Wednesday, August 31, 2022

#2562: John Biver

John Biver is a columnist for Barbwire, and a fine and representative sample of that particular species.


Biver is particularly notably for daring to voice his staunch opposition to gay rights, even going so far as to describe advocates of gay rights and marriage equality as  homo-maniacal” (apparently he borrowed the phrase from fellow BarbWire commentator Jeff Allen), calling for gay rights to be defeated like Nazi Germany (complete with Churchill quotes): “if we too remain united, can beat the ‘gay’-stapo today!”, said Biver, and added a rainbow swastika flag to his column for emphasis. Part of the reason it’s so urgent is that the homo-fascists wouldlove to sadistically” punish anti-gay activists – yes the common trick of projecting how he would like to treat those who disagree with him, because he is an unapologetic fascist, onto those he disagree with – and would probably “throw in the U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of the Independence for good measure, as a little more fuel on the ‘gay rights’ fire” and put good Christians in “cattle cars”, because paranoia.


Later, he warned that marriage equality will lead to legal protections for bestiality and the letter Z being “added to the LGBTQIA (etc.) abbreviation.” The claim was based on a law review article by a Cornell student that Biver admitted he only skimmed the beginning of and has “no idea what his argument is.” The article in question in fact argued for strengthening laws against bestiality, but to Biver it was primarily written by an egghead academic and that’s proof enough for him that there will be “a future well-funded marriage ‘equality’ effort for zoophiliacs.”


Diagnosis: It has admittedly been a while, and we don’t know what John Biver is up to these days. It’s unlikely to be anything good.

Monday, August 29, 2022

#2561: Nick Bilton

Nick Bilton is a journalist, author, and filmmaker, until 2016 a columnist for the NYT, and special correspondent at Vanity Fair. He is actually a bit of a deal, though Gawker called him the “worst columnist at the New York Times for the general level of inanity in his commentaries. He is also a promoter of pseudoscience, conspiracy theories and idiotic fear-mongering. In particular, he has promoted the debunked idea of a link between cell phones and cancer, judiciously overlooking the evidence, which consistently shows no link – except for a couple of questionable studies from one single research group in Sweden. Bilton didn’t overlook those. In the process of describing how he interprets the situation, he distorts conclusions from major research organizations (like this; guess what Bilton’s take was), quotes legitimate authorities out of context, and even tries to liken current opinions among those who know something about the topic with the myth that doctors thought cigarettes were safe in the 1950s (a beloved crank gambit). He even quotes Joe Mercola as an authority. There is some fair and even-handed discussion of Bilton’s column here and here.


Bilton’s response to legitimate criticism was as feeble as you’d expect from someone like him.


Now, it is perhaps not entirely clear that Bilton is genuinely committed to the nonsense he writes. Perhaps his promotion of FUD was just an attempt to garner some attention that the inanity of his other columns struggled to get him. That would possibly make everything worse.


Diagnosis: Inane

Friday, August 26, 2022

#2560: Moses Turkle Bility

Each December, RealClearScience goes through the worst examples of fraud, woo, and bullshit in the world of science over the preceding year. In 2020, a notable entry was a paper published in Science of the Total Environment with the impressively technobabble-laden title “Can Traditional Chinese Medicine provide insights into controlling the COVID-19 pandemic: Serpentinization-induced lithospheric long-wavelength magnetic anomalies in Proterozoic bedrocks in a weakened geomagnetic field mediate the aberrant transformation of biogenic molecules in COVID-19 via magnetic catalysis”. Now, this is the sort of title you would expect on blogs, but this particular example – shorter version “Jade Amulets Can Prevent COVID-19” – was signed Dr. Moses Turkle Bility, an Assistant Professor in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at the University of Pittsburgh. Most commentators immediately suspected a prank, perhaps to test whether Science of the Total Environment was a journal with minimal academic standards (it evidently isn’t). The pseudo-jargon-stuffed gobbledygook is precisely what one expect from an elaborate hoax, and the contents of the article follow the title’s example with some incoherent stream-of-consciousness ranting that would make hardened Timecube fans blush. However, it turns out Bility was quite serious.


