As you begin to process all the ways that you, your loved ones, community, and world have been affected by the corona virus, it can be helpful to have trained listeners with whom you feel safe and supported in sharing your feelings and concerns that have emerged due to this crisis. Both Pastor Todd and Pastor Christie are trained in Pastoral Counseling and are happy to meet with you now by phone or social networking platform, and eventually in person once isolation restrictions lift. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us at any time. We want to offer all we can to be of benefit to your emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual well-being.
Many of us are frustrated in our attempt to become amateur public health officials or epidemiologists in order to make sense of the news avalanche related to Covid-19. We keep looking for definitive answers to help us decide if we can safely return to church, work, school etc. What we do know definitively is that the virus has taught us that few answers are definitive and most answers will change as scientists continue to learn more.
Narinder Kapur, a neuropsychologist, explains that we can be active participants in navigating the steady stream of Covid-19 information by understanding how bias plays a part in the information that we seek when making decisions. Below are some bias types.
Confirmation bias- the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one's prior beliefs or values while ignoring the remainder of the data that is not supportive. This can be seen if evidence is selected where countries have introduced strict lockdowns, physical distancing, face masks, etc, and improvements have occurred, with evidence from countries which have been more lax in safety protocols, but have had similar improvements, being given less weight. It may also lead to ignoring some countries due to their environmental factors and population density.
Common practice bias- reasoning that because something is common, it is also valid. This was evident when the US government trade adviser claimed that because all New York Hospitals were giving Covid-19 patients hydroxychloroquine on admission, the drug was likely to be an effective remedy.
Loss aversion bias- the pain of suffering a loss is outweighed by an equivalent gain. This has been evident when persons experiencing chest pains and possibly averting a heart attack refused to go to the hospital due to their fear of getting the virus.
Framing bias- reactions to information may depend on how it is presented. Data highlighting benefits as opposed to risks will appeal to people—stating that X action will save 90/100 lives will make it more likely to be adopted compared to saying that Y action will result in the loss of 10/100 lives.
Kapur, N. (2020, June 9). Covid-19 and cognitive bias. BMJ opinion. https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/06/09/covid-19-and-cognitive-bias/
Practice these steps when reading/listening to information and before sharing:
1. Take a deep breath and acknowledge triggered emotions.
2. Recognize and reflect on your bias.
3. Confirm the information by checking the credentials of the author and corroborate evidence by utilizing primary resources such as the CDC, local and state health departments and medical/scientific journals.
4. Be wary of screenshots, viral memes, cut-and-pasted text and numbers in relation to context.
St. John’s UCC is confident that the safety protocols to minimize health risks under the guidance of the CDC and the Green County Health Department are based on mitigated bias and reliable primary sources.
If you have questions/concerns regarding St. John’s safety protocols please contact Pastor Todd.
Articles for Pastoral Care
Addressing Mental Health Series:
Easing Fear During the Pandemic
Daily Quarantine Ritual
Coming out of quarantine
Coming back to church