Monday, July 30, 2012

#347: Phyllis Schlafly

The item that spawned Andy Schlafly is known for “defending […]the real rights of women. A woman should have the right to be in the home as a wife and mother.” She is the founder and head of the extremist rightwing, creationist, antivaxx, dominionist group the Eagle Forum (this one on the connection between nazism and the welfare state, is particularly pertinent), and described by her neighbor as “an exponent of an extreme right-wing philosophy – a propagandist who deals in emotion and personalities where it is not necessary to establish facts or prove charges.”

Schlafly’s work was pivotal in the victory of the “pro-family” movement over the Equal Rights Amendment, which according to her would have led to “homosexual schoolteachers and unisex bathrooms” as well as many other ills. For instance, she laments the loss of “real men” who went to war to save damsels in distress, men like the draft dodging wife beater John Wayne.

Schlafly, the heroine of the Values Voter Debate, is a published author of nine books, three-time candidate for the U.S. Congress, a full-time law student at Washington University in St. Louis, editor of a monthly newsletter, a twice-a-week syndicated newspaper columnist, regular speaker at anti-liberal rallies, and employs a full-time housekeeper to take care of her mansion – in other words, she follows her anti-emancipatory arguments and consistently claims that women should stay at home as the Bible requires, by setting a splendid example. Like her son Andy, Phyllis generally use “liberal” and “feminist” pejoratively, usually in connection with things she doesn’t like but haven’t really thought about and is pathologically clueless about (for instance this or this). Like her offspring, Phyllis is also an avid conspiracy theorist. In her book “A Choice, Not An Echo” she claimed that a liberal conspiracy of “kingmakers” led by the Bilderberg group had control over the Republican Party presidential nominating process and kept real conservatives from getting the nomination. She still peddles some predictable conspiracy theories. She is, of course, also a creationist, and claims that she is persecuted for it (yes, it is backed up by the most outrageous lies, as expected); her writings on creationism have been endorsed by Jack Kemp and David Horowitz, among others.

The reputation of Washington University in St. Louis was forever tarnished in 2008 when some babbling idiots decided it was appropriate to award Phyllis Schlafly with an honorary degree - especially given Schlafly’s views on public education. You can see a conversation between her and Christian reconstructionist filmmaker E. Ray Moore, who thinks parents are mandated by the Bible to homeschool their children since public schools are “godless and pagan by precept and design” and that there should be “God in the math class and in the science class as much as in the Bible class,” here.

Michele Bachmann has called Phyllis Schlafly the most important woman in US history the last 100 years, and calls Schlafly her mentor. Tells you lot about both, really.

Diagnosis: Although she is an irrevocably insane (and probably undead) dimbulb, Schlafly has done some real harm and her influence should not be underestimated. The Eagle Forum remains a relatively powerful organization.

This site ( is useful for information on the Eagle Forum (among other things).

#346: Andy Schlafly

We won’t describe the antics of Andrew Layton Schlafly in too much detail; there is simply too much to mention (do check out the Lenski affair, though), and he has an extensive biography here (or here, for one that sacrifices accuracy in favor of non-offensiveness). Schlafly is a blogger, conservative conspiracy theorist and – most famously – the owner of Conservapedia (famously described by his mother Phyllis: “He has started this thing on the Internet. I don't know what to call it.” Indeed). Schlafly is known to be currently undefeated in any debate due to his deployment of the Schlafly Reversal, the Schlafly Stretch, the Schlafly Rearguard, the Schlafly Slip, Schlafly Statistics, and the fact that he can just ban anyone who disagrees with him from his site. As Richard Carnes aptly put it “... arguing with Andy is like playing chess with a small child who doesn't know the rules”.

Schlafly is also general counsel to the wingnut quack-organization Association of AmericanPhysicians and Surgeons (not to be confused with the American Medical Association).

