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.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samidata quote of the day

People react to discrediting evidence not by acknowledging reality but by entrenching their beliefs even further. This counter-productive thinking is further exacerbated by ‘cognitive dissonance’, another Festinger theory. When confronted with evidence disproving their beliefs, people will opt for the least painful choice, holding on to their beliefs, no matter how catastrophic these are, rather than admitting they have been wrong. Our political class – the Government – is currently providing a textbook example of this behaviour.

Karen Harradine

46 comments to Samidata quote of the day

  • Flubber

    Or the American left objecting to the depravity of PDJT, by nominating Joe Biden…

  • Bulldog Drummond

    WTF is PDJT?

  • John

    Probably Past Grand Rank but I’m not sure of the exact office.

  • Bod

    President Donald J Trump

  • Many people do this. However it depends how catastrophic and abrupt the evidence against is. Many UK intellectuals explained away the evidence of Stalin’s gulag for decades. On the other hand, a lot of British people left the communist party soon after the Nazi-Soviet pact. That event was just too sudden and too striking for them to rationalise it away.

    intellectuals’ vanity depends on being intellectually right – so they are especially subject to this vice. But others can play the game too. Many Germans found the idea that the Jews started WWI attractive precisely because evidence that Germany had done so was unwelcome. Also, people who are honest with themselves know the temptation. Darwin began carrying a notebook around after he noticed that if he did not write down objections to his idea of evolution as they occurred to him then he was apt to forget them.

    Sometimes this behaviour is a mere side-effect of having been programmed into a cult. But while it is hard, cult victims do sometimes escape, because of

    a severe shock … that creates too much dissonance against the cult doctrines to bear … [and/or] finding an emotionally intolerable contradiction inside the cult doctrine … cult deprogramming almost always proceeds from an initial doubt that spirals out of control, getting the cultist to start questioning everything they were taught in the cult in something of an avalanche of angry skepticism

    (The above is from the article I linked to at the start of this post.)

    And finally, sometimes people present as very committed to a certain view when in fact a deeper issue – not being cancelled, or not losing face – is the issue, so if a way of escape that avoids those opens up, their real concern is suddenly plain.

    ASIDE: as regards

    WTF is PDJT? (Bulldog Drummond, October 24, 2020 at 3:20 pm)

    President Donald John Trump would be my guess.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Everybody does it. And everybody is totally convinced that only the other side of the argument does it.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Niall Kilmartin
    Sometimes this behaviour is a mere side-effect of having been programmed into a cult.

    Niall, you comment is spot on. If we focus on the current hot issue for Biden as an example to extrapolate, the point is not that all Biden voters are going to throw up their hands in horror at this corruption, rather that on the margin they will. Some people will quit, some will decrease in enthusiasm (and maybe not vote) some will add to their existing reluctance, for some it will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    Not all people in a cult or a political party are the same, there is a spectrum of enthusiasm, and at the margins people do change their mind. Trump once said he could kill somebody on 5th avenue and people would still vote for him, and I think he is right, but not in the same numbers, some people would change their minds. American elections are won or lost on the margins.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Nullius in Verba
    Everybody does it. And everybody is totally convinced that only the other side of the argument does it.

    That’s not true. Many people do it, and many people are pretty reluctant to change their mind about many things. But people do change their minds — all the time, and often for evidence based reasons, though, I will agree that mostly people change their minds for emotional reasons or self interest reasons rather than logical ones.

    And one should never underestimate the capacity of humans to hold two completely contradictory opinions at the same time.

  • thefat tomato

    “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. . . .” Max Planck

  • Flubber

    You’ll just have to imagine my shock that NiV indulges in projection of the scale of “everyone does it”

  • Mr Ecks

    NiV would argue not merely the hind leg but the entire arse off a donkey rather than admit his views have the slightest shade of error in them.

  • John B

    So… Lemmings to the rescue: last one over the cliff is a stinker. Tally ho!

  • Nullius in Verba

    When I say “Everybody does it”, I include myself in that!

    The question is, what can you do about it? Everyone has their cognitive blindspots (including you and me), but people of different opinions generally have different blindspots, and we can each of us see into areas that others can’t. So the way to deal with the problem is to continually debate it with people who hold different opinions, ask to see the evidence and hear the arguments, each of us to fight for our view as hard as we can, and see which beliefs survive the arena.

    Milton in Areopagitica describes it as a race, a competition to see which ideas are fastest and strongest. There is no point in holding a race where only one side participates. There is no merit or benefit in that. You have to invite the competition, and you have to compete, or you’ll never truly know which ideas are strongest.

    I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat.

    It’s the difference between ‘Intelligent Design’ and ‘Evolution by Natural Selection’. It’s the difference between the centralised command economy and the distributed decision-making catallaxy. It’s the difference between Protectionism and free markets. It’s the difference between the gazelle and the dodo.

    He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion. The rational position for him would be suspension of judgment, and unless he contents himself with that, he is either led by authority, or adopts, like the generality of the world, the side to which he feels most inclination.

    Nor is it enough that he should hear the arguments of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. This is not the way to do justice to the arguments, or bring them into real contact with his own mind. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them; who defend them in earnest, and do their very utmost for them. He must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form; he must feel the whole force of the difficulty which the true view of the subject has to encounter and dispose of, else he will never really possess himself of the portion of truth which meets and removes that difficulty.

    Ninety-nine in a hundred of what are called educated men are in this condition, even of those who can argue fluently for their opinions. Their conclusion may be true, but it might be false for anything they know: they have never thrown themselves into the mental position of those who think differently from them, and considered what such persons may have to say; and consequently they do not, in any proper sense of the word, know the doctrine which they themselves profess. They do not know those parts of it which explain and justify the remainder; the considerations which show that a fact which seemingly conflicts with another is reconcilable with it, or that, of two apparently strong reasons, one and not the other ought to be preferred. All that part of the truth which turns the scale, and decides the judgment of a completely informed mind, they are strangers to; nor is it ever really known, but to those who have attended equally and impartially to both sides, and endeavored to see the reasons of both in the strongest light.

