Friday, May 25, 2018

#2019: Gene Moody

Yes, there are people who follow
advice on exorcising demons from
youtube clips presented by that guy.
A deliverance ministry is a fundamentalist organization that tries to cure peoples’ ills by casting out demons. More colorful and nefarious than, but otherwise essentially similar to, faith healing, the movement gained momentum with the publication of Pigs in the Parlor: A Practical Guide to Deliverance by Frank and Ida Mae Hammond in 1973. One of the current, grand, delusional and frothingly insane old men of the movement is Gene Moody, a disciple of the Hammonds (and mentor of Stan and Elizabeth Madrak, whom we have already covered).

Moody is the author of Deliverance Manual (“Every Christian should be able to cast out demons at least in their own family”), which is readily available online. The basic idea is the same as that described in Pigs in the Parlor: “Demon spirits can invade and dwell in human bodies” to cause all sorts of ills, from from murderousness to schizophrenia, sleepiness, intellectualism and homosexuality, but can fortunately be exorcised by faithful fundies who write incoherent rants in ALL CAPS on the Internet. Moody adds instructions on “Cleaning Your House (of Demons)” and describes for instance a case where someone threw out their kid’s Big Bird toy because it gave Satan “legal grounds”, which is, of course, an idea of a kind we’ve had the opportunity to cover before. There are some illustrative quotes here.

Like the Hammonds, Moody provides an extensive list of potential demons by name. For instance, “BOYCE and BOICE are two demons that interfere with any electronic equipment, i.e., phone, computer, printer, automobile, etc. If something malfunctions, command these two demons to leave your equipment, in the name of Jesus. We get many emails saying this worked. If it does not work, demons are not causing the problem.” Easy as that.

And like all other deliverance ministry promoters, Moody has serious problems distinguishing fantasy from reality; indeed, it seems that Moody and his ilk take any piece of fiction to either document reality or provide instructions for how to deal with it. An example: “The Necronomicon (legendary occult text) has its place in modern black magic and Transyuggothian metaphysics. […] For example, there is now a whole line of materials based on the hellish Lovecraft Cthulhu mythos (author Howard Phillips Lovecraft), a form of magic practiced in the darkest Satanism – a system of magic prominently featured in The Satanic Rituals. The Necronomicon and the Cthulhu mythos are quite real. Lycanthropy (shape shifting) is the clinical term for being or believing yourself to be a werewolf. The magical act of changing into any wild animal. These are immensely complicated worlds of magic, spells and violence.” That he has some trouble following a single line of thought, is not the most serious shortcoming of Moody’s thinking on display in that passage. 

Diagnosis: Clinically insane, and he ought to be mostly harmless. But there are, in fact, people who take his advice, and whose children will probably be scarred for life.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

#2018: Frank Monte

Few tragedies go by without some idiot moron connecting some dots to find whatever pattern their deranged brains wanted to see, and then forming some lunatic and dumb conspiracy theory. You can probably think of a few examples yourself, and the case in the present post is just an illustrative example chosen more or less at random: When Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace was gunned down in front of his South Miami Beach estate in 1997 by serial killer Andrew Cunanan, one who didn’t accept the official story but created his own was New York-based private detective and one-time Jackie Onassis bodyguard Frank Monte. According to Monte, as described in his book The Spying Game, Cunanan didn’t kill Versace; rather, it was the Italian Mob. According to Monte himself, he was hired by Versace a year before the latter’s death (false) because Versace had fallen afoul of the mob, and the hit was carried out by them using Cunanan as a patsy. The cops, according to Monte, never ran a match on the bullets. As for Cunanan, the Mob had killed him at least a week before the murder and kept his body on ice in the houseboat where he was eventually found. The videotape from Versace’s security camera, which clearly shows Cunanan running from the murder scene, is as far as we know left unexplained.

Apparently Monte has a bit of a story to him, failing in 2012, for instance, a legal bid to prevent the police cancelling his private investigator’s licence due to his “lack of moral integrity” and a history of ripping off clients. There is certainly a possibility that “loon” is not the most apt description of Frank Monte.

Diagnosis: Ok, so it’s just a bit silly and not nearly as crazy (or nasty) as some conspiracy theories. But it is still a fine example of how village idiots like to just make things up and then vehemently believe them regardless of evidence, truth or reason. Probably harmless, but the trend he exemplifies is not, which is why we include him.

Hat tip: jcs-group

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

#2017: Jeff Monroe et al.

Jeffrey “Jeff” Rodrick Monroe has been representing District 24 in the South Dakota Senate since 2013, and previously in the South Dakota Legislature between 1995 and 2003. It is worth mentioning that Monroe is a chiropractor whose education is from the Northwestern College of Chiropractic – now Northwestern Health Sciences University – one of several institutions that specialize in offering courses on various types of woo, pseudoscience and quackery. Perhaps his background might help explain some of Monroe’s confusions over and distaste for science, evidence and reason.

