Covid/climate open thread

Have at it!


  1. Oh dear! The government has a new slogan: Stay alert, Control the virus, Save lives’.

    How about: Stay in power, Control the people, Save our careers.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. At 200,000 corpses and counting, we think COVID-19 is bad. But what people fail to remember is that just a decade ago, climate change was killing 300,000 people a year.

    Now it’s gone the way of polio: it’s still there in the background, requiring constant vigilance, but it’s not a clear and present danger any more.

    Kids these days don’t know what climate change is.

    We need to identify the lessons of our war on climate change—the battles lost, the war won—and learn them.

    We beat climate change; we can beat COVID-19.

    Discuss, making particular reference to such facts as how right I am and the erroneousness of contrary views.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. From the ‘modelling catastrophe’ thread…

    Richard: “And we’re only talking increasing the numbers, not taking everyone’s motor to the crusher’s yard, with Monbiot in the control box. Or are we?”

    Well I guess that’s the rub, in that indeed this is likely just one step to the crusher in the minds of many, with EVs being another step. And even for this step as Jaime points out, especially when public transport is an issue due to Covid, a car is the only practical alternative for the great majority who don’t both live and work within the same metropolitan area. So an anti-car agenda is exactly what you don’t want, but pro-bike AND pro-car at the same time. Unless of course, very much larger life-style changes are being pursued, such as pressuring everyone to live within cycling distance of their work (except for a selected car-owning elite of course, and we might suspect we know who these will be).

    Jaime: “Andy, it’s pretty obvious to me, and to you, that this has little to do with practical measures to address the supposed threat of Covid, everything to do with opportunistically advancing the mitigation of the imaginary ‘climate crisis’.”

    For sure. But many commented in the early days of Covid, only a couple of months back, that this would likely finish the catastrophic climate agenda. Whereas I figured no culture that strong would simply roll over and die even from a stiff reality-check like Covid. Rather, it would start to evolve ways around the issue, and even attempt to take advantage of it. So my point was only that this has proved to be the case, and we are already seeing such evolution in the ‘green recovery’ tactic. Re our government being bubbelised, well yes, and political pressure against the climate agenda can only be applied per nation, albeit that’s hard in the UK because no party actually opposes it. But once more I highlight the generic too, i.e. that the catastrophic climate culture is taking this ‘green recovery’ tack in various countries, and the UK government is far from alone in heeding it. This doesn’t change much in practical terms, but it emphasises that this is a much bigger problem than assumed incompetence in any single government.

    Liked by 1 person

    Ooh you are rotten. I suggested the open thread because in my experience many readers go for the latest posts, and were no doubt missing the excellent discussion under Jaime’s “Modelling Catastrophe” post.

    There’s so much to read here
    that I probably won’t be commenting here for a while. If anyone has other similar links please let us know.


  5. A storm’s brewing:

    Stay alert folks.


  6. Whinging sometimes works!
    I must admit to being solidly with Andy over the survivability of the climate change scare movement. I see little sign of any retrenchment, more of a reassessment, a review of how the movements can advantage themselves of the current situation – look we can make drastic changes. Those arguing we couldn’t reduce CO2 emissions are wrong. This chorus is increasing in volume. It seems the BBC is giving it full vent. Little to no comment that with a worldwide downturn in CO2 emissions, there seems to be little to no impact upon CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Hide the non-change.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. Once more into the fray until last man standing, – whether climate change , ‘how dare we!!’
    or COVID 19 ‘OMG !!’ or whatever glocal (:() battle fer the nation state or … say Naomi,
    or is it Nononi, or maybe Lew, is it a battle btw the simple minded and the cognitively
    complex minded? – I’m so confused!


  8. When I first started out in software development I was given the job of commissioning a computer control system that had at its heart a module that had been written in uncommented Fortran by a mathematical wizz kid from RAE Farnborough. It featured all of the bad practices exhibited by the Ferguson code, then some (for example, no variable name was greater than one character in length and the code was self-modifying so at any given point one could not be sure which of its various roles a given variable was fulfilling). The only good thing I could say is that it was not riddled with bugs; it just had the one bug that took me 8 months to find (an incorrect encoding of the formula used to calculate refraction caused by the earth’s atmosphere). It may have been only one bug but it resulted in the system repeatedly and apparently randomly failing.

    I learnt an important lesson on that project — academics write shite software.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Steve Baker: “Did we base one of the biggest peacetime policy decisions [lockdown] on crude mathematical guesswork?”

    Of course we did and surely we already knew that. The unreadability and other perceived flaws of the code are to my mind mostly incidental. The trouble is that then and now we were (and are) in the situation David Deutsch describes:

    No amount of ‘clean code’ (in Uncle Bob Martin’s famous phrase) or regression testing can make up for that.

    Talking of unreadability, though, I no longer subscribe to the Telegraph so none of the above can be taken as a line-by-line commentary on the Davis and Ridley.


  10. Great software war story John. I was the first consultant in to look at replacing the Reuters Dealing System in 1986. Trillions of foreign exchange a day were being traded on it by then. Not developed by academics but utter sh*te nonetheless.

    Things have moved on since 1986 and in that case I definitely helped with that process. Generally I agree with ‘Sue Denim’ that commercial development will be a better option.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Richard,

    It’s a shame we will never meet to exchange stories over a glass of beer. I’ve witnessed plenty of toe-curling things during my career and I am sure you must have as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Alan,

    “Little to no comment that with a worldwide downturn in CO2 emissions, there seems to be little to no impact upon CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Hide the non-change.”

    Richard Betts has that sorted:

    So, according to the Met Office earlier this year (re. Australian bushfires), the increase in CO2 is at least 90% due to emissions, with up to 10% due to natural fluctuations. But even with the current drop in CO2 emissions (estimated to be 8% overall this year), we will only see an 11% decline in atmospheric CO2 due to Covid-19. China’s emissions plunged by 25% in February. Similar sharp drops are surely going to be a feature of other major world economies, but apparently this will not be noticeable over the entire year.


  13. Richard,

    I have a theory that the current sate of the UK is not as a result of a scientific error made in the face of scientific uncertainty, but a political error made in the face of political stupidity. In the very early days there appeared to be a definite strategy based upon the attainment of herd immunity, followed by a swift and unconvincing climb-down once it became clear that the nation had no stomach for the plan. The government insisted they had never sought herd immunity but were delaying lockdown because they were following the science. The WHO said it wasn’t any science that they recognised (they did not have anyone with Ferguson’s computer programming prowess) and the UK caved in — but too late for the lockdown to be effective. Everything that the government has said since then has been attributed to the pursuit of the science but, in reality, has been driven by the need to make systemic negligence look like a carefully constructed plan.

    Has anyone seen any minutes of meetings that might back up my analysis, or am I just burbling?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I think it’s clear in hindsight that lockdown was way too late, and there is no scenario in which it would have not have been way too late. An effective lockdown (halting the virus entirely) would have probably have needed to be implemented in January. In terms of flattening the curve, it may or may not have worked.

    China suspended transport from Wuhan to the rest of the China around Jan 23rd, and it was already estimated that 5 million people had left the area. AFAICT, people were still flying internationally from Wuhan to the rest of the world.

    But, assuming lockdown was soon enough, what then? Completely isolate the UK from the rest of the world? For how long? Would that have been achievable? It would have only taken one asymptomatic carrier passing it to a few others and it would have been a failure. You’d have to screen *everyone* entering the UK from everywhere until a vaccine (assuming such is possible) had been produced, and even then it is unsure whether the tests would be up to the task.

    I really don’t think there was any other likely outcome, modified in small ways, than the one which occurred.


  15. I think what we have here is a deadly combination of systemic negligence, breath-taking arrogance, a near pathological aversion by Boris and his team to admit that they got it wrong and poor science elevated beyond all reason to be enshrined as life and death policy, which it never should have been. Now we have a greater understanding of this virus and how it is spreading, it is absolutely vital that ineffective lockdowns are eased rapidly. But Wee Krankie says no, we’ll let you out of your prison cells twice a day, not just once and Boris is floating some traffic light alert scheme whilst still saying stay at home when you can and be alert when you’re out and about. In other words, ‘we did get it right, honest guv, we saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and now we want you, the public, to be responsible and check out our wonderful new threat level app’. Or something.

    But back to science, the ever reliable Nic Lewis I think has put his finger on it. Imperial estimated the Herd Immunity Threshold to be 50-60%. This was probably wildly wrong. Because of the curious epidemiological nature of Covid-19, it’s probably much lower. Nic estimates 17% in the case of Stockholm, Sweden. This explains why deaths there peaked early and then started to decline, even though they didn’t shut down the country. It also explains why deaths in the UK peaked early and it seriously brings into question the entire raison d’etre for lockdown. But will our incompetent, criticism averse government take note? Highly doubtful. The public will just have to muddle through this mess on their own whilst the economy tanks and people keep dying because they can’t get hospital treatment.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jaime: “Because of the curious epidemiological nature of Covid-19, it’s probably much lower. Nic estimates 17% in the case of Stockholm, Sweden.”

    It’s not just to do with the nature of Covid, albeit the nature of transmission makes a difference. But in generic terms, because the population appears to be treated in the (Ferguson and other) models as either homogeneous or as nearly so, which isn’t actually the case for any disease. Having said that I don’t know about the relative importance of factors in this case – hence my hopefully not inept comment at Climate Etc below…

    ‘Balanced’ or ‘maintained’ genetic polymorphism in species is supposed in part to be a protection against diseases. I guess this turns up mainly as ‘social-connectivity unrelated variability in susceptibility’, which should also manifest as more than just differences in the immune system. I lost track in the text of the relative importance of this compared to social connectivity factors, and indeed whether this is determinable. Is it so? (The spread of genetic variance over at least some nations must be known, as these have been been sampled pretty often by now I guess, which is maybe helpful in estimating this from a different angle).


  17. If you write software intended to help analyse a clinical or even a pre-clinical trial of a candidate new medical treatment then you face appreciable hurdles to get that software approved by ‘the authorities’. Using unapproved software would kill the trial in due course whenever it reached the next formal approval stage (if the approvers were conscientious and on the ball). This is obviously to protect those who might be adversely affected by a duff new treatment. The numbers of such folk would generally not be large – certainly not nation-sized, and the disappointing results would in due course be spotted and the problem exposed. But write some software to do epidemiology for a virus and you seem to be able to do whatever you jolly well like. Much the same seems to apply in climate modelling, and indeed in climate data management (cf. ‘HarryReadMe’). Yet these areas, thanks to the vulnerability of politicians and others, can lead to decisions that do indeed adversely affect entire nations. Not good.

    My attention was caught by this remark published by Glenn Reynolds on his popular blog, Instapundit (

    ‘THE CODE WAS CRAP: Ferguson’s Imperial Model. “On a personal level, I’d go further and suggest that all academic epidemiology be defunded. This sort of work is best done by the insurance sector. Insurers employ modellers and data scientists, but also employ managers whose job is to decide whether a model is accurate enough for real world usage and professional software engineers to ensure model software is properly tested, understandable and so on. Academic efforts don’t have these people, and the results speak for themselves.” ‘

    The source of the remark is here:

    That piece was inspired and informed by this: Inspired by this:

    Andrew Montford and Benny Peiser, both of the GWPF, were on to this even earlier




    Quote from Pipeline piece: from the WSJ article (loc cit):

    ‘Several researchers have apparently asked to see Imperial [College]’s calculations, but Prof. Neil Ferguson, the man leading the team, has said that the computer code is 13 years old and thousands of lines of it “undocumented,” making it hard for anyone to work with, let alone take it apart to identify potential errors. He has promised that it will be published in a week or so, but in the meantime reasonable people might wonder whether something made with 13-year-old, undocumented computer code should be used to justify shutting down the economy. ‘

    So, perhaps our political leaders need to find some mechanism whereby climate (and coronavirus) computer code is rigorously quality-controlled and formally assessed before the authors, the owners, or merely the enthusiasts, turn up with it to scare governments. I sure hope there is a ‘gathering storm’ here, as Jaime commented earlier.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sorry if I’m going o/t, but can you do that on an open thread? Anyway, this might be of interest to those who aren’t yet aware of it:

    “The Road to Mann Delay”

    “…This week Judge Anderson further focused the case. Responding to a motion by my co-defendants the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Rand Simberg, the Court has now ordered Mann to cough up his income records from 2007 along with any evidence of reputational damage. If m’learned friends will forgive a zippy generalization, when you sue for defamation, there are various kinds of damages: “Defamation per se” commands damages in and of itself without evidence of actual losses; on the other hand, compensatory damages requires evidence that you lost 27 grand here and 49 bucks there. Mann had argued that, as he was claiming defamation per se, he didn’t need to show evidence of monetary loss. Judge Anderson has now reminded him that that’s not what his statement of claim actually says:

    Plaintiff [Mann] is, in fact, seeking compensatory damages that require proof. At the end of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff “demands judgment against Defendants for compensatory damage in an amount to be proven at trial.” (Amend. Compl. at 25.) In each paragraph that alleges damages, Plaintiff states “as a proximate result of the aforementioned statements, Dr. Mann has suffered and continues to suffer damages in an amount to be determined at trial” (Amend. Compl. ¶ 56, 92, 110), which is a clear call for compensatory damage because it includes causation and a determinable amount. Plaintiff must undertake the required burden of proof associated with compensatory damages and submit evidence which for Defendants are then entitled to challenge….”

    Faint stirrings, perhaps, in a case that has apparently advanced little in 8 years. Watch this space.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Jaime, Nic Lewis does his usual thorough analysis to estimate a much lower % to achieve here immunity. Matt Ridley explains along similar lines that the early peaking of curves may be due to the peculiar pattern of this outbreak.

    “The horrible truth is that it now looks like in many of the early cases, the disease was probably caught in hospitals and doctors’ surgeries.

    That is where the virus kept returning, in the lungs of sick people, and that is where the next person often caught it, including plenty of healthcare workers. Many of these may not have realised they had it, or thought they had a mild cold. They then gave it to yet more elderly patients who were in hospital for other reasons, some of whom were sent back to care homes when the National Health Service made space on the wards for the expected wave of coronavirus patients.

    If Covid-19 is at least partly a ‘nosocomial’ (hospital-acquired) disease, then the pandemic might burn itself out quicker than expected.

    The death rate here peaked on 8 April, just two weeks after lockdown began, which is surprisingly early given that it is usually at least four weeks after infection that people die if they die. But it makes sense if this was the fading of the initial, hospital–acquired wave. If you look at the per capita numbers for different countries in Europe, they all show a dampening of the rate of growth earlier than you would expect from the lockdowns.”
    Ridley’s article is
    My synopsis is

    Liked by 4 people

  20. John R: “Has anyone seen any minutes of meetings that might back up my analysis, or am I just burbling?”

    I haven’t looked into the minutes of meetings but I appreciate the question, the lack of jumping to conclusions.

    The one thing I’d add to what you’ve said is that the British public was beginning to do the ‘self-isolate’ thing faster than the government initially wanted. HMG wanted to lead and to be seen to lead. I don’t really see that as “breath-taking arrogance, a near pathological aversion by Boris and his team to admit that they got it wrong” as Jaime put it in the next comment but one. I think they have understood what this guy has just laid out stateside:

    If I was a policymaker I’d be studying what happened from 1918 to whenever it really ended. But I’m not a policymaker.

    Jaime: That’s really helpful to know about Nic Lewis at Judith Curry’s. I will read that. It may be less than they had to cope with in 1918.

    They should probably have stuck with the original plan. I say that with all the normal brilliance of hindsight.

    John S: “So, perhaps our political leaders need to find some mechanism whereby climate (and coronavirus) computer code is rigorously quality-controlled and formally assessed before the authors, the owners, or merely the enthusiasts, turn up with it to scare governments. I sure hope there is a ‘gathering storm’ here, as Jaime commented earlier.”

    The problem here is twofold. First, Covid is genuinely scary for the ordinary man and woman in the street, at a quite different level from climate. Ferguson’s code being the worst that’s ever been known about (for the sake of argument) doesn’t change that one iota. The second is that, as Jaime also said very well in the previous thread, the timescales over which you can be sure that the climate models are rubbish mean that none of us will be alive to bang on about the tale.

    Since 1988 the code behind the GCMs has become I’m sure much ‘cleaner’ than Ferguson’s. But that shouldn’t fool us. Feedback from the ‘real-world’ is everything. Lipstick and pigs and all that.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Richard,

    Re: Jumping to conclusions
    I have been doing nothing but jumping to conclusions since this whole thing began. Sometimes I can have formed several conclusions before breakfast. Yes, I have a theory — infact I have several, and most of them contradict each other. I look forward to better times, when I can get back to some semblance of intellectual stability.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Ron,

    Yes, I saw that from Matt Ridley too. ‘Nosocomial’ is just such a weird word but I believe it accurately describes Covid-19, which makes a nonsense of course of lockdown, but the government is determined to ignore all such contrary evidence and plow ahead with its UK-destroying lockdown.


  23. Twenty days ago, on the earlier thread, I sought to agree with Jaime or at least come close to doing so:

    To be clear, I’d welcome the relaxation of lockdown any time from now.

    So I’m delighted tonight. Am I wrong to detect – language is such a subtle thing – that the agreement then sought for no longer appears to hold?

    We’re moving in the right direction and the government is clearly acknowledging the solemn reality of a hefty nosocomial component of the UK health crisis (I’m including care homes under that awkward term). I think it’s a great pity that HMG didn’t listen to Richard North weeks ago, and the Chinese before that, and treat Covid patients in completely separate facilities from the earliest opportunity. But NHS fiefdoms may also have been a factor there. Whatever the reason, I think that key step would have reduced the final death toll dramatically, much more than lockdown or lack of lockdown.

    Matt Ridley is arguing that this acknowledged nosocomial factor should now burn itself out pretty soon. I’m not sure I’m persuaded. Won’t hospitals and care homes seed new outbreaks in the wider community because of health and care workers coming in and out? But I obviously hope Matt is right and that this being shown in the numbers will enable further timely dismantling of the remaining rules.

    But I think again that 2024 will be when we all make the key judgment calls, well after the event.

    That’s how I ended on 20th April, thinking of the 80-seat Tory majority and our coalition-crafted Fixed-term Parliaments Act. And then, in my next comment, I pointed to two senior German polticians who had committed suicide, reportedly because of pressure they felt due to Covid-19. A suitable thought for the end of the VE-Day weekend, in strange conjunction with how well Germany has done compared to the UK on the deaths per million metric? It is quite a different world we inhabit in May 2020.


  24. Coming out of this economic crisis will focus the minds of policy makers. They will have to decide are they going to go Green, or not. There will be no more pretending and pushing it off into the future.

    If they go Green, then they will know that they are going to further impoverish their country at a time when things are bad. How are politicians going to sell higher electricity prices, for example, to a public which is hurting badly. Do they think pushing expensive electric vehicles is going to play well outside Islington and Brighton?

    Meanwhile countries that take the opposite route, ignore the green pandering and work at cutting regulations imposed at a time of plenty, will find that their countries recover relatively quickly.

    I find it hard to believe that the Italians and Spanish are going to have any stomach at all for Green pandering. They will break ranks, because they have to.

    Which is going to make selling the concept rather harder to other Europeans.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Alan

    > I must admit to being solidly with Andy over the survivability of the climate change scare movement.

    I never thought COVID19 would kill CAGWism. It highlights the absurdity of it, a thing that has been hilit 528 different ways already to no avail. Well, not to no avail, but certainly not fatally.

    The scare has achieved immunity to reality, because it ceased to be tethered to a falsifiable hypothesis almost before it was even born.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I was one of those who was saying that this global depression must surely mean the end of the Green economy because, if it was unaffordable and impractical before, it certainly will be once the winds of economic recession start howling. But as Andy and Brad point out, climate change ideology is immune to reality and actually sees this as an opportunity to expand its influence over our lives. I’m not at all certain that it will not find a way to stifle the green shoots of recovery in pursuit of the socialist Green dream of sustainability. But the money has to come from somewhere. If Shapps thinks he’s going to defund spending on roads to divert money into ‘pop-up cycle lanes’, will the British people meekly accept this? The signs thus far are not good. We accepted the destruction of our civil liberties and way of life to ‘fight’ a disease which cannot be conquiered and which is about as dangerous as a very bad bout of seasonal ‘flu. So who knows.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. People might cycle to work (assuming it’s not too far from where they live) while the weather is nice, but what happens when it rains, when winter returns, when it’s cold, dark, wet and horrible? Fantasy world. Meanwhile in China (h/t GWPF via Paul Homewood):

    “China fires up coal power plant construction
    Surge in first-quarter approvals possibly related to COVID-19 outbreak”

    “China approved nearly 10 gigawatts of new coal-fired power generation projects in the first quarter, roughly equal to the amount approved for all of last year, amid a broader scramble to jump-start an economy hobbled by the COVID-19 epidemic.

    Investment in infrastructure like power generation has played an important part in China’s rapid economic rise, especially in times of economic distress like the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Many expect such spending to play an important role as Beijing tries to restart the economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak that has brought activity to a crawl, causing the economy to post its first quarterly contraction since modern record-keeping began.”


  28. Jaime: I think your first instinct was right. But the situation in the corridors of power is made more complex by widespread institutional capture by the climate obsessed working with the green energy corrupt.

    Given this issue of institutional capture, we have an example this month that should bring us some hope for the future.

    That got quite a response from across old political lines:

    Compare with how the left has committed hari kari on this and related matters:

    I had two big reasons for voting Tory in December and this – extreme transgenderism and its covert capture of many levers of power – was one of them. I think Covid-19 has introduced this strange thing called reality back into government and it has the potential to do far more.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. This is actually encouraging. The police appear to have given up making the rules themselves. They might want to think about going back to catching criminals. It’s now up to the public to decide what is ‘safe’ and what is not.


  30. Government science! Ain’t it just great?


  31. You can tell he’s not an arts graduate because of the awful grammatical error that ruined his punchline!

    Anyway, you can’t rejoice in the woolliness in one tweet, then mock it the next.

    Well, you can, obviously. But three weeks of this is going to be really wearing.

    They’re playing for time, hoping that Ridley, Lewis and co are right. Woolliness is required

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Jaime. Well, well, well, Betts ‘diagram is hardly a winner. You have to squint (well I have) to see the difference. Realistically this is not going to work to support destroying the world’s current energy systems. It will be hidden, buried. Climategate III.
    So much economic destruction and pain, and for what?

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Last week, at one of the government’s increasingly pointless press conferences, the scientist of the day conceded that the R rate in hospitals and care homes was a lot higher than it is within the general public. This ongoing epidemic was a concern and the finest brains in the world (UK brains, of course) were looking into the problem to see how this could be. As usual, we were reminded that this was a novel virus and there was much unknown about it.

    That is as may be, but the concept of nosocomial respiratory infection is so well-known that there are literally thousands of medical profession websites out there dedicated to the subject. You only have to google ‘nosocomial infection SARS’ to find them. This one, for example, gives you a flavour of the ubiquity of the problem and the extent to which it is already understood:

    I do wish the government would stop hiding behind tales of false uncertainty. I thought that was supposed to be our peccadillo. Next they will be telling us that tobacco is a novel narcotic.

    Liked by 3 people

  34. Lionel Shriver is bang on the money here. International hysteria over Covid is going to change our cherished ways of life for many, many years to come:

    “Brendan O’Neill: You have talked about the supine capitulation to a police state that has happened in the UK over the past few weeks. Do you think things are that bad? Do you think it is not only so bad that we have a police state, but it is even worse because everyone has capitulated to it in a rather craven fashion?

    Lionel Shriver: I think it’s pretty impressive. I have come across, in more than one article, references to how ‘free thinking’ and ‘independently minded’ British people are supposed to be, and I don’t think that this situation bears that out. There has been research into the English attitude to authority. The English, in particular, capitulate to authority. They obey the law for the law’s sake. This runs completely counter to my own inclinations, because I’m afraid I have a very deep-set ‘fuck you’ impulse. I don’t like being told what to do, and most of all I want people to justify it when they tell me what to do. I don’t do things just because of the law. I do them because they are the smart and right things to do. There has not been enough questioning on the public’s part, especially as to whether or not these lockdowns are even epidemiologically sensible.

    Shriver: The media are worse than the public. Of course, the media are also controlling the public to a degree. I have been especially appalled by how few dissenting voices ever appear on television. I force myself to suffer through news programmes on a nightly basis, and I was really struck recently by Channel 4. This was not even a story, it was just a little statistic that they flashed up on the screen. It was that we are expecting 1.5 billion people – which is, they were careful to clarify, half the workforce of the entire world – to have no source of livelihood. That was just a little fact. Then we went back to the situation in care homes in the UK, which took up most of the rest of the broadcast. It’s as if it was incidental. This never gets any attention.”

    Big thumbs up from me.

    Blistering. When will the world wake up and realise they’ve screwed themselves, utterly, for generations – because governments and the media said ‘be afraid, be very afraid’? Or won’t they? Will they instead focus on the next big threat, climate change, and how we must fall upon our swords en masse to prevent it happening? Will we actually accept that we must wipe ourselves out and destroy civilisation as we know it in order to protect ourselves from the twin global threats of an imaginary pandemic super plague and an imaginary ‘climate crisis’?

    Raab: ‘Travel as far as you want but maintain social distancing’

    I’m out of here (again).


  35. Actually, Richard, mathematical precision and clarity of social policy are two different things. You can celebrate the latter whilst decrying the former.


  36. My favourite mathematical precision joke (suggesting I have more than one) is as follows:

    A museum curator was giving a guided tour, and when he came to the dinosaur skeleton he said, “This skeleton is sixty million and three years old”. “How can you be so precise?” asked a puzzled child. “Because when I started work here three years ago I was told it was sixty million years old.”

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Oh come on, Jaime, nobody in their right mind thinks that the new formula, giving rise to five different colours for the threat level, has anything to do with mathematical precision.


  38. Back to the travel issue, Richard North has taken the dastardly route of consulting Wikipedia. But before even getting into that, climate sceptics know that the big W isn’t to be trusted in our area of interest. And this thread shows another really concerning instance of corruption and bias:

    However, horses for courses. I think Richard has a point or two here:

    But we should avoid public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited – so we’re supposed to do a Tebbit … and get on our bikes.

    Resorting to Wikipedia for an instant repost, we learn that the average amount of time people spend commuting with public transport in London, for example to and from work on a weekday, is 84 minutes. Some 30 percent of passengers ride for more than two hours every day.

    The average length of time people wait at a stop or station for public transit is 13 minutes, while 18 percent of passengers wait for over 20 minutes on average every day. The average length of a public transport journey is just over five miles, while 20 percent travel over eight miles in a single direction.

    Typically (Nov-Dec 2019), there are 176.8 million bus journeys made per month, and 117.5 million journeys on the underground. That amounts to about ten million journeys per day, without taking into account all the other forms of transport – not least the commuter rail network.

    That is just London, and there’s the rest of the country to think of. Getting the workforce back to anything close to normality is going to take rather more than a few bikes on the road, and the fact that Johnson is even seriously suggesting this shows how detached from the real world he actually is.

    The reality is that social distancing is entirely incompatible with the normal commercial functioning of the nation. If Johnson can’t do better than the first sketch of a roadmap, then he needs to acknowledge that the economy isn’t going to restart any time soon.

    North isn’t yet in the Hitchens camp. But even if one were, and the government agreed, will the same number of ordinary people as before get on crowded public transport to get to work to restart the economy? And all of them buy that extra cup of coffee they used to, and all the other discretionary spending that’s gone through the floor?

    This isn’t what anyone forecast for the year 2020. But there’s a lot of hindsight about. So that’s good.


  39. Actually, what you have to appreciate regarding the Alert Level formula is that it is a line of computer code written in an object-oriented language. The plus sign is therefore polymorphic. In this instance it represents a function that involves using ‘R’ and infection levels to read the Alert Level from a table. We did this sort of thing all the time in safety risk management. There again, safety risk management has always been more art than science.

    Liked by 2 people

  40. Just heard on the wireless that in the CliScep heartland that is Great Britain, some social justice whiners are whinging that 90% of medical personnel infected have been “Asian, Black [or black—I couldn’t tell, it was radio] or of culturally diverse background.”

    That’s right. Diverse shitting background.

    Now it may not be a popular opinion, I know it’s not “politically correct,” it’s not “right on,” but I firmly believe that people who come to this country or any other and bewail the “diverse background” of any person or persons must be arrested and made to repay their debt to society—whether by surrendering their still-living bodies for use as vaccine incubators, antivenin factories, katana testers, hobo-warmers or whatever else we, as a nation, deem needful in these times.

    Why is it that when the shit hits the fan, the English are the first to stop speaking English?

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Jaime: ‘This is actually encouraging. The police appear to have given up making the rules themselves. They might want to think about going back to catching criminals. It’s now up to the public to decide what is ‘safe’ and what is not.’

    Encouraging indeed. As we noted some weeks back, in principle at least, zealous / ridiculous policing (and not just by the police but by anyone who adopts an official role, with or without justification), should start to recede quite quickly when fear of covid in the general public as a whole drops back down to the noise level (i.e. the ‘ordinary’ levels of fear they have for anything else). We are not at that stage yet. But given the vast amount of coverage, I think the public are beginning to feel that they ‘know their enemy’, which is a big part of overcoming fear. (It doesn’t matter that they essentially can’t know their enemy, given many experts themselves are still arguing; it’s the psychological feeling that matters, and they will have picked up some basics).

    Liked by 1 person

  42. JAIME

    “If Shapps thinks he’s going to defund spending on roads to divert money into ‘pop-up cycle lanes’, will the British people meekly accept this?”

    Will anyone ask them? Paris has created more cycle lanes in the past two weeks than in the past ten years, just to keep a few thousand people off public transport. Greens will point to the Covid-19 wartime spirit as proof we can beat climate change the same way. If only a few of the billions being conjured up out of thin air to prop up our economy are siphoned into solar panelling your loft, it’ll be enough to load the dice that little bit more against sane energy policy. And who’s going to notice the true cost of green energy during Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation?

    Tell D that this C is with AA&B.

    Liked by 3 people

  43. On the continued theme of truly inspiring women writers, here is Kathy Gyngell:

    “Are we really meant to believe that he still believes that: ‘It is a fact that by adopting those measures we prevented this country from being engulfed by what could have been a catastrophe in which the reasonable worst case scenario was half a million fatalities’ when so many reputable scientific refutations have shown this to be entirely unreasonable?

    How otherwise are we to account for his paralysis? Could he be suffering from a form of Stockholm syndrome after his own brush with the virus, and possibly death, so that he genuinely believes that only his Whitehall masters and SAGE acolytes can stop the world from dying of Covid-19 and that he must therefore follow their diktats?

    Otherwise we are forced to accept that this is a man of no conviction, courage or character who only ever wanted the trappings of office. We at TCW never believed he was a conservative, now he has shown himself not to be a liberal either. His bottling it on the day of the Referendum result was but one insight into his character and his mismanaged and irresponsible private life has provided several more. We always feared he was not a man to be relied on – even over Brexit. It seems we were right.

    Lockdown hawks (from the right, left or centre), my co-editor Laura Perrins says, need to be held responsible for the mass unemployment, probable inflation, increased suicide, depression, despair, illness and deaths caused by delayed NHS treatment that are bound to follow. She is right.

    She is also right that any comparison of Johnson with the greatest war leader of the West – whose warning on VE day that ‘our work (for liberty) was not yet done’, remains prescient – is egregious. Boris Johnson has turned out not just to be an abysmal leader but a truly terrifying disappointment.”


    Liked by 2 people

  44. Geoff: Institutional capture has happened, for over 30 years, and they sense they hath but a short time because the gravy train is about to be derailed. Who the Liz Truss of this part of the puzzle is going to be I don’t know. But I’ve returned to the optimistic view.


  45. Brad: “bewail the “diverse background” of any person or persons”

    Don’t get your meaning and/or beef. If there is bewailing it’s about the 90% of healthcare victims stat, not the diversity itself. And as people look into it they may find crucial keys to how the virus is operating.

    Or it was parody. That’s happened before.


  46. John,

    Thanks for the explanation that the plus sign is polymorphic and that the formula is written in an object-oriented language, which means it isn’t an equation at all, in any strict mathematical sense. I doubt the public would appreciate that, even those quite well educated. My (very) limited experience of programming is in Fortran, where formulae are coded precisely in mathematically rigorous terms (I think!). Amusingly, somebody challenged Liebreich on this:

    His response:


  47. Ah yes, let us talk about Shapps and his climbdown regarding the government’s investment in Smart Motorways. When they were first introduced they were heralded as the perfect solution to the problem of growing the economy whilst protecting the environment. Now ‘one death is a death too many’ Shapps is pulling the plug because they are supposed to be death traps. I was intimately involved in the risk assessments that took place when Smart Motorways were introduced and I could tell you a thing or two how the government reasons about such matters. In fact I have recently had an article accepted for publication in a safety engineering journal on that very subject. It will be behind a paywall but if anyone is interested, I could post it on Cliscep as well because I have retained the copyright.

