Let Me Be Wrong
Chapter 3 of the Humility series
Perhaps God’s most significant intervention in our lives is when He lets us be wrong.
On page 93 of Pandemia: How Coronavirus Hysteria Took Over Our Government, Rights, and Lives, Alex Berenson writes:
At the time, I didn’t know much about Ferguson, including his long history of failed predictions. But I knew he was a crucial voice. The way reporters circled the wagons around him made clear to me that in spite—or maybe because—of Covid’s importance, journalists would not be honest in reporting about it. 1
The paragraph refers to British researcher Neil Ferguson, whose hysterical paper predicting tens of millions of deaths from Coronavirus, and 500,000 in Britain alone, inspired global lockdowns in March 2020. Ten days after the report appeared, Ferguson testified before Parliament’s science committee and debunked his own paper. Again, from Pandemia:
But on March 25—with the United Kingdom having entered lockdown only days before—Ferguson offered very different predictions. The British hospital system would not be overrun. The number of patients in intensive care would peak and begin to fall within three weeks, he said.
Ferguson had changed his view on lockdowns, too. “We clearly cannot lock down the country for a year,” he told the committee. In fact, “in three or four weeks’ time” he expected “to replace the current regime [lockdown].”
But even without a prolonged quarantine, Ferguson now predicted the number of people who would die from Covid in Britain “would probably be unlikely to exceed about 20,000.” Up to two-thirds of those people were so sick they might have died by the end of 2020 in any case, he said. 2
Ferguson’s paper was wrong, and his error (or sloppiness) led to the loss of freedom throughout the world, the end of republican governments, and the corruption of constitutions and institutions, including the United States military. But Ferguson’s folly is not the point of this story. The point is this: no one could admit Ferguson was wrong.
Again, from Pandemia:
In the next few days, journalists from the Financial Times and elsewhere defended Ferguson. They claimed—with his support—that he had not changed his prediction, that the new forecast was consistent with the original March 16 Imperial College report.
This argument was nonsense. Again, the original report had said that even a short-term lockdown would not reduce British deaths below 250,000.3
In the ten days from March 16 to March 25, the United States shut down, crashing the economy, destroying a generation of children, and ending hopes that America’s best days are yet to come. But Ferguson’s error didn’t cause this catastrophe. Instead, our inability to admit mistakes caused it.
A well-connected political acquaintance asked me some months ago why so many prominent Republicans will privately admit the 2020 election was stolen but publicly attack anyone who challenges the election as “a conspiracy theorist.” My answer: it’s a house of cards.
By “prominent Republicans,” the friend referred to several senior Republican Senators famous for “debunking” stories of election fraud or dodging the question altogether. These Senators’ identities depend on the election system. That system has been the center of their lives. They are products of that system. Asking the product of a system to admit the potential for criminal fraud in the system is akin to asking a child to testify against the genetic integrity of his parents.
When a four-term Senator who previously held a seat in the House admits that the system is rigged, he must admit, at least to himself, that his life’s achievement may have been rigged. If fraud was possible in 2020, it was possible in 2014, 2008, and 2002. It was always possible. Asking such a politician to admit the possibility of stolen elections is like asking that child to accept the possibility that he was neither born to his parents nor adopted but stolen from the crib.
For Ferguson to have been wrong means everything about the pandemic was wrong. For the election to have been stolen means the entire American system of government is an illusion.
When faced with the reality that our perception of things is wildly wrong, the natural reaction is to double down on the illusion. When faced with challenges to our life’s narrative, we lash out against the truth. It’s a form of psychological self-protection, and it’s the opposite of humility.
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