Tuesday, May 31, 2011

#223: Peter LaBarbera

Continuing the theme from the last couple of days, Peter LaBarbera is a relatively insane anti-gay bigot associated with WorldNetDaily, particularly notable for his complaint that there are just to many homosexuals on television. The fact that so many TV people are gay, LaBarbera contends, is the gay rights movements’ attempt at brainwashing children (and others) into thinking that gays are ordinary people with equal rights. A real cause for outrage, apparently. Furthermore, zeh gays are actually utilizing social media to infiltrate us with and organize their evil agenda.

LaBarbera is president of the group Americans for Truth [About Homosexuality] - which is really no more than a promoter of wild conspiracy theories. It is all about “the [apparently militaristically organized] gay agenda”, and rather shrill. Fighting the gay agenda is a tough fight, but one LaBarbera is apparently willing to fight.

His (official) main trouble with gay marriage is one of the more usual ones – it undermines the family. For LaBarbera, however, this seems to be an analytic claim.

Diagnosis: Insane über-wingnut (of the more predictable kind). Impact unknown.

#222: Stanley Kurtz

Stan Kurtz is a social commentator, adjunct fellow of the Hudson Institute and Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, with a special interest in America's “culture wars” – and a name that seems to pop up frighteningly often. Kurtz is a staunch enemy of political correctness, which permeates his writings on the family, feminism, child rearing, religion, psychology, homosexuality, affirmative action, and similar topics. His screeds are widely published (National Review, Policy Review, The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, and Commentary). Kurtz holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard and is as such brilliantly positioned to exploit that uncanny union of religious conservatism and post-modernistic relativism (that magic combination one often encounters in freshman college students).

He may be most famous for several editorials penned during the 2008 election cycle, bringing to light and discussing relationships between Barack Obama and people such as Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers. Kurtz's book “Radical-in-Chief” states that Obama is (very secretly) a socialist, and Kurtz seems to think that Obama and Ayers are still rather closely connected (the book seems, for instance, to have short-circuited the last remaining operative synapses of Robert Ringer).

He is, predictably, very afraid of ze gays, and is indeed counted as a major mover and shaker by many on the farthest fringes of the anti-gay movement. Kurtz has, for instance, pointed out that “... most gays and lesbians do not want to marry each other. That would entangle them in all sorts of legal constraints. Who needs a lifetime commitment to one person? The intention here is to destroy marriage altogether. With marriage as we know it gone, everyone would enjoy all the legal benefits of marriage (custody rights, tax-free inheritance, joint ownership of property, health care and spousal citizenship, etc.,) without limiting the number of partners or their gender. Nor would ‘couples’ be bound to each other in the eyes of the law. This is clearly where the movement is headed." The occurrence of “clearly” appears without argument, of course, but I am not sure this is the main problem with this piece of reasoning. In his writings on gay marriage Kurtz does not consistently avoid hysteria; discussed here.

The previous president of Generation Rescue, this Stan Kurtz is (most probably) a different person, but an equally looney one who claims to have single-handedly cured children from vaccine-induced autism. That kind of guy.

Diagnosis: Shrill and tiresome wingnut maniac who specializes in incoherently inferring idiocy from insane premises. Relatively famous and as such moderately dangerous (as is his name brother at Generation Rescue).

#221: David Kupelian

Kupelian is Managing Editor of WorldNetDaily, boldly assrting that the WorldNetDaily “serves as your watchdog on government 365 days a year. We guard your priceless freedoms by aggressively exposing corruption and evil everywhere, and by championing good.” His contributions are sufficiently batshit insane to have made it even to whale.to. His book is “The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell Us Corruption Disguised as Freedom” – the topic is, predictably, “how atheism is being sold to the US”, containing nuggets such as the “sexual revolution” being really a (covert) action to promote pedophilia. Really, the mantra of the book is “ze gays are coming, ze gays are coming!”. In general, Kupelian is simply shocked that people like Hitchens, Harris and Stenger are allowed to publish books in the Christian Nation that is the US.

A valiant fighter in the war against strawmen, Kupelian was also avidly worried about what would happen to the US if a Democrat was elected president in 2008 (“How Hillary will lead America to Hell” was his slightly less than reality-based WorldNetDaily screed discussing such topics). “The damage that will occur to America if Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is elected president will go far beyond what we can rationally anticipate on the policy level,” says Kupelian. Since, as he says, we can't rationally anticipate the horrible damage Hillary will do to the country, he proceeds to irrationally anticipate those damages (hat-tip to Ed Brayton).

He is also the originator of the following, glorious quote: “Sex is sacred. For millennia, this biblical principle was the bedrock moral value of the Western World.”

Diagnosis: Reality-challenged (well, batshit insane) wingnut who seems positively shallow even when compared to his boss, the clinically insane Joseph Farah. Kupelian is not without impact, and that fact is pretty darn scary.

#220: Gary Kreep

The aptly named Gary Kreep is one of the more notable elements of the birther movement. Kreep is the executive director of the United States Justice Foundation (it’s truly insane piece of wingnuttery), a California-based non-profit organization dedicated to undermining Obama’s presidency. He has been known to team up with Orly Taitz, which has not exactly been beneficial to his (already completely lunatic) cause.

He has also, apparently, sued the Department of Homeland Security for its targeting of conservatives (warning: this site, run by one Trevor Loudon, is an utterly insane conspiracy theory website).

More here.

Diagnosis: Rabid wingnut whose misguided fury has blinded him to anything remotely resembling reality. His impact is uncertain, and the birther movement appears to be on the decline now, but it may be worth keeping an eye on him.

Monday, May 30, 2011

#219: Joe Kovacs

Joe Kovacs is the executive news editor for World Net Daily. That alone should qualify him for an entry, but Kovacs hasn’t been lazy contributing to his candidacy. Among his more interesting “articles” is his musings about whether lunar eclipses signal the return of Jesus (a good example of the kind of rigor and sense of accuracy you would expect from a news editor of World Net Daily). Another example of how Kovacs and the WND hive runs business is this one.

Kovacs has also argued that Easter is a pagan holiday that should not be celebrated by Christians (including a couple of hilarious fails).