    So essential is this discipline to a real understanding of moral and human subjects, that if opponents of all important truths do not exist, it is indispensable to imagine them and supply them with the strongest arguments which the most skilful devil’s advocate can conjure up.

    We act as each other’s devil’s advocate, to test our ideas against. We don’t just acquiesce to the groupthink, we challenge, and argue, and loudly disagree. We don’t silence or exclude contrary opinions, we compete with them. We don’t shield our beliefs from challenge, we adapt and innovate to make our beliefs stronger.

    It’s the same justification as for a free market. We make widgets for a particular price, and make a good business at it. Then a competitor comes along with a better idea and makes better widgets, faster and cheaper. What do we do? Do we try to destroy their business? Do we drive them out of town? Do we ask the government to regulate the industry, to cripple their business and silence them? Or do we figure out how they did it, and develop our own business to be even better, faster, and cheaper than they are? Isn’t that exactly how we got to be the biggest, strongest, most powerful civilisation that has ever existed in all of history?

    We didn’t get to be so strong because we’re inherently any cleverer, or less biased and fallible in our thinking than the competition. We got to be that strong because we let our beliefs and cultures compete and mercilessly kept only the strongest. We’re stronger because we allow competition, we don’t suppress it. We’re stronger because we test our beliefs and we actively seek out winners.

    You guys do occasionally cause me to change my mind on stuff. Sometimes you can point me to information I didn’t know about, or present a compelling argument or counter-argument on something. I quite often drop arguments that clearly don’t work. But I agree, I don’t change my mind easily, or without a fight. I’m more interested in knowing what’s true than I am in conforming politically. And fighting as best you can is the only way to know which idea is really the stronger.

  • Ben david

    Summary: people don’t care about Truth as much as they profess.

    The cult model – what Thomas Sowell called “the vision of the annointed” – is one explanation. And a lot of self-styled freethinkers use it to gore the judeo-christian tradition.

    But we are now seeing another, perhaps more dangerous mirror image of the True Believer: the postmodern, neopagan Non-Believer who has been convinced that there are no such things as objective Truth with a capital T. And no morality except the will of the world’s victors.

    This new/old type of Unconvincible is much more dangerous than any Grand Inquisitor. Because there isn’t even the profession of alllegiance to truth – or reason. Back to the muck we go…

  • Nullius in Verba

    “But we are now seeing another, perhaps more dangerous mirror image of the True Believer: the postmodern, neopagan Non-Believer who has been convinced that there are no such things as objective Truth with a capital T. And no morality except the will of the world’s victors.”

    Do you mean a person who therefore holds no strong opinions, doesn’t care what anybody else says, and doesn’t care who is in charge or what they do? The danger is political apathy?

  • Everybody does it. And everybody is totally convinced that only the other side of the argument does it. (Nullius in Verba, October 24, 2020 at 4:21 pm)

    Like Flubber (October 25, 2020 at 4:36 am), I was ‘shocked, shocked I tell you’ (if I am correctly interpreting Flubber’s tone 🙂 ) at NiV’s apparently Nullius-including declaration – and unsurprised that NiV soon threw the Everybody is totally convinced that only the other side … does it” qualifiers under the bus, to opt NiV out of the otherwise typically Nullian condemnation. So as regards,

    That’s not true. … And one should never underestimate the capacity of humans to hold two completely contradictory opinions at the same time. (Fraser Orr, October 24, 2020 at 4:46 pm)

    clearly, some humans within the timespan of a single thread can. 🙂

    You guys do occasionally cause me to change my mind on stuff. (Nullius in Verba, October 25, 2020 at 12:47 pm)

    Sadly, that seems not true to date. We’ve seen far greater Nullian self-contradictions than the minor point above, sometimes within a thread, more often between threads, but Mr Ecks (October 25, 2020 at 8:00 am) put his finger on the reason for them – as have Ellen, Perry and others (and me).

    who has been convinced that no such things as objective Truth with a capital T. (Ben david, October 25, 2020 at 2:20 pm)

    One of the lesser inconveniences of that phenomenon is having to debate with people who present their arguments with vehemence, but are at bottom deeply uninvested in them, ready to contradict them for the sake of another line of attack at a moment’s notice. The same behaviour can present from other causes.

    To take one example from many, Nullius would not have so vehemently claimed in this thread (and many another) that we were prejudiced to think Rotherham police acted with biased slowness, and then that we were prejudiced to think the Tasmanian or Met ‘hate’ speech police acted with biased speed, if NiV were at bottom much invested in either argument as such.

    Roué le Jour recently caveated that “arguing with NiV is a waste of time” but I retain my recently re-expressed opinion that the exercise of engaging with these techniques of argumentation can have value, given that it (combined with much worse) will be found outside our sheltered blog.

    Just my 0.02p, FWIW.

  • neonsnake

    A very curious article, indeed. One suspects that the author had picked their position back in March, and has stuck to it, despite increasingly persuasive evidence to the contrary, and is being rather disingenuous with her views, cherry-picking the minority that supports her (already-held) opinion.

    As cases rise again, as deaths rise again, as hospitalisations rise again…and as increasing evidence of Long-Covid comes to light (not new news, it’s been evident for a good few months, but has been talked about only in hushed tones, brushed under the carpet by the “BuT 99% SuRvIVaL RaTE” crew), it’s a…bizarre view to hold, and one that flies in the face of…well, evidence.

    Everybody does it. And everybody is totally convinced that only the other side of the argument does it.

    No kidding.

  • Paul Marks

    Most Western governments are following much the same terrible policies – even using the same slogans “Build Back Better”, “Stakeholder Capitalism”, “Sustainable Development”.

    If anyone believes this is really about Covid 19 or “the environment” (C02 gas and Covid 19 virus are quite different things, but government and Corporations seem to use the terms interchangeably) – then I have a nice bridge to sell you.

    They are openly saying what this is about – it is about the “Great Reset”, “Sustainable Development”, “Stakeholder Capitalism”, “Build Back Better”.

