A clash of ideologies

I have just picked up from the local op-shop for a mere $2 a quite prescient book published in 2008 written by someone named Dan Gardner. Its title is: Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear. Have so far only read the back cover, but it’s quite interesting of itself.

We are the safest and healthiest human beings who ever lived, and yet irrational fear is growing with deadly consequences…. In part this irrationality is caused by those – politicians, activists and the media – who promote fear for their own gain. Culture also matter. But a more fundamental cause is human psychology.

[The book] sets out to explain in a compulsively readable fashion how we make decisions and run our lives. We learn how the brain has not one but two systems to analyse risk. One is primitive, unconscious, and intuitive; the other is conscious and rational. The two systems often agree, but occasionally they come to very different conclusions. When that happens, we can find ourselves worrying about what the statistics tell us is a trivial threat … [while at the same time] shrugging off serious risks.

Then there are the ideological differences between individuals which may themselves be psychologically driven. I quoted Peter Hitchens on dealing with the coronavirus the other day, and now James Delingpole has entered the debate in support of Peter: Coronavirus — Peter Hitchens Is Right….

Just like in war, the great coronavirus plague is bringing out the best in people and the worst in people.

So far, the petty tyrants, the tell-tales, the ignoramuses, the rule-takers and the finger-pointers are having a field day; the more original, clear-eyed thinkers meanwhile, are having to take care about what they say for fear of being judged and found wanting by the self-righteous mob.

Already the battle lines are starting to make themselves clear.

There are, roughly speaking, two opposing camps.

“I for one welcome our new insect overlords”. This contains the control freaks; the authoritarians; the snitches; the panickers; the killjoys; the ‘trust the experts’; the curtain-twitchers; the leftists; and the catastrophists.

The Awkward Squad. This contains the liberty-lovers; the libertines; the grand strategists; the rebels; the sceptics; the mavericks; the contrarians; the misfits; the deplorables.

Obviously it’s not quite as simple as that. Though I’m mainly in the Awkward Squad camp, I’ve certainly had my headless chicken moments. (At one point, I even went so far as to retweet approvingly a tweet from our current Hysteric In Chief Piers Morgan).

Equally, I know that there are plenty of people I respect who are currently in the “I for one welcome our new insect overlords” camp. This is not because they are stupid or are dangerous leftists with fascistic tendencies or are invertebrates who like being walked all over by the authorities, but simply because they are understandably scared, inadequately informed and haven’t (yet) seen the bigger picture.

Generally, though, what we’re seeing writ large in this pandemic is a clash between two ideological positions — one essentially authoritarian, one more or less libertarian. I think this conflict is going to get more bitter and nasty as the pandemic progresses.

Beyond that, what was once politically near impossible is rapidly moving towards near normal. There are always emergencies which for many open ways to take our freedoms from us which once gone will never come back.

PLUS THIS: Coronavirus Bill: the greatest loss of liberty in our history. From Spiked in the UK via Mak Siccar in the comments.

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19 Responses to A clash of ideologies

  1. Mak Siccar

    The final two sentences say it all, unfortunately! Brendan O’Neill et al says much the same thing.

    https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/03/25/coronavirus-bill-the-greatest-loss-of-liberty-in-our-history/

  2. Tucker Carlson also has a good point:

  3. mizaris

    We’re already living the differences with my husband being of the “I for one welcome our new insect overlords”, and me being not. And I’m greatly afeared that our freedoms will never be returned to the way they were.

  4. thefrollickingmole

    Watch for a plethora of “studies” wafting from the nether regions of Australias universities once this passes extolling the virtues of this or that act by the bansturbators.

    Followed by the best way of getting pollies to restrict something, proposing a tax on it “for the public good”.

    Quite apart from all the norms which have been violated.

  5. max

    remember experts always have different opinion

    12 Experts Question The COVID-19 Panic
    https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/12-experts-question-covid-19-panic

  6. Jock

    I mak siccar. Said by sir John Fleming before he made sure the red comyn was indeed dead.

  7. Bruce

    Also definitely worth reading, is a ripper book called, “Scared to Death: From BSE to Global Warming: Why Scares are Costing Us the Earth”, by Christopher Booker and Richard North..

