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]

“Canada’s descent into tyranny is almost complete”

“Canada’s descent into tyranny is almost complete”, writes David Collins in the Telegraph.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is threatening his most tyrannical attack on freedom yet through his government’s proposed Online Harms Act (currently Bill C-63). Brought to you by the same farcically-named “Liberal” party who froze the bank accounts of the truckers who protested vaccine-mandates, the OHA is the government’s overzealous attempt to promote online safety.

The proposed legislation supposedly achieves this by requiring operators of social media services to adequately mitigate the risk that their users will be exposed to harmful content through measures such as publishing standards of online conduct, providing blocking tools and ways to flag and label harmful content. The OHA would create a Digital Safety Commission to administer and enforce its rules along with a Digital Safety Office to support social media users and advocate for online safety. These agencies can investigate complaints, summon people to testify in hearings and to produce records. Costs of all this will be paid by unspecified charges on social media platforms, presumably contemplating Canada’s planned Digital Services Tax on big tech platforms.

Most controversially, the OHA’s provisions on posting hateful content would require amendments to Canada’s Criminal Code as well as its Human Rights Act. While the victims of online “hate” may be comforted by tough new penalties, the changes are radical, particularly a new hate crime offence which can lead to life imprisonment. Worryingly, the criminal provisions of the OHA would give judges the ability to put people under house arrest because they might commit a hate crime in the future. The potential criminal could also be made to wear an electronic tag if the Attorney General requests it.

Emphasis added. The phrase “Canada’s descent into tyranny” comes across as hyperbole until you get to the bit about putting people under house arrest because they might commit a crime in future.

Samizdata quote of the day – COVID: All Australian governments failed completely

In summary, Covid-19 posed very little risk to people of good health. The use of the tri-nutrient repurposed medicines approach can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of infections, the requirement for hospitalisation and, if commenced early, will prevent admission to ICU in severely ill patients. Covid patients should be managed initially by trained, qualified and experienced medical practitioners, nurse practitioners and scientists utilising nutritional immunology. The entire population should be educated as to the value of these nutrients and it should not be a difficult task. We could be pandemic free in six to to eight weeks if these approaches were adopted. Furthermore, other serious issues that have arisen from the poor management of the pandemic are the coercion to force vaccinate, the lack of informed consent provided to patients, the attacks on doctors and healthcare workers who spoke out about their concerns regarding the toxicity of the vaccines and lost their jobs, the very high levels of vaccination injuries and deaths and in particular the vaccine-induced deaths of Australian children, and the government’s refusal to withdraw the vaccines. All powerful reasons for a broad-based Royal Commission.

I speak on behalf of all the medical practitioners and health care workers who are trained in nutritional therapeutics, who understand the power of the above mentioned approaches and who know they work from the available science and experience, but, are too afraid of speaking out.

Professor Ian Brighthope. This applies to the majority of governments, not just Australia, but I heartly recommend reading the whole thing for the very valuable health advice.

Senior epidemiologist who advises the government says BBC misrepresented Covid risk to boost lockdown support

“BBC ‘misrepresented’ Covid risk to boost lockdown support, inquiry told”, the Telegraph reports.

Note that the person doing the telling is not some random conspiracist but Sir Mark Woolhouse, OBE FRSE FMedSci, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh. Professor Woolhouse was an adviser to the Scottish government during the pandemic, although he says it did not often take the advice he offered. He also sat on the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, a sub-group of the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, usually known by its acronym “SAGE”. The Telegraph report by Scottish political editor Simon Johnson says,

The BBC was allowed to “misrepresent” the risk posed by Covid to most people to boost public support for lockdown, the UK Covid Inquiry has heard.

Prof Mark Woolhouse, an eminent epidemiologist and government adviser, lambasted the corporation for having “repeatedly reported rare deaths or illnesses among healthy adults as if they were the norm”.

He said this created the “misleading impression” among BBC News viewers at the start of the pandemic that “we are all at risk” and “the virus does not discriminate”.

In reality, he said it was known at the time that the risk of dying from Covid was 10,000 times higher in the over-75s than the under-15s.

But Prof Woolhouse told the inquiry the BBC did not correct its reporting, saying: “I suspect this misinformation was allowed to stand throughout 2020 because it provided a justification for locking down the entire population.”

Too late, Ms Starbird. Trust, once lost, is not so easily regained.

I hear the faint chink of the penny dropping at Guardian. This profile of misinformation specialist – read that job description as you will – Kate Starbird is predictably fawning, but they seem distinctly anxious to get across the idea that she and other misinformation specialists are no longer going to behave in the way they did in the last few years: ‘Stakes are really high’: misinformation researcher changes tack for 2024 US election

A key researcher in the fight against election misinformation – who herself became the subject of an intensive misinformation campaign – has said her field gets accused of “bias” precisely because it’s now mainly rightwingers who spread the worst lies.

