Toby Young – Direct from website

On Friday, April 3rd 2020 I wrote an article for the Telegraph about the tsunami of criticism I’d received after publishing a sceptical piece at the end of March about the Government’s lockdown strategy. That piece appeared in the Critic and shortly after it was published I started trending on Twitter, with thousands of people denouncing me, often using intemperate language. In the Telegraph article I expressed my disappointment about this reaction and said people shouldn’t feel shy about criticising the lockdown even if those views put them at odds with the Establishment, as well as a majority of the electorate. Our leaders were making decisions every day that would affect all our lives for years to come and it was right to challenge these decisions in the public square.

In the days that followed the Telegraph article I was contacted by dozens of people, many of them scientists, who shared my reservations about the lockdown policy and were frustrated that it wasn’t being adequately scrutinised. Some had tried to get their views published in newspapers, either as letters or articles, but without success. That’s when I decided to set up Lockdown Sceptics. The idea was for it to serve as a hub for sceptical articles, academic papers and interviews that have appeared elsewhere, as well as to provide an opportunity for experts and non-experts to air views that they couldn’t get published elsewhere. From the start, I also welcomed rebuttals to these arguments and you can see a thoughtful response to my piece in the Critic by Sam Bowman here, as well as my reply to Sam’s critique here. I have been a critic of the lockdown policy almost from the moment the first lockdown was imposed in late March, but I’ve never been 100% certain it’s the wrong way to mitigate the impact of SARS-CoV-2 and am still open to having my mind changed (although I think that’s unlikely). The critical thing is that we should have an informed public debate. Decisions of this importance shouldn’t be “left to the experts”, as some people would have it. To invoke David Hume’s famous distinction, scientific knowledge can tell you what is; it cannot tell you what you ought to do.

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2021-04-24T14:34:26+00:00
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