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Sunday, May 10, 2020

COVID-19: What To Believe In Times Of Crisis

What to believe about coronavirus and what to discard:

 There has been so much new information coming in on COVID-19, and SARS COV2, the virus which causes it. 

 I know it can be confusing to try and make heads or tails of a situation which is developing at the speed of science itself. 

 But here are a few good tips on how to remain sane while engaging your critical thinking. 

 Let's get right to it! 

 There have been several folks who have come forward lately, submitting COVID-19 conspiracy theories. 

 Shiva Ayyadurai, Donald Trump, and Plandemic lady are just a few of those who have submitted conspiracy theories to the general public, which were pretty much immediately debunked.

I know it's comforting to believe things that make us feel a sense of power, but what good is a sense of power when it isn't connected to actual...ya know...power? 

 What good is a sense of power when all it does is give us confidence to boldly forge ahead down the wrong path with misinformation, as we strut along it, inadvertently harming ourselves and others?

 It's okay not to know things. 

 It is. 

 In cases like this, if a pandemic could be solved by the ruminations and speculations of everyday people, it would already be behind us. 

 This is why we have experts. 

 People who have gone to school for many years to study specific aspects of specific scientific fields are uniquely equipped to advise us and our leaders on what to do during situations related to their fields of expertise. 

 I get it. Admitting that we don't know something can be scary. 

 There's a lot about science that I know, but science is a huge field, and there is much more that I do not know. 

 I'm okay admitting that. 

 To that important point...

 If you don't know what's happening or why and you're having trouble figuring out what to believe, use firsthand sources. 

 Source your information from .gov .edu .org websites. 

 Use clean thinking and tools to help preserve your critical thinking skills (I'll list a few below, for good measure).

 And if you still don't understand what's happening, or only feel that you have reached an amateurush level of understanding about this brand new illness that's been developing so fast that even scientists have to work to keep up, that's OKAY.

 Even if you'e struggling with the specifics, you can still follow the instructions being put out there for all of our protection.

 You can read up on suggested precautionary steps at www.cdc.gov 

It's okay not to know the ins and outs. 

 What's not okay is pretending we have expertise because we're scared, and harming not only ourselves, but others. 

 You don't have to understand virology in order to be able to trust experts who do.

 But who are the experts?

 If you need help distinguishing sources or basic information in terms of what to consider, versus what to discard, use Occam's Razor, and remember to keep in mind the fact that science seeks to find truth by way of disproving things that aren't true, so that we can be certain that what we're left with is the truth. 

 Pseudoscience actually cherry picks facts after having come to a conclusion, which is why it can and should be discarded.

 That's why conspiracy theories come off as convoluted. 

 They are. 

 True experts in their field will never promote any ‘information’ which fits the parameters for the description of pseudoscience . An expert will always admit not only to knowing what they know and being willing and able to show their work to their peers and the public to scrutinize, and duplicate, but a true expert in any field will be the first one to cop to what they don’t know. 

 But what IS the truth and what isn’t, and how do we figure that out?

 The truth is always going to be arrived at by way of letting the facts lead us. Conspiracy theories include characteristic twists and turns (ie convoluted explanations that usually end in some shadowy group of people--"they" don't want you to know, "they" want you to think thing a, when the answer is really bscjdluo and z), whereas the truth will only take a few short points to reach, starting from the beginning. 

 So use your critical thinking skills, watch out for logical fallacies (ie flaws in your reasoning), use helpful ethical tools, such as Occam's Razor, and if you still don't personally understand after all of that, it's generally okay to trust science and to trust experts--especially in a situation like this, where we all need to work together, based on a common understanding of a particular situation and a shared goal.

**For those who may be wondering why I didn't share a bunch of links debunking conspiracy theories, two things: **

 Firstly, that just isn't how the scientific method, or reasoned argument, or even debates are supposed to work. The scientific method posits that the burden of proof lies with those making claims, not those arguing against those claims.  

Secondly, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Claiming for instance that this virus was callously released on the unwitting public (why? by who? what would make this the best method to accomplish whatever goals were in mind? Etc...) is extraordinary. Without irrefutable proof, there is no reason for us to discard the most likely assumption, which is simply the one science backs up—that this is an unfortunate global pandemic which was bound to happen.

 Clean thinking and following the scientific method always win the day. And if you’re still confused, or you have some more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to firsthand sources (see above) for information. 

 I’m just an everyday person, and if I can wrap my brain around this, I promise that you can too. It just takes some practice. But even if that’s tough to do, you can and should trust the experts who are here to lead us during this critical time. 

 An expert isn’t an expert by self pronunciation, but because of their actions.

  Let’s recap. 

•Experts in their field let the facts lead them
•Experts in their field don’t make extraordinary claims
•Experts in their field allow their work to be scrutinized by their peers
•They follow the scientific method and they submit their work for publishing in scientific journals 
•Experts in their field don’t pull you in with clickbait titles like “the things they don’t want you to know about coronavirus” or “why the media is blowing covid19 out of proportion. 
•Experts in their field do share their work. When they come to a conclusion, they want their peers, and you, to be able to get there too. 

 I see folks out there doing great work, buckling down and doing their part. That’s amazing. The choices you make which impact the lives of others in a positive way matter. You matter. And you’re appreciated and loved. You are. Believe that. 

 Let’s work together to get through this in a way that benefits the overall health and wellness of us all. 

 Any questions? Ask me below, and if I can’t answer them for you, I’ll pass you over to someone who can.

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