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Great Barrington and Climate Denial

Google has been playing sillybruvvers with the Great Barrington Declaration – the on-line criticism by world renowned medical experts of current government policies on the Covid crisis. 

According to this article a Google search initially turned up, not the declaration itself, or an honest account of what it says, but hit pieces attacking it.

This seems now to have been corrected. When I looked, the first article was the declaration itself. What comes next varies according to how I enter Google, but I’m now getting this article from Byline Times second 

“Climate Science Denial Network behind Great Barrington Declaration”

and this Guardian article third.

“Herd Immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Johnny Bananas’”

Bing and Duckduckgo offer a more rational list of articles, including this one from Mike Hulme explaining why he’s signed.

The Guardian article and a similar one from the Independent use the fake signatures as an argument for not taking the declaration seriously, without having actually to address the points made.

“It is not clear how many of the names in the declaration’s list of experts are fake, or when they appeared. However, many scientists have already criticised the letter’s conclusions…”

It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the Guardian and Independent that ‘Cominic Dummings’, ‘Harold Shipman’ etc. might be having a laugh at the expense of the Barrington scientists, or even trying to tarnish their name by persuading gullible people that the scientists are not serious people. And it works, because the Guardian and Independent seem to take these pranks as evidence that the scientists are not serious people.

If a Guardian journalist saw a swastika painted on a gravestone she would take it as evidence that a Nazi was buried there. 

The Byline Times accusation of Climate Science Deniers being behind the declaration is based on the fact that the Great Barrington meeting that led to the declaration was organised by the American Institute for Economic Research, “..an institution embedded in a Koch-funded network that denies climate science while investing in polluting fossil fuel industries.” And the evidence for this “embedding” is the fact that “in 2018, the AIER received $68,100 for General Operating Support from the Charles Koch Foundation.”

Could someone calculate what $68,100 would buy you, in terms of influence of the climate denial industry over the Great Barrington gathering? Airfares for twenty participants perhaps, plus enough fossil fuel to heat the conference centre? 

The author of the Byline Times article, Nafeez Ahmed, has about seventeen articles promoting conspiracy theories about British government policy on Covid 19. I haven’t read them yet, but they look interesting. His Wikipaedia page tells you about everything he’s ever written, plus everyone who’s ever agreed with him and everyone who hasn’t. 

He was also a Guardian environment correspondent for a short time. Looking at his articles here I can see why they dropped him. Titles like “The age of climate warfare is here. The military-industrial complex is ready. Are you?” seem a bit strong for the Graun. 

77 thoughts on “Great Barrington and Climate Denial

  1. Geoff,

    I was most amused watching this debate on Good Morning the other day:

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq18eeL7D9Vd8DhjMcLh9QQ

    My two favourite bits were:

    a) Professor Scally dismissing the experts who are opposing lockdown as ‘the fringe of the fringe’. I’m surprised he didn’t refer to the 97%.

    b) Dr Hillary Flipflop’s response at 10 minutes in (after having been presented with the statistic that, thus far, only 300 of the under 60s with no comorbidity have died of Covid-19). It goes something like this:

    “Have you not been listening to professor Scally? If only 20% have yet been exposed to the virus then, once the other 80% have become exposed, that figure will multiply up and we will be looking at thousands of young deaths.”

    Was it that version of the multiplication operator that was used in the UCL model, I wonder?

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  2. “If a Guardian journalist saw a swastika painted on a gravestone, she would take it as evidence that a Nazi was buried there.”

    That’s another one I’m gonna steal . . .

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  3. In an email sent to Newsweek, one of the petitions co-authors, Dr. Martin Kulldorff wrote, “We are very pleased with the reception that the Great Barrington Declaration has received, with over 75,000 co-signers in less than two days, including over 3,000 Medical and Public Health Scientists and over 4,000 Medical Practitioners.”

    “We are not advocating a ‘herd immunity strategy.’ Herd immunity is not a strategy, but a scientifically proven phenomena, just like gravity.

    And you would not say that an airplane pilot is using a ‘gravity strategy’ to land a plane. No matter what strategy is used, we will reach herd immunity sooner or later, just as an airplane will reach the ground one way or another,” Kulldorff’s email said. “The key is to minimize the number of deaths until we reach herd immunity and that is what the Great Barrington Declaration is about.”

    Background and links at https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2020/10/11/herd-immunity-not-if-but-when/

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  4. MAN IN A BARREL 11 Oct 5.37pm

    …where is the Lew roll to mop up the mess?

    I was coming to that. My next post is provisionally titled “Herd Immunity and Pizzagate” and it’s largely about Lew.

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  5. “If a Guardian journalist saw a swastika painted on a gravestone she would take it as evidence that a Nazi was buried there.”

    Great line!

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  6. Thanks for looking into this Geoff. I’d spotted the Byline Times attempt to forge the link to ‘climate denial’. Is one allowed to become bored at such toxic stupidity?

    This afternoon I spent two hours learning much from this Zoom-based event:

    Transgender Body Politics & News from the High Court

    In conversation with Stephanie Davies-Arai of Transgender Trend and Dr Heather Brunskell Evans.

    Stephanie is fresh from the court-room where she (and we and many others) were supporting Keira Bell in her landmark case this week).

    Heather was also in court and joins us to launch her excellent new book ‘Transgender Body Politics’.

    It was the best Zoom effort I’ve taken part in, not least because (unlike the GWPF ones) it allowed the many in the crowd to put their hands up and actually, in selected cases, be heard – audio enabled, not just text. Then for the three ladies at the front (visible at all times) to answer or comment. Davies-Arai and Brunskell Evans were both at the Judicial Review this week at the Royal Courts of Justice in support of Keira Bell. You can read the Telegraph on it today, bypassing the paywall.

    That’s just background. There were also a large number of informative and emotive textual comments in real-time. This was the one I wanted to highlight:

    From [redacted] to All panelists and other attendees: (4:26 pm)
    . Alice Roberts broke my heart

    The TV scientist had previously caused us climate sceptics grief as well.

    There are such strange crossovers at the moment, of much greater import than the flimsy Byline Times (and Google) perceptions.

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  7. The well of ‘herd immunity’ was poisoned and the earth salted way back in March when the government was apparently suggesting a sensible approach to dealing with SARS-CoV-2. It will take a very good investigative journalist to unravel how exactly a tried and tested, sound epidemiological principle became twisted into ‘let it rip’, forcing the government into retreat. Were they truly ‘pushed’ or did they jump?

