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Finger-Pointing and Facial Expressions

February 13, 2020

So, about 15,000 new cases of the Wuhan coronavirus were added by Chinese officials…in one day…in one province. This isn’t because there are suddenly a tidal wave of new infections, but because they are now changing diagnostic criteria to determine whether one is infected. Roni Caryn Rabin at NYT reports:

A change in diagnosis may make it still harder to track the virus, said Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, co-director of the University of Washington MetaCenter for Pandemic Preparedness and Global Health Security.

“It makes it really confusing right now if they’re changing the whole way they screen and detect,” he said. Now estimating the scale of the epidemic “is a moving target.”

It is not uncommon for scientists to refine diagnostic criteria as their understanding of a new disease changes. But when the criteria are changed, experts said, it makes little sense to continue to make week-over-week comparisons.

“It sounds simplistic, but it’s so very important — what numbers are you counting?” said Dr. Schaffner, the infectious disease specialist.

But you don’t have to worry. Pastor Hank Kunneman says that Donald Trump, because of his opposition to abortion, will magically protect the United States from the virus. Speaking for/as Yahweh, I assume, the pastor says:

Because of the administration that stands in this land, who honors me, who honors the covenants of your forefathers and of the Constitution, and because they have aligned themselves with Israel, and because they have sided on the right side of life — life in the womb, life given outside of the womb — therefore I give life to this nation, and I give mercy. Do not fear this virus, says the Spirit of God.

But just in case he’s wrong, you can always buy Jim Bakker’s Silver Solution, which he says will cure the coronavirus within 12 hours.

Here’s actually what you need to do: Wash your damn hands.

A pediatrician in Illinois committed suicide, leaving a suicide note with some truly disturbing revelations. Antonia Noori Farzan at the Post reports:

Koinis had taken his own life and left behind a note suggesting he had falsified medical records for about a decade and may not have vaccinated their children, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday. …

… Because of his fondness for homeopathic remedies, Koinis had developed an underground reputation as a favorite doctor for anti-vaxxers, the Chicago Tribune reported. Authorities are investigating whether he forged records so parents could falsely claim their children had received the immunizations required by Illinois schools, as his suicide note seemed to imply.

But they’re also concerned that children whose parents weren’t opposed to vaccines may not have been immunized, either.

Speaking of anti-vaxxers, we have video from Britt Hermes’ presentation at CSICon, where she talks about her former life as a naturopath and her current efforts to push back against the lies. Oh, and her story is also the cover feature of the latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer.

Jann Bellamy at Science-Based Medicine has all the bad news of acupuncturists being granted legitimacy in the state legislatures in 2019:

As with climate change denial and anti-vaccination propaganda, the rejection of evidence in favor of ideology and a good, old-fashioned profit motive can beat back science again and again.

Chrissy Stroop at Religion Dispatches gets to the heart of what’s wrong with the taxpayer funding of Christian coercion groups like Hookers for Jesus and the Lincoln Tubman Foundation:

Despite all the hand wringing and pearl clutching of pundits supposedly seeking to understand how Christians can support such a corrupt and sinful president, there’s no contradiction whatsoever in the behavior of these authoritarian believers whose version of Christianity is intertwined with white supremacist patriarchy.

When it comes to programs for those who need it most, authoritarian Christians often have a large degree of control, which they often abuse. This was a problem in America long before Trump came on the scene, but under Trump it has only gotten worse.

Wendy Grossman at Skeptical Inquirer looks at the work of Angela Saini to understand and combat misinformation:

“I wanted to tangibly look at the spread of pseudoscience online and in academia,” she says. “It’s always been there, but I feel the problem is exacerbated online because it’s so easy to share bad data and bad papers even after they’ve been retracted.”

Paul Waldman at the Post looks at Gallup’s recent numbers on the electability of certain groups, where atheists were deemed acceptable to only 60 percent of voters and socialists to only 45 percent, seeking to dispel the idea that a self-described “socialist” candidate would be doomed in the general election:

There’s one critical way that “socialist” differs from all the other items on Gallup’s list: It’s an ideological choice, not a demographic characteristic. Which means that if you’re a Republican, you could imagine a nominee of your party who’s an atheist or a woman or black.

Could you, though? Could you?

For what it’s worth, it looks like among New Hampshire primary voters who go to church every week, Amy Klobuchar was their top choice. On the other side of the coin, Sanders won even more handily among those who never attend religious services.

Theodore Decker at the Columbus Dispatch is unimpressed by the footage of an alleged Bigfoot sighting (or “Grassman” I guess) in Ohio, but then shows a soft spot for cryptids:

Watch the full 10 minutes, and an alternate title comes to mind: “Dude in black Carhartt monkeys around with pals in Ohio woods.” …

The Bigfoot hoaxers are out to deceive and know they run the risk of derision. But what if you were certain you saw something that you couldn’t explain? Would you open yourself up to the finger-pointing, the jokes, the facial expressions that suggest you’re either lying or have lost your mind?

It’s a shame, really, because who does it hurt, this Bigfoot business?

Here’s something to keep an eye on: House Republicans come up with some legislation to sort of, kinda, lightly, maybe address climate change…wait, what? Well, they may not get very far if the right-wing “think”-tanks have anything to say about it. And they will.

New Zealand’s North & South does a quick overview of the problems with homeopathy (which are many) and some of the countries in which homeopathy is still being taken seriously (cough cough the united states of america cough cough oh no i am coughing because i have a terrible disease now because i used homeopathy cough cough dead).


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.