QED

Prepare for an Orgy of Back-Patting

Has there ever been a more ill-informed, recklessly destructive example of public policy in the history of mankind than the Great Lockdown? Well, of course there has. Mao’s Great Leap Forward cost tens of millions of lives. Stalin’s Great Purge cost a million lives or thereabouts. So, there it is, Morrison, Trump and Johnson et al can take comfort in not wreaking as much harm as have past despots. Consolation indeed! As David Richards and Konstantin Boudnik  put it in The Telegraph

Imperial College’s modelling of non-pharmaceutical interventions for COVID-19 which helped persuade the UK and other countries to bring in draconian lockdowns … could go down in history as the most devastating software mistake of all time, in terms of economic costs and lives lost.

Public health experts can rest easy. Sure, their bodgie, overblown predictions caused governments to rain down devastation on pliable populations. but they will never be brought to account. Governments have a vested interest in maintaining the fiction that countless deaths were saved by following their experts’ advice.

Trump often cites a figure of 2.2 million Americans dead but for the lockdown. This number, a completely made-up fiction, comes from Neil Ferguson and his Imperial College (IC) team. Ferguson has a reputation for epidemiological alarmism burnished now with a reputation for eschewing social distancing in the cause of fornication.

Quite aside from any flaws in the innards of epidemiological models, the problem with predictions about new contagious diseases is that data is inevitably wanting. Data is wanting precisely because the disease is new. How contagious is the disease? How is it transmitted from one person to another? How deadly is it? How many are susceptible to being infected versus those not susceptible? What profile does the disease have among different population groups – by age, by ethnicity, by sex, by the range and severity of pre-existing illnesses? How many who contract the disease are asymptomatic or suffer only mild symptoms? How long had the disease been circulating prior to it being recognised?

None of this information was known – and most is still not known – when Ferguson issued his IC report on March 16 and when other epidemiological modellers issued their reports. Modelling can’t work with unknowns. Assumptions or, if you like, guesses take their place. To wit, let’s see, what misinformation we can extract from Wuhan, feed it in, get ourselves on the front pages, and scare the bejesus out of the nincompoops who run governments. What a lark!

Take one vital unknown. How long had the Wuhan virus been circulating in Europe and in America before it provoked a public health reaction? There are suggestions that it may have been around as early as November. “Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell says he would not be surprised if Sweden – like France – had isolated cases of coronavirus as far back as November last year.” If this is so, and if it is as transmissible as Dr Fauci and others like him claim, then it probably has already done its worst. The lockdowns came too late. In any event, there is not a shred of evidence that the utterly perverse, inexplicable and mindlessly destructive policy of locking down healthy people actually works.

Incidentally, why did we in Australia get off so lightly in comparison with most other countries. Certainly, we don’t get any sensible explanation from the federal government, too busy claiming credit for our low death rate — backed by the media, these days heavily populated with partisans and halfwits. “Sweden’s so-called herd immunity approach of allowing the virus to spread through the working-age population has taken a huge toll; its death rate is 70 times our own,” opined a lobotomised leader writer in The Australian of May 2.  Sheer baloney, of course.

Maybe it’s a summer effect and we have that dreaded spike to contend with in winter. Hope not. Scrooge McDaniel Andrews would be in his element closing Victoria down again for Christmas.

At some point in the near future there will be a postscript to this insane period in the life of nations. However, whatever damning evidence of their incompetence comes to light, epidemiologists will not be tarred and feathered and consigned to living out their days in sackcloth and ashes, which is their due. Instead they will be lauded and medalled by the political class for their life-saving perspicacity and prescience.

Politicians can do no other, self-exculpation being in their DNA. They must be seen as life-savers not life-destroyers, which is what they really have been about. And, in this case, they will write the history. Opposition politicians are onside, the media is onside, academia is onside. Truth telling, a niche activity, will be buried by the avalanche of mythology.

21 comments
  • Lo

    Epidemiologists? Call them epidemiologists? Now Anders Tegnell, that’s an epidemiologist.

  • David Rees

    I used to think the Quadrant has some claim to be a periodical for thinking people. Based on this article I am wrong. It’s a cheap shot – e.g. the “lobotomised leader writer”. Takes me right back to student newspaper days. Serious topics merit grown-up debate.
    A pity.

