We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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The State’s lament: ‘A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened;’

Thus went the UK government’s discussion paper on increasing social distancing on 22nd March 2020.

The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging. To be effective this must also empower people by making clear the actions they can take to reduce the threat.

There were other considerations:

Hong Kong’s experience:

Having a good understanding of the risk has been found to be positively associated with adoption of COVID-19 social distancing measures in Hong Kong

And carrots:

Incentivisation
6. Social approval: Social approval can be a powerful source of reward. Not only can this be provided directly by highlighting examples of good practice and providing strong social encouragement and approval in communications; members of the community can be encouraged to provide it to each other. This can have a beneficial spill-over effect of promoting social cohesion. Communication strategies should provide social approval for desired behaviours and promote social approval within the community.

And of course, coercion, along with ‘social disapproval’:

Coercion
7. Compulsion: Experience with UK enforcement legislation such as compulsory seat belt use suggests that, with adequate preparation, rapid change can be achieved (16). Some other countries have introduced mandatory self-isolation on a wide scale without evidence of major public unrest and a large majority of the UK’s population appear to be supportive of more coercive measures. For example, 64% adults in Great Britain said they would support putting London under a ‘lock down’ (17). However, data from Italy and South Korea suggest that for aggressive protective measures to be effective, special attention should be devoted to those population groups that are more at risk (18). In addition, communities need to be engaged to minimise risk of negative effects. Consideration should be given to enacting legislation, with community involvement, to compel key social distancing measures.

8. Social disapproval: Social disapproval from one’s community can play an important role in preventing anti-social behaviour or discouraging failure to enact pro-social behaviour (15). However, this needs to be carefully managed to avoid victimisation, scapegoating and misdirected criticism. It needs to be accompanied by clear messaging and promotion of strong collective identity. Consideration should be given to use of social disapproval but with a strong caveat around unwanted negative consequences.

So, for us rats in the lab, we can see the experimental parameters. I can’t find the words ‘rights‘, ‘freedom‘, ‘free‘ or ‘liberty‘ anywhere in this document. I can see this, my emphasis in bold, with the lie about people being ‘asked’:

9. Community resourcing: People are being asked to give up valued activities and access to resources for an extended period. These need to be compensated for by ensuring that people have access to opportunities for social contact and rewarding activities that can be undertaken in the home, and to resources such as food. Adequately resourced community infrastructure and mobilisation needs to be developed rapidly and with coverage across all communities (6, 15).

10. Reducing inequity: Adherence to these measures is likely to be undermined by perceived inequity in their impact on different sections of the population, especially those who are already disadvantaged, e.g. those in rented accommodation and those working in precarious employment. Reducing costs of phone calls, data downloads etc. by ‘responsibility deals’ or government subsidies should be considered.

Just in case you don’t think that this is an experiment, there is a reference to methodology including this, but read the whole thing:

The criteria go under the acronym, APEASE (Acceptability, Practicability, Effectiveness, Affordability, Spill-over effects, Equity)

Edit: Just after Paul’s comment, a bit more has just come out, from 25th February 2020, about the risk of disorder, foreseeing a risk of PPE shortage on 25th February 2020, so they knew that they could be short long before they did anything about it:
The last paragraph says it all:

Promote a sense of collectivism: All messaging should reinforce a sense of community, that “we are all in this together.” This will avoid increasing tensions between different groups (including between responding agencies and the public); promote social norms around behaviours; and lead to self-policing within communities around important behaviours.

25 comments to The State’s lament: ‘A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened;’

  • Paul Marks

    So when the American “Tony Heller” (not his real name) and the Irishman David Cullen make films arguing that governments (and the international elite generally- including the Big Business elite) are trying to induce FEAR in order to get people to accept a totalitarian “New Normal” of increased government power (in line with Agenda 21 – Agenda 2030) the answer of the British bureaucracy is……

    “Yes – that is what we are trying to do, using the excuse of this virus”.

    This all goes back a long way.

    The idea of an intellectual elite controlling society and reducing everyone to slavery goes back to Plato – the “Republic”.

    The idea of a specifically “scientific” (technocratic) elite controlling everything and reducing everyone to slavery goes back to Sir Francs Bacon (the master of Thomas Hobbes) and his “New Atlantis”.

    And the idea of bringing in Big Business (specifically the BANKERS – not honest money lenders, so called “Shylocks”, Credit Bubble bankers joined-at-the-hip with the state) goes back to the followers of the French socialist Saint-Simon.

    There were important followers of Saint-Simom in the home town of Karl Marx when he was just a boy – and I think the socialism of Saint-Simon (which includes the existing elite – including the Big Business elite, as very well paid “Public Servants) would suit the international establishment much better than Classical Marxism would.

