Ripening Times #8: World End-Time Mammonization Part 2
We live in a world of numbers … the digital age. Statistics comprised of numbers shape how we view our world. That is called numeracy, and it plays a very important role in our day. We would even go so far as to say that numeracy has a prophetically enabling role. Allow us to explain.
We must take a moment to understand how numeracy influences our lives before we can fully appreciate the end-time role of modern money. There are both benefits and traps.
Numeracy is the practice of documenting news, opinions, developments and trends with numbers. It is highly valued today. News reporters and researchers practice it carefully. If I the writer did not exhibit some numeracy in this article—peppered with statistics and footnotes—you, the reader, may find my views less credible. If I didn’t document trends by expressing them in terms of a percentage change over a given period of time, or by counting the growth or decline in the units of something, and referencing this information with reputable sources, you would be less able to assess the validity of my conclusions. Numeracy, therefore, is very useful when applied in good measure.
Yet, an excessive reliance upon numeracy can lead to some dangers, which can be extremely hazardous to anyone seeking to find factual truths and to understand the times.
But how can numeracy—something that is innately useful—lead to peril? It serves as a springboard for three negative developments in our day.
First, as a bridge to a world totally defined in terms of money statistics. Second, to a world which chooses to accept numeracy as the unquestioned representative of the truth. And third, as a tool for deception and misinformation. We will discuss each in order.
How a World Language of Money Has Emerged
Today, most of the news that we may encounter in the media will involve a statistic of some type. More than likely, no matter how abstract or unquantifiable, the statistics will involve a value expressed in terms of a monetary measure.
We will illustrate this using two sample statistics: First, consider the cost of smoking tobacco. Obvious to all is that it has been shown to shorten lives. It is a serious health issue. But really, how bad of a problem is it? According to this quote, “[…] the government spends $112.4 billion of taxpayers’ money every year to cover expenses that can be directly related to smoking.”1 We may now agree that this is a big problem … $112.4 billion worth.
Next, consider this perspective on the benefits of marriage. According to a report on wedding services, “[…] the global market is worth an estimated $300 billion per year, and that number is just a fraction of the whole picture. What’s less well known, however, is that marriage is also financially beneficial for the couple involved.” The report quotes a study by Jay Zagorsky: “Compared to being single, married people almost doubled their wealth, increasing it over 93 percent.”2
Some of these statistics may be reasonably derived; others can be totally contrived. Nevertheless, providing statistics in terms of “money value” seems more informative to us as readers. As such, it reveals that a common language—monetary numeracy—has emerged in our times.
What If Statistics Are Not Truthful?
In our time of numeracy, every trend and development may be expressed in numerical terms, documented and captured in a statistical quantification. As mentioned, that in itself is not overly worrisome. Where the danger really lies is in the fact that our focus moves from the real—the actual thing that is happening or being measured—to the statistic itself. The statistic now serves as a numerical image of the thing that is being quantified.
Just how accurate is this picture? Can numbers really capture all the nuances of something that is real?
Numeracy itself isn’t the danger. The danger is in blindly accepting numbers as the image of truth with no further critical analysis. That’s the vulnerability of our age—allowing statistical numbers to reign as reality and truth. It’s very easy to allow this to happen.
What George Orwell said about words has now happened to numbers. In 1946, in an article called “Politics and the English Language,” he decried the deliberate misuse of words, writing that people craft their words “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
We live in a society bombarded by data. We are virtually drowning in a flood of numbers and information overload. People lead harried lives. There is too little time for critical analysis, and too many statistics to process. It’s easier to accept the “sound bites” of the statistics just as they appear. What they seem to mean becomes perception.
Statistics Shape False Perceptions
What has happened then is that perception has become reality. The statistical number portrays the image that is perceived. Therefore, this number has power, because it can form and change popular perceptions (just as occurred with the hyped-up COVID-19 fears). Reality and truth become inconsequential. Numeracy is deliberately twisted to reveal a false impression.
Even worse, the truth becomes a liability to you if it is different from popular perception. Were we to take the time to examine a statistic and discover that its true meaning is very different than perception, it wouldn’t be very helpful. Why? Because almost everyone else will have accepted its face-value appearance as fact. You will be far outnumbered and may even be thought to be deluded.
Let’s assume that a just-released economic statistic shows that the inflation level has declined. The majority of portfolio managers and investors will be sure to greet it as a positive development, perhaps quickly jumping into the market with new buy orders. The stock and bond markets lurch upward. So, we see that the facts didn’t matter; perception did. Those that acted on the real facts are prone to losing out.
