Wednesday, 28 October 2020

The Delusional World of Julia Hartley-Brewer

As yesterday's alarming figures for deaths from Covid in the UK sank in, it was Julia Hartley-Brewer, the Katie Hopkins for the Waitrose shopper, who summed up exactly what the last nine months have been all about.
There's some really weird stuff going on in that tweet. Obviously, there's the lack of consideration for the deaths of many people. The UK is now averaging over 200 deaths per day being announced - ahead of the supposedly apocalyptic warning of the Chief Scientific Adviser, who said this might be what we faced by mid-November.

There's the blame-shifting. If a lockdown happens, Julia Hartley -Brewer is implying that it's not because the government isn't managing things properly. It's not the Establishment that is at fault. It's because a poorly-defined "you" wanted it. The implication is that the "you" involved aren't Julia's loyal followers. This is some disembodied group of people - presumably Remainers, Progressives and Liberals, who - far from being "owned" are able to impose the lockdown that they wanted to causing people to die.

Then there's the inability to understand motive and balance. Attitudes to Covid-19 are on a spectrum. At one end are people who think it's a hoax, or caused by 5G, or no worse than flu. At the other end are people who a are genuinely terrified for their lives and haven't been out of the house since March. Who routinely spray everything that enters their house, and wash their hands every thirty seconds. Everybody else is somewhere in between. And according to how you prioritise public safety against public liberty, you will conclude there is a right course of action whether lockdowns, or mask wearing, or being James Delingpole. All these options are available to you. But to Julia HB, it's more polarised: you either agree with her, or you're a snowflake who really likes everybody being locked down.

Then there's the magical thinking. If this is the lockdown "you" had been hoping for - then clearly a load of people dying is caused by "your" wish for a lockdown. Julia HB's causality works differently to everyone else's. If we wanted to stay out of lockdown, according to this logic, we should have acted as if lockdown was not a possibility. We should have just gone along with the Hartley-Brewer magic-based attitude to science.

The thinking can be seen all the way through this epidemic. When it started, Boris Johnson told us we in the UK would resist it like Superman.  Which it didn't, because it's a disease and not Lex Luthor. In the same speech he also told everyone the UK didn't need to worry about a Brexit no-deal and we already had an oven-ready one. Ah, how times change.

As the disease started across the world, it was no worse than flu and we just had to sing "Happy Birthday" while washing our hands. Sunetra Gupta told us we already had large degrees of herd immunity. Daniel Hannan told us Sweden was just fine. Then as we got it under control for the first time, the cries went up that the reopening was too slow. That mental health was suffering - which it was, but it's a balance, again. 

Then as the autumn came in and cases rose, it was due to increased testing. As they rose further, it was false positives - as there was no increase in deaths. Then as deaths rose it was people dying "with" the disease, not "of" it. Currently it's the claim that there are currently no UK excess deaths. But there's never a reflection that, if all the people who died in Spring of Covid were really as sick already as the deniers claimed, there should have been a massive fall in excess deaths in the late summer. Which never happened. No reflection that it's a bit odd all those people died "with" the disease when people weren't normally dying in those numbers.

And now Sunetra Gupta tells us that herd immunity is the way to go - a turn round from the spring, when she told us we were already largely immune. And the deniers leap on that, although there is no evidence that the immunity lasts. At every stage, actual events are denied with pseudoscience and wishful thinking.

And now, the climax of wishful thinking. People are dying because "you" wanted a lockdown. Well Julia Hartley-Brewer must hope you're ashamed of yourself, whoever "you" are. You brought the disease back through your lockdown obsession.

Beaker Folk, we know what works with diseases. Separation, hygiene, properly tested drugs (untested drugs might work but you'd have to be lucky and get the right one) and vaccines. And we know what doesn't work. Wishful thinking, blind faith and libertarianism. 

In Jeremiah 28,  there  is a confrontation between Jeremiah and the prophet Hananiah. Hananiah tells the king that God's going to wipe out the Babylonians and it's all easy street. Jeremy's message is that the Babylonians are gonna win, and the best thing to do is mitigate that. 

You don't need to be Jeremiah to know which prophet Julia Hartley-Brewer and her friends are. People, be more Jeremiah.

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  1. Dear Eileen, you should have linked to the Geneva Bible, where there is a footnote to that chapter that has some relevance to JH-B and her kind:

    "This declareth the impudence of the wicked hirelings, which have no zeal to the truth, but are led with ambition to get the favor of men, and therefore cannot abide any that might discredit them but burst forth into rages and contrary to their own conscience, pass not what lies they report or how wickedly they do, so that they may maintain their estimation."

  2. The ones who really get on my *$*$/nerves are the ones who don't understand the difference between prediction and projection. The former requires the use of a crystal ball, ouija board or other form of divination and the latter requires scientific and statistical knowledge so complex it makes my brain hurt. Indeed, they seem almost disappointed that thousands are not lying dead in the streets.

  3. And a projection can change what actually happens. We can project "this will happen with no action", take action - and it doesn't happen. That isn't crying wolf - that's the equivalent of seeing an accident ahead, and slowing down.

  4. A thoughtful post. Which is rare these days. The original government advice was sound, but the slogan changes have changed as the Government has dithered and blathered through fears for the economy and unemployment and listening to the Cummings. It must be time for a General Election so that we can get Mr Starmer to lead the country into a nationwide (Sod Devolution) "Circuit Break", just after we leave the comfort of the EU for the last time.


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