He is, of course, a Young Earth Creationist located somewhere around Ray Comfort and Linda Kimball. Combining his creationism, crackpottery, wingnuttery, American Exceptionalism, endorsement of theocracy, Taliban fundamentalism, extreme conspiracy theory adherence, racism, misogyny, self-aggrandizing delusions (he purports to have superior expertise in, among other things, anthropology, astronomy, biblical scholarship and translation, the entertainment industry, microbiology, nutrition, oncology, psychiatry, mathematics, relativity, statistics, and world history) and general bigotry, he eventually launched the still dimmest, most powerful black hole of insanity (and bigotry) on the Internet (yes, Schlafly wins that one; no mean feat): Conservapedia ( isn’t even in the running for that one).

Constructed to rectify the liberal bias of Wikipedia, Conservapedia (Newcomers’ guide here) is governed not by the definitional schema “x is liberal, hence x is evil”, but by “x is evil, hence x is liberal”, and the law that anything Schlafly does not particularly fancy is dismissed as “liberal evolutionist abortionist claptrap” (such as the idea that the Greek wrote comedies (disproven by the fact that humor cannot exist without Christianity) or that anything “useful has ever been built based on the theory of relativity” – in fact, relativity is a liberal plot). Conservapedia is constructed to meet the educational needs of homeschoolers, and Schlafly offers courses on selected scientific topics for homeschooled kids. He considers Conservapedia to be one of the greatest achievements throughout history (special mention goes to one of the most active sysops, the Unification Church member Ed Poor, who must rank as one of the most incompetent human beings ever to have walked the earth).

Understandably, he is openly contemptuous of credentialed experts, especially when they disagree with his uncited assertions – much is summed up by his slogan “Don't read a book to learn, write a book to learn”. He has also suggested that editing Conservapedia is a better way to learn than “reading a book, attending a seminar, ... discussing with people” (“Most books (other than the Bible) are liberal claptrap”) and that “[i]n merely a few spare minutes or hours, the participants in The Conservative Bible Project have learned more than they could have after spending 10x or 100x many hours in any other medium”.

… yes, the Conservapedia Bible Project, the purpose of which is to purge the Bible of liberal bias. You’ll have to read about it for yourself. Words fail.

A “Best of Conservapedia” list is here. One among innumerable favorites: “Atheistic theories of the origin of the Moon, widely taught for decades despite lacking the falsifiability requirement of science (see Philosophy of science), have been proven false”. For regular updates on the activities on Conservapedia, you can visit this one (or for updates on Conservapedia in the news, this one).

Diagnosis: ”Obviously many people refuse to read the Bible and thus miss out on the benefit of its foreknowledge. Had scientists carefully studied the walking on water with an open mind, then it may not have taken 1900 years before they recognized the existence of wave-particle duality. Ditto for many other phenomena.” [A. Schlafly] 

(Roger “I suspect that high empathy measurements are correlated with an assortment of psychological problems” Schlafly is Andrew Schlafly’s older brother and has established his own credentials as a conservative activist with interminable lack of insight (see his take on the Violence against Women Act here. He is usually considered to be Andy’s saner counterpart, but Roger’s alleged sanity is visible only when compared to his brother (or mother). He does not deserve his own entry, however.)

#345: Lynette Schaefer

I am not sure who Lynette Schaefer really is (hence the lack of a proper photo), but the people at RaptureReady endorse her writings – they give no real bio, but point out that she is an avid Bible reader and born again evangelical.

At least Schaefer weighs in on important topics we have not covered in sufficient detail thus far. For instance, she dares ask the pertinent question “Should Christians Wear Tattoos?” Well, guess what: even if you honestly believe you are “tattooing for Jesus” you are being deceived. And Schaefer tells you what tattooing really is, claiming for instance that “[s]tudies have also been done that link tattoos to homosexuality, lesbianism, and gross sexual perversion” (she doesn’t provide the sources, though). No wonder, since tattoos are signs of “paganism, demonism, Baal worship, shamanism, mysticism, heathenism, cannibalism and many other pagan beliefs". In fact, Lynette really thinks they are genuinely magical. Remember also: “Who really is the Master Tattooist?  Satan, of course!” Wonder what she’d say about this one.

