Saturday, October 31, 2015

#1506: John Paul Cupp et al.

John Paul Cupp is such a minor figure that we almost feel bad for covering him, but we sort of have to. In 2003 Cupp, as Chairman of the newly established Songun Politics Study Group USA, apparently received the official endorsement of the North Korean government (“We are very pleased to have a revolutionary organization and comrades like you in the land of the United States, the bulwark of imperialism and determined to further the relationship with you in depth”), and he subsequently avowed his loyalty to the North Korean regime. “My personal opinion,” said Cupp, “is that great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung and Dear Leader Comrade Kim Jong Il are the two greatest human beings in the entire history of the world. For us, it would be impossible to even wake up in the morning should we lose the ability to cherish them.” North Korea promptly presented Cupp, who at the time was a homeless 22-year old living under a highway in Portland, as a prominent public figure, and he visited North Korea at least once as an official guest. His political views seem later to have evolved into embracing white supremacy (including expressing support for “Aryan hero Lee Harvey Oswald” and Timothy McVeigh), Islamic Jihadists, virulent anti-Semitism, and support for launching domestic terrorism to achieve the armed overthrow of the U.S. government. “Long live the White race! Long live the communist revolution!” said Cupp. He later also converted to Islam and changed his name to Wahid Yayah Cupp. In 2011 he was then booted from his group over his evolving political views, which were extreme enough to draw the pointed but gentle rebuke of Pyongyang directly. The group has later been headed by Jason Adam Tonis, who has tried to renounce the racist elements but is still wonderfully lunatic.

Other American, “prominent public figures” who have expressed their deep support for North Korea include Cupp’s allies, radical anti-semitis lunatics Kevin Walsh and Ziad Shaker al-Jishi, as well as white supremacist James Porrazzo and Joshua Caleb Sutter, founder of the Rural People’s Party (RPP), which embraces both Kim Il Sung’s Juche ideology and that of Jim Jones in addition to white supremacism. Sutter and his wife Jillian Hoy have apparently adopted additional new identities of Hindu Hare Krishna priests to herald a cleansing of the earth as the pivotal factor in a worldwide annihilation, from which a new Golden Age will be launched. There is also an American chapter of the Korean Friendship Association.

You can read the whole and remarkable story of these people here. It’s well worth it.

Diagnosis: Fringe lunatics with little to no influence, of course, but there is always the non-negligible fear that they will end up hurting someone.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

#1505: Walter Cunningham

We’ve covered astronauts before, but the case of Walter Cunningham is arguably even sadder than that of Edgar Mitchell. Cunningham is currently giving talks about climate change for the Heartland Institute, and is apparently rather popular amongst the denialist crowd. Yes, 97% of climate scientists agree that the Earth is warming as a result of human action, but they’ve got an astronaut! Who claims that the scientists, all 97% of them, are simply confusing correlation and causation when they claim that carbon emissions cause global warming. Hadn’t thought of that, had they?

How does Cunningham get around the fact that everyone who, you know, actually have expertise in the issues are unimpressed by his observations? Well, as a denialist there is an obvious tactic: He just denies it: “I think only a few climate scientists have bought into this nonsense,” says Cunningham, despite the pretty easily demonstrable falsity of that claim. There is a reason why CPAC, for instance, had to use an astronaut rather than a scientist to deliver that message.

He was, in fact, not the only messenger at the 2013 CPAC. There was also Thomas Wysmuller, who has a degree in meteorology, and who claimed that icy winter temperatures in Moscow and Siberia are evidence the Earth simply isn’t warming. And Harold Doiron, a former rocket scientist who didn’t understand what the fuss is about (he admitted to having “only been a serious student of global warming for maybe two years,” though the “serious” part is contestable): “If sea level’s rising, it’s not a global problem,” said Doiron says. “It’s not happening in the Rocky Mountains.” Which is … true. Besides, it would not be in the United States’ interests to take action unilaterally when China is refusing to get on board, which they aren’t.

Diagnosis: Sad. Cunningham is a serious lunatic apparently determined to ruin his own legacy with nonsense. That his name carries some authority on the issue of climate change is testament to the lack of critical thinking skills among his audience, but he does, admittedly, have some influence.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

#1504: Dan Cummins

Ryan Culp is an Indiana teacher who apparently thought it was OK to use his science classes to show Kent Hovind videos (as long as it isn’t more than “like, half of what the information is”) and that he is not permitted to teach either creationism or evolution as truth. He is clearly as ignorant about the Constitution as he is about the subject matter he is teaching, but probably too minor to be worth calling out with a separate entry. Creationist and numerologist David Cumming, known for his profoundly silly Equation of Creation, is apparently British.

