Wednesday, 30 December 2020

2020: The stupidest year in human history (to date...)

2020 is finally over. What a disaster of a year. What more is there to be said that hasn’t already been said?

Well, I lost my most of my business, so there is that. It vanished in April, came back for a bit, and then really hit the floor permanently from August. Classic economic dead cat bounce. A lot of other businesses and individuals around the world will have experienced very similar – the arts in particular are dead. The prognosis for the coming years is not looking good, either. It is quite clear that restrictions and people’s fear are going to continue into the foreseeable future. Events that were postponed for a year look likely to be postponed again, perhaps now indefinitely. And as society has simply refused to go back to anything like normal functioning, the economic avalanche is gathering momentum.

So I have to be very clear and say that I supported the conclusions of the scientists who put forward the “Great Barrington Declaration”. I also believe that the backlash against them was unhelpful, unwarranted and really quite vicious, and showed a very ugly politicisation of the COVID19 phenomenon.

Some people seem to believe that views on COVID19 are (or should be) split along political lines, with the “socially conscious left” aligned with lockdown and masks and “saving lives” etc, while those on the right are obviously happy to commit blood sacrifice in pursuit of profit so want the wheels of society turning so fat cats can keep their pockets lined with gold. Well, I voted for Jeremy Corbyn, twice, and would have done so again given the choice. I am a socially conscious and fairly left wing person. Just one able to think for myself, independently of what I am being told I should think by others. Unfortunately, if I have one specific criticism of people who identify themselves as being “socially conscious”, it is a tendency to hold what is popularly seen as the right opinion, rather than engage critical thinking and consider all options. Basically, to be seen to be doing the “right thing” (virtue signalling) rather than actually doing the right thing. It was taken to a literal conclusion when COVID19 allowed the virtuous to literally wear their virtue on their face – mask wearing was more an expression of religious observance than any rational choice.

In fact, the whole of society’s response took on a disturbingly religious/cultish vibe. In Richmond, the Christmas tree was decorated with a massive “NHS” in lights. Forgive this atheist’s ignorance, but I thought Christmas was a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ? Or did uncritical worship of the NHS literally supersede that in 2020? Seeing the clearly unhinged Matt Hancock wearing face masks emblazoned with “PROTECT THE NHS” might suggest so. All hail high priests Whitty and Vallance and their entirely sensible and not at all laughably ludicrous 4,000 deaths a day “scenario”.

I certainly would not be voting for Keir Starmer, if given the choice. Or Nicola Sturgeon. Or Jacinda Ardern, or any other politician who short-sightedly milked COVID19 for their own political ambitions. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly wouldn’t be voting for Boris Johnson, either, or Nigel Farage's embarrassingly opportunistic re-branding of the Brexit party. As far as I can see, 2020 was the year that broke a lot of things, including politics. The UK’s politics devolved into Johnson and his crew trying their hardest to distract the population from their many failures (foremost being their decision to pay any attention to a charlatan like Neil Ferguson), while Sturgeon simply did everything three steps more than Johnson, while winning acclaim from the media for being “tough on Covid”. Starmer followed. “More, faster, more, better!” was as sophisticated as politics got for most, instead of questioning whether the approach was correct at all. Rather, politicians were lauded for pursuing policies so short-sighted they should have been classified as legally blind. In particular, the goal of “Zero Covid”: not an achievable or sensible policy, and directly opposed to long established scientific thinking.

Long established scientific thinking went out of the window in 2020. Evidence based reasoning was rejected for following the narrative of “save lives, protect the NHS”. In reality, all the evidence pointed towards, post the true April pandemic, a purely statistical and imagined pandemic conjured out of gross reliance on a grossly unreliable PCR test, which perhaps has false positive rates up to 90%. Therefore, as testing using PCR tests has steadily increased through the year, funnily enough, so have the number of “positive” results, the vast majority of which are in perfectly healthy people. The same statistical problem exists with hospital admissions: all people admitted to hospital are now tested using a PCR test, so even though they might have gone to hospital for a broken arm, if their PCR test comes back “positive”, they are now a COVID19 admission. And sadly, unfortunately, the same goes for deaths. The definition for a COVID19 “death”? Dying within 28 days of a positive test. Regardless of the actual cause of death (including, literally, being hit by a bus). Indeed, the total number of UK deaths for 2020 is anything but unusual and is following an upward trend that has been in place since 2011. There is quite a lot of evidence that if the media hadn’t decided this was the one and only thing they wanted to report on, the whole world would have gone about 2020 without any further virus comment.

Instead however, prompted by media fear-mongering, large swathes of the scientific community and the government wanted to ratchet up the fear. Indeed it is all there in black and white in UK government documents: “The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging.” Kill granny, etc. Guilt. Fear. Powerful emotions. Dissenters from this hysterical outbreak of groupthink, such as the Great Barrington Declaration authors, got written off as conspiracy theorists, no matter how reasonable, rational and eminent they might be. They got “cancelled”, as it has become known.

On that, the related insanity of 2020: woke. Perhaps like many people I first heard of “woke” a few years ago and didn’t give the concept much thought except thinking that I probably roughly aligned with the movement. 2020 and a little more knowledge of what it really meant showed me that I don’t. “Woke” culture is intolerant and divisive, and certainly not the Orwellian way of thinking that this socially conscious person would ever subscribe to. It is a shame that “cancel culture” and an intolerance of other people’s voices (whether you agree with them or not is irrelevant to whether they should be allowed to speak) became so prevalent this year. History has never neatly divided into “heroes” and “villains”, and some of us are capable of a more nuanced view. That critical thinking again: conspicuously absent from much of society. Join that up with the increasing tendency to censor opinions that diverge from the groupthink and we’re in really dangerous territory. The moderate middle vanished entirely from the mainstream this year, and I utterly despise both of the extremes: the lockdown nuts, and the conspiracy lunatics. Sadly, many people who I previously respected decided to position themselves in one of those two camps.

It genuinely is a shame that Orwell isn’t here today, as reading his views on 2020’s events would have been entertaining reading. I feel like 2020 was a mass psychotic break – and those of us in the asylum who are still sane are unfortunately being attacked by the crazy. It was truly the most deranged and absurd year in human history (thus far).

In early December a study came out alleging that COVID19 had reduced UK life expectancy to 2010 levels. Unfortunately, it only took a couple of minutes of checking the official data to see that life expectancy in the UK stalled in 2011 and has been more or less flat ever since, with 2020 no exception to the last decade. Yet another example of ridiculous “science” that starts with a conclusion and only sees what it wants to see in the data while ignoring any and all context. The story of the year, really. However, in a far more real and important way, the hysterical reaction to COVID19 has shortened all our lives by robbing us of this time.

Whatever. The Kafkaesque nightmare of 2020 is over. Everything panned out pretty much as I thought it was going to back in March. So here’s to 2021. I’d like to say that I think it is going to be better than 2020. But I don’t think it will. Economically, socially, psychologically, the UK has been mortally wounded. I think the insanity is here to stay. We will all have more years of our lives taken from us, needlessly.

And, please note: if you don’t like what you’ve read here, please just leave. Funnily enough, if people haven’t noticed, it is not my intention to provide a never ending supply of tedious, controversy free sunsets etc. I am not a public service. Photography is one of the best tools in existence for documenting history, and this year certainly made history. And of course, during times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.

So here are my scenes of truth from throughout the year, presented in chronological order. The stockpiling of toilet paper rather set the tone for everything that followed…

PS: Happy new year.