Yes, Bility really does think that COVID-19 is related to magnetic fields, and that jade amulets can potentially prevent the disease through magic. He also denies the germ theory of disease in favor of some pseudogeology and handwavy appeals to geomagnetic fields. Oh, and nowhere did he actually test whether jade amulets do anything. There is a decent summary of the science involved here.


Experts dismissed the paper as the laughable nonsense it is, but when Bility was politely challenged about it, he was immediately defensive and claimed racism was at the root of the objections: “I am not surprised that this article has elicited angry responses [as a matter of fact, it primarily elicited laughter]. Clearly the idea that a black scientist can provide a paradigm shifting idea offends a lot of individuals [...] You neither understand quantum physics nor spin chemistry; you are making a hasting [sic] decision based on your knowledge of the classical theories that dominate the biological sciences,” wrote Bility. The article has since been “temporarily removed” from the journal.


Bility’s co-authors were not particularly happy about being affiliated with the paper, and Bility admitted thatthe inclusion of the co-authors in this manuscript was an error in my (Moses Bility) judgment.” It would, one thinks, be a relatively easily avoidable error.


Bility apparently has several other, novel preprints out there, too, including


-       Stonehenge as a public health intervention device for preventing lithospheric magnetic field-induced emerging diseases and megadeath during periods of severely weaken geomagnetic field

-       The spatiotemporal relationship between geomagnetic perturbations and Ebola Viral Disease outbreaks and civil strife in Equatorial Africa: A reexamination of the interpretation of clay burning by Iron Age African tribes during severe geomagnetic perturbations

-       Are rises in the Lithosphere-Magnetic Field in the United States, interacting with vaping aerosols-iron in lungs, the tipping point for the outbreak of vaping-associated acute lung injury?


There is also “The theory of everything: Reconciliation of quantum theory and gravitation via redefinition of the concept time in a non-discrete compressible fluid model of the physical universe with interactions governed by the framework of the Wheeler-Feynman-Cramer-Mead transactional (handshake) theory”, in which he suggests that “the structure and dynamics of the social-political polarization of The United States in the late 1960s to the late 1970s is symmetrical to the structure and dynamics of the lithosphere-magnetic field polarization of The United States in the late 1960s to the late”, and therefore – apparently related to “polarized ‘brain’ electromagnetic interactions (brain activity) in high-risk decision making” – that “the symmetrical relationship between the social-political polarization and magnetic field polarization of the lithosphere demonstrate that humans exist as a demarcated compressible fluid with “quantum” electromagnetic interactions (human interactions) govern by the framework of the Wheeler-Feynman-Cramer-Mead transactional (quantum handshake) theory.” Betcha you haven’t seen that hypothesis in published research before.


Oh, yes. He has even written a book, Equilibrium Theory: Unification of Newtonian Physics and General Relativity using the wave equation.


Diagnosis: In fairness, Moses Turkle Bility is mostly a colorful fellow, and even though he didn’t intend to do it, his efforts might actually work to identify journals with poor academic standards or insufficiently rigorous peer reviewing. It is, on the other hand, hard to imagine his ideas initialized any sort of denialist movement worth taking seriously (a cult may be conceivable). That’s something, we suppose.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

#2559: Douglas Biklen

Facilitated communication (FC) is a scientifically discredited technique that purportedly helps you communicate with people with communication disabilities who are non-verbal. The technique is basically the one you are familiar with from Ouija boards, where a “facilitator” guides the disabled person’s arm or hand and attempts to help them type on a keyboard or other device to produce messages constructed by the facilitator (although the facilitator may, due to familiar phenomena, also be unaware that it is a scam). Yes, it is a striking example of pseudoscience, and – like many branches of pseudoscience – pretty nefarious, insofar as practitioners prey on people (parents and loved ones) in distress or in emotionally or psychologically difficult situations. And it causes real harm, both to the person with disabilities and their loved ones. Research has consistently found that FCs are unable to provide the correct response to even simple questions to which the facilitator does not know the answer, and the technique has been aptly described as “the single most scientifically discredited intervention in all of developmental disabilities”. There really is no excuse for advocating it. And predictably, there has been a large number of false abuse allegations made through the use of FC. There is a decent, if overly balanced, assessment of the technique here.


