Tuesday, August 14, 2018

#2055: Richard William Nelson

Richard William Nelson is a young-earth creationist Internet troll and author. Nelson is of course not a scientist – some undergrad classes in biology really doesn’t make you one – but nevertheless doesn’t mind taking on the whole of science in his book Darwin, Then and Now, The Most Amazing Story in the History of Science (2009) [link is to a review]. Like many creationists, Nelson has been caught claiming to take no stance on the issue of evolution, but this is a marketing ploy, just like the several positive reviews of the book he has written and posted, under sockpuppet accounts, on various websites. As for the book itself, it consists to a large extent of quote-mining scientists about evolution, misrepresenting the quotes and even moving words around to make the “quotes” more effective for his purposes. The scientists quoted actually accept evolution, though you’d never guess from Nelson’s misrepresentations. The book also contains most of the familiar creationist PRATTs, including the thoroughly idiotic Piltdown man gambit and asserting there are no transitional fossils. According to Nelson “evolution is a dogma”, which he – without a hint of self-irony – rejects because it is inconsistent with a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. Oh, and there is a conspiracy: the true goal of all those Darwinists is to remove God from science.

In addition to Internet trolling, Nelson has apparently been invited to give talks and lectures in various church and fundie fora.

Diagnosis: Pretty nondescript, perhaps, but the sheer dishonesty of it all is rather telling.

Hat-tip: Rationalwiki

Monday, August 13, 2018

#2054: Linda Nelson

Altmed comes little more ridiculous than homeopathy, which is so desperately nonsensical that even hardened New Agers have occasionally been caught hesitating when hearing what it actually is and how it is actually supposed to work. But homeopathy also has the trappings of a cargo cult science, complete with its own educational institutions, degrees, terminology, journals and conferences – made to look as much like science as possible, but by people who wouldn’t be able to distinguish scientific methodology from a word document written in random wingdings characters if their lives depended on it, and it shows.

Linda Nelson is a homeopath, and true to the cargo cult-science trappings, she has a lot of letters to her name: “CHom, NCTMB, is a member of NASH, NCH, AMTA,” none of which ought to inspire confidence any more (but arguably slightly less) than random strings. Nelson “graduated from Homeopathy School of Colorado, which is now Homeopathy School International,” which also makes you slightly less prepared to deal with real suffering than nothing. Nelson is apparently a Classical Homeopathic Practitioner and also a “reiki master” – a degree that usually costs between $600 and $800 by mail but is anyways not a protected title – and is apparently currently affiliated with the Institute of Bioenergetic Medicine (where “bioenergetic” seems to refer to orgone energy, no less); she also teaches Spiritual Awareness classes at Yoga West and Crystal Books.

Among Nelson’s many areas of self-defined expertise is STD, or symptoms of STDs: “These symptoms may not be coming from you and your life experiences, they may be coming from your family history that no one wanted to talk about because it was too embarrassing. We also need to remember two things: Males rarely show symptoms of Chlamydia and Chlamydia is on the rise nationwide. One of the remedies that we have to look at is Chlamydium which is taken from a person who has Chlamydia. Why would we want to put such a horrible disease into our body? The body will kick out the disease that is vibrating at a lower vibration to help balance itself. This is the same theory as vaccinations.” It is not the same theory as vaccinations. What she refers to above – the family history part – is presumably homeopathy’s idea of miasms, which is roughly as silly as the ideas that your illness is caused by hereditary demonic homunculi, just vaguer. If you think a proposal to help you deal with diseases “vibrating at a lower vibration” sounds like a good idea, there is probably little we can do to help, however.

Diagnosis: Ok, so this is not a big fish by any means, but Nelson’s karmic vibrations were apparently vibrating at some unfortunate vibrations today, so she ended up in our Encyclopedia nonetheless. Nothing we can do about that. Blame the miasms.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

#2053: Bradley Nelson

Chiropractic is still a kind of gateway woo. For Bradley Nelson, a chiropractor and craniopath and “renowned holistic physician and lecturer” it has led to something he calls “the Emotion Code” and “the Body code”, special, trademark healing secrets combining an impressive array of nonsense, from energy healing to Kirlian photography, applied kinesiology, magnet therapy, and the ancient myth that your unconsciousness records everything you experience (which can then supposedly be utilized for healing) – indeed through our unconsciousness we even inherit trapped emotions from parents and ancestors, as Nelson sees it.

Of course, like so many other crackpots, Nelson subscribes to the One Cause illusion about illness: there is one cause, and thus one cure, for all illnesses – and of course he’s in possession of that (trademarked) cure. Nelson, whose own powers of healing ostensibly stem from a “higher power” (granted to him through prayer), claims to heal everything – including relationships – by using his quick and effective system, and the healing also works at a distance. The Body Code consists mostly of fluffy feel-good nonsense (“Learn the hottest techniques to tap into your own internal computer!”), but will also allow you to “[d]iscover the unseen causes of illness most doctors aren’t aware of” and “[l]earn to communicate with and heal your animals and pets!

Meanwhile, realdoctors will only prescribe you drugs and thus kill you. At least Nelson’s website includes a Quack Miranda warning is a brief discussion with a satisfied customer.

Diagnosis: Oh, the bullshit. Nelson is, of course, just one of many crackpots with entirely personal and only arguably coherent ideas about the causes, nature and cures for illness and who therefore apparently possess some power over the weak of critical reasoning skills. Probably small fish, but whatever influence he has is certainly not doing much good for humanity.

Hat-tip: Skepdic

Thursday, August 9, 2018

#2052: Daniel Neiman

Daniel John Neiman is the owner of the paranormal website “Anomalous Experience” and pretty much a crank of all trades – he is, for instance, a creationist and parapsychology proponent, and fills out his creationist and parapsychologist views with an impressive array of pseudoscience and New Age nonsense. Neiman seems to be currently residing in South Korea, but he’s American enough to qualify for an entry here. 

