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Texas Scientist, Eric Pianka Calls for Exterminating Over Four Billion People in a Plague

April 06, 2006
Ruvy

Rabbi Yehoshua Friedman, the head of the Yeshiva of Ma'aléh Efráyim, sent out an e-mail today containing a reference to an article that disturbed him a great deal. Dr. Eric Pianka, of the Texas Academy of Science, gave a speech at Lamar University recommending that two thirds of humanity be exterminated in a man-made plague because there are too many humans on the planet. Rabbi Friedman, like me, is a science fiction fan. This is what he wrote about the article,

"Has this man so rejected any concept, even subjective, of chosenness, that he is repelled by the thought of the spawn of humanity going out to the stars? Racism, sexism, speciesism, planetism. But is death better than life? Is this mad scientist so afraid that humanity will pollute the galaxy with more Hutus cutting up their neighbors into Tutsi rolls that he doesn't even want to try to survive? This is surely the ultimate of self-hatred."

Forrest M. Mims III, who writes The Citizen Scientist, was at Lamar University the day that Dr. Pianka gave his address. In his article, he writes that the video camera, which usually faces the speaker, was turned upwards to the ceiling before Dr. Pianka spoke. Mims, noticing this, decided it was a good idea for him to get out his notebook and take notes on what was going on - hence the article that Rabbi Friedman read and was so disturbed about. Mims, in his article, notes that Dr. Pianka worries about running out of petroleum, a finite resource. He seems to ignore entirely, the possibility of using non-petroleum fuel sources in place of petroleum. So in Pianka's eyes, the petroleum seems to be worth more than a person.

This is not the first time that Dr. Pianka has expressed this point of view. At his own website he expressed similar views without going into the numbers or the method of doing away with his fellow man. He says his remarks about his beliefs were taken out of context, that he was just raising a warning that deadly disease epidemics are a threat if population growth isn't contained.

Were he alone in holding them, it would be no great deal. Many scientists have many views, and many of them are strange indeed. But fellow scientists, people who are entrusted to provide us with enlightenment and understanding about the world around us, cheered enthusiastically. If they hold views similar to Pianka's we are in deep trouble. What calls itself "western civilization" seems to be sliding down a slippery slope to barbarism.

Forty five years ago obstetricians joined with others to overturn the abortion restrictions in the States that caused so many women to die from "coat-hanger" abortions. This might be understandable to a degree. Then, not too long ago, we had the issue of assisted suicide before us. In Europe this seems to not be a problem. We also have the issue of partial birth abortions, which are still legal in the States. We see country after country legalizing "euthanasia." And now we have this - a recommendation to slaughter two thirds of the human race with an Ebola virus - cheered by a roomful of fellow scientists.

If this is what "western civilization" is coming to, it is not civilized at all and deserves to be overthrown.

Ruvy, born in New York, moved to Minnesota where he managed a Burger King and wrote stories. In addition to writing for Blogcritics Magazine, he is editor for the Root & Branch Information Service. Formerly living in Jerusalem, he lives with his family in Ma'alé Levoná where he is a freelance editor and writer.
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Texas Scientist, Eric Pianka Calls for Exterminating Over Four Billion People in a Plague

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#1
Ruvy in Jerusalem
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April 6, 2006
04:58 PM

The following is the entire e-mail I received from Rabbi Yehoshua Friedman. Because it was an e-mail to me (and a few thousand close friends and acquaintences), there was no URL.

I think that what he says is worth reading.

I have just seen the report (http://www.sas.org/tcs/weeklyIssues_2006/2006-04-07/feature1p/index.html) of the monstrous address of Prof. Eric Pianka to the Texas Academy of Science. I have many friends in Texas for whom I have great sorrow. Many people in the world who have a stereotyped view of Texans as barbaric cowboys are not going to be greatly impressed with the state of science and culture if this is what they hear of it. A copy of this speech accompanied by a photo of Pianka with his bulls is so repelling that I wonder if this was not meant to be satire. I still fondly hope that perhaps it was. And yet the audience cheered! And I think those cheers are even more morally repugnant than Heil Hitler, if that is possible.

