I’ve been sitting on the Doctor Doom story for about a week since I first came across it.
Recently citizen scientist Forrest Mims told me about a speech he
heard at the Texas Academy of Science during which the speaker, a
world-renowned ecologist, advocated for the extermination of 90 percent
of the human species in a most horrible and painful manner. Apparently
at the speaker’s direction, the speech was not video taped by the
Academy and so Forrest’s may be the only record of what was said.
Forrest’s account of what he witnessed chilled my soul. Astonishingly,
Forrest reports that many of the Academy members present gave the
speaker a standing ovation. To date, the Academy has not moved to
sanction the speaker or distance itself from the speaker’s remarks.
Naturally, there’s no shortage of outrage. I don’t need to point it out, as Google will do a far more thorough job than I for those so inclined. Also, in fairness, it’s probably appropriate to reference Dr. Eric R. Pianka directly–either his clarification or backtrack, depending on your point of view.
What I’ve yet to see, and anyone is welcome to point me to it, is some recognition that the man is simply logically and honesty drawing conclusions from his own premises–the same premises at the root of the entire 20th and 21st-century antagonism between individualism, on the one hand, and communism, socialism, fascism, environmentalism (there are no distinctions to make at root premises) on the other.
Most people will never go that far. For instance, I’m every bit the atheist, evolutionist, secularist, and materialist, which chief tenets no doubt make up the fundamental anthropological view of Dr. Pianka. Yet, most outrage you read will be based upon some notion of evil as derived from some religious text or belief: that we are all the children or purposeful creation of some sort of supreme being (Western). Or, that all life forms are somehow part of some great circle of life or being (Eastern).
But here’s the rub, folks: given his premises–and for many of you, your premises–he’s right. If, indeed, man is not the unequivocal, unchallenged, and rightful ruler of nature, then no one is; and some microbe destroying 5 billion people–whether by accident or purpose–is no more remarkable than a pride of lions taking out four-fifths of a herd of gazelles. It’s all just nature, and after all, there are "balances" and "natural efficiencies" to be maintained. Even for you believers out there: God’s will is his will. If microbes wiped out billions (they’ve wiped out millions in the past), your doctrines require you to accept it. Period.
You know what I’m tired of? I’m tired of explaining to people why, apart from their catechism (presumably because they have no better argument), human beings are indeed special. There’s a lot to say on that subject, but it boils down to two words: free will. Animals don’t have it, plain and simple. We–the rational animal–do; and it makes all the difference in the world. It makes the only fundamental difference. Without that, we are indeed meaningless and of no particular higher value, whatsoever.
But with that most important of attributes we literally possess the will and the means to ultimately control all of existence: to increasingly add purpose–human purpose–to existence. For, so far as we know, all existence operates by means of comprehensible and logical natural laws and is composed of various fundamental particles and elements having relationships that are ultimately definable and controllable. The key to all of that is knowledge, and all knowledge is contained within the free-will, conceptual consciousnesses of human beings; that which other animals do not possess. Non-human animals do not possess conceptual knowledge, and thus, will never control and quench a forest fire or construct a massive concrete dam to save or advance their their lives for their own self-reflective purposes.
No, there’s no guarantee that some microbe won’t wipe out 90% of Earth’s human population at some point in the future. It’s happened before. In the broadest sense, there is no such thing as a guarantee of anything at all. That’s never stopped humanity from generally acting in accordance with its nature, which is to increasingly understand reality, existence, and to control it to productive, purposeful, and valuable use–all by human standards. It should not stop now just because some scientist decides to draw back the veil to reveal the endgame of Earth’s dominant philosophy over the last hundred or so years. The self-fulfilling nature of the whole thing is quite plain to see. The best way to see to the destruction of 5 billion people from a super-virulent disease is to tie humanity’s hands now–whether it be done by individuals themselves, through irrational fear, or by their chosen authorities they are foolish enough to believe in.
I don’t know what’s better or worse: the "good doctor," or shouting FREEDOM! one day, and then going down to vote in your slave-masters the next.