  • Biggles

    I am reminded of the ‘Stages of a Project’ known to engineers:
    1. Enthusiasm.
    2. Disillusionment.
    3. Panic.
    4. Search for the guilty.
    5. Punishment of the innocent.
    6. Rewards and honours for the non-participants.

  • Peter OBrien

    David Rees,

    writers at Quadrant, notably Peter Smith and (with all due modesty) myself, were calling out the over-reaction by government to this ‘crisis’ before any other commentators. I noted in QOL on 25th March, 1 day after the precipitate stage 2 lockdown had been announced and a bare 6 days after stage 1 had been implemented, that we had already started to flatten the curve. We were ‘ahead of the curve’, so to speak, No-one took any notice of course, so please excuse Peter Smith the odd acerbity.

  • Stephen Due

    Peter S. Many thanks. You are doing a great job. A voice of sanity from my perspective in distressing times. Just thinking about this horrendous imposition on the Australian people makes my blood boil. The vast debt so recklessly incurred! The suspension of democratic processes to avoid parliamentary process! The supine response of the population! The declaration of a police state! The effective reduction of normal health services for people with every other health condition except ‘the virus’! The smashing of the economy! The small businesses destroyed! The jobs lost! And so on.
    But worse is yet to come. There is no source for the necessary loans to keep the economy running other than China. The ongoing dependence of Australia on Chinese goodwill is sheer madness. The steady sale of our assets, public and private, to Chinese interests is tantamount to national suicide.
    Better than “Scrooge McDaniel Andrews” (perhaps risking a charge of racism) would be plain “Comrade Andrews” or perhaps “Chairman Andrews”. I have no doubt though that if he had done to China what he has done to Victoria he would have long since been deprived of office. Is there no opposition party in Victoria?

  • pgang

    Interesting that The Australian has a lead story right now about Andrew’s China connections, using the same photo Quadrant used a few days ago.

  • lloveday

    From Nick Cater:
    *****
    Only one new case has been detected in SA over the past three weeks. Of the 439 cases identified, 435 have recovered.
    Yet bars and pubs remain closed. Cafes and restaurants are limited to 10 patrons at a time, making reopening a loss-making option for most.
    *****
    Those and more restrictions were imposed and newly concocted crimes determined by the unilateral decisions of the SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens. To use Stephen Due’s words – “The declaration of a police state!”.
    .
    Cater’s article is available paywall-free at morningmail.org

  • lloveday

    pgang,
    .
    That photo’s “done the rounds” even appearing on the ABC way back on 24 October 2019, just after Andrew’s tax-payer funded holiday in China from 20 to 24 October 2019. But it may be from one of his earlier holidays as it appears on riteon.org.au in an article about his 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018 jaunts (a pattern there – will he have one in 2020?)

  • pgang

    lloveday the article in The Austrlian is well worth the read. It’s a rare piece of good reporting and covers his political training trips to China also.

  • ianl

    Peter O’Brien

    > ” … notably Peter Smith and (with all due modesty) myself, were calling out the over-reaction by government to this ‘crisis’ before any other commentators”

    Perhaps.

    But your seeming lack of awareness on valid comparisons with other countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong allowed the Aus bureaucracy and political/MSM groups to sidestep your rhetoric.

    I’ve put these comparisons up here several times. The only actual responses from some few people is to acknowledge that comparing Aus to the USA or the UK is invalid (apples to oranges etc). Yet these invalid comparisons allow the herd to be constantly frightened through intellectual dishonesty and so easily controlled. It is still so.

    If Murphy (C’wealth CMO) and any (all) of the State CMO’s were actually challenged in an open press conference with valid comparisons, the resulting public embarrassments would change things quite rapidly. So flickpassing this issue helps them.

  • lloveday

    pgang,
    .
    The article identifies the photo as being from a 2013, tax-payer funded holiday, when Andrews was Leader of the Opposition.
    .
    Baxendale has another article re Andrews on The Australian site, which is paywall-free on morningmail.org. I’m not pushing Morning Mail – I’m banned from commenting because the editor will not tolerate any (well from me anyway) criticism of him – just pointing non-The Australian subscribers to topical articles from it that they can read.

