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Yet another weird SF fan
 

Monday, April 03, 2006

More on Depressed Academics

Upon reading more about the alleged speech by an alleged scientist, I noticed a few details that don't ring true:

Mims counters their ovation with the story of a Texas Lutheran University student who attended the Academy of Science lecture. Brenna McConnell, a biology senior, said she and others in the audience "had not thought seriously about overpopulation issues and a feasible solution prior to the meeting." But though McConnell arrived at the event with little to say on the issue, she returned to Seguin with a whole new outlook.

An entry to her online blog captures her initial response to what's become a new conviction:

"[Pianka is] a radical thinker, that one!" she wrote. "I mean, he's basically advocating for the death for all but 10 percent of the current population. And at the risk of sounding just as radical, I think he's right."

Today, she maintains the Earth is in dire straits. And though she's decided Ebola isn't the answer, she's still considering other deadly viruses that might take its place in the equation.

"Maybe I just see the virus as inevitable because it's the easiest answer to this problem of overpopulation," she said.

First, does Brenna McConnell’s blog exist? It isn’t mentioned on technorati or Google blog search and the general Google web search didn’t have anything bloggish on Brenna McConnell.

I expressed some skepticism about the accuracy of unverifiable anecdotes on the alleged self-censorship of Arkansas biology teachers a few days ago and I think similar skepticism is warranted here.

Second, can we really find a 21st-century alleged biology student who “had not thought seriously about overpopulation issues”?

As for the alleged content …

To the extent the report is accurate, it means that the eco-nuts have basically surrendered on the issue of resource shortages. They made a token invocation of resource shortages but didn't press the point. They had to fall back on Plan B: hysteria on supposedly-emerging diseases.

Extremely contagious diseases have already spread. The ones left are not very contagious diseases such as Ebola, AIDS, or Legionnaire's disease. The commonly cited scenario of numerous contagious diseases spreading from some jungle had already taken place between 500 BCE and 1000. If Ebola were able to become airborne easily, it would have done so long ago. Since then (with a few exceptions such as bubonic plague) diseases have evolved to be less deadly. (Please recall that the death rate from contagious disease was declining even before antibiotics.)

Addendum: Brenna McConnell's blog actually does exist. Maybe I've been reading too many conspiracy theories …

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