Sunday, January 30, 2011

#142: Pam Geller

Blogger (her blog is called “Atlas Shrugs”, you do the math), political activist, and co-founder of Stop Islamization of America, Geller has been cited as one of the most virulent opponents of the Park51 community center and mosque in Lower Manhattan – and even as one of the leaders of the anti-mosque movement. She has, understandably, been denounced for hate speech from several critics, and not only for her anti-Islam stance; she has been a staunch defender of Slobodan Milošević, denied the existence of Serbian concentration camps in the 1990s, and claims that black South Africans are launching a "genocide" against whites (she has also expressed support for the far right English Defence League).

Herself of Jewish background, the general tenor of her screeds can be summed up by the following quote: “It galls me that the Jews I fight for are self-destructive, suicidal even. Here in America (and the world over), Israel's real friends are in the Republican party and yet over 80% of American Jews are Democrats. I don't get it. The conventional wisdom on the Left is that Israel is an oppressor and her actions are worse than the world's most depraved and dangerous regimes. Chomsky, Finkelstein, Soros – these men are the killers. [… Israel should] stand loud and proud. Give up nothing. Turn over not a pebble. For every rocket fired, drop a MOAB. Take back Gaza. Secure Judea and Samaria. Stop buying Haaretz. Throw leftists bums out.”

Regarding Park51, she claims that it is a “Mega Mosque at Ground Zero” (truth and accuracy have never been cherished by this kind of people), viewed by Muslims as a "triumphal" monument built on "conquered land". She has also opposed other mosques and claims that the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem should be removed.

Geller says Ayn Rand is "the greatest philosopher in human history," (which alone would qualify her for an entry in this Encyclopedia), and claims that her “blog is, and its purpose is, clearly defined by Rand's philosophy.” (despite my distaste for Rand, I suspect that Geller’s religious right viewpoints are actually pretty far removed from anything Rand would have wanted to be associated with). The blog concentrates on what she perceives to be a violent threat to the United States by Islamic extremists and liberal politicians. Her “style of writing is like one long primordial scream”, but the main focus is anti-Islam.

Among the tasteful and accurate posts on her blog are the following:
- Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan (who is Jewish) supports Nazi ideology (the post was accompanied by a fake picture of her in a Nazi uniform) (on a related note)
- A video suggesting that Muslims have sex with goats
- A doctored photo showing President Obama urinating on an American flag, with claims that Obama's mother was involved in pornography and that Obama "was involved with a crack whore in his youth".
- Accusations to the effect that Obama is an anti-Semite doing the bidding of "Islamic overlords," (posting an essay suggesting, without any evidence, that the President is the "love child" of Malcolm X).
- Democrats are Nazis (repeatedly)

So of course she had to be picked up by the WorldNetDaily.

A longer list of her greatest hits can be found here.

(a few of them are discussed here)

She is of course an ardent birther. That should surprise no one.

Some think this is the peak of her bloglife, however.

Diagnosis: Epically insane. There is no one quite like her. She makes Glenn Beck seem like Noam Chomsky in comparison. Her impact is unclear, but she is given a lot of attention by Fox News.

(Actually, this blog might be even one (small) step farther out there: - though it might be a spoof. You never know.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

#141: David & Mark Geier

A.k.a The Batman and Robin of autism woo

The Geier father and son tag-team is a horror-filled legend among those who have gazed into the abyss of woo and altmeds. The Geiers are the creators of the dangerous and heinous Lupron therapy, a scientifically thoroughly discredited treatment for autism based on the thoroughly discredited assumption that autism is related to vaccination, mercury, hormones, and gut integrity. In some more detail, lupron is a very potent anti-androgen used as a form of "chemical castration" for men with prostate cancer, for women with uterine fibroid tumors, and a few other rare medical conditions. The Geiers speculate that the thimerosal in vaccines causes autism, that androgens such as testosterone potentiate mercury toxicity, that chelation therapy can help, and that Lupron is a useful adjunct to chelation. Complete bullshit, of course, even though the Geiers have managed to get some papers into low-tier journals.

Mark Geier is a physician but has no expertise in pediatrics, endocrinology, vaccines, or autism. His son only has a bachelor’s degree in biology; yet he assists his father in his “research” and in essence helps him treat patients, despite his lack of medical training. Together they must be ranked among the founding fathers of the mercury militia. A disturbing number of parents has not only fallen for the Geiers disturbing abuse of autistic children, but have even paid big bucks for having their childresn subjected to what is in essence chemical castration using a powerful anti-sex hormone drug. The treatment is apparently so bad it does not even count as junk science, and it took the mainstream media a surprising amount of time to notice (here, and here). The protocol and its ghastly implications are spelled out in some detail here. In their “studies” they fall into virtually every pitfall there is, even such simple things as confusing correlation and causation (here, here, and here).

