Thursday, March 31, 2022

#2526: Walter Bayes

Walt Bayes has been a candidate in the Republican primary for Governor of Idaho in various elections, running primarily on promising to outlaw abortion. For his 2014 run, he was apparently also interested in prison reform, primarily by seeking to “make sure there are Christian ministers and literature available” in prisons since this is apparently the only way to reform criminals – we tentatively infer that this is his view based on rants consisting primarily of Bible quotes.


Yes, Bayes is a fundie’s fundie, and like many wild-eyed fundies, Bayes has views on education; lamented Bayes: “Today’s schools teach evolution and sex ed, in direct opposition to the word of God. They teach young girls that they should enter the workplace and compete with men, and to forsake the God-given duties of a wife and mother.” And, warned Bayes, “[w]hen you take God out of school, you have an ungodly school, and you will have to build another prison to hold ungodly graduates.” Yes, solving crime really is that simple, in the eyes of Walt Bayes: “When God made man and gave him a family, he gave us a Bible, which is a manual. You follow the teachings of Christ, and things will work out all right, or you can let the government raise your kids, and you will need a prison to hold them!


In that light, it is interesting to note that Bayes has served some jailtime himself. His manual seems to have some holes, in other words. According to himself, he was jailed “for his beliefs”. The court records suggest that this assessment is a matter of delusion, unless he means his beliefs about the law, which didn’t help him much.


Though the Republican primaries for the governorship of Idaho might seem parochial to some, Bayes and some of his primary candidate colleagues managed to draw some national attention for their colorful debate on gay marriage.


Diagnosis: Colorful if viewed from a distance, but really a spinning ball of paranoid, self-righteous anger, delusions and religious fervor. Maintain that distance.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

#2525: Rachel Baxter

Rachel Baxter is a self-declared prophet affiliated with Valor Christian Academy Omaha (the Principal, in fact), a private fundie (“Spirit-Led Missional”) school in Nebraska. Baxter set up the school ostensibly because she “felt called by God to help establish the Lord’s Mountain of Education”.


Baxter is generous with predictions. To TruNews host Rick Wiles, for instance, she relayed a prophetic message given to her by the Holy Spirit, about false flags and the start of World War III according to which false flags are coming to America and were (possibly) going to take place in Miami, San Francisco and Chicago. According to Baxter, these false flags may lead to world war, though she was apparently awaiting further information on that.  


She does have a blog, of sorts, containing a mix of quasi-spiritual ranting and waffling and an almost remarkable lack of understanding of how anything works in the world. You don’t really need to check it out.


Diagnosis: This frothingly deranged loon has access to kids, and some control over what kids learn. That’s an absolute disaster, but unfortunately a common enough disaster to go overlooked in the US. Otherwise pretty minor, though.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

#2524: Dennis Baxley

Dennis K. Baxley is a Florida state legislator who has served in the Florida Senate (12th district) since 2016, and previously served in the Florida House of Representatives (2000–2007 and 2010–2016). He also served as executive director of the Florida Christian Coalition from 2008 to 2010.


Baxley is most famous for his defense of guns and gun rights and his general disgust for poor people and their right to choose, but for our purposes his most obvious qualification is his science denialism, especially his opposition to evolution and his climate change denialism. In 2019, Baxley sponsored legislation that would require public schools to teach skepticism about precisely evolution and climate change, complaining that current textbooks skew toward “uniformity” of thought, i.e. that they skew toward facts rather than alternative, silly ideas. Instead of facts, Baxley asserted that schools need to teach “different worldviews on these issues, because the facts aren’t to his liking. Facts, meanwhile, aren’t scientific, as Baxley sees it, since, as he rather confusedly put it, “nothing is ever settled if it’s science, because people are always questioning science”. Then he tried a sort of Galileo gambit: “If you look at the history of human learning, for a long time the official worldview was that the world was flat [that, of course, is a myth]. Anything you now accept as fact comes from a perspective and you learn from examining different schools of thought, which is not how one settles things in science – though it is interesting how fundies tend to go radical post-modernist when it suits them. The bill itself was, like many other Florida creationist bills, written by the unhinged fundie group the Florida Citizens Alliance, and was needed because the current curriculum amounts to political and religious indoctrination,” as the FCA managing director, Keith Flaugh, put it. The bill fortunately died.


