Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#1430: Karissa Brusseau

A small break from the onslaught of angry anti-gay activists: Karissa Brusseau is a massage therapist in Fargo, ND who has, over the years, “expanded her massage therapy practice beyond the body to the mind and soul” and became a “past life coach”. Indeed, she is touted as a “certified soul and past-life coach,” which adds just so much extra credibility. She also does CranioSacral therapy, reiki and intuitive consulting through her business, Lotus Touch. And to top it all, she leads classes, workshops and speaks at holistic expos, as well as phone and email readings and coaching (but of course).

Diagnosis: Just one of hundreds or thousands of similar people who just had sufficiently bad karma to come our way. But the fact that there are so many of these people doesn’t alter the fact that Brusseau touts herself as a “past life coach” and claims to be able to do things she can’t explain and much less is actually able to do.

Monday, August 3, 2015

#1429: Sye ten Bruggencate

A.k.a. Sye tenB

Sye ten Bruggencate is an Internet … uh, personality, most familiar as Kent Hovind’s squire and herald. He is also a regular contributor to Eric Hovind’s “Creation Today” videos, which promote anti-science, biblical literalism and demonstrably false information about science with the goal of indoctrinating children and vulnerable adults because the Ten Commandments don’t apply when you are doing the work of Jesus.

Ten Bruggencate is particularly famous for what Rationalwiki calls “his aggressive indifference” toward evidence, logic or any reasoned response to his own claims, a trait that is notable for instance in his “defense” of a transcendentalist argument for the existence of God as a necessary presupposition for logic and morality. The basic strategy, then, is to argue that without (the Christian) God it is impossible to know anything (never mind the obvious self-defeating nature of that position), therefore nothing will count as evidence unless you presuppose the existence of a God or subscribe to a literal interpretation of the Bible; therefore evolution is wrong, Big Bang is a fraud, science is meaningless, and ten Bruggencate is free to believe whatever he wants. It is less intelligent than that description makes it sound (hint to ten Bruggencate: Your transcendentalist argument for God can at best establish the conditional “if knowledge is possible, God exists;” to show that God exists, you have to establish the antecedent, and any way of doing that will undermine the argument; not that he will ever see the problem, or that this is the most egregious problem with his argument.) He is generally not particularly willing to discuss the argument (here’s one example), however, and instead threatens any non-Christians (or Christians who disagree with him) them the fires of hell for their failure to agree that to engage in a conversation requires that they first acknowledge the existence of God and the Bible is inerrant.

Be warned about engaging with him, though: ten Bruggencate is well known for repeatedly using heavily, rabidly dishonestly edited and quote-mined discussions he has had with people who disagree with him for commercial purposes. Then again, he doesn’t believe in people who disagree with him anyways.

We have covered his creationist talking points so many times before that we can’t be bothered to repeat them. He has also said that he thinks a Christian theocracy would be the best form of government, which is not very surprising from someone who thinks that disagreeing with him or refusing to debate him on his premises is persecution.

Diagnosis: A sort of Platonic idea of lack of self-awareness – and a scam artist (though he probably doesn’t realize). He also really seems to be insane enough to believe that his arguments have some merit. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

#1428: Tom Brown

We’ve already covered Tom Brown the tracker, but he is presumably not related to the Tom Brown of this post. This post’s Tom Brown is an exorcist and a bit of a D-list celebrity after having made some TV appearances  (e.g. a credulous portrait on MSNBC).

Brown actually thinks he can exorcise curses such as being gay from people (curses, by the way, is a means to keep the attention of his congregation at the Word of Life church; according to Brown, if the lives of his church members are going badly – their finances are a mess, their kids won’t behave, they keep getting sick – they may literally be cursed, and Brown is the go-to guy for supernatural powers to break the spell). Indeed, Brown actually seems to think that he is actually influencing the politics of his hometown El Paso through religious exorcism magic. Brown did for instance help lead the drive to harm gays by ending the domestic-partner benefits in the city. “I think the values of El Paso are the same as other cities, but it is very hard to pass these things” when the citizens have opponents like Brown, who is proud to be as hateful, petty and malicious as to be indistinguishable from the demons he claims to exorcise. To make sure he succeeded Brown did of course not restrict himself to spiritual means, since, you know, when push comes to shove.