Deliberate Manipulation of Numbers
Perception passes for reality. Benjamin Disraeli made this famous quip: “There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.” The comment strikes to the heart of a potentially serious issue. If perceptions are allowed to rule with careless reference to truth and reality, then statistics become very powerful. Now, they can hide more than they reveal. And, if that’s the case, then why wouldn’t they be deliberately manipulated in order to create a certain desired perception? It’s a decisive step toward the end-time role of numbers.
Are statistics deliberately manipulated? At times, very definitely. But this sounds like the stuff of conspiracies. Not really. It’s just human nature at work, in my view. It illustrates just one of the subtle orchestrations that is part of the great diabolical Endtime Money Snare.
But numeracy and numbers can lead to even worse abuses. Not only can they make us vulnerable to deceit and manipulation, but also, they set up an all-important interface that allows the love of money to wreak its corruption upon the end-time world. We already discovered how common this new language of money has become. Statistics expressed in terms of money somehow seem to be more illuminating to our imaginations.
Once we know the cost or price associated with a piece of information, we are better able to frame its reference. It strikes a common chord. A million bushels of wheat is more difficult to conceptualize than its price on the open market—probably around $2.5 million. The more that things, trends, and values can be expressed in terms of money, the easier will be the transformation into a world that is given over to the worship of wealth and material. That, too, is another subtle step in the Endtime Money Snare.
Thoughts to Ponder
The state of the entire world today—where numeracy has been captured and manipulated to deceive—has occurred very quickly. That clearly qualifies this development as “prophetically significant” and a sign of ripening times.
We have seen that we are now living in an age with more statistics and knowledge than ever before, but less truth. People seem to know the price of everything, but the value of little. Instead, wisdom today is purported to be found in the belly of some financial model or national accounting estimate. (See Part I of this article series for further explanation.)
The entire world can be (and is) easily misled with numbers that are deliberately twisted … deliberately made to give the wrong impression. Human emotions of fear can thus be manipulated. This is done all the more easily today, because social media has literally exploded in its penetration of the entire world. Statistics can no longer be trusted.
The Bible says that deceivers will come, and that the Antichrist himself is a deceiver who uses “flatteries” (Daniel 11:32). He will surely be using very cunning “numeracy.”
As mentioned, there is more information and statistics, but less truth and knowledge. Just what is the real value of truth and wisdom? This is what Job had to say:
“But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell? Man does not comprehend its worth; it cannot be found in the land of the living. The deep says, ‘It is not in me’; the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’ It cannot be bought with the finest gold, nor can its price be weighed in silver” (Job 28:12-15).
Job is effectively saying that wisdom is priceless … that it is unquantifiable. It cannot be captured in a number. Therefore, we should not look for it in numbers and prices.
We live in a dangerous world where prices abound without values, and costs are only measured in prices. In such a world, the price becomes the value, and values are separated from real costs. What that means is that the price becomes the common denominator of what is right.
A world ruled by price, a concept that ideally suits the juggernaut of globalization (which itself is part of the phenomenon of end-time Mammonization).
To recall, globalization reduced to its very essence is nothing more than this: A process leading to a world system in which all human actions are governed through the incentives of wealth and prosperity. And if wealth and prosperity are the worthy objectives, then whatever increases wealth will tend to be approved and considered good and right.
This subtle shift of thinking about truth hasn’t just affected financial professionals. It extends to our whole society … including Christians. We must not let prices—the new spectator sport of our world—determine our values.
Our values—Biblical standards and eternal objectives—must determine our conduct. That imperative, of course, demands that we continue to be good stewards, work diligently, and manage our resources faithfully. However, that is not the same as staking our hope and faith in the values of earthly wealth—Mammonization. Nor does it mean that the correctness of our living can be judged by how much wealth we accumulate, how much we earn, or how successfully our portfolios perform on the world’s financial markets.
Yet, this monetary measuring rod—like the idolatrous Asherah poles worshipped during the times of the Old Testament prophets—is standing on many a high place in the church today.
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).
Wilfred J. Hahn is a global economist/strategist. Formerly a top-ranked global analyst, research director for a major Wall Street investment bank, and head of Canada’s largest global investment operation, his writings focus on the endtime roles of money, economics and globalization. He has been quoted around the world and his writings reproduced in numerous other publications and languages. His 2002 book The Endtime Money Snare: How to live free accurately anticipated and prepared its readers for the Global Financial Crisis. A following book, Global Financial Apocalypse Prophesied: Preserving true riches in an age of deception and trouble, looks further into the prophetic future.
Contact Wilfred at: email@example.com