Kate Starbird, co-founder of the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, added that she feared that the entirely false story of rigged elections has now “sunk in” for many Americans on the right. “The idea that they’re already going to the polls with the belief that they’re being cheated means they’ll misinterpret everything they see through that lens,” she said.

Starbird’s group partnered with Stanford Internet Observatory on the Election Integrity Partnership ahead of the 2020 elections – a campaign during which a flood of misinformation swirled around the internet, with daily claims of unproven voter fraud.

Starbird and her team helped document that flood, and in return congressional Republicans and conservative attorneys attacked her research, alleging it amounted to censorship and violated the first amendment.

Starbird, a misinformation researcher, herself became the subject of an ongoing misinformation campaign – but said she would not let that deter her from her research. Her team wasn’t the only target of the conservative campaign against misinformation research, she noted: researchers across the country have received subpoenas, letters and criticism, all attempting to frame misinformation research as partisan and as censorship.

Jim Jordan, chair of the House judiciary committee, served as the ringleader of this effort in Congress, using his power to investigate groups and researchers that work to counter misinformation, particularly as it related to elections and Covid-19. One practice that especially upset Jordan and his colleagues was when researchers would flag misleading information to social media companies, who would sometimes respond by amending factchecks or taking down false posts entirely.

That is censorship. One can argue that it is justified censorship, but it is censorship.

Nor is it just Congress attacking anti-misinformation work. A federal lawsuit from the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana alleges that the Biden administration violated the first amendment by colluding with social media companies to censor and suppress speech.

The Guardian’s writer, Rachel Leingang, has phrased that last sentence so that it could easily be read as saying the whole of the phrase “the Biden administration violated the first amendment by colluding with social media companies to censor and suppress speech” has the status of a mere allegation, a question yet to be decided. I hope Ms Leingang will forgive me if I clear up that potential ambiguity. The U.S. courts may or may not rule that the Biden Administration violated the First Amendment by colluding with social media companies to censor and suppress speech, but there is no doubt whatsoever that the censorship happened.

A new lawsuit from the state of Texas and two rightwing media companies takes aim at the Global Engagement Center, a state department agency that focuses on how foreign powers spread information.

The pressure campaign has chilled misinformation research just ahead of the pivotal 2024 presidential election, as some academics switch what they focus on and others figure out ways to better explain their work to a mixed audience. One thing they will probably no longer do is flag posts to social media companies, as the practice remains an issue in several ongoing court cases.

Hear that? They’ve changed now. Censorship was so 2020. They aren’t going to do that any more. Probably.

Learning an important lesson from the pandemic

I recently read Economics In One Virus, by Ryan Bourne of the CATO Institute in the US, and an excellent account it is. (It was published in 2021.) It is a good overview of how people should think about the economic issues involved in a pandemic.

The current farcical “inquiry” into the UK government’s handling of COVID-19 (see my recent posting here) got me thinking about some of the more admirable things I noticed during the nightmare. One of them was the way that the supermarket industry, and associated logistics sector (warehouses, lorry drivers, ports, shipping, stock inventory platforms, etc), worked. Suddenly, everyone became familiar with the term “supply chain”. I recall a few years ago meeting a person who introduced himself as a “supply chain specialist”, and others in the room made rude comments about how “dull” this sounded. (I make a point of avoiding jerks like them, by the way.) Well, his field of expertise came into a very bright spotlight, and to an extent, there it remains. Getting supplies right is about as non-dull as you can imagine.

Global capitalism gets a lot of silly criticism, and yet those who presume to champion it often fail to note the triumphs when they occur. They would do well to point out how much better the bottom-up, entrepreneurial, market-based way of doing things is than the top-down, government approach.

I recall that when the news first broke of a virus in Wuhan and what to do about it, the conventional (ie, wrong) wisdom seemed to be that we should copy the Chinese in their lockdowns and restrictions, and this was seized upon, it seemed, by those itching for these controls for various other reasons, such as harsh “Green” policy. What got drowned out was the case for how enterprise could provide solutions, from rapid development of ICU unit technology through to better management of supplies, treatments, vaccines, etc.

In the months since lockdowns ended, we have forgotten these lessons, and I fear that the wrong ones have been learned. Not enough is being done to point out how inventiveness, enterprise, intelligent risk-taking and experimentation are what’s wanted, not the often oafish fist of the state.

