Monday, December 5, 2016

#1756: Jon Hubbard

Jon Hubbard is a former member of the Arkansas House of Representatives (District 75 in Jonesboro). He is most famous, at least outside of Arkansas, for his 2009 book Letters to the Editor: Confessions of a Frustrated Conservative, which contains gems like this: “the institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise [because] the blacks who could endure those conditions and circumstances would someday be rewarded with citizenship in the greatest nation ever established upon the face of the Earth.” (The statement was endorsed by Bryan Fischer). The book – its publication coincided with the publication of his colleague Charles Fuqua’s book – also asserted that blacks don’t “appreciate the value of a good education”, and that in the future immigration, both legal and illegal, must lead to “planned wars or extermination” which would be “as necessary as eating and breathing”. Hubbard was not reelected in 2012.

He hasn’t mellowed down much, though, and has also later been caught raging and ranting about his efforts to save America from the “clutches of an obsessed, liberal-socialist-globalist agenda” and how “Obama has systematically gone about his primary objective to destroy America,” meaning, of course, promoting same-sex marriage and religious liberty for any other groups than those fundamentalists who coincidentally agree with Hubbard on political issues, which according to Hubbard were the ones for whom America was created.


Diagnosis: Belongs to a special kind of fuming, rightwing conspiracy theorist that seems notoriously populous among state legislators – Hubbard may be gone, but there are plenty left (also in Arkansas: We’ll return to a couple of examples later on).

Saturday, December 3, 2016

#1755: Daniel Howell

Daniel Howell has made a little bit of a name for himself for his advocacy of barefoot running and barefoot living: going barefoot is “natural” and “healthy” and God created us barefoot in the Garden of Eden; no, Howell has, as far as we know, not followed that line of reasoning to its natural conclusion and landed himself in jail. His ideas about barefoot living are summed up in his The Barefoot Book. That’s not the part of his mission we are most interested in here, however, though it is the modest recognition he might have received for his barefoot stuff that drew our attention his other activities: Howell is also a hardcore young-earth creationist; he is a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s petition A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism and associate professor of biology (specializing in human anatomy, apparently) at Liberty University, no less.


Diagnosis: Sort of undermines his claims to know anything about the biological foundations for the barefoot stuff he is promoting. Anti-scientist.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

#1754: Linda Moulton Howe

Another legend among UFO enthusiasts, Linda Moulton Howe is a ufologist and “investigative journalist”, and a mainstay on the Coast to Coast AM radio show and the Ancient Aliens TV series. She is in particular associated with cattle mutilation nonsense, starting with her 1980 documentary A Strange Harvest, where she investigated what she concludes to be unusual animal deaths (but really a mix of hearsay and the readily naturally explainable) caused by “non-human intelligence and technology”. Her conclusions were based on careful investigation of the evidence after ruling out, prior to investigation, the possibility of a natural explanation. She followed up with more “evidence” in the 1989 book Alien Harvest. Howe also claims to have seen secret government documents that supposedly prove that aliens are mutilating cattle, abducting people and generally flying around military bases. Indeed, in 1983 she was shown a secret presidential briefing paper that revealed how “extraterrestrials created Jesus” and placed him on earth “to teach mankind about love and non-violence” (but apparently also randomly mutilate cattle). The documents were allegedly shown to her by Richard Doty. We have covered Doty and his documents before.

Howe runs her own website called “EarthFiles.com”, which charges a subscription fee of $45 a year to access her body of work. Some of it, however, has been published in reputable journals disseminated in radio programs hosted by luminaries like Art Bell, George Noory and Whitley Strieber. That material contains, in addition to cattle mutilation tripe and reports of “unexplained” lights and sounds reported from all over the US:

  • “Bigfoot DNA”: Melba Ketchum (to be covered) apparently has proof that Bigfoot exists.
  • “The Return of Ezekiel’s Wheel, based on recent “eyewitness sightings”. 
  • “Pyramids Discovered in Alaska and Turkey”: “Immense structures not only built, but used in some unknown way for a thousand years.”
  • Missing Time: Howe has managed to unearth “a rare case of documented missing time”.
  • Unknown objects in our skies. What are we NOT being told”: Yes, the government is conspiring to deny the presence of UFOs, for the usual nebulous reasons.
  • “The Rendlesham Code”: Howe investigates endorses a UFO contactee’s claims to have telepathically downloaded binary code numbers from aliens.
  • Project Serpo: Yup, Howe fell for that one, to no one’s surprise.

Howe also does crop circles and a variety of other environmentalist conspiracies (eg. colony collapse disorder and Monsanto).

By the way, the aliensdidit “explanation” for cattle mutilations seems to have received some competition from even more exotic hypotheses. Tom Bearden, for instance, thinks the “mutilations are the physical manifestation of the whole human unconsciousness which is somehow aware that the Soviets will, probably within three years, invade and destroy the Western world;” so there is that.

