Ferguson Cites Lewandowsky & Cook

Lockdown Sceptics prints a reply by Neil Ferguson to an article yesterday by Derek Winton criticising the Imperial College Modelling of the Coronavirus epidemic. 

In it Ferguson replies to the person who sent him the Winton article:

I presume you sent me this because you feel upset, angry, that no-one is listening, want to hurt me or change my mind. Or all of the above.

…and cites just one source in his defence:

The Conspiracy Theory Handbook, by Lewandowsky and Cook. 

Lewandowsky is fast establishing himself as the go-to expert on countering misinformation. He has has been all over minor media outlets lately publicising a survey on attitudes to vaccination which he carried out. It’s really up to us to point out just what kind of expert he is. 

21 thoughts on “Ferguson Cites Lewandowsky & Cook

  1. Geoff, thanks for this. I spotted it this morning, and was tempted to comment here, but was wary of opening up the acrimony around Covid and the response to it again. However, (not that I’ve ever been a Ferguson fan), he damned himself in my eyes irretrievably by seeking to justify his scaremongering based on wheeling out Lewandowsky and Cook to try to criticise those who dare to disagree with him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MARK
    My reading is that Ferguson is accusing Winton, (and the anonymous reader who sent him the Winton article) of the psychological defects common to conspiracy theorists, (paranoia, inability to reason, etc.) Also, explicitly, of “wanting to hurt me or change my mind.” That a scientist should find it hurtful that anyone would want to change his mind beggars belief.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is a major problem with academic work that basically legitimises disparaging anyone who is out-group (whether the group in question identifies with a presumed scientific consensus or not), as mad. It has obvious attractions to those who feel the need (subliminally or not) to legitimize their biases and demonise their critiquers. So it’ll spread. Same thing with Diethelm and Mckee, which you put up here at Cliscep years ago, and inspired me to detail its flawed methodology and underlying assumptions: https://judithcurry.com/2016/04/21/the-denialism-frame/ . Meanwhile, those producing such ‘academic’ justifications can surf to popularity.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I suppose we can consider ourselves fortunate that, over 20 years, Ferguson has changed his view from the need to incinerate everything within 10 miles of an infected case. Or was it 20 miles? His models are still crap and easily viewed as such by anyone who is not a politician or someone who has co-published with him, such as Whitty

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Geoff,

    From what I have seen of the Debunking Handbook, I would say that anyone who cites it immediately creates a credibility problem for themselves.


  6. John, unfortunately only on the eyes of small and discounted minorities. Policed orthodoxies can easily outbid reason, at least while their star rides high.


  7. Ferguson wrote:

    I and my colleagues and friends (John Edmunds, Jeremy Farrar, Marc Lipsitch, Christian Drosten, Patrick Vallance, Chris Whitty,…) get so many of these sort of emails that we barely notice anymore. Most get dumped into junk mail folders automatically nowadays.

    Of that magnificent seven, wherever the emails end up, I’m hoping very much that Ferguson is the only one who would dream of pointing to Dr Lew, Bristol’s conspiracist quackmeister in chief, in support of his position.

    I think Winton’s strongest point is the lack of seasonality in the model. A group being 700% out applying the Imperial model to Sweden in April 2020 (as best they knew how) doesn’t float my boat as much as some. That month, remember, there were also people saying things like this publicly about the Oxford vaccine:

    I had the first dose of the AstraZeneca a week ago. The whole operation, in a primary care unit in the beautiful Mendips, was highly impressive to this non-expert. We seem to have moved on as a country. See for example from the last 24 hours May Willis: 'I'm almost 111 and make the most of what I've got'. Not just “take the vaccine” when you’re offered but “I can’t see the point of always grumbling or moaning”. Amen to that.


  8. Why does Ferguson come in for such criticism regarding the Foot and Mouth outbreak? At the time he was part of a team lead by Roy Anderson, also I understand a modeller. I have not heard Anderson blamed.
    My recollection of the F&M outbreak was of occurrences appearing seemingly at random all over the country and having to find stay-at-home alternatives for our undergraduate final year dissertations because they couldn’t do fieldwork. The first must have meant that any form of modelling or prediction would have been exceedingly difficult.


  9. Alan: I’m sure I saw Roy Anderson getting some of the blame afterwards. The chaos at the start of any such ‘crisis’ is a key point. (And one doesn’t even know what is and isn’t a crisis.) Christopher Essex said he didn’t envy the Covid modellers, having to work at such breakneck speed, at this GWPF webinar in May:

    That’s from the most devastating critic of climate modelling, in the form of GCMs, of the last 20 years. And more, in that Essex was working on the things in the 1980s, if I remember rightly. He’s had time to think it through.

    While I’m in video mode, on the day Boris is expected to give us the path to the relaxation of UK lockdown, in open defiance of his role as a fascist, here’s what Richard Lindzen was saying exactly nine years ago at the House of Commons:

    “Of all the people I’ve met on both sides of this debate, none but he has displayed the exceptional, intuitive, affectionate, profound knowledge of how the atmosphere behaves, and how it is likely to behave as we influence it,” Christopher Monckton says at the start. It took decades for such intuition to build up, based on the detailed and frequently surprising data. And it was a great talk.

    None of us were in the same boat with Covid in Mar-Apr 2020.


