can appreciate ecologists believing a decreasing population as the solution to our environmental problems (although I'd argue that you need to eliminate problems like greed, mismanagement, people in power who withhold food distribution, etc. before the problems can truly be solved . . . but that's another argument).

But to desire a disease outbreak like ebola (??!!!) as a solution? That is so nuts!

Argue your case for population reduction, but gracious . . . don't lose your humanity in the process!

I'd rather roll a 10-sided dice, and if I didn't roll a 10 have my throat slit than to die of ebola. That is much more humane.

Crazy?

Yeah, you get the idea of how shocked I feel. :(

hhEb09'1
2006-Apr-04, 04:02 AM
From what I can tell, it seems that Mims has taken things way out of context, and used that to inflame certain segments of the populace against science.

A quick summary is here on Pharyngula (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/04/pianka_and_mims.php#more).From that link: "I wasn't there, and I don't know exactly what was said, but I will venture a few opinions and suggestions."

Take a look at this post from someone who apparently agrees with the good Doctor:

http://brenmccnnll.blogspot.com/2006/03/dr.html.That's the same link that ToSeek gave back on page one (hey, you've been ToSeeked. :) )

That person was there, and reports the event similar to what I read in the OP. The only difference is that in one account, the writer is distressed by the events, the other writer is not. Count me in the inflamed and distressed mass (that sounds like a boil). This is "science" that we can do without.

Wolverine
2006-Apr-04, 04:20 AM
As odd as the article is, it's not detailing a conspiracy theory.

Moved from CT to BABBling.

01101001
2006-Apr-04, 06:47 AM
BA Blog: Intelligent Designers’ nonsense, part n (http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2006/04/03/intelligent-designers-nonsense-part-n/)


This (real) scientist, Eric Pianka, says (I am paraphrasing) that humans have so overpopulated the Earth that we are soon due for a "crash", as most populations which get too big often do. It means a huge die-off, as much as 90% of a population dying. Mind you, he is simply saying this is a typical biological situation of overpopulation, and that’s what happens quite often. He is not, say, advocating this position. Merely stating it as a scientific possibility.

Enter Forrest M. Mims III, an antievolutionist. He claims that Pianka is openly advocating the literal decimation of the human race. Then enter William Dembski, who decided that someone who would do such a thing should be reported to the government, to Homeland Security.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-04, 07:26 AM
Well, I'm still looking this over, but I think I'm going to have to disagree somewhat with the BA on this one. First, I really want to see what the guy actually said. I've seen someone on his side and someone against him both say about the same thing, which is that he is effectively saying that it would be a good thing if most of the population die from Ebola - and others say something different. Who's right?

Second, I have some concern about mixing ID into this. You can't assume people are automatically wrong on a non-ID subject just because they advocate ID. Also, his own position (as suggested by comments from proponents) is also quite extreme and is as much about his beliefs as science (yes, there are theoretical possibilities, but that isn't evidence).

I don't like what Dembski did, but it looks like he interpreted Mims oddly. Here:

http://www.sas.org/tcs/weeklyIssues_2006/2006-04-07/feature1p/index.html

Mims does not suggest that Pianka would spread Ebola. He does wonder, at the end of the article, about the possibility that a student that might take Pianka too seriously and eventually make a super Ebola.

Edit to add:

Just to be clear: What Dembski did is wrong. That reaction was not justified. However, this looks more like a case of misinterpretation of extreme statements as filtered through multiple steps than a science versus anti-science argument.

hhEb09'1
2006-Apr-04, 09:35 AM
Hoo Boy, no transcripts, no recordings. I'm out of this one. (I'm no longer distressed and inflamed, I been lanced.) This is a huge he said she said. Has the scientist in the center of the controversy issued his own statement about his remarks?

gwiz
2006-Apr-04, 11:27 AM
Hoo Boy, no transcripts, no recordings. I'm out of this one. (I'm no longer distressed and inflamed, I been lanced.) This is a huge he said she said. Has the scientist in the center of the controversy issued his own statement about his remarks?
In full agreement, unless we get a transcript it's all just hearsay.

antoniseb
2006-Apr-04, 12:00 PM
I can believe that a scientist said something controversial to hilight his idea that we are damaging the planet with our shear numbers, and that someone else only heard the part about ways the numbers could be reduced. It wouldn't be the first time a message was lost because someone couldn't swallow the hook.

I'd like to see a transcript, but I can imagine that it will only put the remark in context, not erase it. The fact that the rest of the scientists heard the whole story and honored that is no surprise either.

farmerjumperdon
2006-Apr-04, 12:31 PM
Having an intelligent conversation about population problems is time well spent. Voicing the desire to see 90% of all humans die from ebola is certifiably wacko - no buts about it.

Incentives for voluntary reduction of the birth rate are fine. Forced sterilization is not if it designates certain categories of people as program targets.

Deciding who should or should not have kids is deciding who can propogate, which is only a step away from deciding who lives and dies.

A very slippery slope - not to mention forgetting the lessons of history. Governments or people given that kind of authority lead to things like the Holocaust, the Killing Fields, Darfur, etc.

The fact that they desire to have germs do their work instead of storm troopers doesn't make them any less wacked out.

Melusine
2006-Apr-04, 12:46 PM
Incentives for voluntary reduction of the birth rate are fine. Forced sterilization is not if it designates certain categories of people as program targets.

Deciding who should or should not have kids is deciding who can propogate, which is only a step away from deciding who lives and dies.

I know my sister's idea was NOT forced sterlization, but a choice--you keep having kids and abusing them, then either go to jail or use contraception you won't forget to take and use as some excuse and take up everybody's time. It's not a simple this or that thing. I can't blame her, nor can my father, who at one time became so discouraged with the number of paternity suits and women not knowing who the fathers were-- as if they were cats. (Not to be harsh, but really, that's the truth). It's these things that lead people to consider the options. (It's something to muse about for its moral implications, no doubt, Farmer.)

I remember meeting a young Chinese couple attending Yale Univ. and they were fine with the idea of 2 kids per person since they recognized the need for it (in their own words). In Africa, it is important for contraception to be available so that people CAN make the choice, however, since I've been informed that there are many rapes, that doesn't even do a whole lot of good. As Gillianren mentioned Deprovera (or Norplant) would be a more efficient voluntary choice in those cases where women are mistreated and have little autonomy. Condoms just won't cut it.



The fact that they desire to have germs do their work instead of storm troopers doesn't make them any less wacked out.

Hmm, this is still under debate and verification, so it appears. We ought to reserve judgment until further notice about the context of this statement. :question:

farmerjumperdon
2006-Apr-04, 01:21 PM
I know my sister's idea was NOT forced sterlization, but a choice--you keep having kids and abusing them, then either go to jail or use contraceptionFarmer.)

Hmm, this is still under debate and verification, so it appears. We ought to reserve judgment until further notice about the context of this statement. :question:

For the people your sister serves, there is no need for sterilization (at least the forced variety - OK to offer it as a voluntary service). A better start would be to stop rewarding them for having kids. Two words - Welfare Reform.

Not sure what you mean by reserving judgement - hope you don't mean we ought to give it a chance, or wait and see if it works. I'm very comfortable with my assessment that anyone who feels 90% of the human population dying from Ebola is a good thing is definitely wacked, . . . extremely wacked.

I don't know if it was actually said, or just reported that way. I am saying that anybody who would think it a good thing is sick.

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-04, 01:26 PM
Not sure what you mean by reserving judgement - hope you don't mean we ought to give it a chance, or wait and see if it works. I'm very comfortable with my assessment that anyone who feels 90% of the human population dying from Ebola is a good thing is definitely wacked, . . . extremely wacked.

I don't know if it was actually said, or just reported that way. I am saying that anybody who would think it a good thing is sick.

Good from what perspective? Are you saying that the environment would be worse off? Or do you mean good from the POV of being good for the human race?

That's awfully biased, if you ask me. Tut tut.

Also, you totally missed what the fellow meant by reserving judgement. He meant, reserving judgement of the scientist that people claim said that. The entire idea that he said such a thing is under debate. I doubt he did, personally. I think some extremists took what he said, twisted it, and suited it to their agenda.

cope
2006-Apr-04, 02:10 PM
It took 24 hours or so but information directly from the source is starting to come out. As I personally suspected, Mims took elements of the Pianka speech and distorted them in order to raise the ire and blood pressure of certain elements of the internet and blogosphere.

For starters, here is a short article summarizing Pianka's message with a more reasoned explanation of what the nature of Pianka's speech was meant to be:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/04/forrest_mims_cr.html

Even more to the point, a local Austin station has an unedited interview (20 minutes long, too long for me to watch at work) with Pianka about the brouhaha:

http://www.kxan.com/Global/story.asp?S=4720390

I will take it in when I get home from work today.

