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Warp Speed Bucket

August 4, 2020

Here’s an example of what’s great about skepticism and the science-based mindset: The ability to admit when we’re wrong and then even explain how we were wrong. Steven Salzberg at Forbes recants his piece from just a few days ago in which he urged rushing trial vaccines:

I was wrong. After reading many of the responses to my article, some of them outlining the risks in greater detail, I have concluded that (1) the risks are greater than I presented them, and (2) the benefits are not as great as I had thought.

NYT: Health experts are worried “about whether the administration is going to reach their hand into the Warp Speed bucket,” according to Paul Offit (who will be our next Skeptical Inquirer Presents speaker!).

Ed Yong at The Atlantic has a huge cover story on how the United States just surrendered to COVID-19 without a fight.

Ars Technica: We still don’t really know what to expect with kids in schools spreading COVID-19.

Historian Laura Ellyn Smith tracks the roots of American anti-intellectualism in the Bible Belt. “Covid-19 is proving that an unwillingness to listen to doctors and scientists can do great harm.” Nooooo kidding.

Two letters-to-the-editor of note at the LA Times: One from an evangelical in favor of pandemic prevention measures (“I also believe that ‘I am covered by the blood,’ but I don’t believe that gives me the right or mandate to ignore COVID-19.”), and another from a decidedly non-evangelical (“Secular America: Speak up.”).

Anti-abortion fake clinics (“crisis pregnancy centers”) got between $4 million and 10 million in PPP funds. Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, had to give back $60 million.


Gohmert Gohmert Gohmert: “I am taking #Hydroxychloroquine to treat my coronavirus diagnosis. It is what was decided as the best course of action between my doctor and me–not by government bureaucrats. How long until the tech tyrants censor this tweet?” Gohmert!

Gohmert’s daughter, Caroline Brooks: “The advice of medical experts shouldn’t be politicized. My father ignored medical expertise and now he has COVID.” Goooohhhhhhmert.

You don’t see the word “transnational” much these days, except in the case of CFI’s main headquarters (Center for Inquiry Transnational) and, well, demon-busting ministries like Dr. Stella Immanuel’s.

Plus: The Texas Medical Board signaled its disdain for Immanuel and her “Front Line Doctors” buddies.

Dr. Thomas Ken Lew at USA Today on the not-actually-on-the-front-lines docs: “This is truly fake news, and most of us know it. Unfortunately, we are often drowned out by the cacophony of the conspiracy theorists.”

Lydia Khalil at The Interpreter looks at the overlap of wellness gurus and QAnon conspiracy cultists during the pandemic.

CBC looks at research showing that “misinformation shared online [about COVID-19] may lead to devastating consequences and push Canadians to shun important safety measures.”

Scientific American interviews disinformation expert Carl Bergstrom about how to process COVID-19 news “without freaking out.” Tall order.


Politico: Yes, there are evangelicals running for office as Democrats. Says one, Tabitha Isner: “[Democrats] have a real chip on our shoulder as a party about Christians.” I wonder why.

Slate: Liberty University is losing its Black athletes. I wonder why.

Relatedly: What the actual flipping hell is going on with Jerry Falwell Jr.?? I’m sorry if you clicked that.

City commissioners of Lake Wales City, Florida are FREAKING OUT that an icky atheist will be delivering an invocation at a meeting. “I don’t just let anyone pray over me.” I don’t think you can actually control that? Maybe?

After the Marines cancelled a religious training event, Ted Cruz complains to the DOD about the military’s “culture of hostility towards religion.” Because if there’s one institution that’s hostile to religion, it’s the U.S. military. Wait.

Ryan Burge looks how politically conservative atheists and agnostics line up ideologically with conservative evangelicals (very much so).


Here’s what’s great about Skeptical Inquirer contributor Ada McVean; headlines like this: “Am I Drunk, Hungry, Or Both?”

Alex Jones instructs his followers to get for the fight against the New World Order and to “kill as many of them as quickly as possible.” Can someone please send help to this guy?

Current Affairs points out something I can’t believe I never thought of before: Prestige news outlets, presumably fact-based, are often paywalled. Propaganda, misinformation, and conspiracy sites are not. “The lies are free.”

Harriet Hall: Here’s how to make stupid videos about fake medicine.

An ad made to look like a real article at the San Francisco Examiner has the amazing headline, “Are Zodiac Gemstones a Scam or Does it Have Merit.” Gosh, I dunno if them are doesn’t or is!


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.


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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