Opinion: Hooey, hogwash and hucksters: science in the White House

Just when it seemed that the administration would regress only to the Middle Ages in denying science, facts, logic and reason, it entered cuckoo land. On July 27, at a press conference on the steps of the Supreme Court, Stella Immanuel, a pediatrician who operates a medical clinic in Houston next to her church, Firepower Ministries, resurrected the medically disproven claim that hydrochloroquine would cure coronavirus.Then, taking a page from Greek mythology, she attributed women’s gynecological afflictions, such as endometriosis, cysts, miscarriages and infertility to astral sex with a demon male incubus. Men, she said, are being astrally seduced by a female demon, a beautiful succubus, who then bestows erectile dysfunction, mental disorders and even death.

No one paid attention to this hooey until the president, not able to resist a demon and hydrochloroquine admirer, retweeted the video of Immanuel’s press conference. Asked about her views, he said, “… she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients, and I thought her voice was an important voice. I thought she was very impressive.” Impressive? Immanuel thinks that a ring of lizard people is running the government, that medicines are deliberately laced with alien DNA, and that an imminent, nefarious vaccine will inoculate us against religion.

Mr. President, you are the leader of the scientifically most advanced country in the free world. Why aren’t you denouncing rank superstition and medical hogwash as endangering the health and welfare of the American people?

Also in July, another top-flight medical expert, Mike Lindell, aka the MyPillow guy, met with the president in the White House to promote oleandrin, an extract from the oleander plant, as a therapeutic for coronavirus. As with bleach, ingesting oleandrin likely will kill you and the virus — not exactly the medical definition of “therapeutic.” Oleandrin has never been clinically tested against coronavirus, nor should it be. Taking the same page from Greek mythology, the plant is a botanical succubus: Its flowers are beautiful and fragrant — and laced with deadly poisons that attack the heart, brain and internal organs. One oleander leaf can kill a child. The honey made by bees from oleander nectar is fatal. The title of the 2002 film, “White Oleander,” gives the murder weapon away.

Lindell, confident that the president would ask the FDA to “take a look at” oleandrin, has taken a financial stake in the maker of the extract, Phoenix Biotechnology. It’s vice chairman and director, Andrew Whitney, claims that doses of oleandrin will cure coronavirus after two days. Sure it will, but first you have to sleep two nights on the MyPillow. This isn’t complicated — oleandrin is botanical snake oil, and Lindell, a snake-oil salesman. As reported by Axios, a senior administration official expressed alarm: “The involvement of … MyPillow.com in pushing a dubious product at the highest levels should give Americans no comfort at night about their health and safety during a raging pandemic.”

Mr. President, you are the leader of the scientifically most advanced country in the free world. Why aren’t you denouncing hucksters and grifters and their quack nostrums as endangering the health and welfare of the American people?

Then there’s QAnon, in which the “Q” stands for quackery. The movement pustulates on social-media platforms, feeding adherents a violent, paranoid, ghoulish conspiracy: the world is being run by a powerful cabal of Satan-worshipping, cannibalistic pedophiles who traffic children for sex and harvest their blood for making psychoactive and life-extending drugs.

Who is heading this satanic cabal? According to QAnon, it’s prominent Democrats (the Clintons and Obamas), Hollywood celebrities (Tom Hanks, Chrissy Teigen) along with George Soros, Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama. Facing them in this epic struggle of good over evil is our president — a latter-day savior on Earth who will bring the “Great Awakening.” Some think “Q” is Michael Flynn, the convicted former national security adviser. But news media have pointed to a Q threesome who are running a slick money-making scam that is fleecing the QAnon flock.

The FBI, wary of QAnon’s vow of armed action, has declared it a domestic terrorism threat. Nevertheless, the president endorsed Georgia Marjorie Taylor Greene, a 2020 Georgia GOP congressional candidate and an avowed QAnoner, praising her as “a real WINNER … a future Republican star.” When reporters reminded him of QAnon’s deranged beliefs and anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic rants, he shrugged. “I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate.”

Mr. President, you are the leader of the scientifically most advanced country in the free world. Why aren’t you denouncing this irrational cult and the danger its monstrous machinations pose to American values and the rule of rational thought?

— Leonard Krishtalka is director of the Biodiversity Institute and a professor in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas.


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