Thursday, September 30, 2010

#61: Willis Allison Carto

Willis Carto has for almost a lifetime been among America’s most prominent promoters of antisemitic conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial (that’s not how he describes himself, but that’s another matter). He founded Liberty Lobby in 1955, and Institute for Historical Review (IHR) in 1979, as an organization dedicated to publicly challenging the "myth of the Holocaust." The IHR sought from the beginning to attempt to establish itself within the broad tradition of historical revisionism, by soliciting token supporters who were not from a neo-Nazi background such as James J. Martin and Samuel Edward Konkin III, and by promoting the writings of French socialist Paul Rassinier and American anti-war historian Harry Elmer Barnes to attempt to show that Holocaust denial had a broader base of support besides just neo-Nazis. The IHR brought most of Barnes' writings, which had been out of print since his death, back into print. However, most of IHR's supporters were neo-Nazis and anti-Semites, and while IHR included token articles on other topics and sold some token books by mainstream historians in its book catalog, the vast majority of material published and distributed by IHR was devoted to questioning the facts surrounding the Holocaust.

In 1984, Carto was also involved in starting the Populist Party, which was (not to be confused with the Populist Party of 1889 and) little more than an electoral vehicle for current and former Ku Klux Klan and Christian Identity members.

His wikipedia page is here. I am not going to link to his homepage or any homepage associated with his organizations.

To get a full picture of Carto’s insane conspiracy mongering, have a look at his earlier Liberty Lobby. Apart from standard conspiracy theories, such as New World Order related ones and John F. Kennedy assassination conspiracies, Carto and his gang has always been taken by the Bilderberg conspiracy, going so far as to send reporters every year to "infiltrate" the Bilderberg conferences and report on their nefarious activities.

This already sets the stage for crank magnetism, and Carto has been an ardent promoter of alternative health remedies, including colloidal silver, Laetrile, shark cartilage and chelation therapy. He is also a numerologist.

Perhaps most interesting in that respect is Carto’s involvement with Scientology. Back in the beginning, the Church of Scientology representatives viewed Carto's organizations as useful media for gaining popularity and respectability. Carto, with his critical view of "establishment" press (i.e. conspiracy theories), had reached quite a number of people, and scientologists flocked to the IHR and subscribed to Carto's publications. Many Scientologists, including the current International Public Affairs Officer Alex Jones, praised Carto and his magazine "The Spotlight" (the percurson to IHR) as "a defender of individual liberties." A scientologist was also the director of IHR (the scientology church has subsequently withdrawn its official support, notably after the tax exemption rules from 1993).

Despite his claims to the contrary, Carto and his group are ardent neo-Nazis (follow the link for recent activities).
Diagnosis: Vile and utterly delusional loon. Zealous. Is still extremely dangerous, despite the fact that his impact is probably limited to a relatively small group (his conspiracy theories seem to draw sympathetic attention, by crank magnetism, from other conspiracy theorists and readers, however).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

#60: Robert Carter

“Robert Carter” is a relatively common name, and indeed – behind “Robert Carter” we can find several worthy candidates for our encyclopedia. This guy is one nice example, but this Bob Carter (the rather famous namegiver to what is currently known as ”Cartergatedisqualifies himself by being British .

The intended Robert Carter is much less dangerous, unfortunately, but not quite toothless. He is head speaker/”scientist” for Creation Ministries International. Apparently he must be a great scientist, since Creationwiki (yes, such an entity exists) points out that ”in a [2007] debate with Rick Pierson that 590 people attended to Carter brought up a stumping question to Pierson that left him speechless, stopping him in mid sentence.” (the question isn’t quoted). His status as a serious scientist is surely bolstered by the fact that ”CMI-Canadian and Canadian churches are coming together to find a way to better equip citizens about the lies behind Darwin's theory. Robert Carter as one of the speakers are hoping to give Christians the knowledge and boldness to uphold scripture and use it for Christ's purpose.” I couldn’t find any peer-reviewed publications from him, however.

