Texas Academy of Science statement on Pianka

Someone in Texas forwarded this to me, from the Texas Academy of Science:

Subject: Texas Academy of Science and Dr. Eric Pianka Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2006 15:17:19 -0600

I, and the Board of Directors of the Texas Academy of Science (TAS), would like to clarify our status concerning the Distinguished Texas Scientist (DTS) presentation by Dr. Eric Pianka on Friday, 3 March 2006 at the 109th annual meeting in Beaumont, Texas.

Candidates for the DTS award are nominated by the general membership of TAS. Submitted supportive documentation is reviewed by the TAS vice-president and a committee of TAS Fellows. The candidates are individually ranked by each member of the committee and the totals compiled. The top candidate is contacted by the vice-president and if he/she accepts, is willing to attend the annual meeting and give a presentation, then TAS reimburses his/her travel, room and board expenses. The selected DTS receives a plaque at the Awards Banquet and no other remuneration.

As I have stated before, we (TAS) select the DTS speaker based upon his/her academic credentials and contributions to Science. We DO NOT mandate nor put constraints on the subject he/she decides to address, nor will we ever. The views expressed by any speaker (DTS or any of the 200+ presenters) are his or hers alone and are not meant to represent the Academy as a whole. To clarify this position for future presentations, we will include an appropriate disclaimer within the meeting program.

Whether or not we (TAS) as a body agree with the statements that Dr. Pianka made in his presentation is irrelevant. We are an Academy of individuals, and as such, each is free to make his or her alignments. TAS neither condones nor vilifies Dr. Pianka’s statements. We would like to state, however, that many of Dr. Pianka’s statements have been severely misconstrued and sensationalized. The purpose of his presentation was to dramatize the precarious plight of the human population. He did nothing more than apply commonly accepted principles of animal population dynamics to humans; an application not unique to this presentation and one that can be surmised by any student of ecology.

Dr. David S. Marsh 2006 President, Texas Academy of Science 2006 TAS Board of Directors

(bold added)

In other news, there is a lot of rumor-mongering in the ID blogosphere and some of the media about a “transcript” in the possession of the Seguin Gazette-Herald, the first newspaper to report on this, just after Mims’s own account. One news story said they weren’t giving it out for some reason – The Seguine Gazette-Herald says they will be posting a transcript of the second Pianka lecture, given in early April, later this week. My gut feeling is that if there were any “gotcha” moments in there, we would have seen them already, since the Seguin Gazette-Herald has pretty clearly been drinking Forrest Mims’s coolaid from the beginning. One important tidbit that no one seems to have noticed is that Forrest Mims happens to be a longtime resident of Seguin, TX, population ~24,000, and Mims himself sometimes writes for the Seguin Gazette-Herald. Also strange is the fact that an audio recording of Pianka’s direct reply to the Seguine Gazette-Herald reporter’s question, “I don’t advocate killing people”, never made it into the Gazette-Herald’s story.

This news story from UT Austin’s The Daily Texan, although not without its flaws, has some more details on the (required!) FBI interview with Pianka, and many supportive comments from people who actually know and work with the man.

For the irony-deprived wingnuts out there who still don’t get Pianka’s jokes, like these guys, here’s another sample of Pianka humor for you to go into hysterical convulsions over.