    Under the socialism of Saint-Simon (and co) the existing elite get to keep their big houses and so on – and get to order everyone else about.

    What is not to like? As long as you are a member of the existing government, academic, media and Big Business elite.

    “No, no, no Paul – it is all sincerely about the virus!”

    Then why were both Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030 (real United Nations documents – firmly supported by the British bureaucracy, indeed the international establishment elite generally) written BEFORE the virus?

  • Paul Marks

    It should also point out that the technocratic, “scientific”, elite violate the most fundamental principle of science – free debate and the right to dissent.

    It does not matter if someone has many university science degrees and has worked n science for many years – if they go against the line the establishment demand that they are censored – the “mainstream” media “flag” their comments and the Social Media companies rush to tensor them (look what happened to Professor Dolores Cahill, of the Irish Freedom Party, and there are MANY OTHERS).

    So “credentials” are ignored if someone has the “wrong” opinions – but real science should stand for free debate and the right to dissent for EVERYONE (not just people with lots of academic qualifications), as some of the greatest advises in science came from people with no formal qualifications at all.

    Instead the totalitarian technocratic (“scientific”) elite, with their computer modes based on FRAUD, follow the line of their master Sir Francis Bacon – who even wanted people to be forbidden from arguing that the Earth went round the Sun. Political objective first (the same political objective as Thomas Hobbes and Jeremy Bentham – tyranny), and real science an after thought (if that).

    For many years I have been told that it does not matter that the humanities have been taken over by the left with their totalitarian collectivist agenda – it supposedly does not matter, because “real subjects”, the physical sciences, are safe from the left.

    Well it is clear that the natural sciences are NOT safe from the left. That the same totalitarian political agenda is being pushed in the physical sciences as is being pushed in history, literature, economics, philosophy…….

    So we really are “All In This Together” – the government propaganda slogan, unintentionally, has some truth in it.

    The totalitarian “New Normal” has been in the works for a very long time.

    The future (the “New Normal”) that the establishment elite (including much of of the international “Social Responsibility” “Social Justice” business elite) want is very clear.

    A boot stamping down on a human face – for ever.

  • However, this needs to be carefully managed to avoid victimisation, scapegoating and misdirected criticism.

    Reading that, I found myself thinking there’s a chap called Dominic who could give information on that point, but the paragraph summarised this concern as a

    …. caveat against unwanted negative consequences.

    so maybe that would exempt his travail in the eyes of those who deny his ‘vulnerable person’ excuse exempts his travel.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    The footnotes struck me as relevant:

    Caveats. Much of the evidence that has been drawn on is very recent and has not been subject to peer review. In some cases, the source is a SPI-B paper that involves expert opinion. This report has been put together rapidly and been subject to limited scrutiny and review.

    SAGE Note: This paper was prepared by SAGE’s behavioural science sub-group SPI-B, for discussion at SAGE #18 on 23rd March 2020.

    Does that mean it’s a Public Health medical policy written as an opinion by sociologists and psychologists, not by medical people with evidence-based medicine?

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @ Rudolph

    Does that mean it’s a Public Health medical policy written as an opinion by sociologists and psychologists, not by medical people with evidence-based medicine?

    Well yes. This is the Nudge lot.

  • Agammamon

    Having a good understanding of the risk has been found to be positively associated with adoption of COVID-19 social distancing measures in Hong Kong

    That’s the kicker though. You need both a good understanding and a trust in those providing that understanding.

    Government’s want none of that. A good understanding means you might think for yourself – as is happening in the US with people starting to flout the lockdowns. And government’s don’t run on trust, they run on coercion and are so used to using coercion that they don’t understand why, when the chips are down, their guns aren’t enough to make people do what they’re told anymore.

  • APL

    likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

  • JohnM de France

    In France we are required to be 1 metre apart for social distancing. Does that mean that the French virus is only half as active as the UK one ?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “In France we are required to be 1 metre apart for social distancing. Does that mean that the French virus is only half as active as the UK one?”

    Aerosol droplets from a cough or sneeze have sizes in the range of 1-100 micrometres. In light winds (0.3 m/s) the heaviest 100 micrometre droplets fall out of the air within about 3 metres, 10 micrometre droplets in about 10 metres, but droplets smaller than that can hang in the air for longer, and spread over a kilometre downwind. In turbulent air, there is no limit. Indoors, they cannot escape far and so levels accumulate. (Some home experiments with a plant mister may be helpful here. Bright sunlight against a dark background lets you see the droplets more easily.)