    Liked by 2 people

  48. At the moment, Net Zero is “inevitable” via wishful thinking. It’s also impossible via the law of diminishing returns; so far we’ve only cut the fat, and while people have been materially harmed, this has been well hidden (e.g. by renewable subsidies and the cost of smart meters hidden in utility bills).

    There are a range of possible roads out of Wuhan. Deeper cuts, pain, and an earlier pushback, or cuts deferred, the pushback deferred too. It depends who influences gov’t policy. Not sceptics, that’s for sure:

    “Calls for action have come from all generations and all parts of society – from Greta Thunberg to David Attenborough, from schoolchildren to the Women’s Institute.” – Chris Skidmore MP moving that 80% CO2 cuts -> 100%

    (Replace Greta Thunberg with Vladimir Putin and see how that reads. Since when does UK gov’t base policy on the opinions of citizens of other countries?)

    Liked by 1 person

  49. John: please do post it here. (My opinion only of course. But poll us by email?)

    The critic of Liebreich’s criticism has just said i like your diagram, its better than the govt one to another critic of the critic of the critic. But this level really doesn’t matter. The guy’s right that it depicts a judgment call. John’s joke about object-oriented polymorphism is a very good one. What matters to me is that we’re seeing the death of “the science”. That should really help us in making future debates on energy policy far more rational.


  50. Regarding bike lanes, our approach to this has been half-assed and wasteful. There’s a reason that bike use is on the wane, and that is because it is unpleasant and dangerous. (I used to cycle all the time. Got run off the road by a transit once, and hit on the elbow by the wing mirror of a passing van another time…) The approach to cycle lanes is to find bits of road that are wide enough to add one, and to add it there (at stupid cost per hundred metres for what is usually just painting the road). At no point is it considered who will use it or where it will take them.

    Lip-service is paid to cycling and walking, while development (road, and housing) emphatically favours car use. There has been a hornet’s nest of opposition in Norwich to a 20-storey tower in the city centre; development is extending further and further from the centre, with attendent knock-ons for traffic (whether you care about fumes or CO2 or just getting anywhere when you need to, this is a serious problem).

    Safe routes away from motorised traffic where people want to cycle -> more cycling.


  51. John, the worst is when you are told that those very impressive dinosaur bones aren’t, but plaster cast replicas that were cast and assembled in April 1919. Thousands of children have been misled.
    On the other hand truly impressive fossils, like the Rhynie Chert which preseves in beautiful detail some of the earliest land plants, cell by cell, and arachnids, looks like rubbish.

    Liked by 2 people

  52. Goodness this thread is going like gangbusters, I’m finding it difficult to keep up. This is a request for information upon predictions I would have been expected to have been made but might have missed.

    With the massive decline in aviation there should have been a similar decline in contrails. After the absence of contrails after 9-11a measurable temperature change was registered in the US. Has a simlar, but global effect been registered?

    Secondly, with social distancing, has the possible effects on birth rates been discussed? They could go either way in the short term, but what of the longer term if an effective vaccine is not developed?
    So many questions.


  53. Back to Ferguson and his unintelligible code. This echoes what I said earlier: either Ferguson intentionally misled the government and its science experts weren’t bright enough to realise they were being sold a dud or the government was made aware of the severe limitations of the modelling by Ferguson and his team, but they went ahead with draconian lockdown anyway. We need answers to this question – very soon. Government must not be allowed to hide behind a never-ending public enquiry.

    “When you write code, you should always do so as if your life depended on it. For us working in the field of modelling infectious diseases, lives being at stake is common, sometimes to the point of losing track of it. I don’t, of course, know whether that is what indeed happened, but I doubt anybody would want to trust their lives to thousands of lines of cobbled-together code.

    Yet for some reason, the UK government treated Ferguson’s model as almost dogmatic truth. This highlights an important issue: politicians have not been taught enough about data-driven decision-making, especially not where predictive data is involved. There is wide support for a science-driven response to COVID-19, but very little scrutiny of the science behind many of the predictions that informed early public health measures. Hopefully, a Royal Commission with subpoena powers will have the opportunity to review in detail whether Ferguson intentionally hid the model from HM Government the way he hid it from the rest of the world or whether the government’s experts just did not understand how to scrutinise or assess a model – or, the worst case scenario: they saw the model and still let it inform what might have been the greatest single decision HM Government has made since 1939, without looking for alternatives (there are many other modelling approaches, and many developers who have written better code).”

    The article also answers Alan’s question about funding. Taxpayers partly fund the MRC. We paid for the unintelligble code which sent the UK spiralling into catastrophic lockdown. We paid to have hospitals empty, cancer patients not cared for, millions of livelihoods lost, minds lost, civil liberties destroyed.

    “None of these issues are, of course, anywhere near as severe as what this means – a massive leap backwards, erosion of trust and a complete disclaimer of accountability by publicly funded scientists.

    There is a moral obligation for epidemiologists to work for the common good – and that implies an obligation of openness and honesty.

    Epidemiology had the chance to seize and hold the narrative, through openness, transparency and honesty about the forecasts made. It had the chance, during this day in the sun of ours, to show the public just how powerful our analytical abilities have become. Instead, petty academic jealousy, obsessions with institutional prestige and an understandable but still disproportionate fear of being ‘misinterpreted’ by people who ‘do not understand epidemiology’ have given the critics of forecasting and computational epidemiology fertile breeding ground. They are entirely justified now in criticising any forecasts that come out of the Imperial model – even if the forecasts are correct. There will no doubt be public health consequences to the loss of credibility the entire profession has suffered, and in the end, it’s all due to the outdated ‘proprietary’ attitudes and the airs of superiority by a few insulated scientists who, somehow, somewhere, left the track of serving public health and humanity for the glittering prizes offered elsewhere. With their abandonment of the high road, our entire profession’s claim to the public trust might well be forfeited – in a sad twist of irony, at a time that could well have been the Finest Hour of computational epidemiology.”

    Climate modellers take note, especially those so fond of using RCP8.5 and its SSP near-equivalent. There may be lessons there. You are not immune to the same criticisms.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Viruses have been occurring for thousands of years they peak sometimes twice but pass and
    life goes on. Corona 19 ranks low on their history but will be remembered for the blind panic
    it caused helped by the media hungry to install fear into the masses for their own political ambitions.
    The same fear agenda is pursued by Global warmers keen to fund unreliable ” renewable” energy
    which cannot totally replace fossil fuels and ironically has led to a global decline in trees as they are now grown for wood chips so that takes us back before coal & oil were discovered saving the forests and wildlife such as whales, seals etc. at that time.
    The Climate has also been occurring for thousands years and will continue to have natural warm
    and cold periods governed by the Sun and unaffected by Man’s tiny influence.
    Lets get back to work and ignore the fake fears.


  55. Re: the code, well this and the model it built was always going to be trash. I said as much on an earlier thread. If you compound enough unknowns with the unpredictability of human behaviour in a model that has to be spatially structured to be worth anything… you inevitably end up with nothing resembling the real world. I begin to doubt models as soon as they rise above one dimension. Even in the exponential phase, simplest case, if dN/dt = rN then you have two fat unknowns to generate a third. Now add spatial structure and modelled behaviour to make r the mean value of every viral population (i.e. infected person) and you would be lucky to get anything resembling a realistic value, let alone a true value. I wonder how many input parameters it takes? Does it consider the time of year, ambient temperature etc?

    No doubt if code has been built over years it is going to be unwieldy with bits bolted on here and there and lurkers that no longer get called.

    Nevertheless, it says more about those who show cyber deference than the code’s originators.

    Liked by 1 person

  56. Jaime wrote: “There is a moral obligation for epidemiologists to work for the common good – and that implies an obligation of openness and honesty.”

    Maybe that’s what it should mean, but it’s pretty clear that in this, and other policy areas, what it actually means is “we know what people need to do, what do we need to tell them to get them to do it?”.


  57. JAIME JESSOP @ 1:19 pm

    >Yet for some reason, the UK government treated Ferguson’s model as almost dogmatic truth.

    I don’t think so. If you look at this page *

    It shows the people in London started to stop travelling to work around the end of February, and the whole country had started to shut down by the 1st or 2nd of March. This was at least 3 weeks before the start of the official lockdown, which suggests that Boris was following what people were doing rather than leading. I assume that the same will happen as the lockdown ends.

    *Choose ‘United Kingdom’ fro the Country/Region menu and click the ‘only’ button. Putting the cursor into the graph will give a data panel.

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Richard,

    I’m bewailing the bastardization of the word ‘diverse,’ which is supposed to mean ‘various.’

    What these social justice wibblers presumably want to bewhinge is the disproportionately minority ethnicity of the victims, but because they can’t speak English (the bemoaners, not the bemourned), what they wind up whining is that there’s no particular ethnic pattern in the victimology.

    Or rather, no particular cultural pattern, if we’re REALLY talking English. Fortunately, the Principle of Charity is my middle name so I mentally elide culture -> race these days to make allowances for your countrymen’s English as a Second or Future Language status.

    And I’m allowed to say all this, because as an AustraloAmerican by passport I’m one of the few persons in the world who literally is (or even am) of diverse background. Let some IndoIndian or SinoChinese or RwandoRwandan neurosurgeon try to horn in on my Diverse Privilege at the hospital cafeteria and social distancing be damned, IT IS ON.

    Liked by 1 person

  59. Bill, I checked the page you linked to. For all UK regions, the really precipitous drop in public transport usage started around 10th March, when the government was announcing voluntary social distancing measures. Lockdown was introduced because some people were ignoring voluntary social distancing measures, but mainly because of the Imperial study, predicting 240,000 deaths if the then current policy continued, 510,000 if no social distancing measures were employed.

    The government almost certainly treated Ferguson’s study seriously enough to base an exceptionally radical mitigation policy upon it. They were also stung into action by widespread media and expert criticism of their initial ‘herd immunity’ policy, not so much I think by public behaviour. The public at the time were cautious but not terrified. They only became terrified when the government ordered them inside their homes and the media started shamelessly hyping deaths and dishing out scare stories daily about how dangerous this new virus was.


  60. Brad strange that you take issue with the word ‘diverse’, a contrastive word that deliberately and periodically displays a mean streak by casting aside its ‘e’. How many orphaned ‘e’s lie bestrewn in your own writings?

    Liked by 1 person

  61. Geoff Chambers at 7.43 am, thank you so much for that breakfast-time chuckle.


  62. Ben has an article at Spiked where he points out the similarities between the Covid crisis and the fake ‘climate crisis’ and claims that the Green agenda is being brought forward and rolled into the Covid crisis.

    “The green agenda is being brought forward, and the viral crisis is being rolled into the climate crisis, because the pandemic has revealed the emptiness of the political class.

    Indeed, the pandemic has played out as a time-lapsed rehearsal of the climate crisis. It has revealed that governments that lack any sense of direction of their own are very easily panicked into making impulsive decisions with catastrophic long-term consequences. And as with climate change, the scientific modelling supplies the main tool of fearmongering – the precautionary principle.”

    Liked by 1 person

  63. Alan,

    Es lie at ease at the bottom of seas
    where various frogmen, divers as you please,
    retrieve and recycle a nation’s E-waste
    to season Dan Quayle’s potatos to taste

    Liked by 2 people

  64. “Very well put, Prof. So why, you wonder, is Boris Johnson’s administration – which supposedly has many more talents within it than the dismal David Cameron and Theresa May administrations – proving so unresponsive to the changing evidence?

    I have my theories – but we’ll come to them on another occasion.

    There was no reason why the British economy needed to be flushed down the toilet and the British people turned into snitches, tinpot authoritarians and brainwashed bedwetters. Boris and his idiot crew fell hook line and sinker for the specious narrative provided by the left-leaning scientists on their SAGE committee. And now a once-proud nation is paying the bitterest of prices for it.”

    I wonder if James’s theories include factoring in net zero? Is the government really so stubborn, pig-headed, arrogant, desperate to avoid admitting it got it wrong, that it will sacrifice the entire country rather than just lift lockdown as swiftly as practicable now?

    Liked by 1 person

  65. Professor Richard Ennos via Lockdown Sceptics via James Delingpole via Jaime Jessop (thanks):

    In the United Kingdom the initial decision to impose lockdown to control the effects of COVID-19 was based on a conjecture or model that has now been tested against real data and is found to be wanting.

    The model predicts that, under the sustainable public health measures taken by Sweden and in the absence of lockdown, there should now be 60,000 deaths in that country from Covid-19, whereas there are currently only about 3,000 there, with deaths now well past the peak and declining.

    Now that’s a clear summary of how feedback informs software models and forces them to improve. Note it doesn’t depend on how well later software experts say the code was written and structured. It’s a bit more subtle than that.

    As an Extreme Programming advocate from 1998 – I could show you the restaurant in St James where Tim Mackinnon told me all about it having just returned from OOPSLA in the States – and having been a follower of Tom Gilb’s pioneering evolutionary delivery ideas before that, since coming across Tom through Reuters in 1986, I am very committed to the need to “refactor mercilessly” to improve the quality of code as you go along, solving real-world problems. (Google is your friend during the reading of this paragraph and the next.)

    If you just focus on solving real-world problems without refactoring you begin to accumulate ‘technical debt’ in Ward Cunningham’s brilliant phrase. Ferguson without question had oodles of technical debt in his codebase. He and the country would have greatly benefited from him having listened to Ward and friends. And the reason such untidiness of code matters is that it inhibits and delays you solving the next real-world problem in a reliable manner.

    These are some of the very good lessons to be learned from the current debacle.

    However, I’m not sure it’s as simple as saying “the initial decision to impose lockdown to control the effects of COVID-19 was based on a conjecture or model that has now been tested against real data and is found to be wanting”. What were the behavioural guys saying on SAGE? And then Cummings feeding in to Cabinet and the PM? It was more than the model that determined UK policy.

    The funny thing about reading Delingpole calling people bedwetters is that he reads that way to me sometimes. There were hard tradeoffs here and there still are, not least because the public shows through polling and its actions that it’s not convinced by Delingpolian bravado. Maturity also means not pissing ourselves at that aspect of reality.


  66. What a beautiful response Brad to my little mimsy about missing ‘e’s. Returned, as always with interest.

    Liked by 2 people

  67. My pleasure, Alan. It was that, or tell you the disturbing news from the States. I’m told Big State in Oklahoma (as distinct from Texas), where I have an aunt and uncle, has finally used the Trojan horse of COVID-19 as a stalking horse for its old hobbyhorse: the criminalization of the outdoor clothesline.

    In Oklafrackinghoma! Where a summer’s day is likened to a Housewife’s Best Friend—it blowdries your sundries and sundries your tomatos in under an hour. Whither the Quayles migrate each winter! And the trigger-shy citizenry just lets it happen. What is the saying about he, or indeed him, who would trade liberty for security?

    Liked by 2 people

  68. More from Delingpole here:

    As well as quoting and giving links to further substantial criticism of the Ferguson code (e.g.’The pandemic model used by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to justify Britain’s ongoing lockdown policy is so poor that it is ‘somewhere between negligence and unintentional but grave scientific misconduct’, a computer expert has warned.’), he draws attention to a remarkable use of the word ‘fact’ by the Primate Minister:

    ‘Boris even mentioned it in his speech on Sunday night when, attempting to justify the continuation of the lockdown, he claimed:

    “It is a fact that by adopting those measures we prevented this country from being engulfed by what could have been a catastrophe in which the reasonable worst-case scenario was half a million fatalities.”

    Interesting use of the word ‘fact’ in that sentence, Boris.’

    Where to begin?

    Liked by 3 people

  69. Hancock’s at it again. Supposedly, he was criticised by other ministers for his earlier, out of order statements (belligerently threatening to ban all outdoor exercise, for example) and he’s ‘for the chop’ once this crisis is over, but from what he’s saying, it won’t be over for a long time. Meanwhile, we have an apparent psychopath dictating the lockdown legislation. ‘No hugging friends until a vaccine or cure is found’. Apart from being based on no scientific evidence whatsoever, this is an evil thing to say, really very evil. How can such a man remain part of the government? But there again, this is turning out to be a very, very odd government. Sunak has extended the furlough scheme until end of October. They seem to want to keep the nation closed down until there is nothing left of the economy – or people’s sanity. Perhaps January 1st, 2021, will be Year Zero, when they begin to rebuild a new economy and society in the Green image.


  70. John, I think it is a fact that Boris lied to the nation. I think it is now a fact that this government has ceased to govern in the best interests of the nation; quite the opposite.

    Liked by 1 person

  71. It’s dreadful, really, really dreadful. Suicide rates are going up, excess deaths are going up, GDP is haemorrhaging % points even as we speak, mothers pic-niccing with their kids are being harrassed by neighbours, kids are feeling lonely, depressed and isolated, not able to play or go to school, businesses are going to the wall because employees won’t return from furlough holiday. What an utter shit show to ‘fight’ a virus about as dangerous as a bad seasonal ‘flu!


  72. Jaime. As someone fortunate to come out from the grip of your “bad seasonal flu” I hope, with all my heart that no one contributing here contracts this illness in its harsher manifestation.

    Liked by 3 people

  73. Amen to that Alan.

    When Jaime quoted from Lionel Shriver yesterday she omitted this paragraph:

    In 2017, the number of people who died of malaria was 620,000. That is almost all in Africa. We totally ignore it. That’s three times the number of people who’ve died of Covid-19 so far worldwide. But it’s just ordinary. They live with it. In 2018, 1.5million people died of tuberculosis. And TB is especially dangerous because it’s developing a resistance to our treatment to it. So it’s actually more terrifying than Covid-19. Again, we forget about it. Typhoid, which we think of as a disease of the past, still kills up to 160,000 people a year. Cholera is the same – it kills about 140,000 people a year. Influenza, which Covid resembles in many ways, kills up to 650,000 people every year. It took me five minutes to find those statistics. Why don’t I ever see them reported?

    I’ll answer the question. It’s because we don’t care. What about this from five years ago?

    Every year, 4.3 million people die due to the exposure to household air pollution caused by indoor open fire.

    Many of them little children dying from horrible respiratory diseases, choking to death. Ring any bells?

    They had no escape and now it’s our turn. It doesn’t seem like ‘bad seasonal flu’ to me either.

    Liked by 1 person

  74. Alan wrote: “As someone fortunate to come out from the grip of your “bad seasonal flu” I hope, with all my heart that no one contributing here contracts this illness in its harsher manifestation.”

    I think this is more an issue of a general lack of respect for the flu. The hundreds of thousands of people it incapacitates and kills every year probably think the same, but as “it’s just the flu, Bro” implies, our familiarity with it has certainly bred contempt.

    Liked by 1 person

  75. DaveJR: This person has probably experienced flu.

    Having said that, I thought Matt Ridley said something very wise at the end of his Spectator piece (Saturday edition):

    Be in no doubt that the strangulation that is asphyxiating the economy will have to be gradually lifted long before we know the full epidemiology of the virus. Perilous though the path is, we cannot wait for the fog to lift before we start down the mountain.

    I really dislike the false certainty of some, especially when there are those like Alan amongst us who have grim first-hand experience. (Happily not as grim as some others.) But, even in the uncertainty that brings, we’ll have to lift the lockdown. All power to those in Cabinet who are arguing that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  76. DaveJR. I accept your criticism and when writing my post I had it in the back of my mind. I was responding to someone who had written of a virus “about as dangerous as a bad seasonal ‘flu!” downplaying it. Bad seasonal flu is bad enough, if you have a bad reaction to Covid19 it can be devastating (as can seasonal flu). Covid 19 kills or can weaken beyond belief. A major goal of mine (attained) was to climb 11 stairs.

    Liked by 2 people

  77. Jaime:

    Hancock’s at it again. Supposedly, he was criticised by other ministers for his earlier, out of order statements (belligerently threatening to ban all outdoor exercise, for example) and he’s ‘for the chop’ once this crisis is over, but from what he’s saying, it won’t be over for a long time.

    Worth quoting that MoS piece at some length:

    Matt Hancock is living on ‘borrowed time’ as Health Secretary following clashes with the three most powerful members of the Government over the Covid crisis, The Mail on Sunday has been told.

    Mr Hancock is understood to have pleaded ‘give me a break’ when Boris Johnson reprimanded him over the virus testing programme – leading to open questioning within Downing Street over Mr Hancock’s long-term political future.

    His run-in with Mr Johnson follows battles with both Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove over the best strategy for managing the pandemic.

    And Mr Hancock has annoyed Downing Street with his tendency to come up with spur-of-the-moment policies – such as his threat last month to ban all outside exercise, which he had to climb down over almost immediately.

    One No10 source expressed irritation at what they described as ‘Hancock’s insistence on playing the big man’ during the crisis.

    It has led to the Health Secretary being likened by some to a school prefect – but one ‘who never gets to be head boy’.

    A senior Government source said: ‘The feeling is that Hancock is on borrowed time. He has fallen out with the most powerful figures in the Government, from the Prime Minister down.

    ‘Nothing will change immediately. But once we have beaten this thing, expect him to be moved.’

    As a Cabinet ‘dove’ who opposes an early relaxation of the lockdown rules, Mr Hancock has been engaged in running ideological battles with Chancellor Mr Sunak, who leads the Cabinet ‘hawks’ who are keen to pull the economy out of its Covid-inflicted nosedive as soon as possible.

    Although allies of both men insist they share the same aim of saving lives while protecting the economy, there is little doubt that they differ about how to achieve it – and have had ‘robust’ exchanges on the matter.

    Mr Hancock has also made the mistake of crossing swords with Mr Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

    The two Cabinet ministers – who each chair one of the four committees set up to tackle the virus, as well as sitting on the daily C-19 super-committee chaired by the Prime Minister, and the Cobra emergency committee – have clashed over the supply of ventilators and protective equipment.

    Mr Gove was described by one colleague as being ‘much more across the detail’ than Mr Hancock – and ‘not shy about displaying it’.

    ‘Much more across the detail and not shy about displaying it’. I liked that.

    How long he stays depends how one defines ‘once we have beaten this thing’.

    That’s where Matt Ridley’s warning comes in: that we’re never going to be certain.


  78. Alan, in no way did I say that Covid-19 was comparable to the ‘flu. It clearly is not. Across the population as a whole though, it is about as lethal as the ‘flu. This does not detract from your nasty experience of having suffered a serious reaction to a virus which is significantly different from the ‘flu virus in its effect upon the body. But no doubt anybody who has suffered a severe case of respiratory bacterial pneumonia contracted as a direct result of having been infected with the ‘flu virus will argue that that too is really not very nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  79. “Across the population as a whole though, it is about as lethal as the ‘flu.”

    You sure about that? Remind me, how long have we had experience of the annual flu, so called, and how many full years have we had to gain experience of Covid-19? Pre-vaccine and post-vaccine?

    If you happen to be wrong in your evaluation in May 2020, what do you think the cost in lives will have been by May 2021 and May 2022?

    It sounds over-confident to me. I prefer Ridley’s emphasis: “Be in no doubt that the strangulation that is asphyxiating the economy will have to be gradually lifted long before we know the full epidemiology of the virus.” Note the ‘gradually’. Note the absence of ‘right now’ and ‘completely’. Note the lack of ‘blood on their hands’ and similar melodrama. Note, above all, the uncertainty about how much we’ll know, some time in the future, let alone now, about the “the full epidemiology of the virus”.

    A big reason it matters to me is that I think Matt’s approach is much more likely to persuade decision makers, in cabinet and elsewhere, to do the right thing – albeit carefully and gradually. I care about this country in which I live so I care about what is most persuasive. I know there are some who insist they don’t care who they persuade. I say baloney, They should care. And I really don’t believe that they don’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  80. My journalistic hero, and the next big media star (I seem to be bucking a bigger consensus than AGW deniers), John Ziegler, has been very public spirited in pushing back against California governor Gavin Newsom:

    At the end of this interview, he says he fully expects to be arrested before it’s all over:

    Liked by 2 people

  81. Richard, no, I’m not sure about that. It is difficult to assess the true infection fatality rate of Covid-19 because of the lack of testing. In the community, Covid is likely to be much less lethal than it is in hospitals and care homes, which is where most deaths have occurred and been acquired. Whereas ‘flu in the community can hit children hard, Covid-19 has virtually no impact whatsoever on healthy children or young adults. So it’s difficult to compare and in that respect my comparison with ‘flu can perhaps justifiably be criticised as overly simplistic. The point remains however, that Covid-19, in the community, is likely no more dangerous than a ‘flu epidemic, maybe less dangerous. It is far more lethal in the hospital and care-home environments among the vulnerable and elderly and probably a lot more dangerous than seasonal ‘flu. Very much a tale of two environments.

    I could be wrong but I doubt that when Matt says restrictions should be gradually lifted, he envisages anything quite so slow and tortuous as the current ‘exit strategy’, which will see most of the economy locked down well into summer or even beyond, causing immense social and economic damage, almost certainly costing ultimately more lives than it saves.

    Liked by 2 people

  82. Thanks for the link Jaime –
    “Carbon Brief’s analysis finds that:
    Since 1850, almost all the long-term warming can be explained by greenhouse gas emissions and other human activities.
    If greenhouse gas emissions alone were warming the planet, we would expect to see about a third more warming than has actually occurred. They are offset by cooling from human-produced atmospheric aerosols.
    Aerosols are projected to decline significantly by 2100, bringing total warming from all factors closer to warming from greenhouse gases alone.
    Natural variability in the Earth’s climate is unlikely to play a major role in long-term warming.”

    so lets all help by pumping “human-produced atmospheric aerosols” to save the planet.

    ps – does hair spray count?

    Liked by 1 person

  83. Richard, hurrah for balance, for admitting what we don’t know, for not focusing on blame (especially of individuals, when many nations have acted similarly).

    Jaime (now): “Across the population as a whole though, it is about as lethal as the ‘flu.”
    Richard (now): “You sure about that? Remind me, how long have we had experience of the annual flu, so called, and how many full years have we had to gain experience of Covid-19? Pre-vaccine and post-vaccine?
    If you happen to be wrong in your evaluation in May 2020, what do you think the cost in lives will have been by May 2021 and May 2022?
    It sounds over-confident to me. I prefer Ridley’s emphasis…”
    Jaime (21st Feb): “We know for sure it is lethal, much more lethal than ‘flu, so if it is a lot more contagious than presumed, then it will still end up killing lots of people. In fact, it’s probably a preferable scenario that the lethality is 3.4%, but the transmissibility remains a lot lower than ‘flu. This would make it much easier to contain.”
    Jaime (10th March): “It looks like this virus is highly contagious. The government is doing next to nothing to contain its spread, unlike in China. They might personally regret that decision. Lack of containment will mean that it moves quickly through the country and my guess is that many people are already unknowingly infected. The crucial issue is the lethality and the hospital admission rate. If – as appears to be the case – the mortality rate is an order of magnitude greater than ‘flu and likewise cases requiring admission to hospital are very much greater, then the country is in for a very nasty shock. Health services will be quickly overwhelmed and even more people will die as a result of lack of available medical care.”
    Jaime (5th May): “Boris Johns-On, Han-cock and Fergus-On want to turn Britain into the PRC (People’s Republic of Covid) for the foreseeable future to ‘fight’ a disease which cannot be beaten, which is rather less dangerous than they have made it out to be.”

    It’s not that speculation and opinions are invalid at different stages of the evolution of this thing over the 11.5 weeks since Feb 21st or 9 weeks since Mar 10th, of course not. But that any of them can be said ‘for sure’, or even without caveat (e.g. “it is about as lethal as the flu”), or even with a caveat (‘if’, at 10th March) that is nevertheless overwhelmed by the emotive weight of the rest of the text, all just comes across over-confident, and in the longer term partially contradictory despite I know the intent is absolutely the best. Many experts are still in contention about such things, and indeed part of this is even whether the apples and oranges can actually be closely compared. A couple more months may make another big difference, never mind a year or two out. I don’t think high confidence is where we should be, on any side by any persons.

    Liked by 1 person

  84. Andy, thanks for harvesting my comments. My opinions have evolved along with the evidence, but guilty as charged for expressing, on certain occasions, unwarranted confidence. I can confidently say now though that the number of dead bodies is nowwhere near what Imperial estimated, even with their mortality estimate of 0.9%. 60,000 should be dead in Sweden by now. In actuality, there have been just 3000 deaths. The inescapable conclusion is that Covid-19 is not as dangerous as originally estimated, when lockdowns were imposed. Richard appears to be implying that caution should be exercised in case, given time, dead bodies do start piling up and this necessarily invokes the concept of a ‘second wave’, perhaps more deadly thn the first (or is it the second?) which is also a hotly contested subject, even among experts.

    Liked by 2 people


    Thanks, yes. They can only attribute all warming since 1850 to anthropogenic emissions if they assume that aerosols cause significant cooling, in particular, that aerosols caused the mid 20th century cooling. That is by no means certain and, as I’ve pointed out, the current lack of pollution, particularly in the NH, should be a good test of this theory that aerosols are a significant radiative forcing of climate. So far, we have the second largest 2 month drop in temperature in the entire UAH series since 1979, coincident with a large decline in emissions of CO2 and anthropogenic aerosols. Betts says the drop in CO2 will have no detectable influence on climate. He doesn’t say much about why it is apparently cooling sharply in the NH when, according to man-made climate change theory, we might expect it to be warming, even briefly, given the lack of aerosols.


  86. Jaime. One small correction. The Covid virus does affect young adults. It may not kill them, but it will transform some into rag dolls for weeks if not months. I saw quite a few 30 year-olds in my ward. With one exception they were always in better condition than I was, but to see someone 40years my junior staggering 15 metres to a shower, is upsetting.
    I admit to real bias about this damned virus, and freely admit that it conifers upon me no special knowledge about how this infestation should be countered. It does, however, cause my hackles to rise if, rightly or wrongly, I perceive Covid 19 is being underrated. I have suffered from seasonal flu (before the annual inoculations), this virus has been much worse for me.

    Liked by 2 people

  87. Safetyism is the new socialism – and the new Conservatives are loving it.


  88. But safetyists can never make a mistake because, naturally, you can never be too safe. Hence the government will never admit to making a mistake.


  89. Weirdly here in korea there was no talk of models when we locked down. Just common sense. Same in china. Jan 22 they handed out masks, jan 23 did a proper lockdown. Smart. Prepared. Jan 24 beijing airport. Every one was masked up and ready for the worst. N95 was about 50 cents. Fakes were less of course. Ship those to dummies

    Liked by 1 person

  90. Morning Alan, hope you are feeling better each day. I did qualify my statement by saying ‘healthy young children and adults’. The statistics bear my comments out. If people have pre-existing conditions, however, they are more likely to be severely affected by Covid, even younger adults. But there is some suggestion that viral load and repeated exposure can increase the risk of developing more severe symptoms.


  91. Mosh, S Korea learned from SARS, as did other SE Asian nations. It might also be the case that, having been widely exposed to SARS, Asian nationals have developed some degree of resistance to SARS-2, but that’s just a theory.


  92. Re the Climate Realists puzzle linked to by Jaime at 8:18 am, 13th May. Seven weeks of reduced emissions (from whatever source) in the northern hemisphere would not be expected to show up in the Mauna Loa observations by now. Roughly speaking, the tropospheric air in each of two hemispheres (N & S) are well-mixed within a few weeks in each hemisphere but it can take a few years to get good mixing between the hemispheres. Back in the 1970s, I think we thought two to five years were required for that. I have a paper in the house from 1962 which supports that (Jung, 1962, Tellus 14:2, 242-246. DOI: 10.3402/tellusa.v14i2.9543 ). But I note that a more recent view is that it takes about a year for changes in one hemisphere to be detected in the other, but that may be well short of a thorough mixing (e.g.

    Re ailments. I have experienced bronchitis a few times, influenza a couple of times when much younger, pneumonia twice, and an acute asthmatic event once a few years ago None are much fun, but the asthma one was easily the worst, while the pneumonia bouts were strangely peaceful at times – just being totally zonked and occasionally quite conscious. So, I might well be a ‘Vulnerable’ on more than age grounds, and I do not fancy catching this new CV! But despite this, I do agree with Jaime that overall, so far, for most people this CV seems likely to be no big deal.

    Liked by 1 person

  93. Re: CO2 levels in the atmosphere

    The annual cycle has nothing to do with the long term trend, so this is a massive red herring that sceptics should not get excited about.


  94. Sorry, been busy and only just looked at this thread, for the first time since my last comment (12 May 20 at 8:57 pm). What an excellent effort, everyone, thanks. (I speak as the poor sucker who began the thread.) A few short responses.

    Alan: Please continue to write from your experience. We all realise it’s anecdotal. Every tragic death is also anecdotal. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

    Andy: Thank you for all your contributions.

    Jaime: I agree with you that Matt Ridley almost certainly would prefer HMG to lift the lockdown quicker than they are in fact likely to do so. But Matt also realises he doesn’t have to deal with entities like the teachers’ unions and a whole host of other things. That in my reading is why he is pretty gentle in his words. Well, that and the fact he sits in the House of Lords as a Tory peer!

