Balham_Green wrote: Frank_Butcher wrote:
People love to see conspiracy in everything.
Vallance's remarks are on record. Whitty supported relaxation of the lockdown on record when it was being widely criticised. Are both of those things true Joe?
Scientists and clinicians are highly professional people - if they feel they, or the advice is they give, is being discredited or misused in some way, they have a knack of resigning or at the very least making a statement as a point of pure principle. Would you agree Joe?
Yet none of the advisers to government has resigned (excepting Ferguson for different reasons) - none even whispered a note of discontent that I have seen. Why do you suppose that might be Joe?
It is also interesting that in recent days a few ministers have upped their support for the scientists and clinicians being criticised elsewhere. That could be entirely genuine, they could have course actually be protecting them in a way. But then there will be those who see that as some sort of conspiracy building notion, eh Joe?.
Now if one of those advisers decides they're being misquoted or misused, breaks cover and cries foul, then we will have something to talk about. And, if there's a case to answer I'll be all for it. But there isn't, so if and until that happens, nothing to see here.
Very simplistic reply. Its much more nuanced than that. Point is obviously as you know but being disingenuous again scientists offer ADVICE on different options along with other professionals/disciplines . The Govt.CHOOSES and has take responsibity for the final decision. Of course politicians would never look to pass the buck when it suits would they? Yes Minister?
Sorry Frank – must say I’m with BG here. However, you look at the outcome it’s increasingly impossible to draw any conclusion other than things have been handled badly in all sorts of way. Now the government are repeatedly hiding behind the mantra the “we were only following the science” which sounds very like the “we were only following orders” defence to wash their hands of culpability. Government doesn’t work like that and it really is a bogus and cowardly act to try and pass the blame to scientists for policy …… there was a most revealing slip of the tongue recently by a minister who said they were “following the political science”. Quite.
From the very beginning they have been absurdly secretive about what the scientific advice actually was and indeed who was giving it. They originally claimed they couldn’t reveal who was even on the Sage committee to protect its members from the press and/or intimidation – that sounded a bit weak – but OK, give them the benefit. Then it transpires that this ‘independent’ science panel has many people on it who are effectively civil servants on the government payroll (not that that I’m saying that should preclude them) and amongst its august ranks is actually Boris’s ‘Vote Leave’ campaign manager and Dominic Cummins ……Ah, yeah, but, they were merely ‘observers’ weren’t they ?……. Except for when it suited them to leak stories that the heroic Dominic had persuaded the reluctant egg-heads to impose the lock-down (as opposed to the scurrilous story in the Times from an insider who said Cummins had basically argued to let old people die). Hurrah for good old Dom then? Maybe, maybe not - we could get to the truth by having a look at the minutes of the meetings? Except of course we’re not allowed to see the full minutes of these meetings - what has been released has been heavily redacted and they’re now saying they can’t give full disclosure of the evidence and timelines until the pandemic is over. Why?
The point is that following
advice is not the same as taking
advice. Any discussion amongst scientists is bound to cover a whole heap of ideas and possible scenarios & courses of action especially as fresh evidence emerges. Also the government won’t just take evidence from scientists – they understandably have to consider the economics, the resources available and last (but far from least) assess political realities. So when you have the likes of Dominic Cummins on the Sage committee it is blatantly obvious those factors will be thrown into the discussions so to then blame policy mistakes squarely on the scientists is pretty despicable IMO.
A few quotes from eminent scientists put it much better than me:-Sir Venkatraman Ramakrishnan
(The president of the Royal society) - “The science is complicated and putting it into policies also complicated and so you can’t just say you’re following the science in every case,” …….“I think what ministers should say is, ‘we’re heeding the science advice, we’re considering it when we make our decisions’ – that would be a more honest thing. Politicians are in charge, and they decide what advice they get,” ……. “Scientists like me are invited to give advice and have no power to enact any decisions. They don’t have to accept the advice, and indeed should take a wider view than the science when making decisions – they are elected by the population to take decisions on our behalf.” Professor Brian Cox
said ” “I’ve seen instances of the phrase ‘we were following the science’ as a very simple defence to a difficult question,”. “I worry that if you have a straightforward defence to a difficult question which is ‘we were always following the science’ then that masks a whole area of debate that will have gone on behind the scenes. The politicisation of science or scientific advice might deliver some short-term political advantages. It's very tempting, I think, to blame the science if a decision is made which subsequently turns out to be suboptimal in some way. But, this will have, I think, have serious long-term consequences because it undermines public trust in science. We need to see how ministers made the decisions, and how they may have changed their minds as new knowledge became available, because this is the way to enhance the public trust. I think you can see why there's concern in the scientific community over the, 'we are following the science message'.Professor Devi Sridhar
(chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh) ” As a scientist, I hope I never again to hear the phrase ‘based on the best science and evidence’ spoken by a politician. This phrase has become basically meaningless and used to explain anything and everything.” Prof Mark Woolhouse
(epidemiologist at University Edinburgh) ” I do think scientific advice is driven far too much by epidemiology – and I’m an epidemiologist. I understand that the government is being advised by economists, psychiatrists and others, but we’re not seeing what that science is telling them. I find that very puzzling.”
The government have also been guilty of playing fast-and-loose with statistics and facts throughout to avoid acknowledging their failures & mistakes. . I’ve mentioned before how the PM selectively quoted Prof David Spiegelhalter’s balanced article in the Guardian to back up his claim that comparisons with other countries were “fruitless” - only to be subsequently asked by the professor to stop quoting him and that was NOT what he was saying. On Sunday he (Prof Speigelhalter) was on the Andrew Marr show and he called the Covid briefings a an “embarrassment” and said the stats presented were nothing more than a “numbers theatre” that were quite misleading – precise numbers of deaths quoted that we all know are far fewer than the true total and claims about testing rates that are also disingenuous.
Anyone who watched Charlie Broker’s brilliant ‘anti-viral wipe’ recently would have been astonished to see footage from March 7th of Boris Johnson visiting a hospital with Covid-19 patients literally boasting about how he’d shaken hands with everyone there. We also know he didn’t even bother going to the first 5 Cobra meetings about the developing crisis because apparently he had more important things to occupy his time. Now it may be circumstantial evidence but it seems pretty obvious he and the government did not understand the seriousness of the situation so any advice they were given would have been acted upon with that casual cavalier attitude that Johnson embodies. Now they're setting up the scientists to be the fall-guys for the inevitable enquiry. Disgraceful.