Thursday, December 31, 2015

#1558: Christopher Doyle

There’s something obviously and deeply sad about “ex-gay” activists, to the extent that even despite their often despiccable behavior we almost feel a bit reluctant to include them in our Encyclopedia. But here you go. Christopher Doyle is an “ex-gay” activist with Voice of the Voiceless and Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation, and he feels mighty oppressed (just look here) by the non-“ex-gay” gays. According to Doyle, gay rights activists are communists. Therefore it’s their own fault that countries like Russia, Uganda and Nigeria have passed severe anti-gay laws: “Gay activists continue to play the victim card around the world, but their story is getting old,” according to Doyle. The laws in the aforementioned countries are enacted “as a response to gay activists’ intolerance towards traditional views on marriage and sexuality, and their attempts to silence the speech and beliefs of those who disagree with them. These activists are largely succeeding with their goals in Western countries, and are now importing their Communist strategies into other non-Western countries to achieve global dominance.” Yes. Just like the Jim Crow laws in Southern states, enacted in response to intolerant civil rights activists. Or women in abusive relationships who just can’t stop complaining – it’s their own fault, and the abusive husband is really the victim of intolerance and attempts at silencing him.

When Exodus International shut down and its leader Alan Chambers admitted that reparative therapy doesn’t work, Doyle demanded that they apologize to “ex-gays” like himself for shutting down and renouncing sexual orientation conversion therapy. Here is Doyle’s “expert defense” of ex-gay conversion therapy.

Doyle was also the guy who organized the disastrous 2013 Ex-Gay Pride Month and Ex-Gay Awareness Month.

Diagnosis: One can’t help but feel some sympathy for Doyle. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that he’s a bigoted lunatic.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

#1557: Joni Dourif

Joni (Jonina) Dourif is the (a?) ex-wife of the legendary Ed Dames, and the one who took over Dames’s company Psi Tech (most famous, perhaps, for telling us where Elizabeth Smart’s dead body was located and naming her killer months before she was found alive; Psi Tech’s spin is pretty legendary) after Dames stepped down (that story is summarized here). Psi Tech offers “remote viewing” services. Dourif herself was, according to this website “one of the first civilians trained in CRV technology,” but claims, like a lot of these people, to have been “the subject of PSI research and precognition most of her life.” Apparently, she had a background “specializing in Jungian clinical Psychology,” which she apparently achieved to establish the existence of innate psychic abilities. For the last 20 years she has been training others in “technical remote viewing” (initially a 10-day course) and has produced a couple of “Remote Viewing training tapes” to “provide the public at large with specialized training” (hey, the tapes were “filmed by an Oscar nominee,” no less; support by peer reviewed publications pales in comparison). She currently runs Psi Tech with CEO Dane Spotts, and publishes newsletters and e-zines and runs “an active chat room and several bulletin boards.” They still haven’t found any missing girls.

Undaunted by the lack of tangible success, they’re currently apparently even building a psi research center and a distance learning college, a “degree” from which is probably not something you should put on your CV. One of their training sessions is described here.

Diagnosis: We actually suspect that Dourif really believes that these abilities exist. And no amount of falsification is gonna convince her otherwise.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

#1556: William Campbell Douglass

Fundies do say the darndest things, but the whereabouts of the “Lee Douglas” supposedly associated with the Christian Coalition and described here cannot be determined and he probably doesn’t exist.

William Campbell Douglass II unfortunately does. Douglass is a doctor, woo peddler, hardcore conspiracy theorist and president of the Douglass Center for Nutrition and Preventive Medicine. In particular, Douglass believes that the WHO developed AIDS as a strategic element in their evil plan to usher in the New World Order by depopulating the Earth.

As for woo, well, Douglass has quite a number of … unusual ideas. He has been caught claiming that a little bit of tobacco smoking is good for you – in fact, he has written a book about that: The Health Benefits of Tobacco (I suppose “editor and researcher Tracy T. Douglass” is a relative), which seeks to rebut all those studies linking smoking to negative health effects and concluding that it’s a conspiracy. Probably by the government. The purpose of the conspiracy is left unclear. The quality of the rebuttals are well exemplified by his observation that even according to CDC studies, only 0.5% of the smoking population died at ages less than 35 – but 8% of the general population is dead before age 35; which prompts him to ask “does smoking prevent death in the relatively young – from murder, automobile and other accidents, infection or boredom?” No prize for spotting the rather obvious flaw in the reasoning (I haven’t even doublechecked the number).