Kesh
2006-Apr-04, 02:21 PM
Hoo Boy, no transcripts, no recordings. I'm out of this one. (I'm no longer distressed and inflamed, I been lanced.) This is a huge he said she said. Has the scientist in the center of the controversy issued his own statement about his remarks?
This is what I was driving at, but worded badly. Never post when you're running on too little sleep. :D

All we have are Mim's view on what the talk was about, and other audience member's views. No real transcript. So, it's being blown out of proportion at the moment. We don't know what was specifically said, or the context it was in.

One side seems to paint the talk as an evil, goatee-stroking, cackling mad scientist declaring his desire to wipe out humanity. The other states it was a respectable scientist pointing out that humanity has screwed up the planet and it would take something on the scale of near-annihilation of our species to fix it.

I find the latter more likely, but I can't dismiss the former entirely until a transcript is provided.

Kesh
2006-Apr-04, 02:24 PM
Thanks for the links, cope. Figures. I had this window loaded earlier to read, and never checked Panda's Thumb today. :)

Melusine
2006-Apr-04, 02:26 PM
For the people your sister serves, there is no need for sterilization (at least the forced variety - OK to offer it as a voluntary service). A better start would be to stop rewarding them for having kids. Two words - Welfare Reform.
Who ever said anything about forced sterilization? Birth control is not "forced sterlization." It would be a choice of jail or responsibly not getting pregnant. To be precise, that is not sterilization. Her concern is that why should someone who has shown repeated abuse of their kids be able to produce more when they can't handle the ones they have? The alternative is prison. :think:



Not sure what you mean by reserving judgement - hope you don't mean we ought to give it a chance, or wait and see if it works. I'm very comfortable with my assessment that anyone who feels 90% of the human population dying from Ebola is a good thing is definitely wacked, . . . extremely wacked.

I meant reserving judgment (no e in judgment) because this news as reported is under question, at least the statement in context appears to be questionable (see Hhheb's and Antoniseb's posts above).


I don't know if it was actually said, or just reported that way. I am saying that anybody who would think it a good thing is sick.
Ok, if someone hypothetically wished that upon people it would be pretty demented, for sure. (Though I admit I've wished for hurricanes to wipe out all the brick-brack in Myrtle Beach, not people, but unfortunately hurricanes altered my beach, so that's what I get...)

nebularain
2006-Apr-04, 02:34 PM
OK, cope - thanks for finding this.

Like some of the other posters have stated, all other reviews (both from the antagonistic side and the supporting side) made it sound like the guy was wanting the ebola virus to mutate and wipe out humanity.

I hope more info comes out to clarify this.

Again, thanks!

sarongsong
2006-Apr-05, 04:01 AM
April 4, 2006
"...Pianka says his remarks about his beliefs were taken out of context, that he was just raising a warning..."What we really need to do is start thinking about controlling our population before it's too late," he said Monday..."
Minneapolis Star-Tribune (http://www.startribune.com/484/story/350003.html)

farmerjumperdon
2006-Apr-05, 01:40 PM
Good from what perspective? Are you saying that the environment would be worse off? Or do you mean good from the POV of being good for the human race?

That's awfully biased, if you ask me. Tut tut.

Also, you totally missed what the fellow meant by reserving judgement. He meant, reserving judgement of the scientist that people claim said that. The entire idea that he said such a thing is under debate. I doubt he did, personally. I think some extremists took what he said, twisted it, and suited it to their agenda.

I mean if anyone thinks it would be good for 90% of humans to die in an ebola epidemic - that I would say the person has a very twisted sense of goodness. From any point of view. I can't think of any perspective that makes such an event a good thing to have happen.

I see now that the person is claiming the comments were taken out of context. But now I'm wondering about the earlier comment that some folks have grabbed onto this and somehow embraced the notion. My warning to anybody hanging out with a crowd that thinks large numbers of indiscriminate deaths would be a good thing: Don't drink the Kool-Aid.

I did misunderstand the reserving judgement statement.

p.s. - My Webster's allows for judgement to be spelled with and without the e. I had to look it up only because I've always used the e and have never been corrected.

Melusine
2006-Apr-05, 04:43 PM
I see now that the person is claiming the comments were taken out of context. But now I'm wondering about the earlier comment that some folks have grabbed onto this and somehow embraced the notion. My warning to anybody hanging out with a crowd that thinks large numbers of indiscriminate deaths would be a good thing: Don't drink the Kool-Aid.
Farmer, who "embraced the notion" in this thread? I don't call recall anyone suggesting ebola should be spread! I recall that Argos kidded about the plusses of population decline, but I don't believe he was serious that it would be a good thing for ebola to spread and people die. (or maybe he wasn't kidding ~shrug~)


I did misunderstand the reserving judgement statement.

p.s. - My Webster's allows for judgement to be spelled with and without the e. I had to look it up only because I've always used the e and have never been corrected.
You are correct, judgement with an 'e' is the second variant...it's an inside joke with someone who participated in this thread ~sorry~ but it does often confuse people and it's a good point. It's silly to have judge, but not have judg yet have judgment. :)

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-06, 10:47 AM
It took 24 hours or so but information directly from the source is starting to come out. As I personally suspected, Mims took elements of the Pianka speech and distorted them in order to raise the ire and blood pressure of certain elements of the internet and blogosphere.

For starters, here is a short article summarizing Pianka's message with a more reasoned explanation of what the nature of Pianka's speech was meant to be:

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/04/forrest_mims_cr.html


That's another post that doesn't exactly impress me with a lack of bias. I will note that in the article I read by Mims, he did not say that Pianka advocated the deliberate creation of a super-disease. He did worry that someone might listen to him and take his words that way.



Even more to the point, a local Austin station has an unedited interview (20 minutes long, too long for me to watch at work) with Pianka about the brouhaha:

http://www.kxan.com/Global/story.asp?S=4720390

I will take it in when I get home from work today.

I'll listen to that tomorrow, but I really would like to hear what he actually said in his speech.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-06, 10:59 AM
I mean if anyone thinks it would be good for 90% of humans to die in an ebola epidemic - that I would say the person has a very twisted sense of goodness. From any point of view. I can't think of any perspective that makes such an event a good thing to have happen.


Yep, and both an apparent proponent that heard the fellow and an opponent came to the same conclusion that Pianka was advocating the death of most of the population - though neither suggested Pianka actually said a super-disease should be created.



I see now that the person is claiming the comments were taken out of context. But now I'm wondering about the earlier comment that some folks have grabbed onto this and somehow embraced the notion. My warning to anybody hanging out with a crowd that thinks large numbers of indiscriminate deaths would be a good thing: Don't drink the Kool-Aid.


And that's why I'd like to hear what he actually said at the time. Granted, it would take a lot before I would think you could justify reporting somebody to authorities, and death threats are insane, but given how an advocate took his words, I still have questions for what he said and how he said it.

Argos
2006-Apr-06, 12:48 PM
Farmer, who "embraced the notion" in this thread? I don't call recall anyone suggesting ebola should be spread! I recall that Argos kidded about the plusses of population decline, but I don't believe he was serious that it would be a good thing for ebola to spread and people die.

Yeah, as you said, one can always move to a smaller town (although you might lose something in the process). :)

Doodler
2006-Apr-06, 02:26 PM
And don't forget education - which also helps with...



So much of the AIDS epidemic is due to the popular belief that having sex with a virgin will cure the disease. There are actually infected men roaming around in Africa right now like predators, hunting young girls. It's sick, but how do you combat that? You tell someone with a terminal disease, who's going to die anyway, "oh don't bother doing that, it wont help." But there's no other cure so eventually the poor doomed guy started to think, "well, maybe it will help, I think I'll give it a try."

I've gotta ask, where the heck did that little gem come from?

Doodler
2006-Apr-06, 02:27 PM
Oh, and FYI. 90% of the population...meh, don't think so. 66%, now that's negotiable.

Taks
2006-Apr-06, 03:58 PM
Who ever said anything about forced sterilization?
tofu did...


I know this is controversial, but sometimes I actually think it would be a "good thing" if every child was sterilized before hitting puberty this was half way down on the first page... er, i suppose that depends upon how you have your view set up. post #12.

taks

Taks
2006-Apr-06, 04:03 PM
I will note that in the article I read by Mims, he did not say that Pianka advocated the deliberate creation of a super-disease. He did worry that someone might listen to him and take his words that way.interesting that mims' words could be distorted by the same people complaining about him distorting pianka's words.

i'm a little surprised that the BA would lead off with an ad-hominem to make his case. "he's an antievolutionist therefore he doesn't know what he's talking about" comes through pretty clearly.

taks

Gillianren
2006-Apr-06, 06:35 PM
I've gotta ask, where the heck did that little gem come from?

