Monday, February 27, 2012

#303: Michael Oard

And now we are back to the creationists. Michael Oard is associated with Answers in Genesis and has published several creation “science” articles in their in-house journal Answers. Together with Peter Klevberg he has contributed “Green River Formation Very Likely Did Not Form in a Postdiluvian Lake”. Indeed. For the junk rag Creation he has written, among other things, “Do Rivers Erode Through Mountains”. His answer is that a global flood must be assumed. The geological evidence is … absent. He has also written the book “Flood by Design”. You see where this is going.

Thing is, Oard – who is a meteorologist – is obsessed about taking geology back from those evil “evolutionary geologists” (Don Batten’s term – Batten would have merited inclusion in our Encyclopedia were he not Australian). Oard also denies the existence of black holes and dark matter. Apparently his area of expertise is endless. He has become modestly known for his own theory of the origin of the moon but claims to be suppressed by – you guessed it – evolutionary astronomers. If nothing else works, Oard is pretty quick to appeal to the “different worldview” gambit. But of course, it applies exclusively to evolutionary scientists, who only confirm their preconceptions and are blinded to the alternatives – not to himself.

With one “Beverly Oard” (presumably a wife) he has also written what passes for a creationist science book, “Life in the Great Ice Age” – a picture book designed for homeschool use, appropriate for kids aged 6–8, and another excellent illustration of what creation “scientists” are trying to achieve. It has nothing to do with science, of course, but everything to do with converting kids to Jesus.

He has, predictably, denied AGW – which is promoted by “uniformitarian scientists”. Just as geology, astronomy and biology, I suppose.

Diagnosis: Why are all these deluded, conspiracy-mongering religious fanatics also so blatantly dishonest? In any case, Oard is as deluded and dishonest as they come.

Friday, February 24, 2012

#302: Gary Null

A.k.a. The Kent Hovind of alternative medicine.

Gary Null is a self-proclaimed researcher, nutritionist, herbalist, and political activist. In his medical practice he starts from the commonsensical belief that nutrition is important to health and well-being, and leaves reality from there: he rejects Western medicine and its oppressive trends, such as treating illness with medication. Medicines, you see, don’t help cure the disease, only the symptoms (that goes for everything from colds to cancer). So what should you do? Well – it’s obvious, really – you should buy foods, herbs and woo from Gary Null. And once you have embraced one kind of woo, it becomes a magnet for all the other woo as well. In 2008 Null organized a rally against vaccination in New Jersey in response to a flu vaccine mandate. 

Null is, among other things (such as a cancer denialist), a hardcore AIDS denialist. He denies that HIV is a virus that can be spread sexually and can be “treated” with harmful drugs. Rather, the common underlying conditions for the epidemic are malnutrition, unclean water, poverty, illness such as TB, malaria and dysentery, and poor lifestyle choices (yes, those darned African children and their lifestyle choices). Before he discovered AIDS denialism, Null was the main proponent of the ridiculous coffee enemas, the justification for which truly flaunted his complete medical, anatomical and physiological ignorance – as well as his insulation from evidence (but since the medical establishment is a big conspiracy anyway. Null has often pointed out that he is being followed by shadowy types, obviously agents of science-based medicine). He has also endorsed the blood type diet.

Concerning his credentials, Null claims to be a PhD. He is supposed to have received a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies from Union Institute & University (thesis: “A Study of Psychological and Physiological Effects of Caffeine on Human Health” – so that’s where it came from), which is a correspondence college. It is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, but only for the humanities. An extensive critical look at Null and his credentials can be found here.

He is also known for accusing the “medical community of suppressing alternative cancer treatments to protect the medical establishment's solid-gold cancer train.” Right.

In 2010 Null nearly died from overdosing on Vitamin D through eating his own branded “Ultimate Power Meal” twice a day. This shows that he’s not merely a fraud but actually believes his own claims, I guess. His response was to sue the company making it for him for making it exactly in accordance with his recommendations. Apparently six other people were hospitalized as well. At least Null assures us that “all his other products are fine".

Diagnosis: One of the most dangerous people alive, Null is actually taken seriously by millions of people; he has the potential of doing real harm to the world and has in fact already done so.

