Wednesday, October 26, 2016

#1738: Jean Hoagland and Homeopaths Without Borders

Yes, it really exists (and we might even have covered them before, come to think of it). Homeopaths Without Borders is a non-profit organization that tries to capitalize on the reputation of Doctors Without Borders (no, HWB is not in anything but a homeopathic sense associated with Doctors Without Borders), with a result so hilariously sad that it is matched by little else I can think of. Their stated mission is “to provide humanitarian aid, homeopathic treatment and education by serving as partners with communities in need,” which essentially means that they go to areas with sub-standard healthcare to offer people nothing. At least they are relatively open about their lack of association with Doctors Without Borders on their website, which makes one wonder why they chose the name they did in the first place. It should at this point be unnecessary to mention that homeopathy is amazing bullshit – it’s really no more than prescientific witchcraft aimed at rebalancing the humors (no, it really is) – or that evidence pretty much conclusively shows that it has no beneficial effects on any health-related issues whatsoever.

HWB briefly made the news in 2010 (or maybe that was just this otherwise somewhat similar group), when they went to Haiti to provide humanitarian help after the Haiti earth quake. Presumably they didn’t manage to do much harm, but they did point out that they discovered a need for “remedies to treat dengue, malaria, cholera and other tropical diseases,” which should be cause for concern. These are real diseases that can actually kill you, and New Age pretense doctors should have no business clowning around and getting in the way of real doctors trying to help patients suffering from these diseases. HWB could also report that the University of Notre Dame in Port-au-Prince was to introduce a homeopathy course that could lead to a certification from the American Medical College of Homeopathy in Phoenix, which is not an institution that can issue diplomas worth quite as much as the paper on which they are printed (since they have ruined the paper by printing on it, that is).

In short, the HWB is not a humanitarian organization but an exploitative one. Oh, and Jean Hoagland, under whose name this post is listed, is the president of the American chapter. 

Diagnosis: No, you are not helping. Think how much better the world could have been if these people had actually spent their efforts on something good instead of deluding themselves into thinking that they are practicing medicine.

Monday, October 24, 2016

#1737: Charlotte Hinson

Roger Delano Hinkins, better – infamously – known as John-Roger, recently passed away. The Louisiana Science Education Act doesn’t seem to go anywhere, however. Passed by the state legislature in 2008, the act permits science teachers to use supplemental materials to “critique” evolution, which in practice means allowing them to teach creationism (of course, doing so would be constitutional, but Louisiana fundie wingnuts hate the Constitution). And Louisiana teachers do teach creationism. One of the ones who is rather vocal about that is Charlotte Hinson, a fifth-grade teacher at Caddo’s Eden Gardens Magnet School, who also wrote a column for the Shreveport Times in which she declared that her “job is to present both [evolution and creationism]” because “God made science.” Well, she doesn’t really do her job even by her own standards: “kids are disturbed when they hear or read that we evolved from apes. Of course, I do NOT teach that, but it is written in books, and they see it on certain TV shows as well.” And apparently she’s successful: after the origins sections “[the kids] always, always say, ‘I didn’t come from an animal. God created me in a unique way; I matter more than an animal; I’m special.’” Indeed, Hinson seems to have her own, personal, view of what school is for: “I will never ever teach what goes against so many of these children’s beliefs, morals and what their parents have worked so hard to instill in their hearts.” So there.

She did receive a letter from the ACLU for that one, but responded by pointing out that she had the support of local lawyers, her principal, and the school board, which is probably true (for instance, Caddish school board member Steve Riall, during a board meeting, affirmed that the Governor has granted permission for districts in Louisiana to give equal value in teaching evolution and creationism, for instance). Hinson ended her response with “Times are getting harder and harder … I feel the end is near. Be blessed!!!” Clearly, being criticized for blatantly violating the First Amendment is persecution.

Hinson is not alone, of course, and support for her efforts extend to the top. Governor Bobby Jindal, who signed the Science Education Act, said it was for creationism, and State Sen. Ben Nevers, who sponsored it in the Senate, said he did so because “creationism should be discussed when dealing with Darwin's theory.” State Rep. Frank Hoffmann, a state House sponsor, has also confirmed that the purpose of the law is to facilitate teaching creationism, and that Louisiana science curriculum policy “recommended a scientific discussion in the classroom of scientific theories including creationism and evolution,” which reveals something rather scary about what counts as “scientific theories” among Louisiana politicians.

Diagnosis: Completely unsuited for her job, but that’s apparently how things run in Louisiana. It’s scary, but at least no one seems to be looking to Louisiana for advice on how to do things these days – pity about the kids whose future Hinson and her ilk are jeopardizing, though.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

#1736: Os Hillman

Os Hillman is a dominionist, one of the leading theocrats in the US and an overall pretty scary fellow. He is also president of Marketplace Leaders, an organization devoted to making leaders view their workplaces as a ministry, which is part of the “seven mountains” strategy (Hillman is behind the Reclaiming the Seven Mountains website). His website promotes the work of people like Johnny Enlow, who has asserted that the goal of Christians ought to be to establish a “virtual theocracy” and that the best way to achieve this is through stealth, and Lance Wallnau, who also thinks that theocrats should do whatever is necessary to force Biblical law on everyone (including not using the word “dominionism” when the media is present). “Unfortunately, when we embrace a life of sin, no matter what sin it is, we fall into deception,” has Hillman said in a completely different context (while arguing that homosexual love is not love at all but “Satan’s counterfeit role” and should accordingly be actively fought by Christians), which is both perceptive and displaying a staggering lack of self-awareness at the same time.

