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Samizdata quote of the day

“The humanist ethic begins with the belief that humans are an essential part of nature. Humans have the right and the duty to reconstruct nature so that humans and biosphere can both survive and prosper. For humanists, the highest value is harmonious coexistence between humans and nature.”

– Freeman Dyson, the great scientist and futurist who died recently. As quoted in this fine article over at National Review, by Robert Bryce.

Dyson did not buy global warming alarmism, which must have given many in the government-funded science establishment the vapours, (excuse the pun).

39 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • K

    Humans are the mechanism by which Gaia defends herself from asteroids that would kill all life. As has nearly happened several times in the past.

  • David Bishop

    Thank you, Johnathan, that is a fine obituary for a fine man.

    I noticed on the same NR page a link to a report on Biden’s inclusion of AOC on his climate action team, or whatever he calls it. It really is extraordinary how so many people are so fearful these days, of ‘climate change’, of Covid-19, of their own shadows.
    What to do? Do as you have done, and as so many like Paul Homewood, Judith Curry, Roger Peilke, and the GWPF do, keep pushing back again the nonsense – KBO.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    “It really is extraordinary how so many people are so fearful these days, of ‘climate change’, of Covid-19, of their own shadows.”

    It is one of the defining problems of our time, what might also be called a general sort of “snowflake” phenomenon, except that it goes much wider than students objecting to Western culture on campus. There is a more broad-based inability to handle risk, and much of it comes down to child-rearing, and how people have been indoctrinated about the “precautionary principle” (as in “if it saves on life”……).

    Pushing back against this is hard, but I hope that one result of the Wuhan virus is that the lockdowns and misery of the lockdowns might have stirred some parts of the population to understand that this has been a taster, a starter course on the menu, of what the PP would mean in practice across the board.

  • bobby b

    Johnathan Pearce
    May 18, 2020 at 7:13 am

    It is one of the defining problems of our time, what might also be called a general sort of “snowflake” phenomenon, except that it goes much wider than students objecting to Western culture on campus.”

    In the USA, at least, the demographics of the sides in the lockdown debate are interesting, as they’re not following what I might expect from a snowflake issue.

    There’s one very large constituent group – carved out by age – who would normally flock to the anti-lockdown, pro-freedom side of this divide, and that’s oldsters. The over-60 group. They’re usually a strong bloc siding with constitutional principles.

    But they’re also the “vulnerable” of this pandemic, and so I see lots of them who, out of (understandable) self-interest, are pushing hard for continued lockdown.

    It’s going to be interesting to see what this does to the expected voting breakdown in the next election. The Dems know this – if they can paint Trump as bad on the virus, he could lose one of his biggest and most rabid fan clubs.

  • Paul Marks

    bobby b – see Tony Heller (Real Climate Science – on Youtube and also on his own website for WHEN Youtube-Google bans him) on how the Republicans can win the argument for freedom against FEAR – with the old and with other people.

    I believe you live in Minnesota – so not a million miles from South Dakota, a State of almost (not quite – but almost, especially with the new people who have gone to the State) a million people – they have had 44 dead. Not 44 thousand – 44

    Lockdown New York State has had almost 23 THOUSAND deaths.

    “Not a fair comparison – small State against big State”.

    O.K. then – Florida (which did have a lockdown – but only a brief one) has had 2 thousand dead – Florida has a LARGER population than New York and it has had less than a TENTH of the deaths – and the lockdown is long over. There are lots of old people in Florida – and most of them are NOT demanding a return to “lockdown” (they can hide in their homes if they WANT TO – “lockdown” is about FORCING people to do this).

    The New York based media still think that it is the 1950s – that New York is still the “Empire State”, with the largest population and following policies that other States MUST follow – because “New York leads the way – onward and upward!”

    The media do not understand that New York is a declining State and its “Progressive” Collectivist policies are the reason for its decline. New York has gone from “Progressive but Solvent” under Governor Tom Dewey in the early 1950s (who made “Progressive” gestures, but always made sure that as-a-proportion-of-the-economy government spending and regulations in New York were actually NOT that high) to the dump it is today.

