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

We have so far “spent”, ie borrowed £410 billion to pay for the lockdown policy which was meant to “save the NHS”. Would anyone have agreed to that if they had known the cost? Vulnerable people could have been given a pension to stay at home and supplied by Ocado at a tiny fraction of the cost. We have shut down our society for the sake of a disease with a survival rate of over 99.5%. That is just decadent.

JohnK

This is the cause to rally around now

I want to ‘build back better’. I don’t know what the world leaders and international organisations are calling for when they parrot this phrase. But after the pandemic, we need far more critical thinking, rationality and constitutional protections. As soon as our liberties are restored, we must make sure they can never be taken away again. That is the cause to rally around now.

Laura Dodsworth

So what is your Covid-19(84) risk calculation?

This interesting Oxford University Covid risk calculator produces number that do not surprise me at all.

This is what my results were (COVID associated death):

(a) Absolute risk = 0.0256% 1 in 3906

(b) Absolute risk with no risk factors = 0.0227% 1 in 4405

Relative risk (a/b) = 1.1278

I had Covid-19 in March 2020 & recovered in two weeks (plus a couple weeks more until taste and smell fully recovered).

I wonder how long it will take for this risk calculator to be taken down, as I suspect it will make many people very angry at those in authority who have intentionally terrified them regarding this disease.

Statists of the world unite!

Monbiot sounds like a cross between Chairman Mao and a 17th century Puritan, banning anything that doesn’t fit his world view. The really weird thing is that the authoritarian Left are making alliances with authoritarian Right. The above-mentioned covidfaq website is run by Sam Bowman who used to take his shilling from the right-leaning Adam Smith Institute, one of the many so-called “think tanks” out there. At this point it’s worth mentioning – in line with documentary maker Adam Curtis – that think tanks don’t actually do any thinking. They are in effect PR operations for ideologies. And were previously sworn enemies of the Masons and Monbiots of this world.

In a similar vein, Mason has called for Boris Johnson to silence (or at least mock) the dissidents. He tweeted: “I don’t just want Johnson to say “Stay home, save lives” etc. I want him to call out and ridicule the bull**** anti-maskers, lockdown skeptics and denialists in his own party – and order social media platforms to suppress/label Covid disinformation. That’s leadership.”

No Paul, that’s tyranny. As I said, it’s sad to see a formerly radical thinker abjectly submitting to authority in this way. And we’re perhaps lucky that, for all his faults, Boris is not actually a tyrant; at least, not yet. The problem for the Left is that it’s been the contrarian Tories like Toby Young and James Delingpole who have led the questioning of government policy on lockdowns. So, almost instinctively, people like Mason recoil against lockdown scepticism simply because Young, Delingpole and their shock-jock ilk are lockdown sceptics.

Tom Hodgkinson

Hodgkinson is a left-statist with a tenuous grip on economic reality and an equally poor grasp of the inevitable civil liberties implications of his world view. Nevertheless, as many on my side of the fence have long known, one should never just read people you always agree with. We are far more likely to have read Communist Manifesto, Capital, Mao’s Little Red Book, Revolt against the Modern World etc. than the other side is to have read Fatal Conceit, Human Action or Wealth of Nations.

The linked article makes many good points, and he is certainly on-the-money about Sam Bowman, who was always an authoritarian; I think the ASI is well shot of him. In a similar vein, I need to also write an article about the not unrelated reason I also stopped giving a token monthly pittance to the Institute of Economic Affairs. These days I give substantially more to Lockdown Sceptics than I ever did to the IEA.

But I think the “touchingly naïve disappointment” also applies to Hodgkinson, who failed to see long ago that George Monbiot and Paul Mason were always up the Orwellian INGSOC end of the political spectrum. In many ways Monbiot and Mason are just more consistently applying the ideology they share with Hodgkinson.

But hey, if Hodgkinson and his ilk are starting to see the light, the war we are well and truly in today is such I for one care little who is in the trench next to me, just so long as they are pointing their weapon of choice at the enemies we share. A great many things are realigning on oh so many levels.

Samizdata quote of the day

The Scottish Crown Office subsequently wrote to us on March 5th demanding we remove the article. Guido decided to ignore it as it seemed unlikely to prejudice matters or reveal witnesses. The Spectator has taken the same approach to the same letter.

Guido Fawkes

Samizdata quote of the day

Interviewer: It is striking how scientific studies, also in this corona crisis, reveal very diverse results. Based on these results, scientists can defend almost diametrically opposed theories as the only truth. How is this possible?