    Mosh: Really nice to see you. As a Google Maps user for sat nav when I was still doing nav, surely much better than what we had before? But I’m not really a major defender of Ms Denim. The known and much reviled person Professor Neil Ferguson vs an anonymous attacker with all the wisdom accruing to her after the event? Not really my bag. As mentioned on another thread I fall back on my settled view of about 38 years development (allowing myself just two as obnoxious know-it-all young coder) to Woody:

    Your point about the lack of mention of modelling in S Korea and China seems really important. Common sense depends on shared history. In SE Asia they’ve had plenty more than us of SARS-type threats, until now. Attempts at modelling were rightly seen as irrelevant. All the best to them and to yourself.


  95. “Mosh, S Korea learned from SARS, as did other SE Asian nations. It might also be the case that, having been widely exposed to SARS, Asian nationals have developed some degree of resistance to SARS-2, but that’s just a theory.”

    Really? they learned from SARS! Imagine that!!!!. You mean all those MERS deaths in 2015 taught them nothing?

    I have traveled to Korea since 1987, lived here for several years, and studied the history of epidemics here. Do you want to discuss the role Confucianism played in the control of the late 18th-century measle outbreaks? or the palace records for the kings private medicines distributed to the poor during that outbreak?

    Psst, your theory about resistance is wrong.

    Yes Korea learned from SARS 15+ years ago as did China and HK. Even to this day as you travel back and forth from China to Korea you will subject to different health screenings base on the Chinese province you come from. get caught lying on you health screening, costs about 10K.

    So when the virus broke out in China and WHO was alerted the first order of business was to check the HK response. By Jan 4 HK already acted when the government declared a “serious response level” quickly the disease was added to the notification list.

    What that told me in China was, get ready to run. On the 22th of Jan, they started handing out masks at work. No mask, no work. On the 22nd the hotels started disinfecting round the clock in Beijing
    and also passing out masks to guest. On the 23rd, they welded Wuhan shut, and I beat feet.

    Why? well because the actions spoke louder than any words or models. And because If you ignore
    something with exponential potential you are begging to be schooled for your doubt and complacency.
    and schooled hard.

    At PEK every person was masked up. At the airport in Seoul , the airport had already been reconfigured
    for two different types of entry: Those from China and those not from china and you were subject to
    an enhanced temperature check ( more than normal thermal cameras set up).
    After landing in Seoul I went an got a 200K UI vitamin D shot. Don’t ask why read the literature.

    Modeling exponential processes is no fun ( hey that’s part of what I do every day). because tiny mistakes
    make huge impacts. These lessons come away from any modeling exercise on exponentials.
    1. Speed is critical.
    2. you do NOT want the worse case to happen.
    3. Your model will be wrong and no one will appreciate the difficultly involved.
    4. None of the critics can do better.

    During the First week of Feb as I worked remotely with Beijing the same topic came up.
    What will America do when this gets to the USA? My answer? They will fuck it up because
    they cannot act quickly , somebody will always debate everything. They will question the numbers,
    question the experts, shit on science, shit on common sense, ignore what works in other places.

    its called exceptionalism. It cuts 2 ways. exceptionally good and tragically bad.

    I had to travel to the US for a day in early Feb. Of course flying out of Korea the screening to LEAVE
    the country was intensified. Everyone masked up, hand sanitizer everywhere. When I got to the USA
    the airport procedure was a joke. Crowds of unmasked folks who either didn’t know or “knew better”
    Was I asked about my time in China and Korea? Nope. Was my temperature taken? Nope.
    taxi driver asks me “why the mask bro?” same with the American I met with. Anyway, flew back to
    Seoul, I’m the only one on the plane wearing a mask. Idiots

    Months later I just did another flight to the USA. it is still fucked up. people still don’t get the basics.
    Models are wrong, but they are the best thing you have to tell you the one thing you need to know.

    act fast.

    now, around mid Feb I started to try to explain this shit to people on WUWT. The USA was at 68 cases
    and “0” deaths. ( of course smart people knew the deaths had already happened or would hit within
    days) what was the reaction? 68 cases 0 deaths? oh Mosh this is another climate scare.

    Now that there are actually more dead bodies and not just statistical ones what is the reaction?
    doubt the death count. slam the models, blah blah blah.

    Simple truth.

    1. it doesn’t matter how many or how few people die, someone somewhere will formulate a reason
    to discount it.
    2. people will never learn from the pain of others, they need to suffer the blow directly.
    3. if the models where perfect, someone will find a way to object.
    4. if re opening leads to more deaths or less deaths, those numbers will be questioned.
    5. Some people will not even learn from their own pain.


  96. “Mosh: Really nice to see you. As a Google Maps user for sat nav when I was still doing nav, surely much better than what we had before? ”

    Thats funny.

    She had her hands on BOTH Gmail and Maps.

    Now, having suffered through both of those I find her in no position to anonymously slam
    someone else’s code.

    That’s the point.

    As for the defense, “its better than what we had before” Pretty sure Imperial college would avail themselves of the same defense.

    There is no excuse for bad code and no excuse for ignoring common sense about epidemics.
    the unknown is NOT YOUR FRIEND

    Any way

    as for modeling I am still trying to get some people to “own”
    the mistakes they made when they tried to model Korea and lowballed shit.
    Lowballers always escape scrutiny in this business.

    I just go back to mid Feb when the US was at 68 cases and zero deaths. And most skeptics
    were asking where are the dead bodies. If you asked them to predict they would say

    A) no way to know
    B) some really low number

    Who fucked up more? The guy who predicted 10 million, or the lowballer guy who said 0 bodies, nothing to worry about move on.

    Common sense from working with exponentials? Act fast or prepare for a long fucking lesson
    administered by an unrelenting schoolmaster


  97. Mosh:

    She had her hands on BOTH Gmail and Maps.

    Now, having suffered through both of those I find her in no position to anonymously slam someone else’s code.

    Team sizes on those two projects, and changes within them over time, are such, I assume, that whatever defects you felt you found in either are surely hard to pin on one person?

    I think that weakness in your argument is a pity, because I too find her in no position to anonymously slam someone else’s code, by dint of her being a human being.

    As for the defense, “its better than what we had before” Pretty sure Imperial college would avail themselves of the same defense.

    I’m sure they would. But free consumer products like Gmail and Google Maps are a different kettle of fish from software that is going to be used to influence government policy. Very very different.

    I have a lot of time for the rest of what you say. Thanks again for turning up!


  98. You can always rely upon Mosh to be sarcastic/aggressive in his responses where a sarc-aggressive response is not really needed.

    “Mosh, S Korea learned from SARS, as did other SE Asian nations. It might also be the case that, having been widely exposed to SARS, Asian nationals have developed some degree of resistance to SARS-2, but that’s just a theory.”

    Really? they learned from SARS! Imagine that!!!!. You mean all those MERS deaths in 2015 taught them nothing?”

    Well OK, yeah, S Korea did suffer from an outbreak of MERS in 2015 – 184 cases and 38 deaths. A zoonosis probably transmitted to humans by camels, it came from Arabia, where the vast majority of cases (1029) and deaths (452) occurred.

    SARS, on the other hand, also originated in China (like Sars-2) and affected mainly SE Asian countries, including S Korea. Hence my comparison. But by all means feel free to have a pop at me for not mentioning another disease which was not quite so significant in SE Asia as was SARS.

    “Psst, your theory about resistance is wrong.”

    It wasn’t my theory. I just happened to mention it in passing.

    Liked by 1 person

  99. Mosh,
    I’m with Richard in greatly appreciating your contribution here. It is a well-informed and a valuable reminder of the importance of timely action However, before we get too critical regarding the sceptIcs’ preoccupation with models and their limitations one should allow for an important fact. Lacking the cultural, psychological or technical capacity to deal with the looming crisis, the UK fell back on being ‘led by the science’. This turned out to involve reliance upon code of questionable quality. Safety is not just about closing the gap between actual capability and required capability, it is often more about the gap existing between actual capability and perceived capability. Evidence is emerging that this latter gap was cavernous when it came to the UK. I think it is inevitable that criticism aimed at highlighting this gap will come across as churlish, particularly when it comes from those amongst the sceptical community who suggest they could have done better.

    Also, when the ‘cure’ is so potentially damaging, I think it is only to be expected that there will be those who are perhaps too keen to downplay the disease. Either way, we are where we are. Now we just need to work out how to get back home with the minimum of further casualties. To the extent that this requires us to be led by models, we should remain afraid, perhaps very afraid.

    Liked by 3 people

  100. Jaime,
    I could afford to be more magnanimous towards Mosh because I had not been the subject of his scorn. Your response is justified.

    Liked by 2 people

  101. I may be wrong but I don’t remember you mentioning the NHS administrations (trusts) before in seeking to lay blame for what’s gone wrong in the UK Jaime. These responses to the tweet you just showed are I think pretty interesting, not least because Foxgoose is a veteran climate sceptic from Bishop Hill days:

    This line of argument would not I assume go down well with my sister (who trained in dietetics and has worked a lot in NHS adminstration as well as in other, tech startup contexts). Beyond this one family, it is going to be incredibly divisive within the nation as a whole. But I believe the questions have to be asked, not just of the government, and past governments who laid the UK plans for epidemics, or one modeller they may have put too much trust in (note I don’t feel that I even know that as a fact) but of what Foxgoose calls a monolithic, ponderous, state bureaucracy.

    I also believe that the blame apportioning should mostly be done after the event. I’m sure that makes me a popular guy. And that’s what has always motivated me: being popular 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  102. On a lighter note, this was my comment about Dr Lew’s Recursive Fury paper on Climate Audit on Aug 2, 2013:

    “many of the comments do not support the supposed “conspiracy” meme that they are listed under”

    Some of them do not support the supposed author of the supposed conspiracy meme. The only text attributed to me – number 22 – was actually written by Foxgoose. I didn’t check any others, so impressed was I with the accuracy in my case.

    I’ve always felt this makes Foxgoose and myself blood brothers in our ongoing fight.

    Liked by 2 people

  103. Richard,

    I’m not really that interested in apportioning blame or even playing the blame game now, or afterwards. I just want people to wake up to what is going down, now, and what nightmares are being stored up for the future, because of the irresponsible actions of this government and others. Dellers sees all too clearly the massive miscalculation of our Chancellor who only a month ago was being hailed as a suave super hero and a potential future PM. It looks like he’s caved totally to socialist doctrine. If anybody thinks that the NHS is not going to be massively impacted in its ability to tend to the health of the nation directly as a result of this insane lockdown, they are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. More deaths. More grinding poverty. More sickness.

    Liked by 3 people

  104. Jaime: point taken. I’m not reading much – Twitter, blogs, Delingpole, anything really. I’m meant to be doing other things. But that thread on Twitter I did think was interesting as a pointer of where the post mortems might end up.

    Liked by 2 people

  105. Jaime,

    Steven said “That’s funny”. Every time Steven reminds us how much we sceptics amuse him, I can’t help but think of The Goodfellas:

    “Funny how? I mean, funny like I’m a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh? I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? How da fuck am I funny? What da fuck is so funny about me? Tell me. Tell me what’s funny.”

    Liked by 2 people

  106. John,

    > Oh dear! The government has a new slogan: Stay alert, Control the virus, Save lives’.
    > How about: Stay in power, Control the people, Save our careers.

    In the wake of 9-11, the Australian government resorted to the ultimate emergency measure provided for in our Constitution: the use of fridge magnets.

    Every household on the continent received in the mail a reassuring and attractive (physically, if not aesthetically) reminder to ‘Be Alert, Not Alarmed.’ The slogan is now so famous it will be paid tribute to in the year 2045, when the Future of the Climate Debate begins to end.

    Was it successful, as an anti-terror campaign? It’s always hard to say, even—or especially—in hindsight. No doubt alertness levels were raised somewhat, from a very low baseline, and perhaps alarm was even mitigated. But it obviously wasn’t enough to prevent another September 11. To do that, would take the kind of aggressive calendar reform nobody since Gregory or Napoleon has had the vision to carry out.

    Liked by 3 people

  107. > You can always rely upon Mosh to be sarcastic/aggressive in his responses where a sarc-aggressive response is not really needed.

    Great minds are slavishly conformist, as they say. Just yesterday (today, your time) I twoth the Mosh:

    I appreciate your advice—even the bits I already know, and the stuff that isn't strictly applicable—but do you HAVE to marinate it so thickly in unpleasantness? I *could* give as good as I get but it's fucking exhausting. I hoped we were past this by now.— Climate Nuremberg (@BradPKeyes) May 13, 2020


  108. On a more serious note, the awareness I hoped for is happening:

    “At a briefing hosted by the Science Media Centre on 12 May he explained that, over the past five weeks, care homes and other community settings had had to deal with a “staggering burden” of 30 000 more deaths than would normally be expected, as patients were moved out of hospitals that were anticipating high demand for beds.

    Of those 30 000, only 10 000 have had covid-19 specified on the death certificate. While Spiegelhalter acknowledged that some of these “excess deaths” might be the result of underdiagnosis, “the huge number of unexplained extra deaths in homes and care homes is extraordinary. When we look back . . . this rise in non-covid extra deaths outside the hospital is something I hope will be given really severe attention.”

    He added that many of these deaths would be among people “who may well have lived longer if they had managed to get to hospital.”

    Just one third of deaths in care homes and homes have Covid 19 on the death certificate. That means 20,000 people – and counting – might be dead because we ‘saved the NHS’.


  109. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, not my most admired journalist, is also scathing of the government:

    “British exceptionalism has brought an exceptional outcome. We have both an eye-watering number of avoidable deaths and a staggering amount of avoidable economic damage. The purported trade-off between lives and jobs – always a false choice – has instead spared neither. It is the worst of both.

    Boris Johnson is in a sense right to resist calls for a premature lifting of containment measures. The fissures within the four nations of the union would become dangerous if he did otherwise. This determination to see it through is becoming his Churchillian test but it is not the fight he expected and it does not obscure the long list of errors that led to this unhappy pass. There should never have been a lockdown in the first place.”

    It’s funny, because he too makes the cardinal error of not mentioning MERS either, even though his grandchild is a Korean citizen:

    “Personally, I have been a “Koreanist” from the start. (Perhaps because my only grand-child is a Korean citizen, is safely in Seoul now, and I am biased). They had the advantage of the SARS epidemic as a trial run.”


  110. “Team sizes on those two projects, and changes within them over time, are such, I assume, that whatever defects you felt you found in either are surely hard to pin on one person?”

    did she speak up?
    did she write an anonymous post slamming her co workers to warn folks?
    nope, not that I can find.
    She USED her purported effort on those projects as a form of credentialism.
    live by the sword, die by it.

    or to put the argument differently, since the high quality of Gmail and gmap is down to a team effort
    doesn’t she try to use a team effort as her personal bonafides?


  111. “I’m sure they would. But free consumer products like Gmail and Google Maps are a different kettle of fish from software that is going to be used to influence government policy. Very very different.”

    that you are not charged, does not make it free, except in the most pedestrian meaning of the word.
    Ya, they did not extract money from you to use it. That’s because they take something else.

    Liked by 1 person

  112. “You can always rely upon Mosh to be sarcastic/aggressive in his responses where a sarc-aggressive response is not really needed.”

    and here I thought I was just like fred


  113. Jamie. South Korea’s Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act was enacted as a response
    to MERS in 2015, not SARS.

    And yes SARS was a good lesson for China ( a lot of fever clinics built) and HK.

    Liked by 2 people

  114. Foxgoose’s headline: “Britain sits at bottom of global league table for cancer survival rates” – blatantly untrue.

    “creaking Stalinist relic”: a stupid thing to say. I suppose he never has cause to use the NHS. Idiot.

    A few weeks ago people were clamouring to be led to safety. Now they are clamouring to be let out. Isn’t hindsight wonderful…?

    @ Jaime why would the care home death certificates mention coronavirus unless the victims had been tested? The top cause of death in the UK is dementia, and who really dies of that? The question re: care homes is whether we now have a series of months where the death rates are below normal, i.e. if the names of those who died had already been written in the Death Note.

    It is inarguable that a 100% lockdown was the right call at some point along the way. Probably in Wuhan would have been a good shout. The cost would have been trivial and the benefit – well, unknowable at that stage, but clearly high with the potential to crush the virus at the start. The trouble with our lockdown as instituted is that it can only be temporary, and the threat will still be there when it is lifted.

    The blame for all this can be laid at the Communist Party of China, not Boris. Gawd knows I’m no fan of his, but c’mon.

    Liked by 2 people

  115. “However, before we get too critical regarding the sceptIcs’ preoccupation with models and their limitations one should allow for an important fact. Lacking the cultural, psychological or technical capacity to deal with the looming crisis, the UK fell back on being ‘led by the science’.”

    yes, tragically they fell back on on the science rather than trusting your hunches?

    Seriously, faced with an epidemic, policy makers have a limited number of choices for how
    to base their decisions.

    should they
    1. fall back on common sense?
    2. Their own personal opinion?
    3. Public opinion polls?
    4. Influential donors ideas?
    5. Art?
    6. feelings?
    7. tea leaves?
    8. the bible? koran? the analects of Confucius ?
    9. economic models?
    10. science?
    11. blog comments?


    Well common sense was ruled out. Common sense told you on or about Feb 15th what was required
    to squash the epidemic. On Jan 24th a corridor was placed around Wuhan, no going in or coming out.
    Throughout the rest of china, total lockdowns were in place. Don’t leave your house. Or limit your
    trips out to 2 times a week for groceries. From Jan 24 to Feb 15th all business was shuttered.
    Nobody could be fired. By ~12th ALL cities had peaked. As my friends in China told me.
    “we hope the rest of the world sees what it takes, we bought you some time”

    Common sense, learning from what works, told you exactly what to do. However, no one in the USA or UK would want to do “what works”. And so it falls to science to try to “engineer” a better more highly
    tuned and “optimal” response. haha.

    There was a window for CONTAINMENT. You missed that window. And that means you are left
    with 2 options: Mitigation ( flatten the curve) or let it burn. or yes some fucked up in between
    on and off path.

    You never want those two choices. You never want those choices because you have to rely on
    sciences that are largely untested and maybe UNTESTABLE in the normal “controlled testing”
    form of the concept. You never want those two choices because either path you pick is the wrong
    path. More precisely both paths will allow your critics to say “well the other path would have been better”
    Both paths lead to political firestorms. And when you face a crisis that demands community cooperation and social capital, political fighting will make both of those paths worst than they would be otherwise.

    Modeling this type of thing is a nightmare, but in the end someone has to do it. In reality code quality is the least of your concerns ( this is known as verification). your code could be of the highest commercial quality, of the highest critical system quality ( like quad redundant aircraft code ) and it would still
    be wrong. and tragically wrong, either too optimistic or too pessimistic. ( this is known as validation)

    And that’s because the core drivers are not known until you are through the epidemic. The attack rate is not known, the fatality rate and demographic conditionals are not known, the agent networks are not known, the contact distributions are not known. All the key variables that drive the outcomes are not
    known. And still you are expected to make your best judgment and register that judgment as an assumption in the model. We think R0 is around 2.5, for example. We think school closure will do X,
    we think… blah blah blah.

    We face a similar issue in war simulation or war modeling. Of course no one complains about that.
    If folks like I will tell them how war simulations are used to make policy decisions worth trillions.
    Uncheckable models, massive assumptions, no way to validate, but the best tool we have for the job.

    Modelling is simply a way to codify what you know and what you have to assume. And compute as best you can the outcome space. That outcome space can only prevent policymakers from making
    the worst decisions.

    For example: In selling weapons to Korea in the past I would brief them on the following

    A) suppose china attacks
    B) suppose they attack with their current aircraft
    C) suppose you defend with your current aircraft.
    D) suppose your weapons are 50% effective.
    E) you lose before the USA can help you.

    The worst thing you can do Korea is not prepare for this challenge.

    No one in the Ministry of defense, actually considered my body counts as predictions.
    They know what models are good for. They know all my assumptions. So they ask

    1. What if China has better planes? I answer. I have assumptions for that too.
    2. What if we upgrade 50% of our fleet? I have assumptions for that to.

    And so they get ranges of outcomes. With a goal. Avoid obvious mistakes.

    When designing new weapons to defend our freedom we do the same kind of modeling.
    Pure speculation. untestable, unverifiable speculation, rendered in numbers that are traceable
    to assumptions and expert judgment. Not facts and data because there are no facts and data about
    the future. And past facts about war and epidemics are limited and highly contingent. For example,
    data about past wars will almost always lead you to failure. If You think the next war will be like the last,
    you are most assuredly wrong.

    Here is the challenge to model critics. First, the math is not hard. Even an English major gets it.
    There are open source models ( google FRED epidemics)

    1. Take that model.
    2. Turn the clock back to feb.
    3. Knowing what was knowable THEN in feb, do a better job than Imperial.

    It is possible to do a better job than Imperial, but it has nothing to do with the code quality.

    Liked by 1 person

  116. “It wasn’t my theory. I just happened to mention it in passing.”

    there is a theory we are just brains in a vat.

    it’s not my theory, I just mention it in passing.!!!

    There is also a theory that Marlowe wrote Shakespeares stuff.

    I just mention that in passing.!!

    there a lot of theories I could mention in passing. There is treasure buried at Oak Island?
    there were two gunmen on the grassy knoll!

    I don’t know about about you but I rarely mention dumbshit theories in passing.

    A) because they are stupid
    B) because they are not on topic.
    C) because I don’t want to create confusion or trigger nuts who believe in dumbshit theories
    D) because I don’t want anyone thinking I might endorse dumbshit theories
    E) because I try not to throw random shit into posts

    look a squirrel


  117. I’m sorry, Steven, but I stopped reading when I got to the bit where you said ‘your hunches’. Since you can’t possibly have the first clue what my ‘hunches’ are I thought it was safe to assume that the remainder of your comment must be bullshit. Let’s just call it a hunch.

    Liked by 1 person

  118. ah good, mission accomplished.
    For me, when I see your byline I always read on, since laughter is good medicine.

    Liked by 1 person

  119. Yet Steve still mentions in passing that the state of climate science is rock solid and justifies the public policies being imposed as if that isn’t fulfilling each point he claims to avoid:,
    “A) because they are stupid
    B) because they are not on topic.
    C) because I don’t want to create confusion or trigger nuts who believe in dumbshit theories
    D) because I don’t want anyone thinking I might endorse dumbshit theories
    E) because I try not to throw random shit into posts”

    Liked by 2 people

  120. John. On hunches : I usually listen intensely/read these because they usually comprise incompletely worked out logical conclusions that give a good idea of a person’s future thinking. I believe much attention has been paid by the military to the significance of hunches in military planning.

    Liked by 1 person

  121. JIT,

    “@ Jaime why would the care home death certificates mention coronavirus unless the victims had been tested?”

    Because curret protocol permits Covid to be put on the death certificate even if the victim is not tested but suspected to be suffering from the virus.

    “It is inarguable that a 100% lockdown was the right call at some point along the way.”

    It is inarguable on that the spread of the disease would have been controlled if a full lockdown had been instituted very early, even before cases started appearing. The only practical use of such a measure would be to allow time for preparation when things are opened up again. Waiting for the pandemic to burn itself out or a vaccine to be produced would obviously be nuts..

    “The blame for all this can be laid at the Communist Party of China, not Boris. Gawd knows I’m no fan of his, but c’mon.”

    As I said, I’m not that interested in playing the blame game. CCP is responsible for the emergence of the virus, almost definitely. The government’s bungled response has done more damage than good, probably an awful lot more harm than good, and continues to do so, because they seem to be pathologically unable to admit they got it wrong.


  122. Steven,

    “I don’t know about about you but I rarely mention dumbshit theories in passing.

    A) because they are stupid
    B) because they are not on topic.
    C) because I don’t want to create confusion or trigger nuts who believe in dumbshit theories
    D) because I don’t want anyone thinking I might endorse dumbshit theories
    E) because I try not to throw random shit into posts.”

    Actually, it comes under the general heading ‘cross immunity to human coronaviruses’. Check it out some time. It’s quite a large body of research literature, currently ongoing. Science definitely. Not settled, most certainly. Dumbshit theory, probably not.

    Liked by 1 person

  123. Steven,

    How very droll. Oscar Wilde will be turning in his grave.

    But let us talk about hunches. In my capacity as a functional safety analyst advising the UK government on the required safety integrity level of a computer system they were procuring, I had occasion to examine a safety analisys produced by consultants in their employment. Everyone’s hunch was that the answer should be SIL 1 but, the government would not rely on hunches, they wanted to know what the model was telling them. Accordingly a model running to some 150 pages of fault tree analysis was produced, containing probabilities stated to two decimal places. At the end of all of this, the model predicted safety-related failure rates that were an order of magnitude too small to justify SIL 1. So the following statement was added on the final page of calculation:

    “In view of the uncertainties in the above calculation we now multiply by 10”

    Voila! We now had an answer that backed up the hunch. So the government started out with a hunch and ended up with ‘science’ that was no better — in fact it was a damn sight worse because no one was reading the report carefully enough to understand what had happened. The confidence in the science was misplaced.

    So I am sorry, Steven, but my direct experience professionally advising the government on such matters places me in a position where it is difficult to accept the haughty dismissal of an English major.

    Liked by 3 people

  124. And whilst I’m on here, my nearly 20 years of being a software quality assurance manager leave me ill-disposed to take a lecture from you on the difference between verification and validation, particularly one so simplistic. The whole point of opaque software that is poorly structured is that it renders both verification and validation difficult. Even my most junior of programmers would have understood that.

    Liked by 3 people

  125. In an emergency we want the policy to have some degree of success. How about comparing and contrasting Covid-19 and “climate emergency” policies? Three components spring to mind.
    1. What constitutes an “emergency”?
    2. How will policy mitigate that emergency?
    3. The KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) of success?

    To kick off, my views in brief and with respect to the UK.

    The Emergencies
    Covid-19 is an emergency in that it is a highly contagious virus that kills people in significant numbers, and makes others severely ill. The “emergency” situation is established in fact.
    No current climate change emergency exists in fact. Deaths, or property damage has not recently increased, nor is there any evidence of trends getting substantially worse. There, however, strong beliefs about an emergency situation existing. Much of this has been motivated by those wanting to create a false sense of emergency in people’s minds.

    Policy Mitigations
    The UK Coronavirus social distancing and lockdown policies are designed to stop the spread in the UK. As the virus is spread by contact each person’s adherence will protect themselves and their families. The lack of contact with others will limit the very real possibility of inadvertently infecting another, maybe causing them serious illness or death. Although it is a global pandemic, individuals all following the mitigation policy in an isolated area that is a small part of the global population will collectively will make a significant difference to that area.
    Any alleged climate emergency is caused by global greenhouse emissions. The UNIPCC believed in 2018 that to have a 66% chance of constraining warming to 2.0C emissions in 2030 need to be at least 25% lower than in 2017. For 1.5C of warming, they needed to be at least 55% lower. Yet Article 4.1 of the Paris Agreement specifically exempts developing countries from any obligation to even constrain their emissions growth. With >60% of GHG emissions & around 100% of the net growth in emissions since 1990, the exclusion of developing countries makes the targets unachievable. In comparison to this, the collective action of the UK Government as a whole, or by sub-sections of the UK population, makes no material difference. For individuals or small groups there is no basis for believing their actions will “save the planet”, or even make a significant contribution.

    Every day there are new statistics on deaths, tests, virus patients in hospitals etc. For England and Wales weekly death statistics are available. Although one needs to be clear that changes show the total trends, which may not entirely be due to policy.
    By legally declaring a Climate Emergency, KPIs based on measurements from the natural world become irrelevant. The only KPIs are meeting artificial targets and maintaining false fears.

    Liked by 2 people

  126. ‘The first step toward integrating predictive models into evidence-based policy is thorough assessment of the models’ assumptions and implementation. Reasonable skepticism about predictive models is not unscientific—and blind trust in an untested, shoddily written model is not scientific. As Socrates might have put it, an unexamined model is not worth trusting.’

    Quote from the end of this essay by an epidemiologist specialising in, of all things, bat-borne viruses:

    He was not impressed by the UK government’s supine response to the Ferguson model:

    ‘I’m a virologist, and modelling complex processes is part of my day-to-day work. It’s not uncommon to see long and complex code for predicting the movement of an infection in a population, but tools exist to structure and document code properly. The Imperial College effort suggests an incumbency effect: with their outstanding reputations, the college and Ferguson possessed an authority based solely on their own authority. The code on which they based their predictions would not pass a cursory review by a Ph.D. committee in computational epidemiology.

    Ferguson and Imperial College’s refusal of all requests to examine taxpayer-funded code that supported one of the most significant peacetime decisions in British history is entirely contrary to the principles of open science—especially in the Internet age. The Web has created an unprecedented scientific commons, a marketplace of ideas in which Ferguson’s arguments sound only a little better than “the dog ate my homework.” Worst of all, however, Ferguson and Imperial College, through both their work and their haughtiness about it, have put the public at risk. ‘

    Liked by 5 people

  127. “… since laughter is good medicine.” My father thought the same thing. Maybe that’s why most of my siblings died of tuberculosis…


  128. Except, from Steven’s perspective, it is a case of laughter being the best medicine and mockery being the best placebo.


  129. Oh look, that “dumbshit theory” of cross-immunity is now suggesting that exposure to the humble COMMON COLD (not the more deadly SARS-Cov-1) might actually be contributing to a degree of immunity to SARS-Cov-2 which might suggest another reason why the infection and death rate is declining almost universally now, regardless of economy-destroying lockdowns.


  130. I can’t believe it Jaime. Are you saying that something the incomparable and inimitable Steven Mosher called a ‘dumbshit theory’ is turning out to have some empirical support?

    I feel my own wisdom in knowing I know nothing about this area but will be grateful to learn the truth after the last peak has subsided has been substantiated again.

    But, as you say, this could help explain how Covid-19 does seem to fade away, almost independent of the political response. I may be wiser sooner. Many thanks.

    (Note I said ‘almost independent of the political response’. I think for example we could have done far better on care homes. Richard North is on Matt Hancock’s case on that – and a supine media’s – this morning.)

    Liked by 2 people

  131. Alan,

    I quite agree with your remark regarding hunches. There is indeed a lot of interest in the tactical value of intuitive thinking (i.e. Kahneman and Tversky’s System 1 thinking). Jonah Lehrer provides some excellent illustrations of your point in his book, ‘The Decisive Moment’.

    However, I don’t think that is what Steven was getting at when he accused me of preferring my hunches to the science. This was actually such an egregious misrepresentation of my position that I thought it would probably be a waste of time reading what he had to say in the rest of his comment. I have since succumbed to curiosity and have discovered that my hunch was correct It is indeed bullshit, not because it is nonsense, but because it was another one of Steven’s redundant lectures. As I tried to make clear in my follow-up, the real issue is whether there is undue faith placed in the science, i.e. the understanding that he and I share is not always shared by the policy makers. Now I may never get a proper response from Steven on this point because he seems to have signed off with a puerile put-down.

    Liked by 1 person

  132. Richard,

    Prof Sikora has been scrupulously fair and level-headed throughout this episode, often supportive of the government; but even he now is coming to the conclusion that Covid-19 has followed a natural epidemic curve and, because the populace have developed immunity a lot earlier than originally estimated, might just burn itself out. Covid-19 may return like other seasonal coronaviruses or, like SARS-Cov-1, it may just disappear, depending on how long immunity lasts and/or whether the virus mutates.

    Liked by 3 people

  133. John you are much too kind. Immediately after writing and posting my piece about hunches I reread your piece and realized I had made a right-royal mistake. You were complaining about Mosh apparently being able to devine your hunches and it was that you were rightfully complaining about. I thought you were kindly ignoring this error of mine and I left my comment unchanged, simply because (and as you agree with) hunches are an interesting facet of human thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  134. Alan,

    I wasn’t deliberately ignoring you. I was just so absorbed in my umbrage with Steven that I forgot my manners and that I owed you a reply.

    Keep on the mend.


  135. More bad news for Ferguson and his notorious code:

    Peter Hitchens is starting to feel sorry for him.

    But really, how on earth could he and his team at Imperial have got away with presenting this junk as cutting edge pandemic modelling? How on earth could the government have based such a mind-bogglingly destructive policy upon his dire code?

    “Imperial College’s modelling of non-pharmaceutical interventions for Covid-19 which helped persuade the UK and other countries to bring in draconian lockdowns will supersede the failed Venus space probe and could go down in history as the most devastating software mistake of all time, in terms of economic costs and lives lost.

    Since publication of Imperial’s microsimulation model, those of us with a professional and personal interest in software development have studied the code on which policymakers based their fateful decision to mothball our multi-trillion pound economy and plunge millions of people into poverty and hardship. And we were profoundly disturbed at what we discovered. The model appears to be totally unreliable and you wouldn’t stake your life on it.”

