Covid-19GovernmentHealth

Thaddeus Michaels: Why did the whole world lose its nerve?

This is an article by Thaddeus Michaels, who is a data scientist.

A few things to make clear up front: I am not ideologically opposed to state intervention in areas of public health; I believe vaccines work; I believe Covid-19 is a real, somewhat dangerous disease which emerged in China in late 2019 and can be fatal; I’m not a Brexiteer or libertarian.

But I believe a form of mass hysteria has spread through society in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. Rational thought about costs and benefits has evaporated, and we have done more harm than good in our response.

Instead of a conspiracy theory, here is a plausible ‘good faith’ explanation for why this may have happened.

Step 1: Confirmation bias and pet theories

The origins of the hysteria, in my view, lay with many researchers and public intellectuals who had been theorising about ‘The Great Pandemic’ for a long time.

It may not have been a mainstream topic of conversation, but anyone interested in fields like medicine, complexity science, and risk analysis would have heard chatter about the imminent pandemic threat.

We’d had a few false alarms in bird flu (2003) and swine flu (2009), and some nasty regional outbreaks of diseases like SARS (2002-04) and Ebola (2013-16).

There’s no doubt that some people were highly attuned to the possibility of a deadly pandemic. They had developed toolkits for forecasting and responding to it, often based on mathematical models they had fallen in love with.

The risk, as always in politics, is that you fight your last war. Many of the most draconian responses to Covid-19 have been promoted by people who cut their teeth on Ebola and SARS outbreaks.

Both those diseases are far more deadly than Covid-19 – making it easier to persuade the public to comply with tough control measures, and heavily penalising any society that fails to control an outbreak.

As anecdotal information arrived from China, Iran and Italy that something very bad was happening (and let’s be honest, it was!) this information wasn’t weighed up properly. People didn’t pause to think about whether the disease would behave like this in all settings, but began to accept that it was The Great Pandemic that everyone had feared.

Step 2: Availability bias and tunnel vision

The next step, after enough influential people had succumbed to confirmation bias, was to start distorting the information pipeline.

This wasn’t fake news, it was just a massive imbalance of information.

As the threat from Covid-19 became apparent, there was a well-intentioned global effort to churn out Covid-19 data as quickly as possible.

I doubt I was the only person to spend much of the early part of 2020 looking at Worldmeter time series of Covid-19 case and death counts in different countries.

John Burn-Murdoch at the FT produced a dazzling array of charts showing fatalities, introducing a lay audience to log-scale charts, and then publishing what he called ‘gold standard’ data on excess deaths.

It was very easy for anyone vaguely interested in data to become an expert of sorts, just by following a few Twitter accounts and reading the right newspapers.

But the catch was that the policy response to Covid-19 could not be judged solely on Covid-19 outcomes. We also needed to look at second order effects of each policy response: mental health problems, cancer deaths, job losses, mortgage defaults, domestic violence, child abuse, and so on.

Much of the data needed to judge these second order effects still does not exist. The urgent ramp up of Covid-19 data was not matched by any urgency to collect and publish this data at a similar rate. So the cost-benefit analysis is inherently biased in favour of Covid-19 preventation.

With public health officials judged exclusively on their performance on Covid-19 KPIs, tunnel vision was naturally going to set in.

Step 3: Clickbait journalism and influencer attention seeking

As the availability of Covid-19 data ramped up, this also created an active online market for fear porn.

We had uninformed attention seekers like Piers Morgan flying the flag for extreme reactions to Covid-19 on the basis of their own very rudimentary understanding of the statistics.

A particularly bizarre moment was a debate on Channel 4 News on 12th March 2020 where Tomas Pueyo (a ‘growth hacker’ at an e-learning company) debated John Edmunds (a professor of epidemiology and SAGE member).

Pueyo had written a blog post Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now, which had attracted global attention. It was superficially plausible, but riddled with overreaching arguments, overconfident predictions, and false equivalences.

On the programme, Edmunds says that we are past the stage where eradication is feasible, and that “the only way to stop this epidemic is indeed herd immunity” (one assumes he means via either infection-recovery or vaccination).

Pueyo, who has only recently appointed himself as an expert on pandemics, theatrically holds his head in his hands. “This is like deciding, you know what, this forest might burn, so let’s cut a third of it! This is crazy!”

