Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Pseudoscience informing public policy

Much of what passes for science is in fact pseudoscience. As the editor of the Lancet said:

The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. As one participant put it, “poor methods get results”.

This is a serious problem. Whole areas of “science” are currently little more than pseudoscience. Computer model outcomes are presented as though they are evidence about the world. Epidemiological studies are touted as proving X or Y when even a cursory reading of the actual research shows that no causal agent has been identified. Social science is filled with political activists who merely dress up their biases and prejudices in impenetrable jargon to hide its vacuity. None of this would matter very much if it all stayed within the ivory tower of academia. Unfortunately, all too often, such pseudoscience is used to inform public policy. This can be seen, not just in the current panic around a virus, but in such areas as global warming.

The use of pseudoscience to inform public policy inevitably results in policies that cause serious harm. An obvious defence against such harm would be a scientifically literate political elite. Unfortunately that is exactly what we do not have. The politically successful have virtually all been educated to hold the “correct” opinions rather than to understand the scientific method. This was laughably illustrated recently by Dawn Butler (then the Shadow Equalities Minister) when she asserted that 99% of giraffes are gay (meaning homosexual). She said this to exhibit her solidarity with the trans activists. As long as holding the right opinion is considered to be more important than anything else, we will have nothing but public policies that do more harm than good.

Friday, 5 June 2020

Coronavirus hypocrisy

The "lockdown" measures that have been introduced across the world in response to the coronavirus have resulted in a wave of hypocrisy. The ruling elites have flaunted at every opportunity their undoubted abilities for virtue signalling, and their equal lack of ability to observe their own rules.

Professor Neil Ferguson, whose computer model fuelled the fear-mongering, had no compunction about breaking the "lockdown" rules in order to meet his own desire to consort with his married lover. Scotland's Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, after repeatedly exhorting everyone to follow the stay at home rules in order to save lives, happily ignored the rule to visit her holiday home. Chris Cuomo, the CNN journalist, broadcast to the world that he was self isolating in order to protect everyone from the deadly virus, whilst breaking the quarantine. He even continued to play this game of pretend after he had been publicly exposed.

Politicians have also joined in the hypocrisy. Stephen Kinnock ignored the rules and decided to visit his parents for his father's birthday. Barry Gardiner, another Labour politician, decided he could ignore the rules because a man had died in America. Apparently, the virus ignores social justice motivated protests. Of course, the violation of the "lockdown" isn't confined to just Labour politicians. Robert Jenrick, a Conservative government minister, got in on the act with a visit to his holiday home.

These are just the tip of a very large iceberg: politicians and experts and journalists have pushed for draconian "lockdowns" and then ignored the rules for their own convenience.

This hypocrisy was ramped up when George Floyd died at police hands (well a police knee). The virtue signallers, who had up until that point being denouncing anyone who violated the rules as idiots who were literally killing people, suddenly switched positions and supported protests and riots, completely forgetting (or hoping everyone else would) all about the necessity for social distancing.

All the apparent hypocrisy surrounding the "lockdown" rules shows that the supporters of these measures do not really believe their own propaganda. Everyday on broadcast television one can see news readers, demanding strict enforcement of "lockdown" measures, who have clearly not been deprived of the services of a hair stylist. A US governor, who imposed measures that ruled hairdressing unlawful, had no problem with having her own hair styled: she claimed she needed it, as she is in the public eye.

This claim to being exceptional is routine. Dominic Cummings, the prime minister's senior advisor, used the excuse when he was revealed to have travelled hundreds of miles to a second home. Many have used the excuse to justify mass gatherings they approve of, even though under the same rules, for the same rationale, the majority are denied the ability to spend time with dying relatives or attend funerals. Children are being denied their right to an education because of the virus, but protesters are being lauded for gathering together en masse, with no social distancing. If the carriers of the virus is the Black Death narrative believed their own propaganda, there would not be all these examples of hypocrisy. The hypocrisy reveals they know the virus is no more dangerous than any of the many other viruses that cause some of us to get ill.