This has been the subject of several blogs of late and my only aim here is to further spread the word about the lunacy that has erupted from the Right as a result of a recent talk given by University of Texas ecologist Eric Pianka. My first ecology course at UC Davis (decades ago) used Pianka's book, Evolutionary Ecology - and it's still proudly displayed in my office bookshelf. Nick Matzke's post at Panda's Thumb says it all:
The wingnut echo chamber has recently gone insane over the idea that Eric Pianka, an distinguished and much-loved ecologist at UT, advocates mass genocide by ebola in order to bring down world population. The allegation was leveled by disgruntled creationist Forrest Mims, and rapidly spread to the blogosphere via places like Dembski’s blog (three posts!) and Telic Thoughts, and then went to the Drudge Report and caused a national media firestorm appearing in my local paper by Monday morning. I smelled a rat from the beginning, and now I have been proved right. KXAN News36 in Austin, TX, has just debunked the whole thing, and for good measure has posted a 20-minute unedited interview with Pianka which everyone must watch to realize the full depravity of what the wingnuts have done here. Pianka says several times that Mims is a “crazy kook” that “distorted and changed everything I said.” The death threats that have flooded Pianka and the Texas Academy of Sciences are also a nice touch.
The unmitigated distortions of Pianka's talk promulgated by the Right are simply another in the long line of fake controversies (War on Christmas, War on Christians, War on Boy Scouts, War on Apple Pie) being used to demagogue anyone conservatives don't agree with. PZ Meyers properly referred to the efforts as the "Swiftboating of Eric Pianka". It's also clear that ID advocates like Dembski prefer that the concept of academic freedom be reserved for "unpopular" ideas of Intelligent Design advocates, and not the "unpopular" ideas of evolutionary ecologists like Eric Pianka. I wonder when O'Reilly will pick this story up and carry on the conservative propaganda?