The blogosphere (and the regular media) just hit a big firestorm, with people typing away like madness. Over what? The claims made by a creationist about an award-winning ecologist named Dr. Pianka, aka “Dr. Doom.” Forrest Mims, whom you see to the right sporting a hat embroidered with a higher lifeform, claimed that Dr. Pianka advocated the elimination of 90% percent of the world’s human population with airborne ebola. Did Dr. Doom do it?
The simple answer is NO. The complex answer is that he warned that human society has an impending collapse ahead if we do not control our own population. He said that our high density makes us incredibly vulnerable to devastating outbreaks of disease. And he said that the rest of the species on this planet would be better off if we were gone.
Mims, who’s made himself into Dr. Pianka’s nemesis of sorts, came away from a presentation of his misunderstanding Pianka’s use of language saying that Pianka had advocated the extermination of 9 tenths of humanity, and wanted to institute a eugenics program. Mims is a fellow at the Discovery Institute, the
creationism intelligent design think tank in Seattle, Washington, and by no coincidence another fellow of the DI, William Dembski, promptly reported Dr. Pianka to the Department of Homeland Security.
Even more outrageous (and revealing of Dembski’s agenda) he made an ad-hominem attack on evolutionary biology, asking, Would “Dr. Doom” be conceivable apart from evolutionary theory?
Oh, I didn’t realize that Intelligent Design was more than just design detection… you mean there’s a worldview attached? Strange that creationists are not ecologists, you’d think that if they believed that every species was specially
created designed by gOD that they would devote their resources to preserving those unique creations designs? Apparently not. Let’s hope they aren’t guards at human art galleries!
So it seems that there are a bunch of blatant lies and misrepresentations being spread about Dr. Pianka. Some may be “honest” mistakes by Mims who’s ears may be filtered by a personal vendetta, but some are most certainly willful fabrications. Dr. Pianka has been interviewed on TV, and he is going to appear on a few more programs to clear his name, so I’ll know more about this later. Maybe he’s a little too apocalyptic for some, but from the transcripts of his speeches that I have looked over, it seems that people are making a big deal about a little strong language.
But the strangest thing about this is how the creationists are really jumping all over him. Could it be because they trust Mims, or wouldn’t want to oppose anything he says because he’s part of their team? Some of them, however, have backed off, and one has admitted that it was a mistake. But don’t count on Dembski to apologize. Take a look at all the posts on his site before they get deleted! Two… more!
It seems that Dr. Pianka, while clearing his name, is using the media attention to talk about the future of the planet’s ecology. It is good that he’s not getting personal in all of this, even though he has been receiving death threats. Strangely enough, his critics are saying that someone will follow this Dr. Doom’s “instructions” and commit an act of terror on the populace, however, few are attacking Forrest Mims for making stuff up and causing people to send death threats. Because, well, Intelligent Design teaches them to be moral human beings, you see. Psst… hypocrisy.
Finally, some people have been calling Mims a liar, and of all things, he has told them to cease and desist, that they are commiting an act of defamation. That’s coming from someone who is pursuing a grand act of libel and defamation. It may be that he’s in for a lawsuit himself. Is Forrest stupid or something? My momma says stupid is as stupid does. Well, Momma’s right again.
Update 04/08/2006: ForrestÂ Mims has been sending emails threatening defamation lawsuits. PZ Myers at Pharyngula has the scoop.Â (And thanks for linking me!) There’s more discussion about the post back at PT, and Timothy Sandefur has also posted about Mim’s dubious claims of defamation.
If Mims goes ahead with his empty threats, allow me to go out on a limb and suggest that this may not be an altogether bad thing. Besides allowing the truth to be demonstrated in court, it would divert time and money from his anti-scientific pursuits. Let’s see if stupid does as much as stupid is.