Tuesday 1 February 2022

The Covid Jeremiahs

I've written about England's dire Covid modelling for The Critic

It is not as if the models only seem flawed in hindsight. The idea that Covid could kill 5,000 people a day in heavily vaccinated England was always insane. It would require an infection rate so enormous that the whole thing would burn itself out within days. 

In an interview with The Times, Graham Medley admitted that the chances of there being 7,000 hospital admissions a day in October was as unlikely as Burnley winning the Premiership, but it was included in the model because it was theoretically possible. By implication, admissions never reaching 1,000 a day — which is what actually happened — was not included in the model because it was considered to be essentially impossible.

Something has gone badly wrong when likely outcomes are routinely treated as black swan events. It is not true, as some believe, that the modellers only look at worst case scenarios. Perhaps the most pitiful aspect of this pseudo-science is that the models include such a huge range of scenarios that dumb luck should ensure that one or two of them hit the mark. In reality, with only a handful of exceptions, a blindfolded chimpanzee could do better. This suggests something more than mere incompetence. It suggests a systematic bias towards pessimism and a hankering for restrictions. 

Whatever the reason, there can be no way back for the modellers after this. They have made astrology look like physics. Although I would never advocate tarring and feathering anyone, they should never be heard from again.

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