Oh, that's an old classic. The Victorians thought it cured syphillis, you know. Presumably, it's because--at least in certain mindsets--virginity=purity=a cure.

swansont
2006-Apr-06, 08:27 PM
i'm a little surprised that the BA would lead off with an ad-hominem to make his case. "he's an antievolutionist therefore he doesn't know what he's talking about" comes through pretty clearly.

taks

I didn't read it that way. Most of the vitriol is aimed at Dembski, anyway. But is saw it more as "Mims is biased in his assessment" Given his (Mims) remarks about anthropocentrism, I think it's fair to say that he is biased, and therefore any reporting he did on the topic needs to be taken with a big grain of salt.

Mims is an antievolutionist. So where, exactly, is the ad hominem?

(Oh, and the BA appears to be incorrect in the "literal decimation" remark. AFAIK Decimation is to remove one in ten, not leave one in ten.)

tofu
2006-Apr-06, 08:39 PM
I've gotta ask, where the heck did that little gem come from?

Well, I personally heard about it on another website that hang out on, fark.com. They post a lot of crazy news stories from africa, south africa in particular. I mean, the stories are true, but they sound crazy to us. There really are gangs out hunting young girls in some parts of africa. That place is messed up! It's bad enough that an inventor in South Africa created a device that women can wear to protect themselves. (I'm not entirely sure this website is safe for work, it is a news site though)

http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/controversy-in-south-africa-over-device-to-snare-rapists/2005/09/01/1125302683893.html

The wiki article on AIDS makes mention of the "virgin=cure" belief:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS

That includes the line, "A number of misconceptions have also arisen surrounding HIV/AIDS. (as an example) that sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure AIDS"

Taks
2006-Apr-06, 11:21 PM
I didn't read it that way.i'm sorry, but leading off with (paraphrased) "Mims, an antievolutionist" is a classic example of poisoning the well. this is a form of ad-hominem. Mims' views on evolution are irrelevant to the discussion.


Most of the vitriol is aimed at Dembski, anyway.irrelevant to what i was saying.


But is saw it more as "Mims is biased in his assessment" Given his (Mims) remarks about anthropocentrism, I think it's fair to say that he is biased, and therefore any reporting he did on the topic needs to be taken with a big grain of salt.still poisoning the well.


Mims is an antievolutionist. So where, exactly, is the ad hominem? Defined here (http://www.fallacyfiles.org/poiswell.html).


(Oh, and the BA appears to be incorrect in the "literal decimation" remark. AFAIK Decimation is to remove one in ten, not leave one in ten.)sorry, not true again. decimation by 10 is to remove all but one in 10.

taks

Musashi
2006-Apr-06, 11:25 PM
Originally, decimation meant to remove 1 in 10. It was an extreme military punishment practiced in the Roman army. 1 out of 10 soldiers were chosen to be killed and the rest of the unit (the 9 of 10 left) would carry out the task.

The Supreme Canuck
2006-Apr-06, 11:30 PM
Quite true, Musashi. What sense would it make to kill 90% of your army to encourage the other 10%? There would likely be an overthrow of authority.

Musashi
2006-Apr-06, 11:32 PM
It would be easier for the managment to quell an uprising of the remaining 10% though, wouldn't it? ;)

The Supreme Canuck
2006-Apr-06, 11:54 PM
Right, but imagine the Centurion saying, "Okay. Now, Marcus is going to kill the nine of you, and the same will happen in every group of ten." No one would go along with it.

The Supreme Canuck
2006-Apr-06, 11:56 PM
i'm sorry, but leading off with (paraphrased) "Mims, an antievolutionist" is a classic example of poisoning the well. this is a form of ad-hominem. Mims' views on evolution are irrelevant to the discussion.

Upon reading the entry again, I have to agree, Taks.

swansont
2006-Apr-07, 03:41 AM
i'm sorry, but leading off with (paraphrased) "Mims, an antievolutionist" is a classic example of poisoning the well. this is a form of ad-hominem. Mims' views on evolution are irrelevant to the discussion.



No, I think they aren't, because Mims' views on anthropocentrism are related, and are central to the issue of whether he was biased in his reporting.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-07, 04:41 AM
Even more to the point, a local Austin station has an unedited interview (20 minutes long, too long for me to watch at work) with Pianka about the brouhaha:

http://www.kxan.com/Global/story.asp?S=4720390

I will take it in when I get home from work today.

I found a short interview which really didn't add anything to the discussion. They say there is a 20 minute interview, but I didn't see the link. Do you have a specific link?

harlequin
2006-Apr-07, 04:47 AM
Wingnuts in full, abject retreat on Pianka (http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/04/wingnuts_in_ful.html) from the Panda's Thumb gives links to what Pianka said.

Show's over; nothing more to see; move along.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-07, 05:23 AM
Here's a link to the transcript without the "wingnuts":

http://seguingazette.com/story.lasso?ewcd=3817403731ee3d74&page=all

Edit to add: A day after I posted it, this link no longer brings up the transcript. I'm not seeing an alternate link

Very much what I expected. He complains about anthropocentrism at the beginning. He gets into more and more doom and gloom as he goes along. Lots of rhetoric (please don't tell me this is good science). He is in the "Limits to Growth" camp, as I thought (collapse is inevitable, the only question is when and how bad). Near the end is this:


"But you notice the estimated population red line with a collapse and without a collapse and things are gonna get better after the collapse because we won't be able to decimate the earth so much. And, I actually think the world will be much better when there's only 10 or 20 percent of us left."


Humm . . .

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-07, 01:14 PM
Well, I'm one of the types that does think that there needs to be limits to growth. Too much of anything is a bad thing, even people.

tofu
2006-Apr-07, 01:24 PM
What exactly is a wingnut?

Melusine
2006-Apr-07, 03:12 PM
What exactly is a wingnut?
A wingnut is someone who is an extreme member of either rightwing ideology or of leftwing ideology. In this case, they're referring to the right.

I'm just answering the definition. This is not an invitation to go further with the subject. :shhh:

tofu
2006-Apr-07, 04:58 PM
Mims is an antievolutionist. So where, exactly, is the ad hominem?


Here is a quote from Carl Sagan's book, The Demon-Haunted World (page 212 in my edition)


It helps to recognize the most common and perilous fallacies of logic and rhetoric.
...
Among these fallacies are:
* ad hominem - Latin for "to the man," attacking the arguer and not the argument (e.g., The Reverend Dr. Smith is a known Biblical fundamentalist, so her objections to evolution need not be taken seriously)


Sagan's example is particularly apropos. Even though Dr. Smith is a fundamentalist, Sagan reminds us to deal with her objections using sound logic, and not dismiss them outright.

Even though Mims is an antievolutionist, we should deal with his objections using sound logic. To pile on "oh by the way, he's also a antievolutionist (and you know what they're like)" is indeed ad hominem, and I'm ashamed that a prominent someone from my side of the argument resorted to it so publicly.

I have a lot of respect for Carl Sagan. He choose that example specifically to tell us that we have to follow the rules too.

Doodler
2006-Apr-07, 06:59 PM
Well, I personally heard about it on another website that hang out on, fark.com. They post a lot of crazy news stories from africa, south africa in particular. I mean, the stories are true, but they sound crazy to us. There really are gangs out hunting young girls in some parts of africa. That place is messed up! It's bad enough that an inventor in South Africa created a device that women can wear to protect themselves. (I'm not entirely sure this website is safe for work, it is a news site though)

http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/controversy-in-south-africa-over-device-to-snare-rapists/2005/09/01/1125302683893.html

The wiki article on AIDS makes mention of the "virgin=cure" belief:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDS

That includes the line, "A number of misconceptions have also arisen surrounding HIV/AIDS. (as an example) that sexual intercourse with a virgin will cure AIDS"

Wow...just...wow... I don't even think even as cynical as I am I could even touch that...

Surreal doesn't come close.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-07, 07:53 PM
Well, I'm one of the types that does think that there needs to be limits to growth. Too much of anything is a bad thing, even people.

Obviously there is some limit to the population that can be on earth. But Meadows and the Club of Rome developed simplistic computer models back in the '70s, and a book came out called "Limits To Growth." Basically, according to that, we're doomed. By their argument, we needed to stop population and economic growth somewhere around 1990. Failing that there would be a massive collapse. The longer growth went, the worse it would be.