He specializes in preaching to congregations, however, and I think this calendar of events from the Minot Baptist Church tells you all you need to know. In particular, his talk "Dinosaurs and the Bible" – planned for all Home Schoolers, but ALL ARE WELCOME!, sounds rather ominous and can actually be argued potentially to cause more than a little harm (this seems appropriate here). He doesn’t really give much heed to facts, but neither does his audience – his honesty and integrity can probably be evaluated from this (sympathetic) report.

Oh, and according to his bio, Carter wasn’t always a creationist etc. His gang can be found here (note the welcome appearance of our old friend Gary Bates, the Christian ufologist, here as well).

Diagnosis: Godbotter and pathological Liar for Jesus. Crazy fundamentalist whose extremism might conceivably move the Overton window with respect to some of the choirs he’s preaching to. I'll count him as moderately dangerous, even if his impact is limited.

#59: Lee Carroll and Kryon

After a couple of stock loons from the anti-vaccinationist and creationist movements, it’s time to take another plunge into the more outré and downright weird recesses of the looniverse. This is where we find this gem.

Take some time to savor the delectable whiff of Timecube, the exquisite pastel shadings and the breathtakingly amateurish first-time-powerpoint-user-style animations. This is solid stuff.

So, what are they up to? You’ll get a taste of it here.

Here is their most recent announcement: “When many heard the magic of what happened in Sedona in 2009 when Jan [Tober – a member of the Kryon team] took the stage with bowl master William Jones, they wanted more. Jan is now offering a DNA activation using her voice, channelling and simultaneously playing up to seven crystal bowls... all offered as a custom ten minute CD "reading" of your life essence. She takes personal information, then creates a custom CD in her studio! Very well received, many are lining up to have this DNA activation process done.”

You might ask, so what is a DNA activation process? Well, who knows, really – the explanations are mostly word-salad, asserting things such as “Someday your science is going to show that DNA actually sings!” and “[your DNA] is magnetic, and therefore it responds to the grid! […] Now, suddenly in this new energy, your science begins to understand that there are at least 11 dimensions at the heart of every atom of matter. (We have told you that there are 12.) And suddenly you are beginning to understand that even time is variable”

You can also subscribe to their “Marshmallow messages”, daily e-mail messages of love, positive thought, and light, at no cost, sent by E-mail only to the Kryon family worldwide.

Mostly, however, it is about channeling and our relationship to Gaia; the channelings are apparently published in their monthly journal, the Sedona Journal of Emergence. Apparently Carroll and Tober channeled the “original subject of the Indigo children”. You can also click a button to see the DNA names, sounds, paintings and descriptions of the teachings that Lee has channelled on the Twelve Interdimensional Layers of DNA (I admit that I frankly didn’t dare to click that button).

Lee Carroll is the main character, apparently. A biography can be found here. Apparently he’s held meetings almost next to the UN General Assembly. Impressive.

Diagnosis: Kryon seems to be a prime example of unhinged, new-agey, fluffy woo with a post-modernist twist to it, and Carroll must surely rank among the most purebred crackpots out there. I seriously doubt that they have any extensive or detrimental impact, however.

#58: Jim Carrey

I am sure this will disappoint a lot of people, but the famous actor Jim Carrey is unfortunately a first-class loon, who demands an entry in our Encyclopedia under the densely populated category “celebrities who should have remain modestly ...silent about issues they have absolutely no knowledge of understanding of”. Well, I guess people should be excused for letting blithering idiocy fall out of their mouths on certain occasions. Carrey, however, has swallowed the anti-vaccinationist lunacy hook and sinker (through his relationship with the abysmally ignorant loon Jenny McCarthy), and emerged as an ardent opponent of science, reason and rationality. Sorry, Jim, you’re a crackpot.

What else but crackpottery can get anyone to concoct this string of logical fallacies and poorly disguised conspiracy theories of the worst Roswellian kind from the depths of confirmation bias.

It is properly and even-handedly evaluated here and here.

To twist the knife around, have a look at the following.