    I hope the media gets a nasty shock in November – when the Democrats win their beloved New York and LOSE in the country.

  • Humans are the mechanism by which Gaia defends herself from asteroids that would kill all life. As has nearly happened several times in the past.

    It’s not easy to hit a moving target like an asteroid.

    As Werner von Braun famously said “I aim for the stars, but keep hitting London”.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course by making the Progressive gestures Governor Dewey (although he was “Progressive in Public Relations – but Conservative if you looked closely”) was actually, without knowing it, preparing the ideological ground for dreadful Governors, such as that Vile Creature Nelson Rockefeller, who actually were Big Government Progressives – but that is what “practical” people tend to forget.

    As or the human C02 emissions lead to Global Warming theory – I do not know if the theory is true or not. But I do know that anyone who sincerely believed in the theory should be an ardent supporter of nuclear power.

    So when I come upon people who BOTH claim to believe in the theory and are NOT ardent supporters of nuclear power (its deregulation – so that it can rapidly expand, with less expensive and SAFER designs) I know to walk away from such shysters.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “It is one of the defining problems of our time, what might also be called a general sort of “snowflake” phenomenon, except that it goes much wider than students objecting to Western culture on campus. There is a more broad-based inability to handle risk, and much of it comes down to child-rearing, and how people have been indoctrinated about the “precautionary principle” (as in “if it saves on life”……).”

    The problem with the precautionary principle is that life is full of trade-offs balancing one risk against another, and precautionary thinkers only see one side of the trade-off. They are blind to the competing costs.

    Thus, in the case of ‘saving lives’ versus ‘saving the economy’, you have two varieties of precautionaries. You have people who take no account of economic costs in demanding we save lives, and you have people who take no account of lives lost in demanding we save the economy. Both types are using the same reasoning from different ends of the issue. You can be a ‘snowflake’ about economic risk, too.

  • Stonyground

    I think that, if global warming theory were true, the evidence would be overwhelming and undeniable by now. In fact, predictions made twenty or thirty years ago based on the theory have all failed utterly. In many cases the opposite has happened to what had been predicted. A scientist would say that the theory has been falsified, proven to be false. Think about how much the climate has really changed in your lifetime, I’m 61, the winters are milder that’s about it. The alarmists point to any bit of extreme weather and say that it proves their case, as if extreme weather is something completely new. That alone suggests that they don’t have a case.

  • bob sykes

    I think the great Dyson got that one wrong. The distinguishing characteristic of the humanists I have read is a disdain for the natural world. Humans are not part of it. Culture does not depend on biology. Etc.

  • I think that, if global warming theory were true, the evidence would be overwhelming and undeniable by now. In fact, predictions made twenty or thirty years ago based on the theory have all failed utterly. (Stonyground, May 18, 2020 at 10:32 am)

    +1. To distinguish between science and PC agit-prop pretending to be science, look at supporters’ interest in the accuracy of predicted outcomes.

    (Related aside: in his early 20s, Thomas Sowell was still calling himself a marxist. What cured him of socialism was observing how utterly indifferent his left-wing colleagues were to whether their actions actually worked. He cooperated in efforts to help the third world, the poor, etc., and gradually became astonished that none of these oh-so-passionate people every thought of checking whether the effect of their efforts was what they had predicted. He found, by himself showing interest in outcomes, that the typical socialist rather intensely did not want to know.)

  • John B

    bobby b

    ‘ The over-60 group. They’re usually a strong bloc siding with constitutional principles.’

    Not when it’s their bacon they are saving. The same group readily puts aside constitutional principles and deprives the freedom of the young by conscripting them to fight wars, so they may stay safe at home abed.

    To borrow: there are no old people in fox holes.

  • Gene

    John B, it’s been 47 years since any “over 60” Americans have even had the opportunity to “deprive the freedom of the young by conscripting them to fight wars.”

    Perhaps there are a very few such people, now aged 107 and up, still breathing. A massive constituency!

  • Runcie Balspune

    I think that, if global warming theory were true, the evidence would be overwhelming and undeniable by now.

    And if the proponents were serious they would not have invested in beach front property either.