Neiman’s proclaimed area of specialization seems to be altered states of consciousness, and he has written numerous articles on this (and creationism) for the New Dawnmagazine and for The Near-Death Experience Research Foundation. Not exactly Nature, these outlets let him publish tripe like “Intelligent Design: Scientific Facts Point Us in a New Direction,” which consists mostly of old creationist PRATTS and preciously little by way of facts or science. In general, his writings exhibit the stylistic characteristics of his chosen genre: deepity, technobabble, Deepak Chopra-style nonsense, mind-body woo and fluff-and-sugary handwavings about energy, with an admittedly personal strain of weapons-grade, fundie-style denialism thrown in.

His magnum opus is probably the book Enter the Light(2012), which seeks to connect all manners of pseudoscience, from intelligent design creationism to alien abductions and out-of-body experiences. (“It covers the groundbreaking science in intelligent design and the placebo effect, as well as paranormal phenomena that suggest our reality is grounded in a supreme conscious intelligence which we are all part of;” none of this is, despite Neiman’s assertions, even remotely related to science, of course.) Apparently out-of-body experiences prove the existence of a “multi-dimensional reality”. It really does not, and Neiman does – like most New Age promoters – evidently not quite grasp what “dimension” (or “prove”) could possibly mean. Another, unsurprising crackpot trademark is his complete ignorance of any actual scientific literature concerning the topics he takes up. 

Neiman has also been caught trolling various blogs and forums claiming that the medium Daniel Dunglas Home was never caught in fraud, which is rather easily shown to be false. But then, Neiman seems to think everymedium is genuine, even those who actually admitted to be frauds. (That’s just part of the conspiracy, you know.)

Diagnosis: Another prolific producer of wooey word-salads to pollute the Internet, Neiman’s brand of bullshit has its followers, though he is probably a minor figure in the grand scheme of things. 

Hat-tip: Rationalwiki

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

#2051: Penny Nance

Penny Nance is the current president of Concerned Women for America (CWA), the fundamentalist, wingnut activist hate group founded by Beverly LaHaye – they call themselves an amalgam of “policy experts and ... activists[s]” who take an explicitly anti-feminist approach to politics as a means to “protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens.” The CWA opposes any efforts that “intervene with natural human life,” including secular education, stem cell research, divorce, UN conferences and treaties, publicly funded HIV screenings or STD treatment programs, voluntary childlessness, pornography (mostly because the proliferation of and lack of regulation for pornography somehow promotes gay rights and premarital sex), sex ed, gambling, and gay marriage. As for what they support, the CWA emphasizes “traditional families” and the woman's place being within the home (with exceptions for themselves (and Michele Bachmann), of course, who do importantwork). They also support teaching intelligent design creationism in public schools, advocate school prayer, and claim that it is unconstitutional for public schools to require reading material that conflicts with the religious values of parents (not that they otherwise care much for the Constitution). Nance was previously a Federal Communications Commission advisor on children’s social and media concerns. 

According to CWA, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is part of “the war on women”. Of course, the year before claiming this Nance had claimed that the phrase “war on women” is a piece of “phony, focus-grouped rhetoric” geared to “raise money and hackles”, but measures to protect women from violence is a different enemy indeed (Nance has subsequently had a series of bizarre views about what the “real war on women” might be). In particular, according to Nance, VAWA “hurts sex-trafficking victims,” since a non-tortured connection between premises and conclusions is unimportant when Talking Points. It is also a bit unclear how much she really cares for victims of trafficking.

Meanwhile, anti-men conspiracies are everywhere, especially in Hollywood. The movie Frozen, for instance, is emasculating men by having female protagonists that don’t end up marrying as the culmination of the narrative. After criticizing Frozen, Nance and Steve Doocy went on to lament the absence of male heroes in Hollywood movies.

Among CWA’s perceived main enemies is the “nefarious” Planned Parenthood. At present, Nance is hopeful that the Department of Justice will go after them for a variety of issues that she falsely thinks they are guilty of after visiting a variety of conspiracy outlets. Now, she may of course be somewhat justified in that hope given the current administration; Nance is aware of this, of course, and has expressed her deepest gratitude for the election of the Trump: “our nation just received a second chance, a chance we never could have earned or deserved. Millions of people like you and me fought hard on our knees, praying earnestly and asking God to heal our land. He heard, and he showed us great mercy.” (She came around pretty quickly to that conclusion after starting out rather skeptical – but then, political expediency trumps ethics every time for these people; morality is relative except when it is not.)

Due to her views and reasoning skills, Nance was for a while among Trump’s candidates for ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. In 2014, she also wanted to be chairman of the board of the new National Women’s History Museum, which she opposed because she claimed it would “indoctrinate” visitors with feminism.

When Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx proposed a “Day of Reason” alongside a “Day of Prayer”, Nance objected. Why? Apparently reasonand thinkingand education leads to genocide. “You know the Age of Enlightenment and Reason gave way to moral relativism [this is … not correct]. And moral relativism is what led us all the way down the dark path to the Holocaust [this is … not correct, either – quite the opposite, in fact] ... Dark periods of history is what we arrive at when we leave God out of the equation,” said Nance. Yes, advancing science, opposition to the monarchy, and focusing on education, personal freedom and the separation of church and state lead to Hitler. Nance does not like reason. At least she makes sure she walks her talk and makes no attempt to use it herself. And the claim that reasoncaused Hitler is pretty out there, even as far as rightwing Godwins go.

She followed up by doubling down on her claims.

