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.

Monday, June 4, 2018

#2023: Daryn Moran

Ok, so birtherism might be considered a bit stale in 2018, but the prevalence of birtherism some years ago is still an important data point in the explanation of certain more current events. Besides, we have no reason to think Daryn Moran has acquired any basic critical thinking skills since 2011. Moran is a former Air Force staff sergeant who was discharged after declaring himself AWOL because Obama isn’t the legitimate president (the WND ran with the headline “Staff Sergeant Discharged After Questioning Obama”, which is not quite accurate). Moran stated that he would not return to his assignment unless Barack Obama documented his eligibility to be president. Moran did not return to his assignment. “In essence,” said Moran, “I have placed myself squarely against B. Obama, and will continue to do so under the present circumstances. If B. Obama will reach out to me, help me, talk to me, be honest with me, seek the Lord with me, hear other Americans with me, correct his lies, and allow the blessings of God on himself and this country, I would be happy. I’m in no position to prevent God’s blessings on B. Obama, but currently B. Obama is preventing that himself.” Yes, Obama would remain beyond God’s blessings until he had a long, deep, personal chat with Moran and pretty much took Moran on as a counselor. 

Diagnosis: Probably not a big loss for the military. Minor figure, yes, but the critical thinking (and SPAG delusions) involved here may help explain some developments in the US the last two years.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

#2022: Patricia Moore-King

A.k.a. Psychic Sophie

Patricia Moore-King is one of many people making a living out of charging gullible people money in return for Tarot card readings, for psychic and clairvoyant readings, and for answering strangers’ personal questions in person, over the phone, or by email. Her answers and advice – “spiritual counseling” – are apparently based on astrology, “psychic/clairvoyant/medium development,” and energy healing, and will, according to herself, bring “forth the inherent wisdom of the God-self within each of her client’s souls in order to help them achieve spiritual enlightenment.” In addition, she does Reiki, which is Eastern faith healing that supposedly “produces beneficial effects by strengthening and normalizing certain vital energy fields held to exist within the body.” Nothing she does has even the remotest connection to reality, but neither have her customers. She is apparently also willing, for a fee, to come to parties and entertain guest with her psychic tricks.

So, ok, there is nothing special with regard to the bullshit she offers compared to others in her profession . The only reason we encountered her name, is because of her legal complaint challenging county ordinances in Virginia that require psychics and fortune tellers to get licenses and submit to regulation, alleging that the fact that she needed a business license violates the Free Speech clause, the Free Exercise clause and the Equal Protection clause, as well as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. The courts were not impressed (details here). She also tried to explain why she doesn’t consider herself a “fortune teller”, to no avail. In fact, the most interesting thing about the ruling is not that the courts agree that fortune telling is “inherently deceptive”, which it is, and therefore that the county is free to regulate it as it pleases (in addition to outright banning it), but their ruling that it does not constitute religious practice, which raises some interesting and rather thorny issues (good discussion here).

Diagnosis: It is tempting in these cases to give the candidate the benefit of doubt and dismiss her as a “fraud”, but it’s safer to go for deranged lunatic. The critical thinking abilities of those who pay for her services aren’t much to write home about either. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

#2021: Kaitlyn Moore

Kaitlyn Moore is an abysmally delusional conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine crank, whose post are published on the NaturalNews website, no less. There really is no particular need to continue to explain why she deserves an entry beyond that observation, but if you really want to sample (a critique of) her deranged, misdirected, Dunning-Kruger-fueled fury, this one is pretty illustrative. Moore doesn’t fancy vaccines, which she does not remotely understand or know anything about, and in “How vaccines are made: Monkey kidneys, spinal material, animal pus and more” she uses all her powers of misdirection and irrelevance to do as much scaremongering as she can – basically, it is a “toxin gambit” on speed, based on how disgusting medical practices 250 years ago sound to modern ears peppered with some myths picked up from various anti-vaccine websites. “Cell matter is extracted from [the] hosts, combined with toxic chemicals like Thimerosol (mercury), formaldehyde, aluminum hydroxide and a variety of other substances, before being injected into our bodies, writes Moore, and[t[he side effects are autism, diabetes, asthma, MS, SIDS, and more.” Which is demonstrably false, but these are facts and Moore would hardly let facts come in the way of a good, moronic conspiracy theory, would she?

