Tuesday, March 30, 2021

#2457: I.Q. al Rassooli

I.Q. al Rassooli is an anti-Islam activist most famous for his youtube series “Idiots Guide to Islam” and as author of the book Lifting the Veil: The True Faces of Muhammad and Islam, which seems to be mostly a transcription of parts of his youtube videos. He does not appear to have any credentials in any field relevant to his “research”, but takes the fact that scholars don’t bother to engage with the claims in his book or videos to demonstrate that he is nevertheless right. 

According to al Rassooli, every Muslim supports violent jihad, and those who claim that they don’t – that would ostensibly include former President Obama – are simply lying. Moreover, anyone who disagrees with that claim, al Rassooli says, belongs in a “mental asylum.” And polls that purport to show that many Muslims in the US don’t support the imposition are of Sharia are false, because those who insist they don’t are simply engaging in taqiyya. In other words, that the evidence straightforwardly refutes his claims, is evidence that the polls lie, which is evidence that he is right. So it goes. “Every Muslim wants Sharia,” asserts al Rassooli, and when they say they don’t, it’s “a deception, it’s called taqiyya. Taqiyya is Islamic sanctified religious deception. What do you think Obama is? Obama is all about taqiyya. He lies to protect Islam. Eight years he has been lying to protect Islam. Eight years. This is called taqiyya,” because the more times you repeat an unfounded claim, the truer it gets.  

So what should Americans do? According to al Rassooli, “you have to close every single mosque. You have to remove every single imam. You must not allow sharia. You must not allow hijab … This is exactly what needs to be done.” All in the name of religious freedom, of course.  

Diagnosis: The boiling stew of anger, hate and paranoia that is the mind of I.Q al Rassooli seems to persist entirely insulated from reality. Yet, his books and videos do seem to have a number of (equally deranged) fans. One might be excused for being worried about what they might end up doing.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

#2456: Dalal Akoury

The Integrative Addiction Conference 2015 (“A New Era in Natural Treatment”) was a pseudoscience and conspiracy theory event in 2015 where medical doctors and quacks were treated to a range of talks by woo pracitioners promoting dangerous, ineffective and silly bullshit treatments, such as naturopath and dubious stemcell treatment practitioner Kenneth Proefrock’s talk on “IV Therapies and Addiction Solutions” (complete with a prominent Quack Miranda Warning assuring listeners that he is not claiming that his stem cell treatments are effective for anything but strongly suggesting that they are effective forvirtually everything). What’s frightening is that doctors could actually get continuing medical education credits for attending.
The person running the show (“Title Sponsor” of the conference) was Dalal Akoury, MD, who is listed by the S.C. Board of Medicine as board certified in pediatrics. Akoury is also the founder of the “Integrative Addiction Institute” and runs the “AwareMed Health and Wellness Resource Center” in Myrtle Beach, which offers a range of questionable treatments for a range of real and less real conditions: they do addiction recovery, adrenal fatigue treatment, stem cells, anti-aging, weight loss, hair loss treatment, “functional medicine” and even “integrative cancer care”. Given the variety of conditions they offer to treat, and the types of “treatments” they offer for them, it might perhaps strike some as surprising that the center has only Akoury and one licensed practical nurse on the staff, but it really isn’t. They also offer Ayurvedic medicine, which apparently has to be powerful because it has been around for so long, and alternative vaccination schedules.
According to herself, Akoury has “dedicated her career to identifying and addressing the root causes of chronic illness through a groundbreaking whole-systems medicine approach known as Functional, Integrative, Sexual, Cellular and Metabolic Medicine”, and her Medical Cloud profile lists her as “knowledgeable on obesity, fitness, and nutrition, and Sexual Medecine [sic]”. Her marketing, as so much woo marketing, is to a large extent focusing on “empowerment, and she endeavors to help her victims patients to becomeone with the universe, and aligning body, mind, and spirit.”
Diagnosis: Akoury seems to have endorsed everything that is wrong, false and ridiculous in the field of alternative medicine, and will seemingly push any ridiculous idea or treatment for any condition, real or imagined, you may think you suffer from (or she can convince you that you suffer from). To be avoided at all costs.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

#2455: Bill Akins

Remember back in the early 2010s, when Obamacare was launched, and the associated conspiracy theories about it promoted by deranged wingnuts? One of the more popular ones was the idea that the health care law had a “death panel” clause; in one popular version, it was even specified that according to the law, all Americans had to appear before the panel when they turned 74. Despite being obviously ridiculous, that particular conspiracy theory made its rounds among Qanon-receptive circles for a while back in 2012 before eventually being replaced by other, equally ridiculous nonsense.


