Friday, June 24, 2016

#1679: Glenn Gruenhagen

More delusional derangedness in the state legislatures, this time in Minnesota. Glenn Gruenhagen has been serving as a representative since 2010, and has been a vocal proponent of climate change denialism and associated conspiracy theories. According to Gruenhagen, climate change is a “complete United Nations fraud and lie,” and as a source he cites “the latest facts from CPAC,” no less, which “show that in the last sixteen years there’s been no global warming.” Yeah, that one.

Oh, but he is also into gay rights conspiracies, as you probably expected. According to Gruenhagen, homosexuality is a “sexual addiction” and an “unscientific lie” (keep in mind Gruenhagen’s reference to CPAC for his scientific facts). On what grounds is it unscientific? “The human genome map was completed in 2003. There is no gay gene. Okay?” It’s interesting to ponder what else would be “unscientific lies” by that criterion. Gruenhagen dismissed Alfred Kinsey’s work on the grounds that he was a “filthy, perverted unscientific liar” and called for all of his research to be destroyed. He has also asserted that “the concept of sexual orientation was started by Sigmund Freud … he’s a pervert, he’s a moron in my opinion, and I don’t believe in anything that he came up with.” Granted, “in my opinion” isn’t much worse as a source of scientific evidence than CPAC. He has also urged his constituents to “resist the implementation of the gay agenda in public and parochial schools,” and has claimed that in Massachusetts there have already been cases where “citizens who would not succumb to politically correct speech have been charged with hate crimes.” That information (false, of course) he got from the anti-gay organization MassResistance, Brian Camenker’s group. Which may, in fact, be an even more ridiculous source of “facts” than CPAC.

Diagnosis: Moron who tries to weigh up for his lack of intellectual clout with passionated hatred, paranoia, conspiracy theories and bigotry. Which is pretty common, but never a particularly pretty sight.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

#1678: Wayne Grudem

Wayne Grudem is a fanatic Biblical inerrantist and evangelical theologian – he has suggested that being non-Christian (by his narrow definition of Christianity) is immoral – most famous for his advocacy of letting the Bible control absolutely every single aspect of life, including those not covered in the Bible, and for being the founder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) (current president is Mississippi pastor J. Ligon Duncan, III). Yeah, you get the idea. They advocate complementarianism. Focus on the Family is heavily inspired by their work. Grudem is also the editor (with John Piper) of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (which was named “Book of the Year” by Christianity Today in 1992) and the author of Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: an Analysis of over 100 Disputed Questions. You can probably guess your way to his and the CBMW’s position on gay marriage (complete with made-up statistics).

As a Biblical inerrantist it is hardly surprising that Grudem is a creationist – though he suspends judgment on whether he’ll plump for the old-earth or the young-earth variety. To his credit (or whatever you call it) he doesn’t even really bother to try to engage with the science when it comes to scientific questions. Grudem does Bible. Science, truth, evidence or reality aren’t even on his radar.

In 2016 Grudem was one of several fundamentalist recruited to serve on Marco Rubio’s Religious Liberty Advisory Board, which promoted religion very much indeed but had little time for promoting liberty in any recognizable sense of the word.

Diagnosis: This is what the Taliban was made of. Really. Grudem’s views on political and social issues are indistinguishable but for the names. He is also very influential and thus extremely dangerous.

Friday, June 17, 2016

#1677: Glenn Grothman

A.k.a. Rick Santorum’s “soul mate” (according to himself)

Oh, the state legislatures (again). Glenn Grothman is a village idiot state senator from Wisconsin who managed to serve 22 years as a representative/senator before he – instead of being laughed out of the house – got himself elected to Congress in 2014.

As you’d expect, Grothman has weighed in on social issues with little insight but plenty of dumb. Gay rights is an important one, of course. Grothman opposed a provision in a 2010 Wisconsin sex education law that prohibited teachers from promoting bias based on sexual orientation: homosexuality shouldn’t be mentioned at all in schools beause the instructors who lead these talks would invariably have an “agenda” to persuade students to become gay since homosexuals “would like it if more kids became homosexuals,” and that would eventually lead to divine punishment.

He was also concerned about what God might think of the United States in light of more recent government efforts to fight discrimination based on sexual orientation – in particular the government’s ungodly opposition to Uganda’s draconian anti-gay laws – and said that Republicans, conservatives, and church leaders were not confronting the issue of homosexuality and were therefore “losing the issue” (huh!). It’s also the end of America: “We had such a great country in the relatively recent past. Now America, supposed to be the light of the world, instead we’re the light going in the opposite direction.” Indeed, same-sex marriage is an insult to those who fought in the Civil War because those soldiers were fighting to make America more Christian. Yes, he said that.

