Decision-making and Our COVID Response

decision-making and our covid responseDecision-making is a matter of weighing certainty, uncertainty, and risk. That’s true in most areas—career, finances, investing, insurance, relationships, etc. It’s certainly true in our COVID response.

Certain reward with no risk? Go for it! 
Probable reward with moderate risk? Proceed with caution!
Very uncertain outcome with a high degree of risk? Turn back now!

There are various theories on how to make decisions as these conditions fluctuate. There are always outliers—thrill-seekers and cowards. But there are underlying patterns that most people follow in making decisions. 

Deciding About COVID

Your take on COVID and how to respond is a combination of factors which include (but aren’t limited to):

      • your certainty in your ability to possess all the data
      • your certainty in your ability to interpret all relevant data
      • your certainty in a chosen expert’s ability to possess all relevant data
      • your certainty in a chosen expert’s ability to interpret all relevant data
      • your perception of the risk of acting (or not acting) in certain ways

Keep this in mind as you read COVID opinions. There are people at national, state, city, and community levels who have much to gain—politically, financially, socially—from you and your decision-making. They need you to embrace and implement some positions and to reject others. Therefore, they have significant motivation to influence your perception of what is certain and what risks are involved. 

It is in their best interest to make you feel certain about the interpretation of data that benefits them. It is in their best interest to make you feel certain that there is no risk in following their advice. It is in their best interest to make you feel uncertain about your present position. It is in their best interest to convince you that there is a great risk in not following them. It is in their best interest to be certain when you are not.

That is not to say that every influencer is dishonest, deceptive, wrongly manipulative, or seeking to profit at your loss. (There are good and bad, honest and dishonest, perceptive and deceived influencers.) But that is basic to all influence. We have a reason to want a person to believe and act in a certain way (which may be that we love them!)—and so we seek to persuade.

Shrewd as Serpents, Innocent as Doves

Nevertheless, the human soul is corrupted and sinful. We are, by nature, selfish. We look out for ourselves first. We act in less than commendable ways.

That is why people flip-flop on how they use and interpret data. That is why the hype is driven to extremes. That is why you can predict which position on COVID and COVID responses so many people will take. That is why those who need your readership or votes speak with such certainty. 

Fearful people bow before strong voices. They just want someone to tell them it will be alright.

I’m not encouraging us to be skeptics. Nor am I encouraging us to be uncharitable. I’ve received many uncharitable assessments of myself and others this week. It is a frustrating, unkind, and unsound way to persuade. But I would encourage us to be discerning in our decision-making. Discernment is not opposed to graciousness. Ask good questions of yourself, your neighbors, your sources:

      • What are they saying, precisely?
      • Where did they get their information?
      • How do they know this information is true?
      • Are they certain or speculating?
      • Have they been consistent in their approach to decision-making?
        • If they’ve changed positions, do they admit it and explain why?
        • As their position changes, is it based on a consistent approach?
      • Is this person practicing what they preach? Why or why not?
      • Are you certain or speculating?
      • What is at risk if
        • they are wrong, and you follow them?
        • they are wrong, and you do not follow them?
        • they are right, and you follow them?
        • they are wrong, and you do not follow them?

What are you certain about with COVID? What’s at risk in your response?  Act accordingly.