Well, the idea didn’t completely die. Bill Akins, then secretary of the Republican Executive Committee of Pasco County, Florida, pulled it back out at a 2017 townhall meeting. “Here’s the problem I have with the Affordable Health Care Act,” said Akins: “Number one, there is a provision in there that anyone over the age of 74 has to go before what is effectively a death panel.” And when audiences started booing, Akins desperately tried to prove his point by repeating his assertion: “They do,” and, “It’s in there, folks, you’re wrong.” It is, of course, not in there, and by 2017 people tended to be aware of that.


Akins subsequently resigned, but that seems to be mostly because his Facebook posts turned out to contain a rather impressive selection of racist memes and fake news stories, including a couple of familiar and predictable ones:


-       that former President Barack Obama was a foreign-born Muslim

-       several spins on the Clinton body count conspiracy theories (Bill and Hillary Clinton had potential trial witnesses against them murdered)

-       that former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia might have been murdered

-       that “Climate Change” is a globalist hoax


Upon resigning, Akins emphasized that he didn’t admit to being wrong, however – rather he resigned, according to himself, to be free from the Republican party’s oppressive loyalty oaths.


Diagnosis: Yes, this is old news, and Akins is hopefully out for good. But just as old conspiracy theories are apparently never forgotten, we aren’t forgetting Bill Akins, even if even crazier wingnuts are endorsing even more ridiculous conspiracy theories at present.

Monday, March 22, 2021

#2454: Sangeeta Agarawal

Sangeeta Agarawal is the founder of health startup Helpsy, and an ardent champion of all things woo and New Age shiny and flimsy. Helpsy is supposed to be “a platform that brings together health care experts from all evidence based health care modalities, researchers and health care centers to combine their efforts together to offer an all-in-one interdisciplinary health solution to treat all aspects of health,” and might have been a good idea if it had actually cared at all about “evidence-based” and not gone full woo. Agarawal herself has, apparently, a background as a nurse, ayurveda practitioner, and yoga teacher, and has, according to herself, “studied integrative medicine by studying, practicing and conducting research in both eastern and western medicine” and worked with “the Mayo Clinic, Stanford Cancer Center, and UCSF Cancer Center”, which, if correct, is downright horrifying. She was at least an invited participant to a panel at Stanford University’s 2016 Medicine X Conference

Her schtick is fairly typical for the contemporary urban hipster approach to health wellness, though: apparently Agarawal “found ways to empower herself to be healthy and happy” by taking everything into her own hands, “decid[ing] to devote her life to empowering everyone to living their best quality of life”. Yes, the sales pitch is all about empowerment, self-affirmation, individualism and finding your own way to take control over your health, and not be restricted by the oppressive chains of reality or the authority of those who actually knows how reality works – it’s basically the updated, fashionable version of the human potential movement. “Our solution is ready to help everyone live their life to the fullest,” says Agarawal. 

Meanwhile, Helpsy appears to have become mostly a marketing company for quacks, with the “health care experts” it helps patients find being mostly, it seems, acupuncturists and chiropractors.  

Diagnosis: Garbage through and through. The scary thing is that real medical institutions are giving the empty fluff and nonsense of people like Sangeeta Agarawal a microphone and a sheen of legitimacy.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

#2453: Kathy Afzali et al.

State legislatures again! (Though this time around the culprit is at least gone as of now.) Kathryn L. Afzali represented district 4 in the Maryland House of Delegates from 2011 to 2019. For our purposes, Afzali is most notable for her support of a 2018 bill that would protect “lyme literate” doctors from discipline.


