Ed Vasicek

Up until last year, small talk centered around the weather. Those of us who love all the seasons — even winter — would find ourselves pitted against those who viewed winter as the source of all evil.

COVID-19 has changed all that. Now the small talk focuses upon whether the pandemic is really ending, or whether America will have a resurgence as Europe has experienced. Some have been eager for a vaccination (like yours truly), while others are suspicious and resist the idea.

According to the Kokomo Tribune, “Nearly a quarter of Indiana residents age 16 and older are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, state health officials said Wednesday.

“A total of 1,291,190 Hoosiers — 23.7% of Indiana’s residents who are at least 16 — have been fully vaccinated, while 1,827,696 first doses of vaccine have been administered statewide, according to the Indiana Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard.”

Some folks do not want to get the vaccine. I have friends and relatives who lean that way, and they are intelligent, reasoning people. We just have different opinions. That is how it should be. When it comes to our health and our bodies, we are the ones who bear the greatest consequence.

Hoosiers (and Americans in general) have had similar discussions about the effectiveness of masks, or whether surfaces are really a major source of transmission. I have been in the middle, advocating masks but not disinfecting the house to death.

I recently returned from a trip to the East Coast, where we visited with our daughter’s family. The thinking in that region seemed strict: the idea of nixing mask requirements is taboo.

To confuse matters even beyond our contradictory opinions, our top medical people (the CDC, Dr. Fauci, etc.) keep reversing themselves or contradicting one another. First, we are told, people who have been fully vaccinated — after two weeks — can no longer transmit COVID. Then they can. Then they are not sure. Then it is remotely possible but highly unlikely.

So is highly unlikely not good enough? Or do we need “impossible under any circumstances?”

Take disinfecting. According to Businessinsider.com, “The CDC released new guidance Monday, warning there are health risks associated with overly intense disinfection. The coronavirus very rarely spreads to people from surfaces, the agency said. Independent health experts agree: soap and water works fine.”

These rulings are wrongly presented as new revelations. Back in December, NPR reported, “If a person infected with the coronavirus sneezes, coughs or talks loudly, droplets containing particles of the virus can travel through the air and eventually land on nearby surfaces. But the risk of getting infected from touching a surface contaminated by the virus is low, says Emanuel Goldman, a microbiologist at Rutgers University.

“’In hospitals, surfaces have been tested near COVID-19 patients, and no infectious virus can be identified,’ Goldman says.”

So why all this vacillation and hesitation? Part of the reason is experience with the virus, but only part. A greater reason, in my opinion, is the prevalence of the Perfectionist Fallacy. So what is this fallacy? Here is a short definition:

“Comparing a realistic solution with an idealized one, and discounting or even dismissing the realistic solution as a result of comparing to a ‘perfect world’ or impossible standard, ignoring the fact that improvements are often good enough reason” [source: logicallyfallacious.com].

Anything you do carries a risk. If you want to buy a product at Amazon.com and you read any negative reviews — no matter how weighted reviews are toward the positive — you might chicken out. Yet you would probably gladly buy the same product (with no reviews) at Walmart.

A jury must convict the accused if they deem him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The perfectionist fallacy would change that to “beyond a shadow of a doubt.” If the truth be known, unless a defendant confesses, there is always some doubt. And, even then, he might be lying.

Very little, if anything, in this life is perfect. We could be killed driving to church, or we could be killed smoking a cigarette in a gunpowder storage room. But which is more likely? And how small is a small risk? Those are the questions we must weigh — even beyond the pandemic.

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Kokomo’s Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@gmail.com

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