    They are not insane (at least not in the normal sense of that term) – they have a solid grasp of reality and their actions are carefully calculated to achieve an end.

    And the end to which the actions of the government officials and experts (and the Corporations) are directed is TYRANNY – creating international (world) tyranny.

    And the last person who stands in their way is very likely to be defeated next week. Yes “Bod” President Donald John Trump – and you will miss him when he is gone (you do not think you will – but you will and before 2021 is out, you will suffer greatly and so will most other people).

    Sorry if I do not feel like making flippant remarks and weak jokes.

    There is no confusion here – the enemy know what they are doing, and why they doing it.

    The idea of ordinary “uneducated” people being free to make their own decisions disgusts the enemy – it has done since the time of Plato.

    It is very likely the enemy are going to win – at least for a period of time.

    Yes their top-down “planned society” will, eventually, collapse – but I do not expect to live to see its collapse.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Like Flubber (October 25, 2020 at 4:36 am), I was ‘shocked, shocked I tell you’ (if I am correctly interpreting Flubber’s tone 🙂 ) at NiV’s apparently Nullius-including declaration – and unsurprised that NiV soon threw the “Everybody is totally convinced that only the other side … does it” qualifiers under the bus, to opt NiV out of the otherwise typically Nullian condemnation.”

    And I’m just as ‘shocked’, that you seem incapable of distinguishing “Everybody does it” from “Everybody does it all the time in every single utterance they make“!

    “To take one example from many, Nullius would not have so vehemently claimed in this thread (and many another) that we were prejudiced to think Rotherham police acted with biased slowness, and then that we were prejudiced to think the Tasmanian or Met ‘hate’ speech police acted with biased speed, if NiV were at bottom much invested in either argument as such.”

    Why not?

    My position is that if someone makes a formal complaint to the police, the police have to investigate, but cannot prosecute until they get usable evidence they can take to court. And that this applies to everyone. Some people seem to think that some people ought to be prosecuted without evidence, and others should not even be investigated.

    But if those positions are really inconsistent, does that not imply that by disagreeing with me both times, your own position must therefore also be inconsistent? In one case you want the police to act fast, in the other you want them to act slow. If that’s an inconsistency, then aren’t you being inconsistent?

    “Roué le Jour recently caveated that “arguing with NiV is a waste of time” but I retain my recently re-expressed opinion that the exercise of engaging with these techniques of argumentation can have value, given that it (combined with much worse) will be found outside our sheltered blog.”

    Agreed! Free speech, open debate, and diversity of opinion are all good things.

    “Just my 0.02p, FWIW.”

    That much? 🙂

  • Paul Marks

    All those international conferences – World Economic Forum and other venues. The Corporate Managers, Government types, and “experts” were not wasting time. They were WORKING.

    They are all “educated” people – same sort of schools and universities, same sort of attitudes and beliefs. They may work for “capitalist” corporations – but they utterly DESPISE customer choice and freedom in general. For example the media companies (Hollywood and television) have long made it quite clear that they despise the non “Woke” preferences of the “ignorant” masses, who reject “Diversity” and so on. But it is far more general than that – the top Corporate managers of just about all the Mega Corps (for want of a better term) despise the preferences (choices) of the “uneducated” and “ignorant” herd. A world without what is left of free competition would suit the elite much better.

    The BANKS have already freed themselves from REAL SAVERS – the “money” of the bankers is just government backed Book Keeping tricks now, so why should not EVERY industry be like banking? So the educated top managers think.

    The people who laughed at “pointless conferences” and “pointless organisations” (IMF, World Bank, on and on) are now getting the point. For example, the IMF paid some governments to impose lockdowns – the IMF and World Bank are not run by medical doctors, this is not about “public health”. The World Economic Forum is not run by ordinary medical doctors either – and nether is the “World Health Organisation”, the had of it is a doctor of philosophy not medicine (a Marxist from Ethiopia – in the service of the People’s Republic of China), he is not a medical doctor – it would be totally useless to see him if you get a disease, but he understands “the point”.

    The enemy are shoving the point into our chests and they are destroying the heart of each person with it.

    They did not have to create Covid 19 – they just had to wait till a virus (or some other EXCUSE) naturally came along.

    Prepared people make use of natural opportunities.

    The aim has long been to create tyranny – and that is exactly what they are doing. Whether it is Marxist tyranny or Fascist (or Saint-Simon style) tyranny is a secondary consideration – as long as tyranny is achieved, and the freedom of us “ignorant Rednecks” is crushed.

    They understand their aim, their tactics are well designed to achieve their aim, and the reaction of most of their opponents is (mostly) to make flippant remarks and weak jokes.

    As I have already said – tyranny is the intended outcome, and the enemy are very likely to succeed. Resistance has been undermined by people not being willing to admit, even to themselves, the level of evil that we are facing.

  • Paul Marks

    As for Nullius and the rape and forced prostitution of so many young girls in British cities.

    The authorities (including the police) know what was going on – it was not “lack of evidence” that held them back, it was fear of being called “racist” and “Islamophobic”.

    Nullius knows this – but says something different in order to deceive. The name for that is – lying.

  • A very curious article, indeed. One suspects that the author had picked their position back in March (neonsnake, October 25, 2020 at 7:11 pm)

    The author couldn’t exactly have picked her precise position back in March. Back then the authorities were telling us not to use masks. In early March, the government’s strategy was herd immunity. In late March, the lockdown was to flatten the curve, predicted to be at its maximum in early May.

    I don’t think it’s a great article. The connection between the Milgram experiment and her thesis is weak. Firstly, research ethics rules changes mean that experiment has not been replicated, and the set-up of the original has been criticised. Secondly, she’s talking about people whose belief (reflected in opinion polls) is encouraging the government (by hypothesis wrongly), not people who are reluctantly obeying the government.

    However the article has no need to ‘fly in the face of evidence’ to question the strength of correlation between lockdowns and benefits. From the WHO downwards, there is quite a debate in the scientific community. There always was but now it is more out in the open. We are learning all the time, but meanwhile the science is far from settled.

    increasingly persuasive evidence to the contrary … As cases rise again, as deaths rise again, as hospitalisations rise again …

    some will think this increasingly persuasive evidence we need a new lockdown while others will think this increasingly persuasive evidence of the little value of lockdowns relative to their increasing cost.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The name for that is – lying.”

