Sunday, July 30, 2017

#1877: Greg Lawton

Greg Lawton is the founder of Blue Heron Academy of Healing Arts and Sciences, where you can exchange your money for help to “change not only your career but also your lifestyle and that of others, through a variety of programs in medical massage therapy, holistic health care, acupuncture, personal training, nutrition, and herbal medicine.” They even offer things like Holistic Health Practitioner Certification Programs, where you “learn the philosophy and methods of contemporary Asian medicine, as well as, acupressure, shiatsu, tuina, and Asian bodywork.” That is, the kind of certificate you should be willing to pay to get rid of if you were ever saddled with it; apparently it’s a “fast-track state licensed educational program” (Blue Heron Academy is licensed by the Michigan Office of Secondary Education), but “state licensed” does not mean “accredited”. One of Blue Heron’s programs promises you a certificate as a phlebotomy technician, which does not require certification in most US states (they don’t mention whether the certification is issued by an agency accepted by the four states that do require certification).

Lawton himself “is a graduate of the four year naprapathic medicine program at the National College of Naprapathic Medicine and a licensed Naprapath in Illinois [one of two states that licenses them].” Naprapthy is quackery. He is also “nationally board certified in Chiropractic, Radiology, Acupuncture (Diplomat), and Physical Therapy.” Indeed, Lawton has also “trained in Aikido, Judo, Kenpo, Tai Chi Chuan, Pa Kua, Hsing Yi, Hap Do Sool, and Shorin Ryu,” which certainly boosts his orientalist credentials.

If you ever encounter Lawton outside of the context of his Academy, it will probably be through one of his many books, leaflets and similar promoting an impressive range of pseudoscience and bullshit, from hydrotherapy to naturopathy.

Diagnosis: Bullshit. Methinks anyone with an illness ought to avoid Lawton as she or he would avoid a charlatan trying to sell them snake oil and Hulda Clark devices.

Friday, July 28, 2017

#1876: Greg Laurie

Greg Laurie is senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, a megachurch, and Harvest Church in Kapalua, Hawaii, and Orange County. He is also on the board of directors for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, chaplain for the Newport Beach Police Department, member of Teen Mania Ministries’ Battle Cry Coalition, and Honorary Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force in 2013. Indeed, the Trump itself selected Laurie as one the evangelical church leaders for the National Prayer Service hosted at the Washington National Cathedral following the 2017 Inauguration. He has also written some 70 books (yeah, like so many of these people it’s rather blatantly obvious that not much thought goes into those books, but that’s not the point, of course – and Laurie is no theologian; his response to the problem of evil would easily fail any Intro to Philosophy class). Moreover, Laurie has a TV program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and is guest commentator at Worldnetdaily. A versatile and influential guy, in other words.

A recurring theme for Laurie is warning us about the upcoming end times, as for instance when he wondered whether 9/11, hurricane Katrina and the 2004 tsunami were “reminders to us that Jesus Christ is coming back soon?” He also pointed out that “[a]ccording to the U.S. Geological Society … for the past 50 years, every decade has increased in the number of earthquakes recorded.” That would be the U.S. Geological Survey. They say the opposite of what Laurie claims they say. Facts, honesty and accuracy don’t sit well with prophecy.

Another recurring theme is the use of prayers to achieve things. On each occasion Laurie seems confident that prayers will work this time.

A third – and perhaps the most popular – theme is delusions about being persecuted. In his column “The ugly results of banning God from the culture” (suggesting, of course, that God is banned in the US) he complains about the fact that people can disagree with him and even challenge on matters related to religion, which apparently shows how persecuted he is. Then he predictably warns us that God will punish America if we don’t fall into line.

Laurie is also a creationist, who likes to assert things like “The Bible is proven true by Archeology” or “The Bible is confirmed through science”. According to Laurie, who appears to be seriously inspired by Ray Comfort, “[t]o say that all of the beauties of God’s creation came about randomly is ridiculous. The person who believes in the theory of evolution makes a choice to believe it.” The theory of evolution sort of says the exact opposite of nature being the result of random processes, but Laurie has no time or interest in actually understanding even the crudest basics of the view he wants to criticize (he actually uses the “tornado in the junkyard” characterization). He rather wants to speculate about why they make that choice, and it is “because the lifestyle they want to live has no place for God,” of course. Really, those who believe in evolution actually knows that it is false; they just want to escape judgment.

