Sunday, March 21, 2021

SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND: The Slow Slide into Dangerous Practices, by Wiggia

You will obey………………...

On a trip earlier this week, taking the wife to the supermarket for the weekly shop, I saw one of the saddest sights it has been my misfortune to come across.

An old boy alone with a stick and a shopping trolley was walking along on the other side to the road wearing a WW1 style double respirator and what looked a lint pad beneath as it protruded slightly round the edges. As he shuffled along stooped over his trolley it was a moment when you asked yourself, what have those bastards in government done to a small percentage of the population with their and the compliant MSM continual scare stories?

The government doesn’t deny the existence of a ‘nudge’ unit: the Behavioural Insights Team was founded in the Cabinet Office in 2010 under David Cameron's leadership, now owned by the Cabinet Office, NESTA a charity, which does not show any leaning towards behavioural insights but must have some input or take out for it to be involved, and employees; makes it sound like a well meaning mutual!

BIT now operates across the globe. Joseph Goebbels would have been proud, he never managed to establish that sort of unit outside of Germany.

The Department of Health has been complicit in working with the nudge unit in applying items that will ‘encourage’ practices that promote cleanliness during the coronavirus such as the hands-face-space jingle and the use of the word 'disgust' to make people adhere to the cleanliness practices. All well and good as far as it goes, but it has gone further than that.

It is about making people make the right choices, as seen by the unit, in their own interests. An earlier example of their work was this little gem which, small as it seems, resulted in many prescription drugs being taken off the GPs' lists and the patients having to purchase them privately; despite the words in which the action is couched I know from first hand experience it is not about having to buy your own Paracetamol, it actually eats into necessary drugs that have to be taken on a regular basis:

'The unit’s successes include sending letters to British GPs who were prescribing more than their peers, cutting unnecessary prescriptions by 3.3%.'

The percentage is now higher than that.

There is also the question of how and why this was floated off from the Cabinet Office and who gained. Nothing is revealed; an old comment from the Guardian, of all places, asks the same:

'Rather than just publishing this uncritical puff piece, the Guardian of old would have at least mentioned something about the questions raised (eg in Private Eye) about how the unit was privatised, its funding, and the benefits that have accrued to its former civil servant staff.'

Its initial funding was a Lottery grant of £250 million; I always thought Lottery grants were for good causes, but that finished long ago.

The BIT has had success in several areas, such as getting in tax revenues due on time, and getting ten million to sign up to pension schemes, if you can call our state pension schemes good.

The coronavirus was a different beast and early on the head of BIT mooted 'a policy of "cocooning" groups of people who are most vulnerable to coronavirus' in an interview:

He said: "There's going to be a point, assuming the epidemic flows and grows as it will do, where you want to cocoon, to protect those at-risk groups so they don't catch the disease.

"By the time they come out of their cocooning, herd immunity has been achieved in the rest of the population."

Dr Halpern suggested that volunteers might be enlisted to work in care homes.

"There's a lot of active work going on at the moment about what is it the volunteers could do," he added.

About how to protect care homes, didn’t actually do too well there, did they? but they ploughed on with their radical suggestions.

From  a Tribune article:

'For them, public policy is about changing public behaviour without the public even realising you are there. This seemed a clever approach to their devotees in the early days, before the government wised up to the scale of the threat. Now we know it is exactly the wrong way to deal with the massive social changes the coronavirus pandemic requires.'

Naturally in this age the nudge unit use machine learning, the study of algorithms and statistical models.

And again we know how well those have panned out during the pandemic in all quarters, yet still they are allowed to influence policy.

The coronavirus nudging has worked:

  • the carrot and stick approach, lock down now for an earlier release 
  • then stay locked down and give dates into the future that have no relevance to any data that will give the populace something to look forward to
  • the use of the 'you will infect someone else if you do not (fill in the blank yourself) have created for many a real fear. 

This virus is made to seem akin to the Black Death, yet it fails to kill more than 0.3% of those that get it and of those the average age at death is actually higher than the current life expectancy. All of this has been oft repeated over the last year and still it goes on despite a virtual nil rate of deaths now.

It is noticeable that certain supermarkets after dealing with the virus very successfully for this past year have suddenly ramped up the restrictions: more notices about using the provided sanitiser (it had disappeared earlier), more notices about not being allowed in without a face mask, and now more staff are wearing the things where previously many did not, the distance markings have reappeared and as with our visit to Waitrose today the announcements on distancing from the announcement system are endless, resulting in the Morris dancing in the aisles coming back with a vengeance.

This can't be a coincidence. The road map out of the virus as portrayed by Bojo contained all the carrot and stick caveats of previous announcements and the nudge unit would be behind it all, but what they have done to some older folks of which I am one, though not affected,is shameful if not downright cruel; in the case of the old man at the start of this if you told him to turn right for the ‘showers’ he would have gone - as Goebbels said, 'if you tell a lie often enough it becomes the truth.'

BIT may have its uses but as with all these attempts to change people's behaviour there is always the risk of overreach and it becomes the norm. Subliminal advertising was the same and they banned it years ago; this nudge unit is practising the same psychology, and the temptation for immoral and dangerous usage with this type of operation is always there and it will be used for such purposes as sure as night follows day.
Sackerson adds: 

This October 2020 speech by the former Lord Chief Justice should be read by anyone concerned at the sudden and increasing loss of our civil liberty:

1 comment:

Paddington said...

"This virus is made to seem akin to the Black Death, yet it fails to kill more than 0.3% of those that get it and of those the average age at death is actually higher than the current life expectancy."

I can only imagine that this 0.3% figure is obtained by dividing the number of deaths by the total population, which is somewhat meaningless, unless the infection is completely gone.

The claim that the average age at death by COVID being greater than 81 would be highly implausible, given how averages work.

In the US, there have been on the order of 30 million confirmed infections, and 600,000 deaths, with hundreds per day still dying. We have no handle on the number of asymptomatic cases, but to get that 2% or so death rate down to 0.3% would mean that something like 200 million people have been infected in the country, which is highly unlikely.

And it is not just death.

My wife was attending a medical conference this weekend where a pulmonologist reported that 30% of 'recovered' patients still show massive damage to their lungs on CT scans, months later.

Cardiologists are also reporting that up to 60% of 'recovered' patients now have structural abnormalities in their hearts.

It is virtually certain that we will have an epidemic of COPD and heart trouble in a decade or so.

The sooner that we get everyone vaccinated, the better.