Tuesday, January 23, 2018

#1953: Mike Matthews

Mike Matthews is a young-earth creationist affiliated with Answers in Genesis (AiG), one of the most delusionally pseudoscientific, fundamentalist conspiracy groups in the US. In particular, Matthews is editor-in-chief of Answers magazine, Ken Ham’s in-house vanity journal and (inadvertent) attempt to make Christianity look as silly as possible. Here, for instance, is Matthews himself proving that God exists and that the Bible should be read literally, as a scientific treatise: Basically, you already know it, so it’s just a matter of removing the moral failings that cloud your judgment: “All people already know God because He is clearly seen in His creation, and His moral law is also written on their hearts. But they [i.e. atheists and evolutionary biologists] ‘suppress’, or hold down, the truth in unrighteousness because their proud hearts are rebellious and they do not want to submit to the truth.” Moreover, any inquiry must start with presuppositions, and it is blithely clear that none are better than the Bible (particularly because the Bible is essentially self-affirming, the Bible is God’s word and asserts that God’s word is the truth; apparently Matthews is impressed). Of course, Matthews misses the point that in science one also tests one’s presuppositions; indeed, he explicitly misses the point, by stating that one’s presuppositions must be an “ultimate standard” that “itself must be ‘self-attesting’ and ‘self-authenticating.’.” This is apparently what happens when idiots try to read Descartes’s Meditations without adult guidance. Here is Matthews arguing that the Bible must be true because it is so old.

One of AiG’s primary pastimes is to try to shoehorn scientific data and terminology into a young-earth framework by disregarding everything that doesn’t fit (which is most things). Matthews has – together with legendary crackpot Andrew Snelling – for instance been working on determining the precise dates of the ice ages by reading the Bible and disregarding the facts, concluding that the ice age occurred during the Pleistocene and that the Pleistocene (and ice age) took place sometime in the middle of the Bronze Age during the time of the tower of Babel, four generations after the Flood. The stone age, then (they accept that archaeologists have uncovered stone tools dating from the Pleistocene – earlier, too, but disregard that), occurred among people scattered after Babel, and lasted some 250 years, the primary independent evidence being that it’s absurd that human beings would use such crude and ugly stone tools for millions of years since humans are way smarter than that. So, as expected, there is no independent evidence (supporting their idea; there’s plenty contradicting it, of course. Some more details of their, uh, ravings are discussed here. For a discussion of what happens if you try to cram the Pleistocene climate record into a 250-year period, this one is good.

Apparently, Matthews has two degrees from Bob Jones University, which is as impressive as buying them yourself by following a link in a spam email.

Diagnosis: Oh, the anyone-who-disagrees-with-me-do-so-only-because-their-eyes-are-occluded-by-sin gambit, almost as annoying as and even dafter than the conspiracy theorist’s shill gambit. Matthews is entirely delusional, completely unreasonable, and part of one of the dumbest fundamentalist organizations in the world. Whether his activities help their efforts or not is a question we’ll leave open.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

#1952: Patrick Matrisciana

Caryl Matrisciana – delusional fundie, Satanic Panic promoter, demon hunter and author of books such as Gods of the New Age, The evolution conspiracy (the theory of evolution is a demonic conspiracy to vanquish God’s word) and Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged (for Chick Publications)  – has passed away. Her husband Patrick, however, is – as far as we know – still alive, and Patrick Matrisciana was responsible at least for much promotion and dissemination of much of Caryl’s work.

Patrick Matrisciana is the founder of Jeremiah Films a media production and distribution company based in Jacksonville Beach. Jeremiah Films releases videos that they claim “promote patriotism, traditional values, and the Biblical worldview of [the] founding fathers”. Of course, he has bought heavily into the United States as a Christian Nation myth, and the views he claims were held by the founding fathers don’t reflect the views enshrined in the Constitution or those actually held by the Founding Fathers. Instead, they reflect dominionism, delusional paranoia and systematic inability to distinguish reality from low-budget horror movies involving demonic possession.

The common thread in JF’s productions is finding the most lunatic, paranoid, demonic-led conspiracy angle possible, and then try to push a slightly more extreme position. Their films investigate topics such as terrorism, paganism, evolution, Mormonism, Seventh-day Adventism, abortion, Halloween, Islam, Christianity, Cults, the occult, Jim Jones, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Clinton presidency.

Yes, Matrisciana was an ardent promoter of the Vince Foster murder conspiracy, as detailed in Matrisciana’s 1994 film The Clinton Chronicles, which was really produced by Citizens for Honest Government (also Matrisciana’s organization), a project of the organization Creative Ministries Inc., which was largely funded by long-time Clinton opponent Larry Nichols. The film describes a good number of people that Clinton allegedly made sure to get rid of, and although the claims were easily refuted, of course, but the movie was nevertheless a bit of a success, being promoted for instance by Jerry Falwell, which is not a good measure of trustworthiness. To promote the movie, Falwell published an interview with Matrisciana, who was silhouetted to conceal his identity as he pretended to be a journalist afraid for his life; Matrisciana later acknowledged that he was not in any danger, and that the interview was staged for dramatic effect at Falwell’s suggestion, the guiding idea being that dishonesty is a sin only if you’re a librul.

