Tag Archives: pseudo-science

Wait. What? “Herd Immunity”?

Britain is ruled, since those in the current and previous Tory governments over the last ten years believe they rule, rather than govern, by a combination of idiots and monsters. They eschew learning and expertise for bunkum and blind faith. This was perfectly illustrated this morning when Robert Peston posted the following on Twitter:

Peston even repeats the government’s claims in a hastily written piece for The Spectator, a magazine known for its employment of racists, Nazi sympathizers and eugenicists. Peston writes:

The key phrase we all need to understand is ‘herd immunity’ – which is what happens to a group of people or animals when they develop sufficient antibodies to be resistant to a disease.

This claim is made without any support from peer-reviewed sources, and appears to have simply been accepted as fact from the mouth of a “Downing Street source”. Peston continues in much the same vein throughout the article.

The strategy of the British government in minimising the impact of Covid-19 is to allow the virus to pass through the entire population so that we acquire herd immunity, but at a much delayed speed so that those who suffer the most acute symptoms are able to receive the medical support they need, and such that the health service is not overwhelmed and crushed by the sheer number of cases it has to treat at any one time.

That this government should regard its citizens in such cod zoological terms should surprise no one. Eugenics, along with anti-intellectualism, is at the heart of government. Learning. erudition and expertise are held in disdain, while blind faith and pseudo-science are given pride of place. Indeed, Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s Chief Political Adviser, is himself a eugenicist, and recently advertised for “misfits and weirdos” to come and work in Downing Street. One such applicant was Andrew Sabisky, a eugenicist with similar beliefs, who claimed that black people have lower IQs than white people. Cummings was later forced to release Sabisky, a fellow eugencist from his employ.

In a blog posted in 2014, Cummings wrote:

“It is already the case that farmers use genomes to make predictions about cows’ properties and behaviour … It is already the case that rich people could use in vitro fertilisation to select the egg which they think will be most advantageous, because they can sequence genomes of multiple eggs and examine each one to look for problems then pick the one they prefer. Once we identify a substantial number of IQ genes, there is no obvious reason why rich people will not select the egg that has the highest prediction for IQ.

“This clearly raises many big questions. If the poor cannot do the same, then the rich could quickly embed advantages and society could become not only more unequal but also based on biological classes. One response is that if this sort of thing does become possible, then a national health system should fund everybody to do this. (I.e. it would not mandate such a process but it would give everybody a choice of whether to make use of it.) Once the knowledge exists, it is hard to see what will stop some people making use of it and offering services to – at least – the super-rich.”

Cummings, like the rest of the government, has neither a degree in medicine, biology or any other science. He isn’t a clinician, a virologist, an epidemiologist or even a veterinary surgeon and yet, people take him seriously. In fact, he studied Ancient and Modern History at Oxford under Norman Stone. Make of that what you will.

Only the other day, BBC2’s Newsnight invited well-known clinician, Nigel Farage, into the studio to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. Nigel Farage? Really? Where does the media’s idiocy end?

There will be many people in Britain who won’t question the government’s inaction or its eugenicist ‘solutions’, and will believe wholeheartedly that ministers and advisers are to be trusted simply because they are there, wear expensive suits and speak in perfect English. Hence, the alleged popularity of bigots like the languid Jacob Rees Mogg, who retweets neo-Nazis and dines with Nazi sympathizers. It isn’t beyond the realms of possibility than Rees Mogg is also a supporter of eugenics.

In Britain, anti-intellectualism rides tall in the saddle, and is protected and encouraged by the likes of Robert Peston, who, rather than do the job of a journalist, acts as an unofficial Information Minister to this cruel and incompetent regime. We can do better than this.

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Frack Off!

Nigel (Lord) Lawson: he’s a crazy fracker. Pic courtesy The Telegraph

This week the government announced that it was going to bribe local communities to accept shale gas drilling rigs.  Chancellor of the Exchequer,  George ‘Gidiot’ Osborne also announced generous tax breaks for shale gas companies.

Since last year, the Tories, mostly without exception, have declared their passion for shale gas hydraulic fracturing – fracking – which they claim will transform Britain’s sluggish economy and reduce household energy bills. To justify their intentions they point to the United States, where the practice is well-developed. In their desire to press ahead with fracking, they’ve dismissed every single concern without addressing them properly. Why? Because the Tories are greedy. But I don’t need to tell you that.  You know that already, dear reader.

