Wednesday, December 29, 2021

#2505: Nancy Banks

Antivaccine conspiracy theorists have, with COVID-19, gotten quite a bit of press, but Nancy Banks is a veteran in the game. Banks is, in fact, an MD (one-time gynaecologist), and therefore frequently appears on vaccine denialist lists of anti-vaccine doctors, such as Ricardo Beas’s 2017 federal class action lawsuit and criminal complaint againstmandatory vaccination’. And she is, indeed, an excellent example of the kind of deranged dingbats you will find on such otherwise laughably unimpressive lists. Banks has no background in infectious diseases and has never done research – her self-published book AIDS, Opium, Diamonds, and Empire: The Deadly Virus of International Greed is, needless to say, no substitute. She is, however, also an HIV/AIDS denialist and holocaust denier.


As a HIV/AIDS denier, Banks was even recruited as an “expert” witness by Clark Baker’s AIDS denialism legal team, which tells you a bit about Baker’s access to genuine experts who support their views.


In her book (she has, as mentioned, done no actual research), Banks claims that AIDS is not caused by HIV but by a global conspiracy in league with a range of secret societies and Western governments conspiring to loot Africa of natural resources, in particular diamonds, and that the AIDS epidemic is manufactured to divert attention (“AIDS is the subterfuge for the economic destruction of a continent and psychological warfare against the African people of the Diaspora”). As Banks imagines it, AIDS symptoms are actually due to antiretroviral AIDS drugs, tuberculosis or other diseases that afflict diamond mine workers – they are all work-related, but the categorization as AIDS ostensibly allows diamond corporations to avoid being sued for their working conditions. To support her case, Banks draws heavily on anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and literature, such as Eustace Mullins, Andrew Carrington Hitchcock, and Salvador Astucia, and explicitly blames Jewish conspiracies for the AIDS situation in Africa, including Israel, the American Jewish Congress, and Maurice Tempelsman (chairman of the Harvard School of Public Health’s AIDS).


For good measure, the book also pushes a large and variegated group of assorted conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination, fluoridated water, the Matrix, and 9/11. It is all connected, in the grandest and most unified possible way, to her theory of HIV/AIDS. Indeed, according to Banks, almost all world events past WWII can be tied to HIV hysteria: “The AIDS paradigm has created a universal belief system based not on science but on inference, innuendo, and association. Very few people will exercise the capacity to synthesize what on the surface may appear to be unrelated events. The assassination of President Kennedy, the prolongation of the Vietnam War, the War on Drugs, the War on Cancer, the rise of Kissinger and Iran-Contra, the de-industrialization of the United States and the strengthening of China as a world power, the genocide in the Congo and the current financial crisis are different acts of the same psychodrama.” For instance, “The legal and illegal drug trafficking helps to finance the covert operations within the Deep State,” according to Banks.


To connect the dots (or, rather, putting the dots in a blender to mix them together) – she once hosted a radio program called Connect the Dots – she relies on the works of John Coleman, who believes that world governments are controlled by a group of 300 families in England that got their power from the Opium Wars with China; The Gemstone File conspiracy that Aristotle Onassis, Joseph Kennedy, Eugene Meyer, and others were involved in a global conspiracy with the mafia, oil and drug cartels, and rogue militaries (and killed off the Kennedys when they became a nuisance); and Sal Astucia’s idea that the World Jewish Congress, in league with Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky and the FBI, hired French heroin traffickers to murder JFK. A central figure in her thought is, of course, the CIA, whose mission “is to have everything people believe to be true, false.” It is unclear what that means, but it sure sounds bad.


Banks’s views on medicine are generally unusual. For instance, according to Banks:


-       The Rockefeller Foundation created the Molecule Biology Model for modern medicine that is fatally flawed from it’s [sic] beginnings” It’s hard to find much details about what the fatal flaws actually are supposed to be, but if you listen to Banks in the first place, you’re unlikely to care much about such details.

-       Medicine today is in place to control the population, weed out the weak and for profit

-       The molecules in the cells are 99% water and 1% DNA, proteins etc. and allopathic medicine studies the 1%.” We admit that that is a new one to us.

-       Disease is a simple combination of too many toxins and not enough nutrients and cause a lack of energy”. This is not true.

-       Low energy cells will replicate more low energy cells in their built in programming to survive.” Whatever that might mean.

-       negative emotions and thoughts we accept as real deplete the cells of energy and a significant factor of ‘disease’

-       Liver stagnation and toxicity can be a useful place for most to start the cleansing process.” Yes, it’s all about detoxing; of course it is.

-       The entire vaccine theory is essentially bad science, going after viruses that don’t exist.”


And yes, there you go: Nancy Banks is also a germ theory denialist. No, really. She also promotes Bill Gates depopulation conspiracy theories: “The Gates Foundation’s vision of vaccinating third World countries is ostensibly genocide.”


Keep in mind that this character once, apparently, received a professional degree. 


Diagnosis: And there you have it: an example of the kind of person who passes as an expert in anti-vaccine circles and figures on their lists of doctors to consult. It’s illuminating.


