Monday, May 31, 2010

#26: Rosalie Bertell

That she has updated her Wikipedia page herself in first person (using capslock) is a nice touch, strongly suggesting at least a degree of kookery. And Rosalie Bertell delivers. Now, Bertell has a background in science and cancer research, but at some point she unhinged and drifted off into uncharted territories. She is currently the leading “expert” on the chemtrail conspiracy – the idea that contrails are actually chemicals or biological agents deliberately sprayed at high altitudes for a purpose undisclosed to the general public. Also discussed here. Bertell thinks “chemtrails” are carriers for all kinds of biological and chemical warfare which the government (military) is, for some undisclosed reason, going to drop on ordinary people (apparently the government is at war with Mother Earth, which, according to Bertell, is a living (sentient?) organism). She doesn’t believe the “official story”, that chemtrails are either combating global warming via spraying populated areas with aerosolized metals or aerial pharmacopeia (pollution modification). The fact that the chemtrail phenomenon is a myth makes one wonder who came up with Bertell’s “official story”.

She also explores possible explanations for recent earthquake anomalies (and again the anomalies are not recognized by anyone who knows anything about the issues, which Bertell does not) with the following suggestions: a gamma ray/gravity wave from space? HAARP-induced deep earth tomography (yes, Bertell is into that conspiracy as well)? Or a direct wave weapon, accident or purposeful? She is also very concerned with radiation, electromagnetic and radioactive, and magnetic fields, relying exclusively on anecdotal correlations, hearsay and intuition, and displaying no understanding of the processes or what counts as evidence.

You can listen to her here.

A library of some of her kookiest contributions can be found here.

Bertrell is also a 9/11 troofer (and in general seems to accept every and any conspiracy theory that pits the evil government against noble ordinary people).

She is also a human rights and environmental activist and has done a lot of good in that respect, but her positive contributions are at present blurred with her crackpottery – at some point her environmental concerns turned into complete paranoia, conspiracy mongering and general crankiness.

Diagnosis: Well-intentioned crackpot who has lost the ability to distinguish the scientific method from personal intuition; has a lot of followers, and at present she probably does more harm than good to important causes that she works on.

#25: Leo Berman

Berman is a State Representative (R-Tyler) of Texas, most famous for ardently fighting for allowing the Institute of Creation Research to grant degrees. Unhappy with the fact that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board ruled that the “Institute” couldn’t do so, he attempted to pass a law that would allow private, non-profit education institutions to grant degrees without the board's permission or any regulation whatsoever – which must be one of the stupidest ideas ever advocated and would effectively have undermined any degree from any educational institution in Texas. Berman deserves an entry in the Encyclopedia for this reason alone. Also a die-hard creationist (of course).

Diagnosis: Ardent and zealous nutjob; has already proven himself to be a threat to education, science and critical thinking.

#24: David Berlinski

Berlinski is one of the movers and shakers of the contemporary creationist movement, associated with the Discovery Institute and one of their most frequent and famous debaters. A delusional, pompous narcissist with an ego to fit a medieval pope. Also a name-dropper (most of his talks concern important people he has talked to). A comment on one of his lunatic self-aggrandizing rants can be found here (sums up this guy pretty well):

He is apparently really angry at evolution (it is unclear why), and famous for his purely enumerative “cows cannot evolve into whales” argument.

Berlinski was once a moderately respected author of popular-science books on mathematics. He can still add numbers together, but has forgotten the GIGO rule (“garbage in, garbage out") of applied mathematics. Some of his rantings are discussed here.

Likes to play ‘the skeptic’ (which means denialism in this case, and that is not the same thing).

Diagnosis: Boneheaded, pompous and arrogant nitwit; has a lot of influence, and a frequent participator in debates, since apparently the Discovery Institute thinks that’s the way scientific disputes are settled (although he often takes a surprisingly moderate view in debates, leading some to suspect that he is really a cynical fraud rather than a loon).

(for a nice description of the difference between skepticism and paranoid denialism, I recommend these three articles: here, here, and here.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

#23: Jerry Bergman

Our next loon is a young earth creationist at the Institute for Creation Research.

