Tuesday, April 30, 2013

#530: Paul Broun

Paul Collins Broun, Jr. is the U.S. Representative for Georgia's 10th congressional district (Tea Party Caucus), and one of the most delusionally insane fundamentalist loons in the political system – he has also announced that he’ll be running for Senate in 2014, and quickly followed up the announcement by reaffirming his commitment to the beyond crazy.

Broun has a medical degree from the University of Georgia, an institution he has later dismissed as a liberal bastion that should be eliminated, save for the football team.” Broun, you see, hates freedom and liberty, and he is known for repeatedly trying to impose legislations to limit freedom based on his religious convictions. In 2009 he proposed legislation that would have proclaimed 2010 The Year Of The Bible,” a bill to ban the sale or rental of sexually explicit materials on U.S military installations, a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and a bill that will stop abortion and counteract the clone-to-kill” mentality apparently running rampant in the US. Here’s Broun trying to pass off as a Taliban Harry Potter and cast magical spells that will make Obama more God-fearing (yes, he did try to use sorcery against Obama, and yes, the incident is insidious).

Broun is also a climate change denialist who calls man-made global warming a conspiracy perpetuated by certain members of the scientific community (the motives are of course undisclosed). He has also tried to argue that clean energy legislation will cause southerners to die from hyperthermia. With that level of understanding of science you can perhaps guess where he stands on evolution. Indeed, ”[a]ll that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology [keep in mind that Broun has a medical degree] and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.” So it’s another conspiracy. He continued: ”[t]here are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.” The latter was all of the ”lot of scientific data” he cited. Broun, by the way, is also on the House Science Committee. Less surprisingly, he is a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

He may, however, be most famous for criticizing Obama’s call for a civilian national service corps and suggesting that Obama might use it to establish a Marxist dictatorship: That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he's proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist” (he later stood by the remark). No, Broun does not have the faintest clue what ”Marxism” is, but hey: he doesn’t like Obama, and he doesn’t like Marxism; hence, Obama is a Marxist, and Obama is, by the same token, apparently poised to become a dictator – in fact, according to Broun, Obama is ”trying to uphold the Soviet Constitution”. Then again, Broun’s criterion for ruining America is, apparently, that you think America is run by man” rather than by God, which may imply (I don’t know) something about God being a Marxist since He is running America and America is according to Broun currently socialist. Broun is also a semi-birther, answering I don’t know” to questions on whether he believed Obama was a US citizen or a Christian (instead affirming that he did know that Obama was a socialist).

Broun also believes that CAIR is involved in terrorism, based on, well, it is a little unclear, but imaginative paranoia and bigotry was certainly involved, as was the WorldNetDaily, which is the same thing. These factors must certainly have been involved in his celebrated fruits and vegetables” remarks in relation to a 2011 report by the Centers for Disease Control that claimed Americans were not eating enough fruits and vegetables: Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta said people in America are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. They want all the power of the federal government to force you to eat more fruits and vegetables. This is what the federal CDC – They (sic) going to be calling people and finding out how many fruits and vegetables you eat (sic) today. This is socialism of the highest order!” You can watch the event here. It is discussed here. It seems to sum up pretty nicely how Broun’s mind works.

Unsurprisingly, Broun opposes transgender health coverage. His reason is that he ”likes being a boy.”

Diagnosis: Theocratic troglodyte who genuinely believes that he possesses magical abilities, but who prefers to respond to the parts of reality he doesn’t think he likes by trying to outlaw it. Completely insane, and very dangerous.

Monday, April 29, 2013

#529: Amber Brooks & Charles Chapple

Although the two loons presented in this entry are probably no more loony than a horde of other like-minded altmed practitioners they still deserve exposure because they i) are still loons – the numbers don’t change that; and ii) they both appeared at the 2011 version of the annual quackfest Autism One among a host of other pushers of woo. Indeed, in one sense their appearance there brillianty illustrates what the antivaxx movement is really about.

For what are Brooks’s and Chapple’s areas of expertise”? Nothing less than CranioSacral Therapy. Basically, Craniosacral therapists (the main guy appears to be one John Upledger, who runs his own clinic in Florida and also does dolphin therapy), who belong to the more dubious end of osteopathy, claim to be able to detect a craniosacral rhythm” in the cranium, sacrum, cerebrospinal fluid and the membranes that envelop the craniosacral system, and the balance and flow of this rhythm is considered by such therapists to be essential to good health. The rhythm is measured by the therapist's hands. Any needed or effected changes in rhythm are also detected only by the therapist's hands. It has not been detected by other means, and will presumably never be detected by other means. The idea is thoroughly silly to begin with. There is a good discussion of CST here.

Brooks’s talk at the antivaxx happening was entitled CranioSacral Therapy: Its Role in Autism Recovery & Childhood Development,” and she managed to claim that CST has been shown to help the individual with autistic features gain a calmer and more relaxed state of being by decreasing structural stress and strain,” where shown” certainly does not mean suggested by controlled, double-blinded studies with a reasonable, unbiased sample size,” if anyone were ever to believe that. Chapple, a chiropractor, gave the talk Affecting Sensory Processing, Primitive Reflexes with Chiropractic and Cranial Sacral Therapy.” You do the math.