    But ‘herd immunity’ is not the main thrust of the Barrington Declaration; leftist lockdown fanatics are merely using it in its politically weaponised form as ‘let it rip’ to discredit sound science and, above all, sound social theory, sound economics and real compassion and empathy. The Barrington authors rightly point out the extreme harms associated with a suppression strategy, waiting for a vaccine which won’t be a magic bullet and, contrary to government and media lies, will not result in generating artifical herd immunity, where Covid-19 disappears and we can all go back to living normal lives again. It is pretty obvious that the government’s intention is NEVER to return to normal. So what are waiting for? Why are we suppressing a virus which will re-emerge whatever we do?

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  8. It’s all rather sad that Covid-19 has become so politicised. Everyone, IMO, should simply be seeking the way forward that will do least harm (there is no methodology for “dealing” with Covid-19 that will cause no harm, so far as I can see).

    Now we see that a certain category of person seeks to equate climate sceptics (aka deniers in their world) with the Great Barrington declaration, because smearing it with accusations of links to climate denial discredits it, so far as they are concerned.

    The truly extraordinary thing is that while seeking to make such a link, where none exists, they are themselves at the same time guilty of seeking to link Covid-19 and climate change. Headlines and stories in the Guardian over the last few weeks and months, including Covid-19 and climate together, have been legion. The only reason I can see for this totally dishonest piece of legerdemain is because the impact of Covid-19 truly terrified climate alarmists – people could see what a real (rather than a speculative, down-the-road) crisis looked like, right here and right now, and compared to Covid-19, climate was taking the back seat so far as most people were concerned. Faced with that, the climate-concerned are now adopting language to the effect that Covid-19 is an opportunity to “build back better”, go for the “great reset” etc, etc. Never let a crisis go to waste, eh?

    Shameful and dishonest, IMO, but then that’s what we’re dealing with.

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  9. Mark, they’re playing a very high stakes game and they are playing to win, obviously. However, linking climate change with Covid-19 means that if the Covid-19 ‘existential crisis’ crashes and burns, then there is a high likelihood that it might take the ‘climate crisis’ with it. We can but hope.

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  10. “However, linking climate change with Covid-19 means that if the Covid-19 ‘existential crisis’ crashes and burns, then there is a high likelihood that it might take the ‘climate crisis’ with it. We can but hope.”

    We can hope indeed. But imho that’s a low likelihood. Catastrophic climate culture has had 30+ years to entrench and improve adaptation along the way. Cultures are very good at evolving past damage, indeed some have lasted for millennia despite huge threats at times to their existence. That can’t happen for this one (hitched its wagon to science, so must fail one day unless science itself fails). But my guess is that whatever happens re covid, which one way or the other will likely have largely done so by two years, the climate thing will still be a huge beast by then.

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  11. I”m afraid ANDY is probably right about climate culture. My “Have We Won?” article was probably the stupidest thing I’ve written, and the fact it was picked up by GWPF and WUWT should give us pause for thought.

    As if to underline that, the Guardian has a second article attacking the Barrington Three, by Sonia Sodha, billed as chief leader writer at the Observer, who started writing for the Graun in August. She links to the Byline article and has a go at the Barrington scientists for their naivety. Tobacco industry, “a thinktank that flirts with climate denial,” “shady ideological interests” – it’s all there.

    Her first Guardian article back in August “We’ve got to start thinking beyond our own lifespans if we’re going to avoid extinction” is basically a press release for https://www.thelongtimeproject.org
    another eco-NGO financed by the Gulbenkian foundation and the EU, which started up in July. They’re really organised at the Green Blob. Perhaps we should put them in charge of Test and Trace? Or maybe of the whole country?

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  12. “They’re really organised at the Green Blob.”

    Yeah, depressing. It’s because culture gets everyone, at a deep emotive level, to work together. To ‘sing off the same hymn sheet’, which phrase actually came from having the same brand of religious culture. Whereas without this kind of cultural drive, even with more objective access to more truths, people just spend most of their time arguing and divided.

    Perhaps we should put them in charge of Test and Trace? Or maybe of the whole country?”

    However, we can comfort ourselves, if you can call this comfort, that when culture wins outright, that’s when it’s own problems really kick in. Countries it has dominated include Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany or various massively restrictive religious regimes. Which have a tendency to fail dramatically, eventually, compared to regimes not thusly dominated. Only problem is, trying to live through the failure 0:

    We could call your article very optimistic, rather than stupid 🙂

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  13. The Fake signatures on the Oregon petition were important cos it claimed to be be of 5,000 scientists ie both using ad popularem , and argument from authority

    The GBD is different cos it just says a lot of people signed our petition many of them experts.

    #2 There was an extraordinary interview with young Dr Deepti Gurdasani on Talk Radio
    The presenter gave her enough rope to hang herself. Her main claim was that team Ferguson are the real scientists with unanimous support so the GBD people were all ‘charlatans spreading pseudoscience’

    I will say that later she said that yes vaccines do give herd immunity, but they are not just raw virus it’s adjuvants that do the magic.
    She also claims that Sunetra Gupta a GBD champion has not published a “peer reviewed” Covid paper.
    People say the groupthink is such, that when Gupta wrote a paper, no one would step forward to review it.

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  14. Andy, Geoff, I have said that it might be wishful thinking on my part, but I still think that Covid alarmists allying themselves with the Green Blob in order to attack traditional medics and epidemiologists is a very high risk strategy. The reason why is Sweden, South Dakota, Belarus and other countries, states or regions which did not lock down. These are the fly in the ointment of the lockdown consensus enforcers. They prove beyond all reasonable doubt that, in the absence of lockdowns, the virus did not ‘let rip’ and kill hundreds of thousands – as they predicted it would.

    By Dan Hannan:

    My columns on Sweden’s laissez-faire approach to the coronavirus always provoke an angry response. But it is striking that, the better Sweden does, the angrier its critics become.

    “Heading for disaster” was the headline in Britain’s right-wing Sun. “They are leading us to catastrophe,” agreed the left-wing Guardian. Time magazine reported that “Sweden’s relaxed approach to the coronavirus could already be backfiring” and quoted a doctor saying that it would “probably end in a historical massacre.” “We fear that Sweden has picked the worst possible time to experiment with national chauvinism,” chided the Washington Post. President Trump, justifying his own crackdown, bizarrely claimed that Sweden “gave it a shot, and they saw things that were really frightening, and they went immediately to shutting down the country.”

    Not one commentator in March or April argued that Sweden might be less at risk than other places. Lockdown enthusiasts have switched very suddenly from “Sweden is heading for a genocide” to “well, we couldn’t do that here because we’re nothing like Sweden.”