    “As a result, Imperial’s model is vulnerable to producing wildly different and conflicting outputs based on the same initial set of parameters. Run it on different computers and you would likely get different results. In other words, it is non-deterministic.

    As such, it is fundamentally unreliable. It screams the question as to why our Government did not get a second opinion before swallowing Imperial’s prescription.”

    I really don’t see how this government is going to back out of this. They have made one of the gravest errors in British history and, instead of admitting early that they got it wrong, they have instead doubled down on their grave error and continue to lie to the country that they got it right.

    Liked by 1 person

  136. Jaime wrote: “But really, how on earth could he and his team at Imperial have got away with presenting this junk as cutting edge pandemic modelling?”

    Assuming this isn’t a rhetorical question, it’s quite easy. No-one is interested in looking at how the sausage is made and supposed experts in their field are assumed by default to take care of all this stuff. I mean, how can someone be an “expert” if they don’t? He presents a bunch of powerpoint slides summarizing his results and that’s about it.

    Personally, I think the scientific community are far more responsible for the mess. They are the ones who effectively “promoted” the guy to his position and failed to properly scrutinize his work. It’s not like we don’t see a similar mess in other areas of science. There is no effective scrutiny or oversight.

    Liked by 1 person

  137. “How on earth could the government have based such a mind-bogglingly destructive policy upon his dire code?”

    *Most* governments have adopted a similar approach. Hence, to look for ultimate cause in the guise of a single government, or individual therein, or single scientist too when there’s a whole range of sausage makers (to borrow DJR’s metaphor) on offer and across the world too, is to miss most of the action and the likely common aspects of cause.

    Liked by 1 person

  138. seems like lockdownskeptic may have fucked up her code review.

    imagine that!


  139. “Now I may never get a proper response from Steven on this point because he seems to have signed off with a puerile put-down.”

    bad assumption.

    Having just completely my first night in quarantine, I will be back to posting.

    Here is a tip. if you have an option of Not being nose raped by a covid probe, choose that option


  140. “John. On hunches : I usually listen intensely/read these because they usually comprise incompletely worked out logical conclusions that give a good idea of a person’s future thinking. I believe much attention has been paid by the military to the significance of hunches in military planning.”

    err no.

    Every plant, every ship, every missle, all force levels, are designed and purchased based on the output of models.

    in Theatre operations? Modeled. Ask me about the modeling for desert storm. Oh sorry, you haven’t got the need to know.


  141. “So I am sorry, Steven, but my direct experience professionally advising the government on such matters places me in a position where it is difficult to accept the haughty dismissal of an English major.”

    more credentialism

    I doubt your hunches and your unverifiable claims about your hunches.

    Software quality specialist?

    Jesus. I fire guys like you on a hunch.

    Here’s a challenge go get the code that lockdown lady reviewed.

    Review her review and find the errors.

    Find the error INTRODUCED by the MS team,

    answer the question was this even Fergies code?

    answer NOPE.

    quality stuff John.


  142. Best example of shitty work by Gmail and Gmap lady

    Claim that the model gets different results run to run ! OMG!!

    clearly something a software quality manager would be all over with his hunches.

    err, it’s designed to do that.

    Now as good skeptics here, even software quality skeptics here, every one immediately

    A) Questioned Gmail lady or
    B) believed Gmail lady?

    which was it. Which of you went out to Check the checker?

    By training & experience it should have been the Software Quality guy. It should not have been the English major
    By training & experience it should have been the software quality guy who went out to check whether gmail
    lady got it right or wrong.
    What maybe he had a hunch she was right.

    man with the golden hunches!

    This is why credentialism is bad idea.

    I learned a thing or two about doing software under MIL-STD 2167A.
    Gosh who knew English majors could actually understand code and be responsible for mission critical
    stuff? who knew? Who knew they hired and fired QC people. Who knew they were currently in charge
    of QA? who knew?

    The real point. you never really know the capabilities of the person you meet on the internet.
    All you know is the argument the given.

    John, you have not given any argument of any sort about why your hunches on covid would be
    better than the worst science on covid.

    Not one argument. You give un checkable anecdotes about past glories in QA ( how thrilling!!!
    do tell us again! I was riveted! tell us again about the savage notes you added to the file!)

    So the question to you john is quite simple.

    Who or what should the government listen to and why.

    For the sake of argument please taken your geniusship out of contention since we all know
    the world would be better under King Ridgeway Hunches.


  143. Dave, Andy, I just can’t agree with your sentiments there. Yes, the academic modelling community has a lot of very, very difficult questions to answer, but the government is responsible – that, after all, is the whole idea of government. They seek the advice of the experts and it is their responsibility to enact policy based on that advice. There was alternative expert advice at the time; there was also advice on the very probable highly detrimental social and economic impacts of lockdown. They went ahead regardless and here we are today. Simply because other governments also did the same or similar does not exonerate their behaviour or explain it, even. There are many other governments which did not lock down. There’s no free lunch for Boris and his team.


  144. As usual, it seems unrelenting unpleasantness is the price we must pay for being graced-by-the-presence-of, mentally improved and generally walked-among by Mosher. Oh, sure, he may take on the form of a demi-man so as not to blow our easily-blown minds, but make no mistake: the Mosh is a demi-god; he can only visit our plane for brief and shining intervals because the mere proximity of mortals, in all our incompetence, takes so dear a toll on his qi.

    For the first time ever my children can actually tolerate contact with me, now that I have been contacted by Mosh in turn.

    Well worth the obligate nastiness, I’m sure we all agree.

    Liked by 3 people

  145. I cannot agree with Steve more “you have an option of Not being nose raped by a covid probe, choose that option”. Unfortunately to get knowledge of one’s Covidity, the nose-rape (perfect description) is a necessity.


  146. Yes, Alan, that was the main point I took away from Mosh’s latest four. All the very best to our friend in S Korea, just as to everyone, in their fight with this ‘novel’ threat. (That word still applies. The numbers are harder.)

    I’m tempted to say more on the Sue Denim debate. But not now. I strongly agree with Jaime that the government must carry the can. But fair judgment there will also take time.


  147. Steven,

    “The real point. you never really know the capabilities of the person you meet on the internet.
    All you know is the argument the given. John, you have not given any argument of any sort about why your hunches on covid would be better than the worst science on covid.”

    You’re right, I haven’t. But perhaps that is because I have not made such a claim on this thread. Why would I be offering an argument to support a claim I never made? Oh, but there was this comment I made on May 10, 6:38pm:

    “Re: Jumping to conclusions
    I have been doing nothing but jumping to conclusions since this whole thing began. Sometimes I can have formed several conclusions before breakfast. Yes, I have a theory — in fact I have several, and most of them contradict each other. I look forward to better times, when I can get back to some semblance of intellectual stability.”

    So the key thing I have said on this subject is that I have learnt not to trust my hunches on this subject.

    My comment on May 14 10:14 am to which you initially objected certainly wasn’t claiming a preference for my hunches over the ‘worst covid science’. And since it was clear that you had completely misread the intent of that comment, I attempted to clarify by reference to an episode taken from my professional experience. Admittedly, in so doing I sought to reassure you that my point had more status to it than a hunch – not an unreasonable ploy given that I stood accused of preferring hunches. For my pains, I now stand accused of ‘credentialism’. Ironically, I then had to put up with a tirade of nasty ‘my dick is bigger than your dick’ silliness from you.

    I know that your default position is that everyone you encounter on the internet who claims expertise without attaching their CV must be a lying fantasist, but please believe me when I say that my professional duties would often lead me to encounter much arrogance and hostility from fellow professionals who were only too eager to question my expert authority (I’ve even been threatened with physical violence in the boardroom). Rest assured that it quickly became water off a duck’s back. And here’s the weird thing, in my career I never got sacked once. Or do you take that claim to be just another example of unsubstantiated self-aggrandizement?

    You are right about one thing, of course. You really don’t know my credentials. A polite enquiry is all that would have been necessary.

    Liked by 4 people

  148. John,

    I feel more sorry for the people Mosh *doesn’t* fire. It’s like that time when I was in charge of the Entebbe raid, and oh dear I’ve said too much already, but anyway the moral of the story is that just because YOU lack the security clearance necessary to know how awesome I am, doesn’t mean I WASN’T present at every pivotal event in modern geopolitics, kicking ass, pulling the strings and winning Orders of the Garter, so your assumptions are spurious AT BEST, good day Sir, I said good DAY Sir!

    Liked by 3 people

  149. Steve I pity you if indeed you have never acted upon a hunch and to later realize that your decision was actually based upon strands of information that you possessed but had not had time to assemble in the reasoning part of your brain.
    As to he military, I distinctly recall in several biographies I read long ago written by second world war American Admirals operating in the Pacific that some of their decisions were largely based upon hunches – guesses based upon incomplete information – as to what their Japanese opponents would do. Yes I know they had partial knowledge based upon code breaking but this was incomplete.

    Liked by 2 people

  150. Jaime: “Dave, Andy, I just can’t agree with your sentiments there.”

    Disagreement is an important spice of life 🙂

    “There was alternative expert advice at the time…”

    Indeed. A large range of it, and all with high uncertainty, much of it conflicting, and all backed by ‘experts’ from a variety of fields. Your own advice in the early phase, was that government should be locking down like China and would regret not getting their finger out to do so sooner. And this advice might not even be wrong. There was also massive public pressure.

    “Simply because other governments also did the same or similar does not exonerate their behaviour or explain it…”

    Who said anything about exoneration? However, regarding many governments doing the same thing, if you are arguing that this cannot reveal some main factors to cause, then there can only instead be a staggering set of bizarre coincidences. This is highly unlikely, and nor does leaving out most of the data regarding an effect form a scientific or logical approach to what is causing said effect. Yes, there are also countries that haven’t locked-down, so indeed we need to look at these too, albeit many are in either less impacted countries (so we need to know why that is too) or at least countries that *seem* less impacted (e.g. in Africa – maybe the warm climate, or maybe some countries simply don’t have the infra-structure to track it). For the impacted countries, many have similar policies – the notable exception of Sweden is far from an apples to apples comparison to UK, but indeed all nations should be considered in attempting to figure out our social responses. Otherwise, we will never comprehend what went *systemically* wrong (if indeed what happened is proven by future history to be mainly ‘wrong’). However below par was Boris et al, he didn’t cause all the lock-downs, especially those that occurred before the UK (which was late to the party for nations on the up-bound slope at the time), as this would violate cause and effect. If you are proposing that any other credible government in its place (perhaps if Corbyn had won, or an independent Scotland under Sturgeon, say, or any possible coalition that had a 2% chance or higher of making it out of the last election, or Labour under Starmer even, or whatever), why would this be? If there is not very strong reason to think this is so, we are faced with the issue of systemic inability to react to pandemics appropriately, and it is the systemic reasons we must address. Not least as DaveJR points out, the whole role and credibility of science in this and other real or supposed threats to society.


  151. FIX: ‘If you are proposing that any other credible government in its place (etc…), would have made a largely dissimilar decision, why would this be?’


  152. What an old grumpy guts Mr Mosher is! Could it be anything to do with his job modelling for the South Korean Air Force and the U.S. invasion of Iraq?

    The U.S.A. has fought and lost (or at least not won) at least fifty wars in the past seventy years, of which the Korean was the first, and the Iraq invasion one of the most recent. If it is really true that winning wars is all about modelling, then the efforts of Mr Mosher and his colleagues have put Professor Ferguson’s efforts in the shade, as well as having caused more deaths than Fergie could predict in his wildest nightmares.

    Liked by 2 people

  153. Andy,

    “Your own advice in the early phase, was that government should be locking down like China and would regret not getting their finger out to do so sooner.”

    I don’t recall ever calling for a lockdown similar to that in China. I was quite horrified by what they did. Do correct me if I’m wrong, though. I was initially highly sceptical of the government’s herd immunity policy which appeared to be ‘do nothing’ except try to ‘cocoon’ the vulnerable and elderly. In retrospect, that would have been a better policy but it seemed at the time that Covid-19 was a rather more dangerous disease than it actually is. I was actually for banning large gatherings and was aghast when Cheltenham went ahead, but I don’t think I ever advocated that we all get locked up inside our homes.


  154. Possibly OT cos non-covid: Here’s a quiz produced by the Beeb’s Newsround team to honour last month’s Earth Day:

    Aimed at children*, the quiz and its answers are full of misleading language and even outright falsehoods.

    E.g. Q5: ‘What are the top three industries that cause air pollution in the world today?’


    All of these industries produce damaging gases that harm our ozone layer. The more the ozone layer is damaged, the hotter our planet gets and more harmful rays are allowed through.

    Like Lord Deben before he became a lord, the Beeb’s quiz-writers seem not to know the difference between O3 and CO2.

    Plus the ‘air pollution’ misdirection.

    The whole quiz is like that. Cheerful ignorance presented as educational fact.

    *From a different Beeb page:

    What [sic] age group is Newsround aimed at?

    Newsround has a target audience of 6 to 12-year-olds and the stories and language used in our bulletins reflects [sic] that.

    We try to pick stories that will appeal to our viewers – and we try to bring a child’s view into our reports. Our team is a mix of child experts, journalists and teachers.

    OK, doomers.

    Liked by 1 person

  155. Jaime,

    “I don’t recall ever calling for a lockdown similar to that in China.”

    Your quote of 10th March: “It looks like this virus is highly contagious. The government is doing next to nothing to contain its spread, unlike in China. They might personally regret that decision. Lack of containment will mean that it moves quickly through the country and my guess is that many people are already unknowingly infected. The crucial issue is the lethality and the hospital admission rate. If – as appears to be the case – the mortality rate is an order of magnitude greater than ‘flu and likewise cases requiring admission to hospital are very much greater, then the country is in for a very nasty shock. Health services will be quickly overwhelmed and even more people will die as a result of lack of available medical care.”

    I think that qualifies as advising something similar to China.

    “In retrospect, that would have been a better policy but it seemed at the time…”

    Your position should indeed update with the information, how can it be any different for any of us. But governments, like anyone else, don’t have the benefit of retrospective views before they are available. Perhaps more to the point, the publics and media pressuring them don’t either. The changing information has no doubt wrong-footed many, and likely still will for some time.


  156. Vinny
    I answered 6 out of 7 questions correctly and mysteriously got a score of 8 out of 11. The question on most polluting industries was unfair, since you had to choose 3 out of 6, giving 120 possible responses. Also, gases were shown escaping from a factory chimney for “manufacturing,” but not from the cow representing “farming.”

    I liked this explanation:

    Earth is a very lucky planet – it has the perfect combination of the right temperature, the right distance from the Sun and the right atmosphere which means it can support life.

    Lucky planet indeed. Perfect temperature, right atmosphere… It’s a lucky planet to have us on it!

    Liked by 3 people

  157. Geoff, Alan: The Newsround team didn’t even mention the Moon? Without that massive lump of rock so close doing its gravitional thing on us (and vice versa) wouldn’t all the other luck have come to nothing?

    Vinny: Thanks for mentioning. It’s bang on topic for a climate/covid open thread.


  158. No, sorry Andy, you can’t use that quote to claim that I advocated a lockdown similar to China. I merely said the government was ‘doing next to nothing, unlike China’ which was going totally over the top, but they were doing something. My criticism of the government was that they were doing virtually nothing to control the spread of the virus, risking a situation similar to that which happened in Italy.

    My criticism of he government now is not so much that it locked down, but it locked down on extremely poor scientific advice and, having locked down and achieved its initial stated objective, has now outrageously changed the goalposts and continues to keep its foot on the neck of the British economy and on civil liberties, doing far more damage than the virus could possibly do.

    Liked by 1 person

  159. Richard try -
    Not really convinced.


  160. Jaime,

    “I merely said the government was ‘doing next to nothing, unlike China’ ”

    Um… I think we have a different understanding of ‘merely’ then 0: And that in the absence of the caveat now provided (‘OTT’), that somehow this caveat would be conveyed.

    Your criticisms of the government may or may not carry some weight, but can’t meaningfully be evaluated without a global context in this situation. And per above, given the higher lock-down hawkishness of the other parties / leaders / regional govs, i.e. over and above either Boris or the Conservatives generally, all other possible governments that might conceivably be in charge at this time would highly likely be doing still more wrong in your opinion. And too this effectively means that anyone in charge would have produced the same result, which in turn means it’s a system failure (if indeed future history views it as failure), as indeed has been occurring in many other places. So, the answer is (once we have the benefit of more information) to analyse and fix the system, otherwise whoever is in charge next time, this would simply occur again. To follow DaveJR’s line for instance, if we are to prevent shonky science from such influence, there needs to be legal (or at least hard procedural) filters in place that are worked out by overhauling the whole system via which this currently occurs, from the ground up. Much harder than blaming Boris or whoever (which does *not* mean giving out exonerations – but if there is effectively no procedural or legal structure to measure performance against, violations can’t be formally expressed anyhow), but far more productive than ending up having to blame Malcolm or Marion or Fred or Freda or whoever else happens to be in charge next time around. And a far harder problem to address still, is how to prevent public panic (in any direction) from crushing the system anyhow even with much more procedural protection in place.


  161. I’m taking advantage of the open nature of this thread to ask a new question.
    Given the drastic worldwide reduction in air traffic, there must be a similar reduction in contrails and contrail cirrus cloud cover. When this last happened over USA skies, following 9-11, it was claimed there was an effect on average surface temperatures. Are we now expecting a similar, but more global response?


  162. Alan: I thought David Waltham made the case pretty well in 2014 in Lucky Planet. The prologue’s entitled A Tale of Two Planets. I felt on reading it I’d overlooked this part of the Goldilocks scenario.


  163. Richard, its a theory and one I cannot deny. I, however, would give more credence to the size of the earth allowing plate tectonics, unlike Venus or Mars. Mantle convection brings otherwise rare metals to the Earth’s surface that seem to be essential for some life processes, but perhaps more importantly black smoker vents along upwelling zones are postulated by some to be where life originated. Certainly today smokers teem with life that is completely independent of energy from the Sun.

    Liked by 2 people

  164. I completely accept those points Alan. The size of the earth being a necessary but not sufficient condition of what we find here though? Genuine question. As I say, I was convinced by Waltham that I’d underestimated the importance of us having such a massive moon (comparatively) thus creating a two-planet system with benefits. But we got all the life. It *is* so unfair.


  165. Andy,

    Picking on one particular rather non-definitive comment of mine and arguing that it meant something which I’m pretty sure it didn’t mean is not sensible. Here are some comments I made in March which make it fairly clear that I was concerned that the government was doing nothing to control the spread of the virus, that it risked overwhelming the NHS. I advocated social distancing and in particular banning large gatherings, not locking people up inside their homes.

    The ‘experts’ have “brilliant modellers” who know exactly what this novel virus which the world has never seen before is going to do and the brilliant modellers (we know all about brilliant modellers don’t we) predict that banning large social gatherings will have little effect upon containment or delay.

    Andy, yes, there has been this but against the backdrop of doing little else to stop the spread of the virus by stopping flights from infected areas, mandating social distancing etc., it can have little effect other than to delay the inevitable for a week or two. Have you seen the pictures of Cheltenham? Packed in like sardines they are. CV is transmissable by symptomless carriers. The government is playing Russian Roulette. ICU beds are only a quarter of Germany’s, a tenth of Korea’s.

    Thanks Paul. I don’t wish to get into an argument about this but it seems pretty obvious to me that the government’s ‘containment’ process was almost non-existent. If anybody can point out any real, practical, significant and effective measures that they employed to contain the spread of Covid-19 – besides ‘wash your hands’ – then I shall stand corrected. I must have blinked and missed it.

    I’m not necessarily arguing that containment measures employed by China and South Korea for instance would have been effective or even possible in the UK, but Johnson’s idiotic mixed messaging and insistence that UK has a plan, the first stage of which is containment, belies the fact that the government is pretty helpless and therefore incompetent in the face of a possible pandemic outbreak. An outbreak which threatens to overwhelm the health service, but they will do anything to disguise that fact . . . .


  166. Jaime,

    Indeed many have rightly noted that there’s a range of science / experts / models on offer (which rather highlights the generic nature of the issue, and a key difficulty for all governments), and that science is neither of one voice or necessarily right in any of said offerings. Nor am I arguing that you had some ‘hard’ China position (and considering indeed individual comments may not be as representative as a slew of them over a couple of days or whatever), but for sure that your position has evolved, and that a third party observer would take some such as lock-down supportive. And why wouldn’t your view evolve, especially as you point out yourself from having the benefit of some retrospective view (which benefit increases with time and the still continuing-to-change information). My points are that this is the same for governments (it’s easier to understand this when we see that our own views evolve), and that many governments have done similar. And nor per above is it likely that anyone else who might have been governing us at this time would have done anything at all different (and indeed are pretty much all more lock-down hawkish). Which says that focusing upon the one government and its leader so much, is to mask most of the root problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  167. Andy, regarding the government’s culpability, Dellers sums up my feelings quite nicely:

    Almost every government has made mistakes in its response to the coronavirus pandemic. Even Sweden — increasingly praised for its non-lockdown policy which enabled it to build herd immunity while doing less damage to its economy — has admitted that it should have done more to protect the elderly in care homes.

    But mistakes are only forgivable when governments fess up and show evidence that they’ve learned from them.

    Hancock’s insistence in that interview that the government has done nothing wrong suggests that Britain is still run by an administration far more interested in covering its arse than in doing the right thing.

    The same point was made more eloquently at the weekend by former Supreme Court judge Lord Sumption, when he wrote in the Sunday Times:

    The lockdown is now all about protecting politicians’ backs. They are not wicked men, just timid ones, terrified of being blamed for deaths on their watch. But it is a wicked thing that they are doing.

    It used to be said that however disappointing Boris Johnson and his crew might turn out to be, at least Britain dodged the far bigger bullet at the last election of being run by the dilapidated Marxist Jeremy Corbyn.

    But I’m not sure this is true any more.

    Instead, we voted Conservative and just got incompetent socialism all the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  168. Well I couldn’t agree more that (any) government should be open, and flexible in a changing situation. But to extrapolate this to thinking, or at least being ‘not sure’, that this current *global* scenario in which many governments have both acted similarly and will no doubt try to justify their actions, means he ought have welcomed (this for someone very pro-conservative) a Corbyn government after all, is unproductive posturing at best. Quite aside from the long list of things this would mean he’d abhor, there is absolutely no evidence that a Labour government, or any other that might conceivably be in charge of the UK or its regions, would have done anything different, and indeed per above all current party / leader / regional alternatives are more lock-down hawkish, not less. So how would any such alternative have helped with his specific complaint re Covid anyhow? Nor are left-right ideals a main factor here. Governments of various different stripes have locked-down, including Trump’s, which is presumably the most right-wing within the democratic nations. And I saw a report about a month back that care homes across Europe were struggling. To try and distil this down to some left-right partisan thing is to completely miss what is going on. Which doesn’t mean complaints about openness or non-optimum actions (which need objective and system-wide analysis to properly determine) carry no genuine weight (and probably more weight when in the future this *is* all figured out). But linking such to inappropriate / partisan factors will only serve to raise emotions still more and so submerge rationalism still further, and hence push real solutions for next time, further out of reach. On the upside, he agrees that every government has made mistakes, of course using that very amazingly powerful tool, hind-sight. And indeed none should be covered up. But for Dellers the antithesis of Corbyn, to even hint that the latter might have done better (on Covid, or generally i.e. ‘not’ dodging the bullet), betrays that his emotion is ruling his head on this.

    Liked by 1 person

  169. Andy, Dellers was implying that Corbyn would have been no better than the Tories in his response to Covid-19. What he’s saying, however, is that Corbyn would have had an effective opposition to his ruinous policies from the Tories, unlike the lacklustre opposition which the Tory government faces from Starmer’s Labour. I’m not even sure that would have been the case, so craven and un-conservative have the Conservatives become. That’s what I like about Dellers; he speaks his mind, but you shouldn’t always take too seriously what he says, because it’s often just what he’s thinking out loud. Having said that, Dellers thinking out aloud is often what many people start shouting about only much later.


  170. The beeb: “Climate change: Scientists fear car surge will see CO2 rebound.”

    In other news, bears **** in the woods. The beeb article is now the second most promoted on the news home page. I’m still clinging to my faith in Aunty, but it is getting harder.


  171. More on the beeb: “Climate change: Top 10 tips to reduce carbon footprint revealed.”

    The top ten tips add up to -12 t CO2/person/yr. The average UK person is presently responsible for +5.8 t CO2/yr.

    So, if you adopt all ten, you can convert your existence on the planet to a net sequestration of 6.2 t CO2/yr. That’s actually betting than topping yourself in a fit of Green Despair. Now, to be fair, the top mechanism (-2.04 t CO2/yr) is getting rid of your car, and the second (-1.95 t CO2/yr) is buying an electric car… so it is actually impossible to do all ten. But still, the numbers are ludicrous.


  172. Jit, Harrabin forgot to mention that the Ivanova paper acknowledges that getting an electric car might actually increase your carbon footprint, depending on where you live.

    It also says that not having any pets is an effective way of cutting emissions. Indeed if I’ve eyeballed Fig.7 correctly, killing your pets would be more effective than two of the items on Harrabin’s top ten list: improving your cooking equipment and using renewables for heating.

    So forget about rocket stoves and don’t bother painting a radiator black and sticking it on your roof. If you really want to save the planet, drown Tyson and Tiddles in the bath. (Use cold water unless you’ve already put the radiator on the roof, in which case tepid water is allowed.)



    …these comparisons may not all be quite apples to apples, plus the 21% Guido reports is for England alone (with Wales at %25 and Scotland at 45%), not the whole UK. Also, this seems to be for all Care Homes types, not just for the elderly, and not all countries appear to have separate figures here. France does, for instance the deaths in elderly care homes only is 37%, whereas it’s 50% for all types of Care Homes (as Guido reflects from the report). Nevertheless, interesting data.


  174. One of the biggest dents into one’s financial well-being was having children – an absolute no-no. Children must accordingly pose a major threat to the security of the planet. Even if pet murder is being countenanced, I somehow doubt if even the Beeb would be associated with the planned demise of little Clarissa or Horatio. But it might be in favour of the tiniest snip for those of the male persuasion. How many t CO2/yr might elimination pre birth of a little Horatio be worth?


  175. It’s been quite a while now without any further word from Steven Mosher. I wonder what would be required to re-awaken the Kraken. One would have thought that having had his dismissive dismissal missive dismissed he would be only too keen to re-enter the fray, but it seems not. This is a shame from my perspective because I think there are a number of questions that still require answers – such as:

    1) Why did he choose to single me out for accusations of hunch-bearing when I had already expressly made it clear on the very same thread that I was particularly wary of bearing hunches? How careless do you have to be to fail to pick up on that dialogue?

    2) Specifically, what part of my phrase ‘questionable software’ did he think was hunchy? Moreover, how was he able to discern from that simple phrase that I was actually referring to the source and implications of the IC model’s non-determinism? What is the nature of his mind-reading apparatus and where can I buy it?

    3) In what way does he think the quality of the IC software is beyond question? Is it perhaps the copious documentation that accompanies it (‘Given the entire Imperial College team is working full-time on the COVID-19 response, documentation is currently sparse‘)? Or perhaps it is the thoroughness of the Ferguson team’s change management procedures, evidenced by so much uncertainty as to which version was initially used to advise the government on its lockdown (does the model even have version control, I wonder). Perhaps it is just the complete absence of evidence that it was developed to any recognisable software development lifecycle employing the sort of practices that might facilitate V&V. Maybe he could explain to me, given his superior QA knowledge over the average QA professional, how validation is even possible given there is no evidence of requirements specification or traceability.

    4) On May 17, 12.43pm, Steven Mosher was berating on CliScep:

    “Which of you went out to Check the checker?

    By training & experience it should have been the Software Quality guy. It should not have been the English major”

    And yet, everything that Steven would claim to have discovered through ‘training & experience’ (including the github link) had already been posted on ATTP 17 hours previously (at least the detailed discussion started by the findings of someone called Dhogaza had been going on for 17 hours before Mosher joined in). So I ask, just how much training and experience would the English major need in order to go onto one of his favourite blogs to read someone else’s findings? More to the point, given that the real credit is Dhogaza’s, did he think it was sensible to use a body double in a ‘whose dick is biggest’ contest?

    5) Finally, is there a particular reason why no-one on the internet but Mosher is allowed to profess expertise born of a professional background. I admit that I do it, but Steven ‘Who Knew I Was so Fantastic’ Mosher seems to live for it.

    Well, if that isn’t worthy of Steven’s Third Coming, I don’t know what would be.

    Liked by 2 people

  176. Something broke Mosher’s brain on Saturday night.

    Perhaps it was the start of his quarantine (and the prospect of having himself for company for the next 2 weeks) that unhinged him, as it would anyone stuck in a hotel room with him.

    Equally likely it was Mike’s brilliant coverage of the thread above the SpongeRob FlouncyTubes thread [—ed.], which Steven may well have understood cast him in an unflattering light.

    Mosh usually wears a mask—not of reasonableness, as such, but at least of being equally obnoxious to everyone—but that had slipped completely by the time daylight came, when he started tweeting things like:

    Liked by 2 people

  177. Steve is unpleased about untweeting.
    When reading through his rather mendacious tweets, I think the time will come sooner than later when he bulk untweets….Or at least wishes he could.
    The physicians, epidemiologists, and others who dare question the vast damage of the current panic are now vile snowflakes.
    And those who keep pointing out the simple lack of a climate emergency are wicked, only surpassed if they dare discuss both topics.
    Keeping that social credit score nice and high…

    Liked by 1 person

  178. Hunterson,

    > Steve is unpleased about untweeting.

    Or in his words, un tweeting. Apparently they don’t teach the uses and abuses of a space bar in Eng Lit.

    The farcical thing is that I deleted it before anyone even had a chance to reply, as I repeatedly and vainly reminded Mosh.


  179. Brad,

    Arguing with Steven can be like playing chess with a silverback. Its opening gambits can be a little unorthodox but that doesn’t really matter since by the time one reaches the end-game the board position starts to become largely irrelevant. What seems to matter most in Steven’s style of debate is the application of outrage and contempt. If he can’t call upon it reasonably, then he will call upon it unreasonably. And whilst you are wrestling with his testosterone rage the real debate is left traumatised in the corner like an abused child.

    Liked by 3 people

  180. John, not sure I agree with you 100% on your endocrinology work there, Lou.

    I’m pretty sure it’s not about a surplus of testosterone so much as that hormone (whose name escapes me) which controls insecurity about one’s qualifications, and which—in excess—causes a person like Mosh to see credentialist mockery in all the wrong places.

    The first thing anyone who knows the first thing about me knows is that Mosh doesn’t know the first thing about me when he fumes:

    Since I kinda feel sorry for him I see no need to further make fun of his bizarre conspiracist ideation about the World Health Organization.

    Liked by 1 person

  181. Brad,

    Many years ago during my days as an undercover endocrinologist working for the UK government (I really don’t like to talk about it) I learnt that testosterone is a much misunderstood hormone. When testosterone rises after a challenge, it doesn’t prompt aggression. Instead it prompts whatever behaviours are needed to maintain status. This makes the effects for the individual highly context dependent. For example, if an individual has come to learn that being cocky, egocentric and narcissistic is a sure strategy for maintaining status and self-esteem, increased testosterone following a challenge will make them more cocky, egocentric and narcissistic. For others, maintenance of status may require more moderated behaviours, in which case increased testosterone will lead to even more moderation. It is only the fact that, for so many people, naked aggression is the preferred strategy for maintaining status that testosterone has become associated with increased aggression.

    So the hormone whose name you forget, that is responsible for Mosh seeing credentialist mockery in all the wrong places, is testosterone. That said, in all my days as an undercover endocrinologist working for the UK government (I really don’t like to talk about it), I never did isolate the hormone responsible for hypocrisy.

    Liked by 2 people

  182. @ Vinny I’ve now skimmed the paper, and it gets the thumbs down from me for its egregious use of the term “climate emergency.” They mention in the abstract that global average emissions are +6 t CO2/yr/person, and two paragraphs later say that adding all their abusive measures together save an average of 9.2 t CO2/yr/person, so that flightless vegans with no pets living in a hole in the ground will have a net impact on the atmosphere of -3.2 t CO2/yr/person.

    @ Alan I would not like to try to calculate the number you enquire about. But, I know for sure that in 2050 it will be a big fat 0 because by then we will be Net Zero, and if the sum of all our people’s impact is Net Zero, so must the average impact be nowt.

    The paper has the obvious caveat that, having merely trawled the lit for estimates of CO2 savings, inevitably those savings are inflated in many of the papers they are claimed in. Hence the negative emissions if we do all the stupid things they demand of us.

    They want to ban advertising of high-carbon meats, which presumably means bits of animal that have been left on the BBQ too long. As Vinny says, they want us to off our pets. They want free charging for electric vehicles and on the other side of that matter they want more taxes, for fuel and car, for traditional vehicles. There are many more such recommendations.

