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

Wikipedia’s [neutral point of view] is dead. The original policy long since forgotten, Wikipedia no longer has an effective neutrality policy. There is a rewritten policy, but it endorses the utterly bankrupt canard that journalists should avoid what they call “false balance.” The notion that we should avoid “false balance” is directly contradictory to the original neutrality policy. As a result, even as journalists turn to opinion and activism, Wikipedia now touts controversial points of view on politics, religion, and science.

– Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia writing Wikipedia Is Badly Biased

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.

Samizdata quote of the day

I honestly believe that if the media and ‘experts’ said that blue masks don’t work, but yellow masks do, then a significant % of the population would switch colours tomorrow… And proceed to call anyone who questions it a ‘science denier’ or ‘conspiracy theorist’.

Zuby Udezue

Samizdata quote of the day

“The glacial pace at which we’re being handed back our liberties is a stark contrast to the terrifying speed at which they were taken away. The deprivations of the last year have been so many and various that it’s difficult to remember what happened when, but having to cancel Christmas plans with just five days’ notice isn’t something many families will soon forget.”

Alys Denby

Samizdata quote of the day

Governments don’t oppose gig economy jobs because of a concern for working conditions, they do it because “real employees” are the most heavily taxed people in the economy, and the more of them there are the more the government can milk them for their outrageous vote buying schemes. Employees are much easier to manage and control both by employers and bureaucracies than freelancers. Consequently, bureaucracies prefer them.

Fraser Orr

Samizdata quote of the day

We are entering a world of tribal capitalism. See how Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire picked up Gina Carano. There are [The Powers That Be] and there are the outlaws.

I’m an outlaw. I’m a Kulak. Molon Labe.

Shlomo Maistre

Samizdata quote of the day

And so it was written. Nothing is now unthinkable. The difference between China’s bureaucratic totalitarianism and our own is now a matter of degree, not kind. The future is a bleak vista. Scientists claim that lockdown cycles will continue for years, and regular reviews of personal freedom look set to become as quotidian as changes in interest rates. Even if Covid-19 does disappear, it will be a brave politician who, in a future NHS winter crisis caused by traditional common-or-garden influenza, refuses to impose restrictions that scientists promise will save thousands of lives. Civil liberties safeguarded during two world wars are now, as they are in China, gifts of the state.

Jacob Williams

Samizdata quote of the day

“Delivering the vaccine to the highest risk groups will dramatically reduce the impact on our health. We have already seen in Israel the number of infections falling, especially among the vaccinated, as well as significantly fewer serious illnesses and deaths. Once the UK has reached the stage where those most at risk have received both doses of the vaccine the argument for keeping all of us locked up disappears. We have struggled through a year more difficult than most of us could have ever imagined, and we owe an enormous debt to those who have struggled to keep others safe. Young people have lost jobs and livelihoods – not to protect themselves but to protect their loved ones, their colleagues, and complete strangers. Many will be left with fewer job prospects, fewer friends, more debt, and developing mental health concerns as a result of their sacrifice, and the least we can do to repay them is to not lock them up for a moment longer than necessary. The government needs to return our liberty to all of us, not just those who have been vaccinated.”

Emma Revell

Samizdata quote of the day

I pledge to assist my government in achieving ‘net zero carbon emissions’ by 2050, but due to the seriousness of the climate crisis I will try to achieve this by 2030 through changing my personal lifestyle to the frugal one existing before the Industrial Revolution 250 years ago.

Tony Brown

Samizdata quote of the day

No one interest group could have achieved this on its own. It required a perfect storm. It doesn’t have to be a conspiracy much less a specific plot. It only requires that the right confluence of events present themselves in a way that prompts action and cooperation.

Jeffrey Tucker writing about Who Wanted Pandemic Lockdowns?

COVID-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria – a quotation

Investigating the possibility and extension of a mass hysteria related to COVID-19 is beyond the scope of this article. In this article, we analyze a more fundamental question, namely, the role of the modern welfare state in mass hysteria. There can certainly be mass hysteria without the state in a private law society or within the context of a minimal state. This possibility exists due to the negativity bias of the human brain [55], which makes people vulnerable to delusions. Due to biological evolution, we focus on bad news as it may represent a possible threat [56]. Focusing on negative news and feeling a loss of control [57] may cause psychological stress that can develop into a hysteria and propagate to a larger group.

In a society with a minimal state, negative news may start such hysteria. Due to the negative news, some people start to believe in a threat. This threat evokes fear and begins to spread in society. Symptoms can also spread. Le Bon [58] called the spread of emotions through groups “contagion”. Once anxiety has spread and the majority of a group behaves in a certain way, there is the phenomenon of conformity, i.e., social pressure makes individuals behave in the same way as other members of the group. In the end, there may be a phenomenon that has been called emergent norms [59]: when a group establishes a norm, everyone ends up following that norm. For example, if a group decides to wear masks, everyone agrees to that norm. Emergent norms may explain the later stages of contagion. Contagion by fear can lead people to overreact strongly in a situation, even in a minimal state. Nonetheless, in a minimal state, there exist certain self-corrective mechanisms and limits that make it less likely for a mass hysteria to run out of control.

– from COVID-19 and the Political Economy of Mass Hysteria.

I strongly recommend reading this entire paper as it really does an excellent job of explaining where we are now.