Guy de la Bédoyère

Why Did So Many Scientists Get COVID-19 So Wrong?

by Guy de la Bédoyère The Year the World Went Mad: A scientific Memoir by Mark Woolhouse, Sandstone Press, £12.75, pp.310 (February 2022) Throughout history great events are both magnified and distorted by the immediacy of the moment. I have been certain ever since the pandemic broke out that it would be years, decades even, before we would be able to contextualize the experience. It would also take that long to be able to measure the effect of the actions, successful or disastrous, taken to ward off COVID-19. However, somewhat to my surprise, the focus has been dramatically sharpening of late. For those with a general and sober intelligence and experience, it was clear that indiscriminate lockdowns were likely to lead to devastating and long-lasting outcomes. Those needed to be considered before we threw ourselves off a cliff to avoid a car crashing into us. This brazenly obvious consideration was overlooked with reckless disregard by people who really ought to have known better. What was so difficult to understand two years ago was why that seemed to escape certain scientists who were supposed to have the knowledge and expertise to understand this in far more sophisticated detail. It also escaped the politicians who blundered into this mess, aided and abetted by the most irresponsible and craven public service journalism in...

Australia is Falling Apart

by Guy de la Bédoyère Steve Waterson’s latest piece in the Daily Sceptic provoked me to finish an essay I’ve been putting together for a while. As an historian, what really strikes me now is how brief the Covid crisis has been so far. Yes, I know it seems like 500 years since we were last able to travel freely and not hear about the pandemic on the nightly news. But in historical terms this is nothing. What will define the era is the social, political, and economic fallout and, trust me, that’s barely started. Governments are going to fall, millions of people are going to be ruined while others make fortunes, and some countries are going to disintegrate. But when, where or how is yet to be seen. This will take years – decades – but I think you can see the signs of fragmentation and epic change already – almost all self-inflicted as a result of the hysteria that has consumed us since early 2020. Let me make it clear from the outset: I love Australia. I’ve been there several times and travelled long distances. My maternal grandfather, whom I never met, died in Sydney. Two of his brothers died out there. I have lots of relatives in Australia and many close friends in places as far apart...

Unlocking Postponed Due to New Variant – in 2039!

A short story by Guy de la Bédoyère “That’s a shame”, said Jo as he sat munching on his breakfast staring at a screen. “The final unlocking’s been postponed for another fortnight”. “Why this time?” said his wife Elizabeth. “There’s been an outbreak of the new Antarctic variant, this time with the hybrid Finnish-Tierra del Fuego mutation, and apparently cases have soared by 100% from one to two. Both have been thrown into jail.” “That’s what they said last week – and the week before, in fact the year before,” came Elizabeth’s retort. “That’s not fair,” said Jo. “Everyone knows the king is doing his best for Britain and it’s not his fault if these variants keep appearing.” “He became king 15 years ago”, said Elizabeth, “and he’s promised to unlock every week since. In fact, he was promising that every week before he became king. And he never said anything about prisons before – oh no, sorry, he called them lockdowns, didn’t he?” Jo shrugged. In the few seconds the couple had been talking the screen on his tablet had automatically reloaded and been updated with the latest figures emblazoned across the middle. Was the news good or bad? It was impossible to say, but the outcome was always the same – the lockdown remained in force in all...

So Long Matt Hancock

by Guy de la Bédoyère Therefore no no, for I resign to thee.Now, mark me how I will undo myself.Richard II, Act 4, Scene 1 It’s rare these days to wake up filled with a sense of joy, not at the sight of a personal tragedy that has just destroyed two families, but at the prospect of moving on at last. Writing as a historian, if you’ll forgive the conceit, is a familiar experience seeing one’s cynicism effortlessly vindicated, especially when it comes to the shenanigans in the corridors of power. I’m not going to pour foul scorn on our former Health Secretary. Anyone can make a terrible mistake and become embroiled in an affair with a university friend one has employed in the same office, even if both are married and have three children apiece. Goodness me, it must be the easiest thing in the world to trip oneself up like that. And what’s more, especially easy to do so at the very time you’ve been exhorting the rest of the country change their lives out of recognition in an effort to thwart a virus. But it wouldn’t do to be too self-righteous. Many of us have broken the rules in some way or another from the start, even those who have convinced themselves they have been following the...

The Paralysis of Caution

by Guy de la Bédoyère During the time I was a secondary school teacher I saw the world of predictive modelling up close for the first time. The whole school system was built around various bought-in systems that purported to show each student’s projected academic future entirely in terms of data performance. Every year the predictions turned out in some way to be wrong. The reaction was always the same: more data was obviously needed, and the school annually turned to some new and expensive modelling service. When the modelling appeared to be ‘right’, or nearly so, the fallacious and spurious assumption was always made that this was a direct result of the actions the teachers had taken, and the policies dictated by the school leadership. It was of course classic false logic – superstition, even. No one ever created a control class taught a different way to find out if the outcome following the intervention was different. This reached its eccentric climax when we were told to enter the tracking data that matched the predictions. Thus, the predictions turned out to be ‘correct’ and all was at peace. I kid you not. That really happened. Some teachers even went to see the head to ask if that was really what they had been told to do. They had. Modelling is...

