Once again, supposedly responsible media outlets are pushing falsehood and misinformation on a truly monumental scale, the latest example being the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph
, where today’s front page main headline is “Lockdown may cause 200,000 extra deaths … Official report reveals possible cost of measures to protect against pandemic
”. Column from Toby Young to follow, no doubt.
Sadly for the Tel’s
bean counters, the findings have been published elsewhere, notably by the Mail
, which tells readers
“More than 200,000 people could die because of delays in healthcare and other economic and social effects all caused by lockdown, a government report has warned
” before cautioning “The great majority of the deaths - 185,000 - are attributed to an extended wait for treatment in the longer term
Meaning that the 200,000 figure assumes that there will be a delay in treatment going on some time into the future - lockdown or no. So almost 90% of the deaths are not directly attributable to lockdown. It should also be borne in mind that the Government concedes there have already been over 45,000 deaths attributable to Covid-19 in the UK.
This, though, was forgotten as up stepped the Tel
: “Morning, everyone. It's [Danny Boyle] with my 6am choice for your #SixAtSix Monday reading. Coronavirus exclusive: Lockdown may cause 200,000 extra deaths
”. This was duly echoed by the whinging Tory Tweeter known simply as Ben: "Lockdown may cause 200,000 extra deaths
Could miserable contrarian Peter Hitchens argue deaths were lockdown related? “I most certainly can, and I shall shortly be writing about a new and detailed scientific paper on U.K. excess non-Covid deaths linked to the shutdown
”. Sounds of people moving in the direction of Away. TalkRADIO host Alastair Stewart was also promoting the claim, as was the residue of human filth calling himself David Vance.
Meanwhile, an actuary called John had bad news for the Tel’s
misinformation department. “[The Telegraph] confuses lockdown (ie the restrictions on movement etc) with the necessary steps taken to prepare the health service for the pandemic … In the article itself, buried at the bottom of P2 is a breakdown of 12-25k in short term delayed healthcare deaths, 185k delayed healthcare long term deaths, and 0.6-12k (a very wide range!) recession related deaths. So 95% is not lockdown at all
”. And there was more.
“Whilst the effects of the health restrictions (both real, and perceived in terms of people not accessing available services) is very unfortunate, it would have been an order of magnitude worse if lockdown had not turned around the exponential growth in infections
”. Got it in one. A supposedly quality newspaper caught pushing misinformation.
This had been predicted last night in his usual inimitable style by the presence known as Otto English, who looked at the Tel’s
front page and mused “Tomorrow in the Telegraph, cheese makes you sexier, bees are plotting to take over London and television actors actually live inside your TVs
”. Except he made rather more sense.
Another newspaper trading shamelessly on its past reputation. No change there, then
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I predict that Mr Peter Hktchins will be proved correct over time, like he's been about everything else. And how you dare call him a "miserable contrarian", better that than a manic lover of authoritarianism.
The anti-enlightenment is gathering pace.
The Guardian accidentally published a good article today in which Richard Coker, emeritus professor of public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, noted that "In the 19th century, when vaccination for smallpox was made compulsory, dissenters writing in 1854 declared that such a measure, 'unspeakably degrades the freeborn citizen, not only depriving him of liberty of choice in a personal matter, but even denying him the possession of reason.'"
Like Dominic Cummings, I don't want to engage in counterfactual history but I'm pretty sure that there would have been idiots in 1854 arguing that 'I predict that Mr George S. Gibbs will be proved correct over time, like he's been about everything else. And how you dare call him a "miserable contrarian", better that than a manic lover of authoritarianism.' Mind you, in 1854 they'd have probably correctly spelled the name of their oracle of truth since the standards of trolling were so much higher.
Grow up, 15:07.
It's a bit late for that as the guy is a retired boomer. His sad fate is to spend his final days annoying people on line daft enough to engage with his silly witterings.
"people on line daft enough to engage with his silly witterings"
I recognise the irony but I have a question: do you not think it's important to challenge trolls regurgitating talking points rather than allow them to stand and give the impression that there are two sides to the debate? The BBC have shown where the latter gets the left. Genuine question BTW, not snark.
He's not going to convince anyone on this blog of anything, so replying to him here will just encourage him and his ilk.
I agree that this won't apply in other circumstances, but I have personally lost the will to convince anyone daft enough to be convinced that the current government is the dogs bollox that they are mistaken.
Thanks for the reply. I wasn't considering the possibility of convincing trolls that they're mistaken. I doubt they even believe what they're saying themselves; they just want to muddy the waters and create doubt in order to sway casual viewers rather than forum regulars. Given the scandals surrounding the use of facebook, for example, I think it's reasonable hypothesis. In the run up to the last election, I noticed a lot of people regurgitating the same erroneous talking points that had been on social media the day before when these people did not know each other. It's not like the old days when trolls would go away if you didn't feed them.
The other strand of the troll modus operandi is the tactic of exhausting and frustrating genuine actors by repeating nonsense ad infinitum. There is no real counter to this, other than to ignore them, as they will always have the last word long after exhausting good faith actors. The problem of the gullible being fooled is a hazard of democracy that may actually undermine democracy and I see no easy solutions to counter any of this.
You make a good point about repetition, one I had overlooked.
As to the problem of the gullible being fooled, I'd say it's a feature and not a bug of democracy. And it has been since before democracy was established in this country. It's the topic of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, after all. As you say, no easy solutions.
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