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Affluent Christian Investor | September 23, 2020

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Conspiracy Theories, Sloppy Math, And Other Things To Avoid During A Pandemic

Healthcare workers wearing PPE amidst Coronavirus

Seems like we need to tune down the emotional heat, overconfidence, ideological thinking, magical thinking, conspiracy theories, and dodgy math.

I’m seeing a lot more f-bombs and ‘raca’ talk, calling people idiots and other names, etc. Every interaction is a nudge back towards civil order or a nudge away from it. Nudge in the right direction, please.

What we don’t know is a lot. I’ve been puzzling over a good deal of this and am pretty handy with stats, but the unknowns are quite large. I’d be happy to detail out some of the wrinkles, base rate fallacies, etc. to those who ask. I’m seeing loads of sloppy math. Applying death rates of symptomatic populations to guesses about future infected (including non-symptomatic infected) persons will give us much bigger death tolls than defensible math will. It matters what’s in the denominator.

Conservative ideology tends to say this is all exaggerated because, “It’s a plot to get Trump,” “People used to be braver,” etc. Liberal ideology tends to be to pump the panic because Trump initially downplayed the virus or because scientists are the heroes. You see how none of that really matters? It’s noise, not knowledge.

“We’re America, we can do anything,” has somewhat of a tinge of magical thinking. I don’t know if we can do anything. Many truly great civilizations ended. We won’t know that we can defeat all of our challenges until we defeat all of our challenges. As motivational talk, that’s fine. As analysis, it smacks of what Peter Thiel calls ‘optimistic indefinitism’.

Ditto for religious observations. There is no guarantee of protection by the eucharist or anything else. Through much of history, going to take the Lord’s supper vastly increased your risk of martyrdom and probably disease. Our eternal destiny is protected by God, but our infection rates are according to the same laws by which God’s creation is ordered. Rain of the just and unjust. One of the carriers with the widest spread in South Korea was a woman in a megachurch.

Conspiracies multiply as fast as infections during pandemics. ‘They’ (big pharma, wall street, deep state, government — pick your poison, or more like pick your poisoner) will be blamed. Facile blaming is just another nudge of the mob towards eventual scapegoating.

Bottom line: Detach, pray, take precautions, rest, build or rebuild relationships. Though death tolls might be much lower in reality than some of the dodgy math would indicate, some people will die from this. Might be me, might be you. Just in case it is you… What do you want your last words to be? Who do you want your last words to be to? Words of abuse, anger, and fear to strangers on the internet? Or words of blessing to people in real life?

 

 

Originally published on Townhall Finance.

 

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