Wednesday, April 29, 2015

#1354: Shiva Barton

Shiva Barton is an ND. Indeed, Barton was the 2011 “Physician of the Year” of the American Associationof Naturopathic Physicians (AANP). Of course, Barton is not a physician under any reasonable definition. But he sure is into all things woo and shiny and pseudoscience.

Barton is, for instance, a big fan of homeopathy, despite the fact that homeopathy demonstrably has no beneficial health effects. Now, Barton is, indeed, very unhappy about how homeopathy is used by most naturopaths, and how it is taught at cargo cult universities specializing in pseudoscience such as Bastyr University, but hardly for the right reasons. The problem, according to Barton, is that it’s too complicated. That’s right. Bastyr’s curriculum on homeopathy is too difficult for students (in the above-linked article he mentions in particular his discussions with a newly educated ND, Laura Chan, who raised the complaint – note that name as someone you’d want to avoid at all costs if you have health issues), and Barton’s solution is simple: “throw out the homeo philosophy books (really!) and stick to the basics: match the remedy to the person with the symptoms.” But then, I suppose, since homeopathy is targeted at the patient’s “vital force” in any case, it doesn’t really matter. Barton’s advice is, indeed, and if taken literally and in isolation, sound. Unfortunately, what Barton is driving at is surely not anywhere close to being reasonably.

Despite his lack of legitimate credentials and total absence of any insight into or understanding of science, medicine, or reality, Barton has also received some attention through the PBS show “Curious George”. In a section of the show, the featured kids visited Barton, who taught them that oregano cures infections, about various pressure points that correspond to energy lines, and that taping magnets to these points is really effective (transcript here).

Diagnosis: Utterly deluded pseudo-scientist who thinks he is helping people. Which is profoundly sad. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

#1353: Jay Bartlett

A.k.a. “Rescuer”

Jay “Rescuer” Bartlett is a member of the deliverance ministry movement, and maintains the website

Among his main target groups are people who clearly suffer from mental illnesses, whom Bartlett can convince are in need exorcisms (rather than professional help); that is, Bartlett does apply terminology associated with dissociative identity disorder, but interprets these in light of the Bible and claims that “broken pieces can be demonized and locked up by the enemy” and can also “possess animal spirits” (for references, go here). That’s the framework for some very strange, and very scary ideas and actions.

Bartlett has, according to himself, met people who have cursed objects “within their body nature” due to the workings of Satanic cults (“this ancient practice of infusing individuals with cursed objects is becoming more common in recent years;” decline of America, remember). In an exorcism he apparently performed on a woman who “possessed, within her body nature, two literal animals – parts of animals that the cult spiritually surgically placed within her belly. One was a part of a lizard, it’s tail, scales, and fragements of it's skin. These pieces of the lizard were cursed and placed inside of her. There was another animal part within her also, a rabbit's foot, that had been cursed and placed within her stomach area.” Yes, he is talking about objects being literally implanted in people’s bodies, albeit through magical means: “The animals were literal animal parts – I even saw them being expelled out via the mouth.” he says. Objects he has allegedly removed during spiritual surgery include a small motor, a fetus, detection devices, and live “demon-animal hybrids.”

Apparently he is currently being threatened and followed by cults, drug cartels and pornography rings for sharing this information. His bizarre involvement with someone named “Tina” is described here, and may be of interest to the authorities.

Diagnosis: Needs help. Quickly. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

#1352: Jon Barron

At Baseline of Health® Foundation and Baseline Nutritionals you will be able to purchase “nutritional” products, including “health drinks”, herbal tinctures and a detox program, created by Jon Barron. Barron claims to have discovered “a revolutionary herbal manufacturing breakthrough that makes herbal tinctures 100–200% stronger than previous extraction techniques,” though won’t, of course, reveal the secret method he uses to produce them – this is marketing, not research – but asserts that it involves a paradigm shift, scalar energy, healing energy frequencies, and Kirlian photography. He named his discovery after himself: the Barron Effect®.

Some of his discoveries are covered in his book Lessons from the Miracle Doctors, and Barron is on the Medical Advisory Board of the Health Sciences Institute, which is devoted to “the most urgent advances in modern underground medicine,” i.e. the kind of medicine that Big Pharma won’t recognize because they couldn't ... possibly make any profit on it? Oh, those mean scientists and their rigor! They have failed to endorse Barron’s observations that cancer cells “are almost without exception, low voltage cells,” that low voltages are the cause of cancer, and that reenergizing them (whatever that means) can thus stop cancer. It would probably take someone who knows anything about the field a book to unravel and disentangle the misunderstandings and stupidity that go into a single sentence of Barron’s description.

Barron also offers vaccine advice. Vaccines are unsafe, says Barron, because they are poisoning our children with mercury, even though they don’t contain mercury. Though Barron has no expertise in any relevant fields, he has products; for autism, he wants to chelate the mercury (which isn’t there, and wouldn’t have been the cause of autism in any case) out of you. Which is, needless to say, not a very good idea.

Diagnosis: Apparently something of an Andrew Weil wannabe. Impact unclear, but whatever it is, it sure isn’t good.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

#1351: Kevin Barrett

Kevin James Barrett is a former university lecturer and conspiracy theorist. He achieved some media attention for including a section on conspiracy theories in his 2006 introductory class “Islam: Religion and Culture” at UW-Madison. The case attracted some controversy in particular since Barrett had already made a name for himself as an … enthusiastic proponent of the claim that 9/11 was an inside job in e-mails to a variety of politicians and critics. His subsequent applications for courses to teach at Madison were unsuccessful, and Barrett concluded that he had been discriminated against for his political beliefs.

