Thursday, May 5, 2016

#1660: Steven Gollmer

If nothing else, the Discovery Institute’s petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism nicely illustrates the bankruptcy of the DiscoTute anti-evolution campaigns (and their Intelligent Design movement, which really is just an anti-evolution movement). Of course, the value of appealing to petitions in discussing scientific questions is one thing; another is that the signatories they actually got constitute a motley crew at best, many of whom are non-scientists and few of whom are actually experts in any relevant areas; and even if they were experts, which they aren't, they would in any case only comprise a negligible fraction of working scientists in the fields. To illustrate that, the National Center for Science Education initiated their own tongue-in-cheek response, Project Steve, a list of living scientists named “Steve” (or variants of the name) who support evolution. As of 2012 the list contained 1187 signatures – as many as the total number of signatories to the Discovery Institute list – of which two-thirds are qualified biologists; and, as random searches quickly reveal, the Project Steve signatories are overall far more consistently active scientists and researchers with real credentials than the Discovery Institute list. To underscore that point, the Discovery Institute’s list had 12 or 13 signatories whose names would have qualified them for the Steve list as of 2012 (possibly a few more if you count middle names, which are usually not given on the Discovery list), of whom at least two are non-scientists (Stephen Meyer and Stephen Cheesman), one a certified crackpot (Stephan Gift), and a single one of whom is a biologist, C. Steven Murphree, who has later regretted his involvement with the Discovery list and signed Project Steve instead. One almost feel sorry for them.

Steven Gollmer is another “Steve” on the Discovery Institute list, and a fairly typical entry. Gollmer does have a PhD in Atmospheric Science from Purdue (which has little to do with evolution) and is currently affiliated with Cedarville University, a small Bob-Jones-University-like institution in Ohio that teaches young-earth-creationism and requires all students to have a minor in Bible studies. Like most institutions of that kind, Cedarville faculty is notoriously inbred (i.e. many of their “scientific” faculty have their degrees from … Cedarville), but Gollmer is apparently an exception. What about his scientific credentials? In line with the school’s position Gollmer has declared that “[o]ur approach to science and origins is based on the presupposition that our highest and ultimate authority is the unchanging Word of God,” which effectively means that he rejects the science part of it all. He has also been active in creationist attempts to impose lesson plans on the Ohio State Board of Education, and is a signatory to the CMI list of scientists alive today who accept the biblical account of creation.

Diagnosis: He might have a degree, but Steven Gollmer is not a scientist, and he hates science to the core of his being. Like so many of the signatories to that Discovery Institute list.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

#1659: James Goll

James Goll is the Director of Prayer Storm, Coordinator of Encounters Alliance, and co-founder of Encounters Network, as well as author of numerous books (we don’t know them in detail, but titles like The Seer: The Prophetic Power of Visions, Dreams, and Open Heavens, Dream Language: The Prophetic Power of Dreams, Revelations or Angelic Encounters are not testament to a healthy relationship with reality). Goll is a proponent of Seven Mountains dominionism, affiliated with C. Peter Wagner, and instructor at the Wagner Leadership Institute. So he is not only a raging fundamentalist, but a true dominionist of the kind who wants a literal reading of the Bible to serve as the law. Of course, he is also, demonstrably, a false prophet, and the Bible is pretty clear about what to do with those, but the laws of the Bible should presumably only be interpreted literally when they apply to those who disagree with Goll.

His Mitt-Romney-will-win-the-2012-election prophecy is actually rather hilarious: During a baseball game in a dream he had in 2008 “the external voice of the Lord came to me saying, When the nation has been thrown a curve ball, I will have a man prepared who comes from the state of Michigan and he will have a big mitt capable of catching whatever is thrown his way… But the Lord said there would be a man prepared who would come from the state of Michigan who would have a big mitt. Little did I know at that time that Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, was born in the state of Michigan. Little did I know, when I received this in 2008, that he would win his party’s primary for the 2012 national elections!” The level of delusion required not to laugh at this drivel is staggering, but apparently people listen to James Goll. His “prophetic insights” for 2014, for instance, were less detailed (they concerned the future, after all; descriptions predictions you allegedly made about past events can be as detailed as you’d like, but predictions about the future must necessarily be a bit woolier); they still managed to reveal an absolutely deranged mind: Apparently Goll meets with angels (including “warrior angels”) the way tinfoil hatters meet with aliens, and with the help of angels Goll has received prophetic insights about spiritual warfare, the visions of “prophet Bob Jones” and achieving “the full restoration of the supernatural” and such things. Goll has also written extensively on faith healing, claiming that it trumps “science and the medical arts” (though admitting that it is a bit unpredictable).

Diagnosis: Blathering maniac; ragingly insane fundamentalist of the kind one really should expect to meet only in parodies of fundamentalists. But despite appearances to the contrary, Goll isn’t funny.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

#1658: Bruce Goldberg

Some people believe that vampires exist or even that they themselves are vampires. Of course, what they mean by “vampire” varies, and common varieties are “psychic vampires” or “energy vampires”, where “vampire” seems to be mostly a fancier name for “asshole” (or to denote people that the paranoid loons who use this terminology have decided, for whatever reason or none, that they don’t feel comfortable around).

