Climate, Covid, Brexit, Peace Prize
Some thoughts on the last week. Nothing controversial. Ahem.
Last weekend I rejoiced in XR losing hearts and minds so, for balance, here’s our favourite XR alumnus with friends:
Nuclear for Net Zero? Well, it’s a lot better than any other version. IMHO. Feel free to disagree.
A couple of previous paragraphs of mine, from two posts in December 2017, with the second modestly pointing to the first:
For mediocre self-defined experts, climate is a gateway drug. For society, climate is self-harm due to low self-esteem.
The good news, I aver, is that climate is a gateway drug for a lot of other bad stuff. (Good news for us as a blog, that is, though bad news for society.) But being a real expert on so many things is incredibly hard. That’s part of the bad news for us as a blog – and indeed for everyone.
There has been bad stuff in the Covid area – like the Lancet’s retracted paper on Hydroxychloroquine. And I do see my dictum about climate as a gateway drug applying to some of that. (I also agree with my former self on how hard it is to be a real expert in this new area.)
However, there are also far more honest brokers in the Covid case, the way I see it. How many climate scientists have you seen asking this question?
Publication bias in alarming studies in climate science and policy? What a thought! Seen any quotes from Betts and his ilk like that?
On our covid policy and quality-of-life stance, this little interaction yesterday for me had everything:
I also cited Burke earlier in the week, having been irritated by the four options given, by someone I otherwise consider a good broadcaster, in a poll on pretty much the same controversy:
I would need to do another post on everything I mean by Burkean Scepticism. But, as a sceptic generally, I’ve also had the pleasure of watching this from Ivor Cummins this week:
In brief, it looks like Sweden got it right. Cummins (no relation) explains that point of view very calmly, based on the latest data, and deals with most of the counterarguments one has heard raised.
I still wear a mask in the supermarket though. I put that down to Burke and his non-revolutionary wisdom. Feel free to disagree. Or even to ask what on earth I mean.
If the UK has already turned into a fascist dictatorship then I think it’s fair to assume that there is no hope for us regarding Brexit. I don’t hold to either part. I simply read with interest:
I don’t hold to what Major, Blair or Adler – of the BBC but reflecting the views of the EU – are saying. I hope the other two are right. That has big implications for the future freedom of the UK to take a different path on climate policy, as we’ve discussed in the past. But it’s also why some caution is I think wise before writing off this government as committed fascists, because of their faulty Covid policy.
Is it not possible that Cummings and co decided they couldn’t fight ‘conventional wisdom’ on both fronts at the same time, with the EU negotiation going to the wire during the winter months that are a genuine concern for various well-meaning people on Covid? I think that it is possible.
And that was before Bahrain.
Complex area, of course. But ask yourself, are the climate alarmists of the world rejoicing at this prospect and the imminent reelection of Donald Trump, whether for that or other reasons?
As with last week, reactions on anything welcome.
I think Michael Mann has a better chance of winning an actual Nobel science prize than Trump has of actually being awarded the Nobel Peace prize. Greta Thunberg certainly has a better chance of getting the Nobel Peace prize than Trump, … or a Nobel science prize for that matter. They’ll probably add some type of Nobel Climate prize with Naomi Oreskes, Katherine Hayhoe and Sarah Myhre getting nominations.
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Yep, it was the brave Norwegian MP nominating Trump for the prize that was enough for me. Because people will compare with Obama in 2009, to say nothing of Al Gore and the IPCC in 2007, and realise Tybring-Gjedde has a point.
Not that all climate sceptics see Middle East politics the same way of course. I’d be with Steve McIntyre in much preferring Trump went back to his stance of not advocating for, or helping ISIS/Al-Qaeda ‘rebels’ towards the overthrow of Assad in Syria. That would also mean lessening the tension with Putin and Russia on that issue. That’s the ultimate peace no-no so I’m in favour.
But my other focus here is that Trump 2021-24 would be far more sceptical of the ‘climate crisis’ narrative than any Democrat regime, whether with Biden as lasting figurehead or acting as the Kerensky for some other Lenin. Orange Man Bad is not out of it yet.
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In terms of peace prize, tend to think that the Arab leaders getting it. If Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
joins in, then he get it, or share it with the other Arab leaders.
Speaker of the House of Commons:
“If one lesson from the pandemic is that taking serious action in a timely manner is key – then shouldn’t this also be true in terms of climate change? With Covid, what surprised many of us in the UK was how engaged most of the population became once the seriousness of the situation was made clear.
“People were prepared to accept limitations on personal choice and lifestyle – for the good of their own family and friends. No-one could ever imagine that we would be wearing masks so readily and that we would all be so compliant. Perhaps we ought not to underestimate the ability of people and communities to work together for the common good, if there is united and clear leadership.”
Wasn’t this Speaker supposed to be a refreshing and welcome change from the Poisonous Dwarf? OK, he’s taller, I’ll grant you that.
“Perhaps we ought not to underestimate the ability of people and communities to work together for the common good, if there is united and clear leadership.” Say the leading lemmings as they approach a cliff.
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“No-one could ever imagine that we would be wearing masks so readily and that we would all be so compliant.”
A councillor stood outside the Sainsbury’s in Middlesbrough the other day to gauge the level of local compliance. He reported that out of the first 90 people to emerge, only 15 were wearing a mask.
I’m guessing that the Speaker shops at Waitrose and doesn’t live in the bowels of Teesside.
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Jaime: I’d completely missed that story in the Express, highlighted by Paul Homewood, so thank you. Nancy Pelosi convened this Zoom meetup of the world’s top Speakers and in that heady context Hoyle embarrassed himself and the Parliament and thus people he represents. Pelosi has also got publicly involved in our fight to escape Brussels in the last week, in the opposite direction Trump would take it. She’s probably not pushing for the guy to win the Nobel either. All worth noting.
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Another thing that might have been mentioned is the output from the climate assembly. I actually thought one of the cliscep crew would pen something on this, as I know it has exercised folk in the past.
I mentioned this in passing in another thread, but Harrabin’s summary seemed to show that the 550 page blueprint for Net Zero advocated things that won’t help (more wind turbines) and rejected things that certainly would (nuclear). It also called for a voluntary reduction in meat eating and a ban on SUVs. To repeat myself, a table of 6th formers in Wetherspoons could have come up with as much, and it would only have cost £20 for the round. (It is curious how students forget how hostile they are to Wetherspoons when it comes to finding the cheapest pint on the block).
Regarding the peace prize, well if memory serves Obama got his before he had actually done anything, so on that basis The Donald would seem to deserve it more.
Finally, why, if Zion Lights has joined the rational anti-alarm crew, is she still driving for Net Zero? Has she cleared this with her boss?
John. May I comment upon the esteemed clientele at my local Waitrose? The beefiest of employers sits at the entrance and doesn’t admit even the most demure of intended shoppers unless they they sport a suitable face mask. They also threaten with hand-wash. I do wonder if my bog-standard blue mask is really acceptable to the good people who frequent Waitrose, but to-date I have been admitted (but sometimes with a scowl). So all shoppers who can walk wear masks. The last time I shopped there they were in the process of physically separating people entering from those exiting. So we of the North Folk are fully up to speed.
There you have hit on a weakness of the author. Others like Geoff and Barry have put in hours to the climate assembly story, at least in its early days. I see them as an anti-democratic abomination but not as big a risk as other areas. I could of course be wrong. Plus I don’t have time.
What Speaker Hoyle said in the last week is of immediate interest to me, though, as is its context. (YMMV on every single part of this.) I still think Hoyle is a vast improvement on Bercow but I see Pelosi as a global menace whose power will increase greatly if Trump is voted out in November, by fair means or foul. These little-known international meetings that so often seek to subvert democracy and put key people under insane peer pressure to commit themselves to the very stupid are also very much not my bag.
I was hoping someone would ask that. Accepting Net Zero as a goal, even with Nuclear as the proposed solution, is a really risky tactic for us. It’s what leads to neophytes like Hoyle coming up with far more stupid solutions off the cuff and being praised by their vaunted peers for their farsightedness.
On Trump generally, I found this interaction between two members of the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ (one of whom coined the term) instructive:
But though I agree with Rubin there, a bit like Hoyle I still have time for Eric Weinstein, not least because of the rather deep interview he did with Roger Penrose in March just before social distancing hit:
That might be considered off-topic but does it not concern science and uncertainty? At the least doesn’t it show two people disagreeing with good humour through a shared desire to discern the truth?
John, I wish I lived in Middlesborough. Shopping trips here have become an intensely depressing and lonely experience. Here in South Lincolnshire face nappy compliance is almost 100% in Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Lidl. Amazing. You’re 10 times more likely to die from ‘flu or pneumonia, there’s no good scientific evidence that mass wearing of face coverings prevents transmission of this virus, as recently publicly stated by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jenny Harries, the social, psychological and probably even physical harms far outweigh any hypothetical benefit at this stage, but because the government said you MUST wear a face covering, they did. Will they get on the cattle trucks if the government tells them that it’s for the ‘common good’?
On a lighter note, I love this from Trump. Cool as a cucumber dealing with a climate hysteric re. the California wildfires. Note how he smirks and looks over at somebody out of sight at the mention of the Death Valley temperature record. He’s much brighter than they give him credit for.
Ah yes, the blame-the-Jews theory of the Holocaust. The men with submachine guns standing around had nothing to do with it, the Jews were weak and deserved to die. Or what is the analogy here?
The Jews had already been stripped of all their civil rights and their humanity under the Nazi regime. In this context, they were told they were being ‘resettled’. Sure, armed men marched them onto the trucks, but many went willingly, convinced that ‘deportation’ would be better than living as a sub human under the Nazi regime. They were very wrong of course. They greatly underestimated the scale of the evil which they faced.
The analogy is not perfect, but it is apt. There is certainly no hint of me blaming the Jews for the Holocaust which was inflicted upon them. The insinuation that I think they were ‘weak and deserved to die’ is quite frankly outrageous. We consistently underestimate the willingness of our governments to inflict harm upon us. In 2020 we have the benefit of hindsight. Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung – all of them socialists of one form or another. We are (were) a free people living in an enlightened modern democracy (reputedly), gifted with autonomy and independence and the opportunity to seriously question that which our governments tell us is ‘for our own good’. But it seems the vast majority just cannot be bothered. The WHO is telling us (via our governments) that we need to wear masks, get vaccinated, and that we must accept the long term ‘new normal’. The WHO is a socialist organisation, headed by a Marxist with a decidedly shady past, but we should not let that bother us – they’re the ‘experts’.
But I see where this thread is going – once again. I’m out of here. Make up your own minds what’s really going on with this sinister removal of our civil liberties, destruction of our economy and decimation of our way of life in order to get to ‘Covid zero’/Ground Zero/Net Zero/Year Zero.
I beg to differ. The analogy was and is grossly inappropriate. But I get the “poor me” message at the end. That’s a common thread. You poor, poor thing, having such extreme and injudicious aspects of your messages about Covid-19 in any way challenged.
Aside from the ahistorical and tone-deaf use of ‘getting on the cattle trucks’ it’s the contempt for your fellow-citizens that I feel is completely counterproductive. That ‘brainless majority’ that, among other things, voted for Brexit
but strangely now is giving way to fascism
because they’re cowed, compliant, low-information pillocks
Yeah, that’s what fighting for our freedom in 2020 looks like! No cost at all to the fighters, except to the credibility of their cause. Our cause, in fact, because I agree about the extremes to be avoided.
But I don’t think wearing masks is a big deal either way. So I can without reservation praise this GP:
Well worth a read of that full thread, if one is open-minded.
I don’t think you do. Did you foresee me pointing you to the strange dichotomy between your views on the majority on 23rd June 2016 and your views on the majority today? And how that plays into the fraught negotiations between our government and the EU right now? I’d love to get your feedback on that.
You keep wearing your muzzle/face nappy like a good little boy Richard. Your contempt for me personally is plain to see now, your attacks upon my character ever more bizarre and ill-judged, driven by I know not what, though I have my suspicions. Now you’ve outed my anonymous account on Twitter, no doubt in the hope that I will be reported and banned. You’re welcome to your little empire here at Cliscep. Please remove me immediately from the list of contributors and enjoy your winter under curfew and lockdown imposed by this fascist government.
Well, this is sad.
I wear a face covering in shops, reluctantly (I hate the blasted things), because it’s the law. I don’t wear them outdoors, because I think to do so is pointless, and because it isn’t the law.
I think the Government, aided and abetted by some extremist scientists (not all scientists share their alarmist views by any means) is going down the wrong road now. I take comfort from the fact that cases of Covid-19 are apparently increasing while, deaths, ICU cases and hospitalisations generally are not. I think we need to get back to life as normal, while sheltering and looking after those who are most at risk, so as to start treating people with other diseases, who might now die because of continuing lock-down, and because we need to restore our shattered economy.
As for compliance with the law, I think we should campaign against the law if we disapprove of it, but I think we should obey it, even if we disagree with it. We (rightly, IMO) criticise XR for breaking the law because they think their views put them above the law; I think we would be hypocritical if criticising others for complying with a law with which we disagree.
Jaime, please don’t go. You have a lot to offer. But please, please do calm down and think through the implications of what you’re saying, and pause before you hit “send” (something I don’t always manage to do, admittedly).
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Mark, I respectfully disagree with your stance on the ‘law’. A ‘law’ which is imposed undemocratically, by government diktat, with no consultation and no debate in Parliament is not a constitutionally valid law in my opinion. You should watch Lord Sumption’s podcast with Allison Pearson of the Telegraph for the technical details in this respect. If anyone knows the law it should be him. His advice when asked whether people should break the law: he suggested people should do what they consider is best for their own health.
But let’s not get bogged down too much in the technical details, let’s examine what I think is the moral issue here. If a law, brought in under so called ’emergency powers’, has demonstrably no basis in evidence or scientific fact and is almost certainly having widespread, profound and damaging social, psychological and physical consequences, then I believe it becomes our civic duty to not comply with that law. Mass compliance has only led us further into the mire and here we are today, toddlers being muzzled up by their parents in supermarkets, schools hysterically imposing masks upon pupils for up to 8 hours a day in class, supposedly to ‘protect’ their staff, government ministers publicly calling a respected journalist a “selfish c**t” because he respectfully declines to comply with a government diktat. Where does it end? Not somewhere I want to be.
Cliscep is not somewhere I now want to be sadly, not because of people like you, with whom I can calmly disagree with and not end up being traduced, insulted and character assassinated by founding members. In that context, I take my leave.
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Jaime, we do have to agree to differ.
I agree that there is a repugnance to using emergency powers legislation to bring in new and very constraining laws without any supervision by Parliament, but I don’t think you can call that undemocratic. Under our (admittedly very far from perfect) democratic system, we have elected a Government which is acting under the powers it obtained by virtue of the its election success, and is doing so under pre-existing laws, passed by a democratically-elected earlier Parliament (at least the House of Commons was democratically elected – this is not the place to go in to the absurdity of the unelected House of Lords).
Also, I don’t like being forced to wear a mask in shops, and I think it is absurd that during a fleeting visit to a shop I have to wear a mask, but I can sit in a pub or restaurant for a couple of hours and not have to wear a mask. However, I draw the line at saying that a law mandating mask-wearing has “demonstrably no basis in evidence or scientific fact and is almost certainly having widespread, profound and damaging social, psychological and physical consequences”. I think that’s a matter of opinion rather than objective fact. As it happens, I incline marginally towards your opinion, but I think it remains opinion and isn’t fact.
The fact that some jobsworths are over-interpreting the law doesn’t help – forcing children to wear masks in school, for instance, is I think stupid and unhelpful, but that isn’t the Government’s fault, since that isn’t the law (though I do wish Government spokespersons would speak out against that sort of thing).
Anyway, it seems your mind is made up, which is a shame indeed. Will we be able to follow your contributions (which I usually value) at your own website? I hope so.
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“The fact that some jobsworths are over-interpreting the law doesn’t help – forcing children to wear masks in school, for instance, is I think stupid and unhelpful, but that isn’t the Government’s fault, since that isn’t the law”.
It most definitely is the government’s fault. They mandated the wearing of masks in communal areas in schools within lockdown areas, but gave schools the discretion to implement their own mask wearing rules. Boris said he thought it was not appropriate that children wear masks in class, but he knew full well that, given the opportunity, many schools would impose that. He gave them the opportunity. If he’d had a spine and faced up to the teacher’s unions, he would have banned masks outright in schools. He didn’t and he consequently threw kids under the bus. Political expediency is obviously a lot more important to him than the welfare of children.
I shall be writing articles once again at my own blog: https://climatecontrarian.wordpress.com/ which I gave up on when I started writing here. It’s been good working as part of a loose-knit team with similar ideals, but the time has come for me to move on.
Although it was not my intention to go into the history of the Holocaust in this thread I think it’s worth highlighting the one Axis country where there was a popular rebellion against the government as it sought to follow the Nazi edict to deport its Jews by train to extermination camps:
That summary is from The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous
“As a result, no Jews of Bulgarian citizenship were sent to their deaths in Poland.”
Who knows, there may be some fruitful analogies in our troubled future to be drawn from this remarkable case. I hope so. Note that the fighting was on behalf of others unable to defend themselves.
Jaime. I look foreword to reading your new material at your old site. I imagine all that appreciate your contributions here will do the same.
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Jaime – website duly noted, and I look forward to visiting.
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Richard, with respect, I don’t read Cliscep to be reappraised of the horrors of the Holocaust. I also don’t see much relevancy of comparison between such disparate occurrences as Covid, the supposed Climate Scare, and events the occurred in the Second World War and its preliminaries. But then it’s your thread and I don’t have to read it. I look forward to reading what, in my opinion, will be more relevant analysis.
Alan, Mark, thanks. I don’t expect a tenth of the reader numbers I get here, but that’s life. I wish this dreadful Covid apocalypse obession would just go off the boil because I’d love to get back to writing about the climate apocalypse obsession – it’s much more fun. Beginning to wish they hadn’t cancelled COP 26 now.
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Alan, also with respect, I think that history is important to guide us and that it can be misused. For example, back in 2007, the CEO of the US National Mining Association wrote this to James Hansen:
I agreed. Hansen’s comment about trains delivering coal to power stations being equivalent to death trains going to extermination camps was way out of order. And I think Jaime’s comment earlier on this thread, used against her enemies, her own fellow-citizens, those who have decided to comply with the government on wearing face-masks, was just as bad as Hansen’s. So I called it out. If Jaime had admitted that she had mispoken (which as Mark has implied we all do at times) then there would have been no further mention of it or the horrors it referred to. Indeed I would have suggested we removed that sentence from her comment. And that would have been that.