So what we have for you today is yet another wingnut bigot, Dan Cummins. Cummins is a megachurch pastor and political activist of the “The-American-economy-politics-and-culture-are-dying-because-of-sin” (yes, he said precisely that) white, old, male. cranky kind who has lamented the corruption of the youth since the beginning of mankind. In particular, Cummins claims that preachers are needed in politics to prevent “giving opportunity for the fallows of socialism” to corrupt the nation (are these people even remotely aware of how daft they sound?). Rather, we must maintain “the balance between church and state, not the separation of church and state” and get “Christ in the economy, Christ in Congress, [and] Christ in the culture” to prevent the imagined woes of sins of said youths.

The prime target is of course the gays, and Cummins is not afraid to crank up his rhetoric to the most rarefied levels of ridiculousness. After pointing out the evils of Mao, Kim Il-Sung and Stalin and the woes of the Iron Curtain, Cummins proclaims: “Now, in the midst of the American Culture War, behind another curtain of sorts – a life-size photographic scrim concealing a facelift to the Supreme Court’s crumbling west façade – Justice Anthony Kennedy has ordered a redecorating of the nation’s landscape with a bold, colorful and inclusive statement – the Rainbow Curtain – a polyamorous blend suited for a post-moralist motif, designed to safeguard the modern American family from the narrow-minded views of those ‘animus’-filled Founding Fathers.” And he said it all with (apparently) a straight face. The rainbow curtain. “From their juridical lair, the liberal Gang of Five recently set off a catalytic charge toppling traditional marriage – the last principled pillar upholding Uncle Sam’s home,” he also said about the Supreme Court rulings, which in no way forbade or put any restrictions on traditional marriage, but you know: when other people gets to have fun, that sort of topples Cummins’s fun. “What’s ahead for those in the Gay Zones who refuse to comply with Kennedy’s dictates – re-education camps for homophobic racists? Will Big Sis employ foreign troops invading through our unsecured borders to enforce the transition into this brave new world? What stark new realities are ahead for those behind the Rainbow Curtain? Will Americans become refugees in their own country as they flee with their families into neighboring Free Zone states?” Yes, according to Cummins, America is now divided between “gay zones” and “free zones” (because allowing gays to marry is just like Stalin), and he was wondering whether Janet Napolitano (“Big Sis”) would allow a foreign invasion to enforce marriage equality (presumably using homosexual Mexican-Chinese jihadists).

To prevent this spiral into the abyss, Cummins was also involved in arranging the 2014 March for Marriage in DC. Although NOM and various pseudo-newspapers pretended that 10,000 people showed up, at least Cummins admitted that they got just a fraction of that number. And this “apparent lack of support for nuptial bliss” (good f**ing grief!) only convinced him further that America is doomed. “Why is the preservation of biblical marriage so important to our culture? Why is the left, those left at the rapture, desperately attempting to destroy it? Marriage is a picture of Christ and His church [doesn’t sound very straight to me, but that’s me]. It portrays the kingdom of God and his righteousness revealed on earth. That’s why Satan hates marriage.” No, he really doesn’t get it. Not even remotely.

Diagnosis: Impressively foolish bigot. One wonders how people could listen to the flowery garbage that falls out of his mouth for more than a minute (except for somewhat painful comedy value), but he does apparently lead a megachurch, so he can’t be completely written off as harmless.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

#1503: Herman Cummings

A.k.a. The Genesis Genius
A.k.a. Ephriam

Herman Cummings is, according to himself, “the leading expert on the book of Genesis” (“[t]here is no ‘close second’”), which he also interprets as more or less literal truth (“Genesis is a book of history, and advanced math & science, being literally true”). So much for his expertise. He is also the author of the book Moses Didn’t Write About Creation! which apparently is based on a revelation from “Lord Jesus” he received back in 1991.