For a discussion of this and related (autism is poisoning) ideas, see this informative article.

Diagnosis: These deranged pseudoscientists ought seriously to be tried for crimes against humanity. They are extremely dangerous and continue to pose a serious threat to the welfare and well-being of children.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

#140: Ann Gauger

Gauger has a PhD in zoology and is a signatory of Discovery Institute’s 2005 petition “Scientific Dissent from Darwinism”. She’s currently associated with the Discovery affiliated creationist think-tank the Biologic Institute whose goal is to perform real research on ID and which has yet to produce a single publication supporting ID creationism despite big budgets and numerous employed “scientists”.

A rather infamous incident occurred when Gauger reported on her work at the Wistar Retrospective Symposium, 2007, in Boston, Massachusetts. She discussed “leaky growth” in microbial colonies at high densities, leading to horizontal transfer of genetic information, and announced that under such conditions she had actually found a novel variant that seemed to lead to enhanced colony growth. Gunther Wagner, a real scientist, asked the obvious question: “So, a beneficial mutation happened right in your lab?” at which point the moderator halted questioning - Gauger has earlier argued that any evolutionary change is non-adaptive.

Diagnosis: Surely intelligent, but caught up in a system of self-reassuring but misguided views on how reality hangs together. The Biologic Institute is supposed to provided creationism with a sheen of scientific legitimacy, and although its existence may carry some influence on general perception of creationism (then again, probably not), it has failed to fool scientists or scholars in general (apart from Robin Collins).
(ed. note - I haven't been able to find a pic that I can reliably identify as the Ann Gauger of this entry. If anyone can point me to one, please let me know)

#139: Maggie Gallagher

A.k.a. Margaret Gallagher Srivastav

Writer and commentator Maggie Gallagher, a syndicate columnist for Universal Press Syndicate and author of five books, is best known as the president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. Guess what their stance is on e.g. gay marriage. She is also former president of the National Organization for Marriage (now run by Brian Brown), an organization attempting to organize opposition to recognition of same-sex couples in state legislatures (their ads have garnered some fame; they simply must be seen). She is obviously against abortion and believes that Roe v. Wade should be overturned (believing that most people who support legal abortion do so reluctantly because they think it is a necessary evil), and received some minutes in the spotlight during the Schiavo case (she thinks legalizing euthanasia diminishes the value of life among the sick and elderly, though her reasoning is less than translucent). Similarly, gay marriage, according to Gallagher, diminishes the value of heterosexual marriage (the argument is, well, non-existent. It’s an assertion). A nice portrait is here.

According to Gallagher “once the principle [of same-sex marriage] is in the law, the next step will be to use the law to stigmatize, marginalize, and repress those who disagree with the government’s new views on marriage and sexual orientation”, and as evidence she cites efforts by liberals to revoke the tax-exempt status of churches who oppose same-sex marriage. In other words, religious freedom means protecting religious people’s right to discriminate those who disagree with them. Her arguments against gay marriage are sometimes … slightly paranoid, when they are not simply insane: see here, here, and here.

She also believes that abstinence-only sex education should be the sole curriculum taught, and advocates discontinuing all safer-sex education in public schools.

She was the subject of some controversy after receiving tens of thousands of dollars from the Department of Health and Human Services during 2002 and 2003 for helping the George W. Bush administration promote the President's Healthy Marriage Initiative. During this time, Gallagher testified before Congress in favor of “healthy marriage” programs, but never disclosed the payments. All in all Maggie Gallagher is the kind of person who would actually benefit from an Intro to ethics class, but who would never sign up for one.

Probably not related to the sad, pathetic once-comedian Leo Gallagher, but could have been.


Diagnosis: Paranoid fanatic, who likes collecting arguments – no matter how bad (since she is unable to discern good from bad arguments) and machine-gunning them forth whenever she has the opportunity. Virulently blathering idiot, in other words. Her direct impact is uncertain, but she seems to wield some political power.

#138: Richard Gage

Richard Gage is one of the main people behind the 911 troofer movement and the founder of (note: visits not recommended) and Architects and Enginers for 9/11 truth. Architect (not engineer or explosives expert, contrary to widely held belief) Gage is currently touring the US and Canada and making a lot of noise with unsubstantiated claims and misleading “evidence”. As expected he believes that a mysterious conspiracy was behind the 9/11 attacks and that it was secret operatives who planted the “explosives.” He is careful not to explicitly implicate the government and CIA, but conversational implicature abound. For a general debunking of various claims, see here. His basic point, however, is an argument from ignorance: how could people living in cages in Afghanistan possibly have brought down the pillars of freedom in the civilized world (kinda the way people in the 5th century failed to believe that Alaric sacked Rome)? (tip: no one claims Afghan cavemen brought down WTC).

