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Guzzling Water From a Fish Tank

April 6, 2020

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.


There is just so much stuff today. So let’s start with the low-hanging fruit that swings wildly, hits you in the eye, and infects you with a deadly virus. The blood-of-Jesus lady:

A churchgoer in Ohio told CNN that she is attending services during the coronavirus pandemic because she is “covered in Jesus’ blood” and can’t be infected.

“I wouldn’t be anywhere else,” the woman told CNN’s Gary Tuchman from her car as she was leaving church services.

“Aren’t you worried you could impact other people if you get sick inside?” the CNN reporter asked.

“No, I’m covered in Jesus’ blood,” the woman replied. “I’m covered in Jesus’ blood!”

You’re…you’re WHAT? What did you do to Jesus???

Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family, tweets:

Before you hate on these folks you need to understand how influential pastors can be w/in evangelicalism. These folks are duped not by faith but by men of vast vanity who won’t give up an audience or a “love offering” for the sake of something so small as other people’s lives.

To explain this more deeply, I recommend this very, very long thread by Jared Yates Sexton on the Christian nationalist/Confederate/white supremacist roots of [gestures around self] all this:

Here, in America, the evangelical right created a cult within a belief. That cult was dedicated to Confederate ideology, white supremacy, and the godliness of profit and wealth.

People within the cult don’t recognize they’re in the cult. It’s simply their world. …

… The “Deep State” conspiracy theory is the New World Order and the Elders of Zion conspiracy theories made new. His wielding of those paranoid ramblings is a weaponization of the cult’s beliefs and fears.

It is a message: I am battling a conspiracy of evil as a messiah. …

… The Cult of the Shining City has been raised to search for the apocalypse, told over and over it’s coming, and in a way they’re dying to die. They want the End Times now because their country has been poisoned with murderous politics and culture.

This is a death cult.

Speaking of cults, whatever you do, don’t even think about questioning how the Church of Scientology is handling the coronavirus pandemic WHAT DID I SAY DON’T YOU DARE QUESTION IT.

Look, there is so much material right now on the boneheaded pastors and their flocks who insist on holding services, governors exempting churches from social distancing, fanatics insisting it’s all a hoax, or claiming that they’re magically immune. The only one you need to read is by our own Nick Little, who uses this magical phrasing:

It simply isn’t enough for states to allow services to continue with appropriate social distancing. If a bar, or a movie theater, or even a political meeting cannot be trusted to continue operation and self-enforce social distancing, why should a church be treated differently? Does anyone think this will be enforced? Will Texas Rangers be visiting churches with measuring tapes and, like nuns at a Catholic school dance, ensuring there is space for the Holy Spirit between participants? These rules will simply be ignored, and the outbreak will continue to gather speed at a terrifying rate. …

… It’s shameless pandering to a religious minority who has shown time and time again they don’t care about anyone in society but themselves.

It’s not just your regular Sunday services. In Lakewood, New Jersey, fifteen men are charged with violating bans on public gatherings for attending an Orthodox Jewish funeral. It was a funeral for a rabbi who died from the coronavirus.

One church in Arizona is tempting people with free toilet paper. You add a container of alcohol wipes to that, and I’ll be a convert.

Kenneth Copeland, the heavily-pancaked televangelist, is blowing the Wind of God at you, which I think is sort of like that scene from Superman II when Zod and his posse keep aggressively exhaling at the humans, only I hope Copeland’s is way shorter. He also needs $300 million, and he filed some paperwork with heaven, and forget it I just can’t.

Franklin Graham tells Jeanine Pirro that we deserve the virus:

“Well, I don’t think it’s God’s plan for this to happen. It’s because of the sin that’s in the world,” Graham answered. “Man has turned his back on God, we have sinned against him, and we need to ask for God’s forgiveness and that’s what Easter’s all about.”

Donald Trump, for whatever reason, very badly wants us all to be popping hydroxychloroquine. There is a lot of arguing over it going on behind the scenes of the White House.

I can’t even believe this is a thing. People are attacking 5G cell towers because they think they are spreading the coronavirus. BBC reports:

Conspiracy theories linking 5G signals to the coronavirus pandemic continue to spread despite there being no evidence the mobile phone signals pose a health risk. … One suggests 5G suppresses the immune system, the other claims the virus is somehow using the network’s radio waves to communicate and pick victims, accelerating its spread. …

… The second theory appears to be based on the work of a Nobel Prize-winning biologist who suggested bacteria could generate radio waves.