Monday, February 20, 2012

#301: Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent is currently a radio DJ who repeatedly promises to run for governor of Michigan, but used to be a rock guitarist who liked to shoot and kill things. According to himself he gets off on shooting “nature's surplus”, and he spoons with a bronzed copy of the Second Amendment. Nugent’s defense of handguns is not exclusively based on reason and evidence, however. Any restriction on handgun ownership stems, apparently, right from Mao. He is also a chickenhawk who avoided the Vietnam War by acting crazy. The act seems to have stuck.

He is on the record for displaying dissatisfaction with president Obama (and Hilary Clinton). You can see a video here. At least he places the blame where blame is due:Barack Hussein Obama did not sneak into power. An army of clueless, disconnected, ignorant Americans invited him to bring his Marxist, glaringly anti-American jihad into our lives”. Rick Perry predictably used the intellectually superior Nugent for his inauguration event as insane governor of Texas. It turned out something of a scandal when Nugent showed up dressed in a confederate flag and yelling deprecatory remarks at immigrants.

He endorses Sarah Palin, however, and as usual in his own breathtakingly delusional manner (proving in the process that he cannot distinguish politics and hagiography, which is a pretty dangerous handicap).

His position on global warming is, however, very sophisticated and informed by science: “Global warming is a fraud. Watch Glenn Beck."

If you like painful idiocy, you can watch Nugent discuss politics with the hardly better informed Roseanne Barr here.

Diagnosis: Unhinged troglodyte who displays the mental acuity and savviness of something that abiogenerated in a clogged drain. It is thoroughly sad that some people actually listen to his moronic screeds and take them seriously.

#300: Dan Nuckols

Dan Nuckols cartoons for the glory of God. Yes, he is a cartoonist who uses cartoons “as a powerful communicative tool to spread the Gospel”. Since the Gospel is not particularly funny, some may think that it lends itself better to Jack Chick’s approach. Nuckols, however, actually does attempt to be funny. Many of the comic strips deal with “the evolution–creation controversy. The fact that he thinks there is a controversy here tells you quickly which side he is going to land on. Just to emphasize: Nuckols is notoriously unfunny and probably lands himself in the same camp as Dan Lietha. More creationists’ humor can be found here.

According to himself: “Nuckols' incisive wit sometimes can create quite a bit of stir with evolutionists and atheists. Critics will often criticize his humor, artwork, and intelligence, yet interestingly, they won't debate the points he brings up in his cartoons.” Fail.

Diagnosis: Unbelievably moronic fundamentalist with an utter lack of self-awareness, knowledge, and humor.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

#299: Chuck Norris

Some might at this point have expected creationism apologist and philosopher of religion and education Warren Nord. But Nord decided to take his ball and walk home in June 2010. And Misha Norland, who founded and runs the School of Homeopathy, is British.

Good ol’ Chuck Norris, however, is as American as born-again evangelicals and Walker Texas Ranger. In fact, Norris is both. In addition, Norris is an infomercial actor, a columnist for WorldNetDaily (and Creators Syndicate), an author of several incoherent religious books (“The Justice Riders”), and a political activist who has campaigned extensively for Mike Huckabee (and he has even endorsed Roy Moore). In 2009 he also announced on Glenn Beck that he might run for president of Texas. His WND screeds are remarkably incoherent and insane (and dishonest), even for Norris. At best, they bring quote-mining to a new level. It is therefore rather remarkable that he has been invited to provide a weekly column for Politico, but so it goes.

As an infomercial actor he has promoted fitness equipment, Bible study and prayer in public school. Norris (with his wife Gina) is on the board of directors of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public School, a branch of the Taliban that – you guessed it – campaigns to put the Bible on the curriculum of public schools. For Norris’s own take on “kicking and punching the Bible back into public schools”, see this. He works tirelessly to unmask the vast atheist conspiracy that exists and whose goal is to outlaw Christianity in the United States (and evil Obama’s primary goal is to take our guns away). The atheists have a lot of power: “Though the majority of Americans continue to claim to be Christians, a Gallup poll discovered 45 percent of us would support an atheist for president. Such a survey is a clear indication that the secularization of society is alive and well.” Clearly a result of atheist brainwashing. Norris has promised that if he were elected President he would “tattoo an American flag on the forehead of every atheist”, so that their secret powers are destroyed and it would be hard for them to work undercover in government etc. Similar measures have been used to identify and mark problematic minorities in society before, with some success (depending on how you see it). Admittedly, though, the atheists are only the second biggest threat to America, after illegal immigrants. There’s also a U.N.-grounded “world government” conspiracy, and to show his bipartisanship Norris has also run with some traditional granola hippie crankery, such as genetically modified organisms conspiracies and “health freedom” rhetoric. He’s even dug staunchly into antivaxx.

