• bobblayter

Christians, Covid 19, Conspiracy Theories, and Social Media

Statistics! These are the numbers that people quote to try and explain truth. The key is to know who is giving those statistics and then find out how reliable they are. In this pandemic I have been puzzled and bothered by many who can’t seem to agree on who is truthful in giving out correct information. Before I share with you about Covid 19 statistics, I want to explain reliability by using the unemployment rate.

Every month the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor gives us a monthly unemployment rate. This has been going on officially since the 1950s, but has been unofficially tracked for decades prior.

Every month since the inception of official statistics, there is always those that say the actual rate is much higher. They base it on knowledge of individuals who have just stopped looking for work and therefore aren’t counted in the actual rate. The problem is that there is no way of knowing exactly that number. It is just an estimate. While I believe the number of people unemployed is probably higher than the official Bureau’s report, I have to use the official number because of the reliability of the reporting. I have seldom heard anyone say, “don’t use the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They have an agenda and they are behind a conspiracy to give us false information.”

Yet, since the Covid 19 pandemic, all I hear is people by the droves saying that the statistics put out by anyone can’t be accurate. So what is a person to do?

Just like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I believe that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are the most reliable agency on health statistics that we have. So here is the official number of people in the United States who have died from Covid 19 as of June 15, 2020: 118,206 (since about March 15). Ah, but some of you are immediately saying that people might have died by cancer or heart disease even though they had Covid. Therefore, this number is inaccurate. Well, guess what. Other health officials say the actual number might be thousands higher because back in January and February people weren’t listed as dying from the Corona Virus.

So here we go again. The true number might be higher, might be lower depending on who you want to believe as your authority. The reality is that the CDC has clear guidelines on how medical professionals are to report cause of death. So rather than go back on forth on what might be the true number, I say let’s use the CDC number because they are a reliable agency.

I have heard different people, many of them doctors, saying that this disease isn’t as bad as the flu, so we are being hoodwinked about how horrible the disease is. So I went back to the CDC to do research on official flu numbers. What I discovered is that the range for annual death rates from the flu from the past 40 years runs from 12,000 to 56,000. One exception was the 2017-2018 year that had 80,000 deaths.

Let’s now go back to the Covid 19 death statistic. It is currently at 118,206 for 3 months. If you multiply that figure by four to get an annual rate, it comes up to 472,824. Let that number sink in! That is 8 to 9 times greater than a bad year of 56,000 annual deaths from the flu.

This is a number with people practicing social distancing, wearing masks, etc. Imagine the number if these protocols were not in place. This tells me that this virus is worse than the flu! Now we know that about 80% of people recover. That is the good news. But why do we doubt that this virus is serious business?

I hate extremes. I don’t believe we all should stay home and never venture out. This is one extreme. The other is that the virus is no big deal and that we shouldn’t wear masks or social distance. In other words it is some kind of conspiracy.

How can we say that when the official numbers both in the United States and around the world say otherwise? Christians especially have been espousing conspiracy theories. We of all people should be doing our due diligence in researching the facts. We might as a result of those facts make some different decisions in our personal behavior. But to say that the government is hiding the real truth is just ludicrous. Worse of all we believers publish on social media the conspiracy theories, which in the end makes us look like fools.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul had to deal with people who were erroneously influencing his converts by claiming they knew things spiritually that he didn’t. In fact he sarcastically called them “super apostles”. His warning to the Corinthian church is found in chapter 11, verse 4. “You seem to believe whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach about a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.” His warning is just don’t believe anyone. Get the facts; get the truth; do research.

Don’t let your emotions and biases (your flesh nature) make your decisions. No statistic is perfect, but please, I beg you fellow Christians, check things out before sharing. We want to become like the Bereans, who in Acts 17:11, “…were more open minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures (research) day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth.”

When we do this, then our credibility goes up and non believers will see in us what we all want: reliability.

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