  • lloveday

    ” Call them epidemiologists? Now Anders Tegnell, that’s an epidemiologist”.
    .
    Which is what PS said “Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell”, and that was the only person he referred to as an epidemiologist”, his only other use of “epidemiologist” was non-specific “epidemiologists will not be tarred and feathered and ..”.

  • lloveday

    referred to as an “epidemiologist” (missing apostrophe).

  • lloveday

    I should not be posting in the midst of working! Try (missing quotation mark) .

  • Peter Smith

    Peter O’Brien kindly excused my colourful adjective to describe whoever wrote the editorial in the Australian newspaper. I admit to being overwrought. The idiocy of the lockdown has found another victim. But let us not overlook the editorial itself and what it says about the media. If it had appeared in the Guardian or the Age or the SMH, ho-hum. It didn’t. It appeared in our only (so-claimed) centre-right national newspaper. I am running out of newspapers to read, which are not detrimental to my state of mind.

  • Peter OBrien

    Peter Smith,
    you are spot on re The Australian. Once upon a time my practice was to read the letters first, then Cut&Paste and then the editorials. Nowadays I no longer bother with Cut&Paste and give half the editorials a miss.

  • Peter Smith

    Yes, Peter, Cut&Paste started going to pot after Rebecca Weisser left the paper. It used to be my first read. Now I don’t bother. And I am resolving henceforth not to read the editorials or Bramston. Treat them as I do the ABC’s Q&A program and PVO.

  • T B LYNCH

    20% of New York City was infected with Wuflu = 2,000,000 patients.
    1% of all patients died = 20,000 deaths.
    1% of deaths were Wuflu deaths in healthy folk =. 200 deaths.
    Normal people have little to fear.
    Chronically ill people [frail, obese, diabetic, cancer, asthma, autoimmune…] need to behave like adults.
    Submitted by a doctor who was heavily involved in discovering, in his own laboratory, the CURES for not one but two, totally fatal [ie 100% fatal], worldwide infectious diseases – amoebic meningitis 20th century style with an antibiotic – and HIV 21st century mode with a mutated receptor.
    As St Paul said – all ideas should be tested.
    Today manipulated facts, uncritical minds, and polluted language carry more weight than the truth.

  • Stephen Due

    pgang, lloveday. Re the photo. The caption says it was taken at Tiananmen Square. I suppose the Premier of Victoria wanted to visit the site of the massacre that destroyed the pro-democracy movement in China. There’s so much to learn from the Chinese – and his Marxist friends at home in Australia. The other photo that was popular for a while showed the Premier enthusiastically hugging the communist Roz Ward, who famously called for the Red Flag to replace the ‘racist’ Australian flag atop Victoria’s parliament. She’s currently busy organising workers’ resistance during the pandemic.

  • ianl

    Although I didn’t see this, I’ve been told that Bolt tonight went through the Taiwanese example of how to deal with a pandemic without destroying yourself.

    So, good. The Taiwanese learned very precisely from SARS-1. The Aus medical authorities were too complacent, ignoring the real points. As a consequence, we now have a typically Australian mess, with no intention on the part of the various bureaucratic/poilitical/MSM segments to examine or rationally analyse how this became what it is. That is a genuinely common outcome in Aus.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    AFR’s John Kehoe, 25 May, 2020:

    “Treasury was wrong [by A$60 billion] because the epidemiological theoretical models were wrong in projecting a potential 50,000 to 150,000 virus deaths and that daily demand for intensive care beds could hit 5000, 17,000 or 35,000, depending on social distancing restrictions.”

    “The epidemiologists advising the government turned out to be too pessimistic. Perhaps more contrarian voices needed to be heard around the national cabinet table and inside Treasury when they were undertaking their economic policy planning.”

    “The overestimate of virus cases matters because governments were influenced by the modelling to engineer the deepest recession since the Great Depression, shut down viable businesses, close schools and cause massive job losses.”

    Thank you PS and JK for shining a light on the mess. Unlikely to be a government/opposition review. The latter wanted even tougher restrictions.

    One outcome: more government/public scepticism about BOTH epidemiological and CC modelling?

    Wishing & hoping

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