Another staunch and thoroughly confused front fighter whose main argument is how persecuted the dissidents to the tyranny of evolution are – in short, your standard ‘I cannot discuss the evidence, so I’ll try to frame my opponents instead’. Admits that ID doesn’t really have a strong theory, but that it doesn’t need it since it’s got all the facts (whatever that means). Discussed here.

Bergman is a dishonest whiner, snower and conspiracy theorist who fabricates stories about persecution of religious scientists. His most nauseating feature is his tendency to snow debates and avoid dealing with devastating objections. Bergman is utterly crazy and ignorant, and his version of the irreducible complexity argument is bizarre even for that mess of an argument.

A summary of a debate Bergman was involved in, which well describes his tactics, is here.

Diagnosis: typical village idiot; despicably dishonest, crazy, paranoid wingnut and kook, and another extreme case of confirmation bias and persecution complex. His ardent efforts seem to have gained him some level of influence among his peers, and he is a medium threat to school curricula everywhere.

#22: John Benneth

Our 22nd loon, Benneth is a respected and highly influential homeopath – indeed, one of the staunchest and most prominent defenders of homeopathic remedies in the States. Listen to Benneth explain how homeopathy works and its scientific underpinnings here, and hear one of the most ridiculous abuses of scientific language you’ve heard in a long time. It’s all there, from classic phrases like “more and more scientists have taken interest…” to “magnetic radiation” (a term Benneth employs as roughly equivalent to “qi” or “chi” or some similar New Age drivel), and the use of a sciency term that sounds like it’ll serve his purpose - in this case "nanocrystalloids", a phenomenon he thoroughly fails to understand (instead relying on the assumption that his listeners don’t understand it either). Pure nonsense and pseudo-scientific babble, in other words. It is deconstructed here.

Benneth also apparently thinks that homeopathy-skeptics are really Nazis who want to set another Holocaust into motion.

Yup – all there; no understanding of science, conspiracy theories, reductio ad hitlerum-mongering, persecution complex etc. Also an ardent youtube poster.

He takes it one step further here.

Diagnosis: this guy is located well beyond lunacy; a zealous madman without a trace of critical thinking skills or understanding of science. A pathological liar and smearer with delusions of grandeur. He seems to enjoy some respect among the kookiest of crackpots, but his total impact is unclear.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

#21: Fred Bell

According to his own website, “… at age 14 Bell was not only working at the University of Michigan on nuclear energy projects, but was also inducted into the U.S. government's project called M. K. Ultra. This early mind control research covered such topics as past life regression [check], and the popular remote viewing used today by the CIA and other intelligence gathering factions worldwide [check]. ... Dr. Bell worked on a magnetic disintegration project later known as the Philadelphia Experiment [check], a high temperature fusion experiment, a bubble project later known as Cold Fusion [check] ... . In addition, Dr. Bell worked with the University of Michigan's Cyclotron doing experimentation with the bombardment of nuclear particles and their collisions involving reverse time as observed in a Wilson Cloud Chamber [check]. As a result of this, Dr. Bell built the World's first time machine called the T-1 Time Travel Transposer that allows time travel into the future in increments of microseconds [words fail, but check]. On his 17th birthday, he was transferred into the United States Airforce. There he began working on highly classified projects, several involving early warning radar defense systems and the detection and tracking of extraterrestrial craft [check].

He then left the defense sector and began studying with Himalayan Masters [check]. During this time he became internationally known as a contactee to a Pleiadean group of extraterrestrial humanoids whom were here to help the people on earth save themselves from their own destructive tendencies [check, I guess]. This group comes from a star system 500 light-years from earth.

Today Dr. Bell is a practicing naturopath, scientist and environmentalist, and political activist ...”

So what does he do? Well, dr. Bell is kind enough to want to sell you, for a fairly steep price, various healing devices of his own invention, based on for example Ozonic Electro-Magnetic Technology, quantum receptors, bio-plasmic energy (a.k.a. healing pyramids) to block negative energy, or the Amazing Andromedan Holographic Projector, which "when worn on the head accelerates the brain into quantum entanglement focusing mode”. Who wouldn’t want that?

His website is here.

It is discussed here.