    It takes more than a single virus to infect you. You have very effective defences against airborne muck, and most particles are caught and disposed of. It takes a significant number coming all together to overwhelm the defences and sneak a few past. But there’s no sharp dividing line. The greater and more concentrated the virus load, the more likely it is.

    Since the number of virus particles in a droplet varies with the cube of its size, the biggest droplets that can still reach you dominate the effect. It depends on wind speed and turbulence. The faster and more turbulent the wind, the longer droplets can stay in the air but also the faster they diffuse and dilute. And it also depends on how long you sit there breathing it in.

    Early advice was 15 minutes at less than 2 metres, even outdoors, was a significant risk, but that’s only a ballpark estimate. If you spend hours in their company, the risk goes up. Smaller droplets that travel further can accumulate. If you’re indoors the risk goes up. If you’re downwind, the risk goes up. If they’re breathing harder (due to exercise) the risk goes up. If they’re coughing more, the risk goes up.

    The whole thing is a concatenation of fuzzy numbers multiplied together into a big hairy ball of fuzzy. Keeping a few metres distance is probably enough to exclude the bulk of the fuzz, and keep transmission rates down. But you can’t ever get them down to zero. So whatever number you pick is going to contribute to the R budget. And the only way to know is to try it and see.

    France will have a higher R contribution due to their closer spacing, so will have to take more R-reducing measures elsewhere to keep it below 1. It’s a trade-off. Do you want fewer shops open at 1 metre spacing, or more shops open at 2 metres spacing? It’s not something you can precisely calculate ahead of time either – you have to watch the infection rates and tighten or loosen restrictions in response. So 1 metre spacing will just tend to keep other restrictions tighter, to compensate.

  • In France we are required to be 1 metre apart for social distancing. Does that mean that the French virus is only half as active as the UK one ?

    It’s a representation of comparative productivity. UK viruses (even ones originating from Chinese bats) have more “get up and go” that lazy froggy ones.

  • MadRocketSci

    Promote a sense of collectivism: All messaging should reinforce a sense of community, that “we are all in this together.” This will avoid increasing tensions between different groups (including between responding agencies and the public); promote social norms around behaviours; and lead to self-policing within communities around important behaviours.

    I’ve been reading “the organization man” by William Whyte recently: A book I wish I had had back in undergrad to explain some aspects of the lunacy of my fellow human beings. That, no, it wasn’t just me being defective, other people also saw and reacted against this … “pathological teamism”.

    Have you noticed that so many people seem to have as some ideal of the apotheosis of mankind, the complete subsumption of the individual into some collective or group? (As if such a thing is even coherent!) It shows up a lot in science fiction. I never understood the impulse, but it’s an impulse that so many other people have. I’d rather die myself than live, ruled in every aspect of my being by something else. Why do they want this? I had always acquiesced to groups and teams only as an instrumental/operational necessity, for a finite and limited purpose. I must be from Mars, other people are so strange. They have no sense of boundaries.

    It’s weird, but apparently it isn’t new? The teamists have been with us since at least the 1930s. Maybe they manifest in other ways at other times in history (seems likely).

  • APL (May 27, 2020 at 11:00 pm), more joy is felt over one who truly repenteth.

    Sceptical Niall still-working-on-this-forgiving-enemies-bit Kilmartin interprets Cuomo’s

    “we all failed’

    (my italics) as more an alibi than a true expression of guilt. I am reinforced in this by its being presumably by his wish that New York health website deletes Cuomo’s order linked to nursing home fatalities (h/t instapundit).

    As I see it, we are all sinners but some of us are more sinners than others!!

    Er, em, now I recall what that paraphrases, … 🙂

  • bobby b

    “• Promote a sense of collectivism: All messaging should reinforce a sense of community, that “we are all in this together.” This will avoid increasing tensions between different groups (including between responding agencies and the public); promote social norms around behaviours; and lead to self-policing within communities around important behaviours.”

    Here in Minneapolis two nights ago, four cops managed to kill a large rather peaceful black man in full view of several cameras and a crowd (by kneeling on his neck for ten minutes until he was dead, I guess), and so for the last two evenings we’ve had large violent riots, shootings, fires, mass looting, and general let’s-have-at-them-damned-cops-hatefests in the black community.

    And our state governor and Minneapolis’s mayor and police chief and assorted hangers-on and grand poobahs have all in unison been pushing this exact same message day and night in the press.

    It’s not just for the flu. There must be a manual somewhere that says “if you have angry interest groups, see Page 94: “We are all in this together!””

    (P.S. Pepper spray is no fun. Check the news before venturing in to the chancy areas.)