In 2014, Monroe sponsored Senate Bill 112 (details here), which would, if enacted, provide that “[n]o school board or school administrator may prohibit a teacher in public or nonpublic school from providing instruction on intelligent design or other related topics” – it was, in other words, an attempt to introduce Intelligent Design Creationist misinformation in South Dakota public schools (co-sponsors were Phil Jensen (R-District 33), Dan Lederman (R-District 16), Ernie Otten (R-District 6), Bruce E. Rampelberg (R-District 30), and Bill Van Gerpen (R-District 19)). The bill, unsurprisingly, closely followed the Wedge strategy authored by the intelligent design think tank the Discovery Institute, and framed the issue as if it were a matter of academic freedom. Bars on teaching falsehoods is not a violation of academic freedom, and teaching creationism in public schools is of course unconstitutional, but serious nuttery is characterized by applying the same cognitive resources to interpreting the Constitution as to interpreting science. Of course, anti-science legislation on education in South Dakota is no new thing; in 2010 they tried to pass a resolution to stop teachers from teaching global warming, which included the formulation: “astrological, thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect [sic] world weather phenomena.”

Fortunately the bill died, but Monroe promised to return to the issue in the future. He did, in 2015, with Senate Bill 114 (details here), another “academic freedom bill” allowing and encouraging teachers to teach the “weaknesses” of scientific theories, with “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, [and] human cloning” singled out as disputable topics – this time without overtly religious language such as references to Intelligent Design creationism. Co-sponsors were Lederman and Van Gerpen from last time, as well as Bob Ewing (R-District 31), Brock L. Greenfield (R-District 2), Jenna Haggar (R-District 10), Ried Holien (R-District 5), Betty Olson (R-District 28), David M. Omdahl (R-District 11), and Mike Vehle (R-District 20). There is no shortage of anti-science loons in South Dakota. 

And don’t you know: Monroe et al. were at it with another attempt in 2016, with Senate Bill 83 (details here), “[a]n Act to protect the teaching of certain scientific information,” and again in 2017, with Senate Bill 55 (details here) (adding Stace Nelson (R-District 19), Jim Stalzer (R-District 11), and John Wiik (R-District 4) to the list of co-sponsors). This one passed the Senate Education Committee on a 4-3 vote, despite the opposition from the state’s educational communities, which says a lot of not particularly flattering things about South Dakota and its voters. Monroe himself asserted that “we’re dealing with theories, we’re dealing with things that aren’t proven. Things that people know are not established facts.” At least it must be counted as an established fact that Monroe has not the faintest clue about basic scientific thinking, distinctions and vocabulary. The day after, the Bill passed the Senate, and moved to the House (where its sponsors were Blaine Campbell (R-District 35), Julie Frye-Mueller (R-District 30), Tim Goodwin (R-District 30), Leslie J. Heinemann (R-District 8), and Taffy Howard (R-District 33)), where it was stopped by the House Education Committee. The bill was lauded by the Discovery Institute, who even found a local “expert” with an actual PhD (not in anything related to evolution, of course) to praise it. That “expert” was William Harris, whom we’ve encountered before.

To top it all, however, Monroe is also an advocate for anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. In 2012, Monroe introduced a bill making it easier for parents to refuse to get their children vaccinated, in order to guarantee an increase in deaths from preventable causes (not Monroe’s explicit justification). Monroe, of course, claimed it was all about religious freedom, even though South Dakota was already one of the states with the laxest religious exemption laws.

Diagnosis: Astounding mistrust of truth and evidence – and that goes not only for Monroe but for a substantial portion of the South Dakota legislature, and by extension its voters. Extremely scary, all of it.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

#2016: Matt Monarch

Matt Monarch is a raw food vegan activist who thinks that cooking food kills it and poisons you (cooked foods are “dead,” having had their “vital force” and nutrients sucked out of them), while eating only raw vegetables, fruit, grain, and plant matter is the secret to health. He defends the ideas on the website The Raw Food World. Said ideas include the delusion that nearly all disease is caused by unspecified toxins, in particular through “autointoxication,” where allegedly accumulated fecal matter piled up in your colon leaks its “toxins” into your bloodstream and makes you sick. The idea is complete nonsense (having sufficient fecal matter in your colon to make you sick would make you septic – that’s true – but certainly does not cause the chronic illnesses Monarch claims.) In any case, as Monarch sees it this mythical accumulated fecal matter needs to be purged through detoxification, and he seems to be perfectly willing to subject his own children to such procedures, which is less funny.

Of course, he has no evidence for his claims. People who want evidence are sheeple “stuck in the ‘system’, doing everything that they are told by “authority” figures such as their doctors and family members, all out of fear and weakness.” He doesn’t need evidence: the information he provides “is so basic and obvious to me and I feel extremely sad that the majority of the people will likely just brush this info off.” He has anecdotes, however, and willingly tells you how he has applied his methods to unnamed people with “instantaneous results.” 

And there is a conspiracy, of course: According to Monarch, the body is always naturally “purging” but those evil “allopathic doctors” and Big Pharma are pumping you full of drugs that to him “suppress” the body’s ability to detoxify itself. The solution is enemas. Enemas for headaches, for kidney stones, for cancer, for everything. To achieve best possible effect, however, you should supplement the enemas with raw vegetable juice and molasses. And just remember: if you don’t get better, it’s because you didn’t have sufficient faith; if you are “truly” doing “these things consistently for a good amount of time,” you can heal anything, and if you don’t then “my best guess would be it’s a spiritual phenomena that you have to figure out.” Blaming the victim is of course part and parcel of any serious altmed treatment regime.

