The pandemic model used by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to justify Britain’s ongoing lockdown policy is so poor that it is ‘somewhere between negligence and unintentional but grave scientific misconduct’, a computer expert has warned.
Virologist and clinical computational epidemiologist Chris Von Csefalvay is the latest expert to cast a critical eye over Professor Neil Ferguson’s influential Imperial College study – the one that predicted more than 500,000 deaths in the UK alone from the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.
Von Csefalvay is not impressed. Reviewing it on his website Bits and Bugs, he writes that while he was initially supportive of Ferguson and his modelling, he has changed his mind now that he has seen the code which ‘raises some extremely serious questions.’
Professor Lockdown Resigns After Breaking Own Lockdown Rules to Meet Left-Wing 'Open Marriage' Lover: Report https://t.co/N8LmFZSrKS
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 5, 2020
The coding quality, he says, is poor:
First of all, the elephant in the room: code quality. It is very difficult to look at the Ferguson code with any understanding of software engineering and conclude that this is good, or even tolerable
It has been swallowed whole by a gullible government which really should have known better than treat it with such credulousness:
Yet for some reason, the UK government treated Ferguson’s model as almost dogmatic truth. This highlights an important issue: politicians have not been taught enough about data-driven decision-making, especially not where predictive data is involved. There is wide support for a science-driven response to COVID-19, but very little scrutiny of the science behind many of the predictions that informed early public health measures. Hopefully, a Royal Commission with subpoena powers will have the opportunity to review in detail whether Ferguson intentionally hid the model from HM Government the way he hid it from the rest of the world or whether the government’s experts just did not understand how to scrutinise or assess a model – or, the worst case scenario: they saw the model and still let it inform what might have been the greatest single decision HM Government has made since 1939, without looking for alternatives (there are many other modelling approaches, and many developers who have written better code)
He concludes that it will result in:
…a massive leap backwards, erosion of trust and a complete disclaimer of accountability by publicly funded scientists.
Von Csefalvay is far from alone in his scepticism towards Ferguson.
Another review, by Craig Pirrong, Professor of Finance and Energy Markets Director of the Global Energy Management Institute at the Bauer College of Business, University of Houston, concludes:
“Models only become science when tested against data/experiment. By that standard, the Imperial College model failed spectacularly.”
Even before this, Ferguson’s track record had been widely criticised, as reported:
Ferguson earned his nicknames Professor Pantsdown and the Bonking Boffin when he was exposed as a hypocrite for having allowed his married mistress to break the lockdown by visiting him for trysts at his home.
Despite all this, Boris Johnson and his Cabinet colleagues continue to cite Ferguson’s discredited study as if it were the gold standard of scientific research.
Boris even mentioned it in his speech on Sunday night when, attempting to justify the continuation of the lockdown, he claimed:
It is a fact that by adopting those measures we prevented this country from being engulfed by what could have been a catastrophe in which the reasonable worst-case scenario was half a million fatalities.
Interesting use of the word ‘fact’ in that sentence, Boris.
Delingpole: Who Would Buy a Used Computer Model from ‘Bonking Boffin’ Neil Ferguson? https://t.co/I7FsZv7XIA
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 6, 2020