Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Covid-19 discussion, bring your own statistics
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warumich
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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by warumich » Wed Aug 05, 2020 9:38 am

I didn't disagree about your assessment of Dingwall's actual views, I was just peeved that his being a sociologist was automatically deemed evidence that he is talking outside his expertise (as per the title of the thread), but you apologised, and I'm happy with that.

I would maybe add that it's pretty much in the job description for a public health policy specialist - from sociology or elsewhere - to know, understand and be up to date on the relevant science. So if he's talking BS on something it's his own personal failing, not that of his profession.


My stint working on public health policy was rather short and years ago, but enough to provide a little chip for my shoulder. In my limited experience most damage had traditionally been done the other way round, i.e. doctors, physicians and other scientists thinking their specialist knowledge alone makes them qualified to pontificate on public health matters (see also Sikora, Karol) and the naive science fan boys in power (like Cummings, but this phenomenon has been around for ages) usually take the word of a loud mouth scientist who flatters their ideological convictions over that of the social science specialist who knows what they're talking about every time.
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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:19 am

Worth noting that Dingwall is a member of NREVTAG, the UK government's New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group so he will know a lot about policy-making.

So he has a pretty senior position, and yes, he has been arguing against measures to prevent spread of the infection.

Here's a link to his original article in the Express.

He does make some valid points about how Covid policy is essentially about trade-offs and ethics. However, when discussing those his argument does seem to be based upon some errors concerning epidemiology, in particular:
We now know about 70 percent of the cases detected in the community are unlikely to develop symptoms.
COVID-19 was linked to about 50,000 deaths in the first 16 weeks of the UK pandemic - but about 1,000 people normally die every week. In the past five weeks, fewer than usual have died. COVID-19 simply brought deaths forward by a few weeks or months – 80 percent of victims already had life-limiting medical conditions.
Worrying that someone in his position seems to misunderstand some basic aspects of the pandemic in the UK.

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by shpalman » Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:34 am

Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:19 am
COVID-19 was linked to about 50,000 deaths in the first 16 weeks of the UK pandemic - but about 1,000 people normally die every week. In the past five weeks, fewer than usual have died. COVID-19 simply brought deaths forward by a few weeks or months – 80 percent of victims already had life-limiting medical conditions.
Worrying that someone in his position seems to misunderstand some basic aspects of the pandemic in the UK.
Crucially the second sentence seems to be missing the actual number in front of the word "fewer".

Image

If "about 1,000 people normally die every week" then you'd have expected 16,000 in 16 weeks instead of 50,000. So that's an excess of 34,000.

Deaths would need to stop completely for 8 months in order to say that everyone who died because of covid would have died anyway within the next few weeks or months.

I'll be back in a minute with the ONS deaths data to point out how wrong he is, but of course I'm not an expert on a government committee, just someone outside his area of expertise.
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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by shpalman » Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:07 am

cumulative-week30.png
cumulative-week30.png (23 KiB) Viewed 518 times
What you can't see in that graph is the yellow line turning down to meet the other lines. Because it isn't.

England and Wales peaked at over 54,000 excess deaths in week 24 (the one ending the 12th of June 2020) defined as the difference in cumulative deaths in 2020 and the 2015-2019 average. 317,288 deaths compared to the 2015-2019 average of 262,588.

(The actual worst week for excess deaths was week 16 (ending 19th of April) with 22,351 deaths compared to the 2015-2019 average of 10,497, but you can see that in jimbob's graphs in another thread.)

But the peak of 54,000 corresponds to the point at which there started to be fewer weekly deaths than the 2015-2019 average.

How many fewer?

A couple of hundred fewer. So now at the end of week 30 we "only" have 53,000 excess deaths.

At 300 fewer deaths per week it would take 180 weeks to compensate for the 54,000 excess deaths.

Covid has taken years off people's lives, not "a few weeks or months".
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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by bob sterman » Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:08 am

warumich wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 9:38 am
I didn't disagree about your assessment of Dingwall's actual views, I was just peeved that his being a sociologist was automatically deemed evidence that he is talking outside his expertise (as per the title of the thread), but you apologised, and I'm happy with that.
Yes - sorry. I didn't phrase the original post very well.