Diagnosis: Hardcore fundamentalist engaged in a desperate fight against truth, evidence, accuracy and reason. He may not be the biggest name associated with World Net Daily, but he is an excellent, living illustration of what kind of news outlet this really is.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

#218: Judy Zebra “JZ” Knight

A.k.a. Judith Darlene Hampton
A.k.a. Ramtha

Ramtha is, according to the press releases, a dead guy who led a huge army to conquer two thirds of the earth some 35,000 years ago. His main opponents were the Atlanteans, and the battle apparently led to huge, cataclysmic disasters. As a token of his goodwill, Ramtha is currently warning us about similar cataclysmic changes in the near future, so apparently we have to prepare. Ramtha also seems to have remarkable insights into various conspiracies, illuminati-type, ruling the world at the moment, and very up-to-date (read “trendy”) new age fads, including quantum woo and “the Secret”-style fluff and snowflakes magical thinking (“you are God” is one of Ramtha’s messages to mankind).

Being dead is no hindrance to spreading the word, and Ramtha is letting himself be channeled by JZ Knight (of Yelm, Washington), who makes a living selling books containing Ramtha’s advice and various healing trinkets (with her husband, James Flick). More here.

To help spread Ramtha’s important messages to mankind, Knight also opened Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment (rather a cult, really) which takes approximately 6000 students yearly and teaches them to utilize their inner wisdom and create their own reality (post-modernism is the best friend of stuff like this). Among the important courses offered is “breathing”, which seems less interesting than the various classes focusing on drug use (through which the students are sent on their to becoming as "enlightened" as other shamans, or even "real magicians" who can alter the world and reality at will). Among the powers good students will obtain are (seriously!) raising the dead, freezing a rocket in mid-air, make gold appear out of thin air, and predicting the future. It is unknown whether the school has produced any GPA above 2.0 yet. Eventually psychic progress will lead to "ascension" of the body into the "Void", what Knight calls the ultimate spiritual state (an uncanny version of “graduation” it seems). Students also learn psychokinesis, telepathy, clairvoyance, other ESP skills, and that HIV is nature’s way to get rid of homosexuality. To ensure obedience, the school teaches that “unless students remain faithful to Ramtha, they will become prey of the "lizard people", and that the ancient figure of Jehovah would return to earth accompanied by lizard people, in a spaceship” (no kidding!). The school’s official webpage is here; their newsletter is here. It’s a little difficult to find the school’s faculty and staff, but former teachers have included the Wayne Allen Geis, Ruth Beverly Martin, spiritual teacher Whitewind Weaver (whom Knight later sued), and school administrator Mike Wright.

Somewhat controversially, Knight has encouraged her students to engage in tax evasion (since the government is an illusion and the US will be invaded by Chinese communists right away).

Among the school’s more successful ventures was the creation of the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know”.

J.Z. Knight was previously heavily promoted by the clinically delusional Shirley MacLaine.

As an interesting aside, Don & Carol Croft (covered earlier) seem to think that she is some kind of front for alien lizard people, Tavistock and the Rothschild family, and (like many psychics) is secretly working to open some time tunnels or other. They talk about “Ramtha hives” of lizard people. It is not completely clear and has something to do with Montauk and Al Bielek (also covered earlier) – try to make sense of it yourself; also covered in this, uh, remarkable diary.

Diagnosis: The very queen of new age insanity, one step up from Deepak Chopra. Severely mentally challenged, and in fact rather dangerous.

#217: Dennis Paul Knicely

Dennis Paul “Dr.” Knicely runs a website called “Healingnews”, which is, basically, exactly what you think it is. Knicely claims to be able to heal pretty much every ailment known to man with fluff, woo and positive thinking (a remarkable remedy – if you didn’t get well, you just didn’t think positively enough). The website has some original content, but for the most part it collects links to all sorts of health-related new age fluff, preferably of the less reality-affected kind.

And do you know what the best part is? The website provides us with the “scientific validation of alternative medicine” as well (Tracy Planinz’s multi-part series, including the validation of homeopathy, herbs, and acupuncture, unfortunately without a trace of science or validation.

In short, his webpage has everything; super-foods, anti-ageing, mind-body-spirit balance, prosperity (law of attraction), detox, drum circles, cancer denialism, mercury dental fillings, Frankenfoods (all modified foods: “There is a systemic illness in modern society: Most are simply so "numb" from constant exposure to chemicals and poisons everywhere they go”), magical plants, anti-vaccinationism (lots), the swine flu was a conspiracy/the swine flu is actually healthy for you (), and so on, and so forth. The most prevalent theme seems to be that prescription drugs are generally killing you, and all serious conditions can really be avoided (and remedied) by veganism (but greedy doctors will of course not tell you that). Knicely’s list of references includes such luminaries as Barbara Loe Fisher, Gary Null and Leonard Horowitz.

It’s all about finding harmony and opening your mind, you see. (The quack Miranda is cleverly hidden.)

Diagnosis: Knicely and his guest writers are, in short, more or less equivalent to healthranger Mike Adams, though the raging insanity is toned down, and while Knicely’s network is probably not unique in any way, it deserves an entry as a representative for this kind of drivel. Knicely is dangerous, of course, but probably not very influential.

#216: David Klinghoffer

Klinghoffer, who has a bachelor’s degree from Brown, is a Senior Fellow of the Discovery Institute (and author, for instance of the interestingly titled “How Would God Vote?: Why the Bible Commands You to Be a Conservative”), staunch proponent of Intelligent Design creationism, a frequent contributor to National Review, and former columnist for The Forward. Klinghoffer is the major peddler of creationism among orthodox Jews.

He has argued, famously, that if convergent evolution were true, then evolution would have led to Cthulhu. Literally. Since “Darwinists love him [Lovecraft]” (“Darwinists” are here supposed to be people like Ken Miller). More here. He has also been adamant that Darwin is to blame for the Columbine killings and several other incidents (and for Hitler, of course) – Klinghoffer is a standard Discovery Institute revisionist, in other words. A more original one is his attempt to blame Ted Haggard’s moral failings on Darwin.

He seems to have a strange view on the Holocaust.