    The name for that is – disagreeing.

    It’s possible for people to hold different opinions and both be convinced they are telling the truth. Do you really think everyone shares your beliefs?

  • Paul Marks

    Just in case there is someone who does not know…..

    The evidence is now in (indeed it has been in for months) – countries and those few American States that did NOT lockdown do not have a higher death rate than those that do. Nor was there any serious belief that there would be a lower death rate, over time, in non lockdown countries. Real epistemologists (such as the head of policy in Sweden – hardly a “right wing” country) have always know that a general lockdown is NOT the correct policy when dealing with a sickness of this sort. The idea of lockdowns (general restrictions – on the healthy) was a POLITICAL not a medical, project. Although many “Public Health” experts justified it medical language – whilst having POLITICAL objectives (the idea that Collectivism just hits the humanities in universities, is sadly mistaken).

    As for what medicine can do…..

    Good advice – go out and get moderate exercise and keep up your vitamin D levels via sunlight (at this time of year – a supplement is needed here in the northern world). Just about the opposite of the endless STAY AT HOME advice given out by governments and Woke Corporations (Facebook, Twitter, Google, ABC, CBS, NBC – and the rest of the Legion of Devils).

    If you become sick – treatment (especially for people in vulnerable groups) should be EARLY before the disease has spread in the body and the immune system is going crazy. For EARlY treatment – go to see a medical doctor (an independent doctor who earns their bread by treating the sick – not by paperwork or vaccine making) and be prescribed proper early doses of hydroxycholoroquine, zinc sulphate (the hydroxychloroquine appears to allow the zinc to get to the infected areas of the lungs) and, for non Covid problems that may hit the body in its weakened state, either azithromycin or doxycycline.

    Later on (if early treatment is not given – or if it fails) oxygen and so on may well be needed. But it is too late to start early treatment medications when you are already at the hospital stage (the disease has spread by then).

    All this has been known for months – and some medical doctors have done their best to “get the word out”, they have been blocked and smeared at every turn.

    It is not the desire of the establishment (either government or Woke Corporate) for deaths to be minimised – quite the contrary.

    Without large numbers of deaths – the justification for moves towards tyranny is not there. They need large numbers of deaths – and so, quite sensibly (from their point of view) early treatment is DISCOURAGED.

    The official guidelines of the Federal health bureaucracy in the United States (and of most States) actively DISCOURAGE early treatment. Not just in March – NOW, right NOW.

    The experience of other countries (for example some countries in Africa – but not just there) is known – but it is suppressed.

    The enemy are in no way insane – the enemy understand reality, they have a clear objective (tyranny – and the removal of a certain vulgar and uncouth “Orange Man” who stands in their way) and they carefully design their policies to achieve their objective.

  • Larry

    And you a detective

  • Paul Marks

    “But then what was the purpose of the lockdowns and other restrictions in most American States and most Western countries?”

    The objective, pushed by the international community (establishment) was to create as much economic harm as possible – in order not just to defeat the “Orange Man” (the Twitter feeds, and so on, of the people involved in the World Economic Forum and other organisations is NOT a secret – that their recommendations were designed to do harm, in order to undermine his changes of being reelected, is clear enough) – but also to achieve much wider goals.

    People plunged into poverty are likely to turn to anyone for help – even the very governments that plunged them into poverty.

    In local government this is called the “Curly Effect” – and is named after Democrat Mayor Curley of Boston in the early 1900s.

    Mayor Curley, as an act of deliberate policy, drove many business enterprises out of Boston – thus increasing unemployment and poverty.

    Did this make him unpopular? NO it did not – as Mayor Curley was the man with the WELFARE money to give to the poor, unemployed people (the people he made poor and unemployed) – Hollywood even made a (thinly disguised) film about Mayor Curley – with the drunkard leftist Spencer Tracy playing him as a HERO.

    This can also be done on a national and international scale.

    Make people dependent on GOVERNMENT AID – destroy their jobs and independent production (“the manufacturing can be done in China – here have some WELFARE money, you can buy DRUGS with it, and they will come from China to”) and they will OBEY you.

    Also give people lots of, totally irrational, orders “wear a mask – and put it on again after each bite of food” (the Governor of California actually issued that instruction – not that masks work anyway, as he knows perfectly well), “only meet X person – not Y person”, “do not buy socks” (no I am not making that one up) – endless totally irrational orders.

    But they are not really irrational – the orders of various governments (and the Woke Corporations) have a rational purpose – that purpose is to get people used to OBEYING WITHOUT QUESTION.

    In the world of the future – this will be the “New Normal”.

    People will obey any order (of the government bureaucracies and the Woke Corporations) and will react with HATRED to anyone who says that what they are doing does-not-make-sense.

    People will believe what they are told to believe – and they will believe the opposite a short time later (if told to do so).

    Perhaps people will even like, or claim to like, the Woke films and television programmes. Diversity and Inclusion, Build Back Better, Sustainable Development, Stakeholder Capitalism (which is FACISM – Big Government and Big Business coming together with free competition and customer choice exterminated), the Great Reset.

  • Snorri Godhi

    This conversation has had its ups and downs, intellectually speaking.

    I submit that there is a key paragraph in Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions that sheds some light on this.

    I cannot be bothered to look it up right now, but it is to the effect that it is a good thing that not all scientists change their mind at the same time, when evidence accumulates against the prevailing theory. That is because there is always the possibility that evidence will start going the opposite way. (Kuhn’s words are more cogent than my paraphrasing.)

    Everybody does it. And everybody is totally convinced that only the other side of the argument does it.

    If “everybody does it” is qualified by “initially” then this is correct.
    And it is a good thing that it is so!
    (See above.)

    But only the insane persist in it to the bitter end. And there are too many insane people right now in the Anglosphere.