Hat-tip: Denyingaids.blogspot

Saturday, December 25, 2021

#2504: Steven Bancarz

Lynda Balneaves is the president of the Society of Integrative Oncology, and a ridiculous and lunatic crackpot – but also frighteningly influential. She is, however, also Canadian, and although her work has enjoyed some influence in the US, she is accordingly disqualified for an entry.


Steven Bancarz doesn’t enjoy the same level of influence, but is much funnier. Bancarz is a youtuber and “former New Ager saved by Christ”, and he has brought all the reasoning patterns and critical thinking skills that characterized his New Age stuff – ostensibly, he “actively participated in astral projection, Christ-consciousness and more” ­to his newfound radical fundamentalism. Indeed, Bancarz seems to have taken most of his New Age beliefs about orgone, chakras and astral projections with him into Christianity – he just inverted the evaluations.


So according to Bancarz, the 2017 Super Bowl, for instance, was, as is “typicalfor Superbowl halftime shows, a Satanic ritual: “Pentagrams lining the stage at the Superbowl halftime show. Cross-dressing men with makeup dancing on stage. Flames, black clothing, 666 hand signs over the eyes.” In fairness, both Alex Jones and Dave Daubenmire made similar observations, which alone tells you most of what you need to know about Bancarz’s interpretive and cognitive abilities.


Bancarz is, with one Josh Peck, also the author of a book, The Second Coming of the New Age: The Hidden Dangers of Alternative Spirituality in Contemporary America and Its Churches. We haven’t read it, but apparently it reports on “perverse dealings the authors personally witnessed from their experiences deep within the New Age Movement” and explains the “real and dangerous supernatural force lurks behind the New Age”, the “[c]onnections between New Ageism, fallen angels, extraterrestrials, and the Nephilim” and “[h]ow quantum physics is being manipulated to promote the New Age agenda” (yes, New Age gurus engage in plenty of quantum woo; we suspect that’s not precisely what Bancarz and Peck have in mind). It also lays out the “[w]arning signs and influences of the occult in your life and home, and what to do if you are under spiritual attack.” In short, our “lives, our relationships, our world, and our churches all depend on our willingness to take action against the deceit of New Age spirituality.”


For the most part, Bancarz’s conversion seems to have been an ideological regression to the 1980s Christian paranoia/sensationalism –  the “Turmoil in the toybox”-stuff of, say, Phil Phillips and Gary Greenwald. Here, for instance, is Bancarz explaining (or whatever you call it) how possessing various items, toys and objects can give demons “legal rights” to do their demon stuff to you.


Diagnosis: One of the most laughable dingbats on the Internet, but he does enjoy quite a number of followers – far more now, as a fundie, than before, apparently. Probably mostly harmless nevertheless, in the sense that e.g. parents who listen to him would probably have ruined their kids’ lives anyway, Bancarz or not.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

#2503: Jeff Ball

It seems quaint and ancient by now, but you remember the Bundy ranch standoff back in 2014, when a group of wingnut conspiracy theorists and minutemen types engaged in an armed standoff with authorities to defend Bundy’s assertion thathe is a citizen of Nevada and not a citizen of a territory of the United States” and therefore not bound by US laws? Well, it’s not unreasonable to suspect a significant overlap between the people showing up at Bundy’s ranch and segments of the later QAnon movement. At one point, the wingnuts at the ranch decided to set up a camera to let participants speak their minds (or whatever you call it), and the results were rather telling, such as the presentation by “private attorney general” Jeff Ball, who explained to whoever wanted to listen that laws don’t apply to individuals if they understand how to rebut them.


Ball, who was apparently affiliated with something called the Citizens Action Network, primarily focused on sovereign citizen nonsense, such as the idea that citizens are essentially legally responsible only to the God of the Bible as Ball interprets Him (“I want to give you guys the basic chain of command, all right? Up at the top of this tree is the creator, whoever your creator is, that’s where the creator’s at. The one below that is you, okay? So your original contract was with the creator”), but he also mixes in a number of elements typically associated with the conspiracy theories promoted by Lyndon LaRouche’s cult movement – the rest of the aforementioned chain of command, according to Ball: “God, the Vatican, Washington, D.C., the city of London”. Yes, according to Ball, London controls the world’s finances, while Washington creates war and keeps slaves in line by “taxing them to death”; the Vatican, on the other hand, interferes with the individual’s contract with the creator. And you need to break free from that: “You guys have a contract with the creator and this earth is your inheritance,” said Ball. “That’s it; there is no more. You’re not subject to anybody, as long as you don’t hurt anybody. If you create injury on somebody, then that’s a different story.


The state, then, cannot actually be a claimant under common law, though Ball admitted that government prosecutors unlawfully did so in nearly every criminal proceeding: “If you don’t rebut it, then that means you consent to it, and they move forward with it and they subjugate you to it.” So what you need to do, then, is to rebut the state’s claims. How well that is going to work out in practice, is a topic Ball didn’t broach. Ball doesn’t abide in practice, and the real world tends not to enter into his reasoning. He did argue that individuals can escape police questioning by insisting officers fill out a form. He did not provide any evidence of the efficacy of the strategy, but again: focusing on the relevance of evidence is probably a Marxist conspiracy.