Klinghoffer was the receiving end of Dr. Nicholas Gotelli’s famous response to invitations to debate creationists.

And for his truly insipid take on the Texas science standards (with Charles Garner), enjoy this one.

Diagnosis: Another shrill idiot who subordinates truth, evidence and reason to ideology, and in the most dishonest manner imaginable. As a part of that center of ignorance, the Discovery Institute, he has some influence, and he is certainly productive.

#215: Gordon Klingenschmitt

Gordon Klingenschmitt is a former navy chaplain (removed by the Pentagon, but refuses to admit to having being thrown out), occasional columnist for WorldNetDaily, and vehemently insane. He is fanatically anti-gay and a fan of imprecatory prayer. He applied it, for instance, against Mikey Weinstein, leader of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The tone is fascinatingly old Testament: “Let their days be few, and replace them with Godly people. Plunder their fields, and seize their assets. Cut off their descendants, and remember their sins, in Jesus' name. Amen” (his second attempt is discussed here). Charming fellow, in other words.

Klingenschmitt is in fact a champion of religious freedom, but only if it is understood his way – i.e. as observing God’s first commandment. I am not sure he is a liar for Jesus as much as an ignorant moron and willful misunderstander for Jesus. He is, unsurprisingly, also a DeMar style revisionist and theocrat.

Klingenschmitt may have been thrown out of the military (as was Jim Ammerman), but people like James Linzey remain. And that is indeed cause for concern.

Diagnosis: Batshit crazy raging fundamentalist and nutjob (and Liar for Jesus). Probably too insane to be any real danger, but one never knows.

#214: Aaron Klein

Klein is an author (of three books, including “Schmoozing with terrorists” and “The Manchurian President: Barack Obama's Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists”), a Middle East correspondent, the head of the Jerusalem bureau for WorldNetDaily (WND), a columnist for The Jewish Press, and a radio talk show host. He is perhaps most famous for his accusation against Wikipedia for giving preferential treatment to Obama, since the entry on Obama did not dwell on Klein’s rather speculative accusations and did not take seriously the claim that Obama was not born in the US (it is less than clear that Klein actually believes the latter, but hey – anything that can bring down Obama, regardless of truth or accuracy).

But the main issue for Klein is the Marxist connection. And he sees it virtually everywhere. His WND contributions read like a whale.to paranoia pit, focusing mostly on Obama’s alleged ties to Marxists and terrorists.

Diagnosis: Dishonest arch-wingnut who seems to have lost his grip on sanity some time ago. His books seem to sell well, so he must be considered at least modestly influential.

Friday, May 27, 2011

#213: Larry Klayman

Larry Klayman is a legend in the law business for his long row of knee-jerk, utterly unhinged lawsuits. The founder and chief representative of the Miami and D.C. based Klayman Law Firm, Larry is best known as the founder and former Chairman of Judicial Watch (which Larry has, of course, subsequently sued as well). Judicial Watch gained notoriety through the initiation of 18 civil lawsuits against the Clinton Administration, and subsequently an unsuccessful lawsuit against Vice-President Dick Cheney in order to obtain information about the White House's energy task force. He currently runs an organization called “Freedom Watch”.

Among the lawsuits Klayman has filed is (at least) one against the Islamic Center in Manhatten on the grounds that the project was a “nuisance”.

Klayman is predictably enough among those who suspect Obama of harboring secret, less than benign motives: “Despite Obama's early claims that his is a Christian, the American people are not stupid. Simply calling oneself a Christian, does not make one a Christian. Obama's heart tilts toward radical Islam and the terrorist states which it foments". He also argued that Obama was behind the swine flu. His evidence is a little unclear. He has also raged about what he perceives as a government conspiracy to hide evidence for extra-terrestrial life (yes, that’s the level his mind operates at).

Klayman likes attention, and has apparently realized that making a fool of himself is a good way to get it.
Diagnosis: Legendary kook, and a rather entertaining one. Probably relatively harmless.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

#212: David Kirby

Not the poet David Kirby; this guy is a journalist with no medical background who wrote “Evidence of Harm - Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy” (“controversy” being a mistake for “manufactroversy”). He has since worked relatively tirelessly against vaccines. In later years he downplayed the absolutely unsupportable mercury link, although certainly not the purported vaccine-autism link. Naturally, he uses every fallacy in the book to uphold that argument; in particular, he seems to enjoy skewering strawmen (and who doesn't?) and moving goalposts.

The basic argument in the book is that since each side of the autism-mercury debate finds the other side blind to evidence, biased and entrenched, there must be scientific disagreement. Therefore vaccines are dangerous and thimerosal leads to autism. He conveniently misses the fact that science clearly favors the no-link side – or rather, he explains it away as a conspiracy, coming up with stories about pharmaceutical conspiracies wire-tapping their opponents and paying off governments. Among the more interesting attempts is his Osama bin Laden gambit. As a result, Kirby now has his own blog at Huffington post (i.e. where every non-rightwing-fundie-wingnut loon seems to end up), in company with other anti-vaxxers such as Jay Gordon and Janet Grilo and with the blessings of HuffPo’s wellness editor, the bizarre, newage woo-purveyor Patricia Fizgerald.

Kirby has worked closely with Robert Kennedy Jr (on this, among other things), but Kirby is generally somewhat subtler (and frankly more intelligent) than the other dolt. For instance, Kirby (together with the insidious executive vice-president of Autism Speaks, Peter Bell) works here to drum up the respectability of (not evidence behind) the idea that vaccines cause autism.

Diagnosis: Devious and ardent fallacy-monger and strawmanslayer, Kirby is a shameless threat to public health and has influence enough to be considered dangerous.

#211: Les Kinsolving

Charles Lester Kinsolving is a political talk radio host, currently heard on WCBM in Baltimore. Also a White House correspondent for birfer pandering, and an exceptionally delusional WorldNetDaily contributor (he is also an Anglican Church minister and, to his favor, one of the early vocal critics of Jim Jones back in the seventies, for which he was heavily criticized). He is perhaps most famous for his vocal criticism of gay rights organizations, which he calls “the sodomy lobby”. In all fairness, he has made some intelligent reports in his time, and is liberal for a conservative (he is pro-choice and against the death penalty, and as a priest he has denied the existence of hell and virgin births), and has had an interesting career (he also played General Barksdale in the movies “Gettysburg” and “Gods and Generals”). His association with WorldNetDaily has, however, not exactly put him in a positive light. He is famous as a completely crazy but somewhat charming correspondent who has pestered every Presidential spokesperson from Nixon and onwards with the most bizarre questions, and is a well-known maverick (joke) among other correspondents.

