Wednesday, February 21, 2024

#2738: Jim Daly

Focus on the Family is a fundamentalist hate group – presently self-designated as ‘a church for tax disclosure purposes – that we’d have had plenty of opportunities to cover already. Jim Daly is its current president (or, since it is now a church: “head deacon and elder”) and as such generally responsible for the group’s efforts to promote in particular anti-gay propaganda and legislation, including fighting restrictions on conversion therapy. He is also the main host of the Focus on the Family radio program.


Though Daly is behind efforts to repaint his group’s messages in friendlier and more inclusive terms – mostly just emphasizing how much they love people while denouncing them as being manipulated by Satan and claiming to be nonpartisan while taking explicit positions on political issues – Daly has himself spread plenty of hate against LGBT people. He has, for instance, claimed that same-sex marriage endangers civilization and that Satan himself is behind same-sex marriage since “he hates marriage because it’s a reflection of God’s image the Enemy hates that, it’s disgusting to him,” said Daly, “and with that, he wants to break it down, he wants to destroy it.”. Here is Daly trying to invoke Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel to argue why it is important to denounce the decision to allow “openly practicing homosexuals” in the Boy Scouts, which, as Daly sees it, will undermine “the character and safety of the boys.”


In a more conspiratorial mode, Daly has also claimed that “homosexual activists” wish to restrict the speech of anyone opposed to homosexuality, and that campaigning on behalf of LGBT rights it really is a form of fascism.” On the pseudoscience side, meanwhile, Daly has supported and promoted the discredited anti-LGBT study by Mark Regnerus.


Diagnosis: Yes, it’s hate, and hate pinned up by pseudoscience; and trying to portray your hate as something other than hate isn’t going to make it less hateful. But the religious right remains a powerful political force in the US, and Focus on the Family remains more or less in the center of the religious right; Daly’s political influence is, in other words, difficult to overestimate.

Monday, February 19, 2024

#2737: Guggie Daly [pseudonym]

Despite increased popularity of anti-vaccine messaging, antivaccine views are still widely regarded with the suspicion and ridicule they deserve. One tried-and-tested method for changing people’s minds, however, is: Newspeak. If you can’t change the facts, obscure them by inventing a new nomenclature. That, at least, was the motivation for antivaccine lunatic Guggie Daly in an article (‘Vacctivism Terminology: How to Empower Instead of Cower’) she wrote for the insane rot of pseudo-religious pseudoscience and denialism Natural Mother Magazine: Instead of calling your kids “unvaccinated,” wrote Daly, use “vaccine-free” or – to maximize the potential for being misleading – say that your child “has an intact immune system”; and instead of “vaccine-preventable diseases”, use “vaccine-associated diseases” (Daly denies, against all evidence, and all of reality, that vaccines effectively prevent disease). And of course: instead of calling yourself “anti-vaxxers” – a term that media manipulation has made so “negative” – use “vaccine safety advocates”: That, by the way, is an Orwellian ploy as old as the antivaccine movement itself. “I encourage transparency and better ethical standards from pharmaceutical companies,” added Daly while encouraging precisely the opposite for her own group of fervent denialists.


Of course, redecorating the map doesn’t change the terrain, and in reality, vaccines were and are safe and effective. But Daly and her ilk have left reality behind a long time ago. As Daly mistakenly sees it, vaccines “are an optional, experimental product based on an unproven theory. Informed, consenting adults can choose to take them if they want. But it’s medical malpractice to force them onto non-consenting children. Instead of people demanding that vaccine companies, doctors and the government prove that this medication is safe, effective, necessary treatment in our children [which we do demand, and the demand has been thoroughly met], we take on undue responsibility to prove that vaccines are ineffective, unsafe and unnecessary. Completely backwards.”


As for Daly herself, ‘Guggie Daly’ is apparently the pseudonym of a Missouri-based “mommy blogger” who has, apparently, achieved some popularity in antivaccine movements for her (deranged) posts on vaccines and home birth. There is a brief portrait of her here.


