John Church: Burning Witches

This is an article by John Church. John is an oil and gas professional and has spent some 30 years working for one of the biggest oil companies in the world.

I have always smiled when I used to hear people laugh at the folly of previous generations and those who lived a long time ago. How foolish were our ancestors in what they believed and in what they did ? Whether it was exchanging houses for tulip bulbs, bleeding people with leeches or burning witches. We now know better. But somewhere in the back of my mind I always wondered if we had really evolved to a higher plane of thinking and interaction to avoid such stupidity. I think I always doubted it. Maybe it was things I learnt in school, like how evolution doesn’t work that quickly. Or maybe a natural appreciation for someone like Einstein who could say: “There are two things which I think may be infinite. The Universe and human stupidity. But I’m not sure about the Universe.” How brilliant is that quote!

But my fears have been fully realised by the events of 2020. It appears that human stupidity in the 21st century knows no bounds, and the mass stampede off the cliff that we have all made, with very few exceptions, is a testament to the validity of my concern. I don’t need to describe the absurdity of the world in August 2020, because one just has to open a newspaper to read about the catastrophic damage that has been done by our actions. Totally self-inflicted. All of this has been in response to a fear of death from a viral epidemic which did indeed kill some people, as is usual with viral epidemics. But not many, and the rest of us have survived with a survival rate somewhere between 99.9% and 99.99% depending on demographics, how deaths have been counted (or miscounted), and how effectively we managed to shield the truly vulnerable. But in summary pretty much every country has a survival rate well north of 99.9%.

What on earth were we thinking ? Or was it just a case of just not thinking ? At an individual level, of course there were good analyses and examples of critical thought, but the great learning from the last four months is how society can throw rational behaviour out of the window and, in a fit of hysterical panic, just run around like headless chickens. I have three examples of choice.

Firstly, our complete inability to put actual data about the virus into any kind of context. Quite simply, numerical illiteracy. There is the total lack of awareness about the ‘normal’ number of deaths in any year, month or week. Over 600,000 people die in the UK every year, and this is entirely normal! Thank God, because without this wonderful natural feature of our time-bound existence, life would quite simply not be worth living. We die from everything, mainly cardiovascular issues (eg. heart attacks and strokes) and cancers, but also a host of other undesirable conditions, and even just old age. In the UK, at a rate of about 1600 per day. We never hear this on the news. We never hear it said that thirty people died from Covid, but this was actually only around 2% of the daily death count. And a slight pause for thought would lead to other observations: such as that if 40,000 people in the UK have died from this virus, then it means 99.94% of us have survived. Or how if we take the gigantic step of looking at the age breakdowns which can be accessed with three clicks from the website of the Office of National Statistics, over 90% of the deaths are from people over 60. And almost all of these people also had serious other diseases. Most of us take far more risk getting into a car, and yet huge numbers of young and middle aged people were genuinely worried for their health. And still are. What were we thinking?

Secondly, the way we almost point blank refused to allow any thought or discussion to be made about equivalences between ‘lives’ and ‘livelihoods’. Everyone wanted to save lives (“what if it was your granny?”), but no one seemed able to think about how much saving those lives would cost. It was like the sight of the oncoming tsunami of unemployment, impoverishment, additional deaths due to untreated cancers, and the general deleterious effects of a huge recession were going to happen to somebody else. It was if we just said, “Thanks Rishi, for the free food, now let’s watch some fake footie”. Crikey, we are not a nation of five year olds. What were we thinking?

And thirdly, our total inability to see that the lockdown was not a solution, just a delay of the problem. Even Boris told us: we must lockdown to “flatten the curve”. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see beyond this brilliantly flawed strategy what the problem is. As soon as you release the lockdown, you just revive the problem you were trying to solve. Because it wasn’t a solution, just a delay. And worse, once you have locked down it becomes difficult to admit it was a mistake because, through your own sacrifice, you are now emotionally invested in the enterprise. This is known as the sunk-cost fallacy. I look around the world in amazement and see how everyone was just totally blind to this obvious issue. It’s like a giant psychotic Ponzi scheme, with the hugely sad and final outcome that it will crash. Just look at Australia and New Zealand if you want to watch this tragedy unfold in slow motion. Every attempt to release themselves results in a resurgence of the problem, and, unlike European countries, the problem hasn’t even really started there, so they still have it all to come. It is genuinely tragic to watch these once proud and free nations implode. What on earth were they thinking?