    It would be interesting to know how many of their own pills they are themselves taking.


  183. Jit: Ivanova et al is a weird paper. All that archive-scraping and mathturbation but no attempt to explain their results. The science says that not having pets (or whatever) might help save the planet – and that’s all you need to know: the science has said it.

    Alan: Murtaugh & Schlax 2009 tried to do a location-dependent lifetime Horatio quantification. Using the UN’s medium-variant fertility projections (fertility in all countries to converge at 1.85 children per woman by 2050) and assuming that national per capita CO2e emissions would remain at 2005 levels, they reckoned that Horatio’s father and mother would each be responsible for this many tonnes of CO2e emissions resulting from Horatio’s life and from his descendants’ lives (rounded to nearest 100):

    USA 9,400
    Russia 2,500
    Japan 2,000
    China 1,400
    Mexico 1,200
    Brazil 700
    Indonesia 400
    Pakistan 200
    India 200
    Nigeria 100
    Bangladesh 100 (56)

    It was a bold attempt at quantifying something that is prolly unquantifiable.

    Possibly worth noting (most likely not): a PhD thesis by someone else has said that small dogs’ footprints might be as big as 1.5 tCO2e annually, medium dogs’ 4.3 tCO2e, big dogs’ 6.2 tCO2e.

    I was a big dog when I last tried to estimate such stuff, about ten years ago. I have stopped burning coal since then but, for reasons I don’t want to go into, reckon I’m still a big dog.

    Liked by 2 people

  184. This might be worth a read, especially by those who understand these things better than I do:

    “The Real Fault with Epidemiological Models”

    These two paragraphs seemed particularly relevant, IMO:

    “There isn’t the same imperative to get it right in academic epidemiology. Neil Ferguson can keep making very high overestimates of the amount of people who will be killed by the latest disease, and he keeps his jobs and government appointments and still gets massive amounts of funding from bodies like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He won’t be sued and made bankrupt if he gets it wrong. The government didn’t require him to publish reliability tests for his models in order him to be part of the SAGE and NERVTAG committees.

    Epidemiology seems to be one of those areas, like climate change, where model reliability matters far less than it should. This can happen to areas that become politicised and where the journals are controlled by strong-armed cliques. It can also be a consequence of modern academia, where the emphasis has shifted almost totally to funding success. Funding success in areas like epidemiology can depend on exaggeration to impress people with agendas and money to burn, like Bill Gates. In an objective field you would expect, after all, underestimates to be as prevalent as overestimates. Yet in this field, overestimates are rife. And the reason for this is the same as the reason why alarmism thrives in climate “science”: it’s because all the research money goes to those who sound the alarm bells.”

    Liked by 3 people

  185. Some days ago I asked a question related to the assumed great reduction in contrails and contrail-related stratospheric clouds (due to Covid-related global reductions in air transport). I asked if this might be related to any predicted global reduction in temperatures. This post received absolutely zero interest.
    I really would like to know. Was the recorded reduction in temperatures over the USA following 9-11 real? If it was, do you think the effect might be global this time? Has anybody been discussing this?
    This, I promise will be the last time I ask.

    Liked by 1 person

  186. Mark,

    You are making a very important point here. There is an important distinction to be made between validating the code and validating the model.

    When it comes to the validation of the code, one has to ask whether the program achieves its stated purpose, i.e. it represents a faithful implementation of the specified epidemiological model. This cannot be done, however, if the epidemiological model hadn’t been specified in terms that could be independently examined, nor can it be done in the absence of a formal regime of testing. That is the sense in which the quality of the code (including all accompanying specifications and test results) matters.

    Validation of a model is more problematic since it depends upon one’s conception of what constitutes a valid model. It has been claimed that all models are wrong but some are more useful than others. That said, one can usually assume that a prime purpose of an epidemiological model is to accurately predict the course of infection within a population. Nevertheless, this problem is not treated as a question of validation as so much a question of learning and improvement in an ever-changing environment; past performance failures, new science and additional information regarding the changing environment are just used to tweak the model and then try again. Rigorously documented change control and version control may not be seen as so important because previous versions can be consigned to the dustbin, so historians and quality controllers need not bother themselves. This, however, would make it difficult to track the nature of the errors involved and the reasons for them. The modellers may be learning but the learning history is then opaque.

    In summary, validation of a model and validation of its encoding may be different issues but they are inextricably linked. Academics do not employ the rigorous quality control expected of commercially supplied software because there is a sense in which the software is never supplied. However, given that the costs of error and misjudgement can be so high, this does not mean that they should not be bothering with the practices and disciplines associated with the development of high integrity software.


  187. Alan,

    I’m sorry but I do not know the answers to any of your questions. Good luck.


  188. Alan,

    it’s frustrating isn’t it? You don’t have to apologize for continually asking something that you’re interested in. With luck the seed of that question will land in fertile soil sooner or later and somebunny, not Brad, will have an opinion, or even an answer, regarding contrails.

    Liked by 1 person

  189. Unfortunately, even assuming the software is perfectly constructed, I believe the estimates will always be on the high side. This is simply because it is culturally unacceptable to get things wrong in such a way that lives are seen to be lost as a result. Let’s go back a few years and see what can happen when that occurs:

    2014: “Scientists jailed for manslaughter because they did not predict deadly earthquake in Italy which killed 309 people have been cleared”

    The scientists were eventually cleared, but at what cost to themselves? Clearly, if they’d predicted an earthquake which didn’t happen, there would have been complaints and grumbles. but no-one would have ended up in jail over it. The costs of understating a dangerous situation are simply far higher than doing the opposite and issues with models and grant money cannot change this.


  190. DaveJR,

    The preference for erring on the side of the cautionary is made quite explicit by the climate predictors and those who look for signs of anthropogenic influence in current extreme weather events. See, for example, the following article posted by Dr Ken Rice on his ATTP website:

    Techniques such as the ‘story line’ approach to attribution assessments are hailed because they tend to overstate the risk, whilst alternatives could understate the risk. This is seen as an advantage.

    Moving away from climatology, there are plenty of examples of false alarm and failure to alarm when it comes to both earthquakes and volcano eruptions. The consequences of failing to alarm are obvious but the consequences of false alarms to the individuals responsible should not be understated. Scientific reputations can be trashed irrevocably and the economic damages of an unnecessary evacuation can be huge. There is also the problem of setting up a reluctance to respond to subsequent alarms in the wake of a false alarm. The best way of protecting against such consequences is to keep your predictions vague and long-term, provided the circumstances allow.

    Liked by 1 person

  191. Mark,

    I think it’s only fair for me to say that the change control for the IC model is not as rudimentary as I had feared based upon my previous experiences. It does, at least, involve version control and some documentation of the changes.


  192. John I wish to further emphasize your discussion of the perils of incorrectly warning of volcanic eruptions. I used to work with two geologists from the University of Naples. The Vesuvius Observatory is either part of this University or is closely associated with it. In any case my italian colleagues knew much about the Observatory’s work and its problems. From my friends I learned, 1) Vesuvius is overdue for an eruption, 2) if a major eruption were to occur the whole of Naples (almost a million population) and much of its municipality (population exceeding 3 million) would need to be evacuated, and 3) that the road network would be hopelessly inadequate. Consequently a false warning of an major eruption would cause chaos, but more importantly would desensitize much of the population who would then ignore correct warnings. In either case a major tragedy waiting to happen. The last I recall happening in the region is the presence of a worrying rising magma chamber and activity in the immediately neighbouring Campi Flegrei, a huge caldera supervolcano which if it were to regain active status could threaten much of Italy and more.

    Liked by 2 people

  193. Good article from Ron. It shows very clearly that for people under 50, the IFR of Covid-19 is much less than 0.1%, only rising steeply for those aged 80 and over who happen to have acquired the infection in hospitals and nursing homes, NOT the community. To control a virus less deadly than the ‘flu in a large section of the populace, our governments have destroyed our economies, trashed our civil liberties and caused more deaths than lives saved. Yet still they continue to pummel our societies with their damaging lockdown and social distancing measures. We live in truly awful times.

    Liked by 1 person

  194. Alan,

    “I used to work with two geologists from the University of Naples.”

    Careful now, Alan. You should understand that no-one on this blog, apart from everyone but Mosher, cares about your “un checkable anecdotes about past glories.”

    Liked by 2 people

  195. But John I was not basking in past glories. I was relating the source of the material I was presenting to you and to the readership. To compare me with Mosh is particularly harsh, because the great One commonly relies upon the authority of himself, much of which is so, so secret that if he repeated it to himself he would have to commit seppuku. (Do they do seppuku in Korea?)

    Liked by 1 person

  196. Subsequent to boasting about my Napolitano knowledge I googled “Naples volcanic evacuation” to discover an Independent news article outlining the most recent plan. This discussed “red zones” that caused the necessity to evacuate 700,000 over Four Days. This presumably only involves lava flows. Yellow zones involved a larger number of evacuees caused by large, persistent ash falls, but there was no mention of rapid ash flows, the like of which buried Herculaneum. Tough luck I suppose.

    Liked by 1 person

  197. Alan,

    “To compare me with Mosh is particularly harsh…”

    But I wasn’t comparing you with Mosh, I was comparing you to Mosh and suggesting that everyone but Mosh would see that you are on opposite ends of the spectrum. I apologise if my attempt at a witty double-negative confused the issue.


  198. Beth. I’m a Covid recoveree and can’t be expected to unravel mental puzzles deliberately set to put stress and pressure upon the unwary and unable like my good self.
    Should I now commit seppuku, oh siren in a turnip field?
    I clearly am unable to engage with a master evaluator of menace assessments even though I have friends from Naples.

    Liked by 3 people

  199. Actually, I’ve got that the wrong way round. I was comparing with rather than comparing to. I have got myself confused now and I have no excuses!

    Liked by 1 person

  200. Alan does not deserve to be likened to SM at all. Alan engages in open inquiry and practices good faith. No snark or nastiness. Disagreement, not disagreeable. SM comes in, makes unpleasant noises, confused the issue and flies off leaving a mess. Like playing chess with a pigeon.

    Liked by 2 people

  201. Steve’s insightful and admirable adventure in getting out of China just as the Covid trainwreck began would have been more interesting if it had been presented with a wee bit more humanity. And less snark.
    He should be so grateful that he carries a Passport from a nation that enables free travel.
    S Korea, a true Asian cold war success story was a wise choice: organized, not dealing with so many nihilistic second guessers.


  202. Jaime,

    It seems you are in very good company:

    However, I should warn that the presupposed IFR only scratches at the surface of presuppositions that lie behind the Imperial College modelling:

    Click to access Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf

    As you can see from the above, the 500,000 fatalities (if do-nothing) prediction made by Imperial was based upon an IFR of 0.9 (95% credible interval 0.4%-1.4%). However, they also assumed:

    • An incubation period of 5.1 days
    • That infectiousness occurs from 12 hours prior to the onset of symptoms for those that are symptomatic and from 4.6 days after infection in those that are asymptomatic with an infectiousness profile over time that results in a 6.5-day mean generation time.
    • A baseline R0=2.4 (with 2.0 to 2.6 explored).
    • That symptomatic individuals are 50% more infectious than asymptomatic individuals.
    • Individual infectiousness is variable, described by a gamma distribution with mean 1 and shape parameter alpha=0.25.
    • On recovery from infection, individuals are immune to re-infection in the short term and that re-infection with the same strain of seasonal circulating coronavirus is highly unlikely in the same or following season.
    • That infection was seeded in each country at an exponentially growing rate (with a doubling time of 5 days) from early January 2020.
    • Per-capita contacts within schools will be double those elsewhere in order to reproduce the attack rates in children observed in past influenza pandemics.
    • Two-thirds of cases will be sufficiently symptomatic to self-isolate (if required by policy) within 1 day of symptom onset.
    • The mean delay from onset of symptoms to hospitalisation will be 5 days.
    • That 30% of those that are hospitalised will require critical care.
    • That 50% of those in critical care will die.
    • That an age-dependent proportion of those that do not require critical care will die (calculated to match the overall IFR).
    • The total duration of stay in hospital will be 8 days if critical care is not required and 16 days (with 10 days in ICU) if critical care is required.

    Furthermore, when modelling the interventions, they employed a number of what they claimed to be “plausible and largely conservative (i.e. pessimistic) assumptions about the impact of each intervention and compensatory changes in contacts (e.g. in the home) associated with reducing contact rates in specific settings outside the household”.

    Any or all of the above may have been valid and reasonable assumptions, and any one of them may have been wrong. Whatever the case, they all have a bearing on model validity. Keep in mind also that these are the assumptions made explicit in the Ferguson report; there will be many more that are implicit to the structure of the model.

    I will re-iterate the point I tried to make to Mosher: In safety-related matters, it is often not the gap between required competence and actual competence that matters most. Sometimes it is the gap between actual competence and presupposed competence.

    Liked by 1 person

  203. More bombshells about the epidemiological modelling. The BBC has found the lockdown smoking gun:

    Criticism of Boris Johnson’s decision to take no action over Mr Cummings’ 260-mile trip to his parents’ home has come from all quarters.

    As well as Tory backbenchers, senior Church of England bishops and scientists advising ministers on the pandemic have strongly criticised the government’s handling of the row.

    *Who* has been advising ministers on the pandemic?

    No wonder everyone has their cassocks in a twist.


  204. Thanks John, that story comes from the Telegraph. This is the killer:

    “In Europe, I don’t think that anything actually stopped the virus other than some kind of burnout,” he added. “There’s a huge number of people who are asymptomatic so I would seriously imagine that by the time lockdown was finally introduced in the UK the virus was already widely spread. They could have just stayed open like Sweden by that stage and nothing would have happened.”

    If this turns out to be actual fact, and there is no good evidence to suggest it will not, then this proves that Johnson’s lockdown was wholly unnecessary and the huge collateral damage from its imposition and the government’s subsequent stubborn refusal to lift it quickly means that the government is culpable for destroying lives, liberties and the economy, initially because they got it wrong by relying upon poor advice and thereafter simply by refusing to admit they got it wrong.

    “The virus “has saturated”, he believes, across Europe. “I think the lockdown will cause much more damage than the deaths saved,” he added. “When I saw the briefing (from Prof Ferguson) I was shocked. I had a run-in with him when I actually saw that Ferguson’s death rate was a year’s worth – doubling the normal death rate. I saw that and said immediately that’s completely wrong. I think Ferguson over-estimated 10 or 12 times.”

    The idiotic media is obsessed with Cummings’ supposed transgression of lockdown rules, but this is the big story, which they’re more or less ignoring. They are as much responsible for the coming carnage as the government and its ‘science’ advisers.

    Liked by 1 person

  205. Cummings is making a statement and answering questions in an hour or 2. Political advisers aren’t allowed to do that, so he presumably isn’t one any more. One law for the bonking boffin and the same law for the sick couple with a young kid.

    Liked by 1 person

  206. On the front page of the Guardian’s website today, I counted 16 separate features on Dominic Cummings. Even by the Guardian’s standards, that looks like overkill.

    Personally, I think he probably breached the Regulations, his behaviour was unwise, and it suggests he isn’t as clever as everyone says he is, since it should have been obvious to him that he would be seen doing it, and the media (much of which hates him as Brexit’s ostensible eminence grise) would be down on him like a ton of bricks. I think he should resign, and I think BoJo is making a mistake in backing him, since he’ll probably end up parting company with him before long in any event. People who are seen to be in positions of authority should be seen to be leading by example, not at best bending the rules and at worst breaking them.

    However, his offence looks to be less serious than, say, that of Catherine Calderwood, directly responsible for enunciating the stay-at-home message in Scotland, and who TWICE visited her second home, with her family, during lock-down, for no good reason, so far as I can see. Yes, there was some press agitation about her, but not much, and Sturgeon didn’t come in for the assault we’re seeing on BoJo, when she first attempted to back Calderwood before deciding she had to go.

    This looks to me like a determined assault by an enraged media determined to bring him down, and to weaken BoJo ahead of the Brexit trade talks becoming more serious, and a determined media campaign to push for an extension to the transitional period beyond the year. Indeed on the radio at lunchtime, BBC Radio 4 segued almost directly from the Cummings article to one about the EU trade talks. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

    The BBC can’t quite match the Guardian, but even its website has 5 Cummings articles on the front page, with links to 3 more. Yet finding out how many UK deaths from Covid-19 there have been in the UK in the last 24 hours is like looking for a needle in a haystack. I’m not impressed.

    Liked by 2 people

  207. The BBC has a new fave interviewee, the tatooed snowflake, who can be guaranteed to whinge how he couldnt see his sick granny cos he would never ever bend the rules like them rich n powerful ones wot do wot they like. The last one i saw was a lady sociology lecturer from Durham with a left arm like the Sistine Chapel ceiling who had a thing about *politricians.* These are presumably the ones Cummings didnt pick up in his focus groups. L


  208. Journalists to Cummings repeated ad nauseam for over an hour – “Just because you were sick and your wife was sick and you had to rush your son to hospital and your uncle died and your boss the prime minister was sick, why does that make you special?” Not once did one of them express a word of sympathy. They are filth, dangerous hysterical brain dead filth. Today Cummings, tomorrow a climate denialist or some poor sod who doesn’t want to declare war on China.

    Liked by 4 people

  209. Actually, I think he should be sacked for breaking the rules. I’m just appalled at the hypocrisy of the MSM going for him, while largely ignoring breaches of the rules by others who should also be setting an example.

    A plague on all their houses!

    Liked by 1 person

  210. I’m not here to defend Cummings but to raise the alarm on a political andmedia world gone mad. We’re facing economic disaster and Britain’s top journalists are spitting blood about how long Dom spent illegally looking at bluebells. Professor Reicher of the government’s Orwellian Behaviour Group says people will die because of Cummings’ actiions, and the Guardian quotes with approval Dutch pm Rutte who didn’t visit his dying mother in a care home, presumably because he loves his poll ratings more than his mum. We live in evil times.

    I’m currently visiting my 97 year old mum in England. I checked the vague and changing rules of two countries toestimate my chance of not getting arrested, but I didn’t seek legal advice. And if Beth from Sky News or the Koronasberg woman from the beeb come nosing around I shall slap them. And then wash my hands.

    Liked by 5 people

  211. Regarding Dominic’s recent escapades, there have been a few on the internet who have noticed the following oddity of local Durham slang (as per the Eric Partridge, “Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English):

    “BARNEY: …3. Humbug, cheating: low . Hotten, 3rd ed. This sense may have a different origin: cf. ‘”come! come! that’s Barney Castle!” . . . an expression often uttered when a person is heard making a bad excuse in a still worse cause’, recorded in the ‘Denham Tracts,’ 1846-59, Apperson, whose other two Barney proverbs suggest that the ultimate reference is to ‘the holding of Barnard Castle by Sir George Bowes during the Rising of the North in 1569’, E. M. Wright, ‘Rustic Speech,’ 1913.”

    So it appears that this has all been one of Dominic’s jokes intended to get one over the polloi in the hoi polloi. Well, Mr Cummings, you’re going to have try a lot harder to get one over this seasoned conspiracist!

    Liked by 1 person

  212. The virus has virtually disappeared from the community and now WHO itself is saying that a second peak is unlikely. Boris is talking about more shops and businesses opening up in June with stupid, impractical social distancing rules in place. He really is a moron and Cummings is Mr Ordinary who has failed to live up to his much vaunted promise as a government and civil service reformer. I really couldn’t care less whether he goes or stays – I just want my country back to a semblance of what it was before this government wrecked it.


  213. Well worth a read. Recriminations are coming down the line and they are going to be very bitter indeed, once people realise the damage that has already been done to achieve essentially nothing. Sociopathic Hancock thinks he single-handedly flattened the curve and saved the NHS and now he’s boasting about opening up shops and businesses with ‘strong’ social distancing. He’ll be one of the first to go, maybe even before Cummings.


  214. In contrast to Geoff, I am here to defend Cummings, because he admitted he’d made lots of mistakes since the virus emerged. That’s easily enough for me. I noticed that far more even than the mediocrity of the questions. How refreshing in the garden. (Echoes of a man who refused to admit he’d done anything wrong and tried to blame his wife. Who tried to blame the snake. Who just wriggled.)

    So in contrast to Jaime I could care less whether he goes or stays. But isn’t that a tiresome double-meaning, where the two meanings are opposite? Is that just an American thing?

    Liked by 1 person

  215. For someone who’s reputation is built upon a fabled ability to predict the will or belief of populations, Cummings has done spectacularly poorly in his explanation of his visit to Barnard Castle on his wife’s birthday. Did he really expect the population to swallow his explanation that he was testing his eyesight during driving by taking other passengers on a 60 mile round trip, involving a stop by a river bank where everyone left the vehicle? His powers of predicting must have deteriorated seriously from his illness. Is he any future value to Boris?


  216. Richard,
    Mmm. I suppose that is where we get the phrase ‘ladies who lynch’.

    I agree. When I was watching Dominic in the garden yesterday I couldn’t help but think ‘is this the guy that the government can’t do without?’ No sign of the master strategist we had all heard about.

    Liked by 1 person

  217. RICHARD
    I agree he did nothing wrong but I found his humble manner irritating. Here was a once a century chance to interrogate the 2nd most powerful man in the country (supposedly) about decision making during the biggest national crisis for decades and they hounded him for details of whether he stopped for a pee and why. His story may sound as if it was concocted by a clever defence lawyer, but that doesn’t make him guilty. No journalist challenged the fact that he his wife and child were all sick, not one expressed any sympathy. They pursued every triviality with the evident aim of catching him out and getting him sacked, and they did it badly, missing half a dozen opportunities. They and the tory MPs who wet their knickers over a few emails from angry constituents (or Moscow bots, who knows?) Are just as stupid and venal as Cummings thinks they are, and this has terrifying implications for our democracy. If we can’t elect anyone better than this, if the beeb and major media can’t find journalists better than this, what does it say about our society? Is climate hysteria just one symptom of something weirder and worse?

    Liked by 1 person

  218. Geoff, I agree on every point except I didn’t find DC’s humble manner irritating. It *was* an opportunity to learn and I think it was possible to do so by listening carefully to the man – well, on the non-pee issues. Not to anyone else though. The emptiness of the establishment press pack has never been more cruelly exposed.

    John: I was indeed alluding to those dangerous ladies.

    Liked by 1 person

  219. I must be an old curmudgeon these days. I agree with Alan, Geoff and Jaime, and to an extent with Richard, and I don’t think I’m displaying inconsistency there.

    First of all, as a solicitor (albeit retired) my interpretation of the Regulations, especially Reg 6, suggests to me that Cummings probably did break the law (in the sense of committing a criminal act, which is the effect of breaking the Regulations).

    Regulation 6 (1) is a dangerously blunt, almost Orwellian, instrument:

    “6.—(1) During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.”

    Regulation 6 (2) goes on to provide a non-exclusive list of reasonable excuses. I’m far from convinced that Cummings’ journey to Co. Durham falls within any of the excuses it provides. On the other hand, it is a non-exclusive list, so it does give him wriggle room to argue that he still had a reasonable excuse for his behaviour. On the other hand, the excuse offered up for the trip to Barnard Castle strikes me as desperately poor, and it sounds to me like a simple lie. If it’s not a lie, it’s weird behaviour, to say the least.

    So, I think he should go. He’s at the heart of Government, and should set a good example. In that he has failed badly. I don’t think he’s as bright as we thought, since he must know the MSM hate him and are looking for any excuse to bring him down, and he’s provided it to them on a plate. Surely Boris can find someone to replace him? We can’t be so short of talent that he’s irreplaceable.

    But the media’s behaviour is shocking. They’re behaving like a feral pack, as they regularly seem to do from time to time. This sort of behaviour has hounded people to suicide in the past, and after each such event, they always promise to learn lessons, then carry on precisely as they always have done. Trial by media is not pretty, and not desirable in a democracy, especially now that we live in the world of social media, where both types of media seem to wind everybody up, and rational debate is nowhere to be seen. The lack of sympathy for someone who has been through a worrying time for his family’s health, is disgusting, and not just on the part on the media, but also on the part of many self-satisfied snitches and ex-Labour MPs who wouldn’t be out of place in North Korea or working for the Stasi.

    Then again, I agree with Jaime that a right royal mess has been made of everything, and I’d like my country back, please. I fear that isn’t going to happen any time soon.

    I think I got it all off my chest there. I’m angry (with nearly everybody), but at least it’s nice to agree with some fellow commentators here.

    Liked by 1 person

  220. Lockdown challenge…

    12:50 26 May
    UK government ordered to respond to lockdown review
    Tom Symonds
    Home Affairs Correspondent

    A judge has ordered the government to respond to a legal challenge against the lockdown by 12 June.

    The High Court made a ruling after the government asked for more time to respond to an attempted judicial review of the policy, led by the businessman Simon Dolan.


  221. Of course, not everyone in the media is lacking sympathy towards Dominic Cummings and the difficult position he found himself in. Take Tom Harwood, for example, the Guido Fawkes journalist who has been very prominent of late, appearing on Good Morning Britain and the BBC (complete with a huge Union Flag draped surreptitiously in the background) to bemoan the witch hunt that Dominic Cummings has suffered. Also, outside of the media, take my own MP. He was one of the first to publicly declare sympathy for DC after his rose garden conference – it’s just a shame he was not as able to express similar compassion and understanding when it came to him voting against gay rights. So I think you will find in these circumstances that sympathy and understanding are just tools in a toolbox to be retrieved only when the job demands.

    As for myself, I can have every sympathy for someone who has had to deal with such a horrible disease whilst being under the hostile spotlight that DC has had to endure. But when I look at the transcript of the rose garden conference carefully, I do not see the testimony of a caring father who wanted only that his wife and family remain safe. What I see instead is someone struggling to work out how he could keep them safe whilst still going to work. As such, I think it was a business continuity plan that went horribly wrong for him. There may or may not be provision in the guidelines that cover the case of a child in peril of not having childcare, but I doubt if they address the case of a father wanting desperately not to be that cover. Remember, it wasn’t DC’s plan to stay in Durham. He was fully intending to return immediately to London to continue working.

    Liked by 1 person

  222. Contrary to indications, I did not decide to ‘like’ my latest comment, it was just an errant thumb. On the contrary, I would like to make it known that I take back the use of the word ‘immediately’.


  223. John,

    My understanding is that comparing “to” and “with” are comparatively comparable.

    What you need to do is compare and contrast “compare” and “contrast.”


  224. JOHN
    You’ve hit on a logical flaw in his defence. But imagine if a journalist had challenged Cummings with .. “As a good father, shouldn’t you have dropped your job steering the country through its worst crisis in 70 years and looked after your kid?” It would have exposed the whole hypocritical “all in it together” rubbish.

    I was disappointed Cummings didn’t show some of the iconoclasm he’s supposed to possess, like tory minister Alan Clark.. “Of course we broke the rules of engagement when we sunk the Belgrano. There was a war on.” Or leader of London Council Ken Livingstone.. “Spend ratepayers money like there’s no tomorrow? I could build a hostel for black lesbian single mothers on every street corner with the money we’ve got..” Outrageousness like that tends to shut up the whingers.

    So the Cummings of my dreams.. “Of course I bent the rules. So what? What do you want? A functioning goverment machine or a Kafka Noddyland policed by the puffed up Pooters of the Guardian’s opinion page?”

    Or words to that effect. And if he hasn’t got it in him he could hire our Brad as political advisor.


  225. Brad. Don’t care; “to” or “with”, original still reads like I was Moshified.


  226. JOHN
    I’ve been liking my own comments lately too, due to an unfamiliar touch screen. Embarrassing at first, but I’m beginning to like it. I may like this one.
    Following revelations about Cummings altering his old blog articles, it’s only fair to point out that WordPress allows any one of us to alter anything anyone says here. There is no guarantee that anything you read here has not been made up by someone else.

    Liked by 2 people

  227. Brad,

    Arguing with you about the usage of words is a bit like playing chess with a silverback – who happens also to be a grandmaster. Nevertheless, I’ll give it my best.

    I have always acceded on such matters to the authority of ‘Fowler’s Modern English Usage’ (‘modern’ as in ‘post Tudor’, I think). It is at pains to make the distinction I have been making. My other bookcase companion is ‘The Penguin Guide to Common Errors in English’. This book goes so far as to sniff that ‘careful users of English’ make the distinction. Nevertheless, if I consult the ‘Pocket Oxford Dictionary’ it comes down heavily on your side by stating ‘In current use, ‘to’ and ‘with’ are generally interchangeable’.

    So it seems the best I can say is that you should be kinder to the old folk who still like to adhere to their cherished elegancies. If I am guilty of anything, it is a wistful yearning for a return to the days when perambulators were constructed in manufactories.

    Liked by 1 person

  228. Geoff. “There is no guarantee that anything you read here has not been made up by someone else”. I have complained about this before. When returning to something I’ve written, I have found them completely rewritten – their sense hardly changed, but, annoyingly, sometimes better written. Yet later, my original words are returned. Very annoying, makes you think you’re going crazy. Impossible to verify.


  229. Geoff,

    That’s exactly it. The exceptional circumstances had nothing to do with the child and everything to do with the man. He should have come back with the argument that he could not allow his availability to be compromised. But, no matter how reasonable that may be, he could not find anything in the regulations to back him up — otherwise critical care workers would have been doing the same thing rather than exempting themselves from work. Hence the dubious reliance upon the vulnerable child argument. Maybe the press do not share DC’s own assessment of his importance to the cause. Actually, there seems to be no ‘maybe’ about it.


    Rest assured, no one could reasonably or lawfully compare you with, or to, Mosh.

    Liked by 1 person

  230. This stuff is hard. I think I agree with Geoff’s first paragraph. And if I do, I strongly agree with it. As for

    “Of course I bent the rules. So what? What do you want? A functioning goverment machine or a Kafka Noddyland policed by the puffed up Pooters of the Guardian’s opinion page?”

    I think that was implicit. But there is genuine tragedy unfolding in families across the UK – people with whom none of us, least of all Cummings, are at war. And the lockdown rules have undoubtedly made things worse emotionally for some – especially the issue of being unable to see dying parents or siblings, that kind of thing. That’s why the Clark or Livingstone approach, at this particular moment, would have been deeply inappropriate. And would I feel sure have led to his dismissal.

    Cummings is said to be blunt, driven and demanding. None of those qualities were on show. He’s also known to be inquisitive. That I thought was, in his attitude to the questions. But does he have the self-discipline he’s demanded of others during political campaigns? I think we now know the answer.

    Whether he drove at 71 mph at one point on the motorway I care not. Broadly he did the right thing, given his central role in the government, as well as his responsibilities as a husband and father, exactly as Geoff implies, and thus he has indeed set a good example for others. We’re not all the same, though we may in a deeper sense be “all in it together”. For that we need Paul’s metaphor of the body and its constituent parts. And, somewhere deep in our culture, we do still have it.

    Liked by 1 person

  231. ALAN
    This is a common misapprehension due to comments here being better written than on other similar blogs. Rest aßured, we never improve comments. We couldn’t if we tried


  232. As an aside, my sister returned a call of mine not long after Cummings had finished his efforts in the Downing Street garden on Monday. After I told her a bit of my news I asked her what she had made of it. She said pretty much all her circle of friends – NHS, church, Guardian readers (her term) – can’t stand the man but she was frankly impressed. “I think I instinctively go for anyone who’s anti-establishment.” She gets that aspect. So I told her about this chap on our blog who lives in France and still calls himself a communist and he sees Cummings the same way. (Happily Geoff wasn’t around to dispute my interpretation. Near enough, is all I’m saying.)


  233. “Never were so many posts upon so many subjects the result of a thread of so few words [Have at it]”
    Getting unwieldy though? Time for a new open thread?
    Sorry for whining.


  234. ALAN
    Harmless Sky once had a thread with 10,000 comments. I once compared it to a gentlemen’s club, while Bishop Hill was more like a town pub on a Saturday night. Cliscep? A retirement home with bouncy castles…?

    Liked by 1 person

  235. Interestingly, Harmless Sky recently announced its return. Bet that huge thread was in response to more than “The Few”[words that is].


  236. Remember Norway? It was the country lockdown enthusiasts were constantly comparing to Sweden to prove that lockdown worked in Sweden’s Scandinavian neighbour.

    “But the Norwegian public health authority has published a report with a striking conclusion: the virus was never spreading as fast as had been feared and was already on the way out when lockdown was ordered. ‘It looks as if the effective reproduction rate had already dropped to around 1.1 when the most comprehensive measures were implemented on 12 March, and that there would not be much to push it down below 1… We have seen in retrospect that the infection was on its way down.’ Here’s the graph, with the R-number on the right-hand scale:”


  237. By moronically insisting on coming out of lockdown so slowly, by imposing a ridiculous 14 day quarantine on app users who might come close to those supposedly infected with Covid-19, by maintaining onerous, impractical, unscientific and further economy and society destroying social distancing measures on businesses and people in general, this pathological government is backing itself into a corner and the truth will follow them all the way until they have to eventually admit that they got it wrong, by which time it will be too late to preserve any credibility on their part but more importantly, too late to repair the damage they have done to the country.