If engaged in debate, Gage is a frequent user of the Gish gallop and snowing (very effective – since his opponent cannot possibly be an expert on everything, it is relatively easy to find a question he or she will be unable to answer then and there).

How do you end up as Richard Gage? Well, one point he repeatedly makes is pretty revealing. He claims that he loves the scientific method, but doesn’t understand it. According to Gage we must collect data before we decide on a hypothesis to test. Which is, of course, the very recipe for confirmation bias (if you collect data you are already collecting data with respect to some hypothesis, in Gage’s case he collects data in favor of his conspiracy theory before he officially puts forward his hypothesis).

Diagnosis: The king himself of confirmation bias, snowing, double standards of evidence and selective use of evidence. He seems to have a pretty wide influence, being one of the main people behind a relatively significant, though delusional, conspiracy movement.

#137: John Funk

Not to be confused with the (tongue-in-cheek) ghost hunter of the same name, this fellow is mostly a Sunday school teacher, and a member of various boards in New Mexico. He is rather non-descript, in other words, and his influence is presumably limited.

Which is, I surmise, a good thing. You see, Funk is rather strongly religious. In fact, he is fundamentalist enough to be endorsed by RaptureReady; in other words, he is as far into tinfoil hat territory as you can get. Funk believes that the rapture is imminent, and has written an eloquent hypothetical news report on what happens the day after the rapture. Here you can also discern how Funk thinks of the political battle between liberals and conservatives as a religious battle, and what he thinks about Europe or the rest of the world.

He is clearly not very happy about the separation of church and state, and takes it to be a sign of the upcoming Apocalypse.

His views seem to conform to Jack Chick’s, although Funk’s screeds are better articulated. His screed against tolerance doesn’t quite fit the rigid “salvation through belief alone” professed elsewhere, however (one thing is his argument against tolerating other religions, the other is his arguments against tolerating gays and liberals). The agenda is, of course, summed up in this quote: “Tolerance is alive and well unless you profess the Christian faith.” Ah, the persecution complex – Funk is angry because modern day tolerance doesn’t fit with what he views as his God-given right to suppress and discriminate people who disagree with him.

Those interested can enjoy Funk trying to prove the accuracy of the Bible (and the confirmation bias involved) here; or that his evidence for an imminent rapture is good enough to stand up in court. Or what about his probabilistic proof the Jesus Christ is the Son of God? And if you want to make a difference when it comes to pain and suffering, you can actually make a difference – pray!

Diagnosis: This is the kind of person you use to scare children with, or who makes an excellent Halloween topic. Completely insane, despite his efforts to dress up the fire and brimstone in woolly sugar spin considerate language. Probably of minor importance, though.

#136: Steve Fuller

Fuller is a sociologist and best known as a post-modernist alibi for intelligent design creationism. He works and lives in the UK (Warwick, but Fuller is still American), where he is actually a celebrated sociologist who has won prizes and awards. Tells you something about the field. He is mostly associated with social epistemology as an interdisciplinary research program. Social epistemology is a normative discipline that addresses philosophical problems of knowledge using the tools of history and the social sciences. It is utter bullshit, in other words (skepticism is a white male European construct).

For the purposes of our encyclopedia, Fuller is most notable for his extensive support of creationism, publishing books and papers and even participating at the Dover trial (for the defense, though his argument may have hurt them more than helped them), claiming that the theory of evolution and intelligent design creationism should be accorded equal status as scientific theories. He also claims that ID needs and should receive “affirmative action” among the sciences. He has also claimed that Darwinism leads to abortion and euthanasia, showing where his ideas really come from. (Steven Poole called his book “Dissent over Descent” “an epoch-hopping parade of straw men, incompetent reasoning and outright gibberish, as when evolution is argued to share with astrology a commitment to "action at a distance", except that the distance is in time rather than space. It's intellectual quackery like this that gives philosophy of science a bad name”; Michael Ruse judged it to be “completely wrong and […] backed by no sound scholarship whatsoever”)

He has also argued that science is basically a religion, and that modern science has its basis in an attempt by humanity to transcend itself and reach God – and that science itself “does not make sense without the Abrahamic backdrop”. More muddleheaded POMO idiocy is discussed here, here, and here.)