We haven’t succeeded in determining what Ball is up to these days, but you may make some informed guesses.


Diagnosis: “Nazi hippie” has become an established term for the weird combo of all-natural flower-snowflake stuff and bloodthirsty pseudofascism that is so popular in the US at present. Sovereign-citizen types often fall squarely into the category, though Ball might admittedly be too far out there to fit any semi-coherently delineated categorizations.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

#2502: Robert Baldwin

There is woo, and then there is MMS. MMS, or Miracle Mineral Solution, is an aqueous solution of sodium chlorite, which is known to cause fatal renal failure, prepared in a citric acid solution to form chlorine dioxide, a powerful oxidising agent used in water treatment and bleaching and extremely dangerous to consume. An alarming number of dingbat crazies, however, think – following claims made by Jim Humble, who claims to be a billion-year-old God from the Andromeda Galaxy – this poisonous bleach is a cure for a wide range of diseases, including HIV/AIDS, malaria and cancer, as well as for autism. MMS is so obviously bullshit that even has expressed skepticism, and they are fine with flat-Earthism.


One promoter of MMS is New Jersey pastor Robert Baldwin, who has teamed up with a garbage-delusional British demonic clown, huckster and self-alleged clairvoyant, Sam Little, to form a network to push their potentially fatal “miracle cure” to people in Uganda, claiming that drinking the toxic fluid will eradicate cancer, HIV/Aids, malaria and most other diseases. Their network is probably one of the most extensive distributors of MMS to date, and there is a good exposé of them here. Their targets are Ugandans in extreme poverty, who often have little choice of medical treatments, and infants as young as 14 months old are being forced to drink chlorine dioxide, a product that has no health benefits but is potentially fatal. “Little tiny infants can take a small amount, they will spit it out. It causes no harm – they just get diarrhea,” says Baldwin. Baldwin once trained as a student nurse, but has no other medical expertise. One is pardoned for wondering what he really wants to achieve here, though he is probably just spectacularly stupid, insane and delusional.


Baldwin, who imports components of MMS into Uganda from China, has apparently “trained” some 1,200 clerics in Uganda on how to administer the “miracle cure” to their congregants after Sunday service. And he offers smartphones to clerics who are especially “committed” to spreading his toxin. His organization, Global Healing, is ostensibly a “church” that advertises itself as “using the power of Almighty God … to greatly reduce the loss of life”. To undercover reporter Fiona O’Leary, he admitted, however, that he distributed MMS through churches to “stay under the radar”. “We don’t want to draw any attention,” admitted Baldwin, since governments (apart from a couple of dingbat clown train ones) tend to take a dim view of this kind of dangerous insanity – governments are all in the pockets of Big Pharma, as Baldwin sees it. He also takes care to use euphemisms (“healing water”) on Facebook, where he raises money through online donations.


Indeed, Baldwin chose Uganda precisely because it was both i) poor and ii), more importantly, had very weak regulations. “America and Europe have much stricter laws so you are not as free to treat people because it is so controlled by the FDA. That’s why I work in developing countries.” He also pointed out that “those people in poor countries they don’t have the options that we have in the richer countries,” apparently not realizing that his justification doesn’t really succeed in making him sound good.


Diagnosis: There are no words, really, to describe the twisted evil of deranged maniac Robert Baldwin. And no, at this level of threat to human life and prosperity, we don’t distinguish insanity from evil. The 9/11 terrorists probably genuinely believed they acted in the best interests of humanity, but that doesn’t make them anything but evil. The comparison to Robert Baldwin is apt.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

#2501: Alec Baldwin

We went a bit back on forth on whether conspiracy theorist and possible antivaccine sympathizer Adam Baldwin deserved his own entry, but found that we couldn’t bother. For similar reasons, we were unsure about Alec Baldwin – a distant relative (and brother of certified dingbat Stephen Baldwin, whom we have already covered). But Alec Baldwin is less widely recognized as a loon, and his anti-vaccine sympathies are more unequivocally documented than Adam’s, so we decided to write up a brief entry.


Yes, Alec Baldwin is, if not straight out anti-vaccine himself, at least an anti-vaccine movement sympathizer, as evidenced for instance by his Instagram Live interview with leading antivaccine activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in which disinformation about vaccines and COVID-19 ran rampant – mostly from Kennedy, of course, but Baldwin listened attentively, nodded in agreement when Kennedy ran through all his favorite anti-vaccine talking points, and did say that he’d been watching Kennedy’s pseudoscience and conspiracy [not Baldwin’s words] videos about vaccines for “years,” which is … disconcerting. In fact, it doesn’t ultimately matter much what Baldwin believes in his heart of hearts: He gave Kennedy an opportunity to spread his misinformation unchallenged, and that itself makes Baldwin a loon.