Mattias Desmet: The research on corona is indeed brimming with contradictions. For example, regarding the effectiveness of face masks or hydroxychloroquine, the success of the Swedish approach, or the effectiveness of the PCR test. Even more curiously, the studies contain a huge number of improbable errors that a normally sane person would not be expected to make. This is still the case in terms of establishing the absolute number of infections, while a schoolchild knows that this means nothing as long as the number of infections detected is not compared with the number of tests taken. Obviously, the more tests you carry out, the more likely your infection rate will increase. Is this so difficult? In addition, it should be kept in mind that the PCR test can yield a large number of false positives, because the technique is widely misused for diagnosis. Together, this means that the inaccuracy of the figures distributed daily by the media is so great that some people understandably suspect a conspiracy, albeit apocryphally, in my opinion.

Again, this phenomenon is better placed in an historical perspective, because the problematic quality of scientific research is not a new issue. In 2005 the so-called “replication crisis” erupted in the sciences. Several committees set up to investigate scientific fraud cases found that scientific research is teeming with errors. Often the stated conclusions are of very dubious value. In the wake of the crisis, several papers appeared with titles that leave little to the imagination. In 2005, John Ioannidis, Professor of Medical Statistics at Stanford, published Why most published research findings are false. In 2016, a different research group wrote about the same topic, in Reproducibility: a Tragedy of Errors published in the medical journal Nature. These are just two examples of the very extensive literature describing this problem. I myself am well aware of the shaky scientific foundation of many research results. In addition to my master’s degree in clinical psychology, I earned a master’s in statistics. My doctorate dealt with measurement problems in the field of psychology.

– Patrick Dewals: The Emerging Totalitarian Dystopia: An Interview With Professor Mattias Desmet

Original text here.

Lord Sumption – mass civil disobedience has begun

Lord Sumption: Our status as a free society doesn’t actually depend on our laws or our constitution, it depends on convention. It depends on a collective instinct as to the right way to behave. There are many things governments can do which it is generally accepted they should not do. And one of them, until last March, was to lock up healthy people in their homes.

Interviewer: So, do you think we have taken an irreversible step towards being more Chinese, more dirigiste?

Lord Sumption: I very much fear that we have

– From an Unherd interview titled: Lord Sumption: mass civil disobedience has begun

I do not agree with Sumption on every point by any means but this interview is well worth your time.

If you need a bit of a giggle…

If you need a bit of a giggle, not to mention some informative bricks to throw at certain people, occasionally take a peek at the Extinction Clock.

Blog it, Gab it, Fakebook it, Twatter it, email it to green-inclined folk you know. This is absolutely perfect for dinner party discussions and family gatherings as well, as you do not need to explain it, just get them to read it and stand back with a smug expression saying nothing 😁

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

The “differend” is not just a difference of opinion

Perhaps the most stark form of differend lies in what philosophical logicians call ‘The Fallacy of Many Questions’. When, in the court dock for instance, a wily prosecutor asks a witness for the defence, “And do you still have a drink problem, sir?”, the witness had better be on his toes to avoid confirming the prosecutor’s implied allegation. If he answers “yes” – well, the game is over. If he answers “no”, then he implies, at least, that he has had a drink problem. One hopes that a good judge would overrule this question, on grounds of its leading the witness – that is to say, leading him without his knowing it to confirm some version of the drink-problem narrative, the framework of the question having excluded the option that there neither is nor ever was a problem with alcohol consumption.

Owen Jones’s ‘Denier’ allegation commits a similar fallacy: either Sikora, Gupta et al. do not deny ‘Covid’; or they do deny ‘Covid,’ in which case they are cast in the role of refusing to accept that Britons have this year died in their thousands. The option of accepting that there have been deaths but rejecting that they have been extraordinarily due to a ‘Covid pandemic’ is taken out of play.

Sinéad Murphy discussing An Incredible Berk of Staggering Ignorance.

The “differend” is not just a difference of opinion, it is a disconnect between fundamentally different world views. This is a discussion about what in these parts we refer to as “meta-context”, the unspoken & largely unexamined axioms that underpin how people understand everything.

Well in that case…

When I read this zinger:

“It is absolutely clear that climate change is a threat to our collective security and the security of our nations,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who presided over the meeting.

I thought it was perhaps the most succinct summation of why (1) the ‘Conservative’ Party should be prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act (2) I will never vote for them again.

It is bizarre to think we can thank Russia (an enemy state run by gangsters) and India for providing the voice of sanity.

A reputational version of the backward bending demand curve

When I saw this…

My first impulse when seeing the professional critic score compared to the ‘audience’ score was “hmm, this might be worth seeing.” 😀