Tuesday, November 30, 2010

#116: David Duke

David Duke is a radical far-right wingnut. A former Ku Klux Klan member, a member of the National Socialist White Peoples Party, and founder of the student chapter (LSU) of the White Youth Alliance. He actually wore a Nazi uniform to campus, and later worked to revive the Ku Klux Klan before founding a “more professional” organization, the National Association for the Advancement of White People. He is currently frequenting Stormfront.

He has repeatedly run for public offices on Democratic, Republican, and Populist party tickets, and actually managed to get himself elected to the Louisiana state senate in 1989 (he also ran for governor, and lost with a frighteningly small margin to a rather openly corrupt and morally contemptible opponent). He has recently been a strong supporter of the Tea Party, lending them credibility by asserting repeatedly that the Tea Party isn’t racist (argument by assertion). He describes himself as a “racial realist”.

So what’s he been up to lately? Well, he was not particularly happy that the Republican National Committee elected Steele as chairman, or more precisely: “I am glad these traitorous leaders of the Republican Party appointed this Black racist, affirmative action advocate to the head of the Republican party because this will lead to a huge revolt among the Republican base.” (full story here). Due to his impeccable credentials, Duke has also been one of the “scholars” (he holds a “PhD” from a Ukrainian diploma mill with the thesis “Zionism as a Form of Ethnic Supremacism”) the Iranian government has consulted to hammer out their view on the Holocaust.

His tie to Tony Perkins’s (utterly lunatic) Family Research Council is interesting. So is the (admittedly more tenuous) link to the Floria GOP.

Some lovely quotes here.

His wiki page is here.

In 1976 he also published a self-help sex manual for women on how to perform fellatio and anal sex, under the pseudonym Dorothy Vanderbilt (just a curious piece of trivia).

Diagnosis: I’ll leave this one to you. His ability to reappear almost everywhere is a bit scary.

#115: Peter Duesberg

Peter Duesberg is a prominent U.C. Berkeley retrovirologist and the most prominent and influential of all HIV deniers (here, and here). His personal influence and his scientific acumen in non-HIV-related work surely helped spread the word, and he must be considered the grandfather of all HIV-denialism (they all seem to trace back to him). He has contended at least since 1987 that illicit drugs, AZT (an anti-HIV drug) and other factors are the real cause of AIDS. His ideas have evolved little from his publications of 20 years ago – it’s still “Chemical AIDS” and “HIV is neither necessary nor sufficient to cause AIDS”; he has also pointed out the “gay lifestyle” (oblivious to the fact that the problems in the developing world is not a “gay problem”, although he has claimed that AIDS in Africa is largely misdiagnosed, usually accumulated effects of malnutrition and disease). His criticisms have been thoroughly refuted in a long number of publications, which hasn’t affected his arguments.

Through persistence he has attracted a many supporters, especially among HIV positives, who are not only given false hopes, but may also be encouraged to avoid effective treatment. In 1999, HIV denialism got its most important advocate: Thabo Mbeki, then president of South Africa. Mbeki, influenced by denialist literature, decided that the consensus on Aids was too Western. In 2000 he set up a panel of advisers, including several Aids denialists, Duesberg among them. Mbeki’s HIV politics are estimated to have cost at least 300,000 people their lives, and he is without doubt guilty of crimes against humanity. Duesberg is an accomplice.

Duesberg is also associated with the fringe organization “Doctors for Disaster Preparedness”.

Some helpful criticisms are found here, and here.

These posts are, I think, very helpful when dealing with this kind of person: here, and here.

Diagnosis: A serious threat to humanity – seriously. Once a respected scientist, Duesberg has fallen deeply into denialism and must be considered at least partially responsible for the death and suffering of many real humans. Undoubtedly one of the most dangerous and influential loons in the whole Encyclopedia, and cannot be underestimated.

#114: Dinesh D’Souza

One of the more well-known, and rabid, creationists and apologists out there. As a Christian author he has managed to concoct such literary masterpieces as “The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11” (basically: our liberal lifestyle, equality and freedom anger mullahs; therefore we should do away with it – here, and here) and “What's So Great About Christianity (?)” (where he attempts to appropriate the term “evolution”, but distinguishes “Christian evolution” (ID creationism) from “Darwinian evolution”; here). He is also famous for debating people such as Hitchens, Dennett, and Shermer. A debate with Dennett can be found here. It's another piece of mindrot – you are warned. Another one is here, and one here). He has actually hit upon a very useful debate strategy (well, it is normal snowing, really): present as many strawmen, caricatures, bullshit, non-sequieturs and lies as possible in as short time as possible; point out that your opponent hasn’t refuted or addressed every single one of them. Therefore, God exists. It is a common technique among conspiracy theorists and creationists (and AGW deniers), and sufficiently notorious to have been given a name, “gish gallop”)

He has also written “Life After Death: The Evidence”, which according to himself proves that there is an afterlife. The first proof is: In the human heart there is a universal moral code underlying acts of self-sacrifice and charity. It is incompatible with the Darwinian imperative to out-compete thy neighbor. Therefore God, therefore an afterlife. The second proof is: Since there is so much suffering in the world, there must be an afterlife to make up for it. Seriously; those are his arguments. And oh, there’s the Pascal’s wager offshoot: Believing in the afterlife makes you happy, and believers have better sex.

