Tuesday, November 24, 2015

#1527: Rose De Dan

Faith healing is silly. Giving it an orientalist flair and calling it “reiki” does not make it less silly. But Rose De Dan takes it and runs with it. De Dan bills herself as an “animal reiki shaman,” which basically means that her job consists of petting animals and wishing them well through “distance healing”. Of course, pet owners will soon discover that the practices don’t really make any difference to their pets’ health, but if the absence of any beneficial effect ever leads you to question your faith, you should turn to De Dan’s article “Reiki Does Not Always Heal the Way You Want” (yes, the title is technically true, though the word “Always” and phrase “the Way You Want” are superfluous). “Wait,” you may say; “the adherents continue to believe in the technique just as strongly even though it rather obviously has no beneficial effect? Isn’t that completely delusional?” Well, perhaps, but keep in mind that we are talking religion here – and pet owners who, in the name of religion, forgo the care that their pets need in favor of faith healing. According to De Dan reiki provides “other benefits” and the practitioner may not always be able to see what those benefits are. You can, however, send “reiki energy back in time to heal yourself.” De Dan suggests, once reiki has failed to heal your pet, that you send reiki energy back in time to heal yourself for your neglect sorrow and guilt. In other words, reiki is precisely what the practitioner wants it to be; it may not give you the results you specifically think you want, but when it doesn’t you can use it to convince yourself that the results you did get were the ones you really needed in any case.

In short, if you use reiki on your pet to cure it and the pet e.g. dies of neglect, that only means that the pet needed to die (since reiki always ensures that the victim patient gets what it needs), and that what you wanted on behalf of the pet (to get well) was in conflict with what it actually needed (to die). And then you use reiki to heal yourself of the misguided wishes (for your pet’s health) you had on your pet’s behalf.

You can see her explain in some more detail how to perform reiki on your pets here. “I would suggest asking your dog to help you practice your new skills. Approach the session by stating (to yourself), ‘I ask that this Reiki be offered for your highest healing good, and that if you do not wish to receive it, I respect your desire.’ This enlists his support, shifts focus from your need to his, and releases your focus on ‘fixing’ the issue. Next I would tell him the steps that you intend to take. Imagine yourself going through the steps in your mind, with your hands being still–this will give your dog information about what to expect and how he could cooperate.” Then you pet it. Also, you need to do some detoxification to purge your dog of evil spirits.

Diagnosis: Delusional religious fanatic.

Monday, November 23, 2015

#1526: Karen De Coster

Karen De Coster is a blogger and freelance writer and “ardent lover and student of Austrian economics,” whose posts tend to appear on Lew Rockwell and suchlikes, but have occasionally had the honor of making it all the way to PrisonPlanet. The latter group tends to include her health-related ones; you see, De Coster also “stud[ies] health and nutrition issues and I live a paleo-primal lifestyle in terms of diet.” As you’d expect, De Coster is a conspiracy theorist when it comes to health matters, and an ardent defender of health freedom – so ardent that she tends to reject all science and evidence that underpin collective health efforts like vaccines. She’s not above using NaturalNews as a source of information, and has also used this German homeopath who claims to have shown that vaccines don’t work.

In “The Vaccination Nation Aggressors Are the Neocons of the Health World”, she laments how mean skeptics of fraud, quackery and pseudoscience are when they claim that “those folks of choice who own their bodies and make decisions regarding their bodies” are “‘anti-vaccine loons’ because they they don’t want their healthy body, or the healthy bodies of their loved ones, to be stuffed with the government-patented, high-profit, untested, unproven, toxin-loaded drugs of the Big Government-Big Pharma, corporate-state regime?” That pretty much sums up De Coster’s view of the world: Big Pharma and Big Government are in a conspiracy to inject us with toxins for profit, and they wish to force us to vaccinate because … because they simply don’t like that people have the freedom of choice, presumably because they are commies and commies hate freedom. People who accept the science of vaccination are, on the other hand, “fucking retards and mindless automatons,” and examples of how “people love to be slaves.” Also, “how is my unvaccinated kid a danger to your unvaccinated kid if vaccines work?” No, she doesn’t really understand the point, but she’s damn sure that science really is a politically motivated conspiracy against Austrian economics.

And critics of alternative medicine? “Really? The definition of alternative is ‘something available as another opportunity,’ or ‘choice,’ or ‘behavior that is considered unconventional and is often seen as a challenge to traditional norms.’ And the problem with that is…? The problem is that the pushers of collective thinking can’t stand a dissident outlier.” Gotcha. She is, however, probably onto the very reason why altmed promoters chose to call their quackery “alternative” to begin with.

