Eric Isselée - Adobe Stock

99 Percent Totally Harmless

July 8, 2020

Ugh, COVID parties! Am I right??? I mean, just, like, ARGH! Except it seems like all that ugh-ing and argh-ing might be unnecessary. CFI’s Benjamin Radford did the work to see if these outrage-inducing mutual-infection societies actually exist. Guess what. Maybe not so much:

The reports have all the typical ingredients of unfounded moral panic rumors: anonymous sources sharing stories and warnings online, soon legitimized by local officials (teachers, police, school districts, governors, etc.) who publicize the information out of an abundance of caution. … Journalists eagerly run with a sensational story, and there’s little if any sober or skeptical follow-up.

The United States has more than 3 million COVID-19 cases.

President Trump earns four Pinocchios from the Post for saying that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are “totally harmless.”

More than 650 U.S. COVID-19 cases have been linked directly to a few dozen churches. Calvary Chapel in Texas alone seems to have infected more than 50 members.

Movie theaters in New Jersey are taking a lesson from churches and challenging shutdown orders on a First Amendment basis. As someone who has religious experiences at Avengers movies, I get it, but I CAN WATCH THEM JUST FINE AT HOME.

It’s official. President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has got the virus, and he says he’s taking (sigh) hydroxychloroquine to cure it. Oooffff course he is.

Republican State Rep. Nino Vitale of Ohio told his constituents to refuse COVID-19 testing. Hold on. To be more precise, he said, “STOP GETTING TESTED!” because “dictatorship.”

If you do get tested, don’t worry that a common cold will produce a false positive. It won’t. That’s not a thing.

Policy Options digs into survey data about Canadians’ views of COVID-19 conspiracy theories, showing differing attitudes toward various theories (the “China did it on purpose” one is the most popular) and which demographic groups are more, um, credulous (cough-men-cough).

A YouGov/Center for Countering Digital Hate poll purports to show that about 16 percent of Britons say they won’t get a COVID-19 vaccine should one exist and an additional 15 percent aren’t sure.

Protestant affiliation dropped 5 percentage points between April 16 and June 9, with folks reclassifying themselves as “other.” And it may have a lot to do with Trump.

(I like the idea—that I just made up—that all the shifts in religious identification are due to conversions to Pastafarianism.)

It’s not just churches that got a ton of PPP money, but fake-history museum-slash-theme parks! Well, one anyway. You know who. The one with the people living with dinosaurs.

On the Fourth of July, former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn posted a video of himself taking some kind of QAnon oath of allegiance.

Tyler Broker despairs at the recent Supreme Court decision on funding religious schools (“depressing” and “scary”), foreseeing that “churches [will] become more associated with, and in fact more operationally dependent on, government.”

Religion & Politics interviews Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation, focusing on the evangelical obsession with strict gender roles.

Big thinkers in a Big Think video, including our own Richard Dawkins, think bigly about the moral rights we might owe to a conscious artificial intelligence.

Newsweek takes us on a weird trip down Nevada’s State Route 375, the “Extraterrestrial Highway.”

Climate change, remember that? A new study in Nature Communications reminds us, sorry, there’s no quick fix and we are not on track for even a slow fix.

Hey, don’t drink raw milk. Did you still need to be told that?

Someone, please tell me this video of a guy claiming that music with a 4/4 beat that emphasizes the 2 and the 4 “short-circuits the moral frontal lobe” is fake. Please.


TheTweetOf God really gets it:

The most useful thing about people is their biodegradability.


We’re keeping track of COVID-19 pseudoscience, snake oil, fake cures, and more at CFI’s Coronavirus Resource Center. Separate fact from fiction and inoculate yourself from misinformation at

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.