April 4, 2006
IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES (via Lisa Fleischman):
Prof threatened after 'Drudge Report' publishes his views on population control (Liz Austin, 4/04/06, Associated Press)
Talk radio and blogs are taking aim at a University of Texas biology professor because of a published report suggesting he advocates death for most of the human population as a means of saving the Earth.
However, Eric Pianka says his remarks about his beliefs were taken out of context, that he was just raising a warning that deadly disease epidemics are a threat if population growth isn't contained.
"What we really need to do is start thinking about controlling our population before it's too late," he said Monday.
Taken in context, Forrest Mimms reported that Dr. Pianka thought reducing the human population by 90% was a humorous topic
. In fairness to the Doktor though, it's hard to see why he should be held to account in particular when Paul Ehrlich has gotten genius grants for saying the same thing
and Margaret Sanger is a hero of the Left.
Posted by Orrin Judd at April 4, 2006 5:05 PM
"What we really need to do is start thinking about controlling our population before it's too late," he said Monday.
It's already too late in the opposite direction. Europe now suffers a death spiral where birth rate is below replacement rate. The only people who are 'multipying' are the Muslims who are not going to control their population.
These academics live in their echo padded chambers, have no sense of reality.
"Dr. Pianka thought reducing the human population by 90% was a humorous topic"
Well now, that squares it with me. I guess you'd have to've been there to really get it. Laughter can be err, infectious.
It's not about numbers, it's about killing people. Get it down to the 10% he wants noww and he'd want to cut that by 10% and so on until only he was left.
"...until he was left", oj?
How about he begin with disposing of himself to, uh, set an example for the rest of us?
The anti-humanists always think they should be included in the 10%.
Yes, after killing the 90% he wants the remaining 10% sterilized.
It's a safe bet he doesn't have children. He wants everyone else to share his fate -- to die and leave no heirs.
"These academics live in their echo padded chambers, have no sense of reality."
"It's a safe bet he doesn't have children."
It took only a few minutes of searching for me to determine (1) he has not only children, but grandchildren; (2) he has a well-honed sense of practical realities. In fact, if his ridiculous doomsday scenario were ever to play out in real life, he sounds like exactly the sort of guy you would want to seek out - he knows how to repair an automobile, grow enough food for a family, etc. etc. A real do-it-yourselfer, survivalist, etc. Whatever the moral failings of his stated positions, they do not originate from a lack of connection to the world around him.
If you're going to blow hard about such things, at least do a modicum of research.
All the same, there is something just a bit disingenuous about his backtracking; he may never have advocated genocide, but the position that humans are somehow no better than any other species, right down to bacteria, seems consistent with his other public lectures. It isn't difficult to see how he might view a plague of airborne Ebola as a pyrrhic victory for the planet (of course, such a plague would still never give him his 90% figure, but he's an ecologist, not an epidemiologist, so what does he know?). But this is detestable enough - why make up unsupported crap on top of it?
Thus far, he looks like a bit of an environmentalist doomsday crank, with a bit of global misanthropy thrown in. He is not a genocidal maniac. So unless you're serious about burning the witches, you might want to tone down the rhetoric a bit, lest you push one of the death threats beyond mere threat level. Trust me, if he is a crank, he's worth more to you alive than dead.
"Taken in context, Forrest Mimms reported that Dr. Pianka thought reducing the human population by 90% was a humorous topic."
Said context must be applied by the reader to Mims' account, and only after reading others. Mims seems either to have come away from the seminar seriously believing that Pianka advocates the elimination of 90% of the planet's human population, or to have enough of an axe to grind to not care about the distinction between advocacy and warning. In short, the joke, assuming there was one, sailed over his head.
And yes, it is possible to joke about such an impending doom. It's called black humor - if, like Pianka, you sincerely believe that humanity is headed for the precipice and that there is little you can do to stop it, you might eventually develop a sense of humor about the matter. It's a close relation to the inevitability of human failing and corruption that is at the heart of OJ's "all humor is conservative" trope.
He does seriously advocate it. The only thing at issue is whether he wants to use disease to achieve it. Nor is it an uncommon sentiment among such folk. After all, if you're in for a penny of Darwinism why not go in for the whole pound?
It also seems as if you are willing to come foward with such a bold proposal, at the very least you should make it clear you plan to be one of the leaders of the movement not on the side of those doing the euthanizing/infecting/exterminating, but of those willing to go to the great beyond first for the greater good of Gaia (though I suppose to Dr. Pianka, even the concept of Gaia would be a tad too homocentric).