Samizdata quote of the day – farcical UK Covid Inquiry edition

“Never in the history of Britain have politicians so clearly abandoned their own policies and instincts at the behest of the technocrats. This was made plain day after day as the scientists took the airwaves and stood behind podiums, saying nothing different from the politicians who echoed and praised them.”


“More and more, it looks as if this inquiry, set up by the Blob, staffed and run by the Blob, sees its job as blaming the politicians and excusing the Blob.”

Matt Ridley, Daily Telegraph (£), writing about the farcical covid enquiry in the UK.

By the way, I remember watching The Blob, a movie starring a young Steve McQueen, years ago. It was quite scary. Fortunately, McQueen turned to more realistic fare to achieve greatness in films such as The Great Escape, Bullitt, and Papillon.

There was very little in the government’s response to Covid that was in any way new

In 1923 they are dealing with a highly infectious but not particularly deadly disease. It has even made the editorial pages of The Times of 14 December, parts of which I quote below. I have made some redactions to emphasise the parallels with a more recent epidemic but – so help me – I have done my best to retain the meaning. See if any of it sounds familiar.

The return of the disease… is extremely disappointing.

…during the present crisis the regulations based on [a government inquiry’s] conclusions have been scrupulously observed. Every possible precaution, in fact, has been taken. Everything that knowledge and experience can suggest has been done to stop the ravages of the disease, and yet so far none of the measures adopted appears to have produced any tangible result.

In view of the gravity of the situation, it is not, therefore, altogether surprising that the suggestion has been made that, since in this particular instance the policy… has proved ineffective, it ought to be dropped.

Fortunately, however, there is not the least chance that such a suggestion will be carried out. The whole weight of the [expert] opinion of the country is against it.

The real alternative, as [a member of the Great and Good] said yesterday, “is… between [the draconian policy] and letting the thing rip.”

…In thirty-one years, up to last March, [the] disease has only cost the country £1,000,000, whereas the loss every year… in Holland is two-and-a-half times as large…

In case you were wondering the disease in question is foot & mouth disease – a disease that affects livestock. While it is tempting to claim that the government during the Covid era was treating us like cattle… or sheep… or pigs, I am not sure that is true; they weren’t actually sending round squads to do us in. Even so the similarities are remarkable.

Samizdata quote of the day – pharma bombs

Now, remember. This study — and all the news reports about it — constantly reassures pharma bigwigs and depressed jab-takers that there’s no evidence of adverse effects from the random ‘nonsense proteins,’ the randomized proteins that 25% of their transfected cells are now making. Nothing to worry about!

But check out this very telling quote from one of the study authors, Anne Willis, who is a very upbeat kind of lady. She found that the problem just creates a very exciting opportunity for jab makers to fix it:

(Professor Anne Willis, Director of the MRC Toxicology Unit) adds it is very exciting that there is a way to fix the issue, which “massively de-risks this platform going forward”.

Screech! Hold on, wait just a minute! Slam on the brakes for a second. If fixing the issue “massively de-risks the (mRNA) platform” … that means … there are massive risks to be fixed. And that quote, ladies and gentlemen, gave away the entire game, right there, and showed us what the study authors are really thinking.

Jeff Childers

Ten years ago, Brian Mickelthwait predicted the response to Covid-19

Ten years and ten days ago, the sadly missed Brian Micklethwait wrote this: “What if there is a real collective disaster?”

Brian quoted this article by Paul Murphy which said that the response of governments and the scientific establishment to what they saw as the global warming crisis had “destroyed the credibility of all involved” and “greatly weakened the world’s ability to recognize and respond to a real threat should one now materialize.”

Brian added,

An unfree society may be great at imposing immediate unanimity, but what if what it immediately imposes unanimously is panic and indecision? (Think Stalin when Hitler attacked the USSR in 1941.) And what if it then imposes a wrong decision about what needs to be done? A collectivity that is hastily assembled by freer and more independent persons is just as likely to act in a timely manner, and is far more likely to have a proper argument about what must be done, and hence to arrive at a better decision about that.

Besides which, what is often needed in a crisis is not so much collective action, but rather individual action for the benefit of the collective. That is a very different thing, and clearly a society which cultivates individuality will prepare individuals far better for such heroism than will societies where everyone is in the habit only of doing as they are told.

“An unfree society may be great at imposing immediate unanimity, but what if what it immediately imposes unanimously is panic and indecision?” There could scarcely be a better description of the response of the UK and the Western world as a whole to Covid-19. Masks are useless! Cancel that, masks are compulsory! Herd immunity! Cancel that, vaccines are compulsory! Lockdown! Cancel that, ‘Eat Out to Help Out’, er, cancel that, back to lockdown!

