Sylvia Browne’s Non-Psychic, Non-Coronavirus Prediction
March 12, 2020


In recent weeks there’s been plenty of rumors, myths, and misinformation about the newest coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19. I’ve written several pieces on the topic, tackling both intentional and accidental bogus information. Some of the most pernicious, of course, involves misinformation about healthcare decisions (such as fake cures), but there are others. One of the most …

‘Birds of Prey’ Misogyny: When Clickbait Harms Women
March 9, 2020


Recently a headline widely shared on social media decried poor reviews of the new film Birds of Prey and blamed it on male film critics hating the film for real or perceived feminist messages (and/or skewed expectations; it’s not clear). The article, by Sergio Pereira, was headlined “Birds of Prey: Most of the Negative Reviews …

Equatorial Misinformation Misadventures
February 19, 2020

,

Last month I was editing a piece by Rob Palmer (perhaps better known as “The Well-Known Skeptic”) on the subject of misinformation he encountered in the middle of the world. Or, put another way, bogus information on the equator in Ecuador (a country named after the equator). I had a particular interest in the topic, …

Coronavirus Myths, Misinformation, and Conspiracies
February 11, 2020


As the world enters its second full month dealing with the deadly coronavirus that has dominated headlines, killed hundreds, and sickened thousands, misinformation is running rampant. For many, the medical and epidemiological aspects of the outbreak are the most important and salient elements, but there are other prisms through which we can examine this public …

A Quick Example of Quick Debunking
January 28, 2020


I’ve investigated hundreds—probably thousands—of things in my career as a skeptic and researcher, from misleading polls to chupacabra vampire legends. Some investigations take hours or days; others take weeks or months, and a rare few take years. It all depends on the scope of the investigation and how much information you have to analyze. In …

‘1917,’ War, and The Frailty of Knowledge
January 22, 2020


As advertised, the World War I film 1917 takes place in April 1917, when two British soldiers, William Schofield (George MacKay) and Tom Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), are rousted from a weary daytime slumber. They’re ordered to cross enemy territory (a no man’s land littered with death and decay) and deliver an urgent message to another …

Neil Peart, Skeptic
January 17, 2020


Last week Neil Peart, the drummer and main lyricist for the rock band Rush, died. He’d been living in California and privately battled brain cancer for several years. The Canadian trio (Alex Lifeson on guitar, Geddy Lee on vocals, bass, and keyboards, and Neil Peart on drums) announced they’d stopped touring in 2015, after 40 …

Misleading Polls and Bad Statistics: Do Republicans Think Education is Bad?
January 9, 2020


A June 6, 2018, article from ChurchandState.org titled “Propaganda Works – 58 Percent of Republicans Believe Education Is Bad” was shared on social media by liberals and Democrats, gleeful that their assumptions about conservative anti-intellectualism had been borne out in objective, quantifiable data from a respected polling organization. The widely-shared article states that “Fox News, …

‘Richard Jewell,’ Skepticism, and Media Literacy
December 27, 2019


The recent Clint Eastwood film Richard Jewell holds interesting lessons about skepticism, media literacy, and both the obligations and difficulties of translating real events into fictional entertainment. It’s no secret that non-police security officers get little or no respect. They’re universally mocked and ignored in malls, security checkpoints, and airports. The stereotype is the self-important, …

‘Epstein’s Enablers’: Debunking a Bogus Social Media Post
December 4, 2019


A recent Facebook post by a friend-of-a-friend named Gary about Jeffrey Epstein featured a black and white montage of a dozen people he identified as “Some of his friends and enablers.” The photos weren’t captioned, and it wasn’t clear who all of them were, so it piqued my curiosity. With a little research I tracked …