Among the products promoted by Monarch is Adya Clarity, which Monarch claims – without evidence or any plausible mechanism – can “eliminate pathogens” and “toxins”; in particular, it can get rid of candida and it worked for his wife. Interestingly, his promotion of Adya Clarity got him in a fight with woomeister supreme Mike Adams, since Monarch also claimed that Adya Clarity made Zeolite superfluous, and Zeolite is a bullshit supplement Adams has some financial stakes in (indeed, Monarch and Adams were, at some point, engaged some kind of cooperation, and Monarch has previously written for NaturalNews). So it goes.

Of course, Monarch has gone down the rabbit hole more or less completely. He’s for instance also antivaccine, and is willing to tell us how to make our shoes “grounded”. Unfortunately, he is unwilling to reveal the really deep secrets: “This rabbit hole DOES go deep and most of the stuff that I say probably sounds totally OUTLANDISH and EXTREME to the majority of the population. I feel, for example, that I am doing a service by not revealing what I feel is the real truth about where humans came from and how degenerated we may actually be at this time, as I feel that I would likely lose much credibility sharing these kinds of ideas.” The last insight is probably correct, though.

Diagnosis: Utterly deranged pseudoscientist and conspiracy theorist, and a genuine threat to people close to him. At least you have the option to stay far away; others seem to be less lucky.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

#2015: Tom Monaghan

Often counted among the American Taliban’s greatest success stories, Tom Monaghan is the founder of Dominos Pizza, dominionist and currently owner of the Ave Maria Foundation, the Ave Maria University (garbage) and an area of land in Florida called, well, Ave Maria. Monaghan is, as you may have guessed, a Catholic, endorsing a range of (extreme versions of) positions typically associated with Catholicism (in the US that seems to include supply-side economics), and he thinks that Catholic orthodoxy on these issues is far too liberal. His answer is to donate vast sums to Catholic extremist groups, including the cult Word of God. 

Monaghan is also the founder of the fundamentalist Thomas More Law Center, famous for providing the defense in Kitzmiller v. Dover, for the 2011 claim that Obamacare was unconstitutional, and for a 2001 suit brought against the San Diego chapter of Planned Parenthood to force it to inform women of a possible link between abortions and breast cancer. Needless to say, none of the cases were even remotely successful. Oh, and Monaghan is the guy behind the Catholic fundamentalist Legatus organization, which we have encountered before.

His most curious endeavor is probably his Ave Maria community, however. Officially founded by the Ave Maria Development Company, the Ave Maria community was an attempt to create a version of a Catholic dominionist utopia, completely controlled by Monaghan forever through the the Ave Maria Stewardship Community District, and a limited government law that allows for a “special interest” group to completely and totally control the town’s community infrastructure, its development systems, facilities, services and everything else, without any oversight other than Monaghan’s (the law was passed by the Florida State legislature); details here. Monaghan can, as such, decide which stores, hospitals or churches can be established in the area (as per Monaghan’s right to exercise his religious freedom, of course): “We’ll own all commercial real estate. That means we will be able to control what goes on there. You won’t be able to buy a Playboy or Hustler magazine in Ave Maria Town. We're going to control the cable television that comes in the area. There is not going to be any pornographic television in Ave Maria Town. If you go to the drug store and you want to buy the pill or the condoms or contraception, you won’t be able to get that in Ave Maria Town,” said Monaghan. Also, badmouthing Monaghan or the Pope may get you fired and run out of town. There’s a good description of the place here.

Diagnosis: Fanatic theocrat, and powerful enough to actually realize his dominionist ideas. Honestly, we are not completely sure that he qualifies as a loon in the original sense, but whatever. 

Hat-tip: Rationalwiki

For the record: Stefan Molyneux is Irish-Canadian and thus disqualified from an entry on technical grounds.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

#2014: Roberto Miranda

More religious extremist fanaticism. Roberto Miranda is the pastor of Congregación León de Judá, ostensibly one of the biggest churches in Boston. Miranda is best known for claiming that Satan is behind marriage equality and for directly tying the promotion of gay rights to 9/11. “Satan has warred mightily against [the Boston] region, and has effectively neutralized it through the influence of principalities of rationalism, humanism, intellectual pride and spiritual arrogance,” says Miranda. He seems to mean “rationality”, not “rationalism”. Woe on rationality. As a result, “Massachusetts, as well as all of New England, has become a cemetery of churches, a breeding ground for heretical doctrine, and intellectual furnace energizing attitudes of godlessness, rational arrogance and secularism. It is no coincidence, of course, that something as dramatically distant from the Christian worldview as gay marriage would be originated in this region.” 

As for the 9/11 connection: “Is it exaggerated to see prophetic significance in the fact that on September 11, 2001 Boston served as the point of departure for the deadly forces that spread so much destruction and havoc in this nation and all over the world?” Why, yes: of course it is. But Miranda’s question was rhetorical: “What took place at the material level is now being carried out at the moral and spiritual level, as the virus of homosexuality and gay marriage begins to spread dramatically all over this nation and perhaps the world.”