Now, many people showed flaws in their models. They ignored human responses to changing situations (like the decrease in population growth rates we see in many parts of the world today), technology and economics. Their resource models were just wrong. They made assumptions about pollution (and of course, nuclear power was horrible in their estimation).

So what did they do? They just said more of the same. This is pseudoscience. If you want to complain about antievolutionists, be my guest, but don't single them out in your complaints.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-07, 08:09 PM
Even though Mims is an antievolutionist, we should deal with his objections using sound logic. To pile on "oh by the way, he's also a antievolutionist (and you know what they're like)" is indeed ad hominem, and I'm ashamed that a prominent someone from my side of the argument resorted to it so publicly.


Exactly. In reading various blogs and web comments, it became obvious that people had picked sides: Either you were with Pianka or you were with them - those crazy anti-evolutionists. I wanted to see a discussion of what Pianka actually said, rather than loads of invective.

After reading Pianka, I think Mims went a bit far on his interpretations. However, much of Pianka's Doomsday speech is pseudoscience and should be treated as such. He has a right to free speech, but he shouldn't get special dispensation for his claims.

tofu
2006-Apr-07, 09:58 PM
I'm already on record in this thread as believing that we would be better off with fewer people, but I just have to respond to this:



Now, many people showed flaws in their models. They ignored human responses to changing situations (like the decrease in population growth rates we see in many parts of the world today), technology and economics. Their resource models were just wrong. They made assumptions about pollution (and of course, nuclear power was horrible in their estimation).

So what did they do? They just said more of the same. This is pseudoscience. If you want to complain about antievolutionists, be my guest, but don't single them out in your complaints.

Very, very well said!

This happens all the time and it is pseudoscience I think.

You may be aware of the famous bet between economists Ehrlich and Simon. Ehrlich is the author of such prophesies of doom as The Population Bomb, in which he predicted massive, world-wide famine by 1975. If you listened to Ehrlich in the '70s, you would be led to believe that nothing about our civilization was sustainable.

Simon doubted Ehrlich's predictions. Simon said that not only was our civilization sustainable, but that resources would become *more* plentiful in the coming years. Many people scoffed, so Simon proposed a bet. Pick any five commodities, and if they are more expensive in 10 years, Simon would pay Ehrlich the difference. But if they were less expensive in 10 years, Ehrlich would have to pay.

It seemed like a sure thing. How could any resource ever become more plentiful? Ehrlich accepted the bet, named his five resources - and lost. All five are cheaper today (adjusted for inflation) and two of the three are cheaper even if you don't adjust for inflation.

Now here's how this applies to your post Van Rijn: did Enrlich admit that he was wrong? Nope. He claims that he lost because a worldwide recession made the commodities cheaper. Did Simon gain any notoriety for being right? Not really. In fact, in spite of being wrong about so many things, Ehrlich received an award from the MacArthur foundation.

For some reason, people *like* doom and gloom predictions, even when they are wrong.

Peter Wilson
2006-Apr-07, 11:01 PM
For some reason, people *like* doom and gloom predictions, even when they are wrong.
So humanity is not racing full-throttle towards a socio-environmental disaster?

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-08, 12:12 AM
So humanity is not racing full-throttle towards a socio-environmental disaster?

I know you asked Tofu, but I'd like to respond as well -

For my part, I would ask you what you mean by "socio-environmental disaster"? Will we continue to have environmental problems? Sure. Will there be more local messes? Sure. But is there good reason to believe the Meadows/"Limits To Growth"/Pianka doomsday scenario is coming? No.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-08, 12:52 AM
You may be aware of the famous bet between economists Ehrlich and Simon. Ehrlich is the author of such prophesies of doom as The Population Bomb, in which he predicted massive, world-wide famine by 1975. If you listened to Ehrlich in the '70s, you would be led to believe that nothing about our civilization was sustainable.


I remember Ehrlich very well (small correction - he's a biologist). There were quite a few doomsayers in the '70s, and a very common prediction that food would be scarce everywhere by the 1990s or earlier, economies everywhere falling apart, population growth much higher everywhere, etc.



Simon doubted Ehrlich's predictions. Simon said that not only was our civilization sustainable, but that resources would become *more* plentiful in the coming years. Many people scoffed, so Simon proposed a bet. Pick any five commodities, and if they are more expensive in 10 years, Simon would pay Ehrlich the difference. But if they were less expensive in 10 years, Ehrlich would have to pay.

It seemed like a sure thing. How could any resource ever become more plentiful? Ehrlich accepted the bet, named his five resources - and lost. All five are cheaper today (adjusted for inflation) and two of the three are cheaper even if you don't adjust for inflation.

Now here's how this applies to your post Van Rijn: did Enrlich admit that he was wrong? Nope. He claims that he lost because a worldwide recession made the commodities cheaper. Did Simon gain any notoriety for being right? Not really. In fact, in spite of being wrong about so many things, Ehrlich received an award from the MacArthur foundation.


Right, I read a lot by Simon and others countering this stuff. For some reason, people don't realize that resources are really quite fluid - availability depends on cost, technology, and number of reasonable substitutes. There isn't a big block of iron, aluminum, copper, or whatever in the ground. Extraction technology gets better, recycling and substitutes take a bigger role, and so on.



For some reason, people *like* doom and gloom predictions, even when they are wrong.

Yep, it seems that if you talk Doomsday based on little more than speculation, you are cheered and people ignore the mistakes. If you argue that maybe we won't do so horribly after all, you get labeled a pollyanna and you are widely ignored.

The sad part is that this hasn't changed at all from how things worked 30 and more years ago.

Kesh
2006-Apr-08, 12:55 AM
Exactly. In reading various blogs and web comments, it became obvious that people had picked sides: Either you were with Pianka or you were with them - those crazy anti-evolutionists. I wanted to see a discussion of what Pianka actually said, rather than loads of invective.

After reading Pianka, I think Mims went a bit far on his interpretations. However, much of Pianka's Doomsday speech is pseudoscience and should be treated as such. He has a right to free speech, but he shouldn't get special dispensation for his claims.
At the same time, though, this is done here on the BAUT. After all, if Nancy Lieder comes up with another of her screeds, how many people are going to even going to tackle it seriously? It usually starts out with, "Here's another of Nancy's delusions..."

It may not be polite, but after someone cries wolf enough, it becomes difficult to take any of their claims seriously.

tofu
2006-Apr-08, 01:13 AM
It may not be polite, but after someone cries wolf enough, it becomes difficult to take any of their claims seriously.

Of course. Once you have shown that Nancy's Planet-X claims are bogus, it's ok to begin speculating as to why she makes them. In Nancy's case, it's ok to suggest that she is mentally ill. In the case of some of the apollo hoaxers, after you have debunked their claims, it's ok to suggest that they are out for money (selling DVDs) and each time they return with a repeat of the same claim, you may then fall back on that.

However - if Nancy came along and said that she had done some calculations and determined that a volcano was going to erupt, then it's *not* ok to say, "whatever, you're just delusional" because that's a different claim.

at least, that's how I see things at 8:11 central time after three beers and two shots.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-08, 01:15 AM
At the same time, though, this is done here on the BAUT. After all, if Nancy Lieder comes up with another of her screeds, how many people are going to even going to tackle it seriously? It usually starts out with, "Here's another of Nancy's delusions..."

It may not be polite, but after someone cries wolf enough, it becomes difficult to take any of their claims seriously.

Here, though, there were a few problems. First, I haven't read anything by Mims on ID, anti-evolution, etc. but I have read some things he wrote on electronics, and this is one smart guy. Call me the "new guy" in the discussion - maybe there was something to it, but blanket insults didn't sit well. And if you were going to bring ID/etc. into the conversation, you had better tell me why it applied, since I knew he could speak very intelligently on other subjects.

Second, both Mims and a Pianka advocate were saying very similar things about Pianka. That made it much harder to accept the blanket complaints about Mims. (By the way, that blog entry by the advocate was taken down recently.)

Third, comments made by advocates made me seriously suspect their objectivity towards Pianka as well as Mims.

Ultimately, what was needed were Pianka's words. And while I think Mims went too far in his interpretation, I am bothered that scientists would applaud this stuff.

swansont
2006-Apr-08, 02:04 AM
Even though Mims is an antievolutionist, we should deal with his objections using sound logic. To pile on "oh by the way, he's also a antievolutionist (and you know what they're like)" is indeed ad hominem, and I'm ashamed that a prominent someone from my side of the argument resorted to it so publicly.


You'll have to point out to me where the BA said "and you know what they're like."

If there were another person who wrote a review of this scenario, that had given Pianka's talk a glowing show of support, would it be ad hominem to point out that they were a member of PETA?

ASEI
2006-Apr-08, 03:18 AM
Withdrawn by author.

