Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Gendered Mind—another myth that will not die

I am much more mellow now than I used to be. Sure I'm willing to fight when I think a fight is called for. But I think I was much more of an intellectual pugilist when I was, say, age 16 to 21.

While at The University of Michigan, I found a place for that energy. In a response to the then-new Moral Majority, a statewide grass-roots response was organized: The Voice of Reason (later to become a national organization called Americans for Religious Liberty—not a name I was excited about).

Since my interests and aptitudes lay in science, my "beat" within the organization gravitated toward the creationism debate. Among my first credited by-lines was the article I wrote for the campus publication, Consider. It was a simple, single-sheet (11"x17" brochure folded to 8.5" x 11") that featured one-page essays on the inside facing pages. A topic was identified, and authors were found for pro and con pieces. But I digress.

I was heartened by the the Edwards v. Aguillard Supreme Court decision that was argued months into my first year of teaching and handed down a few months later. It wasn't unanimous, but it was 7-2. I naïvely thought the issue was settled. But of course, it wasn't.

Years later in Pennsylvania, creationism newer iteration, "intelligent design" had to be put down by the courts in The Dover Case (Kitzmiller v. Dover). You would be naïve to imagine that that will be the end of the debate over maintaining the integrity of biology instruction in public schools. Judicial precedent doesn't seem to stick on this debate.

When I authored my master's thesis on gender equity in physics instruction, I came across the notion of the gendered mind. Boys were supposedly better with spatial geometry and mathematics while girls were better with language and communication. But the research supporting these "common sense" notions was weak. It seemed to be born from age-old gender bias, and the differences found by researchers were tenuous at best.

But they floated effortlessly in the updraft of societal and cultural gender norms. The supposed science presented a story that was "too good to be verified." And so it persists. To this day, it persists.

All of that to introduce a story I came across on Audm. The abridged title was "Of Two Minds".

The Discredited Science Behind the Rise of Single-Sex Public Schools

There are many important take-aways in this thorough investigation. One of them is that as an instructor, there's a good chance you will be subjected to these notions in a school or district-sanctioned in-service professional development session. You will be frowning in disapproval, but colleagues will be nodding in agreement. And it has to be legit, right? It was approved by administrators and district personnel.

It will fall upon you to rise up and put a stop to it. The cavalry isn't coming. You—and it may be you, alone—can shut this nonsense down before it goes any further. Arm yourself with articles like this so that you will have the strength that comes from knowing. And do the right thing.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Plandemic: What a conspiracy theory looks like when it's a baby [u]

Some critters are totally adorable when they're babies. Conspiracy theories do not. Maybe you came of age in science, reasoning, skepticism, and critical thinking after the "truthers" of 9/11 ran their course.

But given the magnitude of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, the ground was fertile for new brand new conspiracy theories. Nonsense was sure to arise. And arise it did.


A 26-minute "trailer" for a promised documentary has exploded on YouTube. The video violates YouTube's Terms of Service, so they take it down. But it pops up with a different video address soon enough.

Watched in a vacuum of ignorance, it might seem appealing. A plucky scientist, hounded by the omnipotent "they" tells her story of oppression and betrayal. You might know "they" from such hits as "they don't want you to know" and "they have been keeping X secret from the public" and so on. There is nothing worse than "they". Nuh Thing!

The video is in a perpetual out of control spin which continues into the manifesto that is the video description. But again, it's an appealing narrative for the uninitiated. Such unfairness; such corruption.

When it bubbled up to a YouTube doctor (ZDogg), he was dumbfounded by the pure dumbosity of the video's production and claims.

A Doctor Reacts to Plandemic

I know he seems brief in his dismissal. And annoyed.

A more rigorous debunk of Plandemic can be found in the link below. It's a long read, but worth it.
Judy Mikovits in Plandemic: An antivax conspiracy theorist becomes a COVID-19 grifter

If you need something a bit more concise, try Big Think's "The anti-vaxx agenda of The Plandemic". There's even an audio version with the print article.

Since Plandemic, itself, violates YouTube's terms of service, I must leave it to you to use your Google skills to find it. Any link I provide will likely go dark before you get to click on it.

I am not a fan of censorship, and YouTube knocking this video down plays into the hands of the conspiracists who claim oppression. On the other hand, it's YouTube's platform: of you don't want to play by their rules, host your video on your own platform. It's not rocket science. The promulgators enjoy the censorship, so they won't host it, themselves.

If you are predisposed to accept conspiracy theories, you are probably already a Plandemist, admonishing the sheeple to wake up!

In any case, the baby conspiracy theory of Plandemic has been born. Where it goes from here depends on all of us.

