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PCR Test Lab Chaos Exposed by Children’s Magazine

A feature in children’s science magazine How It Works has inadvertently shone a light on the wholly inadequate standards in the Milton Keynes PCR testing “megalab” in the spring. Among the accidental revelations of the interview with two lab workers, Beth and Ben, is that the quality control was so poor that the error rate was estimated to be around 30%.

A Lockdown Sceptics reader has summarised the key points (all points are his unless they’ve been put in quotation marks).

1) Long 12 hour shifts with inadequate breaks.

2) Adverse regimental discipline of time management that gravitated into bullying.

3) No Health and Safety training for a BSL2 facility as well as no induction in biohazards and the biology of contagion with a focus on SARS-CoV-2.

4) New starters rushed into a BSL2/3 environment in the absence of scrutiny of CVs/clinical assessment by an occupational health physician (e.g. personnel of unknown health/immunisation status/no determination of Hepatitis B immunisation status/no suggestion of or opportunity for Hepatitis B Vaccination).

5) Haphazard on-the-job-training by individuals with unknown expertise.

6) Recruitment of personnel with no proper assessment even of the most rudimentary skills for a biosecure laboratory.

7) PCR test error rate ~30%. Beth says: “I don’t know the percentage error at the moment, but when I was there I think it was a 30% error rate. That’s fairly high, but you have to remember that, in normal science, you do everything at least three times, whereas there you have one go at it. I do PCR tests a lot, and the threshold would usually be pretty high. But, in this circumstance it was low (i.e., high Cts) because they wanted to account for any detection of the virus. There are a lot of factors that can influence a test and I think when you do a test you should take it with a pinch of salt. You should definitely question a negative result if you know you have symptoms.” With high Cts to pick up any viral fragments you should also question a positive result, even with retesting.

What does this mean for the people working in the COVID-19 lab? Well, after each rack of 94 sample tubes have been processed, these tubes still containing unactivated biohazardous material (and now potentially contaminating the outside surface of almost every tube) are transferred in a plastic bag with a knot tied in it to a four degrees C cold room. Then, when a spurious COVID-19 test result comes back flagged by a biomedical scientist (safely cocooned in a positive-pressure room where the PCR machines inhabit), those at the sharp end have to go into the cold room and open up the plastic bags to fish around for the biosample tubes that need to be re-tested.

According to Beth this occurred 30% of the time – 30 out of every 100 samples. To venture into the cold room to perform this function is a really dangerous operation as the sealed plastic bags are like mini humidifying chambers, so when the bags are opened the aerosolised contents are released into the enclosed environment of the cold room. Therefore, air in the room over time will become contaminated with increasing concentrations of these aerosols, making just entry into this cold room very risky even if you don’t open any bags.

8) “Threshold for detection was low (i.e., high Cts) as they wanted to account for the detection of any virus.” This means the detection of signals in the samples being defined as positive when in fact they could be artefactual or due to cross-contamination between samples, or even picking up contaminants in the facility environment including personnel i.e., false positives.

9) Beth says: “There was no PPE a lot of the time when we were all together… There was less focus on social distance (and safety)” (and more focus on productivity). “I was surprised how little thinking I was required to do. I remember thinking ‘what if I don’t know enough?’ and ‘what if I’m completely out of my depth? But we just had to use manpower.”

This is completely unacceptable to put anybody in a situation where their instincts tell them they are operating in a very dangerous environment, but they are forced to carry on by people with little concern for the safety of their employees.

10) Ben says: “The application said that you would need a lot of experience, but I met one person who started who was a college student, and she didn’t even know how to pipette. That’s no insult to her, because I didn’t know how to pipette when I was a college student, but you don’t expect college students to be in a diagnostic laboratory working on the coronavirus. It was startling.”

This is a clear demonstration of the high incompetence of the UK Biocentre, Oxford University and the recruiters – REED. What these organisations have done is recruit individuals with no experience/qualifications whatsoever and have thrown them into a very dangerous setting, namely handling and processing biosamples containing potentially highly infectious dangerous contagion.

Read the full interview here.

Dr Mike Yeadon discusses the shortcomings of the PCR testing megalabs and their contribution to the false positive pseudo-epidemic for Lockdown Sceptics here.

When will the rest of the media catch on to this scandal?

Scotland Cancels Exams Again – Recovery Scotland Responds

SNP Education Minister John Swinney with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (Getty images)

A new group has been set up, Recovery Scotland (website not yet live), which will be lobbying for balance and a return to normal for Scotland. It’s an offshoot of Time For Recovery in England and is a collection of legal and scientific experts and local politicians. Led by Christine Padgham, the group has issued a statement responding to the Scottish Government’s announcement Tuesday that the 2021 exams will be cancelled.

We at Recovery Scotland were dismayed to hear of the Highers and Advanced Highers being cancelled for 2021, as well as the National 5s.

The Government has justified its actions on the basis of the disruption it itself has inflicted upon school children this year. Disruption to learning could easily be reduced by improving testing strategy and protocol, which would address the issues of the generation of false positives from this test – which is undoubtedly resulting in many being identified as infected and infectious with Covid when they are not.

Mr Swinney said yesterday he did not want pupils’ futures blighted through no fault of their own. We could not agree more. 

This being the second year of exams being cancelled in Scotland, there can be no doubt our children’s futures are being blighted by the government for a virus which, according to the Scottish Government’s own data, poses virtually no risk to them.