  • Roué le Jour

    bobby b
    I’m late 60s myself. I fail to see how stopping young, healthy people getting back to work benefits me in the slightest.

  • Fraser Orr

    I mostly agree with Bob Sykes on this one. I don’t agree with Dyson, something that causes me great pain to say because he was such a remarkable man. In the strictest sense humans are a part of nature, but the unique feature of humans is their ability to rise above nature. Nature is a horrible thing. I think of this often when I hear religious people using the “beauty and perfection of nature” to justify their belief in god. But the truth about nature is that for all the pretty waterfalls and breathtaking sunsets, there are a billion acts of horrific savagery and what could only be described as evil were nature not so amoral. Nature depends on one organism destroying another for its own existence. That ranges from the lion on the plain eating the antelope, to the bacteria that eats through the brain of a child because he drunk polluted water, to the whale sucking a million krill through its baleen killing them all, to a volcano spewing out lava and toxic gases killing billions. (The volcano’s dust might very well give us one of those pretty sunsets.)

    No the very uniqueness of humans is our ability to rise above nature, to blunt its horrible effects, and find something better. We made fire to keep off the predators, to save dying from cold (when the caprice of nature twiddles the dials a little bit and covers half the earth in life destroying ice), and to cook our food to remove bacteria. We invented computers to allow communication and calculation and sharing of knowledge unprecedented, to allow us to escape the brutal limitations of our own bodies. And some are even trying to elevate the human race to be a multi planet society because we all know that the eradication of the human race is one pandemic, one asteroid one super volcano away from total destruction.

    For humanists, the highest value is harmonious coexistence between humans and nature.

    For this humanist, the highest value is to escape the horrors of nature, and help a few of my fellow humans to do so too.

  • bobby b

    Roué le Jour
    May 19, 2020 at 3:18 am

    “I fail to see how stopping young, healthy people getting back to work benefits me in the slightest.”

    Early 60’s here, and I agree with you. But a surprisingly huge percentage of people older than me to whom I speak strongly disagree, and keep giving me the “so how many of your own family members will you let me kill in order to go out to dinner somewhere?” It’s especially prevalent among those who have had some health scare in the past.

    I’ve decided that people older than me are full of fear. Maybe it’s valid – maybe facing fewer possible remaining days makes you place a very high value on them. But the generation before me – who were mainly responsible for the Tea Party movement, which genuinely bump-started the whole Trump phenomenon – seems to be terrified of this virus. Or maybe just death in general.

    I’m a trailing-edge boomer, I guess, but I’m getting a taste of where the “okay, Boomer” disparagement is coming from.

    (ETA: Sorry, didn’t occur to me that “Boomer” might be a purely American meme.)

  • neonsnake

    It’s especially prevalent among those who have had some health scare in the past.

    I suspect that this is a better indicator than age on how seriously people are taking it – with the added observation that I suspect people in their 70s or above are more likely to have had a health scare themselves. I would guess that people who have had health scares are less likely to have the “it will never happen to me” mindset.

    Very, very broadly, in the UK the amount of worry depends on a number of different factors – from “less worried” at Gen Z it raises to “very worried” in older Gen Z, Millenials and Gen X, and then tapers back down as you go through Boomers and into Silent Generation. But, the lines from “not following the rules” to “always following the rules” trends up from Gen Z and the older generations tend to be following the rules much more closely – regardless of their level of worry.

    And worry has two different dimensions – there are people who are properly fretting about their health and that of their families, but there are also people who are finding the situation itself very worrying (financially, job security, home-schooling the kiddie-winks); and obviously there’s some cross-over between the two. As far as I’m aware, the people who fall into the “very worried” groups make up approx 30% of the population.

  • Stonyground

    Spot on. A few days ago I saw, from an upstairs window, a magpie grab a sparrow. Loads of other sparrows mobbed it but to no avail. It flew up onto a nearby roof, pecked it to death and ate it.

    Do you think that there is a decent business plan in providing back to nature holidays for back to nature idiots? The purpose being to enlighten them about what back to nature actually means in reality. I imagine that they would be really popular to begin with but would die a death once word got around about having to make your own clothes out of animal skins.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @bobby b

    Early 60’s here, and I agree with you. But a surprisingly huge percentage of people older than me to whom I speak strongly disagree, and keep giving me the “so how many of your own family members will you let me kill in order to go out to dinner somewhere?” It’s especially prevalent among those who have had some health scare in the past.

