06 April 2006

The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise and Misrepresentation of Pianka.

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**Update- 7 April 06, 18:00 HST -**
All of the Sequin Gazette-Enterprise articles linked to in this article are no longer available through those links, and I am currently unable to find them as live links elsewhere on their site. I will be emailing the paper for comment shortly, and will attempt to contact them by phone for an explanation if that does not work.
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It's been several days since the attacks on University of Texas ecologist Eric Pianka first began, and there's no end in sight. Yesterday, Texas governor Rick Perry's office compared Pianka to the Nazis, and today he is being required to talk to the FBI so that they can make sure that he's not a terrorist. Meanwhile, various portions of the right-wing community are continuing to rave against Pianka - the Uncommon Descent folks alone have no less than four posts up on the topic today.

Also today, the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise (the local paper that got the ball rolling on this whole affair) posted the transcript of another, more recent, speech by Pianka. This is interesting because the transcript is for the same speech discussed in the April 2nd Gazette-Enterprise article that was picked up by the Drudge report, sparking the national outcry. Having the transcript available makes it much easier to critically examine the news article about the speech, and to see how well the material in the article reflects what was actually said.

The easiest way to do this, I think, is to look at the way direct quotes are used in the article, and then at the same quote within the context of the speech. It's as close to objective as I'm going to be able to get. The direct quotes will be placed in a bold font to make them easier to find.

From the article:
A University of Texas professor says the Earth would be better off with 90 percent of the human population dead.

"Every one of you who gets to survive has to bury nine," Eric Pianka cautioned students and guests at St. Edward's University on Friday. Pianka's words are part of what he calls his "doomsday talk" - a 45-minute presentation outlining humanity's ecological misdeeds and Pianka's predictions about how nature, or perhaps humans themselves, will exterminate all but a fraction of civilization.
From the transcript:
Now it is only a matter of time until Ebola got here evolves and mutates a little and it will be airborne, and then I think we might finally get a take. And when it sweeps across the world — we're gonna have a lot of dead people. Every one of you that is lucky enough to survive gets to bury nine. Think about that. I doubt Ebola is gonna be the one that gets us. I think it will be, uh, something else.

But did you ever wonder why things like SARS and now what the Avian Flu are continually cropping up? They're cropping up because we were dumb enough to make a perfect epidemiological substrate for an epidemic. We bred our brains out, and now we're being pegged. The microbes are gonna take over. They're gonna control us as they have in the past. Think about that.
If you look closely, you will see that the two sentences in bold do not entirely match. The newspaper quoted Pianka as saying "every one of you who gets to survive." The transcript has him saying "every one of you that is lucky enough to survive." It's a small difference, I know, but I think it is significant - especially since it seems to be part of a trend.

A little later in the article, we read:
So what's at the heart of Pianka's claim?

6.5 billion humans is too many.

In his estimation, "We've grown fat, apathetic and miserable," all the while leaving the planet parched.

The solution?

A 90 percent reduction.
Looking at the transcript, here's what we see in context:
The great North American saltgrass prairie and we just took it and turned it all into agricultural lands. We exterminated the bison, wiped out the Indians, totaled the prairie dogs and those black-faced ferrets. We just erased an eco-system. Now this is very nice for Americans because that rich topsoil has allowed us to grow food and we can feed ourselves and the rest of the world and we've grown fat and apathetic and miserable as a result of it. We've lost the bison — we've lost an awful lot and we'll never be able to recover.
I do need to give the author some credit here - Pianka did use the quoted words. He did not do use them to refer to humanity as a whole, as the Gazette-Enterprise implied, and he didn't use them in reference to population growth per se. But he did use those words in pretty much that order.

