Tuesday, July 29, 2014

#1132: Sophia Shafquat

A.k.a. Sofia/Monica Smallstorm

Sofia Shafquat is another ridiculous Internet cult-celebrity of the Nancy Lieder type. She made her name for her movie “9/11 Mysteries Part 1: Demolition”, a truther pseudo-documentary intended to be the first installment in a series of three. Though it apparently looked convincing to many of those already committed to trutherism and uninterested in applying any kind of critical approach to claims purportedly supporting claims they are already committed to, Shafquat’s flick received some criticism when it was discovered that she had a edited the footage, erasing sounds and adding her own background noises, in particular explosions before and after the towers fell. Apparently she also got sued for copyright infringement by the guy who had taken the footage used in the movie. Shafquat subsequently disappeared from the web for a while in 2009.

With regard to the quality of Shafquat’s investigations, it is perhaps worth quoting her: “Right, people want me to be absolutely precise. Umm, I say that the demolition wave is moving faster than gravity itself. It is making the path for the demolition, which is falling at free fall speed. Virtual free fall speed. Again it is hard to determine how long did it take for the towers to fall visually, and I know there is seismic data that pegs it, you know, a little more accurately. Regardless, I tell people, these buildings fell in 10 seconds, they’re 110 stories. Now let’s just use our mouth to demonstrate this. If a pancake collapse can be described as ‘clunkity clunk’. How many times can you say that in 10 seconds? And if one floor is ‘clunkity clunk clunkity clunk’ you cannot say that 110 times in 10 seconds. So let’s even give it the benefit of the doubt, let’s just take off the ‘clunk’. Let’s just say ‘clunkity’. You can’t say that in 10 seconds, 110 times.” No, it’s not a parody. There were idiots nodding sagely in agreement with this kind of reasoning.

Around 2013 Shafquat reappeared, however; this time as an “expert” on chemtrails, as well as engaging in Sandy Hook conspiracies – her powerpoint presentation “Unraveling Sandy Hook in 2, 3, 4 and 5 Dimensions” is apparently on youtube. Not particularly surprising, really – even back in her truther days, she would market Holocaust denial material on her website.

Diagnosis: Worthy of comparison with legendary Internet kooks such as Nancy Lieder, Nancy Luft and Gene Ray himself. No, really: This is kook gold.

Monday, July 28, 2014

#1131: Malik Zulu Shabazz

a.k.a. Paris Lewis (original name)

Barry Setterfield is a proponent of the idea of c-decay, an idea that, despite Setterfield’s best efforts to make it untestable, has been shown to be false – not that Setterfield is very likely to change his mind for that reason. But Setterfield is Australian, and must yield the entry to someone even crazier – the inimitable Malik Zulu Shabazz. Shabazz is the chairman of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) and Black Lawyers for Justice, and a black supremacist and ardent anti-semite.

Indeed, Shabazz is on the record as one of the most vehemently anti-semitic bigots in the US today. And by combining anti-semitic bigotry with poor reasoning skills, he arrives – as so many others – at the idea of the International Jewish Conspiracy. The Jews are at least responsible for killing Nat Turner, controlling the Federal Reserve, controlling athletes and entertainers, executing 9/11 (that was actually the European Jews, who “have America under control, lock stock and barrel, the media, foreign policy”), being in charge of the Atlantic Slave Trade and being involved in a black Holocaust.

The solution? Well, Shabazz has called on people to murder Jews: “Kill every goddamn Zionist in Israel! Goddamn little babies, goddamn old ladies! Blow up Zionist supermarkets!” He also looks forward to the “white man’s demise”. There is a list of Shabazz’s claims in his own words here, and a report from a conference held by NBP and an organization called “Muslims for Truth and Justice” here; the crazy is rather … unbridled.

Shabazz has also palled around with the even somewhat obscure Imam Mohammad al-Asi, who seems to think that 9/11 was directly organized by Ariel Sharon – the claim is backed up by imagination (“[w]hy were people on Wall Street, why were those people frantically selling airline and insurance shares in the days before September 11?” is interesting as a reason for instance because it just assumes that Wall Street is controlled straight from Israel), including the idea that Sharon “was supposed to come to the U.S. on September 11, and he didn’t make his appearance here … . Did he know something the rest of us didn’t know?” Except, of course, that the idea that he was supposed to come is pure imagination and it is unclear why Sharon would even have planned to make that visit at that date if he also planned 9/11. But you know. Another lunatic Imam associated with the aforementioned conference was Abdul Alim Musa of the Masjid al Islam (and senior member of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought), who joined Shabazz and Al-Asi in concluding that “Zionists in Hollywood, the Zionists in New York, and the Zionists in D.C. […] collaborate” to “oppress Blacks and Muslims.” Shabazz is also a fan of Ghaddafi, which takes a bit of a twisted personality or a helluva lot of conspiracy theory.

Shabazz’s organization is, contrary to their own claims, relatively small, and its influence is questionable (though they tend to make headlines and garner the occasional support from high-profile figures), but it is apparently beloved by Fox News, who has invited Shabazz a dozen times to make various hosts (especially Hannity) look brave and heroic and reasonable for standing up for Jewish and white people.

Several wingnuts have claimed that Shabazz has visited the White House and is a friend of Barack Obama (but of course), which is rather easily falsified; besides, Shabazz hates Obama since Obama represents the whites.

