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Holding Their Noses

July 30, 2020

Video of the first-ever CFI Insider webinar event, our interview with Leighann Lord, is now available to watch anytime, so you should really go watch it. Then you should sign up for the next CFI Insider. Then you should sign up for tomorrow’s first-ever Skeptical Inquirer Presents. It’s a lot, but that’s because we just can’t stop giving.

We’ve got an important action alert: Tell your reps in Congress to support the CORE Act, because “pandemic relief funding must not be blindly bundled with unaccountable dark money.”


More than 150,000 Americans are now dead from COVID-19, but the human species is twisting itself into knots as we try to deal with the fact that the most powerful member of our species, the President of the United States, has apparently endorsed the probably-too-ridiculous-for-Scientologists claims of one Stella Immanuel, the doctor who says medicine is made from alien DNA and that sexual intercourse with demons (which occurs in a dreamscape plane of existence) causes diseases.

Theology professor André Gagné talks to RNS about the biblical bases for Immanuel’s ravings. “That’s essentially Genesis Chapter 6.” Time to reread that stuff I guess.

Brandon W. Hawk looks into the Christian and Jewish mythological roots of this kind of belief about demons and disease.

America’s mayor! Rudy Giuliani calls Immanuel “my hero.”


Gohmert’s got it. He says wearing a mask made him get it. Gohmert. Gohmert, Gohmert, Gohmert.

State Sen. Jason Rapert of Arkansas, who got COVID-19 after calling it a hoax, threatens Hemant Mehta over his reporting of this fact: “You little liar. … You crossed a line that you will regret. I am outing all of you.”

10 Republican U.S. senators want COVID-19 relief funds to be contingent on governors allowing churches to open. I can’t even.

Madonna is apparently a COVID-19 conspiracy believer. The multi-millionaire global superstar called the disease “the great equalizer.”

Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets says COVID-19 is being used for global population control.

Fast Company tries to quantify how all the misinformation is changing people’s behavior, and it really can’t. And without hard data about this, platforms and peddlers get a little plausible deniability for their culpability.

Business Insider does a big investigation into the Young Living essential oils multi-level marketing scheme, particularly its claims about treating COVID-19.

The FDA may give emergency authorization for the use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19.


QAnon is going global. Concordia University PhD candidate Marc-André Argentino drops an F-bomb when he tells Vice: “Germany recently had protesters asking for Trump to come and liberate them from the German deep state. That’s f***ed up.”

John Avlon at CNN has a great rant about the right-wing media and Trump’s embrace of conspiracy theories and its “fear-based feedback loop…keeping people addicted to anger and fear and anxiety.”

Greg Eghigian at Slate on the constant UFO “revelations”: “They have delivered little more than evidence that some people in the military have been concerned about some pilots’ aerial encounters, and that when a U.S. senator and a billionaire aerospace entrepreneur with an interest in the paranormal set their minds to creating an office for studying UFOs, some in the Pentagon are willing to listen.”

Religion & Politics interviews journalist Sarah Posner about her new book Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump, and her very first answer says so much about evangelicals voting for Trump in 2016: “I wouldn’t say they were holding their noses.”

An appeals court rules that a music teacher fired by a Catholic school has no legal recourse because of, yes, the ministerial exception. We told you.


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.



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