He then says: “So you’re saying we want to kill 200,000 people in the UK!”

This kind of analysis quickly became mainstream. Initial case fatality rates (heavily skewed by early treatment failures and the virus’s higher spread in hospitals and care homes) were naively extrapolated to wider society.

Crude, back-of-a-fag-packet calculations and hand waving arguments were granted authority, because informed critics could not match the hysterics for eye-bulging certainty.

Unfortunately, social media platforms are a major reason why so many countries collectively lost their nerve. Pueyo’s accessible blog post spread like wildfire. Worldometer charts allowed people to naively compare their progress against other countries, and force change. Only Sweden held out.

Step 4: Politicisation and assumptions of bad faith

The final nail in the coffin was the sifting of Covid-19 viewpoints into old political tribes.

Lockdown scepticism started to become a Brexiteer/libertarian position. Strong support for masking and social distancing was associated with so-called ‘Karens’.

Teachers’ unions saw an opportunity to undermine the Johnson government by nonsensically advocating for prolonged school closures, despite plenty of evidence from other European countries that this was unnecessary.

In the States, anything Trump said about coronavirus was instinctively added to the list of wrongthink by his political opponents, even when he accidentally said sensible things.

Lest we forget, Trump was one of the first advocates for restricting travel from China when the outbreak first happened – in hindsight, a sensible move.

We now have Twitter dominated by Covid tribes like #WearAMask, #ClapForTheNHS and #KBF (Keep Britain Free). They each draw from predictable ends of the political spectrum. It is all very reminiscent of Brexit.

It is challenging to have a nuanced discussion about Covid-19 on social media now, although there are a handful of scientists who have held firm – Prof Francois Balloux is one of the most impressive at neither downplaying the genuine threat from Covid-19, nor succumbing to tunnel vision.

How do we escape this?

Eventually, we run into the old reality that ‘facts don’t care about your feelings’. Covid-19 hysteria is an emotional, identity-driven position masquerading as a set of facts.

It has spread so widely, though, that there are few control cases available for comparison, besides Sweden.

Sweden is a useful example for lockdown sceptics, but it is too easy for pro-lockdown voices to dismiss Sweden as an outlier country that anyway experienced a higher death toll than neighbouring countries.

On individual questions like school closures, we are starting to see some emerging evidence that the hysterics were wrong. Perhaps similar evidence will emerge soon on measures like track and trace, mask wearing, and so on.

Many of the ‘Covid Hero’ countries like New Zealand will see that status diminish as they find themselves vulnerable to imported outbreaks. That may help to recalibrate the debate.

Sadly, though, I fear it will only be the rampant social, economic and psychological destruction we inflict on the world’s youth that will eventually up-end the mainstream consensus.

Social media

39 thoughts on “Thaddeus Michaels: Why did the whole world lose its nerve?

  1. The core principle of this piece is that the generator for our current predicament is multiple connected cock-ups, rather than conspiracy; this is the parsimonious explanation. The drama has been full of intellectual villains and anti-heroes (Ferguson, Pueyo, Yaneer Bar Yam, Nicholas Taleb) and some potential heroes and heroines (Gabriela Gomes, Karl Friston). We should defenestrate the former and elevate the latter in due time. But there have also been ineffectual bureaucrats in plenty, and hopeless politicians, badly advised. . It is hard to not to detect a vacuum in the centre of government in many leading countries, not least the UK. But the principal thing that seems to have gone wrong, globally, is the religious fervour with which ordinary people have embraced a life of house arrest and virtue signalling, making it hard to persuade them that the way forward is actually the restoration of the status quo as we knew it before Wuhan. Governments seem bent on delaying this re-entry for as long as possible, which seems counter-intuitive. It is almost as if the cock-up theory was not, after all, the most parsimonious explanation for the loss of nerve. But the Davos-Reset-Vaccination theory, while more economical, is too like a bad film.

  2. Thank you for this, Thaddeus. The realisation that we can cock things up this easily/badly is, perhaps, more disturbing than seeing it as a vast conspiracy. Hence the appeal of the latter. One further element to add to you thesis is the role of China.

    When SARS1 hit, China responded (eventually) with extreme measures, and the world barely batted an eyelid. China still wasn’t that important. But things have changed: our connections with China have increased greatly, making physical transmission of an infectious disease much harder to avoid. At the same time, China’s influence has grown dramatically, and ‘we’ have become much more like ‘them’; more likely to see Chinese methods as realistic…even worthy of imitation.