His anti-gay screeds are consistently unconcerned with accuracy. He is also clinically unable to understand why some of the usual slippery slope fallacies are fallacies. That is, he really, really doesn’t get it, and has gone on and on and on about how recognizing gay rights must, I say must, mean recognizing the rights of child molesters to molest whoever they want, and has done so for years and years.

Kinsolving is a hero among the birfer movement who has repeatedly asked Obama (or his staff) about comments on the fact that he is an illegal, muslim alien. He is also prone to typical theocratic distortions regarding most positions he disagrees with.

Diagnosis: Typical village idiot for whom you can’t really help but have a certain ounce of sympathy. He’s something of a legend, but it is doubtful that he has a lot of direct followers (few people but Kinsolving seem to combine pro-choice, birfer conspiracies and virulent, religiously fanatic anti-gay campaigns).

Monday, May 23, 2011

#210: Marcel Kinsbourne

Kinsbourne is a pediatric neurologist who has been into anti-vaccinationism since the very beginning, apparently. Currently he is a mainstay of vaccine-related court cases, and a favorite authority for anti-vaccinationist everywhere. He participated in the Autism Omnibus trials as one of the expert witnesses to back up the rather paranoid ravings of main witness Dr. Vasken Aposhian (Aposhian had to admit during cross-examination that he had made up his hypothesis three or four weeks prior to the trial).

Kinsbourne’s status in the anti-vax movement seems to be relatively similar to that of Wakefield-acolyte Arthur Krigsman (here and here). They do have respectable credentials, but their claims and theories are unhinged to the point where one suspects, well, let's call it a tenuous hold on reason. Kinsbourne is well covered on whale.to, and that website has managed to dig out some remarkable, insanely paranoid screeds from him.

That is not to say that Kinsbourne has not had some success – and his claims in other cases may indeed contain some accuracy. The lunacy part comes in when you use you credentials to actually specialize in testifying against vaccines, regardless of the case, the evidence for the claims made, or the plausibility of the purported mechanisms.

Diagnosis: Hard to tell, really – but there is no doubt that paranoia has managed to suppress a genuinely scientific approach to evidence. He comes across as something like the Michael Behe of anti-vaccinationism.

#209: Steve King

Steven Arnold “Steve” King is the U.S. Representative (Republican) for Iowa's 5th congressional district. He is Michele Bachman's chief competition for the title of most idiotic Representative in Congress (they make an apt pair, though). Among his more recent not particularly intelligent assertions is his claim that if the estate tax was allowed to increase, rich people would kill themselves on Dec. 31 in order to avoid having to pay it after they're dead.

King is, predictably, not in favor of gay marriage, arguing that “I think that if we can't defend marriage, that it becomes very hard to defend life.” Now, you may wonder what that means and how he arrived at the conclusion, and it is not entirely clear (you can read it in context here). It seems that the conclusion is arrived at through the infamous inference rule “word-salad introduction” (related to Arthur Prior’s “tonk”-operator but more obfuscatory). A similar (I think) argument is this one. He is on more familiar (but hardly more intelligent) grounds with his standard slippery slope argument that recognizing homosexuality entails recognizing pedophilia.

He has also expressed “interesting” views on topics such as racism and racial profiling, and on trying terrorists in civilian courts and granting them Miranda rights.

He also wears his theocratic sympathies on his sleeve. I think you can pretty accurately predict his views on other political matters yourself.

Bill Saller of the conservative group “Everyday America” thinks Steve King is too moderate. Seriously.

Diagnosis: Pathologically ignorant moron. And people keep electing him. Amazing.

#208: Cliff Kincaid

Cliff Kincaid is a central figure in (and editor of) the delusionally wingnut “media watchdog” Accuracy in Media (AIM), most famous for accusing mainstream media of missing (or deliberately suppressing) all the real conspiracies out there. Their most famous stunt (of which Kincaid was to a large extent the architect) was making allegations that President Bill Clinton was connected to the suicide of Vincent Foster. AIM contends, contrary to all evidence, that "Foster was murdered” and faults the media for not picking up on the conspiracy. They have even gone to court for documents and recordings linked to the case (and failed).

AIM has been deeply involved with Fox News, but didn’t fail to criticize them for broadcasting "The Heat is On," which reported that global warming represents a serious problem. Kincaid argued (well, incoherently complained) that the piece was one-sided and stated that this "scandal" amounted to a "hostile takeover of Fox News". In general, AIM seems to assume that objectivity means giving both sides of an issue equal time (regardless of whether both sides have any basis in reality), but only applies the principle when they feel that the fundie wingnut side has been neglected. They are also highly critical of the U.N.

Here’s Kincaid ranting against libertarians for daring to think that gays are human beings with equal rights and that the First Amendment actually applies to things Kincaid doesn’t fancy. He commits most of the know fallacies associated with anti-gay bigotry in the process.

He also reacted unfavorably to media criticism of Uganda’s draconian anti-gay laws, claiming that the media criticism amounts to persecution of Christians.

Kincaid thinks he has evidence that Obama is a communist. The reason he thinks that is probably because he does not have the slightest clue about how to discern evidence from delusionally insane paranoia.

Diagnosis: Rabidly delusional wingnut who apparently thinks “accuracy” means “roughly matching my paranoid delusions” – and he is completely insane. AIM still exists, however, and is apparently well funded to boot. That’s the sad and scary part.

#207: Linda Kimball

One of our previous idiot Alan Keyes’s pet projects is the delusionally ignorant website Renew America (for which luminaries like Fred Hutchison, Bryan Fischer, Wes Vernon and Grant Swank have written). Among their writers are Linda Kimball, who is apparently engaged in a desperate battle with Ray Comfort (and some others) for the most thoroughly moronic anti-evolution screed ever written.

