Is the cure really worse than the disease? The health impacts of lockdowns during COVID-19…

This study, published today, helped crystalize something I've thought for ages

Which is, most anti-lockdown arguments are based on a false premise

The majority of lockdown-sceptic arguments I've seen seem to assume that we have a simple choice; restricted life under lockdown, or normal life with the pandemic

This is actually balls; our options are, pandemic with lockdown, or pandemic without lockdown

That's it

This is a key difference. It seems that lockdown sceptics assume that the lockdown rules are the only thing making people behave differently.

In some cases, this may be true. But for most people, the PANDEMIC ITSELF will be driving their (economically unproductive) behaviour

The study made this point very clear

Yes, during lockdowns we've seen a lot of (mental) health problems. They're not fun by any means. But confirming whether lockdown or pandemic is the root cause is extremely difficult

The flawed assumption, IMHO, is that lockdown is the cause of so many problems, because without lockdown rules, we wouldn't be doing these unpleasant things

But the study, and countless other observations, show that people aren't passive lumps who only do what they're told

There are many reports of people staying off work, cancelling events, parents keeping kids off school etc. *before* the introduction of lockdown

In the UK, Johnson was essentially forced into it, remember? Because everyone was ignoring him and restricting themselves anyway

And this is the issue I think lockdown sceptics don't get

Yes, people want personal freedom, the ability to do what they want

But you know what's an even more fundamental human drive?

The desire to not get sick and/or die!

The latter pretty much always trumps the former

Assuming that people only deny themselves things because the governments making them do it, rather than out of concern for their (and others') health is to fundamentally misunderstand people.

It doesn't even need to be rational or well-thought-out

When the swine flu epidemic hit the news in 2009, I knew people who immediately cancelled a planned meal at a Cardiff branch of Chiquito's

A virus in a country on another continent meant people here avoided a restaurant chain, because of it's *theme*.

Over cautious, yes

So the idea that the majority of people, knowing that there's a literal killer virus right outside their door, would just behave normally, purely because they're allowed to? That's ludicrous. The human self-preservation instinct is way too strong for that.

My point is, even if lockdowns never happened, as long as the pandemic's still happening, you'd still get plenty of people isolating, work/school absences, cancelled events etc.

You'd basically get many of the consequences of lockdown, with none of the benefits

Indeed, people taking measures into their own hands would mean less unity/coordination, more uncertainty, more financial stress due to lack of official support, and so on. All things which ramp up stress, and make mental health a lot worse.

Basically, to insist that lockdowns are the sole cause of all the problems we're currently enduring is to do a massive disservice to people, to their ability to think for themselves, and their sense of self-preservation.

Ironic when you think that lockdown sceptics are often the ones accusing people of being 'sheep' or 'compliant' and all that jazz. But that's usually how it goes. Logic and reason tend to play only minor roles when it comes to understanding human thinking.


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More from @garwboy

2 Jul
People have been bugging me for #Pickle updates a lot lately. So, as it's Friday night, here's the latest doozy.

Pickle is really angry at me at the moment. In his defence, I did nearly kill him last night. Inadvertently, obviously, but still.

Some context; I went to bed very early last night. My wife works Thursdays, and I deal with all night time child requirements on Wednesday nights. This time around, my darling daughter decided to grant me 90 minutes broken sleep in total

So that, plus a full day of work and solo childcare, meant I was barely conscious Thursday evening. Wife insisted I go to bed, and I should sleep in the spare room in the loft, in case youngest decides to be a terror again. Obviously, I agreed.

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16 Mar
Anyone else finding lockdown disconcertingly stressful? Like, more than you'd expect, given how it means just staying at home and not doing stuff?

It may be down to a quirk of how the brain usually deals with stress, and lockdown throwing a spanner into the works

A thread

There are many valid reasons to find lockdown stressful

Risks of infection
Financial uncertainty
Reduced freedoms and less control of your own life

But normal non-pandemic life has a lot of these too. Does lockdown make them more stressful? Probably

Why? Oxytocin

You've likely heard of oxytocin, aka 'the cuddle hormone'. It's often thought of as a chemical that makes people like/love each other.

That's an oversimplification, obviously. Oxytocin does a lot of things.

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16 Feb
OK, so, seen many people sharing this image online today, often supportively.

YMMV of course, but based on my own understanding, rather than being insightful or 'right on', this is completely vile, and actively harmful, on multiple levels

Where to even start?

First and foremost, there's the breath-taking entitlement. For a bloke to assume that not only should people send you nudes, but that that's the absolute bare minimum*, and is in fact an insult to your far more refined expectations? Good lord almighty

* = pun intended

Different for women, obviously. Unsolicited dick pics are constant problem and a whole other thing. This doesn't say that, though. It's a bloke, talking about nudes. And literally puts his name to it. So original point still stands, I think

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It's Saturday night in lockdown and I'm on my 2nd glass of wine. So, going to do something I've not done in many years

1 like = 1 #ff entirely-fabricated ridiculous recommendation

Basically, I make up a ridiculous claim about you. For no reason, beyond my own amusement
#ff @fergup
He made a sex tape and accidentally leaked it online in the late 2000s. Despite not getting much attention in the mainstream, for various convoluted reasons, it ended up being the inspiration for Gangnam Style.
#ff @thebrainofchris

Has been banned for life from Graceland after kicking in every bathroom door and yelling "Is this the one he died in? That's how I want to go!", which violated the T&Cs of the official guided tours.
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23 Jan
OK, so what I learned from doing this thread is that when I tweet stuff, some people might actually read it. I should really keep that in mind in future
FWIW though, my thread was never meant as an all-out condemnation of the Guardian. Yeah, they really ballsed up here, but you know what? I still got my rebuttal published, and nobody else was giving a random Welsh science nerd clown his own blog on a major platform

Yeah, Hari had (has?) a lot of had/defenders there, but they were definitely in the minority. That they wielded enough clout to promote his dangerous conclusions is very bad, and needed to be called out, hence I did. But most there were were very much on my side

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22 Jan
This has come up a few times lately

But it suddenly dawned on me that I'm not employed by the Guardian any more, so can be more honest about how this went down

It's a very strong example of how 'the media' can look after 'their own' so vigorously, no matter the consequences

I've also been accused of some pretty far-out things by Hari fans in the intervening time, like I 'violated an embargo' or 'orchestrated a campaign' against him, as well as the usual 'big pharma shill' stuff.

All BS

Here, from my perspective, is what happened

In Autumn 2017, I received an email, via my work account (still had Psychiatry lecturer day job then) offering me an advance copy of a new book all about depression, by one Jhoann Harri (name misspelled on purpose because of name searchers and honestly who has the time?)

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