Left as it is, though, I think ‘repellent and preposterous’ is right for what was said here too. Obviously this means that I don’t have the same respect for Jaime right now as I once did. But, like Churchill, whom she also admires, I strongly believe in magnanimity. Thus I could point positively to James Hansen and his advocacy of nucear power in a piece I wrote last year for Cliscep. And so on.
There is one other characteristic of Churchill’s that I think is worth considering at present: his utter calmness in a crisis. Here is Jane Williams, someone who knew him personally, writing about this aspect of his character – and then his magnanimity – in the context of Andrew Roberts’ brilliant recent biography.
I don’t think such lessons from history can ever become irrelevant.
Bad science. Bad data. Bad politicians.
We’ve reached the turning point. This insane government is either forced into retreat or we face a very grim future indeed.
Oh, and they’ve now come clean about the real purpose of smart meters: energy rationing in the new age of intermittent, unreliable renewables.
@Richard from a week ago
Thanks for that O/T link. Yesterday I watched the entire video of Penrose in conversation (2h18). I now have a headache (correlation but not necessarily causation), but have a warm glow from at least trying to catch the sense of some of what was said.
I tried to read his book a few years back, and realised that I was not as smart as I thought I was. I passed it onto someone who actually had a physics degree, & this reminds me that I must get in touch to find out how far he got with it…
I had overlooked your Penrose link from a week ago. I’ve just tried to watch it and I have to say that such interviews are not the best way to get a grounding in such a fiendishly difficult subject. Frankly, I gave up after half an hour!
I haven’t read Penrose’s book, but if his other publications are anything to go by, I don’t expect it to be an easy read either. However, if you are looking for an accessible introduction to twistor theory, I can recommend F. David Peat’s “Superstrings and the Search for the Theory of Everything”. Although it is ostensibly about superstring theory it also covers twistors at some length. There are three relevant Chapters:
7: From Spinors to Twistors
8: Twistor Space
9: Twistor Gravity
@John, thanks for the suggestion, which I’ve put on my birthday list. Could have sworn you said it was by David Pleat. Having such a boffin determining team strategy would have explained the way Luton Town did so well with so few resources in the 1980s…
>”Could have sworn you said it was by David Pleat.”
You got me! Yes, there was a typo that I quickly corrected, hoping no one would notice.
I have to confess that I have only just read the comments on this thread that followed my last one of 17th Sep. David Pleat: didn’t he insist we sign Dele Alli? All is forgiven, even the superstrings.
The reason I didn’t read the thread till now was that I was getting ready for and enjoying a walking holiday from 21st. The close friend I was with said I seemed rather preoccupied the first day or two. I resolved not to go back to what was bothering me. The change of tune I’ve just found is most welcome.
Worth going back to the head-scratching and its place in our own ‘road to reality’ some time.
And now there’s this.
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That’s good news for all us Penrose fans. However, I find the wording of the announcement slightly odd:
University of Oxford, UK
“for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity”
and the other half jointly to…”
That means that Roger got half a prize and the other two got a quarter each. I didn’t think it worked that way.
John: I didn’t know it could work like that either. I did watch the official announcement on YouTube about 30 mins after real-time, which is slow-going for multilingual reasons. I gave up when the second journalist tried to get Andrea Ghez to denounce Trump’s attitude to science, or so it seemed to me. I didn’t know they could go back as far as work done in 1965. But fair play to them and to Roger himself.
I’ve been thinking about the recent spike of COVID-19 in Newcastle’s University of Northumbria (this was the polytechnic across the road back in the days when I was studying at Newcastle University). Apparently, no less than 770 students have tested positive, with only about 70 showing symptoms. Unsurprisingly, mass self-isolation is now the order of the day.
Nothing unexpected there, you might think. After all, it is well-known to the media that the students of the UK have been living la dolce vita at bring-your-own-virus parties ever since they had slipped the clutches of their familiae domi. A massive outbreak was all that one could expect.
Except that a Lancet paper recently reported that the false positive rate for the testing could be as high as 4%. The community incidence of COVID-19 in Newcastle is such that, with such a false positive rate, if one tested all of the students one would expect to find about 50 genuine cases and a further 800 false positives. Coincidence? Probably. Nevertheless, Northumbria University said that the result, ‘reflects the good access to and availability of testing, as well as rigorous and robust reporting systems’. Nothing further is said regarding the testing strategy other than ‘several criteria’ were applied, presumably in the interests of the ‘good’, ‘rigorous’ and ‘robust’. If all of this amounted to random sampling with a very high sampling rate, then the results may be a manifestation of false positives rather than the effect of particularly hard partying and an unusually asymptomatic virus. A much more focused testing strategy, however, with much larger a priori probabilities would radically change the analysis.
I don’t know what the case is and so, as far as I am concerned, the fog on the Tyne is all mine, all mine, the fog on the Tyne is all mine. The media can see things a lot clearer, of course. As far as they are concerned, I’m a COVID denier to even be asking: Why so high and why so asymptomatic?
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It shouldn’t be, in my view. The point you (and others) make about false positives is crucial to evaluating the numbers here and elsewhere. But it doesn’t take us the whole distance – in other words, into knowing every single appropriate policy – and it doesn’t cause me to declare that the UK government is, already, a fascist regime.
Here’s the best summary of the process in one tweet that I think I’ve seen, from someone who claims to have been on hand as policy was developed:
The UK government was driven by the fears of the people, against scientific advice. This has come out strongly in the percentages willing to wear a mask when, for example, James Delingpole and Jaime Jessop aren’t. To their great surprise, it seems. But not to mine, because I already had the picture Dr Balloux outlines very much as a given.
As the Prof made clear yesterday, it’s amazing how ignorant we still are:
And he isn’t willing to sign the Great Barrington Declaration:
Which brings me to:
To some hotheads, yes. But the media reaction to the Great Barrington Declaration is much more balanced, from the BBC and others, than in the climate case. In my view. Not saying much, I hear you shout back.
The hotheads express their anger at another level too and it cannot be called pretty:
Hence my concern that we have some clues on how to maintain sanity ourselves. My black humour in this case may or may not be considered a help in that regard.
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The proposed closure of pubs and restaurants is a hot topic at the moment:
Of particular interest to me in the BBC report was the following passage:
“Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said there was ‘evidence hospitality plays a role’ in spreading the virus.
But pressed on whether the government would publish this evidence, he told the BBC: It is commonsensical that the longer you stay in pubs and restaurants, the more likely you are to come into contact with other individuals.
‘The more drinks that people have, the more likely that some people are to break the rules.’
He added that it was right to ‘take action decisively, rather than waiting for the most detailed epidemiological evidence to emerge’.”
Anyone who has been paying attention to the climate change debate would find the above line of reasoning all too familiar. Who needs to wait for evidence when one has common sense and a sense of urgency? There was a time when it was common sense that the Earth was at the centre of the universe, and the church needed to take action decisively, rather than wait for the most detailed cosmological evidence to emerge.
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What’s different from climate, John, is that Starmer, aka Her Majesty’s official opposition, was already asking the government yesterday to provide the scientific evidence behind the edict that pubs should close by 10pm. We haven’t had that kind of thing in our so-called adversarial system for years even with the most harebrained so-called climate policies (and we didn’t two days ago with the Boris’s Big Wind announcement). But I remain an optimist on this. The one will bleed into the other. Eventually. Whether the patient will still be alive to benefit is another matter.
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I wish I shared your confidence, I really do. Whilst we are on the subject of Jenrick, wasn’t he the one who travelled 150 miles to visit his parents during lockdown? As a result, he was asked to consider his position. But he is still there, lecturing to us all about common sense and the unimportance of evidence. Whatever happened to personal integrity?
Answers on a postcard please.
‘The more drinks that people have, the more likely that some people are to break the rules.’
This appears to be the ‘logic’ behind the Dwarf from the North’s decision to ban the consumption of alcohol in pubs. If you’re a bit tipsy, you’re more likely to act like a normal human being and get close to people and forget to put your mask on to go to the toilet, for example. Terrible, can’t have people behaving normally when there’s a deadly virus on the loose. Can’t have people consuming ALCOHOL on licensed premises!
The other bit of the ‘evidence’ for targeting hospitality venues is that 26% of people who tested positive said that they’d been to a pub or restaurant recently, so apparently that’s enough to condemn pubs and restaurants and other hospitality venues for contributing significantly to the spread of infections. Correlation is causation, just like in La La Climate Change Land.
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I didn’t know what to say about my perceived confidence – optimism I think being a different thing – except to adopt the black humour I filched from the British armed forces, something Winston would have known from his hands-on leadership in the trenches in WW1 and that is still evident today: eg a Marine reaches a colleague close to death, having been hit by an IED, and asks if he can have the expensive watch on the one arm still extant on the guy.
But then, as I’m perusing the landscape, another major bit of modern baloney bites the dust, in an area covered in my increasingly prescient title:
Not putty-minded fools. Over Brexit anyway. Hmm.
Indeed. Who gives a toss that 26% had visited a pub? The same people had probably been out to work that day. There is a huge confounder here, and it’s called society. But I guess that is what Jenrick meant by waiting for ‘detailed epidemiological evidence’. We could wait for someone to perform this basic causal analysis or we could act ‘decisively’ and jump upon the first statistic that glints in the sun.
Here’s a valiant supporter of Brexit, but from a left-leaning libertarian perspective. Tim and I have followed each other on Twitter for donkeys years. He doesn’t agree with all of us Cliscep regulars on Covid-19 but the key thing he says here, with which I fully agree, is that any emergency measures are temporary.
Because Tim chooses to wear a mask, in line with government instructions and his well-worked-out beliefs, I don’t see his principled stand (right or wrong) having anything to do with the fate of this six-year-old 78 years ago.
The analogy falls, any way you look at it. That particular sentence should be removed by its author.
Prof Francois B: “I have insight into the ‘pandemic strategy’ of two governments’. The main decisions were primarily taken by politicians under the pressure of the population, often against scientific advice. The post-mortem will be uncomfortable …”
On 9th May I said this: “The fears of national publics essentially selected this route, via their (media amplified) pressure on governments. The latter can say ‘we followed the science’, but in all nations the range of ‘science’ that *could* have been followed probably covered just about every option. However, the heavy pressure of outrage / emotion, favours certain options.”
The Post Mortem may indeed be uncomfortable. But not likely beyond merely uncomfortable, as it ought to be. Because the range of science on offer was and even still is, so very wide, covering practically every option. It’ll be next to impossible to demonstrate that the taken decisions weren’t supported by some (’eminent’) scientists, and hence were not ‘against scientific advice’. It’ll be an argument about which scientists were right or wrong and thus how could anyone know, also conducted in hindsight (about which we’ll be strongly reminded). The range of science with ‘enough’ credibility, has been for most of the journey easily wide enough for our government (and many others) to react to public fears while still keeping their ass covered. And indeed, mostly, they haven’t been consciously choosing ‘the wrong science’ (with apologies to Wallace and Grommit), they’ve just been reacting to those fears, which were so implacably amplified and pitched by Peston, Rigsby et al. The credible cover is shrinking by the week. But even when it’s shrunk down to a loin cloth, governments will still clutch at it until they sense that fear of the solution is overtaking fear of the problem. According to public surveys that’s still way out. The Spectator speculates a scapegoat or two at this point, maybe even Hancock. But as the results of any investigation will be 2 years down the line minimum (even the modest Cambridge Analytica investigation was 3 years), I doubt it.
Andy, I’m not sure which two nations Prof Balloux has insight into but as he’s based at UCL, I suspect the UK might be one of them. IMO Boris neither followed the science – alarmist as it was at the time – nor followed public opinion (which was less alarmed than he would have liked). After the herd immunity debacle, he announced a set of national measures on the 16th which were fairly sensible, which aligned with Sage’s advice at the time and which were not mandatory for the most part. Because of some media reported gatherings in public parks (outside note, in the sunshine, where the risk of transmission is low) he decided to go against the prevailing scientific advice and seemingly against the public mood of laissez-faire at the time to announce a lockdown of the entire nation on March 23rd. From that point on, the government and media achieved the level of public fear that they desired and they made very sure that they kept that level of fear going throughout the following months and even into the summer, after the initial epidemic had clearly subsided. Then they cranked up testing and Project Second Wave as we approached autumn, ignoring real science and hard data, ignoring clear evidence of significant harms as a direct result of policy, in order to prolong and promote fear once again. This was (and has been) the UK’s pandemic ‘strategy’ which continues to the present moment, ignoring now the advice of some 12,500 professional scientists and medics. Professor Pantsdown’s dodgy epidemic modelling reigns supreme, once again, even in the face of hard reality.
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Aren’t we getting to the same position on Covid as we are in over climate change, but by a process speeded up about twenty times? Scientific opinion is divided; public opinion (as measured in the most naïve fashion by opinion polls) says: “do more” (Ask the public: “should we be doing more?” and of course they’re going to say “yes!”) so the government does more (but never enough) and scientific opinion coalesces around the public and political consensus. Science is “divided,” for the moment, but so it was over climate 20 years ago. Lomborg was listened to with respect even in the Guardian, until he wasn’t.
With climate change the negative effects (rising fuel prices etc.) are slow to manifest themselves. With Covid they’re immediate. 80% of people in focus groups don’t go to pubs after 10pm so that’s ok then – until the kids start holding spontaneous booze ups in the entrance of your block of flats. The old are at risk, so ban visits to retirement homes and let them die of boredom out of sight. And so on for every “popular” restrictive measure you make. Societies with quite rigid social institutions (because of rigid family structures) like Sweden and Germany come out of it better than societies with loose, supple structures like England. Sure the suppleness of English institutions means the ability to adapt fast – like a flag flapping about in the wind.
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To judge from today’s front pages, the gov’t is finally being pulled in two directions at once.
Guardian: New Covid-19 rules don’t go far enough, say experts
Express: Listen to us! Majority support tougher lockdown
Mirror: Northern Fury
Mail: Crippling toll of covid rules
My approach would be to let people assess their own risks and behave accordingly, but protect those who cannot manage their own risks (care homes, hospitals), while mandating only that symptomatic and +ve folk self-isolate.
(aside: yesterday in the Co-op I passed a fellow shopper with a disgusting cough. I’d heard the cough from across the shop and decided to take a diversion down a different aisle; alas, she came into the aisle (still hacking away, behind a face covering) as I reached the end. I considered asking whether she should be at home self-isolating, but then wondered if she had a non-wuflu issue, & had to give her the benefit of the doubt. Still, if I go down with it next week, I’ll know where I got it.)
(second aside, re self-isolating, with apologies…. thought of this a week ago when washing up:
Guy walks into a bar, says “No meat his hunger slakes; his throat is shrunken up with thirst; And justly doth his hateful gold torment him as accursed.”
Barman says, “Shouldn’t you be self-isolating? It sounds like you’ve got a mild case of Ovid.”)
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Jaime: ‘IMO Boris neither followed the science – alarmist as it was at the time…’
He followed *some* science, which is always doable when essentially any science you like is on offer. You can even switch horses (which is to say switch the experts you listen to, or even mix and match them) and then say this is because ‘the science improved’. And in the early stages, there was indeed far more genuine uncertainty. We can’t assume today’s knowledge for yesterday’s actions.
“– nor followed public opinion (which was less alarmed than he would have liked).”
I do not think public surveys back this up. And why on Earth would he ‘like’ alarm?
“…From that point on, the government and media achieved the level of public fear that they desired…”
Well the media has an interest in amplifying fear because it makes them rich (and famous, in the case of particular journalists). But there is no need to invoke nefarious government purpose at all. Publics are perfectly capable of scaring themselves to death, and regularly do so. This has all been an unmitigated disaster for the current government, utterly trashing for both Boris and the party, one of the biggest popularity margins in recent history. And this when they knew from pretty early on that there is still a very long haul to go; economically, longer than the party will have in power, hence putting a cloud over their entire term, which was meant to be the big Brexit triumph term. This is not something they would ever have consciously chosen to do. This is merely weakness, not nefariousness. The weakness of letting the fear infect them too and then reacting to the crowd, also for fear of being accused of letting citizens die, which has happened with governments of every flavour across the world. But they could have held firm, as Sweden did. They are now on a course that is hard to back out of, but for every expert pointing out the course is wrong, currently there are more who still back the fear (and the definition of expert here is very wide as so many disciplines are involved, none of which is expert in all of it). And this is far more the case for the public, so far.
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“Aren’t we getting to the same position on Covid as we are in over climate change, but by a process speeded up about twenty times?”
Kind of. But it’s not only the timescale that is different. There’s genuine fear (because of many real and visible deaths that for a while were plastered all over the TV), rather than exclusively cultural fear (so ‘not real’ fear, but still emotively felt). There’s more fluidity on the ‘sides’, and the reality of measurements plus evidence presses more heavily against emotively driven reactions. Which per above, doesn’t mean that the evidence will win yet, but it’s pretty much bound to fairly soonish (say, in 2 or 3 years when all the investigations start to publish) in a way that can’t happen with climate change for decades more at least, because no-one can ever prove anything with climate-change. Long before that 2 or 3 years, one would hope that that the evidence, if it doesn’t outright win, will start to moderate actions much more.
“Scientific opinion is divided; public opinion (as measured in the most naïve fashion by opinion polls) says: “do more” (Ask the public: “should we be doing more?” and of course they’re going to say “yes!”)”
Absolutely! The public is driving!
“so the government does more (but never enough) and scientific opinion coalesces around the public and political consensus.”
Again yes. This is the critical thing – governments are serving their fear-ridden populations here, from a menu of divided science. They aren’t nefariously driving the action. They are rather passive component in fact. Communally, we’re getting the reaction we demanded. The government will only stop when the public becomes more afraid of the solution than the problem, and demands a stop to it all. But that’s a much less emotive thing than becoming afraid of the bogey-man in the first place.
“Science is “divided,” for the moment, but so it was over climate 20 years ago. Lomborg was listened to with respect even in the Guardian, until he wasn’t.”
Yes. But the strong similarities (despite timescale compression) shouldn’t blind us to the differences. There is no ‘entrenched religion’ regarding covid, and the timescale of evidence emergence, despite it must still struggle through layers of fear to be seen, suggests there is never going to be. Orthodoxy is very unlikely to crystallise / fossilise. There are vast amounts of genuine science being executed all over the world upon covid, and eventually different disciplines (e.g. on social downsides, the epidemiology, vaccine research, many medical mitigations, etc) will start to link up better. Within this process, the current wide differences will be constantly eroded down, and in truth very few of them are backed with the kind of cultural certainty that typifies the climate domain (notwithstanding isolated examples, such as in the US ruling out hydroxychloroquine simply because Trump made a positive comment about it). In the climate science case, the vast majority of the science is still chasing a phantom; there is no better figure for climate sensitivity than there was 30 years ago, yet this is the key metric for the whole show.