Unsurprisingly, she is a firm supporter of both Russell Blaylock and Joe Mercola, whereby she is “resisting tyranny one word at a time.

She has also ranted against e.g. the idea that eating meat “is being conveniently linked to a ‘larger carbon footprint,’ another one of those symbolic labels that can’t be quantified without political intimidation and corporate-special interest meddling.” In reality, it’s all about the government trying to control what you do. “Sustainable” is a catchword “of the next generation of food tyrants.” She generally seems to dismiss global warming as a conspiracy by “envirocommunists” (or global alarmist fascists). Whatever’s politically convenient for her.

Diagnosis: De Coster really is a good example of the inability of some wingnuts to distinguish scientific evidence from political ideology; and since her political views are anti-establishment (in some sense), anti-science is, to her, a natural extension. Given the feebleness of her rants on medicine she is (hopefully) probably rather harmless, but her guiding sentiment is surely not.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

#1525: Ed Decker

A veritable legend in pseudoscience and religious conspiracy theory circles, John Edward Decker is particularly famous for his studies, books, and public presentations on the perceived negative aspects of the LDS church … as well as Freemasonry, for good measure (they’re related, according to Decker). Decker is himself a former member of the LDS Church and a prominent early member of a fundie group for ex-Mormons called Saints Alive in Jesus. His views are nicely laid out in his book The God Makers: A Shocking Expose of What the Mormon Church Really Believes (co-authored with Dave Hunt). Of course, it is not particularly difficult to find some quaint beliefs and poor reasoning in the LDS church, but Decker sort of chooses a different line of attack. After the book had been turned into a documentary, Decker promptly claimed to have prevented millions of conversions to the Mormon church, but was unable to substantiate the conjecture.

According to Decker, Mormonism isn’t only silly, it is sinister: Dark, supernatural forces are guiding the movement: “[A] careful investigation indicates that Joseph Smith was in touch with a superhuman source of revelation and power that has been the common inspiration behind all pagan religions down through history.” I don’t think “careful investigation” means what Decker thinks it means. It’s all about spiritual warfare, and like the teachings of C. Peter Wagner, Decker’s views are heavily influenced by various fantasy books and Hollywood horror movies of the 70s. In the 1980s Decker even worked with William Schnoebelen, no less – and Schnoebelen wrote an article, “Joseph Smith and the Temple of Doom” for Decker’s newsletter (a title that should give you an idea of how Decker and Schnoebelen view Mormon practices). When criticized by other anti-Mormon activists, such as Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Decker and his gang promptly accused them of being double agents for the Mormons and, for good measure, possessed by evil spirits – the proof of demonic possession apparently being the fact that they refused an offer of exorcism.

On Freemasonry, Decker has written What You Need To Know About Masons and The Dark Side of Freemasonry, as well as (with one Ron Carlson) Fast facts on false teachings, which deals with “false systems of worship” in general, including Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, and the Word of Faith movement. As for freemasons, they are responsible for the design of the street layout of Washington, D.C. to deliberately incorporate occult symbols, including an inverted pentagram with the bottom pointing directly at the White House (yes, that one). Most conspiracy theorists are stumped on the question of why they would do that, but Decker isn’t, since he doesn’t require a rational basis for the answer anyways: “The satanic pentagram under which the White House sits is an open door through which Satan has access to our president.”

Apparently the freemasons have, in return for his efforts, tried to poison him with “a lethal dose of arsenic”, but God saved him. They also steal anti-Masonic books like his from libraries, which is proof that they are evil, even though the only evidence he provides for such thefts is the fact that they are an evil conspiracy and evil conspiracies do these kinds of things (also, those who pick up Decker’s books from the libraries may not always have the sort of presence of mind that make them reliable and timely returners of library books).

Diagnosis: At least he doesn’t underestimate his own self-importance, which really seems to be what is driving a lot of these conspiracy theorists. Batshit insane.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

#1524: Vicky DeBold

The National Vaccine Information Center is a deranged hub of conspiracy theorists devoted to the promotion of pseudo-scientific denialism about vaccines. Being that organization’s director of research and safety is not anything to be proud of and if you, like Vicky DeBold, hold that position while being an RN and a PhD, your career has taken a serious wrong turn at some point. In fact, DeBold has, according to her bio at NVIC, extensive experience “as an ICU nurse, health care administrator, health policy analyst and research scientist primarily focusing on pediatrics and patient safety.” At present, she is even “Research Scientist and Affiliate Faculty member at George Mason University in the Health Administration and Policy Department where she teaches Health Services Research Methods and Introduction to the US Healthcare System.”