Diagnosis: Batshit insane wingnut fundie idiot.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

#2013: Tom Minnery

Tom Minnery is president emeritus of CitizenLink and the vice president of public policy at Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist institution devoted to homophobia, gun policy, wingnuttery, science denialism and supporting corporal punishment for unruly children. They are also vigorously in favor of banning unsuitable books (“libraries’ policies” of making available books the contents of which Minnery disagrees with “are anti-family,” says Minnery), the power of prayer (e.g. against Obama) and committed to anti-environmentalism and climate change denialism; Minnery has himself appeared for instance in the anti-environment conspiracy theory documentary The Green Dragon, according to which environmentalism is a secular religion trying to supplant Christianity in order to set up a world government to implement a population control scheme (you wondered how Minnery would be considered even remotely conceivably relevantly qualified to talk about environmental issues, didn’t you?). Minnery is also a member of the secretive religious right lobbyist group the Council for National Policy, which is closely connected to the Dominionist movement and also apparently quite influential. It is also worth mentioning that Minnery in 2006 vigorously attempted to deflect questions about his organization’s relationship with Jack Abramoff. It is also worth mentioning the group’s rather intsense support for Russia and Russia’s policies on gay people, religion and how to deal with unpatriotic journalists. 

Minnery is also a great fan of reparative therapy, claiming that reparative therapy is “common and there is a history of them working well, many people have lost their confusion about sexuality as a result of them to the good.” This is false. Minnery, however, followed up by criticizing then-governor Christ Christie for signing a bill barring the practice of ex-gay therapy on minors, rhetorically asking if Christie also approves of adultery. Nor is Minnery a fan of feminism because the Bible (“how many feminists know who it was who gave us the very name ‘woman’ (Genesis 1:26),” asks Minnery).

He has also argued claimed that religion can substitute for and thus offset the costs of healthcare. It’s accordingly no wonder that he’s opposed to Obamacare.

There’s a fine Tom Minnery resource here.

Diagnosis: Fire-and-brimstone fundamentalist who toys with dominionism, fueled by bigotry, denialism and a striking inability to draw relevant moral distinctions. He is also extremely influential. Dangerous. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

#2012: Forrest Mims

A somewhat central figure in the Intelligent Design creationist movement, Forrest Mims has no formal academic training in science but does teach electronics and atmospheric science at the University of the Nations, an unaccredited religious institution in Hawaii. He has also written quite a bit about science –his instructional electronics books are reasonably widely read – and his lack of academic training might actually be an advantage when the goal is to try to shoehorn existing science, through distortion, omission and strawmanning, into the service of promoting pseudoscience. Mims is also a global warming denialist.

He is perhaps most famous for his 1988 application to take over the Amateur Scientist column at Scientific American. Scientific American offered him the opportunity to write some sample columns, but he was ultimately not offered the position. Mims concluded that he didn’t get the job because he wasn’t qualified there were better qualified applicants of his religious and creationist views, which one would imagine would have been an entirely legitimate basis for rejecting his application even if it were true. Nonetheless, creationists still offer the case as an example of how Christian scientists are persecuted by mainstream science just because they have no formal qualifications and reject all the science, its methodology and evidence (not their formulation).

Mims also received some attention for his claim that ecologist Eric Pianka was advocating mass genocide by genetically enhanced Ebola virus with the goal of exterminating up to 90% of the human population. Pianka was not advocating this. When Mims’s misrepresentations of Pianka’s views were pointed out to him, Mims responded by trying to portray himself as the victim. There is a pattern here.

Despite his lack of formally recognized scientific credentials, Mims is nevertheless a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s laughable petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism. He is also a Fellow at the Discovery Institute and of the creationist organization The International Society for Complexity, Information and Design.

Diagnosis: Pseudoscientist and denialist. That people still listen to him about anything – to the extent they do – given his past story of distortions nad misrepresentations as well as his demonstrable lack of credentials and his equally demonstrable lack of understanding of science, is a disgrace.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

#2011: Susan Miller

It hardly needs repeating but we’ll repeat it nonetheless: astrology is hilariously stupid bullshit, people who believe in it profoundly critical thinking-challenged (it’s actually been thoroughly tested), and astrologers themselves either frauds or delusional cranks whose inability to navigate reality in a reason-based way should make one concerned for their ability to maintain their own welfare. Susan Miller presumably belongs in the latter category. Miller has a business degree from NYU, and has lately done pretty well for herself as an astrologer – enough so to receive coverage in Business Insider. According to Jezebel, “Susan Miller is the unrivaled Queen of Astrology. She is known for her affable delivery, her reverence in the world of fashion and, most importantly, her accurate horoscope forecasts which she publishes monthly to her site Astrologyzone.com.” Jezebel did little to measure the accuracy of the vague, general and hedged claims that comprise Miller’s forecasts – it wasn’t that kind of article – but apparently a lot of delusional nitwits do rely on her horoscopes.

As Miller perceives things, “[w]hat I do is scientific. Astrology involves careful methods learned over years and years of training and experience,” which, of course, is not a mark of whether what you do counts as scientific although it is telling that Miller thinks so. “There are so many things we don’t understand in the world,” continues Miller: “What if 200 years ago someone had said that these metal barrels in the sky would get us around the world in a few hours? Or that we’d inject ourselves with mold to treat illnesses? People are so skeptical.” Note that these claims (astrology relies on “things we don’t understand”) sort of directly contradict her claim that what she does is scientific. It is also interesting that astrologers like Miller admit that they do not know how it works (it doesn’t), since we – the rest of us – do know quite a bit about why astrology might seems to work to people with little background in critical thinking. According to Miller, she is “getting my information from NASA, doing math and geometry, and I know how to interpret the results.” The crucial word here probably being “interpret”. A good example of the silliness is here.

