Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Creationist (intelligent design) and witness for the minority at the Kansas evolution hearings (a general discussion of the hearings can be found here). Claims that she used to accept evolution, but that critical studies turned her around (yes, that canard). Currently a “creationist icon”.
Notorious for giving a presentation on creationism (mostly the argument from design and the unlikelihood of evolution since if there is no designer then evolution must be just random chance) at the university, “very warmly received by the students.” Afterwards, however, she was severely criticized by biologist professors and subsequently left the university (circumstances are unclear – her faculty evaluations were bad, and she claimed that she was harassed and realized she would never get tenure). Her story was picked up and publicized by the American Family Association and resulted in some outcry from fellow creationists. Bryson has subsequently achieved status as one of ID’s Expelled Martyrs. Currently she is used as one of the most notable examples of the discriminations (“hate crimes” against the religious, according to Jerry Bergman) against dissidents by “evolutionists”, and proof of the major “atheist and materialist conspiracy” that currently infests science.
During the Hearings, her story was by her supporters taken as evidence for the lack of academic freedom in that science curricula systematically exclude evidence for theism. By scientists her story was taken as evidence for incompetence and mixing religion with science. Bryson admits that her views on evolution is based on religion rather than science.
A discussion of Bryson’s role in the Hearings is here.
A sympathetic website, with links, is here.
This entry also indicts other witnesses for the minority, such as James Barham, an MD in classics and “independent scholar” who used to believe in evolution and materialism but who reasoned his way to Jesus and ID (surely a pattern of argumentation here). Christiancinema.com calls him a “Scholar and author specializing in evolutionary epistemology”. His basic argument is: “evolution leads to materialism and no meaning or purpose with life; God exists, and thus there is purpose; hence materialism is false, hence evolution is false” (yes, with the fallacy).
Caleb Lee Brundidge is a self-professed former gay man who conducts sessions to “heal homosexuality”, and an associate of the slightly weird ex-gay guru Richard Cohen. He is also involved in the gay treatment organization Exodus (also here).
In fact, he is also involved in the ministry Extreme Prophetic (lead by one Patricia King), which even among the most extreme fanatics is considered “fringe”. According to their website:
“Raising the dead has always been a mandate of the church. Jesus commissioned us to go in His name and preach the good news of the Kingdom. He then went on to explain, that includes healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead. Our evangelism teams, led by Caleb Brundidge and Melissa Fisher recently grabbed hold of this and went out to practice raising the dead.”
I guess evidence that curing homosexuality tends to fail and is morally problematic would not necessarily make much of an impact on Brundidge’s brain.
His most egregious crime against humanity must presumably be his involvement with monster Scott Lively in the events leading up to the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill. He claimed that he felt duped, but there is little doubt that the group was using rhetoric implying that criminalizing homosexuality would be exactly what they want (though given Brundidge tenuous hold on reality his grasp of cause and effect may be relatively poor as well).
Diagnosis: That this guy has any influence whatsoever is quite simply appalling. He’s your standard high-ranking cult member with virtually no connection to reality whatsoever. Completely mad.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Brought to fame through multiple television appearances - notably including regular appearances on the Montel Williams Show, where she notoriously failed to pass even a single half-serious test of her abilities (in other words, she employs the old conjuring trick of cold reading). A video of one of her blunders on Montel's show can be seen here. She has managed to build a decent following and pretty widespread fame. She has also attempted to claim James Randi’s million-dollar challenge, but after having made the initial testing arrangements nothing came of the attempt.
A brief biography can be found here.
A much more thorough exposé here (in particular here).
Browne doesn’t like these sites.
Claims, among other things, to have had a chat with the late Michael Jackson, but her specialty seems to be telling suffering parents where their lost children are, usually being dead wrong (several bad scandals here).
Diagnosis: Endlessly moronic kook; fraudster, but presumably unaware of it. Has a large group of followers.
This entry also indicts her son, Christopher Dufresne, who is a psychic "of powers equal to his mom's" (a claim which is surely correct).
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Brownback also asserts that if science contradicts the Bible, then science must go:
“While no stone should be left unturned in seeking to discover the nature of man's origins, we can say with conviction that we know with certainty at least part of the outcome. Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.”
His views on science are nicely summed up here, and (more succinctly) here, and also here.
The famous “blogs for Brownback”, notable for arguing that heliocentricism is an atheist conspiracy and that electrons are really angels in disguise whereas protons are demons, is widely believed to be a parody and might easily be.