  • Snorri Godhi

    As for masks, Karen Harradine’s ranting makes me suspect that she should herself question her own attitude to empirical evidence.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Ben david
    Summary: people don’t care about Truth as much as they profess.

    That is true because truth seeking is not at all the primary goal of humans. Self interest (and especially the interest of the families) is the driving force in nearly all human interactions, so humans seek that. Insofar as “truth” is useful to that end they will seek truth.

    I might add that even people who are “professional truth seekers”, scientists, philosophers, web site prognosticators, are still operating under these rules. It is just that they have set truth as the thing that distinguishes them, that gives them value, so although they may well be seeking truth honestly, the underlying mechanism is still the advancement of their own cause – namely improving their status as a truth seeker.

    But we are now seeing another, perhaps more dangerous mirror image of the True Believer: the postmodern, neopagan Non-Believer who has been convinced that there are no such things as objective Truth with a capital T. And no morality except the will of the world’s victors.

    To be honest I think that is a very Victorian view. The lesson of science in the 20th century was in fact the lack of objective truth. For example, the collapse of the model of mathematics that everything is provable, originating all the way back at Euclid, collapsed under the disaster of Gödel. The collapse of the absolute model of physics, starting all the way back with Newton, collapsing under the uncertainty of quantum mechanics (where not every effect has a cause). The transformation of science from one of “this is true” and “this is false”, to modern stochastic science where “this is probably true” and “this probably isn’t”. Even in my own field of computer science, where outcomes become unknowable with the discovery of the halting problem.

    As to morality, from whence does this absolute morality come? Some will make a claim that it comes from the Bible or their own version of the holy book. But that is self evidently not true. To give an example, the Bible very clearly condemns homosexuality, and is at best disinterested in the morality of slavery. Yet modern readers of the Bible will use various hermeneutic gymnastics to explain away why that isn’t really what is meant, even though it could not be more plainly stated. The point here is not to question the morality of the Bible but rather to say the fact that Christians (and Jews perhaps, though I haven’t had much experience of that), feel the need to explain these passages away would indicate that they are operating from a different moral code, a higher one than the supposedly axiomatic one in their holy book.

    And what is that morality? Well it is a messy set of rules that human societies have evolved over the years. Things that the survival of the fittest mechanism has allowed a set of moral rules that seem to optimize, in some sense and to some degree, the ability of humans to live together. Much as primates lost the ability to generate Vitamin C in their body (because their diet consisted of abundant fruit), so too we have dispensed with moral rules that we no longer need anymore. Thankfully we no longer stone women found not virgo intacta on their wedding night despite the admonition of Deuteronomy 22:21.

    So much as it might be calming and satisfying to believe in absolute objective truth, or absolute objective morality, they are both rather shaky concepts in reality. They are certainly comforting ideas, just don’t look to hard or you’ll have a rather queasy feeling in your stomach. In fact, after reading Godel’s theorem for the first time a famous mathematician (Hilbert I think? anyone know?), said he wanted to kill himself.

  • thefat tomato

    https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m3979:
    The only scientific solutions for sars-cov2/covid 19 are the solutions that can be reduced to clinical trials.
    Discussions about cost/benefits of NPI solutions(lockdowns, partial lockdowns, social curfews etc) are not a scientific discussions, they are political economy discussions.
    If Karen Harradine, and the rest of the covid skeptics lockdown skeptics want to prove a point they should just organise COVID parties for their children, and friends, sooner they do that, sooner society gets to the herd immunity threshold.
    Libertarians who are not covid skeptics, but are lockdown skeptics, could agree to accept phase three vaccines now, sooner vaccinations start sooner society gets to the herd immunity threshold.

  • Mr Ecks

    Fat Tom–Bollocks–It is and always has been a damp squib flu. The fact that ord flu has supposedly vanished world-wide tells us that the lying political cunts across the planet have used flu victims to boost their bogus pandemics death total the same way the scum have added insult to lethal injury by counting those who have died because of the LD as virus victims.

    I an taking no notice of LDs as far as possible given all the business fools who are cutting their own throats rather than fighting back and will be taking none of the shite rush-vaccines.

    The only reason I have not yet resorted to stronger measures is that the time isn’t yet right. Once millions hit the dole and a widespread understanding is reached of just how damaged the nation has been by all this shite hopefully resistance will become much more determined.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The fact that ord flu has supposedly vanished world-wide tells us that…”

    1. Death from ordinary flu normally virtually disappears in summer. Excess deaths primarily occur in winter.

    2. Lockdowns and social distancing work to stop flu spreading too.

    3. Estimated annual deaths for flu for the last few years are 2005/06: 629, 2006/07: 220, 2007/08: 728, 2008/09: 10,438, 2009/10: 3,264, 2010/11: 3,561, 2011/12: 6, 2012/13: 3,107, 2013/14: 577, 2014/15: 16,415, 2015/16: 7,371, 2016/17: 15,047, 2017/18: 22,087, 2018/19: 3,966, 2019/20: 7,990. The number is generally less than 10k. (10 out of the last 15 years.) You can’t conjure up 65k deaths from relabelling 10k deaths). [refs here and here.]

    4. You can test for the influenza virus too, and they do in severe cases. That’s how they know which strains of flu are currently active, so they can pick the appropriate vaccine each year. Measured flu levels based on testing are very low this summer.

  • neonsnake

    The author couldn’t exactly have picked her precise position back in March. Back then the authorities were telling us not to use masks.

    Specifically on masks, back in late January, maybe early Feb, as news started to filter through from China, sales of dust-masks in the retailer I worked in at the time went from approx 3,500 per week to around 18,000. At the time, I felt it was an amusing over-reaction to something that would undoubtedly turn out to be nothing – this was, after all, weeks before it hit Italy, let alone the UK, if my memory of the timings is correct.

    People were discussing the efficacy of masks from pretty much the start – the consensus at the time was that the effect was minimal, and also that people should not strip the shelves of PPE that should be going to health-workers (Are those two things contradictory? Potentially, depends on context – particularly that health-workers would be in enclosed spaces with patients, as opposed to 2m away on the street).

