Friday, February 28, 2014

#935: Lynne McTaggart

Honorable mention indeed goes to Tea Party painter Jon McNaughton, who is such a glaring parody of himself and the Tea Party movement that I struggle to come up with material enough to fill an entry (just look at some of his paintings).

Lynne McTaggart is more insidious. McTaggart is a currently London-based author, newsletter writer and activist journalist, and, according to herself, a spokesperson “on consciousness, the new physics, and the practices of conventional and alternative medicine.” She has no relevant qualifications related to and knows nothing about consciousness, physics or “conventional medicine,” of course, but is apparently very excited about how she can substitute knowledge, evidence and reality with imagination and woo, which she mixes with standard conspiracy theories and anti-vaccination propaganda.

According to herself, McTaggart had an illness at one point for which she identified (by pure powers of mind, apparently) “a toxic yeast”, and developed, together with a homeopathic doctor, a diet that cured it. This anecdote then served as proof of a conspiracy among medical practitioners, and she started (with her husband Bryan Hubbard) the newsletter “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” (later a book), primarily targeted at childhood vaccination (later she published a similar cancer handbook), which is sometimes seen as one of the tracts that really got the antivaxx movement going – the measles vaccine “caused untold paralysis, damage and death,” says McTaggart without being even dimly aware that such a claim requires backing up by data. Her complete lack of understanding of vaccines is discussed here.

Later publications in the same vein include What Doctors Don't Tell You, PROOF! (by “proof” she means “what I believe for every reason and none”) and Living the Field. “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” is currently also the name for their website, monthly magazine and pressure group. The central argumentative strategy for everything she and her pressure group do is the pharma shill gambit, and she complains that “we debate with fact against an establishment which argues with emotion,” which tells you a bit both about her self-awareness and her ability to discern reality.

From 1996 until 2002 McTaggart and Hubbard also published the monthly newsletter Mother Knows Best, later Natural Parent magazine, focusing on home schooling, environmental and health concerns, nutrition and homeopathy, which also resulted in the books My Learning Child, My Spiritual Child and My Healthy Child. These are books that, suffice to say, anyone who cares about the welfare of children do well to stay far away from.

In her utterly pseudoscientific The Field, McTaggart discusses scientific discoveries that she says support (but which don’t, apart from what she makes up) the theory that the universe is unified by an interactive field. The book became a hit with those who care little about truth to begin with and those who think hallucinogenic drugs is a pathway to understanding. The basic idea is that “science has recently begun to prove what ancient myth and religion have always espoused: There may be such a thing as a life force,” an idea that is so novel that science has in fact rejected it at least since the 19th century because it is stupid. You can see someone who actually knows a bit about science discuss the book here (“it’s actually insulting; it’s a slap in the face to anyone with the slightest scientific background”).

In The Intention Experiment, she discusses research in the field of human consciousness (missing most of the actual research), which she says supports the theory that “the universe is connected by a vast quantum energy field” and can be influenced by thought, which is an idea so thoroughly silly, unsupported and unsupportable (it’s a metaphor, and thus not even a hypothesis) that it was even more popular among the reason-challenged segments than The Field. Accordingly, McTaggart started a personal development program called Living The Field, which is – according to her – based on an interpretation of the zero point field as applied to quantum mechanics. It can heal you. And then your thoughts can heal the world.

McTaggart appears in the extended version of the movie What the Bleep Do We Know!? as well as The Living Matrix – The Science of Healing, which has nothing to do with science. Or actual healing, for that matter.

Diagnosis: McTaggart is wrong about everything, and sufficiently arrogant not to recognize that those who knows something about a field might be better positioned than herself to find out what’s actually the case. She is nevertheless quite influential, which tells you something about the challenges faced by those who try to campaign on behalf of truth and reason.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

#934: Bill McNamara

Bill McNamara is the head of New Beginnings Ministries, which describes itself as a character-building facility for “troubled teens” in Missouri (it has operated under multiple names in Florida, Mississippi, and Texas). It’s exactly the kind of place you’d expect it to be in virtue of being a “faith-based teen home”), namely a place where teens are subjected to what I suppose McNamara would term “strict discipline,” which to most reasonable people would be just another word for abuse.

New Beginnings is typical, however, of the unknown number of “troubled teen” homes catering to the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) community – a web of thousands of autonomous churches linked by doctrine, overlapping leadership, and affiliations with Taliban-style training camps such as Bob Jones University. IFB churches emphasize strict obedience and consider teen rebellion an invention of worldly society, thereby attracting already reality-challenged parents who are facing typical teenage behavior. Fear of government intrusion is of course so pervasive that IFB congregations are primed to dismiss regulatory actions against abusive facilities as religious persecution.

The list of horror stories from these kinds of facilities is, in other words, a long one.