Moore’s main concern seems to be anti-GMO fear mongering, however, and she displays exactly the same level of acumen, insight, knowledge and care for facts on that topic as she does on vaccines.

Diagnosis: Rabid, deranged conspiracy theorist. Stupid, angry, confused, paranoid, and dangerous.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

#2020: E. Ray Moore

E. Ray Moore is a solidly Taliban-style fundamentalist, theocrat and political activist (staff member for Pat Robertson’s campaigns in the 1980s, for instance) – in 2014 he even ran for governor of South Carolina. He is currently President of Frontline Ministries, Inc. and Director of the Exodus Mandate Project, author of extremist books like Let My Children Go (with his wife, Gail) and The Promise of Jonadab: Building a Christian Family Legacy in a Time of Cultural Decline, as well as – and perhaps most notably – Executive Producer of the documentary IndoctriNation. Moore’s main focus is the separation of church and state, which he doesn’t like, and in particular the fact that children in public schools aren’t indoctrinated with what he judges to be the correct version of Christianity.

“IndoctriNation” concerns this allegedly destructive nature of the public school system, which Moore calls the “main culprit” when it comes to why young adults leave the church: Public schools are like “playing Russian Roulette with your children’s souls,” as Moore sees it. They are “godless and pagan by precept and design,” since they don’t follow his demand for “God in the math class and in the science class as much as in the Bible class.” Instead of letting children attend public schools, parents should do what the Bible demands of them: homeschool them or place them in Christian schools. In 2006 Moore submitted a resolution to the Southern Baptist Convention urging an exit strategy from the public school system, arguing that Christians should not be exposed to any knowledge that doesn’t fit with what hethey already believe.

His 2014 gubernatorial campaign also focused on his dislike for public schools, which are ostensibly causing a  “silent holocaust” (like most screaming all-caps loons on the Internet Moore has a knack for lunatic, idiotic and tasteless turns of the phrase) in American churches by teaching evolution and homosexuality, warning that the curricula turn students, like a young Hillary Clinton, into anti-Christian “janissaries”. Instead, Moore urged the state to replace public schools with an education system led by “churches, families, and private association”. Moore cited studies purportedly showing that “80 percent of Southern Baptists youths are leaving the church and abandoning the Christian faith, and we think all of this is pretty much attributable to government schooling.” Surely having to deal with people like E. Ray Moore would have nothing to do with it.

In 2017, Moore called for God to protect Trump from the demonic “Deep State.” Having evidently no clear idea what “deep state” purports to refer to (and in any case systematically confusing things and lumps in the stream of his own feverish imagination), describing it as some nebulous entity that is not loyal to the Constitution but representing “principalities and powers,” “demonic and Satanic forces” and “fallen angels”; accordingly, he also claimed that prayer would be an appropriate means to deal with the deep state. “We’ve got a man in the government who is a friend of God’s in a unique way in modern American history,” concluded Moore: God gave us a “miracle” in November 2016, heralding a new, great revival.

Moore has also endorsed The New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy, which we have encountered before.

Diagnosis: The Taliban envy is indeed strong among angry, afraid, delusional and hateful fundies. Apparently quite a number of people listen to this frothing lunatic, though his impact is hopefully relatively limited.

Friday, May 25, 2018

#2019: Gene Moody

Yes, there are people who follow
advice on exorcising demons from
youtube clips presented by that guy.
A deliverance ministry is a fundamentalist organization that tries to cure peoples’ ills by casting out demons. More colorful and nefarious than, but otherwise essentially similar to, faith healing, the movement gained momentum with the publication of Pigs in the Parlor: A Practical Guide to Deliverance by Frank and Ida Mae Hammond in 1973. One of the current, grand, delusional and frothingly insane old men of the movement is Gene Moody, a disciple of the Hammonds (and mentor of Stan and Elizabeth Madrak, whom we have already covered).

