One of the most frequently quoted excuses for someone rejecting factual information is to claim it is fake news. Not everything called fake news actually is. On the other hand, there are plenty of examples of people believing fake news. In January, protestors following a fake news story disrupted a mass COVID vaccination site in Los Angeles, preventing hundreds of people from getting the vaccine. A fake news story started by QAnon got a lot of attention, claiming that Satan worshippers controlled politics and the media.
People spreading fake news often use social media to present their deliberate or ignorant lies. Health information is the most dangerous area of concern. Frequently a claim is based on a single case which may be one in millions of other cases. The problem with any health scare is that you never know what other health problems the person may have had. The number of deaths of people in nursing homes in COVID was massively greater than the deaths of school-age children. By cherry-picking data, one can make convincing statements about the danger of health issues when the actual risk is very low.
We suggest that all of us need to understand a few basic points about news reporting. News outlets in today’s world are heavily biased and don’t report the news–they interpret it. Getting unbiased information in today’s world is very difficult. Even government organizations frequently state their findings in a way designed to promote political positions. Listen critically to any news program.
Christians must avoid becoming some of the people believing fake news. Even scientific material is affected by vested interests in whatever the scientist is promoting. Even some Nobel Laureates have supported some very bad science, and sometimes they take on destructive causes both socially and politically.
We have frequently mentioned that Jesus Christ repeatedly steered his followers away from getting overly entwined in politics, government, or secular causes. He paid taxes but made it clear that we should render to Caesar the things that are Caesar and to God the things that are God’s. Don’t get entangled in the affairs of this world to the exclusion of your labors for Christ. It is your service to God and the things Jesus discusses in Matthew 25:34-40 that really count.
— John N. Clayton © 2021
Reference: Science News, May 8, 2021.