Norris is also a Biblical literalist and creationist. He is about as clueless as Ray Comfort. But can you guess what Norris thinks is to blame for the VT shootings?

Norris is a staunch opponent of gay rights and public schools condoning homosexuality. He was a champion of California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage, and criticized the gay community for “interfering” with the democratic process (apparently by existing and having a stake in the outcome, as opposed to the Mormon church and the evangelicals in California who … well, the point should be intuitively clear if you have the intellectual abilities of Chuck Norris). If you wonder what his take is on abortion, and how he came to his position, you may look at this.

As an extension of his fitness advice, Norris has recently taken to passing out medical advice as well. The level of expertise displayed corresponds roughly to the level of expertise he displays in his discussions of evolution.

In 2008 he was the commencement speaker at LibertyUniversity, which is apt. And in 2010 he was given the title “Honorary Texas Ranger” by Texas Governor Rick Perry. That tells you more about Perry than about Norris.

“Chuck Norris facts” are not funny.

Diagnosis: Dense as a rock, but surprisingly dangerous (not because of his martial arts skills), Norris seems hell-bent to be wrong on absolutely every issue, and succeeds to a rather remarkable degree.

#298: George Noory

George Noory runs the infamous radio talk show Coast toCoast AM. It is enormously popular, though one suspects many listen to be entertained by the garbled insanity of Noory and his guests rather than because they find it illuminating. The show used to be run by Art Bell (author of “The Coming Global Superstorm”, on which the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” is based), who sometimes returns to spew madness. And it is sometimes hosted by Ian Punnett, who is hardly better (for the record, it has also been run by Mike Siegel).

The topic of the show is the paranormal and occult in all varieties – usually accepting everything without the faintest trace of skepticism – as well as all manners of pseudoscience, including, but not limited to, UFOs, alien abductions, cryptozoology, hauntings, exorcisms, astrology, pseudoarcheology, mystical powers and woo. Among their favored guests are Richard Hoagland and Ed Dames. Noory has also interviewed Andrew Wakefield, which is entirely appropriate, of course. Among the more insane conspiracy theorists and pseudo-scientists interviewed is Geoffrey Simmons, who will be covered later.

Noory is revered by the people, of course, and for someone like John Rappoport, being featured on the show is apparently the greatest of honors. That also means that he has his detractors as well; our old friend Don Croft thinks Noory has no clue. Croft is certainly familiar with crazy.

Diagnosis: Might of course be a fraud, but does at least come across as desperately lunatic. His voice appears to have great power over weak minds, however.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

#297: Kurt Nimmo

Poor Kurt Nimmo. They are all out to get him. They are out to get us as well, and Nimmo is heroically putting himself in the line of fire to warn us. Even WorldNetDaily has debunked his warnings. For instance, when Obama called the H1N1 virus outbreak a “national emergency”, Nimmo was quick to point out what this meant: Martial law. “In the weeks ahead we may witness a move toward martial law, forced vaccination and internment of those who refuse". That it didn’t happen just proves that the government is toying with Nimmo, actively trying to undermine his credibility. For the concentration camps are surely there already, ready for use.

The first thing the government will do, is to take our guns, so that we cannot defend ourselves when they come to take us away. He has, according to his own reliable testimony, received lots of death threats from the Zionists who run the government (one wonders why they just don’t make him disappear). Though you wouldn't expect it given his love for blaming the Zionists, Nimmo’s favorite rhetorical gambit is Godwin.

Nimmo writes for InfoWars. That’s Alex Jones’s website. He also writes for That’s Jeff Rense’s website.