A somewhat more moderate version of his background.
Diagnosis: Words fail. Probably harmless.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

#20: Michael Behe

Our next loon, Michael Behe, is a prime example of what can happen when loonery disguises itself as real science. Behe is one of the most ardent and influential creationist out there; covered in more detail here.

Behe himself claims to accept (for instance) common descent and an old (13+ Billion years) universe. However evidence shows that he is a straightforward creationist. He consistently argues that his purported evidence that evolutionary theory does not work is automatically evidence for ID. The shifting of goalposts is obvious when he tries to argue that his opponents are inconsistent in arguing that ID is unfalisifiable (e.g. Coyne) and empirically refuted (e.g. Doolittle). In refusing to admit that Doolittle’s experiments - which falsified his specific predictions concerning blood clotting - were a falsification of the testable claims he forwarded with respect to irreducible complexity, Behe spectacularly demonstrates that Coyne is right to deem ID unfalsifiable (insofar as its supporters continuously change the goalposts).

Behe is also a religious apologist in general, serving as an “expert witness” for several religion related court cases.

Diagnosis: Strongly under the spell of confirmation bias, dishonest and a crackpot. As perhaps the leading creationist today, Behe is very influential and dangerous.

Friday, May 21, 2010

#19: Nick Begich

Spend enough time trawling through the recesses of crackpot county and you will eventually come across this sort. They are the ur-tinfoil-hatters – the HAARP conspiracy theorists. You know what the real cause of global warming is? And what caused the Yellowstone earthquakes? Or the earthquake in Sichuan, China? Recent volcanic eruptions? You guessed it - HAARP! HAARP is short for the ‘high-frequency active auroral research program’. It is a real program, but the source of what Sharon Weinberger calls ‘the Moby Dick of conspiracy theories’. Not only does the US government apparently use it to disrupt the stability of other countries, shake up terrorists, and cause major power outages, the Gulf War syndrome and the Columbine shootings – they also use it to control the minds of Americans. Proponents trace it back to Tesla. And that should be red flag enough (Tesla-crackpottery is a distinctive subgroup of crackpottery).

Dr. Nick Begich comes from a family of Alaskan politicians (Democrats – Nick Begich sr. was an Alaskan Representative who disappeared mysteriously in the seventies). He is the coauthor of ‘Angels don’t play this HAARP’, and one of the main activists behind the HAARP conspiracy movement. Their website is here. Begich is also featured in several paranormal talks (not for the faint-hearted). This guy is, in short, into whatever lunatic conspiracy theory and quackery you could possibly imagine.

Diagnosis: Utterly unhinged kook, imbecile madman; the HAARP conspiracy itself is surprisingly widespread but remains a fringe phenomenon (except in certain countries). That Nick Begich is considered an authority tells you all you need to know about it.

#18: Michael Bernard Beckwith

Beckwith is a New Thought minister and founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center in Culver City, California, a New Thought church with 8000 members. Beckwith was one of the featured teachers in The Secret movie (hence an automatic consideration for inclusion in our encyclopedia); teaches meditation and “scientific prayer”, speaks at conferences and seminars and is the author of numerous books. Beckwith is a prophet of the infamous Law of Attraction, a crackpot idea in pseudo-scientific dressing about how positive thinking metaphysically attracts success. When Beckwith says "There's enough for everyone. If you believe it, if you can see it, if you act from it, it will show up for you. That's the truth", it is not meant metaphorically. The same goes for "There are laws of the universe and if you practice them they will respond to you." No, Beckwith, that’s not how it works.

Beckwith’s main project is to combine the most fluffy ideas from the world’s religions with New Age thought – and then proceed to declare it “science”; the epitome of New Age flakiness, in other words.

It should be mentioned that Beckwith is a serious contributor to various charities and environmental issues; unfortunately his ridiculous metaphysical rantings might overall have more adverse consequences than his contributions to social issues have positive consequences.

Diagnosis: Professional snowflake with delusions of grandeur and a serious shortage of critical thinking skills; quite an impact, but it is unclear to what degree his metaphysical gibberish contributes to his influence.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

#17: Glenn Beck

This guy needs no introduction. A non-comprehensive list of his travesties can be found here:

Beck has, among other things, written the book “Arguing with Idiots” - an apt title. Also suffers from Nazi Tourette's.

