Misleading Memes as Cloaked Propaganda
June 21, 2019 · 1 


Soon after a university cheating scandal recently broke, a meme declared that “White privilege is REAL,” and gave three examples presumably illustrating that premise. The first shows a photo of actress Felicity Huffman and states that “Feds will seek 4 months jail time for Felicity Huffman for bribing her daughter into college.” This is contrasted …

The ‘FBI Bigfoot Investigation’: Where’s the Beef?
June 7, 2019


Breathless headlines earlier this week referred to the “FBI Investigating Bigfoot,” a clickbaity phrase if ever social media saw one, along with the promise that newly-declassified FBI files shed light on the mystery. As intriguing and sensational as it sounds, it turns out to be much ado about nothing. I’ll summarize the story, but there’s …

Are 1 in 4 Americans Going Into Debt Buying Food?
June 5, 2019


It’s a scary, dismaying headline that made the social media rounds over the past few weeks: “Nearly 25% of Americans are going into debt trying to pay for necessities like food.”   The piece, which appeared on CNBC, began with the following: “American have an average of $6,506 in credit card debt, according to a …

Who Are Mass Shooters? Mass Shooter Demographics
May 31, 2019 · 2 

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This is part two of a three-part series. You can read the rest of the series here. With the recent tragic attacks against Muslims in New Zealand by an Australian white supremacist, the world once again turned its attention to mass shootings. It’s a subject that has captivated America for years with little progress in …

A Look at Aladdin’s Genie—and Its Jinn Origins
May 24, 2019


With the much-hyped release of the new version of Disney’s Aladdin, I thought it would be interesting to take a brief folkloric look at genies and jinn. Jinn (or djinn) refers to creatures that appeared in medieval Arabic folklore; they were usually depicted as threatening and free-willed—so dangerous in fact that rituals and amulets are …

Trump’s Tricks: The Illusion of Popular Support
May 17, 2019 · 1 


Donald Trump is widely known for boasting. He brags about his intelligence, his physical and mental health, his wealth, and pretty much anything else he can think of or in some tangential way take credit for. But most of all, Trump loves to brag about how influential, adored, and popular he is. From his wildly …

Telling ‘Real’ from ‘Fake’ Psychics
May 3, 2019


Skeptics are known for warning the public about the perils of psychics (ranging from exploitation to fraud), but it may surprise you to know that “real” psychics sometimes join in as well, offering advice about how to avoid those “fake psychics.” A recent article explained, “Every day thousands of people look to psychics for advice, …

Columbine School Shooting Myths: 20 Years Later
April 22, 2019


A few days ago marked the twentieth anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, in which two senior students in Colorado killed twelve students and one teacher before ultimately killing themselves. The crime received extensive news coverage and inspired many copycats and a Michael Moore film, Bowling for Columbine. Early reportage of high-profile events (and …

Magical Thinking and Conspiracy in Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’
April 17, 2019


The new horror film Us begins in 1986 as a little girl named Adelaide visits a Santa Cruz boardwalk theme park at night with her parents. She wanders off toward the beach (carrying a curiously un-nibbled candied apple) and eventually finds a spooky house of mirrors. Nobody’s around—a teenager presumably supposed to charge admission is …

‘Malling While Muslim’: Man Falsely Accused of Child Abduction
April 11, 2019 · 1 


Social and news media have unfortunately seen a rise in two distinct toxic phenomena over the past year or so. The first is a steady stream of white women calling police on minorities minding their own business in public spaces, in dozens of cases including a Starbucks, a public park, swimming pools, streetcorners, and the …