When covid is in the rear view mirror, notwithstanding uncomfortable post mortems, climate-change will still be standing like a giant after the storm, and meanwhile it will have learned how to leverage all the exceptions and social modes and language of global fight that covid, and fear, caused us to create.
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The reaction against President Trump simply suggesting people not be controlled by fear of Covid is telling. He is a person in the allegedly high risk demographic, was obviously ill, and is now obviously healed. The reaction of Speaker Pelosi has been to start a non-Constitutional process to remove him from office because she thinks he is crazy for his response.
The reaction of “media” has been to berate the President for not taking the virus seriously enough.
Fear is truly the dark side.
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The students of Newcastle still appear to be doing their best to stay at the top of the COVID-19 infection table. Newcastle University authorities are now reporting that 1,003 students and 12 members of staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week. Meanwhile, there have also been 619 new cases amongst students at neighbouring Northumbria University; this would be on top of the 770 recorded previously. One thing is becoming clear, at least. These numbers cannot all be explained away as false positives – there simply isn’t the testing capacity to generate so many of them in such a time. However, there are still some interesting comparisons to be made with other northern universities that are not attracting quite the same headlines.
Take, for example, Liverpool. Here is a city with just as much COVID-19 in the community, and yet it reported only 96 student cases in the last 6 days. Why the difference? Well, it is entirely down to a strategy of only testing symptomatic students. If the 10:1 ratio of asymptomatic to symptomatic cases experienced at Northumbria University is to be taken at face value (and I’m not suggesting it should) then Liverpool should be declaring an emergency every bit as serious as Newcastle’s. And yet they are not. A spokesperson simply said that the results were consistent with the incidence of cases to be found within the broader community.
Then there is Nottingham. As with Newcastle, they appear to be focussed upon the supposed hidden menace of asymptomatic COVID-19, since they are introducing an ‘asymptomatic testing service’ in which anyone can get a test irrespective of circumstance. They proclaim that their “testing service has been established to counter the hidden spread of COVID-19 and keep staff, students and the local community safe.” This service is not fully up and running, so one can look forward to a dramatic ‘deterioration’ of the current situation (just over 400 cases, as of 2nd October).
Leeds University say that just 558 people have contracted the virus since the start of term on 28th September. Is this down to a focused testing strategy or the poor availability of organised raves? This intrepid reporter was unable to find out.
Finally, there is Manchester University. They are currently reporting around 160 new cases a day but, once again, the university is frustratingly coy on its website when it comes to explaining the testing strategy, nor could I find (at a glance) any information regarding the total number of tests or the number of asymptomatic cases. Consequently, it isn’t possible to make a sensible comparison with other universities such as Northumbria or Newcastle. Suffice it to say that the Mancunian practice of holding ‘covid-positive parties’ whilst in isolation is presumably having some effect.
All of this matters because universities that actively seek out asymptomatic cases using ‘robust’ testing are introducing low a priori probabilities, thereby causing false positives to significantly skew results. Consequently, their conclusions will be anything but robust. How skewed the results become has a huge impact on the conclusions that can be drawn and the extent to which valid extrapolations can then be made by others. The bottom line is that inconsistent testing strategies and reporting mechanisms are doing nothing to clarify the situation and I suspect that this problem is not restricted to academic communities. In such a position, one can be as scared as one wants to be.
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“But there is no need to invoke nefarious government purpose at all. Publics are perfectly capable of scaring themselves to death, and regularly do so . . . . . This is not something they would ever have consciously chosen to do.”
The facts just don’t support what you say. There has been clear and unquivocal evidence on mumerous occasions over the past 7 months when the government has been intentionally alarmist about the risk of Covid-19, has deliberately exaggerated the risk, even to the point of outright lying and has instituted policy decisions which have had little practical vaue but which have kept public fear alive at a time when the government should have been taking steps to wind down the fear narrative. Not once have they made any reasonable effort to communicate to the public the actual risk of being hospitalised or dying from a severe form of Covid-19 throughout this entire ‘crisis’ – not once. They have relied upon the irrational fear generated by the media and by their own actions and their failure to act appropriately to drive the public’s response to this disease, which has been predictably hysterical. You invoked ‘nefarious purpose’, not me. I offer no explanation or motive for the government’s appalling behaviour, only the suggestion based on the evidence of the past 7 months that it has been both appalling and deliberate.
“There has been clear and unquivocal evidence on mumerous occasions over the past 7 months when the government has been intentionally alarmist about the risk of Covid-19, has deliberately exaggerated the risk, even to the point of outright lying…”
There has been no such thing. There is clear evidence that the government is aligned to some particular scientists (and hence their science threads including relative risks etc), that you disagree with. And that they are not aligned to some alternate scientists (and hence their alternate science threads with relative risks etc) that you do agree with. And all this in an environment containing more total threads world-wide than either of these. While I personally find much more to agree with from those scientists you approve of than those the government approves of (we’ll call the latter the ‘orthodox’, per exchange above with Geoff), and while no-one has done a count to my knowledge, it also seems clear that currently the orthodox outnumber the alternates, and also that many views haven’t settled to each side exactly, or have a foot in both camps regarding different aspects.
As to ‘outright lying’, you have no evidence whatsoever for this. Unless all along Jaime is an alien being with telepathic powers to see into the minds of ministers and their cohorts 0: Or at least, you have access to their personal diaries complete with confessions. Actions are not evidence of motivation. Even should the orthodox argument be much more eroded, as potentially could happen within months, and the main alternate argument correspondingly strengthen, we know from the climate science domain that legions of folks, including science and authority sources, can be *emotively* convinced and hence would not be lying even if they clung on to the case, but are ‘under a spell’ as you’ve so excellently put it yourself. This can happen not just with strong cultural influence, but more immediate emotions, such as fear of a pandemic and indeed fear of being blamed for letting the pandemic slaughter. However, the latter case should not be anywhere near so long-lived, this spell will wear off.
“You invoked ‘nefarious purpose’, not me. I offer no explanation or motive for the government’s appalling behaviour, only the suggestion based on the evidence of the past 7 months that it has been both appalling and deliberate.”
Nefarious covers concepts like ‘criminal’ (so deliberately bad), shocking / atrocious (so appalling), and dishonest (so ‘outright lying’). It is simply a single word which covers all those things you have indeed cited, in a one hit. You have indeed offered no explanation for why the Boris / ministers / cohorts would lie and engage in appalling behaviour, but this does significantly constrain the motive, in that lies and conscious acts mean largely personal or at least cabal context. If you had a plausible explanation, this would strengthen your case. Meanwhile, you have several times before mentioned to set-aside what’s happening in the rest-of-the-world, and concentrate upon the UK and Boris / government here. But in seeking causal factors, this is to rule out 95%+ of the cases. If the UK were doing this alone, our lending much more weight to personal / cabal factors would seem very reasonable. But as the UK is one of many in this kind of approach (notwithstanding a range of degree), why would we disregarded 95%+ of the case evidence that will help us to determine cause?
To put all this down to personal lies and other shortfalls among a small group of individuals (you have mentioned psychosis before), is to take a route that means we will never fix the systemic failures that have caused this, such as many government systems (of very different flavours across the world) falling down like ninepins to public fear. Should someone else take power in the UK (obviously they will at some point), your route means everyone will just blame ousted Boris and Hancock, so nothing will get fixed. Yet clearly leaders all over the world are doing similar things. To really pin the current leaders or future ones to the responsibility for what has happened, would be to have them acknowledge and systemically protect against the madness of their own crowd, so that it doesn’t happen again. This is the failure that Boris needs to address, and it is enormously bigger than a matter of lies.
Re. your comment 08 Oct 2.29pm about pubs. The ‘epidemiological evidence’ has been presented to MPs in northern constituencies whose publicans will be put out of business and whose constituents will be deprived of the simple joy of going to the pub for a pint. This is basically what it consisted of:
“But they claimed they were shown “meaningless” and highly selective figures to “retrospectively” prove the need for closures.
The briefing, given by health minister Edward Argar and Professor Chris Whitty, the chief medical officer, included a Cabinet Office document marked “Official Sensitive” which featured a table of unpublished data marked “early analysis”.
It claimed that 29.8 per cent of exposures to coronavirus occurred in pubs and restaurants, with just 2.6 per cent of infections happening in people’s homes.
However, official NHS Test and Trace figures have shown that 75.3 per cent of transmissions happened in the home, with only 5.5 per cent happening in pubs, restaurants and churches.
The Department of Health admitted the figures shown to MPs “do not give us any hard conclusions about where the virus is being transmitted”.
A spokesman explained the discrepancy by saying contact tracing identified 75 per cent of people having contacts in households, but that “enhanced” contract tracing suggested the place of infection was more likely to be in hospitality.
The data for pubs relied on just 98 cases in which two or more people who were infected had reported being in the same place, with no proof that that was where they caught the virus.”
This is BoJo’s very own ‘Dodgy Dossier’ to justify closing down the North West of England and decimating the hospitality industry (a dangerous social regime which is reckoned capable of launching a weapon of mass viral destruction any time soon). ‘Levelling up’ going splendidly then, I see.
“The Cabinet Office document – which was being referred to as a “dodgy dossier” by MPs on Thursday night – also referenced a July 2020 report from the US Centres for Disease Control, which found people testing positive for coronavirus were “approximately twice” as likely to have dined at a restaurant in the fortnight before symptoms emerged. The study involved just 154 coronavirus patients.
Furious Tory MPs in “Red Wall” seats won from Labour last year said the Government had “scoured the world” looking for evidence to back up their controversial policy.
One said: “It was very clear to everyone on the call that they had cobbled together this data as a retrospective attempt to justify closing pubs. Given what we know from the official NHS figures, why are they quoting data from a tiny survey carried out in America? It’s just meaningless.”
Pretty obvious that it was the government’s intention to close down the hospitality industry anyway and that they were forced to hastily look around for retrospective excuses to do so. Why? Why would they want to do that?
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John, one wonders why individual universities, or indeed any organisation, has control of testing policy at all. For better or worse this should be disseminated from the top, for consistency, and optimum national strategy. If ‘worse’ should initially come of this (because the top are ill-informed or whatever), this means that errors in the strategy would much more quickly come to light, hopefully accelerating self-correction. But for sure none of these orgs are medical experts (I presume that even in a university with a medical department, it is highly likely to be non-expert administrators setting policy), and they presumably have no idea what they’re doing anyhow.
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Andy, I have numerous examples of government outright lies re. Covid-19. I’ll probably get around to documenting them all at some time. This thread is not the time or the place to do that and I’m going to resist getting into a slanging match with you about the government’s scurrilous behaviour in promoting false alarm, which you claim is not a thing and which I claim is.
“There has been no such thing. There is clear evidence that the government is aligned to some particular scientists (and hence their science threads including relative risks etc), that you disagree with.”
Perhaps then you can provide us with the straightforward, logical explanation for the government’s behaviour re. closing down pubs in my comment above? What science were they following which I disagree with?
“I have numerous examples of government outright lies…”
Great. Remember that you need actual hard evidence that they are lying, not just that someone or some org(s) or some scientist(s) disagrees with them, however wide the disagreement.
“Perhaps then you can provide us with the straightforward, logical explanation for the government’s behaviour re. closing down pubs in my comment above? ”
I didn’t say the behaviours were logical, if that’s what you mean. Indeed wherever emotion bypasses rationality, such as in the case of cultural influence in the climate domain, or in the case where mass fear dominates the scene regarding covid, behaviours will be anything but logical. But the government has chief scientists commanding rafts of others via sage and the civil service (so PHE et al) and elsewhere, and with contributions from many further threads including industry. But largely they are listening to the ‘orthodox’ within those contributions, and regarding this measure or many others, many if not all of the orthodox are pressing for more, not less, restrictions No doubt they’ll take whatever they can get even if they believe it’s only a slight benefit. This is of course not logical, but it’s an explanation of reality. Human realities are very frequently indeed not logical. The entire public and authority attitudes about climate change, for instance, are a giant exercise in illogic, because they’re essentially cultural; but that doesn’t mean they haven’t dominated the reality of the domain for decades, they have.
Do you still think the facts support what you said in August?
In case you missed it, I wrote this in response:
Strangely, you never even sought to answer. I’ve found that, as a general rule, when I show how stupid, as well as toxic, your rhetoric sometimes becomes. (Not always. There is some reasonableness as well, as others will testify.) That ignoring of adverse evidence paves the way for things far worse, such as what you blurted out in one sarcastic phrase on this thread.
An answer to how it is possible for the phrase ‘fascist dictatorship’ to be supported by the facts, given what I pointed out on 30th August, would therefore be very welcome.
A month later Professor Balloux tried to take a break from Twitter. (His sabbatical didn’t last long!) I believe we could all do with listening to what he said:
In response, just before she became a Baroness, arch-Brexiteer Claire Fox expressed my thoughts exactly:
As for where we are right now I agree with Jit that the government is being pulled in two directions, which is why it is being silent about the direction actually being taken. Michael Portillo got this right in my view last night on Question Time:
In other words Toby Young, James Delingpole and co have in fact largely won. Why are the government not talking about it? Pretty simple:
Not over yet.
You just never know with these fascists 🙂
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Andy, you dodged my question by side-tracking into your favourite area of cultural influences and domains. You said “There is clear evidence that the government is aligned to some particular scientists (and hence their science threads including relative risks etc), that you disagree with”. I gave you a clear example where the government had cobbled together some post hoc scientific justification for a policy decision which looks very likely to be imposed on the north of England next week, causing immense harm to the hospitality industry no doubt. I asked you what the ‘science’ was behind that decision that I disagreed with. You could not answer because basically there was no science or robust data or rationale behind the government’s decision. The post hoc ‘evidence’ justifying the government’s action was not something I could disagree with; it wasn’t ‘alternative’ science, it was basically just AOR cobbled together very hastily and presented as the scientific basis for a government policy which had already been decided on. I thus presented you with an example of government behaviour which disproved your statement; that is all.
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Woah, somebody on here dodging the question! 🙂
I think I’m adapting to the line of interrogation of my viewpoint on this website. It would seem that my interrogators have yet to adapt their techniques in response.
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You mean interrogators like those who tortured Hans Litten?
After all you are having to deal with fascists, left, right and centre. 🙂
Here’s something from today that seems similar:
I’m helped by the phrase “I don’t buy into any of the conspiracy theories around the pandemic” though YMMV, as they say. There is conspiracy theory and hysteria that isn’t helping to persuade people to be rational, as my friend Tim implied:
Here’s something that seems very different. H/t to Steve McIntyre who retweeted this
Is there anything like superspreading in atmospheric physics? In the infographic under Prevention it has
Even if that tentative suggestion isn’t 97% optimal, the whole thing seems a well-argued approach to me.
I don't claim to be anything like an expert though. I'm simply "less dogmatic, more empathetic, and just for a fleeting moment imagining myself in someone else's drastically different life" as Professor Balloux puts it. Or that's what I aspire to and hope for for everyone on one of my Covid threads.
6.57pm you seem to be accusing Jaime of accusing us (some of us) of being fascists. I don’t think this helps.
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Jaime. “you dodged my question by side-tracking into your favourite area of cultural influences and domains.”
I most certainly did not. You just didn’t like the answer.
“…it was basically just AOR cobbled together very hastily and presented as the scientific basis for a government policy which had already been decided on.”
It is ‘science’ (including graphs, charts etc – I read the content of your post online before your post was actually up) put together by those enacting science for the government, within the purview of the chief scientists et al. We may indeed think it is terrible science, as many on the call did, indeed as bad as many offerings within climate science, for instance. But that is very frequently what happens when not only politicians but scientists and policy makers also, are subject to the same strong biases. It is those biases that have produced the shoddiness of the result, not some arbitrary desire for Boris / ministers (or whoever else) to behave nefariously.
Re. lies, not government lies, but lies by scientists employed by the government to relay alarmist propaganda to a gullible public. I’m not the only one who considers that lies are being told. Michael Yeadon is a lot better qualified to assess the truth of Whitty and Vallance’s statements than myself and he consider theri communication to public to be deliberate lies.
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Geoff: No, I’m mocking Jaime for calling our government a fascist dictatorship in August and refusing to dignify my three paragraph critique of that crazy notion with any kind of reply. Then saying someting much worse on this thread about those who dare to disagree with her about complying with the government through wearing masks in supermarkets etc.
How many of us she thinks are fascists in turn, especially those who have criticised her extreme language, she’s free to clarify.
I accept that Jaime wasn’t explicitly calling me a fascist there. But, not having withdrawn her previous statement about the government being a fascist dictatorship, or that people like me were somehow about to volunteer in a new Holocaust, I think it’s reasonable to assume that she thinks at the least that I’m helping the fascists, through cowardice, or something of that sort.
Mockery of that position is I think justified. But a good answer to my critique in August would be a better way to deal with the situation.
RICHARD DRAKE 7.14pm
Wow. The Guardian letter to Professor Kulldorff of the Great Barrington Declaration in your link is worth quoting.
Or words to that effect.
Yep, Geoff, for the Guardian climate really was a gateway drug. There are, sadly, deep similarities with the demonisation of us proto-sceptics as deniers. Meanwhile Professor Balloux chose not to sign the declaration because of what he felt was some (mildly) intemperate language. I’m not saying he was right or wrong on that, only that in the demonised corner one has learned that such niceties do matter. Portillo is I think showing the way to a more rational praxis, that some at least in government want to follow, in the next 6 months to 6 years. But the polls are against. We musn’t blow it.
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You set a high bar for the right to express an opinion on the honesty or otherwise of Boris. I wouldn’t like this blog to descend to the level of the top quality newspapers, where any assertion can be defended with no evidence at all other than the claim that anyone who doesn’t agree is a conspiracy theorist, but it’s surely reasonable to base a judgement on material that wouldn’t necessarily be accepted in a court of law.
The idea that Boris is simply confused, or inadequately informed, might explain his cavalier attitude to evidence. So might the fact that as a Brussels correspondent he was renowned for making stuff up, and that, as a clown who sometimes dreams of being Churchill, he might well think that whatever bright idea he’s just had is so precious it has to be surrounded with a bodyguard of lies. Politicians often say stuff and then look for supporting evidence. It doesn’t always happen in the context of a crisis that threatens to destroy our society. But that’s where we are.
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Geoff: There’s also the wisdom or otherwise of Tory MPs. In the two Tory leadership elections since the Brexit vote they’ve served up to members the following candidates for leader: Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt. Two of those Jaime has since declared on Twitter the worst Prime Ministers we’ve ever had. Good news at last, Spencer Perceval! (And quite a bad luck story to be alive at this time, JJ!) But my beef is that for fear of nurse they held onto people who were bound to far less effective.