The 2019 bill wasn’t Baxley’s first attempt. Also in 2018, Baxley submitted SB 966 (its house counterpart was HB825, sponsored by Charlie Stone), which would require thatcontroversial theories and concepts must be taught in a factual, objective and balanced manner” in science classes. Of course, the intention was precisely not to teach the theories and issues Baxley had in mind in factual and balanced manners (since they already are) but – as he has previously put it – to “leave the door open a little bit for “religious and other perspectives” on the origin of life. Note that “controversial” doesn’t mean scientifically controversial but that Baxley don’t like them for religious reasons. Baxley’s bill was, by the way, not Florida’s only creationism bill in 2018; there was also HB 827, introduced by Byron Donalds from Naples (its Senate companion being Senate Bill 1644, sponsored by Tom Lee, Baxley and two other Florida Senate creationists, Greg Steube and Debbie Mayfield); that one died, too. And in 2017, Baxley (and Kimberly Daniels) filed bills to protect (ostensibly)religious expression in public schools” and make sure students aren’t discriminated against if they share religious beliefs in their school work, which was rather obviously designed to allow students not to learn about evolution and climate change without being penalized – if you can’t teach anti-science, the second best you can do is to prevent students from learning science.


A virulent opponent of gay rights, Baxley voted against an otherwise uncontroversial 2015 bill that would make life easer for adopted kids because he prayed on it and decided that he couldn’t affirm homosexuality – banning adoption by homosexual couples had, after all, already been found to be unconstitutional. “I could save some kids, but that rationale breaks down in the bigger picture,” said Baxley. He also said that “I’m not phobic, but … (followed by “… I simply can’t affirm homosexuality”) and asked “people to please understand the circumstances”. It’s a somewhat curious context in which to find yourself begging for tolerance, but Baxley isn’t big on self-awareness.


Baxley probably first courted national attention back in 2008, when he asserted that Barack Obama’s “Muslim roots and training” were “pretty scary” to everyday Christians. He even elaborated on the concern, saying that he was particularly concerned because “there’s an active movement by radical Muslims to occupy us at present (2008) and that that whole way of life is all about submission,” and Baxley emphatically likes submission only in the sense that others should submit to his religious convictions, which Obama ostensibly doesn’t share: Obama “wants to tax the rich more and redistribute wealth to other peoplewhere I come from that’s socialism. Karl Marx was not a Christian.” Baxley was also concerned about Obama’s (then) trip to Europe and how he enjoyed visiting European countries, which to Baxley suggested that he wouldn’t be faithful to preserving “our own American values rooted in Christian principles” [no details about which Christian principles in particular, of course]. He wasn’t willing to discuss the matter further, sinceI really don’t talk about candidates. I talk about issues.” Well, then.


In May 2019, Baxley also used Replacement theory when ranting about abortion. Speaking of Western Europe birthrates as a warning to Americans, he said that “when you get a birth rate less than 2 percent, that society is disappearing, and it’s being replaced by folks that come behind them and immigrate, don’t wish to assimilate into that society and they do believe in having children.


Diagnosis: No, he’s certainly not one of the good guys. His constant need to remind people that he’s not evil should be a pretty significant clue, though he lacks the level of self-awareness needed to recognize that himself. One of many deranged fundie conspiracy theorists that plague state legislatures across the US.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

#2523: Jeff Baumann

Jeff Baumann is a Minnesota-based paranoid activist who is very, very afraid of zeh Muslimz’ attempts to infiltrate the GOP – so much so that he even introduced a resolution, in 2018, tominimize and eliminate the influence of Islam” in Minnesota’s Republican Party, which also suggested thatno Islamic leader, religious or otherwise, shall ever be allowed to deliver the invocation at any Republican convention or event and that “legislation, policies, and educational programs [to] be implemented ... so as to evermore minimize and eliminate the influence of Islam within Minnesota, including Minnesota schools.” (His concerns didn’t fall on completely deaf ears, as several Minnesota Republican representatives and lawmakers – Cindy Pugh, Kathy Lohmer and Dave Sina, for instance – had raised concerns precisely about Muslim infiltration of the GOP.)