JF’s crown jewel, though, is probably the 13-part series The Pagan Invasion, which watches like the film equivalent of a Chick tract, which it sort of is. The first installment, produced wuth Chuck Smith and Caryl Matrisciana, is Halloween: Trick of Treat, is about the demonic nature of Halloween, and challenges parents with a Biblical worldview “to decide whether to allow their children to participate in celebrations which glorify Pagan Occultism” (review here). Yes, Matrisciana really believes in – and is really afraid of – the powers of pagan magic: clowns and people pulling rabbits out of hats or pretending to pull off their own thumbs and putting them back on, are really nothing to joke around with. The Halloween installment was later followed by The Unwrapping of Christmas: Its History, Myths and Traditions, about how Christmas celebrations are really demon worshipping. That is probably an even harder sell, to be honest, but it is undeniably a decent shot at trying to get paranoid and stupid parents to completely ruin their children’s lives.

Other JF productions include
  •        Global Governance The Quiet War Against American Independence, another anti-Clinton movie accusing Clinton of trying to institute a “one world government” to ban Christianity, cars and private property.
  •        Crisis In The Classroom: Hidden Agendas And Grassroots Opposition.
  •        Let My Children Go. Another raging rant against public schools, accusing schools of exposing students to secular science and other viewpoints than Matrisciana’s, since exposing them to such viewpoints will easily lead them away from his (he is probably right about that).
  •        Behind the Green Curtain. An anti-environmentalist film accusing environmentalism of being a communist conspiracy to eliminate private property.
  •        Gay Rights/Special Rights: Inside The Homosexual Agenda. Homosexuals are pedophiles preying on youths, thus posing an immediate THREAT TO YOU...YOUR FAMILY... YOUR COUNTRY! That one was followed by The Report: The Gay Agenda In Public Education and AIDS: What You Haven’t Been Told, which tells you a lot of things you will never be told about AIDS from people minimally concerned with reason, evidence or truth.
  •        Earth’s Two-Minute Warning. Prophetic end-times drivel. Followed by Apocalypse Planet Earth, based on Hal Lindsey’s book The Late Great Planet Earth, no less.
  •        A Question Of Origins. A creationist flick attacking evolution as a demonic conspiracy.
  •        Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged. With Caryl Matrisciana and Robert S. McGee. Claims that the Harry Potter series is an occult indoctrination system cleverly disguised as fiction.
  •        The Godmakers
  •        The Secret World of Mormonism
  •        Freemasonry: From Darkness to Light
  •        The Evolution Conspiracy
  •        The Death of Vince Foster
  •        Hillary uncensored! Banned by the Media (heavily focusing on spinning a yarn around the Gala Hollywood Farewell Salute to President Clinton), which was not banned by the media (that’s why they put that suggestion in the title instead to confuse potential viewers the right way); it was, however, largely ignored by the media since it was a silly, stupid and deranged.
  •        Death by Entertainment: How the Media Manipulates the Masses. Hollywood is part of a (global) conspiracy to combat Christ and promote occultism.

Another important title is Baby Parts For Sale, ostensibly an “investigation into the multimillion-dollar-a-year baby parts trafficking industry” and stem cell research, which suggests that women are pressured into having abortions to support a very lucrative, Satanic industry. It is hosted by evangelist Marlin Maddoux of the syndicated radio news talk program Point of View.

Diagnosis: Sort of a docu-film counterpart of Jack Chick. Loud, angry, paranoid and completely, utterly insane. His productions are thematically wide-ranging, though, and some of them seems to have found relatively substantial audiences to exploit for this kind of deranged nonsense.

Friday, January 19, 2018

#1951: Jimmy Matlock

Yes, it’s the state legislatures again. Jimmy Matlock is a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives for the 21st district (Lenoir City, parts of Loudon County and Monroe County). Among Matlock’s pet projects is to get prayers back in school. In 2014, for instance, he proposed designating the first Sunday of Augst the “Prayer Walking Day” for public schools, crediting America’s Christian majority as justification for the bill and emphasizing that the citizens of Tennessee, by law, “acknowledge that ultimate power, protection, and security come from God.” Apparently the bill was supposed to serve an important role in school shooting prevention.

Matlock’s striking lack of grasp of the relationship between goals and effective means is also well illustrated by his firm support of abstinence-only sex education. Of course, abstinence only sex education demonstrably and unambiguously does not work, but Matlock will have nothing of that: “I believe you can peel back all the data and the only true teaching of abstinence has been proven to work.” Evidence be damned when Matlock believes stuff.

Diagnosis: Theocrat light, with the wingnut’s distaste for constitution, freedom, evidence and decency.