Why is this disingenuous hot mess dangerous? Because it's attempting to plant the shopworn anti-vcxx message relative to the hoped-for coronavirus vaccine. The Plandemists will claim (without evidence) that a COVID-19 cure will be the product of the shadowy "they" in a money-grubbing, power-hungry. another evil-hyphenation-goes-here cabal set to control the world population. A population made docile by, of course, the vaccine.

I'd say the best response is "Cool story, bro, but eh ... hard pass." But the story really isn't all that cool.

UPDATE: Dr. Steven Novella is Skeptical of Plandemic


Here's a Google Docs compendium of the claims laid out in Plandemic. h/t Jamy Ian Swiss

UPDATE: From a friend of a friend on Facebook (before you ad hominem me on this, tell me the name and professional history of the person who produced Plandemic.) (Exactly!)

So...this video is now circulating widely on social media. This woman is titled as a Molecular Biologist/Medical Researcher. The guy interviewing her claims to be a 'Father/Filmaker'. The last I looked 'Filmmaker' has two 'M's in it. Anyway...this video's defenders seem so drawn into it...I took some time to evaluate, and fact check this.

00-3:00 - nothing corroborated that 'they wrecked her life'

2:07 - footage of police raid is file footage, and not her supposed 'raid'

4:10 - Fauci directed cover up. Proof? No proof given, no contrary voices to her

5:45 - paper she wrote contradicting Fauci. Where is this paper? That should be easy to show, and physically have excerpts of paper for the video

7:35 - Fauci and CDC director Redfield own patents. Proof? A look at the patent office should be indication. They don't do this easy check. So, no proof

8:15 - Who is this 'expert'? No graphic I.D., so we can check his credentials

9:26 - Bill Gates accusations...Proof? None offered

9:48 - 'Vaccines kill millions'...Proof? None offered

10:23 - she says 'I can't say it was man made, but'...what exactly is she saying? This is intentionally vague

10:34 in - Quick length of time proves virus was manipulated. Proof that this is always the case?

10:54 in - she says 'Virus didn't occur at a market'. Proof?

11:26 in - article is from, which is a British conservative tabloid...hardly objective

11:31 in - footage from CGTN, which is China State-Run TV, and who is the 'reporter'? Could be anyone speaking over the footage. Could be friend of the 'filmmaker' or 'fimmaker'...we don't know

11:38 in - article from, rated as an 'Extreme Right-Wing conspiracy site

13:55 in - Bakersfield doctors, that have been widely discredited. They get a lot of time in this video

14:50 in - Host says that he 'talked to many doctors' that incentivize Covid-19. Where is the footage of ANY of them being talked to? That would be what a 'filmmaker' or ummm 'Filmmaker' does.

15:08 in - Doctor on clip says that hospitals are paid '$13,000 for Covid diagnosis, and $39,000 for a Covid ventilator'. Snopes link below widely weakens that claim

15:29 in - person in clip has medical scrubs on, but who is he? could be an average person with a medical shirt on. We never see his name or title.

15:40 in - proof of Italy vaccine?

16:40 in - from 'WashingtonTimes' - a conservative daily newspaper...and who is 'reporter' narrating? Could be anyone

17:12 in - Mikovits says 'thousands of documents on hydroxychloroquine'...well, where are ANY of these documents? None offered

18:55 in - She says flu vaccine makes a person more susceptible to Coronavirus. That is disproven in link below

21:02 in - host says 'You're not the first person to tell me that we are doing the exact opposite of what we should be doing'...well, 'filmmaker' us ANY of these other people

22:55 in - who is this doctor? No I.D. to check his credentials

24:55 in - she says 'every medical person who has learned about this has turned their opinion around'. Show us ONE person that has changed their views? None offered.

Below, and in the comments, I will post a bunch of links that debunk some of the claims made in this video, and I will also cut and paste them here.

Snopes: Was a Scientist Jailed After Discovering a Deadly Virus Delivered Through Vaccines?

Snopes: Is Medicare Paying Hospitals $13K for Patients Diagnosed with COVID-19, $39K for Those on Ventilators?

USA Today: Fact check: Getting flu shot doesn't make you more (or less) likely to get the coronavirus

23ABCNews Bakersfield: Kern County Public Health does "not concur" with statements made by Accelerated Urgent Care doctors

Reddit r/Moronavirus: Where can I find a good rebuttal to "Plandemic"?

For those of you looking at this post, and saying 'geez'...I spent about an hour and a half on this. It doesn't take much time to scrutinize/fact check a 26 minute video, especially this one.

She is selling a book on this literally drums up interest in her book. Who is the host? A family member? A good friend? We don't we...

Actual journalism always backs up statements. This does nothing to back up claims. This has no one on to debunk her, and it also has no one on to back her claims. Yet, somehow, many people have attached themselves to a doctor, whom they know only from a YouTube video, who has questionable credentials, and is questioned about her repeated attempts to create conspiracy theories...maybe to sell more books. If you click to watch the video...enjoy the marketing attempt.