Gay marriage
Most of what is bad in the world is, as Nance sees it, connected to the marriage equality issue. Same-sex marriage is, according to Nance, like “counterfeit money” that “takes at something that’s the real deal and diminishes it,” and will accordingly “hurt everyone”. Meanwhile, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is engaging in treason, no less, for officiating at a gay wedding, mostly since words means whatever Nance wants them to mean to serve her rhetoric.

In particular, legalizing gay marriage means that opponents of gay marriage activists should get ready for “persecution”. It will also lead to the end of America: equal treatment for same-sex couples would eviscerate religious freedom, and “in losing religious freedom, we lose America,” said Nance. And of course there is a conspiracy here: Zeh gays are plotting to take your children! “The Day of Silence” is an excellent example: As Nance sees it the Day of Silence is an effort by “LGBTQ activists” to “infiltrate schools” and “get to your children.” In particular, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network – which is a tool for LGBT activists who “are going around you to get to your children” – is “working tirelessly to infiltrate schools and influence children across the country” and “taunting and bullying kids in public school and shaming them regarding their religious beliefs that favor traditional marriage.”

And not the least, the Girl Scouts of America’s policy to accept transgender young people “on a case-by-case basis” is “just one more slap in the face to Christian parents,” since not acting in accordance with fundie wingnuts’ hatred of other people is oppression. Also, gay leaders will “dismantle” the Boy Scouts and put “our young sons at risk”.

There is a good Penny Nance resource here.

Diagnosis: Pretty indistinguishable from a range of moronic bigots we’ve already covered, but yeah: delusional, moronic, bigoted conspiracy theorist. Nance is also a pretty influential figure still, and should not be underestimated as a force of evil, hate and harm. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

#2050: John Nail

We don’t know much about John Nail, but at least Nail is a creationist – and apparently a teacher at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Sedalia, which is what makes us take note since his position gives him an opportunity to fill students’ heads with his deranged ideas. In 2013 he laid some of those ideas out in a response, in a Missouri newspaper, to an op-ed about how teaching creationism makes us dumber, unintentionally determined to show that the op-ed’s conclusion was entirely accurate. The letter, with critical annotations, is here. Apart from some strikingly idiotic, but common, creationist gambits (the lunar dust argument; although the influenza virus adapts to the environment it won’t turn into anything else), Nail does have some novel insights to contribute: “The word dinosaur means ‘large lizard’ [that’s false] – Ms. Dupuy [author of the op-ed], we still have large lizards.” That is apparently supposed to be some kind of gotcha point. Continues Nail: “In fact, large lizards were small when they were young. Noah could have easily had immature ‘dinosaurs’ on the Ark.” And of course, there is a conspiracy: “Natural Science museums do not show the rabbits, squirrels and other currently known animals whose bones were found with the dinosaur bones.” Well, they do indeed not, but not for the reason Nail thinks. Also, all the early hominid fossils are apparently hoaxes. Evidence? Yeah, right: evidence is a ploy of “scientists”, and no way Nail is gonna fall for that devious trick. “I could list many scientific reasons that macro-evolution makes no sense but we believe what we want to believe,” concludes Nail instead, who certainly chooses to believe whatever he wants to believe, regardless of facts, evidence or reason.

And to cap it off, Nail calls for teaching both sides and claiming that no one can know how the universe began since no one was there to see it, which is a spectacular display of ignorance about what science is and how it works*.

Diagnosis: Deranged nitwit, whose ignorance about the most basic facts of science, nature, reason and evidence is breathtaking even by young-earth creationist standards. That he is allowed to teach anythingto children is nothing short of a disaster.

*Look: Science is about the unobservable. That’s the point. Studying the observableis book-keeping. Science, on the other hand, is about testing hypotheses about the unobservable by investigating the observable consequencesof those hypotheses. That is, you derive currently available observationsfrom hypotheses about the not-directly observable, and then check whether those observations hold, thereby supporting or falsifying that hypothesis. And this you can do both for Big Bang and the theory of evolution. You can also do it for the idea that the universe was created in six days, but that claim is, as a scientific hypothesis, of course thoroughly refuted by the available observations.

Friday, August 3, 2018

#2049: John Nacco & Bob Pearson

We haven’t really dealt sufficiently with technowoo (like this), and probably ought to remedy the situation somewhat. There is, for instance, a multitude of fuel-saving devices on the market – products and techniques that purportedly help your car save energy by, well, customers not knowing much about physics or chemistry, and one such item is the inset fuel stabilizer (IFS), invented by one Bob Pearson. The IFS putatively aligns fuel and air molecules “in an energy field” so that they completely burn inside the Stabilizer (some discussion here) thereby improving economy. The device was marketed by something called Inset Industries, of which we have been able to locate little information, but John Nacco is – or was – one of their spokespeople and Executive Vice President. 

So, how exactly does IFS create the energy field? Well, according to Nacco the molecules that make up hydrocarbon fuels are surrounded by a positive charge, which will attract other fuel molecules, and removing the positive charge will make the molecules repel each other, thereby allowing oxygen molecules to attach themselves to individual fuel molecules instead of having to bond to clusters of fuel molecules. The increased level of oxygen in the mix will then produce a more even burn and result in close to 100 percent combustion of the fuel molecules. How positively charged molecules attract each other, how negatively charged ones repel rather than attract positively charged ones, or how oxygen molecules, which are neither positively nor negatively charged, get attracted to the negatively charged fuel “molecules” is not really explained, but if you ask those questions you are probably not in the target audience for IFS anyways. (You should probably not ask for evidence of near 100 percent combustion of fuel molecules or his claim that the fuel stabilizer lower the emissions readings become. This is not about evidence. This is about balancing chakras and monetary sacrifices to appease the fuel gods.) Inset Industries also has some testimonials, mostly from unnamed sources, and some indecipherable charts.

