Dave Thomas posted Entry 2188 on April 7, 2006 08:24 PM.
Trackback URL: http://degas.fdisk.net/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/2183

In Mike Dunford’s PT blog The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise and Misrepresentation of Pianka., some commenters noticed that the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise was pulling all articles mentioning the Pianka affair. I was trying to get to that article on the Gazette as well, but was also unable to find it. That is, until I started hunting around the internet caches. I have retrieved parts of the article; see below the fold for before and after (scrubbing) comparisons. The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise must be more than a little nervous. It’s quite a story.

My opening bid: the April 2nd, 2006 Cover Page is still accessible on-line. I’m making a virtual wager (this is a virtual pub, after all), and that is that the Cover Page will be gone by Monday.


Will Chloe get the download before Mims’ minions destroy the hard disk? Will Harry Potter be able to defeat the spell of invisibility the Gazette is putting on all articles Pianka? Read on…

First off, let’s look at part of the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise’s “News Lasso” page, as retrieved earlier today:

That’s not what it looked like just two days ago, on April 5th, 2006:

Then, the article “Controversy swirls around UT professor” was prominently displayed between two other articles also from April 4th, one on the Pecan Fest, and one on a Business Professions of America student competitor.

What happens when you get into Google’s cache to try to view these three articles? If the expungement of the Pianka piece was simply the Gazette trimming articles after a normal wait of a few days, then none of the other April 4th articles should be available. Yet, they’re all on-line today. In fact, the Gazette archives articles for a whole month. Why is the Pianka article missing?

The Pecan Fest article is still on-line…

And the BPA Student’s article is still on-line…

But, what happens when you try to get to the Pianka article?

What is the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise so worried about? I don’t know, but the Cheshire Cat is out of the bag, thanks to Google’s Cache.

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Comment #95432

Posted by Dave Thomas on April 7, 2006 08:31 PM (e)

Oh yeah, I forgot the link to the cached article.

Catch it while you can!

Cheers, Dave

Comment #95433

Posted by Nick (Matzke) on April 7, 2006 08:40 PM (e)


Comment #95437

Posted by Corkscrew on April 7, 2006 09:21 PM (e)

This would actually be a good thing if they were honest enough to publish a retraction too.

Comment #95439

Posted by Gary Hurd on April 7, 2006 09:28 PM (e)

I noticed earlier today that searching the The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise site for “Pianka” returned zero hits.

I had no idea they could be this stupid!

Comment #95447

Posted by apollo230 on April 7, 2006 09:57 PM (e)

This Pianka affair has become a shameless witch-hunt. Let those who are without sin cast the first stone.

Comment #95448

Posted by GSLamb on April 7, 2006 09:58 PM (e)

I did find one bit of Pianka still on the Seguin G-E’s site:


Of course, as soon as they remember it….
(as the Rev says: [shrug])

Comment #95451

Posted by GSLamb on April 7, 2006 10:02 PM (e)

After the http://, it should read:
rassin-frassin looong urls.

Comment #95454

Posted by Gerard Harbison on April 7, 2006 10:14 PM (e)

Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

Comment #95461

Posted by Gerard Harbison on April 7, 2006 10:46 PM (e)

You can write a letter to the Seguin Gazette Enterprise at http://seguingazette.com/letter.lasso.

Comment #95463

Posted by Bruce on April 7, 2006 10:48 PM (e)

For comment #95451, Try http://seguingazette.com/photos/2006.April/Eric%…

Not very good audio.
Someone wants a yes-or-no answer.

Comment #95478

Posted by mrgoodbar on April 7, 2006 11:57 PM (e)

I know this is a witch hunt by creationists… but it doesn’t help that Pianka has a “crazy guy on the bus” beard…

Comment #95511

Posted by writerdd on April 8, 2006 07:53 AM (e)

“Death is imminent for MOST humans”?

Pray tell, how do I join the group for whom death is not such a threat?

Comment #95520

Posted by Russell on April 8, 2006 08:44 AM (e)

SEGUIN - Nutty Buddy is having a crisis

Are they referring to Mims?

Comment #95538

Posted by Red Mann on April 8, 2006 10:35 AM (e)

I just looked at Drudge’s archives, couldn’t find anything for “Pianka” or “Mims”. Is there some kind of virus spreading?

Comment #95546

Posted by steve s on April 8, 2006 11:15 AM (e)

Red Man, it wouldn’t surprise me. At first, drudge’s link was something like “Crazy Professor wants to murder 90% of humanity”, and after a day or so that was changed to something like “Professor provokes controversy after lecture”.

