Solid science, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, are essential during this pandemic
A few decades ago, I noticed that my aging father, who loathed all jewelry besides his wedding ring, was wearing a copper bracelet.
"It's supposed to be good for aches and pains," he muttered, sounding a bit less than convinced of its alleged powers.
"Y'know that's probably not going to do you any good," I said, seizing this golden opportunity to show that his help with my college costs had not gone to waste.
"Well," he said with a shrug, "it's probably not going to do me any harm either."
Also true. As I later confirmed through a little library research, there is scant evidence of any medicinal impact of copper bracelets, except perhaps turning your wrist green.
Unfortunately, not all such disputes over alleged wonder cures are so easily resolved.
The rise of the coronavirus pandemic in our American age of social networks and sociopolitically polarized everything has led to an explosive mix of facts, falsehoods, rumors, snake oil sales and paranoid alternative realities, all preying on public fear and desperation.
Although this is hardly the first time that an information crisis has broken out within a larger, sweeping public health crisis, one is hard-pressed to recall one in which the nation's president is this deeply supportive of the untested miracle cure side of the debate as President Donald Trump has been.
The contrast came into full public view at the president's March 20 daily coronavirus press briefing when reporters asked about chloroquine, a drug typically used for malaria that Trump touted earlier in the week as a possible treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
After Trump praised chloroquine again, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the widely respected head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, politely stepped up to the microphones to caution that evidence supporting chloroquine as safe and effective against COVID-19 is thin and anecdotal until clinical trials can be conducted.