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-08, 02:12 PM
I don't care whether Mims believes in the giant green arkelseisure! I'm on the side of anyone supporting mankind against anyone who proposes wiping them out, period. We can argue about evolution after we've sterilized Pinaka's lab.

This whole Pinaka episode just serves to demonstrate the heart of the radical green movement - these people aren't motivated by love of anything. Their actions for the past 40 years were instead motivated by a profound hatred for humanity.

This is just another example of the longing for the apocalypse that I had posted on before. "Everyone who doesn't think like me is evil and needs to die! Then, after mankind is decimated, we'll build the world that we, desire from the rubble!" This is a serious pathology here. No small number of people think this way, even if they cloak their true impulse in legitimate issues.

Er.... that's not how I translated what he was saying at all.

A nice way to A) Set up a strawman, B) Make a generic assumption on everyone of the "radical green movement", and C), spread some vitriol while you do it, and claim you want to "sterilize his lab". Not sure what you meant by that, but it did sound like you were advocating something along the lines of murder.

The way I saw his speech was that, yes, if we don't limit population, there will come a time where resources will be harder and harder to spread around, and then eventually we can see them extinguish entirely. Yes, this would cause a lot of death potentially (especially with us all packed in together). And yes, maybe, just maybe, this would be better for the environment when the majority of us are no longer around to force it to suit our needs. Oh, yes, there would be the rotting bodies that would eventually go away, and maybe some spread diseases that wipe out the animal life; but after all that, nature would start to regrow itself, and then animals would go around, graze and evolve, and repopulate after a while.

Saying such things is logical, not radical. What's radical is proposing that we should go and wipe out 90% of the population.

Sheesh, some of the posters here seem pretty radical to me.

Taks
2006-Apr-08, 09:00 PM
You'll have to point out to me where the BA said "and you know what they're like."irrelevant, it is still poisoning the well to make the statement.


If there were another person who wrote a review of this scenario, that had given Pianka's talk a glowing show of support, would it be ad hominem to point out that they were a member of PETA?pointing out anyone's association is poisoning the well...

an argument either stands or falls on its own merits. someone's association is irrelevant, and, as such, an ad-hominem. a logical fallacy.

why is this such a hard concept to understand? i did post a link to the definition.

taks

hhEb09'1
2006-Apr-08, 09:08 PM
an argument either stands or falls on its own merits. someone's association is irrelevant, and, as such, an ad-hominem. a logical fallacy.Someone's association may be irrelevant to the logical argument, but I don't mind reading such trivia in magazine articles, or in this case a blog. You just have to filter it out.

So, it's a logical fallacy, but not a blogical one :)

And how would you pronounce that?

Disinfo Agent
2006-Apr-08, 10:21 PM
I have no idea how you pronounce it, but I think it should be spelled "bloggical". :p

Let's see if Gillianren shows up around here...

swansont
2006-Apr-09, 12:14 AM
why is this such a hard concept to understand? i did post a link to the definition.

taks

That would be the link that says "To poison the well is to commit a pre-emptive ad hominem strike against an argumentative opponent...the poisoning is done before the opponent has a chance to make a case."

The note was not pre-emptive — it happened after Mims' article.

From elsewhere in your linked site:
"A debater commits the Ad Hominem Fallacy when he introduces irrelevant personal premisses about his opponent."

My argument is that disclosure of possible bias is not irrelevant.

The BA links to Wesley Elsberry's blog; in his 2 April entry (http://austringer.net/wp/?p=253), he writes "Obligatory disclosure: I was a student of Kirk O. Winemiller’s at Texas A&M University in 1993. Winemiller was a graduate student of Eric R. Pianka." Why? To let the reader know that there might be some bias, and to avoid the appearance of impropriety should the disclosure not be present. Mims did not make such a disclosure.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-09, 03:52 AM
The way I saw his speech was that, yes, if we don't limit population, there will come a time where resources will be harder and harder to spread around, and then eventually we can see them extinguish entirely. Yes, this would cause a lot of death potentially (especially with us all packed in together).


Did you read the full transcript? Unfortunately, the link that I posted no longer works and I haven't yet found another copy, but that wasn't his speech at all. It wasn't a precautionary warning about population growth. Rather, he was talking doomsday. According to him, we just might have been able to stop a collapse in 1978 if we stopped population and economic growth then (and while he doesn't mention it, that would have required massive government control over both economic and personal life - something on the level of North Korea). But, he thinks it was probably too late even then. As for now, he believes a collapse is inevitable, and he was talking up disease. He was telling people in the audience to prepare for the collapse, in fact.



And yes, maybe, just maybe, this would be better for the environment when the majority of us are no longer around to force it to suit our needs. Oh, yes, there would be the rotting bodies that would eventually go away, and maybe some spread diseases that wipe out the animal life; but after all that, nature would start to regrow itself, and then animals would go around, graze and evolve, and repopulate after a while.


Or just maybe a civilization with growing technology and wealth can do more for the environment then a shattered population that can think about little but survival. Speculation is fun, ain't it?



Saying such things is logical, not radical. What's radical is proposing that we should go and wipe out 90% of the population.


While Pianka didn't say we should deliberately spread a disease, he did complain loudly about anthropocentrism, he did talk about how much better things would be without so many people around, and he did say that collapse was going to happen one way or another. He didn't say how much his arguments were based on speculation. I think there is reason to be concerned if students aren't being told what is solid science and what is not - and what conclusions they might reach. Given the "Limits to Growth" argument, the longer we have before a collapse, the worse the collapse will be. If you seriously believe this, you could make the argument that it would be better to precipitate the collapse as early as possible. Granted, it takes a lot of steps to get there and act on it, but still . . .



Sheesh, some of the posters here seem pretty radical to me.

Perhaps there are, but are you saying that Pianka isn't radical? I saw very little real science in his speech, and he clearly has extreme environmental, political and economic views.

jkmccrann
2006-Apr-09, 04:33 AM
Yep, it seems that if you talk Doomsday based on little more than speculation, you are cheered and people ignore the mistakes. If you argue that maybe we won't do so horribly after all, you get labeled a pollyanna and you are widely ignored.

The sad part is that this hasn't changed at all from how things worked 30 and more years ago.

This, unfortunately, is a fact of the human condition.

It is always going to be more exciting, and interesting, to talk of things such as the `end of the world' etc., because that is an event that effects absolutely everyone in a huge and profound way. Refuting that sort of doomsday mentality with reality, science, and pure common sense is simply not that exciting. Business as usual implies no, or limited, change, and is obviously not really going to have a noticeable quantifiable effect at a given point in time as some sort of doomsday event.

It is part of the reason why cults, and their descendants, organised religions, have such appeal. The fact they're able to explain so many things about the human condition - depending on the interpretation invoked, and including things like the coming of the apocalypse etc. is part of the reason that some people find them appealing.

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-09, 01:53 PM
Did you read the full transcript? Unfortunately, the link that I posted no longer works and I haven't yet found another copy, but that wasn't his speech at all. It wasn't a precautionary warning about population growth. Rather, he was talking doomsday. According to him, we just might have been able to stop a collapse in 1978 if we stopped population and economic growth then (and while he doesn't mention it, that would have required massive government control over both economic and personal life - something on the level of North Korea). But, he thinks it was probably too late even then. As for now, he believes a collapse is inevitable, and he was talking up disease. He was telling people in the audience to prepare for the collapse, in fact.

Didn't read it all the way through. Ah well. That'll teach me to talk about someone's speech without reading it through.

When it comes down to disease, though, with the high population amount and continual contact on national and global flights, maybe such a collapse *is* inevitable. That does seem to be why people are so fearful of a "super virus".


Or just maybe a civilization with growing technology and wealth can do more for the environment then a shattered population that can think about little but survival. Speculation is fun, ain't it?

Indeed it is. Relying purely on speculation is not something I would encourage. That part I would agree with.


While Pianka didn't say we should deliberately spread a disease, he did complain loudly about anthropocentrism, he did talk about how much better things would be without so many people around, and he did say that collapse was going to happen one way or another. He didn't say how much his arguments were based on speculation. I think there is reason to be concerned if students aren't being told what is solid science and what is not - and what conclusions they might reach. Given the "Limits to Growth" argument, the longer we have before a collapse, the worse the collapse will be. If you seriously believe this, you could make the argument that it would be better to precipitate the collapse as early as possible. Granted, it takes a lot of steps to get there and act on it, but still . . .

I don't see what's so unreasonable about such a conclusion. Let's put it this way: With 5 million people on the world, a virus spreads and kills 50% of the population. That's 2.5 million. If you have 6 billion, a virus spreads and kills the same percentage. 3 billion people die. It's a logical conclusion to claim that the larger the population size, the more people there will be to die.

