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Awkward, Contradictory, and Self-Defeating

September 2, 2020

Let’s just open with this glorious, shining gem of a lede from Newsweek:

Two flat-Earthers were forced to quarantine after trying to reach “the end of the world” during Italy’s lockdown.

Wait, wait, it gets better:

Salvatore Zichichi, a doctor of the maritime health office of the Ministry of Health who helped the pair after they got lost, pointed out that they were using a compass to help them navigate and said: “The funny thing is that they orient themselves with the compass, an instrument that works on the basis of terrestrial magnetism, a principle that they, as flat-earthers, should reject.”

I’m sorry, just one more part. It’s amazing:

The explorers were taken to quarantine. They tried to escape and return to the sea but were again stopped and taken back to quarantine. A few days later, they tried to escape again but were unsuccessful.

THEY TRIED TO ESCAPE. I just don’t even know.

The WHO is helping coordinate a global COVID-19 vaccine effort, and the U.S. has decided it’s not helping. J. Stephen Morrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says this is “awkward, contradictory and self-defeating.” Sounds like my old dating profile.

CFI’s Jason Lemieux: “The politicization and hollowing out of expertise at other federal agencies under Trump does not inspire confidence that the FDA will hold firm against his continued onslaught.

Dr. Seema Yasmin is the next speaker for Skeptical Inquirer Presents features Seema Yasmin, discussing “Viral BS” and medical myths September 10. (Register here.) She has a piece in the New York Times with Dr. Craig Spencer on how COVID-19 misinformation on Facebook is making everything worse.

The two appeared on CNN yesterday to discuss the topic. “Everyone, at some level is susceptible to this health misinformation and disinformation … the people who are pushing it are really preying on the fact that we are all really vulnerable right now.”

Cognitive scientist Alan Jern at Vox tries to explain why people believe false conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 death toll: “Someone who is already skeptical about the pandemic for other reasons will be predisposed to look for reasons to question the death counts.”

John MacArthur of Grace Community Church: “There is no pandemic.” OH THANK GOODNESS I WAS WONDERING WHEN THIS WOULD ALL BE OVER. Whew!

A fascinating experiment shows a significant degree of bias against atheist and Muslim students by public school officials: “We found that Muslim and atheist parents are discriminated against for merely revealing their beliefs in the signature part of their emails.”

Pope Francis says in a message about climate change and the environment, “Creation is groaning!” There’s probably a better way to put that, but I get it.

Wall Street Journal: With a country full of people sitting around at home, it’s a “banner year” for UFO spotting.

But if you’re not content to stay at home for your extraterrestrial experiences, you can make the extremely unwise choice to visit the newly reopened International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell.

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.