Diagnosis: It’s good that someone takes issue with the things that really matter, those small everyday things we usually don’t think twice about but which could still become objects of obsessive lunacy. Schaefer is probably harmless, though.

#344: Rick Scarborough

Since the completely delusional Jonathan Sarfati, famous for his attempt at grounding logic in the Bible, hails from New Zealand, we jump right to another central force in the lunacy movement.

Rick Scarborough is a former Southern Baptist and head of Vision America, Vision America Action and the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration. Scarborough believes that the tenets of fundamentalist Christian morality apply to all civic affairs, and says: “I'm not a Democrat, I'm not a Republican. I'm a Christocrat”. Tom DeLay counts Scarborough as one of his closest friends, though Scarborough has been caught working closely with Alan Keyes as well – the purpose is of course to establish a theocracy by any means possible (especially by targeting school children). He doesn’t seem to like immigrants either, suggesting that “more non-white families” (in particular Hispanics) means more single-parent households, which in turn means less Christians.

He is also famous for opposing the otherwise moronic Texas Governor Rick Perry's decision to vaccinate sixth grade children against the most dangerous kinds of HPV (later repeated by Michele Bachmann), because STDs are God’s punishment for breaking His moral code about sex, and hence Just Punishment. “We can not overlook the moral dimension. The governor's action seems to signify that God's moral law regarding sex outside of marriage can be transgressed without consequence.” In other words, Scarborough unabashedly overlooks the moral dimension. Predictably, he has also claimed that AIDS is God’s punishment for the immoral sexual behavior of gays. In 2011 he even attempted to channel Reagan to condemn the CPAC decision to let conservative gay groups speak at the event. It is worth mentioning, however, that he appears to be a Rick Perry fan in general – at least he thinks Perry’s Response prayer rally actually did end the drought in Texas, and that prayer controlled the BP oil spill along the Gulf Coast - in spite of the fact that it didn't appear to do so particularly effectively (does it still count as a post hoc fallacy when the effect simply doesn’t exist?).

Scarborough is the author of dominionist books such as “Mixing Church and State” and “Liberalism Kills Kids” – the title of the latter, given Scarborough’s other views, may actually sound like an endorsement of liberalism for all the wrong reasons. He has asserted that “objective history shows that God gave us America”, though “objective” is obviously one of those three-syllable words Scarborough never mastered. He is also a firm critic of “activist judges” (and contributed to the book “Judicial Tyranny”), which apparently means anyone responsible for court rulings to the effect that other people and groups have the same rights he does.

Like wingnut Taliban extremists, Scarborough suffers from a severe persecution complex, and thus considers all political decisions he does not agree with to be personal attacks against him (or Him, but that amounts to the same thing, it seems) that surely violate the First Amendment.

He is also, shockingly, a birther.

A fine Scarborough resource can be found here.

Diagnosis: Taliban madman and theocrat. Usual stuff. Extremely influential and dangerous.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

#343: Rick Santorum

A.k.a. Frothy

Rick Santorum is a demented madman who has, for some reason, been allowed to serve as a senator (Pennsylvania) and be chairman of the Senate Republican Conference before entering into the race for a presidential nomination in 2012 (his dimwittery was pointed out early on). He is particularly well known for his dominionist tendencies (his connection to Ron Luce’s Teen Mania is discussed here, and his (explicit) plan for sharia law is discussed here), self-righteousness, feeble fails, lies, bigotry, smugness, and complete idiocy. That he did so well for a while in the nomination rounds tell you a bit about some of the problems civilization is facing at present. Shouldn’t it really be rather remarkable that a candidate who, on the topic of food stamps, says “If hunger is a problem in America, then why do we have an obesity problem among the people who we say have a hunger program?” isn’t politically stone dead?