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/the-better-sweden-does-on-the-coronavirus-the-angrier-they-get

    You can see the problem, which is not a problem that climate alarmists have ever had; hence they’ve been able to sell us the climate snake oil for a very long time, as the planet has gradually warmed since the late 70s. Covid alarmists and lockdown fanatics have some very irritating and inconvenient real world experiments and hard data which catastrophically undermine their pseudoscientific belief system, kept going only by media propaganda and government refusal to face up to facts. They are struggling to explain away those experiments and that data. Climate alarmists are fortunate in that there is no Planet B, where the inhabitants did nothing to mitigate dangerous man-made climate change and where they either burnt to a crisp in a CO2 induced thermageddon or the global climate carried on quite happily changing naturally, completely oblivious of emissions. Climate realists have no experiment to point to. Covid realists do. They also have a huge body of research literature which does not support their alarmist science and unprecedented approach to pandemic control. Hard to dismiss. Harder to dismiss than the relatively modest climate sceptical peer-reviwed scientific literature.

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  15. Jaime,

    “…but I still think that Covid alarmists allying themselves with the Green Blob in order to attack traditional medics and epidemiologists is a very high risk strategy.”

    Well none of us know for sure. But climate culture has massive inertia. And it can pick up something while it’s useful, then drop it again if that usefulness evaporates or indeed becomes damaging. I think it stands to gain more than it loses by leveraging covid. But at worst, I think it’ll be value neutral to the climate cause. Long-established cultures are incredibly good at pivoting, and at burying damage. I do not mean this as an insult, it’s kind of a complement in fact, but you are using logic. Cultures do not work on logic, and their mass adherence (or indeed rejection) is not via the exercise of logic in said masses either, it is via emotive mechanisms. If you need a best guess as to a culture’s trajectory, you need to study its past record, and you need to ‘think’ like a culture (which is *not* like any of the people who support it). That doesn’t mean reason (which undermines culture) has no place at the table; but the stakes at the game have to be weighed appropriately. A smallish dose of culture can obliterate a mass of reason. Look at the enormous roll of opposition that climate culture has buried so far, inconvenient people, inconvenient science, inconvenient orgs, inconvenient politicians, inconvenient anything, and while completely capturing trans-national government (UN etc). Only Trump has remained indigestible so far, and even he has been ring-fenced. If the covid alliance turns bad for it, that could easily be buried too I think. And imho it’s still more likely that the culture will have net benefit from covid. The unprecedented (in modern times and democracies) legal restrictions for pandemic disaster are a golden opportunity for climate culture, *whether or not* the surface alliance (re siding with particular medical opinion) with covid helps or hinders. Likewise the enormous economic, behavioural, and infra-structure (businesses, air-travel etc) reset, allows climate culture to hijack the recovery, again *whether or not* the surface alliance works out. Bear in mind too that cultures always back several horses at once, sometimes even horses that are genuinely competing, such that it can abandon the fallers and focus on the winners. And they are ruthless at axing their supporters who backed the wrong horse, such as say the (straight medical) covid horse, if that becomes a liability.

    But we’ll only have to wait a modest time to see. A year or two. Fifty quid on it if you want, though we’ll need some criteria to measure on.

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  16. P.S. if you mean it’s a high risk strategy for covid alarmists (not the green blob), I doubt it’ll do them any harm, even if it does them no good. I think the swift timescale of the covid thing, and the fact that despite various cultural entanglements the main emotive input is simply fear, means as this wears off more objective medical science should assert itself. Climate-change is an also ran in that game. This doesn’t mean that if reason eventually asserts itself (in a timescale of 2 years say – with post mortems), that all corrections will be put in place or all just desserts will be served. Faces must be saved. But the world will advance in this domain, I think, and it won’t be semi-perpetually chained down by culture or by fear. However it may still be a fight to restore the prior level of freedoms, and this is a very vulnerable period in which (per above) climate culture or extremist political culture could partly or wholly hi-jack the recovery. Needless to say, it is not good if that happens.

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  17. P.P.S. “you need to ‘think’ like a culture”

    Of course cultures are not sentient, nor even agential, but have well established strategies for survival that are driven by (emotive) selection of narratives. It’s bit like saying you must think like the flu if you want to know how it might maul us next, what entry portals in humanity can I attack? what conditions are best for me to do so? but crucially – what are my next best steps to evolve to, given my current assets? If a disease or a culture has a nearby highly advantageous option it can evolve to, it inevitably will; that’s just a case of when. Of course an irony here is that the covid research, was exploring those options 0:

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  18. You note that reason undermines culture Andy, but that a ‘small dose of culture’ can overwhelm reason. You are probably correct, but then in that case how ever do cultures eventually die and become fatally undermined if not by the interjection of reason? Is it perhaps that, like all living things, cultures age and weaken over time and become less relevant and less immune to reason and logic? A young, vibrant culture might be immune to any kind of attack from reason, but a culture which is long in the tooth? Maybe it has a compromised immune system? Maybe it is far less immune to reason but, perhaps more importantly, suffers grievously from a growing general ennui and apathy spreading within the society which it has hitherto dominated? I wonder.

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  19. Criticism of the Barrington letter, like criticism of climate skepticism, is fundamentally anti-scientific crap I think a lot of the heat and anger of the worthless mainstream media is due in part to cognitive dissonance.
    We need to remember that it is the fanatics who are anti-science, not the skeptics and critics.

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  20. Jaime, “You are probably correct, but then in that case how ever do cultures eventually die and become fatally undermined if not by the interjection of reason? Is it perhaps that, like all living things, cultures age and weaken over time and become less relevant and less immune to reason and logic? A young, vibrant culture might be immune to any kind of attack from reason, but a culture which is long in the tooth? Maybe it has a compromised immune system? Maybe it is far less immune to reason but, perhaps more importantly, suffers grievously from a growing general ennui and apathy spreading within the society which it has hitherto dominated? I wonder.”

    All of the above, and more. These are all exactly the right questions to ask! And also why it’s so hard to predict what will happen, because no-one knows for any particular culture what the proportion of each contribution will be. But one can get a feel for some things. Existing length of life is usually a marker of inertia too. The main religions are between 1 and 2 millennia old, for instance, about 2/3 of the world are still religious, and so the logic and reason of evolutionary theory for 150 years (not to mention all other science) has still not even achieved a majority, let alone won. So anyone who thinks reason is taking down religion anytime with the next couple of generations, say, needs to take something to calm their over-active imaginations. However, yes, especially in the West (excepting the US), science and reason have pushed back religion considerably. But in fact the ‘vacuum’ created by this has allowed younger *secular* cultures to leap into the gap. In the Soviet Union, Communism (which carried the cloak of reason, but isn’t) specifically fought religion for adherents, and tried to extinguish it. Bad call for the long game, religion was way too big, way too entrenched. A hundred years later, Soviet Communism has gone (albeit it has left legions of spawn all over the place), and the Orthodox church is very resurgent. But you are bang on regarding young vibrant cultures more generally. Until the last few centuries, and a short span during the classical age, there wasn’t much reason and logic at social scale. So the death of a culture was usually a matter of a younger one, or a neighbour one, throttling it. The interesting thing about climate culture (another secular one ‘leaping into the gap’) is that it is still young and strong and ascendant, yet it is also 32 years old (if we start from Hansen’s speech), which means a lot of inertia. And no culture that has got embedded in leaderships and elites around the world and has hundreds of millions of followers minimum, is going away soon. You’re right also about ‘long in the tooth’ too. Age = more inertia, but sometimes too more weakness. Historians sometime describe old cultures as ‘brittle, fragile’, in a comparison with old people. BUT… cultures can sometimes do something old people can’t; they can regenerate. Rather like Dr Who, they come back the same but different, if you get what I mean. As noted above, cultures back many horses at once, so one such horse may provide the impetus for such a regeneration. For instance the climate catastrophe culture seems to have heavily backed the species extinction horse, among others. If the full-on climate-apocalypse narrative is eventually brought down by years of attrition and damage, the culture could pivot to other horses such as this – many human activities do threaten species outside of direct climate effects.

