by Toby Young
This site is a successor to Lockdown Sceptics, which I set up at the beginning of April, 2020. The idea for the original site was that it would serve as a hub for sceptical articles, academic papers and interviews that had appeared elsewhere, as well as a place for experts and non-experts to air views they couldn’t get published anywhere else. As the ‘state of emergency’ dragged on for longer than most of us expected and public enthusiasm for the lockdowns remained stubbornly high, the tone inevitably became rather stoical. I even published a series of articles under the heading ‘Why Haven’t Our Points Landed?’ But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. From the start, the more serious content was broken up with lighter fare, such as a daily selection of musical numbers chosen by readers to reflect whatever was dominating the news. We tried never to repeat the same song twice, but “I Want to Break Free” by Queen appeared at least a dozen times.
I always imagined I would retire the site one day – turn it into an archive that would serve as a record of a dark period in our history – and ‘Freedom Day’ (July 21st 2021) seemed like a good time to do that. But after almost 16 months of continuous activity, the site had developed in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I don’t just mean it was averaging 1.5 million page views a month and had almost 15,000 email subscribers, as well as several employees. It had also attracted a community of regular contributors and commentators, either above the line, below the line, or in the Forum, as well as a team of tireless moderators. Together, we’d created a kind of intellectual home for tens of thousands of people, and I got regular emails from people all over the world telling me that if it wasn’t for Lockdown Sceptics they would have gone mad. I turned some of these emails into ‘Postcards’ and grouped them under the heading ‘Around the World in Eighty Lockdowns’.
So instead of shutting down Lockdown Sceptics, I decided to turn it into the Daily Sceptic. All of the original content we published would be retained, organised under the headings you can see in our ‘Archive’, but the subject matter would be a bit broader. The focus would remain on the lockdown policy for the time being, not least because some of the measures that the Government introduced to mitigate the impact of the pandemic remained in place after ‘Freedom Day’, and because the freedoms that have been returned to us will probably be taken back before long. But I wanted to create something more permanent, something that wasn’t contingent on lockdowns continuing but which was imbued with the same irreverent, antic spirit as the original site, and the same rigorous, analytical approach.
So the Daily Sceptic includes sceptical articles by disaffected journalists and academics – including citizen journalists and independent scholars – about a range of public policies that are supposedly based on science or data or evidence, where ‘the Science’ is being invoked as a source of unassailable authority, but which often appear to be rooted in a covert political agenda. The idea is to challenge the new powerful class of government scientists and public health officials – as well as their colleagues in universities, grant-giving trusts, large international charities, Silicon Valley and the pharmaceutical industry – that emerged as a kind of secular priesthood during the pandemic, providing not just ‘scientific’ advice but moral guidance, too. And to challenge them on their own terms, much like the group of citizen journalists who successfully rehabilitated the ‘lab leak’ hypothesis after it had been designated a ‘conspiracy theory’ in the pages of the Lancet. (Scientific and medical journals will also be in our crosshairs.)
The temptation when debunking ‘the Science’ behind these policies is to see sinister cabals at work, bent on some secret plot to subvert democratic institutions and usher in a New World Order in which they control every aspect of our lives. But as someone who’s earned his living as a journalist for over 35 years, occasionally with a front row seat on the inner workings of government, I’m a subscriber to the cock-up theory of history. I don’t doubt that plenty of clever, successful people seized upon opportunities during the coronavirus crisis, enriching themselves or consolidating their power and status in some other way, and a fair few are now doing what they can to prolong it. But that’s a far cry from the ‘Plandemic’. History can in rare circumstances be bent to the will of an extraordinary individual, but it is never planned. Societies ‘reset’ themselves all the time, but not in a way that’s ‘great’ if by that is meant ‘permanent’, and I doubt even Klaus Schwab really believes that. He’s just a carnival barker standing outside a tent called ‘Davos’ and we shouldn’t take his flimflam too seriously.
I hope you enjoy the site. Do keep the contributions coming, both above and below the line. (Email us here.) And if you appreciate what we do, please help us keep the wolf from the door by making a donation via our secure donation page. The Daily Sceptic, like Lockdown Sceptics, is a labour of love, and has a staff of four – Will Jones, Ian Rons, Richard Eldred and me – as well as a roster of regular paid contributors, such as Chris Morrison, Noah Carl, J Sorel and Robert Kogon. But we also have wives and girlfriends and families and mortgages, and every little helps. (The Daily Sceptic is published by a company called Skeptics Ltd, registered at 1st Floor, 48 Chancery Lane Holborn, London, England, WC2A 1JF.)
I know some readers will disagree with my cock-up theory and I look forward to seeing that debate play out in the pages of the Daily Sceptic, much like it did in Lockdown Sceptics. I’m a free speech zealot. In February 2020, a couple of months before I created Lockdown Sceptics, I helped set up the Free Speech Union, a non-partisan, mass membership public interest body that stands up for the speech rights of its members and campaigns for free speech more widely. The timing was perfect since one of the hallmarks of the coronavirus crisis was the suppression of dissenting voices within the scientific and public health communities – the creep of cancel culture into the hard sciences. That process was already underway, as any health professional who dissents from trans orthodoxy can tell you, but the pandemic acted like an accelerant. The Daily Sceptic, like Lockdown Sceptics, will campaign against this climate of Maoist intolerance that is sweeping through our most important institutions and companies – and that includes taking the Mickey out of woke gobbledegook. Scientific censorship is a deadly serious business, but the way to take down the would-be Torquemadas is often to aim at the funny bone.
If you have a complaint about an article, please email us here. We try hard to make sure all the articles published on the Daily Sceptic are factually correct and our policy is always to link to the source of evidence-based claims. However, if you spot a mistake please do let us know so we can correct it as soon as possible. If you disagree with an opinion expressed in an article we encourage you to set out your reasons why in the comments and we sometimes publish replies to articles and then replies to those replies.
Stop Press: On June 6th 2022 we unveiled a redesign of the site and introduced a pay-to-comment policy. You can read my post about those changes, as well as more detail about how the new commenting system works, here.
Toby Young is the Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Sceptic. He is the author of several books, including How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, and co-founded the Knowledge Schools Trust. In addition to being Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Sceptic, he is the General Secretary of the Free Speech Union and an Associate Editor of the Spectator, where he has written a weekly column for more than 20 years. In 2021 he won the Contrarian Prize. His latest venture is a Substack newsletter about following QPR.
Dr. Will Jones is Editor of the Daily Sceptic. He has a PhD in political philosophy, an MA in ethics, a BSc in mathematics and a diploma in theology. He lives in Leamington Spa with his wife and two children.
Ian Rons is a coder with wide-ranging interests who was the co-founder of Lockdown Sceptics and is the Honorary President of the Free Speech Union, which he also co-founded.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor. He is a freelance journalist who started in financial journalism in the late 1970s and for nearly 20 years ran a company – Evandale Publishing – that he set up himself and eventually sold.
Richard Eldred is the Associate Editor of the Daily Sceptic. He spent close to two decades working in broadcast journalism in Hong Kong before returning to the U.K. in 2022.
J Sorel and Robert Kogon
J Sorel and Robert Kogon are pseudonyms.