NASCAR racer Dean Gullik actually used the device and reported that he felt that his race car got more power. A test of horsepower with and without the IFS revealed no difference, so Gullik and Nacco claimed instead that the increased power wasn’t from increased horsepower but due to a change in “the torque curve.” Meanwhile, NASCAR allowed Gullik to continue to use the device because it obviously had no positive effect on performance.

Diagnosis: We have no information of the current whereabouts of Mr. Nacco or Mr. Pearson– Inset Industries may be defunct at present – and they seem to be relatively minor characters. Nor are we really completely convinced they must necessarily have believed the claims he made on behalf of IFS. Still, technowoo is widespread, often strikingly similar to medical woo, and deserving of exposure and as much ridicule as it can get.

Hat tip: Skepdic

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

#2048: Sue Myrick

For a long time – 1995 to 2013 – Congress was plagued by Sue Myrick, representing North Carolina’s 9th congressional district. Myrick was the kind of representative who was concerned that Muslim terrorists – Hezbollah, in particular – may be learning Spanish and disguising themselves as illegal immigrants in order to get into the US. Her main piece of evidence for the claim was that some imprisoned gang members in the Southwest have tattoos in Farsi, since terrorists are best poised to achieve their goals if they tattoo their intent on their bodies and then join criminal gangs. You may be excused for speculating about what she really thought was the evidence (if terrorists with Middle Eastern bacground were stopped at the border they may just say “Well, I’m Mexican or Spanish,” Myrick pointed out, and no one would ostensibly be able to tell). She also sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security demanding it investigate the extent of Hezbollah’s presence along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

Myrick has also claimed (with e.g. Paul Broun and Trent Franks) that the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), tried to plant terrorist “spies” within key national security committees to shape legislative policy in its favor, citing the book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld that’s Conspiring to Islamize Americaby insane green-ink conspiracy theorists Dave Gaubatz & Paul Sperry (with a foreword by Myrick, no less). Myrick has also, with regard to domestic security threats, remarked: “Look at who runs all the convenience stores across the country.”

She is also a climate change denialist, which is par for the course among solid wingnuts like Myrick, we guess, but no less lunatic for that.

On the positive side, Myrick did introduce a resolution in Congress encouraging states to outlaw rebirthing therapy.

Diagnosis: Wingnut idiot. Hopefully neutralized, but we have little hope that those who replace her are much better. Worth mentioning nonetheless.

Monday, July 30, 2018

#2047: Francis Myles

Now, what the heck is this? Ostensibly, one Francis Myles explains how you achieve “genetic salvation” (if you’re interested, you can go to the video here. “Delusional incoherence” doesn’t even begin to describe the otherworldly gibberish contained therein). The interview in that link was conducted by Sid Roth of the It’s Supernatural! Network, but the WND got in on it too, and it’s to them we have to turn for an explanation: ‘“genetic salvation” is available in Christ to break the chains of failure, disease and calamity – the generational curses – that have plagued whole families throughout centuries.” Well, tough luck with the explanatoryelement, but apparently Myles can cure you (or something) of hereditary sin (?) (or supernatural hexes on your family you inherit genetically) by magically healing your genes (“Myles has been shown by God how to supernaturally change your DNA,” apparently), thereby allowing you to achieve prosperity. This is not how it works. This is not how anything works.

So who, then, is Francis Myles? Well apparently, Dr. Myles (source of doctorate unclear) “is an Apostle to the nations, Senior Pastor of Breakthrough City Kingdom Embassy, Businessman, and Spiritual Life coach to Movers and Shakers in the Marketplace.” Originally from Zambia, he was ostensibly called to the US by the Holy Spirit to found the Kingdom Marketplace Coalition and The Order of Melchizedek Leadership University. (The Melchizedek part might be related to this one, which is not unlikely given the Messianic Judaism connection – Sid Roth is a Messianic Jew – or possibly this one, or possibly something else entirely dredged from Myles’s own deranged imagination.) Myles is also the author of The Return of the Lost Key: Tithing under the Order of Melchizedek. Judging from the video, it is probably a blast.

Diagnosis: Well, we’re baffled. Apparently you can sign up for courses for around $150, which is a small price to pay for transcendental insights, but bad hallucinogens are cheaper and probably yield more coherent results (it would probably be bizarrely interesting, in a trainwreck sort of fashion, to know how they reason, those who actually sign up for Myles’s classes. He is probably harmless, though.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

#2046: Steven Myers

Deranged, home-made theories defended with motivated reasoning by “independent scholars” are a dime a dozen, and the Giza pyramid is a common target. Edward J. Kunkel, for instance, argued – in his book The Pharaoh’s Pump – that the great pyramid in the desert at Giza was a water pump. The idea is silly for an impressive range of reasons, but silliness hasn’t stopped independent scholars before and probably won’t in the foreseeable future.

Now, Kunkel is long dead, but his ideas are still ardently promoted by one Steven Myers, who runs a website and a foundation devoted to the idea, The Pharaoh’s Pump Foundation, which, Myers claims, is going to build a pump using ancient Egyptian technology. It’s been going for a while, but we haven’t seen much by way of goal accomplishments. Now, whywould Myers want to build a pyramid pump, you may wonder? Apparently because the “ancient pumping technology is nonpolluting and does not require fossil fuels or electricity to operate.And now you may wonder precisely how they did operate. Well, according to Myers, the pyramid pump was fueled by fire. It must be a novel type of non-polluting fire, then, presumably fed by the renewable, lush and fertile forests of the Giza area. There seem to be some gaps still in the Kunkel-Myers hypothesis.

Perhaps he has given up on it. Apparently the project was motivated in part by the doomsday rants of Richard Noone, and the pumps ostensibly needed to be built with some urgency to pump away the water from melting polar ice caps following the cataclysmic events of May 5, 2000, when Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were aligned with Earth, a date that came and passed with no notable weather events (or pumps).

