Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sorry For Rushing to Judgment; Now Let's Rush to Judgment

I am a big fan of the Telic Thoughts blog, but this post had me scratching my head. Mike Gene states:
Last week, when the Forrest Mims's story about Dr. Pianka’s speech to the Texas Academy of Science broke, some of us at Telic Thoughts were among the many bloggers who commented on it with insufficient skepticism.

And then, after some discussion of some of the facts, he goes on:
Because of this, and because of the nature of the accusation, we feel forced to conclude that Mims’s report is premised on a terrible misunderstanding and misjudgment.

At the outset, let me say that I respect Gene's decision to retract what was said about Pianka. But only a partial transcript of the speech has been released! How on earth can one judge Forrest Mims when we have not seen the full transcript? Gene even acknowledges that there was some apparent confirmation of some of Mims's assertions from former students.

From what I have read, we still do not know with certainty what was said during the speech, and we should not rush to judge Mims.

Gene concludes:
The next time the media circulates an accusation that has the potential to do serious real-world harm to a person’s reputation, we promise to treat such accounts with extreme skepticism and caution. We invite our readers, both friendly and unfriendly, to hold us to this promise.

OK, Mike, as a friendly reader, I am holding you to your promise. Both Pianka and Mims have been criticized (perhaps even vilified?) all over the blogosphere. Have you seen the names Mims has been called and the labels that have been pasted to him? I suggest you use some of that "extreme skepticism and caution," and withdraw your judgment of Mims until a full transcript is out, or until we have better evidence of what was said.


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