The Vulnerability of the Faithful to Scams

Vulnerability of the Faithful

With Covid-19 spreading around the United States and the rest of the world I wanted to address a topic that has long been on my radar, the vulnerability of the faithful to scams. People of deep religious convictions are considered faithful. This means they believe in their deity without proof, I do not mean to ridicule, that’s the necessity of faith. If their deity were to reveal itself in absolute terms, that would eliminate the nature of faith which is crucial to many of the devoted. This belief without proof makes those so inclined, in my opinion, vulnerable.

The vulnerability of the faithful is not something new. Turkey has an entire industry devoted to giving tours to the wreckage of Noah’s Ark. Confidence tricksters have long known that attaching the words “good Christian” to their endeavors will allow them to take money far more readily from the faithful.

This vulnerability of the faithful was first demonstrated to me years ago when an acquaintance of mine got involved in a patent scam. She paid tens of thousands of dollars to get the patent approved. I happen to know a very good patent attorney and when I tried to dissuade her from the path, to speak with him, she just looked at me and told me that it was a “good Christian company.” I gave up.

We are once again seeing the vulnerability of the faithful, this time in relation to a terrible disease. Cures are being peddled across the United States and often their targets are good Christians. They appeal to the faith of these people. This appeal is the main weapon such confidence tricksters have in their arsenal. Believe me, trust me, I know better than those other people, those scientists. I know you’re afraid but give me some of your money and I’ll make it all better.

I completely accept those of faith believe in their deity with absolute conviction and there is little or nothing I can say to dissuade them. That being said, please, keep your faith to religion. Do not let it drive your thinking in more practical matters. Don’t buy a car on faith. Don’t send your child to a daycare on faith. And, absolutely, do not buy a cure for Covid-19 based on faith. It’s not only your life at stake but those around you. Not to mention the money.

Tom Liberman

Candidates Chess Tournament Suspension is a Big Can of Worms

Candidates Chess Tournament

The 2020 Candidates Chess Tournament being held in Russia was suspended on March 26th upon reaching the halfway point and this is a big old giant mess. As my few loyal fans know, I’m a chess nerd, so this is big news for me. The Candidates Chess Tournament is held every two years with the winner going on to play the current World Chess Champion for the title.

As most people are aware, there is a pandemic spreading across the globe at the moment and this caused Russian officials to suspend all air flights. This means the players in the tournament will have no way to leave Russia at the conclusion of the tournament. This being the case, it was decided to suspend the Candidates Chess Tournament and resume after the crisis ends.

This series of events is a nightmare. First of all, the tournament is an eight-player round-robin event. One of the eight, Teimour Radjabov, had strong concerns about going on with the event in the first place and asked the FIDE, the governing body, to postpone the event. They said they could not do so and he decided to withdraw. In his place a fellow named Maxime Vachier-Lagrave was allowed to participate. MVL, as he is affectionally called, is currently tied for first place.

So, where does that leave us? A mess, that’s where. Radjabov has a legitimate complaint that he should be allowed into the tournament because it was suspended as he asked for it to be, essentially, he was right and the FIDE was wrong. Meanwhile, MVL shouldn’t have been there in the first place and if he wins then all the other players have complaints. Even if MVL loses, he defeated other players that perhaps Radjabov would not have beaten and the entire standings are essentially compromised.

The winner of the tournament will be tainted, through no fault of their own but that of circumstance. If the winner of the tournament is tainted then what happens if that person defeats reigning champion Magnus Carlsen and become the new world chess champion? As we of the tribe are prone to say, Oy Vey.

Preparation is thrown into flux as well. Carlsen has a much shorter time to prepare for his opponent whereas his foe can use this delay to work on a game plan against Carlsen. Does the can of worms ever end?

I can’t even lay all the blame on the FIDE, yes, they should have postponed the tournament from the start but there were legitimate reasons to continue. Postponing would have been a difficult decision that brought its own problems as far as scheduling and preparation work as mentioned above. There weren’t any good answers.

Honestly, at this point, I say forget it. Let Carlsen keep the trophy for two more years.

Tom Liberman

The False Choice of Economy or Lives

False Choice

People in the United States are being bombarded with the false choice of either ruining the economy or losing tens of thousands, if not more, lives to the novel coronavirus, Covid-19. Giving us a false choice is something government and fear mongers are quite fond of doing and we are seeing an extreme example of the tactic and the damage it does. Let me explain.

On one side of the false choice is the idea that millions will die if the government doesn’t force people to stay home and avoid spreading Covid-19 rapidly to the entire population. The opposite side of this coin is the impression if the government enforces such an order the economy of the United States will collapse and this will cause more damage than the lives lost.

That is the false choice being presented to the public and being championed on social media and online forums throughout the country and indeed the world. The problem is that neither is largely true or largely false. The reality is somewhere in between and the government has far less influence than you imagine.

Long before various local and state governments started to give shelter in place orders, before they started closing schools and businesses, people were practicing enlightened self-interest on their own. Many people don’t want to get the disease or pass it along to vulnerable members of their family or friends. Businesses were shutting down on their own. The economy suffered and continues to do so.

Meanwhile, despite orders not to congregate, people around the United States continue to gather in large crowds at churches, on beaches, in public transportation centers, and at shopping venues. No amount of government intervention can prevent people from acting to their own detriment. People are continuing to catch Covid-19, to fill hospitals, to overrun available resources, and to die.

In other words; no matter what the government does, the economy will suffer and people will die. If state and local government acts more aggressively or less, it is certain the suffering in lives or economic ruin will shift in one direction or the other but both outcomes are already assured, despite the false choice offered by those who wish to divide us for their own gain.

The central theme of my novel, The Gray Horn, is this false choice offered by those who wish to separate us, who desire us to fight so they might take away our freedom. Both sides claim the choice is vital, that our lives, our financial well-being, is at stake. We must choose one or the other. This is the false choice.

Act in your enlightened self-interest as best you can. Try to avoid places where you might catch Covid-19 and then pass it along to loved ones. Meanwhile do your best to support local businesses. Understand that some people will die, the economy will suffer. The false choice offered by government is actually no choice at all.

Tom Liberman