Among other notable views, Brownback is known to support stem-cell research – conditional on advice from the Family Research Council (the “Research” part must surely be a typo), as described here. Brownback also wishes to ban human-animal chimeras. Also seems to toy with David Barton-style reconstructionism.
Diagnosis: Zealous Lysenkoist. His understanding of science is best characterized as a severe case of Dunning-Kruger. Moron. Wields some power, but will apparently retire from the Senate this year.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Wiley Brooks is the founder of the Breatharian Institute of America. Breatharians claim, simply enough, that food and possibly water are not necessary, and that humans can be sustained solely by prana (the vital life force in Hinduism), or according to some, by the energy in sunlight. Yep. There have been some casualties, so the lunacy isn’t entirely benign. The website of the Breatharian Institute of America is here, and must be seen to be believed.
Brooks states that his potential followers must first prepare by combining the junk food diet with the meditative incantation of five magic "fifth-dimensional" words which appear on his website. In the "5D Q&A" section it is, among other things, explained that cows are fifth-dimensional (or higher) beings that help mankind achieve fifth-dimensional status by converting three-dimensional food to five-dimensional food (beef). The "Holy Cows" section of the site includes a picture of cows with glowing eyes so that readers can sense the energy of the picture.
Well, some people does take such stuff seriously. Does Brooks? In 1983 he was allegedly observed leaving a Santa Cruz 7-Eleven with a Slurpee, hot dog and Twinkies. He has also admitted that he periodically breaks his fasting with a cheeseburger and a cola, explaining that when he's surrounded by junk culture and junk food, consuming them adds balance (good luck trying to figure out what this means).
In the Q&A section of his website Brooks explains that the "Double Quarter-Pounder with Cheese" meal from McDonald's possesses a special "base frequency". It is therefore recommended as occasional food for beginning breatharians. Similarly (or on the other hand?), he also reveals that Diet Coke is "liquid light". Prospective disciples are asked after some time following the junk food/magic word preparation to revisit his website in order to test if they can feel the magic.
Brooks also informs us that he may be contacted on his fifth-dimensional phone in order to get the correct pronunciation of the five magic words. In case the line is busy, prospective recruits are asked to meditate on the five magic words for a few minutes, and then try calling again; he avoids explaining how anyone can meditate with words they cannot yet pronounce. Brooks' institute has charged varying fees to prospective clients who wished to learn how to live without food, ranging from 15 to 25 million dollars (he does offer a payment plan, how nice of him).
In other words, the evidence for fraud is pretty strong. His personal webpage is here, where Brooks asserts that he has had previous lives as Adam, Zeus, Kuthumi, Enoch, Jeshua, Joshua, Elijah, Joseph of Egypt, St Francis of Assisi and William Mulholland.
An open letter to the citizens of Earth.
An essay by Bob “First I was a skeptic but then …” Silverstein.
A magnificent anecdote: “I came to the 3-day "breatharian" seminar in Hawaii, but without the $300 fee to attend. Wiley asked me: "If you can't find $300, then how do you expect to find God?" Within 15 minutes, I had the $300.”
Diagnosis: Possibly the most astoundingly insane person in existence, but very likely a fraud. The cult is rather dangerous to its own members (lots of Darwin award material there) but unlikely to obtain a wide-spread following for obvious reasons.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
(notice also the change of goalposts from proving that God exists to challenging atheists to disprove the God of the Bible in step 3).
Here is the gist [this is the first paragraph of the “proof”]: “God said He proves Himself by observing nature. Let's see if He is right. 1) Something can't come from that which does not exist, so the universe requires a cause [yes, he assumes the cosmological argument]. 2) The universe can't always have existed because a) heat death would be far greater than it is, and b) mankind would have approximated into that alleged past eternity and not still be sinning to the extent it still does along the exponential progression of conscience we are clearly on. What other option is there than the uncaused (uncreated) created? [yes, his proof really assumes that argument from ignorance is a valid inference method]. Atheism is utterly destroyed and morally [?] bankrupt because it has no answer and never will. You would have to be God (having omniscience) to know if God exists when you hold out having to know all things to be sure. You are saying you won't accept proof of God unless you are God. Wow!”
Basically the argument is “we are continuously improving morally (we are morally better now than we were 5000 years ago, say); since we aren’t perfect yet, the universe must have existed for a finite amount of time; therefore: The Biblical God.” [yes, an implicit premise is "if the universe has existed infinitely, then humans must have as well].
It is discussed here. Don’t miss Brooks himself showing up in the comment section!
