“Listen people: factories do not close even in war times, with the enemy bombers flying over them.” Mundabor
“The left will rise, as it is always the case when misery and poverty do. This may result in an entirely home-made World War I, with the citizen shooting themselves out of sheer panic rather than being shot at by the enemy.” Ibid
Mark Twain, on hearing an American had prematurely published his obituary, clarified matters by saying, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Some things do not change.
False reports abound in a time of national and international panic. As Dr. Deborah Birx pointed out in her recent report on the coronavirus, it turns out that British scientist Dr. Neil Ferguson’s initial model for the death rate from coronavirus was severely exaggerated. He has since walked back his dire predictions. His retraction comes after many governments adopted draconian measures to protect the public from his scenarios of death and destruction.
Although the good news was disappointing for true believers actively desiring a Malthusian apocalypse, the rest of those who have been in lockdown now see a ray of sunshine through their metaphorically boarded windows.
History will judge whether or not Dr. Ferguson did the equivalent of shouting “Fire!” in a global theater, but his mistake does call into question the use of similar “scientific” models as the basis of public policy. It may be legitimate to question the usefulness of predictive models based on the way Dr. Ferguson and others do science.
After all, we have seen similar “scientific” models and methods used to justify policies that proved worse than the conditions that created them.