Of course, Myers is not without his critics. Christopher Dunn, for instance, has argued that the Giza pyramid is a power plant working “by responding harmonically with the seismic energy contained within the Earth.” As Lakatos pointed out, competing research programs are important to good scientific progress.

Diagnosis: At least he’s harmless. Which is more than can be said of many of the loons covered here recently.  

Hat-tip: Skepdic.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

#2045: Ned Myers

Not really sure who Ned Myers is, but he is definitely a creationist, and at one point got the opportunity to lay out his delusions about science in a column in the (now defunct?) Daily News Journal. In the column, Myers was concerned that in 2011 “American public school students place 23rd in scientific literacy when compared to 34 other developed nations”. And you know why they did poorly? “A strong case can be made that one reason for this poor showing is that we teach evolution as science” (that they also teach evolution as science in the other countries on the list notwithstanding). You see, according to Myers “Webster’s dictionary defines science as, ‘Knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws, especially as obtained and tested through scientific method.’ Macro evolution, whereby one species evolves into another, falls short of this definition. Evolution cannot be considered a general truth because it cannot be experimentally tested or proven by using scientific methods.” This is false, and evolution is easily testable by standard scientific methods. At the very least Myers himself provides a good indication of some of the reasons for the US’s poor science showing.

Diagnosis: Ignorant dimwit. Probably a very minor figure, though.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

#2044: Amy Myers

Amy Myers has, over the course of recent years, risen to become something resembling a bigshot in the worthless-supplement industry, with a brand that promises to sell nonsense for often vaguely defined conditions. Now, Myers is, indeed, an MD, but she markets herself as a functional medicine practitioner and is the founder and director of Austin UltraHealth, a functional medicine clinic. Functional medicine stands to medicine like diploma-purchased-online-by-following-the-link-in-a-spam-email stands to education. And her supplements are the kind of supplements that “support MTHFR, adrenal stress, and detoxification efforts” (($43.97 for 120 tablets). Anyone with the faintest knowledge of medicine would of course immediately call “bullshit”. But those with the faintest knowledge of medicine are not in the target audience for these products, of course. 

Myers is also the author of a couple of rather popular books, The Autoimmune Solution: Prevent and Reverse the Full Spectrum of Inflammatory Symptoms and Diseases and The Thyroid Connection, both of which should be shunned like the plague by anyone seeking anything remotely resembling medical information. The former claims, without any foundation in fact or reality, that “over 90 percent of the population suffers from inflammation or an autoimmune disorder” – the recipe is simple: convince the reader that she has a disease that doesn’t exist, then push a fake cure that does nothing. “Until now, conventional medicine has said there is no cure,” says Myers, which is technically correct given that there is nothing to cure, and responds with “a cocktail of toxic treatments that fail to address their root cause” – and yes, that is the astonishingly dishonest “doctors-only-treat-symptoms” gambit, no less. Currently, Myers is part of the Goop group, and in particular responsible for developing the Goop vitamin/supplement protocol, Balls in the Air, “designed for women who want to stay on top of their A game”. The protocol is about empowerment, you know; actual health benefits and truth have nothing to do with it.

Myers has been particularly influential on the gluten-free misinfo scene, and has written articles (or rathe rinfomercials) in HuffPo spreading various types of misinformation about gluten. Not all of her writings mention that she, coincidentally, also sells online courses on Celiac/gluten-free diets for the meagre sum of $49. 

She has also made a name for herself scaring potential victims with horrid tales of parasites as a likely cause of Hashimoto’s, which is nonsense but surely a good way to lead worried people (including the Morgellons crowd) to her online store and buy her (not cheap) “comprehensive test”. I think we can all tell you in advance what the results of that test and subsequent recommendations are going to be. Suffice to say, the Myers’s Way® Parasite Control Program is not gonna go easy on your wallet. It is certainly not actually going to improve your health, but you may not ever actually realize that: “My objective is to empower you to discover the root cause of your symptoms and be able to self-treat at home with food and supplements,” says Myers – or, put differently: do not seek a second opinion from a different doctor before enrolling or during treatment!

Diagnosis: She’s good at marketing; we’ll give her that. Her claims have no grounding in facts, of course, but that’s never a particularly major obstacle when designing a good marketing strategy. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

#2043: Dave Mustaine

Dave Mustaine is the co-funder of Megadeth and thus a celebrity loon in the tradition of such luminaries as Ted Nugent. Mustaine has voiced his support for an impressive range of wingnut conspiracy theories and is, for instance, a birther, having claimed that Obama was born outside of the US and therefore ineligible to be president (“Why hasn’t somebody moved to impeach this man,” asked Mustaine: “With all of the proof about his birth certificate being a fake, and you see the signs in Kenya saying, ‘The birthplace of Barack Obama.’ Hello! Come on, guys. How stupid are we right now?”). And in 2012 he accused Obama of staging the Aurora mass shooting and the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting in order to push a gun control agenda (he also pushed wingnut Fast and Furious conspiracies and said that the country looked like it was turning into “Nazi America”, which is so inanely meaningless that we won’t bother). When family members of victims were unimpressed with Mustaine’s comments, he told Alex Jones that he didn’t have any intention to hurt anyone with his comments. He still thought it was a conspiracy.

Yes, Alex Jones. Mustaine is a fan, and even wrote the album Endgame based on Jones’ film of the same name in order to “educate his fans and the general public about the march towards a New World Order and Global government”.

Before being born again, Mustaine claims to have practiced black magic. “When I got into black magic I put a couple of spells on people when I was a teenager and it haunted me forever, and I’ve had so much torment,” said Mustaine, and is apparently unwilling to play certain older tracks because he thinks their black magic powers might hurt someone.