His ability to connect premises and conclusions is seriously questionable. For instance, he argues (discussed here) that atheists are hateful robots because Dawkins wasn't invited to any of the memorials at Virginia Tech, and because he couldn't spot any atheists in the crowds. This, according to Dinesh, shows that the problem of evil is a bigger problem for atheists than for Christians and that modern science is bunk.

He does try to have it all ways, though. While he rejects evolution, he also arguest that evolution supports conservatism (here), so liberal scientists are doubly confused. To ensure that the conclusion goes through he glues it to his (moronic) premises with a naturalistic fallacy. It is almost as good as his liberal left caused 9/11 fallacies, entailing gems such as: if you've ever given money to Planned Parenthood or the ACLU, you've been aiding groups “at least as dangerous as any of bin Laden's American sleeper cells” (no failure to separate opinions from fact in that one, no?); here, and here.

This “man is like a magnet of wrong", and he just doesn’t get the naturalistic fallacy.

Diagnosis: Ardently moronic nitwit who wouldn’t be able to distinguish facts from wishful thinking or identify a fallacy if his life depended on it. Zealous. How he has achieved the status and influence he has ought to be a mystery (but really isn’t).

#113: Wiley Drake

The amiable, lovable Wiley Drake is a Californian Southern Baptist minister and talk radio host, and a prominent member of the American Independent Party. In fact, he was their vice-presidential candidate in 2008 (with Alan Keyes - who will be covered later - rest assured, as the presidential candidate). He is most famous for calling for prayers for the deaths of those who disagree with him, including political opponents.

He was most famous for urging his followers to pray for the death of Obama ("Imprecatory Prayer is now our DUTY"). In fact, his obsession with imprecatory prayer is based on its success rate. God had already answered his call with the murder of George Tiller who, according to Drake, “was far greater in his atrocities than Adolf Hitler, […] so I am happy. I am glad that he is dead". Actully, Drake said he didn’t think the killer was pro-life – rather, the killer was planted by Obama to make anti-abortionists look bad.

Well, it wasn’t his first attempt at calling down the wrath and death mongering of God. The reason he wanted to take down Americans United for Separation of Church and State was primarily not because they defend the separation of church and state, but because they filed a complaint against him with the IRS for violating his church's tax exempt status. A fairly typical Jeebus and Christian™ cause for invoking the wrath of God, in other words.

Before running on Keyes’s ticket, Drake had endorsed Huckabee. Even Huckabee wasn’t particularly pleased about that.

Drake is a birfer. In fact, his main (official) argument against Obama is that he was born in Kenya rather than Hawaii and is thus an usurper.

Diagnosis: One of the most repugnant characters alive. Clinically insane, fascist piece of mindrot who needs serious medical attention. His influence is to some extent marginal, but he can’t be written off as harmless.

#112: Robert Dowling

Oh boy. Robert Dowling might not have reached celebrity status of fame, and pray he never does. This repulsively stupid, clueless bugbear, cultmaster and woo-champion goes – like so many others – for the big one with his quackery; Cancer, and primarily breast cancer. Apparently, he thinks dental pathology is the cause for all cancer and sells (of course) a "cure" for breast cancer called “Quantum Health Management” (oh yes, quantums – they’re like magic). It is supposed to have a 100 % success rate. That should be a pretty solid red flag. Here is a report from one of his talks.

As Orac points out it is curious how alternative medicine proponents complain that science-based medicine have a “one size fits all attitude” and “no individual adjustments” on the one hand, and on the other holds that all cancer has one source and require kind of treatment. In this case the source of ALL cancer is... dental cavitations.

Of course, Dowling has no studies, no evidence and he is not a doctor; he claims to have proof (i.e. proof by evasion or proof by dodgy answers?) but on his website you’ll find exactly what you expect: anecdotal evidence – by mostly anonymous patients whose claims to even have had cancer is unverified (of course, he claims to use FDA approved techniques, so it might be that he actually carry out surgical removals of tumors in one way or another – that could work, but is not alternative and has absolutely nothing to do with cavities).

Oh, and it is not just cancer: oral pathology is the cause of all disease; Dowling claims it causes cancer, heart disease, and alzheimers, and most likely lupus, fibromyalgia, Parkinsons and diabetes (which he has himself – and has apparently not manage to cure).

A nice, and very tactful, discussion of his work is found here.

Apparently, his center does research as well (carried out by one Robert Jones – the name is interesting, since one “Robert Jones” of South Carolina has, as pointed out by Quackwatch, been involved in this business before and has received at least one FDA warning: ). It is completely ridiculous. Seriously.

Diagnosis: Complete idiot with no understand of science and no will to look at evidence, reason or data. A fraud, but probably intentionally so. He might not be a big mover or shaker among quacks, but his promises might actually lead to real damage for real people.

