Facts Matter: U.S. didn't reject Black Statue of Liberty

  • The Statue of Liberty was erected in New York 120 years before the Lady Liberty of St. Martin, France, a statue of a Black woman, was unveiled there.

    The Statue of Liberty was erected in New York 120 years before the Lady Liberty of St. Martin, France, a statue of a Black woman, was unveiled there. Associated press, 2019

Updated 8/8/2020 5:58 PM

A Facebook meme falsely claims the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor was the second choice after the U.S. turned down the first version.

"The first Statue of Liberty given to the U.S. by France was a Black woman which the U.S. rejected," the post claims. "France replaced it with the version currently in New York Harbor. This Black Lady Liberty, also created by France, sits on the island of St. Martin."


This claim is false, according to PolitiFact.com.

The statue Lady Liberty on St. Martin was unveiled in 2007, more than 120 years after the Statue of Liberty was placed in New York.

It was built to celebrate the 159th anniversary of emancipation of the French side of the island, PolitiFact said.

Infrared thermometers don't laser the brain

Several social media posts contain false information regarding use of infrared thermometers to check for COVID-19.

"Why are they aiming a laser ray at our pineal gland for a virus that has a 99.9% survival rate?" asked one post, which was viewed more than 100,000 times.

For one thing, Illinois reports 95% of COVID-19 victims survive.

And noncontact infrared thermometers, used to identify the possibility of COVID-19 infection, don't emit radiation or anything else into the brain.

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Rather, they measure heat being release from the body, according to The Associated Press.

Dr. Haris Sair, director of neuroradiology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, told the AP the thermometers don't target the pineal gland, located deep inside the brain, or send infrared light or wavelengths into the body.

"Nothing is happening between the thermometer and the pineal gland," he said.

Tim Robinson, vice president of marketing at thermometer retailer ThermoWorks, told the AP that people mistakenly believe "you're somehow sending something that's going to bounce back, but none of that is true."

Some thermometers include a laser to aid the user in directing the tool to its target, but it has nothing to do with measuring the temperature, the AP said.


White House didn't inflate crowd size

A social media post recently showed a few dozen people attending a July 31 speech given by President Donald Trump on the tarmac at Tampa International Airport in Florida.

Next to it is a second image with a much larger crowd and the claim it was released by the White House.

The second photo is indeed altered, according to Snopes.com, but it wasn't done by the White House.

The original photo was shared by Tampa Bay Times political editor Steve Contorno.

The image was then altered and posted by social media user Ludger, claiming it was an official release from the White House.

Ludger later claimed it was a joke, Snopes said.

"I figured that by using Paint (no Photoshop was harmed in the production) the resulting edits would be so obvious that EVERYONE would immediately recognize it as a joke, chuckle and move on," Ludger wrote.

There's no 2-minute test for the coronavirus

Business Wire, a news release distribution company, recently removed an item promoting a two-minute test for the coronavirus after the claim was debunked by the Associated Press.

AP editor Barbara Whitaker told the Facebook Journalism Project "something seemed off" about the news release claiming a California company named Bodysphere Inc. had a rapid blood test for the coronavirus.

"At first it appeared legitimate, but when we dug a little deeper, we saw that you couldn't even order the product, despite the company's news release claiming it had already shipped out thousands of the tests," she said.

Bodysphere Inc. wasn't registered in California and phone numbers for the company and the CEO were disconnected, Whitaker told the Facebook Journalism Project.

A Food and Drug Administration spokesman told the AP the agency had not authorized any such test and medical experts told reporters a blood test cannot diagnose COVID-19.

"The experience reiterated an old lesson: never believe something just because it is in a news release," Whitaker said.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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