Notable promoters include the Australian fraud and thoroughly evil piece of garbage excuse for a person Rosemary Crossley, and the abominable, vile monster Douglas Biklen, who is largely responsible for the spread of this piece of dangerous and evil bullshit in the US. Biklen, who has authored and co-authored several books (such as Communication Unbound: How Facilitated Communication is Challenging Traditional Values of Autism and Ability/Disability. Teachers College Press) and been involved in several “documentary” films, such as Autism Is a World from 2004, was even appointed Dean of the Syracuse University School of Education in 2005 (until he retired in 2014) because the Syracuse University School of Education has absolutely no quality standards and should be shunned like the plague. Syracuse University founded the Facilitated Communication Institute to promote Biklen’s nonsense back in 1992, with Biklen as director; it changed its name to the Institute on Communication and Inclusion (ICI) in 2010, and is part of the Center on Disability and Inclusion of the School of Education. According to the ICI website, the Institute “… is an active research, training, and support center, and the nation’s leading resource for information about communication and inclusion for individuals who type to communicate”; in other words, the ICI still carries out training and research in FC, just under a slightly different name – indeed, the 2010 name change was largely motivateted by the very justified negative press FC received, and in typicaly Orwellian fashion, advocates responded by changing the name, calling FC “supported typing” and the process “communication by typing”. FC “training” at ICI consists of simply of pairing “novice” and “expert” facilitators (ICI, 2014), which would be laughably inadequate in any professional skill domain, and ICI guidelines barely acknowledge the risk of facilitator influence, and never prescribe obvious methods for verifying authorship of messages – the training, in other words, is suspiciously devoid of any introduction to the sort of quality control that permeats any legitimate professional training. So it goes.


And the idea is popular. So popular, that it has even been used in public schools throughout the country through the infiltration of FC advocates into public positions.


Diagnosis: One of the most glaring examples of pseudoscience ever, and Biklen’s lack of care for evidence or reality – and the fact that, although he is certainly a true believer, his behavior is remarkably reminiscent of how a fraudster would behave (e.g. the ICI training and guidelines) – makes him one of the vilest persons alive in the US. He and his followers have ruined lives.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

#2558: Del Bigtree

Possibly the unofficial leader of today’s antivaxx movement in the US – unless that’s Robert Kennedy jr. – and certainly a recognized vaccine misinformation superspreader, Delores Matthew Bigtree is a champion of misinformation-based FUD techniques to contradict facts and consensus about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Bigtree first rose to prominence as producer of the infamous conspiracy flick Vaxxed, for which he teamed up with Andrew Wakefield. Prior to that, he was a producer for Dr. Phil and The Doctors, which he claims to be the “best medical talk show in the world” because it featured woo and vaccine skeptics who agrees with Bigtree. Bigtree, who calls himself a “medical journalistis not a scientist and has no credentials or background whatsoever in any scientific field, which of course doesn’t prevent him from lecturing pediatricians and others who, contrary to him, know the basics of medicine, to “learn to read,” to “learn to diagnose vaccine injuries,” to stop being “morons. There is a succinct portrait of Bigtree here.


Like most antivaccine activists and conspiracy theorists, Bigtree likes to try to denythat he is anti-vaccine (a variant of the but-head gambit) but pro-safe-vaccine, while running massive misinformation campaigns and promoting virtually all the familiar talking points, denialist tactics and conspiracy theory gambits to try to undermine public trust in the well-documented safety and efficacy of vaccines. Unfortunately, the media repeatedly falls for the tactic, and gives him, for balance fallacy reasons, interviews where he is labeled “vaccine skeptic” or “controversial” instead of the more accurate “unhinged antivaccine conspiracy theorist”. According to Bigtree, the question he is really focusing on is: “When we say vaccines are safe, how do we determine that?” Well, there are clear and available answers to that question. He is not really interested in the answer. And that’s precisely what makes him anti-vaccine and not merely ‘pro-safe vaccine’.