Diagnosis: Idiot. Has a lot of fans, but the hope is that his influence might in the end be self-undermining.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

#16: Henry Bauer

It's our 16th Loon, Henry Bauer! Bauer is a former hobby-cryptozoologist who has jumped on-board Peter Duesberg's HIV-denialist bandwagon. He's a harmless loon (but still a loon) when writing about Nessie, UFOs and ESP (yes, he is afflicted with a bad case of crank magnetism). However Bauer has escalated to red alert level with his dangerous and misleading advice to HIV-positive people (‘HIV does not cause AIDS’), based on literature he simply does not comprehend, claiming that it is the treatments and medicines that actually kill them. Probably partially guilty of some horrible deaths already. Described here.

Diagnosis: Crank magnet; delusional loon; dangerous.

Monday, May 17, 2010

#15: Gary Bates

Bates is the author of “Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection", a central book within the Christian UFO movement. Bates is a Biblical literalist and creationist, conspiracy theorist and a UFO “scholar”. Official website here (apparently you can get a free anti-alien sticker for each book purchase; you can also take a quiz on the Bible and UFOs – Bates claims that the Bible is the best UFO book ever written).

Short story according to Bates: Alien stories are part of the conspiracy! There are no extraterrestrials – beliefs in these are just result of atheistic sci-fi writers’ biases and a distortion of the truth caused by the prevalence of the false theory of evolution (you can sort of see the strangely twisted reasoning here) . The true account of UFO-related phenomena is found in the Bible (demons and angels), but this true account is covered up by the liberal, atheistic government conspiracy.

You can read an interview here (from the creationist “peer-reviewed” journal Creation).

Diagnosis: Deranged dingbat who panders to not-entirely-conservatively-Christian but gullible UFO-enthusiasts and new age conspiracy theorists. Mad as a hatter. Impact: Might be able to influence the divisions of labor among already crazy fringe-cranks, and possibly able recruit some religious fundamentalists. Potential recruits must already be quite unhinged.

#14: David Barton

We have mentioned the historical revisionists/reconstructionists before, but Barton is perhaps the most prominent advocate for religiously zealous, Orwellian reconstruction of American history to fit Christian fundamentalist ideals. Barton is a crank historian and Christian Nation apologist (and activist) and founder of Wallbuilders; has written extensively on the alleged religious fundamentalism of the founding fathers and the “true intent” of the constitution as a foundation for a theocracy. Has been caught lying, cherry-picking and fabricating material many, many times, as discussed here (in particular fabricating quotes he attribute to the founding fathers). Many of the alleged quotes have achieved lives of their own, even though Barton has admitted to lying.

More here and here.

The problem is that his writing has exerted profound influence over the Texas Board of Education and other radically religious curriculum builders. And of course, his ideological commitments ensure that he can say virtually whatever he wants without being called out by his allies.

Diagnosis: Liar and fraud, dishonest quack and zealot, and also a victim of severe confirmation bias. He has had a lot of influence however (Texas Board of Education, for instance) and must be ranked among the most dangerous, destructively influential forces of lunacy out there.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

#13: Matt Barber

Our lucky 13th loon is Matt Barber. Barber is a columnist at Worldnetdaily (where do they find these people, seriously?). Also policy director for cultural issues at DC-based Concerned Women for America (an anti-gay organization), and spokesman for Liberty Legal Alliance. Very, very concerned about gay people, convinced gay marriage is unconstitutional and that there is a gay conspiracy out there (and Obama is in on the conspiracy because the Supreme Court didn’t quite agree about the unconstitutionality (yes, that’s the reasoning)). Barber has absolutely no insight into how the legal system works, which does not prevent him from commenting on it with brazen confirmation bias, fact-twisting and outright lies. Argues for taking children away from gay parents. Like so many of his ilk, Barber is also a moral relativist when it suits his purposes. Also has a serious persecution complex and is worried about gay jihadists.