But Baldwin is also a vocal supporter of The Tooth Fairy Project, a pseudoscientific research” project undertaken by an anti-nuclear conspiracy organization called the Radiation and Public Health Project, which intends to demonstrate that routine emissions of very small amounts of radioactivity from nuclear power plants have a measurable impact on the health of people living near those facilities. Yes, they have already decided what their study is going to show, and yes: the study is bogus, and includes intentional methodological flaws to ensure that it reaches the predetermined conclusion. (It is, in short, a good example of tooth fairy science.)


Diagnosis: Yes, another one who uses his celebrity status to make the world a worse place through endorsing pseudoscience, conspiracy theories and denialism. His status seems to have taken a hit recently, for different reasons, and he should, indeed, be shunned.

Monday, December 6, 2021

#2500: Al Baldasaro

The New Hampshire House of Representatives is internationally famous for its contingent of deranged loons and conspiracy theorists, and none of them is less hinged than Alfred P. Baldasaro, who has been elected to represent District 5 in Rockingham County (including Auburn and Londonderry) seven times. You can get a fair overview of the Auburn and Londonderry electorate from the documentary Wrong Turn.


As a conspiracy theorist, Baldasaro has for instance warned his colleagues that the United Nations sustainability initiative known as Agenda 21 is being used to ban fishing in New Hampshire. Tapping into the relatively widespread (it has long been one of the John Birch Society’s main schticks) and utterly ridiculous wingnut Agenda 21 conspiracy theory, Baldasaro elaborated: “If you take a look at other areas, what’s going on around the country under Agenda 21, this isn’t get –  ... the nose is already under the tent.” The agenda is non-binding for the countries that have ratified it; the US has not ratified it and it is not law in the US, and it would not have banned fishing if it were. The New Hampshire House nevertheless voted for an Agenda 21 ban in 2012.


In 2012 Baldasaro also joined a complaint filed by birther queen Orly Taitz to keep then-president Obama off the ballot for the 2012 presidential primary. One might wonder whether Baldasaro was a birther himself, but joining an effort to keep candidates for a democratic election off ballot for reasons you know to be false isn’t much less looney. (He probably does think it's true, though.) In addition to Baldasaro, the effort was joined by eight other New Hampshire GOP lawmakers (covered here).


The next year, Baldasaro, with state representatives Stella Tremblay and Lars Christiansen, introduced HB 638, which required the state to recognize a mythical 13th Amendment amendment to the Constitution that was allegedly ratified in 1819 but kept secret by the federal government under pressure from rich bankers. The idea of the 13th Amendment is familiar from sovereign citizen conspiracy theories and pseudolaw practitioners: the amendment was designed to prevent people with “titles of nobility” from holding public office, and, according to conspiracy theorists that supposedly means that lawyers, through the use of the title esquire, are barred, too, and that all members of Congress – being apparently technically lawyers, according to these people – are prevented from passing laws. Yes, this is Al Baldasaro.


Baldasaro is perhaps best known, however, for his call, at the 2016 Republican National Convention, for Hillary Clinton to beput in the firing line and shot”, for which he gained quite a bit of attention as well as a Secret Service investigation. He later claimed that liberal media had misrepresented him (“The liberal media took what I said and went against the law and the Constitution and ran with it, and they said that I wanted her assassinated, which I never did”), and clarified for the record that he didn’t think Hillary Clinton should be assassinated, but rather that “she should be shot in a firing squad for treason”. He also emphasized that he “said it as a veteran”, whatever that means. He also said that “what you in the liberal media consider rhetoric, I consider freedom of speech.” It is unclear what that has to do with anything, but his fans presumably doesn’t have particularly strong skills when it comes relevantly piecing together information to compose reasoning, so it probably served its purpose.


Donald Trump subsequently praised Baldasaro and named him a New Hampshire co-chair of his 2020 reelection campaign. Baldasaro was also advisor to Donald Trump when he was the presidential nominee 2016, and a mainstay at Trump campaign events as well as co-chairman of the Trump campaign’s national veterans coalition. At the 2016 convention, Baldasaro also claimed that Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who spoke at the Democratic convention, is a “Muslim Brotherhood agent” – apparently he got that idea from an incoherent conspiracy ramble penned by none other than Taliban fascists Walid and Theodore Shoebat.


Before that, Baldasaro led the fight against same-sex marriage in New Hampshire. In 2010, he raised some eyebrows when he claimed that gay adoption was tantamount to child trafficking and that the state of New Hampshire was “selling children to homosexuals for $10,000 apiece”. During a 2011 Republican primary presidential debate, the audience booed a gay Marine who had submitted a debate question; when asked about the incident, Baldasaro said that he was “disgusted by the Marine and that “I thought the audience, when they booed the marine, I thought it was great.


Baldasaro also thinks that breastfeeding in public is an attack on family values.


