Friday, July 8, 2022

The Intelligent Irrationalists Revisited: Now Using Book Reviews To Spread Misinformation

"All across the world, customized facts are the rage. Truth has left the building."-  Maureen Dowd, NY Times

You might think you sound smart and 'in the know'  but you will be as knowledgeable as flat-earthers. What are you waiting for, buy this book. Your IQ is not going to lower itself.." - Commenter on Amazon review for '1620'.

In my original  post about the "Intelligent Irrationalists"  e.g.

The Intelligent Irrationalists: Why So Many High IQ Folks Deny Sound Science

 I introduced the issue of why so many "brainiacs" in the high I.Q. societies (Mensa, Intertel)  fancied themselves independent thinkers or debunkers, i.e. about global warming science, when most hadn't even taken a college level course in General Physics.  I ultimately concluded that the primary reason so many were led astray is they were hostage to right wing tropes, propaganda (such as from thinktanks like Heritage Foundation) and social media memes.  The total effect is that their intellects became blunted and misinformed by not being more rigorous in their approaches, such as when I criticized a number of "Ilians" (Intertel members) for their bunkum on global warming, e.g.

INTERTEL'S Resident Libertarian Deniers Again Ignorantly Spout Off On Climate Change 

 When I examine a book review the first thing I look for is the ideological slant.  Is the reviewer an honest broker in reporting the content of the book under review? Or does she have an axe to grind?  In addition, I look for any hidden giveaways say from which one  might infer the reviewer is hostage to B.S., bunkum or pure propaganda.  Worse, lacking in critical thinking capacity, blind to their own intellectual blinds spots, ideological presumptions. Hence blind to their own irrationality.

Alas, I detected all of the above in two recent reviews written by Carolyn Simon in the May issue of Intertel's Journal Integra.  In one review, '1620' by Peter W. Wood, she gushes about Wood's "expertise" and "fairness" -  but slams the crap out of the '1619 Project', i.e. "erroneous in all its primary outlines" and "with a goal to indoctrinate an entire generation with a false picture of their nation."   

But as one rather more objective Amazon reviewer put it: "This book is nothing but a cheering section for Fox News Watchers."  And it's clear we can number Carolyn Simon amongst these FOX cheerleaders, sympathetically if not actually, especially when she parrots the parlance of Tucker Carlson, e.g. 

"The entire project is a left wing political ploy."

Seriously? But I suspect we can say the same about how she would regard climate change, global warming, given her FOXite stances in her book reviews. In fact, I seem to recall a review by another Intertel Irrationalist - Carol Dane-  6  yrs. ago in Region VII's  'Port of Call'-   praising an anti-climate science screed.  But as I considered Carolyn Simon's background, I also grew more curious about Wood's. Some targeted Googling revealed Wood is a member of the hyper conservative Heartland Institute e.g.  

Who We Are - Peter Wood | Heartland Institute

And this bunch has been notorious in hatching climate science denial tropes and (mis-)education efforts. Indeed, back in February,  2012, climate and environment activist Peter H. Gleick used clever subterfuge to obtain "confidential" PR, greenwashing materials from Heartland. It was totally revelatory and exposed the Heartland plan to flood schools with propaganda aimed at elementary school students, i.e. in order to minimize the threat of climate change.  Did Carolyn not know of Wood's right wing think tank connections? Or maybe she just did but just didn't care.    

One Amazon reviewer of Wood's book made this telling remark,  which actually motivated me to look further into his background because it was echoed by at least two other negative reviewers: 

 "This Peter Wood is not the well known historian Peter H. Wood, but rather some partisan whose interests center around the preservation of “Western Civilization” .It is a long-winded apologia piece written by a man of a particular demographic, with the obvious goal of perpetuating white-centering narratives of America’s history."

On further digging I learned from 'Source Watch':

- He is also linked to the hyper - Partisan Federalist society, from which Trump got his three anti-Roe SC justices, e.g.