  • Rick Croley

    MadRocketSci, A friend has an interesting idea that the impulse you have described might be what Christians think of as the anti-Christ; not a person but an idea which diminishes and crushes the individual in favor of the collective. Like you I find the idea incoherent.

  • Paul Marks

    Spread fear! Spread terror! Then people will accept having their basic liberties taken away (and never FULLY restored – hence the “New Normal”) and will even inform on their neighbours.

  • Paul Marks

    “Track and trace” (tell us everyone you have met, and where you met them) – and “we retain these Emergency Powers to use whenever we choose”.

    There will always be a deadly virus (new horrible viruses come along – and always have) or some other horrible thing.

    If the people are only free when something bad is not happening – then we are NOT free.

  • staghounds

    “64% adults in Great Britain said they would support putting London under a ‘lock down’”

    I suspect that percentage would have been the same before the ‘rona, had the option been offered.

  • Paul Marks

    As for France – they have just ended much of what was left of Freedom of Speech.

    If anyone really believes that this is about a virus, and not what President Macron and the rest of the international elite have long wanted to do, they are just wrong.

    As for basic liberties being “fuzzy”, and if people are allowed to stand one “metre” apart other restrictions (say on what churches or shops are open) will have to be kept to “compensate”.

    Well Nullius – you have your beliefs, and we have our beliefs. I do not use violence to impose my beliefs on you Nullius.

    So please Nullius stop using the violence of the state to impose your beliefs upon me and upon others.

    Or be prepared to fight, personally, to impose your beliefs by force and fear. Stop getting the state to do your dirty work. Either step aside – or use violence yourself.

    Your choice Sir.

    The virus has no intentions – it is just a fact of nature, although PERHAPS tweaked a bit at a research establishment near Wuhan to be more infectious for humans (still not the fault of the virus – it is the fault of the people who may have “tweaked” it and the people who may-perhaps have made the decision to spread it in order to harm the foes of the People’s Republic of China Dictatorship).

    The virus may kill me, but it is not my enemy – because it makes no choice to be my enemy (any more than water rushing from a broken dam makes a choice – absence of external restraint is not a full definition of human freedom, Mr Hobbes was wrong – human freedom must include CHOICE).

    You, you personally, are my enemy Nullius – for it is you who have made a CHOICE to attack my liberty and the liberty of others. So you are the enemy, the personal enemy, of all human beings who value liberty.

    Now use, personally use, violence to enforce your beliefs by force and fear – or make a choice NOT to use violence to impose your beliefs.

    Again, your choice Sir.

  • APL

    Paul Marks: “The virus may kill me, but it is not my enemy”

    Agreed, our (mutual enemy, Paul ) are those who use fear and terror in their assault on our civilisation.

    COVID-19, that’s just a pretext, a device, the utility of which is that it can be loaded with “a concatenation of fuzzy numbers multiplied together into a big hairy ball of fuzzy” to deliver a payload of fear and terror.

  • Stonyground

    I don’t need this kind of overbearing control over my life, other people can’t be trusted to behave properly so it’s needed for them.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Well Nullius – you have your beliefs, and we have our beliefs. I do not use violence to impose my beliefs on you Nullius.”

    ‘Biowarfare’ – the deliberate premeditated spreading of a lethal virus – is violence.

    It’s your choice whether to engage in it.

    If a terrorist group popped up in London, and released a virus that killed half a million people, then people like you would make a fuss. “Why didn’t the government stop them? Keep them out of the country?” But you see, terrorists think they have a right to kill other people by spreading viruses. Their ‘Freedom’ includes the freedom to murder. Their own interests (national, political, religious, economic, whatever) and their right to pursue them overide everyone else’s rights. That form of ‘freedom’ is inconsistent – one person’s right to murder cannot coexist with another person’s right not to be murdered. And thus ‘freedom’ cannot be unlimited.

    Different people resolve the paradox different ways. Some people say freedom means freedom for ‘us’ and not for ‘them’. Freedom to live as we do, and not how other people live. We’re right and good and proper and must be free. They’re “the enemy” and bad and evil and must be suppressed; they deserve no rights. And then they fight wars in the struggle to defend their own freedom at the cost of their enemies.

    Classic libertarians, on the other hand, generally resolve the paradox by saying that rules and constraints can only be justified to prevent unconsented harm being done to others. When the building is full of explosive gas, putting up “No smoking” signs is justified.