Diagnosis: There is plenty of crazy in the state legislatures, but Baldasaro has made a good case for himself as belonging to the very elite of evil, deranged clowns. He really is the kind of conspiracy loon you’ll come across on incoherent websites with funny colors and text in ALLCAPS. It is no longer surprising that this combination of stupid, angry and evil appeals to such a large portion of the electorate, however.

Monday, November 29, 2021

#2499: Lori Bakker

Loon celebrity and televangelist Jim Bakker is one of the most legendary and insane loons alive in the world at the moment, and any opportunity to remind people how utterly insane and how much of a fraud he actually is, should be taken. But his wife, Lori, who often accompanies him on his show, is quite a piece of work herself, and she deserves her own entry – partially but not only because she thinks that her convicted fraudster husband is just like King David and the Apostle Paul and “one of God’s greatest generals”. In addition to co-hosting the Jim Bakker show, Lori Bakker is the founder and president of the organization Lori’s House, which “provides spiritual and other forms of assistance to pregnant women and to those who have undergone the pain of abortion.”


In general, Bakker espouses the kinds of views you’d expect from wealthy fundie frauds, such as the common but utterly ridiculous persecution complex. In 2018, for instance, Bakker warned her viewers that they really needed to support Trump; for if liberals gained power, they’ll throw Christians in “mental illness centers”. According to Bakker, those who oppose Trump consider Christians “mentally ill” and are just looking for an excuse to “put us all away” (you should also splurge a bit on the survivalist junk the Bakkers are selling. “I’m not kidding,” Bakker assured us. Then she, for some reason, refers to the time when women who were considered unclean were ostracized, based on rules codified in the Bible (she didn’t mention the codified in the Bible bit). Later, she and Jim claimed that the Democrats were trying to outlaw the Bible.


Though she nominally cares about women, and has even written a book about women in the Bible, she did not care about the 2016 Women’s March on Washington, rather asserting that the women who marched against President Trump were probably survivors of childhood abuse (survivors of abuse are by default notoriously unreliable): “Most women like that [?] have been molested, they’ve been abused, they’ve been whatever in their life. […] And they just need the healing of the lord.


She is particularly concerned about abortion, however. According to Bakker, abortion is linked to Satanic baby-killing rituals – there are even Satanic temples hidden inside Planned Parenthood clinics. And the activities of these occult forces increase around Halloween: “I will tell you, especially on Halloween, that many many many many Satanic rituals – abortion rituals – are performed. It’s the truth.” She needed to add the last sentence to reassure viewers who might have suspected otherwise.


Diagnosis: Oh, good grief. Even after all this years of loons, it remains baffling how anyone can listen to these people and think that they’re anything but hysterical, incoherent maniacs.

Monday, November 22, 2021

#2498: Mary Baker

Mary Baker is the one-time leader of Conservative Moms for America – an organization that seems to be quite obscure, although Lloyd Marcus was at least affiliated with them – and at least a one-time speaker for the Tea Party Express. In a blog post for Tea Party Nation, Baker, who is Black, warned thatgay supremacy is becoming a monster that carries greater evils than white supremacy ever did.” After all, according to Baker, white supremacy was never that big of an issue: “When white supremacy tried to make a mark in American history it was viciously attacked and quickly put down by the people of our nation.” At least it is pretty clear that Baker is blissfully unaware of American history.


But why, exactly, is “Gay Supremacy” a greater threat? For one thing, gay rights activists are apparently motivated by “hate” and bent on their opponents’ “utter annihilation;” moreover, “Gay Supremacy’s hate reaches much farther than a specific group of people. Their [sic] is no common ground that can be reached. Their [sic] is no searching of the heart or consideration of God’s principles. Their hate is generated only by self centeredness and hate for anyone who disagrees with them.” Yup, the crux of the issue is that white supremacists were at least Godly; gay people are not.


Diagnosis: Completely delusional. Utterly beyond hope.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

#2497: Judyth Vary Baker

Judyth Vary Baker is a curious and colorful figure, generally pretty obscure but also rather well-known in JFK assassination conspiracy circles. Baker claims to have been Lee Harvey Oswald’s lover and girlfriend prior to the assassination, and has spent a number of decades trying to clear Oswald’s name and rather blame sinister forces and conspiracies. Her story doesn’t even remotely hang together, but she nevertheless has a surprising number of fans.


Two typical gaps in her stories:


-       Though Baker and Oswald might theoretically have been with the Reily Coffee Company together, Baker, who was married at the time, has not the slightest bit of evidence to indicate that they were ever romantically involved or even knew each other: Baker has a number of love letters written by her at the time – the dates work out, but unfortunately the name of the addressee has been torn off of all of the letter, which to most people would perhaps induce a veneer of “something’s off with her story” but to Baker’s audience of dingbats rather indicates that the conspiracy was more extensive than everyone else thinks.