Peter Wood | The Federalist Society (

- Also:

In June 2011, in the Chronicle of Higher Education weblog, posts appearing under Wood's byline included a 3-part attack on sustainability[3],[4],[5] and a post[6] casting doubt on human-caused climate change and dismissing the work by John Mashey and others to expose and counter the climate denial PR effort

So this guy has a previous history of climate change denial which preceded his history reframing.  Did Carolyn Simon know this? Probably, because it links up to her rightist ideology which includes her earlier climate change denial - and likely vaccine denial - which I will get to in assessing her acerbic criticism of Fauci while praising RFK's worthless book, 'The Real Anthony Fauci'. 

Again, it boils down to how so many in the high IQ societies (e.g. Mensa, Intertel)  fancy themselves critical thinkers when they are nothing of the sort.  They're almost as deluded as the QAnon clowns who really believe Democrats sacrifice infants to the devil.  Am I exaggerating?  Well, in the same Integra issue there also appeared Simon's next review, of Robert F. Kennedy Jr's bloated screed against Anthony Fauci.    Here, she basically uses Kennedy's already discredited bunkum as an excuse to unload on Dr. Fauci via dozens of literal nutso assertions, e.g. (p. 14):

"Fauci's career at NIAID began just before the AIDS crisis. It was then that he developed his strategy of working with big pharma to dismiss any possible cheap, safe, effective drugs that might help and making them as unavailable as possible, and paving the way for AZT, the most expensive drug ever at $10,000 a year. It cost the manufacturer about $5 to make. It is estimated that about 330,000 people died from AZT alone. Between AIDS and COVID, Fauci consolidated his power."

How accurate is this claim?  One can in fact check using medical writer Laurie Garrett's superb text 'The Coming Plague' which contains an extensive chapter on the HIV-AIDS epidemic. Therein we note (p. 435) a level of desperation had been reached when it was learned that "herpes-type viruses could stimulate the activation signals within the HIV genome, promoting production of more AIDS viruses."  Thus, the use of a drug or vaccine - any drug or vaccine- became an overriding matter of public health. Then azidothymine or AZT (trade name Zidovudime) became the drug of choice but (p. 436)  'it was clear "that the window for its utility was limited to the virus' ability to mutate into aa resistant form."   The canard that tens of thousands died from AZT was incepted because after 2-3 years it "became clear that some strains developed resistance almost immediately following exposure to the drug."   With such resistance came death from the virus, not from the drug specifically. BUT this trait was not peculiar to AZT nor did Fauci make millions off the drug.  

Indeed other drugs used at the time in combination with AZT included (ibid.): dideoxynosine, dideoxycytidime, nevrapine, deoxyfluourothymidine, zalcitabine, and carboxir, but "resistance emerged in all of them."  Garrett adds that "Not surprisingly there were soon HIV strains that were multiply resistant to AZT as well as other antiviral drug."   

The reader has to appreciate what Simon is attempting here, following in the steps of RFK Jr.: She's blaming AZT for a drug catastrophe and hundreds of thousands of deaths which are actually the result of the "HIV virus inherent mutability and rapid reproduction rate".  She has zero appreciation of the fact that the objective of using AZT (and its adjunct drugs) was correct:  to "target the key enzyme used by HIV to make a DNA copy of its RNA genome."   Thus, the fact AZT was at least effective for 2-3 years (before resistance kicked in) probably saved millions of lives. Does Simon appreciate that? Hell no!

Simon also hypes Dr. Fauci's funds control and power when she writes:

"He has hundreds of billions of federal dollars to award for various projects in various agencies; he virtually controls the CDC, NIH, NCI, HHS, FDA, and other agencies. "

In fact it was more like hundreds of millions of dollars and not all federal but from other nonprofit sources, foundations, NGOs. Not deterred she then goes on to peddle this balderdash:

"Fauci has discouraged the use of any prevention or treatment using inexpensive drugs including Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Fauci demanded double-blind testing of those two, while the vaccines were not required to have double-blind testing because of the big hurry. Meanwhile, death statistics due to the vaccines themselves are carefully hidden. It's a very important book and should lead to Fauci's being fired if not indicted. Incidentally, 90% of the Amazon ratings are five stars."

In fact, both those "inexpensive drugs" she cites have been found to be next to useless, though Trump hyped them to his mob of MAGA puppets and minions. The  use of ivermectin especially is unhinged and I skewered the use of this horse de-wormer in an earlier post, i.e.   

