Sunday, October 4, 2015

#1480: Bill Connor

Though he didn’t get elected, Bill Connor was one of a colorful array of Tea Party candidates challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham in South Carolina’s 2014 Republican primary. He was admittedly overshadowed by Lee Bright in terms of media coverage, but Connor, an Army veteran and former lieutenant governor candidate, did receive some attention when the Tea Party Coalition arranged a lively debate between Bright, Connor and the two other Tea Party candidates, where Connor spent the whole event waving a pocket copy of the Constitution, which he has apparently never read particularly closely. During the debate Connor asserted (among other things) that the Europeans he fought alongside in Afghanistan were less hard-working and ingenious than American soldiers because “Europe had gone socialist” and “post-Christian”; that Congress should impeach President Obama over his executive order implementing part of the DREAM Act; that the separation of church and state has caused “atheism to be our national religion”; and that Congress should disband federal appeals courts that enforce church-state separation because “if you’re being biblical, you’re doing your job as a judge.”

When asked about climate change, Connor responded that it was “gobbledygook,” which he illustrated by asking everybody in the audience to take a deep breath, breath out, then telling them that “you’re putting carbon deposits in the air and you’re causing global warming.” Gobbledygook, indeed. No, he doesn’t really get the point, but neither did the other candidates (Nancy “a recent freeze disproved climate change” Mace and Richard “MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech was about banning abortion” Cash).

Diagnosis: Look, Bill: Waving a copy of the Constitution is not magically going to make the theocratic nonsense that falls out of your mouth more in line with its contents. Though we admit that Connor might just be a prop in a deliberate strategy to make Lee Bright come across as less insane than he is. It didn’t work.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

#1479: Paul Connett

Paul Connett is the executive director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN), an anti-fluoridation activist group that has been somewhat successful in rallying doctors and dentists – people who look like they might have credentials (Connett himself, though, is a retired professor of chemistry) – together in his mission to destroy any attempt to add trace amounts of fluoride in water for the betterment of children.

Connett has been in the game for over 30 years, and his impressively large output has succeeded in scaring many local communities. A typical example is his pamphlet (created with the late John Yiamouyiannis) “A Lifesaver’s Guide to Fluoridation,” widely distributed to policy makers and concerned citizens (avoiding scientists, of course), which provided 250 references that supposedly backed up the claim that fluoridation is ineffective and dangerous. Though when a Ohio team traced the references, they found that almost half had no relevance to community water fluoridation and many others actually supported fluoridation but were selectively quoted and misrepresented. Which, of course, is how health scares and hysteria mongering work.

Connett’s masterpiece, 50 Reasons to Oppose Fluoridation, lays out his reasons for why the scientific consensus is mistaken. Predictably, the reasons range from the ridiculous to professional twisting of statistical data and denying the clear and substantive evidence in a manner worthy of the fringe of the global warming denialist movement. He even has, prominently on the front of his webpage, “3,209 Medical, Scientific, and Environmental Professionals Sign Statement Calling for End to Fluoridation Worldwide.” Oh, weee. A better indication of crankery you’ll struggle to find. Heck, Connett even admits that among the signatories there are 458 chiropractors and 138 naturopaths. Counting as “Medical, Scientific, and Environmental Professionals”. Seriously.

The sordid story of his book The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep It There, coauthored with James S. Beck and H. Spedding Micklem, is related here. At least he’s popular with Joe Mercola, Mike Adams, and Alex Jones, and he has been showing up at the antivaxx quackfest Autism One.

Diagnosis: Oh, yes; yet another example of the bullshit that feeds Alex Jones and And yes, it is pseudoscience, crackpottery and conspiracies through and through.

Friday, October 2, 2015

#1478: David Conn

Another day, another disastrously insane wingnut. David Conn is a self-proclaimed expert on Jim Jones and his Jonestown cult. His novel contribution, however, is his declaration that President Obama is the reemergence of the Jones Cult mentality on a grand national level.” As he explained to Rick Wiles, who promptly invited him to his show to explain the details (yes, Conn is the kind of guy that passes as “expert” in these kinds of places): First off,” according to Conn, Jones captured the media and Obama captured the media. Jones had a strange childhood,” and similarly Obama also had a very strange childhood. You know, a father deserted the child when he two years old. Obama’s only father figure was a terribly nasty old man, a pornographer and a child molester and a cocaine user who was an avowed communist,” namely Frank Marshall Davis. According to Conn, “it’s pretty well established that Frank Marshall Davis was the one that got Obama into cocaine. And also, both of them, Jones and Obama, had a background of community organizing.” Can’t argue with that, can you?