    Norway’s statistics agency was also the first in the world to calculate the permanent damage inflicted by school closures: every week of classroom education denied to students, it found, stymies life chances and permanently lowers earnings potential. So a country should only enforce this draconian measure if it is sure that the academic foundation for lockdown was sound. And in Stoltenberg’s opinion, ‘the academic foundation was not good enough’ for lockdown this time.

    “The leading article in the new Spectator, out tomorrow, argues that Brits deserve the same candour. There is a wealth of UK data to draw from: 999 calls, infections, hospital data, weekly figures on respiratory infections and some 37,000 Covid deaths. And from this it’s not hard for the UK government to do what the Norwegian and Swedish authorities have done: produce an estimate of the R number dating back to February or March. And use observed data – rather than assumptions and models – to measure the lockdown effect. The results of such a study might make for uncomfortable reading for a government still asking police to enforce lockdown. But these things have a habit of becoming public eventually.”

    Liked by 1 person

  238. John, your initial attempt at rebranding the message, so many posts ago: “Stay in power, Control the people, Save our careers” is not doing too well is it? Perhaps substituting “Party” for “people” might achieve the other two aims.

    Liked by 1 person

  239. Sherelle Jacobs in the Telegraph, reproduced in its entirety. Note the last sentence, the terrifying prospect that the truth will out only when it is way too late – something I said only yesterday. Sadly, tragically, catastrophically, I think that will be the case. Lockdowns, like climate change, are immune to data and evidence, and have taken on a life of their own, which will be literally, the death of the economy and the deaths of many thousands of lockdown victims.

    We have detonated the global economy to pursue a lockdown experiment that may not have worked, according to the latest evidence. This diabolical revelation should be a world scandal. It should also be a sobering moment of enlightenment for Britain, as we seek to salvage our economy while learning lessons on how to better protect the vulnerable. Instead the Covid narrative becomes ever more surreal.

    The broadcast media is more interested in scalping lockdown flouters than questioning whether shutdowns have served any useful purpose. World-class studies that suggest lockdown did not alter the pandemic’s course are mysteriously vanishing into internet obscurity on first contact with the official narrative. Our greatest minds have resorted to unpicking the issue on offbeat YouTube webinars. No global NGO or lockdown country has launched an investigation into their impact.

    This is a scandal so overwhelming that there is only one good place to start: the evidence as it stands. In accordance with pro-lockdown theory, if stay at home orders worked, you might have expected to see daily deaths spike 3-4 weeks after such measures were implemented. (Studies estimate Covid has a symptom-free incubation period of rougly five days, and fatalities typically die 2-3 weeks after showing symptoms.) But, in Britain, infections may have peaked a week before lockdown, according to Prof Carl Heneghan of Oxford University, with daily deaths in hospitals plateauing a fortnight after it was introduced. We are not an anomaly: peak dates across Europe also seem to confound the official theory.

    Don’t just take my word for it. A University of the East Anglia study posits that Europe’s “stay-at-home policies” were not effective. A JP Morgan investigation suggests the virus “likely has its own dynamics” which are “unrelated to often inconsistent lockdown measures”. But such insights have failed to induce even the vaguest quiver of serious mainstream debate.

    Nobel prize-winning mathematician Michael Levitt has fared little better, despite his valiant one-man effort to expose the inconvenient truth about Covid numbers. He has claimed, sensationally, that the modelling that justified lockdown made the fatally incorrect assumption that Covid-19’s spread is continuously exponential. In fact, his research has found an uncanny pattern across numerous countries whereby the virus grows exponentially for two weeks, before slowing seemingly irrespective of lockdown and social distancing measures.

    In a more sensible world, such findings might stir thoughtful debate about whether Covid was burning out naturally before lockdowns began. It might also prompt a global effort to put other pieces of the puzzle together – for example, establishing whether there is a correlation between countries with high death rates and countries that failed to protect care homes. (They make up half of fatalities in Belgium, which has suffered the worst Covid death toll per capita).

    But as the holes in Project Lockdown multiply, its advocates flap incoherently to keep their theory afloat. Not least in Britain, where the goal of lockdown lurches from “flattening the curve” to staving off a “second wave” – to, apparently, averting the first wave’s “second peak”. But if the UK’s hunger for second wave speculation has proved insatiable, the raw data is disappointingly bland: with countries across Asia, Europe and beyond opening up, the only countries experiencing material second waves are… Iran and Djibouti, where data lacks reliability to say the least.

    The poorest look set to pay the highest price for lockdown hysteria: while half of people on £10 per hour face the sack, deprived areas in the North are predicted to be the worst hit by soaring joblessness. Meanwhile, in Italy, industrial jobs collapse and Spain’s endemic poverty spirals into an existential calamity.

    Such too is the tragic arc of Covid-19’s story in the global south, where following in the West’s footsteps could yet ravage the vulnerable. Take Brazil. Western media’s relentless narrative that the country is gripped by an unprecedented coronavirus catastrophe because President Bolsonaro has been belligerently sceptical of lockdown is misleading. In fact, with deaths per million still five times lower than in Britain, and an economy weeks from total collapse, there is perhaps time yet for the West to lead a humanitarian effort to help Brazil and other Latin American countries.

    We should be doing everything we can to help them isolate their vulnerable, placing them in Covid-free facilities if necessary, while the healthy carry on. Instead the WHO, in its disgraceful 25 May press conference, effectively sold poorer countries a defeatist half-truth: in the absence of “tremendous capacities” for measures like track and trace, their only hope is full-scale lockdown.

    Which brings us to the central reality of this crisis, almost too horrific to consider: that the truth will out when it’s all too late. Is that now really the best we can hope for?

    Liked by 2 people

  240. Alan:

    “Never were so many posts upon so many subjects the result of a thread of so few words [Have at it]”
    Getting unwieldy though? Time for a new open thread?

    My new thread When Code Goes Wong isn’t exactly that but it does aim to cover a subset of what we’ve been talking about on this one. It was also influenced by your bafflement at my last but one, speaking as someone who understands virtually nothing in this thread. I got somebody baffled and I fully intend either to put that right or make it far worse.

    Sorry for whining.

    Please note it was your whinging that got the results last time. But remember, as the grape was crushed underfoot, it didn’t have the strength to whinge, it just gave out a little wine.

    Liked by 1 person

  241. Alan,

    When I made my quip back on May 10th, I have to admit I didn’t expect it to prove quite so prescient. But you are quite right to point out that, as far as the government is concerned, it is the control of the party that matters. The people can go to hell, so it seems.


  242. JAIME
    Opposite Sherelle’s article’ but more prominent, is a fact free article from Liam Halligan not challenging Sherelle, just prodding the govt to loosen up a bit. Like Lindzen or Lomborg circa 2005, she will be published and ignored. The censorship will come later.
    Evidence is presented that the Lancet study trashing hydroxychloroquine is fraudulent (though they don’t make that claim)

    Liked by 2 people

  243. I have become increasingly irritated of late by the mantra currently being used by the government to defend Cummings. It was there again this morning when Hancock said, “I’ve said that I think he was acting within the guidelines and I also understand why reasonable people might disagree with that.”

    So folks, you are being reasonable but you are wrong. Don’t you just love being patronized?

    In fact, the real issue here is whether Cummings acted in violation of the Covid-19 Regulations, and that assessment can only be made by a member of the judiciary. As with all H&S law, the regulations are constructed generically because they cannot hope to be explicit regarding all possible circumstances. However, they are accompanied by guidelines that, whilst not forming part of the regulations, are intended to assist in compliance. When deciding whether a regulation has been breached, the magistrate will consult the guidelines to see whether they have been followed. If they haven’t, then it is much more likely that he or she will ‘reason’ that a regulation has been transgressed. The best assessment I have come across so far regarding Dominic’s obedience with the guidelines has been produced by the Full Fact organization:

    It is clear from the above, that several guidelines were not followed. And if that is not convincing you, consider the latest statement from the Durham Constabulary?

    “Had a Durham Constabulary police officer stopped Mr Cummings driving to or from Barnard Castle, the officer would have spoken to him, and, having established the facts, likely advised Mr Cummings to return to the address in Durham, providing advice on the dangers of travelling during the pandemic crisis.”

    So I guess if that ever happens to a member of the government they will say, “But officer, I am acting within the guidelines and although I understand why a reasonable person like you might disagree, I have to say you are wrong.”

    That’s the point at which they would be nicked!


  244. “The Science” has removed what I had expected to have been an advantage of contracting the virus de l’annee – immunity. But, regulations around the new track n’trace indicate that
    “the scientific advice remains that we cannot be certain whether having had the virus means a patient has immunity. So even someone who has had a positive test in the past, will have to stay at home for 14 days if they have come into contact with a new sufferer”.

    I would have thought, with the evidence of thousands of surviving infectees worldwide, not one of which has been proven to have been reinfected, The Science would favour treating the “recovered” as immune and not subject to any 14 day curfew. However, Covid Science is like no other.


  245. Alan,

    ” However, Covid Science is like no other.”

    I think Covid Science is like Climate Science; it can be perverted to fit the preferred political narrative via endless permutations of the precautionary principle.

    Liked by 1 person

  246. “…Lockdowns, like climate change, are immune to data and evidence, and have taken on a life of their own…”

    Yes indeed. Which is exactly why we have to understand those factors which cause such such ‘life’, such phenomena, which in agreement with…

    “We have detonated the *global* economy to pursue a lockdown experiment…” (emphasis mine)

    …are widespread across impacted nations and certainly not a feature of any one.

    In practice, I’m guessing such factors mean that lockdowns / covid will be much more tractable to data and evidence over the medium term (a year or so), unlike the culture of catastrophic climate change that has already rolled across decades apparently unhindered by contradicting mainstream science, let alone anything skeptical.

    Liked by 1 person

  247. Richard. We who have recovered are the lucky ones. We can point to the evidence and say we are now personally safe. In my case I can now be reasonably sure that I will make a full recovery and each day I walk further and further. Soon I’ll be shopping in the local supermarket. Others do not have this surety – uncertain if they have been exposed and been largely asymptomatic, resistant, or still at risk.

    Jaime I understand where you’re coming from, but Covid Science seems to take evidence, ignore it and concludes that, because we are ignoring this evidence there is none and thus we must employ the precautionary principle in all its magnificence to impose draconian and unnecessary restrictions on a person’s liberty. I don’t believe Climate Science has stooped this low, although some activists might wish it to.

    Liked by 1 person

  248. I just finished the GWPF webinar, mentioned on my most recent thread. Chris Essex was great but what really struck me was Gordon Hughes talking about his work in Russia as the soviet system collapsed and how both leaders and advisers were doomed to short lives because of the magnitude of the challenges they were facing. Later he was explicit: this (UK) government is doomed, no matter how well they act. What I’ve felt from March. And once you know that, it frees you up to do the right thing, as best you can.


  249. Alan, Climate Science’s speciality seems to be to make up the ‘overwhelming’ evidence for a human fingerprint on climate change and severe weather and then claim that this means that governments will have to impose draconian, unnecessary and in all likelihood totally ineffective restrictions on our liberty and way of life in order to lessen that fingerprint. They use multimillion pound supercomputers running climate models fed with unrealistic ‘concentration pathways’ (aka emissions scenarios) to prove that the anthropogenic climate signal is ‘everywhere’.

    Scientists at the Hadley Centre, which has been on the global frontline of climate monitoring, research and modelling since it opened in 1990, said early theories about fossil-fuel disruption have been proven by subsequent facts.

    “The climate now is completely different from what we had 30 years ago. It is completely outside the bounds of possibility in natural variation,” said Peter Stott, a professor and expert on climate attribution science at the centre.

    In the Hadley Centre’s early projections, he said, scientists forecast 0.5C of warming in the UK between 1990 and 2020 as a result of emissions from oil, gas and coal: “We got it spot on.”

    With new heat records being broken with increasing frequency, he said global temperatures were now above any level in the Met Office measurements since 1850, or indirectly calculated through tree rings going back thousands of years. Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are also higher than anything seen in million-year-old ice cores. “We are seeing an unprecedented climate,” Stott said. “The human fingerprint is everywhere.”

    You and I know that attribution science is not proper science and that climate models cannot be used to ‘prove’ anything about real world data, but Boris is as surely taken in by this rubbish as he was by Ferguson’s predictions of hundreds of thousands of deaths.


  250. Pathologist John Lee finishing an informative and disturbing piece in The Spectator today:

    We need proper information to inform our responses to the virus, both clinical and societal. Instead, we have no idea how many of the deaths attributed to Covid-19 really were due to the disease. And we have no idea how many of the excess deaths were really due to Covid-19 or to the effects of lockdown. Officials should be releasing, as a matter of urgency, detailed information on the surge in deaths, both apparent Covid and non-Covid — particularly in care homes. How many are dying of Covid acquired in hospitals? Data presumably exists on this too, but is not released.

    The first rule in a pandemic should be to ensure transparency of information. Without it, errors can go undiscovered — and lives can be lost. We will never be able to find out for sure what this disease was like, or what it did in the early stages of the crisis.

    One of the unappreciated tragedies of this epidemic so far is the huge lost opportunity to understand Covid-19 better. We like to beat ourselves up for having the worst Covid death toll in Europe — but we will never know, because we decided not to count properly. In a country that has always prided itself on the quality of its facts and figures, the missing Covid-19 data is a national scandal.

    I’ve gone off computer code as a subject, just for the moment. (Back on that tomorrow.) But rest assured, Garbage In is being guaranteed.

    Liked by 2 people

  251. People are still signing a petition telling the Beeb to reinstate Emily Maitlis as a presenter of Newsnight.

    Currently 95,367 signatories, rising every minute.

    The petition was set up yesterday by a Bremoaner (natch) who, a few hours later, posted an update acknowledging that Maitlis hadn’t actually been uninstated.

    Yet on they come, signer after signer, all so keen to… achieve what?

    Here’s the latest comment by a signatory:

    St Emily is my hero. The lone voice against mendacity, prejudice and selfish ignorance.

    Cripes! Has Edward Vines escaped from jail already?


  252. The government and Hancock have repeatedly denied a policy of dumping hospital patients into care homes, without even testing for the virus. Now ITV has gathered definitive evidence that this is exactly what they did. Caught lying, again.

    Liked by 1 person

  253. It’s on RT again, but seems very lucid, candid and balanced, and IMO is well worth a read:

    “I’ve signed death certificates during Covid-19. Here’s why you can’t trust any of the statistics on the number of victims
    By Malcolm Kendrick, doctor and author who works as a GP in the National Health Service in England. His blog can be read here and his book, ‘Doctoring Data – How to Sort Out Medical Advice from Medical Nonsense,’ is available here.”

    “As an NHS doctor, I’ve seen people die and be listed as a victim of coronavirus without ever being tested for it. But unless we have accurate data, we won’t know which has killed more: the disease or the lockdown?…”

    Liked by 2 people

  254. Jaime, a monstrous fake lockdown policythat isolates the young and healthy but places corona patients in the very places, care homes, that lockdown was supposed to be protecting, the section of the community most affected by COVID -19.

    Heaven protect us from guvuhmint expurt decision making.

    Liked by 2 people

  255. RT at least is setting the trend in proper journalism. Credit to ITV too for digging into the care home scandal, though one wonders at the motive for doing so. We are going to need real journalism, red in tooth and claw, fearless and unbiased, if this government is ever to be held publicly accountable for the mess it has made of its response to Covid-19. The MSM is, on the whole, useless.

    Liked by 1 person

  256. Whilst not for a moment (and at this moment) not defending the policy of sending recovered patients to care homes, I wonder what those criticizing this policy would have done? Cast your mind back and format your alternatives, recall your greatest fears based upon the Italian experience of having their health services overwhelmed, a need for extra hospital beds, not less caused by bed-blocking, and a very real shortage of testing kits. Admittedly you probably recognize you are putting at risk the elderly in the care homes but what alternatives are open to you?
    Patients in care homes had already been identified as at risk when care home operators banned all visitors, a horrendous policy for many residents whose mental states, even their very hold on reality, was dependent upon regular family visits, now prevented. The anguish and increased confusion of hundreds, if not thousands of care home inhabitants is one of the least commented upon horrors of this virus.

    Liked by 1 person

  257. Very well said Alan. For hindsight to have such a flowering in 2020 would be a beautiful thing if it wasn’t for the genuine suffering – the breadth of which you’re helping us to appreciate. As Gordon Hughes said yesterday, just by dint of being in the right place at the wrong time the government is doomed. Yet – what he didn’t say – according to Cameron-Clegg rules it has over four years to run. Does vitriol have a half-life and what is it?

    Meanwhile I think it’s only right to alert Mosh that another study seems to be confirming that ‘dumbshit theory’. Time for yet more vitriol I’m sure.

    Retweeted on its way to me this morning by Debbie Kennett of UCL. Get onto her and the other 405 people for mentioning it in passing Mosh! I was surprised to see that Debbie still follows me. There seems to have been so much water under the bridge since the Tim Hunt affair.

    Liked by 2 people

  258. In the spirit of Alan’s “never in the field of human blogging have so many posts upon so many subjects …” has anyone else tried out emergency self-repair of their teeth under lockdown? So far using the DenTek repair kit (Superdrug had it when Amazon was going to make me wait a month or more) seems to have been a doddle. But I haven’t tried eating anything yet. 45 minutes to go and I’m chomping.

    Liked by 1 person

  259. Richard. I credit my granddaughter, a carer, for an insight into what transpired in her care home. To hear stories of a resident hopelessly lost and confused when her husband of 60+ years, who visited her every day, was excluded and disappeared from her life is truly heart wrenching. That this imposed harm was undermined by other residents being returned from hospital, possibly infected, is not well enough publicised.
    How my granddaughter coped, I will never know. She eventually lost her job, being sent home to shield my wife and I.

    Liked by 3 people

  260. “RT at least is setting the trend in proper journalism.”

    RT is a flat out propaganda channel, and as such they couldn’t be further from proper journalism. Everything they do is geared to serve a purpose, which purpose has nothing to do with journalistic truths. One method among many for such operations, on subjects where it doesn’t actually counter their purpose, is to scatter useful snippets as bait to hook people in to initial sympathy, and eventual trust, of the channels’ output. The fact that more of the alternative and supposedly objective channels are more biased these days, does not make such propaganda operations legitimate. While also this doesn’t mean one can’t attempt to evaluate each news item independently, from RT or anywhere else, and there are indeed many reasons why ‘proper journalism’ can fail – e.g. unconscious or systemic organisational bias rather than actual state sponsored bias – this is no reason to assume that the latter case is ever going to approximate to anything ‘proper’, which is to say an unbiased pursuit of the truth for their audience.


  261. Andy, regardless of your no doubt well informed opinion of RT, this, to me, is proper journalism, not mere propaganda:

    If Covid-19 killed 30,000, and lockdown killed the other 30,000, then the lockdown was a complete and utter waste of time. and should never happen again. The great fear is that this would be a message this government does not want to hear – so they will do everything possible not to hear it.

    It will be decreed that all the excess deaths we have seen this year were due to Covid-19. That escape route will be made far easier if no-one has any real idea who actually died of the coronavirus disease, and who did not. Yes, the data on Covid-19 deaths really matters.

    Not many other media sources are willing to say this, or invite others to say it in an op-ed. It raises the very real possibility that our own government will engage in a shameless propaganda war using manipulated statistics to avoid culpability for deaths during lockdown and claim that lockdown was indeed a sensible option. The cold, hard truth is that the government and the NHS removed thousands of elderly patients from hospital. placing them in care homes without testing them for Covid and then refused to re-admit patients from care homes into hospital who were suffering from serious ailments unrelated to Covid-19. This policy killed many thousands and, as Alan has pointed out, the policy of denying care home residents visits from family, has very seriously impacted the mental and no doubt physical health of a great many care home residents, many of whom, nearing the end of their lives, have probably given up in response to this cruel isolation.

    Liked by 1 person

  262. Richard, thanks for that:

    “We then show that SARS-recovered patients (n=23), 17 years after the 2003 outbreak, still possess long-lasting memory T cells reactive to SARS-NP, which displayed robust cross-reactivity to SARS-CoV-2 NP.”

    So, just remember Cliscep readers, you heard such dumbshit theories mentioned in passing here first.

    Liked by 1 person

  263. Richard so WHAT HAPPENED? /you left your poor Cliscep readers in limbo, chomping at your bit so to speak.

    Liked by 1 person

  264. Jaime, you completely missed my point. RT does not engage in proper journalism; if a piece happens to be more objective (as say proved out by future history, the only real judge), it’s because this happens to temporarily suit its agenda, which agenda is anything but what proper journalism aims at. That various other outlets are more biased these days (for different reasons and to whatever extent), including indeed the BBC, does not lessen the agenda. If one takes every piece (from everywhere) purely on it’s merits and via comparison with multiple other sources, then this is fine, but hard to keep up all the time. Nor does some good pieces make for trust in a channel; good journalism for a channel is systemic and not about individual pieces. But “RT at least is setting the trend in proper journalism”, is expressing trust in the channel, is it not?


  265. OK Andy, presuming you’re correct and not even this one written piece is a glowing example of good journalism, but is tainted by nefarious ulterior motive, then what would be RT’s agenda in promoting a GP’s criticism of the government’s care home policy? I suggested myself that ITV might be motivated not merely by journalistic integrity in their expose of the government’s care home policy. They are, after all, part of the left wing MSM who would probably quite like to see this government fall. But RT, what might their motive be?


  266. Also Andy,

    But “RT at least is setting the trend in proper journalism”, is expressing trust in the channel, is it not?

    Not really. It was a comment on what I thought about the quality of the actual piece referenced, which, to me, was setting a trend in proper journalism re. the general subject of Covid-19 policy and lockdowns, so woefully lacking in other mainstream outlets. It doesn’t mean I trust RT as a source for all news, not by any means.


  267. We’re in very good company. Even Nic Lewis is promoting dumbshit theories in passing now. I expect Mosh will be raging soon over at Climate Etc.

    “It is becoming evident that, in addition to individuals’ general resistance to infection varying, around half the population may well have pre-existing partial immunity to COVID-19 due to previous encounters with other coronaviruses.[5]”

    Liked by 1 person

  268. This is interesting. The cross immunity of those not exposed to SARS-1 is not looking like it was generated via exposure to any other known coronavirus, suggesting that there is another (or several) unknown coronaviruses ‘out there’ which humans have previously been exposed to. Maybe human coronaviruses are rather more common than we thought, meaning that the ‘common cold’ is even more common – sniff!


  269. That’s cool dumbshit indeed, thanks Jaime. When the fat lady sings, or Nic Lewis blogs, we know we’re near the end of the story 🙂

    RT did some very good pieces on Climategate in the aftermath of 17th November 2009. The conspiracy theories of everything bad in the world emanating from the desk of Vladimir Putin seem to follow swiftly in the wake of that. I think it’s legitimate and predictable that climate sceptics will disagree on such things. Complex world – and a pretty deceptive one.

    Liked by 2 people

  270. Alan, I decided to go for some raw veg with dips, the veg getting progressively crunchier. When I passed the celery test I self-proclaimed the chomper a self-dentistry genius. Thanks for caring.


  271. I seem to have started a little bit of a discussion regarding RT’s “journalism”. I always cite articles from its website with caution. My view is somewhere between Andy’s and Jaime’s, I think. RT is the creature of the Russian government, and so far as I am concerned it is not trustworthy, has an agenda, and anything read there must be run through a personal filter. IMO, that agenda includes sowing mistrust in the west, and undermining “green” energy, since Russia is so dependent on selling its fossil fuels.

    However, it does report on stories that the likes of the BBC and the Guardian wouldn’t touch with a barge pole, because they don’t suit the Guardian/BBC world-view/narrative. To the extent that I regard the Guardian and the BBC as regularly lying by omission, I turn to the likes of RT to discover the stories that the BBC and the Guardian deem to be unimportant or,worse still, don’t want me to know about.

    Also, occasionally, stories appear that seem to be reasonably well-researched and well-written. When I encounter them I read them with interest, think hard about whether I believe or trust them, and if they’ve potentially at least passed those tests, I consider sharing them here and at Bishop Hill – but as I said at the outset, only with the caveat that the article is from RT, so treat with caution.

    Liked by 2 people

  272. Putin needs to look for another job. There’s quite enough discord in the West at the moment courtesy largely of our own left wing establishment and corporate media; I don’t think he needs to sow any more.


  273. Jaime:

    “But RT, what might their motive be?”

    They are the propagandistic mouthpiece for Russian interests. Aside from that you want me to second guess each and every thing they do? I do not know what’s in the mind of the Russians. Have you actually seen the output of RT over time?

    “Not really. It was a comment on what I thought about the quality of the actual piece referenced, which, to me, was setting a trend in proper journalism re…”

    On any one article, or indeed any one issue, one cannot determine the journalistic standards of a channel. Only on a wide breadth of output over significant time.


    “The conspiracy theories of everything bad in the world emanating from the desk of Vladimir Putin seem to follow swiftly in the wake of that.”

    ..and which are every bit as wrong, as trusting RT to be a channel of high journalistic quality would be. And the latter by no means indicates there won’t be ‘good pieces’ on said channel on occasion, but only when it suits; which means for things one happens to know little about, one won’t have a clue whether it’s leading one up the garden path or not.


  274. “They are the propagandistic mouthpiece for Russian interests.”

    The truth is the best form of propaganda.


  275. “The truth is the best form of propaganda.”

    Indeed, when it can be usefully incorporated into a position, or at least the weakening of perceived opposition to said position. But of course any ideological position will ultimately be at odds with veracity more generically, hence the appearance of veracity (or at least relative objectivity when the truth is actually not yet known by any party), will always be a minority component of propaganda.


  276. ALAN KENDALL says:
    29 May 20 at 10:03 am
    “Whilst not for a moment (and at this moment) not defending the policy of sending recovered patients to care homes, I wonder what those criticizing this policy would have done? Cast your mind back and format your alternatives, recall your greatest fears based upon the Italian experience of having their health services overwhelmed, a need for extra hospital beds, not less caused by bed-blocking, and a very real shortage of testing kits. Admittedly you probably recognize you are putting at risk the elderly in the care homes but what alternatives are open to you?”

    Weren’t the, otherwise unused, Nightingale Hospitals built as places that were intended to be used for isolating the infected?

    I think the whole care homes seems to me to be a bit of a smokescreen. The real failure was in the NHS, even after twenty years of planning and report writing on the subject of a novel flu virus, when put to the test they singularly failed to identify and isolate infected people as they were admitted into hospitals. Which of course lead to the hospitals becoming reservoirs of infection for the rest of the country.


  277. BillBedford yes there was blame to go around certainly, in particular in the various agencies, inside the NHS and out, that plan for future emergencies, including pandemics. But given that there were multiple deficiencies in the system, the government and the NHS had to deal with what they had. Given the Italian example they set about avoiding it, hence the mantras “save the NHS” and “flatten the curve”.

    I only experienced how the NHS coped relatively late in the day, so can only speak of how my local NHS (Norwich and environs) had dealt with the crisis. My GP’s practice had essentially closed down, doors were locked, waiting rooms closed down, patients were only seen by appointment one at a time, appointments made difficult by phone calls preceded by a 6 minute preamble.
    Paramedics (and the 111 service (with regard to responding to Covid victims) ambulances only responded to people in breathing distress.
    Hospital was the best part of the entire system. Swab test taken immediately after being settled in a bed, result within hours followed by immediate transfer to dedicated ward. During the transfer I saw how well the hospital had coped. The entire hospital had been divided into green and yellow zones for Covid free and Covid contaminated. Many of the corridors were either exclusively green or yellow but some had to be both and were divided into opposing one-way routes, one yellow, the other green. The whole hospital had been divided up and where Covid and Covid-free overlapped, it became a spaghetti network of one-way routes intertwining. I was given a CT scan the next day, normally as an outpatient you waited weeks.
    I get my medications through the post. The organization responsible had to lengthen the period of time necessary to fulfil prescriptions from 5 to 10 days to deal with increased demands
    I think that, by the time I got infected, my local NHS had sorted itself out, some parts deteriorating, others rising to the challenge.
    I think we need to redesign hospitals to deal with pandemics and reorganize the GP system drastically.


  278. The UK Covid-19 death figures cannot be trusted. Personally, I don’t mind whether RT or the ‘positive professor’ point out that truth. The truth is the truth, no matter where one finds it, in a dark alley where post Cold War commies lurk or from a respected UK cancer specialist.


  279. Bill. You wrote “Weren’t the, otherwise unused, Nightingale Hospitals built as places that were intended to be used for isolating the infected?”
    I think you have your timings wrong. Following the Northern Italian experience the Government and NHS planners were expecting a steeply rising wave of infections that would overwhelm the existing NHS facilities and staff. As I understood it, everything was done to “flatten this curve”. As infections rose, large parts of hospitals were reorganized and dedicated to Covid victims. This was done by stopping or curtailing other activities, so freeing up whole wards. People occupying beds but only because they had nowhere safe to go had to be dealt with and so the plan to accommodate them in care homes was conceived. If this had been coupled with a scheme of prior-relocation testing it might have worked successfully. The new Nightingale hospitals were only being planned at the stage these changes were being made to our hospitals. And these changes were profound. My response as a late user of the emergency was how well my local hospital had coped, but I suppose partially at the expense of care homes.


  280. Per comment above, % total Covid deaths occurring in care homes:

    England 20%
    Wales 25%
    Germany 37%
    Scotland 45%
    Sweden 50%
    France 50%
    Belgium 51%
    Spain 66%
    US percentage not quoted, but referring back to total deaths at the time looks like 35%

    Care homes or LTCF (long-term care facilities), doesn’t just mean old people’s homes here, although they form the great bulk of facilities. Which may also mean some apples to apples issues. I doubt the virus was ever going to be kept completely out of such large reservoirs of the vulnerable, which before this crisis typically had low grade procedures. I saw an article (single PoV alert!) some while back blaming in Spain the extremely stretched (mainly private) facilities which barely managed even before the crisis, and also implying the care home wave was under way before or simultaneously with the general wave (i.e. not as a result of hospital shedding), which implies the timing of care home deaths needs attention in all countries. On the surface at least, that experience / timing doesn’t seem the same for England. But anyhow assuming the figures are good, there’s enough disparity across impacted nations above to imply systemic differences in what was actually happening in some of them (which may or may not include ‘how it was handled’). In theory the UK or any other government’s claims of innocence can eventually be backtracked to largely debunk or verify. Given the huge England / Scotland difference, regional gov is surely also an issue, not to mention in the vast beaurocracies of different national care systems, some regional / local authorities potentially acting autonomously through ignorance / incompetence or even (through panic) defiance of national guidance. I see last week in the US that Cuomo blamed Trump for official policy of outsourcing covid patients to care homes. I’ve no idea whether that’s true, but if this was indeed federal guidance, many other states wisely ignored it.

    Click to access covid-19-long-term-care-facilities-surveillance-guidance.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  281. “The left wing BBC definitely has a political agenda and is well versed in the use of propaganda…”

    Goodness knows the BBC does indeed have significant and apparently increasing bias issues, but these are home-grown and not at all part of a conscious state propaganda arm. Indeed their bias typically opposes the state (or at least those supposedly in charge of same) these days. Which, bad as it may be, is still a hugely better situation than a true state-sponsored propaganda operation, which within national boundaries also squashes dissenting voices.


  282. Andy wrote: “Which, bad as it may be, is still a hugely better situation than a true state-sponsored propaganda operation”

    I disagree. The bias of RT is obvious. The POV it will promote, well known. The media which claims impartiality but is ideologically motivated to bolster one side of an argument and denigrates the other is by far the greater threat.

    Liked by 2 people

  283. Jaimie. If there are four coronavirie that cause the ‘the common cold’, is it remotely possible that the huge variation in human responses to Covid 19 could in part due to variations in what type of colds people have suffered from in the recent past. I recall that ‘she who must be listened to’ suffered from some real stinking colds, which passed me by unscathed. Could this explain why I succumbed to Covid 19, whereas she, who must have been subjected to a full viral load from me, was essentially immune?

    Perhaps dumbshit theories need expanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  284. “The POV it will promote, well known”

    Only for those issues where the specific play isn’t hidden.

    “The media which claims impartiality but is ideologically motivated to bolster one side of an argument and denigrates the other is by far the greater threat.”

    Well I way, way prefer living under the system in which BBC bias nevertheless prospers, than the system which is kept in place by the obvious propaganda of RT and most other Russian media, aside a few brave and threatened voices in the wilderness.


  285. Alan,

    Dumbshit theories certainly do need expanding. Coronavirae work in many mysterious ways, their wonders to behold. ‘Flu viruses too apparently. It’s almost a rule of thumb that if I get a really bad case of ‘flu, my partner doesn’t and vice versa. It’s like these viruses are socially very obliging and don’t like to put two people in the same household out of action at the same time.