Somebody check the Seguin Gazette masthead. Is Davetard the editor in chief?

Comment #95552

Posted by steve s on April 8, 2006 11:32 AM (e)

If I were Pianka, I’d humiliate them my threatening to sue the Seguin Gazette, whoever runs those DI blogs, various radio hosts, and I presume, though nobody’s mentioned it yet, Fox News, and offer to drop the lawsuits in return for the host performing, on the relevant show/site, an apology on one day for every day the show/site ran the stories about me.

Comment #95561

Posted by Ed Darrell on April 8, 2006 12:43 PM (e)

It’s likely that the Seguin Gazette has one or two trained journalists on the staff, or an attorney on retainer who has at least a pedestrian knowledge of libel law. The articles against Pianka were inadequately researched, loaded with dubious claims that are defamatory (especially since it convinced at least one citizen to call the FBI to allege criminality — a clear measure that the content defamed) and inaccurately so, in my opinion as a journalism graduate, journalist, flacker for government agencies that investigate wrongdoing, and lawyer. Yes, it would be wise for the paper to issue a retraction along with simply pulling down the content; but they may be hoping to argue for “constructive retraction.”

It may also be that the University of Texas got in the act. Were I a lawyer for the school, I would have urged that letters be sent to each outlet that distributed the inaccurate stuff, spelling out libel law in Texas and their own jurisdiction, and pointing specifically to the inaccuracies in the story. Since the office of the Governor of Texas has gotten involved, it is clear that there are real effects of internet pranks. The defamation and allegations of criminality extend not only to Pianka, but also to the University of Texas. Taking shots at a lowly professor might be fun to those who oppose science and especially evolution, but taking shots at a major research university and making reckless allegations strays into yet another category of intemperate behavior that exposes the actor to civil liability, and perhaps other liability as well.

Taking the articles down is a minor win for rationality. Watch for the retraction.

Comment #95568

Posted by Rich on April 8, 2006 01:36 PM (e)

Heads up - Uncommon Descent seems to be down at the moment..

Comment #95571

Posted by Red Right Hand on April 8, 2006 01:47 PM (e)

especially since it convinced at least one citizen to call the FBI to allege criminality

Calling Bill Dembski a “citizen” is a bit much, don’t you think?

“You call Liberty Valance a MAN?!?”
- Edmund O’Brien, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,1962

Comment #95576

Posted by steve s on April 8, 2006 02:23 PM (e)

Boy, Uncommon Descent sure dropped Pianka like a hot potato, didn’t they?

Comment #95577

Posted by Sir_Toejam on April 8, 2006 02:30 PM (e)

more like a red-hot poker they thought they could torture scientists with, until they realized they grabbed the wrong end of it.

They held on to it long enough for permanent scars to be left tho.

Comment #95624

Posted by Inoculated Mind on April 8, 2006 06:35 PM (e)

The Google Cache that you linked to only contained the first part of the story, a little more than was on the front page picture. Because it is a cache page, when you click on the link for page 2, it says that it has not been found. However, this Google cache works for the whole article:…

Also, the link to the mp3 didn’t work when I tried it, but I found it with google cache and downloaded it. I think I’ll put it up on my blog. But here’s the cache link that I got for it.…

Comment #95625

Posted by Inoculated Mind on April 8, 2006 06:39 PM (e)

Red Right Hand, Dembski is a citizen and has the rights of any other person, to say otherwise would be no different than when G.HW. Bush said that atheists weren’t citizens. As for whether or not he is being a responsible citizen…

Comment #95628

Posted by Red Right Hand on April 8, 2006 07:02 PM (e)

“Red Right Hand, Dembski is a citizen and has the rights of any other person, to say otherwise would be no different than when G.HW. Bush said that atheists weren’t citizens. As for whether or not he is being a responsible citizen…”

No! You don’t say? I’ll bear that in mind, thanks.

BTW, you need new batteries for your Irony Meter; try cribbing the double A’s from your Sensitivity Monitor.

Comment #95632

Posted by Red Right Hand on April 8, 2006 07:15 PM (e)

Sorry IM, I didn’t mean so much snark in my response to you. I understand what you’re saying, and I really wasn’t implying that I thought Bill didn’t deserve citizenship. It was just a joke, as the movie quotation tried to show.


