Delingpole: Who Would Buy a Used Computer Model from ‘Bonking Boffin’ Neil Ferguson?

Neil Ferguson
Wikimedia Commons

Professor Neil Ferguson is currently the most reviled, scorned and mocked man in Britain.

Such a pity, though, that it’s for all the wrong reasons…

Yes, of course, it’s hilarious and ironic that the scientist responsible for Britain’s lockdown policy should be caught breaking his own rules in such spectacular fashion: enjoying nocturnal visits from his left-wing activist mistress Antonia Staats, taking a break from her £1.9 million South London home where she lives in an open marriage with her SOAS academic husband and children.

Yes, absolutely, Ferguson has more than earned his new nicknames: Professor Pantsdown; the Bonking Boffin.

Yes, indeed, it’s an outrage of hypocrisy that while sternly preaching one thing – lockdown; extreme social distancing – Ferguson should be practising quite another with his younger, punch-above-his-weight mistress. (She’s 38; he’s 51).

Even so, this is surely akin to Al Capone being done for tax evasion rather than for the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Being an arrogant, sexually incontinent, hypocrite is a fairly venial slip, after all, when compared to destroying the world’s fifth-largest economy – and with it the livelihoods, job prospects and prosperity of a nation of 65 million people.

No, obviously, Ferguson cannot be blamed entirely for the massive economic and social damage being inflicted on the UK as a result of his discredited Imperial College study. Equally culpable, clearly, are the government ministers and advisors who decided to use it as justification for Britain’s lockdown.

But let’s not pretend that Neil Ferguson is an innocent in all this. Few men in recent British history, I would argue, have done more long-term damage to their country. It’s about time this was recognised by two important groups: by the politicians who, up till now, have been taking him seriously as their guru; and by the general populace, a significant portion of which has been terrified by his doom-laden prognostications into a hysteria out of all proportion to the nature of the actual threat posed by coronavirus.

Ferguson, let us not forget, has a long track record of failure

This goes back at least as far as 2001 when his predictive modelling during the Foot and Mouth crisis was used to justify the slaughter of millions of healthy animals and which cost the UK economy at least £10 billion.

Ferguson’s modelling then (and since) has been heavily criticised by experts as “not fit for purpose.”

His track record, indeed, is so poor that if he’d worked in the private sector he’d now be unemployable.

Luckily for Ferguson, he has benefited from being a public-sector employee and from being therefore unsackable.

How else would you explain the fact that in 2020, he is still the government’s go-to epidemiological modeller – despite the fact that his models have so consistently got it wrong?

Ferguson’s form, as LockdownSceptics notes, is not impressive:

  • In 2005, Neil Ferguson told the Guardian that up to 200 million people could die from bird flu. “Around 40 million people died in 1918 Spanish flu outbreak,” he explained. “There are six times more people on the planet now so you could scale it up to around 200 million people probably.” The final death toll from avian flu strain A/H5N1 was 440. (That’s 440 people, not 440 million.)
  • In 2002, the same Professor Ferguson predicted that mad cow disease could kill up to 50,000 people. Thankfully, it ended up killing less than 200.

He won’t even release the original code used for the Imperial College modelling that predicted 500,000 deaths from coronavirus – and which frightened Boris Johnson into his U-turn on lockdown.

In mid-March this year, when the UK government – and also, to an extent, the Trump administration – were jolted into lockdown by Neil Ferguson’s shock report, they did at least have the excuse that Ferguson’s projections might be plausible.

That excuse, though, is becoming increasingly threadbare.

David Davis – still one very few Conservative MPs to speak out against government policy – is right.

As Fraser Nelson reports here, there is now real-world evidence to demonstrate that Ferguson’s modelled assumptions are wildly inaccurate.

An Uppsala team, feeding Imperial’s parameters into its own study, agreed. The modelling envisaged Sweden paying a heavy price for its rejection of lockdown, with 40,000 Covid deaths by 1 May and almost 100,000 by June.

The latest figure for Sweden is 2,680 deaths, with daily deaths peaking a fortnight ago. The virus, it turns out, has been spreading at a fraction of the speed suggested. So Imperial College’s modelling – the same modelling used to inform the UK response – was wrong, by an order of magnitude.

How much more clear evidence do we need before Boris Johnson’s flailing administration accepts what ought to be blindingly obvious?

Neil Ferguson’s Imperial College model is about as reliable as chicken entrails or tea leaves. Any country that uses it as the basis of national policy is betraying its electorate and riding for a very hard fall.

But perhaps the sex scandal will finally achieve what remorseless logic, hard evidence and falsified computer projections have failed to do.

It will give the Boris Johnson administration – and other administrations, including Donald Trump’s and South Africa’s regime – the excuse they need to reconsider the credibility of the man by whose alleged expertise they have set so much store.

Would you buy a soiled computer model from Bonking Boffin Neil Ferguson?

I certainly wouldn’t.

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