A (typical) quote in advance of the 2008 election: ”If Bill Clinton was the first black president, Barack Obama, if elected, will be the first "gay" president. No, I don't mean he'll personally decorate the West Wing, open a bathhouse in the Rose Garden or take up with Barney Frank. I mean he'll be the most radically pro-homosexual, anti-family president in history. He's very quietly pledged as much to the homosexual "Human Rights Campaign" and other fawning members of his homofascist fan club” (note the interesting characterization of Obama voters in the last sentence).

Trivia: try to find the logical structure of the argument presented here.

Diagnosis: Moron; paranoid lunatic with a severe persecution complex; probably little impact beyond the group who already agrees with what he says (i.e. no power to persuade anyone).

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

#12: Chuck Baldwin

It's our 12th loon, Chuck Baldwin! Baldwin was a 2008 U.S. presidential candidate for the openly theocratic Constitution Party.
Baldwin is a strong advocate for a Christian Nation and a historical revisionist with a persecution complex, arguing tirelessly that the American Constitution is based entirely off of the Bible. At the same time he promotes religious liberty, but Baldwin is one of those who aren’t affected by cognitive dissonance. Baldwin also holds that the Founding fathers were religious fundamentalists – he is known for publicly attributing quotes to them that he has made up himself (but the contents of which, according to him, the founding fathers would have agreed with). For a discussion of his views and arguments, see here:

Diagnosis: Bigoted, vile, zealous and crazy theocrat, liar for Jesus, paranoid and harebrained (but the martyr tactic is the lifeblood of these dingbats, so a persecution complex is unavoidable). Impact is probably relatively limited (the Constitution party isn’t exactly in the running for many seats), but the Orwellian historical revisionism he stands for is a cause for concern.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

#11: Arthur M. Baker

Baker (no photo available) is an ardent proponent of that brand of food woo known as "raw foodism", i.e. the idea that we should ideally only eat raw (even living) food. This new age trend is primarily founded on the naturalistic fallacy (+ confirmation bias and anecdotal evidence) and has little scientific foundation. Not cooking any of one's food might be acceptable (though not recommendable) were it not for pesky food poisoning and bacteria. This by itself might not be enough to merit inclusion in the Encyclopedia - but of course folks like Baker have to take it a couple of steps further.

Baker is the author of "Awakening Our Self Healing Body", and he avoids the problem of bacteria in uncooked food since he doesn’t believe in the germ theory of disease anyway (it’s a conspiracy to support the food industry or something). A central supporter of the Natural Hygiene Movement (no, I won’t provide a link; google it), Baker rejects Western medicine and its theoretical foundation, and in his book “rips apart the notion of viruses destroying your body” (since viruses cannot do that since they are not living things) and similar claims, mostly based on ignorance, lies, bias and the purported fact that raw food is obviously natural and hence good, and Western medicine does not unequivocally recognize that. Parts of his ramblings are, however, semitechnical and well-written, and might to people with little knowledge about the matters look convincing. Support for raw foodism is, according to Baker, also found in the Bhagavad Gita and the Essene Gospel of peace. Another convincing argument he subscribes to is that Methuselah only ate raw food – and he got to live pretty long, didn’t he?

Diagnosis: Loon. Confirmation bias is strong with this one, but he is only one of an almost endless parade of food cranks. The movement seems to have some impact, but Baker’s own influence in particular is uncertain; should be considered dangerous, however.

#10: Ted Baehr

Baehr runs Movieguide which, despite its neutral name, describes itself as a ministry "dedicated to redeeming the values of the mass media according to biblical principles, by influencing entertainment industry executives and helping families make wise media choices" (i.e. rave reviews of creationist propaganda). Baehr is also chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission and a columnist/movie reviewer for Worldview Times. He wasn’t happy with Religulous, as this review shows (and this review alone merits Baehr’s inclusion in the Encyclopedia):

Also a vigorous opponent of e.g. stem cell research (apparently he views The Family Research Council as an authoritative source here); staunch anti-elitist religious crackpot who argues that science (at least science whose results don’t support (his interpretation of) the Bible) is a liberal conspiracy, as in the article discussed here:

Diagnosis: Zealous, paranoid wingnut and pathological liar, religious fundamentalist and general loon. Angry. Influence: hard to tell; there are a lot of these guys out there, but he is relatively prolific and seems to have some readers.

