Friday, July 21, 2017

#1873: Joseph La Rue

Joseph La Rue is a wingnut and legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and he is – of course – most famous for being virulently anti-gay. La Rue thinks for instance that Christians will be “treated as second class citizens by their government” if they are not allowed to treat gay people as second-class citizens, which I think is as good a definition of “bigotry” as any, even though La Rue probably doesn’t like being called “bigot”. La Rue made the claim in connection with the 2014 Arizona gay segregation bill that ADF helped craft, and said that the bill “is not about denying service,” which it rather emphatically is.

Apart from fighting against gay rights, La Rue is a bitter and aggressive combatant in the imaginary War on Christmas.

Diagnosis: Bigot.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

#1872: Don Larsen

Don Larsen is – or used to be (we can’t quite find the relevant information) – chairman of legislative District 65 for the Utah County Republican Party. In 2007 Larsen gained a bit of attention after he apparently submitted a resolution warning that Satan’s minions want to eliminate national borders and do away with sovereignty.

In a speech at the convention where he proposed the resolution, Larsen told those willing to listen that illegal immigrants “hate American people” and “are determined to destroy this country, and there is nothing they won’t do.” They are apparently in control of the media, and working in tandem with Democrats to “destroy Christian America” and replace it with “a godless new world order – and that is not extremism, that is fact.” It is, of course, extremism, not fact, and that Larsen felt the need to explicitly claim the opposite should perhaps have been a clue. At the end of his speech, Larsen apparently began crying, saying illegal immigrants were trying to bring about the destruction of the U.S. “by self invasion.”

According to his resolution, in order for Satan to establish his “New World Order and destroy the freedom of all people, as predicted in the Scriptures, he must first destroy the U.S.” The resolution then proposed to “prevent the destruction of the U.S. by stealth invasion” by closing the borders, thus trapping everyone in there with Larsen.

Diagnosis: This is not an exception. The voter base for a significant proportion of wingnut politicians consists precisely of people who respond to such public displays of deranged lunacy by voting for them. We haven’t heard about Larsen since this, but there are plenty of likeminded people out there running for office and receiving the support from morons.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

#1871: Jack "Kewaunee" Lapseritis

Ah, yes: Bigfoot. Now, Bigfoot is a pretty silly myth, and bigfoot cryptozoology is pitifully ridiculous, but even tinfoil hat groups like the Bigfoot hunters have their own radical fringes. The late paranormal investigator Jon-Erik Beckjord (called “perhaps the most colorful character in the history of the Internet”) theorized that the lack of hard evidence for Bigfoot’s existence is due to the creature being an interdimensional being that slips in and out of dimensions (rather than, you know, the fact that it doesn’t exist), and many – starting with B. Ann Slate and Alan Berry in 1976 – have linked bigfoot to UFOs, telepathic experiences and incoherent mumbo-jumbo.

Despite a distinct lack of empirical data to back up such hypotheses, people have picked up the thread; Jack “Kewaunee” Lapseritis, for instance, argues in his book The Sasquatch People and Their Interdimensional Connection (2011) that 187 documented cases have “objectified the reality of dimensional bigfoot creatures”. It seems that bigfoot, according to Kewaunee (it’s a bit hard to tell), utilize the multiverse to jump dimensions. Kewaunee’s grasp of the multiverse hypothesis is, needless to say, tenuous and rudimentary. There is also quantum: “[q]uantum physics describes the reality of mental telepathy, invisibility, inter-dimensionalism, and other PSI phenomena, and is actually juxtaposed with psychic Sasquatch and ET behavior,” as Lapseritis sees it. It does not.

Apparently Lapseritis’s work consists mostly of telepathic field work – according to himself, “Kewaunee has been successful in his research because of his benign, spiritual, field methodology (no guns or cameras) – not unlike Dr. Jane Goodall’s approach with chimpanzees, except the Sasquatch are highly evolved nature people. They are terrestrial extraterrestrials, living inside giants’ bodies.” Using senses unavailable to most humans, Lapseritis has apparently intuited for instance that the Bigfoot race was brought to Earth (“seeded”) by the Star People long before humans, ostensibly to provide us with psychic guidance: in 2012, for instance (The Sasquatch People was published in 2011) “there will be a huge shift in human consciousness that most earthlings are ill prepared to face. The Sasquatch people, who are the ultimate environmentalists, want to share their ancient wisdom with the human, but few are listening.” Lapseritis has also written The Psychic Sasquatch and Their UFO Connection.