    Anyhow, this is why my 50 quid is on climate-culture to pull through the covid phase, and maybe even gain opportunity from it. I can’t quantify why out of the factors you astutely cite (and more); it’s just my feel for what stage it’s at, and its still huge inertia. Should climate culture actually be shown to have backed the wrong medics (i.e. this isn’t simply supressed later in the main media), I think this’ll just be a minor embarrassment. It’ll probably claim that they weren’t really good friends anyway. It might even flip sides and exterminate its ex-friends, possibly gaining kudos (‘I wuz fooled like everyone else, guv, but ‘m reformed now’). The thing to remember with culture, is that it isn’t about any kind of purpose, not even climate catastrophe for our case in point; it is only about the survival of the culture, at any expense.

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  21. “many human activities do threaten species outside of direct climate effects.”

    It’s enough to work with. Enough emotion, not enough knowledge. Ripe for the hi-jack of reason.

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  22. JAIME

    I still think that Covid alarmists allying themselves with the Green Blob in order to attack traditional medics and epidemiologists is a very high risk strategy.

    Isn’t it rather the other way round? A small (?) number of climate alarmists using the same tactics that worked to trash climate sceptics (phony signaures, fringe scientists) against the Barrington three. I wouldn’t even have noticed the Byline News article if it weren’t for Google’s hamhanded censorship effort.

    Sweden, South Dakota, Belarus and other countries, states or regions which did not lock down… are the fly in the ointment of the lockdown consensus enforcers.

    They would be in a rational world. In the information overload that exists they can just be ignored. A chart I saw yesterday revealed that Africa has twenty times less cases per 100,000 than most European countries. If they can ignore Africa, they can ignore Belarus.

    Covid alarmists and lockdown fanatics have some very irritating and inconvenient real world experiments and hard data which catastrophically undermine their pseudoscientific belief system, kept going only by media propaganda and government refusal to face up to facts… Climate realists have no experiment to point to. Covid realists do.

    I agree absolutely. That should work – if there’s any sanity left in our world. That’s why Andy’s offer of a £50 bet in his following comment is so intriguing. What are we betting on?

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  23. “Andy’s offer of a £50 bet in his following comment is so intriguing. What are we betting on?”

    As I noted above, objective medical science will likely win out. The bet is per Jaime’s early part. So that Climate Culture will survive this no problem, or not. My 50 quid saying it will, easily.

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  24. “leftist lockdown fanatics . . .”

    I’d hesitate to describe Boris Johnson and chums as leftists though they are unarguably jolly keen on lockdowns and might qualify as fanatics. See also Scotland’s St Nipps, busy locking down the plebs while striving (though, so far, failing) to get former mentor Alex “Big Eck” Salmond locked up.

    More seriously, I worry about the use of the word “culture” in this context not least because the Climate Mafia and its press hacks are generally so wretchedly uncultured. Why not a less ambiguous term such as ideology?

    Is it perhaps time for me to re-read Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and remind myself of Planck’s “One funeral at a time” thingie? About the only thing I feel sure of is that “climate-change” ideology is going to outlive me by a decade or two.

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  25. Rylands. I suggest you don’t go down the definition of “culture” route. I tried quite a few years ago with no success. I still get a frisson every time I read Andy’s usage of the word and have to do a quick mental translation.

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  26. “I suggest you don’t go down the definition of “culture” route.”

    I agree completely. That’s why I suggested using a better known and (dare I say it?) better understood alternative term.

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  27. ALAN
    I understand your frisson but it’s Andy’s idea, and I find it a potentially useful one. The handy thing about “culture” I that it covers anything from a thousand year civilisation to a passing fashion, and that’s the question about climate alarmism – is it like Buddhism, or is it like flared trousers? (which are about to make a come back, according to our TV yesterday.) And how are we to measure its decline, on a timescale that would allow one to collect one’s bet, (or not) in this karmic cycle?

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  28. Geoff,

    “Isn’t it rather the other way round?”

    Yes, it should be. My clumsy wording. I was trying to say that an alliance of Covid and climate alarmists could be a high risk strategy for those in the climate alarmist camp, if the Covid ‘crisis’ goes tits up.

    Andy,

    I’ll stand your bet for £50, my contention being that if the Covid bubble bursts spectacularly, it will put a serious dent in the climate change bubble. We just need to agree on what is meant by a ‘serious dent’. I’m not arguing that climate change alarmism will collapse overnight obviously; it’s way too big for that, but I do foresee some serious, far reaching questions being asked of its main protagonists, probably even more significant an event than Climategate.

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  29. Jaime. I believe you might lose that bet. If I had to wager last year if anything might deflate the alarmist bubble it might have been a rapid and global reduction in fossil fuel use causing little detectable decline in atmospheric CO2. This demonstrating the feebleness of humankind. This scenario has now happened with little detectable decrease in the alarmist screaming.

    The Force is strong in this “Culture”

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  30. JAIME
    Great. I think a bet would be an excellent idea. It would motivate people top pay attention and think carefully. Alan is right that the failure of atmospheric CO2 concentrations to follow emissions downward should have dented belief in catastrophism and it hasn’t (nor has the spectacular failure of predictions based on models.) Is this a Beep beep Roadrunner situation (where it takes a While(y) for alarmists to realise they’ve fallen off a cliff? Or is the climate virus too well adapted to its host to be dislodged in less than decades, as Andy believes?

    The problem is to define the criteria for a win or a lose. A decline in belief in climate catastrophe as measured in opinion polls? I’d guess that’s a lagging indicator, and the wording of polls is often biassed. A pickup in our readership and that of similar blogs would be a good one, or a decline in the numbers of students taking degrees in Environmental science (which would be an indicator of job opportunities.) Can that be measured?

    Any other ideas?

