Browne 2004 covid excerpt
Sylvia Browne’s Bogus Coronavirus Prophecies
March 24, 2020 by

In recent weeks there’s been many rumors, myths, and misinformation about the current coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19. One of the most curious is the recent resurrection of a posthumous prediction by psychic Sylvia Browne. In her 2008 book End of Days, Browne predicted that “In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, …

Sylvia Browne’s Non-Psychic, Non-Coronavirus Prediction
March 12, 2020 by

In recent weeks there’s been plenty of rumors, myths, and misinformation about the newest coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19. I’ve written several pieces on the topic, tackling both intentional and accidental bogus information. Some of the most pernicious, of course, involves misinformation about healthcare decisions (such as fake cures), but there are others. One of the most …

Streets of Wuhan
Coronavirus Myths, Misinformation, and Conspiracies
February 11, 2020 by

As the world enters its second full month dealing with the deadly coronavirus that has dominated headlines, killed hundreds, and sickened thousands, misinformation is running rampant. For many, the medical and epidemiological aspects of the outbreak are the most important and salient elements, but there are other prisms through which we can examine this public …

Misleading Polls and Bad Statistics: Do Republicans Think Education is Bad?
January 9, 2020 by

A June 6, 2018, article from ChurchandState.org titled “Propaganda Works – 58 Percent of Republicans Believe Education Is Bad” was shared on social media by liberals and Democrats, gleeful that their assumptions about conservative anti-intellectualism had been borne out in objective, quantifiable data from a respected polling organization. The widely-shared article states that “Fox News, …

Crackpots, Serial Killers and Flat Earthers
November 6, 2019 by

Things are a bit different now. Any crackpot with a 6th grader’s knowledge of computers can design and launch a website, shoot, edit and post a You Tube video that is wrong in every sense of the word, and search the world for people who share their same fetishes, dopey ideas, or sick fantasies.

Halloween Scary Phantoms and Phantom Scares
October 31, 2019 by

Today is Halloween, and amid the make-believe witches, ghouls, and goblins, there are supposedly real-life villains who hope to harm children every October 31. News reports and scary stories on social media leave many parents concerned about protecting children from Halloween threats. But are they real or myth? Here are five scary myths and legends …

The Trump ‘Distraction’ Quasi-Conspiracy
August 22, 2019 by

One common claim about Donald Trump is that he often says and does things not only for effect, but with the specific goal of distracting the public and news media from something else he wants to keep hidden. The claims have circulated for years, especially on social media; for example one Facebook post recently stated …

Epstein Death Conspiracies: Plausibility and Fuzzy Facts
August 14, 2019 by

This past weekend, financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his New York jail cell while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. Within minutes of the news breaking, conspiracy theories circulated widely on social media, accusing a laundry list of people as playing some role in his death. One of them, President Trump himself, who has …

Columbine School Shooting Myths: 20 Years Later
April 22, 2019 by

A few days ago marked the twentieth anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, in which two senior students in Colorado killed twelve students and one teacher before ultimately killing themselves. The crime received extensive news coverage and inspired many copycats and a Michael Moore film, Bowling for Columbine. Early reportage of high-profile events (and …

Magical Thinking and Conspiracy in Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’
April 17, 2019 by

The new horror film Us begins in 1986 as a little girl named Adelaide visits a Santa Cruz boardwalk theme park at night with her parents. She wanders off toward the beach (carrying a curiously un-nibbled candied apple) and eventually finds a spooky house of mirrors. Nobody’s around—a teenager presumably supposed to charge admission is …