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Thursday 8 October 2020

Herd Immunity - Media Being Played

As with climate change, so with the Coronavirus pandemic: as a scientific consensus forms, there in the wings are any number of bad faith actors, many claiming only to have the best interests of the population at heart and claiming the purest of motives, who seek to pretend that there is actually a “scientific divide”. From there, it is the most straightforward of steps to form the inevitable “both sides” narrative.

A is for Astroturf

That is what has brought our media, and especially broadcast media, into disrepute: here’s a climate scientist, and here’s a paid shill from an Astroturf lobby group armed with talking points that hold, more or less, that it isn’t happening. Broadcasters like the BBC are stymied by the legacy of people like Robbie Gibb: there must be “balance”. Here’s someone who understands climate change, and here’s James Delingpole. Who doesn’t.

So it is with the pandemic. And we do not have to look far to see who is pushing the “both sides” narrative: we have been bombarded in the last two days by talk of the “Great Barrington Declaration”, claiming lockdowns are not the way to go. This claim was front page lead in yesterday’s Daily Mail, promoted even as Covid-19 infection rates are rising significantly - and hospital admissions of those infected are also on the increase.

Matt Reynolds of Wired has written a must-read article on the Great Barrington Declaration (see it HERE), and the American Institute for Economic Research, which is behind it, is quite explicit about the narrative it is trying to shape, telling “The writers of the Great Barrington Declaration expressly recognize both sides of the equation”. Both sides.

Peter Geoghegan of Open Democracy responded to the Reynolds piece earlier. “Really interesting piece. Lot of effort going into constructing a Covid 'both sides' narrative - heard on Radio 4 this morning about herd immunity, as if it's actually a thing - whereas scientific consensus is really very clear. Very, very similar to Tobacco Tactics playbook”.

Note his mentioning that the “herd immunity” idea - rejected by our own Government back in March after a brief initial flirtation - has been pitched on the Today Programme. And there, Geoghegan had a warning. “And media is so easily played on this stuff. Tobacco lobby adopted tactic of using 'white coats' to push narratives, even when white coats were in entirely different fields media will report 'scientists'. Heard same thing yesterday with the 'Great Barrington Declaration’”. It’s a “Great Declaration”. It’s serious.

Matt Reynolds concluded “there is little about the Great Barrington Declaration that feels convincingly scientific” and signed off with this thought: “We should be careful about how we interpret any so-called divide when it comes to Covid-19. And when we’re weighing up whether one approach is better than another, we should be extremely clear about what is science, what is supposition and what is just surface”. But is the media listening?

We’ve been here before, most recently with climate change. And once again, it seems that the obsession with “balance” is easily exploited by those pushing the “both sides” narrative - you’ve got to have both sides represented. Except there really aren’t “both sides”.

All it needs now is the free speech obsessives to claim someone is being “cancelled” because of their views. You’re being played, broadcasters. Meanwhile, people are dying.

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Arnold said...

Broadcasters like the BBC are stymied by the legacy of people like Robbie Gibb: there must be “balance”.

The Earth: is it flat or round? An unbiased BBC report


J said...

Even the Graun went with a header very similar to: "doctors say heard immunity is the way"...

What everyone seems to forget is that the more people that get infected, the higher chance of it significantly mutating. So its all very well saying "infect the young, protect the others", but its only a few changes away from becoming either far worse or far better. It really is a toss up. Heads it mutates into a far more dangerious virus that kills at a higher rate and kills the young (but still has the same incubation rate); tails it mutates into not much more than a cold; sides it stays the same throughout it entire lifetime (which it is more likely to do if less people are infected).

Does no one remember the second wave of the flu in 1918, because that worked out really well and should be a warning to the Qloon "doctors" currently advocating letting it rip through the population.

