Monday, June 18, 2018

#2030: Connie Morris

Connie Morris is a former member of the Kansas Board of Education and a vocal supporter of the anti-science horde back during the Kansas evolution brouhaha in 2005. (She didn’t like immigrants either.)

So in 2005, prompted by the Kansas Intelligent Design Network and the Discovery Institute, the Board of Education sought to revise the high school science standards to present evolution as a controversial (or false – evolution is “an unproven, often disproventheory, said Education Board member Kathy Martin, obviously a bit unsure about some central distinctions) theory, in line with the Discovery Institute’s Teach the Controversy campaign, and present intelligent design creationism as a viable scientific alternative (it isn’t). After real scientists boycotted the kangaroo court hearings, Morris concluded that “evolutionists are in a panic mode”, evidently confusing a laughably biased school board hearing with careful, scientific hypothesis testing and evidence gathering. (She also called evolution “a nice bedtime story; science doesn’t back it up”. It is worth pointing out the Morris is lying about thinking that evolution is a nice bedtime story, too). Morris, of course, concluded that Intelligent Design Creationism was superior to evolution: “I’m not a scientist, so how did I decide between the two models? Intuition and my own analysis tell me the comprehensive model [i.e. Intelligent Design] wins. Most of its additions to the standard model simply reflect common sense.” One wonders why she thinks anyone would need any science education at all. She probably doesn’t. Indeed, she really doesn't think schools should teach biology at all: “If this subject is so explosive, why teach it to children? Shouldn’t we leave that to parents?” asked Morris.

Morris got some national attention when she sent a taxpayer-funded newsletter (commentary here) to constituents explaining that “[i]t is our goal to write the standards [of education] in such a way that clearly gives educators the right AND responsibility to present the criticism of Darwinism alongside the age-old fairy tale of evolution;” of course, teachers have to present that information in a neutral and unbiased manner, of course: they just need to ensure that students learn, in biology class, that evolution is an “age-old fairy tale” defended with “anti-God contempt and arrogance.” Morris, who subscribes to a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis, also called evolution “biologically, genetically, mathematically, chemically, metaphysically and etc. wildly and utterly impossible.” Morris, of course, has no background in or understanding of evolution, nor of any of the other fields (including “etc.”) she invoked. It was, by the way, not the only occasion on which Morris made questionable use of taxpayer money.

Morris lost her seat on the Board in 2006 in a primary election, along with a number of fellow lunatics. As expected, Morris blamed “liberal media” for her loss – it’s hard to admit to oneself that one is completely unqualified and batshit insane – noting that “liberal opportunists” (“rude people who have no ethics and morals”) do not mind “slandering people and harming their families and their reputation and their business and their communities and their state ... It’s a shame, and I feel bad for them when they face God on Judgment Day” (i.e. God will punish you and send you to Hell for voting against my political convictions). She also feared that the new Board would “let government schools teach children that we are no more than chaotic, random mutants”, which does not reflect a very accurate understanding of evolution, insofar as natural selection is the opposite of a random process. Anyways, they did. But even though the anti-science measures were rescinded in 2007, it was not the last time deluded Kansans tried to get science out of education.

Morris’s background, including her 2002 autobiography From the Darknessand her tendency to refer to anyone she disagrees with who has a non-Anglo name “illegal alien”, is discussed in some detail here.

Diagnosis: Deranged lunatic, notable not only for her utter disregard and failure to understand basic science, but – like so many fundies – for her complete dishonesty, broken moral compass and lack of minimal decency.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

#2029: Alex Moroz

Alex Moroz is the director of the Integrative Sports Medicine program at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Rusk Rehabilitation. Moroz is a trained acupuncturist. Now, when acupuncture is put to the test in well-designed studies, it’s performance is disappointing – it consistently does no better than placebo. How do you think Moroz responds to that? “There is a body of literature that argues that the whole approach to studying acupuncture doesn’t lend itself to the Western reductionist scientific method,” says Moroz. So, when things are studied with some rigor and psychological biases are actually controlled for and Moroz’s favored remedy turns out not to work, Moroz doesn’t change his mind – no, hecannot be wrong; it must be realitythat is wrong, including the whole of science and evidence. And then he throws in the word “reductionist” as a derogatory moniker. There is nothing reductionist about scientific testing, of course. The word doesn’t actually meananything in the context in which he uses it – it’s just there to signal that Moroz is an upward-gazing spiritualbeing: don’t you vulgarly reductionize him, you small-minded ad boring slaves of accountability. 