Diagnosis: Idiot, but he weighs up for his lack of insight with zeal and a corresponding lack of care for truth and accuracy. This guy is also seriously powerful and influential, making his hatred for truth, reason, dignity and civilization all the more frightening.

Monday, July 24, 2017

#1875: Robert Lattimer & COPE

Citizens for Objective Public Education (COPE) is a Kansas-based group whose name suggests a corollary of Badger’s Law. COPE “promotes the religious rights of parents, children, and taxpayers” and claims that public schools “promote a ‘non-theistic religious worldview’ by allowing only ‘materialistic’ or ‘atheistic’ explanations to scientific questions,” which is false (if anyone could offer a genuine non-materialistic explanation for anything in science – “and then a miracle happened” is not an explanation – it would be allowed). In particular, the group filed a suit (details here) in 2013 challenging Kansas’s science standards because they include the teaching of evolution, which COPE claims is a religion and therefore should be excluded from science classes: by teaching evolution “the state would be ‘indoctrinating’ impressionable students in violation of the First Amendment.” COPE’s mission, by contrast, is to create “religious[ly] neutral” schools won’t promote “pantheistic and materialistic religions, including Atheism and Religious (‘Secular’) Humanism” – a category that includes “Darwinian evolution” and apparently the Big Bang.

COPE was founded in 2012, with young-earth creationist Jorge Fernandez as president (Fernandez has published articles in Journal of Creation and on the True.Origin Archive website). He was later replaced by Robert P. Lattimer, the current president. Lattimer has previously been involved with Science Excellence for All Ohioans, a creationist group that – backed by the hate-group The American Family Association and strongly supported by Governor Taft’s chief of staff, Brian Hicks – tried to undermine the treatment of evolution in Ohio’s state science standards in 2002 (Lattimer himself was, for some reason, appointed to the Ohio science standard writing committee). Back then, the goal was to lobby the Ohio Board of Education to give intelligent design creationism (ID) equal time with evolution in science classes; after the Dover trial that goal has become unrealistic (to Lattimer’s intense dismay), so in Kansas the goal was modified to rather banning science in general from science classes.

Lattimer has said, concerning his support of ID, that “[a]mong scientists, we’re a distinct minority. Among the public, I’d say I’m easily in the majority,” which was apparently intended as an argument for the scientific legitimacy of ID. Apparently, he used to be a standard Biblical creationist, but switched to Intelligent Design for political reasons, and has for more than a decade been pushing ID to various congregations, schoolboards, and others willing to listen. Of course, it is all about marketing – Lattimer hasn’t even considered trying to support ID by research or science. He is, however, a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.

The other board members of COPE are:
  • Anne Lassey, vice-president, who has served as “teacher, principal and Superintendent of Schools in several locations in Kansas,” which is dismaying.
  • Debra Marks, vice-president, whose “passion in life is to help educate people regarding the value of family and life and how to avoid the often tragic and painful consequences of not making wise choices;” this passion is not further detailed, but it sounds ominous enough for us to recommend that you stay well away from her.
  • Greg Lassey, treasurer, who has “taught Advanced Biology at the high school level,” clearly without having minimal understanding of central parts of the subject.
  • Albert Gotch, who has a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry and is therefore a major catch for an anti-science group like COPE (even though the education is unrelated to evolution); he has also been Director of the Stark County Home School Association, and the Executive Director of the Akron Fossils & Science Center, a small, Ohio-based creation museum.
  • Christy Hooley, a homeschooler who runs the “Wyoming Against Common Core” blog.
  • Joseph Renick, who is “Executive Director of the Intelligent Design network of New Mexico, where he advocates for objective science education”. That group has a history of supporting antievolution legislation in NM: in 2011, for example, it paid for a full-page advertisement in the Albuquerque Journal in support of a (failed) “academic freedom” bill.

