COVID-19 Fears: Overreaction, Underreaction, and Unity
April 6, 2020 by

This is the second in a series of original articles on the COVID-19 pandemic by the Center for Inquiry as part of its Coronavirus Resource Center, created to help the public address the crisis with evidence-based information. Please check back periodically for updates and new information. There have been many pandemics throughout history, but none …

Coronavirus-Misinformation-Celestia Ward
Fear Itself: COVID-19, Media Literacy, and Social Media Distancing
March 25, 2020 by

This is the first in a series of original articles on the COVID-19 pandemic by the Center for Inquiry as part of its COVID-19 Resource Center, created to help the public address the crisis with evidence-based information. Please check back periodically for updates and new information.  There’s a natural—almost Pavlovian—tendency to follow the news closely, …

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 …

‘Birds of Prey’ Misogyny: When Clickbait Harms Women
March 9, 2020 by

Recently a headline widely shared on social media decried poor reviews of the new film Birds of Prey and blamed it on male film critics hating the film for real or perceived feminist messages (and/or skewed expectations; it’s not clear). The article, by Sergio Pereira, was headlined “Birds of Prey: Most of the Negative Reviews …

Equatorial Misinformation Misadventures
February 19, 2020 by

Last month I was editing a piece by Rob Palmer (perhaps better known as “The Well-Known Skeptic”) on the subject of misinformation he encountered in the middle of the world. Or, put another way, bogus information on the equator in Ecuador (a country named after the equator). I had a particular interest in the topic, …

A Quick Example of Quick Debunking
January 28, 2020 by

I’ve investigated hundreds—probably thousands—of things in my career as a skeptic and researcher, from misleading polls to chupacabra vampire legends. Some investigations take hours or days; others take weeks or months, and a rare few take years. It all depends on the scope of the investigation and how much information you have to analyze. In …

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, …

‘Richard Jewell,’ Skepticism, and Media Literacy
December 27, 2019 by

The recent Clint Eastwood film Richard Jewell holds interesting lessons about skepticism, media literacy, and both the obligations and difficulties of translating real events into fictional entertainment. It’s no secret that non-police security officers get little or no respect. They’re universally mocked and ignored in malls, security checkpoints, and airports. The stereotype is the self-important, …