Norman Levitt responded to Fuller’s bullshittery, in particular his book Science Vs. Religion with eloquence and insight (here, here, here, and here (Sahotra Sarkar also had an eloquent response; also here)). After Levitt passed away, Fuller wrote one of the more bizarre eulogies in history, calling him “"a minor science fascist” and accusing him (rather than Fuller himself and his POMO followers) of being a “pioneer of cyber-fascism, whereby a certain well-educated but (for whatever reason) academically disenfranchised group of people have managed to create their own parallel universe of what is right and wrong in matters of science”. The “eulogy” is discussed here.

Fuller is currently associated with Dembski’s blog Uncommon Descent (no link provided). Also made an appearance in Expelled.

Diagnosis: Total idiot; not only impervious to critical thinking, but using POMO to justify not engaging in it. Blathering crackpot. May have some influence, but probably not among the usual fundamentalist creationists. His ilk is a threat to civilization nonetheless, and Fuller should be taken as an example of the ridiculousness of POMO and where it might actually lead.

Friday, January 21, 2011

#135: Hugh Fudenberg

Digging a little into the Wakefield scandal - you know, the thoroughly discredited study cited by the antivaxxers as evidence that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism because it claimed to have found a link between the MMR vaccine (which, by the way, has never contained thimerosal) to autism - Hugh Fudenberg’s name pops up.

And guess who the source is for the blitheringly ignorant Bill Maher’s ridiculous claim that having the flushot five years in a row raises your chance of getting Alzheimers a tenfold?

Fudenberg is a licensed medical doctor, but has had severe problems retaining his license due to his very dubious autism treatment regimes (also prior to his involvement with Wakefield) – he ended up “retiring”. Currently, he runs a nonprofit "research" organization, Neuro Immunotherapeutics Research Foundation, through which he still (well, as of 2005) pushes dubious remedies for autism and charges $750 per hour for “review of past medical records". He actually seems to have been respectable once, but appears to have plummeted into the outer reaches of loon in the late 1980s. As should be obvious, his claims linking flu shots and Alzheimer’s are unsubstantiated.

The guy has a page at, for crying out loud. And he is apparently a creationist.

Diagnosis: Whackaloon. The darkside distorted version of the old, befuddled but good wizard, Fudenberg has turned into a cackling old crackpot. Not a mover and shaker, but not completely harmless either.

#134: Ralph Fucetola

a.k.a. The Vitamin Lawyer

… and his alias gives him dead away, I would assume. Fucetola is a rather minor figure on the woo-scene, most notable for his antivaxx screeds, which are fully over the top. When Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services reasonably suggested that the media should not give equal coverage to anti-vaccinationist conspiracy theories because they lacked scientific foundation and could actually be harmful, Fucetola responded this way.

It is an instructive piece of conspiracy theory thinking with gems such as “You may therefore conclude that the information you receive about autism and vaccines from the "mass media" and from the government is not complete and truthful. You may therefore conclude it is merely propaganda... or worse, it is part of a systemic "cover-up" of the autism and vaccine issues.” Because … Sebelius controls the media? It is all there, really. Fascinating. A comment on the post is here.

In his daily life, Fucetola is a lawyer specializing in defending woo and nutrient supplement distributors. His website is here; it doesn’t exactly exude reason and sensibility. And he seems to be into everything. In this piece the distortions, misguidedness, ignorance, confirmation bias and paranoia is without limits.

Diagnosis: Standard cranky conspiracy theorist; zealous. I find no evidence of any real significance, though.

#133: Gerald Flurry

Flurry is the founder and Pastor General of the Philadelphia Church of God (PCG; (visit the website here), based in Edmond, Oklahoma, and presenter of the television program The Key of David, editor in chief of The Philadelphia Trumpet magazine, and founder and chancellor of Herbert W. Armstrong College in Edmond, Oklahoma. It is taught within his church that Flurry is That Prophet, a divinely appointed successor to Herbert W. Armstrong, akin to Elisha after Elijah. Or something.

In his magazine Flurry writes an article in each issue detailing how America is falling apart because her youth do not follow his interpretation of God's values. This includes but is not limited to articles on how Universities undermine America's values: “American colleges and universities actually encourage people to indulge in SOME OF THE MOST REPUGNANT IMMORALITY IN THE HISTORY OF MAN! We lead the world to sexual immorality” (Flurry is a fan of random capitalization). Sexual interaction between consenting individuals at universities represent “SOME OF THE MOST IMMORAL ACTS IN HUMAN HISTORY”, right after the invention of science. In short, sex is the cause of the downfall of America.