    Against that backdrop, events in Lombardy obviously brought things home.

    I think it’s possible to overstate the role of social media (which is not to say it’s insignificant). It’s not the first time we – or at least our politicians and major media have collectively lost the plot. Such groupthink may already have been more common than we’d like to believe. Anyone remember Satanic Ritual Abuse, or Diana, or WMD?

  3. I have two items which in my opinion were bad and avoidable behaviour by the people in charge. First, to claim that they knew what they were dealing with when facts were not available. Thus they treated covid as a purely pulmonary problem when in fact it is one of inflammation throughout the body. This led to avoiding steriod anti-inflammatory treatments which have subsequently proved effective. But never mind this particular example, the problem is claiming to know whern you don’t.

    The second is lying to the public in order to influence behaviour. The masks hokey-cokey is an example. The whole ‘Don’t panic!’ thing, Just tell me the truth. If you don’t know, tell me that.

  4. Regarding the UK government, I think part of the reason it lost its nerve and went for lockdown was panic and the desire to save itself. It’s not implausible to me that the latter was at least as important to them as trying to save lives.

    The media and social media certainly played a big part in how people felt about the pandemic. But another factor may be that as societies become safer from a health perspective, the more they struggle to deal with the reality of a new health threat that cannot easily be controlled. Covid is a timely reminder, like flu and pneumonia which the media ignore and don’t treat as fear porn, that nature is the great leveller despite our knowledge and technology.

  5. “As anecdotal information arrived from China, Iran and Italy that something very bad was happening (and let’s be honest, it was!”

    Well, a little over 60,000 deaths have been *attributed* to Covid-19 in those three countries combined. About as many as died in the UK alone during the worst flu years. Out of the approximately 1.6 billion people living in those three countries combined – of whom one might expect about 15 million to die every year. As 60,000 is about 0.4% of 15 million, the total deaths attributed (perhaps with some exaggeration) to Covid-19 in China, Iran and Italy are equivalent to the deaths that would “normally” occur in about a day and a half.

    Excluding China – where Covid-19 amounted to a mere flea bite – Iran and Italy combined suffered some 56,000 deaths (alleged) out of a population of about 144 million – about 0.04%.

    None of that looks “very bad” at all.

  6. “Sadly, though, I fear it will only be the rampant social, economic and psychological destruction we inflict on the world’s youth that will eventually up-end the mainstream consensus.
    “Social media”

    Hasn’t anyone noticed that the article is suddenly truncated after the two words “social media”?

  7. The failure of our democracy is well and truly seeded in the inability of political parties to disassociate themselves from the ramifications of making the unpopular decisions.
    Even if the unpopular decisions don’t follow the narrative, set by the lynch mob mentality of the left leaning media. The news media, being more interested in making and sensationalizing news, rather than reporting. ”Cancel Culture” prevailing, Sweden, BLM, Kindness, Trump, Lunatic conspiracy labeling. Unfortunately, as with all politicians, it’s all about spinning the popular beliefs. Politicians well and truly protected, from criticism, or requirements to voice unpopular discussions, is far more important than making debatable the correct informed decisions. Key point here, is there any political party willing to have the Sweden approach debate?
    To me, all politicians are idiots. All of them are tainted by political spin maneuvering. None, want the political fallout of being seen to make the unpopular decision. Even if that unpopular decision is the logical correct one. When you consider the wider community suffering which has and will occur as a result of single minded health policy, which takes no consideration of economic, medical, and social damage inflicted by lock downs. The Covid response by the standing Govt, which ended up in a political football game, with the media, which simply got out of control. After all those actions were and are popular to the vast numbers of mass media fear filled voters out there. Vaccination. No doubt, the masses, will be lining up in their droves to get vaccinated. With the same vaccine, vouched for by the experts, which will be fast tracked to market. Remember the same health experts which have got us to where we are at today.
    The problem with democracy, is that idiots can vote, a problem China doesn’t have. The problem with our democracy at the moment is the media, sensationalize issues and make politicians heroes if they follow the path of greatest sympathy. Or villains, if politicians follow the alternative to the narrative path.