At least he ended up cancelling his candidacy. He seems to have been very certain that he was called by God to run for president, and when he quit his rationalization was pretty feeble - though I guess it was the best one could do given making such a silly claim to begin with.

In addition to being an (incoherently stupid) theocrat (yes, he is demonstrably a dominionist) he is especially well known for his stances on the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Social Security, intelligent design creationism, homosexuality, science (doesn’t like it, and especially dislikes scientists, who are immoral), the Terri Schiavo case, his views on marriage, and sexuality (he really does, and admits that he does, want to decide when and how you can have sex, and is in general deeply obsessed with people’s sex lives). “America is suffering a pandemic of harm from pornography. A wealth of research is now available demonstrating that pornography causes profound brain changes in both children and adults, resulting in widespread negative consequences,” claims Santorum, completely unmoved by the fact that research doesn’t remotely say anything that resembles what he claims that it says. Going through his demented fuckwittery is a journey into the abyss, so we’ll content ourselves with a dip.

Santorum was the one who introduced the term “Islamic fascism”, and he voted against Robert Gates to become Secretary of Defense due to Gates’s advocacy of engaging Iran and Syria to solve the Iraqi problem, claiming that talking to “radical Islam” would be a grievous error (he never specified what goal he thought would be thwarted by such dialogue, but one presumes it was his desire to usher in the endtimes). Apparently, however, it is Satan who is currently systematically destroying America by replacing bombs with dialogue. Interestingly Santorum seems to be claiming that Romney and/or Gingrich is/are Satan; certainly that is the most obvious interpretation of this.

He used to be most famous, perhaps, for his advocacy of creationism. In 2001, he tried (unsuccessfully) to insert language that came to be known as the “Santorum Amendment” into the No Child Left Behind bill. The amendment promoted the teaching of intelligent design creationism in public schools and questioned the “academic standing” (science) of evolution. The amendment was crafted with the assistance of the Discovery Institute.

In a 2002 op-ed article Santorum wrote that intelligent design “is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes” (argument by assertion, of course – Santorum wouldn’t be able to distinguish a scientific theory from an orthodox incantation if it hit him in the face), though by 2005 he had instead adopted the Discovery Institute's Teach the Controversy approach. The day after the Kitzmiller v. Dover decision Santorum announced that he was resigning from the advisory board of the Thomas More Law Center (who defended the Dover school board). He is still a creationist, however, and wrote the foreword for the book “Darwin's Nemesis: Phillip Johnson And the Intelligent Design Movement”, a collection of essays by Discovery Institute fellows (and no, he hasn’t toned down his creationism with his recent presidential run). He also rejects global warming, well, because there is scientific consensus about it, which to Santorum means that it must be wrong (yes, that’s the line, and it’s a frighteningly common one). There is actually reason to believe that the main difference between Romney and Santorum on global warming is that Santorum genuinely believes the most dimwitted denialist talking points. Indeed, in discussing controversial classroom subjects such as evolution and global warming, Santorum said that “science should get out of politics” (duh) and that he was opposed to teaching that provides a “politically correct perspective.” At least he has come out, officially, as a full-blown global warming conspiracy theorist.

Here’s some background on Santorum’s Biblically based rejection of science (more here, including a brilliant example of argument from word salad). And yes, despite what some may claim, presidential candidates’ views on science do matter.

But Santorum doesn’t budge; instead he kicks it up a notch or two with some breathtaking lack of self-awareness and idiocy and ignorance about science, concluding that the left is “the death of reason”. For instance, when Santorum says “The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is,” some glib science-lover might say “And what do you mean your son drowned in a lake? Ask a fish how safe it is in the water.” His point, then, is surely that the leftist lovers of science, truth and reason sometimes don’t respect his reasons, since these are surely unconcerned with science, reason and truth.