I agree there is absolutely an important role for sociologists - in planning the pandemic response - and commenting on the response. It's just that he does seem to be venturing quite some distance from the sociological issues.

And from very early in the pandemic (March) he has been very publicly arguing against almost every intervention introduced to reduce spread of the virus - e.g. lockdown, pubs and schools closing in particular, masks, 2 metre distancing, making your own hand sanitizer etc.

He's even managed to argue (specifically) against banning the wet market trade in pangolins or civets (although he is perhaps arguably on more sociological ground here).

First comment here...

https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/shoul ... kets/13386

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by PeteB » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:00 pm

shpalman wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:07 am
cumulative-week30.png

What you can't see in that graph is the yellow line turning down to meet the other lines. Because it isn't.

England and Wales peaked at over 54,000 excess deaths in week 24 (the one ending the 12th of June 2020) defined as the difference in cumulative deaths in 2020 and the 2015-2019 average. 317,288 deaths compared to the 2015-2019 average of 262,588.

(The actual worst week for excess deaths was week 16 (ending 19th of April) with 22,351 deaths compared to the 2015-2019 average of 10,497, but you can see that in jimbob's graphs in another thread.)

But the peak of 54,000 corresponds to the point at which there started to be fewer weekly deaths than the 2015-2019 average.

How many fewer?

A couple of hundred fewer. So now at the end of week 30 we "only" have 53,000 excess deaths.

At 300 fewer deaths per week it would take 180 weeks to compensate for the 54,000 excess deaths.

Covid has taken years off people's lives, not "a few weeks or months".
Very good analysis from the Covid Actuaries Group

Excess death reporting

We can obtain a very accurate (but not perfect) understanding of deaths attributable to the pandemic by looking at ‘excess deaths’, and this is something that various bodies have been doing for many months. At its simplest, we could calculate total deaths this year, and compare them with what we would expect – for instance, look at last year’s over the same period. In the absence of any other known public health disasters this year, or known reasons why last year might have been ‘light’ (and barring a bit of statistical ‘noise’), this difference will constitute deaths attributable to COVID-19.
That sounds too simple and it is – in reality, we should adjust for the slightly different age/gender mix of the population now compared with last year, and we could also allow for typical yearly mortality improvements (as we would expect age-standardised deaths to be lower this year than last year, all other things being equal). We could also do the comparison with a starting point in March, to avoid any meaningless (in this context) differences in January and February mortality.
The CMI (part of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries) has been publishing an ‘excess deaths’ calculation of this type since the start of the pandemic. This shows significantly higher excess deaths than the official COVID-19 death figures. The most recent publication, for instance, showed total excess deaths to 26 June of around 62,5002 (eg graph below). During the peak of deaths in the UK excess deaths were much higher than official figures; in recent weeks they have been slightly lower, even turning negative.

As the year develops, this ‘excess death’ reporting can then also pick up a point noted above, that some of the deaths seen so far would have happened later in the year in any case. So if the current ‘excess’ figure starts to decline, that decline would relate to that point of COVID-19 having ‘accelerated’ some deaths. Indeed, the most recent publication reduced the excess deaths by 1,000 for just that reason.

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by warumich » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:30 pm

bob sterman wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:08 am
warumich wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 9:38 am
I didn't disagree about your assessment of Dingwall's actual views, I was just peeved that his being a sociologist was automatically deemed evidence that he is talking outside his expertise (as per the title of the thread), but you apologised, and I'm happy with that.
Yes - sorry. I didn't phrase the original post very well.

I agree there is absolutely an important role for sociologists - in planning the pandemic response - and commenting on the response. It's just that he does seem to be venturing quite some distance from the sociological issues.

And from very early in the pandemic (March) he has been very publicly arguing against almost every intervention introduced to reduce spread of the virus - e.g. lockdown, pubs and schools closing in particular, masks, 2 metre distancing, making your own hand sanitizer etc.

He's even managed to argue (specifically) against banning the wet market trade in pangolins or civets (although he is perhaps arguably on more sociological ground here).