Of course, there are many who will point out that we didn’t have the data in March, that we might have overwhelmed ICU capacity, etc. And our response back then could be forgiven, if we had just stuck to the original rationale. But by mid-April it was clear we had over-reacted and we should have changed track. We didn’t. We doubled down, moved the goal posts and four months later this is where we are. Future generations will look back and remark on the illogicalities, the inability to mentally execute simple trade-offs, and the staggering numerical illiteracy of the people of the world in the early 21st century. For all our technological and intellectual prowess, we are no better than those who used to burn witches because the harvest failed.

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32 thoughts on “John Church: Burning Witches

  1. I was as concerned as almost everyone in the very early stages, with the images from Lombardy and so on; and took part in the clapping thing. To be fair, those frontline workers did not know what they were walking into and still did it. So my admiration for those people is undimmed. But by late April certainly it was clear the NHS had been saved from collapse and I fully expected restrictions to be lifted completely by the end of May at latest. The complete re-purposing of lockdown has painted its architects into a corner now, as there is no end-point that can be envisaged using their own criteria. A wise medical sceptic observed that we are now engaged in a forced ritual of continuous self-flagellation (eg magic masks and blaming specific groups like young people) to atone for our sins. The medieval comparison is valid, and Einstein was of course right. Great article. Thank you.

  2. Homo sapiens has achieved intelligence at the level of individuals, but not at the species level – or even large groups.

    We evolved to live in family-size or tribal groups, and our brains are quite well adapted to life in such numbers. No more people, let’s say, than a small village at the very most.

    Everyone knows everyone else. The altruistic are repaid in kind; the selfish are known to everyone, distrusted and shunned. Even, in extreme cases, killed..

    In modern societies, our numbers and the size of our cities are so great that cheats, liars and thieves (like the self-confessed Mr Pompeo) can always disguise their vile behaviour – and even get the venal media to celebrate them as heroes. Read any biography of the great “entrepreneurs” (mostly cheats, liars and thieves) like Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, or Carnegie and you will see that they habitually committed acts that would get ordinary poor people imprisoned for life – if not executed.

    No one has ever suggested a way for millions of people to be governed fairly. It’s quite likely such a way does not exist.

  3. John; Major mistake in your piece; we ARE a nation of five year olds!
    ClacksRambler; Lombardy has TWICE the number of deaths from respiratory diseases as any other Italian region. A lot of the media pictures in hospitals were fake. One quick check of statistics for this region saw the story for what it was.
    The Italian crisis following Far Eastern data was available before the Imperial model output. There is NO excuse for any politician’s actions anywhere.
    My personal experience of Bangkok China Town with thousands of visitors from Wuhan in January, the two months of perfectly ordinary life in Thailand following that. my younger son’s experience of completely non-interupted ordinary life in Horishima up to the fateful Imperial model date supports my view this was not just ‘mistakes’ , this was deliberate.
    And the psyop run in the western media has been diabolical.
    I am personally extremely angry.

  4. But the curve was not flattened. The curves for deaths, which must correspond to hospitalised cases, show steep exponential rise, peak, then slow decline. Now zero mostly.

    The NHS was ‘saved’ by discharging infectious people into care homes, or to their own homes to suffer and die, and cancelling normal activity. In fact this was not saving lives, just deciding whose lives to save: people with Covid got priority.

    Interestingly, US States like Florida and Texas, which did not lockdown or discharge infectious people into care homes, do have flat curves until a few weeks ago, when they had an exponential rise, peak and it looks like a fast decline. Also number of fatalities per million about one-third of States like New York or European Countries.

    So the virus made its way through populations whatever measures were taken or not taken, although the deaths and serious cases appear less where least was done, and of course Human and economic costs much less where least was done.

    Now as the presence of the virus is down to pre-epidemic levels, lots of people are immune, masks are compulsory. Whether or not masks are effective, it makes as much sense as insisting eunuchs in a harem must wear condoms to avoid pregnancies.

  5. I must admit to going along with the scare in it’s early stages. Back then there was no analysis like this available on the net for the independently minded to inform themselves of what was really going on. In retrospect it seems as though sometime in March there was a sudden switch from the herd immunity strategy to the lockdown strategy. The thing is it was the very same people who advocated the first approach who then switched to the lockdown approach, and since have been unable to admit they made a mistake. It would be interesting to know what made them change their minds. I well remember a clamour in the media, including that buffoon Piers Morgan, insisting that we must all be locked down. It was after the continentals locked down. so a precedent had already been set. But if you think it’s bad here the French Government are being even more draconian; but then that’s France.

