Attacks on Lockdown sceptics – and me in particular – have ratcheted up recently, with one of the most aggressive critics being the Conservative MP @NeilDotObrien. I thought it was time to compose a reply.
On Monday he wrote a piece for @ConHome entitled "Trumpism in Britain. It’s time to call out those in the media who cynically feed the cranks, rioters and conspiracists".…
He compared lockdown sceptics to QAnon conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers and urged media companies "to practice some basic hygiene about whose views they are promoting", i.e. no-platform the sceptics.
But arguing that lockdowns cause more harm than they prevent is not comparable to arguing that the US government is run by a cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles or that vaccines contain microchips inserted by Bill Gates to control our minds.
In fact, there is a growing body of research showing that quarantining whole populations, the healthy as well as the sick, is a sub-optimal policy response to this pandemic. @AIER published a round up of some of the best here…
Yesterday, @the_brumby linked to "30 published papers finding that lockdowns had little or no efficacy (despite unconscionable harms)".
The problem with arguing that lockdown sceptics have "blood on their hands" – an increasingly popular trope – is that it takes it for granted that lockdowns are effective at reducing overall mortality and that is precisely the issue being debated.
This is an important public debate to have, both because it helps us assess the present government's management of the pandemic and because it will help us prepare better for the next one.
A Conservative MP should not be urging media companies to suppress one side in that debate, particularly as the 2019 Conservative manifesto reaffirmed the party's commitment to free speech.
In his latest Twitter thread, @NeilDotObrien accuses me of having deleted all my tweets from last year because I'm embarrassed about having got so many things wrong.
In fact, I installed an app last week that deletes all tweets more than a week old. This was in response to Twitter's increasing intolerance of people who challenge liberal orthodoxies, including Covid orthodoxy. I would advice other dissenters to do the same.
The app won't protect you from Twitter's internal offence archaeologists, but it will make it harder for censorious political activists to bombard the company with vexatious complaints in the hope of getting you banned. The app is here
@NeilDotObrien also selectively quoted from various posts I've done for the @Telegraph. For instance, he quoted me saying this: "we were told... the number of infected people was on the rise again... the rise was due to a combination of increased testing and false positives."
Here are the two paragraphs he got that quote from. See what he did there?
Of course, I've got some things wrong about the virus, such as predicting there wouldn't be a resurgence of infections this winter. I put my hands up to that on @Newsnight when @maitlis asked me about it
But I don't think lockdown sceptics have been consistently more wrong about the virus than lockdown advocates. For instance, the @WHO initially estimated the IFR of COVID-19 was 3.4%. We now think it's ~.025%.…
A study by researchers at UCLA and IHME compared the accuracy of various models predicting COVID-19 mortality and the models produced by Imperial were judged to have far higher rates of error than the others — always erring on the side of being too high.…
After the government unveiled its "graph of doom" showing deaths could climb to 4,000 a day absent more restrictions, it was reprimanded by the @UKStatsAuth.…
And how much trust can you place in the advice of public health authorities to wear masks when the initial advice was that they were ineffective outside healthcare settings?…
Yes, lockdown sceptics have got some things wrong, but I think we've provided an important counterweight to the largely one-sided reporting of the broadcast media, particularly the BBC.
The daily sceptical blog I put together with a team of other, like-minded journalists has published some important stories, such as this one by a Lighthouse Lab whistleblower.…
And this one by a disillusioned worker at a pop-up testing facility in Salisbury.…
And this review of the code powering Neil Ferguson's epidemiological model by Mike Hearn, formerly a senior software engineer at @Google.…
It's also published some terrific pieces of writing, such as this piece on conspiracy theories by Sinéad Murphy, a philosophy lecturer at Newcastle.…
And this "Postcard From Argentina" by a social science professor.…
And this tribute to all those who've been laid low by the collateral damage caused by the lockdowns by Freddie Attenborough, a sociology lecturer.…
Lockdown Sceptics will continue to publish these dissenting voices and continue to challenge the official narrative being pumped out by the government and the BBC. I don't think that's "dangerous"; I think politicians trying to smear and silence dissenting voices is dangerous.
Blaming the high daily death tolls on lockdown sceptics is a variant of blaming the public. If only ordinary people had been more compliant, we wouldn't be in this pickle. But thanks to lockdown sceptics like @toadmeister, @allisonpearson, @ClarkeMicah, @JuliaHB1 and @LozzaFox...
Nothing to do with the lack of PPE, failure to create dedicated hospitals for Covid patients, spunking tens of billions of pounds on a not-fit-for-purpose Test and Trace programme, building the Nightingales but not recruiting or training enough healthcare workers to staff them...
...decommissioning the Nightingales, failing to eliminate in-hospital infections and the ongoing scandal of secondary transmission in care homes… no. It’s all the fault of the general public and the "conspiracy theorists" who've led them astray.
Time to take the mote out of your eye @NeilDotObrien and take a look at the politicians you're so eager to curry favour with. Lockdown sceptics won't be your scapegoats. //Ends
Correction: Wrote the IFR was ~0.025% upthread when I meant ~0.25. In his bulletin for the @WHO, Prof John Ioannidis estimated the median IFR across 51 locations was 0.23%.…

