WHICH of the following is the more reasonable approach a society might take in the outbreak of an epidemic?
· To quarantine the sick and take reasonable precautions to stop those who are identified as vulnerable from contracting the illness.
· To attempt to ‘control the virus’ by preventing millions of healthy people from having contact with other healthy people.
To any society before 2020, it would have been obvious that the first approach is not only logical and proportionate, but the one least likely to have other unintended and highly destructive consequences. However, to my continued astonishment, many in our society not only believe that the answer is the second, but they somehow believe it to be based on established science.
Now I understand that many who support lockdown will object to my characterisation of their position. They will say that it is deliberately misleading, since it talks about healthy people and does not mention the sick. Such objections founder, however, on this undeniable fact: lockdowns are, by their nature, an entirely untargeted and indiscriminate approach to a health issue, and the prohibiting by law of millions of healthy people from having contact with other healthy people is a feature, not a bug, of a policy that was untried and untested before it was first implemented by the Chinese Communist Party in January last year, then copied by many governments around the world.
For some reason, many lockdownists seem to think that the onus is on lockdown opponents to disprove their position. But as Dr Malcolm Kendrick points out in his excellent piece Does Lockdown work or not? this is the opposite of how things are supposed to work:
‘The starting point, for any scientific hypothesis, is for the proponents to disprove the null hypothesis. Demanding that those who believe something may not work, to prove that it doesn’t, is to turn the scientific method upside down. You can never prove a negative.’
Even so, he goes on to point out that most of the countries with the highest deaths per million are those which had fairly stringent lockdowns, and therefore the data so far most certainly does not show that lockdowns are effective, even on their own terms. Of course, Covidian Logic always has an answer to this, which is that these lockdowns weren’t real lockdowns. They were too little, too late, too soft, too lenient, too short, too small, too purple or something like that! But they can never be wrong. Low death rates show they work. High death rates show they would have worked if only people hadn’t been bad.
But the main point I wish to make about them is that they are not something that has been proposed, studied or tested before, but are an entirely new practice, foisted upon the world for the first time in 2020. Which means what? It means that they are an experiment in real time. It means that our society (along with many others) has for the last year, and continues to be for the foreseeable future, subject to an experiment. In fact, the largest psychological, social and experiment ever conducted.