Of course, acupuncture is not the only woo Moroz defends. Moroz also defends cupping, no less – because “it makes sense” to him and because it’s ancient wisdom, like bloodletting and witch burning. Cupping received some attention after Michael Phelps advertised for it in 2016, and one is a poor woomeister who doesn’t jump to the defense of the latest fad.

Diagnosis: Don’t let this nincompoop come anywhere near you if you actually suffer from anything, and don’t listen to his advice. Alex Moroz is a loon – he’s a snowflake loon who means well, to be sure, but confidence in one’s own convictions and intuitions is on its own no good foundation for giving advice. To be sure, he probably knows something about real medicine, too, but you’ll be better off with those who don’t mix their knowledge with silly nonsense.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

#2028: Jan Morgan

Jan Morgan is a blogger, NRA activist (she told Bryan Fischer that the solution to mass shootings in America is simply to declare that gun-free zones are unconstitutionaland), and owner of the Gun Cave Indoor Shooting Range in Hot Springs, Arkansas. In 2014 she rose to some fame by deciding to violate the Civil Rights Act by banning Muslims from her business. According to Morgan Muslim visitors would scare away her customers, and her federal firearms license gave her the discretion to deny service to people “if I sense an issue with their mental state.” Since it was impossible for her to tell which Muslims are terrorists and which ones not, she had them all banned. It is worth pointing out that just prior to this incident Morgan had decided to boycott Target because they asked their customers not to carry guns into their stores, feeling that by doing so Target was lumping together criminals and law-abiding citizens. Of course, Morgan reallythinks that all Muslims are terrorists; on her website “JanMorganMedia” she refers to Islam as a terrorist cult which is plotting world denomination, and says all Muslims want to destroy America. Oh, and just to be sure: Morgan’s gun range turns away dark-skinned people in general if they look like they could be Muslim.

When Marco Rubio voiced some concerns about a different gun range in Oklahoma that refused to allow an Army reservist to use their facility because he’s Muslim, Morgan quickly responded that Rubio will soon be endorsed by Hamas and ISIS, claiming that he sounds “like a mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood front organization CAIR.” (The idea that CAIR is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood is an InfoWars-level conspiracy theory.)

Morgan, however, is not just some random, local lunatic. In 2013 she was a speaker at the “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” breakfast panel hosted by Liberty Counsel to spread conspiracy theories about Obama and how a UN treaty meant to restrict the illegal international weapons trade is a plot to take away Americans’ guns. Morgan also appeared at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference earlier the same year. In 2014, she was a speaker at the Two Million Bikers rally in DC, where she claimed that she didn’t believe Obama had actually won re-election in 2012 – voter fraud, you know; apparently Morgan knows about votes counted in Barcelona, Spain, and dead people who voted six times.

As of 2018, Morgan is running for Governor of Arkansas against Asa Hutchinson. Part of her platform seems to be the claim that ISIS is in Arkansas, and – based on warnings from “Agents with the Counter-Terrorism unit of the FBI,” she says– that she may “be a target of opportunity.” Apparently a handful of people actually believe her. As for gun control, Morgan has argued that tightening American gun laws may lead to genocide, because that’s what happened in Nazi Germany, which is false.

Diagnosis: Raving lunatic, of course, and one that seems to have acquired a modicum of popularity on the now-mainstream wingnut scene, precisely because of that.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

#2027: Greg Morgan

Greg Morgan is an Arizona-based creationist who claims that Arizona sandstones are proof of Noah’s flood. They are not. Morgan, who is a nuclear safety engineer and not a geologist (BA in mechanical engineering), bases his conclusion on the fact that some swirly sandstone formations look, to an untrained eye, like they were formed in water.