I'm not sure that the same thing can be said about the next quote I'm going to look at:
"[Disease] will control the scourge of humanity," Pianka said. "We're looking forward to a huge collapse."
I realize that I didn't provide much context for that, but I didn't really think that it was necessary. I've got nothing to compare it to. Neither "scourge of humanity" nor "looking forward" appear anywhere in the text of that speech. Those phrases are also absent from the incomplete transcript of the Texas Academy of Sciences speech posted at the Pearcey Report earlier today. It is entirely possible that Pianka said those things at some point in time, but it does not appear that they were included in the 31 March speech. The page with the transcript does note that there are some missing portions, so I'll give the paper the benefit of the doubt for the moment, but the omission is troubling.

Here's another chunk from the newspaper article:
As of press time, Pitts - who sent his appeal via email Saturday - had received no response from the university, but he says, "It's too early for any responses to have been made." Meanwhile, Pianka urges humanity to heed his call to be prepared, saying "we're going to be hunters and gatherers again real soon."

"This is gonna happen in your lifetime," he told his St. Edward's audience. "Do you wanna go there? We've already gone there. We waited too long."
I apologize, but I won't be able to provide a single quote that contains both phrases. It would be far too long - over 1100 words separate "hunters and gatherers again real soon" from "This is gonna happen."

Here's the context for the first part:
It's just a matter of time until the planet changes really bad. Some meteorological people have models that show thresholds where it shifts just instantly overnight. What I'm waiting for is when you go to the supermarket and there are no more Triscuits on the shelves and you say to yourself, "Hey, where did Triscuit come from, anyway."

We've lost touch with the reality of where food comes from. We're completely mislead. It's just a commodity that's bought and sold and people make money on it. You've got to think, you've got to think — and remember, humans were hunter/gatherers not that long ago and I think we're gonna to be again very soon.
And the second:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife recently released caribou off the islands off of Alaska to help the Eskimos, the Aleuts, get protein. And the herds from these islands — there were several islands — all grew exponentially just like the human population's been growing for quite a few years and then they ate everything they could eat and the populations crashed.

This is what's going to happen to us. This is gonna happen in your lifetime. Does that look like fun? Do you want to go there? You've gone there. We waited too long.
Both of those quotes, read in context, are alarmist. But they are talking about completely different threats. Coupled together, they say do make a nice quote, but it's not what Pianka actually said. As was the case with the other quotes, it's a fairly small difference, but the cumulative effect is to cast Pianka in the worst possible light.

I'd almost be willing to write off the misquotes to poor memory and notetaking by the reporter, but the same trend shows up in a quote taken from written material:
The professor's not the only one who can articulate this concept. Because Pianka includes his doomsday material in his coursework, Ebola and its potential play a notable role in some students' studies. A syllabus for one course reads:

"Although [Ebola Zaire] Kills 9 out of 10 people, outbreaks have so far been unable to become epidemics because they are currently spread only by direct physical contact with infected blood. However, a closely-related virus that kills monkeys, Ebola Reston, is airborne, and it is only a matter of time until Ebola Zaire evolves the capacity to be airborne."

It is here that some say Pianka ventures from provocative food for thought to, as Wilkins said, "very extreme material" that violate many people's views - including his own - about the treatment of human life. While many praise Pianka's boldness and scientific know-how, others say he crosses an ethical line in his treatment of Ebola's viability as a killer.
The quote does not actually appear in Pianka's course syllabus. Instead, it appears on a website that lists reasons to take the class. Here it is in full context:
During the past quarter of a century, world population has increased from about 3.4 billion people to over 6.4 billion, an increase of over 85%. In some parts of the world, human populations are growing even faster.

If humans do not control their own population (and we seem unwilling and unable to do so), then other forces will certainly act to control our population. The four horseman of the apocalypse (conquest, war, famine, and death) are all candidates. Most likely, lethal virulent microbes like HIV and Ebola zaire will set limits on the growth of human populations. HIV, by allowing infected hosts to survive years while they spread the virus and infect new hosts, has already become a pandemic, but it will be years before it decimates the human population. Although Ebola kills 9 out of 10 people, outbreaks have so far been unable to become epidemics because they are currently spread only by direct physical contact with infected blood. However, a closely related virus that kills monkeys, Ebola reston, is airborne, and it is only a matter of time until Ebola zaire evolves the capacity to be airborne.
It's clear that Pianka is not advocating the use of Ebola as a weapon in this passage. Instead, he is warning that a devistating epidemic is a likely outcome of continued population expansion. Interestingly, the reporter doesn't bring that up later on, when speculating on Pianka's motives for discussing ebola:
Though Pianka turned down requests for a sit-down interview, he maintains he is not advocating human death.