Monday, November 29, 2010

#110: Larry Dossey

A staunch opponent of the scientific method, Larry Dossey argues that the scientific method leads to Hitler and that indoctrinating children with the scientific method is a form of child abuse.

It is unclear what he wants to replace it with; presumably intuition, anecdotal evidence and “different ways of knowing” (i.e. “facts are just opinions and claims that are true for you may not be true for me”); perhaps something like this. You see, Larry is completely out there – he’s a virulent defender of all kinds of woo - Deepak Chopra, Gary Null, Joe Mercola, Gary Zukav and those kinds of people. He is, in fact, reckoned as one of the “Three musketeers of Woo”. Dossey is the author of (among other books) “Healing words: the power of prayer and the practice of medicine”, “The power of premonitions” (uh-oh) and, with Lewis Mehl-Madrona (who must be considered equally insane on this evidence alone) “Coyote healing” about the power of Native American healers to produce "miracles". Betcha there was a lot of controlled studies behind that one. He is also the former co-chairman of the Panel on Mind/Body Interventions, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health. And he is the executive editor of the “peer-reviewed” journal “Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing” (the journal known for this one, and this one). He seems to accept any conclusion as long as it is not science-based, since science is a conspiracy of the pharmaceutical companies and therefore a sham (which, you know, does not follow even if the premise is true – it’s called “ad hominem”, and is, in this case, a fallacy). Kinda like Alex Jones.

Diagnosis: Clinically lacking in critical thinking skills and understanding of the scientific method, and utterly lost to confirmation bias. Impact uncertain, but he does (of course) write for Huffington post on a regular basis. Total moron.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

#109: Bill (William A.) Donohue

Bill Donohue is a curious case. He is the president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a job he takes very seriously. Point is, Donohue cannot, as far as I am aware, reasonably be said to be a crackpot – in the sense that he seems relatively pro-science, not a creationist (well, it is a little unclear), not an AGW denier, not a woo-proponent. But he is still a first-class loon. His screeds are completely insane strings of logical fallacies (so much so that they are excellent fodder for intro to critical thinking student on the first day of class), rabid, hateful and paranoid – as rationalwiki puts it, his rhetoric lies somewhere between Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps.

His topics are usually selected defenses of the Catholic church from all – and, apparently, that means all – allegations, such as their being or having been anti-science and … other things. Here are some clues to his stuff (ok, he is anti-gay-rights, and apparently his argument is the hoary slippery slope one). His devotion to the Catholic church is total, and he has no misgivings about distorting virtually all of history, or any fact, to portray it as ‘whatever you say is good, the Catholic church is better, and the Catholic church is always the exception to anything bad’, as in here.

Donohue is also, among other things, one of Mel Gibson’s staunchest defenders. Donohue on the Passion of Christ: “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It's not a secret, OK? And I'm not afraid to say it. That's why they hate this movie. It's about Jesus Christ, and it's about truth. It's about the messiah.” (more here, and here - beware, this is a crazy one). He is, however, engaged in a personal war with the Simpsons and with Penn and Teller.

In fact, Donohue seems to lack any clear understanding of how things work. I suppose the event referred to is familiar to most; if not you can look it up here. Donohue’s first press release was insane; the second, however is so over the top paranoid and lunatic that it must be seen to be believed.

His main attribute (and favorite argumentative technique) is rage. He was enraged (and looking very silly and stupid) when he was furious that the Empire State Building didn’t celebrate Teresa's birthday (see here - I don’t like linking to fox, but the spectacular display of absence of reasoning skills in Donohue’s rant is too good to pass over). And he and his League went completely unhinged over Lady Gaga's new video in the utterly paranoid screed reported on here. His fatwa envy is also notable.

His defense of priests charged with child abuse threads the line between the hilarious and the scary without much elegance: see here, here, and here.

Diagnosis: Vile and hateful fellow with a notorious persecution complex, and in general utterly insane. His impact is uncertain, but is presumably limited to a small group. He comes across mostly as entertaining for his unbridled anger at everything and everybody.

#108: Creflo & Taffi Dollar

Creflo Dollar is a televangelist and a central figure in the Name it and Claim it movement. Taffi is his wife. Creflo Dollar’s real name is, believe it or not, “Dollar”, and he teaches you... that Jesus wants you (him) to be rich.

He also claims that the Bible promises some kind of "Believer's Rights", which would give his followers his powers, such as making the bread last really long and raising the dead. Controlled experiments have at present failed to corroborate the latter hypothesis, but such things do not really concern Creflo’s ilk or followers.

Creflo and Taffi lead an extremely extravagant lifestyle (private jets, Rolls-Royces and so on). His church’s financial records are currently under investigation (here and here).

Diagnosis: Might be a complete fraud, but I have no concrete evidence that these loons don't believe what they preach. Although the popularity of the prosperity gospel televangelists seems to be in decline, these people have shitloads of money on their hands, and would have been dangerous in virtue of that alone.

