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]

Samizdata quote of the day

I have a research background in the social sciences and dozens of peer-reviewed publications to my name. There’s a lot that sets off my crap detector in Ferguson’s comments – mostly to do with overestimating the validity of his own data, and using this to in effect depoliticise political questions and naturalise a kind of technocratic despotism under the guise of neutral science. I don’t think this is a deliberate conspiracy; I think it’s a predictable result of a particular way of seeing.

The political assumption is that ‘we’ as a society make decisions for the whole society (i.e., society is not an aggregate of individuals), that within this range of decisions, anything goes (the only criteria are quantitative), and that the decisions should be made based on expert data. These are highly contentious beliefs: they are not apolitical or scientific


In other words, it’s a strategy based on damage reduction, permitting or increasing human suffering so as to preserve state/Government stability (again clearly a contentious view, and again with Hobbesian and behaviourist roots). Yet Ferguson embeds this view of politics in such a way as to make it seem obvious, apolitical. It isn’t. It is a choice in favour of technocratic governance.

Ferguson’s desire not to ‘politicise’ science involves effectively making policy decisions based on the ‘expert’ conclusions arising from computer modelling. This kind of technocratic model is perfectly compatible with how countries like China are run.

Lockdown Sceptics

18 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    Professor Ferguson is a physicist – he has limited medical knowledge and going to him about Covid 19 (or any other disease) is insane.

    As for his computer models – he would not show them to people because they are based on “Hockey Stick” (remember the charming people at the University of East Anglia) levels of honesty.

    He reminds me of he head of the World Health Organisation – a doctor of philosophy, rather than medicine, a Marxist from Ethiopia, who spouts endless Chinese Communist Party Dictatorship propaganda. First COVERING UP Covid 19 (so it could spread to various countries) and then screaming that if countries did not “lock down” everyone would die. Oddly enough it turns out that most of China never really did lockdown – at least not for very long (just long enough to get the West to lockdown).

    Still at least Professor Ferguson did not pay for “Gain of Function” research on a natural virus in Wuhan China in order to make it more dangerous – which is what, indirectly, Dr Fauci’s American government agency did by paying a Corporation to, in turn, pay the Wuhan research establishment to do this work – the virus then “escaped” (or was released). Let us hope it was an accident.

    Dr Fauci went from saying that the danger of the virus to the United States was “miniscule” (he said that in order to try and prevent the closing of the borders to the virus), to saying that millions might die and that everything must be LOCKED DOWN (in order to destroy the economy and society – there is no evidence that internal lockdowns reduce the death toll over the whole period of a virus, although they may drag things out longer before herd immunity is established).

    Both the American and the British establishment have been chanting “there is no Early Treatment for Covid 19” for the last year – even though there is Early Treatment could have saved most of the people who died. Why they did this – I leave to other to decide. Indeed the establishment have not even told people to increase their Vitamin D3 levels – which could have prevented many people developing the sickness in the first place. Again WHY the establishment have behaved in this way – I leave to others to decide.

    As for the present establishment position….

    The Economist magazine are busy declaring that Texas has a high Covid death rate because it did sign up for the Obamacare Medicaid extension – actually many States that did have a HIGHER Covid death rate. But lying is a the default mode for the Economist magazine – for example it blames the deaths from cold weather in Texas on the place being too free market, in reality a State Agency has had control of the Texas Grid for 50 years and tens of Billions of Dollars have been thrown at (Economist magazine supported) Green Energy schemes.

  • APL

    There is a ‘meme’ published on Facebook by the WHO, which goes: ‘COVID-19’ does not discriminate, neither should you.

    That seems to directly contradict the British Government’s propaganda that COVID-19 does discriminate, being as it disproportionately targets ‘BAMEs’, whatever they are.

    Also the British government has proposed that the Virus can tell the time too, since it goes absolutely ape-shit after 10pm.

    These people can’t even get a consistent line on their gibberish propaganda.

  • Stonyground

    “…‘BAMEs’, whatever they are.”

    Black And Middle Eastern.

    Regarding computer modelling, have any of them come close to resembling reality? It maybe just government departments that can’t make it work. I remember reading about the development of the Triumph 675 Daytona and how computer aided design had reached the point where the prototypes didn’t need any modification before being put into production.

  • “…‘BAMEs’, whatever they are.”
    Bad-Ass Mother Fu — oh wait, that’s an “E”.

