Tells Critics Mims Should Be Commended for Speaking Out
UT Professor Supports Forrest Mims’
Account of Dr. “Doom” Pianka Speech
By Rick Pearcey
April 12, 2006 – A University of Texas professor has signaled to critics his support of Forrest Mims’ article about a controversial “Doomsday” speech delivered by Dr. Eric Pianka in early March, according to statements obtained by The Pearcey Report. Mims is a scientist, author, and columnist, and Dr. Pianka is an author and evolutionary ecologist who received the “2006 Distinguished Scientist” award at the recent TAS meeting at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.
According to these statements, Asst. Prof. of Biology Dr. Kenneth Summy sent TAS leadership an unsolicited letter of support for Mims dated April 10, 2006. He also sent a letter to Dr. Kathryn Perez (UNC), who was behind a petition to organize support for Pianka, and against Mims, among the membership of TAS.
News of Dr. Pianka’s speech broke when Mims published a March 31 article in The Citizen Scientist. In that article Mims said, “I watched in amazement as a few hundred members of the Texas Academy of Science rose to their feet and gave a standing ovation to a speech that enthusiastically advocated the elimination of 90 percent of Earth’s population by airborne Ebola.” The Pearcey Report posted the first transcript of that speech, based on audio recorded after Dr. Pianka had begun his remarks.
According to the Gazette-Enterprise, “both Pianka and the academy” have said Mims’ “alarm is without merit.” Mims is chairman of the Environmental Science Section of the academy.
In the TAS letter, Dr. Summy states, “Forrest Mims did not misrepresent anything regarding the contents of the keynote address, and should be commended for openly expressing his concerns -- many of us out here feel exactly the same way.”
Attached to the letter of support for Mims is Summy’s response to Dr. Kathryn Perez, a post-doctoral fellow in biology the University of North Carolina. As noted, Perez had earlier circulated a letter soliciting support for Pianka among TAS members, saying, “I would like to make clear that Mims has dishonestly mischaracterized Dr. Pianka’s statements.”
In his letter to Perez, Summy asserts that he “attended the presentation given by Dr. Eric Pianka at the recent TAS meeting in Beaumont” and that his “overall impression” is that “Pianka’s presentation was a ‘doomsday’ message that life on earth is about to end, and the sooner the human population crashes the better.”
Summy tells Perez he hopes Dr. Pianka “was joking or being sarcastic when he stated that a pandemic of ebola virus would be great for the earth – no sane person would really believe that.” In addition, Summy notes that “at least two statements made during the presentation essentially constituted a direct attack on a major religious leader (the Pope), which was completely uncalled for.”
Summy concludes by saying, “Forrest Mims did not misrepresent anything regarding the presentation” and that the “message contained in the keynote address detracted from what was otherwise an excellent meeting.”
Rick Pearcey is editor and publisher of The Pearcey Report.