#107: James Dobson

Dobson runs the evangelical Christian organization Focus on the Family (although he has stepped down as chairman and CEO), an organization in war with the evil Big Government that wants to steal your children and which strongly encourages corporal punishment for kids. A helpful site for information about the organization is this one. The organization is also behind the sites “True Tolerance” (i.e. intolerance) and “Stand for Christmas”

They are also strongly committed to Biblical values being observed in Washington (Obama, for instance, isn’t really Christian because he distorts the Bible), and argue incessantly for the right of Christians to discriminate against gays and Muslims (the allowing-gays-to-marry-is-discriminating-against-Christians argument). Dobson is also personally committed to restoring Tom DeLay’s reputation (which is especially awesome in light of DeLay's recent conviction).

He has also claimed that teaching tolerance in school leads to Hitler.

Dobson is (unsurprisingly) a creationist and a frequent critic of evolution. He also, with 24 other evangelicals, called for the ouster of Rev. Richard Cizik from his position at the National Association of Evangelicals because Cizik had urged evangelicals to take global warming seriously. Dobson was also a firm opponent of McCain’s presidential candidacy, partially because he “voted for embryonic stem-cell research to kill nascent human beings”.

If you're willing to run the risk of your head exploding, you can watch this dialogue between Dobson and Glenn Beck.

Diagnosis: An astoundingly repulsive character, and a true loon. He has been referred to as "the nation's most influential evangelical leader" by Time, and Slate described him as "America's most influential evangelical leader." A not insignificant threat to civilization, then.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

#106: Brendan Dixon

And still they come.

Dixon is a software developer and one of the “researcher” of the Discovery Institute funded Biologic Institute, whose purpose is to conduct scientific studies on – among other things – intelligent design (so far, the results have been negligible, to put it mildly). The Biologic Institute is described, in very positive terms here. It is headed by Douglas Axe, about whom we have commented before.

Dixon is also the president (and sole employee), which has donated large sums to the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. He also donated to Baylor University for one of its engineering professors, Robert J. Marks II (to be covered later), to employ Dembski as a postdoctoral researcher at the Evolutionary Informatics Lab. The project was something of a scandal for Baylor, and the ID creationists did not emerge in good light (see here).

Diagnosis: Anti-science crank with far too much money to hand out. While his intellectual contributions are negligible and his personal impact as a creationist probably nil, his financial support of dishonest crackpot projects makes him dangerous.

#105: Donald B. “Don” DeYoung

It seems like creationist crackpots have flocked around the middle entries of the letter ‘D’, and here is another one. Don DeYoung is a young earth creationist and a physicist whose life work is to overcome the hurdle of explaining how observable nature and science is consistent with literal Biblical six-day creation and deluge. No easy feat if you want to keep “goddidit”s at a minimum (as in here, though Don himself doesn’t particularly care for RATE).

He sums up his worldview thus: “My scientific belief in creation is largely based on two thermodynamic laws of nature. The first law states that energy is conserved or constant at all times. This rule ensures a dependable and predictable universe, whether for stars or for human life. The second basic law…describes unavoidable losses in any process which involves the transfer of energy. This law is directly related to the Curse which was placed upon nature at the fall of mankind in Eden. Secular science has no satisfactory explanation for such laws of nature, and these laws are entirely consistent with the biblical, six-day creation.”

Perceptible readers with at least a cursory knowledge of science might detect some holes in and problems with that one. Don doesn’t, however.

He is the current president of the Creation Research Society (a different beast than Tom DeRosa’s Creation Studies Institute, though their worldviews are more or less interchangeable); he also conducts workshops for children with practical and theoretical Bible-science activities, and contributes to Ken Ham’s repugnant pile of nincompoopery, Answers in Genesis. DeYoung has written several books, including “Thousands … Not Billions” and “Our Created Moon: Earth’s fascinating neighbor” (with John Whitcomb, who will appear later).

For more on Creation geophysics, see here.

Diagnosis: Possibly a nice and quiet guy, but certainly a fullblown loon. He seems to have some impact on the fringes (those already convinced; wingnutty homeschoolers and Ken Ham’s kind of people, and so on), but has rarely been considered worthy of notice elsewhere.

#104: Tom DeRosa

Executive Director of the Creation Studies Institute (an outreach of Coral Ridge Ministries), author of “Evolution’s Fatal Fruit” and self-proclaimed loon (well, he hasn’t literally said that, but he explains the fact that the earth is 4.7 billion years old and that this contradicts the Biblical 6000 years away by claiming that God created a 4.7 billion year old earth 6000 years ago, and that pretty much amounts to the same thing). His institute’s website is worth a visit.

Yes, he is a young earth creationist, trotting out the same old, same old – radiometric dating is unreliable, the Flood occurred 4000 years ago, Tyrannosaurus Rex was really a firebreathing dragon (behemoth of the old testament), evolution is solely responsible for all the ills of the 20th century (including, it seems, the travesties of religious fundamentalism – it is a little unclear). And these pieces of untarnished lunacy are typical creationist talking-points, remember. A typical debate is summed up here.

His notability does in part also stem from his own claim that he used to be an atheist who has since seen the light (See here. See also, well, more or less the rest of them, for example this guy). Apparently, DeRosa was the one who lead Pat Boone to creationism – I mean, Boone used to be an atheist, didn’t he? Apparently, Tom has a blog as well, where you can read about (among other things) his profound insight that creation vs. evolution is really
the war between worldviews and neither is better than the other (yet his is, somehow, the best and correct one anyway).