The lawyers representing COPE in 2013, by the way, were celebrity creationist lawyer John Calvert (founder of the Intelligent Design Network and chief strategist behind the Kansas kangaroo court hearings on evolution in 2005) and Kevin T. Snider of the Pacific Justice Institute, who helped represent Jeanne Caldwell in her (failed) 2005 lawsuit alleging that the University of California Museum of Paleontology’s Understanding Evolution website was in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Diagnosis: Anti-science religious fundie – and apparently a resourceful (if utterly deluded) one. Dangerous.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

#1874: Steve Lashuk

So, ok: the Lesbian Studies Institute might be a parody (or have been – it seems to have gone AWOL sometime in 2010), but at least it won an Encouragement Award in the 2006 Millenium Awards for its attempt to spread hatred. No, it’s not an institute or a think-tank, but a website devoted to warning the world about the imminent takeover of society by lesbians (and Jews), or – in their own words – to “track, synthesize and expose the secret, social and political corruption of America’s powerful, government financed Lesbian Mafia”. It consists of Steve Lashuk, who calls himself “chairman”, and whose qualifications include having “devoted over nine arduous years and thousands upon thousands of dollars towards the study of this topic. I have accumulated a mini-library of books from both sides, subjective and objective [?]. I subscribe and have access to many periodical publications, subjective and objective. I have on files thousands of news articles all corroborating as evidence of a sinister force working to destroy America’s existing culture.”

Apparently the Lesbian Mafia is out to criminalize heterosexuality – and make no mistake, “[f]eminism is lesbianism.” What is their motive? “VERY SIMPLE, THE SAME REASON Adolph Hitler spread hate between the Jews and German people. It’s a clinical fact, lesbianism is a sickness, they suffer with an extreme form of paranoia and persecution complex [wheee]; and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You see it’s a medical proven fact [now he’s asserted that it’s a fact twice, which obviates the need to cite evidence], lesbianism is a developmental disorder which progresses into psychotic paranoia. Hence causing extreme fear of all men, otherwise associated with heterophobia. It’s common practice for lesbians to call all heterosexuals, homophobes, but clinical studies have confirmed [I guess asserting it three times makes it even more conclusively established] that all lesbians have a dreadful fear of heterosexuals and especially men.” In more detail, “as clinical studies verify, in their early childhood developmental stage (one to three years) their childhood conflicts caused their minds to short circuit into averse thoughts about men, hence, creating an imbalance for relationships with men, and creating the dynamics for bursts of aggression towards all society and even themselves […. therefore] Unbeknown by most, lesbians have a grandiose plan in effect to overthrow the heterosexual culture in the U. S. and replace with a Lesbo Amazon Nation.” They don’t fool Steve Lashuk, though: “I broke their code, I unlocked their secrets, I deciphered their manifesto …” Apparently there are also secret Lesbian Breeding Programs.

The studies mentioned seems to be articles by our old friend Texe Marrs, for instance about how John Kerry is secretly a Jew and a communist raised by the Illuminati to destroy America, or how the evil Jews control everything.

Lashuk also has a self-published dissertation that he apparently mailed to numerous people in the 90s. It doesn’t seem to have made much of an impact, even though he warned, referring to a genocide he expects to happen after his death, that although “I’m not going to see 50 million people die, when this thing starts mushrooming, you're going to see people shot.” At least he doesn’t “have any problem with the homosexual gay man per se – it’s the lesbians that are creating all the problems.”

Diagnosis: (With the caveat that he might be a parody, Lashuk is) one of the craziest fellows on the whole, wide Internet, which is no mean feat. Probably harmless, though.

Friday, July 21, 2017

#1873: Joseph La Rue

Joseph La Rue is a wingnut and legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and he is – of course – most famous for being virulently anti-gay. La Rue thinks for instance that Christians will be “treated as second class citizens by their government” if they are not allowed to treat gay people as second-class citizens, which I think is as good a definition of “bigotry” as any, even though La Rue probably doesn’t like being called “bigot”. La Rue made the claim in connection with the 2014 Arizona gay segregation bill that ADF helped craft, and said that the bill “is not about denying service,” which it rather emphatically is.

Apart from fighting against gay rights, La Rue is a bitter and aggressive combatant in the imaginary War on Christmas.

Diagnosis: Bigot.