    Over time, as we learned more about the virus – for an example, the original “disinfect everything!” seems to have been over-blown, it’s the airborne particles that are of more concerned – the thinking on masks has coalesced (albeit not unanimously) around “my mask protects you, your mask protects me”. It’s not 100% effective, but it’s effective enough to make an enormous difference, it seems, especially in enclosed spaces.

    (I view it in the same way as requiring people to abstain from driving if they’ve had a bottle of wine – obviously there’s still a chance that someone sober is going to take me out, but it’s a hell of lot less likely than if they’re trolleyed before they got behind the wheel)

    But I think a lot of people pinned their flag to the “no-mask” pole back in March (or April, it hardly matters which), and have refused to shift their position despite the evidence that masks protect others – in the same way as “not drink driving” protects others.

    some will think this increasingly persuasive evidence we need a new lockdown while others will think this increasingly persuasive evidence of the little value of lockdowns relative to their increasing cost.

    Yes, that’s exactly what is happening, I think. I don’t think a new lockdown will have the desired effect – in purely practical terms, I don’t think it will be complied with to the level it was back in March/April. And there have a been a multitude of other errors, possibly one of the gravest of which is the track & trace system; we essentially wasted the lock-down and the time it should have given us to work out what to do next (I’d note that shuffling people into care homes to die is also pretty bloody high on the list of tragic errors).

    I don’t know what a viable next step, giving where we actually *are*. “Living with it” in the sense of pretending it doesn’t exist is a non-starter, IMO – we need to learn how to *adjust* to “live with it” in the sense of “how do we change our processes in order to allow for a virus, and yet not go back into lockdown?”

    We can only really do that (absent state diktat) if there’s a sense of solidarity about protecting each other, but we don’t have that, so I suspect that we’re going to be forced into “state diktat” by the people who (metaphorically) think it’s an affront to their liberties that they can’t get smashed at the pub and then drive home.

  • Paul Marks

    When I mention the opinions of many medical doctors who have cured large numbers of people of Covid 19 the response is that these are just doctors – not academic scientists.

    And when I mention the opinions of academic scientists, such as Professor Harvey Risch (the leading Yale Epidemiologist) the response is to change the subject.

    The brutal fact is people such as “Nullius in Verba” do not want people cured – as is shown by the fact that they are still (after all this time) pushing lockdowns and other harmful restrictions.

    Push policies that have utterly failed, such as lockdowns and mask mandates, and smear medical treatments that have been effective, such as EARLY treatment with the correct doses of hydroxychloroquine, zinc sulphate, and (for non Covid problems that may hit the body in its weakened state) azithromycin or doxycycline.

    As far as I know, I stand open to being corrected, “Nullius in Verba” has not even recommended exercise and keeping up Vitamin D levels – even though he must know (if only because he has been told many times) that these things are vital to keeping up a healthy immune system against Covid 19 and other illnesses.

    No – instead it is always lockdowns, mask mandates and other statism. Policies that “Nullius in Verba” must know by now are utterly useless – indeed counter productive.

    Still – at least he is no longer claiming that the police “did not have enough evidence” that large numbers of young girls in British towns and cities were being raped and forced into prostitution. By his silence he has accepted that the British authorities DID know – and did not act out of fear of being called “racist” and “Islamophobic” – and because they (the authorities) did not care about the girls anyway.

  • thefat tomato

    Mr Ecks:
    I think we both agree that the Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions(lockdowns, curfews, business closures) are highly detrimental, and the long term costs are going to be even more so.
    I also agree that people are not properly understanding the costs of the NPIs(lockdowns and so forth), and when a million people are on the dole, debates are going to get a lot more heated and inflammatory.
    I also agree that SARS COV2 is not far-off seasonal flu, but this where the agreement breaks down, you appear to think it’s a fraction of the severity of flu, and I think it is up to ten times worse.
    If I thought SARS COV2 was similar to the seasonal flu(0.1% IFR; or roughly 66k UK total deaths at 100% prevalence), I would uncomfortably agree, we should just carry on, no NPIs at all. We would already be two thirds of the way through the epidemic.
    If I thought SARS COV2 was a damp squib seasonal flu(say 0.01% IFR; or roughly 6.6k UK total deaths at 100% prevalence), I would be uncomfortably wondering how the UK managed to get 45k deaths and still increasing.
    But even if it was only as bad the seasonal flu, society is still stuck because we don’t have a SARS COV2 vaccine. Seasonal flu is the most vaccinated against infection on the planet.
    The way I see it there are three unknowns;
    1) The unknown long term economic risks
    2) The unknown long term SARS COV2 risks
    3) The unknown long term “shite-rush” vaccine risks
    Of those three risks I would prefer to accept the “shite-rush” vaccine risks to lessen impact of the other two.
    COVID/LOCKDOWN skeptics should be happy, to accept SARS COV2 risks, to lessen the impact of the other two.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “When I mention the opinions of many medical doctors who have cured large numbers of people of Covid 19 the response is that these are just doctors – not academic scientists. And when I mention the opinions of academic scientists, such as Professor Harvey Risch (the leading Yale Epidemiologist) the response is to change the subject.”

    Whether they’re doctors or academic scientists is irrelevant to me. The only question is whether they have solid evidence to support their claims. So far as I know (and I’m happy to be corrected if anyone has links to the randomised trials showing an effect) they don’t, and those who have published on the subject don’t claim to, either.

    I also have no wish to change the subject. I’m happy to point out that they have no evidence, and explain why it’s necessary and important, for as long as you want to talk about it. And so far as I am aware the medical establishment (when they’re not explicitly playing politics) don’t have a problem talking about it either. There are more papers published and trials ongoing to study the effects of HCQ and relatedly proposed drugs than for any other treatment. The medical establishment worldwide is taking the proposal very, very seriously. But the trials have not yet concluded, I have seen no trial results establishing a detectable effect, and there are indications from more recent work that strongly suggest HCQ doesn’t actually work. It worked in the lab to prevent infection of cultured kidney cells, which gave hope initially, but it turns out the virus infects lung cells by a different method, which HCQ doesn’t stop. That’s how reasearch goes, sometimes.