Diagnosis: Inane bozo. Probably insignificant but representative of a real and substantial class of bozos out there. Manages to provide evidence that elementary critical thinking should be on any elementary school curriculum, though.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Apart from anti-evolution, his columns are filled with the standard delusional moron stuff – Christians are a persecuted (particularly by the ACLU) minority in the US (discussed here and here), defense of torture (discussed here - the ignorance and dishonesty is astounding, even for a wingnut) and similar stuff.
He got attention for the claim that Democrats and others who were against the president during the Iraq War could be questioned for their patriotism – under an interview on this, he expressed his outrage against the opponents of George W. Bush (namely the Dixie Chicks) that their criticisms of the president showed they did not "respect their elders". He also vigorously defended Mel Gibson after the actor was recorded making an antisemitic rant.
He is also a vocal opponent of gay rights, and won some fame for his tasteful comparison between equal rights activists and the terrorist attacks in Mumbai (Boone apparently thinks that the “homosexual jihadists” should be sent to concentration camps because they are anti-freedom, or something like that); discussed here and here.
He is also a birfer (i.e. Obama is not a natural born citizen, but a Kenya-born Muslim, and hence not eligible for being a president).
Diagnosis: Complete moron; hateful, dishonest, zealous bigot and loon. Impact uncertain, but he is probably read by a lot of people who are initially sympathetic to his views – whether he comes across as spurring them onwards into wingnuttery or helping them come to their senses by displaying purefied idiocy is unclear.
One of the notable events during the Dover trial was when Bonsell initially testified that he did not know where the money had been raised to donate sixty copies of “Of Pandas and People” to the school's library. He admitted later that the money had been raised in William Buckingham's church, and directed through Bonsell's father so that it might be donated anonymously.
Diagnosis: Liar for Jesus; crackpot who is unable to recognize the difference between fact and opinion; despite his previous anti-scientific campaigns, he seems to be relatively neutralized by now.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
As 9/11-troofers go, Christopher Bollyn is in at the deep end. A self-proclaimed “independent American investigative journalist”, Bollyn is for the most part a contributor to the despicable cesspool of lunacy whale.to, but many interesting articles can be found on his webpage. Among the gems are articles with enticing titles such as “The Israeli Role in the Plundering of Iceland”, “How Ehud Barak Pulled Off 9-11”, “The Goldman Scam & John Paulson's Links to 9-11”, “The Gang of Czech Jews around the Collapses of 9-11” and “The Jewish Secret Society That Controls the U.S. Media” (I cannot be bothered to check out his explanation of why the US is involved in Afghanistan, but it is surely rewarding).
I guess the reader gets the idea. 9-11 was the product of a Zionist conspiracy (in particular organized by the Rothschild family) – the Zionist conspiracy that controls the US government and media. They have also infiltrated the Senate, as shown by Bollyn’s razor-sharp and fearless investigations, e.g. “Arlen Specter - The Elder of Zion in the U.S. Senate”. Henry Kissinger is at the top of the conspiracy, and “still a key player in the crimocracy as seen by the conspicuous fact that he was sent by the new Obama administration to meet with the leadership of Russia, although the nominal Secretary of State was Hillary Clinton.” I guess you can’t argue with evidence like that.
A tidbit: “Christopher J. Petherick, a self-avowed Satanist, was the editor of American Free Press and the former Spotlight, publications of the Liberty Lobby of Washington, D.C. It makes no sense that a Satanist would be the chief editor of a newspaper that is purportedly written for patriotic Christian Americans, unless one understands that the Liberty Lobby is actually owned and controlled by a Zionist Jew named Mark Lane. The paper is a controlled opposition outlet that acts like flypaper to create a list of active patriots -- for the Jewish intelligence organization Lane works for.”
Who is Petherick? Well, he is the newspaper editor who fired Bollyn back in the day. Of course he must be a Zionist – why else would he try to shut up a honest and brave journalist like Bollyn? Apparently Petherick later organized an assault of Bollyn (using police officers who tasered him) to … shut him up? It's a little unclear. And apparently the incident is related to the real reason for the war in Afghanistan. So it goes.
Oh, and apparently the sinking of Estonia wasn’t an accident and there is depleted uranium everywhere. And Denmark is being set up by the American Zionist conspiracy to take the brunt of Muslim anger (cf. the Mohammed cartoons).
There is really no end to the conspiracies and paranoia here. For a “best of” selection, you can go here. Enjoy.
Diagnosis: Complete loon and master at interpreting the fact that anyone disagrees with him, for whatever reason, as evidence for the truth of his conspiracy theories. Specific impact uncertain, but his views are apparently relatively widespread and must be considered dangerous.