“Lyme literate” doctors are doctors who cater to groups of people who believe they suffer from “chronic Lyme” (which is not to be confused with the very real and potentially serious lyme disease). Now, these people are certainly suffering and often desperate; they do not, however, suffer from chronic lyme (for a primer on chronic lyme, this one might be helpful). However, there are doctors willing to go along with, or even confirm with the help of nonsense tests, that diagnosis – and note the diagnostic criteria being used). These doctors are, as such, essentially scamming patients out of thousands of dollars with needless long-term antibiotics – or other, less orthodox and potentially dangerous means – based on a fake diagnosis. And sadly and predictably enough, “chronic lyme” patients who have bought into the diagnosis and the associated conspiracies needed to do so, are often the most ardent defenders of these doctors and wish to see them protected from what they judge to be persecution by the medical establishment while they are being fleeced. Meanwhile, the “lyme literate” doctors themselves have banded together in their own International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), which has issued their own nonsense guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of “chronic Lyme” based on nonsense “evidence” accepted only by themselves, and which are used to teach other practitioners how to become “Lyme literate.” Needless to say, ILADS is not an ACCME-accredited provider of continuing medical education.


Now, already in 2016, the Maryland legislature passed a bill that would require test labs to substitute physicians’ advice and evidence-based information with the advice that legislators, such as Afzali, whose background is in theater and real estate, wanted them to have with regard to Lyme disease. According to Afzali, the bill in question was merely the first in a series of bills she hoped to get passed. “The question is, what is the proper treatment for the disease [chronic lyme]. There’s many different schools of thought. We want to be able to pass legislation that helps these patients who have long-term treatment for Lyme.” Of course, if you restrict the relevant “schools of thought” to the ones that actually base their advice on evidence and science, there aren’t many of them, but then you are forgetting that the reason there is no serious evidence for chronic lyme is because Big Medicine is in a conspiracy to suppress what the conspiracy theorists and brave maverick doctors know to be true without having to rely on that evidence. In 2018, Afzali and 38 fellow delegates sponsored House Bill 880 (later withdrawn), which would have forced insurers to pay for long-term antibiotic treatment of “chronic Lyme” disease, where the criterion for diagnosing someone with “chronic lyme” was, essentially, merely a “lyme literate” physician saying that it is chronic lyme – after all, there were no accurate, detailed, objective criteria to use.


However, despite the idiocy and danger of HB880, it pales in comparison with HB1266, which later died in committee and would have protected not only “Lyme literate” physicians from any disciplinary action by the medical board “for acts or omissions that arise from professional differences of opinion”, but “Lyme literate” chiropractors and naturopaths as well. That bill’s sponsors were Ned Carey, Pamela Beidle, Barbara Frush, Carol Krimm, David Moon, April Rose and Dana Stein, and at least some of those seem to still enjoy positions in the legislature. And of course: it is not only Maryland; ILADS has been making efforts in numerous states, often with more success than they enjoyed with the ultimately feeble nonsense they managed to pull of in Maryland. Some of those efforts are described here. Yes, it is horrifying.


Diagnosis: Yes, it is deeply frightening. State legislators tend to have little understanding of medicine, science or evidence, and are often easily pushed by lobbyists with anecdotes and misguided people in desperate situations to support them. When it comes to “chronic lyme”, there is no particular reason to single out Kathy Afzali, except that she actually displayed her ignorance and nonsense to the media, though we needed a name under which to file this disconcerting bullshittery.


Hat-tip: Jann Bellamy @ sciencebased medicine

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

#2452: Kenneth Adkins

Kenneth Adkins is a Florida-based pastor and anti-gay activist who has described himself as “one of the most Respected Black Conservative Voices in America”. Adkins received some attention when he, in the wake of the 2016 shooting that left 49 club goers dead and 53 others wounded at a gay nightclub in Orlando, said thatI don’t see none of them as victims. I see them as getting what they deserve!!” He has earlier suggested that zeh gays are in some sort of conspiracy to replace “the Black Struggle” with their own, and that they might have murdered Martin Luther King as part of that effort (“Hell, the Sissies might have killed Dr. King!!”)  
And in 2017, Adkins was, not entirely unsurprisingly and entirely in line with Haggard’s Law, convicted of molesting two children, one male and one female, who attended his church. (Adkins does, by the way, have an impressively long criminal record).  
Diagnosis: Yeah, there isn’t much more that needs to be said about this vile piece of bigoted insanity. Probably neutralized.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