Apart from his defense of smoking, Douglass has argued that exercise is overrated and that vegetarianism is bad. He has moreover promoted the idiotic raw milk fad (he is the author of The Milk of Human Kindness-Is Not Pasteurized – the title gives you a glimpse of the mind of W.C. Douglass methinks). Fluoride, however, is really bad and water fluoridation is yet another element in a grand conspiracy, as is aspartame. And sunlight, according to Douglass, prevents melanoma. Gary Null apparently really liked that claim.

Douglass has been most widely noticed, perhaps, for his anti-vaccine views. Vaccines don’t really prevent anything, according to Douglass (and the diseases they are meant to prevent aren’t really big deals anyways). Instead, vaccines are – you guessed it – a conspiracy. For instance, in his article “Pandemic Panic Hits World Health Organization”, published in the positively deranged pseudojournal Medical Voices (it’s actually a somewhat useful journal – anyone who has published anything in that journal can be safely dismissed as an insane crank), he claimed the H1N1 flu epidemic was faked by the WHO to sell drugs and vaccines. After all, according to Douglass the epidemic was “no more than a sniffle”, killing only a from a World War I battle commander standpoint insignificant number of people.

His relationship to critical thinking and evidence is, in other words, a matter of pick-and-choose. For instance, Douglass is – unusually for woo promoters – critical of the use of anecdotes in assessing a hypothesis. Of course, to Douglass, “anecdotal evidence” means any well-controlled, large study that yields results he don’t like. Personal anecdotes are, however, really valuable when they support his own, science-contrary beliefs.

Unsurprisingly, Douglass also runs a webstore that sells his special brand of supplements, and pushes at least two “periodicals” that have succeeded in making this list, Real Health and Second Opinion.

Diagnosis: A critical-thinking disaster that makes Mercola look positively wise (ok, so that’s an exaggeration). And though Douglass doesn’t quite enjoy Mercola’s level of influence, he is far from negligible.

Monday, December 28, 2015

#1555: Jock Doubleday

A standard ploy among denialists is to offer pseudo-challenges to scientists to prove that the scientific fact they deny is true or that their pseudoscientific delusions are false – where the protocol for testing or standards of proof are set by them, of course, to ensure that they will (with some exceptions) never be satisfied. Kent Hovind’s $250,000 challenge is probably the most famous, but Ray Comfort’s $10,000 prize to anyone who can present a “genuine living transitional form” has received its share of scorn as well (Comfort defines a transitional form as “a lizard that produced a bird, or a dog that produced kittens, or a sheep that produced a chicken, or even as Archaeopteryx–a dinosaur that produced a bird,” which is not what a transitional form is, making the challenge an impossible one). Deepak Chopra’s “explain consciousness” challenge is arguably even dumber.

Jock Doubleday, also known as the director or Natural Woman, Natural Man, Inc. and the author of such intriguing works as ‘The Burning Time (Stories of the Modern-day Persecution of Midwives)’ and ‘Lolita Shrugged (THE MYTH OF AGE-SPECIFIC MATURITY )’ has, in the same vein, gained himself some ridicule for his offer of “$75,000.00 to the first medical doctor or pharmaceutical company CEO who publicly drinks a mixture of standard vaccine additives ingredients in the same amount as a six-year-old child is recommended to receive under the year-2005 guidelines of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (In the event that thimerosal has recently been removed from a particular vaccine, the thimerosal-containing version of that vaccine will be used.)” The mixture will be body weight calibrated. By 2006 Doubleday claimed that “14 doctors, or persons claiming to be doctors, have contacted me about publicly drinking the vaccine additives mixture. None have followed through.” And to ensure that no one actually follows through with the challenge, Doubleday has created a pretty substantial list of criteria to be satisfied: Any participant must go through a psychiatric evaluation, a history of any mental health based counseling, an email exam of 10 questions regarding vaccine theory and history, compulsory purchase and reading of at last five altmed anti-vaccine books, a 20 question written exam, a certificate of good health, and so on and so forth. In short: You’re not going to pass; just forget it. In fact, several doctors have approached Doubleday, but they have all been rejected by him because of various details with regard to their application or because Doubleday just rejected them – it is, after all, up to him to determine whether the challenger is eligible). Of course, the test itself has been passed with flying colors: In 1996 a German guy ingested a dose of at least 1500 times the maximum dose of thimerosal a 6-year old with a complete vaccine history would theoretically have received in one go (weight adjusted!). It seems to have been unpleasant, but the guy recovered completely and did not develop autism.