You can read more about it all on his strikingly designed website (embellished with random capitalizations and lots of different fonts). According to the book blurb for The Sasquatch People, Lapseritis himself is “a Holistic Health Consultant, as well as a Master Herbalist and Wellness Educator with 37 years of training and service in this field. Among many other resources for training, Kewaunee studied Herbalogy/Botany with the Ojibwa traditional shaman, Keewaydinoquay, PhD in Ethno-Botany; he is also a Master Dowser and a Sasquatch and ET contactee. Kewaunee is a world-traveled/trained herbalist who twice healed himself of cancer by natural herbal remedies and formulas.” Right.

In September 2017 Kewaunee and “spiritual teacher” Kelly Lapseritis (probably related) will host the second annual Spiritual and Psychic Sasquatch Conference, where they will apparently speak “on behalf of the Sasquatch People, Mother Earth and all of Humanity” and “propose a spiritual and ecological approach to healing our planet and our own collective soul consciousness.” Apparently their “speakers will share their own personal encounters with these sentient beings as well as the messages that have been shared with them to assist in improving and healing ourselves, relationships, and perspective realities,” and they include, in addition to the Lapseritises:

- SunBôw, author of The Sasquatch Message to Humanity Part 1 and 2.
- Andrew Robson, author of Sasquatch Revelations and Symbols from Beyond the Veil.
- Garrett Duncan, Navajo Shaman.
- Su Walker, Clairvoyant and Medical Intuitive.
- White Otter, Shamanic Practitioner.

Diagnosis: Completely harmless, of course, and probably of limited influence. And one cannot, in all honesty, help feeling a bit of sympathy with how special he is and his possession of all these unique, magic abilities that few seem to take seriously.

Monday, July 17, 2017

#1870: Angela Lanfranchi

Angela Lanfranchi is an anti-abortion activist and cofounder of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute. She is currently one of the most vocal defenders on the utterly discredited idea, based on ridiculous junk science, that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer – a central tenet of her institute – and probably the most important defender of that particularly who actually should have some formal competence in the field and who actually takes care of breast cancer patients for a living (she is not a scientist, though). Lanfranchi has herself published arguments in favor of such a link in the pseudojournal JPANDS, the house journal of the deranged conspiracy theory group The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which should relieve her of all assumptions of minimal credibility with regard to the issue. She is nevertheless somewhat influential, insofar as many of those unable or unwilling to look at the science are attracted to her conclusions for political reasons.

According to Lanfranchi, “[i]t amounts to child abuse to take a teenager in a crisis pregnancy for an abortion. At best, it will give her a 30% risk of breast cancer in her lifetime. At worst, if she also has a family history of breast cancer, it will nearly guarantee this.” The numbers are effectively PIDOOMA (discussed in detail here). Then she appeals to the Semmelweis gambit and asserts that doctors don’t dare tell you this because they’re afraid of their reputations, which they honestly should be if they said this since the claim has been completely debunked.

Conclusion: Crank who shamelessly pushes pseudoscience for ideological reasons. As such, she also has a certain influence among those who, for non-evidence-based reasons, agree with her conclusions. Sad.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

#1869: Janis Lane

Janis Lane is – or at least used to be – the president of the Central Mississippi Tea Party. In 2012 she got some attention even outside of Central Mississippi, though, when she argued that women shouldn’t vote: “Probably the biggest turn we ever made was when the women got the right to vote,” said Lane: “Our country might have been better off if it was still just men voting. There is nothing worse than a bunch of mean, hateful women. They are diabolical in how than can skewer a person. I do not see that in men. The whole time I worked, I’d much rather have a male boss than a female boss. Double-minded, you never can trust them. Because women have the right to vote, I am active, because I want to make sure there is some sanity for women in the political world. It is up to the Christian rednecks and patriots to stand up for our country.” The sentiment was later echoed by by a Toronto website that calls itself the “newsmagazine of the Islamic movement,” in a critique of American culture. Then there was this, for which we would like to know the context.

Diagnosis: One cannot quite shake the suspicion that Lane is involved in a grand scheme to make the Tea Party look bad … but no: she’s just a delusional extremist.