All the Covid hysteria around most of the democratic world, and especially in Britain, New York state, Canada and here in Australia, is driven by two main things.
The first is that many people haven't got a clue about what the relative risks are. Ask them what they think their chances of dying would be should they catch Covid and most get this massively wrong – a good few get the odds wrong by two orders of magnitude (answering 30 per cent when at most it's about 0.3 per cent). And we're talking about one's chances of dying before being vaccinated.
Government propaganda – because there is no other way to describe it – has deliberately tried to scare people senseless and hence to distort their relative-risk assessments. That has been a clear and unmistakeable goal, including of all the daily press conferences with the breathless recitation of cases by politicians without an ounce of concern for freedom-related issues, and by public-health types.
And for once, government seems to have got something right because its Covid scaremongering has been very successful.
The second problem has been all the models relied upon by the supine political class. It started with the Neil Ferguson modelling coming out of Imperial College in London and spread out from there.
No one in the press corps seems to care that Professor Ferguson has had an unbroken track record of massively wrong predictions with his models, prophesying things that came nowhere near reality. In 2002, his models predicted 50,000 people would likely die from exposure to BSE (mad cow disease). In the event there were 177 deaths.
In 2005, Ferguson predicted that up to 150 million could be killed from bird flu. By 2009, 282 people had died of it. Ferguson was also heavily involved in the modelling around Britain's foot-and-mouth disease that led to a mass culling of 11 million sheep and cattle in 2001. That time his models predicted up to 150,000 humans would die. You guessed it. There were actually fewer than 200 deaths. And before Boris Johnson's "Freedom Day" a couple months ago, when the British PM finally summoned up a backbone and ignored the public-health class of fearmongers, Ferguson and a small army of supposed experts (more than 1200 scientists and doctors, including the editor-in-chief of The Lancet) signed a letter predicting carnage if Boris went ahead. All their "this is a murderous, irresponsible opening up" predictions proved woefully wrong.
Ferguson, interviewed later about being off by such a huge margin, replied along the lines that it doesn't bother him being wrong, as long as he is wrong in the right direction. Let that sink in for a moment. For him, and seemingly the vast preponderance of the modelling caste, the right direction is the one that massively overstates future bad outcomes.
A woman looks at a mural of a health worker with wings holding a globe on International Nurses Day in May. Picture: AFP
You can keep your jobs no matter how badly off your predictions are, as long as you're wrong in the overstated direction. Under-predict by even one death, though, and the fear is some pusillanimous politician will give you the axe.
That same attitude seems to be true of virtually all the modelling, including here in Australia. So many models have implausible assumptions built in, such as that no citizens left to their own devices would change any behaviour without the despotic, mailed fist of government ordering them to do so. You will try in vain to find a single model that ended up understating the bad outcomes it predicted.
So now turn to Sweden, with a population of just under 10 and half million. It never locked down at all. No small businesses were forced to close and so bankrupted (and no big businesses were thereby incredibly enriched and allowed to have bumper profits under the sort of crony capitalism that lockdowns deliver). Schools never closed. People were trusted to make smart calls. Oh wait, Sweden may have put a limit of 500 people at big events for a while. That was it.
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