He first drew attention to himself through op-eds in the Madison Capital Times, in which he alleged that Muslims had nothing to do with the attacks: “As a Ph.D. Islamologist and Arabist I really hate to say this, but I'll say it anyway: 9/11 had nothing to do with Islam. The war on terror is as phony as the latest Osama bin Laden tape” (original article here). He also claimed that the 2005 London bombings and the 2004 Madrid bombing appear to have been committed by U.S. or Western military intelligence and not Islamic terrorists.

Barrett currently operates Truth Jihad, a website and Internet radio show, and is the founder of Muslims for 9/11 Truth, which consists primarily of a blog that attempts to refute the idea that any Muslims were behind the 9/11 attacks and slightly threatening comments about those who disagree with him, as well as a book with the somewhat self-aggrandizing title Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle against the 9/11 Big Lie. “Slightly threatening comments” includes his claims, first, that Fox News employees should be hung, then that the producers of United 93 should be tried for inciting war crimes, and finally apparently that just about every journalist in the world should be executed for disagreeing with him.

In an interview with Iran’s Press TV (an Iranian station the purpose of which is to broadcast anti-semitism to the English-speaking world) in 2014 Barrett also suggested that Israel may have been behind the much-discussed disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, explaining that “Christopher Bollyn just found that there is an identical twin of this plane. It has been sitting in a hangar in Tel Aviv, Israel, for the past couple of months […] Speculation is that there was some sort of false-flag plan afoot, perhaps another planes-into-buildings deception like 9/11. We have so many parallels between this event and 9/11.” In the interview he also suggested that British banker Jacob Rothschild was behind the plane’s disappearance.

And yes, the Anti-Defamation League specifically cites Barrett as one of the leading promoters of anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theories.

His attempt to run for Congress in 2008 got him 2.3% of the vote in the general elections (but 59% in the libertarian primaries), and did at least receive the endorsement of 9/11 activists like Robert M. Bowman, Carol Brouillet, David Ray Griffin, and Kevin Ryan. He has later suggested taking up arms against the US government.

Diagnosis: It’s an interesting case, really. Barrett’s commitment to conspiracy theories and his persecution complex seem to feed a sense of grandeur, which again feeds into his conspiracy theories and persecution complex. Critical thinking does not enter into the process at any stage, of course. Sometimes it also looks as if he actually thinks anyone is taking him seriously.

Friday, April 24, 2015

#1350: Carla Baron

Haunting Evidence was a television series running from 2005 to 2007 following the travels of a psychic profiler, a medium, and a paranormal investigator through the US to investigate cold case” homicide and missing persons cases. The idea was that this team of unconventional investigators” could shed new light on unsolved crimes, which they didn’t. The final cast consisted of psychic profiler” Carla Baron, medium John J. Oliver, and paranormal investigator” Patrick Burns.

Like all such TV shows, this one preyed on vulnerable and desperate families as a source for public entertainment (though it wasn’t presented as such), and instead of producing results it, once again, lent credibility to psychics who have once again clearly and demonstrably failed to give useful information.” Even one of the families involved admitted that these frauds feed on the emotions of people in real tragedies”, and called Carla Baron a real fruit loop.”

Baron herself claims to have ample experience helping the police solve cases. Though when the Independent Investigative Group (IIG) looked into 14 cases where Carla Baron claimed to have assisted detectives, the police – needless to say – did not support her claims, and in most cases even the families of the victims admitted that they currently distrust Baron who they say provided no useful insights and demanded media attention from the start” (a useful resource here). Skepdic has been loosely following her involvement in the investigations of the Ray Gricar case. And in 2011, when the family of Holly Bobo declined Baron’s offer for help, Baron wrote on her website that the family chose not to seek her information on Holly’s death on the advice of the police,” who, Baron believes, were terrified to hear what I might have to say” about the abduction. This, my friends, is yet another ‘control’ tactic deployed by the infinite ‘powers-that-be’ within gov’t jurisdiction to let all of us (a.k.a., the ‘public’) know – Who’s really running the show. Let’s not let anyone steal their proverbial thunder, shall we?” At least the comment illustrates rather nicely what kind of person we’re dealing with here. Earlier in her career, Baron drew some attention for appearing on a British television show called Dead Famous” claiming to channel the spirit of Jim Morrison, and she built her celebrity career, such as it is, as official psychic spokeswoman for Court TV.”

Paranormal investigator” Patrick Burns (a.k.a. Ghostgeek”) is worth a mention as well. He is the organizer of Ghostock, a series of paranormal enthusiast events, and author of several books such as the admittedly market-savvy The Other Side: A Teen’s Guide To Ghost Hunting And The Paranormal (with his wife Marley Gibson), targeted at a particularly gullible audience. John Oliver, on the other hand, is a spiritual teacher and psychic consultant, who is educated in the spiritual sciences of astrology, tarot as a spiritual journey of the human, and classic school feng shui,” and who arranges seminars throughout the US on how to develop your ESP.”

Diagnosis: Carla Baron is an utterly bankrupt human being, and the others aren’t much better. These are people who shamelessly prey on people in difficult situation for fame and media attention in the most revolting manner possible.