Why the last weapon we need against COVID19 is a model of conformity




Attention to facts is the antidote for conformity to the narrative



I have discovered what I think may at last be the slimey bottom of the journalistic barrel. The columnist concerned is called Sara Tor, and she works for The Times – imagine that. Under the headline……

Was life before lockdown really so great?

…….Sara pulled this gem from her bottom drawer this morning:

‘It is, as my mother would say, for your own good. We’re in this situation for the long haul so we’ve got to adapt; remember how life actually was, and suddenly things won’t seem so bad.’

Should Sara ever turn to novels – and thus be in need of a nom de plume as a means of disguising her mediocre past – I would suggest ‘Nanny State’. I’d imagine the first in her series – Pull your Socks Up by Nanny State – will set the standard.

Is the process of being, in just two lines of copy, wrong twice, engaging in ‘always look on the bright side of life’ and then effectively suggesting It Is Your Right To Obey really journalism? 

No, of course it isn’t. It’s conformity being spewed out as the only solution, given the obvious existence of States so philanthropic as those to be found in Europe. But if you work for the world’s most nationalitied Digger, such will be your fate. Sara has taken the Murdoch shilling – having first of all, naturally, sprayed it with Medigel.

One thing COVID19 has taught us – and there have been many lessons for those who are awake – is that all those people who used to be on our side have defected. Radical politicians, the civil police force, medical research, the Judiciary, Whitehall, teachers, the internet – and within that the social and ‘MSM’ media – now boast approximately 95% of their members simply doing as the’re told while sniffing the wind direction.

The game for most Brits when I was a kid used to be doing what’s right and condemning what’s wrong….’wrong’ being defined as “generally contrary to the Common Good”. MPs at Westminster held weekly bunfights and occasional elections about, in turn, how one defined ‘Good’. We called it consensus and plurality…..and hoped it added up to morality.

In 2020, the starting point is “It is my duty to support my belief system Right or Wrong, have trust in experts, and do what they ask without engaging either my brain or my ethical soul”.

I cannot help finding profound irony in the fact that we live in a year using the same expression as ‘perfect eyesight’, but somewhere in the region of 61% of citizens are either severely myopic or blind. I use that percentage, by the way, because that’s how many people told MORI last week they’re right behind the death-rate projections of Neal Ferguson – the man who told us that both BSE and Swine flu would be deadly when in fact they weren’t.

Conformity is dangerous for a million reasons, but one of the most important is that it gets in the way of learning one’s lesson. Decade after decade, we have seen politicians lie, cheat and break promises, but we continue to believe in them. Every year, the medical profession changes its mind about good practice, but every new pronouncement is treated as eternally applicable. Every expert in finance, economics, art verification, sport, marketing, chemistry, physics and epidemiology is proven utterly wrong by future actuality, but still we slavishly follow their counsel. And every mathematical model proves to be wrong by a factor that can be anything from fifteen times and upward….but still we believe that projections based on modelling are worth using as a policy guide.

There are certain callings that automatically produce a reaction of uneasy respect among laymen. Call yourself “a scientist”, and most will assume that your grasp of the nature of onions must be infinite. Call yourself a mathematician, and thoughts like ‘megabrain’, ‘genius’ and ‘terrifying equations covering a blackboard’ fill the mind.

Call yourself a mathematical modeller, however, and all men fall to their knees, muttering about a distinct lack of worthiness to receive your pearls of wisdom.

After a quarter-century of engaging with such models, I am here to tell you that they are costume jewellery at best, and most of the time no better than paste.

Some 70+% of all “global warming data” is not data at all: it is the output of models produced anything from 25-60 years ago. When put alongside empirical numbers showing what actually happened, most of it turns out to be wrong. But on the basis of this self-fulfilling nonsense, billions of dollars each year are devoted to alternative energy technologies that have zero chance of success, and aren’t necessary much of the time. Even worse, a 17 year old Aspergers victim has become the darling of the Libleft chattering élites: indeed, it took a global pandemic to get her off the front pages – something outstanding that COVID19 achieved, whatever your overall view of it might be.

Similarly, Neal Ferguson is – kop a load of this – a specialist in the mathematical modelling of epidemics. Wow. That’s a niche so narrow he’s probably the only pointy-head in it: which might explain why he gets the limelight every few years – despite being permanently (and expensively) wrong. He got an OBE for this; but Obe Wan Kanobe he isn’t.

I worked with and on only a dozen or so models in my life, and hated every minute of it. Most of them make two cardinal errors of input: first, at least one assumption based on not very much; and second, a chronic lack of reality by the constructors about the unpredictably mercurial nature of the Herd mentality. A herd is good if you want a lot  of numbers, but can be misleading if it chooses to head for the cliff rather than the river. The irony of crowd wisdom is lost on most ‘scientists’.

At Spiked!Brendan O’Neill continues to make the point about experts, herd desires to obey their mumbo-jumbo, and the value of contrarian thinking.

Bu his remains a Pythonesque task. From a window in Judea, he says “Look, you are all individuals”.

And the Mob shouts back, “Yes – we are all individuals”.