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PPE > C-list PSAs

October 1, 2020

Find hope and cleanse your cortex with the newly-posted video of Bertha Vazquez, director of CFI’s Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science, on the latest CFI Insider online event.


Hey everybody, we don’t need to make things up to oppose about Amy Coney Barrett, there’s plenty of real stuff. Politifact debunks the claim that she’s said women should not be able to own property without permission from a man.

For example: Kate Sosin at USA Today looks at all the damage Barrett and an ultraconservative Court could do to LGBTQ rights.

Thomas Edsall: Barrett is sort of Scalia’s way of imposing misery from beyond the grave. She’ll “strengthen a legal insurgency that … threatens not only abortion rights but also access to some forms of contraception … and weakens divisions between church and state.”

People of Praise is trying to erase any evidence of Barrett’s association with them from their website.

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Tennessee’s law that requires abortion providers to lie to their patients and tell them a medication-induced abortion can be reversed.


Cornell University researchers: “The president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid.”

Seven former FDA commissioners in the Post: “If the White House takes the unprecedented step of trying to tip the scales on how safety and benefits will be judged, the impact on public trust will render an effective vaccine much less so.

BuzzFeed reports on how Trump’s political pressure for a vaccine “is just a gift to the anti-vaccine movement,” as virologist Peter Hotez put it.

There is no going back to normal.

A major study shows that kids are very much susceptible to COVID-19, and while most people with the virus don’t infect anyone else, “8% of patients accounted for 60% of observed new infections.” Way to go, 8 percent.

Axios: CDC director Robert Redfield wanted a ban on passenger cruises for a year for obvious reasons, but was overruled by the White House.

Dr. Kavita Patel: Conspiracy theories about the COVID death count are just adding to the number of people who will get COVID and die.

Politico: Michael Caputo wasted a quarter-billion dollars on a “boondoggle” (according to an HHS official) for “PSAs with C-list celebrities.”

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.


In a new report, Scott Lilienfeld (a fellow of CFI’s Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) and Shauna Bowes show which personality traits are linked to conspiracy theory belief, finding at the extremes “a real pathology.” NYT reports:

To rough out a personality profile, or profiles, the research team measured which facets of personality were most strongly correlated to higher levels of susceptibility to conspiracy beliefs. The findings were at least as notable for the associations revealed as for those not found. For example, qualities like conscientiousness, modesty and altruism were very weakly related to a person’s susceptibility. Levels of anger or sincerity bore no apparent relation; nor did self-esteem.

(Y’all, I’m supposed to be making these Morning Heresies shorter. It’s hard!)

*** UPDATE: Immediately after publishing this post, I found out that Scott Lilienfeld has just passed away. It’s just incredibly sad, and we’ll have more to say later. But our whole skeptic community is going to feel this loss really hard, and my deepest condolences to his family and friends. ***

On the Media does a segment on “conspirituality” (think yoga-meets-QAnon).


Ex-Muslims of North America release a Persecution Tracker, showing “accounts of hate and violence motivated by Islamic intolerance.”

The Daily Beast profiles the activists pushing back against anti-LGBTQ hate and pseudoscience in Poland.

Crawford Gribben at WSJ reviews a new book on the Jefferson Bible, writing, “Its project was to make Jesus politically useful, to represent Jesus as an idealized American man. … [Jefferson’s] Jesus is forever on the brink of doing something extraordinary—but never does.” Sounds like the last season of Lost.

RNS: Trump’s behavior at the debate may be hurting his standing with younger evangelicals.

Clare Bronfman, heir to the Seagram’s fortune, is sentenced to 81 months for her role in the Nxivm cult’s abuse of its members and intimidation of critics.

Kevin Sorbo will prove God’s existence with SCIENCE.


Greenland’s ice is melting faster now than it has at any time in 12,000 years.

Headline of the day/week/who-can-say! Sue Kerr at the ominously-named Leader-Vindicator: “Bigfoot looks on as Rugged Girl gets her flu shot.”

Despite us obviously asking for it, the Sweet Meteor O’Death did not arrive in Northern Virginia Tuesday night.


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.