Thanks to Doctor Google, everyone can know everything about everything. Everyone can be an expert! It’s really quite simple:
1. Choose a topic
2. Do a Google search
3. Choose one or two of the 442 million results that pop up in a few seconds
4. Ignore the others, especially the ones that disagree with you
Share expert advice on your social media platforms so others can share your research without checking the facts.
This happens millions of times every day. Some of these things end up in my Messenger Inbox.
For example, a friend recently sent me a clip from Sky News commentator, Rowan Dean. There was no message. No context. Just a clip. So, I watched it and wasn’t surprised. Sky News leans Right, but their news opinion segments are partisan Right. So, you wouldn’t put much credibility in Sky unless you wanted a far-right bent that agreed with your own bias.
In this clip, Rowan Dean waxed eloquently for seven minutes about how Sweden “got it right,” while other countries, including Australia, got it very wrong. I don’t know Rowan Dean. I do know that he’s an advertising executive. I don’t think he’s medically trained. Still, he seemed confident that Sweden got it right by not embracing the harsh lockdown measures adopted by other countries. To back up his opinion, he quoted several sources, all of them right-biased:
- The UK Telegraph has a mixture of factual and non-factual reporting. It sometimes publishes misleading reports and omits to report information that may damage conservative causes.
- The Spectator Australia: Rowan Dean is the editor (no conflict of interest there)
- The Daily Mail: scores “Low” on factual reporting and shows extreme right-bias, poor sourcing to credible information, and is prone to conspiracies and fake news.
Quoting any of these sources is like me saying, “It’s true. I read it in the Herald Sun.” Understand that algorithms will feed you content that is similar to what you’ve already read when you search on the Internet.
The danger here is that you can think the whole world agrees with you. To counter this, you must glean information from a wide range of credible references.
I responded to my friend, “It’s still way too early to tell whether Sweden got it right or not. The Spanish Flu came in three waves as the virus mutated. Wave Two killed most people. COVID-19 is a new virus in human beings. Medical professionals are still working out what it’s like, how to respond to it, and so on. Rowan Dean is an advertising executive, not a medically trained person. He would do well to learn from history and delay his judgments. That’s, of course, if he wants to learn from history!”
Balance the Information
In the second part of the clip, Dean discussed hydroxychloroquine, which, he says, was used by Switzerland with significant effect against COVID-19, then banned because of a negative report in The Lancet medical journal. The Lancet later retracted the article, and Switzerland started using hydroxychloroquine again.
It should be appreciated that The Lancet retracted the article because they wanted to independently review the original research. But, because of client confidentiality, the researchers refused to share their data. For this reason, The Lancet retracted the article, not because the research was wrong.
Further research has been conducted. The Lancet has now republished the study adding, “Several arguments support the hypothesis that hydroxychloroquine, in addition to having no beneficial effect in hospitalised patients with COVID-19, might have potentially fatal cardiac effects.”
This week, The Lancet published another study which, to their knowledge, is “the largest ever analysis of the safety of hydroxychloroquine and hydroxychloroquine plus azithromycin worldwide.” Their conclusion: “Although long-term treatment with hydroxychloroquine is not expected for the management of COVID-19, some research suggests that the higher doses prescribed for COVID-19 than for rheumatoid arthritis can, even in the short term, lead to equivalent side-effects given the long half-life of hydroxychloroquine.” Those side-effects include increased risk of chest pain, angina, and heart failure. Armed with credible, evidence-based, peer-reviewed research, countries and states can make informed decisions whether or not to include this drug as part of the treatment for COVID-19.
To my previous message, my friend responded, “How about the hydroxy chloroquine [sic.] it has been unjustly vilified!” I replied, “I’m not medically trained. I don’t know if it’s been unjustly vilified or not. Donald Trump is not medically trained either, and I believe he has been irresponsible in his endorsement of this drug. I do know that one of the downsides of all this publicity is that hydroxychloroquine has become in very short supply. I recently saw an interview with a lady who has lupus, and she said she hasn’t been able to get her regular hydroxychloroquine prescription. What a tragedy. I wonder how many other people have been adversely affected? I am concerned that so many lies are being spread by so-called Christians. I think, “Thou shalt not lie” is still a commandment??”
A trap for people on the far-right is a propensity to fall for conspiracy theories. Conservative Christians often fall for these due to a belief in a coming one-world government and the antichrist. And so, COVID-19 becomes this evil plan instituted by a cabal to derail countries, a plot to destroy businesses, and remove freedoms. And “they” are trying to cover all this up. “They” know that hydroxychloroquine really works against “their” man-made virus, but “they” don’t want you to take it and get better. Not only that, Bill Gates already has the vaccine and wants to inject it into you along with a microchip so you can be tracked.
To be clear, the technology to track people via vaccine microchip doesn’t yet exist. A chip would need to be injected (one that can send and receive information), a battery would have to be inserted too. What size of a hypodermic needle would you need for that? And how would Bill Gates co-opt every doctor, nurse, and medical professional around the world to buy into this scheme?
This kind of fear-mongering is not worthy of those who follow Jesus. We are called to be people of truth, not conspiracies and lies. I thank God for medical professionals who, out of their love for humanity, give their lives to health and healing. What we need is not guess-work from politicians or armchair “experts.” Your Google search is not research. It doesn’t compare to someone’s Master’s degree or Doctorate. And it doesn’t make you an expert!
Rob Buckingham is the founding pastor of Bayside Church, a thriving faith community located in the Bayside suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.