Moody is the author of Deliverance Manual (“Every Christian should be able to cast out demons at least in their own family”), which is readily available online. The basic idea is the same as that described in Pigs in the Parlor: “Demon spirits can invade and dwell in human bodies” to cause all sorts of ills, from from murderousness to schizophrenia, sleepiness, intellectualism and homosexuality, but can fortunately be exorcised by faithful fundies who write incoherent rants in ALL CAPS on the Internet. Moody adds instructions on “Cleaning Your House (of Demons)” and describes for instance a case where someone threw out their kid’s Big Bird toy because it gave Satan “legal grounds”, which is, of course, an idea of a kind we’ve had the opportunity to cover before. There are some illustrative quotes here.

Like the Hammonds, Moody provides an extensive list of potential demons by name. For instance, “BOYCE and BOICE are two demons that interfere with any electronic equipment, i.e., phone, computer, printer, automobile, etc. If something malfunctions, command these two demons to leave your equipment, in the name of Jesus. We get many emails saying this worked. If it does not work, demons are not causing the problem.” Easy as that.

And like all other deliverance ministry promoters, Moody has serious problems distinguishing fantasy from reality; indeed, it seems that Moody and his ilk take any piece of fiction to either document reality or provide instructions for how to deal with it. An example: “The Necronomicon (legendary occult text) has its place in modern black magic and Transyuggothian metaphysics. […] For example, there is now a whole line of materials based on the hellish Lovecraft Cthulhu mythos (author Howard Phillips Lovecraft), a form of magic practiced in the darkest Satanism – a system of magic prominently featured in The Satanic Rituals. The Necronomicon and the Cthulhu mythos are quite real. Lycanthropy (shape shifting) is the clinical term for being or believing yourself to be a werewolf. The magical act of changing into any wild animal. These are immensely complicated worlds of magic, spells and violence.” That he has some trouble following a single line of thought, is not the most serious shortcoming of Moody’s thinking on display in that passage. 

Diagnosis: Clinically insane, and he ought to be mostly harmless. But there are, in fact, people who take his advice, and whose children will probably be scarred for life.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

#2017: Jeff Monroe et al.

Jeffrey “Jeff” Rodrick Monroe has been representing District 24 in the South Dakota Senate since 2013, and previously in the South Dakota Legislature between 1995 and 2003. It is worth mentioning that Monroe is a chiropractor whose education is from the Northwestern College of Chiropractic – now Northwestern Health Sciences University – one of several institutions that specialize in offering courses on various types of woo, pseudoscience and quackery. Perhaps his background might help explain some of Monroe’s confusions over and distaste for science, evidence and reason.

In 2014, Monroe sponsored Senate Bill 112 (details here), which would, if enacted, provide that “[n]o school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics” – it was, in other words, an attempt to introduce Intelligent Design Creationist misinformation in South Dakota public schools (co-sponsors were Phil Jensen (R-District 33), Dan Lederman (R-District 16), Ernie Otten (R-District 6), Bruce E. Rampelberg (R-District 30), and Bill Van Gerpen (R-District 19)). The bill, unsurprisingly, closely followed the Wedge strategy authored by the intelligent design think tank the Discovery Institute, and framed the issue as if it were a matter of academic freedom. Bars on teaching falsehoods is not a violation of academic freedom, and teaching creationism in public schools is of course unconstitutional, but serious nuttery is characterized by applying the same cognitive resources to interpreting the Constitution as to interpreting science. Of course, anti-science legislation on education in South Dakota is no new thing; in 2010 they tried to pass a resolution to stop teachers from teaching global warming, which included the formulation: “astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect [sic] world weather phenomena.”

Fortunately the bill died, but Monroe promised to return to the issue in the future. He did, in 2015, with Senate Bill 114 (details here), another “academic freedom bill” allowing and encouraging teachers to teach the “weaknesses” of scientific theories, with “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, [and] human cloning” singled out as disputable topics – this time without overtly religious language such as references to Intelligent Design creationism. Co-sponsors were Lederman and Van Gerpen from last time, as well as Bob Ewing (R-District 31), Brock L. Greenfield (R-District 2), Jenna Haggar (R-District 10), Ried Holien (R-District 5), Betty Olson (R-District 28), David M. Omdahl (R-District 11), and Mike Vehle (R-District 20). There is no shortage of anti-science loons in South Dakota. 