Samizdata quote of the day – the collapse of adolescent mental health

“The sudden switch from play-based childhood to phone-based childhood is—we believe—the leading candidate for being the major cause of the international collapse of adolescent mental health.”

Zach Rausch & Jon Haidt.

Intersectionality in today’s NHS

Dr Wahid Asif Shaida has worked as an NHS doctor for a practice in Harrow for more than twenty years. He is described as having a senior role at the surgery as a mentor and trainer for recently-qualified doctors.

Remember the Hizb ut-Tahrir member who led the chant for jihad the other day?

Same guy.

London jihad demo leader is NHS doctor: Islamic extremist’s double life as a suburban GP is exposed

The firebrand leader of an extremist Islamic group that called for ‘jihad’ at an anti-Israel protest works as an NHS GP under a different name, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

As head of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the UK, Abdul Wahid celebrated the barbaric Hamas terror attacks that slaughtered 1,400 Jewish men, women and children earlier this month as a ‘very welcome punch on the nose’ to Israel.

But he has also spent more than 20 years practising as a family doctor under his real name, Dr Wahid Asif Shaida.

I never expected an honest lockdown reckoning

“Since apologies are now required. Challenging any consensus is fundamentally important to good science – especially that of an unproven intervention such as lockdown. The onus should have been on those proposing such a radical new policy to justify it, not the reverse. Sweden is the elephant in the room. A nation of relatively similar wealth and standing to us, it largely avoided lockdowns yet has emerged with impressively low excess deaths. Should the inquiry not be asking how? Anders Tegnell, the architect of their successful strategy, should have been a priority witness.”

– Prof Karol Sikora is a consultant oncologist. Daily Telegraph (£)

When the pandemic petered out and lockdowns were – with some reluctance from the powers-that-be – abandoned, there was some speculation about how there needed to be “a reckoning” over the damage done, that we should examine the Swedish case, and re-visit the Great Barrington Declaration’s arguments. But I feared at the time that this was unlikely to happen, at least for some time with the present political establishment. Simple reputation protection is part of it. Also, it appears the large majority of the public in countries such as the UK supported lockdowns. Maybe too many voters did not want to face the full, ugly fact that what had been done was a massive mistake, on a par with entering a war. In this day and age – and I suspect it has been like this since forever – soul searching and honest reflection is not encouraged. Parts of the media probably thought the same about lockdowns and in far too few cases has there been much reflection. You can almost detect a certain awkwardness. I mean, at any social gathering I have been at, among journalists and suchlike, the folly of lockdowns never comes up unless I raise it (I try not to make a habit of it, mind), and if I ever do, I get that “oh, look at that oddball” stare, or desire to shift the conversation to something less controversial.

On the Conservative and Labour sides, and across the public sector, most were invested into lockdowns; already, when I saw journalists have a go at the Boris Johnson government, for example, it was usually that it did not lock down hard enough and early enough. The whole “meta-context” was about repression, speed and duration of lockdown, and the need to throw the full apparatus of the State at it. The idea that ordinary members of the public were already acting to socially distance back in February and early March of 2020, that various methods, freely embraced, might have made a difference (I am not a doctor, so usual disclaimers), were ignored. Not just ignored, but as we saw over the GBD crowd, mocked and scorned.

It became clear to me that there is a clear overlap between the lockdowners, as I call them, and much of today’s Green movement. It was hard for me to ignore an almost pleasurable embrace of lockdowns by the Greens. I mean, we’d stopped most people flying! Look at how clear the canals of Venice are, daaaahling. The Net Zero phenomenon, whatever else it is, is about using the coercive power of the State to force people to change how they behave in ways they will find restrictive and unpleasant for some sort of supposed provable collective goal. The lockdowns were a trial run, in a way, for the sort of repressive measures that such Green activists seek. In one story, an academic suggested that lockdowns were actually a sort of “liberation”.

Clearly, it is possible to be alarmed by all this even if you are, for example, concerned about viruses, possibly cooked up in a lab, or Man-made global temperature increases. These are matters of empirical science. Just because freedom-loving individuals don’t like lockdowns or restrictions on fossil fuels doesn’t mean these fears are unfounded. (The correct approach is to accept the best evidence available without rushing to junk freedom.) But it surely does suggest that in so many cases, top-down responses to this or that threat need to be questioned more. To go back to the quote at the top of this article, there is a need for a burden of proof to sit with those who want to slam measures on the public, not the other way around. And there needs to be more willingness to embrace the solutions and tools to which a free, entrepreneurial society give rise to.