Doubleday is, of course, a hardcore anti-vaxx loon. Not only are vaccines dangerous, “vaccines have never been shown by science to prevent any disease (you’d need a long-term controlled study for that).” Yeah, it’s kind of precisely like claiming that no one has shown that falling to the ground from 9000 feet is harmful. And no, Doubleday doesn’t understand science, or how evidence is measured, at all. Not that it would matter; all the science in the world wouldn’t change Doubleday’s mind, since it is all a conspiracy. Writes Doubleday: “There is a dark force working to undermine all ecosystems on Earth. This force is a trans-century cult that calls itself the Illuminati – because its members believe that one day they will be ‘illuminated’ and become gods on Earth. Illuminati members have infiltrated all world politics and control all financial systems. They have engineered the present financial crisis and they are responsible for the events of 9/11 and for the majority of false-flag events in recent history. Through war and other means, they are responsible for the hyper-poisoning of the planet.” Why they would be deliberately trying to undermine “all ecosystems” is a bit unclear, but Morgoth and Ungoliant, Skynet, the Harkonnens and the aliens in the classic documentary “They Live” have all been up to stuff like that before.

Here is Doubleday documenting chemtrails over Belgrade in 2015. Yes, chemtrails.

Diagnosis: Mike Adams, Sherri Tenpenny and Ken Adachi all rolled into one, only dumber (well … less influential, at least). A joke, really.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

#1554: Richard Doty(?)

This is a tricky one. Though Richard Doty is a legend in UFO circles, he qualifies as a “loon” only under the satisfaction of certain conditions, the main one being “Doty is not a cynical liar”, that we are not entirely sure he satisfies. Doty is the main, uh, witness of Project Serpo, a science fiction story presented as fact on several web forums in November 2005, quickly convincing numerous UFO “researchers” such as Bill Ryan, Kerry Cassidy, Linda Moulton Howe and Len Kasten (who even wrote a book about it) about his claims (they didn't need much prompting).

The basic idea is that Serpo is a planet of the binary star system Zeta Reticuli, 39 light years from Earth, with a breathable atmosphere, populated by an extraterrestrial race known as Ebens – short, brown, village-dwelling creatures of which there are some 650,000. One such was a survivor of the infamous 1947 flying saucer crash at Corona, New Mexico, and the American military, by reverse-engineering the spacecraft, has since sent missions to Serpo (excerpts here), missions they are (but of course) covering up. No, it doesn’t add up, but who cares? The UFO community certainly doesn’t. In any case, the story was spread in 2005 through an e-mail from “Request Anonymous” to a Ufology mailing list. “Anonymous” claimed to be a retired US Government official with top-secret clearance, and was only later revealed to be Richard C. Doty, a former security guard with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Doty, interestingly, had a book to sell (The Black World of UFOs: Exempt from Disclosure, coauthored with Robert Collins), and the surge of interest in the story coincided nicely with the release of that book. One can't but admire the marketing strategy.

Doty has later claimed that he was tasked with hoaxing documents and feeding false information to UFO researchers, a claim that seems to have put off the UFO communities (on the one hand it reaffirms their conspiracy theories; on the other it suggests that many of their cherished UFO delusions may be false).

Diagnosis: Hard to tell, really, but serious delusions and clever marketing ploys are not mutually exclusive. It is also a bit early to tell how his efforts have affected the UFO communities, but they are unlikely to have made them into better critical thinkers.