#2451: Harry Adelson

Over the last couple of years we have seen a large number of bogus stem cell clinics popping up marketing unproven, expensive and potentially dangerous “stem cell treatments” to people in desperate situations – after all, few groups of people are more vulnerable to fleecing than people with serious medical conditions or their loved ones, especially those for whom evidence-based and reality-based treatments leave poor long-term prognoses. Scammers offer hope, often under the “experimental treatment” label, and when they “don’t offer any guarantees”, it just makes them seem even more trustworthy – as well as freeing them from immediate legal troubles. And fair enough: some of the stem cell merchants probably genuinely believes they can help. They can even offer anecdotes that seem to support what they have to offer from people who have recently undergone treatment – as long as they don’t wait too long to record the words of praise, of course. And the market has long been more or less completely unregulated


Some of the clinics selling dubious “stem cell”-related “cures” aren’t even run by real doctors. The Docere Clinics in Park City, Utah, for instance, markets stem cell therapies offered by naturopaths, in particular naturopath Harry Adelson, ND (i.e. “not a doctor”). The clinic claims to treat a range of musculoskeletal pain syndromes – none for which stem cell therapies have actually been shown to work, but including plenty of conditions associated with chronic pain, which are of course famously susceptible to placebo effects. Adelson has no actual, serious evidence to support the treatments he offers – rather, his specialty (or one of them) seems to be injecting “stem cells” of somewhat unclear origin into cervical discs in the hope that they will magically rejuvenate them. Instead of evidence, you’ll be able to find plenty of videos of Adelson cosplaying a real doctor, as well TEDX talks where he offers anecdotes and explains how he learned the tricks of the stem-cell trade from dubious clinics in places where regulations on health care are less strict. He does, however, also have his own unrandomized, highly dubious clinical “trial” that might look like an instance of real research only if you don’t know how real trials actually work. There is a good critique of Adelson’s and his pretend research here


Adelson and the Docere clinic are not alone in this business, of course. In Phoenix, for instance, non-doctors Timothy Pierce, Jaime Ewald and Julie Keiffer at the Stem Cell Rejuvenation Center offer to use stem cells for autism, Lou Gehrig’s disease, cerebral palsy, degenerative disc disease, heart disease, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injuries and erectile dysfunction, starting at $7,100 (2017). Evidence for safety and efficacy are for the narrow-minded. Meanwhile, the Global Health Stem Cell & IV Therapy, run by naturopaths Jason Porter and Julie Keiffer (again) – Arizona has notoriously few regulations on the practice of quacks, largely due, it seems, to the efforts of grand master quack Andrew Weil – offerw similar treatments, though it does at least also provide what is basically a large Quack Miranda Warning in lieu of anything resembling convincing evidence for safety and efficacy. Now, many naturopaths like to proclaim the glories of “natural medicine”, and you might wonder in virtue of what the stem cell treatments these people are marketing qualify as “natural”. The answer, of course, is that “natural” seems to mean whatever you want it to mean as long as there is money in it. And yes: you should be afraid


There is a very good review of naturopathic forays into stem cell quackery here


Diagnosis: Adelson doesn’t seem like a loon. Not in any way. Indeed, Adelson is pretty good at pretending to be a real medical practitioner for marketing purposes. And of course: that’s what makes him dangerous. Stay well away. 


Hat-tip: Respectful Insolence

Thursday, March 11, 2021

#2450: Myra Adams

It is a core belief of religious fundies that they are persecuted, and if you are sufficiently paranoid, you’ll find evidence to back up that delusion everywhere. Myra Adams, a freelance writer whose rants have been published by e.g. the WND and National Review, points out that such persecution of Christians takes place when people use ‘CE’ and ‘BCE’ instead of ‘AD’ and ‘BC’: choosing the former is, according to Adams, not only a “subtle form of Christian persecution” but “also a de facto war against Christianity”. Do you need more evidence that Christians are being persecuted? Well, Adams is ready to provide: Notice that Genesis 2:23-24 (“The man said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man. For this reason a man leave his father and his mother, and be united to his wife, and they shall be one flesh”) has “for hundreds of years” been “a wedding favorite”(?); but now, gay marriage is legal, and “though this passage is the biblical basis for marriage, we doubt that it would be acceptable to the bride and groom” – and that, according to Adams, shows that the left is ready to ban “the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church,” as “hate speech”. Yes, there are some steps left unstated in that piece of “reasoning”. 
She has also written extensively about how the shroud of Turin is proof that the Bible’s portrayal of Jesus is accurate, e.g. for the young-earth creationist website Evidence4Creation. (Yes, Adams is of course a young-earth creationist.)  
Diagnosis: It’s hard not to conclude that she’s genuinely stupid. Yet she does apparently get her stuff published, so someone must apparently find it insightful. Baffling.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