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  31. Jaime, “I’ll stand your bet for £50, my contention being that if the Covid bubble bursts spectacularly, it will put a serious dent in the climate change bubble. We just need to agree on what is meant by a ‘serious dent’. I’m not arguing that climate change alarmism will collapse overnight obviously; it’s way too big for that, but I do foresee some serious, far reaching questions being asked of its main protagonists, probably even more significant an event than Climategate.”

    Sounds good. A clear criteria for ‘serious dent’ is I guess the issue then. Comparing with Climategate is a pretty good start, because I’d be happy to run with the probability of it being less than that (despite climate culture survived this anyhow). We just need to know how to compare, and we need a max date by which the measurement must occur (in longer than say 2 years say, big new factors for either side could happen). If the dint does occurs before the max, then fine. Maybe we could adopt something as simple as having a 3rd party whom we both trust, simply judge whether any net covid damage to Green is less or more than Climategate. Maybe Geoff if he’s up for it. I say ‘net’ because there may well be both upsides and downsides that would thus have to be weighed, although if either downsides or upsides are anywhere near Climategate-sized, the weighing should be pretty obvious.

    Ryelands: “Why not a less ambiguous term such as ideology?”

    For general usage, I have seen more than 300 definitions of culture. Even in academia, there are a lot, for quite varying concepts. However, I use ‘culture’ because it comes from the academic areas studying this sort of thing, i.e. the strong Darwinian end of cultural evolution (which somewhere within, includes memetics). My usage is best understood as ‘cultural entity’, i.e. a relatively bounded social phenomena of which many people are familiar with the most common example: ‘a religion’. And these entities have fairly well understood characteristics. ‘Ideology’ tends to be used for secular cultures (so that fits with the climate-change thing), but especially political ones, and even more especially arising within the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, so Communism and Fascism. But while climate-change culture has political dimensions (different in different countries, e.g. v strong in the US, pretty weak in most nations), it is not itself of intrinsically political origin or from an overtly political philosophy. If ‘saving the world’ was true, it’d be apolitical, whereas if Marxism was true, it’d still be political. And the origin was originally from science. [Religions often have some political dimension too, typically stronger in times past and usually aligned to the competition between different brands of religion (e.g. Catholics versus Protestants, or all Christianity versus Islam)]. Nor is climate-change from the 19th or early 20th century. Hence for these reasons, plus I want to stay aligned to cultural evolution, I think it’s the better term. For the public who instinctively feel that the climate-change movement is indeed cultural in nature, they often express this feeling by naming it as a religion, or indeed as an ideology instead. I think the latter is the most common, because it better translates to concepts of sin (carbon footprint) and apocalypse, which are themselves familiar from the core narratives of religions. But culture, read as ‘cultural entity’, covers both anyhow.

    Alan: With you I tried; I failed. My lack of skill in explaining, no doubt. But humans being very diverse, this doesn’t mean someone else necessarily can’t get what I’m on about 0:

    Geoff: “is it like Buddhism, or is it like flared trousers?”

    We can answer that one. It’s like Buddhism, because they both have an all-socially-encompassing set of coupled core narratives. It’s not likely that most people would find the main meaning of their lives or the inspiration for their art / protests / lifestyle within a pair of flared trousers (ok, don’t tell me someone will – every social rule has an exception!) Flared trousers are a (very tiny) cultural trend; Budhism is a cultural entity, so subject to evolutionary rules. In the language of memetics, flared trousers are a meme, and Buddhism is a memeplex. A memeplex is *not* just a collection of memes; it has many properties that any of its constituent memes do not possess, nor are possessed by any of its adherents.

    “(which are about to make a come back, according to our TV yesterday.)”

    Seen them on the street already 0:

    “And how are we to measure its decline, on a timescale that would allow one to collect one’s bet, (or not) in this karmic cycle?”

    See possible proposal above.

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  32. ANDY
    I watched the video you recommended (12 Oct 10.01pm) right through (I was viewer number 179.) Very impressive. Then I watched a similar video from Vice which got an amazing 4.5 million views. I feel a certain sneaky sympathy for North Korea, but the subject is too big to bring up here. I might tackle it head on in an article one day, if I can summon up the courage.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Alan: “The Force is strong in this “Culture””

    Thank you for using the term anyhow. I appreciate the good faith, despite my inability to define the term adequately.

    Like

  34. Geoff, “I watched the video you recommended right through (I was viewer number 179.) Very impressive.”

    Yeah, I watched it all the way through too. It’s one thing to think about cultures as a kind of academic exercise. It’s quite another to view the works of ones that have had their way for far too long. I had a kind of horrid fascination all the way through it. That really is ‘singing off the same hymsheet’, in every way shape and form. The thing is, if the Green Blob truly won, I could actually see in all those military columns and all that audience worship and all that cultural precision, a kind of green eco-nation of the future, the ICBMs replaced by goodness knows what eco-technology, like Carbon Capture towers or whatever, and with Fleets of electric cars that most of the people couldn’t own or afford or charge outside of the elite area of the capital. And so on.

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  35. Alan, the barely perceptible decline in atmospheric CO2 was covered by Richard Betts and others and even I had to agree with the logic on that one. The drop in emissions, though significant, was just too brief.

    Meanwhile, Hancock is in Parliament outrightly denying science, data and long established epidemiological principles, dismissing half a million signatories to the Barrington Declaration, including those of thousands of trained medics and epidemiologists and other scientists out of hand.

    Hancock is trying to immunise ‘his’ lockdown ‘science’ against real science and data, against the reality of the economic and social catastrophe which it demonstrably is. In the Age of Unreason he may well succeed. Let us hope not, for humanity’s sake.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Ah… correction to my 4:14 pm.

    NOT : “For the public who instinctively feel that the climate-change movement is indeed cultural in nature, they often express this feeling by naming it as a religion, or indeed as an ideology instead. I think the latter is the most common…”

    BUT : “For the public who instinctively feel that the climate-change movement is indeed cultural in nature, they often express this feeling by naming it as a religion, or indeed as an ideology instead. I think the *former* is the most common…”

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  37. Jaime: “The drop in emissions, though significant, was just too brief.”

    I’m sort of between you and Alan here. I think not too brief for realisation that true and permanent net zero, which would dwarf the scope of lockdowns, would be far worse than anything it is attempting to cure. This is less related to the emissions blip, than to the knowledge of what we’d have to give up if emissions must be zero, whatever effect that actually has. Yet climate culture has indeed ignored this aspect with impunity.