Monday, May 10, 2010

#9: Michele Bachmann

Coming in at #9 we have one of my very favorite loons, the lovely Michele Bachmann.

Bachmann is the United States Representative of Minnesota's 6th congressional district and a member of the Republican Party.

Judging by a number of trustworthy sources and good evidence (mostly the words that come out of her mouth), she may be the single stupidest person alive (perhaps in competition with Steve King, R-Iowa). Staunch supporter of the teabagging party (including all of their contradictory goals, apparently). Good mental compartmentalizer, for she is apparently completely unaffected by (or aware of) cognitive dissonance.
A quickly assembled but unrepresentative sample of the stuff that falls out of her mouth:

And a couple of others:

On CO2 emissions:

On net neutrality:

Discussion of her view on the swine flu (and the Democrats’ role in it):
And one more informative source of Bachmann quotes:

Diagnosis: Complete moron – a living embodiment of Dunning-Kruger. Obviously in possession of power and influence, and probably a large fan group as well; in other words very dangerous.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

#8: Douglas Axe

Axe is a zealous creationist associated with the Discovery Institute (he is the director at their “Biologic Institute"). Axe is a molecular biologist, and thus actually knows some science. He uses this knowledge to write mundane papers, at least two of which have been published in low-tier, although genuine, journals - despite being uninteresting and mundane. Axe’s work is hailed by the Discovery Institute as evidence for their views. Of course, there is no actual support of intelligent design in these published papers, and Axe himself admits as much:

Insofar as Axe is a creationist with real scientific publications to his name, Axe’s work is one of the main contributions to a sheen of legitimacy for the ID movement. But given that his publications do not at all support or even touch on their views (but are willfully interpreted as such by other ID-proponents without Axe complaining) he is an important contributor to erecting the framework of dishonesty that is the ID movement.

Diagnosis: Dishonest wingnut who might pose a genuine if minor threat to science and rationality as a creationist with actually published (though unrelated) material.

Friday, May 7, 2010

#7: William Arntz

Our seventh loon is the unfortunately influential filmmaker William Arntz.

Arntz is the Producer, Director, and Screenwriter of the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know”, perhaps the most influential piece of dreadfully cranky quantum-woo ever produced. It's complete gibberish; confirmation bias, lunacy and wishful thinking dressed up in pseudo-scientific language. Arntz is a graduate of Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment (yes: channeling, pyramidology, numerology, tinfoil hats, you name it), and a radical, utterly flaky New-Ager whose dishonesty is presumably a consequence of solid confirmation bias and gullibility rather than malice.

Diagnosis: Flapdoodler with a clinical lack of critical thinking skills, complete idiot; currently enjoys rather large influence through his work, however.

#6: Steven Anderson

Our sixth loon, Steven Anderson, is a rather frightening one.

An Arizona-based pastor at Faithful Word Baptist Church, Anderson is famous for sermons where he fervently prays (and asks his congregation to pray) for the death and eternal torment of people who disagree with him (mostly president Obama, democrats and gays), including urging his congregation to murder his enemies (i.e. gays and liberals). Strong advocate of Old Testament morality (“God didn’t change his mind”) but oblivious to the cognitive dissonance it brings with it. No qualms about lying about his opponents. Convinced that gays are currently bringing an end to America (and that liberals are really disguised gays – Anderson has several ad hominem arguments of the kind ‘x says p; x is a liberal; hence x is gay, hence p is false, a lie and part of a scheme to bring down America’).

Discussed here, for instance:

and here:

Diagnosis: Deranged, vile and very possibly clinically insane. Fred Phelps wannabe. Very dangerous to the extent that some of his (presumably relatively small) congregation might actually do what he tells them to do.

#5: Desmond Paul Allen

Coming in at #5 is a very special Loon, Desmond Paul Allen.

Allen is a prolific author of incoherent babble on creationism, politics, and the "Question of Reality" [?]. His works include the unintentional Sokal hoax “An Apology and Unification Theory for the Reconciliation of Physical Matter and Metaphysical Cognizance”, published in the "peer reviewed" "research" journal Answers (run by
Answers in Genesis) - an article premised, it seems, on the looniest things Kent Hovind ever said.