Diagnosis: We choose to assume that Miller is a snowflake without a shred of critical thinking abilities. At least that description is rather obviously true of her many fans. There are alternative interpretations that fit the data, too.


Monday, May 7, 2018

#2010: Shira Miller

“Informed consent” has become a codeword for anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, and the California-based group Physicians for Informed Consent (PIC) is certainly radically anti-vaccine (its board of “scientific advisors” consists of people like Tetyana Obukhanych and Association for American Physicians and Surgeons’ climate change denier, creationist and quack Jane Orient, no less). Despite the name, there is nothing “informed” about what the choice the group want people to make, but there is certainly a lot of conspiracy theory mongering and pseudoscience involved; the group’s vision is “to live in a society free of mandatory vaccination laws” and in addition to opposing California’s sensible SB277 the group campaigns to provide parents with misinformation about the VAERS database, NVICP and vaccine package inserts to get them to doubt the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

PIC is run by Dr. Shira Miller, who has a real education as a physician. Currently, however, Miller runs an Integrative Center for Health and Wellness, specializing in “anti-aging” medicine and – completely unsurprisingly – holistic “medicine”; according to her profile she has practiced “integrative, functional, alternative, holistic, nutritional, wellness, age management, and anti-aging medicine since 2006.” Functional medicine is basically making things up as you go-medicine.

For PIC, Miller claims that measles is actually not very dangerous. From 2001 to 2013, 28% of children younger than 5 years old who had contracted measles had to be treated in a hospital, and a carefully estimated 0.2% of those who contract it will die, but that would amount to only a few hundred children dying a year if there were no measles vaccine, and who cares about such a low number of children? In fact, Miller thinks the figures are probably even lower: according to her, 90% of measles cases are benign and not reported, so the death toll is probably more in the ball park of 0.04. Of course, the upshot of that claim, if true, is just that the morbidity rates during measles outbreaks must be far higher than the CDC thinks – the number of dead and hospitalized children (and accordingly the chance that any given unvaccinated child will be hospitalized or die) remains the same; in short, Miller’s figures, if correct, would actually make measles worse. Miller doesn’t quite realize that.

Miller thinks, though, that the MMR vaccine is more dangerous than the disease it is supposed to prevent. To back it up, she’s got “documents”. Miller claims that those documents are “peer reviewed”. Of course, they’re not “peer reviewed” in any ordinary sense, or published anywhere, but we assume it’s likely that she got some fellow anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists to look at them before putting them up on the group’s website. The PIC claims, for instance, that the MMR vaccine leads to seizures; the evidence for the claim is a letter to the editor of BJM written by Miller partially based on opinion pieces written by anti-vaccine activist Peter Doshi and numbers she seems to have invented more or less from thin air. Which is not evidence.

Diagnosis: Dangerous crackpot and delusional conspiracy theorist, whose lack of critical thinking skills ought to be obvious to any moderately intelligent person. She and her group do make a lot of noise, though. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

#2009: Lloyd Miller

Lloyd Miller is the apparently self-proclaimed “Research Director of A-albionic Research”, which has something to do with how “the overt and covert organs of” the Vatican and the Judeo-Masonic Neo-British Empire, which is apparently allied with Islam, are “locked in mortal combatfor control of the world”. The US is apparently on the Vatican team, which is demonstrated by the Illuminati eye on the one-dollar bill.

Now, Miller is pretty obscure – he seems to have distributed various leaflets and interviews in the pre-Internet era – and the details of the conspiracy somewhat hard to get into proper view, but Miller is apparently also toying with flat earth ideas. But then Miller seems to endorse more or less any conspiracy theory that comes his way, and the less coherent the better. There is something resembling a website here.

Diagnosis: Crazy but obscure. Honestly, we include him mostly just in case his name should start popping up again on some of the more popular conspiracy websites. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

#2008: Joe Miller

Most famous for being the Tea Party favorite in the 2010 U.S. Senate election in Alaska, Joe Miller actually beat Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primaries, but lost to her (with Murkowski running as an Independent) in the general election – a sign of troubles ahead, perhaps? In any case, Joe Miller is a serious loon, as he also amply demonstrated during his Senate run. The details of his antics are well covered here and here. His campaign was to a large extent focused on asserting that various things he didn’t like were unconstitutional on the grounds that he didn’t like them, as well as promoting various paranoid delusions, including claiming that refugee children are “something that does put the very survival of this country at stake.” Miller is currently, it seems, a radio host.

After losing to Murkowski – who won as a write-in candidate – Miller filed several charges of voter fraud, e.g. alleging that hundreds of convicted sex offenders and possibly other felons were allowed to vote in the election, and numerous creative (and insane) claims to have votes in favor of Murkowski discounted. The courts were very much not impressed.

Miller is also a conspiracy theorist, and received some attention for his claim, in the WND, that Obama should be impeached for secretly “giving away seven strategic, resource-laden Alaskan islands to the Russians.” This claim is, needless to say, incorrect. Miller also suggested that Obama had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, implicating the IRS as well in the process. (The idea was based on a conspiracy theory touted by Jerome Corsi; listening to Jerome Corsi is itself sufficient to qualify as a loon, and Corsi is far from the only conspiracy theorist to whom Miller has lent an ear). Of the war in Syria and subsequent refugee crisis, Miller suggested that “this was the plan all along, to create conflict in the Middle East, have a refugee crisis and inundate this country with radicals.” Miller is also a global warming denialist.