As a committed Jew and teacher of Judaism I like to look at humanity from a positive point of view, seeing the good in people and promoting positive, universal ethical values for humanity. For this reason I have for the last twenty-odd years made a point of teaching the Seven Laws of Noah, the rabbinic distillation of universal biblical law. That takes a certain optimism.

Unfortunately in the world today that optimism has many trials. The genocide of Hitler, Stalin and Mao and the scourge of Wahhabi terrorism are fine examples. As an ideology racism, specifically the exquisitely formed bigotry of the Nazis, classifying people by race and dooming them to death or subjugation, seemed to be as bad as it could get. Peter Singer of Princeton, who advocates giving newborn children only provisional humanity and killing them after birth if they don't measure up, is pretty bad also. This is called social Darwinism, not merely accepting the balance of nature but putting a heavy thumb on the scale according to one's personal or social prejudices as to what is a worthy life.

This said, Eric Pianka takes the cake, a cake laced with cyanide or whatever poison you choose. A person who respects neither Scripture nor human decency and takes it out on a particular segment of the human race is despicable. But one who wishes to see 90% of the human race destroyed is a sick monstrosity according to even the most minimal standards of humanity. Of course those who objected to Hitler's concentration camps, Stalin's Gulag, Mao's cultural revolution and Pol Pot's killing fields will say the same thing here. All of those billions he wants to wipe out are people with names, lives, families, unborn generations which may make the cosmos a better place.

And I say the cosmos, not the world. I say the cosmos because this man's misanthropic, myopic point of view claims its mandate from the scarcity of resources on Planet Earth. Well, I have news for you. There is a big universe out there. Those teeming masses have a place to go if anyone will commit the resources and the initiative for life rather than trying to figure out how to kill us off. The universe has plenty of fuel, raw material and energy in a place where pollution will not be an issue. Let mankind conquer the universe instead of contemplating its electronic navel.

Or is it perhaps even worse? Has this man so rejected any concept, even subjective, of chosenness, that he is repelled by the thought of the spawn of humanity going out to the stars? Racism, sexism, speciesism, planetism. But is death better than life? Is this mad scientist so afraid that humanity will pollute the galaxy with more Hutus cutting up their neighbors into Tutsi rolls that he doesn't even want to try to survive? This is surely the ultimate of self-hatred.

For one of the great examples of self-hatred we turn to the sad case of Otto Weininger, Hitler's favorite Jew. Yes, there was such a thing. Weininger was a very talented and very self-hating Jew who converted to Christianity, disparaged Jews and women, wrote crazy half-baked ideas on sexuality and committed suicide. Pianka would have loved him. Otto had the courage of his convictions and behaved with logical consistency. I wonder if Pianka has the same courage.

Yehoshua Friedman

#2
Yehoshua Friedman
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May 16, 2006
12:35 AM

Ruvy, thanks for reprinting my statement. I must issue a correction: I am not the head of the yeshiva in Ma'ale Efraim. The head of the yeshiva is Rabbi Baruch Ganot, an exceptional Jew who is head and shoulders above me and most of us. He has a degree in physicas from the Technion, was an Israel Air Force combad pilot and instructor with the rank of sgan aluf (lt. col.) and spent ten years studying dayanut (rabbinical judge's course, equivalent to PhD and then some). He is an exemplar in his personal behavior to the extent that can only be seen to be believed. You are welcome to come and see.

#3
Righta
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May 16, 2006
10:33 AM

If not by a virus, many would succumb to lack of resources, pollution & hatred, while the privileged move on to artificial homes elsewhere in space. Thats the concept of "Pralaya"(the final flood) in Indian Mythology.

#4
Ruvy in Jerusalem
May 16, 2006
12:08 PM

I've learned something over the years, Righta - not to take what people call "mythology" lightly. It is indeed interesting that this "final flood" is not a flood of water, but of hatred.

The Hebrew Bible also talks about G-d not bringing another flood - presumably this means water - but that judgment would come differently. Whle many talk of "the fire next time" - also the title of a book about racial problems in America many years ago - in Judaism is talks of a flood of needless hatred bringing judgment upon us, and our rabbis, like Rabbi Friedman above, also talk of needless hatred as a cause of terrible punishments upon our people.

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