Diagnosis: Total moron; impact is uncertain but he shouldn’t be underestimated.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

#103: William “Bill” Dembski

Possibly the most influential and cited (though scarcely in peer reviewed publications – though he actually have a couple of those in mathematics) among America’s Intelligent Design creationists – and one of the most tireless, self-aggrandizing and seriously deluded. He is not a stupid guy, but there are things he is just completely unable to grasp, to the extent that it almost suggests some sort of cognitive malfunction (more likely confirmation bias and an inability to realize a mistake). See here, here, here, and here. No, he just doesn’t get it. Perhaps it is because his grasp of information theory is not as solid as it should be, resulting in some completely basic mistakes.

Ok, some background: Dembski has a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Chicago, and in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Currently he pretends to teach at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (yes, pretends; his course requirements are, shall we say, dubious). He is quite clear that ID is science, not religion, as his quite clear from his own summary of ID: “Intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John's Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.” Too bad Dembski doesn’t quite grasp the latter (some examples: here, and here). See also here.

He is closely associated with the Discovery Institute and is the mastermind behind the blog Uncommon Descent (UD, no link provided!); for more on his background, consult this objective article, or this one. He has gathered quite a substantial number of lackeys, including Denyse O’Leary, Dave Scott, Robert Marks, Barry Arrington (who now officially runs UD), Winston Evert, George Montañez and Bruce Gordon (all loons; some will have separate entries).

Most notable for his book “No Free Lunch” (which pretty much dresses Paley’s old fallacies up in math) and the never defined notion of “specified complexity” (here, here, here, and here, and an awesome post on creationist misuse of information theory in in general).

Dembski isn’t particularly good at handling handling criticism either.

Diagnosis: Seriously deluded kook who, despite being obviously intelligent, lets his own preconceptions completely obstruct his view as to how things actually hang together – even on topics related to his field of expertise. Extremely influential nonetheless, and as such extremely dangerous.

#102: Gary DeMar

One of the movers and shakers of the Christian Reconstructionist movement and an open theocrat, DeMar is an author, lecturer and also the president of the cult American Vision, an American Christian organization. The vision of this think-tank is "an America that recognizes the sovereignty of God over all of life and where Christians are engaged in every facet of society." In his own words “[a]ll government requires a reference point. If God is to be pleased by men, the Bible must become the foundation of all their governments, including civil government. This means that Biblical law must be made the foundation of all righteous judgment in every government: personal (self government), ecclesiastical, familial, and civil.” In other words, there is a war going on, a culture war or war between civilizations, and DeMar is firmly on the side of God and the family. And it is “Darwinism [which] secularized everything in America, including our understanding of the Constitution."

As the notable David Barton, DeMar attempts to connect the writings and thoughts of the founding fathers with his organization’s vision, and is not afraid of lying or quote-mining to a ridiculous degree in the process (this is a war, remember); he claims that the sole and clear purpose of the founding fathers was to establish the Kingdom of God in the New World.

Among his more scary-sounding books titles are “Surviving College Successfully” (given his background, you can probably figure out what he means), “Whoever Controls the Schools Rules the World”, “America’s Christian History: The Untold Story” and “America's 200-Year War with Islamic Terrorism”; he has worked with such luminaries as John W. Whitehead, Gary North and Peter J. Leithart, who must be considered just as crazy as DeMar himself.

He has also said that he would execute homosexuals, but since he is such a liberal, the death penalty will only be awarded if they were actually caught engaging in sodomy.

A few, random examples of strategic moves in DeMar’s war.

In fact, there seems to exist a certain tension among the reconstructionists regarding the Constitution - and here is a truly lunatic discussion of the debates within the movement.
Diagnosis: Utter madman. He and his associates have a profound influence on the more religious parts of the Republican Party (for example), however, and must be considered extremely dangerous.

Monday, November 22, 2010

#101: Randy Demain

Randy Demain is seemingly one of ordinary daily life’s amiable, calm and nice guys (well, I imagine that he is). But when he dons his True Christian™ suit he obeys the word of God and … raises the dead. That’s what he claims, literally. He just walks up to a corpse, tells it to get up, and – woosh – up it pops and starts walking around. Apparently Randy does this all the time. To some it seems baffling for some reason, but the whole thing is apparently really easy.

So can he back up his claims? Oh yes. You see, he can tell at least two stories – curiously both took place in Africa –when he raised a woman and a baby from the dead. He admits that it is harder to do it in the West, presumably because westernized Christians have adjusted themselves to a demystified worldview or something, but he encourages all true Christians to give it a try.

The utterly insane bloggers at endtimespropheticwords think Demain is a false prophet. However, I am not sure they count as the voice of reason even in this matter.

His website is here. Demain has also written (at least) the book “Dominion Surges", which, according to the product description “is an equipping manual for mobilizing the body of Christ into an offensive posture, restoring in us a sense of dominion and power over the enemy.”