Yet the NVIC remains one of the most influential anti-vaccine organizations in the US, and DeBold is an anti-vaxxer. Crankery rarely comes in isolation, however, and like many anti-vaxxers, DeBold is apparently also attracted to the anti-GMO movement – after all, anti-GMO crackpottery is also often characterized by fallacious appeals to nature, and tends to rely on strikingly similar types of misinformation and pseudo- or bad science to attack GMOs as the anti-vaccine movement uses to attack vaccines. And when you’re both antivaxx and a GMO-conspiracy theorist, there’s at least one move that you can’t resist: According to DeBold, you should be deeply concerned about those GM vaccines, some of which are already on the CDC’s recommended vaccine schedule. Frankenvaccines, really. And it doesn’t matter what science, evidence or tests say – intuitions tell DeBold that such unnatural abominations can be nothing but unholy: Foreign DNA will contaminate your child’s precious bodily fluids and affect your child’s essence, or something. “I think the use of foreign DNA in various forms has a potential to cause a great deal of trouble. Not only because there is the potential for it to recombine with our own DNA, but there is the potential for it to turn the DNA’s switches, the epigenetic parts of the DNA, on and off.” And the proposed mechanism by which this is supposed to happen? Black magick, it seems. Certainly there are few other alternatives.

Given her credentials, DeBold is, however, a popular speaker at various antivaxx quackfests, including Autism One, where she e.g. in 2010 tried to tell attendants how “[i]n addition to producing antibodies, vaccine adjuvants can stimulate the immune system to produce abnormal responses in some individuals leading to autoimmunity and chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.” Or what about this one? That is what the term “cargo cult science” was invented to describe.

Diagnosis: Yes, there are serious cranks with real credentials out there – and though they are few, they do wield an uncanny amount of influence (mostly precisely because they stand out). DeBold is as seriously cranky as they come, and definitely among the more dangerous ones.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

#1523: Jeannie DeAngelis

Jeannie DeAngelis’s qualifications include being a mother and being a grandmother, and she writes about politics (or whatever) for American Thinker, RenewAmerica and, at least occasionally, Breitbart, focusing on issues that ostensibly reveal a lot about … well, herself, mostly. For Breitbart she did for instance throw a fit because Obama had an iconic Norman Rockwell painting installed temporarily in the White House. According to DeAngelis “The President’s taste in artwork indicates that America’s ‘post-racial president’ may be secretly nursing a deep-seated wound.  It’s either that, or he’s uninterested in fostering unity.” Indeed, “Barack’s behavior has exposed yet another example of his duplicitous insincerity.  Because when it comes to the ‘ugliest [religious] episode in U.S. history,’ the President has been more than willing to extend the same level of forgiveness and understanding to Muslim Americans that hanging Norman Rockwell’s disquieting painting deprives white America. Choosing to present such an explosive representation of prejudice toward blacks outside the office of an American president is on par with the message Muslim Americans might get if Obama displayed a painting of September 11th hijacker-pilot Mohammed Atta preparing to crash into the World Trade Towers.” Certainly the analogy does tell you something about DeAngelis’s mind. Then there is this one.

Apart from that, she covers the usual stuff, from global warming denialism (a conspiracy) to accusing Obama of forcing companies to subsidize abortions through Obamacare as part of a concerted effort to eliminate Christians – according to DeAngelis, Muslims are exempted from the health care mandate because Obama is really on their side; he “acquiesces, without question, to the tenets of the Koran.” And, after lamenting the ills of contraception (and gay marriage), she concludes with a rhetorical question “as to why a President so focused on controlling so many Americans’ reproductive habits.” No, self-awareness is not her strong suit. And commenting on an effort to photoshop the Obama family onto a picture of a chimpanzee family, DeAngelis had to ask “why, in some circles, does an image of a monkey instantly evoke racial overtones?” Well, I don’t know how to answer that one in a manner that would make the answer intelligible to her, but can we at least wager the bet that DeAngelis doesn’t have many black friends?

Diagnosis: I have no idea what she’s smoking, but at least it gives her few inhibitions when it comes to exposing her own deranged psyche to the public.