But of course people like him can't go first. Someone has to make sure everyone else (especially all those undesireables) are processed first.
And rule of thumb: anyone who has to fall back to the "I was only joking" defense, either wasn't, or is too stupid to be trusted with power tools.
Here's the question to ask those like Pianka: if humans are no better than bacteria, then does it not follow that bacteria are no better than humans? So why not prefer humans, since they're equivalent?
If he's upset about the ecological damage humans are doing, he should really go after photosynthetic life forms, which not only caused the greatest ecological disaster in the entire history of the planet, but permanently polluted the atmosphere with a corrosive gas which lingers to this day, billions of years later.
Why all the upset over a death threat? Didn't he say he wanted to reduce the earth's population by 90%? Oh, right, he didn't mean himself, only other people. And BTW, if it was a joke he wouldn't have had to keep the whole thing hush-hush. He says it's a joke now, but I don't believe that it was at the time.
"And BTW, if it was a joke he wouldn't have had to keep the whole thing hush-hush."
Which is a clue as to the veracity of Forrest Mims' account - Pianka has made the same or similar comments in highly public venues before this. They are his stock-in-trade. There was nothing particularly unusual about what he said at the Texas meeting. So why would there be a conspiracy to keep the latter seminar secret? Maybe Mims is conflating two unrelated events (no one has yet presented any evidence that the turning off of the camera was connected to Pianka's talk at all), or maybe he was just making it up. He has a reputation for acting the scoundrel, after all.
"He does seriously advocate it."
But he is not clear on the methods to be used. Most of the time, proposals are limited to widespread birth control, family planning, etc. Your mileage appears to vary, but however wrong that sentiment might be, I consider it a major step away from advocating the release of a super-bug to exterminate humanity.
Yes, he'd have to gain political power to put such ideas into effect, which he won't in Judeo-Christian/anti-Darwinist America. Similar men have held power in Germany, India, China, etc. though. No one takes his plague idea seriously--it's the hatred of humankind that matters.
I see. So he _is_ a genocidal maniac, regardless of anything he may actually have or have not said.
The "applied Darwinism" trope is a little tired. A twisted interpretation of Darwinism has been one of the intellectual tools put to use by a few of the most notorious genocides. Those genocides are particularly notorious only because they occurred during the past century, when advances in technology, not to mention sheer numbers of people, facilitated mass slaughter on scales never before imagined. One might as well call Nazism, Stalinism and Maoism "applied technological progress," and start the obligatory Luddite movement. But that would be inconvenient in other ways, no?
I can see the argument that Darwinism leads inexorably to a view in which humans are no better than other animals; I can even see the reasoning that leads from Darwinism to atheism. It isn't necessary to follow those arguments however; it is possible to recognize the validity of Darwinism and simultaneously hold that humans are special. And it is possible to believe in a Creator who, for whatever unknowable reason, has put all the evidence in place to make it seem as though the emergence of humanity was accidental. Anyone capable of holding the concept of the Trinity in their head ought to be able to grasp either of those two pairings as well.
Not Applied Technology, just Applied Reason. As you concede, the reasoning leads there inexorably, so it's futile to complain when folks go where their ideology leads.
I made no such concession; quite the opposite. Your misunderstanding appears to be deliberate, though, so the point of arguing is rapidly being lost.
And the facility being applied was unreason, not Reason, although either can be a tool just the same. Technology made it possible. Darwinism - or Reason - was entirely optional. Take it away, and the dictators would have found some other basis.
The first modern extermination program recognized as a true genocide occurred in Armenia and was based almost entirely in ethnic conflict. "Reason" played no part in that, and anyone trying to apply Darwinism to it should be rightly laughed out of the room, since similar ethnic pogroms predate Darwinism by millennia.
"I can see the argument that Darwinism leads inexorably to a view in which humans are no better than other animals...It isn't necessary to follow those arguments however"
There was no genocide in Armenia, just murderous forced relocation of a rebellious ethnic minority. The Nazis practiced genocide because they took seriously the notion of life as a struggle between distinct species. Terrible nonsense, of course, but simple Darwinism.
"There was no genocide in Armenia, just murderous forced relocation of a rebellious ethnic minority."
What you're doing here is politely termed splitting hairs. Of 1.5 million Armenian dead, not quite half were simply butchered, with the rest dying of starvation and disease due to their forced expulsion from Ottoman territory. Had there been 6 million of them to kill, that many would have died. Had someone engineered gas chambers (poison gas had only recently been introduced to the battlefield at the time), they would have been used. By any reasonable definition, and especially by the official definition coined when the word was invented, it was genocide.