-       According to Baker’s story, Baker and Oswald were recruited by the CIA initially to produce a bioweapon for the purpose of killing Fidel Castro: a cocktail that included both a virus designed to knock out Castro’s immune system and cancer cells that would infect him and kill him. Oswald and Baker – a highschool dropout and a nineteen-year old girl with no science background –were supposed to develop the cocktail and biologically engineer appropriate cancer cells for the CIA covertly in the kitchen of their apartment. “But didn’t the CIA have poisons that would work? And labs? And experts?” you might ask. The answer is that close-minded people like you are not among the target audience for Baker’s tale of sinister conspiracies. She has admittedly modified her story over time in response to thorny questions, though.


There is a decent rundown of other worries people might sort of immediately have with Baker’s story here and a couple of unsolvable contradictions here. It is worth noting that one of her own explanations for why she doesn’t have any evidence is, literally, that her dogs ate it (it was “badly chewed by puppies”).


Baker has, however, written more than one book about her version of events – the fact that they rather blatantly contradict each other is explained by the claim that she deliberately laced earlier books, since details have been uncontrovertibly falsified, with disinformation: “I wrote a bunch of nonsense because I didn’t want to get sued,” said Baker – and received some attention when she was featured in the documentary series The Men Who Killed Kennedy (in the later conspiracy theory episodes that were subsequently withdrawn). She is promoted by well-known conspiracy theorists like James Fetzer, which should not lend her much credibility.


Her accounts are full of all sorts of other interesting tidbits, too. Did you know that she invented the word “nerd” ad suggested it to Dr. Seuss (ostensibly a close acquaintance of her when she was a child), who adopted it. She also once broke up a witches’ coven just when they were about to perform a human sacrifice.


Diagnosis: Colorful and enjoyable, mostly, and unlikely to harm anyone – perhaps except, inadvertently, JFK assassination conspiracy theorists.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

#2496: Preston Bailey

Preston Bailey, jr., is Executive Director of something called the Spiritual Warfare Center, and author of the breathlessly insane fundie conspiracy nonsense book SPIRITUAL WARFARE: Defeating the Forces of Darkness. He apparently likes to call himself “Dr. Bailey”, since he apparently has a Doctorate of Ministry and PhD in “Counseling” from the Biblical Life College and Seminary – which makes you very significantly less suitable for offering counseling for anything than spam is.


Bailey is apparently also a sometimes TV show host, and has made a number of appearances in various media talking about the occult and Satanic ritual abuse – and yes: we probably should talk about the harms caused by the in retrospect profoundly embarrassing nonsense Satanic panic of the 80s and 90s, but Bailey is certainly not the person to talk to: he takes the paranoid rumors and incoherent nonsense of the panic at face value. Bailey is, however, on the board of directors of several Christian Counseling centers in North America that specialize in childhood trauma, demonization and dissociation – according to Bailey, he “has counseled thousands of demonized people and hundreds of people who were ritually abused and led many Satanists, witches, warlocks, and those involved in the occult to Christ”. You are well advised to stay far, far away from those centers.


Now, demons don’t apparently just “attack anyone without reason”, as Bailey sees it; rather, a doorway must be opened. And you can open a doorway in many ways, including “practicing white or black magic, sexual immoral behavior, drugs, sins of ancestors, a passive mind such as hypnosis, fortune telling, spiritism or communicating with demons, association with demonized people, fears, possessing a cursed object, someone placing a curse on you, worshipping idols, New Age or false religious practices, rebellion, any work of the flesh such as uncontrolled anger, criminal behavior, abusing children” and other actions. You are probably possessed, in other words.


For a good illustration of how Bailey’s mind works, you can check out his exchange with Rick Wiles in an interview on Wiles’s TruNews show on how the “New World Order” is trying to restore the “Luciferian government” that existed before Noah’s Flood and will accelerate the End Times. When Wiles asked Bailey if then-President Obama – Wiles believes and might still believe that Obama is literally a demon – was of Illuminati bloodline, Bailey responded no … according to Bailey’s unnamed Illuminati “source”. Rather, according to Bailey, the Illuminati ostensibly considered Obama to be the “forerunner of the Antichrist” and that there would be an Illuminati coming to the White House soon enough: Hillary Clinton. (As for the bloodline part, as Bailey sees it – he seems to have confused a range of cheap novels for academic resources – you have to be born into the Illuminati, “so if you hear these people who claim ‘well I joined the Illuminati and blah blah blah’ well they’re lying, that’s just not true, they have delusions of grandeur.” That Bailey is intimately familiar with delusions doesn’t mean that you should listen to him on the topic.


What is profoundly scary is that Bailey was, apparently, for many years “appointed by different governors as Chairman of the Task Force on Child Abuse and Chairman of the Juvenile Anti-crime Task Force” and “has assisted law enforcement agencies in occult crimes”. Now, this is of course according to himself, and Bailey has a demonstrated significant problems with distinguishing reality from paranoid delusions, but if there is any basis in reality for the claim, then he might be directly to blame for some needless suffering caused by the actions of delusional “Satanic panic” maniacs.


