Tuesday, April 11, 2006

More on "Doctor Doom" Pianka

A detailed follow-up to the professor who allegedly exhibited enthusiasm for a plague which would wipe out humanity. The evidence favors the conclusion that he perversely enjoys the thought of mass death, but he isn't taking any particular steps to further the die-off. Not particularly reassuring.

On further reflection, I remembered that at one time I had a lot in common with Pianka. I remember making similarly stupid remarks about how the cockroach was superior to mankind, and would survive long after we were wiped out. I think I had picked up the idea from a pop-science magazine, or maybe OMNI. I revelled in stories about ebola, like The Hot Zone or The Coming Plague. I read and re-read the first few hundred pages of Stephen King's The Stand, in which 99.7% of humanity dies after a bioweapon accident.

But I did this in my mid-teens.

There is a curious phenomenon about accusations of bias. It is considered bigotry to have a special loathing for one or two forms of religion, but to loathe them all, curiously, is often reckoned to be Enlightened. To contemn certain sections of the human species is prejudiced, but to belittle the entire human species as a cancer upon the earth is to state a disinterested point of view. To know how such unbiased observers avoid self-loathing would be to know a deep paradox of human psychology.

Sad to say, the day seems fast approaching when oaths declaring one's loyalty to the human species will be suspect and "speciesist," to use a barbaric neologism. Charges of obscurantism and censoriousness are already flying against the journalist who exposed this death-wisher.

One has to be rather cracked to devote oneself to the study of reptiles, but we should prefer eccentrics like P.G. Wodehouse's newt-obsessed bachelor to schadenfreude-addicts like Pianka.

No comments: