Pseudo-Expertise Syndrome

My Facebook feed is once again flooded. Everybody is up in arms about whether or not we should wear masks.

For some, it is a question of love. They wear masks to protect others, especially those most at risk from COVID-19. They believe the government and businesses should require the use of masks.

Others refuse to wear them. They don’t believe masks really protect anyone from anything. They see the requirement of wearing masks to be an infringement on their freedom – the first step toward tyranny.

Many of us find ourselves somewhere in the middle. We wonder about the CCD’s sudden shift a few weeks ago. Early on they said masks would not help. Now they encourage us to wear masks. Do masks really help? I personally want to help protect those who are at risk, but I also am concerned about the government overstepping.

In the end, it is difficult to know what to do.

The discussion about masks is a microcosm of a larger debate dividing our country. Since the very beginning of the pandemic, people have inevitably found themselves somewhere on a spectrum between panic and denial.

One extreme is afraid this could be the end of the world as we know it. We need to take drastic measures to save our planet and protect human life. Those who refuse to take such measures, for whatever reason, are evil and selfish.

The other extreme believes the world is overreacting and driven by fear. COVID-19 is no worse than the flu. People should just use common sense and we’ll be fine. At this end of the spectrum, conspiracy theories abound. The government is purposefully and systematically using the pandemic as a red herring to take away our freedoms. Democrats are pushing extreme social distancing to tank the economy and win the election in November. China released the virus on purpose to weaken the United States.

Is there some truth to such theories?

There could be. I honestly don’t know and neither do you. I am not privy to what happens behind locked doors and in high level conference rooms. I am not a doctor, virologist or epidemiologist.

Nor are you.

The rise of social media in our society has created a pandemic of what I call “Pseudo-Expertise Syndrome.” We watch our favorite news channel and read what our friends share on Facebook. We google the topic on our phones. Suddenly we think we grasp the complexities of epidemiology or constitutional law or international trade.

Ironically, our expert opinions nearly always coincide with our long held political leanings. Almost to a person, you can tell which political party someone belongs to by their opinions about COVID-19.

As a pastor, I encourage you to put into practice one of the most Christian of virtues: humility. Humbly accept you may not have all the facts. Recognize the complexity of these issues. Intelligent people can and do disagree on the wisest and most loving way to respond to our current pandemic.

Think twice about what you post and share on social media. Speak the truth in love. Humbly admit you are not an expert. Remember we are in the middle of another pandemic.

The virus of Pseudo-Expertise Syndrome is extremely contagious, and wearing a mask most definitely won’t help stop its spread.

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