Apparently, God was also responsible for the Haiti earthquake because the people there weren’t Christian enough – if you think of it, Flurry is actually a couple of notches more insane than Pat Robertson, though less influential. Oh, and Germany is ruled by the Nazis – that is, the old Nazis, since they survived WWII and are still running shop, apparently (visit the website here). He is really scared of Germany.

He also publishes “Malachi's Message to God’s Church Today” and distribute it to as many Worldwide Church of God (Armstrong’s original churcn, which Flurry broke away from and apparently thinks is the devil) members as possible. According to Flurry, Malachi's Message is the “little book” of Revelation 10, a part of Revelation hidden by God until 1989.

Members of PCG are not allowed to associate with heathens (especially not members of the Worlwide Church of God), and there is a requirement is for Armstrong College students to remove themselves from all social networking sites, especially Facebook and My Space, because they risk coming in touch with heathens there. All of Flurry’s sermons are distributed locally on CDs which are subsequently destroyed after everyone has heard them (you are not supposed to listen to them twice; (this is a website for a competing sect, apparently)).

Notorious members of PCG include Dennis Leap and Andrew Locher.

Diagnosis: Yet another clinically insane Messiah-wannabe cultmaster (PCG is a small cult empire, in fact); he has a fair share of followers, actually, though his impact is minimal beyond those. Stay far, far away from this guy. Lots of people in Internet discussions seem to agree that he is mad, mostly for the wrong reasons.

#132: Walter Fitzpatrick (and Carl Swensson and the AGJ)

Some people seem to live their life happily in parallel universes, somewhat like the bad guys in Wrong Turn or Deliverance. Barely literate, they have their own little militia camps where they can thump their Bibles, arrange secret meetings in old Skeeter’s hayloft and complain about the lizard men, communists and chicken thieves.

Walter Fitzpatrick III, a retired military officer, is just one of several of these nutballs who have written “presentments” against Barack Obama for citizen grand (show) juries (meetings in Skeeter’s hayloft), and now demands that the local sheriff takes action and go out and arrest the president. “AGJ” stands for “American Grand Jury” – that’s what they fancy themselves – and is one of several such nutball organizations.

Fitzpatrick’s claim that there isn’t even a question about Obama’s eligibility as president. Why? Because he’s not a natural citizen, of course. He was born in Kenya … or something (it is a little unclear, insofar as Fitzpatrick’s screed isn’t entirely coherent). He also accuses Obama of treason. Read the thing here.

Now this is a relatively common occurrence, but this particular case set a rather bizarre chain of events in motion. Some weeks later Fitzpatrick marched into the Monroe county courthouse in Madisonville, Tenn., and attempt to arrest Grand Jury foreman Gary Pettway for official misconduct (Fitzpatrick had previously tried Pettaway to act on his and Carl Swensson’s (another AGJ leader) charges of voter fraud during the election, something Pettaway was unwilling to do). As one expects, the incident ended with Fitzpatrick being arrested instead.

Now for scene 3: Carl Swensson, claiming that Fitzpatrick had “put his life on the line for us [… like] our founding fathers” and was now on a hunger strike. He urged his followers to march on the courthouse, get Fitzpatrick out of jail and make sure justice is served.

A number of people responded to the call, among them Darren Huff who loaded up his truck (emblazoned with the Oath Keepers logo) with his colt and his AK-47 and set off for Monroe to arrest the county officials – “domestic enemies of the United States engaged in treason”. Of course, Huff didn’t get far – he was already being monitored by the FBI, you see (can you imagine why?)

You can read the story, with commentaries, here.

The AGJ website is here.

It is quite a read. See, for instance, one retired lawyer, Leo C. Donofrio, argue for the legitimacy of the AGJ.

Or, go to their archive and read the presentments written by luminaries such as David Rachel (Florida), who writes to judged Lamberth, accusing him of wimping out on prosecuting Obama for being a fraud – Rachel is at least content that Lamberth will, eventually, be judged by God. Or the grievance letter to Lamberth, a petition with 3181 (electronic) signatures, organized by one AGJ member Norman Abbott. Or perhaps Norman D. Caron (who seems to have serious issues) accusing “Barack Obama, aka: Barack Obama, Jr., aka: Barack Hussein Obama, aka: Barry Soetoro, aka: Barry Obama, aka: Barack Obama, presumed President of the United States” of fraud and treason.

One Armando Carranza seems to have been industrious. Daniel Hunt, however, seems more lost, but indicted Nancy Pelosi as well because, well, probably because he doesn’t like her (she may be the grand master behind the conspiracy. Obviously). Maggie Passaro apparently had difficulties with even delivering her presentment and was offended by an agent who referred to Obama as a citizen when clearly he is not. Sally Borghese delivered a presentment in Michigan, and Monica Sanders was obviously dissatisfied with congressman Wittman, who apparently seems to do nothing about her complaint (“[he] might as well join the Democrats as far as we are concerned”).