#2449: J. Christian Adams

John Christian Adams is an attorney and activist formerly employed by the Department of Justice (under Bush) and generally famous for his alarmist and false claims about the extent of voter fraud in the US and for being one of the most vocal supporters of voter suppression. Adams has falsely accused a number of legitimate voters of being fraudulent, including publishing information (including Social Security numbers) about them online. As a result, he was appointed to Donald Trump’s election integrity commission. Adams is also a contributor to Pajamas Media and a relatively frequent guest on wingnut talk shows and radio show.


Adams is president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), a group that advocates for stricter voter ID laws, and he has asserted that there is an “alien invasion” at the voting booth (providing evidence to back up his claims is apparently an idea he hasn’t quite internalized: Adams has described those who say there is no evidence of systemic voter fraud as “flat-earthers”. He does not anywhere actually provide the requested evidence.) His foundation has worked tirelessly to sue counties to force them to purge their voter rolls and exposing people he, also with scant evidence, believes should be purged. In 2019 he was at least forced to settle a lawsuit (and provide an apology) filed by voters in Virginia that he falsely accused, in a ridiculous report called “Alien Invasion in Virginia”, of being non-citizens who had voted. After the November 2020 election, Adams’s organization has of course filed several unfounded lawsuits claiming election fraud.


But Adams has views on matters beyond voting right, too. Adams is, for instance, a staunch defender of his own interpretation of religious freedom, and claims that it should be fine to discriminate against those who have different religious views than you in housing, employment or public accommodations because the Bible (as he reads it) demands it and because not being able to discriminate on the basis of religion “intrudes on their free exercise of faith”. And organizations that promote efforts to prevent discrimination based on religion – those that in fact support religious freedom – are “filled with hostility toward people of faith”. (Adams says nothing about the right of people of other religions or none to discriminate against Christians in employment or housing, of course.) 


A tireless critic of imagined cases of reverse racism, Adams has also argued that confederate monuments should be maintained because such monuments remind us why the US is such a great country. Meanwhile, efforts to remove Confederate monuments are part of the Left’s quest for a “big-government Utopia” and “to get rid of the American Revolution.” No, it’s not a particularly coherent analysis or critique. Coherence was never a relevant standard for J. Christian Adams.  


Diagnosis: A respected and powerful figure on the radical right, Adams is usually more of a villain than an idiot, but he doesn’t always manage to stay on the, uh, right side of that divide and has bought into a number of idiotic conspiracy theories. Dangerous.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

#2448: Mary Ackerley

Fake illnesses, or more accurately: fake diagnoses, are a major problem, and they come in a variety of forms, from Morgellons disease to electromagnetic hypersensitivity. And to emphasize: There is no doubt that many of the people diagnosed with these diagnoses, either by quacks or by themselves, suffer – they may, indeed, really suffer from real diseases. But they are not suffering from the non-existing diseases they have been labeled with and that the quacks descending on these people, who are often in difficult situations, claim to be able to cure. 


Mary Ackerley is listed as an ostensibly “certified” provider who runs the website survivingmold.com, apparently the go-to site for those who have been convinced that they suffer from chronic mold sensitivity, or, as the website puts it, “mold illness” or “chronic inflammatory response syndrome” – the nonsense was even featured in Netflix’s Afflicted. The diagnosis is not recognized by any serious medical organization, because there is no such illness, but according to Ackerley’s site, it can be the cause of as many as 40 different, unrelated and often vague symptoms. Ackerley’s opportunities to hand out the diagnosis and suggest sometimes relatively costly “remedies” to people in real difficult situations, are accordingly significant.