Diagnosis: Hateful bigot and absolutely abysmally insane. Watch out for this one.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

#1130: Chris Sevier

We refused to include Phil Robertson in this Encyclopedia, but we can’t overlook Chris Sevier. Sevier apparently claims to attend the same church as Robertson and filed a lawsuit against the A&E network, GLAAD and President Obama when Robertson was suspended for bigoted comments in December 2013. Sevier put together a 91-paged complaint quoting Scripture about the sins of homosexuality and emphasizing that “[w]e live in a Christian nation, ‘Jack.’” The complaint in particular claims that A&E’s suspension of Robertson is going to have a chilling effect on other churchgoers when it comes to preaching what he believes is the word of God – in fact, this is precisely why he claims to have standing in the case. Obama was named since he is in league with A&E to “further a pro-gay agenda” (which means that Obama is named simply for having his political views). The complaint also included a series of pictures, the legal purpose of which is nebulous.

Of course, Sevier did not have standing, nor did he state any cognizable legal claim. The complaint was certainly not helped by the fact that he quoted scripture rather than legal precedents either. But Sevier is not the kind of guy who would be deterred by the fact that he has no case – he has earlier sued an impressive number of people and organizations, including Bill O’Reilly, CBS, Facebook and, in particular, Apple because his Macbook allowed him to access porn on the Internet, turning him into an addict and ruining his marriage (a very interesting case; in fact, Sevier also sued for the right to marry said Macbook in an attempt to prove the absurdity of gay marriage, brilliantly failing to recognize the “consent” part of marriages). He has also been arrested for stalking a country singer.

Diagnosis: Total moron, though one suspects that his complaints may have won him some sympathy in certain quarters.

Friday, July 25, 2014

#1129: Ralph Seelke

Creationism is littered with fake experts and people with expertise in fields irrelevant to the study of evolution. Ralph Seelke is one of few exceptions. Seelke is Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Wisconsin, Superior, and has even published in relevant fields (though nothing, of course, that challenges evolution). He is nevertheless a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, on the board of the pseudoscientific think tank known as the Biologic Institute, and on the board of editors of their pseudojournal Bio-Complexity. Indeed, given the scarcity of people with a comparable background among creationists, Seelke is quite a bit of a celebrity among his fellow denialists, and frequently called upon as an expert. He testified for instance in the Kansas Evolution Hearings and was, with Stephen Meyer and Charles Garner, selected by the Texas Board of Education for their review panel for educational materials in 2008 (also here and here).

Seelke is perhaps most famous for being the coauthor of Explore Evolution, a 2007 piece of propaganda put out by the Discovery Institute to replace Of Pandas and People as part of their wedge strategy, in which the idea was to push the concept of teaching the “strengths and weaknesses” when teaching evolution in public schools. (The Wikipedia page for the book is here; the valuable Explore Evolution Exposed website is here; a brief, succinct review can be found here). The book is not to be confused with the NSF educational program of the same name, and the creationist book title is likely to have been chosen to engender confusion. There is a good review of the books and the Discotute agenda here.

Diagnosis: He has the formal training, but evidently lacks the expertise. Seelke may not be the loudest of the pseudoscientists employed by the Discotute, but given his formal credentials he is, in fact, one of the more dangerous.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#1128: Alan Sears

Alan E. Sears used to be the Staff Executive Director of the Meese Commission (and federal prosecutor in Meese’s Justice Department during the reign of Reagan), whose role was to investigate pornography in the United States in the 1980s. Currently Sears is the president, CEO, and general counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund and a columnist at Townhall. His parting of ways with the Meese Commission is itself quite legendary: In 1986 Sears he sent a letter from the Commission over his own signature to thousands of retailers warning them, in an attempt to intimidate them into not selling Playboy and Penthouse, that they might be publically identified as pornography dealers, with the result that more than 17,000 retailers stopped carrying the magazines. The Meese Commission was promptly sued, of course, Sears’s actions found to be quite astoundingly inappropriate, and the Commission forced to retract the letter. Sears, who apparently has some trouble distinguishing his official duties from his personal agenda, quit the Department of Justice in disgust (no, not over his own actions – he’s not that kind of guy).

The Alliance Defense Fund (apparently now the Alliance Defending Freedom, though everything else remains the same, of course) is a wealthy rightwing legal group committed to fighting the War on Christmas, defending Christians’ (though only Christians) perceived rights to violate the Establishment Clause (and, of course, defending the poor, persecuted Christians who are criticized for doing so), combatting pornography (Patrick Trueman misunderstands issues here), gays, sex education, the Internet, and what they take to be leftist judicial activism (any legal decision they don’t like – a typical rant by Matt Bowman is discussed here), and fighting for their own, Orwellian interpretation of the separation of church and state – they’re a sort of twisted, wingnut parody of the ACLU, in other words. They are also funding “education” projects.

Sears also writes for the WND, for instance about gay marriage. You can discerns his ability to maintain a grasp on reality in this attempt to argue against gay marriage by analogy. (Hint: the analogy is poor. Indeed, the analogy is poor enough that it would have qualified Sears for an entry in our Enclyclopedia if he’d done nothing else.) But Sears has also written The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom Today. Why is it a threat? “Because no compromise is possible with the agenda, and those who advocate the agenda want to not only stop all disagreement – they want to punish anyone who does. It’s a form of totalitarianism.” Projection much? Also “Garden of Eden [shows that marriage] predates any human instititution.” Seriously. And this madman (still unsure? Check out this) once had an important government position. As CEO of the ADF Sears has also called for a “National Day to Pray for Marriage”, even releasing their own Prayer Guide to help ensure that the prayers are as efficacious as possible.

Diagnosis: Zealous and cognitively deficient bigot. A common condition, of course, but Sears does wield quite a bit more influence than most. Dangerous.