One of Cummings’s endeavors is to instruct science teachers. In 2008 he apparently offered his service to Louisiana, where teachers have the “academic freedom” to use “supplemental materials” in science classes. What could he offer? “I teach a 6-hr class for science teachers which gives them an overview of the first three chapters of Genesis, as it pertains to the appearance, and extinction, of life forms during the geologic history of Earth. This is the correct opposing view of evolution as should be presented in biology classes. Creationism is not the opposing view to evolution. Creationism would oppose the theory of the ‘Big Bang’.” We are not completely sure what he is talking about but are pretty sure that he doesn’t either. But in more detail his offer was: “[B]y providing my class to your teachers, I also give protection against lawsuits which the ACLU is certainly anxious to file. I contacted the Dover Area school district in Pennsylvania, but they ignored me, and they lost both their jobs and the court case. I contacted both the Cobb County Board members and their law firm in Georgia, in 2004, and they both ignored me, and they lost their district case. I know how to defeat the ACLU in open court in such cases, to the point that they would be discouraged from filing such lawsuits again. But I would have to be invited to work with the defense.”

We are not sure anyone took him up on his offer. He also contacted the Discovery Institute “in an effort to create a united front against the false teaching of evolution,” and informed them that “‘ID’ is a waste of scholastic time, and is too inept and shallow to be of much value.” Even Barbara Cargill ignored him, and she has certainly failed to ignore some pretty ridiculous stuff in the past. So, yes: home-made theory; declares himself an expert (but has no relevant education); rejects virtually all of science; everyone else is wrong; tries to promote it by sending letters to institutions and organizations, including the White House, Congress, the US Dept. of education, “every State Governor” and the Pope; seems to be confused when they don’t respond or he isn’t taken seriously (“[s]o far, every ‘so called’ rabbi/scholar I’ve written to (830+) in the USA & Israel has either been an infidel (denying the truth of the Pentateuch), or a scriptural coward”) and concludes that they’re afraid of him; and his enemies (the ACLU) should be afraid of him, since he is completely able to beat them up. We’ve covered these kinds of people before.

But what, exactly, are his objections to evolution? Ah, glad you asked. It really deserves to be given some space: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Fish, reptiles, and birds lay eggs. If these adult species are only given life by means of the egg hatching process, how did the first fish, reptiles and birds come into existence? Evolution? If so, why isn’t all life hatched out of an egg? Is this to be explained with the same sort of reasoning which produced the theory that a bear fell into a lake/river and became a whale? Let’s address the “chicken or the egg” question. An egg cannot just drop out of the sky, or wash upon the shore all by itself. An egg, which signifies life waiting to develop, has to be laid by a egg laying female animal, unless you want think up a theory on how the first egg materialized….; those that are in denial can go there. Therefore, let us focus on the female chicken, or actually the hen. The hen can lay eggs without the rooster, but the eggs will not produce life (will not hatch). So little chicks can’t come into existence (in the wild or in the distant past) without the hen mating with the rooster. Therefore, both the hen and the rooster came first.” And the fact that scientists don’t see this and immediately reject evolution is apparently proof of a conspiracy. The whole of science seems to be a conspiracy, in fact: “Why is it that the scientific world will hide information from the public, such as the truth about Comet Showmaker-Levy-9 [sic], to avoid answering certain questions?” Evolution is also a doctrine of atheism and therefore a religious belief, and as such – unlike (his version of) creationism – illegal to teach in public schools.

So, what about creationism? “Genesis 1:1 should be interpreted as ‘4.6 billion years ago, God created this universe, starting with the planet Earth’. Yes, Earth was the first, and is the principle celestial object in this universe. All of the other objects in this universe are at least two days younger than our Earth. So now, you should be able to determine that I am not ‘young Earth’, and that I embrace the literal meaning of the scriptures, unlike ‘old Earth’ creationism. Reconciliation was achieved seventeen years ago [that was his 1991 revelation – apparently it said, simply, that “the days in Genesis are not in one week”].9/11 can be blamed on our failure to see the truth.

And his own view? “Adam was formed in about 7200 BC. The modern animals, along with the birds, were made in about 7100 BC, and Eve came along in about 7000 BC. I’m guessing that the animals lived in and out of the Garden, and Adam probably took Eve out on sight-seeing trips to lands surrounding the Garden. They did this for 2,733 years…, until they ate of the evil tree. It is then that the years of Adam’s age begins to be counted, because that is when he ‘began to die’. So from 7200 BC, till 3337 BC, when Adam died, Adam had lived for 3,863 years.” Apparently only Herman Cummings knows this. He is also the only one who knows that “Genesis is declaring the existence of pre-historic man, which lived more than 60 million years before God made Adam and Eve. The world of science won’t admit to mankind being on Earth any earlier than 10 million years ago…, which shows how misinformed they are. Or is it that they are in denial?” There is a simpler explanation, but that one has apparently not occurred to him.

