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.