More importantly, though, Obama is a leader of a massive cult himself. He’s the leader of the cult and the cult is Islam and he leads it by way of being its major Western world defender,” and he’s leading America to cultural suicide. He’s accordingly far more dangerous than Jones, because already what’s going on has caused, I think, enormous amounts of people who have just lost everything they’ve had and who knows how many suicides.”

Diagnosis: The comparison is, indeed, telling – it doesn’t say much about Obama, of course, but quite a bit about what kind of hysterically insane delusions certain loons on the far right is currently trying to mainstream.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

#1477: Nicholas Comninellis

Dumpster diving in the Discovery Institute’s petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism also produced today’s entry. Nicholas Comninellis is Associate Professor of Community and Family Medicine at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. We have been unable to locate any actual research output for Comninellis (doing science is not a prerequisite for signing the Discovery Institute list), but he is at least the author of several creationist books, including Creative Defense: Evidence Against Evolution, which apparently argues that “[p]hilosophically, the dogma of evolution is a dream, a theory without a vestige of truth,” whatever that means (it certainly doesn’t suggest a discussion of the scientific evidence for that scientific theory). He has also produced Darwin’s Demise: Why Evolution Can’t Take the Heat, which helpfully demonstrates how its central argument relies on wishful thinking in its very title. Harun Yahya is apparently a fan of Comninellis’s writings, which for someone dabbling in biology is the equivalent of being endorsed by Craig Paul Cobb if you’re doing political theory.

Diagnosis: Crackpot who hates science (and philosophy) since it threatens the beliefs he arrived at by non-evidential and non-rational means. I suppose that since he is, in fact, affiliated with a real educational and research institution it’s a good thing he is so open about his anti-science attitude. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

#1476: Monica Cole and the "One Million Moms"

The group One Million Moms was created to promote a boycott of JC Penney over their choice of Ellen DeGeneres, a “strong gay activist” because of her support of same-sex marriage, as a spokesperson. The group, which seems to have missed the million members mark by some distance, prides itself on the promotion of Family Values™ and similar hate ideologies and is, of course, particularly focused on homosexuality. JC Penney was not impressed by their campaigns, but the organization has continued its fight against decency and civilization by focusing on a variety of other targets, as an arm of the American Family Association.

Monica Cole, the director, has for instance made an effort to have Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye censored from Common Core because “[t]his book is no different than pornography,” particularly because of one character’s “use of the Lord's name to justify his [perverted] actions,” which is apparently an attempt to brainwash kids into violence and sex slavery or something. Other targets for the group include Wicked (a recipe for “how to get away with murder”), Macy’s (because of a “kinky boots” performance), Graham crackers (because of Honey Maid’s “disrespect of millions of American families by supporting the homosexual agenda”), The Gap, The Fosters, the show Lucifer (because it is “not only disrespecting Christianity and mocking the Bible, but it can mess with people's eternity”) and The New Normal, which according to Cole shows how Hollywood “continues to attack Christian values, conservative values, the traditional family,” while mourning that “the moral decay in public airwaves is continuing.” Among their more recent targets is Tylenol, after a gay couple showed up in one of their commercials. The ad claimed that “[f]amily isn’t defined by who you love, but how,” and Cole responded that this message illustrates that “Tylenol is just contributing to the collapse of the family.” Just think about it.

How successful have they been? In June 2015 Cole at least bragged about having had the television show “Black Jesus” cancelled, which must be news to Cartoon Network, who renewed it in December 2014.

Diagnosis: At least Bryan Fischer shows some originality; Cole is mostly just boring – the same old non-arguments and non-reasons to provide a feeble cover for very mundane hatred and craziness. At least her influence appears to be far more negligible than she seems to think.