Covid — the perfect public health emergency that just keeps on giving. Each new scariant is only ever one step away from the next new scariant — an endless flow of new worries, Fergie forecasts and government responses, forever clogging up the mainstream media, like logs in a log jam. Behind the puppetry, for an authoritarian government hell bent on passing draconian laws and regulations with the minimum of scrutiny, covid is the perfect enabling epidemic, because it allows the government to get into the swing of passing law by diktat, or secondary legislation, which is almost never subject to meaningful parliamentary scrutiny. The backstops against bad secondary legislation, the arcane the negative and affirmative procedures, haven’t been used in anger since the late 1970s. In practice, the instruments of secondary legislation sail through Parliament like ships in the night, unseen, unheard, and unopposed. As of 10th December 2021, the government has laid 1,788 SIs (Statutory Instruments, the name given to this form of secondary legislation) before parliament since January 2020, of which 546, or 31%, were covid related. Truly, covid is the enabling epidemic that just keeps on giving.
What should we do about fake news? Perhaps nothing, given it has been around since the Garden of Eden, according to the Pope. But what is new is social media, and so the means to spread fake news fast and wide. Before social media, the only things that went viral were viruses; now, any titbit of anything can set off a chain reaction where the R number operates on an industrial scale, spreading fake news around the world at a dizzying rate; and furthermore, the social media propagators are not subject to any of the conventional checks and balances that are supposed — not that they do these days — to inhibit the worst excesses in mainstream media. Indeed, the MSM have gone their own extra mile, by setting up reality checking units, even if some of it looks rather like Joseph Goebbels fact checking the Thousand Year Reich.
Twitter continues to suppress Dr No’s tweets. Yesterday’s tweet announcing a post about the perils of mathematical modelling had garnered a desultory 62 impressions by this morning, compared to several hundred impressions for typical similar tweets a couple of months ago. Dr No had already been minded to take a two week or so summer break from posting and tweeting — what could possibly happen over the silly season — and the recent twitter suppression has strengthened his resolve, so two weeks or so of no tweets or posts to allow things to settle, and then a discrete restart, with a watchful eye on twitter behaviour.
Is Dr No the Pope? Probably not. Is Dr No’s twitter account being censored? Very possibly. Impressions — twitter jargon for the number of times a tweet has been served up by twitter — by tweet (see chart) since Dr No re-started posting and tweeting in late March 2020 have over the for the last five tweets flat-lined below 100, between 63 and 86, with a mean of 77.6 impressions (median 81). The preceding 28 tweets all gained over 100 impressions (two tweets gained over 1,000 impressions), with an overall mean of 481.2 impressions (median 424.5). With only 33 tweets in all, the numbers are small, but nonetheless, there is a substantial difference between the average number of impressions gained by tweets 1 to 28 (481), and tweets 29 to 33 (78). Goldfinger’s Rule — happenstance (tweet 29), coincidence (tweet 30), enemy action (tweet 31, and for that matter tweets 32 and 33) — is more than met. Something is going on.