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Spin the Black Circle

March 13, 2020

So, everything is terrible, but, like, way more so than usual. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, wife of the Canadian prime minister, has tested positive for the coronavirus. Disneyland and Disney World are closed. American Atheists cancels its convention in Arizona. I was going to be in a play for the first time since dinosaurs ruled the earth, and now it’s been cancelled, so I’m crushed. Paper towels, toilet paper, facial tissues, cleaning wipes, hand soap, and whatnot are utterly absent at my local grocery stores, and I am relatively far from heavily affected areas.

Kevin Kruse is calling our current moment in history “Disaster Voltron.”

Tom Gara, opinion editor of BuzzFeed, tweets:

The only cleaning supplies left in our supermarket are the natural ones made from like, orange zest and boiled leaves or whatever, and the “no atheists in foxholes” thing definitely works here: there are no users of all-natural cleaning products in a pandemic.

Hey, how is India and its billion-plus population handling things? Turns out, not well! Time reports:

[Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute] was frustrated upon hearing about these novel approaches to combating the virus [involving cow pee and whatnot]. “It made me want to rip my hair out,” he says. “The [government is] undermining their own credibility.” Jha worries that if authorities then ask the public to adhere to more strenuous measures, like abstaining from the temple or shutting down schools, people may not listen.

Although misinformation can be common during an outbreak across different countries, India’s problem involves more than just arbitrary messages. “This is government-sponsored misinformation,” [Pratik] Sinha says. “It’s a lot more dangerous. It’s misinformation coming from people who are very influential.”

Sounds familiar.

Rome is disturbingly empty, with Italy on a total national lockdown. Claire Giangravé reports for RNS:

All of a sudden, I found myself printing government papers detailing my personal information and explaining my reason for leaving the house. …

… Yet no silence is more striking than that of the Italian Roman Catholic clergy. Masses have been banned in the entire country, baptismal fonts are drained and even confessionals were empty in the numerous churches I visited. A few people braved the virus to pray in the pews, dutifully kneeling 3 feet apart, of course. Only members of the clergy have access to St. Peter’s Basilica and square. As of Wednesday night, all churches will be closed in Italy.

Benjamin Radford debunks the claim that quite-dead-fake-psychic Sylvia Browne predicted the coronavirus outbreak in her 2008 book End of Days:

So we have a two-sentence prediction written in 2008 by a convicted felon with a long track record of failures. Half of the prediction (the second sentence) have demonstrably not happened. The other half of the prophecy describes an infectious respiratory illness that does not resemble Covid-19 in its particulars and that would happen within a few years of 2020. At best, maybe one-sixth of what she said is accurate, depending again on how much latitude you’re willing to give her in terms of dates and vague descriptions. Anyone who finds this prediction to be astonishingly accurate should contact me for information on a bridge I happen to have for sale.

Additionally, Louisa Ballhaus and Kat Hobza at SheKnows cite CFI’s Committee for Skeptical Inquiry in a piece about how wrong Sylvia Browne was about everything:

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry published an article in March 2010 that studied 115 of Browne’s predictions related to criminal cases. They found 25 to be completely wrong, and the remaining cases had no available details or remained unsolved, so there is no way to prove Browne’s accuracy or lack thereof.

And for one final stomp, the end with:

Browne also famously claimed she would die at the age of 88, but she was 77 when she passed away.


Another fake psychic/scam artist, Leslie Lee of Culver City, California, is arrested for bilking a client out of thousands of dollars for curse removal. Now imagine if she had also charged for germ removal!

You already know this, but now Pew has the numbers: White evangelicals love what Trump does for them, have mixed feelings about his personal behavior, and consider themselves to now be on the winning side of the political wars. Of course, the whole point of the white evangelical political movement is to presume one is perpetually oppressed, so they may want to rethink that. Also:

…the share of black Protestants and religious “nones” (those who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular”) who think their side has been winning lately on the political issues that matter to them is down considerably since Trump’s election. … the share of religious “nones” who think their side has been winning in politics is 13 points lower today than it was in 2016.

Yeah, no duh. Also of note:

Having a president who is deeply religious or who shares one’s own religious beliefs is less important to both Republicans and Democrats, but Republicans place a higher premium than Democrats on both of these qualities. This dovetails with the fact that most religious “nones” are Democrats, and that this group has been growing more quickly in the Democratic Party than in the GOP.

The Colorado Springs Gazette introduces us to Ellen and Larry Booth, folks who say something landed in their yard that made a big black circle:

“Because we’re Christians, we have the attitude that how can we as Christians or even humans on this planet be so arrogant to believe we are the only ones in the galaxy,” Ellen says. “Are you kidding me? There’s only one Earth? We’re the only ones around?” …

… “Something landed,” Larry says, his voice calm yet firm. “Since nothing grew around there, it had to be some kind of strange radiation.

“Something landed, and you have to decide. It was either the United States government that did something. It was another country that did something. Or it was a flying saucer from some other planet. It has to be one of the three.”

Come and get us.

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.