There’s more I wanted to say about Sarah Vine this week on the Covid debate but that will have to wait. For now, there’s Delingpole’s mate Toby Young’s mea culpa I admit it: I was wrong to back Boris.
Am I allowed to express the fact that I was never that naive?
But he’s still not Hitler. Let’s get a grip, shall we.
When you’re up to your neck in hot water, be like a kettle and sing.
“Michael Yeadon is a lot better qualified to assess the truth of Whitty and Vallance’s statements than myself and he consider theri communication to public to be deliberate lies”
I never heard of him. But certainly if he can present the case with the appropriate evidence, then bring it on. Just as is the case for climate science, I am by no means saying that someone can’t lie, be it Boris or whoever (and clearly some in climate science have, e.g. Gleick, and it would be infeasible if there weren’t significantly more in such a huge domain). I am saying that both in the climate case the covid case, albeit one is cultural and the other more about public panic, personal lying is not the main cause. Leaders and governments all around the world are doing very similar things. It enormously beggars belief that they’ve all suddenly turned into liars bent upon doing their nations net harm and / or inflicting needless cruelty upon their people. This doesn’t mean we should rule anything out, but if we drop the standard for proper evidence, we may as well drop everything.
Hence the case for lying needs evidence of actually lying, not just evidence of highly biased ministers with public pressure and fear on their mind plus Beth Rigsby (or equivalent) biting their bottom, very poor science and strong bias towards particular science sources (it seems to me that SAGE was a highly biased setup even before all this kicked off). It does not beggar belief that someone could crack under all this and end up lying. That this isn’t causal regarding the main event doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get the book thrown at them, of course they should. But they have to be tried (in real court or on blogs) on the basis of hard evidence of lying, not on extrapolating back from actions and circumstantial stuff like the existence of (many different threads of) science, of which some contradicts some government policies. Even seriously contradicts. If Yeadon can do this, bring it on and put it in the headlines.
“You set a high bar for the right to express an opinion on the honesty or otherwise of Boris.”
No, I think you misunderstand. I set a high bar on the theory that personal lying of Boris (or psychopathy, or a small cabal around him personally lying) is the main cause of UK government actions, and indeed the not dissimilar actions of governments all around the world. Not least because we have much more plausible solutions than that the entire world leadership has suddenly turned nefarious. While discussion of a single potential lie (e.g. regarding pubs or whatever else) does not constitute causality of the whole shooting match, the slant of the conversation tends to rapidly head that way. When Boris and Hancock et al are out of power, if all we’ve achieved is to blame them, then the next pandemic will find the UK and likely the world in precisely the same position, because given the liars are no more, why would it happen again?
Plus see above to Jaime.
“…but it’s surely reasonable to base a judgement on material that wouldn’t necessarily be accepted in a court of law.”
Yes. But having said above, it is libel if this is purely on the basis of highly circumstancial presentation, for instance ‘that case is very shoddy and there is much better science here’. Not that anyone will come for the blog; it has to be in very prominent publication as part of the case damage assessment. I’ve seen in industry how leaders are often so surrounded by yes men, they can sometimes be the last to read about alternatives. Probably a worse effect in government. It’s a sign of a less than stellar leader, in fact. Better ones now how to avoid. But it isn’t a sign of lying. If we have actual signs of lying, they should be trumpeted from the hill-tops. Maybe Yeadon has them. To date, I haven’t seen any. Only incompetence, staggering bias, fear, massive public pressure, latterly a government pulled apart as Richard notes, a press that at some stages seemed only to want to take a government scalp at any cost, and certainly at no stage were serving their audience (the public), and so on.
“I never heard of him”
Correction, I have heard of him. Having googled, I’m reminded I read the PCR testing piece of his via Lockdown Skeptics a couple of weeks back.
What about 49% of the cause then?
We’re not talking about “all.” Johnson, Macron, and Trump, certainly. Leaders of mature democracies are under greater pressure to be answerable to public opinion and therefore come up with explanations. They’re therefore in a tighter spot than the Modis and Bolsanaros and Xis who have other means of skating over the facts, and can be less inhibited about contradicting themselves, changing their minds etc.It may be easier for a semi-dictator to do good and be honest in a crisis.
So if we don’t have to rule anything out, we may hypothesise? Evidence may be circumstantial.
They may dream. And who can blame them?
Agreed! So Jaime may be right after all! At least, she has the right to express an opinion that “does not beggar belief.”
“What about 49% of the cause then?”
Or any main part thereof. Is it any more plausible that the entire world’s leadership has all of a sudden gone 49% personally nefarious, rather than say ‘mostly’ nefarious. Why on Earth would this be? And how can you measure 49% anyhow (!) Or do you mean 49% of the countries? That’s still many, and what separates one lot from the other? The distribution of liars should only be somewhat more (due to high stakes pressure etc) than that in the main population.
“Leaders of mature democracies are under greater pressure to be answerable to public opinion and therefore come up with explanations.”
For sure as noted above, the pressure leads to more possibility of crossing a line. But you think this is why many of the world’s governments including not only mature democracies but a wide range of other flavours, are acting very similarly? That same pressure leads to rampant bias long before it leads to more serious personal issues, and it is clear that fear is rampant too. Yet you want to believe instead that many of the world’s leaders are lying in sync, or even lying 49% in sync. Well no explicit evidence for this, also means no explicit evidence against it. But if countries with leaders you relatively trust, are doing the same things as countries with leaders you relatively don’t, why would one lot be lying and the other not? Isn’t that just your bias about which leader you trust more, or less? A theory to explain this must explain most of the effect across the globe, or it isn’t a theory, so if lying is a main component in the UK, you are essentially proposing it must be so everywhere.
“So if we don’t have to rule anything out, we may hypothesise?”
Of course we may! But of course hypothesise may also be challenged, and if they are not backed by a sufficient chain of argument or sufficient evidence, they jolly well *should* be challenged. ‘Evidence’ in this case does not mean that level acceptable in a court of law, only that which is normally accepted on blogs such as this, for instance as regards the climate domain. There is overflowing evidence of fear, bias, incompetence, division, poor science (and good science), and other usual suspects. To date there is only speculation about lying, based largely on highly circumstancial stuff like ‘following bad science and scientists instead of the the far better scientists and science I know about’ . It defies reason to presume that this will remain the case regarding such a big event; some folks somewhere will actually get caught out lying. In fact the strongest evidence is for some in the WHO, I think. But whoever, let’s hope they get just deserts. Yet this will still make next to no impact on global causality regarding the policies governments have taken, from the start that they inherited.
“So Jaime may be right after all!”
That someone somewhere has lied? It would be infeasible to suggest otherwise 🙂 Someone is always lying somewhere, and there’s no reason why this wouldn’t be true in the covid domain than anywhere else. Or indeed within the labyrinthine corridors of government. That lying is main cause of policy, in the UK or globally, is the issue.
“At least, she has the right to express an opinion that “does not beggar belief.””
Not only does she have the right, I’ve defended her right to speak here without censure. This doesn’t mean I believe all her arguments, or indeed that they all have strength behind them. Many do. This one seems very weak indeed to me. I’m allowed to say so 😉
On trying to tidy up for the weekend I stumbled across this from the last one. A good question about a strange alliance the aforementioned Boris seems to have formed, by accident or design – questions are often helpful during confusing messes, even more than hypotheses? – followed by some baloney from someone who’s nevertheless right about Julian Assange and, to some extent, about Margaret Thatcher:
That led UK climate sceptic hero Roger Tallbloke (during the bungled police Climategate investigation, for example) to give his take on the Thatcher case, followed by some pedant. Just to show that we haven’t totally forgotten about our central concern.
Roger’s right about Thatcher’s fears of supranational governance coming out of the climate scare – she was quite explicit about this in Statecraft. Just to show, too, that I don’t automatically bash what others would call conspiracy theories. But then she was some lady 🙂
“Hence the case for lying needs evidence of actually lying, not just evidence of highly biased ministers with public pressure and fear on their mind.”
Hancock claimed re. care homes that a ‘defensive ring’ had been in place from the very beginning (February) and that the government had done all it possibly could to protect care home residents from that date. The facts prove the complete opposite and show that the government did not act to protect care homes until April 15th. He knowing stated a falsehood to Parliament and to the public. Ergo he lied. Dress it up anyway you want, but the plain fact is he lied and, furthermore, the evidence that he lied is probably good enough for a court of law, hence the relative of a person who died because of the government’s failure to protect care homes is suing the government.
“Matt Hancock is facing legal action from the daughter of a man who died from Covid-19 in a care home in which the health secretary is accused of a “litany of failures” and misleading the public with his claim to have “thrown a protective ring” around care homes.
The request for a judicial review alleges failings “have led to large numbers of unnecessary deaths and serious illnesses” and have been “aggravated by the making of wholly disingenuous, misleading and – in some cases – plainly false statements suggesting that everything necessary has been done to protect care homes during the pandemic”.”
Now, I freely admit that I am biased against Hancock. I loathe the man. He makes my skin crawl every time I see him or hear him; I have a visceral aversion to him so dire that he actually makes me feel physically sick – and I do believe that he is genuinely psychopathic. But that aside, I concentrate on the facts and the facts prove (in this case at least, but I suggest many other cases) that he has deliberately lied to the nation about Covid-19 policy. You admit no such bias either for or against, but you seem to be singularly determined to let ministers ‘off the hook’ of personal culpability by constantly claiming overwhelming cultural influence upon their decisions. I find that odd. Either you do harbour some unmentioned bias in favour of giving this particular government the benefit of the doubt re. their catatsrophic Covid policy or you are so deeply convinced of the overwhelming cultural aspects at play in all human behaviour that you have come to largely ignore and abnegate all personal, individual responsibility and see no ‘nefarious behaviour’ anywhere.
Theory: A fascist government is one which seeks to give itself and its agencies – not just law enforcement agencies, but HMRC and the Environment Agency for instance – the power to commit murder, torture and sexual violence, in pursuit of the security and ‘economic well-being’ of the UK and to ‘prevent crime’. Is this a reasonable conjecture or is it conspiracist ideation? Discuss.
“Matt Hancock is facing legal action…”
Yes, I know. From which we may hopefully learn what did happen. Including for instance what cock-ups and incompetence and layers of bureaucracy told Hancock, so indeed whether or not his statement at the time did constitute a lie. Until we know, we don’t know.
“Now, I freely admit that I am biased against Hancock. I loathe the man. He makes my skin crawl every time I see him or hear him; I have a visceral aversion to him so dire that he actually makes me feel physically sick – and I do believe that he is genuinely psychopathic.”
Hmmm… I have no such bias against any of the current crop of politicians, in any of the parties. And I think to propose folks are psychopathic is taking the easy way out. System failures (including whether folks can ‘get away’ with lying, which is hard in a good system), are much harder to address than just blaming stuff on one or two psychopathic individuals, however pleasing to the emotions the latter may be.
“You admit no such bias either for or against, but you seem to be singularly determined to let ministers ‘off the hook’ of personal culpability by constantly claiming overwhelming cultural influence upon their decisions. I find that odd.”
I don’t want to let anyone off the hook. I want them to be booked for anything they may have done personally, but not indicted by mere speculation, yet even more I want them to take responsibility for *the actual reasons* for any failures (ideally, as hindsight reveals, in the sense that we haven’t had all the hindsight yet). Whether or not Hancock lied, if there is any thought that firing him (and that should immediately happen if he did, not just from the government but as an MP), will fix what many nations around the world did regarding reactions to the pandemic, this is completely wrong. Yet if he (or Boris) simply becomes a scapegoat for all ills, that’s exactly what will happen. The failures are systemic, for instance why isn’t the labour party ferocious in opposition here? And they are world-wide.
“Either you do harbour some unmentioned bias in favour of giving this particular government the benefit of the doubt re. their catatsrophic Covid policy…”
I’m not a member or systemic supporter of any party. I just think that, while anyone in power must indeed be held to personal responsibility (including proportionate sanction for shortfalls) centering personalities and psychopathy as the main issues, is to miss the point of why the whole lock-down stuff occurred world-wide. And indeed in the UK, *whatever* party or coalition of parties had won the 2019 election, the outcome regarding covid policy would likely only be different in minor detail. You would then by quizzing me about whether I held hidden bias for psychopathic Corbyn and his government.
“… or you are so deeply convinced of the overwhelming cultural aspects at play in all human behaviour that you have come to largely ignore and abnegate all personal, individual responsibility and see no ‘nefarious behaviour’ anywhere”
I have specifically said that the covid thing is *not* primarily cultural. There are similarities in the sense that rampant fear and public pressure from same is causing emotive reactions left right and centre. At high speed, as Geoff notes, compared to the glacial climate domain and its cultural drive. But no way no how should any personal responsibility be absolved or waived or reduced, simply because there is a bigger picture and global drivers (albeit nor should folks be labelled guilty simply because we find them creepy). I have always said this. BUT… this also means that while any bad actors should get their just desserts, this will not solve the actual issue! If we ever think that, we will be doomed to repeat the show next time a similar pandemic rolls around. All parties in the UK would have acted the same, this is why they are not challenging the government; many countries in the world have acted similarly. Whether or not someone gets justly fired, aren’t you even a little bit curious to know what the actual problem is, such that we don’t do the same next time around?
My beef is not about absolving bad actors, of course we should. As long as the basis for doing so is sound. It’s about the implication that this is the main issue. Care home deaths occurred widely around the word. According to the Euro-CDC figures various countries like France, and indeed Sweden, were worse than England for this, and Scotland far worse (Hancock’s rule ceases at the border). If Hancock lied (or indeed even can be shown to have serious misjudgement wrt knowledge at the time), he should take the fall. Does this mean that we have eliminated the reason for the care home issue around the world, or even in England – No! It’s a systemic failure that we need to understand, and rebuild the systems appropriately.
ahhhggg… fix: “My beef is not about absolving bad actors, of course we *shouldn’t*”
“Whether or not Hancock lied, if there is any thought that firing him (and that should immediately happen if he did, not just from the government but as an MP), will fix what many nations around the world did regarding reactions to the pandemic, this is completely wrong. Yet if he (or Boris) simply becomes a scapegoat for all ills, that’s exactly what will happen. The failures are systemic, for instance why isn’t the labour party ferocious in opposition here? And they are world-wide.”
I think you miss the point. Hancock IS the government; if he lied, the government lied. If Boris lied, the government he leads lied. The point of taking him to court is to open up the field for a host of civil and criminal litigations against the government. There is no real system in place for addressing the failures of the global community and holding to account the key players (the WHO for instance) who have been instrumental in pushing this grossly disproportionate and damaging response to a virus which has turned out to be as dangerous as the ‘flu in terms of overall mortality. Likewise, apart from voting them out at the next election, there’s no way to hold Labour MPs to account for supporting the government in imposing illegal lockdowns on the nation. But there is a mechanism to hold national governments to account for their malfeasance and possibly even crimes against humanity – the courts. In order to do that, it is necessary to prove the case that individual governments ministers and government science advisers knowingly misled the public over Covid-19 and/or falsified or exaggerated the evidence presented for policies. Every nation which has suffered under lockdowns should be beginning this process urgently.
“But there is a mechanism to hold national governments to account for their malfeasance and possibly even crimes against humanity – the courts.”
Which we should always pursue wherever we suspect any such malfeasance has occurred. I have never said otherwise. But it is citing ‘creepy’ Hancock or similar as main cause that misses the point. And indeed every nation should similarly pursue any suspected malfeasance, of course, why on Earth would they not? But when all the world does something similar, bad actors are not the cause. So firing Hancock (if he deserves it) along with any other bad actor, will not fix the issue.
P.S. …and to accuse a majority of governments of knowingly committing crimes against humanity (and indeed their own humanities in this case, not even someone else’s), is to miss that very terrible things can happen in the world, and particularly in large enterprises such as governments and medical systems, which are *not* deliberately intended by anyone therein. This doesn’t mean bad actors aren’t caught up at various points in the chains of connection. So gun for them. But absent *all* bad actors, it still would have happened. Incidentally, this route would also guarantee that you’d never find out anything; most people in most governments having the best intentions, are not likely to be forthcoming about events if the prospect of a communal crime against humanity hangs over them.
Andy, it is clear that you are positing the theory that global lockdowns are an emergent (unplanned) feature of some natural process which took place when SARS-CoV-2 first appeared in Wuhan in December 2019. You haven’t really explained what that process might be or elucidated the curious mechanisms whereby governments all over the world were sucked unwittingly into destroying their economies, destroying education, civil liberties, mental health, physical health, society, jobs, businesses and killing thousands of innocent citizens into the bargain. Irrational fear of the unknown cannot be the answer, because what was unknown for a very short time quickly became knowledge which was widely available to policy makers and now governments are still locking down in deliberate defiance of the science and the data. You say that Covid is NOT a cultural phenomenon, so what is your explanation for this global phenomenon which is not cultural, not planned, but apparently emergent?
I didn’t say I knew all the answers, just some of the characteristics.
“Irrational fear of the unknown cannot be the answer, because what was unknown for a very short time quickly became knowledge which was widely available to policy makers and now governments are still locking down in deliberate defiance of the science and the data.”
You’re applying logic to a scenario that doesn’t work on logical (but emotional) rules. In an initial phase of (genuine) deep uncertainty and perceived fear, knowledge as subsequently becomes available is then emotively contested (in a bunch of directions, but main ones will slowly emerge), and so integrated into different knowledge matrices by the different sides (so an isolated ‘fact’, within a complex domain, may mean quite different things depending on the context, supplied by the side matrix, and indeed may not even make it this far in an emotive environment, because source ID alone will create major bias in many circumstances). And the fear will not switch-off like a light even if this multi-way emotive contestation of knowledge was much less than it is. Humans are not like that, especially in aggregate. Emotions of this type have enormous social inertia; it may take a few short weeks for people to be scared into behaviours that could last way over a year, possibly several years for some. Possibly forever regarding some things that get (with *approval* by the people) built into our social rules – *unless* we figure out how to stop the negative behaviour in the first place and so prevent the social fall-out.
In practice, the (short) timescale and huge (genuine) science effort should win out on this one, though it may take a couple of years or so. But that’s just the narrow medical side. This doesn’t mean we’ll stop it all happening again with a different flavour pandemic, unless we solve the social side too.
“You say that Covid is NOT a cultural phenomenon, so what is your explanation for this global phenomenon which is not cultural, not planned, but apparently emergent?”
Group fear, panic (which leads to irrational behaviours, but systemically so), ‘the madness of crowds’. Has happened forever in history. In some waves of disease in central Europe irrational behaviours were considerably worse; Jews were rounded up and burnt as they were suspected of poisoning the wells, pleasant stuff like that.