Diagnosis: Monster

#933: Jake McMillan

A.k.a. Jake McAulay (no idea)

We’ve sort of encountered this character before, but I guess he deserves his own, short entry. Jake McMillan is, or at least was, an associate of Bradlee Dean at the You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International Ministries, and Dean’s partner on the radio show Sons of Liberty – at least until recently, when rumors suggest Dean’s organization seems to have disappeared; that may be an exaggeration, but the suggestion that Dean and McMillan have parted ways may be correct. At least McMillan used his time on the Sons of Liberty show well, and managed to utter such things as the claim that “half the murders in large cities are committed by homosexuals”. He also praised the actions of the African nation of Malawi, which recently began arresting gay couples for getting engaged. “They are very conservative,” said McMillan, and appropriately “sentence people for crimes against nature.” McMillan is, of course, in favor of criminalizing homosexuality, and praise countries implementing such laws (mostly Muslim countries, but he seems to have willfully overlooked that fact) since they accordingly “love and value life and they love and value that which God gave, and so they enforce laws against that which destroys life which again is crimes against nature.”

Diagnosis: That’s the kind of guy he is. Let’s move on.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

#932: Kelly McKennon

A.k.a. Laozu

Just as last post’s Ryan McGinty, Kelly McKennon is a promoter of orgone energy; he is just as divorced from anything resembling reality, and – hence – has an equally substantial presence. And just like McGinty, McKennon – or Laozu, as he prefers to be called – gives you advice on how to escape from threats that don’t exist and fill your surroundings with mythical positive energy through crystals, imagination and junk from Radioshack. “All the trees and plants now on the lot where I live […] have positive ambient qi,” claims Laozu (though it can only be measured by intuition and devices that tells him what he wants to know by no discernible systematicity apart from the fact that he knows what answer he wants to get), and he has developed comprehensive resources that you can use, too (“qi”, by the way, is in Laozu’s opinion just the Chinese word for orgone). Among his most powerful devices is the Laozu Torsion Cloud Buster, which can be placed on a “black energy line” to “convert it to positive”. Looking at his testimonials, at least this guy seems to have been satisfied with the product: “This line passed through the corner of the cellar where two nasty demonic type spirits were in residence […] When the CB was put on the line they changed from being like hissing alley cats into grim silence, and the last time Kelly looked they were crying.”

Laozu can also offer advice on charging water and crystals, Pyramid Crystal Chargers, Orgonite Innovation and how to “gift the heavens” – as well as information about “non-material beings”, entities that can nevertheless be characterized by their qi (or your imagination). “Examples of non-material beings are angels, those which have responsibility for seeing to the welfare of certain geographic locations (spiritus loci) or (tu di shen), those which have responsibility for looking after trees (devas), those whose responsibilities lie in the air (sylphs), those whose responsibilities lie in the water (undines), those who are associate with fire (salamanders) and the elementals which often have responsibility for specific plant (or other) organisms. The qi of the nymphs, sylphs, and devas which I have observed has always been quite positive.” Yes. Sylphs sometimes disguise themselves as clouds, apparently, which makes one wonder whether Laozu has a clear grasp of the distinction between material and non-material.

You can read an account of going vortex safari with Laozu here.

At least he is candid enough to admit that “[m]y findings and opinions are not all mainstream, but I have based them solely on personal observation,” which, of course, close-minded people with critical thinking skills would say is exactly the crux of the problem, especially if you, like Laozu, have already demonstrated a proclivity for affect bias and general lunacy.

Diagnosis: The distinction between reality and imagination is apparently a hard one, and McKennon fails more profoundly than most. Otherwise harmless.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

#931: Ryan McGinty

If you are a real crank, are interested in alternative ways to create energy, Tesla crankery is not enough for you, and you don’t know enough about (pseudo-)physics to defend cold fusion, then the obvious choice is to promote orgone energy, an idea so thoroughly silly that even most pseudoscientists shun it, but one that really promises to open the floodgate for the most marvelous woo and crazy imaginable. Ryan McGinty is into orgone energy – indeed, he calls himself an orgone warrior and is an associate of the Crofts – and has, accordingly, been awarded a substantial presence over at, where he for instance tells you how to make new orgone devices. The instructions are a little unspecific, for who would not want these orgone “devices that are tried and true, such as: Towerbuster, Holy Hand Grenade, Earth Pipe or Cloudbuster”? At least the Earth Pipes are used to to “disrupt and neutralize underground predatory tech” and for “disabling underground sources of deadly energy.” He admits, though, that the “results are not as visible, so we have to rely on the psychics or our own instincts for confirmations.” (This does not count as evidence). The instructions for “Don’s PowerWand” are here; a more detailed instructions for a frequency generator are here.

At least McGinty is frank about the woo connection: “Orgone is a name given by Wilhelm Reich for vital health or life energy. Orgone also is the same energy know as Chi or Prana from Eastern cultures.” Indeed; in more detail: “Orgone or etheric energy is a type of solar fire, one of three primary force energies in existence, the other two being fire by friction and electrical fire, known as electricity. Prana is solar fire.” At least he does not even bother to try to integrate his mythology with science.

He also gives advice on aura clearing and blasting, and has been “testing music notes to chakras and the colors related.” Apparently, “High C [is] a great tool against attacking enitites.” (The color thing is apparently based on the works of one Charles Klotsche, author of Color Medicine, which does not sound like anything resembling medicine).

Here he meets Tree Devas and Palm Elementals (a must-read – pareidolia does not come more magnificent than this). 

Diagnosis: Lunacy doesn’t come much more astonishing than Ryan McGinty, but at least they seem to be fighting ardent battles against their imaginations without bothering the rest of us too much.