UT Zoology Professor Under Fire

UT professor, Eric R. Pianka, and the Texas Academy of Science have apparently become targets of the unhinged.

Pianka was named 2006 Distiguished Scientist by the Academy last month at their annual meeting in Beaumont. He gave a speech as part of that conference, Forrest Mims “reported” parts of the speech, and it’s touched off a frenzy on the Internets. Pianka, as part of his lectures on ecology dating at least as far back as 1998, mentions that people are destroying the earth’s ecology and that a particularly effective solution to this problem might be releasing Ebola Reston to wipe out 90% of the world’s population.

I checked this out yesterday via Armadillo Podcast and blew it off after reading a few links, including this post. Not surprisingly, the poor girl who wrote is has come under attack herself in the comments. DKos reports on some nasty e-mails and death threats going to academy members. The Seguin Gazette has a decent report on the controversy. I’ll note that they had to change the URL to accommodate the number of hits they’re getting. It’s even more interesting that they’ve named the page “drudge”. I’ll assume in reference to Drudge Report.

I’ve got a problem with Mims because he’s the one who set this in motion. He’s claiming to be “reporting” on the speech and yet he’s clearly biased. He refers to e-mail exchanges with Pianka, but doesn’t supply the e-mails.
KXAN has more on the story. It’d be nice to have a transcript of the speech, but it’s clear that this isn’t a new topic for Pianka. It’s just been subjected to wider scrutiny. Do I believe that his ideas are a theoretical exercise taken to the extreme? Yes. Do I think he’s advocating it for real and worry that someone in his lectures may act on it? No. I’m glad to see UT is standing behind him.

Update (5:30PM CDT): This story continues to generate a lot of posting and it all appears to be framing itself out in a creationist vs. evolutionist feud. Sheesh.

Andrew Sullivan weighs in without a leg to stand on and is subsequently corrected. More from here and, of course, Pharyngula is all over it.

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