Diagnosis: Crazy, but her most characteristic trait seems to be that she’s amazingly gullible and will fall for anything you serve her if it concerns UFOs – unless it is based on reason and evidence, of course.


Source for much of this entry: The Rationalwiki article on Howe.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#1753: Greg Howard

Greg Howard is a wingnut Christian financial planner and blogger perhaps best known for his role as lead theorist in Twittergate: when some Tea Partiers were trolled on Twitter back in 2010 they responded by launching a twitter militia and – of course – creating an elaborate an utterly unhingedly insane conspiracy theory, according to which Democrats must have hired a cadre of “E-thugs” (led by a social media consultant named Neal Rauhauser) to identify and harass prominent Tea party Twitter users and fool them into tweeting offensive things which could then be used to smear the Tea Party. “Democratic campaign funds are being used to front this,” said Howard, offering as evidence the observation that the “links between these people are very clear.” Of course, what really happened was that some people realized that it was incredibly easy to get some Tea Partiers to say stupid and offensive stuff if you prodded them a little, which is not exactly a novel discovery; that Howard and his followers responded with paranoid conspiracy theories is rather telling.

Of course, Howard really is a professional conspiracy theorist. He is, for instance, a birther: Obama is “not American” and not a natural born citizen, and his primary goal is to sow “the seeds of racial hatred; we were healing quite well as a nation on racial issues until Obama came along and now we have a lot of racial discord.” Oh, and he wants to take your guns, too. He may begin “wiping out a few hundred people who own guns, pull a large scale Waco or a Ruby Ridge type incident” and have it “tinged … with racial overtones,” and may even be building a black army to fight the white insurgents who will fight the impending attempt to seize our guns. Indeed, he might even go through with his plans to “take down” the Internet, although – Howard assures us – “people are setting up phone-trees all over the place” to stop Obama in his tracks. But be warned: “If Obama can take your guns away he can take your car, he can take your home, he can take your bank account, he can take your very life,” said Howard.


Diagnosis: Yeah, that kind of guy. He’s been called “The Glenn Beck of Twitter”, and I don’t think we can come up with a better diagnosis than that.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

#1752: John Hostettler

John Hostettler is the former U.S. Representative for Indiana’s 8th district (from 1995 to 2007, when he lost his reelection bill) and theocracy sympathizer. He is not particularly fond of the Consitution, either, in particular the separation of powers: In 2004, for instance, he at least suggested that when courts make decisions Congress (i.e. he) disagree with, then Congress should simply not enforce them: “Federal courts have no army or navy… The court can opine, decide, talk about, sing, whatever it wants to do. We’re not saying they can’t do that. At the end of the day, we’re saying the court can’t enforce its opinions.” He was also responsible for introducing the Marriage Protection Act that denied federal courts the right to hear cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, which used to ban same-sex marriage (it passed).

Of course, although he demonstrably and intensely dislikes the Constitution, he is very insistent about claiming otherwise (not unlike very many other people who also like to thump the Constitution). As current president of the Constitution Institute, for instance, his works to provide state legislators and others with “a greater understanding of the United States Constitution,” which of course doesn’t mean the Constitution but what Hostettler thinks it ought to have said (which, since he is evidently crazy, is equivalent to what he thinks it actually did say). Like what? Well, Hostettler has for instance complained that the “church has extracted itself from government,” creating a vacuum filled by “those adversarial to biblical truth,” and also the education system is currently controlled by “those who really don’t want our kids to understand what the Constitution has to say,” which, once again, doesn’t mean what the Constitution has to say, but what Hostettler thinks it ought to have said but demonstrably doesn’t, such as that “government is an institution that is not just a God-centered one, but it was ordained by God.” In 2008, Hostettler endorsed Chuck Baldwin, the Constitution Party’s nominee for the presidential election.

While in Congress Hostettler introduced legislation (multiple times)  to prevent organizations such as the ACLU from collecting attorneys’ fees when they win lawsuits challenging religious symbols on public land or religious groups’ use of government property. Hostettler said the bill would “restore legal balance in this country, and it will protect us from being the victims of this assault on our religious liberties.” In practice, of course, it would guarantee that violations of the First Amendment – for instance teachers forcing students to pray to their particular deity – would have no actual consequences and allow only those able to pay in full for their own legal fees to challenge such practices in court. Wonder if that was an unintended consequence? But of course, it is Hostettler and his fellow Christians who are persecuted: “Like a moth to a flame the Democrats can’t help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians,” said Hostettler when Congress debated complaints from cadets at the US Air Force Academy over “coercive proselytizing” from evangelical superior officers who had tried to pressure them about their religious beliefs.

He has also been involved in some brouhaha around the utterly discredited abortion-breast cancer link.


Diagnosis: Oh, yes – your typical liar-for-Jesus and borderline Taliban theocrat who, instead of admitting that he really doesn’t like what the Constitution says delusionally tries to argue that it says what he wants it to say.