And don’t you know: Monroe et al. were at it with another attempt in 2016, with Senate Bill 83 (details here), “[a]n Act to protect the teaching of certain scientific information,” and again in 2017, with Senate Bill 55 (details here) (adding Stace Nelson (R-District 19), Jim Stalzer (R-District 11), and John Wiik (R-District 4) to the list of co-sponsors). This one passed the Senate Education Committee on a 4-3 vote, despite the opposition from the state’s educational communities, which says a lot of not particularly flattering things about South Dakota and its voters. Monroe himself asserted that “we’re dealing with theories, we’re dealing with things that aren’t proven. Things that people know are not established facts.” At least it must be counted as an established fact that Monroe has not the faintest clue about basic scientific thinking, distinctions and vocabulary. The day after, the Bill passed the Senate, and moved to the House (where its sponsors were Blaine Campbell (R-District 35), Julie Frye-Mueller (R-District 30), Tim Goodwin (R-District 30), Leslie J. Heinemann (R-District 8), and Taffy Howard (R-District 33)), where it was stopped by the House Education Committee. The bill was lauded by the Discovery Institute, who even found a local “expert” with an actual PhD (not in anything related to evolution, of course) to praise it. That “expert” was William Harris, whom we’ve encountered before.

To top it all, however, Monroe is also an advocate for anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. In 2012, Monroe introduced a bill making it easier for parents to refuse to get their children vaccinated, in order to guarantee an increase in deaths from preventable causes (not Monroe’s explicit justification). Monroe, of course, claimed it was all about religious freedom, even though South Dakota was already one of the states with the laxest religious exemption laws.

Diagnosis: Astounding mistrust of truth and evidence – and that goes not only for Monroe but for a substantial portion of the South Dakota legislature, and by extension its voters. Extremely scary, all of it.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

#2016: Matt Monarch

Matt Monarch is a raw food vegan activist who thinks that cooking food kills it and poisons you (cooked foods are “dead,” having had their “vital force” and nutrients sucked out of them), while eating only raw vegetables, fruit, grain, and plant matter is the secret to health. He defends the ideas on the website The Raw Food World. Said ideas include the delusion that nearly all disease is caused by unspecified toxins, in particular through “autointoxication,” where allegedly accumulated fecal matter piled up in your colon leaks its “toxins” into your bloodstream and makes you sick. The idea is complete nonsense (having sufficient fecal matter in your colon to make you sick would make you septic – that’s true – but certainly does not cause the chronic illnesses Monarch claims.) In any case, as Monarch sees it this mythical accumulated fecal matter needs to be purged through detoxification, and he seems to be perfectly willing to subject his own children to such procedures, which is less funny.

Of course, he has no evidence for his claims. People who want evidence are sheeple “stuck in the ‘system’, doing everything that they are told by “authority” figures such as their doctors and family members, all out of fear and weakness.” He doesn’t need evidence: the information he provides “is so basic and obvious to me and I feel extremely sad that the majority of the people will likely just brush this info off.” He has anecdotes, however, and willingly tells you how he has applied his methods to unnamed people with “instantaneous results.” 

And there is a conspiracy, of course: According to Monarch, the body is always naturally “purging” but those evil “allopathic doctors” and Big Pharma are pumping you full of drugs that to him “suppress” the body’s ability to detoxify itself. The solution is enemas. Enemas for headaches, for kidney stones, for cancer, for everything. To achieve best possible effect, however, you should supplement the enemas with raw vegetable juice and molasses. And just remember: if you don’t get better, it’s because you didn’t have sufficient faith; if you are “truly” doing “these things consistently for a good amount of time,” you can heal anything, and if you don’t then “my best guess would be it’s a spiritual phenomena that you have to figure out.” Blaming the victim is of course part and parcel of any serious altmed treatment regime.

Among the products promoted by Monarch is Adya Clarity, which Monarch claims – without evidence or any plausible mechanism – can “eliminate pathogens” and “toxins”; in particular, it can get rid of candida and it worked for his wife. Interestingly, his promotion of Adya Clarity got him in a fight with woomeister supreme Mike Adams, since Monarch also claimed that Adya Clarity made Zeolite superfluous, and Zeolite is a bullshit supplement Adams has some financial stakes in (indeed, Monarch and Adams were, at some point, engaged some kind of cooperation, and Monarch has previously written for NaturalNews). So it goes.