Diagnosis: Utterly, irrevocably, completely insane; the kind of person you may encounter in an asylum who appears jovial and sane until he opens his mouth. He’s probably harmless, though.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

#100: Tom DeLay

a.k.a. “The Exterminator”

Delay is the relatively notorious politician who blamed the Columbine shootings on the fact that the school taught the students about evolution. Seems to be a fair anniversary loon.

DeLay is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Texas's 22nd congressional district until 2006. He was the GOP House Majority Leader from 2003 to 2005, when legal problems forced him to step down (he was charged with but never convicted of criminal violations of state campaign finance laws and money laundering). He claimed that the legal prosecution bears striking resemblances to the strategies of certain infamous regimes: “It’s the same process. It’s the same criminalization of politics. It’s the same oppression of people. It’s the same destroy people in order to gain power. It may be six million Jews. It may be indicting somebody on laws that don’t exist. But, it’s the same philosophy and it’s the same world view.” His nickname stems from his former employment in pest control.

More accurately, DeLay is a huckster, a born-again Christian with a martyr complex, who claims that he and other Christians are persecuted in today’s US. He doesn’t believe that there is anything such as a valid separation between church and state.

DeLay has also given voice to the birfer conspiracy, although one suspects that he doesn’t actually believe it (rather, he panders to the most delusional of GOP’s wingnut supporters). His view of evolution is summarized by his shock that some scientists could claim that man is descended from pond parasites (“Our school systems teach the children that they are nothing but glorified apes who are evolutionized [sic] out of some primordial soup.”). And, as already pointed out, he also claimed that the Columbine shootings were to be blamed on the fact that the school was teaching evolution.

Calls the Environmental Protection Agency “the Gestapo of the government” and rejects AGW for what appear to be religious reasons.

Some quotes here and here.

Diagnosis: Widely renowned for his questionable moral behavior and general punditry, this guy is also a real, unhinged loon (rather than merely spineless like his invertebrate forefathers). He still has some bite, although he can probably be considered relatively neutralized by now.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

#99: Vox Day (and his dad)

A.k.a. Theodore Beale (real name)

Computer game designer, published SF writer, arrogant conservative pundit, WorldNetDaily columnist and anti-evolutionist whose main argument against evolution appears to be “I am a member of the SFWA, Mensa and IGDA, and I don’t believe in evolution”. If his credentials are correct, it is good evidence for the claim that critical thinking skills need to be learned; they don’t just come automatically with a high IQ (actually, he applies a genuine ad hominem as well, but I don’t think that helps his case). Day likes to go on long rants without even the slightest hint of an argument. For his other endeavors, look here. We’ll restrict ourselves to documenting his lunacy.

He is, for instance, an anti-vaccinationist loon (parroting the anti-vaccinationist lunacy, again concerning a field he does not know anything about, just like biology). Also, he has actually argued that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote since they are fascists at heart,and that they should be kept out of science because they are a threat to it (this coming from an anti-evolutionist anti-vaccinationist). Atheism is hence a threat to science as well mainly because it apparently leads to introducing equal treatment.

Vox Day’s most famous loony claim, however, might just be his suggestion that we look to Hitler to solve the illegal immigrant problem in the US.

He also rejects AGW, and he seems to do so primarily because science and scientists support it. Vox Day is no fan of science, really, even though he himself thinks he is. In fact, he thinks that materialist science is refuted.

Claims to be a Christian libertarian, but is more or less as libertarian as Chuck Baldwin.

Diagnosis: Exasperatingly ignorant bigot and anti-science loon and lover of middle school level fallacies. In fact, he is the very epitome of a crank. He does in fact have a fair amount of readers, however, and must be considered dangerous.

His daddy, Robert Beale, is actually even more unhinged. He is one of those I-refuse-to-pay-taxes-and-don’t-recognize-the-authority-of-the-courts type. Instead he and his organization seeks to establish "a superior court for the People, original jurisdiction under Almighty Yahweh exclusive jurisdiction in and for confederation-government United States of America."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

#98: Lorraine Day

Once a respected academic orthopedic surgeon who has fallen deeply into woo, conspiracy mongering and holocaust denialism. According to her own website, “Dr. Lorraine Day reversed her severe, advanced cancer by rebuilding her immune system by natural therapies, so her body could heal itself.” Her evidence for her therapies? Testimonials – in other words, pure anecdotal evidence and wishful thinking, and Day doesn’t seem to have the slightest understand of why alternative medicine “testimonials” for cancer treatments are inherently misleading.

That makes her but one of many (though still a loon). Dr. Day, however, really stands out for her attempts at combining woo-mongering with holocaust denialism – a leap, true, but one that is understandable given the total lack of critical thinking skills involved in both. An infamous interview can be obtained from here (and a debunking here). The blurb reads: “Dr. Lorraine Day discusses the control over the medical industry by a small group of Jews and Goyim who consider us pawns in their game of world conquest. However, the Jews who follow the Talmud are actually using their Goyim "friends" also” – that should give you an idea.