Trivia: To celebrate his non-endorsing endorsement of Rick Santorum in 2012, Mother Jones put together this quiz.

Diagnosis: Ok, so it’s a celebrity loon, and we sort of sympathize with those who think that we shouldn’t give these any more attention. But Mustaine’s deranged conspiracy theories are of a particularly odious kind, and if we could just convince one person not to give this guy any more money, we think we’d be doing something good.

Monday, July 16, 2018

#2042: Mark Musser

Rev. Mark Musser is an anti-environmentalist and author of the book Nazi Oaks: The Green Sacrifice of the Judeo-Christian Worldview in the Holocaust. The purpose of the book is to “expose the integral, indeed indispensable, role the ‘Green’” movement played, from the late 1800s into the 1940s, in shaping Nazi anti-Semitism and the ‘final solution’ of Hitler’s Holocaust,” which should have made it a rather short book if its author was minimally able to care for reason, evidence or truth. Musser, however, is not, and ends up claiming that the real cause of Hitler and the Third Reich was concern for the environment: “The verdict is unavoidable: National Socialism’s ‘scientific’ Social Darwinism – Darwinian evolutionary biology’s “survival of the fittest” applied to societies competing for scarce resources [that is not what it is] – provided the justification for the Holocaust precisely because of its nature-based ethos that valued the natural world above people.” Now, we suspect that the verdict was unavoidable, given that Musser was the author and had already decided what the verdict was going to be long before he started investigating the issue.  

Of course, the book is a warning. As Musser sees it today’s environmental movement is based on the same (i.e. foundational nazi) ideas: just consider abortion, which is apparently motivated by environmentalist concerns. Just think about that great and long-standing champion of environmentalism at any cost, China, for instance, and its one-child policy – it is all about environmentalism, dude. And apparently you shouldn’t think that “it can’t happen here”. Just think about the eugenics programs during the first decades of the twentieth century and Planned Parenthood. One gets the distinct feeling that Musser is a bit uncertain about what “environmentalism” might be, and has a tendency to lump abortion, environmentalism and evolution together into some sort of Big Satan. Indeed Musser has explicitly argued that evolution, animal rights and environmentalism are three strands of the same idea, and thus all equally the forces behind Nazi thought and dehumanization of non-Aryan groups. Environmentalism, as Musser sees it, inevitably leads to fascism and tyranny, and the U.S. may accordingly be destroyed like ancient Israel if America chooses to go down that road. “Nature is viewed as a holistic tyrant, so to speak, and holism really teaches tyranny. Fascism is all connected here. You have to bow everything to nature’s holistic inter-relatedness and you can’t buck anything with regards to what nature does. This is the problem with environmentalism and why it’s so dangerous,” says Musser. So there. At least if you needed an illustration of the difference between an argumentand free-flowing associations of unconnected ideas, you’ve got a good one here.

The book was heavily promoted for instance by the Cornwall Alliance, a wingnut fundie non-profit created for the purpose of ranting and raving against environmentalism, which is apparently willing to push any deranged book, pamphlet, idea or speaker that comes to a conclusion they like.

Musser has also written The Nazi Origins of Apocalyptic Global Warming TheoryGreen Lebensraum: The Nazi Roots of Sustainable Developmentand Enviro-Baalism-Fascism. We haven’t read them, but suspect some of the idea promoted in the last one is discernible from the following explanation: “Israel would be the example of this originally, as they were commanded to go in and subdue the promise land and fill it and that’s what they did and for a while it was a good land, then these other things came in, environmentalism came in and destroyed their culture, what I call the Baalism, the nature worship, instead of worshiping the Creator they worshiped nature and this led to the destruction of their society. I think the same things are happening in our own country today too.” That description neglects, of course, to mention the mechanism by which Baalism led to the destruction of their society: Apparently you should avoid environmentalism because otherwise God will come and smite you. The connection from, uh, this to environmentalism being inherently fascist, should be clear. 

Diagnosis: Good grief.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

#2041: Abdul Alim Musa

A.k.a. Clarence Reams (original name)

Imam Abdul Alim Musa is a Muslim activist, director of Masjid Al-Islam in D.C., member of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought, popular speaker and, perhaps most notably, founder and director of As-Sabiqun, an anti-Semitic Muslim group (more here) that advocates for the creation of a global Islamic state that would abolish all “man-made” forms of governance, as well as the Islamic Institute of Counter-Zionist American Psychological Warfare. If the name of the latter suggests unhinged anti-semitism and conspiracy mongering to you, then you are entirely correct. Sometimes considered something of a cult leader, Musa is an outspoken fan of the political Islam embodied by Ayatollah Khomeini, and has made several visits to Iran as a (self-appointed) representative of Muslims in the United States and supporter of the Islamic revival (he frequently appears on Iran’s anti-semitic Press TV).

The Sabiqun group claims to have a national presence and centers in multiple US cities, but appears to be, ultimately, relatively small and centered around Alim Musa’s DC mosque and the Masjid Al Islam mosque in Oakland, California, which is led by the movement’s other main figure, Imam Amir Abdul Malik Ali. The purpose of the group is explicitly to challenge to the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and it is resolved to work “for the purpose of reestablishing the system of governance known as Khilafah, or the Caliphate.” Apparently they predict that Islamic rule will be established in the U.S., which it calls “the Islamic State of North America,” by “no later than 2050” – “Islam went everywhere in the [ancient] world … so why can’t Islam take over America? … We are on the right road,” says Musa. In an article in the Sabiqun newsletter in 2002, the group claimed that there is “open warfare" between Muslims and the U.S., which it described as “the united forces of kufr [non-believers] … the criminal constitutional dictatorship of the USA.”

