A couple weeks ago, a meme started doing the rounds on social media, claiming that Nostradamus had predicted the coronavirus.
Snopes and Politifact quickly stepped up to point out that the claims in the image are fabricated nonsense, and Facebook has since started flagging and obscuring the image with a "false information" tag.
Nostradamus was notoriously vague in many of the predictions he made in his 1555 book, Les Prophéties. But even after nearly five centuries, humans still find themselves turning to his writings in times of woe—probably because of what he did get right.
Nostradamus victories include air travel ("People will travel safely through the sky"), the year of the great fire of London ("The blood of the just will be demanded of London burnt by fire in three times twenty plus six") and the rise of Hitler (though Nostradamus referred to him as "Hister.") It's worth noting that the astrologer also wrote about something that bears a striking resemblance to 9/11. ("The sky will burn at forty-five degrees, fire approaches the great New City. Immediately a huge scattered flame leaps up.")
In recent weeks, some Nostradamus fans, eager to find coronavirus content in Les Prophéties, have pointed to passages that are aggravatingly non-specific. Like the one that references "The great plague of the maritime city," and the one that says "And diverse plagues will be upon mankind." But this morning I found one that appears to be a lot more specific.