Diagnosis: The stuff paranoid militia groups are made of. Probably harmless, but whatever he suffers from is not.

Friday, February 10, 2012

#296: Preston Nichols

Preston Nichols has quickly risen to half-legendary status among the most insane conspiracy theorists and avid fans (Nichols has his own page). He claims to have degrees in parapsychology, psychology, and electrical engineering. He is the main author (co-author is one Peter Moon) of a series of books revolving around “The Montauk Project” conspiracy, one of the strangest conspiracy theories there is. The main idea is that at Montauk Air Force Base, the US government created some kind of inter-dimensional portal with the help of Nikola Tesla (who has been resurrected/is immortal) and some friendly aliens.

Nichols claims the project goes back to 1943 and is connected to the Philadelphia Experiment; the Montauk time travel project interlocked in hyperspace with the original Philadelphia Experiment work from 1943. The ship USS Eldridge was drawn into hyperspace and trapped there, but two men, Al Bielek and Duncan Cameron, leaped from the deck (in hyperspace) and ended up at Camp Hero, Montauk Point, in 1983, where they met John von Neumann (who died in 1957). Bielek and Nichols have written this piece to (fail to) explain the sequence of events.

A time portal was apparently created so that researchers could travel anywhere in time or space. Thus they could explore the abandoned cultural archives on Mars. They also contacted extraterrestrials and exchanged advanced “etheric technology”. This facilitated the already existing psionic powers of people like Steward Swerdlow, at the cost of emotional and psychological instability (interesting piece of insight there) and being programmed with microchips.

The Montauk base also produced black helicopters and men in black suits, faked the moon landing, and altered the outcome of the Civil War.

Diagnosis: It must be kinda fun to be so pathologically unable to distinguish reality from fantasy. Nichols probably harmless, even though he is batshit insane.

#295: Marc Neumann

Marc Neumann runs the Morgellon’s Research Organization. He is a bit crazy.

Not only is Neumann convinced, in stark opposition to medical science, that Morgellon’s is a genuine disease (that last one links to Wikipedia’s overly evenhanded description). He also knows what causes it: “Morgellons disease is caused from a biological insecticide, spread from US companies without any care if immunocompromised humans or animals gets sick from it.” It is all there, conspiracy theories, Galileo gambits … and Neumann really, really likes strawmen.

If you try to access his website from, say, the blog Respectful Insolence, you will find yourself blocked – and instead see one of the most stupidly inane and wrong quotes from the history of mankind: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident. And the highest form of recognition is the envy” (Schopenhauer). If you ever feel compelled to use that quote to describe some position, argument or claim, you have proven beyond any doubt that you are a crackpot. Just to emphasize: Neumann is not a Galileo.

The above is really all you need, but more on his work can be found here. Like all true cranks, he likes to respond to criticism and being called out with legal threats.

He associated with (indeed, was the peddler of the woo promoted by) the infamous Dr. Rolando Arafiles.

Diagnosis: Plentifully disturbed wingdings. Impact unknown, but can’t be much good.

(ed. note: I had trouble locating a photo I could reliably identify as being of Marc Neumann, so the above photo is of Dr. Arafiles)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

#294: William Nelson

In Pakistan, William “Bill” Nelson is known as “the Father of New homeopathy”. That ought to tell you all you need to know. According to his own bio, he was single-handedly responsible for saving the Apollo 13 astronauts and has been nominated to the Nobel price several times. According to himself, he is also the author of “Promorpheus”, the “most technical and mathematical treatise on life process [sic] existing”. He is, in other words, mad as a hatter.

According to one gullible biographer (Herb Stockman, and actually written in comic sans), “Dr. [nope] Nelson has been one of the most prolific lecturers and writers on the subjects of quantum biology, energetic medicine, homeopathy, alternative medicine, and the entire field of naturopathy,” and “[p]rofessor Bill Nelson has invented this amazing technology using bio-resonance to safely and effectively induce the necessary changes required to reverse the stages of disease and create balance of mind, body and spirit.” Quackwatch says this about his credentials. Stockman’s webpage is here. He is a certified biofeedback therapist.