    Interesting! Early 60’s here too and those I speak to in the same demographic have a VERY different POV (in the UK). As in “we’ve all got to go some time and I don’t want everyone shutting everything down to save me”.

  • bobby b

    Here’s a timely article indexed by Instapundit today:

    https://theweek.com/speedreads/915027/trump-hemorrhaging-older-voters-polls-show

    “Trump is hemorrhaging older voters, polls show.”

    Perhaps American oldsters are less brave than UK oldsters? Or maybe I’m too limited in the sub-demographics of the people to whom I’ve been speaking – these have been mostly affluent oldsters, who maybe have more to lose than most? I confess I’ve been truly surprised at what I’ve heard.

  • neonsnake

    Perhaps American oldsters are less brave than UK oldsters?

    Maybe.

    I think that the UK oldsters who are advocating for, uh, loosening, are actually going to kill people. *cough*

  • bobby b

    neonsnake
    May 19, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    “I think that the UK oldsters who are advocating for, uh, loosening, are actually going to kill people.”

    I think you’re right, but in the same way as saying that not shutting down all use of automobiles is going to cause the deaths of some 36,000 people in the US next year.

    We make risk tradeoffs constantly. We settle on “acceptable” death levels in exchange for the benefits of that trade. We could have one federal meat inspector per cow, we could rid ourselves of those deadly bathtubs and backyard swimming pools, we could limit power transmission to twelve volts, we could outlaw sugar – and each one of those decisions would save many many lives.

    But we don’t do that. We could make life much safer – but at huge quality-of-life cost. Instead of ending risk, we make tradeoffs.

    If none of us left our homes for the next year, very few would ever contract this virus. If everyone mingles in a huge pit and breathes on each other excitedly, many will die of this virus. We need to find a balance that trades off some deaths for the ability to feed ourselves.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    More Climate change fun! Just saw a report about our sun going quiet, which might mean another Ice Age! Buy woolens!

  • Jacob

    An interesting aspect is the epidemiological models like the notorious one that Dr. Ferguson of the Imperial College authored.
    It predicts XXXXX deaths…by …

    But the fact is – we do not know how this plague spreads. The models have not been validated and cannot be. We just don’t know.

    You cannot take an UNKNOWN quantity, wrap it in some number juggling and fancy (and worthless) computer code and come up with knowledge.
    The epidemiological models are a fraud.
    Same as climate models.

  • Jacob

    As to “social distancing” or mask-wearing and hand washing – these are perfectly sensible precautions.

    The only question is: are mandatory “stay at home” rules justified? Especially when some governments are trying to enforce them by police.
    This is a way-exaggerated reaction, and probably – does not add much health wise (beyond the basic precautions).

  • Itellyounothing

    Neon, opening up again will definitely kill people.

    Grown ups know there is no immortality option.

    Not opening up is also killing people and at remarkably similar rate.

    May as well let individuals pick their own risk then, rather than lock everyone inside.

    A broken economy heals no sickness and cancer etc waits for no man..

  • Nullius in Verba

    “An interesting aspect is the epidemiological models like the notorious one that Dr. Ferguson of the Imperial College authored.”

    The concerns didn’t come from the models. They came from the observations.

    At the time, the observed deaths were climbing 10-fold per week. If you start a sequence 1, 10, 100, it doesn’t take a genius to figure that if you don’t do something to stop it the values for the next four weeks are going to look like 1,000, 10,000, 100,000, 1,000,000. Even allowing for extremely broad uncertainties, you know you’re going to be in deep doodoo in around a month or two.

    We know how viruses work. They spread to other people until they run out of susceptible people to infect. It’s as predictable as summer being warmer than winter.

  • Jacob

    “We know how viruses work. They spread to other people until they run out of susceptible people to infect. It’s as predictable as summer being warmer than winter.”