According to Baumann,there is a natural tension between Islam the US Constitution insofar as Islam leaves very little room for Muslims to have independent thought. He also said thatI believe what I’m saying is not hateful, not ignorant and not bigoted; it’s just that Muslims have a “fundamentally different vision for how society and governments should be organized,” and that the future of Muslim-Americans in leadership positions would be one of “civil war, genocide, concentration camps and other horrible, horrible things.” Muslim-Americans currently involved in politics are also dishonest.


Baumann has also fought passionately against building mosques in Minnesota, describing it as “treason” and “aiding the enemy.”


Diagnosis: It’s good that he is so clear and unambigious about not being an ignorant bigot, since some of us might have been fooled to conclude otherwise on the basis of his words, thoughts, actions and character. Well, then.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

#2522: Stephen Batzer

Stephen A. Batzer is a forensic engineer and adjunct assistant professor at the University of Arkansas, and a semi-regular contributor to Discovery Institute creationist blogs attacking the theory of evolution. Batzer has, we emphasize, no discernible background in biology, but he is very concerned with how uncivil scientists and those who understand the theory of evolution often are to creationists and religiously motivated denialists. As Batzer sees it, given that “the majority of Americans are highly skeptical of the Darwinian narrative” – an observation he calls, somewhat surprisingly, “a blow to science” – real scientists need to tone it down.


In his blogpost “Why Darwinism and Incivility Seem to Go Together”, he expands on his thoughts with a list of perceived mechanisms. Among the reasons why science defenders are so prone to “incivility”, as Batzer sees it, is that “[y]ou are challenging their religious beliefs, which they know, just know, to be true,” that they are rather stupid, and that they are unaware of the sophistication of creationist theories. At least his findings on the topic are rather indicative of the creationist approach to research. The fact that his whole effort is a rather blatant effort to poison the well eludes him completely. “One thing that draws me to the ID movement is that it has the polite and understated ethic that science is supposed to have – but does not have when the subject is evolution,” concludes Batzer. Here is an example of the movement’s understated ethic by his co-blogger David Klinghoffer.


Diagnosis: A minor character in the anti-science brigade, perhaps, but definitely among the more out-of-touch and (therefore) obnoxious ones. Certainly deserves to be called out.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

#2521: Vicki Batts

Vicki Batts is a deranged conspiracy theorist writing for NaturalNews, one of the most productive fake news factories on the Internet. Batts is a general anti-science conspiracy theorist, having invented fake news stories promoting a range of topics, from climate change denialism to anti-fluoridation and anti-vaccine pseudoscience.


A sample of her claims (and style):


-       That ADHD is a fake disease invented by Big Pharma to drug children for profit

-       That flu shots actually spread the flu, based on a survey showing that many people think that flu shots spread the flu and some dumpster diving in the VAERS data base.

-       That scientists are engaging in fraud to “adjust” sea level data to create a false impression of rising oceans

-       That adding fluoride to drinking water constitutes “mass poisoning, based in part on the rock-solid foundation that “Some [unnamed] believe that …


She is also the author of the book Reversing Type 2 Diabetes: Evidence-Based Strategies for Reversing Type 2 Diabetes That Your Doctor Doesn't Know and Drug Companies Hope You Never Find Out, which contains precisely the type of spam it sounds like it contains.


Diagnosis: Completely unable to distinguish deranged, paranoid fantasies from reality, or helping people from scamming them. Might be Australian, though.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

#2520: Terry Batton

Terry Batton is the head of something called Christian Renewal and Development Ministries in Alabama, head of the Barbour County Tea Party, and an unhinged fundamentalist. His 2014 rant about Common Core during a state senate education committee hearing gives you a fair summary of his character; Batton complained that Core promotes “acceptance of homosexuality, alternate lifestyles, radical feminism, abortion, illegal immigration and the redistribution of wealth, pointing out that “we don’t want our children to be taught to be anti-Christian, anti-Catholic and anti-American“ (he was referring in particular to the curricula’s perceived focus on social justice). Indeed, Common Core is a “Trojan horse at the gate of our educational system” – “Common Core, if allowed to go forward, will dilute and erode the power and influence of biblical principles in the hearts and minds of our precious children” (which is ostensibly a bad thing), and voting in favor of the curricula could potentially affect lawmakers’ fate in the Last Days, which are just around the corner: “Do you want this on your record when you come to the End of Days,” asked Batton.  


Batton was otherwise an ardent supporter of Roy Moore’s 2017 run for the US Senate.


