Guess, Hope, Pray

By Lyle Hill

I’m very confused … have been for some time now. And because I think I understand the readers of this monthly column, I’m guessing that many of you are confused, too. Some, but not all, of this is due to the fact that, quite often, we are bombarded with more information than we can process. We live in an information age and it just keeps coming at such a pace that we simply can’t keep up with it all. Yet it’s not just a processing or keeping up problem. It’s actually much more than that and I think the events of the past 15 months or so … this is being written in early May of 2021 … have brought some things to light which are worth discussing … or a least worth pointing out.

Truth Talk

I had an appointment with one of my doctors a few weeks ago and because I was his last patient of the day, we had a few minutes to talk. Our conversation quickly turned to the COVID pandemic and I asked him about the hot topics of the day. Are wearing masks effective? Are the vaccines safe? What is the appropriate spacing for social distancing? Did closing the economy and schools save lives? Should we still be locked down? And so on and so forth. He quickly answered my questions by telling me not to believe everything that was being said by the medical professionals and politicians about the pandemic. He then proceeded to give me a 15-minute dissertation on his thoughts, ideas and conclusions
about the matter. At the end of his speech I looked him in the eye and said, “So should I believe you after you told me not to believe everything that was being said about the subject?” He laughed and said, “You should believe what makes sense to you.” I actually found no comfort in this statement because a lot of what is being said these days makes no sense to me.

Psychologists use the term “illusory truth effect” to describe a certain phenomenon that occurs regularly in our society. It is the foundation for the saying that “if you hear a lie repeated enough you will start to accept it as true whether it is or not.” A study published in 2015 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology stated that “we encounter many misleading claims in our daily lives, some of which have the potential to affect important decisions.” Further portions of this somewhat exhaustive study also stated that knowledge itself about a given subject often could not prevent an individual from believing what they knew could not be correct based on their own previous experiences. I think what this is saying is that we are all capable of being brainwashed over time. For example, all of us tend to believe those who tell us what we want to hear … what lines up with what we either have believed to be true or what we want to believe is true. This is scary … at least to me. I would like to not accept this about myself … about all of us. Yet I think history supports this concept. This means truth is more elusive than I want to believe. One last thought on this, then I want to give you some statistics I believe are true. You do what you want with them. This last thought is this … A year ago, the highly respected and brilliant doctor who has been the chief spokesperson for the government during this pandemic, said “I’ve looked at all the models. I’ve spent a lot of time on the models. They don’t tell you anything. You can’t really really upon modeling.” Yet for the last year we have used modeling, often called projections and forecasts, to make decisions for how to deal with the pandemic. So confusing!

Points to Ponder

I had my bout with COVID-19 this past November. It was not an easy time. A total of five family members have dealt with it to date, but none required hospitalization. I have known people who have died from it and others who have had it and the only symptoms they reported were a sore throat and a loss of taste. I have now had both doses of the Moderna
vaccine and I am thankful for that. I wear a mask in public, practice social distancing and regularly use sanitizers. Maybe one day we will have all of this figured out and know what actually happened. Right now, I think we are continuing to guess, hope and pray.

Now for some statistics which I believe are accurate and a few personal opinions which may be of interest to you.

• There have been well over 500,000 reported COVID deaths since the pandemic began.
• There have been over 53 million reported COVID cases since the pandemic began.
• Suicides are not up during the pandemic. Surprised? I was.
• Domestic abuse cases are up 8-10% (depending on which report you read).
• In one survey, more than 45% of businesses said they will reduce
office space going forward.
• Alcohol consumption is up more than 14% overall, and up 41% in women.
• 17% of adults report showering less often during COVID.
• 25% of adults say they are washing their hair less during COVID.
• 33% of adults say they are less likely to put clean clothes on every day during COVID.
• 25% of employees say they are going to look for a new job before the end of the year.

The “new normal” that we are now starting to move into is going to bring about all kinds of predictable changes (evictions, office downsizings, businesses not reopening), but I think it is the unknown that will perhaps have the biggest impact on us. And it’s impossible to plan for the unknown, although certainly some decisions can be reached in preparation for it. My closing thoughts, though you should think for yourself, are always seek the truth, even knowing that it might hurt and may not be what you want it to be … of course, get your vaccinations … stay healthy.

Lyle R. Hill is the managing director of Keytech North America, a company providing research and technical services for the glass and metal industry. He also serves as president of Glass.com, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 50 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com.

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