Meanwhile, he expresses unconditional support for parents who killed their child through medical neglect because those parents were also antivaccine.


Vaers and anti-vaccine PRATTs

Among his large repertoire of antivaccine PRATTs you’ll find blaming vaccines for increased infant mortality in the U.S., the non-existent rise – he’s not just confusing correlation and causation: there is no correlation – in developmental disorders (Bigtree has claimed that there was no autism prior to 1938/1944) and in chronic illness in children (a common lie among anti-vaxxers), misrepresenting scientists and lying about what they said, asking why we are worried about the unvaccinated if vaccines work, claiming that herd immunity is a myth, claiming that safety trials for vaccines are a joke (they are most certainly not) and – but of course – misusing the VAERS database, claiming without any indication of evidence that VAERS is under-reported by more than 99% and using this number to re-calculate some VAERS data to suggest that adverse reactions in all categories, such as deaths and hospitalizations, are “in the ballpark of” 100 times higher than reported. In reality, serious conditions are vastly over-reported to VAERS. Now, Bigtree has of course been confronted with his misuse of the VAERS database, and has even been forced to admit on camera that he lies and distorts the information from VAERS. He also tries to argue that famous people who demonstrably did not die from vaccines because we know how they died, died from vaccines.


Indeed, Bigtree seems to have promoted versions of the majority of the more common antivaccine gambits – at least among those that can be semi-coherently expressed. Of course, given that he has no expertise or background in science or medicine, he tends to get even basic facts wrong. He has for instance also claimed that vaccines are a medical experiment and that it is a direct violation of the Nuremberg code, which is extremely silly and historically wrong. Here is a discussion of the misunderstandings he relies on in order to question the studies used to license the MMR vaccine. And like all antivaxxers, Bigtree has to rely on conspiracy theories to fill the gaps in his arguments: since childhood vaccines do not contain mercury, for instance, Bigree appeals to hidden ingredients.



Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, produced by Bigtree and Andrew Wakefield, was marketed as a “whistleblower film”. It missed the whistleblowers – Andrew Wakefield doesn’t count – but was instead a standard “… propaganda film by a known scientific fraud whose UK medical license was revoked featuring a viewpoint trumpeting a long-discredited idea that MMR causes autism grafted onto a conspiracy theory about the CDC ‘covering up’ the evidence that vaccines cause autism that has no basis in fact …” It did attempt to capitalize on what antivaxxers refer to as the CDC whistleblower controversy, a misleading characterization of what happened that doesn’t remotely match the facts, but a lie that could be said to be the one on which Del Bigtree built his career. There are brief and evenhanded reviews of the movie here and here, a somewhat more comprehensive one here, and a very comprehensive review here. Since the latter review does the job better than we could or have the space to do, we will just encourage you to check it out.


The conspiracy flick was initially chosen by antivaccine loon Robert De Niro for screening at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival, but was dropped when the organizers realized it would put the festival in a bad light. Antivaxxers reacted to that with the fully expected nonsense, with cries of “censorship” being among the less lunatic (Mike Adams, for instance, tried to claim that – literally – the nazis must have been behind the decision as part of an effort to promote the nazi depopulation agenda).


Bigtree has suggested that God made him make the movie. Given his skill at tailoring his message to his audiences, the claim tells you more about his audiences than about him. He is also the producer of a sequel, VAXXED II: The People’s Truth.



Bigtree is tireless. He gives an impressive number of talks, focusing to a large extent on various conspiracy theory conferences like AutismOne (a report on his 2019 appearance here, the Red Pill Expo (notable mostly for truther conspiracy theories), the Vaccine Injury Epidemic event (a report on his appearance here, and the even more insane chiropractic conference “Freedom for Family Wellness 2018 Summit Washington, D.C.. Here is a report from the antivaccine quackfest One Conversation (where Bigtree emphasized his expertise and authority by citing his work as a producer on the The Doctors TV show, before running through all of the usual antivaccine nonsense tropes). Here is a report on his appearance at VAXCON21, an event organized by the Chiropractic Society of Wisconsin. He also shows up at virtually every national antivaccine rally or demonstration, such as the rather feeble Revolution for Truth march on Washington.