    I confidently predict that long after the threat is past there will be idiots walking around in masks. It’s hard to know which politician is coming out of this the worst. Personally I have developed an especially strong loathing for Jacinda Ardern. On the subject of vaccines whilst I’m no anti-vaxer, there are grounds for being suspicious of a hastily developed concoction being rolled out in haste, without the normal level of testing. I’ll still probably have it though.

    But even when this is over there are even bigger threats coming down the line at us. First of all there is the Brexit cock-up. I yield to no one in my hatred of the EU. But no nation is an island, as it were, and the most sensible strategy would have been to join the EEA and remain a part of the single market. Not perfect I grant you, but a no deal Brexit is going to be substantially worse. Some of the impact may well remain hidden, because COVID has already done so much damage, and blame can be deflected.

    But the daddy of them all is the “Net Zero” nutters. They will kill you. The whole of the political elite are signed up to this nonsense, and a goodly chunk of the population too. This one keeps me awake at night.

  6. JimW: “… my view this was not just ‘mistakes’ , this was deliberate.”

    “Deliberate” implies an agent. Cui bono?

    I have toyed with the speculation that the agent was China’s leaders, and the Western Political Class is too wrapped up in their own brilliance to realize that the Covid-19 Scam is what economic warfare looks like in an age when nuclear weapons render military warfare impractical. Just another, slower way of undermining an opponent’s ability to resist.

    Consistent with that hypothesis, I had predicted that China would reduce exports to the West, claiming that they were doing their best but post-Covid disruptions were making it impossible to keep the supply chains running at full tilt. Western production would grind to a halt as the essential supply of Chinese components (right down to nuts & bolts) dried up. With the West on its knees, China would then assume global leadership.

    But that has not happened. Instead, reports indicate Chinese exports have risen to even higher heights. Maybe China’s leaders looked at the West and decided that if their opponents were foolishly destroying themselves over the Covid Scam, the smart thing to do was to step back and let the West get on with it.

    Or possibly the hypothesis is wrong. But if the Chinese are not orchestrating a deliberate attack on the manufacturing capabilities of countries from Canada to New Zealand, who is?

  7. Our medieval ancestors had an excuse for their madness, but we don’t. Even highly intelligent people like epidemiological modellers seem to be engaging in a modern form of divination. A belief in supernatural methods has been replaced by a similar belief in the power of models. Regardless of how good the model actually is/isn’t, they couldn’t even get basic assumptions correct – e.g. care workers visiting more than one care home.

  8. @John


    You missed one glaring example:

    Fauci et al always remind me of The Spanish Inquisition where scientists who contradicted The Church were burned at stake for heresy

    Galileo had a lucky escape – by surrendering
    – Hydroxychloquine and other off-patent drugs, masks…

  9. @JimW

    …The Italian crisis following Far Eastern data was available before the Imperial model output. There is NO excuse for any politician’s actions anywhere

    up to the fateful Imperial model date supports my view this was not just ‘mistakes’ , this was deliberate.
    And the psyop run in the western media has been diabolical.
    I am personally extremely angry

    Exactly. Way back in late February I looked at data and concluded:
    – Like bad Flu, death rate 0.5% of infected & sick at worst. Nothing Burger
    – Keep calm and carry on

    Received negative replies from usually sane posters, even here

    +1 China PsyOps

  10. @Ian Reid

    Back then there was no analysis like this available

    There was. My initial conclusions were based on quick mental arithmetic analysis of figures on MSM news which I posted. I made no changes to daily life as confident I was correct

    You are admitting “I can’t think for myself”

    Correction “I can’t think”

    It would be interesting to know what made them change their minds

    Professor of Failure Neil Ferguson

  11. Pcar, yes, it drives me nuts when people now post rationalise their impotence by saying there were no stats available at end of Feb to see exactly what was going on. There clearly were. It just wasn’t ‘western’ stats, so not as good? Perhaps it was because our family was personally involved in seeing on the ground events in the far east we could see and read what was happening.
    I am not dismissing China’s role in this, but I saw the effect of the US on this. It was if the lights had been turned off overnight. Countries unaffected, suddenly put up the shutters and the side effect was regimes doing things they only dreamed about before.
    This is a political pandemic, and the people who continue to portray this as a medical emergency should be completely ashamed of themselves. They are playing a leading role in the psyops required to enact undemocratic societal change.