Now, you’d be excused for thinking that Sabiqun is a fringe group, but Musa (and Ali) have been invited to speak at a number of large community mosques around the US, as well as events organized e.g. by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, Muslim American Society, the Islamic Circle of North America and the Islamic Society of North America – not all of which are at least usually considered fringe – as well as vehemently anti-semitic organizations such as the Muslim Congress. They are also popular with many Muslim student groups, such as the Muslim Student Union at the University of California, Irvine, and enjoys a concerning presence at many US college campuses, documented here. Musa has for instance been invited by student groups (one example) to give “vehemently Anti-semitic” speeches in which he e.g. asserts that America was controlled by Jews, and that “Yahuds are the enemy of humanity.”

According to Musa, the trans-Atlantic slave trade was operated by Jewish people: “Who ran the slave trade …who funded [it]? You’ll study and you will find out: the Jews…It was the Jewish bankers…in Vienna, with pockets full of money, funding and insuring, that’s who did it…. you can’t tell us about no holocaust. Between the African Americans and the Native Americans, everybody else’s stuff was small potatoes.” According to Musa, Zionist American agents were also behind 9/11 (“George Bush brings down the World Trade Center, blames it on us [Muslims] and then claims himself dictator over the world”). Indeed, the Israeli Mossad and the U.S. government are apparently behind 90 percent of the terror attacks in the U.S. and abroad since the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, including the attempt to blow up an American airliner heading for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, designed to put deranged, fundamentalist violence-promoting theocratic conspiracy theorists like Musa in a bad light.

It was apparently also the Zionist-controlled American government that flooded the country with heroin in the 1960s to snuff out the black rebellion. In general, the US is more or less controlled by Zionists – the government is “Zionist occupied” by “Zionists in Hollywood, the Zionists in New York, and the Zionists in D.C.” – who “all collaborateto oppress Blacks and Muslims. No fan of the Arab Spring events, Musa claimed the whole thing was a Western conspiracy to “wipe Islam off the map”.

Musa himself claims that his attacks are directed at Zionist supporters of Israel and not at Jewish people in general (“One of my best friends is a rabbi!”, claims Musa), which is somewhat blatantly contradicted by what he actually says.

The Islamic Institute of Counter-Zionist American Psychological Warfare was founded in 2011. As Musa put it, “[f]or 30 years, Masjid Al-Islam [Sabiqun’s mosque] has been carrying on a direct, face-to-face struggle against the monolithic Zionist American regime ... We are an anti-Zionist American psycho-guerrilla warfare movement. We use all available tools found in our environment in exposing the anti-Islamic, anti-human policies of this Zionist American system.” The mission of the center is “to counter the concerted efforts of the enemies of Islam to sustain a false characterization of Islam and Muslims as a dangerous threat to global stability and tranquility.” If that is the goal, then Musa’s own rants are certainly not helping. In particular, the center was established to “monitor Zionist and Israeli networks, circles, and clubs which deceitfully infiltrate Muslim and Black groups,” as well as to “[a]nalyze the Zionist grip on humanity established via the media and economics.”

In 2009 Musa was listed as one of 22 people banned from entering the United Kingdom. According to the UK government, this was because he was “[c]onsidered to be engaging in unacceptable behaviour by fomenting and glorifying terrorist violence in furtherance of his particular beliefs and seeking to provoke others to terrorist acts.” He is.

There is a decent resource on Musa and his groups here.

Diagnosis: Though way less influential than the anti-Sharia crowd likes to think, Abdul Alim Musa and his groups are, it should be emphasized, more influential than many others seem to realize. He is, in any case, one of the most deranged lunatics alive in the US at the moment. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

#2040: William J. Murray

You have to make sure your audience
sees "religious freedom" spelled out
at all times; they would never have
guessed that this is what you are
advocating based only on what you
are, in fact, advocating.
William J. Murray III is the son of atheist activist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, and was involved in Murray O’Hair’s famous effort to end mandatory prayers in public schools in 1963. Murray later turned Baptist minister and wingnut lobbyist (his 2016 book Utopian Road to Hell: Enslaving America and the World With Central Planning was published by WND Books, no less), and is currently chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, which understands “religious freedom” not as religious freedom but as the freedom of religious majorities to force religious minorities to follow their religious whims. In 1995, for instance, Murray published Let Us Pray: A Plea for Prayer in Our Schools. His reasoning is predictably silly and hyperbolic: “Fifty years after the removal of prayer from America’s public schools […] there is virtually no safe place in America for children of any age, not in their schools, not even in their homes,” says Murray in his 2013 follow-up book, and that’s just dumb, but according to Murray a main cause of “schools plagued by drugs, violence and sex that need to be protected by armed guards” (he blamed the Sandy Hook massacre on the lack of prayers in school, for instance). Moreover, “[i]f rights come from God they cannot be taken away, but if they come from government, a simple majority vote can void those rights,” says Murray, but doesn’t explain exactly how the origin of rights is relevant to whether a government is able to vote them away. Instead, schools need to ensure that children are “surrendering to the authority of God.” It was never really about their rights, was it?

Well, part of the line of thought here apparently also involves the observation that Islam is not a religion, and therefore cannot be encompassed by religious freedom rights.

The Gays
But of course. 

Murray doesn’t like homosexuality, and accordingly blames an imaginative range of ills, disasters and problems on the gays. For instance, when a Metrolink commuter train collided with a Union Pacific Corp. freight train in LA, Murray claimed that the crash was caused by the fact that the engineer was gay, and lamented how the media consistently would fail to report on such things (meaning, of course, that there is a conspiracy): “virtually no gay crime is reported,” complained Murray.