Of course, Monarch has gone down the rabbit hole more or less completely. He’s for instance also antivaccine, and is willing to tell us how to make our shoes “grounded”. Unfortunately, he is unwilling to reveal the really deep secrets: “This rabbit hole DOES go deep and most of the stuff that I say probably sounds totally OUTLANDISH and EXTREME to the majority of the population. I feel, for example, that I am doing a service by not revealing what I feel is the real truth about where humans came from and how degenerated we may actually be at this time, as I feel that I would likely lose much credibility sharing these kinds of ideas.” The last insight is probably correct, though.

Diagnosis: Utterly deranged pseudoscientist and conspiracy theorist, and a genuine threat to people close to him. At least you have the option to stay far away; others seem to be less lucky.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

#2015: Tom Monaghan

Often counted among the American Taliban’s greatest success stories, Tom Monaghan is the founder of Dominos Pizza, dominionist and currently owner of the Ave Maria Foundation, the Ave Maria University (garbage) and an area of land in Florida called, well, Ave Maria. Monaghan is, as you may have guessed, a Catholic, endorsing a range of (extreme versions of) positions typically associated with Catholicism (in the US that seems to include supply-side economics), and he thinks that Catholic orthodoxy on these issues is far too liberal. His answer is to donate vast sums to Catholic extremist groups, including the cult Word of God. 

Monaghan is also the founder of the fundamentalist Thomas More Law Center, famous for providing the defense in Kitzmiller v. Dover, for the 2011 claim that Obamacare was unconstitutional, and for a 2001 suit brought against the San Diego chapter of Planned Parenthood to force it to inform women of a possible link between abortions and breast cancer. Needless to say, none of the cases were even remotely successful. Oh, and Monaghan is the guy behind the Catholic fundamentalist Legatus organization, which we have encountered before.

His most curious endeavor is probably his Ave Maria community, however. Officially founded by the Ave Maria Development Company, the Ave Maria community was an attempt to create a version of a Catholic dominionist utopia, completely controlled by Monaghan forever through the the Ave Maria Stewardship Community District, and a limited government law that allows for a “special interest” group to completely and totally control the town’s community infrastructure, its development systems, facilities, services and everything else, without any oversight other than Monaghan’s (the law was passed by the Florida State legislature); details here. Monaghan can, as such, decide which stores, hospitals or churches can be established in the area (as per Monaghan’s right to exercise his religious freedom, of course): “We’ll own all commercial real estate. That means we will be able to control what goes on there. You won’t be able to buy a Playboy or Hustler magazine in Ave Maria Town. We're going to control the cable television that comes in the area. There is not going to be any pornographic television in Ave Maria Town. If you go to the drug store and you want to buy the pill or the condoms or contraception, you won’t be able to get that in Ave Maria Town,” said Monaghan. Also, badmouthing Monaghan or the Pope may get you fired and run out of town. There’s a good description of the place here.

Diagnosis: Fanatic theocrat, and powerful enough to actually realize his dominionist ideas. Honestly, we are not completely sure that he qualifies as a loon in the original sense, but whatever. 

Hat-tip: Rationalwiki

For the record: Stefan Molyneux is Irish-Canadian and thus disqualified from an entry on technical grounds.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

#2014: Roberto Miranda

More religious extremist fanaticism. Roberto Miranda is the pastor of Congregación León de Judá, ostensibly one of the biggest churches in Boston. Miranda is best known for claiming that Satan is behind marriage equality and for directly tying the promotion of gay rights to 9/11. “Satan has warred mightily against [the Boston] region, and has effectively neutralized it through the influence of principalities of rationalism, humanism, intellectual pride and spiritual arrogance,” says Miranda. He seems to mean “rationality”, not “rationalism”. Woe on rationality. As a result, “Massachusetts, as well as all of New England, has become a cemetery of churches, a breeding ground for heretical doctrine, and intellectual furnace energizing attitudes of godlessness, rational arrogance and secularism. It is no coincidence, of course, that something as dramatically distant from the Christian worldview as gay marriage would be originated in this region.” 