Diagnosis: Kooks who bring to the table not only homemade theories (as crackpots are wont to) but also homemade evidence (ok, crackpots are in general prone to that as well). The plural of anecdote is not evidence, but that’s probably not something Brooks or Chapple are likely to grasp as they lend their services, however insignificant in themselves, to the forces of evil.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

#528: Tal Brooke

A.k.a. Robert Taliaferro Brooke (real name)

Tal Brooke used to be among the most prominent members of the Sathya Sai organization in the US. The late Sathya Sai Baba was, as some of you know, a miracle monger and spiritual leader, famous for allegedly being able to perform miracles such as materialize vibuthi, materialize rings, gold statues, necklaces and watches, levitation, bilocation, controlling the weather, resurrect the dead, heal the sick, and transform water into petrol (Sai Baba refused to make grand changes in the world (or have his abilities tested), however, claiming that this would disrupt the karmic flow of events).

Tal Brooke has for the last 20 years worked to expose his former cult, and has written a couple of books criticizing the Sathya Sai organization. So shouldn’t he be counted as a non-loon? Well, the thing is that Brooke really only swapped cults and is currently a hardcore Christian fundamentalist instead. You see, Brooke still believes fully in Sai Baba’s abilities to perform miracles; it is just that Brooke is now convinced that Sai Baba is (was) the antichrist instead, which is – to emphasize – no less loony than believing that he’s the Messiah. Brooke’s allegations were apparently based on “out of body experiences” that were “very demonic”, and seem primarily to concern rather strange and ungrounded accusations of sexual abuse in all sorts of ways since Baba was, according to Brooke, a hermaphrodite (Brooke goes on at quite some length about this).

Brooke is currently president of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, which is not a skeptics organization. His writings (plenty of books) in general seek to depict the New Age movement as a Satanic conspiracy, which seems to miss the main problem. He has described the Internet as the “Tower of Babel” and that it is anti-God; he believes that Hollywood is a conspiracy against Jesus; and he is behind plenty of ravings about the New World Order. Some information can be found here, but this is a pro-Sai-Sathya site and hence very, very untrustworthy. Brooke’s latest obsession seems to be a massive campaign against the Twilight series (his organization publishes the Vampire Journal).

Constance Cumbey (to be covered) accuses Tal Brooke of being an anti-semite and for plagiarizing her works, but then Cumbey accuses a lot of people of that.

Brooke is also a firm fan of David Brickner and the Jews for Jesus.
Diagnosis: Cultjumper and not-quite-whistleblower who fights (other) cults apparently by arguing that they’re not extreme enough and pointing out that he disagrees with them. It is hard to judge the effect of his actions, however, and he may inadvertently end up doing more good than bad; should nevertheless be watched.

#527: Stephen Broden

Stephen Broden is a former Republican political candidate from Texas’s 30th congressional district for the U.S. House (unsuccessfully). In ordinary life Broden is a businessman, political commentator (having appeared on Glenn Beck, for instance), dominionist, Tea Partier, pastor, activist for pro-life causes (abortion is a genocidal plot against African-Americans, according to Broden), and a founder of Ebony Berean, an organization whose mission includes informing African-American Pastors of the ”Culture War”. There is more on Broden’s anti-abortion views, including his attempt to argue that Ruth Bader Ginsburg admitted to deliberately trying to achieve genocide, here. Indeed, Broden has argued that the Theory of Evolution was invented precisely to give scientific legitimacy to exterminating African-Americans; Broden’s own words on the matter are here.

Indeed, Broden is a revolutionary. He has actually claimed that violent revolution is an option “on the table”, because America today is just like Nazi Germany. The perceived similarities arise primarily out of things like health care reform (“this [Obama] administration is […] doing end-of-life counseling in order to depopulate that particular group of people”) and the purported fact that Obama is deliberately causing a financial crisis for rather undisclosed reasons. You can see a video of some of his crazier statements here. During the 2011-12 Republican primaries Broden was among Rick Perry’s valued partners and a staunch supporter of Todd Akin.

Diagnosis: Completely and utterly insane, of course, and it is interesting to see how such people manage to retain a substantial amount of influence.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

#526: Kyle Bristow

Kyle Bristow is the former leader of the Michigan State University chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, a group listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center a few years ago under his leadership, and something of a thorn in the side of the university itself. Bristow later, in 2008, managed to get elected as a Republican precinct delegate.

Bristow made some headlines when he made an effort to invite neo-Nazi and white nationalists like Nick Griffin (when criticized for that choice by LGF, YAF’s brilliant response was: “LGF and Al Qaeda both have something in common: they hate Western civilization and those who stand up for it”), Jared Taylor and Paul Fromm to speak on (or near) MSU's campus, and got people like Preston Wiginton (a well-known Stormfront activist waxing lyrical about the joys of beating up dark-skinned people) to help him with the events. Bristow also praised the work of white nationalist John de Nugent, as well as John Mangopolous for saying that God sent Katrina to New Orleans to get rid of the gays and that if he was God, he would do far more than that. A charming fellow, in other words.

But of course, Bristow still takes offense if anyone points out his connections to white supremacists.

He has also published a novel, “White Apocalypse”, about the Solutrean hypothesis, the notion that white Europeans beat the Indians to the new world by thousands of years and were wiped out by them. In his novel he took care to have every real life person who disagree with him brutally murdered, which is not evidence for a virtuous character. And yes, the whole thing is one of the most bizarre white supremacist fantasies ever penned – and there’s some pretty tough competition for that. John De Nugent is a fan, by the way.

Bristow’s response to Obama’s (original) election involved the criticism “blacks aren't as politically civilized.” But Bristow isn’t a racist!

The self-styled legal advisor to the MSU YAF chapter was one Jason van Dyke. He is described here.

Diagnosis: A peerlessly hysterically insane ball of raging bigotry, Bristow’s lack of judgment predictably makes him a Neal Adams-style crackpot as well. How he could be taken seriously by anyone is a mystery, but an unsurprising one. Dangerous.