As for the claim that death statistics are "kept carefully hidden" this is total rubbish. Where might they be kept hidden? HOW?  If three major vaccine companies are actually competing for profits doesn't she believe one of them would have blown the whistle on the other two, reported their mysterious death stats - assuming they existed?  Well, they didn't report them because they don't exist other than in Simon's and RFK's febrile imaginations. Simon, like RFK, has pulled them out from a whole cloth fabrication that began in some derelict conspiracy pit, likely on 4chan, 8chan or some other dreg site laden with blowhards and paranoid delusionals .   One reviewer not blinded by the BS rendered this verdict, with which I agree:

This book collects lots of facts and then mangles them into misinformation and conspiracy theories. Abuses statistics. Extensive use of guilt-by-association, with a heaping helping of innuendo. Makes lots of statements that can neither be proven nor disproven. Endlessly uses rhetorical devices that sound convincing if you don't have any context or solid background. Multiple pages devoted to Monday-morning quarterbacking, with nifty non-sequiturs as the sauce. In other words, the stock-in-trade of Talk Radio and conspiracy theorists.

Let's remember this is the same Robert F. Kennedy  Jr. who has actually likened vaccine policies in the U.S. to the actions of Hitler's Nazi state, even suggesting Anne Frank was in a better situation when she was hiding from the Nazis.   

 What combo of shrooms and MJ candies has he been munching on?   Does this inveterate imbecile know anything about the Holocaust or life under the Nazis in the occupied nations during World War II?  Especially spouting this manner of cockeyed gibberish:

"Even in Hitler's  Germany (sic),  you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You could hide in an attic, like Anne Frank did,  I visited, in 1962, East Germany with my father and met people who had climbed the wall and escaped, so it was possible. Many died, true, but it was possible."

But East Germany in 1962 was still not Hitler's Germany in 1933, or even in 1940-41. Kennedy's  blabbering of historically inaccurate B.S. with overtones of anti-Semitism ignores several facts: 1) You could not just "cross the Alps into Switzerland." Has RFK Jr. even seen the Alps that border Germany?  Does he really believe a German Jew could just "cross" the Alps into where, Zurich?  Basel?  We hiked 15 km across an Alpine pass (adjacent to the Eiger)  in Switzerland in 1978 and it nearly killed us. And we weren't lugging all our belongings in a half dozen backpacks across 75- 100 km, e.g.

For any Jews trying to cross ca. 1942-43 it would be damned near impossible and take days, even if they managed to avoid Nazi border guards.  And then having arrived at a city or town they would have to show identity papers or passports - each one stamped JUDEN -   how long do you think they'd remain free?  2) His dumb remark ignores the fact that Frank and some six million other Jews were murdered by Nazis. Frank,  a teenager at the time, hid in an attic in Amsterdam, not Germany, before she was caught and was sent to a concentration camp, where she died in a Nazi gas chamber.    

Kennedy's muddled mess of logic and non-historical baloney here gives a clue of how lame and pathetic his book is. If he can make such basic errors of history regarding crossing the Alps and Anne Frank, why should anyone with a grain of sense believe his farrago of fulsome mindrot in his book?

Simon's pathetic book review amounts to more politicization of the virus and vaccine and is bound to lead to more distrust of the science. Worse, more unnecessary deaths.  As Colorado Sun columnist Mike Littwin points out ('COVID's Spreading, Nobody Cares', May 25th): 

"12 percent of older (65+) Americans are still unvaccinated and 43 % are not boosted.  Why do these numbers matter?  The unvaccinated are 20 times more likely to die of Covid than those vaccinated and boosted."  

So Simon has done all those older Americans a tremendous disservice as has Kennedy with his codswallop.  Truth be told, her review is something I'd be embarrassed to print,  even a synopsis of,  in a high IQ society's journal. It is riven with horse manure, conspiratorial nonsense and unproven, wild calumnies that have no place in a truly intelligent medium.  Worse, the sort of conspiratorial dreck with which its saturated - like Kennedy's book- is the last thing needed now as even more dangerous Covid variants have emerged, e.g.