Santorum has also sparked some controversy about homosexuality. In response to a question about how to prevent sexual abuse of children by priests, Santorum said the priests were engaged in “a basic homosexual relationship” with “post-pubescent men”, and went on to say that he had “a problem with homosexual acts”; that the right to privacy, as detailed in Griswold v. Connecticut, “doesn't exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution;” and that, “whether it's polygamy, whether it's adultery, whether it's sodomy, all of those things are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.” Santorum later clarified that his remarks “were intended not to equate homosexuality with incest and pedophilia, but rather as a critique of the specific legal position that the right to privacy prevents the government from regulating consensual acts among adults.” But that is demonstrably false. He did make the equation. This is what led Dan Savage to coin the neologism “santorum”. Santorum is also enraged that our troops are being brainwashed into thinking that repealing DADT isn’t really a big thing and that gay marriage may not mean the end to America, which it obviously does. Same thing with healthcare, and its alleged death panels: the reason Obama wants public healthcare is because he wants kids to be addicted to the state. Seriously. Furthermore, Medicaid proves that Obama is just like Mussolini.

He also said concerning the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal:
“It is startling that those in the media and academia appear most disturbed by this aberrant behavior, since they have zealously promoted moral relativism by sanctioning “private” moral matters such as alternative lifestyles. Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.” Robert Traynham, Santorum's Director of Communications, explained that “[i]t's an open secret that you have Harvard University and MIT that tend to tilt to the left in terms of academic biases. I think that's what the senator was speaking to.”

Santorum has also elsewhere expressed his hatred for universities, given that science has to do with figuring out reality and reality has a tendency to disagree with Santorum (and that the fascination with reality tends to produce people who don’t vote for him). He doesn’t like preschool either. Apparently he realizes that one doesn’t need very much education to start to suspect that Santorum’s claims have a tendency to be a little off.

There have, of course, been other scandals as well, and his entrance into the presidential race opened up for a whole slew of new insanity. You can find his attempt to argue that forcing people to adopt his bigoted and arbitrary views on sexuality increases liberty here, and here is his attempt to explain how marriage equality is what ruined the nation’s economy (any semblance to reality anywhere in Santorum’s mind is apparently purely coincidental). But of course, it isn’t he, but everyone else, who is bigoted. So when he attacks other candidates for not being anti-gay enough, the problem is apparently that they are too bigoted. Who knows, perhaps they even disagree with his contention that an imprisoned father is better than a gay one, and obviously it is maliciously bigoted to disagree with him regarding that claim. Among his policy suggestions is curtailing single-motherhood, since single mothers apparently constitute the foundation for the Democratic party. Part of his strategy in that respect is to go after contraception. Some might point out that there is a certain discrepancy between means and ends in the case of that strategy, but then Santorum was never particularly bright (also here).

Here is Santorum on evolution and sex. He fails both.

Apparently he found a soul mate in our good old friend Bryan Fischer, who gave him a chance to display his ridiculous martyr complex on his show. Santorum used the opportunity to claim that the “media attacks me because I have deeply-held religious beliefs,” rather than, you know, because he says some fantastically stupid shit. He followed it up by saying some fantastically stupid shit. And to clinch it, he claimed that Obama has put America on the path of executing religious people by decapitation. Bryan Fischer chimed in, claiming that an attack on Santorum is an attack on Jesus, but you’ve come to expect this level of delusion from that source.

Finally, for some miscellaneous items: Here is one outright lie from Santorum, here is another; here:  is a third. You get the pattern. Here Santorum rejects the notion of personal autonomy, and here he gets his perspectives … well, “wrong” doesn’t quite describe it.