Why I’ve Had the Jab

by Guy de la Bédoyère One of the great virtues of this site has been the exchange of views in lively debate. It allows Lockdown Sceptics to be an island of measured sanity (at least sometimes!) in a sea of madness. In that spirit Toby invited me to write a piece about why I had a Covid vaccination. My decision was an individual one based on a variety of previous experiences and so it should be for everyone else, but the fact remains that all sorts of considerations arise in these most unusual of circumstances. The only message I have is that each of us should make our own judgements about what we do. Nobody should be forcing anyone to have the vaccine, and nobody should be hurling abuse at someone for deciding to have it. That kind of intolerance, on both sides, has become quite common of late and it’s a great pity. I also don’t think it’s worth adopting an entrenched dogmatic position. That creates hostages to fortune. Circumstances, and diseases, change. Deal with the situation at hand. Until last winter I’d never had a flu vaccine – I’ve never had flu so I didn’t see the point, and I’d managed nine years teaching in a secondary school until the age of 58 without having a single day...

Response to Vaccine Passports

by Guy de la Bédoyère The other day I wrote a piece for Lockdown Sceptics in which I referred to my intention to have the vaccine, though in fact the piece was about the terrible prospect of governments chasing after zero Covid. That piece has now been responded to on this site by an anonymous academic who explained his/her belief that vaccine passports make a mockery of free consent, and that I was in error when comparing the choice to have a vaccine with whether or not to choose to have a driving licence. The author also seemed to have concluded that I am in favour of vaccine passports. Indeed, it had never occurred to me that it might be read that way. Not only was I not talking about vaccine passports, but I also do not have a view on them, either pro or against so I was completely bewildered by the piece. I am reserving that judgement for when and if they are introduced. The author’s argument was that having a driving licence had nothing to do with being obliged to have a medical procedure. Really? That, I think, completely missed my point. I was talking about how we currently accept driving licences to protect us all from unqualified drivers or passports (not ‘vaccine passports’) to help protect...

The Ne Plus Ultra of Zero-Zealotry

by Guy de la Bédoyère Those of us contribute to and read Lockdown Sceptics have had the opportunity to consider a wide range of views. There’s been a healthy debate. I’ve tried to steer something of a middle course in an effort to find common ground that might help us get out of this mess. I’ll lay my cards on the table. I am going to be vaccinated as soon as I can. That is my choice, and I am glad that it is my choice. I accept for example that in order to protect other people I needed to learn to drive and to have a driving licence to prove it. Similarly, I accept the normal passport as a means of proving who I am and protecting me and everyone else from maniacs and others not entitled to come to this country. I also accept that there are consequences of making choices. If I choose not to have a driving licence, then I would have to accept I cannot drive on a public road. And I doubt if anyone would want me to. If I chose freely not to have a passport then I would not be allowed to travel. So, I have no problem with the notion of vaccine choice as another facet of choice with consequences. I grew...

Who Has Lost Out The Most?

by Guy de la Bédoyère I wonder how helpful at this stage Dr Alberto Giubilini’s article really is. It belongs to a range of claims that one group or another has suffered more or less than others either from lockdowns or other Covid-suppression measures. In this case, he argues that the young have been hit more than anyone else in the Government’s quest to make us all pay the price for Covid in the interests of ideological moralism. Some of what he says is true. I certainly agree with him that the media’s obsession with trying to find unrepresentative stories about younger people dying from Covid in an attempt to make a false extrapolation that ‘we’re all in it together’ is grossly misleading. The data, as he says, speaks for itself and only in this last week we have learned the sad fact that 60% percent of Covid-related deaths in the last year in the UK have occurred to the disabled, confirmed by the ONS. And it is absolutely correct that young people’s lives and prospects are being devastated for the sake of something that barely affects them. With four adult children of my own, all in their thirties, I am painfully aware of the impact of lockdowns and other restrictions on their lives and those of their own children....

‘Existing Isn’t Living’ – Charles Walker MP on Radio 4’s World at One

by Guy de la Bédoyère I freely admit that of late I have tried to adopt a more conciliatory tone, frustrated by the polarisation of the debate about how to get out of this crisis and the apparent inability of people to listen to each other. But with the news getting worse every day, vaccines gradually diminishing as an escape as scientists reel back at the earth-shattering discovery that viruses mutate, and lockdowns turning into a permanent policy in the fantasy world of Zero Covid (now they are necessary to help the fight against mutations), I am close to the point of giving up. Living in Britain in 2021 is like cowering in a submarine while enemy depth charges explode all around you. You daren’t rise to the surface and instead just sink lower and lower. The only difference is it’s our own Government dropping them. I don’t mean to sound trite. I’m well aware what real despair and depression can do to people. I have seen it at first hand. But as things stand it’s getting more and more difficult to understand what the point of carrying on is, if the only vision of the future the Government and large swathes of the population have is of living in a country where we can’t do anything, can’t see anyone...

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December 2022
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