Also, long covid.
Also, 1% of 7 billion is a hell of a large number of "acceptable deaths"... never mind the fact that hospitalisations of covid infections would overwhelm hospitals, which would have a knock on effect to other illnesses (probably greater than any wet finger guesses these "doctors" use to say that lockdowns will kill more people than no-lockdowns. They really are not very good at doing their sums, also who's paying them and will their papers ever be peer reviewed? (I think we all know the answer to that!)

Pendragon said...

According to a recent item in Private Eye the Metro freesheet, available for commuters to pick up at railway stations or on buses, has suffered a massive drop in readership because lockdown has meant that there are no commuters.

Metro is owned by the Daily Mail.

Get rid of lockdown and the commuters come back, and readership---and advertising revenue---soars.

Anonymous said...

The climate change/smoking reference is bang-on, and is probably the very same people promoting the herd immunity stuff. Fascinated to watch a webcast the other day with Dr Pimenta taking apart Nora Gedgaudas' ideas about Covid. Gedgaudas is a low-carb proponent. So is Ivor Cummins. Low carber Zoe Hardcombe is similarly pushing the scepticism thing. As is low carber Tim Noakes.

There may well be merits to low-carb diets but is jolly odd that the chief proponents appear to have all turned into Covid sceptics. Maybe such characters have been paid all along to promote misinformation, like with the 'both sides' climate types?

Anonymous said...

Pendragon - the trust that owns the Mail also has a venture capital offshoot that has invested in businesses that will be getting hit by the downturn (like Yopa and Bricklane):


They also own DMG Events - a large event management company that does lots of lucrative trade shows around the world:


Anonymous said...

My station went from about 200 copies (estimated) to thirty (counted three times). Staff were regularly ranted at because they were all gone by 7am, worst of all by a little old lady who would turn up around 10am and apparently demand 14 copies for her and her neighbours in a retirement complex, even demanding copies that staff were reading or were doing the crossword in.
Chances of Metro reader numbers increasing lies with them printing and distributing more.

Anonymous said...

J- the 'lockdowns will kill more people than no-lockdowns.' characters are indeed very suspicious. While there were certainly incredibly important issues with lockdowns - mental health, delayed treatment, domestic violence - the restrictions would have other effects that should have helped decrease general mortality...

Less cars = less road accidents.

Closed pubs = fewer fights, stabbings etc.

Smaller amount of pollution = improved health for asthmatics & perhaps lower deaths from heart attacks & strokes (https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/risk-factors/air-pollution ).

Reduced numbers eating out = lowered risk of food-borne illnesses like E-coli, Norovirus or Clostridium.

Oddly these issues are never discussed in the British media although have been mentioned by doctors & will be studied in depth by medical researchers and the insurance industry.

Ferdy Fox said...

Well I'm in an "at risk" group and I'm really reassured by the theory of herd immunity and I'll support it even if it kills me - no, wait!

Fuckin' idiots!

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of sad losers.....

Anonymous said...

The herd is coming just lock yourself away in fear if you want, let others make their own choices!

Anonymous said...

No dissent, no discussion, we are right, do as we say or else, the authoritarian left are in charge.


Anonymous said...


I followed your link and nowhere does it suggest that Boris Johnson and his parliamentary majority of 80 seats shows "the authoritarian left are in charge". Your claim does, however, prove beyond all doubt that you're a complete fucking twat.

Anonymous said...


Go on, defend the declaration:

"An open letter that made headlines calling for a herd immunity approach to Covid-19 lists a number of apparently fake names among its expert signatories, including “Dr Johnny Bananas” and “Professor Cominic Dummings”.

The Great Barrington declaration, which was said to have been signed by more than 15,000 scientists and medical practitioners around the world, was found by Sky News to contain numerous false names, as well as those of several homeopaths.

Others listed include a resident at the “university of your mum” and another supposed specialist whose name was the first verse of the Macarena.

Sky News discovered 18 self-declared homeopaths in the list of expert names and more than 100 therapists whose expertise included massage, hypnotherapy and Mongolian khoomii singing."