  12. @John B
    The care home debacle is imo why the curve peaked not flattened: brought forward their deaths

    MSM have ignored it, but in SNPland patients who tested Positive were discharged into care homes by NHS

    Scottish Hospitals sent patients into care homes after they had tested positive for Covid-19
    “Dozens of patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 were transferred from hospitals into care homes in the critical weeks around lockdown, we can reveal today.

    The transfers, sanctioned as the NHS cleared beds for an expected onslaught of patients, were compared to “putting a match to tinder” yesterday after the virus swept through Scots care homes claiming the lives of at least 1,950 residents.

    The revelations come after mounting concern about the Scottish Government’s decision to allow hundreds of untested patients to be moved into homes, but, according to figures obtained by The Post, the transfers included many who had been confirmed as having Covid…”

    A leaked letter from Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has revealed the pressure put on hospitals to send elderly patients into care homes in the weeks before and after lockdown

  13. Tom Welsh
    “Homo sapiens has achieved intelligence at the level of individuals, but not at the species level – or even large groups.”

    I’ve said this many times, people are smart, crowds are stupid.

    It’s not possible to underestimate how stupid a group of humans can get.

  14. “The individual is handicapped by coming face-to-face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists. The American mind simply has not come to a realization of the evil which has been introduced into our midst. It rejects even the assumption that human creatures could espouse a philosophy which must ultimately destroy all that is good and decent.” J, Edgar Hoover

    We can try and blame this and that, China and Russia, the government, etc. but it’s simply grasping at straws. Once people do the proper research and realise that the agenda is a mandatory vaccine, Covid-Pass / health passports for all, a cashless society with embedded chips in order to buy and sell, restricted freedoms and mobility, then, and only then, will people understand. At this point of realisation the war will have been lost way before. It will simply be too late.

    For most people, their egos police their thoughts. They cannot believe the conspiracy to be true. Cognitive dissonance at its finest…..

  15. @Pcar I respect the fact you called it a month or so before I did. But if we’re honest here the reach of your postings on obscure blog sites are not that great. In the MSM there is the occasional piece of sanity, for instance Dominic Sandbrook in the Mail writing about Sweden getting it right.. But overall though the MSM is still behaving as though this is the apocalypse. I was watching BBC 1 this morning, and just as the death rate is declining to virtually nothing, there are concerned mothers demanding that the people least likely to be affected by all this, their children, be forced to wear masks in schools.

    We’re a long way from common sense being restored.

  16. “We’re a long way from common sense being restored.”

    Indeed we are.

    The balance between cock-up and intent can be argued – but the fact is that the public of a range of allegedly democratic countries have shown themselves to be massively susceptible to a psy-ops campaign aimed at inducing incontinent fear.

    Whether governments now *want* to put the genie back in the bottle is a moot point – but it’s going to take a lot of stuffing, anyway, given the ease with which parents are now open advocates for child abuse.

  17. @Ian Reid
    Whether I ‘called it’ before you is immaterial, as is posting it on ‘obscure blogs’

    You wrote

    Back then there was no analysis like this available

    Why didn’t you or others do you own?

    Not difficult. News in Feb: “cases x, deaths y”. Observation why no children and crying parents? Quick mental arith calc on cases of symptomatic vs dead = about 0.5% – next how many live in area vs how many dead. Conclusion – like bad Flu
    Keep calm and carry on

    I did for simple reason of wanting to know what risk to me was. I only posted when I saw others were worried to re-assure them

    You are admitting “I didn’t/wouldn’t think for myself”

    Anecdotal: I’ve noticed most rational group by a long way are bikers (eg Longrider), probably because we constantly observe all and determine risk to survive

  18. Good article by Dr Malcolm Kendrick

    COVID – What have we learned?
    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

