Dear Aunt Sevvy,
Ever since this quarantine started, some of my relatives and friends have been sending me endless stories and videos about COVID-19. So far I’ve been treated to videos telling me that:
- If you blow your hairdryer up your nose it kills the virus and you can’t get sick
- The virus isn’t really much of a threat—some physicians from Bakersfield say that it’s all a political scheme
- All you need is trust in Jesus, according to a German physician, because that redirects your body’s electricity and fights off germs
- The virus is a conspiracy, a “plandemic” invented for some sinister political reason. Really all you have to do is drink tonic water
- We’re becoming a totalitarian state—this according to Tucker Carlson
Most of these appear to have a clear political or personal agenda, and are completely debunked elsewhere—though the persons that send them won’t believe any evidence against them.
I’m mostly worried about these friends and family members: if they believe these things, are they going to go out carelessly and get infected?
The Last Logical Person?
You’ve told them about the Snopes refutation of the hair dryer cure. They replied that Snopes is a liberal conspiracy. You read them the science refuting the claims of the Bakersfield doctors: they say you’ve been deceived by the lamestream media. You showed them evidence that Judy Mikovits is a disgraced former researcher. They say you’re the nutcase if you don’t believe in her.
What’s a sensible person to do?
There’s a quote attributed to Mark Twain that says “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.” Aunty’s experience has been that once people make up their minds to believe a hoax or a conspiracy, it is almost impossible to convince them otherwise.
As for evidence: to heck with that! The less evidence, the more firmly they’re convinced. If a viper doesn’t make a sound before it strikes, doesn’t dead silence mean you’re about to be bitten by a viper?
Hoaxes and conspiracies and crackpot ideas generally are a hazard for Christians, and perhaps for Adventists in particular. Because we accept God’s existence by faith, many assume that anything they believe in must be true. Seventh-day Adventism has tempted people into believing in the most unlikely of end-time scenarios, until we’re addicted to what Germans call “spekulativer apokalyptischer Nervenkitzel”—speculative apocalyptic thrills.
Once you’ve believed a whole bunch of impossible things—how hard is it to believe that the novel coronavirus is just a conspiracy, too?
While Aunty doesn’t want to discourage you, I believe you have to accept that you’re not going to convince these folks with evidence. What can you do? As Jesus once said of a boy Scripture describes as a lunatic: “Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). Give them lots of your prayer time, but don’t let them come to visit right now in case they’ve gotten infected by acting on their nutty beliefs.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without real names. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.