Wednesday, September 17, 2014

#1156: Craig Smith

Craig Smith is an absolutely magnificently dense columnist for … well, for the WND, so you wouldn’t really set expectations too high when it comes to accuracy, reason and accountability. Indeed Smith is a long-time associate of none other than Jerome Corsi, and was for instance Corsi’s coauthor on Black Gold Stranglehold, one of the most insanely cranky books of pseudoscience ever to appear. The main tenet of the book was … abiotic oil – the idea that oil is not a fossil fuel but a renewable resource, and that the liberals are in a conspiracy to hide this information from the public. Neither Corsi nor Craig has any even remotely relevant expertise in any remotely related field, by the way, but lack of expertise, insight, knowledge or understanding has never been an obstacle for a delusional wingnut crackpot.

Otherwise his columns are of the kind you fear and expect. You can for instane try to find some sense of insight in his expression of shock at the atrocity that US is not enforcing prayer in public schools anymore, but you certainly won’t succee. But then, Smith has demonstrably not the faintest idea how government, or the separation of powers, actually works. And he wasn’t done. If this isn’t one of the stupidest screeds you will ever read, you must have found a well of lunacy I am not aware of.

Standard fare for Smith. Indeed, Smith claims that the goal of “secular progressives” is to eliminate Christianity and Judaism from the US and turn it into a godless society – a standard wingnut delusion, of course, but Smith is determined to win this one, so he claims that the reason secular progressives are doing this is to appease the terrorists. That’s the goal of secularism. Apparently it will succeed because there is nothing radical Muslims like better than secular progressives. He even has evidence. Apparently he has received a copy of a “secret plan” from George Soros (the right’s current boogey man du jour), John Kerry, Michael Moore and Howard Dean. It is a bit unclear whether he means that literally, but after his abysmal abiotic oil affair I’d say it’s a fair chance he does.

Diagnosis: Even for a raving wingnut lunatic Smith is in a class of his own. May he continue to make a fool of himself for a long time: His negative influence is probably negligible – people who listen to him are unlikely to be responsive to reality anyways – but he’s got to scare away at least some people initially attracted to wingnuttery.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

#1155: Chuck Smith

Charles Ward “Chuck” Smith is the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, which now includes thousands of congregations worldwide, some of which are among the largest churches in the United States. If ever he had used this kind of influence for good! Well, there is little danger of that, and Smith has instead opted for the “deranged fundamentalist moron” approach to things (John Todd used to claim that Smith was an Illuminati lord, but that is a different story). In his 1978 book End Times, for instance, Smith predicted that the generation of 1948 would be the last generation, and that the world would end by 1981 at the latest (though he also stated that he “could be wrong” although “it’s a deep conviction in my heart, and all my plans are predicated upon that belief,” although he somehow didn’t jeopardize his worldly wealth). Calvary Chapel did arrange a New Years Eve service in 1981 for their followers to wait for the end to occur in accordance with Smith's prediction, and lost some followers when it failed to pass.

But Smith didn’t give up, and he has continued to connect disasters, including 9/11, to divine wrath against homosexuality and abortion.

Calvary Chapel is best known as a central player in the Jesus freak movement (which also spawned e.g. Morris Cerullo, Russell Doughten and Mike Warnke), and rose to power largely by catering to hippies and alternative groups in the 60s. The movement is also partially responsible for inflicting Christian rock upon the world and – not the least – Ray Comfort, who started out as a Calvary minister.

Smith has also raised some controversy for buying influence at and sponsorship from government institutions, including army bases, to preach his hate and doom. That should have been a scandal, but somehow it hasn’t really been received as such.

Diagnosis: Evil, old lunatic who wields scary amounts of power but may, fortunately, be too deranged to be able to employ it to maximum effect. Still. 

Note: Chuck Smith passed away in October 2013, but I had written most of this entry before I noticed. I hence decided to post it anyways, even though Smith is strictly speaking disqualified.

Monday, September 15, 2014

#1154: Chris Smith

Christopher Henry “Chris” Smith is the U.S. Representative for New Jersey’s 4th congressional district, and has been in that game since 1981. That’s a lot of time to do a lot of damage, and Smith has been pretty busy about it. Now, in fairness, Smith does appear to have made some efforts to help protect women who are victims of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence, though one might very well wonder even about these contributions given his difficulties in understanding “rape”, his attempts to get women who hadn’t been “forcibly” (what Todd Akin would call “legitimately”) raped to pay for abortions out of their own pockets, and his suggestion that all sexual assult survivors undergo investigations by the IRS.

He is, though, very much opposed to abortion, and has called Obama the “abortion president” for appointing “radically pro-abortion” people to the government, people who are promoting “evil” with an “anti-child, anti-woman mentality.” (Yes, he seems to think that keeping abortions legal is “anti-woman”). He has even endorsed some rather ridiculous conspiracy theories about “hidden abortion mandates” in Obamacare.