    But then there’s you, and you’re desperate for a cigarette. You tell the people around you that you don’t believe the room is full of explosive gas, it’s all a fraud put about by the gas board, who have been desperate to put their totalitarian boot on society for years, and you are certain that everyone else in the room, who are all convinced there is gas, have been deceived. “Where’s your evidence?” they say. You don’t have any. You have no evidence, no numbers, no science. You can’t provide a coherent explanation that stands up to scrutiny. But that doesn’t matter. Your freedom to smoke is not to be constrained by their mistaken belief in their ‘freedom’ not to die in a gas explosion. Your freedom to go out to the pub is not to be constrained by their so-called ‘freedom’ not to slowly suffocate to death from the viral pneumonia you’re spreading. That you choose to spread.

    Whether you believe it or not, I’m not your enemy, and I’m not opposed to your freedom. I’m a big supporter of freedom generally, within the bounds of the Harm Principle. I sympathise with your feelings and what you’re going through. I want to go out, too. But you’re talking nonsense. And dramatic declarations of your emnity don’t impress me or convince me.

    There’s a public health emergency, as natural a disaster as an earthquake or hurricane, that requires certain temporary safety constraints until it’s over. That’s all. They’re already working on which bits they can let up on, and adaptable humans will quickly find ways to work round the constraints and get back to normal. It’s not the end of the world. Really.

  • Plamus

    NiV:

    Your freedom to go out to the pub is not to be constrained by their so-called ‘freedom’ not to slowly suffocate to death from the viral pneumonia you’re spreading. That you choose to spread.

    They are absolutely free to stay at home and self-isolate until they turn blue, if they don’t want do die the horrible death you so vividly depict (and later you talk about “dramatic declarations” – oh, the irony). I am not choosing to spread a virus to you; you are choosing to contract it from me by leaving your bunker. If people over 65 with co-morbidities (who, in NYC at least, are over 95% of death cases) want to go live in isolated colonies, they are welcome to – I have no right or desire to stop them, and feel no obligation to help them, but you are welcome to donate.

    You have no evidence, no numbers, no science. You can’t provide a coherent explanation that stands up to scrutiny. But that doesn’t matter.

    And as the numbers increasing prove that the Chicken Little’s were wrong, what next? I may have had no science, but I was proven right; you had bad science and numbers that are turning out to be wrong by at least an order of magnitude. Those knuckle-dragging mouth-breathing plebs that were saying this was “just another flu” were right, and the professors from the ivory towers with the “fancy” models were… what exactly? Stupid or evil? Or both?

    I’m a big supporter of freedom generally, within the bounds of the Harm Principle.

    I bet you are, especially of the social authority principle, right? When your definition of freedom is such (“… for such actions as are prejudicial to the interests of others, the individual is accountable, and may be subjected either to social or to legal punishments, if society is of opinion that the one or the other is requisite for its protection.”) that Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and countless other fine dictators have used it in mostly unchanged form to justify anything up to (but not including) genocides, there might be something wrong with it.

  • NickM

    Another way of looking at is… Do they have the right to wreak the economy for everyone for a generation? It’s not just the right go for a pint now. It is whether that is gonna happen again – ever – in Our New Jerusalem. It is about the grotesque abuse of power to push an agenda. It’s about the absolute drooling enjoyment you can see on the faces of the wankers who see this genuine tragedy as a feature and not a bug.

    Not quite related… Wild horses will not get me to bang pots and pans for the NHS in half an hour. That would be the NHS who botched my Great-uncle’s bowel resection and then lied about it – through their fucking teeth – they even sent him off to another hospital so he wouldn’t die on their records. The same NHS that has rescheduled my Father’s vascular surgery five times. He still doesn’t have a date. That BTW goes back way before Covid…

  • Wintergreen

    The hubris of the lockdown supporters/apologists never ceases to amaze.

    The hubris to believe that we have conquered nature to an extent that we can demand the State provide us with a life free of risk from natural pathogens.

    The hubris to believe that their risk management evaluations should be imposed upon billions of people without their consent.

    The hubris to believe that modern economies can be turned on and off like a faucet by the State without disastrous consequences.

    The hubris to declare that opposition to their decrees is rooted in emotion and hysteria rather than reason, principle, and the kind of healthy skepticism that kept our ancestors from getting eaten by the sabre-tooth tiger.

    After two months they’re already working on an exit strategy? We are blessed to be subjects of such wise and benevolent masters.

  • APL

    “Coronavirus ‘R’ rate could be as low as 0.5 outside of hospitals – with the national average inflated by the huge infection rate in medical settings, say SAGE scientists”.

    Huh!

    Looks like medical and ancillary staff ought to have been quarantined on site, and the rest of us left to get on with our lives.

    But instead, they’ve likely been acting as an infection vector into the wider community.

    ‘Experts’ and Politicians, a deadly combination.

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