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Virtual Nobodies

September 23, 2020

Hey, what are you up to Tuesday night? Yeah, I know, the first presidential debate. Whatever. Before you put yourself through that trauma, though, howsabout you tune in for something hopeful and enlightening? September 29 at 7pm ET, the next CFI Insider live online event brings us the great Bertha Vazquez, director of our TIES program. Sign up right here. It’s free!


As of yesterday, we are 200,000 Americans fewer. Globally, deaths are just under one million.

Perhaps unaware of how numbers work, the president told a crowd yesterday that COVID-19 “affects virtually nobody.” Apparently (but who can tell?) referring to kids under 18, not nobody-nobody. But even that, of course, is utterly false, which he does indeed know, because he said it to Bob Woodward.

156 countries commit to work together to make sure a COVID-19 vaccine is distributed equitably. The U.S. and China are not among them.

Maggie Koerth at FiveThirtyEight on how to know when to trust a COVID-19 vaccine: Don’t listen to politicians or drugmakers. “Instead, trust independent scientists and medical professionals — your doctor, for instance, or your state’s health commissioner.” And: “Trust the experts who are being straight with you about the limitations above everyone else.”

The FDA is reportedly going to issue tougher standards for any emergency authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine, meaning the magic Election Day vaccine is more or less impossible.

Oh hey! There’s some evidence that bespectacled folks like myself might have a little extra shielding from the coronavirus! To be clear, via NYT: “Experts say it’s too soon to draw conclusions from the research — or recommend that people start wearing eye protection in addition to masks in hopes of lowering their risk for infection.”

No surprise here: Researchers show that belief in COVID-19 conspiracy theories is associated with belief in other conspiracy theories and is a huge obstacle to controlling the pandemic.

Plus: “Researchers say they were able to predict the use of face masks among participants based on political ideology and ‘conservative media reliance,'” with the exception of attitudes toward vaccines, which is more of a bipartisan delusion.

Religion scholar Aaron Ricker: “Conspiracy-theory thinking is … a traditional hallmark of the Western apocalyptic worldview itself, including especially the kind of paranoid imagination that drives—and is driven by—the biblical book of Revelation.”

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.


Dave Weigel: Conservatives are ready and eager to accuse Democrats of anti-Catholic bigotry after Trump (probably) nominates Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Religion & Politics interviews Tara Isabella Burton, who’s been covering the more religious aspects of the “rise of the nones,” and is the author of the new book Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World.

Psychology professor Jordan LaBouff on the use of churches as polling places: “I believe where someone votes can subtly but significantly affect how they vote.”


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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