Tuesday, November 21, 2017

#1926: Neil Mammen

Neil Mammen is a wingnut and author of the elegantly titled Jesus is involved in politics!: Why aren’t you? Why isn’t your church? The Only Way to a Happier, Healthier, Safer and Mutually Prosperous America and 40 Days Toward a More Godly Nation: Why Only Churches Can Lead Us to a Happier, Healthier, Safer and Mutually Prosperous America (both published by the hate group the American Family Association). Mammen is the kind of guy who thinks people with political power ought to be religious fundamentalists, and is very concerned about politicians he perceives not to be true Christians™, such as Obama (so, the definition of “true Christian” is someone who agrees with Mammen on politics, in which case it follows by definition that only true Christians can govern the way Mammen would like): “… anytime you get somebody who disdains law [like Obama], doesn’t care for the law, who hates the Lawgiver and doesn’t think he deserves his sceptre, doesn’t think that the law giver knows what’s good for you, for us, then naturally you’re going to get pain, suffering, disease and death.” Note that, according to Mammen, only Christianity™ is based on reason and rationality; all other religions are based on faith.

He has also written about how to protect your kids in college, where they may be exposed to facts that contradict what their pastors taught them and discover that people of different faiths and political convictions aren’t necessary pawns of Satan.

Diagnosis: Wingnut fundie; not one of the central characters in the crazy movement, but probably not anyone you should listen to nonetheless.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

#1925: Steve Malzberg

We can’t be bothered with more than a brief note on this one. Steve Malzberg is the host of The Steve Malzberg Show, a cable news and opinion show on Newsmax TV, and a standard wingnut of the kind who claims that Obama was disturbingly like a tyrant for implementing Obamacare, and speculates that Hillary was gravely ill during her campaign because she wore “a long coat with black pants” while addressing an event in Nantucket. For the most part, however, Malzberg’s contribution to lunacy consists of giving opportunities for other wingnuts, including truthers, racists, conspiracy theorists and rambling lunatics to say crazy things. As a good wingnut himself, Malzberg has little time for science, and is, of course, a climate change denialist (that Obama is not, is further evidence that he was in danger of becoming a tyrant). In 2014, Malzberg himself argued that Honeymaid was in danger of incurring the wrath of 95% of the population in virtue of an ad featuring a homosexual couple, and in 2013 that the show “Everybody Loves Raymond” is a tool of the feminists.

Malzberg has also urged wingnuts to create conservative alternatives to popular websites that he thinks have a liberal bias: “We need a conservative Facebook, a conservative Google, a conservative Twitter,” said Malzberg; presumably he had in mind something like this.

He has also toyed with anti-vaccine ideas (for instance when defending Rand Paul’s anti-vaccine comments, and proudly described his reluctance to get his teenage son an HPV vaccine because he had bought into conspiracy theories to the effect that the HPV vaccine is dangerous (thoroughly debunked). Said Malzberg, “I’m not going to vaccinate my kid so that some female won’t get cervical cancer maybe when she’s 60 years old.”

Here Malzberg ties the Ferguson protests to Islamic extremism in the Middle East, accusing the Obama administration of sympathizing with the “grievances” of both Hamas and the Ferguson protestors, creating, as Malzberg put it, “a bizarre world of sorts.” The word “bizarre” is certainly appropriate.

Diagnosis: Wingnut and conspiracy theorist, though his primary role is to broadcast batshit insanity dropping from the mouths of other lunatics. As such, he must – as an enabler of intellectual shit shoveling – be counted as a significant threat to society and civilization.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

#1924: Carolyn Maloney

Carolyn Maloney is the U.S. Representative for New York’s 12th congressional district and, together with Bill Posey, the greatest friend of anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists in Congress (anti-vaccine conspiracies are a bipartisan thing).

For instance, Maloney introduced the “Comprehensive Comparative Study of Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Populations Act of 2007” (H.R. 2832) legislation that would require the National Institutes of Health, ostensibly to conduct a comprehensive comparative study of vaccinated and unvaccinated populations in support of spurious claims asserting a link between vaccines and autism, and partially guided by the standard anti-vaccine myth that there are no large-scale studies comparing the health outcomes of vaccinated and unvaccinated children (there are, of course, but they don’t show what antivaccine advocates want them to show, so they want new ones to be conducted until they get different results). The bill did not pass, so Maloney (unsuccessfully) re-introduced it in 2008.

She introduced similar legislation (with Bill Posey) in 2013 to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct or support a study comparing total health outcomes, including risk of autism, between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. The details are discussed here; note how the bill assumes that scientists are in a conspiracy to hide the truth and effectively says that research done by qualified researchers shouldn’t count in the study (qualified researchers tend to be biased by truth and accuracy.)

And make no mistake: Maloney is antivaccine, and has been caught parroting anti-vaccine nonsense on several occasions, such as Dan Olmsted’s false claim that the Amish don’t vaccinate and don’t get autism. And during a hearing held by by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee she grilled CDC representatives demanding to know why autism prevalence has gone from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 88. Of course, there is no autism epidemic (there really isn’t) and the perceived increase in autism is due primarily to developments of screening programs, broadening of diagnostic criteria, diagnostic substitution, better detection and increased awareness. So to prevent the CDC representative from responding with facts Maloney emphasized that she “doesn’t want to hear that we have better detection” – yup: “explain this to me, but do so without referring the actual facts, since I reject those.” Maloney, who has no background in medical research, claimed that detection cannot account for a jump from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 88, even though there are plenty of examples from medical science of screening programs, broadening of diagnostic criteria, diagnostic substitution, and better detection accounting for even larger increases in the prevalence of a condition. So yes, Maloney has already decided that the vaccine program or some other environmental factor (that is, vaccines) is causing an “autism epidemic,” which doesn’t exist, and to support her position, she adopts the nonsensical “too many too soon” trope so beloved by antivaccinationists.

It’s also worth noting that Maloney marched with Jenny McCarthy in her infamous antivaccine Green Our Vaccines rally in 2008.

In addition to her antivaccine views, it is worth pointing out that Maloney co-sponsored the 2009 reintroduction of the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act to limit public access to scientific research (some details here and here. (Maloney was bought and paid by Elsevier to do so.)

Diagnosis: Maloney is scientifically utterly ignorant, and as such staunchly anti-science. And to support that position, Maloney subscribes to conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, she also has the power and influence to use her anti-science views and commitment to conspiracy theories to really do substantial harm. We count her as one of the more dangerous loons in the US at present.