Moreover, he lends his “authority” to virtually every other antivaxx organization, such as Informed Choice Washington, for which he stated, in a video, that the CDC knows that flu vaccines during pregnancy causes abortion but hides it. Flu vaccines during pregnancy do not cause abortion, and the CDC does not hide studies, as opposed to Bigtree, who neglects to mention the existence of any study whose results don’t line up with what he wants the results to be.


Of particular note are his efforts to promote antivaccine conspiracy theories to orthodox Jewish communities in New York that had already experienced severe outbreaks of measles [there’s a fact check of Bigtree’s claims in the link]. As usual, Bigtree skilfully targeted his message, in this case focusing on the narrative that all humans are born perfect and that the Earth is designed to take care of us without pharmaceutical interventions – in addition to the usual litany of antivaccine misinformation, including claiming that the measles vaccine is causing measles because a percentage of measles patients are vaccinated (yes, it’s that basic numbers game, and Bigtree probably knows it but assumes that a sufficient number of his listeners don’t). Also notable are Bigtree's joint efforts with the extremist conspiracy group Nation of Islam to promote antivaccine misinformation in Black communities. More recently, Bigtree has teamed up with Qanon promoters, e.g at the 2020 conspiracyfest AMPFest.


Off stage, he tends to walk around government buildings hoping to sway lawmakers. For instance, when President Trump set up a meeting between prominent anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the NIH in 2017, Bigtree was there, too, to pepper officials with dumb and annoying questions. Prior to that, in 2017, Bigtree and a couple of other antivaccine nutters met with Jason Chaffetz to discuss their proposals for instance thatthe power to police vaccine safety is taken away from the CDC” and rather given to “vaccine safety advocates” like themselves, and to repeal the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which antivaxxers (and especially their lawyers) hate. He is also involved in many antivaccine activist efforts to disrupt committee meetings on immunization policies and inundate participating politicians and scientists with inane questions and talking points.


And yes: He is tireless. Here, for instance, is a roundup of his 2016 efforts to talk to state legislators in Michigan – he seems to have been most successful, not surprisingly, with certified conspiracy theorist, wingnut and antivaxxer Tom Hooker.



Bigtree is the founder and CEO of the Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN), an anti-vaccine advocacy group that currently functions as the legal and propaganda arm of his antivaccine empire, and which is very much focused on consent and equally much opposed to informed. The group putatively supports science-based inquiry, but only to the extents that such inquiry yields the results they have already decided should be the results. ICAN hosts a weekly video broadcast of misinformation called The Highwire, which apparently garners tens of thousands of views (here is an example of their work). HighWire’s Facebook page also promotes Bigtree’s media appearances on Infowars.


The main goal for ICAN is, as Bigtree puts it, to find out what the government is hiding from the American consumer. From 2016 to 2017, they spent more than $670,000 on legal fees associated with Freedom of Information Act lawsuits intended primarily to harass scientists and people working for government institutions.


According to themselves, they scored a major hit in 2018 by forcing the government to submit to a FOIA that, according to Bigtree, revealed that the Department of Health and Human Services had failed to comply with a 1986 law mandating it meet with Congress every two years to brief them on vaccine safety. Apparently that shows that vaccines are somehow bunk and that the HHS, since they failed to immediately find the reports, had skirted the law for 30 years. Reality, of course, resists Bigtree’s spin. First, the reports were actually required within two years of the law’s implementation, not every two years, as Bigtree believed, and they were indeed procured and are indeed public (here and here if you wish). That, really, was all of it. No seriously. And they spun it for years.


But then, spinning nothing to make it look like victories is the core of ICAN’s game. In 2021, ICAN claimed that “The CDC Finally Capitulated To ICAN’s Legal Demands and Removed the Claim that ‘Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism’ From Its Website!”. And here is what really happened (hint, the CDC absolutely did not at all remove the accurate piece of information that vaccines do not cause autism from their website, despite ICAN’s idiotic attempt to waste the CDC’s time – they changed one headline … and then they apparently changed it back a few hours later, possibly because they were tired of the utterly idiotic spins by crackpot organizations like ICAN; here is the page in question.) Here is a discussion of ICAN’s 2019 attempt to show a FDA coverup of problems with vaccines prior to licensing. Bigtree has to lie through his teeth to make his claim, but make it he does.