Further, you could make the argument that it would be better to precipitate the collapse as early as possible. Doesn't mean that you have to. Limiting the population size seems to be a far better solution, as there is actually a negative growth rate within the U.S. (if you factor out immigration).


Perhaps there are, but are you saying that Pianka isn't radical? I saw very little real science in his speech, and he clearly has extreme
environmental, political and economic views.

What? That we're anthropocentric and a collapse is imminent? We are rather focused on the human population as opposed to animal or natural populations. Some wolves hassling your cows? Kill off the wolves. Some sharks in the water you want to swim in? Kill off the sharks. We're developing laws that are rather strict in wiping out natural locations, but they're being largely ignored; look at the rainforest in South America.

Animals and natural habitats are usually considered secondary to what's better for the economy or human habitats. True, the U.S. is less extreme in that way than it was in the past, but we're just one developed country. There are other countries where that is not the case.


Anyways, I'm not going to say anything more until I get another look at the transcript. This time I'll force myself to read it all the way through before commenting.

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-09, 01:56 PM
This, unfortunately, is a fact of the human condition.

It is always going to be more exciting, and interesting, to talk of things such as the `end of the world' etc., because that is an event that effects absolutely everyone in a huge and profound way. Refuting that sort of doomsday mentality with reality, science, and pure common sense is simply not that exciting. Business as usual implies no, or limited, change, and is obviously not really going to have a noticeable quantifiable effect at a given point in time as some sort of doomsday event.

It is part of the reason why cults, and their descendants, organised religions, have such appeal. The fact they're able to explain so many things about the human condition - depending on the interpretation invoked, and including things like the coming of the apocalypse etc. is part of the reason that some people find them appealing.

And it also seems to be a fact of human condition to throw an argument out because it seems silly to you.

While I also am tired of "Doomsday Predictions", it seems that some people are wanting to label something as "radical, ridculous, and unscientific" because it actually has implications.

Fact of the matter is, there's a rather reasonable fear of a disease that could spread quickly, kill quickly, and is very readily contagious. I mean, AIDS is spread slowly, kills slowly, and isn't very contagious, yet the numbers of people becoming infected with AIDS is increasing at a pretty rapid rate.

swansont
2006-Apr-09, 02:04 PM
Fact of the matter is, there's a rather reasonable fear of a disease that could spread quickly, kill quickly, and is very readily contagious. I mean, AIDS is spread slowly, kills slowly, and isn't very contagious, yet the numbers of people becoming infected with AIDS is increasing at a pretty rapid rate.

If it kills quickly enough it isn't an issue, since the disease can't easily spread (depending on the mechanism by which it spreads, of course). We make this worse by having rapid transportation available, so that time scale has changed from what it once was. AIDS becoming widespread is partly because it kills slowly, and so you can infect many people before you die.

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-09, 02:11 PM
If it kills quickly enough it isn't an issue, since the disease can't easily spread (depending on the mechanism by which it spreads, of course). We make this worse by having rapid transportation available, so that time scale has changed from what it once was. AIDS becoming widespread is partly because it kills slowly, and so you can infect many people before you die.

Which is logical enough, but that doesn't mean that we're safe from viruses and "super bacteria". If it has a long enough incubation rate, even if it takes a short amount of time to kill, it could still be very lethal. Doubly so if there's no way to treat it.

That's going by what I know, at least. Maybe I'm wrong. But either way, I wouldn't want to dismiss the idea out of hand.

jkmccrann
2006-Apr-09, 02:20 PM
And it also seems to be a fact of human condition to throw an argument out because it seems silly to you.

While I also am tired of "Doomsday Predictions", it seems that some people are wanting to label something as "radical, ridculous, and unscientific" because it actually has implications.


To be frank, I haven't read in depth what Pianka said and how it was reported - I get the feeling from some of these posts that he was misinterpreted, or perhaps deliberately misrepresented to cherry-pick some things he said and place them in a different context. I was just making a general comment on the fact that doomsday predictions will always appeal to some subset of the population, for varied reasons - and I guess I can add the obvious - but sensationalism does sell - and does provoke interest from an even wider part of the population at large - and there's certainly nothing wrong with that because I'm part of that group.

As for whether Pianka was being 'radical, ridiculous or unscientific' I can't say, and I didn't assert that, and really I'm not that interested in knowing to be honest - I was just making a general comment.



Fact of the matter is, there's a rather reasonable fear of a disease that could spread quickly, kill quickly, and is very readily contagious. I mean, AIDS is spread slowly, kills slowly, and isn't very contagious, yet the numbers of people becoming infected with AIDS is increasing at a pretty rapid rate.


As for this last paragraph, yep - agreed, that is a reasonable fear, something like ebola (was it mentioned?) for instance is obviously too contagious and too destructive to ever be this agent of change, but its obviously conceviable that something like the Spanish Flu these days could have an incredibly devastating effect the world over.

As for AIDS, not really worried about that anymore (in terms of being a global pandemic that threatens civilisation), I wouldn't wish it upon anyone, of course, but it seems our understanding of that disease is increasing all the time and it seems likely that people with AIDS today will be receiving cures at some indeterminable point in the future. Is it not true that some people diagnosed with AIDS back in the 1980s, after the disease was first widely publicised and in the early days of the scare, are still alive and functioning members of society even today? Nearly 20 years later? Given that sort of empirical evidence, it appears that for First-World countries - it really is becoming quite a manageable affliction.

However, and I have to point this out, the effects and ravages of AIDS in the Third World are another matter entirely - and are basically completely different from the worries relating to AIDS in the First World. The effects of AIDS in countries too poor to cope, to poor to provide, and too poor to truly care for people are very serious and do worry me a lot - I only hope that all the medical attention and reasearch AIDS enjoys in the First World yields results that are transferrable the globe over.

AIDS in the First World and AIDS in the Third World are two completely different issues - linked only by the commonality of the virus in question.

Taks
2006-Apr-09, 05:15 PM
When it comes down to disease, though, with the high population amount and continual contact on national and global flights, maybe such a collapse *is* inevitable.sounds like you've proven this? might as well join the ranks of nostradamus and edgar cayce. ;)

taks

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-09, 05:42 PM
sounds like you've proven this? might as well join the ranks of nostradamus and edgar cayce. ;)

"Maybe" is equal to "proven" in your world? Because I certainly don't live there.

Gillianren
2006-Apr-09, 06:55 PM
As for AIDS, not really worried about that anymore (in terms of being a global pandemic that threatens civilisation), I wouldn't wish it upon anyone, of course, but it seems our understanding of that disease is increasing all the time and it seems likely that people with AIDS today will be receiving cures at some indeterminable point in the future. Is it not true that some people diagnosed with AIDS back in the 1980s, after the disease was first widely publicised and in the early days of the scare, are still alive and functioning members of society even today? Nearly 20 years later? Given that sort of empirical evidence, it appears that for First-World countries - it really is becoming quite a manageable affliction.

It depends a great deal on your reasonable expectation of access to health care. Hence, yes, there are Americans and Europeans still alive after a very long time being infected with HIV, but in Africa, there are not. What's more, I personally find a cure unlikely; it's a viral disease, and we don't have many cures for viral diseases. I am pinning my hpes on a vaccine. (Oh, and I'm not sure how many people have survived twenty years, but trust me--all those diagnosed with AIDS in its earliest days are dead. Even in its earliest days as a known epidemic. It wasn't until the mid- to late-80s that any treatments for the virus itself were developed.)

Oh, and I think "blogical" would be pronounced with the hard "g," yes. Since it's derived from the word "blog." The soft "g" wouldn't be terribly . . . clear.

hhEb09'1
2006-Apr-09, 07:12 PM
Oh, and I think "blogical" would be pronounced with the hard "g," yes. Since it's derived from the word "blog." It's derived from two words, blog and logical, one hard, the other soft. With the hard g, the meaning of "logical" tends to get lost, just like you say the soft g makes the blog part less apparent.

So, I think the deciding factor should be ease of pronunciation. Soft g gets my vote there. I can't claim any priority--google gives over 90,000 hits! :)

Glom
2006-Apr-09, 11:41 PM
Some responses here:

Argos, I am very disturbed by what you wrote. How could you even think of revelling in a mass die off? It is sick.

tofu, ditto. Some of the greatest evil on this planet has been committed by people who thought they knew what was best for society as a whole and asserted their arrogance accordingly. Never will we submit to the kind of personal rape you suggest. Shame on you.