  • The Jannie

    BAME – Brown, aged, middle English? After all, they can all be wheeled out when it suits the PTB’s latest brainstorm.

  • In computer programming, the best method is open-sourced release of the source code so any programmer can review it for bugs, followed by inspection of the source code by independent experts. Ferguson/the Imperial group are refusing to do any of these things – thus making it impossible to test whether or not critics of the model are right about its flaws. … .

    Their concealment was revealing, but also imperfect. After a team from Microsoft and others spent over a month upgrading Ferguson’s code, a heavily modified derivative of it was released and examined and commented on by the quoted site and by us.

  • Snorri Godhi

    All this sound and fury against Neil Ferguson seems misguided to me. (And ‘misguided’ is putting it mildly.)

    In my arrogant opinion, once Boris and Sadiq started minimizing the risk, lockdown became almost unavoidable. (‘Libertarians’ who helped minimize the risk, share the blame.)

    All what Ferguson did, was bringing forward the lockdown.

  • ‘Libertarians’ who helped minimize the risk, share the blame.

    The risk is an infection death rate of about 0.05% & that includes all the flu deaths that have magically disappeared. The lockdowns are bullshit.

  • Snorri Godhi


    Regarding computer modelling, have any of them come close to resembling reality? It maybe just government departments that can’t make it work.

    It’s not just government departments.
    And it’s not just modelling.

    Any ‘scientific’ research that has political implications, no matter how close to the standard of fundamental Physics, is to be regarded as highly suspicious.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Perry, you did not read my comment carefully.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Paul Marks writes:

    [Prof. Ferguson] reminds me of he head of the World Health Organisation – a doctor of philosophy, rather than medicine

    As it happens, i am myself a doctor of philosophy, rather than medicine.
    But i got my PhD in a Department of Physiology in a Faculty of Medicine.

    But that is just to lead on to the point that i wanted to make.

    When i was working towards my PhD, i regarded quantitative models as falsifiable hypotheses, and regarded such hypotheses as essential in designing experiments. But many people in my Department were dismissive of models, without explaining how one can decide which experiments to do, in the absence of models.

    Since i was not as articulate back then as in the above paragraph, i avoided arguing about it.

    Imagine my discomfort when the scientific community started arguing that models must be taken, not just as a basis for the design of experiments, but as a basis for policy!

  • Mr Ed

    A computer model is essentially a way of speeding up calculations and inputting assumptions that would otherwise be done by hand and/or with dice.

    It is nothing more than that, apart from being useful cover for tyranny.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes – Snorri and yes Mr Ed.

    Saying “our computer model says X so you must obey” is as straight as the 2020 election in the United States. Computer models produce the numbers those who control them wish them to produce IF THOSE WHO CONTROL THEM ARE DISHONEST- certainly Professor Ferguson’s computer model was totally bent

    Think about it – a blatantly rigged election, but people are often PUNISHED (by being censored, or dismissed from their jobs, or having their business attacked by the banks and other corporate crooks) for pointing out that it was rigged.

    But that was not even the biggest thing of 2020 – the biggest thing was vast numbers of people died of a disease for which there was Early Treatment, but for which the establishment DENIED there was Early Treatment.

    The lockdowns were not an international effort to save lives – on the contrary the disease was used as an excuse for the lockdowns, which were desired for other reasons. The lockdowns were the main thing (they had been war gammed before anyone had heard of Covid 19), treating the disease – not even on the radar.

    This makes other things look small – including Joseph Biden taking bribes from foreign powers (for years) via Hunter Biden – and Hunter Biden’s sexual crimes (bribery and other crimes covered up by the corrupt scum of the FBI and the “Justice” Department)

    The FBI and the Federal “Justice” system are corrupt – that is obvious now (in truth it was obvious when they went after General Flynn).

    The American election was blatantly rigged.

    But it is all NOTHING compared to the vast numbers of human beings they allowed to die just so they could push their precious Agenda 21 – Agenda 2030 “Stakeholder Capitalism” (Fascism – the Corporate State) in the name of “Sustainable Development”.

    What can anyone do in the face of this tidal wave of evil? I do not know, I just do not know.

    Still a last point on computer models…….

    Dr Fauci (and he does have a medical degree – 1966, he has not practiced medicine having going into the government bureaucracy in 1968) told Governor Kristi Noem (South Dakota) that she must lockdown.