  8. @Tom Welsh

    Every other post on this site ends in the same way. It’s very suspicious. “Hector Drummond”, whoever he may be, is plainly in the pay of the WEF, or maybe the CIA. Keep an eye on him.

  9. The sunbelt states in the US are now another non-lockdown, control situation. Large population and similar death rate to other states.

  10. Thank you for your post . It made complete sense but the damage caused will be and is horrendous. Will politicians learn from this? I doubt it.

  11. “Every other post on this site ends in the same way. It’s very suspicious. “Hector Drummond”, whoever he may be, is plainly in the pay of the WEF, or maybe the CIA. Keep an eye on him”

    Yer daft bugger, Simon Tugmutton!

  12. Really excellent article and I think the steps laid out are exactly correct. There are a couple of additional points I would have made :

    1) Probably in Step 2 (but also in Steps 1 and 3) , a key component was the very low analytical capability and complete numerical illiteracy of anyone in the Government. The inability to articulate any sense of context regarding the death statistics has been shocking.

    2) The political divisions that are discussed in Stage 4 are most marked in the USA, where the upcoming elections has been the key driver for behaviours and discourse. I would have highlighted that Donald Trump has been more right than wrong on Covid. Not just on restricting travel from China, but on the point that’we can’t let the cure be worse than the problem’, on lockdowns, on the ‘immunity’ of children and probably on hydroxycloroquine. How many deaths have been caused and livelihoods ruined by the American left (Democrats) in attempts to discredit him ?

  13. Something recently read elsewhere “the degree to which people mindlessly go along with it, is the most scary and insane mass phenomenon I have ever seen. It makes one long for the days of good old-fashioned “red scare” and fear of nuclear war – they were never so utterly awful, insane, and irrational as what we are seeing around the world today.”

    The Great Panic is the MAD scenario in slow motion, not just one twitchy finger on the Big Red Button, but a psychological chain reaction propagated at internet speed.

    “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.”

  14. Indeed , it has been a massive cock up and everything that is now being done is an attempt to climb down and get back to normal without drawing to much attention to the mistakes that have been made. Thus masks are advised and a casedemic is conflated with a ‘ second wave’ since some sense of threat still needs to be maintained. Another important point to bear in mind is that the U.K. is front and centre of this massive over reaction as it was the Imperial college model which most of the rest of the world acted upon. That implicates not just those who authored it but the politicians who adopted it. In a very real sense our Government are at the forefront of the whole debacle. They have most to lose if it turns out as many of us now believe that they called it spectacularly wrong.

  15. Putting on my cynic’s hat — What Problem? Who lost his nerve?

    There would have been bodies in the street, Man!, if the brave politicians had not acted. Remember those videos from China back in the early days of people simply collapsing? That would have been us — if the politicians and bureaucrats had not saved us.

    To be serious, one of the big problems in biology, economics, and some other disciplines is that we cannot do controlled experiments. We cannot know how many people MIGHT have died in the UK if it had not been for the Lock Downs and the rest of the nonsense. Sure, we can look at Sweden or Wyoming or Vietnam and conclude that the Lock Downs did no good — but there will always be contrary explanations for those “outliers”.

    It was obvious from the early days of the Diamond Princess onwards that the economic impacts of the “cure” were going to be much more devastating — and much longer lasting — than the health impacts of a virus commensurate with the flu which had negligible impact on working-age people and children.

    Eventually, the data will show that total all-causes 2020 deaths in the UK will have been within the normal range. And the Political Class will pat themselves on the back and give themselves peerages for having saved the country from something much worse.

  16. The article itself and the comments generated were very interesting and enlightening. The feeling I get from it all, even under the mask of satire or amusement is the calmness of everybody looking in on what’s happened over the last 5 months or so. We acknowledge having been duped and lied to, taken for granted, treated with disdain and generally just ignored whilst others’ aims are fulfilled. We should be spitting nails. shouting from the roof-tops and demanding restitution! But we all know there is the huge brush sweeping all the c*** they have given us under the carpet, where it shall be forgotten.

