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My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Tuesday, April 4

The Doomsday Professor and There Are No Electrons

A University of Texas biology professor has been targeted by talk radio, bloggers and vitriolic e-mails — including a death threat — after a published report that he advocated death for most of the population as a means of saving the Earth.

This isn't new to me. I've been well aware of some of the more extreme views in the environmentalist movement. I was a little surprised to read that the professor received a standing ovation for his speech. Still, it didn't merit even an eyebrow raise from me. I guess I've seen too much.

A few others were able to muser a bit more outrage. It does concern me that this professor is speaking to impressionable young people. Most of them will hopefully come to have more empathy for the rest of the human race, but it does worry me that a random nutter might find this just the bit of encouragement and information that is needed.

I don't think one can really live life worrying all the time about the random fringe mass murderer. However, openly reveling in the idea of the deaths of billions of people dying just seems wrong. It's elevating "nature" to a moral ideal and then separating "nature" from "human" - as if humans were outside nature. If someone suggested that some (non-human) animal is overpopulating the world and ought to be wiped out be a disease, I don't think he'd find it quite so funny.

It's like what Shawn Carlson says in his article:
Pianka, however, is an evolutionist who believes that humanity is not part of the natural world. Somehow, the fact our evolution led us to a point whereby we can adapt our environment to our bodies, rather than wait for our bodies to adapt to our environment, puts us in an inferior position in nature.

It occurred to me that maybe he and his students should be made to go help out in places where people are dying of ebola. Then again, perhaps they shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the stuff.

What this whole thing has made me aware of is how easy it is for me to become indifferent about things. I'm really not seriously bothered about what he said. Maybe I should be. I remember thinking such things in my more impressionable youth. I don't think I would have actually been happy about such a thing. Perhaps he and his students wouldn't really be either.

Some might suggest that only a young person could be "excused" for holding such a mixed up belief because as they learn they'll likely give it up and become more "reasonable". A man of the professor's years should know better. Really, though, there is no accounting for what any particular person might know. If the guy's spent most of the last 15 years with animals, he's going to have a different set of knowledge than a guy that's spent them with people. A young person who's been cared for and helped a lot by people, though, is going to be horrified at the idea of people like the ones who've been there for her might die.

Ah well, enough rambling. Just one last thing. If you recognize the name of Forrest Mims - it's because he's the guy that draws the smiling electrons. It's a decent introduction to electronics although I personally found There Are No Electrons: Electronics for Earthlings more amusing.

I'm told the latter doesn't really explain things properly. I wouldn't know as I still haven't got around to finishing either of them.

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