Letter by Prof. Kenneth R. Summy in Support of Forrest M. Mims III

The below April 10, 2006 letter by Assistant Professor Kenneth R. Summy, the Vice-Chairman of the Environmental Science Section of the Texas Academy of Science, was sent to the President and the Board of Directors of the Texas Academy of Science in support of Forrest M. Mims III's account of Prof. Eric R. Pianka's March 3, 2006 lecture at the 109th Annual Meeting of the Texas Academy of Science at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Dr. Kathryn E. Perez, mentioned below, is a SPIRE Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill & Duke University, and Chairwoman of the Systematics and Evolutionary Biology Section of the Texas Academy of Science. (See "Mims gets Pianka right according to Kenneth Summy," Uncommon Descent, April 13, 2006 http://www.uncommondescent.com/index.php/archives/1035 .)

Subj:Petition
Date:4/10/2006
Time: 1:49:37 PM CST
To: President and Board of Directors of the Texas Academy of Science

Attached is a response I sent to Dr. Kathryn Perez regarding the allegation that Forrest Mims misrepresented the content of the keynote address at the recent TAS meeting. A lot of the cc’s listed in Dr. Perez’s original message failed to get through, so I am resending.

Forrest Mims did not misrepresent anything regarding the contents of the keynote address, and should be commended for openly expressing his concerns - many of us out here feel exactly the same way.

Hope these comments are helpful.

Dr. Kenneth R. Summy
Department of Biology
University of Texas, Pan American

=-=-=-=-=-

Dear Dr. Perez:

I attended the presentation given by Dr. Eric Pianka at the recent TAS meeting in Beaumont. While academic freedom is fine, distinguished scientists delivering keynote addresses at scientific meetings have a responsibility to their audience (and the society they are representing) to do so in a manner that is not unduly offensive to anyone present. My overall impression of Dr. Pianka’s presentation was a “doomsday” message that life on earth is about to end, and the sooner the human population crashes the better. I hope he was joking or being sarcastic when he stated that a pandemic of ebola virus would be great for the earth ? no sane person would really believe that. Also, at least two statements made during the presentation essentially constituted a direct attack on a major religious leader (the Pope), which was completely uncalled for. Dr. Pianka chose to deliver an inflammatory message in his keynote address, so he should not be surprised to be the recipient of a lot of criticism from TAS membership.

Forrest Mims did not misrepresent anything regarding the presentation. I heard these statements myself, and would be willing to bet that most of the audience attending the presentation got the same impression that I did. In my opinion, the message contained in the keynote address detracted from what was otherwise an excellent meeting.

Thanks for your time.

Dr. Kenneth R. Summy
Department of Biology
University of Texas, Pan American


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