The perception of this virus is that it is 225 times more deadly than it is. This false perception amplifies fear and creates some very bad decisions as a consequence.
The overall temperature of the nation since discovering COVID-19 has been fear.
We are suffering the consequences of our perceptions and allowing them to become a thief of life in more ways than one.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
Three statements I learned years ago related to defending against verbal attack patterns may help us regain the offensive on the forces we see in COVID-19’s viral attack patterns. These statements are:
- Anything you feed will grow.
- Anything you ignore will fester.
- False perceptions have real consequences.
On July 30, 2020, The Washington Examiner juxtaposed the false perceptions of COVID-19 versus the reality of it with an infographic on Facebook. This chart shows just the data for America in early/mid-July even though it consisted of surveying 1000 people each in multiple nations:
If this infographic were the screensaver of every computer and smartphone in the United States, we might be better served with the truth which alleviates fear.
They shared in their Facebook post the following:
A new poll reveals Americans have a wildly overstated view of COVID-19's impact with respect to total infections and total deaths as percentage of the population.
Poll Question: How many people in your country have had COVID-19?
Americans Answered: 20% (66M)
Reality: 1% (3.3M)
Poll Question: How many people in your country have died from COVID-19?
Americans Answered: 9% (29.5M)
Reality: 0.04% (131K)
Americans overstated the death number by 225 times.
People in France, Sweden, and the UK all overstated the same number by 100 times. People in Denmark were off by 300 times.
In other words, the perception of this virus is that it is 225 times more deadly than it is. This false perception amplifies fear and creates some very bad decisions as a consequence.
Yet even these perceptions shift higher as soon as we know one person who has had or died from it or if we see stories repeated constantly in the media. Those perceptions still don’t change the facts despite the emotions and feelings. While Ben Shapiro may write "Facts don't care about your feelings," as a whole too many of us follow our feelings instead of the facts.
Before someone protests those are not current numbers, please know the count as of last Thursday, August 19, 2020, according to the Center for Disease Control, is 5,460,429 total cases and 171,012 total deaths. Both the data then and now assume all the “total cases” are truly the total. Some say we’ve overcounted, miscounted, undercounted, misdiagnosed, and misrepresented these. Considering the financial benefit of potentially making $13,000 to $39,000 more for each COVID-19 diagnosis or smaller amounts for any add-on testing, both total cases and deaths by COVID-19 have a strong potential for being very inaccurate.
Regardless, the numbers in the bottom half of the infographic change very slightly while still remaining magnitudes below the perceptions about the number of those who have had and those who have died from COVID-19. The actual loss of life compared to the full population of America would be represented by less than two full red dots per the data from August 19.
The Examiner’s Facebook post ended with these words which we can find many examples for in America:
These perceptions impact consumer behavior, voter sentiment, and policy prescriptions with large economic costs like prolonged lockdowns and stay at home orders. (emphasis added)
The “15-day Flatten the Curve” rhetoric was leveraged to pry open the minds of Americans. It was sold to us under the premise of, “Anything you ignore will fester.” We were told if we didn’t take drastic action, many get infected and die according to future predictions and projections.
California’s Governor Gavin Newsom said to Californians on March 19, 2020, “We project that roughly 56% of our population — 25.5 million people — will be infected with the virus over an eight week period.” That was over 26 weeks ago when they enacted and continue with draconian mandates against the freedoms of mankind. Nationwide the total cases are 20-22% of Newsom's prediction just for California despite any unity on the actions each of the states has made to control it.
Whether intentional or unintentional, there were and are consequences for amplifying the "Flatten the Curve" rhetoric nationwide via media and governmental propagation. It was fed. It grew. Finally, the idea of the virus causing great harm became viral. Oddly, it was Michelle Obama who said, according to Goodreads.com, "You can't make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen." But that is exactly what America did.
How often are all these COVID-19 false perceptions used to corral people away from the life and liberties of the American Dream? Once the gate was opened, the next step became clear to guide us in our fear. The “Let’s flatten the curve” morphed into a completely unattainable “Zero cases and eliminate the virus by waiting for a cure” chant. So what should have been a short term state of emergency became a long term "new normal" marinating the minds of many in even more fear.
This fear has had a double standard where riots with large gatherings are ignored but gatherings of Christians to worship are attacked. Our religious freedoms are being whittled at with the hopes of creating kindling and logs for the fires of false perception. (See a related petition to support churches in California.)
We have created a self-fulfilling prophecy about the virus destroying American lives. It’s just doing it in a different way than we had imagined. This virus has cost us more than the lives of those who perished because those who live are experiencing the attempted theft and destruction of their freedoms.
As I have written before (here and here), praying against the lies that kill our liberties is just one powerful way Christians can respond. Praying for the truth to come out and be believed is another. Praying for those who have to fight these battles of perceptions to have wisdom and courage to act is another too.
Some believe this virus is a wake-up call to Christians to repent (a part of our lives which should have never fallen asleep). Some may think this a false perception and believe we’ve gone too far or that it doesn’t matter anymore
It is never wrong to seek the one true living God who can intervene beyond what we are able to imagine or ask – even if some mock us for doing so.
May we all pray God save us and remove from us any false perceptions we have about Him and how He wants us to live. Then let us pray and act as He leads us in truth – without the worry of the results or the consequence related to the fear of man or his predictions.
Dr. Robert Youngblood is associate editor of The Stand, a blog of the American Family Association. This column appeared originally on that website.
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