Andy, I put it to you that, either planned in advance or simply opportunistic exploitation, the ‘Covid crisis’ is no longer about disease control, if it ever was. It is a technocratic power grab by the UN, WEF, Bill Gates and other very rich, very influential people. It is an attempt to direct and to control the inevitable ‘fourth industrial revolution’, thus centralizing huge power (and no doubt wealth) in the hands of a relatively small number of people. According to Klaus Schwab of the WEF, the 4IR is “blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres.”
“Simply put, the Fourth Industrial Revolution refers to how technologies like artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and the internet of things are merging with humans’ physical lives. Think of voice-activated assistants, facial ID recognition or digital health-care sensors.”
National governments have agreed (for whatever reason) to do the bidding of people like Gates and Schwab and the WEF and have attempted to impose the technocratic ‘new normal’ along the lines dictated by these people. It was working. It looked like it might succeed, but now it looks like they miscalculated and it may be falling apart. This is not a conspiracy theory; it is a quite reasonable conjecture based on the available evidence and it is certainly more plausible an explanation for what has gone on these past 7 months than the random and unprecedented interjection of a hysterical interlude in human history which just happens to have affected virtually the entire globe.
It’s not like it’s unprecedented either. A relatively small number of key actors have attempted to gain control over, and hugely benefit from, each of the first three industrial revolutions. By the very nature of those revolutions, this proved difficult, but less obviously so for the digital (third) revolution. Look at how Gates and the big tech companies have become billionaires with huge social and economic influence to boot simply by controlling vast swathes of social media and software platforms. Gates was in on the 3IR. He definitely wants in on the 4IR. He should be denied, for the sake of humanity. So should Schwab and the WEF and the UN.
I note with interest that over at ATTP there is a similar discussion taking place, covering the subject of governmental duty to protect civil liberty in the face of a crisis. The following paper by philosopher Eric Winsberg has been cited, and I bring it to this forum’s attention since I think it is very germane: “How Government Leaders Violated Their Epistemic Duties during the SARS-CoV-2 Crisis”
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Positing that there are some culpable bad actors within the overall play of events, is plausible. In fact, given the world-wide scope, it’s infeasible that there wouldn’t be at least be some.
But this… “I put it to you that, either planned in advance or simply opportunistic exploitation, the ‘Covid crisis’ is no longer about disease control, if it ever was. It is a technocratic power grab by the UN, WEF, Bill Gates and other very rich, very influential people.”
…is a conspiracy theory for which there is nothing but the very loosest of circumstancial factors.
“This is not a conspiracy theory…”
Of course it is. It is a conspiracy theory which you are claiming to be true. And indeed there are many conspiracies in the world that have been true, e.g. the conspiracy to murder Julius Caesar in the Roman senate. And many that are nonsense, e.g. that Bill Gates and the Lizard people are secretly controlling the world. In general, the larger the posited scope of the conspiracy, the less likely it is to be true.
That prior hysterias weren’t world-wide is only because there wasn’t world-wide connections, as now. In some past cases, diseases prompted rebellion against Lords, in part justified by the proposition that they must somehow have caused them for the purpose of control. Despite that waves of the Black Death, for instance, hugely increased peasant wages due to labour shortage. There can be a very strong instinctive desire to attribute blame for emergent events on bad human agency, whether Jews, Lords, or a modern Lord like Bill Gates. The AR and the prior IRs have produced immense well-being, relative wealth, and much greater freedoms for the great majority of people, as democracies, health services, a vast range of commodities, cheap food, convenient heat and light, far less time labouring (so free time to express), hugely reduced illness and child mortality, so much longer Av age, cars, air-travel, clean water, etc etc, not to mention surfing the internet and writing in this blog, would all have been impossible without them. Any further advances in the same vein are likely to bring more net benefits, which does not mean change or no downsides. I’ve been modestly involved in autonomous vehicles and advanced Mil technology, in the latter case especially familiar enough with the markets and players and end usage cases and so on. And embedded technology advance generally, including secure systems and such like. None of this is magic or mysteriously different to before, and I’ve seen no evidence whatsoever that it is being controlled in any way, other than the usual commercial secrets (and competition) and of course, national interests. That technology advances are going to bring us fresh crops of changes, some very challenging to our current ways of existing, does not mean they are in harness to supremely powerful bad actors. All such prior advances have, albeit net and eventually, brought huge benefits.
Humanity is such that even disasters will not stop sharper profit centres, fearful folks (e.g. those afraid of capitalism, or those afraid of technology, or whoever, and their orgs), and especially culturally driven elements like climate culture, trying to profit from a disaster or its fall-out. And that there are (generally negative) cultural elements within the WEF / UN, for instance, is a given. But this is more part of the emergent patterns, not an uber-controlling alternative to them. For the fearful, apprehensive (and also oppositely, some over-passionate visionaries pushing the other way, i.e. faster technology advance), plus all cultural elements (including for instance all those emotively not rationally committed to say, world government), for sure this is not even about conscious reaction anyhow.
John. Nice link.
I need to read properly. But I agree with this from the last paragraph of the conclusion (laid out at the start also), and much else in there:
“Again, we are not thereby making any claims about which suppression policies governments should have implemented in the short or longer term. We claim only that governments have systematically failed to meet their epistemic obligations in this crisis and that, for this reason, their actions cannot be reconciled with the values of a free society already.”
Per my thread above, it is the nature of the systemic failure we need to identity, and fix, in order to prevent a similar occurrence. They seem to have made a very good start. A failure of scientists (yet another!), especially modellers, being too value laden, features large. Hopefully, that will resonate in another domain. And indeed as they note, excusing those measures implemented in haste while uncertainty dominates, on the basis of safety first, is no longer justified as time advances. Yet here we hit the issue that creeps into all emotively conflicted knowledge, it picks up commitment that is far from objective, that is emotively defended, that generates ‘sides’ and conflated motives from other domains.
“Given the internal deficiencies of the models being used to justify the policy responses to COVID-19 (such as lockdowns), we might hope that the models themselves (and the policy recommendations stemming from them) would be bolstered by empirical evidence from past pandemics. However, a literature search reveals there are no published, peer-reviewed papers demonstrating the effectiveness of universal lockdown procedures to combat any epidemic.”
Untried, untested and totally unprecedented interventions unsupported by prior empirical data or even by the models themselves; interventions which, furthermore, would have predictably catastrophic consequences for society and the economy. Yet governments went ahead, in sync, with reckless abandon and have even sought to keep them going in localised areas even when the epidemic demonstrably ended. Why?
““This is not a conspiracy theory…”
Of course it is. It is a conspiracy theory which you are claiming to be true”.
Wrong on both accounts. It is not a conspiracy theory:
Definition: “a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators”.
There’s no secret plot. It’s in plain sight. WEF have made their wishes for our collective future perfectly clear and have clearly expressed their intent to work together in that direction to achieve their goals for humanity. What they have not made clear of course is how they will personally benefit from the transition to the future word which they promote, which they term the ‘Great Reset’. I did not say it was true. I don’t have that kind of insight. I merely suggested to you that it was a plausible scenario, better evidenced than your explanation of some emergent human mass psychosis or whatever.
You then point to the speech by Zarah Sultana on 5th October that I had already pointed to here on 7th.
Do you really think this is adequate as a response to what I said on 30th August, after you’d exclaimed “I’m struggling to cope living under a fascist dictatorship”:
Having the power to do something and actually doing it to your enemy within 28 days of becoming leader – continuously, in concentration camps, for five years, until the poor guy committs suicide – are two totally different things. (And doing the same to many others, so that the equivalent of blogs like this that criticise the leader would soon shut down.)
I pointed to Sultana’s speech because, like you, I think we should be watchful. But how does this justify your declaration of ‘fascist dictatorship’ over a month before in August?
It’s what I was calling baloney on another thread. And that’s a polite word for it. The conspiracy theory term I don’t think gets us anywhere. It’s accuracy and, with it, compassion – for instance, for the Uyghurs in China – that matters.
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Here’s a woman of #KBF persuation winning hearts and minds on a crowded train last night:
Our overstatements about fascism *right now* have real costs in a situation like this.
I prefer Tim Pendry’s take this morning:
Richard, you’re accusing me I think of post hoc rationalisation of the statement that the government has imposed a fascist dictatorship on the UK. I think it merely confirms my original opinion based on the evidence available at the time. A government which is willing to make lawful the elimination of its political opponents and other ‘undesirables’ by resorting to violence, intimidation, or even murder is a very dangerous government indeed, which might reasonably be labelled as fascist. A government which rules by unaccountable diktat, plainly not in the best interests of the populace, demonstrably causing the populace real harm (even to the point of killing them) without justifiable reason (see John’s link above) is, in my opinion, a fascist government. Their behaviour up to August gave me cause to believe they were – you disagreed, vehemently. That’s ALL I have to say on the matter. Subject closed AFAIC.
Jaime: “There’s no secret plot. It’s in plain sight.”
Not it isn’t. The WEF (and the others) do not anywhere claim to want to reach a collective future by any means other than legitimate consensus. I.e. not illegal, not appalling, not lying, etc. All of which you attribute, and which hence must be secret, if true, as there is no such admission of same by any such parties. And you add specific claims that they are leveraging the covid disaster in a manner that would indeed conform to the unadmitted list above, or indeed that they may even have precipitated the disaster for their purpose, which would be appalling squared, and I very much doubt this would be anywhere on the websites or material of any such parties (I don’t think I really need to check this!) So exactly, your proposition conforms to a conspiracy theory.
“I merely suggested to you that it was a plausible scenario, better evidenced than your explanation of some emergent human mass psychosis or whatever.”
Irrational group behaviour to disease is common in history. You have not presented any evidence at all, merely that some folks / orgs have a desire for a collective future. That’s like the police saying the first random person they come across who might benefit, however directly or indirectly, from someone’s death, must be the murderer. And in a case where there isn’t even evidence of pushed or fell, to boot.
You don’t need a conspiracy theory to explain oppressive lockdowns. It’s perfectly rational, even if it kills as many people as it saves. The temporal powers know they will be blamed for letting people die of Wuflu. They don’t know how much mud will stick to them if more people get lonely & depressed & kill themselves, or are reluctant to get their check up and subsequently die – because it’s very hard to pin the blame on the lockdown. Statistically it will be obvious that the lockdowns have killed people, maybe as many as were saved. But in a sea of deaths, it’s going to be hard to point to many of them and say: this person would definitely still be alive without the lockdown.
The calculation is easy. It’s not like one of those psychology quizzes where you have to flip the points to divert the runaway train and save the 6 workers on the main line and kill the (insert pejorative here if you like) lone guy in the siding. Nope: here the points are already pointing to the siding, and if you don’t flip the train back to the main line, the 6 workers die. Who knows what happens to the runaway train in a mile or two? Who cares? You saved the people under your nose, and that was clearly the only rational choice.
The brave choice is actually not to act, Sweden-style. The easy one is to lock it all down.
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“And you add specific claims that they are leveraging the covid disaster in a manner that would indeed conform to the unadmitted list above, or indeed that they may even have precipitated the disaster for their purpose, which would be appalling squared, and I very much doubt this would be anywhere on the websites or material of any such parties (I don’t think I really need to check this!) So exactly, your proposition conforms to a conspiracy theory.”
This was on April 14th, not long after the epidemic really got going in Europe. This is what the WEF were saying then:
“We are at a critical juncture in planning how to overcome this global health crisis and address economic shocks. But exactly what this will look like is yet to be determined. There can be no going back to business-as-usual.
Designing nature-positive stimulus packages could hold the key to preventing future outbreaks, in addition to ensuring the long-term sustainability of livelihoods and business activities.”
It’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s fact. The WEF were plugging the ‘new normal’ and a ‘Green recovery’ just three weeks into the UK lockdown. No mention of any “legitimate consensus” to achieve that Green recovery either. It is simply to be imposed, whether the public like it or not. They have plugged the ‘Great Reset’ consistently ever since. You need to research this stuff, obviously.
Oh, and here’s another outright lie from Hancock who claimed that the government had run trials on Vitamin D and found that it doesn’t have any beneficial impact on Covid-19 patients. Neither statement is true. Remember also, this is the guy who banned sunbathing in April and threatened to ban ALL outdoor exercise if we didn’t ‘stick to the rules’. But there’s no evidence for calling him a liar or a psycho apparently.
“It’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s fact.”
I’ve already read this. And more like it. Do I agree with it? No. Most of it is unsupported assumptions, conflation, false links to causation and invalid solutions. Is it ‘fact’ based support for your theory that WEF and Bill Gates etc either precipitated the pandemic or are nefariously controlling ‘a solution’ no matter the downsides, for the purpose achieving their aims? No. It does not contain anywhere any admission that they will resort to nefarious means, including the death and damage of millions. Hence any proposal that this is how they will (behind the scenes) fulfil their aims, is exactly a conspiracy theory. It does not have a single fact to support your proposed chain of causation. Does it mean they are attempting to ride the back of covid for leverage of their cultural cause (back to climate change / species-elimination domains, and conflated with single government)? Of course they are. Does them attempting to do this imply any significant degree of control of what is going on within nations? No. It implies hopeful marketing persons and chancers for the cause who figure it may sway some hearts and minds, long term. Does it mean Gates / WEF SPECTRE organisation busy nefariously controlling the world? Not a single shred of evidence in any shape or form. If we follow the logic of your theory, then every single org that ever announces an aspiration, along with PR or the holding of events or legitimate initiatives to progress towards same, must behind the scenes be unscrupulous villains who would stoop to the death and damage of millions in order to achieve said aspiration. Because according to you, the aspiration in itself is apparently factual support for the nefarious execution of same. So that would include every political party, every charity, most larger businesses, every union, every formal science body, well, practically any org including the purpose here to challenge climate orthodoxy. Perhaps Geoff et al aren’t thinking big enough; a dose of the Black Death delivered to the next COP should do the trick nicely; 3 week infection period before symptoms shown, that should zap everyone who meets everyone who matters. Of course we’d all stock up and hole up first, and there’d be some (pretty massive) collateral damage, but hey, it’s apparently normal stuff these days. Let’s not fanny around anymore; let’s strike back!
Jaime: The rightly scathing article nevertheless does not accuse him of lying, but flippancy and ignorance, plus, lower down…
‘Mr Hancock appeared to be referring to a review of evidence conducted by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), an arm of the Department of Health. NICE conducted a review of a limited number of studies published by June. It noted that a stronger immune system provided greater protection against Covid-19 and admitted that vitamin D boosted immune function. But it was not convinced there was enough evidence to show that giving doses of the vitamin to already-sick Covid-19 patients provided any benefit.’
As noted, if you have a range of science and scientists that cover pretty much all options, bias and massive pressure will push towards certain choices. Our wonderful NHS as an expert witness is not helping; in the same article: “The NHS adds: ‘There have been some reports about vitamin D reducing the risk of coronavirus. There is currently not enough evidence to support this.'” And the public still has enormous net trust in the NHS, as do (especially emotively invested) government officials.
I think that’s nuts. You didn’t have anything like the imprisonment of Hans Litten or the building of Dachau in August, nor do you now. But, in an eerie echo of 30th August
we do have rejoicing over another murder, it seems, in Denver, just now:
Because he was a fascist. So they say. Such language is so dangerous.
I’ll explain more this morning how I think you’re wrong Jaime. Thank you for beginning to address my critique. It does need more unpacking.
This whole discussion is getting more and more confusing. Having contracted the damned disease and had permanent adverse effects to all sorts of organs, I read everything I could on the subject. I do subscribe to most of Jaimie’s paranoia but there are still aspects of Covid19 that are blindingly obvious yet no-one discusses. How come an allegedly super-infectious virus can affect someone in a household yet fail to spread to close family members including those with co-morbidities (mine being a prime example)? How come people of african decent are considered especially prone, yet many african states have low numbers of cases and even lower death rates? And so on and so on.
I was trained to evaluate evidence, yet I am failing the first hurdle. I wonder if this is age, another symptom of Covid19 or something wrong with the evidence we are being fed. But I am feeling uneasy. Discussions about who or what is fascist don’t help.
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Echos of the “Evil Bible”.
“I do subscribe to most of Jaimie’s paranoia” should have been “I do NOT subscribe to most of Jaimie’s paranoia”.
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I remain bemused by the fact (I think it’s a fact, not just my faulty memory) that in the early days of lock-down we were told we had to protect the NHS and prevent it being overwhelmed, especially as we weren’t quite out of winter when it started. The plan was very definitely to have at least 3 waves of Covid-19 over the summer to try to ensure the worst would be over before we went into the next winter (I distinctly remember them showing a graph with 3 waves, at one of the early press conferences).
Then the policy seems to have changed, without anyone actually articulating or admitting to the change – the virus had to be suppressed. I’m not sure how you do that without an effective vaccine or a cure. Result? Stories like this:
“Covid: UK at ‘tipping point’, top scientist warns”
“…England’s deputy chief medical officer Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said the seasons were “against us” and the country was running into a “headwind”….
…He warned that the UK was in a different position than during the first wave because “we are now are going into the colder, darker winter months”.
“We are in the middle of a severe pandemic and the seasons are against us. Basically, we are running into a headwind,” he said….”.
I can’t help feeling it’s just all down to incompetence, and a basic failure to remember what the original plan was, and to stick to it.
Since this is a website to do with climate scepticism, does anyone notice anything familiar about the type of language favoured in the headline? Tipping points and all that.
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Wow, so after being trolled by two of Cliscep’s resident trolls, I am further accused of being paranoid. I tell you what, I’ll leave this here, because the discussion is going nowehere, despite my concerted efforts to stick to facts and evidence to back up my opinions: facts and evidence which have just been dismissed as not ‘facts’ or evidence. After having made the decision not to contribute further articles to this ‘sceptical’ website, I now think it’s probably best I don’t even bother to comment. My initial comment on this thread was an entirely reasonable one, which I thought was neither controversial nor paranoid. What happened then is that I was ruthlessly trolled and then dragged into an increasingly bad-natured, time-consuming and largely pointless exchange which has now descended into acrimonious squabbling. Here is my comment. I suggest people read it again and ponder the reasons why they felt the need to expand the conversation way beyond the reasonable boundaries I initially set. I can go to ATTP if I want this type of response. Maybe I will.
