Fever Swamps

July 17, 2020

We can’t have a CSICon this year, but BIG IDEAS DON’T NEED HOTEL BALLROOMS, Y’ALL. Yesterday we announced a new series of free online talks, Skeptical Inquirer Presents. It starts July 30!

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said this about opening schools: “When he says open, he means open in full. Kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this.

As Hemant Mehta points out, she went on to say that science isn’t “standing in the way” because it’s actually standing right behind Trump. Which is also wrong, but welcome to the Darkest Timeline.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights released its draft report, and we were not pleased, particularly as Pompeo “pushed the false narrative that ‘faith in god’ is necessary for morality and human rights.”

75,600 new COVID-19 cases yesterday. New record.

Anthony Fauci was interviewed by Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook, which sounds like something I would schedule a root canal to avoid, but Fauci is an American hero. In fact, EJ Montini at the Arizona Republic says Fauci is the American Galileo:

He is no politician. He’s a scientist, a doctor. He wouldn’t treat a patient based on wishful thinking or fantasy, but based on facts.

Meanwhile, the UN says child vaccinations for all things non-COVID are declining sharply.

The Times has a Coronavirus Drug and Treatment Tracker with a sort of terror-alert color-code system, ranging from green for “widely used” to deep red for “pseudoscience or fraud.”

I love this line from an NBC Miami report on the cherry picking of data errors to fuel COVID-19 misinformation: “Some who dwell in the fever swamps of internet conspiracy and virus-denier websites and chat groups are exploiting some laboratory data input errors to sow doubt about the extent of the virus in Florida.”

Three churches in California are suing the governor for the right to infect themselves by singing at each other.

Jana Riess at RNS on “anti-maskers” (or, as I prefer, “anti-maxxers”): “[We] don’t have the luxury to allow their misguided and selfish understanding of what freedom is to rule the day. … We need to be thinking about freedom for everyone.”

Gov. Brian Kemp is suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for her city’s mask requirement. Must. Infect. Everyone.

Prominent public skeptic Tim Caulfield works with his artist brother, Sean Caulfield, for a social media campaign that encourages people to think twice about what they’re seeing before they just go and believe it. Sean says, “To my mind, I’m trying to create images that—in a loose, open, abstract way—talk about the body and the anxiety around COVID, and that are complex and not easy to read.”

H. Holden Thorp at Science magazine: “Science thrives when its advocates are shrewd politicians but suffers when its opponents are better at politics.”

Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University is suing the New York Times for defamation ($10 million!!) for, um, reporting on Liberty University.

It’s not just COVID-19. ProPublica and First Draft report that “Facebook is rife with false or misleading claims about voting, particularly regarding voting by mail,” and that these false stories, that often portray people of color as villains, are “among the most popular posts about voting on Facebook.”

You may have heard that Trump, and therefore all of his followers, endorse Goya beans. Whatever. Jim Underdown has some ideas about what else the Trump clan could put their endorsement power behind, including both Trojan condoms and snake-handling.

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 centerforinquiry.org/coronavirus.

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.