  17. For all the people who called this a scam in late February, I do not accept most of the points in this article as particularly significant. A lot of data was available from the far East by the end of Feb, it all pointed to what most accept now, covid-19 is not a major ‘threat’ and only affects elderly with comorbidities. Two major turning points, the Imperial model; and Trump’s support of HCQ plus zinc. The first quite unbelievable given their awful track record; the second totally predictable and at that point covid-19 became a political disease.
    Everything else including the bumbling idiocy of the UK government and the ‘shock’ of elderly people dying in large numbers in Lombardy ( every single year twice the number die in Lombardy than any other Italian region of respiratory diseases) was not unexpected.
    This killer disease will decline rapidly as a news story immediately after the November US elections.

  18. With gratifying brevity and clarity, The madness of crowd’s comment above says everything there is to say about this utterly ludicrous situation.
    The enormous and most important question now is, “What will these infantile fools (both “establishment” and masked believers) actually do when the next “deadly killer bug” pops up?”
    I quail at any answers they may give to that particular question.

  19. @Thaddeus

    You are being much to kind to Gov’ts, ‘Experts’ and MSM and excusing their brainless panic and refusal to look at real world data or do any cost/benefit (risk/reward) analysis

    It was clear early on only the old were at high risk, this was not just ignored, but dismissed. Even now it’s still dismissed – schools: 1 healthy <10 has died in UK, Zero cases worldwide of <15 infecting anyone

    @rhoda, Dene, Tom Welsh, Sane Minority
    +1

    @JimW

    For all the people who called this a scam in late February, I do not accept most of the points in this article as particularly significant. A lot of data was available from the far East by the end of Feb, it all pointed to what most accept now, covid-19 is not a major ‘threat’ and only affects elderly with co-morbidity

    Agree, I looked at data in late Feb and concluded ‘like bad Flu, don’t worry’. I now class it as a scam as it does not come close to meeting criteria for Epidemic/Pandemic and so much Gov’t & MSM inflating deaths etc, deliberate non contextual data fear mongering to continue the scam

    Perhaps largest current Op C-19 scam is Gov, MSM, @Hector deliberate ignoring Flu deaths

    How are people getting & dying from the flu and not covid 19? Surely with all the restrictions very few should have the flu, yet six times more deaths than C-19? Where’s BBC etc?

  20. Whilst incompetence and cock-up as described in the article are clearly manifest at the superficial level, they are far from adequate as an explanation of either the house arrest or the current policy of claiming there is an on-going problem, and for example the recent grant of draconian powers to local authorities.. When all the “mistakes” all have effects tending in the same direction, that does not suggest pure incompetence – they would be more random. The emergency powers were sought for two years, for a problem most unlikely to last so long, Why not six weeks and then subject to review./extension? Given that in the Autumn last, when Parliament was prorogued, there was a fast tracked, highly controversial court case, Why did every institution intended to prevent tyranny- MPs, the law courts – and charities like Liberty that normally make a fuss over human rights infringements, etc., etc., – remain completely silent? Why did the Government terrorise the public (SAGE minutes), and seek to suppress all opinion other that its own – when democracy depends on open debate? The courts have kicked the Stephen Dolan case down the road. This SILENCE is no accident. Also, characteristic of scams is for the con man to move from story to story as each becomes discredited. The goal posts have kept moving. These things suggest a deeper level of action that goes beyond cock-up, to produce panic and Stockholm syndrome. Much more might be said – this is illustrative. There is a deeper and purposeful agenda – of control – which the powers that be are not going to let go.

  21. @Adrian Ford: That is what I fear most. That the elite apparatus, coordinating their approach across the western democracies, will actually get away with their deceit and monumental failures. I pondered that perhaps the only way to hold them to account, in some way, is to crowd-fund a statue of liberty or some such, to be presented to Sweden as the nation that stood alone when all others doubted them. Fanciful perhaps, but the feeling of helplessness drives one to such fantasies.

  22. I tend to agree with the commentators here who suggest that the cock-up explanations are an important part of the issue. I think that the analysis of the intellectual background is particularly persuasive.

    But these factors are not a *sufficient* explanation, given that it was obvious by June (to anyone with an intellect and who was paying attention) that the risks from the virus had been massively over-hyped, and that all-cause mortality was within the range of normal variation.

    I am naturally averse to simplistic ‘conspiracy’ explanations, and have always got my Occam’s shaver in hand.

    However, if, instead of tangled conspiracy, you think in terms of the simple nostrum ‘Follow the money’ and the question ‘Cui bono?’ – you inevitably come up with a conclusion that intentionality played a part – particularly in politically shaping the response of the WHO – which was an important driver.