AND IT’S NOT A BACTERIA. I can’t.

CBS News looks at the challenge of filtering out coronavirus misinformation for kids stuck at home:

Teachers like Melissa Lau say there are steps parents and students can take to avoid being taken in by bad information online.

“If you’re going to have students go off and do research, really emphasize finding primary sources,” said Lau, meaning they should track down the original source of information rather than relying on other people’s summaries or videos about it. She added that she encourages parents to have conversations with their kids about vetting websites and learning tools available online.

“It’s a survival skill,” said Lau. “Especially now that schools are closed and there’s so much worry and panic.”

The Louisville Courier Journal reports that local officials are warning people against paying $200 for what looks like scam pop-up COVID-19 testing sites.

On her Oh No Ross and Carrie podcast, Carrie Poppy made a coronavirus scammer mad:

“Carrie, I am a real healer,” Meredith said. “I have healed hundreds and hundreds of people.”

Poppy’s interview with Meredith ended abruptly, with Meredith vaguely threatening legal action if Poppy released the podcast. “That’s not how that works,” Poppy explained.

India’s health ministry says Prince Charles was cured of the coronavirus because of homeopathy, which Prince Charles endorses. But Prince Charles also says that’s not what happened. The Quint reports:

“This information is incorrect. The Prince of Wales followed the medical advice of the NHS in the UK and nothing more,” a Clarence House spokesperson said.

Some chiropractors, as you know, are promoting their services as capable of treating or preventing the coronavirus. They might deny it later:

While the state of Wisconsin considers chiropractors essential, Dr. Ghojallu said many of his patients are choosing to stay home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“And that’s what they should do,” said Dr. Ghojallu.

But a FOX6 investigation found he may be trying to keep patients coming in with a controversial claim — that spinal adjustments can actually boost your immune system, and protect you from viruses like COVID-19.

“I’m not sure if I can use the word ‘boost,'” said Dr. Ghojallu.

You wouldn’t?

But two days earlier, he said this to a FOX6 producer attending one of his free workshops. …

… “So the coronavirus going around right now, is that…?” asked the FOX6 producer.

“And this, so, this could help you prevent that,” said Dr. Ghojallu.

“Prevent what?” asked the FOX6 producer.

“Prevent you from getting it,” said Dr. Ghojallu.

“The flu or the coronavirus?” asked the FOX6 producer.

“The flu or anything,” said Dr. Ghojallu.

We live in a world where the CBC needs to begin an article with this sentence:

Cow urine is not a cure for COVID-19. Guzzling water from a fish tank will not protect you from the virus.

Kate Cohen, an atheist, writes in the Post that some folks might need some of the things religion offers:

Did the global pandemic suddenly make believers out of us? Now would indeed be the perfect time to pledge fealty to a capricious, plague-wielding, Old Testament god. But I can’t make myself believe. When I read the Jesuit priest James Martin’s recent New York Times speculation, “Where Is God in a Pandemic?,” I felt as though I was reading a long and learned piece on why we hadn’t heard a peep from Superman.

God? No.

But religion? Maybe a little. …

… We need ways to express gratitude, to face death, to comfort ourselves. We need community and ritual and dates that can’t easily be deleted.

I guess there’s also non-coronavirus news, if you care.

The New York Times reports from the Indian state of Assam, where citizenship tribunals are casting millions of Muslims as non-citizens:

The New York Times interviewed one current and five former members of the Assam tribunals that review suspected foreigners. The five former members said they had felt pressured by the government to declare Muslims to be noncitizens. Three of them, including Ms. Rajkumari, said they were fired because they did not do so. …

… The upshot is that any Hindus left off Assam’s citizenship lists after its broad review, or declared by tribunals to be foreigners, will likely be affirmed as citizens because of the new immigration law. Muslims may not.

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules that FFRF is indeed allowed to have their atheist holiday display in the Texas State Capitol. Meanwhile, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that “so help me God” in the citizenship oath is ceremonial and you can’t sue over it.

Finally, here’s a video from CSICon 2019 by Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm, on how the brain learns and gets things wrong. Imagine that.


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.



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