Does he believe nature will bring about this promised devastation? Or is humanity's own dissemination of a deadly virus the only answer? And more importantly, is this the motive behind his talks?

Responding to these very questions, Pianka said, "Good terrorists would be taking [Ebola Roaston and Ebola Zaire] so that they had microbes they could let loose on the Earth that would kill 90 percent of people."
This quote appears to come from an exchange captured in an audio recording posted on the paper's website.

Here's my attempt at a transcript:
Reporter: "My question is, do you believe that this is something that's going to come about naturally? Do you believe that this is something that humanity needs to take a step to cause? Because that's what's being said..."

Pianka: "Oh..."

Reporter: "...and there's a big difference in that."

Pianka: "Oh.. I think that umm [incomprehensible- I honestly can't tell for sure whether or not he used the word "good" there, but I don't think he did.] er... terrorists would be taking one of these and one of those other ones and trying to combine them so that they had a microbe that they could [let/set?] loose on the earth that would kill 90% of the people. I don't think they are that sophisticated...

Reporter: "...OK, but yes or no question, do you advocate that?"

Pianka: "I don't advocate killing people."

Reporter: "OK."


I have a hard time looking at the quote from the article, listening to the audio of the actual exchange with the reporter, and viewing what was written as anything other than a deliberate attempt to make Pianka look bad. It seems clear to me that the first part of Pianka's answer was the result of him mishearing or misinterpreting the reporter. I think that was clear to the reporter, too. She cut his answer off to ask him point blank whether he was advocating terrorism.

The article in the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise contains numerous misquotes and out of context quotes. All of them err in the same direction - making Pianka look bad. It is almost impossible to believe that this is the result of anything other than deliberate effort on the part of the paper.

24 Comments:

Blogger JM O'Donnell said...

Wonderful analysis there. Let's hope people pay attention to it.

There is some funny quote manipulation coming out of this. I have a feeling this is going to backfire on certain individuals.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Emanuel Goldstein said...

Why not just post the actual speech.

Not lecture, not other speeches, but THE speech.

That would end this thing.

Wouldn't it?

Or is that way the speech is not being posted?

You make claim there were no recordings but I...don't...believe...you...

2:18 AM  
Blogger Jeff Hebert said...

"You make claim there were no recordings but I...don't...believe...you..."

That's certainly your prerogative, but it's not just one side claiming there are no recordings of the speech, it's both side. So if anyone's lying, everyone is.

2:48 AM  
Blogger Sheikh Mahandi said...

Forrest Mims III - regular contributor to Seguin Gazette-Enterprise.

Can anybody say "Swift Boat Veterans"?

3:17 AM  
Blogger DaveScot said...

Everyone seems to be ignoring student reviews of Pianka's UT Biology 304 class. Two students confirm that Pianka is teaching the same thing that Mims claims he heard in the speech.

I blog it at Forget Mims… What Did Doctor “Doom” Pianka’s Students Hear?

3:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll give DaveScot the benefit of the doubt and assume he knows nothing about teaching evaluations. As a member of several tenure committees, I've looked at thousands. Even with the best teachers in campus, in any set of a hundred evaluations, you get a few which are hostile, off-the-wall, or contain obvious falsehoods. To consider those out of context is a clear act of dishonesty. Now DaveScot knows this, I presume he won't be doing it.

Gerard Harbison
University of Nebraska at Lincoln

4:28 AM  
Anonymous Nat Whilk said...