  23. Many of the points raised in comments are discussed here by Dr Malcolm Kendrick

    COVID – What have we learned?

    “We have learned that people who are asymptomatic can, cannot, can, cannot, can, cannot, can… spread the virus.

    That the accuracy of PCR antigen testing is brilliant, useless, brilliant, useless, brilliant, useless.

    That false positive tests are impossible, common, impossible, common, impossible, common.

    That facemasks are useless, necessary, useless, necessary, useless… absolutely necessary.

    We also know that some people are, are not, are, are not are, naturally immune. In addition, we know that having had COVID means that you can, cannot, can, cannot, can cannot – maybe you can, frankly who knows, get it again. I think Kurt Vonnegut Junior put it best:

    It is said that the first casualty of war is the truth. Never has this been more certain that with COVID. In this case, first we killed the truth, then we killed science, then we beat inconvenient facts to death with a club. It is all extraordinarily depressing.”

    It is extraordinarily depressing

    @Rick Hayward
    +1 on ‘Follow the money’

  24. Yes, psychologists needed more than data scientists at this point – nice piece. I’m over in the US and wrote something similar a little over a month ago (link below). I have come to conclude that forgiveness is the only way forward. We need to forgive people who let fear get the better of them and politicians who overreacted and allow them accept the reality of what ended up happening without shame or embarrassment. There were many unknowns at the outset. It is frustrating for many that Trump was basically correct from the beginning, but I couldn’t agree more that it was totally accidental!
    https://medium.com/@barow44/op-ed-david-letterman-style-top-10-things-that-have-made-me-become-cynical-about-covid-coverage-acda79dfaeb8

  25. I live in Ludlow, Shropshire, where no one has even been infected with Covid 19 for 3 months now, let alone die! Neverthless the locals are all masked up as ordered, and wandering about the town with looks of sheer terror in their eyes! I popped over the border to Wales the other day to do some shopping and where face masks are not compulsory. No one in the supermarket was wearing a mask, except a couple of English people who were making a big song and dance about it, and which the Welsh observed with wry amusement. It made me wonder whether or not there is something peculiarly dumb and credulous about the English, the result of a failed educational system, a ridiculous lying MSM etc, which means they are easy prey for any conspiracy theory that comes along. Incidentally, I understand Welsh covid infection rates have been lower than England since compulsory Mask wearing was introduced at the end of July.

  26. This is a great summary of events, thank you for putting what I have slowly been Starring to feel. I feel fear drives society in all facets at the moment, Fear of the other side winning, Fear of being wrong. Fear drives emotions higher and lessens our actual view of reality.

  27. So many smart people around the world thinking a PCR test was suitable. Pull the other one. Infection rates were the cornerstone of all the public policy responses around the world. All the big players can’t have made th same mistake. I call battle plan rather than cock up.

  28. There are a lot of missing facts in this whole debate. We don’t have the numbers on how many people have brain damage, lung damage, heart damage, and persisting chronic illness leading to longer term disability. But, we do know these are significant issues. Sometimes, decisions cannot be made on facts, because the data is not available. That does not mean that people should not be taking precautions to avoid widespread brain damage in a society that already behaves as if it is brain-damaged.

  29. I’ve thought a lot about this topic too and how a lot of bad circumstances happened at the same time. As you said, the first news we got from China, Iran, and Italy was truly bad. China also leads the way with a hard lockdown of Wuhan. And then the same thing happened in Italy (an EU country!). That was literally the only way we know of how to save us from this new virus.

    I want to add a few things. Hospital capacity and “the flatten of the curve” was VERY relevant. Even though it spread panic, it also helped save lives. Also the importance of good social security. It’s much easier for Sweden to aim for herd immunity than it is for Brazil of the US.

    John Burn-Murdoch definitely did more harm than good. Using wrong/unhelpful numbers for cases and deaths and also creating a “competition” between countries, and especially putting Sweden and Norway against each other.

    Regarding Trump’s ban on flights from China. There were still 10 000 Americans flying into the US from China and also many other loopholes in his “ban”.
    Trump has been “hit and miss” is his response. Mostly “miss” if seen as a leader to actually stop the virus. When he says something really stupid, he hurts his cause.
    I also believe that the upcoming US election actually is one of the main things that drives to Covid “hysteria”. If the election would have taken place in 2 years, things might have been less crazy.
    With all this said, I hate trump and want him gone as soon as possible.