Diagnosis: No, Jack Chick comics is not a suitable substitute for a psychology curriculum, but the Biblical Life College and Seminary doesn’t care. The result is that insane clowns like cartoon-fundie caricature Preston Bailey are walking around trying to – and thinking that he does – “help” people. “Deranged” and “delusional” doesn’t even begin to describe him, and yes: He seems to be causing real and serious harm to real people.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

#2495: Miranda Bailey

The movie The Pathological Optimist is a biographical movie about Andrew Wakefield, one of the most infamous frauds alive today and, as the guy who virtually founded the modern antivaccine movement, someone who is morally responsible for a large number of deaths. According to the blurb for the movie, however, the movie “takes no sides, instead letting Wakefield and the battles he fought speak for themselves.” To put it briefly: presenting views like “the Earth is flat”, “black people should have fewer rights than white people” or “the Holocaust never happened” in a manner that tries to be neutral on the merits of the claims – “without taking a side” – is presenting those views in a more positive light than they deserve. It is, accordingly, taking a side. (And no: there is no controversy about whether the MMR vaccine leads to autism; it doesn’t. That’s settled.) Miranda Bailey, the producer behind the movie, is thus, by attempting not to take a side, providing direct support for Wakefield and the anti-vaccine movement, which makes her an anti-vaccine activist.


And Bailey’s film no more “lets Wakefield and the battles he fought” speak for themselves than Loose Change lets the events of 9/11 speak for themselves. By telling the story the way she does – it’s a hagiography more than a documentary – Bailey is choosing a narrative, and it is rather obvious for instance that the only people interviewed are Wakefield and his followers – criticism are supplied by poorly produced archival footage, which Wakefield or his supporters get to respond to. There is a decent review of the movie here and a brief one here.


Now, it is important to point out how unlikely it is that Bailey herself is just a naïve and incompetent pseudo-documentary maker; Bailey has expressed anti-vaccine sympathies and conspiracy theories in the past, as documented here, especially in relation to California’s SB277 law. She has also expressed support for a wide range of woo, pseudoscience and junk medicine, beliefs that typically make one well-disposed for accepting antivaccine nonsense.


Diagnosis: Anti-vaccine activist and conspiracy theory promoter; indeed, few people have done more to promote antivaccine conspiracy theories than Miranda Bailey. A terrible person. Should be shunned.


Hat-tip: David Gorski & Sciencebased medicine

Sunday, November 7, 2021

#2494: Kent Bailey

Kent G. Bailey is a professor emeritus of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, and a self-declared paleopsychologist. He has written several books on human paleopsychology, which is dumber than it sounds – “speculative pseudoscience” doesn’t really quite capture it. Bailey is also an occasional columnist for the WND, where he for instance has explained why it is, from “a paleopsychological standpoint, […] simply […] not natural, normal, or fair” for a woman, like Hilary Clinton, to run for president of the US, ostensibly since back in cave-dwelling times only 70-year old overweight men ran for the position of directing the executive branch of the federal government. In particular, it would be unfair for a “cerebral old lady to be forced into combat with an imposing, 6-foot-3-inch, 237-pound septuagenarian who drives a golf ball 300 yards and eats nails for breakfast – yes, Bailey did describe her opponent as “warrior extraordinaire Donald Trump”. Given how mired Bailey is in pseudo-Freudian pseudoscience, you should feel free to read whatever you like about Bailey into that description.


In fairness, Bailey did go on to offer several “paleopsychological observations” about why women are not suited as national leaders – for instance, “when a woman is faced with male aggression, her first instinct is to cry for help and then find a male protector to do the fighting for her” – all leading to the conclusion that “if Hillary Clinton is elected, the continuing infantilization and feminization of American men will further explode, society as we know it will crumble, and the regression back to our pagan roots will be complete.” Oh, yes, well … you may have thought that he was on the verge of trying to offer a secular – if abysmally deranged – case for complementarianism, but as the last sentence shows: he really wasn’t.


But yes, Donald Trump is the “quintessential warrior male” that we have apparently all been waiting for to defeat “the pagan forces of progressivism and political correctness.” And it isn’t just women who are unsuited for office, but anyone tempted to adopt feminine values: For instance, “[w]e have seen how poorly our current [this column is from 2015] girly-man-in-chief, Barack Obama, has dealt with the world of violent supermales out there.” There is a curious parallel here to end-times prophets: Bailey keeps warning us that if we elect women to office, “society as we know it will crumble, and the regression back to our pagan roots will be complete,” but he also seems to wish for that – racism, tribalism, simplemindedness, ignorance – to happen (the reason may well be some fundamental struggles with the is–ought distinction).


Diagnosis: Landing a job as a psychology professor at a respectable university these days is no mean feat. Apparently, it wasn’t always that way. Good grief.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

#2493: Ben Bailey

Though not, perhaps, a major figure on the televangelist horror clown circuit, Tennessee-based televangelist Ben Bailey, of the Central church of Christ in McMinnville, is certainly appropriately angry, hateful, fanatical and crazy for his profession. Condemningliberal society, Bailey advocates an ostensibly more Christian alternative, one that emphasizes that God commands Christians to stone gay people and prevent women from teaching. He also condemns Christians who go to churches with “relaxed and liberal views, i.e. Christians who fail to appreciate the central role of hate and bloodthirst in real Christianity – too many Christians (or wannabe Christians), according to Bailey, wantthings like women preaching, women leading in service, where homosexuals and gay marriage were accepted openly,” and “we need to make sure that such is not the idea or the mindset of God.”