Gerard Harbison said: "Even with the best teachers in campus, in any set of a hundred evaluations, you get a few which are hostile, off-the-wall, or contain obvious falsehoods."

Do other teachers post those obviously false evaluations on their own webpage the way Pianka did with the evaluations in question?

4:55 AM  
Blogger davidf said...

This is unbelievable. An article in Nature by Sean Nee in May 2005 basically says what Pianka said.

We are witnessing yet another step in the destruction of science by the right wing God-crazed gang of fundamentalist fools which includes the likes of Dave Scott the ersatz physicist. Unless there is a dramatic and widespread response by mainstream academia everytime this sort of thing happens we are, as they say, screwed.

5:07 AM  
Blogger JM O'Donnell said...

Everyone seems to be ignoring student reviews of Pianka's UT Biology 304 class.

All you can point out now that Mims has been shown up to be an over-reactive twit is...two student evaluations you have trawled up from the (significantly) larger numbers of positive evaluations he has recieved?

This is certainly the sign of a sinking argument.

5:07 AM  
Blogger davidf said...

Individual student evaluations are essentially worthless. As Gerard has indicated unusually bad and unusually good evaluations occur in any sample. I'm sure the fundie nutcases have heard of the Bell Curve. Well, this is yet another example. If student evaluations indicate some sort of consensus then they can be taken seriously. For example, if 80% of students wrote "Pianka is an ebola-crazed eugenics proponent who instructs us on how to engineer viruses" then perhaps the University would start to worry.

However, students generally don't wait until evaluation time if there is something seriously wrong with a class - they complain to the Department Head and Dean.

This is a witch-hunt plain and simple. Dembski, Cordova and Scott and their ilk have gone from being deluded fools to being, in addition, mean spirited unchristian slimeballs.

5:29 AM  
Blogger davidf said...

whilks,

Why obviously false? I get evaluations that good in most large classes I teach. And I get extreme bad evaluations. If you collect the good ones then, over the years, you get a nice set of good evals.

But if you throw out the extremely good ones then you have to throw out the extremely bad ones too.

Maybe when we arrive at a state where your doctor tells you to pray away your burst appendix (or go to China) will these fundamentalist idiots value the contributions to science that researchers like Pianka have made. But I doubt it.

5:35 AM  
Anonymous Nat Whilk said...

Davidf:

I wasn't saying I consider the evaluations in question to be obviously false; I only used that phrase because Dr. Harbison did. My point is that if, say, a student made an offensive, false assertion about me (say, that I'm a Holocaust denier), I wouldn't choose to include that assertion among the "excerpts" to display on my webpage, the way Pianka did with the assertions in question.

6:35 AM  
Blogger davidf said...

Nat,

Ok, Apologies. I misunderstood because "obviously false evaluations" can mean something different to "evaluations containing obvious falsehoods."

As for posting them - Pianka is obviously a bit eccentric and so I can see him posting them based on what I've read about the guy. I've known many Profs who are similarly eccentric (if that's what it is) who take a morbid pride in their worst evaluations. This is a guy who, apparently, wanted to call his Lizard book "A Yank Down Under."

Part of the problem is that the general public doesn't really understand the mindset of academics. That's a fairly common problem between different professional communities; e.g., doctors notoriously may joke to each other about things that, taken out of context, would make them sound like callous barbarians. It is very unfair to take student evals etc out of context.

Basically if you dig deep enough you can find stuff that can be used to bury anybody. That's why this is nothing short of a witch-hunt by ID-ers who are desperate because they are failing in their attempts to pass off ID as science.

7:01 AM  
Anonymous Ric said...

DaveScot fails, as usual to apply the same logic to his own arguments that he applies to the other side.

He has no problem with claiming that disparate people who hear echoes of Christian fundamentalism in Intelligent Design are all just separately making the same interpretative mistake, but if Mims and one student hear the same thing, it is impossible that they could both be seperately making the same interpretative mistake.