  30. My sincere hope (and it’s a horrible thing to have to be hopeful for) is that come the 1st November the economic reality will hit for many as they find themselves unemployed in a flooded job market. Then, just maybe, people will begin to question the response. The media will, predictably, adjust their narrative slowly over a few weeks to begin questioning the Government as they should have done months ago.

    I believe that 2 things are happening right now:

    1) People are slowly starting to become critical of the response, there is only so much sensationalism you can take before you start to question it, but are too scared to voice their opinion lest they be branded Granny killers by the loud minority.

    2) People who are very short sighted and are currently absolutely loving sitting around all day while the Government pay their wages, or those who are Working from Home. They have become so accustomed to their wonderful new lifestyle that will flat out refuse to acknowledge any evidence that supports the idea that this has been a massive overreaction, because then said lifestyle becomes threatened.

    Take those 2 groups out and you are left with those easily swayed and naïve enough to believe every word the BBC tell them because “they have to be impartial” (LOL!), and the mask loving, virtue signalling hi vis fetishists who, in a similar manner to Group 2 above, do not want their newfound “power” to be taken away so will actively vilify and scream at those who threaten it.

    Then you go in the other direction and have people like Piers Corbyn. OTT conspiracy theorists are a convenient scapegoat and thus I have found that anyone daring to question the response publicly gets lumped in with them.

    Fingers crossed we’ll be back to normal by Christmas eh….

  31. All good information, analysis and comments. But as a 65 year old who has been through a lot, as a society we have become so used to avoiding death (particularly those of children) anything that poses a risk is banned or heavily controlled. Playgrounds are almost non-existent (I’m not advocating going back to the playgrounds of my childhood where the monkey bars were on concrete and yes a few kids did break a limb or two and I’m sure some were more seriously injured) or driving without seatbelts. But we have gone to the other extreme where we are so afraid of death that we are willing to give up everything as a false tradeoff that we will be safe. Then along came a unknown virus (that turned out to act almost like every other virus – hit the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions hardest) and over time has weakened and waned but there are still enough people around who are convinced that the lockdowns saved the world.

    I remember visiting a small rural cemetery where many of family are buried and my mother walking around remembering children she played with who died because of heat stroke, measles, farm accidents, being kicked in the head by a horse etc. – her best friend lost her life from heat stroke/dehydration. But at the end, my mum wiped her tears away and still looked forward to the rest of her life.

    Unfortunately we will learn NOTHING from Covid19 and in fact we have empowered bureaucrats to take more control in the future. We gave into their wet dreams and like all bureaucrats they will NOT give up the power we have granted them.

  32. wrote this back in March http://danielfox.co/what-does-the-fox-say-fear/

    “…I often wonder how some of the tragedies of the past would have been experienced had social media existed. It is fair to say that the coronavirus is the first pandemic to happen fully immerse in a world dominated by Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Where information spreads without any editorial oversight. When SARS happened in 2003 Facebook wasn’t even public yet. The last flu pandemic of 2009, when 210,00 people died, Facebook had 300 million users. Today, Facebook has 2.5 billion users. Every single day, there are 460 million status updates, more than 211 million photos are uploaded, 78 million links are shared and there are more than 8 billion video views. Twitter’s 300 million users create more than 500 million tweets every single day.

    Add into the mix the fact that our trust in leaders and experts has reached a record low level; that tribalism has become the dominating social structure; that you can find online ‘factual’ reports on any imaginable conspiracy; that we have a cultural belief that the way we experience the world means it is real – so emotions over facts; that technology has created this illusion that we can live in a world of zero risks; and you tightly wrap all those ingredients into an economic model that prioritize fear and battles for your attention without any ethic and at any cost, and you start to understand the current hysteria that is going right now.

    There is a reason why you want an experienced captain at the helm of a boat during a storm. You don’t want the passengers who are sick in their cabins, thinking it is the end of the world, broadcasting to the world their theories about survival and what is going on. You don’t want a captain that is going to listen to every opinion on the boat. You want someone who has been there before. You want someone who can tell you that while it sucks, it is going to be ok. You want someone who can reassure you while at the same time recognize the dangers….”

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