A good example of the kind of people who believe in vampires is Inanna Arthen. Another is Bruce Goldberg. According to Goldberg energy vampires (unconsciously?) drain the energy of those unprotected people around them – though he prefers the term “psychic parasitism” (duh!). In particular, energy vampires do their damage by telepathically draining their victim’s energy resources (yes, it’s that kind of “energy”). Apparently vampires also come in different forms, including “the ethereal type”.

Goldberg, however, endeavors to help them. He offers advice on how you can ostracize protect yourself from them on his website, and “highly recommend[s] my Spiritual Growth experience CD album and my book Protected By the Light to fully benefit from this topic,” of course. His website features articles like “Reincarnation Documented Live on Network Radio” (that would be Coast to Coast AM) and “Art Bell’s Past Life in Atlantis.” There is also “Am I a Time Traveler”, which even yours truly can’t make any sense of whatsoever, but apparently time travel will be discovered in 3050 and Goldberg has met such travelers: “The first time traveler I met in hyperspace (the fifth dimension) was a pure human calling himself Traksa. He lives in the thirty-sixth century on Earth when time travel is manifested by way of teleportation. This means that Traksa can beam his physical body back to our century without requiring a spacecraft. Time travelers use names that represent their current mission. One of Traksa’s assignments consisted of introducing me to Art Bell. If you spell his name backwards it reads ‘ASK ART!’ [just think about that for a moment] I have had the pleasure of being interviewed by Art nine times. Good work Traksa.” He’s even got pictures of his encounters. Well, they’re drawings. The drawings are done by his friend Janine Cooper, but Goldberg assures us that Cooper “got her inspiration from her own subconscious, not from photos or movies. Traksa told me that he telepathically directed her in each of the portraits,” so it’s entirely legit. He even has a book, Time Travelers From Our Future.

Goldberg also seems to have a history of using hypnosis to discover patients’ past or future lives as alien abductees, ostensibly to help them, and offers “Private Hypnotherapy Sessions By Computer” if you are willing to cough up $450.

Diagnosis: It’s hard to take him too seriously, but you never know. If it is a joke it’s not particularly professionally done, so either way Goldberg is probably a complete idiot.

Monday, May 2, 2016

#1657: Dan Golaszewski

Dan Golaszewski is a chiropractor who appears to be deeply into all sorts of insane woo and pseudoscience. His business is “[a]ligning spines and lifestyles with God’s ultimate intentions”, and he seems to believe that vertebral subluxion “results in a lessening of the body’s God-given, innate-ability to express its maximum health potential.” Oh, yes. That, and natural stuff – though it is not clear what makes the stuff he promotes any more natural than the alternatives except that he says so. Golaszewski promotes the idea that most health problems and diseases are caused by misalignment, in particular asthma and heart disease (his particular ideas seem to come from one Josh Axe), which chiropractors can help with because they often originate from the “arc of life.” Oh, yes. But he doesn’t offer “to diagnose or treat any diseases or treat any diseases or conditions other than vertebral subluxation…” or anything that might make him, you know, responsible for the advice he is offering (as per his disclaimer). It’s just that doctors don’t know everything about health matters and you shouldn’t really trust them but instead visit Golaszewski’s website, and so on.

Now, there are plenty of people like Dan Golaszewski out there. The only reason he is singled out in particular, is because we noticed the very typical manner in which his defenders responded to criticism.* 

Diagnosis: Crackpot. And what he’s doing is certainly not harmless. 

*This entry is a result of the Streisand effect.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

#1656: Lisa Goes

Pretty sure this is right.
A.k.a. The Rev

With great ignorance comes great arrogance, and with regard to health and lifestyle issues few groups demonstrate the effect more spectacularly as the hive of conspiracy mongering, scientific illiteracy, critical thinking failure and delusional confidence that is the Thinking Moms Revolution. The website offers advice on all sorts of health-related issues based on information from crackpot sites like GreenMedInfo, Mercola, NaturalNews and a range of anti-vaxx sites, as well as nonsense conjured up by their own powers of intuition. No, seriously. This is an anti-vaccine group, and although their Manifesto states that “[w]hen it comes to helping others, Thinking Moms are short on opinion, strong on scientific data, medical facts, nutritional healing options and documented legislative history,” their “scientific data” bears approximately the same relation to scientific data as their mental processes bear to thinking.

Lisa Goes’s is the author of their manifesto, which pretty explicitly endorses a strategy of never questioning any crackpottery or woo no matter how ridiculous it might be – as opposed to anything promoted by Big Pharma or backed by evidence, of course – including homeopathy and energy medicine. Goes is also a hardcore and notoriously clueless anti-vaccinationist and has contributed to Age of Autism, where she has been pushing familiar autism biomed nonsense. Indeed, her involvement in the anti-vaccine movement is far more insidious even than that: Goes was, for instance, pretty heavily involved in pushing Alex Spourdalakis as a cause célèbre for Age of Autism and their crackpottery, and against what they initially saw as the evils of Big Pharma (which it wasn’t); more details here.

Diagnosis: No, thinking doesn’t have much to do with Lisa Goes’s antics. Not a person you should listen to under any circumstance.