Apart from that, Smith was, together with Trent Franks, adamant that the US should ally themselves with fundamentalist Islamist countries to oppose United Nations’ recognitions of LGBT rights. And even within the US he maintains some scary ties to dominionist terrorist organizations.

Smith has also been among the staunchest supporters on giving federal grants to religious and other groups on the grounds that their moral outlook fits with his own. For instance, he supports grants to religious-based work promoting sexual abstinence in Africa, all the while complaining that the administration might wrongly be supporting some nonprofit groups that are pro-prostitution, pro-abortion and not committed enough to abstinence priorities – indeed, the “sexual health analyst” for his ally Focus on the Family, Linda Klepacki, said that “even some religious groups emphasize condoms over abstinence” in the fight against AIDS. And Chris Smith cannot have that!

Diagnosis: Fundie extremist. Smith is not the loudest or most flamboyantly batshit representative in Congress, but he is a hardcore supporter of evil and highly dangerous.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

#1153: Alice Smith

Alice Smith became more widely known by being part of the impressive group of extremist fundies and dominionists Rick Perry assembled for his infamous Prayer Rally (“The Response”) in 2011. Smith might not have been the most famous or highly profiled fundie there, but she is pretty typical of the lot. With her husband Eddie, Smith is cofounder and executive director of the U.S. Prayer Center in Houston, a pretty prolific speaker on topics such as intercessory prayer, spiritual warfare, deliverance, and so on; editor of Insight; and author of books and articles for outlets such as the Charisma magazine. She is also a regular guest on the 700 Club and Benny Hinn’s show.

She is most famous for her promotion of “spiritual housecleaning”, and has even written a book on the topic. We’ll let her explain:

Demons do not need a specific invitation to oppress and influence people’s lives; they sneak into homes, families and churches at the smallest opportunity, often under the noses of even the most vigilant believers. Spiritual House Cleaning explains, step by step, how readers can rid their lives of the enemy’s influence ... A demonically infected atmosphere is a result of ‘doors’ that have been left open – doors of sin, even the sins of previous residents and of past generations! And evil’s grip is often maintained as a result of one’s possessions. Your home should reflect the pure, peaceful presence of Christ. A defiled spiritual atmosphere will affect you, your relationships, your health and even your success.”

Apparently “cursed items”, which can include everything from shirts to rings, maintain a “spiritual umbilical cord” that attaches to you and gives demonic spirits the ability to plague you with sickness and fill your home with “spiritual pollution”. Yup, that’s the stuff Smith spends her life writing about.

Diagnosis: Yet another piece of evidence, if any were needed, of how unfit Rick Perry ever was for office. As for Smith, though, she shouldn’t really be trusted to use a doorknob without supervision. Completely insane.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

#1152: Harold Slusher

Harold Slusher is one of the grand old men of contemporary creationism, and one of the original founders of the Creation Research Society. Like so many creationist heroes his credentials are questionable. He claims to have an earned PhD from Columbia Pacific University and an honorary DSc from Indiana Christian University. But Indiana Christian is a Bible college (alumni include Joseph Chambers and Rod Parsley), and Columbia Pacific is an unaccredited diploma mill and the alma mater of quite an impressive number of frauds, including Jerry Bergman. Slusher is not alone in this; fellow founding member Clifford Burdick, for instance, got his doctorate from the University of Physical Sciences in Arizona, which is a post office box at an unaccredited institute in Phoenix. Slusher is nevertheless on the CMI List of Scientists Alive Today Who Accept the Biblical Account of Creation, but one never associated the CMI with accuracy or accountability in any case. And Slusher’s work was still invoked by Donald Chittick during the famous McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education as scientific evidence for a young earth, though Chittick’s testimonial does not appear to have helped the anti-science side.

Slusher’s most influential contributions to pseudoscience are probably his attempts to explain away the presence of impact craters on nearly all solar system objects, which naturally creates rather insuperable problems for the Young Earth position. Slusher, with Richard Mandock and Glenn Morton (who later repudiated this claim ), claimed that impact craters on the moon are subject to rock flow, and so cannot be more than a few thousand years old. In other words, they were created during … the Flood. This is not a mainstream scientific position. Slusher’s 1971 paper in Creation Research Society Quarterly claiming that there was not as much cosmic dust on the moon as would be expected if it was 4.5 billion years old, was also widely influential (Kent Hovind used that one quite a bit). Even Answers in Genesis admits that it relies on measurement inaccuracies, however.

Diagnosis: Like we said: a grand old man of pseudoscience who has devoted his life to spreading falsehoods and making the world a worse place to live. He’s pretty old now, though he will probably never realize what kind of crap he devoted his life to. Sad.