Some Covid Links

by Don Boudreaux on May 31, 2021

in Current Affairs, Philosophy of Freedom, Risk and Safety, Science, Seen and Unseen, Video

Janet Daley:

What must be clear to all the governing operations of the world is that putting populations into enforced forms of social isolation which are, in the literal sense of the word, inhuman, cannot be an acceptable response to these phenomena. Even as we are assessing the long term consequences in collateral damage to physical health and social wellbeing of this shocking policy, it is absolutely undeniable that a perpetual cycle of imprisonment followed by (always uncertain) respite is completely unacceptable. What has happened over this past year must never be repeated.

Ethan Yang talks with Dr. Patrick Phillips about the censorship of science in Canada.

Laura Dodsworth decries the smearing in Britain of anti-lockdown protests. A slice:

The management and communication during the epidemic has been plagued by misleading statistics, the cherry-picking of the worst data, alarmist language, horror-film-style advertising, one-sided media coverage and coercive language and tactics, all of which I wrote about in my new book, A State of Fear.

Bludgeoning people with ‘nudge’ (behavioural psychology), weaponising fear, and tightly controlling the narrative risk undermining the public’s trust in government, public-health messaging and the media. This is the third time I have reported on anti-lockdown protests for spiked, and the third time I have been slack-jawed by the lack of honesty in how the media misrepresents the scale and purpose of these protests. This mistrust can be read clearly in the placards.

Also from Laura Dodsworth is this summary of how the British government “used behavioural science to scare a nation into submission.” A slice:

Using fear is ethically dubious at best. If psychologists were provoking fear in a laboratory experiment they would need the consent of the people taking part. Yet we never signed consent forms, and this huge social experiment has not been through any ethics committee.

We didn’t notice, maybe we didn’t even care, when behavioural psychologists were ‘nudging’ us into paying taxes on time, or cutting down smoking, but their underhand tactics have certainly got our attention now. You could argue that frightening people to make them follow the rules during an emergency was in our best interests. But what about the opposing arguments that it affected our personalities, our mental health and our agency?

The insufficiently fearful were deliberately alarmed. Horror film styled advertising, laws to manage the minutiae of our daily lives, the most punitive fines since the Dark Ages, encouraging social conformity and the alarmist use of statistics were just some of the government’s tactics during the pandemic, signalling their lack of trust in the public’s ability to understand risk and behave sensibly.

Even children were not exempt from such blame. Indeed, they were explicitly targeted with messaging warning “Don’t kill granny.” This shocking slogan looks even more abhorrent given the allegations that the elderly were not tested before being transferred from hospital to care homes – who killed granny, exactly?

As Dr. John Lee observes, “There has been global virtue signalling. This pandemic is when science met politics and politics won.

TANSTAFPFC (There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Protection From Covid.) There just ain’t.

Laurie Clarke asks: Who fact-checks social-media’s fact-checkers? Two slices:

The term “misinformation” could itself contribute to a flattening of the scientific debate. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, has been criticised for his views on lockdown, which tack closely to his native Sweden’s more relaxed strategy.

He says that scientists who voice unorthodox opinions during the pandemic are worried about facing “various forms of slander or censoring . . . they say certain things but not other things, because they feel that will be censored by Twitter or YouTube or Facebook.” This worry is compounded by the fear that it may affect grant funding and the ability to publish scientific papers, he tells The BMJ.

This debate is playing out against a wider ideological struggle, where the ideal of “truth” is increasingly placed above “healthy debate.” Kulldorff says: “To remove things in general, I think is a bad idea. Because even if something is wrong, if you remove it there’s no opportunity to discuss it.” For instance, although he favours vaccination in general, people with fears or doubts about the vaccines used should not be silenced in online spaces, he says. “If we don’t have an open debate within science, then that will have enormous consequences for science and society.”

There are concerns that this approach could ultimately undermine trust in public health. In the US, says [Jevin] West, trust in the government and media is falling. He explains, “Science is still one of the more trusted institutions, but if you start tagging and shutting down conversation within science, to me that’s even worse than the actual posting of these individual articles.”

Sunetra Gupta defends herself from some claims issued by Dominic Cummings, and she challenges Neil Ferguson to a debate:


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