Saturday, December 9, 2017

#1935: Patrick Marsh

Patrick Marsh is a former employee of Universal Studios and the design director for the Ark Encounter (Mike Zovath headed the management team; comprehensive description here), which is “a full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible” in Kentucky and the subject of well-deserved, international mockery, partly since the resulting wooden box sort of piles on further evidence – if more were needed – that the Ark myth is, indeed, completely and utterly a myth. Although scientists have cataloged 1.3 million species of animals, the Ark Encounter figured that Noah could have brought on just 1,000 to 2,000 pairs to represent every animal “kind” (the pseudoscientific study of Biblical “kinds”, baraminology, is accordingly notable mostly for unintentionally providing further evidence for evolution). Of course, they don’t think too hard about e.g. insects or aquatic species, but neither does the target audience, presumably. The Ark Encounter was initially supposed to include a lot of other exhibits about antediluvian life, though those are apparently not yet in place.

Anyways, “[w]e’re basically presenting what the Bible has to say and showing how plausible it was,” says Marsh, which the encounter to some extent actually does, but not in the way Marsh intends, making Marsh’s assertion that “this was a real piece of history – not just a story, not just a legendsound a bit desperate. According to Marsh the whole Ark encounter is really about evangelism to the unchurched: “the Bible is the only thing that gives you the full picture. Other religions don’t have that, and, as for scientists, so much of what they believe is pretty fuzzy about life and its origins.” Apparently, Marsh also wanted to show that early man was not primitive (he doesn’t believe in non-human hominid fossils). For instance, “Adam one of the most brilliant people that ever lived on this earth. In a very short period of time he named all of the animals that there were,” which assumes a non-standard interpretation of “brilliance”.

Apparently the Creation Museum itself was Marsh’s brainchild as well; the theme park (not a museum) was supposed to present the story of Creation as “faithful to scripture” as possible, except for that pesky thing about nudity in the Garden of Eden, which they wished weren’t there.

Diagnosis: Seriously crazy fundie. How much his theatrical theme parks will manage to sway those not already lost to seriously crazy fundamentalism is a different matter, however.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

#1934: Glenn A. Marsch

Glenn A. Marsch is an Associate Professor of Physics, Grove City College, and signatory to the Discovery Institute’s bankrupt petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism. Unlike a large number of those signatories, Marsch has actually done some real scientific research, though it is, of course, unrelated to the theory of evolution

Marsch claims that liberals are as anti-science as young-earth creationists (Marsch does reject young-earth creationism) because of their adherence to the pagan religion of environmentalism. Marsch himself is sympathetic to global warming denialism and enthusiastic about the possible beneficial health effects of radiation hormesis. And since people who reject science for non-scientific reasons might have some difficulties establishing a reputable scientific career, Marsch also claims that scientists with a Christian worldview are persecuted, because being a denialist is apparently a religious creed.

Diagnosis: A relatively minor figure, perhaps, but he did sign the Discovery Institute petition (while presumably understanding what it aimed to achieve), which is sufficient for qualifying as a loon and meriting a mention here. It doesn’t help his case that Marsch has at least toyed with a range of other anti-scientific ideas as well.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

#1933: Rose & Nancy Marks(?)

Rose Marks
Oh, well. The Markses are a Florida family of “psychics” – or “ex-psychics”, perhaps – who claimed their powers could influence terminal cancer and allow them to peer into their victims’ previous lifetimes, which, of course, they couldn’t. The business, which seems to have been masterminded in particular by Nancy Marks and her mother-in-law Rose, would choose their victims carefully, targeting those who had recently suffered devastating losses, to milk them for huge amounts of money, and several of them accordingly received substantial prison sentences back in 2012 and 2013 for defrauding clients of hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Nancy Marks
Now, one might easily suspect that the Markses weren’t exactly acting in good faith, and do as such not deserve and entry in an Encyclopedia of loons (hence the question mark), but Nancy Marks’s defense did argue that she “didn’t know what she was doing was wrong,” and if that is true, it’s good enough to qualify as a loon even if you don’t really think you’ve got psychic powers.

Diagnosis: It is, however, not easy to distinguish what the Markses were doing from what “ordinary” psychics are doing. Hopefully they’re neutralized, at least.