    Well, you don’t.
    You don’t know who is susceptible and who isn’t – seems some are naturally immune. Some are “superspreaders” some not…
    And you don’t know how summer with warm temperatures affect the virus.
    And the spread pattern and numbers and fatalities have been totally different in many countries, and you don’t know why.

    Of course, the number of deaths has been high in many countries, and that is definitely a known quantity and a good reason for concern and precautions.
    Still, the models are nonsense.

  • Jacob

    It would have been acceptable and reasonable and correct for Dr. Ferguson to say: “base on my studies of past epidemics, my best, educated, guess is that there MIGHT be 500,000 deaths in Britain from this virus”.

    But the claim he made: “I have a model and it predicts that there will be xxxx deaths” is nonsense. It is only slightly different in formulation from the first claim – but it is totally misleading. It tries to create an illusion of knowledge where none is available.

    You cannot take an UNKNOWN quantity and turn it into a known one by using models. Trying to do so is, in my book, fraud.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Well, you don’t.”

    We don’t have *exact* numbers. We can’t make *exact* predictions. And all model predictions have come with heavy caveats saying exactly that. But we *could* tell enough to know that we were potentially in very deep trouble. We’ve got no evidence anyone is immune, and good reason to think very few initially would be (since it’s a new virus, and immunity to coronaviruses is generally not long-lasting). We can see it spreading fast in hotter countries too. And whatever the factors were that slowed the spread in other countries, they obviously weren’t working in the UK.

    So you can sit there and hope for a magic unicorn to appear out of the unknown unknowns and rescue you, or you can accept that on the basis of the evidence you have observed so far you’re potentially heading for millions of deaths, and do something about it.

    The models never needed to be relied on to that degree – that there was big trouble coming down the line was obvious based on observation and simple back-of-envelope calculation. The models are just a somewhat more realistic-looking back-of-envelope estimate. Fergusson never said otherwise.

    “But the claim he made: “I have a model and it predicts that there will be xxxx deaths” is nonsense.”

    Of course it’s nonsense! He never said that!

  • neonsnake

    in the same way as saying that not shutting down all use of automobiles is going to cause the deaths of some 36,000 people in the US next year.

    The analogy to automobiles is one I’ve been using.

    I’m blase about hurtling round the M25 twice a day at speeds where if I screw up, I could die, surrounded by other drivers who could kill me if they screw up, and there are situations where I would be unable to do anything about their actions (if an articulated lorry hits me, for instance, I’m guessing that’s game over for me).

    But we take the risk because it’s a managed risk. Before being able to drive, you have to have tests. Your car has to be serviced and have a valid MOT (not sure of the US equivalent, it’s a mandatory yearly test we have to have in the UK to certify that the car is safe to drive). There’s all sorts of rules and regulations, from which side of the road to drive on, to how fast you can go on any given street. And a lot of those rules are socially unacceptable to break, as well as being laws.

    And we’re constantly monitoring and updating those – risky corners have signs on them (the old adage that the more signs there are on a patch of road, the more accidents there have been in the past).

    I don’t know what the equivalent would be for covid-19, but it’s that kind of management of the risk that would help my current unease, and whilst there’s been some forays in that direction, there seem to be people pushing for an immediate return to “normality”.

  • Jacob

    “The models are just a somewhat more realistic-looking back-of-envelope estimate.”

    I dispute that. The models are nothing. We make guesses, of course. When knowledge is lacking guesses are the only available method. (It’s ok to call you guess a “back-of-the envelope estimate”).
    The model adds absolutely nothing to our guess making process – it may even subtract by creating an illusion that is unjustified. It might be “realistic-looking” but might as well be misleading.

    “I have a model and it predicts that there will be xxxx deaths”
    He never said that!

    Seems to me that Ferguson did invoke his model (with all caveats, of course).

    “and do something about it.”
    The question is, of course, to do what?
    Sometimes, as Calvin Coolidge said, it’s better to do nothing….

    The main question is if total lockdown, vigorously enforced by police was the right thing to do.

  • neonsnake

    total lockdown, vigorously enforced by police

    You’re not UK based, then?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “When knowledge is lacking guesses are the only available method.”

    Knowledge isn’t entirely lacking. It’s partial. It’s uncertain. But it’s not ‘nothing’.