“Christ”, says Brown, “does not say people should be tolerant of homosexuals,” but he does emphasize that he is not a hater. I don’t think saying that you are not a hater is enough to make it true, Tom.

Diagnosis: Unflinching hater. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

#1427: Michael Brown

Plenty of Michael Browns around, but we’ve singled out Bible-thumper, homophobe, Messianic Jew Michael L Brown, who regularly contributes to Townhall.com and serves as Head of the Coalition of Conscience, a small group of Taliban Fundamentalists, as well as president and professor of practical theology at the Fellowship for International Revival and Evangelism School of Ministry [stay well away from that one, please]. Brown’s primary obsession is with homosexuality and gay marriage, and his primary strategy is pretending to be persecuted by the gays. A good illustration of persecution is the manner in which Rush Limbaugh (yes, seriously) has been intimidated and compromised by the homosexual lobby.

In his book A Queer thing happened in America Brown spells out his persecution complex rather clearly – that gays demand rights just means that they want those who oppose them to lose their rights to bully, harass or discriminate against them. Which, according to Brown, is persecution (gay equality activism is even the “principal threat to religious freedom, freedom of conscience [and] freedom of speech”). It isn’t. But to Brown, the logical conclusion to draw is that gays will eventually want to put anyone who oppose them out of circulation. That’s what we call projection; it says very little about gays ,but probably a bit about how Brown views those who disagree with him. And Brown offers no coherent evidence, though he concludes that “[t]he war is on against people of conscience and people of faith who do not affirm homosexual practice, no matter how loving and fair-minded they may be.” And if you doubted that there was a nefarious conspiracy, Brown can cite a lot of demonstrably bogus articles and hoaxes that suggest otherwise.

According to Brown, homosexuality is caused by demons (the same as, or related to, the demons that according to Brown are responsible for porn and drug addiction): “ ... the battle lines have been drawn, the enemy is taking ground, and many of us hardly realize that the war is on. The devil is moving forward with energy and aggression. What in the world are we doing?” Accordingly, according to Brown, if gays are freed of demonic influence they will become heterosexuals. (“I have friends who [shall apparently remain unnamed and who] identified as transgender and who had GID who are healed and transformed by the power of the gospel.”) After saying things like this, Brown usually points out that he will be called out for saying it, which he probably will be given the sheer stupidity of the claims, but which to him is, once again, proof of persecution. You see, criticism is persecution when Brown is on the receiving end of that criticism. It also proves that Brownis really the victim here, and therefore not a homophobe.

Surely, calling him a homophobe is unfair. After all, he takes pains to emphasize his love and compassion, for instance in his 2014 Can You Be Gay and Christian?: Responding With Love and Truth to Questions About Homosexuality. Among what counts as “truth” is apparently that “gay activism”, rather than bigotry, was responsible for the brutal murder of 15 year-old openly gay eight grader Lawrence King in 2008 because gay kids are not sufficiently discouraged by their communities from hiding their sexual orientation when in environments where bigots like Michael Brown may hate and attack and abuse them. (He later admitted that gay teens do kill themselves because of bullying, but it’s not a big deal since kids kill themselves for all sorts of reasons). Among what counts as “love” is presumably his defense of Uganda’s draconian anti-homosexuality law, which according to Brown is necessary to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS and combat pedophilia: “Uganda has some very strong reasons for having issues with homosexual practice.” So, apparently, does Brown.