Indeed, Miller is also a creationist, and has argued that creationism should be taught in public schools.

Diagnosis: Apparently too crazy for Alaska, Joe Miller is seriously crazy. Though denied a position with legislative powers, Miller is still around, though it is doubtful that anyone listens to him who is not already firmly on board the shuttle bus to paranoid insanity.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

#2007: Jeff Miller

Jefferson Bingham Miller was the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 1st congressional district from 2001 to 2017 and a longstanding opponent of marriage equality. For our purposes, Miller is more interesting for his staunch commitment to climate change denialism and long-debunked denialist gambits: “climate has been changing for a long time. They call it global warming, global cooling [they really didn’t] – now everybody wants to call it climate change […] It changes. It gets hot, it gets cold. It’s done it for as long as we have measured the climate,” and the science isn’t “settled” since it is possible to find people with relevant degrees who say it isn’t (based on demonstrably and strikingly flawed papers), nevermind that the vast majority says it is) and how evidence assessment works. After asserting that the science isn’t settled, which it is on any reasonable understanding of “settled”, Miller then argued that it is, in fact, settled, and that man-made global warming is false. It is false because the dinosaurs died off before humans were around. Therefore current temperature increases cannot be caused by human activity, and we shouldn’t take any political steps to prevent it or mitigate its effects. Then he argued that it is really God who is driving climate change.

Miller is also opposed to the separation of church and state, and has co-sponsored bills that would require Congress to recognize and support Christianity (with, admittedly, a host of other wingnut Congress members). Also: the War on Christmas is totally persecution of Christians in the US.

Diagnosis: Wingnut denialist, conspiracy theorist and moron. Though retired from Congress, he’s still a person of some influence, and should be avoided.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

#2006: Gina Miller

Gina Miller is a columnist for RenewAmerica and Barbwire. Her contributions are, contentwise, pretty typical for those sites, but Miller has a knack for formulations and attempts at argumentation that are arguably even more hysterically paranoid, bigoted and conspiratorial even than most of her colleagues.

Zeh gays
As you’d expect, much of her writing concerns gay people, partially because homosexuality, in the mind of someone like Miller, is connected to everything else she doesn’t like. For instance, as Miller sees it, LGBT rights leads to communism: “We have seen in the past several years under the Barack Obama (or whatever his name is [Miller is a birther, of course]) administration a militant homosexual movement on steroids, running at warp speed. Many of us have been warning you that this movement is not what it seems […]. While its proponents claim it is simply about gaining ‘marriage equality’ and ‘civil rights’ for homosexual, ‘transgender’ and other sexual deviants, that is not the caseAt its core, this movement is about tyranny. It’s about subverting the rights of people who hold traditional moral values, which are antithetical to immoral, centralized government control. It’s about silencing the dissent of those who oppose the destruction of marriage and the mainstreaming of deviancy. It’s about deconstructing the foundations and truths of our freedom-based, constitutional Republic. This movement’s goals are in line with the goals of the communists.” 

On other occasions, gay marriage is a Satanic plot to murder Christians: “Christians here in America will be in danger of state-sanctioned murder for their beliefs”, though these two goals may appear to be equivalent in the warped mind of Gina Miller, which is not very good at drawing relevant distinctions. Nevertheless, she is committed to fighting the “demons and the spiritual wickedness of those in places of great power. As Christians, we have read the end-times prophecies, and we know the warnings Jesus gave us about how awful things will become in the last days,” which, insofar as they herald the end times and return of Jesus, is a good thing! “The Godless communists (or fascists, if you prefer [distinctions, again – how do they work?]) are using the homosexual agenda to work toward eradicating Christian opposition to their plans, which are Satan’s plans.”

So, gay rights “has its roots in Hell” and are championed by “godless, human minions of Satan.” Or, put more eloquently: “Tenacious sodomite tools of the devil” are on a “hellish crusade to establish a dominant Sodom West.” 

Shocked by the fact that some companies are declining to sponsor anti-gay activities, Miller has asserted that people and companies who have “caved to the homo-fascist pink fist” must be made aware that “homosexual behavior is depraved behavior” and will always be sinful “no matter how thick and smothering the black blanket of Sodom and Gomorrah ends up being in the United States,” and that gay rights laws are part of Obama’s “brutal tyranny”. What Obama has to do with it is unexplained but probably follows from the Satan-communist-fascist connection: “the only rational
conclusion is that [Obama] is an enemy of the United States,” says Miller. Also, God will come and punish you all, just you wait and see. Meanwhile, you should all boycott companies that don’t discriminate against gay people.