    Potted description:

    “From salmonella in eggs to BSE, from the Millennium Bug to bird ‘flu, from DDT to passive smoking, from asbestos to global warming, ‘scares’ have become one of the most conspicuous and damaging features of our modern world. This book for the first time tells the inside story of each of the major scares of the past two decades, showing how they have followed a remarkably consistent pattern. It analyses the crucial role played in each case by scientists who have misread or manipulated the evidence; by the media and lobbyists who eagerly promote the scare without regard to the facts; and finally by the politicians and officials who come up with an absurdly disproportionate response, leaving us all to pay a colossal price, which may run into billions or even hundreds of billions of pounds. The book culminates in a chillingly detailed account of the story behind what it shows has become the greatest scare of them all: the belief that the world faces disaster through man-made global warming. In an epilogue the authors compare our credulity in falling for scares to mass-hysterias of previous ages such as the post-mediaeval ‘witch craze’, describing our time as a ‘new age of superstition’.”

    ISBN- 13: 978-0826476203

  8. Judge Dredd

    I read that book quite some time ago and found it very interesting, especially how we people quantify risk and can get it horribly wrong and do things much more risky to avoid a different risk.

  9. Castle Wolfenstein

    ‘How Fear Works’ and the earlier ‘Culture of Fear’ by Frank Furedi are both worth reading.I’m half way through ‘How Fear Works’ at the moment. Michael Crichton’s novel ‘State of Fear’ has a bibliography at the end which includes Furedi, Lomborg and others. ScoMo has some difficult calls to make though and it might take time to get this balance right.

  10. Ellen of Tasmania

    Weekly mortality as deviations from the baseline (Z-score) for the past 4½ years in the data-providing EuroMOMO partners, in four age groups.

    http://www.euromomo.eu/outputs/zscore_country65.html

    (I put this up as a point of interest; not because I know how accurate it is.)

  11. egg_

    especially how we people quantify risk and can get it horribly wrong and do things much more risky to avoid a different risk.

    There is a tendency to overestimate lethal risks and underestimate debilitating injury, which costs industry much in lost time.
    Much like the current climate of beer virus panic wiping out the Economy.

  12. Robber Baron

    Steve you need to comply with the dictat of Commissioner Ashton and Premier Andrews and stay in your home otherwise you will kill people.

  13. egg_

    Steve you need to comply with the dictat of Commissioner Ashton and Premier Andrews and stay in your home otherwise you will kill people.

    Just hit it out of the park!

  14. max

    Be quick and take photo:

    Status of COVID-19
    As of 19 March 2020, COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious diseases (HCID) in the UK.
    The 4 nations public health HCID group made an interim recommendation in January 2020 to classify COVID-19 as an HCID. This was based on consideration of the UK HCID criteria about the virus and the disease with information available during the early stages of the outbreak. Now that more is known about COVID-19, the public health bodies in the UK have reviewed the most up to date information about COVID-19 against the UK HCID criteria. They have determined that several features have now changed; in particular, more information is available about mortality rates (low overall), and there is now greater clinical awareness and a specific and sensitive laboratory test, the availability of which continues to increase.

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/high-consequence-infectious-diseases-hcid

  15. max

    left hand do not know what right hand is doing

  16. max

    Italian Mayor Threatens To Send “Police With Flamethrowers” To Graduation Parties

    Italian mayors have started to become extremely hostile in their public addresses, as many citizens are refusing to comply with the social distancing orders that have been put into place.

    Vincenzo De Luca, mayor of the Italian town of Campania, gave an angry speech from his Facebook page where he threatened to send police “with flamethrowers” to illegal gatherings like graduations parties that were happening in the midst of the nationwide quarantine.

    Massimiliano Presciutti, the mayor of Reggio Calabria, complained of people walking their dogs like Will Smith in I Am Legend.

    “Where the f*** are you all going? You and your dogs… which must have an inflamed prostate?” he said in a video circulating on social media.

    Presciutti claimed that he stopped dog walkers on the street to shame them about being outside.

    “I stopped him and said, ‘Look, this isn’t a movie. You are not Will Smith in I Am Legend. Go home,” he said.

    Antonio Tutolo, the mayor of Lucera, was upset that people were going out to get their hair done.

    “Getting in mobile hairdressers? What the f*** is that for? Who the f*** is supposed to even see you with your hair all done in a casket? Do you understand the casket will be closed?” he said.

    https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/italian-mayor-threatens-send-police-flamethrowers-graduation-parties

  17. Vicki

    While it is certainly true that individuals are responding to COVID-19 very much according to their psychological profiles and ideological preferences, I don’t understand why the impact of an infectitious disease such as this was not anticipated, and is being underrated by some.

    The global interconnectivity of the 21st century was always going to leave us vulnerable to any virus with a very high R0. And the repercussions of that vulnerability extends to every sector of our lives – health, society, economy, and government et al.

  18. Rayvic

    I agree with Delingpole’s conclusion:
    “The overreaction to the coronavirus pandemic will cause far more long term damage to our culture, our economy and our civilisation than anything the disease manages to achieve.”

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