At least Santorum is fully backed by the batshit crue. Among the more central characters who supported Santorum’s presidential candidacy you find:
- Texas Eagle Forum’s Cathie Adams, who thinks the UN is trying to “subvert our children’s faith in God by elevating its earth-centered zealotry that would grant the UN dominion over the earth.”
- Patron saint of all things wingnut, Gary Bauer
- Elaine Donnelly, who thinks that repealing DADT is equivalent to “forced sodomy”
- Homeschooler activist for Generation Joshua and marriage equality opponent William Estrada
- Joseph Farah, professional village idiot
- Virulent bigot Maggie Gallagher
- Pennsylvania Family Institute’s Michael Geer
- The eternally confused Tim Lefever
- WilliamMurray of the Religious Freedom Coalition, who fights ardently against any semblance of religious freedom, and who claims that gays cause train crashes
- Preston Noell III, of the pseudo-militaristic American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property
- Pam Olsen of the Florida Prayer Network, a hardcore Seven Mountain dominionist who plans to raise people from the dead, and who believes that gay rights cause natural disasters

Yes, it’s guilt by association, but what association!

Here’s a 2011 list of the 12 most offensive things that had fallen out of Santorum’s mouth until then. It needs to be updated.

Diagnosis: A fanatic mullah whose lunacy, evil, and stupidity know few bounds. It is an understatement to point out that he is hardly even worthy of his own name.

Monday, July 9, 2012

#342: Mike Salla

 The Australian-born, erstwhile international politics scholar Michael Emin Salla is perhaps the world’s leading expert on exopolitics. Yes, exopolitics – the political issues concerning aliens, their relationship to humans, political relationships between various types of aliens, why our governments keep their existence and doings secret, what our governments are really up to, what happened to Atlantis, how to heal yourself with quantum holograms, and how to convince people that Stargate is a documentary shot in real time. Imagine the dumbest and most hilariously insane science fiction/conspiracy plots you can think of, and you are not even remotely close to the absurd insanity of what Salla mistakes for the real world (website here). You can read a pretty detailed explanation, and a set of recommendations, in his “Responding to extraterrestrial infiltration of clandestine organizations embedded in military, intelligence and government departments” here. Other research papers are here. I don’t recommend “False Flag Operations, 9-11 and the Exopolitical Perspective”  or “Are Celestials assisting Humanity in Relations with Extraterrestrial Life”, and in particular not “An Exopolitical Perspective on the Preemptive War against Iraq” (Ok; you have to read that one). In fact, Salla sent a letter to al-Jazeera in 2005 warning them about “the possibility of alien intervention in order to prevent a nuclear attack on Iran by the United States of America”. Lots of Kennedy shooting material there as well for those who wish to take their conspiracies just a couple of steps further into the beyond. You can find a critical assessment of Salla here, although this particular criticism somehow fails to get it quite right.

Salla’s most recent academic position was in Washington at American University, Center for Global Peace. The Center does not want to be associated with Salla’s exopolitics.

For his speculations Salla relies, to a certain extent, on testimonies from heroes or garbled rants from madmen with self-published books (Sitchin, Icke, and so on), but much of it seems to spring straight from his own powers of imagination. It seems both of these sources of data fall under what he calls “independent sources". 

In fact, Salla invented exopolitics. His first book claimed that a 1954 dentist appointment by President Eisenhower was a cover for a secret meeting with extraterrestrials; the president “met with two ETs with white hair, pale blue eyes and colorless lips” (what UFO enthusiasts call “Nordics”). These aliens “offered to share their superior technology and their spiritual wisdom with Ike if he would agree to eliminate America's nuclear weapons”. Eisenhower declined the offer because he had already agreed with another race of aliens that they could take livestock and humans with them for the purposes of experiments; these aliens have at present taken “millions” of humans. Salla had to admit that the evidence was “found by him on the Internet”. In terms of the different ET races we have the “‘good shepherd’ ETs [including] the Greys from Zeta Reticulum, Tall Greys (from Orion), Reptilians (Earth based), Draco-Reptilians from Orion, and the Anunnaki (giant humanoids from Nibiru” – yes, that Nibiru). Former Canadian minister of Defence Paul Hellyer is a fan.