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More from @toadmeister

27 Dec 18
Gus O’Donnell says the Netherlands “is miles ahead” of England when it comes to literacy, numeracy and science. In fact, in the last PISA tests England was ahead of the Netherlands in science and in the last PIRLS tests England was ahead in literacy.…
Here’s the quote from Gus O’Donnell I’m talking about
And here’s the evidence that he’s wrong wrt science, where PISA ranked the U.K. 15th In 2015 and the Netherlands 17th
Read 4 tweets
13 Dec 18
1/ When you write about being publicly shamed there’s a risk the haters will take the opportunity to publicly shame you again. So here’s a shout out to all those other journos who’ve also been publicly shamed this year and decided to write about it anyway…
Read 8 tweets
8 Oct 18
This article in the @guardian correctly points out that polygenic risk scores for medical problems are based on genomic data compiled from predominantly European-descended populations 1/…
That means you cannot use these data to calculate polygenic risk scores for medical problems for people of non-European descent and that, in turn, means the beneficiaries of the preventative medical interventions based on these scores will be of European descent. 2/
The article quotes a letter Professor David Curtis, a geneticist and psychiatrist at UCL, wrote to the leaders of the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust saying that “UK medical science stands at risk of being accused of being institutionally racist”. 3/
Read 19 tweets
2 Oct 18
The inquisition that has been launched by Woke physicists against Professor Strumia for expressing some heretical ideas at @Cern about why women are under-represented in physics is truly shocking. You would think physicists, of all people, would be wary of inquisitions.
Professor Strumia has now been suspended by @CERN and is under investigation by the University of Pisa, where he holds a chair in physics, for “ethics violations”. I wouldn’t be surprised if he loses both positions.
In the BBC report, his headline sin is reported to be claiming that “physics was invented and built by men”. That’s not 100% accurate — some women, such as Marie Curie, have made critical contributions to the field — but is it “offensive”?…
Read 23 tweets
15 Aug 18
Hi Sam. The reasons are in the report which you can read here:…
But in summary:
1/ Urgent need for more school leavers with technical qualifications to fill vacancies in skilled jobs (3.6 million *additional* vacancies predicted by 2022 according to @ukces)
2/ At present, main providers of 14-19 technical/vocational education (UTCs and studio schools) are failing. Of 112 that have opened since 2011, 35 have failed so far. The problem, according to @IPPR, is that they're locked in 'cycle of decline'…
3/ Failure to recruit sufficient pupils in Y10 means they have no choice but to accept low-attaining, hard-to-teach children dumped in them by neighbouring secondaries. That, in turn, means they get bad Ofsted reports and poor exam results, which makes it even harder to recruit.
Read 22 tweets
18 Jun 18
In 1998 I went to see England play Tunisia in Marseille with my late father, Michael Young. It was England's first game of the Coupe du Monde. 1/
My father was 82, about to turn 83, not in the best of health, and my stepmother didn't think it was a good idea for him to go. But he was dead keen. He was a lifelong football fan and had been at Wembley in 1966 to see England's victory over West Germany. 2/
The night before the match, there were reports of England fans clashing with Tunisian fans and I was anxious about getting caught up in any crowd trouble. It wouldn't have taken much to knock my father over and that could easily have ended with a broken hip or worse. 3/
Read 18 tweets

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