It’s a pity the sanity side of the debates is so much less persistent.

Diagnosis: Bizarre

#131: Barbara Loe Fisher

Barbara Loe Fisher is an anti-vaccination activist, founder of one of the oldest anti-vaccine websites in existence, the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) (a cesspool if there ever was one) and the blogger behind the prominent anti-vaccine blog Vaccine Awakening.

She is especially famous for suing her opponents or trying to intimidate them into science (here, and here). She has no qualms about that, since obviously she is correct and that means that everyone who disagrees with her must be corrupt. Yes, the very foundation for confirmation bias (double standards) and all conspiracy theories (the case was dismissed, of course).

Naturally, after suing some major opponents and threatening others, Fisher wrote a grand screed entitled “2010 Needs a Fearless Conversation About Vaccination”. Touché. Under that title, she went on to connect “government regulated vaccine science” to 9/11 (fear-mongering and conspiracies).

In general, Fisher is one of the grand old ladies of the antivaxxers – her site was one of the first to go online, and she’s been enormously influential.

Diagnosis: Utterly confirmation biased loon; highly dangerous – what she runs is, in effect, a campaign against human well-being, and she may already have several detrimental consequences on her hands.

Monday, January 17, 2011

#130: Bryan Fischer

Another big fish for our encyclopedia, up next is Bryan Fischer, the director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy for The American Family Association. Now it is hard to keep these groups apart, but any organization with “Family” in their name is guaranteed to be, shall we say, over the top. AFA’s mission is to make homosexuality illegal, along with abortion, and possibly even women's voting rights. More information here (they have rather effective strategies, in particular targeting companies that have made statements or policies in favour of gay rights, advertised in gay publications or advertised during a commercial break in a TV show which they find objectionable. They call for members to bombard these companies with complaints, or boycott their products).

But turn to Fischer, an unrepentant theocrat who is known for wanting the government to force gays and lesbians into "reparative therapy" or prison (discussed here).

He has recently fallen out with Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter, since these are not sufficiently against gay marriage for his taste - they associate with organizations that want to destroy the American military and the institution of marriage.

Well, sometimes it seems that “ruining the military” isn’t the goal of the guys – rather, they want to take it over for their own nefarious purposes. Quote Bryan Fischer: “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews. Gays in the military is an experiment that has been tried and found disastrously and tragically wanting. Maybe it's time for Congress to learn a lesson from history.” (Fischer actually bases his claims on a book by Scott Lively, who will be covered later).

He is apparently completely oblivious to the irony in this one.

Fischer received some flak when he blames a grizzly bear attack at Yellowstone National Park on America for turning their back on God: “History reveals that God's covenant with an ancient nation suggests that one of the consequences for a nation which walks in his statues is that it will have nothing to fear from wild animals”. He phrased the whole incident in a slightly peculiar manner.

The AFA has also called for an end to allowing Muslims to immigrate to the United States, for banning them from joining the military, and for a moratorium on all new mosque building in America.

He is also, unsurprisingly, a staunch creationist, and was formerly the head of the Idaho Values Alliance.

More on Fischer here (we’ve touched on just a small selection).

Diagnosis: Totally insane, vile and zealous, theocrat and Godbot, hatemonger and crackpot, loon, moron, dumbass, crank. You pick, they all fit. Yet he still seems to enjoy quite some influence. I can’t quite find words.

#129: Deborah Owens Fink

Insofar as the enormously popular Chopra ally, the fluffily moronic Marilyn Ferguson, hit the fan a year and a half ago, and the entry to follow Ferguson was … uh … postponed for prudential reasons (which some will presumably identify with what’s wrong with the world), we’ll continue with an appropriate counterpoint to yesterday’s Louis Farrakhan.

Deborah Owens Fink used to be the resident creationist on the Ohio Board of Education, where she (obviously) actively advocated ‘teach the manufactroversy’. She was rather nonplussed that her efforts were opposed by the other members: “I don't understand why they are even engaged on the topic. Ohio isn't Kansas.” Parse that one! She lost, fortunately.

Owens Fink is a professor of marketing at the University of Akron, and she ran on that old, transparent ploy ‘I didn’t advocate Intelligent Design Creationist, I am just urging students to subject evolution to critical analysis, something scientists should endorse.’

She did, however, think that the idea that there was a scientific consensus on evolution was “laughable.” Well, given that her definition of ‘scientist’ would probably include Marc Blaxill and Duane Gish, the claim might make sense in creationist newspeak – after all she dismissed the National Academy of Sciences as “a group of so-called scientists”. More here.