    “The brutal fact is people such as “Nullius in Verba” do not want people cured – as is shown by the fact that they are still (after all this time) pushing lockdowns and other harmful restrictions.”

    I’m all in favour of curing people, if the cures work. I’m not in favour of abandoning methods that we know do work in favour of ‘snake oil’ methods that don’t.

    “Push policies that have utterly failed, such as lockdowns and mask mandates, and smear medical treatments that have been effective, such as EARLY treatment with the correct doses of hydroxychloroquine, zinc sulphate, and (for non Covid problems that may hit the body in its weakened state) azithromycin or doxycycline.”

    It’s not been shown they’re effective.

    When people do uncontrolled, unrandomised experimentation, you get all sorts of problems interpreting the results. There was one paper I looked at that showed a major difference in survival and recovery between a group that received HCQ/Zn/AZT and another that didn’t. When you look closer, though, you find that the group receiving HCQ were on average 10 years younger than the group that didn’t. So there’s no way to tell whether the improved recovery rate was because of the HCQ, or simply because they were younger and healthier.

    The only way to avoid problems like that is to arrange the trial to guarantee that the only difference between groups is whether they got the treatment or not. You identify your experimental group, and you randomly select which get the treatment and which get a placebo. If the treatment group show significantly better results, more than can be explained by random chance, then the only thing that can explain it is the treatment.

    “As far as I know, I stand open to being corrected, “Nullius in Verba” has not even recommended exercise and keeping up Vitamin D levels – even though he must know (if only because he has been told many times) that these things are vital to keeping up a healthy immune system against Covid 19 and other illnesses.”

    It’s true, I haven’t, but I’m happy to do so. Staying fit and healthy is a significant help in surviving any disease.

    “Still – at least he is no longer claiming that the police “did not have enough evidence” that large numbers of young girls in British towns and cities were being raped and forced into prostitution. By his silence he has accepted that the British authorities DID know – and did not act out of fear of being called “racist” and “Islamophobic” – and because they (the authorities) did not care about the girls anyway.”

    There is a big difference between being aware that there is a problem and having enough evidence to convict somebody for it in a court of law.

    It’s a problem generic to all gang culture. The term “gang bang” for it originated in 1950s America and the Mafia, but it is a common and widespread feature of criminal gangs right up to this day that they use rape both as an initiation and membership ticket for female members, and as a weapon against members of other gangs and their relatives. Males don’t get off scot free either – an initiation might involve getting beaten up, or it might involve killing somebody or carrying out a robbery to prove your value and loyalty to the gang. As a gang member you have to carry out the gang’s instructions, take part in its activities. In return, you get the gang’s protection. Women are less capable of violence, and so have to contribute in other ways. The deal is that as a gang member or associate you get protection and a share of the loot, but you are subject to obey those higher up in the gang hierarchy, and make a contribution. For women in gangs, sex is a valuable commodity. And if you break the rules, betray the gang to the police, it’s part of the punishment. It’s a primitive form of Warlordism, with the gang as a militia.

    People knew it was going on, just as we know it goes on in gangs elsewhere. The US police know about the Bloods and the Crips and MS13 and all the rest. They know who they are, they know where they run, they know how they operate. You can look up all the academic research on girls in gangs, and how they’re treated. But to actually jail them, you need evidence that will stand up in court, and that means witnesses willing to testify in court, and piles of hard evidence consituting more than mere hearsay and rumour. And it is very common when trying to prosecute gangs to find witnesses are highly unwilling to stand up and face those they accuse in court, knowing all the rest of the gang are waiting for them outside. Hence, the gangs still exist.

    Gang culture is associated with poverty and poverty is associated with recent immigration. So a disproportionate number of gang members are of ethnic minorities. Like the Mafia that caused so much trouble in the US in the 1920s-80s was Sicilian. But there are white kids in gangs, too, and they behave just the same. Rape happens primarily because many gang members are male, and that’s what uncivilised males do.

    The police, as a rule, are very active in trying to shut criminal gangs down, but they are hampered by finite resources (the taxpayers can only give so much), they are bound about by the rules that rightly constrain the application of state power, and a consciousness that in a sense the entire gang are victims of gang culture as much as they are its perpetrators. They need to maintain reasonable relationships with the community, if they are to maintain order and do their job. They need informants inside the gangs, they need members on the periphery to be willing to talk to them, so they will frequently turn a blind eye to minor stuff in order to stop the more dangerous activities. I don’t think that’s what happened here, though. The basic problem was that the girls in question wouldn’t testify. They wouldn’t even make formal complaints. Some regarded the gang member as their ‘boyfriend’ and wanted to protect them. Others were too scared. Quite a lot were involved in gang-related crime themselves, and thus vulnerable to being grassed up in response. And without credible witnesses, and without funding for major undercover ops to infiltrate the gangs and gain usable evidence that way, there was not much they could do within the rules.

    It’s possible that one reason it didn’t get the funding priority was that the senior management presumed the press campaign about it was motivated by racism and hence exaggerated. But it’s also easily explained as the police’s general shortage of resources to address crime. They can’t stop burglaries, either.

    And in the meantime, there are hundreds more gangs, and thousands more child rapes going on that the campaigners haven’t said a word about, and show no interest in pursuing or even talking about them. When I bring the subject of all the other victims up, I get attacked for doing so. There are a lot more victims of the Catholic Church’s child abuse scandal, and nobody here wants to talk about that, either. I would argue that we should condemn them all in proportion to the number of victims – in the same way the media should condemn the Laogai fifty thousand times more loudly/often than they condemned Guantanamo Bay. But people don’t, because it’s the politics they care about, not the victims. It’s just a stick to beat their enemies with.

    Apologies for the massive diversion off-topic, but it’s kinda the same problem. People everywhere apply double standards of evidence to “us” and “them”. Some people they scarcely need any evidence at all before they’re ready to call for the application of State Violence against them, others, not so much.