Unfortunately, according to Nelson himself there is a conspiracy against Nelson (government, FDA, science, doctors, publishers, reality and sanity are among the culprits). You can read more here (this is mostly compiled from his own words).

He is most famous for inventing the idea of “Quantumbiofeedback”. After lawsuits related to the invention, Nelson fled the US and is currently living in Budapest. He has reportedly at least two verifiable deaths on his conscience. He has also invented the “Quantum Prayer Wheel”. I doubt it needs an explanation, but Jenny McCarthy actually tried to market that one during her indigo child phase. It was sold with the disclaimer “The Quantum Prayer Wheel is not a Medical Treatment. This program does not provide subscribers with any form of Therapy, Counseling, Medical Treatment or Diagnosis. If you think you have a medical condition, please see your doctor. The QPW is a spiritual technology using advanced mathematics, fractals and prayers.”

I also recommend readers to look at this list of harm directly caused by woo and superstition. It’s scary. This one is on Nelson in particular.

Diagnosis: Gibbering lunatic, and dangerous - reportedly to the extent of being responsible for people's deaths.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

#293: Paul Nelson

April 7th every year is Paul Nelson day. The background is as follows: On April 6th 2004 Paul Nelson, an Intelligent Design creationist, presented his notion of “Ontogenetic Depth”. Ontogenetic depth is purportedly a way of objectively measuring the complexity of the developmental process in organisms with a number that described the distance from egg to adult, something that would – if he could give it – actually give Intelligent Design some predictive power (which it doesn’t have). The idea is silly, and what he didn’t give away was – predictably – how to calculate the number, how it actually accounts for the complexity of a network, or even how to obtain a number that was different for a rhododendron and an elephant. Instead, Nelson said he'd get back with the details “tomorrow”. Well, “tomorrow” would have been April 7, 2004. We are still waiting, and the incident has become rather symbolic for the scientific credibility of Intelligent Design Creationism as an actual scientific theory.

Here are some summaries of previous Paul Nelson days:
2006, 2008 (also here), 2009 (also here), and 2010.

Paul Nelson is a philosopher of science (apologist), young earth creationist and intelligent design advocate. He is a fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture and of the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design. He is admittedly known for some strokes of insight. In an interview in Touchstone Magazine he admitted that there is no scientific theory of intelligent design at the moment, thus directly contradicting the official Discovery Institute stance. He also admitted – in an article co-written with fellow young earth creationist John Mark Reynolds (in J.P. Moreland’s “Three Views on Creation and Evolution”) – that “[n]atural science at the moment seems to overwhelmingly point to an old cosmos. Though creationist scientists have suggested some evidence for a recent cosmos, none are widely accepted as true. It is safe to say that most recent creationists are motivated by religious concerns.” (That does not mean that Nelson is opposed to the wedge strategy; just that he may not be completely aware that he is contradicting it).

He is not always that honest (though one sometimes suspects non-malicious intent), and has been caught accusing “evolutionists” of breaking down over … Paley’s design argument (follow-up here). Seriously. Anyone appealing to Paley’s argument has, by definition, no clue about how evolution is supposed to work. Strawmen are expected, though, given the combination of cluelessness and confirmation bias.

Nelson was also involved in concocting “Explore Evolution”, the Discovery Institute’s new “science” textbook for highschools. He has produced no scientific findings.

Diagnosis: Mild-mannered but thoroughly confused ignoramus – the kind of guy who can sit through the most careful explanation of a phenomenon attentively, and still interpret it completely randomly as being evidence for whatever he wants to believe.

#292: Council Nedd II

Council Nedd (not an alias) is a political, religious and cultural commentator who also serves as the Bishop of the Chesapeake and the Northeast in the Episcopal Missionary Church. He has undeniably done some good stuff for people in need, but he is also very much a loon. Nedd is the national chairman of the advocacy group “In God we trust”. Even if you’re not familiar with it, you kinda get the idea from the name. Nedd was, for instance, predictably outraged when the National Day of Prayer was found unconstitutional. Though he didn’t top the insanity of the Family Research Council, he did say that “prayer is never unconstitutional,” (which is kinda beside the point), and “... [t]o say the President of the United States cannot say a prayer [also beside the point], or lead the nation that elected him in prayer, is violating his first amendment rights ... I hope the President will stand up to his atheist allies and stand up for the American people by defending the National Day of Prayer ..." Ahh, the atheist conspiracy, which goes all the way to the top of the government. In fact, Nedd drives a pretty tough campaign to stir up anti-atheist bigotry. The atheists, you see “hate America and they are working with our nation's enemies to attack our heritage”, and national atheist organizations and left-wing legal groups are concentrating their efforts aimed at terrorizing Americans into not celebrating Christmas.