  286. I’d prefer neither of them prosper. There is no place for a state broadcaster that promotes any kind of bias, whether that’s government bias or its own internal ideological bias.

    Liked by 1 person

  287. DaveJR, “I’d prefer neither of them prosper. ”

    Well I can’t disagree with that. Though I think the BBC could more accurately be described as an anti-state broadcaster, currently. It has a plausible chance of losing it’s license fee system soon, in which case one presumes that commercial realities would at least crop its bias down to ‘only’ that of other commercial outlets.


  288. The MSM in this country and in America (and probably elsewhere too) have become a clear and present danger to democracy and the harmonious functioning of society. They have immense and largely unbridled power and influence and they use that power and influence to promote their own partisan views which sometimes coincide with the state, but at other times do not. By promoting untruths and extremely biased articles, they do immense damage to the social fabric and cohesion of the nation, as we have seen all too clearly throughout this crisis and as we have seen in the promotion of alarmism about climate change. The state sponsored BBC, which supposedly has a legal obligation to remain impartial and accurate at all times, has been one of the worst offenders and has sown real discord under the cover of an unbiased quality media outlet. Only now are people waking up to the fact that it is controlled by hard left socialists who have an agenda and will shamelessly use their taxpayer funded media reach to promote that agenda, which includes experimental mass social engineering and attempts at interfering with the due democratic process, as with Brexit.


  289. What is happening in Denmark is explosive. When it eventually and belatedly happens in the UK, it will be thermonuclear.

    Leaked emails between leading figures in Denmark’s health authorities are raising questions over the extent to which Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen steam-rollered her own health experts at the time the country imposed its lockdown in mid-March.
    In an email leaked to the Politiken newspaper, Per Okkel, the top civil servant at the health ministry, told Søren Bostrøm, the head of the Danish Health Authority to suspend his sense of professional “proportionality” as a public servant, and instead adopt a “extreme precautionary principle” when giving political advice.

    At the same time, emails leaked to the Ekstrabladet newspaper showed how on March 20, new calculations showing that the reproduction number in Denmark was 2.1, considerably lower than the 2.6 previously estimated, were held back because they were “not desired politically”.

    “The people have had a high degree of confidence in the authorities and the government, and now you just have to say that the trust doesn’t go the other way,” he told the broadcaster TV2.

    “The government and the prime minister apparently were of the opinion that there is information the public cannot bear to hear.”

    In an in-depth article, the Politiken newspaper detailed how the government’s emergency law on March 12 had stripped powers from the Danish Health Authority, changing it from an “regulatory authority” to an “advisory” one.

    This allowed the government to ignore the authority’s opinion that Covid-19 was not a sufficiently dangerous disease to permit the government to impose compulsory interventions on the public under Denmark’s epidemic law.

    Liked by 1 person

  290. Oh dear, that most rabid, biased left wing main stream media outlet, the Graun, has turned its fire on the government (only to be expected) by reporting largely on facts (entirely unexpected). The tide has turned. Johnson is going to think that his personal battle with coronavirus was a walk in the park (avoiding sitting on a park bench of course) compared to the battle he faces defending his absurd, ill thought out and catastrophic coronavirus policy.

    “Johnson and Hancock remain in denial over the apparent reasons for this, that thousands of Britons appear to have died after being ejected or turned away from NHS hospitals, either dumped into care homes or having vital operations postponed. Thousands more may have died at home, through being terrified by Johnson into not seeking hospital care at all.

    This saga is approaching its end and there must be a reckoning. Perhaps some lives have been saved by lockdown. If so, it is strange that countries that rejected it, from Sweden to Taiwan, have seen a lower death rate than Britain. Meanwhile the longer lockdown lasts, the faster its cost rises towards the staggering total of £200bn. How many lives might that have saved?

    With budget deficit now predicted to reach 17% of GDP, Britain now faces a double humiliation: the world’s highest coronavirus death rate and the worst resulting economic collapse. Johnson likes blood-curdling “worst-case scenarios”. Mine is that this will prove to be Britain’s most catastrophic and costly policy failure in modern times. If so, I hope a memorial plaque to the demise of responsible Toryism is fixed to a certain Barnard Castle tree.”

    Liked by 2 people

  291. “Mine is that this will prove to be Britain’s most catastrophic and costly policy failure in modern times.”

    May hold you to that when the bill for NetZero is in 😉
    3 to 5 trillion by 2050?
    Even at the lower end, that’s the above £200bn every 2 years until nirvana in 2050.


  292. Indeed Andy. Johnson is threatening to go right ahead with net zero despite wrecking the economy with Covid lockdown, so he’ll outdo himself, though I’m beginning to suspect he may not be around long enough to steer the country into the net zero catastrophe, which task may fall to another hapless Tory PM. We shall see.


  293. Jaime: That article is not The Guardian, it’s Simon Jenkins, once Editor of The Times. (The two papers swapped him for David Aaronovitch as columnists in 2005.) But it’s worth knowing where Jenkins is up to with this one, thanks.


  294. UK lockdown is being eased but it’s getting complicated:


  295. Italy too now. Shit – meet fan.

    ROME (Reuters) – The new coronavirus is losing its potency and has become much less lethal, a senior Italian doctor said on Sunday.

    “In reality, the virus clinically no longer exists in Italy,” said Alberto Zangrillo, the head of the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan in the northern region of Lombardy, which has borne the brunt of Italy’s coronavirus contagion.

    “The swabs that were performed over the last 10 days showed a viral load in quantitative terms that was absolutely infinitesimal compared to the ones carried out a month or two months ago,” he told RAI television.

    Zangrillo said some experts were too alarmist about the prospect of a second wave of infections and politicians needed to take into account the new reality.

    “We’ve got to get back to being a normal country,” he said. “Someone has to take responsibility for terrorizing the country.”

    It came. They swung the wrecking ball. It went.
    Welcome to the new political reality.


  296. Oops, the shine seems to have come off:


  297. Did anyone read the piece by Justin Rowlatt on BBC yesterday? Climate change: How a green new deal really could go global. It’s an extraordinary eruption of advocacy posing as analysis. There is simply no credible way that the chief environment correspondent could be competent AND believe the nonsense he’s written there.

    He uses polls to “prove” that crazy climate action is the way out of the Wuhan coronavirus depression. (Everything is circular: stupid loud people tell the masses to be scared of climate change, pollsters ask the masses if they are scared of climate change, policy makers use reports of their citizens’ fears to justify stupid actions.) Renewables are now cheaper than fossil fuels and getting cheaper all the time. China is just waiting for a Dem in the White House and then it will jump on the green bandwagon. What should the money be spent on? “There is the obvious stuff – building wind turbines, solar farms and the foundations of a hydrogen economy…” He thinks these jobs are – *crucially* – going to be local.

    Then we have the famous “carbon” border tariff on goods entering the EU (and by implication, the UK).

    “The more renewables you produce, the cheaper they get,” Rowland opines – getting the facts *exactly* arse upwards.

    Altogether a stunningly inept piece of question-begging that makes me worry more than ever about how rational some of those with the loudest voices are.


  298. On Wednesday night, Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg went on Norwegian television to make a startling admission: she had panicked. Some, even most, of the tough measures imposed in Norway’s lockdown now looked like steps too far. “Was it necessary to close schools?” she mused. “Perhaps not.”

    It takes balls to admit you got it wrong. All Johnson had to do was admit that lockdown was a big mistake and start lifting it as swiftly as practicable. Instead, we’ve got this slow, tedious, incremental, haphazard lifting of restrictions and the continuing imposition of absurd, non-scientific and socially and economically destructive social distancing rules which we are supposed to accept is the ‘new normal’ until a vaccine is found. The public, quite rightly, are choosing to ignore the new normal and go back to the old normal. But the damage is still being done. Meanwhile, the increasingly ridiculous and irrelevant SAGE argues even that the moderate loosening of restrictions are a risk too far. There may just be time for Johnson to recoup his losses if he acts swiftly and decisively and is willing to weather the inevitable storm, but I don’t think he’s got it in him, to be honest.


  299. JIT, when the Covid crisis is over, we are going to have to deal with the ‘build back better’ fanatics too. Johnson is signed up to that as well. We lockdown and climate sceptics are in for a very tough fight against people who have irrationality, illogic, scare-tactics and ‘evidence’ manufactured out of the blue on their side.


  300. “This is what we’re up against. This rotten government is attempting to use its wanton destruction of the economy to press for a more long term wanton destruction of the economy, aka ‘green recovery’.”

    Along with many other authorities who are attempting / calling for the same.

    Jaime 21st march: “The only silver linings I can see are that we will be much better informed and more ready for subsequent pandemics, we may radically reassess our insane dependence upon China, and the ‘climate crisis’ may have breathed its last. We can but hope.”

    As noted at the time, I strongly suspected this hope was vain ): But nor am I too sure of the other ‘silver linings’ now, in that true preparedness should stem from rational analysis not emotive reactions such as fear and grand-standing and whatever. But so far, I don’t think we could say rationality has prevailed, globally. And while there is some wake-up regarding China, to date even this is I guess… limited.


  301. It’s depressing how the madness just reinforces itself Andy. I had thought that destroying the economy might preclude the possibility of them frittering away trillions to get to net zero, thinking that other, far more important priorities would present themselves in the form of basically getting the nation on its feet again. But no, the insane Green movement actually sees this as an opportunity to further advance their agenda by requiring recovery to be ‘sustainable’, which of course means that there will be no true recovery. But that’s basically what they want: a much smaller, more tightly controlled economy and a locked down, impoverished populace deprived of the freedoms they have hitherto enjoyed. Green austerity forever.

    Liked by 1 person

  302. Jaime: “It’s depressing how the madness just reinforces itself Andy. I had thought that destroying the economy might preclude the possibility of them frittering away trillions to get to net zero, thinking that other, far more important priorities would present themselves in the form of basically getting the nation on its feet again. But no, the insane Green movement actually sees this as an opportunity…”

    Depressing is the word. But assuming rational behaviour from a fundamentally irrational movement, even in extremis, is not ever likely to be rewarding. Which doesn’t mean per Richard that the culture steering doggedly at near-net-zero is necessarily invincible. However, I don’t know of any Achilles heel. I know only that there’s more chance of finding one if we understand how the phenomenon works.

    One way of attacking a culture is to steal its thunder with another, but a) it would have to be potent, and b) this likely means starting the cycle all over again in the longer term. Another is to take a leaf from the Life of Brian and create as many heretical splits as possible, until every idealistic sub-faction is fighting every other, paralysing the thing until it crumbles away. The nuclear energy option is good in this respect, plus even better is the Planet of the Humans. As most NetZero options lean heavily on renewables, this should be a great inhibitor and source of internal conflict. Yet it’s looking already like the beast will ring-fence the damage. Comparable cultures don’t appear to have an Achilles heel. Explanatory power from evolution has weakened but far from defeated religion, and that after 150 years+. While climate evolution will probably remain uncertain for decades at least and maybe far longer, no equivalent explanatory power can be wielded. It took a world war to squash the aggressive culture that arose in central Europe in the late twenties to mid forties, and I guess you can’t rightly say it’s completely dead now, albeit what survives has evolved. Communism is on the back-foot regarding formal power except in China, but still pretty healthy beneath the surface and for instance in academia has very disproportionate support of Marxist principles, not to mention senior politicians in the UK with such sentiments were not a million miles from power only last year. And China is hardly trivial. Intense competition with the US and decades of economic reality biting, eventually brought down the Communist Soviet Union, but there is no explicit competitor to Climate Catastrophism at this point, and neither would we want to get that low before realisation dawned. ‘Revolution’ is how some cultures have been defeated (even a climate culture, per the historic Lambayeque people). But unless it is bloodless and preferably through a landslide election rather than outside the system, this could be worse than the problem, at least for the generations who have to experience it. However, rather like the competition aspect above, this does point a way. I think there there has to be formal political opposition to climate catastrophism and all the anti-science (i.e. even mainstream science, let alone skeptical) it stands for. Then, huge (innate) skepticism that lurks in national publics would have a chance to get expressed where it matters. No existing UK party is likely to adopt; so a new party. But who is brave enough and devoted enough to create it (the fight will be brutal, and long-term).


  303. That’s a good summary of some potent elements Andy:

    Another is to take a leaf from the Life of Brian and create as many heretical splits as possible, until every idealistic sub-faction is fighting every other, paralysing the thing until it crumbles away. The nuclear energy option is good in this respect, plus even better is the Planet of the Humans. As most NetZero options lean heavily on renewables, this should be a great inhibitor and source of internal conflict.

    (Evolution was never gonna knock out faith in Jesus by the way. One of the oddities of the history is that the men originally called fundamentalists, like R. A. Torrey, accepted Darwin’s theory of evolution as fine if the scientific evidence confirmed it. Later people called by the same name were at lot dumber, at least that would be my summary.)

    But going back to Jaime and the search for the achilles heel of alarmism I think nuclear, Planet of the Humans and what everyone is learning through the coronavirus comprise a giant opportunity. I think the current violence and looting in the States make it more likely Trump will win the election in November and that will help. In the UK there are many more sceptics in the Tory Party than elsewhere, though most of them keep it quiet. I think it’s unrealistic to think a new party will crack it but a new movement, for cheap energy in protest against crony capitalism, after the depredations caused by the virus (or wrong-headed policies that sought to protect from the virus) could become very popular.

    The other key weakness is Fact 13. I was thinking about this as I was walking in the late afternoon and it came to me that, for the first time, I would be willing to call myself a denier:

    I wish to deny you 99.99% of the $1.5 trillion a year which is corrupting the science and producing unjust profits at the expense of the poor through lousy engineering.

    Said to Richard Betts, for example. He would no doubt respond that he doesn’t get even a tiny fraction of that money. But it all goes to corrupt and skew the totality of the debate. I want to deny him this funding – down to $150 million a year, say. Well, $150 billion would be a major step in the right direction. But all those arguing for, or defending, an alarmist position are beneficiaries of this loot, one way or another.

    I would also stress that fossil fuel funding for our side of the argument should also be cut to $150 million per year at the same time. Or increased to that!

    Liked by 1 person

  304. @Jit 1 Jun 20 at 9:30 am
    tried to thank you for your link, but my 1st reply seems to have gone astray!!!

    so I’ll try a shorter version – “”

    “How does the world view climate change and Covid-19?
    Summary: public support a green recovery
    71% globally agree that in the long term, climate change is as serious a crisis as Covid-19.
    68% globally say their government will be failing them if it doesn’t act now to combat climate change.
    65% of the public globally support a ‘green’ economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.
    57% globally say they would be put off voting for a political party whose policies don’t deal seriously with climate change.
    Seven in ten consider climate change as serious a crisis as Covid-19, and a similar proportion feel their government will be failing them if it doesn’t act on climate change now. Two thirds globally support a green economic recovery from the crisis.”


  305. “Said to Richard Betts, for example.”

    Unfortunately, it’s long past the point where the likes of Richard are the ones to convince. The moral compass has moved towards climate catastrophism. Meaning many millions support it because this is the perceived noble thing to do, including especially and critically hundreds of thousands in positions of power who ultimately direct all that money, while millions more who don’t support it are cowed because they know that raising deeply felt objections would appear morally wrong. A counter-movement has to be much more fundamental than just supporting cheap energy per se (because this would also be viewed as morally wrong too unless FF free, and lets face it even nuclear doesn’t get actually a pass from most adherents). It has to head-on address that Net-zero itself is a morally wrong choice. Even according to mainstream science, the certain apocalypse that spirited this up, is false. Shifting (back) the moral compass of the entire of society is hard, but the dark underbelly of idealist renewables, as revealed by PotH, was a good start that I never expected (its power more from where it originated that what it said). Ultimately, capturing more energy creates more life; giving up on energy is ultimately giving up on life. But that’s exactly why part of climate catastrophism is indeed anti-nuclear; various anti-human, anti-technology, anti-life memes are a part of its overall narrative.


  306. Hunter: re those poll percentages, I haven’t looked at the survey but if these climate-change related questions are of ‘unconstrained’ type, high percentages are very common and more so for religious rather than irreligious nations. But such high percentages disappear when serious reality-constraints are introduced. See


  307. No no, you misunderstand me Andy. We need to convince policymakers but for that we need focus and clarity. Demanding that all those who defend alarmism take responsibility for the $1.5 trillion a year that is the terrible consequence of the whole nexus is key. Richard will ignore the demand until he doesn’t, when he will complain about it. But the message is that this colossal sum corrupts everything in its path. And Michael Moore has shown how, in a key part of the landscape, in graphic detail.

    Liked by 1 person

  308. Richard, I think our thoughts are compatible; near Net-Zero = immoral in its own right, is pretty similar to $1.5T a year to achieve it corrupting all in its path. But in the latter case, a few may still argue that some downsides (e.g. some corruption will occur) are acceptable to achieve a noble end at emergency speed, i.e. by throwing money at it. Yet an immoral goal should never be steered at in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

  309. Say,. Andy West, re …’Ultimately, capturing more energy creates more life; giving up on energy is ultimately giving up on life. But that’s exactly why part of climate catastrophism is indeed anti-nuclear; various anti-human, anti-technology, anti-life memes are a part of its overall narrative.’

    If’n I could register a ‘like’ I would. Computah says no.

    Liked by 2 people

  310. Prof Mat Keeling at today’s hearing of the Lords Science Committee:

    “With hindsight, it’s very easy to say we know care homes and hospitals are these huge collections of very vulnerable individuals, so maybe with hindsight we could have modelled those early on and thought about the impacts there.”

    I would have said it was very easy to say with foresight as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  311. The virus has been two steps ahead from the beginning and the kind of hindsight that might have prevented any of it from happening was NOWHERE to be found.


  312. I beg to differ. The virus has done just what acute respiratory viruses have always done. What is different this time is how the powers that be have taken note and exploited the situation.


  313. “It was startling when Nobel-prize-winning scientist Michael Levitt argued in UnHerd at the start of May that the growth curves of the disease were never truly exponential, suggesting that some sort of “prior immunity” must be kicking in very early.

    Today, though, the presence of some level of prior resistance and immunity to Covid-19 is fast becoming accepted scientific fact. Results have just been published of a study suggesting that 40%-60% of people who have not been exposed to coronavirus have resistance at the T-cell level from other similar coronaviruses like the common cold.”

    Dumbshit theories are becoming fact. But it gets even better.

    Immunological ‘dark matter’ is a thing:

    “Friston referred to some kind of “immunological dark matter” as the only plausible explanation for the huge disparity in results between countries in an interview with the Guardian last weekend.

    As he told me in our interview, even within the UK, the numbers point to the same thing: that the “effective susceptible population” was never 100%, and was at most 50% and probably more like only 20% of the population. He emphasises that the analysis is not yet complete, but “I suspect, once this has been done, it will look like the effective non-susceptible portion of the population will be about 80%. I think that’s what’s going to happen.”

    Social distancing is junk science, pseudoscience:

    “Immediately it would change how we should think about lifting lockdown: a tube carriage in London might in theory have to be restricted to 15% capacity to maintain social distancing of 2 metres, but if, as Professor Friston believes, the susceptible population in London was only ever 26% and 80% or more of that group is now provably immune via antibody testing, you can put a lot more people in a tube carriage without increasing the level of risk. Ditto restaurants, pubs, theatres and most recently, MPs in parliament. It would question the whole idea of social distancing being a feature of any “new normal”.

    It would take the heat out of the political argument around the pandemic, and give the lie to the idea that it was ever primarily government actions (however incompetent or incompetently executed) that explain differing death rates. As Professor Friston puts it, once you put into the model sensible behaviours that people do anyway such as staying in bed when they are sick, the effect of legal lockdown “literally goes away”.

    Imperial was wrong. The government was wrong to rely upon their model.

    “Most significantly, it would mean that the principal underlying assumption behind the global shutdowns, typified by the famous Imperial College forecasts — namely, that left unchecked this disease would rapidly pass through the entire population of every country and kill around 1% of those infected, leading to untold millions of deaths worldwide without draconian action — was wrong, out by a large factor. The largest co-ordinated government action in history, forcibly closing down most of the world’s societies with consequences that may last for generations, would have been based on faulty science.”

    But this passage is just brilliant: Ferguson was right, it was just that his assumption was that 100% of the population was susceptible, whereas it’s only about 20%!

    “When I put this to Professor Friston, he was the model of collegiate discretion. He said that the presumptions of Neil Ferguson’s models were all correct, “under the qualification that the population they were talking about is much smaller than you might imagine”. In other words, Ferguson was right that around 80% of susceptible people would rapidly become infected, and was right that of those between 0.5% and 1% would die — he just missed the fact that the relevant “susceptible population” was only ever a small portion of people in the UK, and an even smaller portion in countries like Germany and elsewhere. Which rather changes everything.”

    ‘Which rather changes everything’. I’ll say so! Johnson’s government is sitting on a heap of dynamite which they are adding to daily and now they’re busy searching for the fuse hoping to get to it before the truth does and ignites it under their sorry asses. The Gunpowder Plot is going to look like a sparkler in comparison to this. Guy Fawkes failed where Johnson’s rotten excuse for a government looks likely to succeed.


  314. Jaime,

    “…and give the lie to the idea that it was ever primarily government actions (however incompetent or incompetently executed) that explain differing death rates.”

    That’s the beauty of the precautionary principle. It’s amazing how confident people can be once they know that the uncertainty of the situation precludes contradiction.

    There is also the problem of bias blind spot. Earlier on in this thread (24th May, 3.00pm) I listed the assumptions that had been identified by Ferguson’s team when modelling the virus. It was a very long list but, interestingly, it didn’t include the assumption that 100% of the population were susceptible. It’s as if they were making an assumption whilst not even understanding that they were making an assumption.

    Liked by 1 person

  315. John, I think somewhere in the Imperial paper they talk about homogeneity of the population, basically making the assumption that is homogeneous, whereas quite obviously it is not, as far as this disease is concerned. I think I’m correct, but it’s been a while since I bothered reading it, so forgive me if I’m not.

    Liked by 1 person

  316. Jaime,

    You may be right, but in a quick, skimmed re-reading of Report 9, I still can’t see it. Maybe they say it elsewhere, or maybe I am still not reading carefully enough. Both are possible.


  317. Jaime, John. Whilst not opposing the idea that only a proportion of the population is susceptible to the virus, how would this knowledge have been immediately helpful? Firstly how do we identify those fortunates who are effectively immune? Without this knowledge we cannot know what percentage of the population are at risk. Most importantly, how is it possible to identify individuals at risk from those who are effectively immune? Can the last mentioned still be carriers of the virus? Even with a means to identify potential victims of the virus from those who are immune, with this government’s abilities to instal adequate testing regimes all knowledge would be for naught.

    Liked by 1 person

  318. Wasn’t part of the assumption of 100% susceptibility based on the idea that it was a “novel” corona virus, so the immune system had never seen it before? That was a widely publicized claim, anyway.


  319. “…basically making the assumption that is homogeneous, whereas quite obviously it is not, as far as this disease is concerned…”

    There is not a homogeneous reaction to any disease in the population. Genetic inhomogeneity as bequeathed to us by evolutionary process, is in part there exactly as a defence against disease, and in addition to presence via random error plus sexual shuffling, some diversity is ‘maintained’ within the population (‘balanced polymorphism’) by competing selection pressures. On top of this, there will be social inhomogeneity. Nick Lewis’ model over at Climate Etc covers an estimated range of inhomogeneity due to social and non-social factors, with the bottom end herd-immunity occurring at only 17% infected. As far as I recall Nick said the Ferguson model does omit this angle, but considering this is so basic I’m surprised that any model would omit it completely. While estimating impact from a potential large range may be hard and indeed different per disease type, there are people immune to even the most potent killers such as the heavy filo-viruses (ebola / marburg et al) or whatever.

    Liked by 1 person

  320. DaveJR: while immune systems may indeed be less armed on average to ‘novel’ viruses (albeit being ‘a corona virus’ is it far from truly novel, as we’ve probable experienced armies of these since long before we were even human), per above comment immune action itself and all of our vulnerabilities too vary per each individual. And this is a deliberate evolutionary strategy that means there will always be an inhomogeneous reaction over the population even for something quite new. If it is quite new AND also very deadly, then the fact that only 10% survive may not be too helpful for current civilisation, but on an evolutionary scale this is still a win; the species survives and ramps up numbers eventually, plus can ‘take it on the chin’ (to borrow a quote) much better the next time around.


  321. John, there dos not appear to be any specific reference to an assumption that the population is homogeneous, i.e. equally susceptible to contracting the disease and therefore spreading it, but the fllowing passages make this fairly clear:

    “We modified an individual-based simulation model developed to support pandemic influenza planning5,6 to explore scenarios for COVID-19 in GB. The basic structure of the model remains as previously published. In brief, individuals reside in areas defined by high-resolution population density data. Contacts with other individuals in the population are made within the household, at school, in the workplace and in the wider community.”

    “Transmission events occur through contacts made between susceptible and infectious individuals in either the household, workplace, school or randomly in the community, with the latter depending on spatial distance between contacts. Per-capita contacts within schools were assumed to be double those elsewhere in order to reproduce the attack rates in children observed in past influenza pandemics7. With the parameterisation above, approximately one third of transmission occurs in the household, one third in schools and workplaces and the remaining third in the community. These contact patterns reproduce those reported in social mixing surveys”.

    “Infection was assumed to be seeded in each country at an exponentially growing rate (with a doubling time of 5 days) from early January 2020, with the rate of seeding being calibrated to give local epidemics which reproduced the observed cumulative number of deaths in GB or the US seen by 14th March 2020.”

    In other words, the entire population assumed to be susceptible to infection, as in a ‘flu epidemic, with rates of transmission increasing exponentially. I also came across this whilst reading:

    “Whilst our understanding of infectious diseases and their prevention is now very different compared to in 1918, most of the countries across the world face the same challenge today with COVID-19, a virus with comparable lethality to H1N1 influenza in 1918.”

    They assumed that Covid-19 was about as lethal as the Spanish ‘Flu, which killed at least 50 million people in 1918, in a much less populated world, in a less densely populated world, with far less international transportation links!


  322. Jaime,

    I accept that. There is no explicit statement of assumption but it is implicit in the UCL approach. I think that is what I meant by suspecting that they had made an assumption without being aware that an assumption had been made.

    Incidentally, I am having some fun over at ATTP on their thread defending the UCL code. I’m currently considering whether to respond further. Venting their wrath can be fun but it’s a bit like obtaining semen from a prize bull — it can get a bit feisty.

    Liked by 1 person

  323. Jaime, per your quote, a very primitive model of social inhomogeneity is assumed (i.e. transmission in schools is double), but no genetic inhomogeneity (and other types such as differently primed immune systems in nations, say), albeit as John says they maybe didn’t know they were making that assumption. But populations are not homogeneous wrt any disease, including flu, and while perhaps one may be able to demonstrate for some diseases that the inhomogeneity is relatively modest and therefore ignored for first order effects, you would indeed have to do this explicitly. I find it surprising that any model would leave such out, even if estimating the factors was difficult; to give us more idea of how things change if all the impacting factors vary, is what models are for.


  324. P.S. nor for some faster evolving diseases, including flu and probably covid, is the pathogen particularly homogeneous, having many strains with different effects (which is why immunity via vaccine or recovery doesn’t last all that long).


  325. P.P.S. …and genetic diversity in a population is in fact more important for disease resistance when the pathogen is all over the place. Less chance it’s wanderings will find a common weak spot that could potentially wipe-out an inbred / insufficiently diverse population.


  326. Beyond all reasonable doubt now, Boris has proved himself to be a mad globalist socialist who views the destruction of the economy to be an opportunity to make that destruction permanent. He must go, the fake ‘Conservatives’ must go, or the UK is finished.


  327. Jaime,

    I’m sorry, but the show is over now at ATTP. It’s not fun anymore trying to explain yourself to someone as terminally arrogant and objectionable as Dikranmarsupial. And as they say, when the fun stops, stop. I’ll leave him to bask in the warm afterglow of his ignorance.


  328. Jaime,

    True to form, the narrative over at ATTP has now descended into rank stupidity and sheer nastiness. I couldn’t hope to respond to such drivel even if I wanted to. What needs to be said would only provoke them into exploring new depths. No need to feed the trolls. The only positive is that Willard has discovered my ‘Little Essay’. Still, I’m not expecting a sensible response from him.

    Liked by 1 person

  329. John, you can always rely on Willard to drag the conversation down into the gutter.

    Andy, it’s intereting that Jo Nova is not a lockdown sceptic, but actually thinks they have done some good. I’m not sure her analysis of Sweden’s stats as proof that Sweden failed where other countries succeeded is very useful though. Recall that Ferguson’s model applied to Sweden predicted many more deaths than have actually occurred, even though deaths in Sweden appear to be declining slower than in other Western countries, but the majority of these deaths, it must be pointed out, are occurring in care homes, not in the general community.


  330. Jaime, yes she’s been aiming for months at ‘crush the curve’ (to zero infections) not flatten the curve. About half the deaths in Sweden are from Care Homes according to EU CDC, but yep that’s more even than Scotland and well over double England. Re models, I’m still non-plussed to find that they appear not to include much or any account of inhomogeneity, when no disease has a homogenous effect on afflicted human populations, exactly because they are diverse and this in part evolved as a protection against disease. You’d only get a homogeneous effect for an afflicted mono-culture, so for instance a large agricultural crop all artificially constrained to the same narrow strain. It’s hard to believe they’re any use at all with such a basic omission.


  331. I’m returning to the fray slowly here but I’m very pleased to see Andy point to Matt Ridley’s fascinating piece in the Spectator on the “Russian flu” pandemic of 1889-90 being in fact the first coronavirus – and what that could lead us to expect.

    Liked by 1 person

  332. Also grateful to Andy to the pointer to Jo Nova as not-so-sceptic about lockdowns. That’s the way I expected it to go. Climate sceptics are an independent bunch.

    Liked by 1 person

  333. For the 380th comment on this thread, I quote you this, from the Swiss Policy Research website. It’s not the final, definitive say on Covid-19 or how really dangerous it is as a disease, but given the increasing amount of data coming in from all countries and the fact that in the UK right now, the ONS estimate that 0.06% of the population are infected (with 0.4%, an order of magnitude greater, being the limit to declare an epidemic), the case for continued lockdown is very, very slim indeed, and yet Matt “Psycho” Hancock persists with his belligerent threats for us to do ‘our civic duty’.

    “SPR has published a comprehensive new update on recent medical and political developments concerning Covid-19. This is our final regular update on Covid-19.

    Most importantly, a new preprint study by leading Swiss immunologists shows that coronavirus blood antibody tests may detect at most 20% of all infections, as most people neutralize the virus with their mucosal or innate immune system, developing only mild or no symptoms.

    This means that the new coronavirus is likely much more widespread than previously assumed, and its infection fatality rate (IFR) may drop well below 0.1% and thus into the range of a strong seasonal influenza, as already predicted by several epidemiological experts.”


  334. It would appear from what Toby Young is saying that lockdown was not specifically recommended by SAGE; therefore the decision to impose mass house arrest was not a scientific one, it was a political one. So not only is Boris responsible for continuing lockdown way beyond the point when it could conceivably have been deemed to be necessary and useful, he is now responsible for going AGAINST the advice of his scientific advisers to impose it in the first place. 20.4% drop in GDP in April which dwarfs the 2008 recession. More bad news to come in May and June. 60% drop in urgent cancer referrals – deaths coming down the line. I think he’s living on borrowed time as PM.

    “In other words, the containment measures introduced on March 16 were more than sufficient to halt the spread of the virus. The government’s scientific advisors did not urge the Prime Minister to go any further, and they were right not to do so. I’m convinced that the decision to place the entire country in suspended animation on March 23 will end up costing more lives than the pandemic.

    The myth that’s grown up around the lockdown, then, is the opposite of the truth. Boris didn’t turn a deaf ear to the scientists urging him to lock down. Rather, he ignored their advice to tread carefully and rushed into one of the worst decisions in our history. Next time Professor Ferguson speaks out, that’s the story he should tell.”


  335. “…is the opposite of the truth.”

    I think we need to take care about understanding what the truth is. The above contradicts what I recall Helen Ward said back in April, and only yesterday Ferguson was saying that the Riley report provided very strong evidence to do much more in March, but the government didn’t act upon it and hence the lockdown came 2 weeks later than (Ferguson and allies) wanted: “Scientists advising the government were warned it was necessary to enforce the coronavirus lockdown two weeks before it was announced, a leaked report has suggested.” I have a feeling that SAGE is falling apart and all the scientists are simply giving their own versions of ‘the truth’.


  336. Unless they’ve doctored the minutes Andy, there is no record of Sage members calling for a lockdown either in early March or later, when the government did lock down. Sage is falling apart however and they are clearly not devoid of responsibility for some of this mess. They are, after all, the committee which has advised this government throughout the epidemic and clearly their advice has not been up to scratch at times or unwaveringly impartial and scientific.