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  38. ANDY 13 Oct 20 4.22pm

    … if the Green Blob truly won, I could actually see in all those military columns and all that audience worship and all that cultural precision, a kind of green eco-nation of the future, the ICBMs replaced by goodness knows what eco-technology, like Carbon Capture towers or whatever …

    I can’t begin to say how wrong I think you are there. Extinction Rebellionites goose-stepping? They’d trip over their robes and do themselves a serious graun injury. But this will have to wait for another thread.
    As to criteria for the bet, a Climategate-like event won’t work because it was happenstance, and a win for the Blob because it showed how they could get serious establishment figures like the government’s chief science adviser to lie shamelessly. I can’t see how you could measure such a thing in less than say five years, and, as you say, new factors could happen, a Trump re-election being one. You need something simple to measure. The best I can come up with is money (channelled through big conduits like Greenpeace or the Environment Defence Fund) or maybe climate articles per month at the Graun.

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  39. Andy. You didn’t fail, I do understand how you are using the word: I just don’t agree. I just can’t accept that the word cannot incorporate science within it. To me Western cultures were and are characterized by this activity and way of thought. But let’s not argue, we each will use the word as we wish. Use depends upon utility and Geoff has already championed your use.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Alan: “I just can’t accept that the word cannot incorporate science within it.”

    In other usage of the very same word, it most certainly does! Just not *this* usage. As I noted above, there are over 300 valid definitions of the word ‘culture’. I saw them all in one place somewhere, but I’ve long since lost the link.

    “But let’s not argue, we each will use the word as we wish. Use depends upon utility and Geoff has already championed your use.”

    Yes, exactly. (so above is agreement, not argument 🙂 )

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  41. Geoff: I don’t think we could ever accurately measure the money flows; many have already tried, and measuring a change in flow is still worse. Climate articles can’t simply be counted at any one paper; the Graun will typically put a +ve spin on it, another paper might put a -ve spin on it, but we can’t just assume that all articles at the Graun say would be unequivocally +ve for the Green Blob; we’d actually have to look at them. A big damage event to the Green Blob might cause more Graun articles not less (i.e. due to decline), because the paper may try to mount a defence (and, Lord forbid) maybe even have some more objective articles about the damage event itself. In the worst case, it might have a flurry of articles for resurrection (though by then I’d have lost the bet). Yet if climate culture continues to grow, there should be a steady small increase, *unless* there’s already saturation at that paper (there must be a saturation limit for any commercial paper).

    I don’t think that ClimateGate being happenstance counts against it for a damage criteria. Something happened, caused damage, and we have a feel for the kind of damage, despite indeed climate culture pulled past this. It was undoubtedly harmed for a long time. Covid damaging the Green blob instead, if a particular stance on medical / lockdown support blows up in its face, is objectively just another kind of happenstance. This doesn’t mean the characteristics of damage will be identical; but I admit we will be relying rather on gut feel to assess whether the damage is better or worse than ClimateGate. I don’t know how to objectify this; I’ll have a think…

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Geoff, XR would indeed not be goose-stepping. Having won, they’d be the elite in the balconies, with smiles like Cheshire cats. The uniform of their elite ‘Red Brigade’, would likely have evolved to smartly tailored red-velvet suits by then, complete with party medals.

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  43. “First, it says if enough people get Covid, we will reach herd immunity. This is not true. Herd immunity is a flawed goal without a vaccine, even if we could get to it, which we can’t.”

    I’m pretty certain Hancock just lied to Parliament (again).

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  44. ANDY
    I’m genuinely surprised at you making a comparison between the Green Blob and the North Korean regime, not because I’m a big fan of Kim, but because you’re usually critical of such leaps of imagination (as in a recent acerbic exchange best forgotten.)

    My confidence that such a thing could never happen here is based on the insights into long term macro-social change I’ve gleaned from Emmanuel Todd’s work on politics and family structure. He said recently, provocatively, in a TV discussion on Trump, that the reason that the USA could never be fascist is that everybody’s armed. Behind that nice paradox lies his insight into the way family structure unconsciously affects society and politics. If the Green Blob in England and the USA looks like a puritanical sect it’s because any such movement in the Anglo Saxon world is going to look like that. In Europe it’s more likely to look like a rigidly organised bureaucratic pressure group (with anarchic dissenters.) The Korean military parade looked like a Chinese Saturday night variety show held in a giants’ hardware store. And, with zero contact with the outside world, no-one had to wear masks.

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  45. Jaime (way back):

    Mark, they’re playing a very high stakes game and they are playing to win, obviously. However, linking climate change with Covid-19 means that if the Covid-19 ‘existential crisis’ crashes and burns, then there is a high likelihood that it might take the ‘climate crisis’ with it. We can but hope.

    Yes. Yes. YES!

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Geoff, “I’m genuinely surprised at you making a comparison between the Green Blob and the North Korean regime”

    It’s no kind of direct comparison; they are worlds apart. BUT… the underlying *behaviours* are common, or at least they’d be common in the same stages of development (and the green blob hasn’t got to that late plus distilled stage yet, will likely never get there). Which are… reinforced consensus, suppression, arbitrary ideals, idealistic smiles, social rote, party dress, existential display, more, plus indeed that surface clockwork. Some such are there in earlier stages, not the clockwork, but certainly conditioned thinking.

    Extreme enough old-world puritans would do the same, if they ever got to run a whole country, which I don’t think they did. Unless you count Cromwell, and he was halfway there in just a few years before croaking; in another twenty years he’d have had revolution days with the new model army marching like clockwork through Pall Mall. He’d already banned jollity; it would have been replaced with the official version. Puritans just prefer black instead of gaudy, plaster walls in their churches not gold. The national socialists liked black too, and dark green, with lots of fiery torches. The Crusading orders liked white, with coloured crosses on, often black or red. Their general look was probably stolen from the gnostic Ismailis. The West has fortunately been diverse enough most of the time to avoid total cultural domination, even when religion was way way more important. The national socialists were an exception. Some other areas of the world have been less fortunate. The climate-change movement is jam-packed with symbolism that would become the new uniforms and departments and existential displays of any regime that would achieve total dominance in its name. It wouldn’t ‘look like’ N Korea at all, but what’s actually happening would be the same. Ignore the colours! And *which* symbols are used too (most of that mil hardware is symbolic, they would lose drastically in any real conflict). Of course, the same principles that say the climate culture is a tough nut and is going to be around for a while yet, also suggest it could never actually become anywhere near so dominant; it’s not geographically concentrated enough, its sleeping around too much, it still leans on host environments too much etc. But it’s not too hard to imagine its symbology being grossly amplified, becoming rote social display, which itself is a testament to how far it has come. The XR Red Brigade are already doing it, they have a Blue Brigade now too. And there’s a youth wing, school strikes for climate, primed as cultural fodder. How far away from cultural appropriation and future rote display do you think these climate kids are:
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/09/kids-march-climate-action/
    Apart from the fact we invented coloured markers, this could be, say, a communist youth wing when that culture was still being born. The same communism that the NK regime is a direct descendant of.

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  47. “cultural appropriation”: by which I don’t mean the usual thing of stealing cultural dress or whatever, but stealing the children themselves into a culture!