Naturally, the reason Brown opposes gay rights is the Bible. The Bible is clear about homosexuality. Of course, Brown admits, the Bible is also clear about slavery. However, according to Brown, “God did intend to legislate slavery in ancient Israel, but in a humane way and as part of a larger economic system.” And “[l]et’s not forget that every Sabbath, slaves rested as the nation remembered Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery.” Indeed.

He also writes about politics (and Michael Sam). For instance, Brown – an avowed theocrat – has argued that President Obama is not a Christian because he supports gay equality and opposes the criminalization of abortion, and is “more a disciple of Saul Alinsky than of Jesus.” (Yup, that’s the level of his contributions to debates). He also compares Obama negatively to Martin Luther King, Jr., whom he said was a “great unifier” while Obama is the “great divider.” Need we remind Michael Brown that MLK was not exactly seen as a unifier by people like Michael Brown in the 60s?

Here is Brown on gays in the boy scouts.

Diagnosis: Yes, evil is good, lies are truth and dishonesty apparently a virtue. With great hatred comes great disregard for reality, evidence and reason. Fortunately there is evidence that howling, lunatic monsters like Michael Brown are in the process of marginalizing themselves (though he thinks they’ll bounce back any moment now). Perhaps zeh gays are just realizing that persecution is way less effective than what Brown is doing to his own credibility through his own words and actions?

Friday, July 31, 2015

#1426: John D. Brown

More nonsense! Alphabiotics® is an altmed practice claiming that most disease is caused by stress and a lack of “life energy” and that stress can be easily relieved, quickly and magically, by a few gentle twists of the neck (the technique is discussed here). As a matter of fact, some more recent websites back off from the vitalist nonsense and rather make bolder but equally unsupported claims about affecting the brain. Practicioners also tend to call alphabiotics “the new science of stress relief,” though “new science” doesn’t mean science, and there is – unsurprisingly – no reputable studies confirming the efficacy of their techniques. The main proponents of the technique appear to be Virgil Chrane Jr. and his son, Michael Chrane, descendants of the inventor of the technique, but we file it under John D. Brown, allegedly a disciple of theirs, who operates the Alphabiotic New Life Center and who lost his license to practice as a chiropractor as a result of this (revealing) court case.

Despite the neck manipulation, alphabioticists maintain that they are not chiropractors. Instead, they call themselves priests and claim that the manipulation is a sacrament of the Alphabiotics Church – The Alphabiotics International Web site defines alphabiotics as “a truth and love based metaphysical belief system that concerns itself with the interrelationship between the lesser self, the better self, and Life; i.e. the Omniscient, Omnipresent, Omnipotent Supreme Consciousness” – presumably to evade taxes or problems concerning medical licensing or any other pesky legal issues (their own certificates say “Doctor of Divinity”). Moreover, “Medical therapeutics and Alphabiotics are based on completely different principles; so different that each of the two systems are almost incomprehensible to the believers in the other’s concepts. Ordinary medical therapeutics is based in physical biology, which is in turn based in an atheistic philosophy called materialism. […] Alphabiotics admits to another reality. It recognizes a Spiritual Presence in human beings; an Intelligent, inner Life Force, which is not physically measurable. Alphabioticists see this inner Presence as being infinitely wise and purposeful and recognize that it is an expression of a greater Unified-Field, called God.

And of course, it’s quantum woo: “Alphabiotics is grounded in quantum mechanics, relativity physics, and a spiritual theology,” even though it is not based on physics. Go figure. But “[a]lphabioticists see physical disease as a result of wrong choices and a mis-direction of normal Life energy flow.” Ah, yes, the Law of Attraction, explicitly used to blame the victims for their illnesses and presumably their failure to improve from alphabiotics.

Brown, for instance, has been pretty clear that the practice is religious, and in the aforementioned court case he argued that the freedom to practice his religion prevents the State from regulating his practice.

Diagnosis: Quasi-religious drivel. Though as opposed to most other altmed practices, at least they admit as much. Somehow it doesn’t make it much better – perhaps because it’s incredibly hard to convince oneself that its practitioners are acting in good faith.