    “The model adds absolutely nothing to our guess making process – it may even subtract by creating an illusion that is unjustified.”

    It’s just a more detailed calculation, that takes account of more of the information we’ve got.

    I can point to the 10-fold increase in deaths per week, and extrapolate to show that we’re up in the millions within a few weeks. But doing so ignores herd immunity – we haven’t taken any account of our knowledge that the population size is 65 million. Doing so gives us a better estimate. And so on.

    “Seems to me that Ferguson did invoke his model (with all caveats, of course).”

    I thought it was the absence of caveats you was objecting to?

    They say: “However, there are very large uncertainties around the transmission of this virus, the likely effectiveness of different policies and the extent to which the population spontaneously adopts risk reducing behaviours. This means it is difficult to be definitive about the likely initial duration of measures which will be required, except that it will be several months. Future decisions on when and for how long to relax policies will need to be informed by ongoing surveillance.” They are saying the characteristics of the virus are highly uncertain, the actual effectiveness of the policies being modelled is highly uncertain, this is no more than a ballpark estimate, and you will need to gather more data to see how effective the measures are to plan any future action.

    You said “It would have been acceptable and reasonable and correct for Dr. Ferguson to say: “base on my studies of past epidemics, my best, educated, guess is that there MIGHT be 500,000 deaths in Britain from this virus”.” Well, except that it was based on current rather shaky estimates of the transmissibility and lethality of the virus observed in the current epidemic, and past data on social interaction from extensive studies, and except that the 500,000 figure was no more than a conservative ‘do nothing’ baseline for discussion that ignored the impact of overloading the NHS, not a realistic prediction he expected to be realised, that’s pretty much what he did say.

    And none of the people disagreeing with him are offering any better data, or any better models. They have even less. The same demand for evidence applies equally to both sides, if you want to decide policy.

    It wouldn’t matter if the model results were dropped in their entirety. The numbers you need to deal with are the percentage of people who get hospitalised, the percentages of people catching it who die with and without treatment, and the number you need to infect to get herd immunity. And now with hindsight, you also need to deal with the very slow rate of decline in deaths, showing R0 is only just barely below 1 even with the full force of the lockdown in place. None of those come from the models. They come from observation.

  • Fraser Orr

    I mentioned earlier how I disagreed with Dyson in this idea ” the highest value is harmonious coexistence between humans and nature” when I would rather contend that the unique thing about humans is not that we live in harmony in all its brutal violence and uncaring amorality, but rather that we overcome nature to make a better world through intelligence, philosophy, science, engineering and technology.

    I came across something that made me think about this from one of my favorite YouTubers Tom Scott.

    He was talking about the giant tide control structure in the Netherlands called Oosterscheldekering. An 8 km barrier (5mi for the metrically challenged) to control the tide from wiping out Dutch civilization. And in the middle is a rock into which they carved the motto: “Here the tide is ruled by the wind, the moon and us.” A profound thought indeed.

    Of course it is always dangerous to say stuff like that because it tends to make Mother Nature say: “Oh yeah? Hold my beer….”

  • Paul Marks

    There is a lot of confusion in the thread.

    The deaths of old people in, for example Sweden, was NOT caused by lack of a “lockdown”. After all strict “lockdown” New York has some of the WORST (WORST – not least worst) death rates in the world, and strict “lockdown” New Jersey is much the same.

    What happened in Sweden is what has been going on in Sweden for a long time BEFORE the virus – their unofficial (but horribly real) “soft euthanasia” policy for the old and “useless”.

    For example why give old people oxygen in their own homes if you can give them opiates to “keep them quiet till they pass on”.

    This is nothing to do with “lockdown” or not “lockdown”.

    By comparing various American States that have gone down the “Lockdown” road with those that have not (even adjusting for the more rural nature of the non “lockdown” States) that the “lockdowns” DO NOT SAVE LIVES.

    I will repeat – we now know, by comparing American States, that the “lockdowns” DO NOT SAVE LIVES.