But no, he doesn’t like marriage equality, and has warned that America may soon face divine punishment for tolerating gay people (he has also suggested lowering the divorce rate as a means to reducing the gay population; the reasoning is, as you would guess, somewhat tortured). In fact, Hillman has prophecied that something bad might be in store for us soon: In “Are We Entering a Modern-Day Amorite Judgment?” he suggested September 2015, and although the prophecy was a bit complicated (it was based on the lunatic rants of deranged Taliban sycophant Jonathan Cahn and is explained here), it involved pointing out that God judged the Amorites by killing them, which doesn’t sound good. Fortunately, according to Hillman, Christians stand to benefit: “If we are prepared this could be the greatest wealth transfer we have ever seen in our lifetime, or it can be a devastating time if you are not prepared,” which sounds remarkably like a standard, cheap magazine horoscope (including the safety valve: if you don’t benefit, you just weren’t prepared enough). Hillman also asked for readers’ email address in order to get his preparation tips. Yes, it’s spam.

He has also claimed that God is (or may be) using Donald Trump to wake up America and “seems to be using Fox News to bring light to moral injustices.”

Diagnosis: Oh, the Taliban-envy. He is also one of those religious fanatics who seems to think that since everyone is a sinner anyways, it doesn’t matter if he lies and deceives a bit extra. Yet, Hillman is a pretty influential character, and it is hard to exaggerate how scary that is.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

#1735: Michael Hill

This one’s really too easy. Michael Hill is co-founder and president of the League of the South (LOS), whose goal is – if you’re living in a bubble – to get the former slave states of the American South to secede. Hill is a Neo-Confederate, a white supremacist (he has complained that the South at present isn’t racist enough) and – for good measure – explicitly pro-slavery. Hill actually taught history at Stillman College for a number of years before he founded the LOS together with J. Steven Wilkins and some other Neo-Confederates and co-authored the “New Dixie Manifesto” (with Thomas Fleming).

According to Hill, his (“complete”) rejection of racial equality is based on science: Equality is “a flawed idea with no basis in history and biology,” which seems to suggest that he doesn’t really have a clue what “equality” is supposed to mean. And how on Earth could someone, as Hill sees, it justify calling slavery “an abomination”? Surely, it’s “not in the Bible. [Slavery] is regulated there, which means it is an institution approved by God for use in a fallen world.” And if you disagree (or worse, don’t denounce homosexuality) you are a terrorist: “You [sic] worldview is a terror to the truth.” Ouch.

Much of his writing concerns the atrocities committed by Northern libruls to southerners, both during the Civil War and by “the civil rights movement (what we Southerners rightly call the Second Reconstruction),” such as immigration reform, which Hill calls “genocide; this is anti-white genocide,” and which will lead to civil war. Which is what he wants. LOS apparently also has a paramilitary wing now. Which should, in fact, potentially be considered a concern, given that Hill thinks the Second Amendment extends to “weapons systems”, has defended guerrilla warfare applications and even produced a list “primary targets” in the fight for a second secession: “The primary targets will not be enemy soldiers; instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don’t run,” Hill wrote, before ending by quoting the Bible: “Blessed be the Lord my strength who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight.” Sounds uncannily like some other organizations and networks you might think of, doesn’t it?

Diagnosis: I don’t think someone who is president of the League of the South need any further diagnosis.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

#1734: Steve Hickey

Steve Hickey is a former state representative for South Dakota’s 9th district (2011 to 2015) who received even some national attention when he sponsored a bill that would allow businesses to deny services to same-sex weddings or any others that violate their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” According to Hickey, gay rights are taking the United States “down the road of Iran,” which is certainly an odd claim to make (Iran still has a death penalty for homosexuality).

Hickey’s main characteristic seems to be a persecution complex that might make even Todd Starnes blush. When resigning from the legislature, he was ostensibly going to continue his studies of Christian ethics with a focus on the power of modern surveillance deployed by governments, which he took to be of particular importance since two-thirds of the world is hostile to Christianity. Said differently: If you don’t share his beliefs, you are hostile, an attitude that is the very definition of a persecution complex. He is also bizarrely obsessed with anal sex, going on about it at length even when it is entirely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Presumably, this Steve Hickey, who has voiced his opposition to having high standards of evidence in medical research, apparently because quackery can’t meet them, is a different one.

Diagnosis: A rather off-putting and unsavory fellow. At least he’s (apparently) out of the legislature by now.