Her campaign against Tom Sawyer ran on “If you are Christian, vote for Debbie. If you believe in evolution, abortion and sin, vote for Sawyer.” Sawyer and his backers were “members of the dogmatic scientific community”.

The other outspoken creationists on the board at the time included Michael Cochran, Richard E. Baker (known for demonstratively reading newspapers during pro-science presentations during the proceedings), and Colleen D. Grady (here and here).

Diagnosis: Arrogant simpleton. Completely clueless. Apparently relatively neutralized by now, however.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

#128: Louis Farrakhan

a.k.a. Louis Eugene Walcott, Louis X

Louis Farrakhan is the leader of the Nation of Islam, a radical African-American religious, political and social movement, and is, in effect, a left-oriented, Muslim counterpart to Pat Robertson.

He is known for making anti-Semitic remarks: “I recognized that the black man will never be free until we address the relationship between blacks and Jews.” – make that “Satanic” jews. More here. And you know, it is all really about the Illuminati – it’s no coincidence that the B’nai B’rith and FBI were both formed in 1913. Oh, and he also got ties to the Reverend Moon.

He also recently jumped on the vaccine hysteria bandwagon, claiming that the H1N1 vaccine was really a part of a fascist plan to kill off people in order to ease overpopulation.

He is a staunch supporter of Robert Mugabe, and believes that the U.S. government deliberately demolished a levee following Hurricane Katrina in an effort to force black people out of New Orleans. It doesn’t obviously cohere with his assertion that the hurricane was “God's way of punishing America for its warmongering and racism”, but whatever – coherence is no criterion for these people.

Diagnosis: Unhinged conspiracy theorist and general loon. He has, undoubtedly, quite enormous influence, but it baffles us that liberals are still writing excuses for him. This guy is crazy, and he is vile.

#127: Celia Farber

Some readers are probably fed up with “HIV dissidents” by now. The thing is, however, that these people are really, truly dangerous, and they need to be outed, as often as possible. Farber is not a scientist. She is a journalist, and in her work the last twenty five years she has emphasized the negative role she feels is played by pharmaceutical industry with respect to AIDS treatment and the flak given the claims of whackaloon denialist Peter Duesberg and others. Emphasis in that sentence should be on “feels”. With a huge arsenal of misunderstanding and ignorance, she has attempted to point out methodological flaws prevalent in the scientific work on HIV, and has more than once suggested a conspiracy (dealt with here, along with some other conspiracy theorists). She is, in other words, HIV denialism’s answer to Viscount Monckton (who will unfortunately not be covered in this Encyclopedia since he’s British). This is a classic example.

Her view of the American scientific community and the National Institutes of Health is that they are "totalitarian" structures. Hence, the fact that her claims have been thoroughly refuted by people who know anything about the issue has been impotent when it comes to changing her mind.

Farber’s work has been featured in numerous magazines and outlets, and in 1999, she co-founded the non-profit organization “Rock The Boat”, whose mission was to arrange rock music concerts to “stimulate independent thinking about subjects which the organization's proponents believed had been censored by the media”. She also made a very ugly figure in the Christine Maggiore case (ending with a desperate “radical detox, not HIV”), with her screed usually being of the form “doctors are not only wrong; they’re evil”.

The wikipedia article is far too friendly, but this article (book review) on HIV denialism in general, is helpful.

She also cooperates with denialist blogger Dean Esmay, a relatively unimportant but angry and seriously deluded anti-science guy, who dislikes peer review, and does think that intelligent design creationism should be taught in schools and … you get the drift.

During her time at Spin magazine, she was involved with its publisher Bob Guccione jr. (there was a lawsuit involved there, as the wikipedia article points out), who seems, at least at the time, to have shared her ideas. Guccione later dated Ann Coulter, no less.

Diagnosis: Utterly ignorant conspiracy theorist, whose grasp of the distinction between arguing by emotions and arguing from facts is tenuous at best. But she is certainly influential in her apparently relatively popular contributions to the death campaign that is the HIV denialist movement.

#126: Joseph Farah

One of the real movers and shakers behind the moron movement, Farah was the founder and chief editor of WorldNetDaily, with regular columns from luminaries such as Pat Buchanan, Pat Boone, Chuck Norris, Tom Tancredo, Phyllis Schlafly, Alan Keyes, David Limbaugh, Jerome Corsi and others. He has also worked closely with Rush Limbaugh, writing parts of his books for him – and he has written his own books, such as Taking America Back and the Tea Party Manifesto. You get the idea.