Diagnosis: Absolutely insane antivaccine conspiracy theorist who has elevated her antivaccine views and her ‘crunchiness’ to a New Age-religious identity. She is garbage, and anyone who takes advice from her is garbage, too.

Friday, February 16, 2024

#2736: Kate Dalley

Radio talk shows are still apparently popular in far right and conspiracy circles, and the amount of bullshit, hate and nonsense propagated on the airwaves is staggering. The Kate Dalley Show, which is part of TheBlaze Radio Network, is just one serial offender. Her work has also been featured on Alex Jones' show.


Now, much of what you’ll encounter on Dalley’s show is precisely what you’d expect from wingnut conspiracy theorists, albeit embellished with an even for ridiculous wingnuts startling amount of allusions to violence, and there is, frankly, little that otherwise distinguishes her contributions from the rest of them. Dalley is an antivaxxer, for instance – virtually every major antivaccine activist in the US has appeared on her show at some point – and has in particular promoted various falsehoods and conspiracy theories related to (of course) the Covid vaccine: “Pfizer admits that vaccinated people can shed the vaccine on unvaccinated people,” says Dalley, completely without any foundation in anything resembling reality. Even more disconcertingly, Dalley has been pushing conspiracy theories suggesting that hospitals are actively killing Covid patients rather than helping them by pushing real medicine instead of fake cures conspiracy theorists have deluded themselves into thinking are efficacious.


In August 2021, for instance, Dalley presented a longer segment in which she explained how she ostensibly saved her diabetic husband from murderous hospital staff when he got “COVID pneumonia”: Apparently her husband went to the hospital with extremely low oxygen levels after his Ivermectin failed to cure him (Dalley convinced herself it was just because the dose was too low), but although doctors wanted to put him on a ventilator, he was able to walk out of the ICU after just a few days because, as Dalley’s utterly unverified anecdote has it, she had demanded that the hospital give him massive, intravenous doses of vitamin C instead. Then she provided instructions on her website for people who want to fight the hospital COVID protocols, including “Don’t let them do Remdesivir. It can cause organ failure,” and “REFUSE THE VENT” because apparently ventilators are instruments for mass murder rather than life saving – Dalley’s guiding idea being apparently that hospitals allegedly (facts have nothing to do with this) has a financial incentive to put people on ventilators because it gets much more federal money for the treatment than it would for vitamin infusions that don’t work.


Of course, Dalley’s conspiracy mongering isn’t restricted to antivaccine nonsense. In 2018, for instance, she quickly dismissed the news that several explosive devices sent to Democratic Party figures and Trump critics as a false flag operation based on nothing but wishful thinking: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the false flaggy time of the year,” said Dalley. Her show has also been described as one of the best sources for information about the New World Order by precisely the kinds of people you’d expect to claim such things.


Diagnosis: According to Dalley, “[t]his country is need of truth and logic right now,” so she’s basically admitting that you shouldn’t listen to her program. Take that piece of advice.


Hat-tip: Mother Jones

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

#2735: Steve Daines

Steve Daines has been serving as the junior United States senator from Montana since 2015, and has generally taken the wingnut positions – opposition to marriage equality, attempting to overturn the presidential election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania in 2020, opposition to net neutrality and to creating an independent commission to investigate the 2021 Capitol attack – you’d expect, including attitudes toward Donald Trump that are strikingly illustrative of the principle of political expediency.


For our purposes, however, Daines is most notably for his rather consistent denialism on scientific matters. A climate change denialist, Daines has claimed that “to suggest that [climate change] human-caused is not a sound scientific conclusion.” Of course, Daines wouldn’t be able to distinguish science from incoherent substack rant if his life depended on it. Daines is also a creationist and has advocated for creationism being taught in public school: “What the schools should teach is, as it relates to biology and science is that they have, um, there’s evolution theory, there’s creation theory, and so forth. I think we should teach students to think critically, and teach students that there are evolutionary theories, there’s intelligent-design theories, and allow the students to make up their minds. But I think those kinds of decisions should be decided at the local school board level. Personally I’d like to teach my kids both sides of the equation there and let them come up to their own conclusion on it.” Yeah, he systematically covers virtually all the talking points of the Discovery Institute-led intelligent design movement there, leaving little doubt from where he has gotten his information, and it is certainly not from science.