8:47 AM  
Blogger BWE said...

Did anyone read the actual transcripts? I did. When we are done talking about the fact that this is lying, slanderous behavior on the part of the criminal right... oops, I mean the wingnut fundies, then we can move on to Dave Scott's next slanderous steaming pile about the student evals which can be dissected the same way. But let's do them one at a time so that we can settle each case of libel individually.

9:01 AM  
Blogger BWE said...

Reminds me of ward churchill only Pianka wasn't even pointing out class, race or ethnic predudices in our society. He was just pointing out that action set A leads to Effect set B.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I might also note that the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise appears to have removed all traces of this story.

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The interview is no longer posted by the newspaper. Could someone, somewhere, please upload it? I'd like to see what he actually said. (Which means that I'll never be a right wing fundamentalist, I guess.)

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have a hard time ... viewing what was written as anything other than a deliberate attempt to make Pianka look bad."

And who has ever heard of Pianka, and what would be the purpose of misrepresenting his speech to make him look bad?

The main shit disturber is a creationist, and the people who joined the pile-up on Pianka are all or mostly creationists.

The audience who applauded Pianka's speech enthusiastically are all or mostly evolutionists.

Pianka was not the target.

4:18 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

An anecdote,

My wife has just graduated from UT with a degree in biology( in December actually). She said Dr Pianka's evolution and ecology classes
are extremely popular. He is considered an excellent teacher by the students and other professors.

For those of you unfamiliar with Texas; The City of Seguin is smaller than Waco. It is south of Austin and east of San Antonio on I10. Just a little perspective on the paper and its potential readers.

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think people are forgetting the exact circumstances here.

Mims is NOT saying that Pianka was advocating genocide.

Mims is saying that Pianka was advocating genocide AND 400 OF HIS PEERS GAVE HIM A STANDING OVATION FOR SAYING THAT.

Think about that. Mims is not claiming 1 scientists was for genocide...he was claiming 400 scientists were for that.

I find that a lot harder to believe than a sole scientist making a speech in favor of genocide.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous James Redford said...

Prof. Eric R. Pianka is an evolutionary ecologist who teaches courses in biology and zoology at the University of Texas at Austin. Prof. Pianka was named the 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist by the Texas Academy of Science at its 109th Annual Meeting held in early March 2006 at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

At this meeting, Prof. Pianka gave a lecture on March 3, 2006. Forrest M. Mims III, the Chairman of the Environmental Science Section of the Texas Academy of Science, who was present during the lecture, claims in a March 31, 2006 article that in this lecture Prof. Pianka "enthusiastically advocated the elimination of 90 percent of Earth's population by airborne Ebola," and that he "spoke glowingly of the police state in China that enforces their one-child policy." (See "Meeting Doctor Doom," Forrest M. Mims III, The Citizen Scientist, March 31, 2006 http://www.sas.org/tcs/weeklyIssues_2006/2006-04-07/feature1p/index.html .)

This March 31, 2006 article by Forrest Mims touched off public controversy concerning what it is that Prof. Pianka had actually stated during his March 3, 2006 lecture. Many individuals who were not present during this March 3, 2006 lecture by Prof. Pianka have claimed that people such as Forrest Mims have misrepresented Prof. Pianka's words as part of an anti-science "witch hunt" (despite the fact that Forrest Mims is himself the Chairman of the Environmental Science Section of the Texas Academy of Science, and is one of the most widely read electronics authors in the world).

Unfortunately, during the March 3, 2006 lecture by Prof. Pianka, audio and video recording devices were ordered to be turned off. Hence, as of the date of this writing, no recording of the full March 3, 2006 lecture is known to publicly exist. An audio recording apparently was made of part of this lecture, but it apparently only caught the ending of it. For a transcript of this partial recording, see "Dr. 'Doom' Pianka Speaks: Transcript From the Speech That Started It All," Pearcey Report, April 6, 2006 http://www.pearceyreport.com/archives/2006/04/transcript_dr_d.php/index.html .

