These last few days have been a crash course in just how compliant people can be, just how easily people can be swayed by junk science, and just exactly how willing some people are to believe those in authority, particularly if they are ‘experts’ or ‘scientists’.
These people, the useful idiots who jump up to support the government line and ignore the massive logical holes in it and the gaping assumptions and don’t ask for any sort of data to back it up – are as dangerous as they are stupid. The problem is that lots of those people are now in charge of our mass media and that many of us are programmed to believe them, right off the edge of a cliff and into the pits of hell.
Maybe I was naïve but this is quite a revelation to me. I guess my professional and family background has left me with the tendency to, as per the cliché, ask why is this lying bastard lying to me?
This refusal to question government policy, those credulous journalists, all those people who told me I was wrong, that I should listen to the ‘experts. I was told because I have a ‘humanities’ degree (watch it!) I couldn’t possibly understand the science, or indeed basic logic. This call for blind obedience in the face of wild incompetence.
Well – as you can see – it’s been sending me crazy.
Surely this is how Groupthink is achieved – you get a group of politicians from the same backgrounds from the same institutions with the same experience of the world, and they create a really shaky policy but dress it up in an impressive way.
Then the lapdog press just lap it up, because they all know each other and it’s all TERRIBLY cosy, and they all follow the yellow brick road called SCIENCE and we are all supposed to trot along and politely not mention the gaps and the turds and the fact that it isn’t yellow or a road but a massive pit full of snakes.
Listen. I am not a scientist. I am not a journalist. I am a bloody English teacher, but – and this is crucial – I AM NOT AN ACTUAL MORON. I can think, I can analyse data, I can work out when something just doesn’t make logical sense.
So on Friday and Saturday I spent lots of time arguing with people online and in person that this herd immunity policy was self-evidently full of holes, and murderously wrong.
(By Sunday I was bored with it, and it was clear that Hancock had abandoned it already.)
And today, it’s clear that I was right about this. 100% and completely right and Johnson’s proposals on Friday (Friday! Three bloody days ago!) to ‘mitigate’ the impact of the coronavirus pandemic would not work and would “likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over”. And that’s the best case scenario:
‘The mitigation strategy “focuses on slowing but not necessarily stopping epidemic spread — reducing peak healthcare demand while protecting those most at risk of severe disease from infection”, the report said, reflecting the UK strategy that was outlined last week by Boris Johnson and the chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance.
But the approach was found to be unworkable. “Our most significant conclusion is that mitigation is unlikely to be feasible without emergency surge capacity limits of the UK and US healthcare systems being exceeded many times over,” perhaps by as much as eight times, the report said.’
OK so I am not writing this so I can gloat about being right.
Although it is a relief because it was driving me a little crazy, like I was through the looking glass.
I am writing it in just a vain hope that maybe, just maybe, that another time someone somewhere might not just swallow the government line without at least passing it through their brain, just once, just to see what that might do,
Not just because this government is deeply incompetent and corrupt. Although it is. Not just because I am an ‘armchair expert’ although I am.
But because this habit of believing what you are told, and defending something because it sounds convincing, without employing your critical faculties, is going to get us all killed. This is not a joke. We have already lost crucial days and weeks. The death toll will be higher than it would have been, because we didn’t question what we were told, just at this very crucial time.
And if Peston, Kuennesburg and that rest can’t be shocked out of their Groupthink long enough to stop acting as unthinking photocopiers for incompetent government advisers, then we are just going to have to start doing some critical thinking for ourselves.
So my next question – why the hell haven’t they been making ventilators for weeks?