“Andy, I’m not sure which two nations Prof Balloux has insight into but as he’s based at UCL, I suspect the UK might be one of them. IMO Boris neither followed the science – alarmist as it was at the time – nor followed public opinion (which was less alarmed than he would have liked). After the herd immunity debacle, he announced a set of national measures on the 16th which were fairly sensible, which aligned with Sage’s advice at the time and which were not mandatory for the most part. Because of some media reported gatherings in public parks (outside note, in the sunshine, where the risk of transmission is low) he decided to go against the prevailing scientific advice and seemingly against the public mood of laissez-faire at the time to announce a lockdown of the entire nation on March 23rd. From that point on, the government and media achieved the level of public fear that they desired and they made very sure that they kept that level of fear going throughout the following months and even into the summer, after the initial epidemic had clearly subsided. Then they cranked up testing and Project Second Wave as we approached autumn, ignoring real science and hard data, ignoring clear evidence of significant harms as a direct result of policy, in order to prolong and promote fear once again. This was (and has been) the UK’s pandemic ‘strategy’ which continues to the present moment, ignoring now the advice of some 12,500 professional scientists and medics. Professor Pantsdown’s dodgy epidemic modelling reigns supreme, once again, even in the face of hard reality.”
Jaime, ‘‘tis only my opinion that much of what you claim about the lockdown has been paranoia and I am more than willing to admit that I could be wrong and you right. Until today I have deliberately refrained from entering debates involving your views on Covid 19. But if you read what I wrote this morning more carefully I was saying that there are many factors about the disease and reactions to it that just don’t make any sense to me and which few, if any, are discussing. This was my main message and already I regret adding that aside . Another problem for me is why have the younger become more susceptible (or have they?).
Much as I would like to, I cannot lay the blame on our current government when other governments around the world are doing similar things with in some cases similar results, and in other cases, very different outcomes. Debates have raged about the different outcomes without reaching consensus. This, I believe is one significant difference between Covid 19 and the climate debate: in the latter almost all of the big guns support a consensus, in the case of Covid arguments fester between big guns.
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I realise what you were trying to say Alan, but ultimately, you ended up calling me paranoid. Read these two articles and tell me that I’m still paranoid.
OK, change of plan then. I will do the shortest possible summary of how we should analogise.
We’re not in Paris in 1942, after the Wannsee Conference has taken place. Not even close. We’re not in Berlin in 1933. We’re in Munich around 1920. It’s a dangerous and polarised time but the future’s not fixed.
And it is fine to analogise, as long as we allow for the fact that there are some terrible outcomes we can see in history that can still be avoided. The Spanish flu – pandemic stage – is coming to an end and that reminds us that all analogies are imperfect. It took vast numbers of young people. So for that and countless other reasons we should analogise with care.
Farewell Jaime or looking forward to your comments.
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At 5:18am GMT I wrote:
I should have said homicide. The rejoicing over the killing of a ‘fascist’ does though seem to have happened. Not good. Bit like Munich in 1920 in fact. Could equally have been a communist or a faux communist there, of course.
Agreed. Back to the much-quoted Baloo, mentor of Mowgli:
But the post-mortem will only be uncomfortable if we’re not already in a dictatorship, right?
That’s why I don’t think we are. We’re all acting – Jaime included – like the post-mortem is going to be very uncomfortable. That’s the pressure of the population for you.
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“What happened then is that I was ruthlessly trolled…”
What? The majority of your exchange was with me. I have stuck strictly to the subject matter and critiqued only your arguments, with narry a rude word nor other denigration of your person in any way.
Jaime: “Here is my comment. I suggest people read it again and ponder the reasons why they felt the need to expand the conversation way beyond the reasonable boundaries I initially set.”
There are no boundaries here, aside from those that are rightly everywhere such as attacking a person, and say generic incitement to hatred. Your comment made specific claims, to wit that Boris likes more alarm, and that the Government desires more fear. These are perfectly okay concepts to put forward, and they are also perfectly okay concepts to challenge. To engage in the latter is not an expansion of scope nor any step beyond reasonableness, and in no way represents a challenge to your person.
Jaime. I don’t wish to cause further friction between us but I don’t believe the word paranoia is out of place. The word can be applied to beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat, which I believe sums up your attitude. You don’t accept a threat exists and believe there is some sort of government conspiracy and threat to deprive us of our liberties using fear as a lever.
I read your suggested testimony from a nurse and can only say I cannot reconcile it with my own experience back in April-May. She says she never had a patient who had blood clots, yet I developed them, as did several other patients in my ward during my 10 day stay. As I have reported previously, I was particularly impressed by the manner Covid19 patients were separated from other hospital patients during transits between wards and diagnostic apparatus that had to be shared. When in transit it was therefore possible to assess the relative numbers of people with different conditions. I would have assessed both parts of the hospital (covid and non-covid) as being equally busy. This was in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital that served an area never having a high incidence of Covid19. Nurses I spoke to nevertheless complained of being extra busy. Who to trust?
I feel sure that if I searched I could find medical testimony to counter that of “your” nurse, but why should I bother? If you only consider evidence that supports your view….
With respect to your second recommendation, I cannot access it. It being behind a paywall.
Alan, Jaime: I’m also reading that interview with the pseudonymous nurse now. Definitely interesting ‘data’ – with Alan’s personal experience and report of others in Norwich a layer of mystery to add. Viruses are hard.
You don’t wish to create further friction but you grievously misprepresent my argument:
“You don’t accept a threat exists and believe there is some sort of government conspiracy and threat to deprive us of our liberties using fear as a lever.”
Not ONCE have I ever said or implied that a threat does not exist, only that the threat has been grossly exaggerated. Am I to be labelled a ‘Covid denier’ too now? From the Telegraph article:
“signatory of the Great Barrington Declaration
Dr David Livermore
10 October 2020 • 9:30pm
Dr David Livermore
Covid-19 is the worst pandemic I’ve seen in 40 years as a microbiologist. It is not a hoax. It fills ICUs faster than seasonal flu. It is implicated in a million deaths already. So, if it is that bad, why have I signed the Great Barrington Declaration?
I am partly retired and have a comfortable life; I can write, edit photos, take long walks and, selfishly, sit it out. The answer is that, in conscience, I can no longer do so, professionally or as a citizen.
In March, we knew little. A brief lockdown was proportionate, to ready the NHS. Now, though, we know that much infection is very mild and inconsequential.
Among 750 Northumbria University students who were PCR-positive, just 78 had symptoms; in the US, 70,000 students were PCR positive and three hospitalised. The median age of those who have succumbed is 82 years, while life expectancy is 81 years. Fewer than 400 UK residents under 60 without comorbidities have died. For this, we have restricted human interactions and stifled the economy.”
“There is something nastier, too. The goodwill of March, when 700,000 volunteered, is replaced by masks that hide smiles or hostility and by posters threatening £6,400 fines. I don’t condone anti-lockdown demonstrations, but I am more disturbed by baton-wielding police deployed against them. It is not the England I love, and I doubt the atmosphere helps anyone’s mental health.
A psychiatrist pal is admitting patients ‘‘tipped over the edge’’; Prof Dalgleish, my co-signatory, has two suicides among collaborators. Further lockdowns might be worth it, if a good vaccine was very close… That’s the bet. But even the furthest advanced vaccine trials extend into next spring and tell little about the longevity of immunity.”
“Meantime, the damage accumulates. There is no good way out, but the declaration outlines a route that we believe is better, and more humane. So far as possible, life should return to normal for those at low risk and for anyone older who accepts the hazard, which will include me.
The virus will circulate among us, generating herd immunity. As we recover, it will run out of hosts and lose traction. Sweden’s approach resembles this, and the societal damage is far less than here, while the time curve of deaths per million differs little. Hospitals were not overwhelmed and hopefully ours won’t be either; if things get tight, the Nightingale sites can be used.”
The government has dismissed outright the Barrington Declaration and its thousands of eminent signatories from epidemiological and medical backgrounds in favour of continuing to crush the economy, society and civil liberties, in favour of a policy which will kill many thousands more than it has done already and will almost certainly prevent few, if any, deaths from Covid-19. WHY?
“Never in history have we handled a pandemic like this. Not the 1889-94 “Russian Flu” (maybe a coronavirus), which killed 135,000 from a population half of today’s; nor in 1918, when we defeated the German army as a far worse epidemic peaked. Future generations will look back aghast.
Some colleagues are cross I have spoken. To them, in conscience and surveying the wreckage, I can only quote Martin Luther: “Here I stand; I can do no other.” That’s why I signed.”
WHY did the world suddenly adopt an unprecedented, untried, untested but predictably catastrophic approach to containing a disease which it very soon became obvious did not present an unprecedented threat to human life and society?
Until you Alan, or Andy, or Richard can present a rational and plausible explanation as to WHY, you have NO right to condemn me as paranoid conspiracy theorist simply because I have looked at the evidence and proposed a plausible explanation for what is happening based on that evidence. That is not how scepticism works, but alas, it appears that the level of rational scepticism on this site is not what I thought it was originally. The Covid debacle has exposed that shortcoming.
P.S. How long were you in hospital for? A week? A few weeks? As a patient, in one ward. Your experience cannot be compared directly with a nurse’s experience who worked across many departments for many months during lockdown. But as a sceptical commenter on this site you would know that.
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“Until you Alan, or Andy, or Richard can present a rational and plausible explanation as to WHY, you have NO right to condemn me as paranoid conspiracy theorist simply because I have looked at the evidence and proposed a plausible explanation for what is happening based on that evidence.”
I have put forward a plausible argument. You don’t like it. This is perfectly fine. You have put forward a conspiracy theory (among other arguments), which you claim is true. This is fine too; it does not imply any denigration of character to regard it as such. A whole bunch of conspiracies *are* true. It is a conspiracy theory because none of the parties you cite re causation (Gates, WEF et al) have in any way shape or form said they have caused the pandemic (you said this was possible) or said that they are controlling the response in many nations (you said likely, if not actually caused it per prior). That they have a published aspiration to collective government does not negate the conspiracy element. If they had added on their websites “…we aim to achieve our aspiration by any any means fair or foul, and currently per the latter we have caused the covid pandemic as a means to our end”, or, “…we have exercised our control in a raft of world governments, and caused them to implement far more / stricter lockdowns because this is for the greater good of our aspiration and the world”, then your proposition would *not* be a conspiracy theory. It would be openly admitted policy. But because this is not visible anywhere, or at least anywhere you have shown us and anywhere I can see (and indeed, one would presume it would necessarily have to be secret not to unravel), your theory is indeed one of conspiracy. Per above, there is nothing wrong with this whatsoever; but if you cannot provide actual evidence of the secret element of the actions of the WEF or Gates or co-conspirators, i.e. some direct and obvious causal links and / or admissions to such nefarious action regarding a release of the virus and / or subsequent control of the governments of many nations, then there is not evidence. There is only circumstancial factors that could have any number of explanations. This means your theory isn’t ruled out; but it is not out of bounds in any way for me or anyone else to consider it highly unlikely, and to argue alternatives; the beef is not with the nature of the proposal or hence its proposer; it’s with the lack of evidence for the proposal.
Interestingly, even the WHO is not recommending main /strict Lockdowns now, and acknowledging their harms…
“There is only circumstancial factors that could have any number of explanations. ”
Including a whole raft more of conspiracy theories… e.g. it was done by China to further their world dominance aspirations, or by the Russians to further undermine the freedoms of the West (with no care for their own collateral damage), and…. and… Aspirations, whether published or just well-established over decades, are not evidence of action.
Jaime. I think you may be protesting a little too much. Read the definition I offered you of the word paranoia as I was using it – nowhere does it imply you are wrong. It is possible to be both paranoid and correct. I just don’t know, and have no way of finding out except by continued reading (and as my first post in this sequence showed I am finding more and more inconsistencies in the accepted Covid story).
As to not accepting there is a threat, that’s wrong, we have clashed before as to whether Covid19 is serious, with you dismissing it as little more than a flu, and not worth the damage caused by a lockdown. You selectively quote people like David Livermore (Thank you for supplying a copy of his explanation).
I was not placing my experience in hospital as worthy of standing against the testimony of the nurse (if she is genuine). I did write, however, that our two experiences are inconsistent with each other. No more, no less. She said she saw no patients with blood clots, or younger patients, I did over a short time span (10 days). She reports little to do; the nurses I spoke with were clearly tired and mentioned all the additional procedures they had to follow and the additional strains of having to work with protective gear.
Like most things in life, one finds evidence that supports your viewpoint and dismiss evidence that doesn’t. I am guilty, but I do tend to believe things I have seen first-hand.
“You have put forward a conspiracy theory (among other arguments), which you claim is true.”
This is the second time you have misrepresented my argument – on the same issue. I did NOT claim it was true. That is absurd. How in God’s name would I know that it is true without being a fly on the wall in the halls and corridors of power? I claimed that it was a plausible explanation – more plausible than yours. But it’s not JUST *my* explanation; other people have come to that same conclusion. Here is the wonderfully bright, wonderfully down to earth Irishman Ivor Cummins, explaining to James Delingpole what he thinks lies behind the false alarmism of the ‘Corona crisis’. Would you dismiss Cummins so easily as a conspiracy theorist? Maybe, but probably not directly to his face I suspect. Watch from 48.15 but the whole Delingpod is well worth a view. Cummins knows his stuff. He’s no fool and not given to outlandish speculation. He works on hard data.
I noted the change of tune from the WHO on lockdowns, which is why I think they realise they’ve gone too far with the alarmism and now risk damaging their own interests. I can’t think of any other reason why they would do a u-turn on this issue after previously claiming that lockdowns worked. Can you?
Alan, paranoid is paranoid; it means harbouring some irrational or unproven fear of nefarious intent by some agent directed at oneself or society in general. I am fearful, not irrational. Nefarious intent is unproven but strongly suggested via behaviour to date and by the evidence presented to us of motive by organisations such as WEF.
“You selectively quote people like David Livermore”.
I can copy and paste the whole article if you like. It adds little more to his (or my) argument. I selected for brevity and relevance only; there was no conspiracy to leave stuff out.
“As to not accepting there is a threat, that’s wrong, we have clashed before as to whether Covid19 is serious, with you dismissing it as little more than a flu, and not worth the damage caused by a lockdown.”
This is true. It bears witness to my contention that the threat posed by Covid-19 has been hyped, grossly exaggerated, for political purposes. You still argue that Covid-19 is much more dangerous than the ‘flu? Argue with the WHO then. In their latest press conference, they estimate that 10% of the world (780m people) have now been infected by SARS-CoV-2. With just over a million deaths, this gives an IFR of 0.13% – which is the same as seasonal ‘flu. There are regional variations of course, but this is the overall global mortality rate now. So why are we continuing to destroy society and the economy?
I’m a special case, for two reasons. Because I’m a special snowflake and I’m the author and thus moderator of this thread. Make it three reasons. I have not argued that you are a paranoid conspiracy theorist. I respect Alan and Andy’s contributions and I also do yours. Except for your Nazi analogising. That is both deluded and highly offensive. I wondered on holiday if I shouldn’t as moderator have deleted your initial offending sentence. Interesting counterfactual now. But all the rest of what you’ve shared is fair game for me. Let the battle continue for as long as any of us have the energy. This Covid stuff is not only baffling but important.
Fair enough Richard. The balance of power in Covid Land is changing radically. I have an inkling also that the same may be happening in Climate Land, more subtly, imperceptibly. Maybe just wishful thinking on my part though.The populace may still be scared witless and demanding tougher lockdowns, the government may still be enjoying the power they have over us, the Gates and the corporations of this world may still be relishing the thought of the big bucks they can make from Covid vaccines and health passports and the like, but the scales are tipping back to reality. The reality is a major global depression, millions of lives at risk in the Third World from starvation, the destruction of societies in western nations, hundreds of thousands of deaths from lockdown itself, severe and long lasting mental health problems across the entire spectrum, the real possibility of mass civil unrest – all to contain a disease not much more dangerous than seasonal ‘flu. If Boris locks down the north tomorrow, or even the entire country, he’s going to come seriously unstuck, very soon.
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The European Commission has the best governmental approach to tackling covid, says a cartoon made by a group of pro-EU grassroots plutocrats* led by the Commission-funded former chairman of Commission-funded Euronews and funded by a wealthy family foundation founded by a banker and civil servant who worked with Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet to create the EU’s earliest forerunner, the ECSC.
I think Xi is supposed to represent fascistic lockdown and test-and-trace. BoJo doesn’t get to compete because he’s too drunk or too sick with covid or perhaps both.
Although President von der Leyen’s approach – masks, testing, vaccine – is the winner, even she and her heaving bosoms admit that it might not work. A strange sort of winner, then.
As an off-topic bonus, here’s another cartoon from the same people – Angela Merkel eating David Cameron after he has turned into a fish:
The EU always makes sense to a federast.
*Grassroots plutocrats? Wealthy people who are opposed to populism and want to use their wealth to engineer grassroots support (not populist support, you understand, but grassroots: an important difference, although I’m not quite sure what it is) for ever closer union in the EU, particularly among the young. ‘Federast’ is a nasty term that I used far too often in the past but I think it’s almost fair to apply it to these people.
All that said, the cartoon has had only 75 views so far and five of those were mine. The French version has had only 107 views and two of those were mine. So the grassroots plutocrats have a long way to go before their cartoons trigger a youth revolution in support of the status quo.
“This is the second time you have misrepresented my argument – on the same issue. I did NOT claim it was true. That is absurd. How in God’s name would I know that it is true without being a fly on the wall in the halls and corridors of power? I claimed that it was a plausible explanation – more plausible than yours. But it’s not JUST *my* explanation; other people have come to that same conclusion.”
I have not misrepresented your argument in any way whatsoever. I did not claim that you claimed to have knowledge it was for sure true. I claimed that you have no evidence pointing to the possibility of same, no leads on the chain of causation or markers regarding nefarious origin (from your nominated suspects or anyone else, and regarding the virus itself or the following actions of nations). Nothing that would point to it’s potential plausibility, nada. Hence the theory is to be doubted, highly doubted. Along the way, I noted that indeed some conspiracy theories *are* true, hence some evidence of same may be forthcoming.
“How in God’s name would I know that it is true without being a fly on the wall in the halls and corridors of power?”
That’s exactly why it’s a conspiracy theory. The critical bit is the secret agenda shared between the co-conspirators in said corridors. And so, exactly conforming to the definition you helpfully provided above.
“I claimed that it was a plausible explanation – more plausible than yours. But it’s not JUST *my* explanation; other people have come to that same conclusion.”
*You* find it more plausible than mine. But neither is provable. The plausibility of arguments is based upon their logic chain and their supporting level of evidence. You have a stack of standard evidence of unsavoury lock-down characteristics and effects. You have evidence that the WEF have aspirations of collective government. Again completely standard. You have no evidence whatsoever that there is any connection between these at all. This leaves the field wide open for many other causes, including mine, and indeed including a raft of competing conspiracy theories. Something of the necessary size and scope (especially on swift timescale) and appalling levels of corruption and cruelty executed word-wide that you are positing, would leave clues. But you have presented none. That an org aspires to collective government, that Bill Gates is very rich, are not clues to anything regarding the origin of the pandemic or the actions of many nations thereafter. That other people lean to this theory means not a jot, *unless* they have material showing that the aspirations of the nominated baddies, can in some plausible way be connected to the real-world events via traceable hard evidence, re the origin of the virus, or alternatively the direct control of government policies in many nations worldwide on lockdowns etc, or both. If such persons have this – bring it on – this would be a game changer.