  10. Richard’s back. What does he do? Immediately puts the boot into me. On a bloody mission I think. I repeat: they are never going to shove that shit into my veins (or muscle). Bully for you if you are coerced into having an experimental vaccine which you don’t need. I have a fully functioning natural immune system which is almost certainly superior for protecting against coronaviruses of all kinds – including the dreaded Rona.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, and, Richard is wrong about intuition – it doesn’t take decades to build up. It comes to you instantly, in a flash, out of the blue. That’s why it’s called intuition – as opposed to rational, logical, analytical, deliberative thinking based on decades of accumulated knowledge and facts.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Lockdown sceptics has two articles today, reproducing Winton’s reply to Ferguson, some comments from readers, and correspondence between Ferguson and the person (female, apparently, which F presumably knew when he sent his “you’re trying to hurt me” reply) who first sent the Winton article to Ferguson. The first one is here.
    I’m glad I didn’t comment, since there were already 500+ comments, which are on the whole day’s batch of posts, so anything I said about Lew & Cook would have been lost in the crowd. Though there are some objections to accusations of being called a conspiracy theorist, no-one comments on the handbook itself.

    So I think I’ll leave this odd connection on its slow burning fuse…


  13. I can’t for the bloody life of me work out what my views on vaccination have to do with the subject of this post. If I was going to comment, I would have much rather preferred to have commented on-topic, out of respect for the author. It’s just getting bloody silly now. Sorry Geoff, rant over.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. The original commenter responding once again to Ferguson’s reply to her literally chews him up and spits him out:

    “I might not be an epidemiologist but it’s fairly obvious to me that your model (and that of Imperial/LSHTM/Warwick University/Institut Pasteur Paris) is out by several orders of magnitude and the fact that you resort to calling people who disagree with it “conspiracy theorists” only serves to illustrate how far down the rabbit hole you have fallen.”

    I think it highly significant that Ferguson cites Lew in response to being criticised. It suggests to me at the very least that the mindset of charlatans like Ferguson and Lewandowsky are extremely similar. They believe that any criticism of their (or their chosen ‘experts on saving the world from deadly disease or deadly climate change’) work merits instant dismissal as ‘conspiracist ideation’. But more than that, it suggests to me that there are lines of communication open between prominent advocates of lockdowns and those at the vanguard of climate alarmism. I could be wrong, but his bizarre clutching at Lewandowsky in order to defend himself suggests that this is indeed the case. In the later exchange of emails he only digs deeper into the lockdown causation fallacy and the ‘second wave’ myth in order to justify his crap modelling. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s considering a relaunch of his career in climate modelling!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. JAIME

    “…it suggests to me that there are lines of communication open between prominent advocates of lockdowns and those at the vanguard of climate alarmism. I could be wrong, but his bizarre clutching at Lewandowsky in order to defend himself suggests that this is indeed the case…”

    ..or it could be he meets the climate bods in meetings of Modellers Anonymous.

    I follow Lew’s progress, and though he gets a lot of mentions on odd blogs dealing with fake news etc. he hardly ever makes it into the mainstream media, though I’ve seen a few references in African newspapers. There were a couple of quotes recently in the Spectator and the New Statesman, but a recent survey he did on acceptance of the vaccine was ignored outside Bristol as far as I can see. The MSM seems to have had its dose of Lew and been inoculated. The press herd seems to have developed a certain immunity to conspiracy theorist accusations. Let’s see if the Ferguson variant proves more contagious.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Geoff, Jaime,

    I trust neither of you had the misfortune to catch The One Show tonight. It was all about explaining why people believe in conspiracy theories. Apparently, says the expert on Zoom, people believe in conspiracy theories because they can’t cope with the complexities and nuances of the real world.

    Presumably, that is why there are people who believe the conspiracy theory that people who question climate change orthodoxy are all conspiracy theorists. The truth is obviously too complex and nuanced for them.

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Geoff: “The MSM seems to have had its dose of Lew and been inoculated.”

    I doubt it. When covid fades, climate catastrophe will likely claim centre stage again, with most of the old crew still in starring roles I suspect. And social psychologists with avid beliefs are capable of generating new [meme] ‘variants of concern’ too.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. @John – you watch the “One Show” !!!

    having said that I still watch first 10mts of country file just to see how city folk (mostly) view the countryside & how climate is changing everything – OMG


  19. What is it with Countryfile? The presenters have the opportunity to speak with people who have worked the land for many decades. It is they that can authoritively speak of the “devastating rain storms of the 1950s, the cold of 1974 when the barley crop failed and the snowfall of 1983 during lambing season. They know firsthand about extreme weather, that it always has been with us. My wife’s extended family includes many farmers and we used to joke that they always complained that the weather kept them in penury. It wasn’t true, working the dark soils of the Fens, they were as rich as Croesus. So why are most Countryfile items embellished with THE PRESENTERS spouting off about increasing extreme weather events or climate change? Well we know why, don’t we?

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I have to confess, I have not watched a single BBC program in 10 years, excepting ‘Climate Change by Numbers’ and ‘Climate: Change the Facts’ for research purposes. I think maybe Ben Fogle had just started presenting when I finally switched off. That’s an entire decade of BBC and other channel’s brainwashing years lost. Gone forever. Ten years of living in the countryside, seeing directly how the land is farmed and managed, watching the impact of the seasons and the weather, but not being informed by Towniefile. I am bereft.


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