As for the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, Miller warned in advance that a legalization of gay marriage would send us “on the fast-track to tyranny [in different writings from the same time we are, as illustrated above, already there]. It will become illegal to oppose homosexual expression and counterfeit marriage in any way. If the Court does this, it will effectively abolish the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Do not imagine for a minute that churches will be exempt. They won’t.” Yes, she’s got assertions. Therefore what she says must be true, no matter how feverishly delusional it might sound. Needless to say, she did not react well to the actual decision when it arrived: “Are we truly watching a perfect storm of tyrannical darkness conquer the United States? Have we finally been defeated by the ever-patient, ever-evil, embedded communists […]?Are America’s younger generations lost to Godless, communist indoctrination and ideology, which includes radical environmental lunacy [yes, she often has these little gems thrown in] and the eager embrace of militant homosexualism and the destruction of marriage and family? Is there no way to purge the systemic immorality and corruption that infects all our major institutions, our federal, state and local governments, our schools, the media and entertainment industries and corporations? Is it even possible for this wayward nation to return to the founding principles and limitations on the central government outlined in the Constitution? Is tyranny inevitable? […] If – for instance – Obama’s ‘Civilian National Security Force’ is sent out to round up those America-loving patriots whom Obama so despises, and those patriots attempt to resist the aggressors with deadly force, what will happen? Does anyone truly believe that in this age of advanced weaponry in the hands of the State, coupled with its mighty, militaristic police power, that we stand a chance against it?”

She explicitly denies that she is bigoted, however, and can accordingly not comprehend why she gets “maligned as being ‘homophobic’” by “the homofascists” for simply speaking about “the immoral, unnatural and very unhealthy reality of homosexual behavior” and warning that the “powerful, evil tyrants” of the “anti-American, anti-freedom, Godless Left” have “dumbed down” young people to support gay rights (just look at this lovely diatribe). In fact, claims Miller, homophobia does not exist. But if it does, then it is pro-equality groups that are the real homophobes, and also to blame for any suffering. Meanwhile, stupid libruls are so dumb that they won’t see how non-self-undermining her argument actually is. 

It is all deception by the godless Left. For instance, contrary to what godless leftists are saying, “Christians are not refusing to serve homosexuals;” rather, “Christians politely refuse them,” which is totally different. Again, one has to wonder if Miller understands how distinctionswork.

Miller on the persecution of Christians
Occasionally, Miller turns her attentions to other evils (although they are of course all related to homosexuality since anything she disagrees with is Satan – she has explicitly supported the idea that Islamic extremists and the gay rights movement are tightly connected). For instance, Miller is concerned with the persecution of Christians, and in her article “Why Are Christians (Really) the World’s Most Persecuted Group?” she identifies the reason why: It’s Satan. But Satan is operating through a lot of channels. Islam, for instance, is Satanic (“It is one of Satan’s premiere deceptions, tyrannically ensnaring countless millions of people […] Those who adhere to Islam naturally have a demonically-inspired hatred for the people of the Lord, but as the Bible says, they hate everyone[; …] their hatred is Satan’s hatred, and it goes well beyond simple dislike or disagreement on principles. It goes to the heart of the spiritual essence of the foundational struggle, to the basic forces of darkness and light.”). There is a reason why Obama, as Miller’s deranged imagination would have it, ordered the media not to report negatively on Muslim jihadists. (“None of what Barack Obama (or whatever his name is) does makes sense, unless you realize that he is a tool of the devil. His motivation is to do the evil will of his spiritual father, who hates everything of God,” says Miller. Obama’s actions are apparently not the only thing Miller is unable to make sense of.) In 2014, Miller asked God to remove Obama from office.

Indeed, all non-Christian religions are Satanic, and so are liberal Christians: “The frenzied, irrational hatred people of the world have for Christians is inspired by, and based in, Satan’s hatred for God and His people. It’s a demonic hatredfound in people who have rejected the Lord.” And – in a moment of particularly striking lack of self-awareness: “Have you ever noticed that there is not the same deep hatred for non-Christians and non-Christian religions” from Christian fundamentalists? Which is in contrast to the ubiquitous “[s]upernatural hatred for Christians and Jews.” And of course: supporters of church-state separation (described as those who wish to “eradicate all vestiges of Christianity in America”) are Satanic, too.

Not happy with Rightwingwatch reporting on her views, Miller also declared that RightWingWatch and People For the American Way are “guardians of deception” and Satan’s “foot soldiers” that follow “their spiritual mentor the devil” and make people “throw up, working to “misrepresent” conservatives to defend “the Godless, degenerate, tyrannical agenda of the Left”. It is unclear why misrepresentationwould be needed.

Among the many ills for which Muslims can be blamed, is airport security: “Cowardly, evil leaders of the United States have allowed the Muslim supremacy invasion of our nation, which has led to all American citizens paying the price of lost liberties because of barbarians who commit mass murder in the name of Islam. For Pete’s sake, because of a single Muslim demoniac, every American now has to remove his shoes at airport screening!

Miller has also hailed Kim Davis as a modern-day Christian martyr persecuted by “[t]he radical homosexual movement,” which is “one of the foremost tools the devil is using to topple our freedom.”

Again, it’s all the work of Satan: “Whether it’s the communistic ‘global warming agenda, the homosexualist agenda or even the lunatic ‘black lives matter racist agenda, all these are heads of the same tyrannical hydra. They all seek to bring tyranny down on the American people.”

Gender issues
Miller has weighed in on gender issues with her usual level of insight and sophistication, declaring that “slutty” women cause men to rape them as part of a “war on white males” in the US by feminists and all liberals who “have this hatred for males, especially white males.” Rape culture will only end when (we turn to Jesus) and women stop dressing like “strumpets”, “prostitutes” and “porn stars”.

There’s a good Gina Miller resource here.