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  48. Andy: On Cromwell, the great thing in England was the radical debate that went on. See for example When George Fox met Oliver Cromwell. Fox’s Quakers eventually overcame the theocratic instincts of the Puritans in America, through the sacrifice of people like Mary Dyer. This led directly (with help from the King, somewhat ironically) to full religious freedom in all the States, with Quaker William Penn leading the way in Pennsylvania.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Richard: Absolutely. That’s why it didn’t get to dominate; as I said the diversity of the West has (usually) prevented this. But it came close, and close enough to wonder what would have happened had Cromwell lived longer (he didn’t see too stable towards the end). It’s not too hard to imagine a fork in history where we’d all be marching around in black still.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. Andy: The other fruitful comparison to make is Calvin’s Geneva. All the Puritans saw themselves as Calvinists theologically (which system of thought went back, as Calvin and Luther would freely admit, to St Augustine). Michael Servetus turned up in Geneva looking forward to a good debate with Calvin but was rather disappointed. After his agonising death William Harvey relied on Servetus’s medical scholarship. And our own Chris Whitty gave the Harveian Oration 2017. Small world, huh? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  51. Richard: “Michael Servetus turned up in Geneva looking forward to a good debate with Calvin but was rather disappointed.”

    Um… I think that might be ‘extremely disappointed’. Or maybe ‘terminally disappointed’! Yes, small world.

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  52. Richard’s useful obscure points of church history help make my point: that unconscious factors largely determine the evolution of social movements. Calvinism took hold in Scotland, which shares the same kind of inegalitarian family structure found in Switzerland and Scandinavia, but not in England. Their societies are characterised by strong centralised organisations that get displaced rather than evolve (think SNP and Scottish Labour.) The amorphous English nuclear family structure (strong on personal freedom but indifferent to égalité) resists rigid structures (hence the collapsing NHS, Labour Party etc.) It’s difficult to get the English to wear a uniform in public (though they’ll roll up a trouser leg in private.)

    Andy’s photo seems to be in South America. Their uniform could be that of some populist party or a church scout group. If England ever came under some kind of Green dictatorship, it wouldn’t look like that. I imagine a kind of massive vegan village fête run by health and safety officers.

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  53. Geoff: Well proposing what the overweening success of a big culture would look like, in a country where it if incredibly less likely to happen due to the balancing factors mentioned by Richard and yourself (and me, even before those comments!), is bound to involve a lot of speculation. But the point is that if it *did* win, the balancing factors would (eventually) be ground out. A massive vegan fete run by H&S, would 2 or 3 generations later be a green NK. And the point to show examples from anywhere is that culture leans to conformity and likes it expressed in uniforms, anywhere. Initially less, obviously, in those places that are more diverse / protected. I think there would indeed be uniforms, there would be clockwork, there would be social rote and existential display. But I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree 0:

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  54. ANDY

    But the point is that if it [the Green Blob] did win, the balancing factors would (eventually) be ground out. A massive vegan fete run by health and safety, would 2 or 3 generations later be a green North Korea. And the point to show examples from anywhere is that culture leans to conformity and likes it expressed in uniforms, anywhere.

    No it doesn’t. Why should it? Why shouldn’t the balancing factors of a North Korean phallic Metallfest be ground out and 2 or 3 generations later look like a village fête (possibly with khaki clad Morris dancers?)

    Baden Powell tried to put English kids in uniform; and three generations on, if you ever see one, he or she is just as scruffy as anyone else.

    From Wiki:

    Baden-Powell had four older half-siblings from the second of his father’s two previous marriages, and was the sixth child of his father’s third marriage. The three children immediately preceding B-P had all died very young before he was born. Baden-Powell’s father died when he was three. Subsequently, Baden-Powell was raised by his mother, a strong woman who was determined that her children would succeed. In 1933 he said of her “The whole secret of my getting on, lay with my mother.”

    No wonder the poor fellow wanted to instil some order into Britain’s youth. And was it really B-P who put the comma in that quote? How interesting.

    Chinese TV entertainment looks much like that North Korean parade, but with less ironmongery and a bit more leg and lipstick. But they’re tending our way. The last Chinese soap I tried to watch was about a Chinese teenage gang of Irish tap dancers. They could look punk, or grunge or whatever, but in a disciplined way.

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  55. Geoff, “Why should it?!

    Because cultural mechanisms *are* the same everywhere. And they are blind; they have no ‘knowledge’ of the detail, what colours the culture picks, what its symbols are.

    The cultural diversity (and greater rationality at scale as per most of the West – albeit rather challenged recently) of the UK, is exactly *why* the Green Blob couldn’t take over to anything like that extent here, hence with the attendant behaviours that come with long and exclusive cultural dominance. And so in proposing in imagination something that almost certainly couldn’t happen, this means by definition the the UK would already be radically different if it *did* happen. This was an imagination of what the Green Blob (with different symbols and colours to NK) *anywhere* would look like; given enough time and exclusivity it wouldn’t matter where the starting country was. I wasn’t proposing any likelihood it could happen in any particular place, and certainly it’d have massively less likelihood in a place like the UK, which has all the natural resistances you mention.

    Albeit back more in reality, the likely reason Scout uniforms declined is that they are part of old empire / national culture that has itself declined (and is actively rejected by large swathes now, in the culture war). But a shiny new culture, if it got far enough, wouldn’t have that problem. But this was not about reality anyway; you’re taking a flight of fancy way too far – there is not a nation anywhere in the world that the Green Blob has wholly dominated for generations, and there’s never likely to be one. If we want to take the flight of fancy seriously, we must take it *all*, i.e. generations of total culture dominance via a narrow ideal that will grind everything else out, erasing any starting position – which is clearly impossible squared for a country with the history and connections of the UK. I guess there was a near scrape in 1940, these things do have some very outside chances; but indeed had we fallen it would have taken generations to *truly* look like Nuremburg. And in turn, that couldn’t happen unless the US and likely Russia too, had likewise fallen, which was also as close to impossible as is worth thinking about.

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  56. But this was not about reality anyway; you’re taking a flight of fancy way too far – there is not a nation anywhere in the world that the Green Blob has wholly dominated for generations…

    It seems to me you’re now belittling the Green Blob’s danger, whereas before I thought you were exaggerating. I took you as meaning that the North Korean way was the inevitable direction for any culture that achieves dominance. I take the danger of that dominance seriously, not because of any tendency of XR to dress up, but because of the way the minority beliefs of a tiny number of NGOs got written into law without a murmur of dissent (‘Sandbag’ writing the Climate Change Act etc.)

    I’d like to leave aside the North Korean angle for the moment. I’m currently wading through Jordan Peterson’s “Maps of Meaning” in order to analyse his claims about the ways extreme results (gulag, Holocaust etc) are inbuilt (innate, inevitable..) in ideologies. We still get readers consulting articles by Ian and Paul on Peterson from two years ago. His ideas are influential and overlap with yours in some ways, and I want to be able to discuss them knowledgeably.

    It could be that my latest two articles are essentially trivial. Google’s trying to hide the Gt Barrington declaration and OFCOM asking silly questions in a survey are very minor events. But I do enjoy the conversations they give rise to.

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  57. Geoff: “It seems to me you’re now belittling the Green Blob’s danger, whereas before I thought you were exaggerating…”

    I’m not (consciously) doing either. The same approach that tells us its likely lower bounds, how tough a nut it’ll be, the huge inertia, the tentacles, also tells us its likely upper limits. There *are* upper limits.

    “It could be that my latest two articles are essentially trivial. Google’s trying to hide the Gt Barrington declaration and OFCOM asking silly questions in a survey are very minor events. But I do enjoy the conversations they give rise to.”

    I don’t think they’re trivial; important to discuss, important for someone to uncover, a service for which I for one, am very grateful. And indeed provides enjoyable conversation too 🙂

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  58. Geoff:

    Richard’s useful obscure points of church history help make my point: that unconscious factors largely determine the evolution of social movements.

    Glad to be of obscure service! Funnily enough, though, if anything I wanted to show that individual choices can make such a massive difference, though they are of course deeply influenced by beliefs and other factors. Calvin’s awful choice in the Servetus case led the way to terrible warfare in continental Europe for many years (in my view), whereas Cromwell’s humility and indeed brotherly love towards Charles Fox begat something really remarkable in what were then our colonies across the ocean. With some bloodshed too, but limited by those with softer hearts.

    Which brings me to James Fazy and how Geneva and thus Switzerland finally escaped from being dominated, in the wrong way, by Protestantism (in the way that Jesus himself surely abhored and taught against) and made it into the modern world with an effective and freedom-loving constitution.

    James Who? The size of the Wikipedia page, or indeed the bank balance at the end of the guy’s life, doesn’t reflect the importance or indeed brilliance of the contribution.

    Sorry to be out of it, mostly. But wrongful obscurity I’ve come to believe is my thing 🙂 It makes climate and other temporary sillinesses so much easier to bear. Who knows if the RSPB waking up presages something new now.

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  59. Professor Balloux remains determinedly in the middle:

    THE JOHN SNOW MEMORANDUM was new to me.

    Koen Swinkels is from Toronto, like Steve Mc, who seems to appreciate the guy. This sounds like a pretty long-term thing as well:

    It’s funny to be using Twitter still, after their appalling behaviour trying to suppress the latest Hunter Biden story. There again:

    Liked by 1 person

  60. Don’t think the infrastructure approach would work. If a super-spreader event can occur in the Rose Garden in the open air, then no amount of ventilation would eliminate the virus indoors. Yet still we hear the U.K. governments make distinctions between indoors and outdoors contacts. Do we really know anything about how this virus is transmitted from person to person?

    Liked by 1 person

  61. I presume John Snow (in the John Snow Memorandum) refers to that purloiner of water pump handles and epidemiologist, and not to the Channel 4 wearer of garish neck apparel and coloured socks.

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  62. Richard,

    “Professor Balloux remains determinedly in the middle.”

    That says it all though, doesn’t it. If you remain determined to stay in the middle, are you doing so because you think it is the best ‘policy’ or are you doing it out of some ideological commitment to even-handedness. We can’t all remain on the fence indefinitely. At some point, we have to jump and take one side or the other. Nothing would ever get done if we all remained determined to sit on the fence. This answer to Prof. Balloux is instructive:

    There is an awful lot at stake here. The official consensus is still firmly weighted in favour of lockdowns.

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  63. Alan:

    Do we really know anything about how this virus is transmitted from person to person?

    Hardly anything, it seems. Doesn’t make it easy, for individual, locality or central government.

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  64. Jaime:

    We can’t all remain on the fence indefinitely.

    The analogy of a fence suggests only two sides. That I think is too simplistic. On the other hand, “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality”. As Dante didn’t say, apparently. But JFK did.

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  65. Richard, if there is a ‘Third Way’ with this virus, it must be Sweden. They implemented reasonable measures without closing down society. But that way is not open to lockdown nations now. The horse has bolted and the immense collateral damage is done. We either continue along the ruinous path to indefinite suppression with rolling lockdowns and the inevitable societal and economic carnage that brings or we go into reverse gear and open up again. The compromised Tier system is doomed to fail. We will all either end up in Tier 3+ or the government will abandon it altogether and impose endless ‘circuit breaker’ lockdowns in an effort to lock the stable door on a virus which has already bolted in large parts of the country. The (very) imperfect testing is merely picking up those areas which are seeing a very modest rise over autumn/winter – certainly not an exponential developing second wave. You’re either for suppression until a silver bullet vaccine comes along (probably never) or you’re for living with the virus, providing as much support to those who want to voluntarily shield as possible. This was basically the thrust of the Barrington Declaration in the hope of saving society, saving the economy, and minimising collateral damage lockdown deaths whilst protecting the vulnerable in the meantime. I can’t see how Professor Balloux could describe that policy as ‘lacking empathy’.

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  66. Jaime: You’re more certain than I am. Where I agree with Balloux is that it’s really hard to come up with complete solutions, in the UK, given what we know and what people are prepared to do, based on what they think they know. On Sweden I was impressed with this:

    I’m not impressed by much at present but that did the trick this morning.

    (I must however now depart the scene for a little while, a la Captain Oates.)

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  67. We’re into full Soviet era open censorship of inconvenient science now. This can only end one of two ways – science dies in darkness or it comes storming back and takes the whole damn ‘post normal science establishment’ with it – including climate science.

    “Last month, following the Whitty and Vallance fear-fest, a group of 32 scientists – led by Sunetra Gupta and Carl Heneghan from Oxford University and Professor Karol Sikora, former chief of the World Health Organisation’s cancer programme – penned an open letter calling on the government to reconsider its approach to suppressing the virus. They warned that lockdowns led to ‘significant harm across all age groups’ and asked the government to focus instead on more targeted measures. In response, they were accused of ‘spoiling for a fight with the establishment’. Sections of the media were criticised for giving their views a platform and for having ‘a tendency to amplify minority positions, particularly if they appear to confirm the right-libertarian worldview’. Challenging the apparent consensus was a ‘dangerous distraction’, which would do ‘damage to public discourse’.

    We have been here before. Prior to coronavirus dominating every headline, we were told that the ‘scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming is likely to have passed 99 per cent’. Questioning this ‘consensus’ was – and still is – heresy.”

    https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/10/13/a-lockdown-on-dissent/

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