This is what I have been warning against if we reject human exceptionalism, which can lead to an embrace of radical misanthropy. Apparently, Eric R. Pianka, a (deep) ecology professor speaking at a science symposium in Texas predicted in hopeful terms the outbreak of an ebola pandemic that would wipe out almost all of the human population–which he saw as necessary for the health of the earth–and received a standing ovation from the scientists in attendance.
According to Forrest M. Mims III, who edits Citizen Scientist and brought this matter to light, “One of Pianka’s earliest points was a condemnation of anthropocentrism, or the idea that humankind occupies a privileged position in the Universe. He told a story about how a neighbor asked him what good the lizards are that he studies. He answered, ‘What good are you?’ Pianka hammered his point home by exclaiming, ‘We’re no better than bacteria!'”
He should speak for himself. But seriously, this is a clear minority view but not necessarily one on the fringe. The speaker, Eric R. Pianka, was named Distinguishged Texas Scientist of 2006 by the Texas Academy of Science.
I worry increasingly that science and misanthropic ideology are beginning to blur, which is not about science, but deeply held ideological scientism. A hearty, “Here, Here,” to Mims for exposing this matter and for sounding the alarm.
(Hat tip, Colin.)