But even though a full record is not currently known to publicly exist of what Prof. Pianka said during his March 3, 2006 lecture, I will present other sources of evidence which strongly demonstrate that Forrest Mims did not misrepresent what Prof. Pianka said during this lecture, and that Forrest Mims's account of the lecture is accurate.

I first present an account of this March 3, 2006 lecture by a supporter of Prof. Pianka who was present during the lecture, a one Brenna McConnell, a biology student and senior at Texas Lutheran University. Commenting on Prof. Pianka's March 3, 2006 Texas Academy of Science lecture in a March 9, 2006 post by her on her personal weblog (see http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:h7mx7M7cGqEJ:brenmccnnll.blogspot.com/2006/03/dr.html ), she says of the lecture, in part:

""
Dr. Pianka's talk at the TAS meeting was mostly of the problems humans are causing as we rapidly proliferate around the globe. While what he had to say is way too vast to remember it all, moreover to relay it here in this blog, 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.
""

Brenna McConnell went on to write in the same post, "Dr. Pianka made a very profound comment during his presentation; he said that China has the right idea by limiting reproduction at 1."

Thus, in her March 9, 2006 comments we see Forrest Mims's account of the statements made by Prof. Pianka concerning his desire that 90% of the human population be killed off with an airborne ebola virus and his support for China's enforced, mandatory maximum one-child policy is independently corroborated. Keep in mind that Brenna McConnell was writing as someone who supports Prof. Pianka. Also note that she wrote on this matter well before Forrest Mims published his March 31, 2006 article, and well before the public controversy surrounding Prof. Pianka started.

I next present a circa April 4, 2006 email by another supporter of Prof. Pianka, a one Rebecca M. Calisi, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Department of Biology at the University of Texas at Arlington. (See "A Fellow Biologist's Response to the Watson and Jones Article on Prof. Pianka," Infowars, April 4, 2006 http://www.infowars.com/articles/commentary/emails_pianka_response_biologist.htm .) Rebecca Calisi sent this email in response to an April 3, 2006 article on Prof. Pianka by Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones. Rebecca Calisi was present during Prof. Pianka's March 3, 2006 lecture (you can see a picture of her smiling warmly at Prof. Pianka during that event here: http://www.sas.org/tcs/weeklyIssues_2006/2006-04-07/feature1p/images/fig1.jpg ). In that email by her, she wrote, in part, the following in support of Prof. Pianka:

""
I was in attendance at the Texas Academy of Science, and the only people (and there were very, VERY few) booing and hissing were the moronic creationists, angry that Pianka informed them they are not the "highest" creatures on this planet.

...

Eric Pianka is a brilliant, extremely well respected scientist. When your article states, "If Pianka, or 'The Lizard Man' as he likes to be called, is so vehement in the necessity of culling the human population will he step forward to be the first one in line? Will he sacrifice his children for the so-called greater good of the planet? We somehow doubt it."

Actually he said MANY TIMES that he would have no problem being the first to go, and fully understood (although saddened by the fact) that this would include his loved ones too!! He wishes no ill will toward anyone (he has children and grandchildren of his own you know), but there is NO DENYING the natural world would be a better place without people - ALL people! Not a selective bunch. Get it straight.

To liken Pianka to Hitler, etc., is the most absurd, ignorant comment anyone could make. He has spent his career trying to PROTECT life. He has inspired many a student to study, respect, and care for the natural world. Why are you trying to defame him when he is simply stating the facts??
""

Note that Rebecca Calisi was writing after the controversy surrounding Prof. Pianka had already become public. But in her email she doesn't make any attempt to deny the accounts that Prof. Pianka desires a large portion of the human population be killed off. Indeed, she reinforces the accuracy of those accounts by stating "Actually he said MANY TIMES that he would have no problem being the first to go, and fully understood (although saddened by the fact) that this would include his loved ones too!!" She even goes further than the statements attributed to Prof. Pianka in stating that, in her opinion, "there is NO DENYING the natural world would be a better place without people - ALL people! Not a selective bunch. Get it straight." According to Rebecca Calisi in her email, one apparently would have to be a "moronic creationist" to have a problem with large portions of the human population being killed off.

Thus, here again in the email by Rebecca Calisi, who supports Prof. Pianka, we find more independent eyewitness corroboration that Forrest Mims did not misrepresent Prof. Pianka's statements. Again, keep in mind that she was present during Prof. Pianka's March 3, 2006 lecture.

Next I will present evidence that Prof. Pianka's March 3, 2006 lecture was not the first time that he stated that it is his desire that a large portion of the human population be killed off, particularly with ebola.

The below two accounts are excerpts from student evaluations from Fall 2004, located on Prof. Pianka's personal University of Texas website and listed anonymously. (See "Biology 304 Evaluations" http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~varanus/357evaluations.html .) One student writes the following concerning Prof. Pianka's class:

""
I don't root for ebola, but maybe a ban on having more than one child. I agree . . . too many people ruining this planet.
""

And another student writes regarding Prof. Pianka's class,

""
Though I agree that convervation biology is of utmost importance to the world, I do not think that preaching that 90% of the human population should die of ebola is the most effective means of encouraging conservation awareness. I found Pianka to be knowledgable, but spent too much time focusing on his specific research and personal views.
""

Hence, we have accounts from two different students who took classes by Prof. Pianka that Prof. Pianka has stated that it is his desire that at least some humans be killed off with ebola; 90% of the human population being killed off in said manner, as the second account states. Note that these students were writing well before Prof. Pianka's March 3, 2006 lecture, and well before the controversy surrounding Prof. Pianka's lecture statements became public. Further note that the above two student evaluations are only marginally critical on some points, while being supportive of Prof. Pianka on other points.

Also keep in mind that Prof. Pianka is in charge of posting these evaluations on his personal University of Texas website. Thus, if these comments were attempts to smear Prof. Pianka, or if they were misrepresentations his views, then Prof. Pianka was under no obligation to post them to his own personal webspace, and it is not very reasonable to think that Prof. Pianka would do so if he thought that they were misrepresentations of his views--without, at the very least, giving his own comment to them in reply. Therefore, by Prof. Pianka's own actions in posting these comments without any attempt to say that they were misrepresentations his views, this certainly suggests that he did not think that they were misrepresentations of his views.

So here again we have independent eyewitness corroboration that Prof. Pianka has made statements in the past that are consistent with the accounts of Prof. Pianka's March 3, 2006 lecture. And by implication, we have Prof. Pianka's own corroboration on this matter, in that he apparently did not think that the above student evaluations were misrepresentations of his views.

Now I turn to a circa April 5, 2006 email by a one Lenny Foster, who was a student of Prof. Pianka at the University of Texas. (See "A Former Pianka Student Speaks Out," Infowars, April 5, 2006 http://www.infowars.com/articles/science/pianka_former_student_speaks_out.htm .) In this email, Lenny Foster says, in part, the following about Prof. Pianka:

""
(I just wanted to talk about Dr. Pianka's comments. I had this professor for a class, and he actually said this to us TWICE in class! Oh, to clarify something for you, the 90% figure comes from the kill rate of ebola; it typically kills 9 out of 10 people it infects. I don't think it comes as much from the average of 85-95% population reduction plan, but Dr. Pianka clearly is a globalist.

He even gleefully went through the progression of ebola infection to death. Symptoms start out mild, but at some point, you start vomiting blood, sores break out on you, and you vomit parts of your esophagus. Make no mistake, he GLEEFULLY read over the gory details, he was actually giddy and smiling about it.

...