His views apparently enjoyed some support among Montana constituents, however.


Diagnosis: Crackpot denialist and conspiracy theorist. There are, of course, plenty of them in positions of power these days, and Daines is fairly typical, but still! It is worth taking a moment to reflect on how absolutely insane it is that someone like Steve Daines would be entrusted with power.

Monday, February 12, 2024

#2734: Tyler Dahm

Tyler Dahm is an ultimately relatively minor Colorado-based anti-vaxxer who claims that her adopted child became developmentally delayed as a result of vaccines based on gut feeling, no evidence whatsoever and, presumably, a wish to be an independent thinker unfettered by science, fact or reason. Now, Dahm has occasionally claimed to be a physician graduating from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, though elsewhere she has admitted to dropping out of medical school because the professors didn’t believe her stories about vaccines (presumably because narrow-minded professors have been brainwashed into thinking that evidence matters). The people behind the Vaxxed bus tour did believe her, however, and promptly featured Dahm and her claims in their propaganda materials. (It is worth noting that Dahm’s LinkedIn profile doesn’t claim that she’s ever attended medical school, listing her instead as owner of the quack business Pathways Natural Wellness Center in the relevant period, a company that was selling useless junk medicine including a detox footbath to cure autism, no less.)


Dahm is primarily notable for a video she produced in which she accosted (then-)California state senator, vaccine advocate and frequent target of antivaxx hate Richard Pan at Denver airport. We are unsure how Dahm thought the video, which is discussed here, would support her cause, but at least it illustrates well the sort of unhinged thinking, cherry-picking and rank denialism we all associate with the anti-vaccine movement. Dahm concludes the video by pretending to be shocked by Pan’s patient, reasoned, well-supported, factual statements and labeling them “misinformation”. Even Dahm seems to have realized the video didn’t exactly help her case and promptly tried (and failed) to delete any traces of from the internet.


Diagnosis: Unhinged anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist and likely to be a danger to her immediate surroundings. Her broader significance is questionable, but Dahm is sufficiently crazy to warrant an entry in our Encyclopedia.


Hat-tip: Skepticalraptor

Friday, February 9, 2024

#2733: Karl Dahlstrom

Karl L. Dahlstrom is a self-proclaimed “modern Renaissance man and creationist who in 2013 self-published an anti-evolution book called The Organized Universe. According to Dahlstrom, his book offered “scientific proof” that Darwinism was a hoax. No, he doesn’t have the faintest clue, but his attempt was apparently based on Benford’s law – so the theory of evolution isn’t only false, but a genuine fraud. Experts in the field were not impressed.


Dahlstrom is most famous, however, for filing a frivolous lawsuit against Richard Dawkins and the Dawkins Foundation on the grounds that Dawkins, in a 1989 book review in the New York Times (yes, 24 years before Dahlstrom’s publication), said that “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane. Dahlstrom was convinced that the “somebody” Dawkins referred to in that statement was him, because, as he himself put it, he, Dahlstrom, “is the only individual on earth in the history of man that has scientifically disproven Evolution. This makes Karl L. Dahlstrom the number one candidate for Richard Dawkins attack, even though Karl L. Dahlstrom, i.e., the ‘somebody’, could not be ignorant, stupid, or insane.” Therefore “Dawkins has caused millions of persons to be prejudiced and biased against Karl L. Dahlstrom and injured his reputation and subjected him to hatred, contempt, ridicule and financial injury from persons not exposed to the truth about Darwinian Evolution and the position Plaintiff Karl L. Dahlstrom has taken on this issue.” Accordingly, Dahlstrom demanded that Dawkins pay him $8 million in actual damages and $50 million in punitive damages. How he calculated the numbers is unclear.