    It might have been plausible for someone to believe that they did save lives in March (and I apologise for being overly harsh to some people at that time – in one of my “execution now – trial at some other time” moods), but this is May the 21st. Even Governor Cuomo has now admitted that most people of the disease followed his “lockdown” order – the virus spread to them anyway (even as they hid from it).

    No one can legitimately still cling to the “lockdown” doctrine on May 21st. Do NOT go down the Swedish road of denying real medical care to the old and “useless”- but do not lock up a general population that has committed no crime either.

    If people wish to hide from the virus – they should OF COURSE be free to do so. For example I am told that Neonsnake knows two people who are (like me) very vulnerable to the virus. Of course they should be free to hide – if that is what they want to do

    The point is that the general population must not be FORCED to hide – especially as we now know that HIDING DOES NOT WORK ANYWAY.

    The lockdown will lead to economic collapse – and that will lead to MASS DEATH.

    Those people (most likely including me) will be just as dead as the people who died from the virus – and those people died anyway, in spite of (or even because of) the “lockdown”.

    The policy of such places as Spain, the United Kingdom and New York can no longer be defended.

  • neonsnake

    Of course they should be free to hide – if that is what they want to do

    Thank you Paul, I appreciate that.

    I’ve been under, effectively, self-imposed isolation since roughly 14th March – before the guidelines came in. This is a personal choice, made of my own free will, out of an abundance of caution.

    I’ve said a couple of times, but it’s worth repeating: my absolute, sincere, best case scenario is that I’m wrong to have done so. If that’s the case, I’ll look pretty silly in a few months, and I’ll feel very sheepish. I’ll have got called a coward (or harsher terms!) by people on the internet. Big whoosh. I very much can live with that. I don’t know if you meant the word “hide” to imply some kind of moral cowardice, but I don’t care either. I’d rather “hide” than risk the lives of my loved ones.

    But if I “would have” been right to have done so, and “hadn’t done so”, then…well, that would have been worse. I don’t know how I’d live with myself if I brought it back and…well, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

    I’m responsible for doing shopping for those vulnerable people I’ve mentioned; so I’m having to put myself “at risk”, as it were. I’m taking all of the recommended precautions very seriously indeed, out that abundance of caution, including sanitising everything before dropping it off, and other “inconveniences”. I’m wearing a mask, and, well, if someone gets within 2m of me, a scowl and a firm “Oi.” tends to do the trick (I’m deliberately wearing masks that make me look like the sort to put a brick through the local Starbucks’ window. I find that people socially distance themselves from me without much extra encouragement…)

    I, personally, don’t see a contradiction between following the advice of experts – “in the matter of shoes, I defer to the lifelong cobbler” – and opposing the authoritarian nature of “Lockdown”.

    However, and I’m being very honest here, I waver when people begin to rebel against the expert advice just for the sake of it, or just to be performatively contrarian. When people start to demand the right to enter a property (a business) without masks, or to force people to handle cash, I begin to get annoyed, because they’re putting other people at risk.

    The old adage of “your right to swing your fist ends at my nose” is now “from 2 metres away, and for the briefest possible time”.

    Over time, I’ve become increasingly concerned over the negative effects of Lockdown. I’m aware of all my privileges. I’m not furloughed, I live in a house with a garden, I have green spaces within walking distance. I have a bloody desk with a decent sized monitor (some of my colleagues are working from their dining tables etc), of all things. And, yet, I’m still struggling.

    I haven’t touched another human, my girlfriend included, in over two months. It’s crap, and I want it to be over. I can’t imagine what it must be like for people living in flats above shops, or who have proper mental health issues, and so on. It must be awful. I’d very much like to see a decently managed plan to help those people. Right now, I’m seeing a push for herd immunity, instead.

    The policy of such places as Spain, the United Kingdom and New York can no longer be defended.

    I’ll need to see some links before I believe that, when the R0 is still approaching 1.

  • neonsnake

    Incidentally, I really did mean what I said, last week, about not taking the weight of the world on your shoulders. I understand that, from me in particular, for whatever reason, you didn’t take them as kind words.

    It was meant to be kind. I’m not the kind of bloke that lets political differences get in the way of trying to be kind – my occasional flare-ups not withstanding!

    Take care of yourself, Paul.

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