Another main goal of ICAN is to promote non-medical vaccine exemptions in public schools and various forms of vaccine hysteria, including the thoroughly falsified notion that vaccines have a causative role in autism (currently, it’s usually the “aluminum adjuvants – even for hardcore antivaxxers mercury doesn’t really work as a scapegoat any more; Bigtree doesn’t seem to quite have managed to let it go, though). According to Bigtree, campaigning against school mandates is important because “School is all about the development of their brain, the development of their mind. That’s what school is for. And you look at one of the major side effects of these vaccines is destruction of the brain, destruction of the mind. So yes, you’ve got your child in school, but they’re not thriving there because you’ve injured their brain with a vaccine.” But he doesn’t like to be called “anti-vaccine”, cause that looks bad. He does emphasize that antivaccine advocates must take the high road, though, and rather ambush lawmakers and stalk them when they don’t want to talk to you.


Indeed, much of ICAN’s efforts go into attempts to harass doctors and others who speak out in favor of vaccines, including parents who have lost their children for various reasons (antivaxxers tend to blame such tragedies, regardless of their nature, on vaccines, and thus use them to blame the parents for vaccinating their children, like this).


ICAN is largely financially supported by Bernard and Lisa Selz through their Selz Foundation, which by 2019 had donated more than $3 million to anti-vaxx causes, in addition to $200 000 to Andrew Wakefield's legal defense. (The Selzes also funded Vaxxed through the AMC Foundation.)


ICAN is affiliated with the law firm Siri & Glimstad LLP, which has worked hard (especially lawyer Aaron Siri) to intimidate organizations that consider vaccinations as a requirement for employees.  


In 2019, Bigtree was sworn in as “Commissioner for the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Weaponisation of the Biosphere” for the absolutely insane New Age conspiracy group The International Tribunal for Natural Justice together with G. Edward Griffin, Sue Grey, Hulda-Clark-wannabe Sandra Rose Michael and Robert O. Young, no less. Yeah, that’s the kind of company in which he belongs.


HHS letters

A lot of Bigtree’s misconceptions about vaccines were laid out in a letter he sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in which he detailed his “concerns” over “vaccine safety”, including the tired and nonsensical too many too soon” gambit, appeals to the purported lack of double-blind placebo studies (he has no science background, remember), some VAERS dumpster diving to falsely bolster the number of vaccine injuries, and demanding that the vaccine committees be replaced with “vaccine safety advocates” (i.e. antivaxxers). He also threatened the HHS with a civil suit if they didn’t comply with his nonsensical and conspiracy-theory-fueled demands. Though Dr. Melinda Wharton, the director of the National Vaccine Program Office, responded with a rather good slapdown, it is disconcerting to see that Bigtree is taken seriously enough to be judged worth responding to. There is a discussion of the letter and Wharton’s response here. Not content with the reply, partially because it cited facts he does not like because they don’t fit the narrative he wants to tell, Bigtree wrote a follow-up. It’s just as ridiculous, and discussed here.


Persecution complex

Like many denialists and conspiracy theorists, Bigtree enjoys a vast martyr- and persecution complex. For there is a vast conspiracy out there: the “pharmaceutical industry is coming after you”, says Bigtree, and unless antivaxxers unite and speak up, they will get the right to “forced vaccination of every US adult.


For instance, he complained about being “99% censored” by ABC World News Tonight when they failed to show the entirety of their interview with him. The reason is presumably because, according to Bigtree and no shred of evidence whatsoever, “all of television” has been bought out by the pharmaceutical industry.