Her masterpiece is surely “Evolutionism: the dying West’s science of magic and madness”. Here she traces evolution back to Nimrod of the Old Testament, and then to Ancient Greek where “evolution serves as the mechanism of soul-transference in metempsychosis and transmigration of souls. In the ancient East, the mystical Upanishads refine evolution and it becomes the mechanism of soul-movement in involutions, emergences, incarnations, and reincarnation.”

Huh? Does she have the faintest clue what she is talking about? Not at all. This is Time Cube level stuff. After carefully inventing the genealogy of the cult of evolution, she points out – in a manner that would probably make even Alex Jones raise an eyebrow (or perhaps not) – that “whereas occult pantheism quietly flowed beneath 'red-colored' atheist-materialist-communism and Nazism during the twentieth century, that order is quickly reversing. Today, 'green-colored' occult pantheist-socialism is brazenly striding onto the world-stage in full public view while materialist-secularism slowly fades to black. Already, zealous High Priests and Priestesses of the occult arts are calling the U.N the world church and the world mind, while other madmen such as David Spangler, demand that everyone submit to a satanic-initiation to qualify for entry to the coming green New World Order.”

And that, readers, is Linda Kimball’s attempt at refuting evolution. Discussed here.

She also made an earlier attempt, where her main argument seems to have been: “Jeffrey Dahmer, a psychopath who cannibalized his victims, acted on Darwin's advice.” (remember that Dahmer’s father was a known creationist lecturer, and Dahmer was raised a creationist).

Her contributions to other matters are not pitched at a higher level of quality. Her column is here. Enjoy.

Diagnosis: Mind-numbingly idiotic wingnut fundamentalist who is pathologically unable to separate evidence, science, logic or reason from religion. One of the most hilariously stupid characters we have covered thus far.

#206: Alan Keyes

Alan Keyes is a conservative speaker and activist who has run for President and the Senate numerous times (always losing, thankfully – in 2008 he ran with Wiley Drake). He is most famous for being clinically insane, completely ignorant and pathologically intellectually dishonest. More about his career can be found here and here. He used to try to run on a Republican ticket, but after 2008 ran with the Constitution part - but since they supported Chuck Baldwin he started his own party, the Independence Party.

He is insanely anti-gay, actually arguing that gay people cannot have sex (they are rather “mutual pursuit of pleasure through the stimulation of the organs intended for procreation, but it has nothing to do with sexuality because they are of the same sex. And with respect to them, the sexual difference does not exist. They are therefore not having sexual relations”). When Keyes’s own daughter came out as homosexual, she was promptly disowned.

He is a strong champion of gun rights, coming up with reassuring claims such as “gun owners are pro life and their guns are to defend the lives of the unborn” (see also this). He has also claimed that downturns in the economy prove that God is angry with legalized abortion.

Keyes is also a staunch supporter of teaching Biblical creationism in public schools, and he supports mandatory prayer and faith initiatives – as long as they are not Jewish, since Jewish (as opposed to Christian) initiatives promote enmity and hatred (see also this). He is also a firm believer in theocracy and the religious foundation of the U.S. - in the sense of Gary Bauer, Gary DeMar, Gary North and David Barton (who should apparently change his name to “Gary” as well). See also this.

In November 2008 Keyes (and Markham Robinson) filed a lawsuit against the California Secretary of State, then-President-elect Barack Obama, then-Vice President-elect Joe Biden, and California's 55 Democratic electors, seeking to challenge Obama's eligibility for the US Presidency (though Keyes didn’t like McCain either). The suit requests that Obama provide documentation that he is a natural born citizen of the United States. Following Obama's inauguration, Keyes denied he had been constitutionally inaugurated, refused to call him President, and called him a "usurper" and a "radical communist". He has even resorted to civil disobedience over the matter (though refusing to call it “civil disobedience, since he doesn’t believe in that). Keyes is thus one of the most central idiots of the birther movement. He has also been affiliated with the Christian Exodus independence movement.

Keyes also made a rather unflattering appearance in Borat.

Diagnosis: Blatheringly moronic fundamentalist and rabid clown. He has some die-hard followers, but even the more extreme Republican wingnuts often find that they have to distance themselves from him.

#205: Eric Keroack

Eric Keroack used to be medical director for A Woman's Concern, a nonprofit group based in Dorchester, Mass. The name alone may not immediately give it away, perhaps, but the name combined with the fact that Keroack is listed in our Encyclopedia probably will. It is, in any case, a Christian pregnancy-counseling organization that regards the distribution of contraceptives as "demeaning to women." (which apparently follows from “it’s unbiblical” and the fact that they have no clue what “demeaning” means anyway). Keroack also claimed that “PRE-MARITAL SEX is really MODERN GERM WARFARE” (yep, with the random capitalization). Though Keroack has a medical education, his only “scientific” evidence for his claims seem to be insane rants by the well-known crackpot Leslee Unruh (who will be covered later).

Then Keroack was – not really unexpectedly – appointed deputy assistant secretary for population affairs by G.W. Bush, i.e. chief of family-planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services (some details here). Which means, for instance, that he was in charge of “providing contraceptive supplies to millions of families”. Yes, that’s the level of insanity here.

Fortunately he had to step down after a few months in service due to an ongoing matter he had with The Massachusets Office of Health and Human Services.

Diagnosis: Taliban-style fundie with credentials but a tenuous grasp on sanity and reality if it doesn’t fit his preconceptions. He may currently not be in a position as influential as the one he was in five years ago, but I wouldn’t count him out. He seems pretty zealous.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

#204: Robert Kennedy Jr.

Since D. James Kennedy has been an ex-fanatic since his death in 2007, we’ll move on to one of the more famous (though probably not for his woo) people in the Encyclopedia. Robert Kennedy Jr. is the son of Robert Kennedy. He's a lawyer and a staunch environmentalist who has actually done a lot of good in that respect (kudos for that, but doing something right does not mean that you’re not a loon). Lately he has made himself notorious for his anti-vaccinationism and for propagating the thoroughly debunked vaccine-autism connection myth – together with the shitload of paranoid conspiracy theories that follow in its wake.

