Trust, COVID, And How The Science Thing Works…

For all those who are making the coronavirus a political thing, or a theological thing, because science is too much of a theory, let’s talk about it in another way. Let’s talk about trust and how you should go about decision- making, so you (and I ) can get through the whole virus thing.

First off, I won’t ask you to believe anything in advance. You can be Republican, Democrat, Socialist or Nazi , or believe anything you want politically. The same is true about religion. You can have any faith or no faith. Christian, Buddhist, atheist, Jewish, or whatever. I won’t argue with any of that.

What I want you to believe is what you see, and what you hear, what you feel with your hands, what you smell, and what you have experienced — nothing more than that. The person telling you to believe them, or who you have been taught to believe, can tell you what they want. They have authority if you believe they do. What they don’t have is trust. Trust takes time, and experience. That’s how science works.

Authority can be given once. You can say, “I believe you” the first time, and you can choose to believe the person. If they say, “if you do this, that will happen” and it does, you can begin to trust that what they are saying is true. If they say, “I’m going to do something, and this will happen” and it doesn’t, then you can (and should) believe it’s not true. It’s as simple as that. Over the course of time, people will make mistakes here and there, or do an experiment slightly differently, and what they promise/believe will happen will be wrong. Trust will (and should) take a minor hit. It comes from the whole “people make mistakes” thing. That’s to be expected. No one is perfect. Also, there are small changes or weird glitches that aren’t expected. That happens. If there are enough “small glitches”, the thing they’re trying to prove simply isn’t true. There must be something else that is true. People should then try to prove that.

I don’t mean to sound simple, but all of this is called “learning”. We learn how to ride a bike this way. We learn what hurts and what helps. If we’re not convinced otherwise, this is how we learn who we can trust. This is how we learn what we can trust, and what is true. This is how we learn math and languages and how things work. If we do the math right, the number of eggs added is right when we count, you get the right amount of change at the store. If you use your language right, people understand what you’re trying to say. If your religion is telling the truth, its prophets will be proven true or your God’s promised way of life will make sense and work. This is why people of faith with texts study those texts. Most to the point, this is why education is important. With an education, you can figure your way around in life. With an education you can learn to trust yourself.

Now, you and I can’t learn everything about everything. It’s just not possible, no matter how smart you are. There are things you don’t care about. There are things you don’t have the skills for, even if you wish you did. You can figure this out by trying, over and over. If you can’t, you can’t. Everybody has things they do care about. Everybody has things they are skilled at naturally. This is why everybody is important, and how we learn about all kinds of new things in all kinds of new areas. This is how we all get smarter. We don’t have to have the skills, or do all of the basic work simply because we can rely on others who have done that work.

[All right. Stop there for a second. Go back to the beginning. Others who have done that work have earned the right to be called “Authorities”. While they can be given “authority”, trust still has to be earned. A famous leader once said, “Trust, but verify”. Try out what they say. If what they say doesn’t work, you don’t have to trust it. You never have to trust something that can’t be proven, or anyone who predicts something will happen but doesn’t. ]

Scientists are people who are seriously curious about something. Inventors are people who are almost always curious, and willing to take the risk of seeing what happens. The man who invented the light bulb didn’t view experiments as failures. He saw them as 1,000 (or more) attempts trying to figure out things. He would have been curious anyway. Curiosity was his idea of fun.

Real scientists are educated in really strict ways, and they can’t get a degree or a job if they can’t prove they are right about their ideas. If someone has a doctorate or a bachelor’s degree from a good school, with strict scientific requirements, they know what they are talking about — about the specific thing they studied. A smart foot doctor isn’t necessarily smart about ears, or astrophysics, or God. They are very smart about feet. It doesn’t make them great parents or great leaders or anything else. It makes them good foot doctors. They shouldn’t pretend otherwise.

Ok. If all of that makes sense, and you trust yourself to believe in it, let’s look at the coronavirus:

There’s a virus, or a thing, at least. It is killing people. It seems to be more contagious than other things. As of today, there are 40,000 examples of how it is killing people. There are now 250,000 examples of its being contagious. That should be enough to prove the case.

If you or I don’t want to die or get sick, and we don’t know about how the thing works, we have to listen to people who are curious, know a lot about, and can tell us how to stay safe from, this thing. Those people don’t have political science degrees. They don’t have public speaking or communications degrees. They have degrees in medicine. They have degrees in immunology.

Who in the administration has a degree in those things? Is it the President? Is it a Senator? Is it the press secretary? No. So don’t start there. Start with the surgeon general. Start with Dr. Fauci. Start with Dr. Birx. Those people are the only people who you should listen to. Even then, if they lie or what they say will happen isn’t true, don’t trust them until they get it right.

If a leader can’t or won’t answer a question, if they don’t have experience with the subject, and can’t prove what they are saying, they can’t be believed. If a leader can answer with facts, they should be believed. You may not like what the facts say. They may not like what the facts say. They are still facts. They are true.

If you and I work from those facts, and listen to people who know what they’re talking about, you are more likely to stay alive. It is as simple as that. Then you can figure out what to do from there. You’re alive to do it.

That’s how it all works in science. That’s how you can stay alive and make decisions about anything for the rest of your life. You don’t have to listen to me, or MSNBC or FOX News. You don’t have to listen to politicians. You just need facts, from people that can verify them.

Ok. Stay alive. Stay safe. Make good choices and we will make it through. I promise.

Resisting with Peace,

John

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