He is an avid creationist, sometimes seeming to want to top even Answers in Genesis for sheer ignorance and lunacy.

He is also an avid adherent of homeschooling – officially because children will purportedly get better education not tarnished by liberal brainwashing; less officially because children will not be exposed to science that isn’t obviously consistent with the Bible (i.e. the King James version – everything else is heresy). As he said: “What’s happening in government schools today is nothing short of child abuse.”

And he is a strong supporter of Biblical Taliban and an avid proponent of full-scale war on Islam.

He is most famous of all, however, for being one of the biggest supporters of the birfer movement, usually claiming rather openly that he thinks Obama was born in Kenya and thus ineligible as president (he claims that he only wants the president to procure proof of citizenship, but makes it abundantly clear that no evidence would satisfy his standards). It isn't just that Obama wasn't born in Hawaii – it's that he wasn't even born to the woman who claims to be his mother. Obama was, in fact, born to the woman who claims to be his grandmother and his mother is really his sister.

The “fact” that Obama is not born in the US is not the only reason he is ineligible as president, however.

Farah is also at war with Wikipedia (compare here and here).

Obviously, he is a theocrat (rightwing; compare “America will never again be a free country until it ends the income tax. I'll bet you agree with that statement. I'll bet a referendum on ending the income tax would be approved by 75 percent of the American people -- maybe 90 percent.” and “We cannot ignore that a libertarian society devoid of God and a biblical worldview would quickly deteriorate into chaos and violence.”) Of course, the argument is strengthened by the fact that it is premised on God intervening and actively punishing America if we go against the commands of the Bible. Besides, the Founding fathers never supported the separation of church and state (taking a full DeMar here; facts are irrelevant as long as you think of Jesus when talking). And he doesn’t like gays (this argument against gay marriage has to be savored); nor Ann Coulter, since she is apparently not anti-gay enough. Point is (of course): gay marriage will, necessarily, undermine civilization (since, of course, there is no difference between recognizing gay marriage and prohibiting straight marriages and straight sex).

But it is still abortions that constitute maybe the biggest threat to … the Constitution: “If Roe v. Wade is...the law of the land, then the U.S. Constitution is null and void. There is simply no other interpretation.” (task: try to reconstruct the tacit argument there …)

On a completely different note, he thinks that people who consider waterboarding to be torture to be unable to distinguish right from wrong, because considering waterboarding to be torture means that you want the radical Islamic terrorists, and liberal pro-science evolutionists, to take over the US. See also this one.

He is, in short, the king of wildly misdirected, ignorant, contentless outrage.

He did, however, think that the Conservapedia Bible project was a little over the top (we'll return to that).

More here.

Diagnosis: The face of unhinged lunacy itself, this guy is too insane even for people like Michael Medved. This guy can hardly be topped. But he is doubtlessly dangerous, and the Worldnetdaily does, believe it or not, have sympathetic readers.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

#125: Jerry Falwell Jr. and Jonathan Falwell

The incomparable, irreplaceable Jerry Falwell may finally have decided to sod off for good, but his more than mildly deranged offspring has decided to continue to run shop for their father.

Jerry Jr. is chancellor of his dad's Liberty University, and has a long reputation for questionable behavior – I guess you can do whatever you want if you think about Jerusalem while doing it. He has, following the sterling example set by his father, continued to run the university in the spirit of liberty.

You can read more about him and his university, including a summary of a mind-numbing interview with Glenn Beck, here.

He has some interesting views on climate change, for instance, for instance inviting Monckton to speak at Liberty as a way to expose students to both sides of the climate-change debate:
“A lot of our students come from public schools where the truth of global warming and the science of global warming is not always known […] Christians have a calling by God to protect the environment”, so they should therefore should have a complete view of the global-warming debate: “Many Christian young people are susceptible to the claims of the vast majority of environmentalists today who use pseudo-science to promote political agendas in the name of protecting the environment when their real goals are destroying freedom and destroying the economies of the western world.”

You nailed it there, Jerry.

His brother Jonathan, on the other hand, is the senior pastor at the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia (and vice-chancellor of the Liberty University). He inherited his father’s column at the Worldnetdaily (Listen America) and hosts the weekly television show Main Street Today. He is a severely truth-challenged Christian reconstructionist. He seems to be getting (recurringly) into trouble for his claims that pastors should preach and support political movements without giving up their tax exemptions.

His website is here. You can learn more about him here.

Diagnosis: There is no better description for these Liars for Jesus than to point out that they are rather “Falwell-like”. They inherited a lot of influence and power, obviously, but it remains to be seen whether they have the ability and charisma to retain it.