One notable thing about Bailey, however, is how calmly and seemingly reasonably he is able to deliver his deranged messages of hate and oppression and his suggestions that good Christians should execute gays by stoning (stoning is “the mindset of God”, as Bailey sees it) and that women are inferior to men in the eyes of God.

Diagnosis: Evil, insane and bloodthirsty monster. The kind that inspires campfire horror tales and that kids fear is lurking under their beds. Terrifying.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

#2492: Alexis Baden-Mayer

Alexis Baden-Mayer is an anti-GMO activist and Political Director fo the Organic Consumers Association, an anti-GMO organization. Baden-Meyer is sufficiently influential in the movement to be considered a person to interview about policy suggestions and measures related to organic food and GMOs by mainstream media, i.e. as someone to be taken seriously. Alexis Baden-Mayer is not a person to take seriously, however. Alexis Baden-Mayer is a loon.


In addition to promoting anti-GMO conspiracy theories, Baden-Mayer promotes anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, and has in fact become a rather influential figure in the anti-vaccine movement – she was a speaker at the 2017 Washington anti-vaccine rally Revolution for Truth, for instance (and yes: that would be Badger’s Law at work).


Now, it’s hardly surprising that someone from the Organic Consumers Association is an anti-vaccine activist – after all, the OCA is a pseudoscience and conspiracy-theory group through and through, and frequently promotes everything from NaturalNews, Joseph Mercola and Alex Jones articles to anti-fluoridation nonsense, food irradiation conspiracies, homeopathy and even 9/11-truther nonsense (as well as antivaccine misinformation). They also tend to label their opponents as paid shills (Baden-Mayer is particularly fond of the popular Argumentum ad Monsantum gambit); they are at least open about their role being to represent and protect the interests of “several thousand businesses in the natural foods and organic marketplace” and that they themselves are funded by Big Organic corporations. 


Baden-Mayer’s blog (no link) consists mostly of posts accusing people of being paid shills for Monsanto and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and – in particular – Bill Gates; in fact, Baden-Mayer even suggests that Gates may be behind the pandemic, and in cahoots with Anthony Fauci, in order to profiteer on vaccines. It’s precisely as breathless, incoherent and paranoid as you’d imagine.


Diagnosis: Wild-eyed, intense and paranoid conspiracy theorist who seems hell-bent on trying to believe more or less every conspiracy theory she comes across. And she does have followers. Frightening stuff.


Addendum: The recipe for Baden-Mayer’s rants – and, indeed, most of the stuff coming out of OCA – is actually rather instructive, and illustrates the central position of ad hominem fallacies in much conspiracy reasoning. If there is a claim they don’t like, there is little engagement with the claim; rather, the go-to gambit is to try to question the integrity of the person or group presenting the claim. If Anthony Fauci says something about the coronavirus? Let’s dig up all the stuff we can about him, and see if we can find, however tenuous, some connection that, if you squint a lot, could be used to question whether his position is entirely and completely neutral and with no possible connection, at any degree of removal, to some industry. Then reject the claim in question without even bothering to address it.


Of course, in reality, most people wouldn’t dismiss, say, claims about whether a computer program works as intended made by someone who is employed by the developers of the program. And most people would presumably agree that in order to dismiss a mathematical result, you sort of have to find an error – that the person publishing the proof has a stake in the proof being correct isn’t really a good reason to reject it on its own. In order to legitimately dismiss a claim, you have to engage with in and find an error; it’s not enough to find some flaw with the person making it.


There is some apparent complexity to be added to this obvious point, however: We generally should dismiss claims made by non-experts about a field if the claim is in disagreement with what the experts on that field say, and the fact that the person is a non-expert is, on its own, relevant. Doing so may superficially look like the kind of ad hominem-fallacy mongering Baden-Mayer tends to engage in. But it isn’t – there is a crucial difference: In the case where you dismiss the non-expert’s claim, you aren’t dismissing it because the person is a non-expert: You are dismissing it because you do have independent reason to think the claim is wrong, namely that the people who know a lot about it says that it is wrong. You may not be able to spell out what the mistake is, but the fact that experts say that it is mistaken means that you have good, independent, reason for thinking that there is one.


In general, a good rule of good thinking is the following (we do not know from where we have it – if anyone has a reference, please tell us):


You are not allowed to try to explain why someone is wrong before you have shown that they are, in fact, wrong.


You are (rationally) allowed to speculate about why someone is wrong. You are even allowed to wonder whether there is foul play at work. But you can’t start with those speculations: first you have to do the work of determining whether there is actually anything there that merits an explanation. Starting by looking for foul play, however, before addressing any relevant claim, is one of the hallmark of conspiracy thinking.