His “peer reviewed” journal article is dissected here:

Short abstract: “God spoke and it was so; so that our physical universe is essentially an electromagnetically charged holographic medium, as it were, empowered by the Spirit of God. Here there exists a certain entanglement between the quantum state and the Spirit of God.” It deteriorates from there.

Diagnosis: Absolutely, utterly unhinged from reality, total loon, delusions of grandeur; his turgid metaphysical ramblings do presumably enjoy only limited impact, however.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

#4: Chris Allen

Next up, great American loon #4 - Chris Allen.

Not to be confused with several other people of the same name, this Chris Allen is a weatherman at the FOX-affiliated TV station in Bowling Green, Ky.

Why is this Chris Allen considered prominent enough to earn a spot in the Encyclopedia? Well, the ever reliably insane and dishonest Senator James Inhofe included Allen on his infamous list of “700 prominent scientists who deny global warming”. So he MUST be prominent, right?

Chris Allen holds no college degree but does have a blog, referred to by Inhofe as “his scientific writings”. Allen rejects anthropogenic global warming (AGW) on the grounds that it contradicts the Bible, and he complains that AGW “completely takes God out of the picture”.

Ed Brayton has the story:

Diagnosis: Complete nutjob and wingnut; probably harmless.

#3: Mohammed Al-Bayati

And now presenting our fabulous third loon, Dr. Mohammed Al-Bayati.

Al-Bayati is a belligerent HIV-denialist, most notable for his involvement in the aftermath of the Eliza Jane Scovill case. He has published a HIV-denial book and runs a company called Toxi-Health International. Known hand-waver when pressed on these things.

A good discussion of his work is found here:

He is a pseudoscientist who also flirts with the anti-vaccinationists, and is a full-fledged conspiracy theorist.

Diagnosis: Self-unaware belligerent zealot, victim of extreme confirmation bias; impact uncertain.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

#2: Howard Ahmanson

Our second loon is Howard Ahmanson.

Ahmanson is a financer of the Discovery Institute and several other fundamentalist causes, such as Proposition 8 in California. He is an extremely wealthy (multi-billionaire!) magnate whose political agenda is nicely captured in the following quotation: "My goal is the total integration of biblical law into our lives”.

Diagnosis: Complete loon, extremely influential and very, very dangerous.

#1: Mike Adams

Up first in the Encyclopedia of American Loons we have Mike Adams, a.k.a. “The Health Ranger”.

Adams runs the website, one of the most disturbing cesspits of quackery on the net. He is a fierce opponent of science and evidence-based medicine, providing long screeds about the danger of conventional medicine and against skepticism based on confirmation bias, misleading vividness, paranoia and conspiracy theories. He has absolutely no understanding of either science or critical thinking (complete inability to recognize fallacies or bias). He is also a proponent of every imaginable alternative treatment.

He is also a 9/11 troofer.

For examples of his antics, you can read about his “takedown” of Obamacare here:

And also here:

A truly stunning case of paranoia and stupidity here:

A scintillating display of ignorance, stupidity and self-unawareness here:

and here:

Mike Adams, a pyromaniac in a field of strawmen:

Diagnosis: Complete loon, flamingly stupid, extremely paranoid, a zealot and a fraud; his influence is probably limited but given just a small base of followers he could wreak some havoc.

(this one is probably a different Mike Adams, but one that deserves a footnote in our lexicon in any case: - this latter guy might or might not be identical to this one:; this means that there are most likely at least two, possibly three, wildly crazy Mike Adamses out there, at least two of which are 9/11 troofers).

Welcome to the Encyclopedia of American Loons!

Welcome to a new and exciting series presenting you with a representative sample of American Loons from A-Z!

This blog will be updated frequently until we have a full collection of influential American Loons, assembled nicely in alphabetical order. Credit for all of the blog posts you will read after this one belongs entirely to Fredrik Haraldsen, with only minor occasional edits and additions (photos, etc) by me. I am merely posting these excellent entries on his behalf (and of course with his permission). Enjoy!