BA, you have fought valiantly against Nancy Lieder in the past. I would expect you of all people to recognise the MO of the crank with "End is nigh" sign. They write a date for the apocalypse. The apocalypse doesn't happen. They cross out the date and write a new one further down the road, contriving excuses for why the last one was wrong and why they are right to continue to assert the end is still nigh. Pianka, if not indeed a genocidal sociopath, is at least a chicken little. His thoughts are affiliated to Paul Erhlich, High Priest of the Church of the Miniature Foul. The population bomb crowd started preaching in the early 70s about how overpopulation was going to be the death of us all by the 80s, or maybe the 90s, or the millenium. The year is now 2006. I'm not dead. Are you? Yet the population bomb crowd still insist overpopulation will be the death of us in about 50 years maybe. Well that's a darn sight more optimistic than before. Add to that the projections that the human population will level off in 50 years time, and the bomb turns out to be more of a firecracker.

Their mantra is old. Throughout the past 50 years, we have heard academics, driven perhaps by a psychological desire akin to what made the concept of sin so popular in the middle ages, perhaps more by the desire for attention or the psychological need to boost their egs by passing judgement on the rest of the humanity, prophesiing judgement day for humanity and the rest of this planet. From global cooling, to resource scarcity, to population bomb, to mass extinctions, the preaching of the eco-apocalypticians has been incessent. The dates of certain doom each time pass without incident. The eco-apocalypticians cross out the date and write a new one. Frankly, I'm surprised people are still going on about the population bomb. I guess old doomsayings die hard.

I would say I'm still waiting for global warming, except I'm not entirely sure what I'm waiting for since in that case the eco-apocalypticians can't seem to settle their predictions so I have no idea if it has actually come or not (they've learnt their lesson from previous wolf cries and moved away from making actual testable predictions, which would permit them to be proven wrong).

I suggest it would be more productive if these eco-apocalypticians stop debating how we are going to die and start diverting their attention to developing means to get around the problem that doesn't involve eugenics, luddism or worse, communism. Or is it only within the capability of the private sector to innovate and adapt the way we have done since our evolution?

A parting exercise. What do all these statements have in common?

1). A minimum of ten million people, most of them children, will starve to death during each year. But this is a mere handful compared to the numbers that will be starving within 3 decades.

2). The battle to feed all of humanity is over. Hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.

3). To prevent overpopulation we must have population control at home, hopefully through changes in our value system, but by compulsion if voluntary methods fail.

4). Known world supplies of zinc, gold, tin, copper, oil, and natural gas would be completely exhausted in 20 years

5). If we continue our present rate of growth in electrical energy consumption it will simply take, very shortly, all our freshwater streams to cool the generators and reactors.

6). The period of global food security is over. As the demand for food continues to press against supply, inevitably real food prices will rise. The question no longer seems to be whether they will rise, but how much.

7). 40,000 species per year are going extinct and that 1 million species will be gone in 20 years.

8). the world is going to run out of oil soon if we do not conserve our resources.

9). A nuclear reactor accident could be blamed for the deaths of some 2,500 people.

The Bad Astronomer
2006-Apr-09, 11:57 PM
Folks, the reason I said that Mims was anti-evolution was to show his ties philosophically with Dembski. It wasn't an ad hom, in that I wasn't trying to color anyone's perception of him with the use of the term. It was to show that he and Dembski are both anti-science, and connected in that way. I will certainly add that anti-evolutionists are more prone (pretty much by definition) to ignore logic and evidence that don't support their argument.

If someone comes up to me and actively argues -- as Dembski and Mims do -- that evolution is wrong, you can bet that I'll take other things they have to say with a grain of salt. This is hardly ad hom; in fact, this is basing my own conclusions on the evidence of how way they have used logic in the past. It would be insane on my part not to do that.

The difference is, I would not make an argument based on that to convince others Dembski and Mims are wrong. But it could certainly be used as circumstantial evidence that they are not to be trusted.

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-10, 12:49 AM
Eh, when people want to discuss the issue objectively, I'll be here. I'm not here for an emotion war.

WaxRubiks
2006-Apr-10, 12:51 AM
yea, well you know creationist, they will twist everything to their religious agenda. I don't think that it is a logical fallacy to mention that you are dealing with someone who's whole thinking will be warped to attain certain goals. ie the brainwashing of the whole world.

ASEI
2006-Apr-10, 01:24 AM
Withdrawn by author

Halcyon Dayz
2006-Apr-10, 01:58 AM
I get the feeling everybody here seems to be discussing a different speech.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-10, 02:01 AM
I get the feeling everybody here seems to be discussing a different speech.

I get that feeling myself. How many people had the chance to read through the full transcript? I read it twice.

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-10, 02:36 AM
Some of these people are possibly quite dangerous assuming they take their ideology seriously. How many of them could get permission to grab samples of such viruses for "research" purposes?

This reminds me of a few episodes of the Twilight Zone. Mainly, the ones where people rile themselves up in fear and panic based on ignorance, go out totin' some shotguns, and gun down some innocents. Well, okay, that's not quite what happens, but some innocent people do die out of ignorance and fear.

I didn't read the transcripts through, and until both of us do, I figure we don't have much to talk about on this.

Either way, you're painting with a pretty big brush there. Careful not to get any of it on you.

Glom
2006-Apr-10, 10:04 AM
I get that feeling myself. How many people had the chance to read through the full transcript? I read it twice.
So is he or is he not:
A) an eco-apocalyptician?

B) a misanthrop?

C) a sociopath?

cope
2006-Apr-10, 12:59 PM
A written transcript of Pianka's speech is available here:

http://www.pearceyreport.com/archives/2006/04/transcript_dr_d.php

It was made from a recording of the original speech. Since the release of the transcript, some people have retracted what they said about what they THOUGHT Pianka meant in the speech. In particular, MikeGene, who publishes an ID blog has retracted his original response to the mischaracterization of Pianka's speech as strewn about by Mims. That retraction is here:

http://telicthoughts.com/?p=633

I challange anybody to go through the transcript and find the evidence that Mims considered damning enough to report Pianka to the government as engaging in possible terrorist activity.

Again, this demonstrates two things. First, it shows how quickly bad information can be distributed and accepted and, secondly, that attacks on science are real and ongoing.

Once again, the value of going to the original source is demonstrated.

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-10, 01:43 PM
Okay, now that I've read it through, I find some of the claims within the transcript rather fishy.

However, here is what I did not see.

I did not see Dr. Pianka advocate wiping out any percentage of the human race.

I did not see Dr. Pianka display any signs of being a "sociopath".

I saw him seriously explain that the oil shortage, with our population size, is going to be a major issue, and that the majority of society is based upon oil. That is true. However, I personally believe that we will find alternatives; he apparently does not.

Some things he is.

Dr. Pianka is an "eco-apolyptican", or whatever.

Well, if you want to debunk all his claims, go ahead and do so. I think that there's a grain fo truth in there, however; I also think he's overstating almost all of it, at the least.

But so far, I've seen people disregard his claims entirely as "just another pseudoscientific naysayer" or whatever.

WaxRubiks
2006-Apr-10, 02:05 PM
If the passenger in your car said," you'd better Stop and get some petrol or well run out" and then you did. What eco-warner critics would later tell their passenger is, "there, we didn't run out, YOU WERE WRONG"

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-10, 02:29 PM
If the passenger in your car said," you'd better Stop and get some petrol or well run out" and then you did. What eco-warner critics would later tell their passenger is, "there, we didn't run out, YOU WERE WRONG"

Er... okay? Nice comparison, I guess, but it seems that what "eco-warners", as you called 'em, are saying is, "The gas tank only holds so much; I predict that we only have a hundred miles left on it."

The critic would say, "No, we have a hundred fifty miles! Don't worry, the next gas station will be right over that hill..."

Either way, this is a different argument than what we started out with; which was basically, "OMG, SCIENTIST WANTS TO KILL WORLD!"

WaxRubiks
2006-Apr-10, 03:10 PM
Well if scientists and politicians think in terms of distruction(wars and population extermination etc) then this will invade other areas of their thinking(whether they realise it or not).

Positive policys in one area will lead to positive outcomes in other areas.

Taks
2006-Apr-10, 03:44 PM
Positive policys in one area will lead to positive outcomes in other areas.both uses of "positive" in the above statement are rather subjective, however.

taks

WaxRubiks
2006-Apr-10, 03:50 PM
both uses of "positive" in the above statement are rather subjective, however.

taks



perhaps "constuctive" or "creative". slightly less subjective.

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-10, 05:44 PM
perhaps "constuctive" or "creative". slightly less subjective.

You have to indicate the problem to propose a solution. To indicate a problem, you have to perceive a problem. You perceive a problem by looking for the problem.