Salla’s main concern is that governments should be open about their dealings with aliens to gain insights into their superior knowledge of energy and so on, and that mankind should make peaceful, open and lawful dealings with these civilizations. He travels around spreading the message, for instance at the fifth X-Conference event in Maryland (among the attendees here were (in addition to Salla and, of course, Edgar Mitchell) 2008 Utah Congressional Candidate Joseph Buchman, hypnotherapist Rebecca Hardcastle, AlfredWebre, and US Air Force pilot Milton Tores).

Among the important results of his research on Manipulative Extraterrestrials and mind control technologies, is his and John Lash’s idea that Alzheimer’s is a side effect of an alleged interference in human cognitive functions. John Lash's research, if you ever wondered, focuses on Pagan Gnostics, and he has “documented” the gnostics’ discovery of these Manipulative Extraterrestrials. Pagan Gnostics is a constituency of Manipulative Extraterrestrials that apparently has played a key role in an alleged agenda of mind control against humankind, such as the “archons”. The archons are apparently what causes Alzheimer’s. Or something. See, what Lash and Salla do is very important. Their contribution is assessed here. It should be rather easy to appreciate the irony of Salla and Lash speculating about cognitive impairments.

Diagnosis: Utterly immune to reason, rationality and reality, Salla wears his tinfoil crown with pride. He’s probably harmless enough.

Friday, July 6, 2012

#341: Mark Ryland

With the recent demise of “memory of water” woo-meister Rustum Roy, it seems that the three musketeers of woo have been reduced to two. Since Roy disqualified himself for an entry, we’ll move back to the creationists. Yet again.

Mark Ryland is former vice-president and fellow of the Dicovery Institute. He seems to have been responsible for hiring the PR firm Creative Response Concepts (that’s the organization behind Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the Republican National Committee, the Christian Coalition, and the Contract With America), and for pushing the NY Times publication of an idiotic anti-science essay (“Finding Design in Nature”) by Cardinal Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna and medieval troll, criticizing neo-Darwinism and positivism. The incident was apparently counted a PR success by the Institute. It tells you a lot about what their creationist campaigns have to do with science.

You can catch Ryland lying through his teeth here.

Diagnosis: The epitome of honesty, integrity and understanding of scientific methodology, Ryland must be lauded for his ardent efforts to discuss science in an informed, unbiased manner. At least that’s the idea. Delusional madman.

#340: Marcus Ross

Marcus R. Ross is a vertebrate paleontologist and young Earth creationist, and has received some media coverage for the apparent conflict between his young earth creationism and his dissertation on tracking the diversity, biostratigraphy, and extinction of mosasaurs (short answer: he doesn’t believe his own work, which raises some questions concerning intellectual honesty to begin with). Larry Moran weighs in here. This one raises some important questions. How does Ross manage to compartmentalize to this extent? The answer explains why fire and brimstone fundie literalists are so fond of flakier-than-flaky postmodernism (see also here). Ross is currently an Assistant Professor of Geology in the Biology/Chemistry Department at Liberty University, and Assistant Director of the Center for Creation Studies. What kind of education is his students getting, one may wonder? Well, this is illuminating.

As a grad student, Ross was a fellow of the Discovery Institute and participated (with old earth creationist Fred Heeren) the infamous Kunming conference in China (which was notable for being secretly funded by the Discovery Institute to paint an aura of scientific legitimacy on intelligent design).

The best statement on the Ross situation, and what it shows, can be found here.

Ross, by the way, was the guy who presented the paper “ONTOGENETIC DEPTH AS A COMPLEXITY METRIC FOR THE CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION” with Paul Nelson back in the olden days (not yesterday).

Diagnosis: Probably one of the world’s most skilled mental compartmentalizers, Ross used his unique skill to attain a whiff of authority that he currently deploys ardently to make the world a worse place. Sad.

Update May 22, 2013: Note that Fred Heeren, mentioned in this entry, appears to have later renounced creationism altogether.