He has also blamed problems in the Middle East on gays, in particular the fact (established exclusively by his own feverish imagination) that most US diplomats to the Middle East are homosexual elitists; Libya Ambassador Christopher Stevens “was probably a homosexual,” for instance. And since they “are homosexuals,” they are unable to understand the violent nature of Islam since they end up only dealing “with people on an elite level that aren’t really truly Muslims.” (You see, Muslims who don’t engage in violence and terrorism – those who diplomats tend to end up talking to – are actually “apostates”, since all faithful Muslims are violent; American diplomats, intellectuals and politicians don’t realize that – and unless the U.S. changes its views on Islam “there is no way we can survive … without tremendous losses.”) The standard formula, in other words: Make up a couple of claims without the remotest relation to reality, infer disaster, and then propel yourself into frenzied fury.

So according to Murray, although gays are “the most violent of the abusers of children in our society,” they “are treated as a protected class” and have – with the help of the civil rights movement in the 1960s – helped usher in America’s “moral decline.” He also blamed Social Security and Medicare for society’s ills and declared that Obamacare is “the final blow” to the American family through not entirely clear but definitely entirely imaginary political mechanisms. Indeed, according to Murray, Social Security and Medicare cause gayness (that link there, by the way, will give you one of the craziest rants on the whole of Internet, by the way.) 

Miscellaneous politics
Murray is also head of the Government Is Not God PAC (GING-PAC). (The name is a bit confusing, since Murray evidently doesn’t want there to be a distinction between government and God.) In 2013, GING-PAC warned that if the Supreme Court was to strike down Proposition 8 and DOMA and allow “so-called ‘gay’ couples” to marry, then “religious freedom, freedom of speech and the First Amendment will die.” Not that, as thoroughly demonstrated above, Murray cares much for the First Amendment. Moreover, disagreement “will be punishable by suppression, fines, or even jail sentences.” Methinks GING-PAC mistakes what reasonable people will do with what they themselves would like to do with those who disagree with them if they could. (And yeah: Murray’s and GING-PAC’s focus always end up on homosexuality, regardless of what topic they started out discussing.)

GING-PAC has also charged gay rights activists with plotting to destroy the Bill of Rights and urged Senator Rob Portman to send his openly gay son to ex-gay therapy so he won’t die of AIDS. 

Before the 2012 election (GING-PAC supported Santorum), Murray warned that President Obama “is not only the most viciously anti-religious president in history, but he’s turning out to be the most racially divisive one as well”; Obama is, in fact, “the most dangerous racist, pro-abortion, pro-gay, pro-Islam and anti-capitalist president who has ever occupied the White House – and he’ll try any dirty trick in the book to win this November’s election. That’s why he’s got Attorney General Eric Holder suing states that are trying to implement voter ID laws. Obama and Holder want voter fraud so they can stay in power.” According to Murray “Barack Hussein Obama and Hillary Clinton love the Muslim Brotherhood;” and not only that: “Obama is carrying on what amounts to a Jihad against non-Islamic religious groups – both Jews and Christians” as well as “waging a war on religious liberty,” even while “he’s stopped waging a war on Islamic terrorism here and around the globe.” During the Obama administration the US obviously never dropped a single bomb on any Muslim country. Murray also warned that Obama will force chaplains to perform same-sex marriages and bring Sharia law and the Muslim Brotherhood into government. When you have committed yourself to making stuff up from thin air, you may just as well walk the whole distance.

Since Murray disagrees with Obama, Obama is a “tyrant” and should have been “removed from office” for his “socialist, Islamist and pro-homosexual agendas.” So much for Constitutions and rights. 

Obama, who is channeling Hitler and creating “unholy alliances with evil”, is apparently also a “modern-day Manasseh” who “seems to love the death of others” – something that apparently suggests to Murray that Obama is a Muslim, since only in Islam do people ask God “to assist in murder.”

And the ideal for the US? That would be Russia. Murray has claimed that “spiritually, Russia today is the nation America was in the 1950s,” citing Russia’s harsh anti-abortion laws, ban on gays in the military, the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in government, and – historical accuracy be damned – flat tax. Indeed, Murray is apparently under the delusion that Americans today are fleeing the “godless collectivism” of the West to Russia. He doesn’t give any names.

In 2015, Murray blamed the Paris terrorist attacks on selfish European women who aren’t having enough children. “They don’t believe that the propagation of the species is the most important thing that they’re here for,” said Murray.

Murray is an intelligent design creationist, and has even contributed to Uncommon Descent, lamenting how mean and illogical and difficult to debate “Darwinists” are. You see, according to Murray, “a lot of us don’t realize we’re in a war, a war where reason, truth, religion and spirituality is under direct assault by the post-modern equivalent of barbarians,” and Darwinists have no compunctions about lying and cheating in trying to achieve their goal – they are following “Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals” – which according to Murray is “to destroy theism.” (Evidently scientists must as such be lying about what their goal is, and Murray – as shown by his invocation of Alinsky – thinks there is a conspiracy.) “There is no common ground between the universal post-modern acid of materialist Darwinism [when materialism became a tenet of post-modernism is anyone’s guess – Murray, of course, understands neither expression and treats them as synonyms for “boogeyman”] and virtually any modern theism. There is no common ground between Orwellian statism-as-God and individual libertarianism with freedom of (not “from”) religion. There is only war.” As such, because their opponents do (according to Murray’s deranged imagination), it may apparently be advisable, thinks Murray, to employ the same tactics. No, he doesn’t have the faintest trace of understanding of what the theory of evolution is, and apparently forgot, along the way, that Intelligent Design was supposed to be all about science, not religion.

There’s a decent William Murray resource here.

Diagnosis: Completely unhinged, perhaps even by the standards of the lunatics he usually associates with. But Murray is also a powerful force among the religious right, and his influence should not be underestimated.