Bolen is a publicist for the late Hulda Clark, who for the purposes of our Encyclopedia is, in part, tried instead of her. Clark was a crackpot who claimed to have (and sold) “the cure for all disease”, in particular cancer which she said couldn’t exist if the patient had the right mindset and used her devices. Guess what Hulda Clark died of. A critical obituary can be found here, and also here.
(Clark’s healing devices, apparently cobbled together from discarded parts of Radio Shack, included the Syncrometer, the Zapper and Homeography; her medical advice included requiring that her people with fillings have them removed and people with root canals have those teeth removed as part of her "therapy." Clark was, in other words, an unintentionally repulsive human being).
Bolen, her attack poodle, desperately tried to explain her death as being due to something else, flunking all possible rules for critical thinking and understanding of science in the process. He is in general an ardent advocate of Clark’s “scientific research” (always skirting the awkward question of the whereabouts of all those people Clark supposedly cured of e.g. advanced AIDS).
Bolen is a self-proclaimed “health freedom fighter” and a tireless enemy of science and science-based medicine (a flaming conspiracy theorist), and purveyor of every crackpot alternative treatment that exists.
Covered here, and also here.
Diagnosis: Dishonest, sleazy and absolute loon; impact uncertain, but this guy is tireless.
This post should by the way also indict Hulda Clark’s son Geoffrey Clark, who administered her business and tirelessly promotes it after her demise, including setting up a defense fund to pay for expenses associated with defending her against "legal attacks."
The entry should also indict the Swiss scientologist David Amrein, Clark’s business associate and staunch defender (who has been legally banned from making false claims about her products for advertising purposes) – Amrein is an utter loon, but disqualified from an entry in the Encyclopedia by not being American.
The whole Clark-Bolen story is also well covered here.
Claims that constellations (or point-to-point drawings between various stars) display a picture depicting the second coming of the Messiah (the names of many of the stars are also relevant, apparently).
Of course, since hardcore Christians denounce astrology, Biltz is adamant that what he does (looking at the hidden meaning of constellations to predict future events) is not astrology but astronomy. Discussed here.
Diagnosis: Unhinged loon whose beliefs correspond to reality with a remarkably low frequency. Impact is probably small.
Note: We originally entered him as "Blitz", and apologize for that. The name is Biltz - which means that the entry doesn't quite fit with the alphabetical order anymore.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Liar, crank and conspiracy theorist (Big Pharma is out to get us – Blaxill actually terms it the “autism holocaust”), as discussed here; also a professional shifter of goalposts (without necessarily being aware of it himself).
Among his most prominent techniques are faking statistics to show an explosion in autism the last thirty years, and looking at new studies to determine whether they are scientifically "solid" or not (meaning he determines whether they can be interpreted as agreeing with his lunacy or not).
Diagnosis: Delusional and belligerent crank; relatively influential and quite dangerous.
On an unrelated note, here is a hilarious game; test yourself!
President of Faithsearch International and another Liar for Jesus. Claims to be a “former skeptic” (the claim is kinda undermined by the fact that his MA was in New Testament Studies) who has become an evangelical, fundamentalist whackjob whose shtick argument is that since there are lots of copies of the New Testament around (written only a couple of hundred years apart and based off of each other), then it must be literally true. Author of several books on creationism and is an ardent campaigner for it, giving numerous talks and presentations. Accepts Behe’s and Dembski’s discredited arguments for ID (and the Bible) at face value and rejects evolution (which he certifiably does not understand, mixing it up with ‘everything must have occurred by chance’) through an argument from incredulity. Briefly discussed here.
Diagnosis: Dishonest (unintentionally?), pernicious godbotter; impact unclear, but he is probably a minor figure.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Interviewed here (whale.to’s interviewer, Preston Nichols, is very sympathetic – he will receive his own entry in due time).
Apparently the leader of the experiment was John von Neumann (who died many years before). Bielek’s explanation for that fact is:
Another priceless quote:
“No one has picked up a tangible future beyond 2012 AD. There is a very abrupt wall there with nothing on the other side. Prophecies speak of earth changes around then. Curious, isn't it?”
Not really, no. Bielek’s views are relatively predictable on these matters.
Oh, and about the Philadelphia experiment - the time travel is conveniently covered up by the government, and was of course made possible through the use of alien technology.
His website is here (warning: the lunacy here is boundless).
Diagnosis: Stark, raving mad. Ûber-nut (though he might at least initially have been a fraud); probably relatively harmless.