To suggest that positive thinking is the only way to lead to positive solutions is simplifying the situation just a little too much.

Also, what some people don't seem to realize is that there are ways to reduce population outside of "extermination".

filrabat
2006-Apr-10, 06:28 PM
I hope (but not too sure) that a combination increases in the following offer some hope: education, economics, environmental awareness, activism, wealth and such will reduce the population somewhat - though it will take a few centuries.

I personally do not want any children. Environmental reasons are an important part of it. Furthermore, children cost lots of money to raise, so that's another factor discouraging procreation to the extent we did even 40 years ago. Furthermore, I have a whole host of philosophical reasons why I don't want to have children that are faith-based (not in a religion sense, but "faith" in the sense that "even if I am correct, my assertion is ultimately unprovable"). Finally, I simply don't want the responsibility and nerve-wracking stuff that goes along with fatherhood.

As for couples who want children, personally, I'd say simply create one child, and if you want more, adopt. If all couples who plan to have children over the next 150 to 200 years, then we'd see the population drop to (IMO, at least) reasonable levels -- say around 1 or 2 billion.

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-10, 06:49 PM
As for couples who want children, personally, I'd say simply create one child, and if you want more, adopt.

I never understood why so many people are so intent on having their own children instead of adopting. Bring more kids into the world, as opposed to taking care of the children that need it. By my personal morals, that seems pretty selfish.

jkmccrann
2006-Apr-10, 07:19 PM
I never understood why so many people are so intent on having their own children instead of adopting. Bring more kids into the world, as opposed to taking care of the children that need it. By my personal morals, that seems pretty selfish.

Well, I can think of a couple of good reasons. Bringing a child into the world is probably the most wonderful thing one can do in their lifetime (I say probably - because I've never done it).

And as for the argument that so many people must be pretty selfish because they're intent on having their own children - I would argue that it would be incredibly selfish were it the other way around. Oh, if everyone argued that they didn't want to have children because they interfered with one having an active social life - as some do - that to me is the height of selfishness. Selling out your future to indulge your present - and almost certainly increasing your future reliance on the state to provide for you - not a great way to go in my view.

I know I much prefer the majority of people to be having children rather than the majority of people to not be having children.

Taken to an obvious extreme - is it better if everyone has children or is it better if no one has children?

I think the answer is fairly obvious, and surely that points the way.

SolusLupus
2006-Apr-10, 07:53 PM
Well, I can think of a couple of good reasons. Bringing a child into the world is probably the most wonderful thing one can do in their lifetime (I say probably - because I've never done it).

And as for the argument that so many people must be pretty selfish because they're intent on having their own children - I would argue that it would be incredibly selfish were it the other way around. Oh, if everyone argued that they didn't want to have children because they interfered with one having an active social life - as some do - that to me is the height of selfishness. Selling out your future to indulge your present - and almost certainly increasing your future reliance on the state to provide for you - not a great way to go in my view.

How does not having children increase your "future reliance on the state to provide for you"? Further, how is it selfish? You make the assumption that people would choose to not have children for want of a social life. Plus, you seem to have skipped over the issue of adopting. Adoption involves taking the time and effort to take care of a child; the only real difference is that the child is not one you or your wife gave birth to.

Adopting is a perfectly viable way to live life.


I know I much prefer the majority of people to be having children rather than the majority of people to not be having children.

Taken to an obvious extreme - is it better if everyone has children or is it better if no one has children?

I think the answer is fairly obvious, and surely that points the way.

Say that to the children in orphanages, or the children that live in states of starvation and abuse.

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-10, 09:32 PM
A written transcript of Pianka's speech is available here:

http://www.pearceyreport.com/archives/2006/04/transcript_dr_d.php

It was made from a recording of the original speech.


That's a partial transcript. I finally found someone who had gotten a copy of the transcript of the second speech (I tried google cache too, but had no luck):

http://cathyyoung.blogspot.com/2005/04/piankas-speech.html

She has some comments about Pianka. Before I provide a link, I will warn you that there is a statement that is attributed to Pianka by a student that contains the "F" word. Here is the link to her comments:

http://cathyyoung.blogspot.com/2006/04/pianka-smear-victim-eco-fanatic-or.html


I agree with much (though not all) of what she says about this mess. I liked this comment:

"I don't want to get into the issue of how much of Pianka's alarmism -- for instance, about deadly virus mutations due to overpopulation -- is rooted in good science. This is primarily an issue not of science, but of ideology."

There's been a great deal of focus on Mims views, but for many, Pianka largely gets a pass for his ideology. "Limits To Growth," "Peak Oil," equilibrium economics and most of the other things he mentions in his speech are not based on solid science but are based on ideology.



I challange anybody to go through the transcript and find the evidence that Mims considered damning enough to report Pianka to the government as engaging in possible terrorist activity.

Again, this demonstrates two things. First, it shows how quickly bad information can be distributed and accepted and, secondly, that attacks on science are real and ongoing.


Do you have a reference of Mims saying that Pianka was engaging in terrorist activity?

As for me, I've been clear that I didn't see Pianka suggesting terrorist activity in his speech, as radical as it is. However, it is not an attack on science to point out that this isn't good science. Actually, I find it rather sad that it took a Mims to report on this stuff.

cope
2006-Apr-10, 10:56 PM
Bill Dembski among others (I am too impatient to find more links) attempted to whip the torch-wielding believers into a frenzy with this post:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/984

I repeat my challenge: which portions (of either transcripted version) of Pianka's speech warrants visits by the FBI or Homeland Security?

Van Rijn
2006-Apr-10, 11:18 PM
Bill Dembski among others (I am too impatient to find more links) attempted to whip the torch-wielding believers into a frenzy with this post:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/984


And what Dembski did was wrong. I've said so repeatedly. (As a side point, though, Pianka is just as much a "believer" as Dembski, but has different beliefs.)



I repeat my challenge: which portions (of either transcripted version) of Pianka's speech warrants visits by the FBI or Homeland Security?

Did you read my post previous to yours? I've never claimed it did. Now, please answer my question to you about Mims.

cope
2006-Apr-10, 11:39 PM
"Now, please answer my question to you about Mims."

If you mean this question...

"Do you have a reference of Mims saying that Pianka was engaging in terrorist activity?"

...no.

Happy?

cope
2006-Apr-11, 12:37 AM
I was hopeful when I first came here (BAUT Forum) that debate and conversation would be more reasoned and to the point. However, it is pretty much like any other discussion board in that two things are likely to happen to any particular "hot topic" post.

Thing 1: It will be hijacked by tangentially related topics. The many posts about abortion and birth rates and the like are a good characterization of that particular syndrome.

Thing 2: Nit picking dissection of phrases and statements of posts overwhelms the essential theme or point of the original post.

As I read the original post on this topic, the conflict I saw was that either: A) a "distinguished" scientist (of whom I personally had never heard) was advocating that 90% of the human race "...needed to be wiped out by exposure to Ebola or some other deadly virus..." (emphasis mine) or, B) this interpretation of his remarks was way off base and indicative of yet another unwarranted attack on science by an acknowledged idealogue. Period. That is the dichotomy I saw.

I have tried to present arguments and linked to evidence supporting position B) but have become totally distracted trying to defend minutiae.

I will not play that game any more. I will make a final statement of position that, whatever the validity of his science (and THAT needs to be decided in the scientific arena), Pianka is not some kind of terrorist monster (as some, thought apparently NOT Mims, have portrayed him) but has incurred the wrath of a fraction of our society that seeks to demonize science (especially when it equates mankind on an equal stature with any other organism on this planet). That point of view is apparent in the link in the original post and any number of links that a Google search of "Pianka" yields.

'Nuff said, bye bye.

ASEI
2006-Apr-11, 01:22 AM
I will not play that game any more. I will make a final statement of position that, whatever the validity of his science (and THAT needs to be decided in the scientific arena), Pianka is not some kind of terrorist monster Yes. I've read the transcript. Apparently, Pinaka was somewhat misrepresented and exxagerated by my sources on the topic. I've withdrawn my previous comments. He's just a crank, not a homicidal nutjob.

Fram
2006-Apr-11, 09:04 AM
ASEI, withdrawing previous comments by editing them away is normally not allowed on this board. You can add an edit statement to a previous post, saying something like (EDIT: I have since changed my mind), or you could just post a new post saying "I retract what I said yesterday, I was wrong" or something. Thta makes for much better reading of threads, and I personally appreciate that a lot more than trying to erase something.

Gillianren
2006-Apr-11, 07:22 PM
Regarding adoption: you know, somebody has to have those kids in the first place. What's more, since most people want to adopt babies, the current adoption standards will not help wards of the state, since most of them are older/special needs/both.