Former  Chancellor, Nigel (Lord) Lawson was on Radio 4’s Any Questions last night, telling anyone who would listen that he was an “energy expert”. I kid you not. Lawson is also a noted climate change sceptic. He was heckled by large sections of the audience and rightly so. In 2003, Lawson founded The Global Warming Policy Foundation to produce evidence-free reports that condone the excessive use of oil and other petroleum-based products. “Carry on polluting” is their message.  The Carbon Brief says:

Lawson has links to the oil industry via his chairmanship of the company Central Europe Trust, which he declares on the Register of Lords’ Interests. CET states on its website that it co-manages private equity funds and consults on mergers and acquisitions for companies including BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Texaco. Lawson has also been president of the British Institute of Energy Economics, sponsored by Royal Dutch Shell, the BG Group and BP.

Kerching! Lawson, like the rest of the Tories, is practically wetting himself at the prospect of raking in more money at the expense of the environment.

This morning I discovered that there were a number of companies involved in shale gas extraction that had donated money to the Conservative Party. One of these companies is the Switzerland-based Vitol, who have donated over £550,000 through their chief executive, Ian Taylor.

Vitol admitted it had bought and sold Iranian fuel oil. The Swiss-based company said: “A Bahraini subsidiary company purchased a spot cargo of fuel oil from a non-Iranian counterparty in July 2012. The fuel oil delivered … was of Iranian origin. Vitol Group companies no longer purchase any product of Iranian origin.”

Dan Hannan, writing in the Telegraph, paints any opposition to fracking as a Green Party plot. He tells us:

What, then, is the problem? Some campaigners talk of water pollution; others, a touch histrionically, of earthquakes. If either was a remotely serious prospect, we’d know by now. There has been a great deal of fracking in the United States, but not a single instance of groundwater being contaminated. As for earthquakes, well, yes, technically any tremor qualifies as an earthquake, but the kind caused by fracking is, according to the most comprehensive report to date, “about the same as the impact caused by dropping a bottle of milk”. The process has been pronounced safe by the Royal Academy of Engineering and by the Royal Society.

Lawson said pretty much the same thing last night. First, the US is a much bigger country. Second, there have been plenty of reported cases of groundwater contamination, which have been dismissed in this US Federal government study. Yet concerns still remain. Third, shale gas exploration was cited as the cause of a couple of earth tremors in the Blackpool area.

A recent report, cited in The Guardian, tells us.

Prof Emily Brodsky, who led a study of earthquakes at a geothermal power plant in California, said: “For scientists to make themselves useful in this field we need to be able to tell operators how many gallons of water they can pump into the ground in a particular location and how many earthquakes that will produce.”

It is already known that pumping large quantities of water underground can induce minor earthquakes near to geothermal power generation and fracking sites. However, the new evidence reveals the potential for much larger earthquakes, of magnitude 4 or 5, related to the weakening of pre-existing undergrounds faults through increased fluid pressure.

The water injection appears to prime cracks in the rock, making them vulnerable to triggering by tremors from earthquakes thousands of miles away. Nicholas van der Elst, the lead author on one of three studies published on Thursday in the journal Science, said: “These fluids are driving faults to their tipping point.”

Prof Brodsky said they found a clear correlation between the amount of water extracted and injected into the ground, and the number of earthquakes.

The potential for earthquakes and earth tremors are harder to sweep aside. Yet they still try.

This government can give us a referendum on the future of Britain’s membership of the European Union, but when it comes to the potential damage that could be done to local communities through fracking, a referendum isn’t forthcoming.

Doubts have also been expressed over the quantity of shale gas in Britain. With the Right making frequent and unfounded comparisons with the United States, one suspects that this rush to frack is nothing less than than a combination of blind faith and barely disguised cupidity. Friends of the Earth claim that there is no hard evidence that shale gas will reduce our energy bills.  Indeed, the energy companies are far too greedy to drop their prices.

The government won’t admit it, but the only way they can proceed with fracking is to force it down people’s throats… like they did with neoliberalism.

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