And of course, people who criticize him – like most people who are aware of and care about facts and evidence here – are just like Nazis. In March 2019, after a speech on the alleged dangers of government mandated vaccines, Bigtree brandished the Star of David because requiring vaccines in public schools is exactly like putting you in death camps because of what ethnic group you belong to. After being condemned by groups that for very good reasons found the comparison tasteless, he refused to apologize, saying that “honestly, I was doing what I thought I was raised to do, which was stand up for minorities” – how comparing genocide to his own wish not to be vaccinated is a matter of standing up for minorities is … unclear, and that he thinks it is, is telling.


Antivaxxers in general can’t seem to be able to refrain from employing that rhetorical tool, no matter how idiotic and tasteless it is (and how appropriately lunatic it makes them look). Apparently the issue that merits the comparison is governments somehow taking away “choice”, “privacy” and “control” over bodies; like most antivaxxers Bigtree’s extreme narcissism renders him unable to distinguish between the choices he makes for himself and the choices he imposes on others (like children). In his own words:


…but now we’re watching the most powerful lobby in the country and in the world poisoning our children. And our government is helping them. What are we going to do about it? We have the power. But we have got to stop being afraid to talk about it. […] I can imagine those same conversations were happening in Nazi Germany among the Jewish people. Let’s not talk about it. I don’t want to bring it into my reality. It’s still 20 miles away. I’m still allowed in this theater, not that one. All I have to get is this little star. All I have to do is to sign this little thing saying that I’m not going to vaccinate because I think they’re dangerous – and they are dangerous. I’m just going to sign this paper. I’m going to let them put me in a log. At some point, they have gone too far.


[…]Anyone who believes in the right to bear arms. To stand up against your government. I don’t know what you were saving that gun for then. I don’t know when you planned on using it if they were going to take control of your own body away. It’s now. Now’s the time.”


Bigtree has also supported comparisons of vaccines to rape, slavery, apartheid and human trafficking. By contrast, he has likened himself to the Founding Fathers, leading the charge against the tyranny of mandatory vaccinations.



Bigtree has consistently and repeatedly spread COVID misinformation and fear-mongering about the coronavirus vaccine.


He has, for instance, been a central proponent (with Joe Mercola) of the the myth of the “casedemic, according to which the massive increase in COVID-19 cases being reported in 2020 was an artifact of increased PCR testing and false positives. He was also a major proponent of “catch this cold right away to get it over with, since COVID-19 is not dangerous except to those who deserve to be endangered, such as people with chronic conditions or other lazy ‘useless eaters’ – victim blaming is rather typical of antivaccine activists. (Bigtree has been admirably forthright about the sentiment, explicitly arguing that we should just use natural selection like caribou: the “sick get eaten by the wolves. That’s how we’ve thrived.”)


Of course, conspiracy theories are crucial to Bigtree’s message on COVID: the government and the media are lying to you because they are purportedly in the pockets of “big pharma.” “CDC and FDA really like to hide facts,” claims Bigtree, because they don’t treat his misunderstanding and the various conspiracy theories he has picked up on dingbat websites as facts. He was also an early proponent of the idea that there’s a “global agenda” motivated by money and led by Dr. Fauci to force a vaccines on everyone in the world. Early in the pandemic, Bigtree also claimed that scientists’ concern about specific viruses is irrational because there are millions of viruses and bacteria, and declared the attempt to find vaccines “stupid”. No, he doesn’t understand – or at least his intended target audience doesn’t understand – how any of this works. There’s a decent analysis of his rhetoric from early in the pandemic here.


Meanwhile, Bigtree and ICAN have been waging a rather comprehensive legalistic war on state health departments’ efforts to promote COVID-19 vaccination based on attacking them for “false advertising.


Currently, Bigtree is trying to use the political polarization surrounding COVID responses in the US to recruit new people to the antivaccine movement, with more than a little success.



Bigtree is the son of Jack Groverland, minister emeritus at Unity of Boulder, and grew up unvaccinated because his parents thought vaccines were against God since our bodies were designed by God to thrive. He has also been involved in GMO fearmongering.


Oh, and then there is this episode.


Diagnosis: We’ve just scratched the surface. Del Bigtree is tireless and productive, and he is good at what he’s doing – which, of course, is how he’s become one of the absolute leaders in the antivaccine movement. A serious threat to civilization and human welfare.