A telling claim from her website: “[the] term [”Holocaust”] has been ’hi-jacked’ by the Jews who use it, incorrectly, to describe the purported treatment of the Jews at the hands of the Germans during World War II. Actually, it better describes the Post-World War II treatment of the German citizens by the Allies (the U.S., U.K and USSR), who were taking their orders from International ... Very few people realize that the Zionist Jewish version of the "Holocaust", what the revisionists refer to as the Holocaust Hoax, is the CENTERPIECE of the Zionist Jews' Plan to destroy all nations, control the entire world, slaughter most of the population of the earth, and reduce the rest to slaves.”

More on her antics can be found here (oh yes, it is all there: drugs don’t cure diseases, they only cover up the symptoms; chemotherapy doesn’t cure cancer; Dr. Day has glorious credentials; natural fallacies and so on and so forth).

She is also a 9/11 truther and religious whacko.

Diagnosis: One of the most unhinged, insane crackpots out there; utterly lacking in critical thinking skills, sanity and rationality. Must be considered dangerous.

#97: John A. Davison

Internet kook with his own idea on evolution (“Anti-biotic resistance is not evolution because it is reversible. No evolutionary event has ever been reversed. Besides evolution isn't even going on any more”). In fact, his idea is only a regurgitation of an old crackpot idea and his references are usually to papers from the 1940s and earlier. A clear case of delusions of grandeur; his is apparently “the most important battle in the history of mankind”. Conservapedia seems to like him (as does Dembski), though the semi-creationist, bottom-tier journal that actually published his stuff apparently wants nothing more to do with him (he has completely lost it, as can be seen from this interview). He did have a publication, though, and that is the main reason why he deserves an inclusion here, despite the fact that he is, for the most part, an Internet kook.

Davison is actually legendary for his Internet trolling (“you have a John Davison infection” has become a diagnosis for especially newly started, science oriented blogs that draw the attention of Davison or his acolytes) and he is banned from several Science-oriented blogs, including Panda’s Thumb. He is known for setting up multiple blogs himself; each one consisting of a single post, inviting comments. Most of the comments are from himself, however. When he feels like that blog is "full", starts another one.

Also famous for trying to have blogging academics fired from their institutions for being critical of his work, or – since that doesn’t work – trying to spam them.

Diagnosis: Extraordinarily attention-seeking kook who seems to have gone completely insane. I almost feel sorry for the guy.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#96: John Davis

Brace yourself for the utterly unhinged: John Davis, originally Canadian, is a Tennessee-based flat earth, well, scientist. Yup. John Davis believes the earth is flat, and complains that "[p]eople are definitely prejudiced against flat-earthers". Poor John. You can read an interview with him here.

Of course, flat earth is the ultimate conspiracy theory (it obviously entails the moon-landing conspiracy theory as well), which can be seen from this exchange from the FAQ on their website:

Q: "Why do the all the world Governments say the Earth is round?"
A: It's a conspiracy
Q: "What about NASA? Don't they have photos to prove that the Earth is round?"
A: NASA is part of the conspiracy too. The photos are faked.
Q: "What is the motive behind this conspiracy?"
A: The motive is unknown although it is probably money
Q: "If you're not sure about the motive, why do you say there is a conspiracy?"
A: Well it's quite simple really; if the earth is in fact flat, then the governments must be lying when they say it isn't.
Q: "How are the world governments organized enough to carry out this conspiracy?"
A: They only appear to be disorganized to make the conspiracy seem implausible.
Q: Why hasn't this site been shut down by the government?
A: Doing so would prove that the government is hiding something.
Q: "What's underneath the Earth?" aka "What's on the bottom?" aka "What's on the other side?"
A: This is unknown. Some believe it to be just rocks, others believe the Earth rests on the back of four elephants and a turtle.

This has “Poe” written all over it, but it is apparently genuine.

"I came to realize how much we take at face value," Davis says. "We humans seem to be pleased with just accepting what we are told, no matter how much it goes against our senses." In other words: wishful thinking and intuition triumphs scientific evidence and authority, and that, according to Davis, is a principle of good reasoning.

Davis currently believes "the Earth is flat and horizontally infinite - it stretches horizontally forever. And it is at least 9,000 kilometres deep". Thus, there is apparently some scientific disagreement within the society, insofar as fellow flat-earther James McIntyre (who will have his own entry) believes it is disc-shaped and 24,900 km in diameter. I am sure the discussion is backed up by carefully conducted experiments and meticulously obtained data. The disagreement is touched on here.

Diagnosis: Unnecessary; Davis is totally lost. He’s probably perfectly harmless, however.

(ed. note - I don't know if that image is actually of John Davis. I couldn't find any other images, and he uses that one as a profile photo, so it will have to be good enough for our purposes here, at least for the time being.)

#95: Kimberly Daniels

In a previous post we mentioned Daniel Cameroon and his campaign against Easter eggs. Cameroon was a spoof, however. Christian Broadcasting network’s Kimberly Daniels is not, and though her selected target is Halloween rather than Easter her screed is frighteningly redolent of Cameroon’s. CBN took down the original article after public responses made the responsible people dimly aware that it was perceived as kinda silly – it can still be found here, though.

