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Do Pro-Lockdowners Accost Neil Ferguson with this Same Question?

This past Thursday I Zoomed in to a lunchtime talk that Jay Bhattacharya gave for Stanford’s Classical Liberal Society. (For the invitation, I’m grateful to Ivan Marinovic.)

During the Q&A session, someone in the in-person audience asked Jay why he – Jay – allowed a byline for one of his appearances on television to describe him as an epidemiologist. This morning I sent the following note to Jay. (Recall that Neil Ferguson is the Imperial College reckless scare-monger whose wildly inaccurate predictions played a leading role in frightening governments in the U.K. and in the U.S. into Covid lockdowns.)



From my Zoom vantage point on Thursday I couldn’t tell if the guy from USC who asked you about “epidemiologist” in your byline on a tv show was hostile or not. Either way, your answer was quite good, and only further strengthened by Sunetra Gupta, in the chat, affirming that you are indeed an epidemiologist, “and a very good one.”

From my economist vantage point, I don’t know what the norms are for titling people who work in the health sciences. But I noticed that in this piece in yesterday’s Guardian, Neil Ferguson is described as an “epidemiologist.” (“In an interview with the Guardian, the epidemiologist Prof Neil Ferguson said the total could be double that number.”)

Of course, Ferguson’s degrees are in no such thing. Yet it might well be that the work he’s done during much of his career genuinely qualifies him as an epidemiologist. If so, then your work surely qualifies you as an epidemiologist.

I’m likely here offering a suggestion that by now is old hat to you, but when you next get push back on the question of whether or not you’re qualified to pronounce on issues that are in the domain of epidemiology, tell your interlocutors about Ferguson being described as an epidemiologist.


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