    Liked by 1 person

  337. May I present the possibility that Sage is not falling apart, in that it was never together. This was Tim Shipman and Caroline Wheeler in the Sunday Times on 22nd March:

    Coronavirus: ten days that shook Britain — and changed the nation for ever

    How Boris Johnson changed his priorities: save lives first, and then salvage the economy

    There was a moment, when the decisions were made, when they wondered what on earth they had done, how far they had been forced to go. A moment when they sat “shellshocked”, reflecting on choices that will change Britain for the rest of our lives. “It took us the weekend to get ourselves into the emotional position where we were comfortable taking the decisions we took,” a minister said. “They were massive.” In politics, there is so much overstatement. Not this time. Ten days ago the government was slowly gearing up its response to the coronavirus crisis, downplaying the need for drastic measures. By Monday, Boris Johnson had ordered an expansion of the state not seen since the Second World War to save the National Health Service, an institution formed in the cauldron of that conflict. A wartime-style lockdown of the capital was under active consideration. This weekend, the events of the last week have already changed health policy, changed the economy and are already changing the people involved. The last time the British state began a multiple service attack on a lurking enemy — D-Day in 1944 — it became known as The Longest Day. On Thursday one cabinet minister reflected: “It feels like the longest week. It felt like Brexit was going to change the country but it is the coronavirus that will do that now.”

    Original paragraphs gummed together there, sorry. (Snipped before I gave up my Times, Telegraph and Spectator subscriptions.) From early in March I felt the Tories were never going to win the next election. They had offered Nick Clegg the poisoned chalice in 2010, in the wake of the financial crisis, and to his credit he acted for the good of the nation, to his own electoral oblivion. And now, due to a virus, they had landed it themselves. (Given the madness on the Left, in so many areas, this isn’t unproblematic.)

    Meanwhile The Sun US version had the story DOUBLE DIP Spain’s coronavirus cases double in 24 hours as experts say its economy would be worst hit in the world if 2nd wave hits yesterday. (I only saw it because I was looking for the paper’s highly controversial lead story ‘giving a platform’ to JK Rowling’s violent first husband this morning.) I can believe this second wave won’t happen but I remain agnostic in all directions. Except, if pushed, I would relax the lockdown, because the economic consequences are so dire, just as Spain in trying to do.

    I should stress that I haven’t read the Sage minutes. The post mortem time for me is still far away.


  338. Jaime, this makes no difference at all. It’s probably an oversight rather than anything else. But whatever the reason for lack of legal cover, the public and the media were hugely pressuring for lock-down, as were all the opposition parties. If any school at the time had bucked this trend and said “we’re not going into lock-down and you can’t make us”, the government would simply have ensured the proper cover, and they would have had no opposition whatsoever to doing so. Nor does it really help with faster unlock. The government themselves are trying to get schools back ASAP, with the unions being the main sticking point. The lack of legal cover will not help much with that battle, because by the time anyone seeking to use this fact in order to beat the unions over the head has got through court, it’ll be autumn at the earliest and likely even the unions won’t resist any longer then anyhow (barring the unlikely appearance of a 2nd spike).


  339. Andy,

    “Nor does it really help with faster unlock.”

    Seems like it does help with faster unlock. After claiming only a few days ago that schools would remain shut until September, Johson has u-turned and said ALL schools can open up this summer. Not only that, he’s likely to revise the 2m rule. The unions won’t have a leg to stand on once the courts rule that school closures are not lawful and that government advice is that they open now. Simon Dolan has made a big difference.


  340. Jaime, I think U-turn is somewhat mis-described in the twitter title, as before the government gave up, and largely due to strong union resistance based upon exposure of teachers and class sizes / available classroom areas, it was trying for much more anyhow. I.e. schools have had a greenish light in principle for ages now, but the problem being that in consultation the unions didn’t agree with any shade of green and just wanted red. As the text at the start of the article more correctly describes, this is a ‘last gasp’ attempt to get what Johnson / the government have actually been steering at for weeks. Which takes a lot of creative imagination to describe as a U-turn, especially given the later text describes the ‘giving up’ stage as a U-turn (too many turns!) in this case by Williamson, whose position is (if one can belief any such mood assessments), now fragile due to same. I suspect, as the article intimates, that back-bench pressure / anger is what has actually given the attempt another shot in the arm, and not any legal development (which isn’t mentioned). And if the unions are still resolute to resist and base their case on Covid / health grounds, then it’ll ultimately be a ‘scientific’ adjudication (and lord knows where that will come from), not likely a legal one (which wouldn’t move anywhere near fast enough anyhow, unless by special acceleration, which the government is hardly likely to apply to expose their own administrative blunder, even if the result would be rather handy for them right now).


  341. I didn’t know where to put this but here’s a text message I got from a lovely teenage guy in January, after some GCSE retakes late last year:

    Hi Richard, just received my maths results and I’m pleased to tell you that I passed, I am very thankful to you and the way you helped so thank you very much!

    And on the weekend I heard that Jake’s mother, in her early forties, is fighting for her life, having got Covid-19 and with existing lung problems. She’s had such a hard life, overcoming addictions, rebuilding her life, and has recently helped greatly in our area working with the homeless. She has three teenage sons.

    I’m realising I’m not in the mood for generalisms or even blame sessions. There is something so unfair here but those things are not the solution. I may go quiet for a bit.

    Liked by 2 people

  342. Richard life sucks, it absolutely can. People we admire or cherish suffer or perish for no accountable reason. They don’t deserve to. Yet a Christian response is that God selects worthy souls early to be with him. This explanation has no relevance to those without faith.

    Me, I try to would console myself by rereading and thinking about Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata, perhaps accompanied by Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. One is uplifting, the other used to drive me into despair (especially after learning late in the day that the desperate 2nd movement was composed after his child was stillborn). Both I think are magnificent.
    Take care Richard.

    Liked by 1 person

  343. Thanks Alan. I don’t agree though about the ‘Christian response’. Nor does Liona, the lady fighting for her life. Every breath is agony but she’s astounded the doctors by still being with us. My sister prays with her every morning – they had become very close friends in the year or 18 months before this hit. It’s taking a lot out of them both but hope is beginning to grow. Those boys need their mother.


  344. John, I,m following your suggestion. For now I’m just placing a marker so that I can find this place easily. Will respond to your earlier post tomorrow.


  345. John, Andy. I have already acknowledged that I was entirely wrong to brand the science as “shoddy “. In my view (only) is the post deficient in 1) being contaminated by her animosity to the Boris government and its advisors and 2) not attempting to forge a prima facie case. To make such a case, one needs to organise the evidence supporting a view that the new variant need not and does not possess greater transmissivity but also to attack evidence used by opponents to argue that the rapid spread of the new variant must be due to its inherent greater transmissivity. To accomplish the second, the evidence used to support that interpretation needs to be described sufficiently to be able to demolish it.

    I must admit not to understand application of founder theory to viruses such that it can explain the rapid increase of a new variant’s spread without it possessing some advantage over other strains. This advantage could be intrinsic (as the government believe) or extrinsic (as Andy was proposing). This led me to other questions for which I have no answers. Do viruses compete? Can you be infected by more than one variant at a time? Are hospitals dominated by a single variant or are they a hubbub of many varieties? Could hospital staff who seem more susceptible to infection not be reflecting exposure to higher viral load, but instead exposure to a greater variety of strains (if one type doesn’t get you, the next one might).

    The only way I can rationalise an increasing spread of a new variant using the founder effect is if superspreaders are especially prone to becoming infected by the new variant and thus it becomes more prevalent in the whole infected human population. But this is tantamount to saying that the new variant is more transmissible to superspreaders. However, the increasing prevalence of the strain is not due to its increased transmissivity into the whole human population but is a result of a special type of founder effect because the superspreaders have contracted a limited variety of the available variants available and distribute this limited variability to the general population. Is this what is being proposed and I am too dim to recognise it, or is what is proposed as a founder effect completely different?


  346. MiaB. You raise an interesting point – that there may be no legal instrument that confirms my comment that the government has a duty to keep us safe, however, this does not exclude a moral duty to do this. I read through the relevant parts of the 2019 Conservative Manifesto, where it proposes to increase spending on health services and make more provisions. Whereas this doesn’t go all the way towards providing a duty, it goes a long, long way towards it. But thank you for refining my thinking about this topic.


  347. Mark,
    “ While COVID-19 is, of course, a serious disease, many of those who have died from it were close to the end of their lives in any case. If it hadn’t been COVID-19, it might well have been another infectious disease – flu or pneumonia – which dealt the final blow.”

    I’m sorry, but from my viewpoint, I have never seen the relevancy nor the justification for the argument that this decreases the significance of covid-19 as a dangerous disease. Yes, people die from their co-morbidities but without the intervention of covid-19 they could have lived much longer lives. It was COVID-19 that caused the immediacy of their deaths.

    To my mind, acceptance of such arguments as you have repeated, means one of two beliefs, neither of which, let me hasten to add I don’t believe you have. First, the limited extra lifetime that COVID-19 has deprived people of (because they will die anyway) doesn’t matter, or matters less than avoiding the economic damage caused by measures imposed to control the disease. The second, is that the people that die from their co-morbidities did not really die from COVID-19 so the effect of this disease is over-hyped. But this is tantamount to arguing that someone with diabetes who is shot through the heart, would have died of diabetes anyway, so the shooter can be excused of blame.

    It was arguments like this back in May-June that lead to heated clashes between myself and Jaime. I don’t intend to repeat them, but this is a marker that I do not subscribe to attempts to lessen the severity of the COVID-19 outbreaks.


  348. Alan:

    “Do viruses compete?”

    Yes. In order that they do, of course, means that there must be a range of population variants with significantly different function, to support the competition. But, many things occur in evolutionary populations that are not the results of competition.

    “Can you be infected by more than one variant at a time?”

    In principle. Given variants are linked to geography, and that the variants in the situation at hand are all functionally very similar too, this shouldn’t make any difference anyhow.

    “Are hospitals dominated by a single variant or are they a hubbub of many varieties?”

    In principle, can be either. But more likely the former, because of the common geography of most patients and staff. Likely, some of both will exist.

    “Could hospital staff who seem more susceptible to infection not be reflecting exposure to higher viral load, but instead exposure to a greater variety of strains (if one type doesn’t get you, the next one might).”

    I think not. I think you’re presupposing in this question that most strains are functionally different, but a) to date they aren’t, and b) that one might be, begs the very question that data such as Jaime’s plus Nic Lewis’s and similar analysis are attempting to determine. But in the *general* case of the pandemic thus far, no, because they are all functionally similar.

    “The only way I can rationalise an increasing spread of a new variant using the founder effect is if superspreaders are especially prone to becoming infected by the new variant and thus it becomes more prevalent in the whole infected human population.”

    Super-spreaders may or may not be especially prone to becoming infected, probably both cases exist. But the real point about them is that they are especially prone to shedding the virus, hence the name!

    “But this is tantamount to saying that the new variant is more transmissible to superspreaders.”

    It says nothing about variants at all. Superspreadiness is a function of the genome, immune system training, and possibly social habits too, of the spreader, not the virus. Generally, such persons will spread all minor variants in the same manner. If two variants *are* functionally quite different, then the superspreadiness characteristics they ‘pick out’, so to speak, might also be different, one presumes. Hence you’d get a different (but probably very highly overlapping) group.

    “However, the increasing prevalence of the strain is not due to its increased transmissivity into the whole human population, but is a result of a special type of founder effect, because the superspreaders have contracted a limited variety of the available variants available and distribute this limited variability to the general population.”

    I put commas in this sentence to try and understand it, but still failed. I think the problem here is that you are trying to make various logic steps based upon entirely the wrong foundation, hence it’s not going to go anywhere. I have a feeling you’re not asking the right questions, but I can’t ask them for you because I don’t really know where you’re coming from.

    “1) being contaminated by her animosity to the Boris government and its advisors”

    Agree that animosity to the government should be formally separated from technical arguments. Conflation undermines the latter. Notwithstanding which, this is a blog not a journal, and *all* opinions are welcome, I presume. The main issue for me is that where relative certainly is declared regarding actual malfeasance or nefarious intention, it is based upon evidence of same that could be meaningfully distinguished from other causes such a herd panic and cock-up and cascades of both, for instance. And bearing in mind it is certainly the case that no malfeasance is excusable even if herd panic is the *ultimate* cause, yet nevertheless still resulted in malfeasance further down the line, or even just recklessness along the way. Like for instance, using highly tenuous theories with next to no real data (in the end, it’s a model thing, largely it appears from a single expert who just admitted in interview that he had no biological training whatsoever), in order to scare the public. And all of which does need to be exposed / discussed should it occur, or even have reasonable chance of having occurred given the available evidence.

    “2) not attempting to forge a prima facie case. To make such a case, one needs to organise the evidence supporting a view that the new variant need not and does not possess greater transmissivity but also to attack evidence used by opponents to argue that the rapid spread of the new variant must be due to its inherent greater transmissivity. To accomplish the second, the evidence used to support that interpretation needs to be described sufficiently to be able to demolish it.”

    Sufficiently to whom? I understand the points raised and think they have weight. Do I think that means the case is proven? No. Do I think it’s a decent case? Yes. Do I think that Nic Lewis’s case is more analytical? Yes. Do I think more data and more work is required to prove the case? Absolutely. Do I think enough data will get released by orgs / governments in order to do this in the relatively near term? Pretty doubtful. Do I think Jaime has some sacred responsibility to prove the case beyond doubt by demolishing all opposition? Nonsense, of course not. Well all contribute to the various cases here, the process is the exchange itself and not any one person within it. And whatever Jaime’s arguments, no response should play the person and not the arguments.

    Liked by 1 person

  349. Alan,

    >”To accomplish the second, the evidence used to support that interpretation needs to be described sufficiently to be able to demolish it.”

    To be fair, I think Professor Racaniello attempts to do this at around 16:25 into his video.

    I think that the truth of the matter is that the science is currently underdetermined, i.e. the data can be used to support either position at the moment, and we must await the results of laboratory tests to decide one way or the other. In the meantime, there is the point that you have made already, i.e. the figures appeared to be rising faster than predicted by the models (predicated as they were upon an assumed transmissibility and an assumed efficacy of interventions) so something different needed to be done, and tier 4 is what the authorities came up with. I don’t think this renders transmissibility’s causal question redundant, but it does introduce a healthy dose of pragmatism into the argument. If behaviour is at the root of the problem, then changing behaviour should be at the root of the solution.

    I can see that you are still struggling to see how the emergent dominance of a variant can be the effect of dumb luck. On that score, I have succeeded in convincing myself, but I think it may need a better man than I to be able to convince someone else. It is not a question of stupidity, it is a question of allowing oneself to think in ways that the human brain was not designed to do. This is difficult enough at the best of times, and it is certainly a challenge when one has suffered a disease that affects cognitive performance.

    Finally, I appreciate where you are coming from regarding the questioning of political and moral integrity. On a different thread, I drew attention to an expression I came across recently: ‘Goat rope’. I think it sums up the situation perfectly.


  350. Alan, thanks for this:

    “To my mind, acceptance of such arguments as you have repeated, means one of two beliefs, neither of which, let me hasten to add I don’t believe you have.”

    My views on the need to “do something” about Covid-19 and the potentially hugely damaging results of the “something” that is “done” are, I fear, not entirely self-consistent, not least because I keep reading different things on the subject, and I continue to refine my thinking on the subject. I hope this doesn’t mean that I simply agree with the last thing I read!

    Let me start by repeating that I most certainly do not downplay the nastiness and significance of Covid-19. For those who catch it and suffer from it (or die of it, rather than “with” it), clearly it is horrendous. And I would never value lives against money.

    However, I remain nervous regarding the validity of some of the statistics that have been used to scare us and to justify more and more lock-downs (whether in name or in effect). Increasingly I start to wonder whether lock-downs actually do anything to control the spread of the disease (and whether they possibly even make things worse). This is for several reasons. The evidence from around the world doesn’t seem to support the idea that lockdowns work (if you challenge me on that bold statement, I’ll have to do some digging and offer up evidence, but it is the conclusion I come to from what I’ve read). In addition to that bald and bold statement, there’s the more subtle question as to whether, given the natural human tendency to justify breaking rules and/or finding ways round them, lockdowns might drive behaviour that actually does more to spread the virus – e.g. house parties, with too many people in too close proximity, having consumed too much alcohol, are obviously a bigger risk than pubs with Covid-security measures in place, people spread further apart, and smaller volumes of alcohol consumed and served only while remaining seated at a table. Then there’s the fact that the two main surges in this country have occurred during or while emerging from winter, and numbers declined in summer, carrying with it the possibility – even though of course I acknowledge that correlation is not causation – that weather drives the spread of the virus far more effectively than Government measures imposed to try to control it. At the moment, we seem to be locking down ever more intently, yet the virus is spreading madly if the statistics are to be believed (and I have no reason to disbelieve those statistics), thus suggesting that the lockdowns are futile.

    The economic damage caused by the lockdowns isn’t irrelevant, especially if it has been caused in a futile attempt to “deal with” the spread of the virus. However, more relevant is the harm to health caused by the lockdowns, whether directly or indirectly.

    And finally we come to the question of whether people really are dying “of” Covid-19. Of course many – tens of thousands, probably – are dying “of” it, but many dying “with” it have probably been killed by something else, so I do suspect the death numbers being reported are in effect exaggerated (but what the scale of the exaggeration is, I have no way of telling).

    I don’t dismiss the last months and years of an old person’s life (I’m heading towards old age myself!) but there is definitely a quality of life consideration to be taken into account. It isn’t such a stark equation, but there are elements of truth in the suggestion that younger people’s lives are being blighted, destroyed, and in some cases lost, to keep alive for a few weeks or months some old people with virtually zero quality of life (as opposed to old people with good quality of life). Whilst that’s a very harsh calculation for anyone to be asked to make, I would always value the life of the younger person more than that of an old person with next to no quality of life. And I wouldn’t be alone in doing so, since even the NHS has the concept of Quality Assessed Life Years (QALYs).

    At the end of something of a rambling monologue here, I’m not entirely sure what I’m saying, other than that without agreeing with Jaime’s certainty and vehemence, I do have misgivings about some of the statistics and science and policy measures surrounding the Covid-19 debate. But it’s the start of a new year, hopefully a much better one, so I’m going to be optimistic and keep my fingers crossed that whatever the rights and wrongs of it all, the vaccination programme will see the worst effects of the pandemic removed from society over the next few months. On that note, happy new year to one and all.

    Liked by 2 people

  351. Examples of the founder effect appear to occur where there is no or little competition with members of the population that exhibit the full genetic range. This may occur in locations of limited access, like islands, or in situations where selective inbreeding occurs. However, as I understand it, variants of this COVID-19 arise within settings where many other variants already exist. So, in this situation, I cannot see how a newly arrived variant, originating in place, or from elsewhere but originally in only small numbers and affecting a limited percentage of human patients, can by blind luck come to dominate the percentage of patients infected. Not without being superior in some fashion – increased transmissivity or ability to withstand a patient’s capabilities to oppose infection.

    Yes Andy I may be asking the wrong questions based upon a misunderstanding, but I still cannot find my way out.


  352. Alan,

    >”Examples of the founder effect appear to occur where there is no or little competition with members of the population that exhibit the full genetic range. This may occur in locations of limited access, like islands, or in situations where selective inbreeding occurs.”

    In suggesting that covid-19 may have a role in your struggle to understand, I have taken my lead from you. I suspect, however, that there is actually nothing wrong with your cognitive functioning and you have simply tricked me into exposing just how patronising I can be 🙂

    That said, I still think your objections regarding genetic range are no more than a reasonable doubt expressed on the road to a fuller understanding. I think the founder effect is still relevant insofar as spreader events are initially localised and therefore do not take place in the context of a full genetic range. From the perspective of a spreader event, the community comprises, as it were, a set of relatively isolated locations of ‘limited access’, genetically speaking.


  353. Site admin note: I’ve increased the number of comments visible on a single page to 500. This comment is number 403. I suggest someone other than myself creates another post before reaching 500. (But thanks for thinking of my May 2020 effort here!)


  354. Alan: “This may occur in locations of limited access, like islands, or in situations where selective inbreeding occurs…”

    ‘May’ and ‘Examples’ are exactly right. These are indeed *examples* of a generic effect that is by no means limited to such examples. But also see lack of competition below.

    If you measure down far enough, every human has a different variant. I think a couple of hundred thousand genomes have been isolated in testing so far, within which about 12,000 ‘main’ mutations.

    The host population the virus is exploiting is very highly heterogeneous. And this has been deliberately arranged by evolution *as a defence against disease*. Hence the situation whereby one proposes that the variants would somehow remain evenly spread in the absence of major functional competition, is highly unstable. Random events of various kinds (e.g. the super-spreader example, which is a direct result of the heterogeneous arrangement), lead to cascades that mean a smaller number of variants dominate geographical areas, or rather contact nets that frequently correspond to geography.

    1) Remove the assumption that most of these variants are ‘competing’. Most of the differences do not appear to have significant impact on function, hence they are *not* competing. Not only is this shown as a characteristic in many other viral waves over very many years, it is strongly suggested for this actual one from the data thus far, i.e. the many main variants mapped do *not* appear to be arranging themselves in pecking order across the geography and time in terms of competitive advantage, but rising / falling randomly because they are *not* meaningfully competing. As John notes, this would be even more the case in narrower range local populations from which variants may emerge.

    2) Even if this new variant *does* buck the above data so far, because for sure the above data is not definitive / full, and indeed it could simply be that this variant contains the first truly big functional change, it is also the case that it does need to be a *big* change to compete not only with its many cousins, but with…

    3) …LUCK. Natural selection does not work on the scale that, from what I can deduce from comment at least, you seem to have assumed it works. Or to put it another way, luck is a also a serious competitor within the game. Only as you ramp out the timescale to be very big (so very large number of generations indeed, hence significant time even for viruses – the effective generation time is the human catching to end-infection time), and over major populational competition, so major functional variants too. IOW, if either of these shrink down too much, they fall below the point where luck can not only beat them, it may beat them with ease. And as we are looking at a tiny slice in time of a single wave rise, there is no way to tell from existing data whether it’s anything at all to do with an increased effectiveness of the virus (by whatever means) yet, or not.

    4) It’s also the case due to above, that advantageous evolutionary changes are frequently wiped out by (‘bad’) luck. If there’s say a 2% advantageous leverage on average that ‘should’ show across many generations and variants over a long time, then because everything else is changing too, and because of highly heterogeneous hosts, it would not be unusual for this change never to latch in before other changes (say in the host, or the host’s environment, or whatever), make it obsolete. Or indeed pure bad luck sees its descendants reach dead ends and it is overtaken by a *less* efficient variant. If the variant’s advantage was say 200%, it has a much higher chance of getting established. But if, say, a less efficient variant got a lucky start with a few super-spreaders that temporarily lent it a 1000% advantage within a small sub-population, it could essentially break out of that sub-population to conquer the universe while the more efficient variant runs out of fuel when still confined in the sub-population.

    5) If one pans the lens back out again, if some of these more efficient modifications were relatively straightforward, they may well get reinvented again in same / similar form, to eventually triumph, but *not* from the same lineage. Some may never get re-invented again, not least because as lineages and hosts / environments move on, the particular functional advantage may not even be so relevant any more. But in any case, at this scale we should not be looking at a single wave of covid variant over a few months, *especially* a winter wave, but lots of invasions on a centuryish or so scale. For example one would think there may be significant new function within the 2020/2021 attack that is re-armoured against the defences humanity derived in the 1896/97 attack, assuming the latter was indeed coronavirus as Ridley postulates. At any rate, some common cold viruses point to several prior attacks in recent history. Likely, we’ve been sparring with this virus since before we were even human.

    These are just some possible process out of whole rafts more that I’ve forgotten. But the important point here is as John says, is that one cannot yet distinguish the (expected!) type of random rise, from a genuinely more infectious strain, which indeed could also occur. However, indications across the globe so far point to a lot of covid variants playing pass-the-parcel without any obvious major advantage in any being observable, albeit if the advantage is modest it will take time to beat the odds. OTOH if it’s modest, we probably don’t care anyhow. While evolutionary biologists might cringe at the basic nature of my explanation, this has all been standard stuff for decades and has not become controversial or diluted recently afaik. If this doesn’t help lead you out, I may be too rusty on this to help any further in doing so.

    Mark also raises some good points, which are worth noting in respect of the timescales and historical experience noted above. *Every* autumn / winter in UK and other northern hemi countries, we have a steep rise in a crop of respiratory diseases, usually bulk led by flu (and quite likely in some prior years if you go back far enough, bulk led by coronaviruses). On a year to year basis, the height and rise time of this one looks bad. On a decadish to decadish basis, it looks more normal. On a centuryish to centuryish scale, it may look modest / small. We don’t have data for a millenialish to millenialish scale, but maybe it looks very small. I am not saying here that lockdowns must be useless, or indeed that they would surely work fantastically if people just weren’t irresponsible, but I am saying that if we ever want to know where we sit on that range, we need a way of qualitatively distinguishing this wave, *with* our special measures, from the regular and apparently incredibly similar waves, usually without special measures (except in a small number of worst cases, like the Spanish flu). I don’t think we have such a means yet. Fortunately, it’s a secondary issue once vaccinations ramp up. But for sure we can say little with certainty about lock-downs until we have cracked those comparisons. It could be that lockdowns work to convert a century scale event to a decadal scale event, but in which case the sudden rise is still a function a ‘winter’, however that operates (and no-one knows yet), and the new variant is indeed still a random beneficiary of the current part of that rise in the UK.

    Police feedback has consistently been that nationally, irresponsibility has been very low (notwithstanding BLM and some other protests in the summer, which indeed have made little difference and possibly in fact because it *was* summer). If such a small amount of irresponsibility can apparently produce such dramatic results, I’d suggest there’s an issue with lockdowns anyhow, even if it’s a different sort of issue.


  355. P.P.S. Very few people have the disease at any one time, meaning the population density of any particular variant is also very low. So a super-spreader from abroad say, can leave a trail which easily outbids a local variant or two which don’t happen to have, at that particular time, a super-spreader employed. I’m presuming the number of super-spreaders is small. Hence the local pop may never catch up if it can’t get one hired in time, because exponential rises (even when they become equal after the super-spreader stops spreading) mean that the gap will always get bigger and bigger, and indeed the imported variant will soon be using ‘available fuel’ that the local variant would have used had it got there first. This process will be the same with or without lockdown, in principle, albeit if they are effective it’ll sandbag both rises equally. But had this scenario occurred in summer, conditions not conducive to huge amplification may have meant that a big differential had less chance of creeping in anyhow.


  356. I see that the Imperial College team are doubling down on their initial claims regarding the new variant’s transmissibility (Covid-19: New variant ‘raises R number by up to 0.7’):

    I was wondering whether this meant that the previous conclusions that drew upon epidemiological data had now been corroborated by lab experiments investigating the biology, but no. Apparently:

    “The Imperial College study suggests transmission of the new variant tripled during England’s November lockdown while the previous version was reduced by a third.”

    I’m sorry but that really isn’t getting us anywhere. It tells us what happened but it still doesn’t explain why. Epidemiology works well when it is founded upon a good understanding of the science. It doesn’t work so well when it is used on its own to presuppose the science. Still, Imperial College don’t need to worry too much about this when they have the BBC on their side.

    Liked by 3 people

  357. ALAN KENDELL: “The second, is that the people that die from their co-morbidities did not really die from COVID-19 so the effect of this disease is over-hyped. But this is tantamount to arguing that someone with diabetes who is shot through the heart, would have died of diabetes anyway, so the shooter can be excused of blame.”

    On the other hand, if someone does not have major medical problems they can, and have, survived Covid-19 even in their 80 and 90s. This year it has been covid the has pushed the elderly and frail over the edge but in previous years that role was taken by influenza or even the common cold.

    In past times many many people died of something called bronchopneumonia. This was known to medics as “the old man’s friend” as it allowed the elderly frail a peaceful and relatively painless end.

    One other point and I don’t know how true this is but in Ireland during the first wave of covid most of the people who died were said to be too frail or ill to be put on an ITU machine.


  358. Andy, responding to your “official” suggestion on the other thread: yes this will work. However, I vowed not to comment again within a Jaime thread. So if our conversations, still incomplete, are moved, I’m afraid I will not be joining you. This is my decision, and needn’t affect those of any other contributor. In fact, I felt rather sorry for Jaime and what happened to the thread she moderates (not owns).


  359. There has been much discussion about the new variant coronavirus and whether it’s rapid spread in the U.K. is due to its improved transmissivity or is due to some other factor such as the founder effect. Much effort has been expended in denying the first explanation, especially because no acceptable scientific evidence has been provided in support. The explanation is based upon modelling. It has occurred to me, however, that there is no acceptable evidence to support any explanation for the rapid ingress of the new variant, thus the explanation offered by assuming the new variant is more transmissible has not been disproven and thus still remains a possible explanation.

    Two days ago I heard on the BBC that the most frequent coronavirus variant in Wales is now the new variant, but this had not been detected in Wales several months ago. So from a standing start this variant is now infecting the greatest number of Welsh persons. If Wales had no coronavirus infections and the new variant was newly introduced, I could understand how the rise of the new variant could be explained by the founder effect. But the new variant wasn’t so introduced, it appeared in a Wales where the virus was already present. If there is no difference in the transmissivity of the variants already present in Wales and the new variant, what explains the success of the new variant, progressively infecting a greater and greater percentage of people as time progresses? And not just Wales, this same result occurs in all the different regions of the U.K., including my own.

    Lastly, is there competition between virus variants other than getting to new hosts first and being able to withstand host defences, especially where very similar variants are involved? For every person being infected, to the virus it is new territory. If the virus variants present in the locality can equally infect a new host, then the only factor explaining a preferred uptake of a specific variant would be increased transmissivity. Luck would apply to all variants and would favour those variants already present in greater concentrations, which actually are experiencing declines.


  360. Here’s another hypothesis, equally not disproven, which still remains a possibility. The attempts to limit infection are reducing passing exposure to all things infectious, reducing the available opportunities for the immune system to gain a “heads up” of upcoming infections, thereby maintaining a healthy supply of naive victims and carriers. The blooming of the “new” strain is a direct consequence of reducing exposure to the “old” strain and attempts to control it using the techniques which have already failed in the past, might produce an even deadlier version in the future.


  361. Alan,

    >”There has been much discussion about the new variant coronavirus and whether it’s rapid spread in the U.K. is due to its improved transmissivity or is due to some other factor such as the founder effect. Much effort has been expended in denying the first explanation…”

    I’d like to think that my own effort has not been expended in that way. My concern has been that the first explanation quickly became an established ‘fact’ long before the evidence was conclusive. It was the premature dismissal of the second explanation that I was keen to counteract. In fact, I like to think that I have always been open-minded regarding the issue, though I think the whole question is academic now – the causation has now been assumed and acted upon accordingly. Nevertheless, there is still a technical point to be made here: Whenever there is a causal question to be answered in which more than one causation is posited, no amount of data-mining and correlation analysis can answer the question. Only an analysis founded upon counterfactual reasoning can do this (ref. my Brief Primer). Ferguson et al have proceeded without the counterfactual investigation having been performed. They may very well be right, but I would say that this would be by good luck rather than good judgement.

    To illustrate my point, I return to the example offered by covid-19 statistics in my neck of the woods. Adjacent towns are currently experiencing an acceleration of infection that is much greater than my own hometown, so much so that its only parallel can be found in the recent comparative surge in London and the South East. The presence of the new variant provided a ready explanation for the London and South East surge, but I do not for a minute believe it explains the disparity in my neck of the woods. Why do I say that? It isn’t because I know the local pattern of spread regarding the new variant. It is because every one of the local towns that are experiencing the current surge just happen to be towns that have been in lower Tiers throughout. The pattern is very striking. So the question is this: if differing tier histories can create a disparity of covid-19 increase every bit as remarkable as the one seen in areas with differing variants of the virus, can we be so sure which is the best explanation for the London and South East surge? The counterfactual question is: ‘Would the surge have happened in London and the South East even without the new variant?’ Put another way, was the fact that the surge featured the new variant indicative of a causal factor, or was it just circumstantial? To which the answer is ‘Who knows? We can’t re-run the history with different initial conditions.’

    Getting to your point regarding Wales, I agree that a similar surge of the new variant, in areas were there had previously been high levels of the other variants, would be harder to explain using the founder effect. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the Wales data and so I cannot comment further. However, I have just finished looking at Whitty’s latest slide show and none of those areas that had such pre-existent high levels of other virus variants have graphs that replicate anything like the London and South East experience. In fact, I note that in the North East and Yorkshire, the earlier virus variants are currently rising faster than the new variant. Is the new variant only more transmissible in the South? Obviously not, so what else is going on?

    As data comes in, the answers may become clearer. In the meantime, I applaud your open mindedness.


  362. Still 99% of people getting either virus variant will only have a mild event. Seems like they are trying
    to stop us getting a viral balance in the community. Least the vaccine will help the vulnerable be shielded.


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