Comment #95653

Posted by djmullen on April 8, 2006 10:10 PM (e)

Here’s a transcript of the single question the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise reporter asked Dr. Pianka.
The file is 780K, 39 secs with four seconds of no data at end.
Original file name: Eric Pianka’s comment on terrorism.mp3

G-E = Gazette-Enterprise Interviewer - Unknown female.
Pianka = Eric Pianka

G-E: My question is, do you believe that this is something that’s going to come about naturally? Do you believe that it’s

something that humanity needs to take a step (garbled - “shickasz”?) because that’s what’s being said

Pianka: Oh…

G-E: … and there’s a big difference in that.

Pianka: Oh, I think that um (garbled) terrorists that would be taking one of these and one of those other ones and trying to

combine em so they had a microbe that they could loose on the earth would kill 90 percent of the people, I don’t think they’re

that sophisticated.

G-E: Ok, but yes or no question, do you advocate that?

Pianka: I don’t advocate killing people,

The file ends abruptly here, with four seconds of no audio before the file ends. The G-E Interviewer _might_ be heard saying the

first part of “Ok” to Pianka’s answer in the last milliseconds of the audio, but it may be a bit of noise.

Comment #95735

Posted by Inoculated Mind on April 9, 2006 03:56 PM (e)

Red Right Hand, no problem about the snarkiness. Yeah, I realized it was a joke… but when you mentioned a movie quote I didn’t realize I had missed part of your comment. I forgot to recharge the irony meter batteries - I use rechargable Nickel Metal-Hydride AAs. They run out fast. Ahh, here’s the problem, the threshold on my sensitivity monitor was set to “Quote Mine,” let me turn it down… :)

Comment #95856

Posted by Dave Thomas on April 10, 2006 11:33 AM (e)

Well, Monday is here, and the Seguin Gazette still has the headlines pages for the Pianka stories of April 2nd, 4th and 5th on-line. I suppose I owe all here a virtual bottle of beer!

That said, it’s worth noting that virtually every other mention of Eric Pianka, or even the Seguin Gazette reporter, Jamie Mobley, has been sanitized from the website. I imagine they wished they could recall all the printed copies of those papers, too.

My Next Virtual Wager: will the Seguin-Gazette explain why they’ve pulled all their stories off-line, or will they just hope the world will forget this incident ever happened?

Comment #95857

Posted by Matt Young on April 10, 2006 11:33 AM (e)

I don’t understand what good it does them to take the material off the Web. The Gazette-Enterprise is a real newspaper, at least in the sense that it uses ink on newsprint. Besides being archived on the Web, the article will be available in the local library or on microfilm forever. Won’t they ultimately have to issue a retraction? After, that is, they figure out how to weasel-word it appropriately? Or do they just clam up and pray that no one initiates legal action? Perhaps Mr. Darrell can comment.

Comment #95870

Posted by BWE on April 10, 2006 12:14 PM (e)

Appolo 230 wrote:

This Pianka affair has become a shameless witch-hunt. Let those who are without sin cast the first stone.

And I hope this is what you meant:
“The fundy spin machine bit off more than it could chew when it printed malicious, baseless, out of context, patently dishonest accusations against the Professor. And it is simply another example of the lying and disingenuous style of the Discovery Intetute and the bulk of those promoting Right Wing agaendas that generally rely on willing supension of disbelief from their adherents and followers.”

Because that is the fact of the matter more or less. Any interpretation that would paint the reporting as true would in fact, be part of a witch hunt.

Comment #95919

Posted by Dave Thomas on April 10, 2006 05:16 PM (e)


Mike Dunford has a post called The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise, My Foot, and My Mouth that explains why the Seguin Gazette mistakenly yanked the Pianka articles, and notes that they are now all back on-line.

And back they are: you can now get to the articles for April 2nd, 4th
and 5th at the Seguin Gazette.

A new mystery: in the last two stories, reporter Jamie Mobley’s name has been changed to Jamie Maxfield.


Trackback: The Pianka dust-up

Posted by ThinkingMeat on April 8, 2006 06:22 AM

Kit Jarrell, known for applauding the bombings of US mosques, has stuck her shit-covered foot in her mouth again. In her post entitled Five Billion People Need to Die From Ebola, she writes: The title of the post is probably what brought you here. In ...

Trackback: Get your deleted journalism here

Posted by The Inoculated Mind on April 8, 2006 07:48 PM

The controversy over “Dr. Doom” has taken an interesting and expected turn. After the Sequin Gazette-Enterprise broke the story that Dr. Eric Pianka advocated the deaths of 90 percent of the human population to save the rest of the biospher...