First comment here...

https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/shoul ... kets/13386
No worries :)

I'm frankly as shocked by Dingwall's interventions as you all are. Not entirely sure where it's from, there's always a small cadre of academics who made their career by being contrarians within their field (Furedi, Minford, etc), but Robert Dingwall was never to my knowledge one of them.

But then, maybe I am mistaken, as I said it's not really my field any more.
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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:36 pm

warumich wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:30 pm
bob sterman wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:08 am
warumich wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 9:38 am
I didn't disagree about your assessment of Dingwall's actual views, I was just peeved that his being a sociologist was automatically deemed evidence that he is talking outside his expertise (as per the title of the thread), but you apologised, and I'm happy with that.
Yes - sorry. I didn't phrase the original post very well.

I agree there is absolutely an important role for sociologists - in planning the pandemic response - and commenting on the response. It's just that he does seem to be venturing quite some distance from the sociological issues.

And from very early in the pandemic (March) he has been very publicly arguing against almost every intervention introduced to reduce spread of the virus - e.g. lockdown, pubs and schools closing in particular, masks, 2 metre distancing, making your own hand sanitizer etc.

He's even managed to argue (specifically) against banning the wet market trade in pangolins or civets (although he is perhaps arguably on more sociological ground here).

First comment here...

https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/shoul ... kets/13386
No worries :)

I'm frankly as shocked by Dingwall's interventions as you all are. Not entirely sure where it's from, there's always a small cadre of academics who made their career by being contrarians within their field (Furedi, Minford, etc), but Robert Dingwall was never to my knowledge one of them.

But then, maybe I am mistaken, as I said it's not really my field any more.
There are also people like Ionnides who appear to made the wrong call early on, but instead of acknowledging that and moving on have instead doubled down and kept insisting that its not that bad.

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:38 pm

bob sterman wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 11:08 am
He's even managed to argue (specifically) against banning the wet market trade in pangolins or civets (although he is perhaps arguably on more sociological ground here).

First comment here...

https://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/shoul ... kets/13386
I think I may have made a similar comment early on. Westerners like eating fish caught from the wild, and in rural areas butchers shops often include freshly shot game.

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by bob sterman » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:39 pm

warumich wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:30 pm
No worries :)

I'm frankly as shocked by Dingwall's interventions as you all are. Not entirely sure where it's from, there's always a small cadre of academics who made their career by being contrarians within their field (Furedi, Minford, etc), but Robert Dingwall was never to my knowledge one of them.

But then, maybe I am mistaken, as I said it's not really my field any more.
Again - really sorry how I phrased the initial post.

It's odd - once you pointed out his background I had a look at some of his past published work - and he's written some really interesting, sensible stuff about pandemics. Some specifically warning about the need to prepare for the next influenza pandemic.

But it seems there are bunch of scientists and social scientists, who very early in the pandemic, decided it wasn't as big a threat as others were saying - and they just keep doubling down. E.g. John Ioannidis, Sunetra Gupta etc.

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by bob sterman » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:40 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:36 pm
There are also people like Ionnides who appear to made the wrong call early on, but instead of acknowledging that and moving on have instead doubled down and kept insisting that its not that bad.
Ooops - while I was typing you made exactly the same point as I was about to!

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by Woodchopper » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:43 pm

bob sterman wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:40 pm
Woodchopper wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:36 pm
There are also people like Ionnides who appear to made the wrong call early on, but instead of acknowledging that and moving on have instead doubled down and kept insisting that its not that bad.
Ooops - while I was typing you made exactly the same point as I was about to!
Great minds ... :D

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by warumich » Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:30 pm

bob sterman wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:39 pm
It's odd - once you pointed out his background I had a look at some of his past published work - and he's written some really interesting, sensible stuff about pandemics. Some specifically warning about the need to prepare for the next influenza pandemic.