Antisemitism in Germany and elsewhere in Europe predated Hitler, and Darwin, by centuries, as evidenced by the occasional mass murder. The Nazis' major accomplishment in this regard was the systematization and application of the latest technology to their "final solution." Darwinism - or, more correctly, a hideously antirational perversion of it - was an afterthought tacked on to a long history of simple ethnic bigotry.
We are, as you say, continually rediscovering the truths of the past. 20th century genocides differed from their predecessors in scale, not in kind. Reason, much less Darwinism, cannot be blamed for that.
"Nazis practiced genocide because they took seriously the notion of life as a struggle between distinct species."
Funny, so did 18th and 19th century slavers, to say nothing of "manifest destiny" America with regards to Native Americans. Neither were informed by Darwinism or Reason. In fact, I believe one doctrine the slavers tended to twist and misuse to justify their trade was Christianity. Of course, they weren't Christian, but they thought they were.
Anything can be a tool. It's how you use it that matters.
No, they made no effort to kill all the Armenians or there would be no Armenians. Hitler had to exterminate races because you can't risk their being superior and winning the survival battle or diluting your race enough that it loses the struggle.
The enduring Anti-Jewish element in Christianity is a function of ideas--their failure to accept the Messiah--and was never genocidal. nazism was racial and a function of Darwinism.
We believed blacks to be a sub-species, which is why it was okay to enslave them. as soon as we recognized their comm on humanity it became impossible to justify so we ended it. For a Darwinist though it certainly makes sense to exterminate blacks.
Your intense hatred of Darwinism interferes with whatever need you might have to make sense.
"...they made no effort to kill all the Armenians or there would be no Armenians" is simply nonsensical. Hitler made an effort to kill all the Jews; why are there still Jews?
The Turks made quite an effort to kill as many Armenians as they could; much like the Nazis later, they even interfered with their own war effort (specifically, in the Russian Caucasus) to pursue the genocidal goal. The Turks' failure to completely eliminate the Armenians was more a function of not having enough bullets, or other means, to do the job; it was also a function of a substantial number of Armenians lying beyond their grasp (as with Hitler).
"The enduring Anti-Jewish element in Christianity is a function of ideas--their failure to accept the Messiah--and was never genocidal."
Right - and I'm sure that each of those mass murders, each of those purging of the ghettoes, on the European subcontinent over the past 800 years was waged by rampaging hordes of Christians who were aware of the philosophical differences underlying their hatred. More likely, the Jews were just the traditional "other." The rejection of the Messiah provided the initial impulse only.
"For a Darwinist though it certainly makes sense to exterminate blacks." I was with you in this last paragraph up to this point. How does this make sense? Once a Darwinist - and you presume this individual is not also a Christian - realizes that blacks are of the same species, what application of reason leads to a program of extermination? That would be the antithesis of Reason. It's simple ethnic bigotry, which (I reiterate) predates Darwinism by millennia.
Because we stopped Hitler. No one needed to stop the Turks. They achieved what they set out to do.
If Darwinism is true then blacks aren't the same species.
"If Darwinism is true then blacks aren't the same species."
Then your "Darwinism" bears no relation whatsoever to what I know of as "Darwinism." Or, for that matter, to what just about anyone else knows it as.
Really, where'd you come up with this? Some white supremacist website? Because I've never heard it before.
"Because we stopped Hitler. No one needed to stop the Turks. They achieved what they set out to do."
Yes, the small proportion of Armenians they hadn't managed to kill were out of the country.
Of course, you're also promulgating a fallacy again. Someone did stop the Turks: the WWI Allies, along with the disintegration of the Empire that followed the war. That the work was left undone is reflected in the resumption, at a lower level, of mass murder and expulsion from 1920-23, after which purely political considerations, coupled with growing international outrage, put an end to the worst of it.
It can't coherently be argued that two types of finches are different species but the races are the same. Indeed, Darwinism was just so tarred by the Holocaust and eugenics movements and the like that it's been forced to lie about race. That's a good thing in poolitical terms though it renders a dubious theory wholly unintelligible.
There are millions of Armenians. There wouldn't be if Turkey had wanted them dead. They settled down a rebellious minority during wartime. We put peaceful Japanese-Americans in concentration camps too. Both were racist, but not Applied Darwinism.