In a 2012 press release Grothman argued that Kwanzaa is not a real holiday but invented by people who intended to destroy America: “almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa – just white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people’s throats in an effort to divide Americans” (cause the only reason for disagreeing with Grothman is that you wish to divide America). Instead, we should “treat Kwanzaa with the contempt it deserves before it becomes a permanent part of our culture.” Meanwhile Martin Luther King Day is “an insult to all the other taxpayers around the state.” (Of course, Grothman has also advocated a seven-day work week.)

He supported Governor Scott Walker’s decision to repeal the Wisconsin Equal Pay Act, claiming that “once you break it down by married and unmarried, the differential disappears.” That’s of course false, but Grothman explicitly addressed the studies showing that the claim is false by rejecting them and pointing out that “you could argue that money is more important for men.” In 2012, he introduced a state Bill 202, which would have repealed the Equal Pay Enforcement Act and a bill that would require the state’s Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to officially label single parenthood “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect,” saying that the “Left and the social welfare establishment want children born out of wedlock because they are far more likely to be dependent on the government.”  You see, it is all a conspiracy; the government is secretly trying to “destroy the nuclear family”. Grothman tried to argue that out-of-wedlock birth rate is the “choice of the women,” who should be “educated that this is a mistake.” And when shown statistics about the high number of pregnancies that are unintended, Grothman dismissed them by saying that many women are “trained” to lie and say that their planned pregnancies are actually unintended. It is really part of a “war on men” (“our country is not going to survive if we continue this war on men”), in fact, conducted through welfare and diversity efforts – so, a war on white men, to be more precise: In a 2009 press release on diversity programs at the University of Wisconsin, he precisely raised the question: “Does the university hate white men?”

Meanwhile, he has called Planned Parenthood “the most racist organization” in the country because it is “aggressively promoting” sex-selective abortions to Asian Americans because such abortions are really popular among that group. No, he doesn’t seem to have a very sophisticated understanding of “racism”. He recently argued that Planned Parenthood’s services aren’t necessary because “as a guy” he has plenty of other health care options in his home state.

Given his proclivity for insane conspiracy theories it is little surprise that he claimed, after the 2012 election, that President Obama and Sen. Tammy Baldwin both won their elections due to fraud (he also suggested that he was eventually going to be arrested for opposing Obamacare and that the Council on Foreign Relations – a shadowy, powerful and evil organization – may be out to get him). But at least he has admitted that the point of voter ID laws is not to prevent voter fraud.

Another active conspiracy is environmentalism. Climate change “doesn’t exist,” according to Grothman, and “this environmental stuff, this is the idea that is driven by this global warming thing. Global warming is not man-made and there is barely any global warming at all, there’s been no global warming for the last twelve or thirteen years” (and let us emphasize: anyone who uses that gambit and believe it is so stupid and malinformed that they shouldn’t be trusted with opening doors without assistance). Indicative of his powers of observation, Grothman’s laments the “fact” that few Republicans are “stepping up to the plate and saying, ‘look, this global warming stuff is not going on.” (The shortage of scientists doing so concerns him less, since he is unable to see science as anything but a political game anyways).

During the 2016 primaries Grothman endorsed Ted Cruz, ostensibly because Ted Cruz was the only candidate who can protect us from single moms having anchor babies (presumably since it's the single mothers that are guided by Satan to destroy America; marriage saves them).

Diagnosis: Yes, a crazy, bigoted and obtuse wingnut. But Grothman is first and foremostly a deranged conspiracy theorist, of the kind that should really be relegated to writing rants with curious font choices and color combinations for Red Ice Creations.

Monday, June 13, 2016

#1676: Gloria Gronowicz

Quackery and pseudoscience have been infiltrating academic medicine for a while, and we have covered the phenomenon before. The University of Connecticut Health Center is another example. The Department of Surgery there is the home of Gloria Gronowicz, who for years now have been looking into the effects of energy healing on tumor growth and metastasis. “Let us use everything to help patients,” says Gronowicz to justify spending efforts and resources for years on funneling resources to study the most ridiculous, medieval magic nonsense that will, of course, not help a single patient. Energy medicine, of course, encompasses things like Reiki, qigong and Therapeutic Touch (TT), and Gronowicz is focused primarily on the latter – basically, the idea is that practitioners emit energy or spirit matter, which they call “biofields”, from their hands and can thereby cure patients without even touching them. Yes, it’s magic, nothing less.