Daniels asserts that "most of the candy sold during this season has been dedicated and prayed over by witches" and informs us that she does “not buy candy during the Halloween season. Curses are sent through the tricks and treats of the innocent whether they get it by going door to door or by purchasing it from the local grocery store.” Apparently what goes on behind the scenes of the Halloween celebrations includes (but is not limited to):
- Sex with demons
- Orgies between animals and humans
- Animal and human sacrifices
- Sacrificing babies to shed innocent blood
- Rape and molestation of adults, children and babies
- Revel nights
- Conjuring of demons and casting of spells
- Release of "time-released" curses against the innocent and the ignorant.

Daniels’s official website is here.

Daniels tours the country in a 30-foot Winnebago dubbed "The Demon Buster" as she teaches others about deliverance ministry and performs Christian rap music to bring deliverance to homosexuals, HIV/AIDS victims, drug addicts and convicted felons (she has also written a slew of books, including ”Delivered to Destiny” and ” Clean House, Strong House: A practical guide to understanding spiritual warfare, demonic strongholds and deliverance”); a biography can be found here. A more objective assessment is here.

She is viciously anti-gay and points out that Obama, by supporting equal rights, is clearly not a Christian

Diagnosis: As unhinged as it is possible to become; utterly, irrevocably lost to sanity and reason. More entertaining than dangerous, though.

She operates with her husband, Ardell Daniels, who isn’t a single notch better than she is.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

#94: Peter D'Adamo

Food woo is potent stuff, and Peter D’Adamo is one of the most influential. Now, there is some evidence that his suggestions are, indeed, partially founded on Eastern (more closely Japanese) superstition (many remedies that claim such background are not), though it must, for obvious reasons, be a relatively new kind of superstition. The Eastern connection does, of course, not make his crackpottery more likely to be correct.

So what’s D’Adamo’s thing? D'Adamo's schtick is the Blood Type Diet (a.k.a. blood type astrology), in which the members of each of the four main blood type groups are assigned their own regimen of foods to consume and avoid. D’Adamo’s book, Eat Right 4 Your Type, was on the bestseller lists for a long time, despite (or, the cynical may suspect, because of) a complete lack of scientific evidence to support the central idea, namely that our body's immune system reacts differently to different foods, and tht those reactions are determined by the various antigens specific to the blood types. Apparently he is putting a lot of effort in capturing the Japanese market, as seen from his website.

Throughout his books D'Adamo cites the works of various biochemists and glycologists who have actually researched blood groups, implying that their research supports his ideas. The consensus among dieticians, physicians, and scientists, however, is that the theory is unsupported by scientific evidence. Remember that the Galileo gambit is a fallacy, if you were ever attempted to go down that route.

The wikipedia article is rather overly evenhanded. A more neutral and comprehensive evaluation is found here. (It might, by the way, look like the idea was dreamed up by his father, a naturopath named James D’Adamo – it is not quite clear).

His self-written biography is here.

Diagnosis: Frighteningly common type of crackpot who confuses anecdotal evidence and confirmation bias with science. Some of his advice may actually be harmful, so he must be considered moderately dangerous.

He is of course not alone in peddling this kind of woo. Obstetrician-Gynecologist Steven M. Weissberg, M.D., and Joseph Christiano, a personal fitness trainer, have co-authored a book making similar claims – the slogan being “You are what you eat, but you should ‘EAT WHAT YOU ARE.’ This means each of us should eat the optimal diet compatible with our blood type.” As with D’Adamo’s work, theirs is backed up by a multitude of anecdotes and tenuous correlations.

#93: Brad Dacus

President of the Pacific Justice Institute and common-style theocrat of the vocal and paranoid type. Dacus thinks that policies set up to secure the equal rights of gays and lesbians are (by default) discriminating against Christians (because it limits their ability to act out their bigotry, apparently) – and Dacus predictably uses completely overblown language to assert it.

Dacus actually thinks that stopping same-sex marriage in California is exactly like stopping Hitler and the Nazis.

He is also a big fan of David Barton.

Diagnosis: Paranoid, vocal wingnut and loon; impact uncertain – there are lots and lots of these people out there, and they’re all loons.

#92: Rebecca Culshaw

This might in some sense be another long shot for our encyclopedia. Culshaw is definitely Canadian, but she works at and is affiliated with the University of Texas at Tyler. I guess that is enough to count. Especially since the world really needs to be informed of this truly dangerous, misguided and ignorant nutjob.

Rebecca Culshaw is an HIV-denialist who knows math but very little epidemiology or the necessary biology. That does not prevent her from, without qualms, claiming that it is OK for HIV-positive mothers to breastfeed their children, refuse HIV tests or special care for their children and so on. This is not just innocent kookery.

Culshaw is the author of “Science Sold Out: Does HIV Really Cause AIDS?” wherein she uses mathematics to show that HIV was never an epidemic and that therefore it doesn't exist. Or something along those lines.

Here’s a useful guide to HIV denialism. For a good scare, you might try the comment section here.

Diagnosis: Seriously deluded (confirmation bias, double standards and arguments from ignorance abound) and extremely dangerous, to the extent that she should possibly be held accountable for several deaths already.