Richard: “I respect Alan and Andy’s contributions and I also do yours.”
Thankyou. I find nothing to cause me pause in any contributions here. That includes Jaime, whose right to say what she does here I have defended before, and would again.
Jaime, none of us are perfect on these threads or anywhere. But I have not denigrated you or knowingly misrepresented any of your arguments. Or even unknowingly, I believe, for instance per above. Mutual misunderstanding is more than enough to explain differences. Humans generally wander about in fogs of the stuff. But you have denigrated; you called me and Richard (assuming I have the right names in your 2 slots), ‘resident trolls’. Trolling is systemic bad behaviour. I believe there is no evidence supporting that claim.
Andy: “You have put forward a conspiracy theory (among other arguments), which you claim is true.”
Me: “This is the second time you have misrepresented my argument – on the same issue. I did NOT claim it was true.”
Andy: “I have not misrepresented your argument in any way whatsoever. I did not claim that you claimed to have knowledge it was for sure true. I claimed that you have no evidence pointing to the possibility of same, no leads on the chain of causation or markers regarding nefarious origin (from your nominated suspects or anyone else, and regarding the virus itself or the following actions of nations). Nothing that would point to it’s potential plausibility, nada.”
Eh? I must have missed all that subtle meaning hidden beneath your simple statement “which you claim is true”. Give it up now Andy, you’re just torturing reality.
Here’s another one of those pesky conspiracy theorists claiming WEF involvment/exploitation of Covid policy.
“Eh? I must have missed all that subtle meaning hidden ”
No. I mean by this only that you think from the basis of rationality that this is real. I.e. *not* that you are some crazy lizard-fearing person proposing nonsense, which would be a denigration of character. NOT that you had foreknowledge its truth!
Jaime, re Sky.
Again, standard stuff. I largely agree on the left-wing horror show. But this provides no evidence whatsoever regarding the current control of lockdowns (or seeding of virus) by any hidden agenda into governments worldwide. They say only what they want to happen for the future, that they want this stuff “to become” the new normal. Well of course they do; they’re loonies! It doesn’t mean they have currently or within the near future, any direct power at all to carry out their wishes. It doesn’t rule out that they may have either; it just doesn’t address the issue of evidence in any way. (But if they did have this power, they probably wouldn’t be wistfully wishing for the new normal on Sky).
“No. I mean by this only that you think from the basis of rationality that this is real. I.e. *not* that you are some crazy lizard-fearing person proposing nonsense, which would be a denigration of character. NOT that you had foreknowledge its truth!”
It was meant for reassurance that I didn’t think you were proposing nonsense that couldn’t possibly be true in any circumstances (which some folks do), and therefore was an invalid argument by definition. I.e. like many in history, it was a conspiracy theory that actually turned out to be true, which is why I gave the example of Julius Ceasar. I did not mean that I expected you to have foreknowledge of its absolute truth, rather than plausible evidence. It never occurred to me that you would interpret this way. That was not meant; as you say that would be absurd.
It looks like they are going to destroy Liverpool, with the full complicity of Liverpool city council leaders.
WHY? Why would they do that?
“Understand local leaders have agreed this in principle but await PM’s official sign-off”
So it’s driven locally?? That makes no sense.
Andy, they’re just squabbling about the size of the pay-off they’re going to get from central government for destroying the lives and livelihoods of Liverpudlians. They haven’t ‘agreed’ to the measures, but they haven’t lifted a finger to protest against them on behalf of the people they supposedly represent. It’s f***ing disgusting.
This is what Tom Jefferson and Carl Heneghan have to say about the quality of the data which the government is using to destroy the local economies and social fabric of towns and cities across Britain. Knowing just how bad, just how unreliable the data is (and they do, most definitely) WHY would the government persist in doing this?
Jaime, “They haven’t ‘agreed’ to the measures, but they haven’t lifted a finger to protest against them on behalf of the people they supposedly represent.”
Oh, I see. Yes, sadly I concur, disgusting is the word. To not protest at this stage of the game (and a voice the size of Liverpool would have clout), is very poor indeed. But Labour isn’t protesting either, the so called opposition are utterly missing in action; and Liverpool is a strongly Labour controlled council, I believe. No umphh from Labour HQ will not have helped at all (albeit they could still have asserted an independent position).
Boris’s levelling up agenda in full swing now, even as the ‘two week circuit breaker’ in Scotland looks certain to turn into a 6 month destruction marathon. What a joke. If these measures are not challenged by local leaders and quashed by the courts, it’s going to be carnage this winter.
Mark Hodgson (7:50am):
Steve McIntyre (c9:15pm):
Great minds? Plagiarism? 🙂
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Richard, I prefer great minds! I don’t “do” Twitter, so was unaware of Steve Mc’s view, and unless he visits here or Bishop Hill on a regular basis, he’d be unaware of my views too.
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They’ve even got a nice line in cultral Marxism going now in preparation for the anti-human Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.”
Bumbling Boris has outdone himself. Truly.
The evidence that European and Anglosphere governments locked down almost simultaneously on deliberately engineered false alarm and exaggerated, sometimes even faked statistics, exists and will soon go mainstream. WHY did they do it?
Jaime, “The evidence that European and Anglosphere governments locked down almost simultaneously on deliberately engineered false alarm and exaggerated, sometimes even faked statistics, exists…”
May we see it? (I.e. the interesting bits; that which is demonstrated to be *deliberately* false-alarm / faked, and likewise that which separates the influence on lockdowns of deliberate alarm / fakism, from simple bias and fear of the virus plus a panicked reaction to public and press pressure). Independent national reactions to a fast physical wave would be near simultaneous anyhow, as via air-travel and higher connectivity, most developed nations and especially the host of them stacked together inside Europe, will see rise times separated by only about 1 to 3 weeks. Does this evidence imply a deliberately agreed common control policy across a significant number of nations? i.e. separately from attempting to infer this only via timing anyhow? The latter method would be incredibly difficult to distinguish from natural timing, especially as a wave of fear from seeing jammed hospitals etc on TV, precedes the virus and precipitates a bunch of actions. Hence blurring the edge of the wave too.
“WHY did they do it?”
Both for anything which may be illegitimate or at least covert, and even that which isn’t yet hindsight proves to have been inappropriate, definitely the right question to ask!
“May we see it?”
I’m busily compiling the evidence Andy, if someone doesn’t get there before me.
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Back on March 13th, Sir Patrick Valance told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, “Our aim is to try and reduce the peak – not suppress it completely, also because most people get a mild illness, to build up some degree of herd immunity whilst protecting the most vulnerable”. On the same day, on Sky News, he talked about not suppressing the virus completely, to help avoid “a second peak,” and also to “allow enough of us who are going to get mild illness to become immune to this”.
Alarmed by the backlash received, Sir Patrick suggested that the message in response should be “herd immunity is not the strategy. The strategy is to flatten the curve… and to shield the elderly… As we do this we will see immunity in the community grow”.
In other words, as with all lethal viruses, Nature has only herd immunity and death to offer us; the rest is down to our commitment to protect the vulnerable. That is the only way of minimizing the number of deaths between now and the inevitable denouement.
Today, we were told by Professor Stephen Powis that the protection of the elderly was proving to be ‘wishful thinking’ and that further suppression of the virus was the only alternative.
I do wish this government would make up its mind. Does it want to follow the science or not? Suppression is protecting no one in the long run. It just seems a necessity when protection of the NHS is held paramount and the protection of the vulnerable is either too much to be bothered with or would get in the way of achieving that objective.
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John, “Alarmed by the backlash received, Sir Patrick…”
It’s amazing how the deep sting of public backlash can so swiftly change minds, change policy, and apparently change science itself, not to mention the declared fundamentals of the entire universe 0:
Andy (and John), I think what Steve Mc wrote yesterday is important (the plagiarism would have been by the man in Toronto, Mark, but I was jesting!):
My emphasis. But in March Vallance found that democracy, as it’s become in the UK and a lot of the West, is a two-edged sword. Arguably we’ve been sliding down the wrong edge ever since.
Some see a silver lining:
Some, instead of the tea leaves, are reading the graffiti:
The phrase “musn’t grumble” from the dark days of WW2 doesn’t seem to be making much of a comeback as yet.
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I’ve seen that kind of comment about democracies before. And in truth it resonated with me, I felt it ought to be true. But notwithstanding no proper study I know of, it doesn’t seem to match the situation on the ground, so to speak. There have been long or multiple or pretty strict lockdowns in all sorts of nations, from religious oligarchies to western democracies to whatever else. The strictest lockdown in the world (and most deaths per million!) is reputed to be Peru, which was classed in 2019 as a ‘flawed democracy’, and is 58th on the list of most democratic, which is to say a lot better than over a 100 nations below it, but a very long way indeed from what we’d find acceptable (the characteristics aren’t really linear with rank, the UK is 14th). Among other things, this characteristic says that common reactions re covid action are still more important than the wide differences between regimes – which we’d normally consider to be gulfs in fact.
Andy: I hesitated before adding to “democracy, as it’s become in the UK” with “and a lot of the West”. It’s too hard a thing to do full comparatives on (in forty years there should be some) but I was conscious Steve was writing from Canada and the place I feel I know just a little about is the UK.
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Here’s another thing.
Back in March it was so very, very, very important that the country acted in unison. And so when London was good and ready to go into lockdown so did the North, even though it was at least a couple of weeks behind, epidemiologically speaking. Never mind the premature damage to its economy – national unity was so very important (at least within England). And when London was good and ready to come out of lockdown, so did the North, even though local authorities begged the government not to do so because the infection rates in the North had not had time to come down (unsurprisingly). As a result, the second wave has hit the North first. But here’s the thing. It is now so very, very, very important that restrictions be introduced regionally so London needn’t worry about going back into lockdown until it is good and ready.
What’s the betting that, by the time it comes to releasing restrictions, the government goes back to a national strategy in which no region is relieved until London is good and ready for liberation? Or is this taking cynicism too far?
Jaime, I have been slow to criticise you for your troubling hyperbole because I appreciate your passion for civil liberty and I feel the sincerity of your anger. I too would now be tempted to indulge in language that I would struggle to defend in the morning. Let me just say that I suspect I would not be alone here up in the North in fantasizing what could be done with a lubricated ballot box and a grinning prime minister.
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Boris vacillates so quickly from downright sinister to bumbling and incompetent, it’s difficut at times to work out where he’s at. He was definitely at his bumbling, incompetent best when answering a question from Steve Baker in the Commons today, about the prospect of when an effective vaccine might become available. He said he couldn’t, erm, be sure, erm, and that it’s been, erm, 18 years since SARS-1 and we still haven’t developed a vaccine. Soooo, official government policy being that suppression via lockdowns will continue until the magic bullet vaccine arrives, this means that a person born today, say, in Liverpool, might spend the whole of their childhood in lockdown and STILL not be able to buy a drink in a pub when they come of age! Wow.
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John. Lubricated? You’re too kind.
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Well, I think the agenda of this government is abundantly clear now – destroy the UK, no matter what. All that now remains to be seen is whether they can be stopped in time from doing so.
I only mentioned ‘lubricated’ so that everyone would understand my drift. It wasn’t meant as a serving suggestion.
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Grauniad: ‘However, shortly afterwards documents were released showing that Sage had advised the government three weeks ago to bring in five measures including a short “circuit breaker” lockdown, or else face a “very large epidemic”.
The official documents dated 21 September also called for a ban on household mixing; the closure of all bars, restaurants, cafes, indoor gyms and services such as hairdressers; and all university and college teaching to be online “unless absolutely essential”. Only one of the five Sage proposals has been introduced nationally – the exhortation that people should work from home if they can.’
Interesting. So Sage is still leading the lockdown charge; Boris et al at least starting to resist. Whitty still wants much more, he tells anyone and everyone.
This is very good I think and reminds anyone who wishes to get into it of one of the major questions in the original post: how Covid and Brexit are related, not just in theory but in messy practice through to the end of the year and beyond.
Eftarians being people like me (and UK climate sceptics like Christopher Booker, Jonathan Jones and Rupert Darwall) who supported EEA/EFTA as the best way to do Brexit. So now I know I’m a moderate lockdown sceptic. This relates well to what Andy has just written I think. Though from what I heard today I thought Whitty too was saying it’s a really hard path between dire economic impacts and health ones.
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This is also very interesting, about the murder in Denver I mentioned two days ago (and murder does seem the right word now). Most likely hypothesis: a news service working closely with Antifa thugs to try to provoke a confrontation, with cameras at the ready, to show crazy, violent Trump supporters at their worst. Then *their* guy loses his cool and shoots one of the Trumpists dead in broad daylight, with no possible legal mitigation of self-defence.
Johnson & Johnson (plural) pauses trials of another experimental Covid vaccine, a day after Johnson (singular) told Parliament that a vaccine may never be developed! Because of an “unexplained illness”. Weird. This is one of the experimental vaccines (never before trialled on humans) which instruct cells all over the body to manufacture a protein which supposedly induces biological immunity to the virus. According to polls, 55% of people would be willing to be injected with such a highly experimental vaccine just to get ‘back to normal’ if it is authorised and approved in a fraction of the time it normally takes to develop safe vaccines. Scary.
Dr Hillary Jones of Good Morning Britain has received an MBE and he is not happy:
Apparently, since the announcement, he has been attacked on social media by ‘trolls’ posting ‘vile messages’. The examples offered were:
“Dr Hilary Jones an MBE what an utter farce!!! Definitely lowering the accolade of being an MBE.”
“Why has Dr Hilary Jones been awarded the MBE?, he is on a tv programme getting paid for his opinion. What a joke.”
“What’s Dr Hilary got an MBE for? Going 6 months without a day off?”
Yes, I know. How utterly vile to suggest that someone may have received an award undeservedly. I would certainly not do such a thing.
On Monday, he used his position as resident expert on GMB to ‘troll’ a journalist for failing to listen to a certain Professor Scally and failing to appreciate that 300 x 4 = THOUSANDS!!!!
Today he was out there again demonstrating that his command of basic arithmetic is more than worthy of an MBE. To demonstrate the benefits of effective test and trace he cited the example of China. According to Dr Hillary they do 96 million tests daily and now only have 5 cases of Covid.
It’s almost as if we are dealing with a medical professional who has never heard of false positives and has never heard of Bayes Theorem. But that can’t be. He has an MBE and I am just being vile.
I don’t really find it scary. On their own heads (and other parts with cells) be it.
It’s the libertarian in me 🙂
John: Just like you, my heart goes out to Dr Jones. On the more general issue of hate crime, though, I think Caroline Ffiske has made a key point today in The Critic: there shouldn’t be such a thing.
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Government minister lies. Some people are interpreting this as stupidity. She is a health minister. That level of ignorance (if it is ignorance) of her own portfolio is a sackable offence. Boris hasn’t sacked her. He hasn’t sacked Hancock. We have a government which is deliberately propagating false information to the public about herd immunity.
Meanwhile, the RSPB are warning about extinction of sea bird populations due to Boris’s massive expansion of offshore wind.
“Puffins and other seabirds face an ‘irreversible decline’ towards extinction under Boris Johnson’s plans to power every home with wind by 2030, the RSPB has warned.
The Prime Minister last week promised that Britain had “limitless” offshore wind capacity, and said a green industrial revolution with this renewable resource at its heart would create millions of jobs and avert climate change.
However, conservationists have warned that an enthusiastic rolling out of offshore wind could cause our globally important seabird populations to dwindle to extinction.”
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The Covid lockdown fanatics are now in much the same position as the extinction rebellion net zero carbon 2025 fanatics, pushing an ideological goal which has highly dubious benefit, but which almost certainly assures great harm, pressurising the government to go faster, harder, than it already is. The ‘tipping point’ for the Covid disaster was 3 weeks ago apparently, so they’ve already missed the boat, but hey ho, don’t let minor details like that get in the way of a great plan.
@ Jaime re: RSPB
They really blew it. They said yes, yes, yes to turbines, even getting one at HQ to virtue signal. Then when a development threatened the gannets on Bass Rock, they said no, but were overruled. Their previous support was pointed to as evidence of how little harm wind turbines did. Is it too late now?
RSPB: do your damn job. Protect birds. Not from a degree or two of temperature rise. Protect them from being swatted out of the air by Johnson’s Johnsons.
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There seems to be a general principle of inflation when it comes to the curbing of anti-social discourse. There was a time when ‘troll’ referred to someone who deliberately set out to offend and intimidate for the sake of it. Now it applies to anyone who strongly disagrees. ‘Denier’ used to refer to anyone who irrationally disputes irrefutable evidence. Now it applies to anyone who disagrees with consensus. And ‘hate crime’ used to be a criminal act motivated by a lack of tolerance, but now lack of tolerance has become the crime.
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JIT, I think what we’re witnessing with the RSPB is the return of conservation to conservationism. The RSPB fell hook, line and sinker for the Big Lie which was that climate action embraced all forms of conservationism and environmentalism and that to do one was to do the other. Naturally, if you’re ‘saving the planet’, you’re saving every living thing on the planet, right? Wrong. That conservation of bird species is now, if not decoupling, then certainly moving away from, the climate change Green Blob, within Britain’s most prominent and generally much loved society for the protection of birds, is a significant event.
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Hard border with Wales. Armed police demanding Liverpool gyms close down. PM not ruling out closing the country down again. European cities under 9pm curfew. Gates spouting deeply sinister stuff about what’s in store for the US. Social media censorship cranking up re. ‘misinformation’. What the hell is going on? Looks like some sort of attempted coup to me. The US election is the lynchpin around which all this is turning.
For this. We should be very concerned now:
“The selective use of data is hindering policymaking. The data is all too often presented in the worst light, which informs no one. We do not understand the reason for this.
The Prime Minister said the situation in Manchester is worsening with every passing day. However, cases have decreased for nine days in a row.
We are left wondering whether we are missing something. The current reporting of data is confusing, incomplete and missing vital components.”
Boris is lying. The government is deliberately painting a picture which does not reflect reality in order to lock down Manchester. Why? What are Carl Heneghan and Tom Jefferson (very bright Oxford scientists) missing? What are most people missing? Andy? Richard? Alan? Anyone?