But it seems there are bunch of scientists and social scientists, who very early in the pandemic, decided it wasn't as big a threat as others were saying - and they just keep doubling down. E.g. John Ioannidis, Sunetra Gupta etc.
I know, right? You can imagine my shock. I think you and chopper are correct, something like this seems to be happening here. I suppose there is a lesson here for me, being an expert doesn't make you immune from confirmation bias; probably quite the opposite. It's quite scary
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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by raven » Wed Aug 05, 2020 4:26 pm

Could it possibly be because these people have been involved in pandemic planning? Iirc, SARS and MERS have case fatality rates of 10% and 30%, so if you've been involved in planning for that sort of worst-case scenario, Covid-19 might seem less dangerous in comparison.

And if you've formed that view early on, to the extent of arguing publicly against a lockdown, it'll be hard to step back from it.

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by bob sterman » Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:10 pm

Didn't mean to make this all about Robert Dingwall - but this is getting rather weird....

He's now venturing into the legal sphere and has just posted this about the new local "lockdown" involving closing pubs and restaurants in Aberdeen...

https://twitter.com/rwjdingwall/status/ ... 7295211521

"As a lawyer, I would have thought that @NicolaSturgeon would be aware that collective punishments were unlawful under art.33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: "Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."

:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

I can think of lots of coherent ways to argue against the closure of pubs and restaurants - but claiming it's a "collective punishment"?????

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by warumich » Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:38 pm

Blimey :cry:
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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by Woodchopper » Thu Aug 06, 2020 6:59 am

bob sterman wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 10:10 pm
Didn't mean to make this all about Robert Dingwall - but this is getting rather weird....

He's now venturing into the legal sphere and has just posted this about the new local "lockdown" involving closing pubs and restaurants in Aberdeen...

https://twitter.com/rwjdingwall/status/ ... 7295211521

"As a lawyer, I would have thought that @NicolaSturgeon would be aware that collective punishments were unlawful under art.33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention: "Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."

:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

I can think of lots of coherent ways to argue against the closure of pubs and restaurants - but claiming it's a "collective punishment"?????
As a lawyer he should be aware that the Geneva Conventions apply during war.

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by bob sterman » Tue Aug 25, 2020 8:03 pm

Futher on the issue of "war crimes" Robert Dingwall has recently been drawing analogies between pandemic risk communication with the public and interrogation techniques used by US forces in Afghanistan...

https://twitter.com/rwjdingwall/status/ ... 0667993089

But our latest "authority" to venture outside his area of expertise (blending Celtic melodies with R&B, jazz, and blues) is none other than Van the Man...

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/ ... udoscience

Denouncing the ban on gathering large crowds in confined spaces during a pandemic Van has said...

“I call on my fellow singers, musicians, writers, producers, promoters and others in the industry to fight with me on this. Come forward, stand up, fight the pseudo-science and speak up”

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by jdc » Tue Aug 25, 2020 8:17 pm

Jim Corr's an anti-masker. Been getting put in his place by Jedward, of all people.

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by Gfamily » Tue Aug 25, 2020 8:38 pm

jdc wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 8:17 pm
Jim Corr's an anti-masker. Been getting put in his place by Jedward, of all people.
I query the relevance given the fourth word of the thread title. :)
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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by Brightonian » Tue Aug 25, 2020 9:51 pm

jdc wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 8:17 pm
Jim Corr's an anti-masker. Been getting put in his place by Jedward, of all people.
Van Morrison says social distancing rules at gigs is pseudoscience.

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by jdc » Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:26 pm

Gfamily wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 8:38 pm
jdc wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 8:17 pm
Jim Corr's an anti-masker. Been getting put in his place by Jedward, of all people.
I query the relevance given the fourth word of the thread title. :)
You were fine with Matt Le Tissier and Van Morrison though?

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by bob sterman » Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:41 am

All these folk - Van Morrison, Matt Le Tissier, Denise Welch, Jim Corr, Larry The Cable Guy (rubbish 5-a-side team even with "Le God" up front) - speaking out about the terrible injustice of mask wearing - e.g. in children particular.

I don't really them all previously being very vocal about other forms of social injustice?

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Re: Reckless public engagement - authorities outside their expertise

Post by Little waster » Wed Aug 26, 2020 8:44 am

Presumably the mask-wearers will be coasting to a comfortable win just for Le Tissier to come off the bench during injury-time and score a hat-trick from no-where. <bitter NUFC fan>
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