As for the 9/11 connection: “Is it exaggerated to see prophetic significance in the fact that on September 11, 2001 Boston served as the point of departure for the deadly forces that spread so much destruction and havoc in this nation and all over the world?” Why, yes: of course it is. But Miranda’s question was rhetorical: “What took place at the material level is now being carried out at the moral and spiritual level, as the virus of homosexuality and gay marriage begins to spread dramatically all over this nation and perhaps the world.”

Diagnosis: Batshit insane wingnut fundie idiot.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

#2013: Tom Minnery

Tom Minnery is president emeritus of CitizenLink and the vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist institution devoted to homophobia, gun policy, wingnuttery, science denialism and supporting corporal punishment for unruly children. They are also vigorously in favor of banning unsuitable books (“libraries’ policies” of making available books the contents of which Minnery disagrees with “are anti-family,” says Minnery), the power of prayer (e.g. against Obama) and committed to anti-environmentalism and climate change denialism; Minnery has himself appeared for instance in the anti-environment conspiracy theory documentary The Green Dragon, according to which environmentalism is a secular religion trying to supplant Christianity in order to set up a world government to implement a population control scheme (you wondered how Minnery would be considered even remotely conceivably relevantly qualified to talk about environmental issues, didn’t you?). Minnery is also a member of the secretive religious right lobbyist group the Council for National Policy, which is closely connected to the Dominionist movement and also apparently quite influential. It is also worth mentioning that Minnery in 2006 vigorously attempted to deflect questions about his organization’s relationship with Jack Abramoff. It is also worth mentioning the group’s rather intsense support for Russia and Russia’s policies on gay people, religion and how to deal with unpatriotic journalists. 

Minnery is also a great fan of reparative therapy, claiming that reparative therapy is “common and there is a history of them working well, many people have lost their confusion about sexuality as a result of them to the good.” This is false. Minnery, however, followed up by criticizing then-governor Christ Christie for signing a bill barring the practice of ex-gay therapy on minors, rhetorically asking if Christie also approves of adultery. Nor is Minnery a fan of feminism because the Bible (“how many feminists know who it was who gave us the very name ‘woman’ (Genesis 1:26),” asks Minnery).

He has also argued claimed that religion can substitute for and thus offset the costs of healthcare. It’s accordingly no wonder that he’s opposed to Obamacare.

There’s a fine Tom Minnery resource here.

Diagnosis: Fire-and-brimstone fundamentalist who toys with dominionism, fueled by bigotry, denialism and a striking inability to draw relevant moral distinctions. He is also extremely influential. Dangerous. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

#2012: Forrest Mims

A somewhat central figure in the Intelligent Design creationist movement, Forrest Mims has no formal academic training in science but does teach electronics and atmospheric science at the University of the Nations, an unaccredited religious institution in Hawaii. He has also written quite a bit about science –his instructional electronics books are reasonably widely read – and his lack of academic training might actually be an advantage when the goal is to try to shoehorn existing science, through distortion, omission and strawmanning, into the service of promoting pseudoscience. Mims is also a global warming denialist.

He is perhaps most famous for his 1988 application to take over the Amateur Scientist column at Scientific American. Scientific American offered him the opportunity to write some sample columns, but he was ultimately not offered the position. Mims concluded that he didn’t get the job because he wasn’t qualified there were better qualified applicants of his religious and creationist views, which one would imagine would have been an entirely legitimate basis for rejecting his application even if it were true. Nonetheless, creationists still offer the case as an example of how Christian scientists are persecuted by mainstream science just because they have no formal qualifications and reject all the science, its methodology and evidence (not their formulation).

Mims also received some attention for his claim that ecologist Eric Pianka was advocating mass genocide by genetically enhanced Ebola virus with the goal of exterminating up to 90% of the human population. Pianka was not advocating this. When Mims’s misrepresentations of Pianka’s views were pointed out to him, Mims responded by trying to portray himself as the victim. There is a pattern here.

Despite his lack of formally recognized scientific credentials, Mims is nevertheless a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s laughable petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism. He is also a Fellow at the Discovery Institute and of the creationist organization The International Society for Complexity, Information and Design.

Diagnosis: Pseudoscientist and denialist. That people still listen to him about anything – to the extent they do – given his past story of distortions nad misrepresentations as well as his demonstrable lack of credentials and his equally demonstrable lack of understanding of science, is a disgrace.