But he has evidence, doesn’t he? “Why has the news media failed to publicize the discovery of a man-made pyramid, from the Jurassic period? A Ukrainian scientist made the discovery in his native land […] This proves mankind was here more than 65 million years ago. Another foolish theory (evolution) bites the dust. […]” Oh, yes – bring it on: “The Ark of the Covenant was found several years ago, and will be shown to the public in about three years. You can be learn about it by going to these links [not replicated here].” Moreover, “NASA found out that the Moon is hollow, when they exploded a bomb in an effort to widen an opening at its south pole. The Moon rang like a bell for several hours, causing a BIG surprise,” which means that “the Earth is also hollow, which proves the (false) theories of science to be in error.” And so it goes.

Diagnosis: Internet access has not been an indisputable blessing to everyone. At least we noticed Herman Cummings, even if Popes and presidents did not. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

#1502: Ellie Crystal

Ah, the freedom of having a mind unencumbered by reason, evidence or accountability. Ellie Crystal – shall we wager that “Crystal” is not her birth name? – has one of those. Crystal is what is perhaps best described as a New Age mystic – officially she’s at least a psychic and a reiki master – and she is probably most notable for her appearance  on The Daily Show segment “Evolution, Schmevolution” back in the days.

Her website is here, and it is really a sight to behold (not for its aesthetic qualities, though); according to herself, Crystalinks is “perhaps the largest, most comprehensive and ambitious metaphysical and science website on the Internet today”.

Apparently Crystal “developed her abundant, intuitive and natural psychic abilities” at a young age: “At age eleven, Ellie experienced an otherworldly encounter that abruptly changed her life and shaped her future. In the Nevada desert, a spirit named Zoroaster, lovingly called Z, appeared to her. He became part of Ellie’s daily life, bringing her to a destiny set in motion from the beginning.” She also claims to have a “PhD in Metaphysical Studies,” though it is not a PhD in metaphysics but a diploma in nonsense from (presumably) some unaccredited drivel. She has, however, managed to gain herself some TV appearances – in addition to the Daily Show one – and apparently John Edward is a fan, which is something that ordinary reasonable people would be wary of bragging about.

And her website really has everything. Some of her articles starts out with reasonable descriptions of scientific or historical fact, but if you look just a bit more closely you’ll suddenly catch yourself reading things like “Atlantis is part of the consciousness hologram of reality.” Wait, what? Let Ellie Crystal explain: “Many physical events are going to happen in the years ahead that will parallel the fall of Atlantis as the myths of each creation run by the same geometric design. Reality, all realities, are sets of multidimensional grid programs running simultaneously in which we consciously experience. Atlantis is one such program. When one begins to look for answers beyond the physical, Atlantis is often felt as a connection. It can be viewed as a chip implanted in the grid of our reality that connects for someone who taps into its frequency.” Yes, she also does her own research, and that’s an example of the kind of results she arrives at. “Discoveries emerging from Egypt, describe the existence of a world wide pyramid temple system in prehistory, mounted like antennae on key energy meridians, which were employed by ancient priest-scientists as harmonic tuning forks to stabilize the tectonic plates of the planet’s cataclysmic geology. […] the ancient Jedai priests used the Language of Light to tune the planet like a giant harmonic bell. Much is being rediscovered in the last days of this time cycle.” So there you go. I won’t bother to link to her stuff on UFOs, crystal skulls, healing, OOParts, astrology, the hollow earth or other examples of the fantastic richness of crazy on Ellie Crystal’s website. She usually has her own take on these things, but you probably have an idea about what her interpretations are like (The Mayan Calendar predictions for 2012 should help us realize that “reality is a consciousness hologram”, anyone?)

She has, however, made a remarkably accurate prediction about 9/11, which has apparently impressed some of her readers. The Wayback Machine lists February 6, 2005, as the first instance of her page of predictions for 2001, however, which makes it all a bit less impressive. She did, though, post her predictions for 2005 at the same time. They were notoriously vaguer, but could at least tell us that “hurricane season will be bad but nothing like 2004.” Not all Katrina victims would be fully ready to agree with that.

Diagnosis: “Thank you for inquiring about a psychic reading. If you have been guided to this page, something in your soul is telling you that information will be given that you need to hear […] Sessions are one hour with a fee of $160 USD.” More expensive than a traveling circus, but traveling circuses usually don’t have installments about harmonic bells from holograms of Atlantis. You decide.