Non-scientists making stupid claims about science based entirely on disregarding science is nothing new. That Answers in Genesis ran with Morgan’s nonsense is not particularly surprising either. But Morgan also got a long article in Seattle’s KOMO news as well – a long article that, conspicuously, failed to consult any real geologist to assess Morgan’s claims. A possible PR win for creationism, in other words, but – as always – without a shred of scientific credibility to back it up. Of course, the journalist KOMO used was John Trumbo, who is himself a creationist, so it is hardly surprising that no real scientist was consulted. Still.

According to himself, Morgan used to be an atheist who believed in evolution, but was later saved and came to see the overwhelming evidence for the Biblical story of Genesis. This – the “I used to be like you, but now I know better”-gambit – is a very common claim among fundies and creationists. It is safe to assume that most fundies telling this kind of story are lying, since lies don’t count as sins if they are told for the purpose of bringing souls to Jesus. Morgan also promotes the Paluxy footprints. It is safe to say that Morgan never had the faintest clue about what the theory of evolution could possibly be.

Diagnosis: Pseudoscientist, crackpot, and fundie. A common combination, but no more attractive for that.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

#2026: Leuren Moret

Leuren Moret. That other guy, 
we’re pretty sure, is none other 
“Independent scientist” is a title that not only fails to confer authority on any subject matter, but actually indicates that the bearer of the title is a completely lunatic fringe loon and conspiracy theorist. Leuren Moret is all of the above. Indeed, according to herself, she is “an internationally recognized Geoscientist and specialist on the environmental and biological effects of ionizing radiation,” which would probably come as a surprise to most scientists working in any remotely related fields (she means, of course, “recognized by her youtube audience”). Moret is no geoscientist, and has no background in science. She does, however, have a history of wildly exaggerating and lying about her credentials and background (discussed here), which is not the same thing.

Moret’s main cause is fearmongering about nuclear power, and she is probably most famous for a (years-old) clip that went viral on Facebook in 2017, claiming that the relatively high rates of diabetes found in poor and ethnic minority communities in the US are caused by deliberate shipments of radioactive milk to those communities as part of a government-facilitated genocide by radiation against black Americans. The claim fails on all conceivable levels; details here. Note that her argument does not even reach the level of a correlation/causation fallacy, insofar as she fails to establish anything even remotely resembling correlation, or even the existence (radioactivity in milk) of the phenomenon offered as a causal agent. Nor is there any link between radiation and diabetes at any levels of radiation that would regularly be encountered in the US. According to Moret, however, it’s all a coverup, just like governments are covering up all the nuclear testings they are performing everywhere all the time for somewhat nebulous purposes. Moret has written several articles about these and related things for the Exopolitics website.

As for depleted uranium rounds, another mainstay of the anti-nuclear fringe, such rounds exist (in Moret’s mind) apparently just as a means to get rid of nuclear waste, thus making it one of the dumbest and ineffective waste disposal ideas imaginable – compare dumping it. Moret, though, claims that “In some studies of soldiers who had normal babies before the war, 67 percent of the post-war babies are born with severe birth defects – missing brains, eyes, organs, legs and arms, and blood diseases.” She neglects, of course, to specify which “studies” these may be. (There are, of course, none). Apparently she and Doug Rokke (profile here) share much of their “data”.

Moret is also into various mind control conspiracies, MKULTRA nonsense, chemtrails and HAARP conspiracies, since crankery rarely comes in isolation. According to Moret, HAARP, “the new global Weapon of Mass Destruction based on Tesla technology,” was “secretly co-developed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union at Livermore nuclear weapons lab and in Russia.” So yes, the whole Cold War was just a false flag, too, to fit Moret’s preferred theories about the dangers of imaginary radiation.

And thus we enter the truly deep layers of the rabbit hole. The Syrian war is a false flag apparently perpetrated by France. The 2015 Paris terrorist attack seems to have been a false flag as well, and part of France’s strategy to betray the US in favor of Russia. Meanwhile, the Japan earthquake and Fukushima disaster was triggered by a HAARP aerosol/chemtrails plasma weapon. And according to Moret, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was shot down by the US over Singapore airspace to commence a “30 day global false flag psyops for 5 NWO objectives”, including an “NWO Malaysia oil grab” and “militarization of SE Asia”. 