You do get a sense of the skewed observations of Nedd. When students at Boulder High School objected to being forced to recite the pledge of allegiance every day, partially because of the pledge’s religious content, Nedd didn’t only disagree but claimed that the objecting students should be punished because of their intolerance and offensiveness toward Christian students. Ordinary sane people can try to figure out what mixture of paranoia and madness is needed to fill in the hidden premises in Nedd’s “argument”.

When Obama met with the Secular Coalition for America, Nedd displayed his knee-jerk disposition to go into martyr-posture by “it is one thing for Administration to meet with groups of varying viewpoints, but it is quite another for a senior official to sit down with activists representing some of the most hate-filled, anti-religious groups in the nation.” (see here, and also here)

Diagnosis: Rabid, highly paranoid madman. Noteworthy impact.

#291: Caroline M. Myss

Anyone who seeks a comprehensive knowledge of loons will have to know about the gibberingly lunatic gravitational center of all woo, insanity and pathological ignorance that is Andrew Moulden. But Moulden is Canadian. In fact, Eustace Mullins would have been Moulden’s equal. But Mullins is dead (and between Moulden and Mullins an international encyclopedia we would have placed one of the most dangerous cranks the world has seen, Robert Muller – but Muller is Belgian. And dead, in fact). Perhaps the inclusion of the Kenyan America-friend, evangelical mullah and witch-hunter Thomas Muthee could have been defended, but it would have been a long shot.

Well, at least Caroline Myss qualifies. Myss is a medical intuitive and mystic, and a prolific author. Her New York Times Best Sellers include “Anatomy of the Spirit”, “Why People Don't Heal and How They Can”, “Sacred Contracts”, “Invisible Acts of Power” and “Entering The Castle”, and she has been featured on Oprah numerous times. She has also hosted a TV series “The Journey With Caroline Myss” on Oprah’s Oxygen network. Myss claims to have a PhD in Energy Medicine, and teaches courses in astrology. Issues surrounding her rather dubious PhD have led to claims that she is as much of a fraud as she is a crank, but this does not seem to have diminished her influence among dimwits and wishful thinkers.

To give you an idea, “Anatomy of the Spirit” (“The Seven Stages of Power and Healing”) combines seven Christian sacraments with seven Hindu chakras and the Kabbalah's Tree of Life in order to create a map of the human “energy anatomy”. “Why People Don't Heal and How They Can” applied Myss’s concept of “woundology” to explain why people do not heal themselves with spiritual energy when they are ill (for they can). “Sacred Contracts” (Awakening Your Divine Potential”) provides a “set of assignments that our soul has formed around before incarnation” to find “Life Purpose”.

In other words, she uses the winning combination of religion, new age and contentless self-help newspeak. 

Diagnosis: Completely out of touch with reality, and has a complicated relationship with honesty – a sinister combination. Oprah has given her a substantial congregation.

Monday, February 6, 2012

#290: Terry Mortenson

One of the most active and zealous members of the Answers in Genesis gang, Mortenson is a Creation Museum employee, an avid public speaker, and has published several papers in Answers (Answers in Genesis’s “research” journal). For volume 2, he contributed “Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science”, which is a critique of Old Earth creationist Bill Dembski’s attempt at solving the problem of evil in an “Old Earth framework”. Mortenson’s objection pretty much consists of accusing Dembski of heresy. His second contribution to the volume is “Systematic Theology Texts and the Age of the Earth”, which is also an attack on theologians who don’t believe in young earth creationism. His clinching point is that, given the metaphorical interpretation of the “days” mentioned in Genesis, God would have had to wait awfully long between creating the oceans and creating man. That’s “Answers” for you.