He has been working closely with the repugnant David Kirby, and has published opinion pieces devoid of fact or critical thinking in several places, including (unsurprisingly) the Huffington Post. See him peddling half-truths and paranoia here, as well as displaying a complete misunderstanding of scientific evidence when lamenting the fact that court cases on the purported vaccine/autism link is based on evidence rather than opinion: “vaccine court gives overwhelming weight to written medical records which are often inaccurate -- over all other forms of testimony and evidence. Observations by parents and other caretakers are given little weight.” A typical, willful failure to see why anecdotal evidence is disregarded in science and why science-based categorizations of ailments are preferred to untrained observer’s diagnostizations.

He also emphasizes that the fact that science disagree with caring mothers’ conviction that their children’s autism was caused by vaccines, means just that scientists and professionals hate mothers. He also recommends chelation therapy for children with autism.

More insane paranoia and conspiracy mongering here, here, and here (and as a follow up to that last post, see here). You get the idea.

Diagnosis: Kennedy is a traditional crank and deluded conspiracy theorist who is thoroughly anti-science (even on the topics on which he is right, he relies almost exclusively on non-scientific arguments); a typical crank and crackpot with little aptitude for actual evidence (as opposed to twisting any fact to look like evidence to lay people). He is enormously influential, and must be considered one of the more dangerous people in the US today.

203: Jack Kelley

Jumping from Bill Keller, we find a fellow fundie nitwit. Jack Kelley is a prolific evangelical writer and speaker whose main obsession seems to be distorting real events to fit Biblical prophecies and thus support the idea that the end is near (here's an example). His other schtick is offering bizarre defenses of Israeli settlements in occupied territories, and claiming that liberals such as Dick Cheney are semi-secretly opposing this. Among his more fascinating talking points is how certain people (from other religions) are ‘obviously delusional’ with respect to their religious beliefs.

He does not like evolution either – but does like Mel Gibson’s Passion; a fair trade-off.

You can get some good voting advice here. Remember that “tolerance and choice are just nice sounding words that really stand for rebellion against Him”. He paints a bleak scenario of society if you vote wrong; as Kelley warns us “[t]hose with the greatest ability could wind up supporting those with the greatest need” (which, sadly, will probably in fact be taken as scary by some of Kelley’s followers). For the last presidential election he didn’t provide an unambiguous recommendation, however, since the Christians would be outnumbered among the voters any way (that is, the True Christians™). And as a consequence of the fulfillment of prophecies this brings along “this could very well be the last presidential election we'll ever vote in.”

Diagnosis: Just another crazy fundie godbotter, really, but he seems (or claims) to have a substantial group of followers.

202: William Herbert “Bill” Keller

Turns out that Bill Kaysing, the popularizer of the conspiracy theory that the moon landing was a hoax, went ahead and died himself out of an entry in our Wikipedia. Bummer. Thus we jump ahead to Bill Keller – no, not the executive editor of the NY Times Bill Keller, but the televangelist whose records – very predictably – include jailtime for financial acrobatics. After spending time in jail he attended Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. That combo prepares you better than anything to spread the word of God, it seems, and Keller has made a substantial following from his Tampa-based Live Prayer show.

Keller is fond of pointing out, often as sort of an afterthought, that people are on the highway (or “conveyor belt” to hell) – in particular Muslims (nicely unhinged, this one) and scientologists. Regarding scientologists, Keller said (apparently without a hint of self-awareness or irony) that he is “always amused at people who reject the story of Christ and God's simple plan to redeem fallen man, yet buy into the wild theology of cults like Scientology. Christianity requires that you use your God-given intelligence to make the choice to accept Christ as your Savior based on reality. Cults like Scientology requires [sic] that you abandoned all intelligence and blindly believe wild stories based on no facts.” Indeed.

Somewhat bizarrely, Keller emphasized his support for Mitt Romney in the 2008 elections, but in interviews pointed out that Romney, as a mormon, was also going straight to hell (“if you vote for Romney, you are voting for Satan”, Bill pointed out and promptly got himself in trouble with the tax exemption rules).

Keller is, among other things, convinced that Obama is not a True Christian™ because he is pro-choice and because (apparently) of his attitude towards Israel.

Diagnosis: Example of a pretty common breed of godbotting lunatics, but no less a lunatic for that. His particular influence is unclear, but he does apparently have some followers.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

201: Ed Kalnins

Ed Kalnins is the blabbering maniac in charge of the Wasilla Assembly of God, and would have been completely obscure were it not for the fact that this was Sarah Palin’s church until 2002.

Kalnins has preached that critics of President Bush will be banished to hell. He has also been skeptical of whether people who voted for Sen. Kerry would be accepted into heaven, and preached that 9/11 and the war in Iraq were part of a world war over Christianity. He is also famous for claiming that "I believe that Alaska is one of the refuge states... in the Last Days, and hundreds of thousands of people are going to come to this state to seek refuge. And the church has to ready to minister to them.” That kind of guy. The Assembly has also invited Thomas Muthee as a guest speaker, but that’s a topic for a different entry.

Diagnosis: Pretty insane kook with a militant wingnut bent. He is probably not particularly influential, but his connection with Palin may be interesting to delve into.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

200: Jon Kaiser

This may be our 200th loon, but it’s really nothing to celebrate, so let’s go for a relatively negligible (but still crazy) one.

According to the PR letters he sends out (well, spam), Dr. Jon Kaiser is “an esteemed HIV/AIDS and nutrition specialist who specializes in supporting immune system function with nutrition”. You may see where this is going already. “In the 1980's, Kaiser pioneered the use of nutritional supplements in HIV/AIDS patients to help them build stronger immune systems”, he combines “the best of natural and standard therapies" for HIV, he can report on remarkable results, and there are absolutely no scientific publications or studies performed on his unorthodox methods – and he wants to sell you the nutritional supplement K-PAX.

What, by the way, are “natural therapies”? According to Kaiser, “[a]n aggressive natural therapies program includes a combination of diet therapy, vitamins, herbs, exercise, and stress reduction. Emotional healing encompasses a proactive program of psychological healing techniques that ideally includes a spiritually-oriented practice (prayer, meditation, yoga, etc.)”.