Heck, let’s just give you a sample of article titles from her website (much of it with contributions from one Laurens Battis); you may notice some patterns:

-      How to avoid Jesuits, U.S. & Russian mind control from turning America into a NWO prison
-      Jesuits behind 1979 Iranian hostage crisis and 2015 Jade Helm to destroy US constitution
-      Jesuit Depopulation Plan = Radiation + GMOs + Vaccines + GeoEngineering + Wars + $Collapse + Transhumanist Agenda
-      Jesuit-controlled Obama/US authorizes nuclear attack on Donetsk (Ukraine)
-      NWO Antichrist figure arises in Greece. Depopulation in USA, Serbia, New Zealand, Canada. Putin’s role: Collapse Western economy
-      Jade Helm, Ukraine, EU & Greece Deconstruction, Pope, UN Post-2015 Development Agenda are One Integrated Jesuit Operation”.

Oh, and of course: You can prevent and heal the effects of all this radiation, HAARP effects, chemtrails and cell phone radiation with nutritional supplements – “An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure” – that Moret conveniently hawks.

Also predictably, many conspiracy theorists have concluded that Leuren Moret herself is part of the coverup and “working for The World Conqueror Zionists”. So it goes.

Diagnosis: Utterly deranged and dangerously delusional conspiracy theorist. Useful for pointing and laughing, but the fact that some – admittedly severely critical-thinking-challenged – people actually listen to her is, even after Trump, utterly baffling.

Friday, June 8, 2018

#2025: Joe Morecraft

The Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (RPCUS) is a small Presbyterian denomination established in 1983. It subscribes to Biblical inerrancy and is firmly theocratic, even self-identifying as theonomic; that is, subscribing to the idea society should be ruled by divine law and that the judicial laws of the Old Testament should be observed by modern societies – politically and theologically closer to Boko Haram than to comparatively moderate groups like mainstream DAESH and the Taliban, in other words. The RPCUS was initially led by Joe Morecraft, but is currently pastored by one Tim Price – it appears that Morecraft might have been kicked out, and is now with another extremist group, the Hanover Presbytery; he also has a fan page on facebook. 

Morecraft has actually opposed the murder of non-Christians, advocating instead that in a Biblical society – which the US ought to be – non-Christians should rather be turned into slaves for Christians: the godly must own “the fool who despises God’s wisdom,” because it’s the only way to keep those with a “slave mentality” (non-Christians) from ruining other people’s families. Morecraft makes his case for Biblically justified enslavement of those who do not “trust in Christ” based on Proverbs 11:29, which suggests that slavery is the only way to “keep a fool under wraps.” In a just society, an unbeliever should therefore “lose his family, his property, and his freedom,” and “his energies, talents and life will not be used as he himself pleases, but in the service of wise people who work hard to benefit the community.” Methinks a policy that just stated that “fools” should be made into slaves for the “wise”, as Morecraft suggests, would not turn out the way Morecraft apparently expects.

Morecraft’s other views include advocating stoning for gay people and women who aren’t virgins on their wedding day. Lots of his sermons apparently also concern how to deal with demons. 

Diagnosis: No, seriously: The Boko Haram comparison is notan exaggeration. These people exist, and they have followers. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

#2024: Janet Morana

Janet Morana is the Executive Director of Priests for Life and a vocal opponent of abortion. As mentioned in other posts, it is possible to have a reasonable discussion about the morality of abortion, but not with deranged lunatics like Janet Morana. Morana is the kind of idiot who claims that the shooting of Australian baseball player Chris Lane by three apparently nihilistic kids in 2013 was motivated by the fact that they (the kids) “could have been aborted.” According to Morana, “we have to start with the fact that since 1973, these kids are survivors, they could have been aborted, and that’s a fact. The people don’t realize … they’re post Roe v Wade and therefore there’s a thing called ‘survivor syndrome.’There’s a psychiatrist up in Canada, Dr. Phillip Nay has studied this for decades and shown the effect thatjust the fact that you could have been aborted can affect you as a survivor of Roe v Wade.” The same, presumably, applies to survivors of unintentional miscarriages, which affects some 20% of pregnancies.

Morana is also co-founder of Silent No More, a group that frequently features Alveda King and has pushed the thoroughly falsified hypothesis that abortion might be positively causally related to breast cancer.

Diagnosis: Deranged nutjob, but a pretty influential one.