Hat-tip: rationalwiki

Monday, August 15, 2022

#2557: Joe Biggs

Joseph Randall Biggs is a leading figure in and organizer of the proudly neofascist Proud Boys group. He is also a radio talk show host and former InfoWars staff member.


Prior to 2016, Biggs’s career consisted mostly of posting violent content on Twitter, including promoting date rape and sexual violence (“every kiss begins with roofies”). There is a list of examples here. His Twitter account was suspended in 2019 after promoting the use of death squads to murder “leftists”, in particular perceived members of the largely mythical group Antifa.


As an InfoWars ‘reporter’, Biggs pushed numerous conspiracy theories, such as the infamous pizzagate conspiracy theory, the lunatic idea that Hillary Clinton’s campaign trafficked children through a D.C. pizzeria. To support the claim, Biggs added that Clinton surrounded herself with “evil people” and suggested that hacked WikiLeaks emails revealedan undercover pedophile ring” run by the Clintons. He also pushed the conspiracy theory that the 2015 San Bernardino shooting was a false flag attack: “This is one of those that has false flag written all over it without a doubt. … SWAT team was already geared up. The SWAT team was already geared up and there within seconds. They were geared up and ready within seconds. They knew that this was going to happen.”


Biggs, together with Ethan Nordean, played a leading role in the United States Capitol storming, and in March 2021, a federal grand jury indicted Biggs for conspiracy. Upon being charged, Biggs’s rugged confidence was quickly and predictably broken, as he established himself as the spineless, cowardly snowflake we all knew him to be – he even claimed to be an informant for the FBI in a desperate attempt to avoid having to take responsibility for his actions.


Diagnosis: A prominent Proud Boys organizer. And former “reporter” for InfoWars. I mean, we can’t come up with anything much more insulting than that.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

#2556: Andrew Bieszad

Of all the crazy sites on the internet, the webpage of Theodore Shoebat might be the craziest – it is an endlessly fascinating stream-of-consciousness maelstrom of hysterical, fundie paranoia, incoherent conspiracy jabbering and frenzied bloodthirst. And he is not running it alone; Andrew Bieszad is a regular contributor, with posts utterly unmoored in anything resembling reality, like “SHOCK: Wikileaks Emails Reveal Hillary Clinton Campaign Chairman Invited To Participate In Satanic Blood And Sex Magic Rituals With Devil Worshipping Artist”. Bieszad, who thinks thatall of the evils that we are seeing around the world can find its origin in anti-Catholicism”, is currently also affiliated with various fundamentalist Catholic groups and websites.


Bieszad has for instance expressed his thoughts (or whatever one should call it) on weather phenomena, as in his post “Hurricane Matthew Is The Wrath Of God Poured Out On The Cities Of Orlando And Savannah For Supporting The Evil Sodomites.” According to Bieszad, God is sending hurricanes as “a sign of His anger”, but can easily be stopped if we only “stop sinning, especially with sodomy” – the problem in this case is that “Florida is an area that is infected with sin, especially cities such as Miami and Orlando, which are veritable dens of sodomy.” Also, everyone who disagrees with himis in league with Satan (although homosexuality is “so wicked it even disgusts the demons of hell). No, “thoughts” is not the right word here. Here is his take on the 2016 shootings.


Bieszad has also warned us that LGBTQ people are currently learning to use guns “not to defend themselves, but to attempt to position themselves so that when a politically advantageous situation arises, they can kill people.” After all, Bieszad has nothing to go on but his own dumb imagination and proclivities when forming his beliefs – facts are not in his repertoire – and such are his proclivities. It doesn’t help that he is legendarily dumb. Here is an example of the kind of stuff Bieszad spends considerable efforts thinking about.


Bieszad was apparently not a fan of President Trump, however, insofar as Trump didn’t use the power of his office to destroy the “sodomite agenda”.


On the conspiracy side of things, Bieszad concluded that the conservative publishing company Regnery is “a CIA front”, after yet another investigative foray into his usual source of data.


Diagnosis: Idiot clown. Confusion often leads to anger, and Bieszad is fundamentally, deeply confused.