 Simon brags that "90 percent of Amazon reviews"  of RFK Jr's effort have five stars.  But seriously, that doesn't impress when those reviews are mainly based on the reviewer's ignorance (equal or greater than Simon's) and need for confirmation bias of false vaccine tropes.  I am forced to side with one of the dozen or so Amazon reviewers who had the percipience to award it 1 star:

With the endless quotations, the over use of adjectives, the lack of depth in research, and the constant one-sided arguments, Mr. Kennedy's audience is clear: his current and ardent "true believers.

Sadly, similar politicization of vaccines as Simon's - in her Integra book review-  continues as we read in today's WSJ op-ed pages more twaddle ('Biden and Fauci Botched the Covid Response' p. A15 ) from resident hack Alyssia Finley, i.e.

From the outset of the pandemic, the mainstream medical establishment and government bureaucracy were aligned behind a lockdown-at-all costs strategy. The Trump White House tapped Scott Atlas, a Hoover Institution fellow and radiologist, for a contrarian perspective. Dr. Atlas endorsed the elements of the Great Barrington strategy

Which rot I had already soundly skewered two years ago, e.g.  

So it appears we may be in for yet another death surge as the new Covid variants threaten us anew, and too many citizens refuse to become changelings. Opting to gobble the derelict babble from the likes of Carolyn Simon, Alyssia Finley, RFK Jr. and the other anti-vaccine, anti-lockdown clowns and pro-Trump minions.

See Also:
by Mike Lofgren | July 10, 2022 - 7:17am | permalink

And you know, you can tell these types of right wingers anything and they'll believe it, except the truth. You tell them the truth and they become—it's like showing Frankenstein's monster fire. They become confused, and angry and highly volatile.”
— Janeane Garofalo


"One example of a social epidemic is what I call gullible cynicism: the ability to be dismissive, disbelieving, and paranoiacally suspicious, while simultaneously being astoundingly naïve and accepting of the flimsiest fabrication not only at face value, but with a reverential embrace.

Hence the tragic-comic episode of the Covid-19 pandemic, when countless people posited an airtight conspiracy of microbiologists; public health officials at the federal, state, and local levels; hospitals with all their staff; coroners; and the entire media, in order to perpetrate a hoax. Incredibly, their professional counterparts all over the world were pulling off the same deception in perfect coordination with America. Yet these same paranoid cynics would credulously believe some nameless internet blogger recommending horse de-wormer as a sovereign remedy for Covid-19 (assuming they believed the virus even existed)."

by Jaime O’Neill | July 8, 2022 - 7:02am | permalink


We now live in a world so trashed and Trumpified that it remains essential that we try to figure out how this affliction befell us, leaving us living in a land where deep ignorance and profound stupidity join hands in a "new normal." Education, science, and reason are derided, and dumb fucks have been emboldened everywhere. People now take pride in ignorance, in going by their "gut" even when confronted by empirical facts or undeniable truths

by William Rivers Pitt | May 22, 2022 - 6:13am | permalink

— from Truthout


A slew of surveys came out last week, all trying to lay a finger on the pulse of top U.S. concerns. According to a FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll, inflation tops the list by a wide margin regardless of party affiliation. A Pew Research poll mirrors these results: Inflation is the largest concern by a mile. An Axios examination of the topics most searched for on the internet find the Amber Heard-Johnny Depp trial, Elon Musk and Joe Biden commanding the top three spots.

Respondents to the Pew survey put COVID-19 dead last on their list of concerns. COVID was the ninth item noted as concerning by FiveThirtyEight. COVID was also last on the Axios list. These numbers varied according to political affiliation — 59 percent of Republicans told Axios they believe the pandemic is already over — but the gist is impossible to miss.

by Brandon Gage | May 21, 2022 - 7:47am | permalink

— from Alternet


United States Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) drummed up a new conspiracy theory on Friday that Microsoft founder Bill Gates is behind the growing monkeypox outbreak and that he wants to control the population by forcing people to drink "poop water."

Greene's infamy is rooted in her claim that wildfires are triggered by Jewish space lasers, her opposition to COVID-19 inoculations, in voting against a bill to help American families access baby formula amidst a supply shortage brought on by contaminations at processing plants, and her participation in the January 6th, 2021 Capitol insurrection. Misspelled text messages that she sent following the attack have earned her the nickname "Marshall Law Marge."


The Disintegration Of Our Political Fabric - And Why Lies & Misinformation Cannot Qualify As Protected Speech.

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