One issue at a time:
"It can't coherently be argued that two types of finches are different species but the races are the same. Indeed, Darwinism was just so tarred by the Holocaust and eugenics movements and the like that it's been forced to lie about race. That's a good thing in poolitical terms though it renders a dubious theory wholly unintelligible."
That Darwinism was used by the Nazis and the eugenics movement is indeed a sad thing. It says nothing about the validity of the theory, nor has it forced anyone to lie about race. Your first sentence is also inane: human races are members of the same species. Insofar as what were once identified as different species of finch are in fact not subject to hybrid infertility or hybrid inviability, then they were not, in fact, different species. A simple error of classification, and nothing more. Your willingness to make up problems for Darwinian evolution that do not actually exist is either willfully ignorant or disingenuous.
"They settled down a rebellious minority during wartime."
By committing genocide. Your definition of genocide is more restrictive than any I know, including those who came up with the word in the first place. Your definition of genocide is also designed to satisfy the needs of your greater philosophical and political discourse, and as such can be dismissed as a mere personal convenience of yours.
"There are millions of Armenians. There wouldn't be if Turkey had wanted them dead."
You are forgetting the near-comic ineptness of the Ottoman regime at the time, to say nothing of the practical limitations behind exterminating an entire race. Hitler couldn't even do it to the Jews in Europe in the time he had, though he nearly succeeded in Poland. The failure of the final solution in Armenia has nothing to do with Turkey's original intent.
"We put peaceful Japanese-Americans in concentration camps too. Both were racist, but not Applied Darwinism."
There is a major difference in degree between the Japanese-American internment and the Armenian genocide; one involved wholesale slaughter of men, women and children with the aim of exterminating an entire race, while the other did not. One was genocide, the other wasn't. And none of them, nor the Holocaust, represents some mythical creature termed "Applied Darwinism." That's a fancy all your own.
Of course we're the same species in reality, just not according to Biology and Darwinism. You can either argue that the races are the same species and that the finches are or that the finches are different species and so are the races. To treat humans differently is to abandon scientific reasoning--a good thing morally, but dispositive of Darwinism.
Turkish ineptitude is a myth as the Greeks and Brits found out. Turkey needed to move the Armenians and suppress their revolt. Not being Darwinists they didn't need to exterminate them to safeguard the survival of the Turkish race. Hitler was doing rather well at the Final Solution until we stopped him.
The only difference is that we won so we stopped fearing our Japanese.
"Of course we're the same species in reality, just not according to Biology and Darwinism."
What textbook are you reading from? David Duke's? That statement is so asinine as to defy any additional commentary.
"You can argue that the races are the same species and that the finches are or that the finches are different species and so are the races."
So long as the same definition of "species" is applied to each, this is exactly what I said earlier. But there are other definitions of species besides hybrid inviability (the usual choice of the still-young science of speciation); the ecologists also define them on the basis of whether different types of organisms have the opportunity or behavioral habit of mating at all, which is where confusion can start to arise.
But you're not interested in such minutiae. You'd rather lump different disciplines under the same banner, point out the inconsistencies in their taxonomies, and then claim the underlying theory is racist in nature, all to satisfy your need to believe that Darwinism and Christianity are necessarily incompatible. Dawkins believes the same thing, albeit for different reasons, but he's just as wrong.
Your alternative history is convenient, but mythical. Turkey did need to suppress the Armenian revolt; hence the initial brutalities leading up to 1915 and the forced relocations. The "Special Squads" of later years, however, are more problematic for your thesis. The Turkish government organized and executed a program for the mass murder of the Armenian population. This was genocide.
I'm surprised you haven't picked up the fact that the "Young Turks" who most aggressively pursued the Armenian genocide were in fact secularists. You could easily fit them into your broader anti-Darwinian thesis, if you only worked a bit at it. You'd be just as wrong, but that's of little consequence.
Hitler's use of Darwinism was an opportunistic (and mistaken) cover for simple anti-Semitism, a mere convenience. Insofar as modern anti-Semitism originates with Christians, some share of blame might even rest there, but in truth Hitler was also anti-Catholic.
I reiterate: just a tool.
"Turkish ineptitude is a myth as the Greeks and Brits found out."
In what history book? The Greeks weren't any better at the time, and Gallipoli alone hardly demonstrated Turkish professionalism.
Darwinists think supposed changes in the prevalence of farker or lighter peppered moths demonstrated speciation. It's futile to argue for industrial melanism but against biological.