    The lady asked what legal authority this Federal bureaucrat had to give orders to an elected State Governor (by the way – that is the sort of question that no one in Britain would ever ask, that sort of question would never even occur to us) – his reply was his computer model.

    “At least ten thousand people in South Dakota will go to hospital every day if you do not lockdown” – how that is a legal (rather than medical) argument, Dr Fauci did not explain. But, for the record, the peak day was 600 – not “at least ten thousand per day”, 600 in hospital on the peak day (which was a long time ago now).

    That is not to say that South Dakota could not have done better – given its mostly European ancestry population (due to genetic markers people of European ancestry are particularly vulnerable to this disease – just about the opposite of what the media say) so Vitamin D3 levels should have been massively raised in South Dakota and they were not – and that was wrong.

    Also there was far too much stress on “studies” (no offence meant Snorri) – with, at one point, large numbers of people not getting Early Treatment drugs (getting none active agents instead) so that a study could be done.

    Well yes indeed that is scientifically useful – in that it shows that people who do not get the right Early Treatment medications (who are given chalk or whatever) are more likely to develop the disease and die than people who are.

    Scientifically useful yes (I do not deny that) – but unethical.

    This was put a stop to – but some people (it must be said) died who could have been saved – both due to low Vitamin D3 levels in the fall and winter, and due to some people not being given the correct Early Treatment.

    But certainly “lockdowns” and so on would have been no use at all.

    As Governor Noem pointed out – the demand to lockdown was in March, the main impact of the disease was six months later, so are the Collectivists saying the State should have been locked down all year? Nor is their any evidence that lockdown nations have lower death rates (over the full run of the disease) than non lockdown nations.

  • Paul Marks

    The standard way of deciding what experiment to do is to start with a plausible theory and then test it – not the Milton Friedman “Essays in Positive Economics” (1953 I believe) idea of any-old-theory-as-long-as-it-predicts-accurately, a plausible theory – one which makes logical sense.

    I think what Snorri is saying is that a computer model helps us decide what theories are plausible – so then we go and test them OUTSIDE the model.

    Certainly making policy decisions that control the lives of vast numbers of human beings on the basis of a computer model (especially one like that of Professor Ferguson – which he would not allow anyone to examine, so it was essentially like Google’s “objective and scientific search engine” which just happens to support the left – every time) is insane.

    The whole thing was Hockey Stick levels of dishonesty.

    But then, these days, some scientists think nothing of altering past data so that it fits a curve thus “proving” a computer model.

    The thinking is not “the temperature data does not fit our theory – so we will have to change our theory”, no the thinking is “the temperature data does not fit our theory – so we will have to change the temperature data of past years so that the CHANGED data fits our unchanged curve”.

    As with the behaviour with Covid 19 this shows a MORAL COLLAPSE among many (although not all) scientists.

    The political imperative (push Agenda 21 – Agenda 2030, Stakeholder Capitalism for Sustainable Development) comes first – and it should NOT.

    TRUTH should be the goal of science – not politics.

    And saving the lives of INDIVIDUAL PATIENTS should be the goal of medicine – not “public policy outcomes”.

    Teaching people that “public policy” is more important than the INDIVIDUAL PATIENT is a betrayal of everything that medicine should be about.

    The thinking of “never let a crises go to waste”, which means “how can we use deaths to push the Progressive political agenda”, is wrong – it is evil.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I think what Snorri is saying is that a computer model helps us decide what theories are plausible – so then we go and test them OUTSIDE the model.

    I think it is not just a quibble to point out that i was talking about models in general, not just ‘computer models’ (which is arguably a misnomer, because it is human minds that devise the model before implementing it in a computer program).

    The only reason why some models are implemented as computer programs, as Mr Ed hints, is that some models are too complex for feasible computations with pencil & paper.

    Obviously, Occam’s razor implies that we should favor models that allow computations with just pencil & paper, but we must accept that in some areas, models need to be complex, because what is being modeled is complex.

    And btw when i was working towards my PhD, some people were not just dismissive of ‘computer models’: they were dismissive of **all** models.

  • Paul Marks

    I stand corrected Snorri – thank you.

    Clearly we all have “models” in your sense of the word.

    We imagine something happening, how-and-why (in our own minds) – and then we look out into the physical world, to try and find out if things really do work that way.

    The thinking (the mental model) comes first.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Glad we can agree on a key epistemological point, Paul!

  • Surellin

    All decisions cannot be political. The personal needs the political like a fish needs a bicycle.