Ackerley herself is apparently a trained psychiatrist, who at some point turned to pushing various types of woo, including unnecessarysupplements galore” (her own phrase) and various techniques unsupported by evidence, on her potential clients instead. She is also president of something called “The International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness” (ISEAI), which is probably not an organization to turn to for advice if you have actual health issues, and – according to herself – “a leader in the chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) field”. “CIRS” is a fake fad diagnosis that sounds like something that could be confused with something that Ackerley, a psychiatrist, has no qualifications to offer advice on. She has also written a book, Brain on Fire: The Role of Toxic Mold in Triggering Psychiatric Symptoms, and, like her website, it is full of references to toxins, one of the core gambits in modern health pseudoscience. Indeed, Ackerley seems to think that most of what we think of as psychiatric illnesses are really caused by toxins in the environment. This is false, and dangerously so, but in Ackerley’s mind her ideas represent an imminent paradigm shift that will soon be adopted by the reactionary scientific community. She’s just like Semmelweiss.


Diagnosis: She knows how to sound professional, but her ideas are as quacky as any snakeoil salesman’s, and they have the potential to harm real people. A potential rising star on the woo circuit, so attention is warranted.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

#2447: Jim Abeler

For a long time, creationism and climate change denialism were associated with the American right whereas antivaccine views and woo were associated with the left. The picture was inaccurate back in the days, too, but it is certainly obviously false today, as most antivaccine efforts in state (and federal) legislatures are primarily made by representatives of the Republican party. In Minnesota, for instance, the central antivaccine representative is probably state senator James J. Abeler II, who represents District 35 in the northern Twin Cities metropolitan area. When previously serving in the House, Abeler was even chair of the Health Policy and Finance Subcommittee for the Health Care Cost Containment Division for a time. He formed the MN Autism Council in fall 2018 to really give antivaccine activism political legs, and promptly appointed well-known antivaccine activist and dingbat conspiracy theorist Wayne Rohde, cofounder of the Vaccine Safety Council of Minnesota, to said council. There is a relatively substantial portrait of Abeler from 2019 here, though it portrays him as a potential “stealth antivaccine advocate” – at present, there is little that is stealthy about Abeler’s antivaccine views anymore.


Abeler is a vocal opponent of school vaccinations, and has worked closely with the antivaccine organization Age of Autism (yes, that’s Jenny McCarthy’s organization) to fight vaccines and legislation supportive of vaccination. He has also been involved with the antivaccine quack summit Autism One, which is famous for promoting not only the demonstrably false claim that vaccines can lead to autism, but also a variety of dangerous and ineffective autism “cures”. Abeler’s associates are tied to concerted efforts to spread fear, uncertainty, doubt and misinformation about the MMR vaccine specifically in Minnesota’s substantial Somali community, and are largely responsible for a large measles outbreak in the community in2017. Patti Carroll, a local antivaccine loon who was heavily involved with organizing antivaccine outreach in the Minnesota Somali community, was also appointed by Abeler to serve on the MN Autism Council.


Abeler was one of eight state senators who expressed skepticism about vaccines in opposing Senate File 1520, which would have mandated vaccines for all school-aged children. Abeler emphasized that parents should be allowed to have “informed consent,” by which antivaccine activists meanmisinformed consent”, and lamented that antivaccine parents were being impugned. “Most of the people who have concerns about vaccines never thought twice about it until their own child got damaged or their friend was injured by a vaccine,” said Abeler, adding that “[i]t turns out they’re not nearly as safe as they’re told, and they’re not even as effective as they’re told.” His claims are, of course, wrong: vaccines are safe and effective, and as safe and effective as those who know a bit about vaccines and the evidence obtained from studying them claim, though to people like Abeler, extensive, carefully conducted studies cannot trump judiciously selected and mischaracterized, emotionally effective personal anecdotes and causation/correlation confusions. The claims do reflect common tropes on antivaccine conspiracy websites, however.


Abeler has claimed that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe” and has been sharing Del Bigtree videos to fans to “support” his claims, saying “[t]hank you for standing for truth on vaccines. The CDC & HHS have admitted they have not done a safety study for ANY of the vaccines on the market. In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled, ‘Vaccines are unavoidably unsafe.’ So just trust your doctor? Oh the ones who keep prescribing oxycodone? People need to be just as angry about the lack of safety studies on vaccines as this!”. Of course, everything in that quote is at best misleading: the Supreme Court has not ruled what Abeler and Bigtree think they have ruled by any stretch of the imagination, and vaccines are thoroughly tested for safety and efficacy – indeed, it’s hard to imagine a more blatant lie than the claim that there are no safety studies for vaccines.