The Turks suppression of the Armenians was entirely justified. They don't fit the secular rationalist model.
Anti-Judaism is eternal. Exterminationism is an exclusively Darwinian necessity.
"Exterminationism is an exclusively Darwinian necessity."
No. It coincidentally entered the realm of the feasible, at least on a nationwide scale, in the century that followed the first proposal of Darwinian evolution by natural selection.
Darwinism was hardly on the minds of the Hutus in 1994 as they slaughtered 1,000,000 Tutsis - an intended extermination, stopped only by outside intervention - any more than it was in the periodic massacres of one side or the other in the preceding centuries. What differed was the ability of the genocidal commands to pass rapidly and efficiently through the Hutu population, and for the death squads to motor about the countryside rapidly. The relatively recent population boom helped boost the death toll as well; modern genocides are always more impressive, if only because there are so many more to kill.
"The Turks suppression of the Armenians was entirely justified."
Death squads that indiscriminately slaughter women and children are never justified. To say otherwise violates every ethos I can imagine.
"Darwinists think supposed changes in the prevalence of farker or lighter peppered moths demonstrated speciation. It's futile to argue for industrial melanism but against biological."
Actually, no one, including those who have studies peppered moth populations, ever said that changes in the prevalence of different types of coloration represented speciation. They were presented as striking examples of natural selection at work. That the processes involved turn out to be more complicated than the simple explanation originally put forth unfortunately does not serve to invalidate the theory.
We just do our liquidating of women and children by bombardment.
Of course they thought the moths had speciated.
We have discussed Armenia before - I suspect the problem for OJ is that the dirty work was carried out over a long period of time. It began (albeit on a small scale) long before WWI and continued sporadically afterwards. Had ALL the killing been compressed into a period of say, April - June 1915, the 1.5+ million murders would have been almost double Rwanda and just below Cambodia, in a somewhat similar period of time.
It may not have been "Applied Darwinism", but it was certainly genocide. Had the Turks just killed the men (especially those in the army), well, then we could argue. But they didn't.
That much of it happened during wartime is no kind of amelioration, now is it? The Holocaust was a wartime event, too - but we don't mince words there. And how would you define the Japanese actions in China, starting in 1931? Genocide, plain old rape and murder, bad discipline, or just poor administration?
Our suppression of the Indians was spread out over just as long a time.
The Japanese went to China.
The Jews were loyal Germans.
genocide is a feature, not a bug.
"We just do our liquidating of women and children by bombardment."
The intent is different as well. The Turks' intent was extermination, at least in the later stages of the genocide. I wouldn't expect you to acknowledge this, though, since you're so hell-bent on seeing extermination campaigns as the sole consequence of Darwinism.
The fact that they predate Darwinism by millennia (what would you call God's command to the Israelites to leave no Canaanite alive?) ought to be enough to disavow you of this, but of course, if you're just going to shift the definition of "genocide" to suit yourself, there's really no arguing with you.
"Of course they thought the moths had speciated."
Who thought so? You've read Mayr; did he think so? Of course not. This has always been an illustration of natural selection within a population, not speciation. Still a valid one as well.
No, it wasn't, which is why they didn't.
Ah, so if you donm't think natural selection yields speciation you too are anti-Darwinist. No wonder you oppose Applied Darwinism.
"Ah, so if you donm't think natural selection yields speciation..."
I realize you're only playing games with me, but if this is how you misread everyone, a great deal of what you write on other topics is also suspect.
Misread? The specfic claim of Darwinism is that natural selection doesn't just yield variation within species--as you now concede with finches and peppered moths--but leads to actual speciation. To deny that is to deny Darwinism.
You are correct that the specific claim of Darwinism is that natural selection acts on existing variation within species, which compounded over time can lead to speciation. To do so, however, requires additional mutations leading to hybrid inviability. That clearly didn't happen with the peppered moths; it may or may not have happened with some of Darwin's finches (it is currently believed that reproductive isolation in the Galapagos finches is of the "prezygotic" variety, but this is on the basis of precisely one observed interbreeding).
Natural selection is a component of Darwinism. It does not necessarily lead to speciation, and it is not the only mechanism for achieving it (there are also sexual selection, genetic drift, etc.) If you consider this "anti-Darwinist," so be it. Darwinism is science, not religion; we are allowed to rewrite the books in those instances where the man was wrong, or his theory incomplete.
Yes, and having denied Darwinism you're at liberty to deny Applied Darwinism. Darwinists aren't.