John mentioned in a comment above my “troubling hyperbole”, not making it very clear whether the hyperbole was troubling because it might have some basis in fact or whether it was troubling because it was hyperbole. So, with that in mind, I shall leave you to ponder the extremely troubling words of former Supreme Court Judge, Lord Sumption, in a talk which he recently gave:
‘This is how freedom dies’: The folly of Britain’s coercive Covid strategy.
These are all classic problems of authoritarian government. It is habitually inefficient, destructive, blinkered and ultimately not even popular. The British public has not even begun to understand the seriousness of what is happening to our country.
The next few years is likely to see a radical and lasting transformation of the relationship between the state and the citizen. With it will come an equally fundamental change in our relations with each other, a change characterised by distrust, resentment and mutual hostility. In the nature of things, authoritarian governments fracture the societies which they govern. The use of political power as an instrument of mass coercion is corrosive. It divides and it embitters. In this case, it is aggravated by the sustained assault on social interaction which will sooner or later loosen the glue that helped us to deal with earlier crises. The unequal impact of the government’s measures is eroding any sense of national solidarity.
I’m sorry to say that I was right and I’m sorry to say that the public’s unthinking, unquestioning, meek acceptance of Covid restrictions have contributed very significantly to the now dire situation in which we find ourselves. Our freedoms, which we so easily gave up in return for ‘safety’, are not going to be returned to us any time soon.
More hyperbole. France locking down until at least December – you’ll need papers to leave home. Wales locked down. Ireland locked down. Merkel locking down Germany again . Italy rioting over lockdowns. Sturgeon will soon decree that Scots cannot travel outside of their local authority areas. Something truly evil is happening and it’s been planned and coordinated across the western world. By the end of this horror winter, I wonder what will remain of the familiar old order. In 2021, we will learn who our new masters are.
When I said ‘troubling hyperbole’ I was trying to choose my words carefully, not least because I did not wish to be drawn into what was becoming an increasingly fractious debate. I thought you were using hyperbole in the sense that you were making statements that were exaggerated and not meant to be taken literally (there are no actual wagons or planned genocide), and it was troubling in the sense that at least one individual was troubled by it. On a different day I might have used the word ‘challenging’, i.e. in the sense that art can be very challenging when the artist chooses imagery that is designed to shock or to force the individual to reflect upon subject matter that may be taboo or discomforting. And it is indeed very discomforting to think that civil liberties are being eroded on a massive scale.
John, my statements were made not with the intention of exaggerating the peril, or with the expectation that they were not meant to be taken literally; they were made in order to express my intent to try and convey what I thought was the deadly seriousness of the situation, using an analogy which Richard took great exception to. But here we are, a few months down the line, facing a very serious threat to liberty and democracy from a so called ‘Conservative’ government which is ruling by decree, which is seemingly intent upon destroying the socio-economic fabric of the nation to suppress a disease which is less dangerous than the ‘flu for the majority, using extremely dubious or even faked statistics to justify that policy. Here we are, a few months down the line, learning that many more people will probably be killed by these measures than lives will be saved. That is called democide. The Nazis were engaged in genocide. Either way, lots of innocent people die. So I ask you, was my analogy really that exaggerated and hyperbolic? It may be intensely uncomfortable to ponder the very real possibility that our government (and other governments) may mean to inflict upon us great harm, but we cannot ignore that possibility and indeed, as the evidence stands, it’s looking more and more like a reality.
I could continue gamely, trying to defend my use of the term ‘hyperbole’, but I feel disinclined. The fact is, by the time we get to the point where we learn whether or not Holocaust references had been appropriate, we will all be past caring. I have thought from the outset that we have more to fear from the cure than from the disease, and I see no reason yet to change my mind. The thing is, I’m not even sure that ‘meekly’ handing over too much power to the government represents the greatest risk. When I look at how people are behaving in my neck of the woods, it is tempting to conclude that civil disobedience will turn out to be of the greatest harm, particularly when the economic carnage starts to bite deep. Any differences of opinion we might have over what is rhetoric and what is reality are somewhat secondary to our shared dread of the future.
I picked up a CS Lewis quote from the Lockdown Sceptics website the other day. Many here will already be familiar with it, no doubt, but I don’t think I had encountered it before, and it struck me as apt in so many ways (climate and Covid-related):
“Again, the new oligarchy must more and more base its claim to plan us on its claim to knowledge. If we are to be mothered, mother must know best. This means they must increasingly rely on the advice of scientists, till in the end the politicians proper become merely the scientists’ puppets. Technocracy is the form to which a planned society must tend. Now I dread specialists in power because they are specialists speaking outside their special subjects. Let scientists tell us about sciences. But government involves questions about the good for man, and justice, and what things are worth having at what price; and on these a scientific training gives a man’s opinion no added value. Let the doctor tell me I shall die unless I do so-and-so; but whether life is worth having on those terms is no more a question for him than for any other man.”
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“Now I dread specialists in power because they are specialists speaking outside their special subjects. Let scientists tell us about sciences.”
In the Covid debacle, this is what happens when you let a specialist speak even within their specialist subject: a non-specialist journalist asking the right questions tears them apart, live on air, making them look like rank amateurs and exposing them for the scientific fraud which they undoubtedly are. So it’s not looking good for ‘scientists’ advocating the supposed ‘science-based’ solution of lockdowns on either score: i.e. whether they be arguing that lockdowns are more effective per se in preventing Covid deaths compared to other science-based measures or whether they render life in general so pointless in the process of ‘saving lives’ that life is no longer considered by many to be worth living.
I think the conclusion we must come to is that the problem lies not so much with letting scientists speak outside their specialist domain to advocate the adoption of policies which may have far reaching consequences beyond their intended purpose, but that the science which they speak to the public in support of such policies is itself junk science, pseudoscience, corrupt science, not supported by data or indeed prior scientific knowledge. We’re letting them ply us with such gibberish, masquerading as science, as Whitty and Vallance did in September, as Professor Paul Elliott has done on Talk Radio most recently. The problem is that there are not enough people (be they trained in the sciences or not) who are willing to speak truth to power, whether that power be in the hands of politicians or scientists – and those who do are being outrageously censored.
Anyway, on a more serious note, I hear that the latest government initiative to stop the spread of Covid-19 – following the abject failure of the £12 billion test and trace system, which may or may not have something to do with the fact that most of the test centres are empty – is to get Christmas cracker manufacturers to put masks inside crackers in place of paper hats. I can see it now: all six family members sitting glumly around the dinner table, wondering when they should take their masks off and start tucking into the Christmas turkey, with Granny banging on the airing cupboard door wanting to be let out now that the police sirens have gone.
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tell you what worries me the most about “Climate,Covid,Brexit” and anything else (US election?).
the MSM (mostly TV) are the only source of information for most folk & I would expect different view points from the various news channels, but they all seem to interview & report exactly the same/people/ news!!! is it a covid thing?
@Jaime – airing cupboards are a good place to hide in “blind mans bluff”
@JOHN RIDGWAY – just thought that “blind mans bluff” ref means your “It” –
“Blind man’s buff is played in a spacious area, such as outdoors or in a large room, in which one player, designated as “It”, is blindfolded and gropes around attempting to touch the other players without being able to see them, while the other players scatter and try to avoid the person who is “it”, hiding in plain sight and sometimes teasing them to influence them to change direction. 
When the “it” player catches someone, the caught player becomes “it” and the catcher flees from them.
Blind man’s buff is ideally played in an area free of dangerous obstructions so that the “It” player will not suffer injury from tripping over or hitting something”
elf & safety means, heehee can’t catch me 🙂
On Nazi and Holocaust analogies, here’s a well-known UK climate sceptic followed by a software engineer who used to work for me at Objective, the company I co-founded, in the late 90s:
Here are some other outflows of the sewage, I mean discussion, last Sunday and Monday:
“Boris’s Willing Executioners” is a play on the title of the book Hitler’s Willing Executioners by Daniel Goldhagen, first published in 1996. I guess some other Cliscep people will have read it. Not many, I assume, visited Jonathan Miller around that time in Camden (opposite Alan Bennett and The Lady in the Van) to ask him about his views on the book, and the Holocaust generally, given that his sombre reflections were on the back of the paperback edition. The famous polymath (and doctor of medicine) was very gracious to his strange visitor.
And it is with Jonathan Miller that I would start to explain my feelings about the current baloney of such analogies. I give fair warning, for those like Alan who don’t want this subject to be part of Cliscep. As people who have become used to being called climate deniers, since around 2007, that of course would never do.
Violent fascism returns to Italy:
If it walks like a Nazi, talks like a Nazi . . . . .
“This refusal to cherish the value of the scientific method strikes at the heart of everything I, as a scientist, hold dear. To me, the reasoned exchange of ideas is the basis of civilised society.
So I was left stunned after being invited on to a mid-morning radio programme recently, only for a producer to warn me minutes before we went on air that I was not to mention the Great Barrington Declaration. The producer repeated the warning and indicated that this was an instruction from a senior broadcasting executive.
I demanded an explanation and, with seconds to go, was told that the public wouldn’t be familiar with the meaning of the phrase ‘Great Barrington Declaration’.
And this was not an isolated experience. A few days later, another national radio station approached my office to set up an interview, then withdrew the invitation. They felt, on reflection, that giving airtime to me would ‘not be in the national interest’.
But the Great Barrington Declaration represents a heartfelt attempt by a group of academics with decades of experience in this field to limit the harm of lockdown. I cannot conceive how anyone can construe this as ‘against the national interest’.”
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“I give fair warning, for those like Alan who don’t want this subject to be part of Cliscep.“ Whoa there Richard. I don’t believe I have ever expressed this thought. In fact I find attempts to compare COVID-19 with Climate interesting and sometimes fascinating. Nevertheless I do consider the overwhelming focus upon the virus and attempts to curtail it rather overblown and detrimental to considerations of climate change. This topic has not gone away as any trip to WUWT will demonstrate. My regret is that sceptical climate change sites (excepting WUWT) seem to be dominated by Trump vs. Biden or the virus. This is regrettable in my book.
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What have they done?
Alan, I think Richard’s comment was more about the Nazi comparisons that have been visible on this thread.
As a sceptic who objects to being labelled a “denier” (the only thing I deny is the validity of the policy options espoused by the climate concerned) I’m not keen to see the comparisons with Nazis and Fascists taken too far, whether in the context of climate change/policy or with regard to anything to do with Covid-19.
Nazis were evil, full-stop. However much I might think some policy prescriptions will cause serious damage, I don’t think many – if any – of the people pushing those options (whether in connection with climate or Covid19) intend to cause serious harm. They seek to avert it, but in my opinion their analysis is completely flawed. Thus, I see them as being being seriously misguided, and I believe that their policy prescriptions will cause serious harm. But they’re not Nazis/fascists, in my view.
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A problem with Nazi analogies is that as soon as you go there you have pegged the needle. If you think someone who polices your speech is a Nazi, what label do you reserve for someone who beheads someone in the street for a lesson on freedom of speech?
I have often tried to tell people I know that pegging the needle in climate is what makes sceptics into “deniers”. Here there is only binary logic. With us, or deniers. 0s or 1s. But somewhere between the caricature of a climate sceptic and the climate apocalypse does exist.
Sometimes one side is just plain wrong. Other times the truth lies between. In climate, I’d place it at about 0.01 on a range between “human emissions of CO2 don’t affect climate” to “raining sulphuric acid, like on Venus.” From 0 to Nazi I’d give telling someone not to mention the Great Barrington Declaration about 0.01 as well.
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I am still of the view that this dispute can be fruitfully analysed as an exercise in hyperbole, investigating its use and abuse as a rhetorical device. A paper on this subject was written by someone from the University of Amsterdam, Department of Speech Communication, Argumentation Theory, and Rhetoric. It’s called:
‘The use of hyperbole in the argumentation stage’
I am tempted to write my own article on the subject. I already have my title prepared:
‘Nazi Analogies: Hyperbolics or Hyperbollocks?’
However, I fear the article would go very much downhill from there on.
John, I can only see white space where the article should be 0:
“From 0 to Nazi I’d give telling someone not to mention the Great Barrington Declaration about 0.01 as well.”
Please show your working.
“Hyperbole is a rhetorical trope by means of which statements are made that are obviously exaggerated and thus untrue or unwarranted.”
The rest of the paper is based upon this key assumption. I have yet to be confronted with a convincing argument here which demonstrates my ‘rhetorical trope’ does indeed qualify as hyperbole according to the quoted definition. Until such happens, I shall consider my hyperbole to be an analogy, which looks increasingly apt as each week passes.
That looks like some sort of WordPress glitch you are suffering. It works on my screen and seems to have worked for Jaimie also. The title of the paper is ‘The use of hyperbole in the argumentation stage’, should you wish to google it.
Yes, I accept that you do not consider that your analogy represents an exaggeration and so you reject the accusation of hyperbole. Time will tell whether the harm to civilisation resulting from the widespread removal of civil liberties will match that of recent fascist excesses. However, I have to agree with others here who point to an absence of malicious intent in lockdown policies. To that extent, at least, I believe comparisons with Nazism carry emotional importance rather than historical pertinence. That said, two things are worth pointing out. Firstly, the Nazis did not see themselves as malicious. Secondly, the democratic principles and values we hold dear in Western society are not as capable of saving us from our darker intents as we would all like to believe.
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“However, I have to agree with others here who point to an absence of malicious intent in lockdown policies.”
There’s an important distinction there which you have glossed over in your comment.
This is what Mark said:
“Nazis were evil, full-stop. However much I might think some policy prescriptions will cause serious damage, I don’t think many – if any – of the people pushing those options (whether in connection with climate or Covid19) intend to cause serious harm.”
There’s never a full stop after evil. It has existed seeminly thoroughout the history of known human civilisation and it defies defintion even to this very day. I like to think I can identify evil acts, but when you start trying to get inside the heads of those people who commit evil acts, or consciously contribute significantly to such acts being committed, you end up getting lost in a philosophical minefield of ‘intent’ and the true nature of evil itself, defined most conveniently – but very unsatisfactorily – as the opposite of good, but which actually defies all attempts to categorise it or explain its origin.
There is no direct evidence of ‘malicious intent’ in this government’s or any other government’s actions. If such existed, they’re hardly likely to leave it lying around are they? What there is is evidence of motive to lock down major economies, forcing a very convenient global ‘reset’ post Covid. What there is is abundant evidence of malign and coordinated activity on the part of governments – the deliberate creation of alarm by wholly immoral behaviour modification techniques, the massaging of statistics to create a false sense of alarm, direct lies from government officials, relentless, tiresome and ultimately corrosive propaganda and advertising, evidence of planning for lockdowns weeks before they happened, deliberate censorship of opposing views, culpable ignorance of opposing views in order to perpetuate the preferred narrative and policy and, lastly but not leastly, a knowledge that the preferred policy is killing and will kill many thousands of people regardless of its supposed effectiveness in saving lives, yet a dogged pursuance of that policy even in the face of this evidence and proposed sensible alternatives. It cannot be argued that ministers are unaware of the huge potential and actual harms that their policies inflict upon the nation and its economy, yet they persist in doing what they do, refusing to listen to reasoned argument as to why they should desist. That is definitely malign. I look at what’s happening and I see the immense human suffering caused by governments and I consider it is ‘evil’. I have suggested motive which might explain the intent.
”What there is is abundant evidence of malign and coordinated activity on the part of governments – the deliberate creation of alarm by wholly immoral behaviour modification techniques, the massaging of statistics to create a false sense of alarm, direct lies from government officials, relentless, tiresome and ultimately corrosive propaganda and advertising, evidence of planning for lockdowns weeks before they happened, deliberate censorship of opposing views, culpable ignorance of opposing views in order to perpetuate the preferred narrative and policy and, lastly but not leastly, a knowledge that the preferred policy is killing and will kill many thousands of people regardless of its supposed effectiveness in saving lives.”
What I see are governments desperate not to be accused of doing too little to protect their people and equally desperate not to give the impression that such desperation is misplaced. The things that are going on are indeed very disturbing. But democracy is a strange arrangement in which the people get to decide the nature of their subservience and the appointed come to believe that their political survival is of paramount importance. When things happen that put governance under the spotlight, all sorts of skullduggery ensues and the delicate plinth upon which civility and freedom are perched is all too easily toppled. What I think is missing from this picture, however, is a poisonous ideology at play, of the same vein as the thinking behind Nazism. That’s why I still prefer to take your analogy as a well-intended warning couched in rhetorical terms, rather than a literal comparison, even though there may be some unnerving parallels.
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@ Jaime at half past one:
There’s no working to show. It’s a number plucked out of the air. Just as it would be if I asked: “On a scale of 0 to Churchill, where do you place Boris Johnson?”
Johnson is a fascist dictator who is using Goebbels-level lying and misinformation to justify the continuing imposition and now tightening of that fascist dictatorship. Once again, the British people have been instructed not to leave their homes, on even flimsier (nay, fraudulent) evidence than back in March and now we can’t even leave the country – Cell Block Britain. Over the coming months, when the army come knocking on your door telling you that you must be tested or you will not be permitted to leave your house, then perhaps you will realise that my analogy was not hyperbole.
JIT, I would place Johnson at ‘minus Churchill’. He is the Anti-Churchill. He’s done to Britain that which Hitler could never manage.
I’ve never seen so much anger. I don’t think Boris is getting away with this.
Alan, what Mark said was exactly right. It was going in detail into Nazi analogies that I thought you didn’t appreciate, from what you said before. And I haven’t done so, from 30th October on this thread anyway. I did want to show how the so-called debate had been going on Twitter, under the significant influence of James Delingpole (at least that’s the way it looked to me). Not his finest hour, to coin a phrase. IMHO.
I haven’t read everything else but Jit’s
has the great virtue of being very funny.
That’s where I was going to start with my extended reflections on this issue. If I do them.
Goebbels Gove on Sky TV this morning telling the nation that the 4 week lockdown is open ended and may be extended at will by the government, thus killing more innocent people, but merely delaying any deaths which might theoretically be attributable to Covi-19. Also reiterates that lockdown is necessary to stop the NHS from being totally overwhelmed by December. That oily creature lies like the best of the Nazis.
Models. Crap models. AGAIN! How can any reasonably intelligent person fall for this ruse a SECOND time? The answer is, they can’t. Goebbels Gove and Boris the Red know exactly what they are doing and it’s got nothing to do with controlling a virus, everything to do with controlling people. Dressing fascism up as ‘science’ seems to be their thing, but that science is so bad, it’s laughable. However, they seem to think the public will swallow it and sadly, they may be right.
There is a reasonably good explanation of this whole mess of lockdown 2.0 on yesterday’s Lockdown Sceptics. And it’s all about the PM not losing face.
I repaired that link Bill. I trust it’s pointing to the right place.
Ho Hum, it looks like the Army is doing a good job testing in Liverpool
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