Diagnosis: Completely, utterly and irrepairably unhinged – not even dimly aware of how reality, evidence, accuracy, decency, reasoning and distinctions work, Miller is nevertheless not afraid to offer us thoughts whose level of stupidity is matched only by the deranged hatred they convey.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

#2005: Dave Miller

Dave Miller is the Executive Director of Apologetics Press, a creationist organization locked in ferocious war with the world of science, evidence and facts, and trying to publish various interpretations of the world that could hopefully serve as alternative narratives to those who don’t look too hard and don’t care too much about evidence. Miller assumed his role after the longterm director of the press, Bert Thompson, was fired amid allegations of sexual misconduct. (More on the organization and the Thompson incident here.)

When taking over the organization Miller stated that he intended to continue the fight against science “undaunted by Satan,” thanking Thompson [they tend to refer to each other as “Dr.”, though their degrees are of course junk bestowed upon them for money by intellectually bankrupt Bible colleges] for his “longstanding warfare against the sinister doctrine of evolution, with his eloquent affirmation of the biblical account of Creation.” This is a battle of good versus evil, you understand, where science is not on the good side. “Truth is truth, even if those who defend it eventually succumb to personal sin,” writes Miller. Except if the truth does not conform to what Miller wants it to be, of course. Then it’s different.

Miller has written numerous articles and books, including The Quran UnveiledSexual AnarchyPiloting the StraitThe Silencing of GodChrist and the Continental CongressWhy People Suffer, and a series of books ostensibly to teach children how to read (avoid!). Otherwise, he is a staple on various tv shows and an active speaker offering to rant and rave about a range of topics from a fundamentalist, theocratic point of view. Titles for his talks include “The Silencing of God: The Dismantling of America’s Christian Heritage”, “Can We Know that God Exists?” and “The End Times”. You’ve probably heard most of the relevant arguments and claims before, in one form or another.

Miller was also for instance involved in the admittedly obscure “Campaign: Capitol Hill”, organized by one Jake Sutton, which sought to bring “pastors from Churches of Christ to preach at the nation’s capital” against secularism, tolerance and facts. 

Diagnosis: Theocratic, lunatic moron, and what’s truly scary is that Miller and people like him actually wield a bit of influence. Frightening stuff.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

#2004: Brian Miller

Brian Miller is an Instructor for Campus Harvest, “a division of Every Nation Ministries, a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability,” and travels around giving lectures on science “from a faith perspective”, such as “Empirical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ” (this is relevant). Now, Miller does have a PhD in physics, which – despite being utterly irrelevant to evolutionary biology – ensures that he is touted as a genuine scientist by creationists, given the obvious dearth of people with genuine credentials among their ranks. Miller is for instance a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s petition A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism. Of course, apart from a couple of letters and workshop presentations coauthored with his advisor during his student days, we have found no real research record and hence no indication that Miller is actually a scientistin any legitimate sense of the word. You can see Brian Miller discuss Intelligent Design with pastor Ron Lewis here. The advertisement reads: “Still confused if Darwinism is a fact or a theory? Is Science the friend or foe of your faith? Actually, an old adage says, ‘a little of Science can harm a person's faith, but a lot of Science will bring him or her right back to God.’”

More recently, Miller has written extensively for the creationist blog Evolution News and Views. As you’d expect, the writings mostly recycles creationist PRATTs. There is a thorough criticism of some of Miller’s posts here.

Diagnosis: Pseudoscientist, denialist, fundamentalist, and conspiracy theorist. One of many, but unlike most Miller could, given his legitimate credentials, be confused for someone with something worthwhile to say (and the DiscoTute apparently wants to make damn sure that such confusions happen). He isn’t. Move on.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

#2003: Matt Miles & Mark Crawford

Matt Miles and a rock.
Matt and Theresa Miles are missionaries affiliated with the Church’s Youth. They are also affiliated with Creation Truth Foundation, an Oklahoma creationist group trying as best they can to prevent kids from being brainwashed with facts, truth, reason and evidence. Matt is the CTF ministry’s Student Worldview Director, in the group’s “in-house program called SWAT (Student Worldview Advanced Training),” where he has apparently developed a program in “Biblical Astronomy”, which has much to do with Bible and preciously little to do with astronomy as a scientific discipline. Miles has no qualifications related to astronomy. 

Miles and his group received some attention when they were invited to speak at several events on school property, including public gatherings in the evenings and assemblies during the day, in the 1,100-student Hugoton school district in Kansas. Miles said that creationism would be discussed only during events conducted outside the school day; during the school assemblies, students would be shown pictures and fossils. “We’re going to come in and talk about dinosaurs, so nothing Biblical,” said Miles. Right. Though the ACLU was understandably unimpressed, school district Superintendent Mark Crawford wouldn’t buckle: “I agree with the ACLU, in that, if a mandatory all-school assembly where creationist truths or creationist beliefs were expressed, that would be inappropriate public-school content, and that is not the case,” said Crawford. One might wonder why Crawford would want a creationist missionary and minister with no background in anything remotely relevant to paleontology to come and speak about dinosaurs rather than, you know, a real paleontologist. Perhaps that has something to do with the “creationist truths” formulation in the above quote?

Diagnosis: Mark Crawford is completely unfit for a job remotely related to education, but some places and people apparently don’t care as long as he adheres to the right religious dogmas. Miles, on the other hand, is your typical creationist ultracrepidarian: outreach is everything, and you gotta get ‘em early, since if they know too much it’ll be much harder to make them firm and dogmatic denialists.