The alleged evidence for the age of the earth is the product of an atheist conspiracy among geologists. But it’s really all about a conflict of world-views, you see. Mortenson wants to have his post-modernist cake and eat it too.

Mortenson was the main speaker at an AiG-sponsored event (at an elementary school) in Minnesota. The program is here. He presented the overwhelming evidence for young earth creation (without any Q&A session because his “voice was failing”). It is interesting, but hardly surprising, that fundamentalist Biblical literalists violate commandments with such audacity and lack of concern. PZ Myers live-tweeted the event; you can read about it here. As expected, attendees were served a smattering of lies, distortions and quote-mining concerning science, and a lot of Bible.

Mortenson likes to accuse evolutionists of being inherent racists, but reveals that he would have fit in rather smoothly in certain environments some eighty years ago himself.

Diagnosis: Licensed arch-whackaloon and professional Liar-for-Jesus – ardent enough to have acquired some influence by sheer force (but mostly preaching to the choir).

Thursday, February 2, 2012

#289: Peter Morrison

Peter Morrison is an excellent example of the wingnut mindset:

“[T]he Voting Rights Act is a nearly 50 year old law that unconstitutionally discriminates against southern states. It's a racist law that presumes black people can only be represented by black people, and that white voters in southern states are wicked racists who are always out to deny black people their right to vote.”

In other word, passing a law against preventing blacks from voting is discrimination of the southern states. From the observation above, Morrison also infers that president Obama hates white people.

Morrison is a member of the Lumberton Independent School District Board of Trustees in Texas, and was appointed to the curriculum writing committee by arch-wingnut Don McLeroy himself. You get an idea of why McLeroy thought he was qualified from the above quote (see this). He threw bizarre fits over the appointment of Sotomayor to Supreme Court – he actually argued that if Sotomayor were appointed, then Texas should secede. Anything for wingnut Texans’ rights to discriminate against others, it seems. And yes, these were the kind of people McLeroy put in charge of the social science curriculum.

Diagnosis: Chronically mistakes his own cesspool of bigoted lunacy for reality. That doesn’t prevent him from getting into positions of power. It should make you cry.

#288: John D. Morris

John D. Morris is the son of the original modern young earth creationist, Henry Morris, the first one to try to construe science as “just another religion”, and hence on equal footing with respect to truth-aptness as Biblical literalism. John D. has followed in his father’s footsteps as president of the Institute for Creation Research (he is also an engineer). Most of his time is spent touring churches to misrepresent the fossil record (some of it is actually covered here; see also this and this).

His general tactic is to contrast the “harmful philosophies” and “evil practices” that are “fruits” of the evolutionary tree (including promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, atheism & abortion), with the “genuine Christianity” and “correct practices” of the creationist tree (including “true history”, “true Americanism”, “true science”, and “true government”). Relatively standard fare, discussed nicely in this three part series (John features prominently): Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Together with Ken Ham he has written what seems to pass for a science textbook among creationists.

He’s not the only spawn of Henry Morris running around creating havoc. Henry Morris III is the CEO of the Institute for Creation Research (and ol’ Henry’s grandson, apparently). He was the guy who was most involved in the institute’s attempt to be given the authority to pass out graduate degrees in science. While their attempts found some support (see Leo Berman), it eventually failed, fortunately.

Diagnosis: Pretty standard fare for an Encyclopedia of Loons, but that does of course not excuse any of it. Dishonest nutters, both of them.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