Diagnosis: Overall pretty minor, but we bet there are quite a number of such Taliban-style nutjobs in Alabama, which makes it frightening.

Monday, March 7, 2022

#2519: Stephen Bassett

The 2013 Citizen Hearing on Disclosure was a meticulously organized fake Congressional Hearing where a bunch of people ranging from former Representatives (e.g. Mike Gravel and Lynn Woolsey) to wild-eyed fake shamans were asking deep and important questions about UFOs, alien visitations, coverup conspiracies and the whereabouts of human–alien hybrids. (It is one of the top five exo-political questions,” said Stephen Bassett:Boy, I’m looking forward to finding out the answer to that.) The event, which was emphatically not a Congressional hearing, although it was designed to resemble one, was arranged by the Paradigm Research Group (PRG), a group that seems to be engaged in a somewhat one-sided but rather intense battle to get our governments to reveal that they have been hiding the truth about UFOs from us for decades – to end the “truth embargo” – and has overall tended to behave more or less the way you’d expect a group like this to behave, fake Congressional hearings being an illustrative example.


Bassett, a self-styled exopolitical activist, is the Executive Director at PRG and, apparently, America’s only registered lobbyist on UFO and extraterrestrial issues at present. According to Bassett, the US government-led truth embargo went into effect after the alleged Roswell incident in 1947, and was designed to conceal information about the existence of UFOs for reasons nebulously related to national security: Ostensibly, the risk of exposing such information would have been too great at the time, given the imminent Cold War, with countries arming themselves with nuclear weapons and suchlike – the fact that the Soviet Union got their atom bomb two years later might have suggested that 1947 would have been an excellent time to disclose the truth, but whatever – the conspiracy probably runs deeper than you think anyways:The Cold War and the ET phenomenon work in parallel,” asserts Bassett.


The fake Congressional Hearing seems to have been the culmination of the Citizen Hearing, a proposed public forum created by Bassett and Alfred Lambremont Webre to create a fact-finding process surrounding extraterrestrial phenomena and alleged government suppression of such facts. And at present, it is only a matter of time before the president “announces to the American people that we’re not aloneand provides official confirmation that “there are extraterrestrials, not only elsewhere, but engaging us now.” Bassett is, in other words, not particularly interested in fact-finding – he’s already got the facts; he just wants the government to admit to them. “It’s solid,” Bassett says about the alleged proof that aliens have visited Earth.


And he’s been at it for a while. Bassett formed the Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee in 1999, and in 2002 he ran for Congress in Maryland as an independent on a pro-disclosure platform. He has also hosted several conferences on “exopolitics.


Diagnosis: It’s hard to view him as anything but unusually harmless in the context of the people we generally cover at present. It’s a lot of zeal and persistence tragically gone to waste, though. 

Thursday, March 3, 2022

#2518: William Basener

William Basener is a professor of data science at the University of Virginia and formerly associate professor of mathematics at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Basener is probably most famous for his involvement in William Dembski’s Evolutionary Informatics Lab at Baylor, which was not a lab but a website and – in particular – never did any biology, and its pseudoscientific work in support of Intelligent Design Creationism. Basener is also a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s silly petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, and one the relatively few signatories with genuine credentials and a significant and real scientific output.


He does not have any expertise in biology, but has published a couple of papers – many of which are superficially professional-looking – that he claims are relevant to biological evolution. These include an article with John Sanford in Mathematical Biology in 2017, where they argue that R.A. Fisher’s notorious Fundamental Theorem of Natural Selection needs additional terms added to account for mutation, and that when these are added, the mean fitness of populations tends to steadily decline. Of course, Basener and Stanford misunderstood the population genetics literature (also here), in particular the extent to which Fisher’s theorem has any bearing on the mathematics of selection versus mutation, and were generally wrong, but that doesn’t seem to deter them. Basener has also been on the editorial team of the journal Bio-Complexity, which is not exactly the kind of place you want your work to be published if you wish it to be taken seriously.


Diagnosis: Something of an authority in the Intelligent Design creationist community, insofar as he is one of the relatively few among them who can produce arguments that superficially look like they have anything to do with science, at least to those who don’t have any expertise in the fields. Though this particular branch of pseudoscience has faded from public view over the last decade (after it turned out that its supporters generally never cared about the “sophisticated science” look anyways but preferred dumb anti-science conspiracy theories), they’re apparently still at it.