2 things. 1, you are fairly accurate with your assertion that universities inundate you with population control. In a number of classes, even non-biology classes, I have heard references to overpopulation. But, I haven't heard any open calls for extermination like I did in Pianka's class. 2, a number of people I have told about Pianka's outrageous statements actually SUPPORTED his position! They wanted more info on his class; they actually WANTED to take his class because of his call for near-global extermination. It's incredible.
""

So again we have further independent eyewitness corroboration that Prof. Pianka has stated prior to his March 3, 2006 lecture that it is his desire that a large portion of the human population be killed off.

Conclusion

When one takes into consideration all of the above eyewitness accounts of statements made by Prof. Pianka then it becomes apparent that Forrest Mims did not misrepresent what Prof. Pianka said during his March 3, 2006 lecture, and that Forrest Mims's account of the lecture is accurate. These eyewitness accounts are by Brenna McConnell and Rebecca M. Calisi, both of whom are supporters of Prof. Pianka, and both of whom were present during his March 3, 2006 lecture. So also this includes eyewitness accounts that Prof. Pianka has stated prior to his March 3, 2006 lecture that it is his desire that a portion of the human population be killed off, with ebola featuring in all of these accounts and the 90% figure featuring in two of them: i.e., in class evaluations by two students of Prof. Pianka posted on his own personal University of Texas webspace, and in an email by Lenny Foster, who was a student of Prof. Pianka at the University of Texas. Concerning the previous sentence, by implication Prof. Pianka himself corroborates the two students' accounts of his views given in the evaluations, in that he apparently did not think that said student evaluations were misrepresentations of his views, as he posted them on his personal webspace when he was under no obligation to do so and without giving any comment of his own stating that they were misrepresentations his views.

To maintain that Forrest Mims misrepresented what Prof. Pianka said during his March 3, 2006 lecture, one would so also have to maintain that Brenna McConnell and Rebecca M. Calisi, two supporters of Prof. Pianka who were present during his March 3, 2006 lecture, also have misrepresented what Prof. Pianka said during that lecture; moreover, that these two supporters of Prof. Pianka gave the same misrepresentation of Prof. Pianka's statements that Forrest Mims did. And to maintain that Prof. Pianka has not made statements that he desires that a large portion of the human population be killed off with ebola, one would have to discard the Fall 2004 class evaluations by the two students spoken of above, of which were implicitly corroborated by Prof. Pianka himself, as well as Lenny Foster's email.

In sum, to maintain that Forrest Mims misrepresented what Prof. Pianka said during his March 3, 2006 lecture, or that Prof. Pianka has not made statements that he desires that a large portion of the human population be killed off with ebola, is an exceedingly untenable position which is contradicted by the available evidence.

Clarification of Some Recent Confusion

A number of commentators on the recent controversy surrounding Prof. Pianka have made mistakes as to which specific speaking event by Prof. Pianka is being referred to by Forrest Mims in his March 31, 2006 article. In that article by Forrest Mims, he refers to the March 3, 2006 lecture by Prof. Pianka at the 109th Annual Meeting of the Texas Academy of Science held at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. This is the same lecture that Brenna McConnell and Rebecca M. Calisi were at. Some have confused this event with the March 31, 2006 speech by Prof. Pianka at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. (For that March 31, 2006 speech, see "St. Edward's University transcript," Seguin Gazette-Enterprise, April 6, 2006 http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:wGYXS2KUqBYJ:seguingazette.com/story.lasso%3Fewcd%3D3817403731ee3d74%26page%3Dall .) The analysis provided above by me specifically concerns the March 3, 2006 lecture given by Prof. Pianka and statements made by him prior to that date.

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any further updates on the horizon?

http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/1035

6:22 AM  
Anonymous JS said...

The Seguin Gazette Enterprise has a penchant for misquoting, Using them out of context, and taking extreme right wing beliefs and making them seem credible. I know, I have been the vicim of it on several occasions. If you ask them for a fair presentation of an opposing viewpoint or other facts they will refuse to address it. That may be why their circulation is less than the circulation of most free neighborhood newspapers. They sell a 4 page paper for a dollar to a very small group of people.

2:41 PM  

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