And there you go. More here. Kaiser noticed the mild criticism and responded in your typical crackpot manner.

Diagnosis: Kaiser may be a fraud, or he may be well-intentioned and misguided. He might even (in theory) be right in his claims, for all we know (well, not in his prayer, meditation, yoga claims). The scary thing is that someone with such complete lack of understanding of science, evidence or critical thinking is aggressively marketing their products to the sick and desperate with grandiose but completely unsubstantiated claims. Thus, Kaiser definitely qualifies for an entry in this Encyclopedia.

199: Rick Joyner

Rick Joyner heads MorningStar Ministries, which he co-founded with his wife Julie in 1985. He also oversees MorningStar's “University”, Fellowship of Ministries, and Fellowship of Churches, as well as editing their various publications. According to Joyner, the purpose of his ministry is the “biblical mandate Matthew 24:45–46” as well as a commitment to equip future leaders and work in relationship with current leaders to prepare and strengthen the church for the last days.

He has written numerous books, including the “The Final Quest” series. This is a series of prophecies based on revelation Joyner claims to have received personally – as such it has remained rather controversial even among Evangelicals. Joyner claims to have been (literally) transported to Heaven and to have had long conversations with Jesus (and some saints and prophets). Hence, his talk about spiritual warfare and the impending 'civil war' within the church bears the stamp of authority, doesn’t it?

Interestingly, while Joyner claims to regard the utterly insane William Branham as something of a lunatic, he also claims to have seen Branham close to the throne of God in his travels to Heaven. Hence Branham must be closer to the truth than one thought (this is perhaps the most feeble attempt I’ve seen of trying to argue that your apparently crazy views are not as crazy as they seem, Rick).

He also weighed in on the health care reform, pointing out that the bill "is about euthanasia, the power to determine who lives or dies in America. Hitler and Stalin would have loved to have had a means such as this for dispatching the millions they killed – it would have made their job much easier, and probably given them the ability to kill many more than they did. THIS BILL IS THAT SINISTER. This is not a joke."

Joyner was also (along with Jack Deere and Bill Johnson) in on the attempted curing and rehabilitation of Canadian televangelist Todd Bentley (famous for his Lakeland revival and for “healing” cancer and AIDS patients by beating them up), after Todd had been involved in – you guessed it – an adultery scandal.

Diagnosis: Pathologically delusional kook and madman who sometimes display glimpses of self-awareness that he is quick to explain away. That only makes him even more zealous of course. Impact unknown – he has many followers, but had he not existed the followers would probably have found another loon to worship.

198: Steven E. Jones

Steven E. Jones is responsible for introducing several new words into the English language. That’s probably the best that can be said about him (at least the current version of him).

Jones is a physicist, and for most of his career, he was known mainly for his work on muon-catalyzed fusion. Then he became a 9/11 troofer (tinfoil hat type) and was relieved of his teaching duties and placed on paid leave from Brigham Young University.

Jones is one of the central authorities of the troofer movement (their main scientific alibi). He believes that the WTC was destroyed by controlled demolition during the September 11 attacks, suggesting that the evidence defies the “mainstream collapse theory” and favors controlled demolition, possibly by the use of thermite or nanothermite. He called for further scientific investigation to test the controlled demolition theory and the release of all relevant data by the government. In other words, he was just JAQing off. He has repeated the claims numerous times, despite the fact that they have been thoroughly debunked (good resource here). His tone subsequently became increasingly accusatory and speculative.

Here’s physicist Dave Rogers on Jones’s original paper; some further debunking can be found here and here.

At least Jones has (thus far) refused to engage with Loose Change people like Dylan Avery, Korey Rowe and Daniel Sunjata, or hologram theorists like Rosalee Grable (various insane claims are documented here), but he is still quite far out.

An awesome (seriously awesome) source for debunking 9/11 troofer claims is here.

Diagnosis: A case study in confirmation bias. Jones is an otherwise intelligent and skilled guy who has been caught up in a typical conspiracy theory mechanism where all evidence that support his view (the truth of which he is already convinced of) is accepted (and thus strengthen his convictions), regardless of whether the pieces defeat each other, and everything that does not fit is dismissed (further strengthening the idea that someone – a conspiracy – is actively trying to deceive him). Very influential in the troofer movement, and must be considered dangerous.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

197: Alex Jones

Alex Jones is the guy who has yet to meet a conspiracy theory he doesn’t endorse, no matter how batshit insane it is (and, interestingly, no matter how much it conflicts with other conspiracy theories he already believes). For at least ten years he has predicted, in his rather popular radio program, the imminent roundup of Americans by the New World Order.

In addition to his radio program, he is also the director of several straight-to-video documentaries, and he runs the websites Infowars and PrisonPlanet (for those who wish to avoid the site itself, it is detailed here).

Some conspiracy theories endorsed by PrisonPlanet are:

-The Bilderberg Group (or Skull and Bones, or the Freemasons - it depends on the day, it seems) controls some/most/all governments in the world as well as the economy.

-The New World Order will kill almost everyone. Vaccine programs seem to be just one of their methods – of course Jones has endorsed Andrew Wakefield as a martyr. To get a feel for the level it is pitched at, you may want to check out this one - or then again, maybe not.

-In fact, Hurricane Katrina was merely an opportunity to test out the FEMA concentration camps.

-And the tsunami in south-east Asia in 2004 was man-made.

-9/11 was (of course) an inside job.

This is, of course, only a selection; in general it is hard to find a loon that Jones does not take seriously. He is basically a living embodiment of whale.to.

Other bizarre antics are chronicled on his wikipedia page. Apparently the ravingly mad and utterly dense (but British) Vicount Monckton views PrisonPlanet as a legitimate news outlet. That explains a lot.

The interesting thing about Alex Jones’ reasoning is that he does not seem to run with the common fallacy ‘authorities (e.g. scientific) say X; I don’t like X; hence there must be a conspiracy’, but rather with the inference rule ‘everything is part of a conspiracy; authorities say X; hence X is false’ (which is a fallacy as well, of course, but a somewhat more interesting one).