#287: Andreas Moritz

Andreas Moritz was born in Germany, but has been living in South Carolina since 1998. Possibly the most rabid and crazy woo-champion in the whole of US, Moritz is a self-proclaimed medical intuitive, meaning that he uses intuition, confirmation bias, other ways of knowing, fallacies and sheer lunacy to justify his techniques, rather than evidence, fact, sanity or reason. He is also a practitioner of Ayurveda, iridology, shiatsu (warning, this is a link to the terminally moronic practitioner Laurel Botsford), and vibrational medicine. It all works by drawing on fluffy, religion-based phenomena that do not exist (chi, life-force, “energy”, and good ol’ balancing the humeurs). In fact, his “art” (chi-representation) “is imbued with light-encoded energies” that correspond to bodily organs. You see, Moritz wants to sell you his paintings, and these paintings have various healing powers. Looking at them brings about “very profound changes … in the life energy field corresponding to that organ.” More here. According to Moritz it’s the color that heals you. It does seem, however, that you have to buy the artwork – viewing a copy, e.g. on his website, doesn’t do the trick. So it isn’t the colors that do it, then, but the exchange of colors for money. Or something. Apparently it “activate[s] the codes within the DNA structure that are linked with total immunity to disease and full use of the body's enormous, but so far untapped, potential.” And “[p]hysics […] declares that the whole universe is nothing but vibration;” “Physics” here apparently denoting the raving lunatic occultist Albert Abrams (1863-1924).

Everyone has an aura. It cannot be measured by physical means. How Moritz knows about it given the impossibility of detecting it is left unexplained. But he sure gives you detailed claims about how it works (apparently Kirlian photographies must do the trick; the fact that they are proven to be bollocks is no hinder).

Moritz also practices Sacred Santémony, an ancient language the sounds of which remove the emotional blocks to recovering from your diseases and troubles (by applied kinesiology, apparently). It is shades of this language that are used by oriental monks to the same effect. The name for the language was given to him “by the higher dimensional being Merlin.” No kidding. The sounds can apparently also prevent bad things from happening in the future.

As for his more obviously sinister claims, Moritz claims that cancer is not a disease (in his book “Cancer is not a Disease - It's a Survival Mechanism”). Cancer is rather your body signaling that you need to change your self-perception and life style. The cancer cells are “wise”, you see. As evidence, Moritz asserts that 95% of all cancer cases heal spontaneously if no medical treatment interfers with such self-healing process (his source is apparently this one). Cancer used to be rare (true, since it is statistically most likely to affect the elderly, who simply were much rarer thousands of years ago, in addition to the fact that one had no means for detecting it); it is the modern unnatural lifestyle that has lead to its current popularity. Furthermore, Moritz asserts (without shred of evidence) that more people die because of therapeutic efforts than from their disease. These misconceptions are of course flamingly lunatic, but more importantly highly dangerous. More here.

Moritz is also the inventor of “liver cleansing” (according to himself, though Hulda Clark promoted the same method) to “flush” gall bladder stones, the cause of most evils in the modern world. The treatment consists of drinking a liter of apple juice every day, some magnesium sulfat, olive oil and grapefruit juice. Indeed, this mix will in fact build up soft lumps in the gut that look like gall stones, which will subsequently be flushed out. They have, of course, absolutely nothing to do with gall stones.

Moritz seems to be rather influential, and he seems to like to threaten critics into silence.

To sum him up with his own words: “[we] are now moving into a new era where magic will be the natural method of accomplishing our desires and where everything is possible so long as we believe and desire it to be so. Cost: $350.”

Diagnosis: For many practical purposes he could be counted as psychotic. One would hope, for the sake of humanity, that he was a fraud. But he does not seem to be. Extremely dangerous.

#286: J.P. Moreland

Moreland is a philosopher, theologian, and apologist, and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. His main work is centered on critiques of materialism and naturalism because they conflict with his premise that God exists (he has contributed to several of Lee Strobel’s books). He is also a fellow at the Discovery Institute, and is explicitly mentioned (and assumed to be a major player in the promotion of ID/anti-materialism/anti-science) in the Wedge document

Famous for his claim that there is overwhelming evidence that demons exist, Moreland is particularly known for the contention that there have been plenty of demonic events at Biola University. Take that, stupid psychologists and your claims that people behaving strangely may be mentally ill.

Moreland is, as mentioned, a dualist and a staunch defender of what Andy Schlafly calls ‘the logic of hell’. It is always interesting to see apologists’ feeble attempts at reconciling the existence of hell with God’s omnipotence and perfect goodness (the Answers in Genesis people love him, however). You can see Graham Oppy review his book “The Creation Hypothesis” here. Yes, is the old cosmological arguments – with Bible verses as premises.

Diagnosis: Less than ideally hinged. Impact unknown