  19. Exactly my thoughts right form the beginning but I did have a crib sheet from an epidemiologist who was also on one of the last flights out of Dominican Republic – You don’t need to be a scientist but just a witness to see the madness of morphing from the practical ‘flatten the curve’ to the impossible ‘defeat the virus’ and the obvious nonsense of the mask when for 3 months the ‘science’ says that masks are pointless outside the hospital scenario and morphing that into using the ‘science’ to make masts mandatory – It seems our Masters love the Mask as it is even more iconic than the pointless Lockdown (see the Sweden model) – These new powers in the hands of health apparatchiks who have never known such acclaim is heady stuff and they are hooked on it and certainly don’t want to give it up, they want to keep the pandemic going until their is a vaccine to make compulsory and morph that into Health Passports for a whole new World of authority – Not sure that any of this started as a conspiracy but it so seems to have grown into one – So many bad actions but the only likely malevolent one is the CCP locking down China but allowing international flights out of Wuhan – Apparently if this virus was being tampered with and escaped from the Wuhan lab it will be difficult to achieve a vaccine? – The unintended consequences of Lockdown and the Mask are going to be huge and far more damaging than the virus which is so similar in mortality to typical flu, what a waste – But maybe the biggest benefit of the virus is that it has insidiously exposed and is utterly destroying the CCP’s brilliant and previously incredibly stealthy take over of the World

  20. I am gobsmacked by this article. ‘John is an oil and gas professional and has spent some 30 years working for one of the biggest oil companies in the world.’
    ‘How foolish were our ancestors in what they believed and what they did?’ This without apparent irony. ‘We now know better.’ This is a man who has spent his life working to create the climate and ecological catastrophe caused by those very industries, oil and gas, Why is he writing about Covid-19? Why is he not telling everyone that the industries he spent his life in are causing global heating at a rate vastly faster than ever known on earth before? And that huge parts of the populated earth will be uninhabitable in 30 years time? Isn’t global heating much more important?

  21. Lucy M-T: “This is a man who has spent his life working to create the climate and ecological catastrophe caused by those very industries, oil and gas”

    It is good to hear from someone like Lucy — an opportunity to open minds to ignored data.

    What “ecological catastrophe”? Prior to the development of the “rock oil” industry in the late 1850s, whales were being hunted to extinction; oil extracted from whales was the primary source of illumination — for those who could afford it. Then kerosene refined from “rock oil” cut the price of illuminating oil drastically, democratizing the availability of lamps, helping the education of millions of children who could now study & learn after the sun went down … and saving the whales because the whaling industry could not compete.

    Big Oil saved the whales! Big Environment has killed untold millions of African children by banning the (oil-derived) DDT which kept them safe from malaria-spreading mosquitos. I know which one I would call a “catastrophe”.

  22. Lucy M-T
    Thank you for the comments. In some ways it feels good to get such an ad hominem attack.. Kind of badge of honour. I note that you don’t seem to have any objection to what I wrote, but more just don’’t like the fact that I used to work for an industry you don’t like. Fair enough. On your substance, the data does not support your view that the world is heading for a climate catastrophe. Satellite measurements show current global lower tropospheric temperature rises quite stable at about 0.13 deg per decade which are not outside natural fluctuation and will not render large portions of the planet uninhabitable. There is an interesting parallel between the catastrophism of climate change and the fear of death from Covid, in that both rely on worst case scenario models, implausible chains of inference, and lead to proposed solutions which cause much more damage than the original ‘problem’. Maybe I’ll write something about that. Fortunately the world is usually much more boring in reality, unless you were around at the end of the Younger Dryas period around 12.000 years ago when global temperatures went up several degrees in just a few decades, contrary to your statement that current temperature rises are ‘vastly faster than ever known on earth before’. That is not true.

  23. Rick, the Swedes more or less followed that strategy, and were very disappointed that the UK didn’t. But then they ignored Imperial.

  24. @Lindsay
    Spot on

    Re: CCP

    …until the Chinese government planted the idea with a highly-publicized “lockdown” of its own.

    This normalized the concept, preparing our minds to accept it as a scientifically-supported measure to manage infectious diseases. Then, after bombarding us with images of its citizens’ sacrifices, China predictably declared, “It worked! We defeated the virus! Disease is gone!”

    The lifeline. The island of escape. Thank you, China — because of you, we will not die.

    Little did we know that decades of public health work unequivocally established the opposite: “There is no basis [in science] for recommending quarantine either of groups or individuals…

    Agree. As I’ve written before, China lockeddown one small part vs countrywide elsewhere. Further, China has been back to normal for months and GDP growing. Yet we continue destroying ourselves.

    Do Left who dominate all state institutions want socialism so much they want to be ruled by China now USSR gone?

  25. @Lucy
    Man made global warming is a fallacy, thus not important

    @Gavin, John Church

    Lucy attacks the messenger, not the message :facepalm

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