In other words: A typical example of what happens when people who are already convinced of a certain claim on the basis of intuition or nothing obtain their biology or medical degrees from google and fellow actors. A disgrace. A first-class village conspiracy theorist.

Who knew “Dumb & Dumber” was a biographical documentary?

Diagnosis: Clueless moron with an incoherent cause and lots of ardour. His influence should not be underestimated, however.

On the other hand, he recently broke up with McCarthy and was subsequently thrown out of Generation Rescue – maybe he’ll take a Bailey-Shermer-Easterbrook and come to his senses? In Carrey’s disfavor, however, he doesn’t – unlike B-S-E – come across as particularly bright.

(for a definition of a B-S-E)

#57: Russell Carlson

Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology University of Georgia, signer of the Discovery Institute's A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism. Member of DI research fellow William Dembski's The International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design (ISCID).

I don’t really have anything in particular on this guy. He testified at the Kansas evolution hearings and doubts evolution, predictably enough, for religious reasons. His main claim to deserving inclusion in the lexicon is as a representative of a relatively long row of fundamentalist religious scientists and compartmentalizers who are able to do science in one field but submerge themselves fully in confirmation bias with respects to others they know less about. In other words, he’s here because science and sanity are fed up with these kinds of destructive cranks.

Diagnosis: Crackpot with non-negligible influence.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

#56: Barbara Cargill

Another stock conservative creationist, the (well-documented) threat posed by Barbara Cargill lies in the fact that she’s on the Texas Board of Education – another David Barton acolyte, and a Cynthia Dunbar sycophant, in other words. A fine example of the acumen represented by this group of clowns, with emphasis on Cargill, can be found here.

As expected, Cargill is a happy peruser of scientific articles she hasn’t read and wouldn’t understand if she did, twisting any new modification of any biological theory to support creationism – especially newspaper articles reporting (”reporting”) scientific findings. For example, the famous New Scientist article ”Darwin was wrong” (on the exact taxonomy of the Tree of Life, hardly surprising), was interpreted as a ”significant challenge” to the theory of Evolution.

She also decided, in her role as a Board of Education representative, that the age of the universe and whether it's expanding was up for a vote by the board members. As you would expect from the Texas Board of Education, the proposed amendment passed.

Diagnosis: Utterly moronic, dishonest wingnut – and severely dangerous given her position (yes, to an unitiated being a member of the TBoE might sound unassuming – it isn’t).

#55: Thomas A. Carder

While Christians Against Cartoons, who deemed "Dora the Explorer: Dance to the Rescue" to be potentially the most dangerous and blasphemous cartoon they had yet reviewed, is (probably) a spoof, corollaries of Poe’s Law guarantees that it’s going to be hard to tell. This one, for instance, is not.

Neither is Thomas A. Carder. The ChildCare Action Project is a real organization, and this website – despite the blinking lights and striking design – is dead serious. Officially it is an entertainment media analysis service devoted to reporting on the content of films to parents, grandparents, pastors, youth leaders and more that they might be in a better position to make an informed moral decision on their own whether a film is fit. Carder’s own biography is seriously disturbing as well. So is their Wikipedia page (who wants to bet this one wasn’t written by Carder himself?). Among the factors that make a movie be deemed unsuitable are ”mentioning evolution, using the word God, and slapstick violence” (not to mention such godlessness as the movie featuring scenes in bars and suchlike).

The CAP review of South Park is a good example (Carder emphasizes that children don’t like it, but feel pressured to pretend it’s fun in front of their parents). The one on Natural Born Killers is another representative entry (apparently Carder is as dutybound to view these analogously to how ”Paul didn't ignore the extremes in Corinth”).

The fact that the site needs disclaimers that denies any allegiance both to the Westboro Baptist Church of Fred Phelps and to the hilarious Landover Baptist Church should tell you all you need to know about what kind of project this is. The intensity of the project seems to have abated a little the last couple of years (fewer updates), but it’s still going pretty strong.

Diagnosis: Completely unhinged, evil madman. Has actually gained some fame and probably some influence. His activities might easily distance potential sympathizers just as much as attract them, however.