The Controversy over Pianka's Speech

The "Controversy" over Eric Pianka's Speech

In 2006, I was honored by the Texas Academy of Science, whose members bestowed upon me the title of "Distinguished Scientist". In accepting this fine award, I gave a keynote address on "The Vanishing Book of Life on Earth" (a pdf of the text of my speech is posted on line here). Most of my talk was an appeal for respect of endangered species and natural habitats, and I deplored the all too common anthropocentric attitude among many humans that we are above nature and that we can do whatever we want with natural habitats and other species. I compared the brainless runaway population growth of humans to bacteria growing exponentially on an agar plate. To underscore my point, I said that "we are no better than bacteria!" What this means, I pointed out, is that if we humans cannot find the will to control our own populations, microbes will do it for us. I concluded by discussing possible microbial agents and dismissed HIV as too slow, then suggested that something that killed fast like the Ebola virus might be our fate. I received a standing ovation by the audience of several hundred scientists after my talk, but a couple people with sour faces remained seated and did not applaud. These guys turned out to be creationists.

Misguided creationists and conspiracy theorist fools including but not limited to Forrest Mims, Shawn Carlson, William Dembski, Kenneth Summy, John Ballantyne, Alex Jones, William Lane Craig, and Tapio Puolimatka have mounted a campaign to make it seem as if I'm some kind of monster. They have even modified the Wikipedia account to that effect. Dembski and Mims are fellows of the so-called "Discovery Institute", avowed creationists ("intelligent design" freaks). Mims' web page attacking me as "Dr. Doom" was hosted by the so-called "Society of Amateur Scientists" in fact a pseudo-scientific front covering up for an organized anti-evolutionary campaign.

In his attack on me, Mims deliberately prevaricated when he asserted that
"Something curious occurred a minute before Pianka began speaking. An official of the Academy approached a video camera operator at the front of the auditorium and engaged him in animated conversation. The camera operator did not look pleased as he pointed the lens of the big camera to the ceiling and slowly walked away."
This bald-faced lie is intended to captivate readers into thinking that my talk was not videotaped for some nefarious reason. In actuality, no videotape 'operator' was present. Mims promulgated several other lies as well, and has accused me of genocide. Another lie was that I recommended loosing Ebola upon human populations. I most assuredly did not. In the question and answer session, I joked about the impossibility of sterilizing everybody on Earth, which Mims sensationalized and gleefully reported as "he wants to sterilize everybody on Earth!" on Alex Jones' foolish conspiracy theory talk show.

These American creationists from the lunatic fringe then mounted a coordinated assault, attacking me with myriad lies distorting my message in an effort to destroy my reputation. Attacking evolutionary biologists is how proponents of so-called "intelligent design" gain recognition among their peers to become fellows of the anti-evolution "Discovery Institute" (someone named Kristine has cleverly called it the "Deception Institute"). Their purpose is "to stage a culture war" [Demski] as their stated goal:

"Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture seeks nothing less than the overthrow of materialism and its cultural legacies. Bringing together leading scholars from the natural sciences and those from the humanities and social sciences, the Center explores how new developments in biology, physics and cognitive science raise serious doubts about scientific materialism and have re-opened the case for a broadly theistic understanding of nature.


Twenty Year Goals:

* To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.

* To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its innuence in the fine arts.

* To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life."

This sounds remarkably similar to an anthropocentric religious movement called occultism which seeks to "reconcile the findings of modern natural science with a religious view that could restore humans to a position of centrality and dignity in the universe" (Goodrick-Clarke, 1985, "The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology"). Occultism was embraced by Nazi Germany and is now being forced on our society by the Discovery Institute in the form of "intelligent design". Their so-called "design theory" is nothing but simple minded creationism wrapped up in a fancy new package.

Stationed in Seattle, the "Discovery Institute" calls itself a "non-profit public policy think tank" In fact, it is a tax-sheltered, well-funded, ultra conservative, fanatically religious, pseudo-scientific (actually anti-science) organization, dedicated to belittling biological science and replacing evolution with creationism. So called "design theory" is nothing but simple minded creationism wrapped up in a fancy new package based on an archaic Nazi philosophy. The Discovery Institute is not a "think tank" at all but actually is no more than just another church taking advantage of non-profit tax-sheltered status!