  • APL

    Mike Yeadon: “Medical scientific legal people you must be able to see now, and say it is our professional view that SAGE is providing aberrant, seriously, lethally wrong advice. The people of this country and the scientists and scientific bodies should demand their immediate ejection. Listners? The reason the pandemic is not over, is because SAGE says it’s not. That’s it.”

    James Dellingpole.

  • Stonyground

    Tim Minchin’s take on all this.

    “You’re so sure of your position but you’re just closed-minded
    I think you’ll find that your faith in Science and Tests is just as blind as the faith of any fundamentalist”

    “Wow that’s a good point, let me think for a bit.
    Oh wait, my mistake, that’s absolute bullshit.
    Science adjusts it’s views based on what’s observed.
    Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.
    If you show me that, say, homeopathy works, then I will change my mind
    I’ll spin on a fucking dime
    I’ll be embarrassed as hell, but I will run through the streets yelling
    ‘It’s a miracle! Take physics and bin it!
    Water has memory! And while it’s memory of a long lost drop of onion juice seems Infinite
    It somehow forgets all the poo it’s had in it!’

    You show me that it works and how it works
    And when I’ve recovered from the shock
    I will take a compass and carve ‘Fancy That’ on the side of my cock.”

  • Itellyounothing

    The more I view news and comments (not just from Niv) about Covid and global warming and all the other government driven rubbish delivered by the disingenuous and devoured by the oblivious, the more I am reminded of nutrition.

    For actual decades, governments have espouse utter turgid nonsense about nutrition. Eggs are bad, eggs are good, margerine if good butter is bad, marg is bad, butter is good, on and on and on and on.

    Now even the US Army acknowledges keto diets are the way to go. Poor old Doctor Atkins was on the right path (30 odd years ago in the face of severe resistance), not perfectly correct, but he was more correct that all the experts, governments and so on 30 years ago.

    The EU is slowly being dragged under by Brexit and the Eastern European disgust at leftiness. Greta Thunberg is last year’s baby seal and barely rates a news click. Nobody even remember’s Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth”.

    The pattern is that idiocy doesn’t last (but can do much short term harm). The young won’t be bound by the lies and vanity of the old forever.
    Even Niv’s wall of word-salad is just tears in the rain.

    (Specifically aimed at Paul Marks), unlike George Orwell, I genuinely see hope in the proles………

  • Every day, the NHS Covid dashboard reported how many beds and ventilators were occupied by Covid patients. This data is not made public (a mistake, in my view)

    In my view also.

    The above is from this Spectator article. There may be some room for debate over the article’s use of a four-week lag in a part of its analysis. That said, as the article shows, the NHS was never overwhelmed – save in its capacity to address the other ills that flesh is heir to.

    Every winter, the NHS struggles a bit (and the beeb focusses on it) as seasonal illness effects combine with seasonal shortages of active staff. If Christmas is cancelled then that particular problem will be lessened. However I would hope a medical service would understand the idea of the cure being worse than the disease.

  • Paul Marks

    We are constantly told to “believe the tests” – very well then.

    As “the tests” show a massive INCREASE in Covid 19 cases AFTER mask mandates are introduced (in various parts of the world – including here) it is clear, by the “logic” of the Collectivists themselves, that MASKS DO NOT WORK. At least cloth masks do not work – not against a virus (not exactly a surprise as the virus is vastly smaller than the holes in the fabric).

    Therefore it is clear that the real reason for the mask mandates is nothing to do with “Public Health” – they are being pushed as a gesture of SUBMISSION. This is a political and cultural thing – NOT a medical thing.

    There was also some more evidence today – Imperial College (that gang) gloatingly announced that “immunity may only last a few months” so everyone will “have to be” injected with a “vaccine” “at least twice a year”. Total control of the entire population of the world.

    This is exactly the totalitarian agenda that the most “paranoid” people suggested at the very start of this crises – that the international elite (such as “Bill” Gates – whose father was in the board of the eugenics and abortion group “Planned Parenthood”), whether or not they deliberately developed the virus (and why was Dr Fauci illegally sending American taxpayer money and other help to the Chinese dictatorship virus research centre near Wuhan?), used this virus as an excuse for a long planned totalitarian agenda.

    I repeat, this is true even if the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship acted alone – without the help of their Western admirers in the government bureaucracy and the “Woke” Corporations (who desire to impose the CCP “Social Credit” system on the West – controlling all speech and behaviour of ordinary people, exterminating freedom).

    “We did not create the virus – we just used it as an excuse for our totalitarian plans” is NOT a valid defence.

    It is now, in light of the new evidence, time for “Nullius” to apologise for his past writings.

  • Paul Marks

    There is hope.

    Yet more peer reviewed studies have shown today that the medical doctors and academic epidemiologists who said we could deal with this virus (whether it was natural or developed) were correct.

    First – keep up your Vitamin D levels, it is winter now so should take a Vitamin D supplement.

    But if you do get the disease (especially if you are in a vulnerable group) get treatment AT ONCE (the bureaucrats say wait – if you follow their advice it may well be too late, and they get to add your death to the other deaths they use to “justify” their totalitarian political agenda).

    Go to a private doctor and get prescribed the correct doses of hydroxychloroquine, ZINC sulphate, and (for non Covid problems that may develop) either azithromycin or doxycycline.

    Do NOT wait till you in hospital on oxygen.

  • APL

    Paul Marks: “There was also some more evidence today – Imperial College (that gang) gloatingly announced that “immunity may only last a few months” so everyone will “have to be” injected with a “vaccine” “at least twice a year”. Total control of the entire population of the world.”

    I commend to you, if you haven’t already listened to it, the sober, information rich, and so far as I can tell truthful* interview by James Dellingpole of Dr Mike Yeadon posted up thread.

    *More truth in one hour and forty minutes than you’ll get in a weeks worth of BBC propaganda.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “and so far as I can tell truthful*”

    Sincere, I’m sure.

  • APL

    NiV: “Sincere, I’m sure.”

    The singular merit of your comment is its brevity. Keep it up.

  • Nullius in Verba

    OK.

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