But Gronowicz has produced “results”; she’s made posters and published articles in places like the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM) and even low-ranked “real” journals like the Journal of Orthopedic Research (the latter one is reviewed here). And in 2015 she produced “Therapeutic Touch Has Significant Effects on Mouse Breast Cancer Metastasis and Immune Responses but Not Primary Tumor Size,” which managed to achieve statistically significant results on a small sample by removing the outliers). It’s worth noting that the latter study was funded by the Trivedi Foundation: “The Trivedi Effect® is a natural phenomenon that is harnessed from the universe and is capable of transforming living organisms and non-living materials to operate at a higher level and serve a greater purpose for the welfare of humanity.”

Diagnosis: Pseudoscientific nonsense. Give it up Gloria, and spend your resources and energy on something to help patients.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

#1675: James "Bo" Gritz

Another legendary figure who has fortunately faded from public view – though: he’s been colorful, we’ll give him that. James Gordon “Bo” Gritz  is a decorated former Special Forces officer and Vietnam veteran who made a name for himself in the 80s for his conspiracy theories surrounding the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue and a couple of bizarre rescue attempts, but is probably most familiar for his two presidential campaigns in association with the white nationalist America First party in 1988 and 1992. In 1988, he ran as vice president with David Duke on a political platform advocating the re-institution of racial segregation (in fairness, Gritz thought he’d be running with James Traficant and dropped out when he met Duke). In 1992, he ran for the Populist Party under the slogan “God, Guns and Gritz” on a platform described in his isolationist manifesto “The Bill of Gritz”, which e.g. called for completely closing the border with Mexico, the dissolution of the Federal Reserve, and proclaiming the US to be a “Christian Nation” in which the legal statutes “should reflect unashamed acceptance of Almighty God and His Laws”.

Gritz was a central proponent of the rather popular conspiracy theory that there have been a concerted effort by Vietnamese and American governments (every one of them since the war) to hide the existence of POWs still alive and retained in Laos and Vietnam. In the 80s he even undertook a series of private trips to locate POWs, though the missions were uniformly failures: partially the failures can of course be attributed to the always heavily emphasized secrecy of the missions being undermined by Gritz’s pathological inability to avoid drawing attention to himself and publicizing his attempts – in addition to the nonexistence of the POWs that were supposed to be rescued (some might suspect that the latter is a reason for the former – despite being funded by people like Clint Eastwood and Ross Perot, Gritz’s missions bore an uncanny resemblance to missions to locate Bigfoot, in more than one way). He did, however, succeed in cranking up the conspiracy theories, concluding for instance that US government was covering up the existence of the POWs as part of a bigger cover-up of their involvement in organized drug traffic with South East Asian mafia. In the late 80s he founded the Christic Institute for the purpose of pursuing a lawsuit against the U.S. government over these issues but little seems to have come from it, apart from his books A Nation Betrayed and Called To Serve, which expanded on the conspiracy theories to encompass e.g. JFK assassination conspiracies (JFK was assassinated because he was about to abolish the Federal Reserve and have the Treasury Department begin printing United States Notes – the drug traffic conspiracy runs deep) and various New World Order ravings.

His next organization, the Center For Action, broadened its view and actually tried to actively build bridges between conspiracy theorists (Gritz himself was strongly influenced at least by Mary Stuart Relfe) and both leftwing and rightwing activists. His 1990 ”Freedom Call ’90” conference, for instance, featured a lineup including both October surprise conspiracy advocates, psychic and later 9/11-truther Barbara Honegger, and Eustace Mullins, no less. Gritz’s own 1992 presidential campaign was also colored by his beliefs in FEMA concentration camps, the idea that Clinton, Bush and Perot were all pawns of the Council on Foreign Relations and Trilateral Commission, as well as his fear that bar codes are the mark of the beast. His anti-war efforts in the early nineties, despite being premised on the idea that the first Gulf War was a conspiracy to implement a one-world government, actually found him some sympathy on the left, at least until they discovered his association with Christian Identity activists like Peter Peters.

During the 90s Gritz was probably most noted for his involvement in the survivalist movement, e.g. through his course SPIKE (Specially Prepared Individuals for Key Events), where opponents of the New World Order were taught paramilitary and survivalist skills that would help them survive the impending total sociopolitical and economic collapse of the US – he even established a community in Idaho called Almost Heaven (featured heavily here). To the public, however, he became probably most famous for using his influence in the Christian Patriot community to negotiate with Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge and with the militia in the famous 1996 stand-off with the Montana Freemen. He was also arrested in 2005 for his, uh, intervention (trespassing) in the Terri Schiavo case. At present he is still running some radio shows and suchlike, but seem to have faded from public view.

Diagnosis: Colorful, but not necessarily in a good way. Probably pretty harmless at this point.