Nick Macleod

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AIDS and Covid

by Nick Macleod    Bertrand Russell wrote: There is no nonsense so errant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate government action. Eerily prescient, but it doesn’t tell us precisely how such nonsense overpowers our common sense. Why did the world stop turning in the face of a virus where the official advice for victims is to go home for a few days and wait for it to pass, while taking care to exercise only in their own gardens? I don’t know the answer, but all too frequently, the first response to a novel threat has been to find a reason to panic – often as a result of a computer projection – and to stick with it, rejecting all evidence that undermines the doomsday thesis. That may appear to be vaguely justified by the better-safe-than-sorry principle, but ill-considered and heavy-handed ‘no choice’ remedies generally do more harm than good. It might be better to study the history of past health scares and learn from it, rather than continuing to fall into the same old traps. As a starting point, we might compare how early-stage forecast errors and their subsequent amplification by the media, and – more surprisingly – by the healthcare establishment itself, have manifested themselves in two particular epidemic crises: AIDS, as...

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March 2023
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