Now, some may think Alex Jones is batshit crazy, and he is. But surely he is beaten by Lorie Kramer, who believes that Alex Jones is a pawn created by the New World Order to divert attention. Seriously. And if that is not enough, this site, run by Gary & Lisa Ruby, claims that Jones is part of a scientologist conspiracy to take over the world and demolish Christianity. I guess this is what you risk when you start to gain notoriety in the hyper-paranoid and chaotic field of conspiracy theory.

Among Jones’s more notable collaborators is the equally insane Paul Joseph Watson, who may consider himself indicted by this entry as well (he does not deserve a separate one). Watson is, among other things, behind this, uh, illuminating screed.

Diagnosis: The ur-loon. Extremely famous and frighteningly influential, but one suspects that he would be able to convince anyone who were not already at least mildly unhinged. Jones may be partly in it for the money, but there is little question that he actually believes much of whatever falls out of his mouth.

196: Marie Jon

From her own biographical info: “Marie Jon is a political/religious analyst-based writer and founder of www.DrawingClose.org and www.PeoplePoliticallyRight.com — sister websites to RenewAmerica. Marie extends her hand of welcome; visit DrawingClose and receive your free gift of salvation by taking an online Bible study.” That sets the tone.

Her column can be found here. In her column, Marie Jon offers marriage advice and advice on love and women’s interests, as well as general commentaries on the development of society (she is a huge fan of Rush Limbaugh), all against a background of firm Biblical values. She accuses Obama of introducing bigotry, racism and Marxism dishonestly disguised as Christianity (huh?) and blames him for the BP oil spill – at least accuses him for having a hidden agenda for being so slow to act, (as opposed to how Bush acted responsibly and immediately after Katrina!). Oh, and then of course there is the healthcare/death panel stuff. A common thread through her columns is the extreme paranoia for something she calls “social justice”, but which she never really seems to quite grasp. Fortunately, her main strategy in her fight against communism is … to pray.

She is also a firm young earth creationist, and complains that modern genetics pay too little attention to our last known common ancestor, Noah. She even bought into the Bob Cornuke story (here and here).

Still, it is her advice on love and relationship that has garnered the most attention – in particular her well-founded claim that modern feminism is founded on occultism, demonic spiritualism and necromancy. Yup – pro-choice advocates, women's rights movements and feminist movements are all satanic. Which, to Marie Jon, is obviously true insofar as they seek to violate God’s natural law set down in the Garden of Eden. You can figure out her relationship advice from there.

Diagnosis: Irrevocably insane and moronic godbotter who is unable to see that her fire and brimstone fundamentalism and godbottery sits poorly with the fluffy, rosy, children and laughter perspective on the world she attempts to deploy. Her impact is unknown, but probably not too extensive.

195: Robert Bowie Johnson jr.

Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr. may be most famous for his self-published book “Sowing Atheism: The National Academy of Sciences' Sinister Scheme to Teach Our Children They're Descended from Reptiles”, which was endorsed by Don McLeroy, the former chairman of the Texas Board of Education. As you’d expect, this book contains gems like “What kind of monster parents teach their children that they're descended from rodents and reptiles?” and “The hierarchy of the NAS has stolen true science; they are sacrificing our children to their atheism, and at the same time, destroying our children's faith in God.” The book is rather thin on evidence and reason, but then Bob Johnson doesn’t really care for such atheist tricks like ‘sanity’.

He has also written ‘Noah in Ancient Greek Art’ (read that title a second time). Yes, it is a book detailing Noah's role in Greek art as a known historical figure. Yes, that Noah. The Greeks knew the stuff: Noah, Cain & Abel, Eden, and so on – although it has been covered up by an atheist conspiracy. To “shock the Darwinists out of their denial of the overwhelming evidence in Greek art for the reality of Genesis events”, Johnson urges Creationists to “refer to evolutionists as what they imagine they are – Slime-Snake-Monkey-People, or “mutants” (more here and here).

Even the Institution of Creation Research has passed this crackpot by – but he was still found good enough for the Texas Board of Education.

Diagnosis: Ravingly insane crackpot and godbot. His impact is probably limited, but it has evidently and unnervingly shown up in some striking contexts.

194: Phillip Johnson

Near-namesake of the (unfortunately) deceased but intellectually very much comparable Charles K. Johnson, Johnson is a retired Berkeley law professor and must perhaps be considered the very founder of the intelligent design movement (and founded, together with George Gilder, the Discovery Institute). The most important turnaround in Johnson’s career was when he became a born again Christian after divorce. He subsequently, and fully independently, realized that science didn't support the theory of evolution. What a coincidence.

His introduction of “intelligent design” came in his book ”Darwin on Trial”, which since Johnson presented evidence in the form of a mock trial (with legal standards of admissibility of evidence), rejected all scientific evidence in favor of anecdotal evidence – in addition to being (of course) utterly selective in what evidence to present. The point was, essentially, that since the evidence for theory of evolution didn’t provide absolute, logical, irrefutable proof, the theory has to be rejected (no one ever sees that kind of argument from misunderstanding of the role and standards of evidence pop up among climate change denialists, no?). The fact that intelligent design has failed utterly as a scientific theory does not seem to bother him.

Johnson’s vision of the mission of the Intelligent Design PR movement is not limited to evolutionary biology. Rather, the point is that all science lacks a proper theistic basis. Hence every field of science and indeed all public policy should be held hostage to theocratic organization. This is apparently why Johnson calls evolution the 'thin edge of the wedge' with which to 'split the log of materialism open'. This is a good resource on Johnson and his strategy. The idea is not to establish ID through science, but through public policy – hence the Discovery Institute’s focus, not on developing ID, but to get it into school curricula. See also this.

Thus Johnson is known for accepting not only creationism, but the whole full range of woo and crank ideas. He is, for instance, a HIV-denialist as well, having written several articles denying the link between HIV and AIDS.

Johnson has, however, remained relatively quiet the last 10 years after suffering a series of strokes, but he does make the occasional reappearance.

For fun, you can try scoring him on the crackpot index. Ed Brayton provides a brilliant guide here.

This is an interesting take on the whole creationist movement.
Diagnosis: Hyper-crackpot and one of the central founders of the denialist movement. His impact has been huge, but he seems to be semi-retired at present. Still dangerous, however.