A Virus Changes Everything

What a difference a month and a half have made? Since I last wrote to you in February, the world has turned upside down. I’ve been working at home for a long time, but now many others are doing the same under much more difficult circumstances. I hope you are all healthy and safe.

The Book is Out But the Book Tour is Postponed

I am happy to announce that Superstition: A Very Short Introduction is now available in the US. If this lockdown goes on, it may eventually become difficult to obtain physical copies, because the publisher’s warehouse is currently closed, but for now, there are books in the pipeline available through all the usual outlets. The Kindle version has been available since January.51Bt6XwIn1L._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_

As I mentioned in my last message, I planned a short book tour for England in May, including a talk at the British Museum, an appearance on BBC television, and several Skeptics in the Pub appearances, but for obvious reasons, the tour will have to be postponed. I am hopeful that it can be reconvened at a future date.

Superstition and the COVID-19 Outbreak

I am the kind of person who copes with stress by learning as much as possible about the source of the disturbance, and as a result, I have been reading articles and listening to podcasts about the novel coronavirus outbreak for some weeks now. If you are interested in going down the same rabbit hole, I recommend two newish podcasts, The first is The Epidemic, by Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist, and Ron Klain, who headed the Ebola Task Force in the Obama administration in 2014-2015. The second is Deep Background by Harvard Law Professor, Noah Feldman. Like many of us,1020px-SARS-CoV-2_without_background.png Feldman has become obsessed with the COVID-19 crisis, and he has both accelerated the frequency of podcasts and invited a parade of informed guests, including epidemiologists (on the likely course of the epidemic), psychologists (on how to cope), and economists (on how we will get the economy going again). Both are highly recommended if you are a deep diver like me.

One result of this immersion in the topic has been my latest article for Skeptical Inquirer, “Did Superstition Cause the COVID-19 Outbreak?” This was a challenging topic to take on, in part because it required much research into Chinese culture and dietary preferences. I made an effort to be factual and informative but also culturally fair at a time when anti-Asian racism is on the rise. I’ll let you judge how successful I was.

That’s it for now. Stay safe.