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.”

Anti-semitism
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.


Miscellaneous
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.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

#2039: Madison Murphy

We don’t know exactly who Madison Murphy is, or where she is now, but in 2012 she was a student at North Carolina State University. There she complained, in a student newspaper, about how evolution was presented in her classes: “My professor started talking about the Theory of Evolution as if it was a fact. This is a problem. Evolution is not a fact, it’s a theory. Defined, a theory is ‘an unproven assumption.’ Let’s treat it as such. I have no problem learning about evolution if it’s presented as what it is: unproven.” Not the faintest trace of how science works, or the basic terminology of science, such as “theory”, in other words. As such, Murphy is also under the misconception that young-earth creationism and intelligent design creationism are alternative theories that are – by virtue of being theories– on par with respect to evidence. So when her professor claimed that the theory of evolution is well established, she “found this to be deeply offensive. I am not ignorant simply because I choose to believe one theory over another.” (No, Murphy: you are ignorant, and you evidently don’t understand how.) And of course, to clinch it: Murphy does not actually know what the theory of evolution in fact is: “The theory of evolution can be explained simply: Complex creatures evolved from simplistic creatures over time. All creatures come from a common ancestor. Over time, mutations in genetic codes were maintained as they aided in survival. This process of mutation is called natural selection. Eventually, these mutations build up until a complex creature is the result.” That is not what natural selection is, and what she describes is not “the theory of evolution”.

Diagnosis: So perhaps it is mean to expose a young student’s ignorance here for all sorts of people to see, but when you put yourself out there and try to explain to the public things you don’t begin to understand but nevertheless don’t like, this is what might happen. Take the lesson. Get informed before you start spewing nonsense.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

#2038: Mike Murdock (?)

One of the central proponents of the prosperity gospel, Michael Dean “Mike” Murdock is a singer-songwriter, televangelist and pastor of the Texas-based so-called Wisdom Center ministry, where he also hosts the School of Wisdom with Mike Murdock television program. He is famous for various dubious money-raising and money-handling schemes, such as when he, in 2003, asked followers for money to help the poor but spent more than 60% of the donations on overhead, including his salary, and only “legal minimums of 1% to 3%” on actually helping the needy or any other “public interest” issues. 

Well, Murdock is relatively transparent about how his prosperity stuff works (and he more or less summed up his theological creed when stating that he has never “seen a woman as good looking as a $100 dollar bill”): “You’ve got to have a breakthrough,” Murdock tells his followers. And the solution to all their problems? Give money to a man of God. That would be him. According to Murdock, it’s a matter of what he calls the Law of the Seed: Plant a seed and reap a harvest from God (more here). Planting a seed means sending money to him; if you do, God will ostensibly restore your relationships, heal your body and provide you with financial salvation. The reward will allegedly be 100 times the gift. 

His most celebrated idea is the 1000-dollar seed: Donate $1,000 to him to “break the back of poverty” (Murdock says he despises poverty). Give sacrificially. “You say, 'Mike ... what if I don’t have it?'” Well, Murdock has an answer:Give the money anyway.” “Take a step of faith,” he says. The scheme has allowed Murdock to live a pretty lavish lifestyle of fast sports cars, expensive watches and exotic pets. In 2000, his ministry managed to collect some $3.9 million. There is a good expose of his ministry here. There is also this one, but it is not for the faint of heart. 

Just to make sure, Murdock labels anyone who examines his ministry’s operations “satanic”, and those who question his extravagant lifestyle (or compare it with the rather humble means of some of the ministry’s staff members) will duly be accused of attacking his theology.

He has apparently written numerous books. That anyone can get themselves to purchase and actually read through such tripe is baffling.


Diagnosis: Ok, so calling Murdock a “loon” might be a stretch – he seems to know precisely what he is doing. But there is the possibility that he actually thinks that what he is doing is somehow morally justifiable, which would make him one of the more deranged lunatics in our Encyclopedia. We’ll include him just in case.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

#2037: Jerry Mungadze

Reparative therapy is dangerous garbage, and promoters of such therapy are accordingly loons. But lunacy comes in degrees. Jerry Mungadze, ex-gay therapist, is definitely at the deep end of the spectrum (that doesn’t prevent him from being promoted by crazies that count as mainstream among the religious right, such as Joni Lamb). Mungadze claims that his ex-gay therapy techniques have literally changed the brain structure of his gay patients and made their brains more like those of straight people: “when the healing takes place those areas of the brain that were showing the homosexuality show heterosexuality … when I looked at them I couldn’t tell the difference between a heterosexual who never was homosexual and them, which means the brain is able to go back and fire the way it is supposed to be, which is an argument against the whole idea of someone was born that way.He has yet to show us the data.

Mungadze, who has no background in anything related to neuroscience but in in Biblical Studies and counselor education, was of course not actually talking about actual brain scans. Indeed, Mungadze’s “evidence” of brain transformation relies on crayon drawings. Apparently, Mungadze lets his patients color in a map of the brain, which he then interprets: pink relates to femininity, red to anger and aggression, and so on. He can thus tell gay people apart from straights, and when they revert to heterosexuality, he can tell simply by how they color between the lines. (Note, by the way, that he has provided no data on any patterns regarding to how his victims patients use colors either.) Calling it “pseudoscience” would almost be an insult to hardworking crackpots. Mungadze calls it a “natural MRI.”

At one point, he brought his “science” to Benny Hinn, explaining that “everything that I talk about is based on numbers, is based on studies, which is what you do when you’re a scientist,” before adding that “you can actually see demonization in people’s brains.” How? “There’s a certain color that I won’t mention that tells me if someone is demonized,” said Mungadze, before revealing that dark colors such as black, brown and gray are proof of demonic possession: “I can be in a room with people who are into the occult who are steeped in demonology, I may not know it just by sitting next to them but I let them do that and I can tell what spirit they have. People that come from the occult, people coming from witchcraft usually [choose] blacks and browns and grays.”

In 2014 a British TV show host went undercover for an appointment with Mundagze, with predictable results, such as Mungadze admitting to being colorblind and making elementary mistakes about anatomy. Mungadze was not happy about the exposure, saying that he didn’t care about it and considered suing.

Diagnosis: One is excused for suspecting that Mungadze himself knows that he’s full of shit, but he is still a loon. And a dangerous one: even if his influence is probably limited, he has the power to do genuine harm to people in difficult situations. A piece of vile garbage.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

#2036: Markwayne Mullin

Markwayne Mullin has been the United States representative for Oklahoma’s 2nd congressional district since 2013. As a congressman, Mullin has done such things as claiming that physical fitness is proof of foodstamp fraud, and, well, this one. But that’s par for the course. What entitles Mullin to an entry here is being a birther. In 2013, during a town hall meeting, Mullin addressed birthers claiming that “I believe what you’re saying,” but admitted that it was too late to prove it to the country. “Who would’ve thought we would ever actually be questioning if we had a natural-born president being president?” concluded Mullin. Now, defenders of Mullin may try to argue that he may just have been trying to appease the local lunatics that tend to crowd townhall meetings in Oklahoma, but Mullin was pretty explicit, and went on for such an extended period of time that even if we was just playing for votes, he deserves an entry. Attempts to appease conspiratorial lunatics are just as detrimental to civilization as actually subscribing to the views.

He is also a climate change denier. That’s also par for the course, but no less lunatic for that.

Diagnosis: Crazy denialist crackpot. The kind that Oklahomans therefore apparently think is fit to govern them. Exasperating stuff.