A chiropractor by trade, Abeler himself claims to be able to treat ADHD with spinal adjustments. He cannot, but chiropractors, especially those who espouse the dangerous pseudoscience that is chiropractic neurology, constitute a notable subgroup of the antivaccine movement. Before joining the Minnesota legislature, Abeler was a tireless lobbyist for getting healthcare companies to cover chiropractic. He also claims that chiropractic can boost your immunity, no less, a claim that should remove any doubt that we are dealing with a spineless and/or deluded grifter for anyone with even minimal understanding of how the human body (especially the immune system) works, and he even suggests that chiropractic can help remedy ear infections, colds, allergies, and tonsillitis among children. It cannot.


Abeler is not alone among Minnesota legislators when it comes to promoting or accommodating antivaccine conspiracy theories, however. Others include State Senator Scott Jensen (R-Chaska), who is famous for spreading Covid-19 misinformation, and State Senator Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), who has for instance shared antivaccine depopulation conspiracy theories (in particular this one) on her facebook page.


More recently, Abeler, too, has been spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19, in particular – parroting one of President Trump’s most outrageous and baseless conspiracy theories – that doctors and the CDC are overcounting Covid-19-related deaths for financial reasons.


Diagnosis: Deluded conspiracy theorist, and given his position in the Minnesota legislature Abeler is, in fact, a serious threat to human health and welfare – demonstrably so, if you keep in mind the 2017 measles outbreak (as well as COVID-19).

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

#2446: Saeed Abedini

Saeed Abedini is an Iranian American Christian pastor, famous for being imprisoned in Iran in 2012 based on allegations that he compromised national security, an incident that created international controversy; he was released in 2016 along with other American prisoners following international pressure. But although he is, indeed – and as opposed to most Americans who claim to be – a genuine victim of religious persecution, Abedini is also a loon, as well as a generally shitty and abusive character. And of course, Abedini also believes that Christians are persecuted in the US today, too, by Muslims, liberals, seculars and others ostensibly controlled by the free-roaming spirit of the Antichrist, a force that is apparently best defeated by rejecting globalism, nurturing nationalism and closing the borders.


During the 2016 election, Abedini was firmly opposed to a Clinton presidency, but not for more or less reasonable political reasons: “if a woman can’t be the head of a small group of people such as the family or church, how can she, Biblically, be the head of a country with millions of people?!asked Abedini, and accused Clinton of being possessed by a Jezebel spirit that “is NOT from God, nor is it Biblical.” Nominally an advocate for complementarianism, Abedini hastened to add that he “believe in equality of women and men,”  before, predictably, adding “but there are differences in how God orchestrated the leadership of our homes and life so that we can function in an orderly manner.” Of course, “orderly manner” should be understood in light of being uttered by someone who has plead guilty to domestic abuse charges.


Diagnosis: No, he shouldn’t have been imprisoned in Iran, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the guy is garbage. Not even the war-on-Christmas crowd seems to have given him much attention after his return, though, possibly because they might realize that he is, indeed, garbage and would come across as such if they gave him a microphone.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Launching round 4

So that was actually the end of round 3 through the alphabet. It took us several years. At some points we might have thought that, with more than 2000 loons covered, “that’s it”. 

But here’s the thing. Given that it has taken so long to get through this round, many new loons have managed to come to prominence in the meantime (in addition to a few that have managed to slip through thus far), especially in relation to the emergence of Qanon and COVID denialism. So if you look at the list, you might discover that we have no entry for Del Bigtree, nor Josh Bernstein, Jordan Sather or Mike Cernovich. We have thus far overlooked Shiva Ayyadurai, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jillian Mai Thi Epperly and Teal Swan, not to mention Liz Crokin, Laura Loomer, Larry Cook and Judy Mikovits. Heck, even Roger Stone managed to escape inclusion in the previous round.

We have compiled a list and feel that we have little choice but to launch a round 4.