Covid advisers in ‘yes & no with reservations’ horror

Fingers in the air and ears in Westminster

Vallance and Whitty’s ordeal at the hands of the Science and Technology sub-committee may have seemed to the untrained eye like a dull affair, but it was replete with clear evidence of contradiction and amateurism.

Both men were forced to accept some startling things. Whether many of our MPs will spot them is another matter, but I at least shall record them here.

The most remarkable fact to emerge was what both witnesses agreed was “the very low level of infection transmitted outdoors”. The answer was given in response to a question about inter-school football games being cancelled; but the ramifications of it are mind-blowing.

One of the very few things I have accepted since the February 2020 period about Covid19 is that is has been billed by almost all experts as ‘fifteen times more infectious than influenza’.

Are these self-styled science-promoters now telling us that this is wrong? And if outdoors is not the main source of infection, then research does indeed suggest that the only other place is indoors.

So why are we being locked down in the one environment where (it now seems) Covid spreads with consummate ease?

Another breathtaking admission came from Sir Mark Vallance a few minutes minutes later, when he said, “we don’t actually know the NHS’s bed capacity, because that is their modelling copyright”. Yet these are the team leaders who gave the media earlier this week an exact date – December 4th – when the NHS would ‘run out of bed capacity’. So how on earth could they know that?

I saw little evidence of any reputation-seeking legislator pressing the Dubious Duo on either of these points.

Vallance came across as far more dismissive of attacks based on what he seemed to see as low-level detail. He observed, “Look, we’re not being asked to know every stat on outdoor tranmission” and Whitty nodded, adding “Scientific investigation is not a yes-no thing”.

Well guys, trust me: ‘NHS full up by December 4th” is a yes-no thing.

Meanwhile, Chris Whitty made several attempts to excuse himself on the basis of modelling being an inexact science….and sound almost humble in his realisation of model shortcomings. In doing so, he managed only to come across as casual – even sloppy – in his use of the words ‘might’, ‘could’, ‘theoretically’, ‘imponderables’ and ‘likelihoods’.

What these two very senior advisers are in the business of doing is making futurology look and sound like science. In fact – certainly based on my own professional experience of models – it’s quackery.

Sir Mark Vallance really gave the game away by saying, “What five organisations have done is model outcomes against a series of assumptions”.

All of them gave a different answer – imagine that? – and thus, they took a mean number. Presenting this as a bona fide conclusion is not science in any shape or form: it’s an illusionist’s card trick.

The fundamental weakness of models is the flaw in one or more of their assumptions. It’s why all the climate models are wrong, and why Neil Ferguson has been so wildly wrong four times in a row over eighteen years….costing the country some £28 billion.

The ham-fisted alchemy of it all went on and on. Sir Mark conceded that the models didn’t factor in all of the data about the new 3-tiered system – a system he and his colleagues dismissed at the time as “woefully insufficient” – but which today Chris Whitty was forced to accept may well have had a positive effect.

Whitty blithely went on to tell committee members (via absurd video-distancing links) that “reaching the peak which we reached in April, strikes me as an entirely realistic situation” for the new models to project. Nobody asked the question how he could say that, given the titanic difference in death levels between September/October and the March/April period.

In truth, all the hearings did was confirm what somewhere between 14 and 18% of us have felt since the outset of Contrick19: as a subject of risible hype, it remains unequalled in the annals of historical attempts to churn out nonsense apart from (perhaps) the Rastafarian drivel insisting during the 1970s that Haile Selassi would live forever.

The wooden Coronavirus narrative is riddled with the worm of cognitive dissonance, of “facts” changing from week to week, of counterintuitive insistence, and the blasé rejection of everything we have ever learned about natural resistance.

The simplest example of this is The Mask. See if you can keep a straight face as I unveil a simple piece of logic on the basis of “you can’t have it every which way at once”.

“Masks don’t protect you much” >> “Masks are vital if you want to protect yourself outdoors” >> “Masks work” >> “Most infection doesn’t take place outdoors” >> “If you’re vulnerable, stay at home because Masks alone aren’t enough to protect you”.

Let’s wait and see what Parliament makes of the ‘evidence’ we heard today. Just don’t get your hopes up.