Of course, Dahlstrom’s stunt was purely motivated by publicity, which he achieved. A lot of people are currently aware that Karl L. Dahlstrom is ignorant, stupid and insane. May the present entry serve to remind us all. We doubt such publicity will lead to significantly increased book sales.


But still: Who is this clown? Well, it turns out that Karl Dahlstrom has a colorful CV – and not everything there is ultimately funny. Dahlstrom is apparently also associated (in some unclear way) with something known as the Pastoral Medical Association (PMA), a Texas-based group that “licenses” health and medical practitioners who subscribes to their “mission to promote scripture-based health and wellness concepts” (though Dahlstrom’s exact role with the organization is unclear). Subscribers call themselves “PSc.D.”, “D.PSc.” and/or “Doctor of Pastoral Medicine”, and offer medical services that require a government-issued license; the PMA, however, doesn’t recognize the authority of governmental bodies: “regulation of the Almighty’s health care concepts is outside the jurisdiction of .. secular regulatory boards”. In other words, to be “licensed” by the PMA, you don’t need a medical education or medical expertise; you need to subscribe to their religious doctrines, and most of PMA’s members are “natural health professionals” and chiropractors. And if you should wish to receive treatment from PMA’s “licensed” members, you’d need to join its “Member Share Program” and sign an agreement that shields practitioners from attention and/or lawsuits. The whole thing is pretty secretive, but they do run a “PMA Directory of Alternative Health & Medicine” where you can pay $49/year for a listing.


Dahlstrom does, however, have a long story of promoting and marketing “private membership association” for people who want to avoid government regulation on various issues. Accordig to Dahlstrom, members of these these groups enjoy Constitutional protection that gives them permission to “safely” exchange information (including health-related advice). Indeed, Dahlstrom operates the “ProAdvocate Group”, an association devoted to establishing private medical membership associations for unlicensed medical practitioners and other practitioners under attack for “alternative medicine”.


As you might suspect, Dahlstrom has spent several years in jail and has a substantial legal history, including convictions of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Government, mail fraud, securities fraud, operating as an unregistered broker-dealer, tax evasion and setting up sham trusts. In addition to The Organized Universe, Dahlstrom is the author of The DNA of Scripture: How True Natural Science Confirms the Holy Scriptures as True (2015) and How to Avoid Probate, gift, inheritance and Estate Taxes, Etc. (1977).


Diagnosis: Ignorant, stupid and insane. (And wicked.)


Hat-tip: Quackwatch

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

#2732: Pete D'Abrosca

Pete D’Abrosca is a wingnut extremist, political commentator and failed (due to incompetence) 2020 North Carolina congressional candidate. D’Abrosca is the kind of guy who claims that conservatives should “strip every Democrat of their committee assignments the minute they take back the House simply for being liberals, which should be criminalized” because freedom. His dislike of liberals is in fact so great that he bragged about how he wouldn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine solely to make the liberals mad. “My logic, as usual, is impeccable,” said D’Abrosca. It isn’t. D’Abrosca has also frequently written posts boosting the “died suddenly” anti-vaccine conspiracy theory.


Predictably, D'Abrosca is very concerned with LGBT grooming in American schools. He is also concerned with race issues; D’Abrosca was for instance unhappy with Joe Biden’s choice of running mate for the 2020 election, writing that Kamala Harris “is a radical black nationalist who will stoke racial tensions until America descends into a full-blown race war.” One is really left unsure whether he had any idea about who Harris is and one is probably forgiven for suspecting that he would have written the same about any potential pick. And don’t get him started on Ilhan Omar, who according to D’Abrosca “is a terrorist” because she disagrees with him on immigration and whether people in prison deserve medical services.


That said, D’Abrosca has managed to draw some attention to himself and his views on immigration, in particular after he was promoted by Tucker Carlson.


Diagnosis: We have to admit that D’Abrosca has the potential to do it big! But we don’t want to contribute to that by giving him more attention than necessary.