The campaign to vilify me was quickly picked up by foolish conspiracy theorists (among them "Drudge", "Prison Planet" and radio talk show host Alex Jones). The attack on my character quickly turned into a full-fledged effort to make me look like a monster. I received literally thousands of hateful emails, and later, when it became apparent that this attack was staged by fools, some apologies from people who realized that they had been duped. For a few weeks, I was among the most blogged people on the planet, and because of their blatent lies, I actually received death threats. One of these adamant creationists, a mean-spirited man named Dembski, reported me to Homeland Security as a bioterrorist and I was later interviewed by the FBI. I posted a summary on this website as I grew rather weary of these uninformed foolish assaults, hoping that the furor would die down after a while.

No such luck, for a full five years later, another sensationalist creationist, Tapio Puolimatka, from Finland, published a silly book 'Tiedekeskustelun avoimuuskoe' (loosely translated 'openness test of conversation in science'). Without checking any sources, Puolimatka came up with an even more magnificent and absurd lie. Apparently, Puolimatka mistakenly translated "airborne ebola" as "spreading ebola virus from airplanes" which he then attributed to me. I did not, this is pure and simple unacceptable libel. I have never advocated genocide or mass death. I did not suggest deliberately spreading Ebola or any killings, I simply said that there are more people on Earth than our planet can support in the style to which we'd all like to live. Such clear libel cannot be tolerated by intelligent thinking people.

Puolimatka needs to study basic parasitology, especially parasite transmission. Parasites spread from host to host in many different ways, by way of intermediate hosts such as mosquitoes, through water, or by direct physical contact, etc. His mis-translation of 'airborne' displays incredible ignorance!

Many parasites spread via the air, such as when a flu infected person sneezes, he/she puts many thousands of virions into water droplets suspended in the air. When another person breathes in these, he/she can become infected. This is how flu spreads and epidemics occur. At present, Ebola zaire spreads only by direct physical contact with tainted blood, but its close relative Ebola reston, spreads itself directly through the air (i.e., it is airborne). It is only a matter of time before E. zaire mutates to become airborne.

All this has NOTHING to do with me or my opinions, but it is simple biology. Puolimatka needs to learn some parasitology, especially parasite transmission before he writes any more dumb books! Both Puolimatka and his publisher, Uusi Tie Publishing Ltd., have since extended their apologies and retracted the libelous statements. However, both have clearly committed libel and deserve to be sued.

You have been misinformed if you believe anything any of these people say. You can not believe everything you read on the web, especially when it's prepared by misguided creationists and conspiracy theory fools like these people. My views have been massively distorted by these ignorant conspiracy theorists and creationists. Please do not accept their absurd claims without examining what I actually said. Download the text of The Vanishing Book of Life, the now infamous speech I have given many times (16.8 meg pdf) and read it for yourself. Or, if you wish, you can view it as an html file complete with original color slides by clicking here (view with Safari, other browsers may not work).

Again, the bottom line is that if we can't control ourselves, microbes like Ebola will do it for us (and that won't be much fun). "Wildlife management" is a complete joke, we humans cannot even find the will to control our OWN populations! Homo sapiens?, indeed, humans might more fittingly be called Homo the sap!

Please, don't believe everything you read about me . . . much is pure and simple lies, vilification, slander, and now, actual libel. I do not see what these foolish people gain by promulgating such hatred and lies (death threats from such "Christian" folks!). Inform yourself and THINK before you leap.

Read more about this hyped-up putative "controversy" at:

Talk of the Devil
An Overpopulated Earth?
Wikipedia: Eric Pianka
Forrest Mims the Third
Forrest Mims III, continued
Mims dishes it out, but can't take it
Petition to TAS members
Mims wannabe bully
Mims threatens to sue
An Apology
Twisted Words
Sequin Gazette's Front Page
The Ugly Truth
Creationist Fools
Creationists Attack
Dembski's New Job
Wingnuts in Retreat
In Defense of Pianka
Ebola and French Fries
Pianka's Reputation Slandered
The Swiftboating of Eric Pianka
Paul Stone's letter to KNX radio station
'Dr. Doom' Under Siege -- Inside Higher Education
Scientist Misquoted
Is Blogging News?
Dead for a Day Lonely Girl, me, and Don R.

ERP: Domino Effects

Read The Vanishing Book of Life on line as an html file (view with Safari).
Download The Vanishing Book of Life, the now infamous speech
I have given many times (16.8 meg pdf file) and read it for yourself.

Download a smaller version (words only) of the Text only (284 KB pdf file).

Watch a 2004 video presentation of this infamous speech given at Purdue University

  • Eric Pianka's web pages