“It is safe. It is fair,” Mr Swinney said of cancelling exams. We fail to see how blighting the future of our children is safe, nor how it is fair to put them at such disadvantage when there is almost zero Covid risk to them individually or as a group.

Follow Recovery Scotland on Twitter: @T4RecoveryAlba.

Stop Press: Stephen Daisley agrees, writing in the Spectator, that “There’s nothing ‘fair’ about the SNP cancelling exams“.

School Forces Children to Eat Mashed Potato With Hands – Because Covid

Mariah Drage says the no cutlery rule is “a bit mad considering they can use knives and forks in old peoples homes” (Picture: Adam Hughes/SWNS)

In the latest loony rule to emanate from Covid world, a primary school has forced its pupils to eat meals with their hands after knives and forks were banned. Metro has the details.

Pupils at Edgar Stammers Primary Academy in Walsall are having lunch delivered to their classrooms to ensure they do not mix with children from other bubbles during the coronavirus pandemic. The school has also stopped issuing pupils with knives, forks and even plates over fears of spreading the virus. Hot and cold lunches are dropped off to each class in ‘grab bags’ and children are told to wash their hands before and after eating. However parents were unhappy to discover youngsters were expected to eat “a small amount of mash served in a Yorkshire pudding” without cutlery.

One father was not impressed.

We’ve been telling our son to keep his hands away from his mouth because of coronavirus and now the school tell him to eat with his fingers. It’s utterly ridiculous. Have the school not heard of dishwashers?

The Academy Trust CEO, Professor Michelle Shaw, commented:

We have ensured that we keep our children safe by limiting the use of hard utensils which may spread the virus, and continue to monitor the situation following all available guidance. We cannot transport plates, hot food and utensils around schools safely, as some have steps, nor can we keep that food at the required temperatures to serve it. Therefore we have chosen to provide brown bag, picnic lunches in classrooms. These consist of healthy choices, devised with our caterers. We have risk assessed all of our Covid practices using an external health and safety specialist company and our practices are robust.

Yet all the other schools seem to manage. This is off-the-charts insanity. Yet another example of a head teacher enthusiastically aligning themselves with the authorities for self-important, vainglorious reasons.

Stop Press: A reader writes to tell us that the supposedly open schools nearby to him have sent most of their children home.

Have a look at this local grammar school’s latest news. All year groups closed except Year 11. This is the second local secondary school I’ve read about which is mostly closed. How on Earth can the government square this with their claim to have kept schools open?

Completely unsustainable, you’d have thought – but luckily with so many parents furloughed or made redundant, they are on hand to help their kids self-educate at home. Who can fault the government’s brilliant joined-up thinking after all?

Swedes Warned to “Stay in Bubble” – But Still No Excess Deaths

The Swedish Government has recommended citizens to avoid socialising outside their family over Christmas in anticipation of a Covid spike over the festive period. The Local SE reports.

“Stay in your bubble,” Public Health Agency director Johan Carlson urged people as he and the Swedish government presented new coronavirus guidelines for Christmas.

Sweden’s ban on public gatherings of more than eight people will remain in place through the Christmas holidays, and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven reiterated that eight is also meant to set the standard for all social gatherings.

“Avoid new contacts, meet as few people as you can and meet them as little as you can. Meet them briefly and keep a distance. And preferably meet them outside. Avoid travelling by train and bus,” said Löfven.

However, the country remains much lighter touch than elsewhere, with very few measures enforceable in law and no mask mandate.

Carlson urged people to stay in their current bubble of social contacts if possible. But he said that if people have to travel, and if they think it is necessary to for example meet their parents or grandparents, they should try to travel responsibly, by for example travelling in the same care or use public transport with bookable seats.

“But of course both adults and children have a need to go home to their parents. Middle-aged parents want to go home to grandma, who has perhaps been sitting home alone all of this year. And then you have to make preparations,” he said, adding that people should then take extra care to follow all the social distancing recommendations around ten days or so before they see anyone outside of their usual social bubble.

Lockdown Sceptics reported yesterday that Sweden has seen almost zero excess deaths for 2019-20 (July to July), with just a tiny 1% increase in mortality among the over 80s but below average mortality in other age groups. In the autumn so far, despite the surge in Covid “cases” and deaths the latest EuroMOMO figures show no excess mortality.

Meanwhile Germany has reported its highest daily death figure so far: 568 compared with a peak of 510 in April (Germany was not strongly affected in spring). “Cases” have also jumped despite a lockdown-lite since early November that closed bars, restaurants, gyms and cinemas and (through guidance) limited social contact to two households meeting outdoors. Surging cases, record deaths – you’d be forgiven for thinking Germans are dying in unprecedented numbers. Yet in the German states of Berlin and Hesse at least (the only two for which EuroMOMO has data) there is no excess mortality at all to the end of November.

More evidence of a pseudo-epidemic?

A Pharmacist Writes…

Pharmacist and Lockdown Sceptics reader Dr Rachel Airley has alerted us to what may be a fatal flaw in the Government’s plan to involve pharmacists in delivering the Covid vaccination programme.

We’ve looked into providing the AstraZeneca jab when it arrives but as per usual it’s a typical (Han)cock up. We understand the logistical issues with the Pfizer vaccine but we would be perfectly placed to provide the Oxford vaccine if and probably, when, it finally gets approved.

Instead of allowing all pharmacies to provide the jab in the style of our hugely successful flu jab campaign, they are putting totally unworkable criteria on us which means that most community pharmacies will be excluded.

The criteria mean that community pharmacies would have to provide at least 1,000 jabs a week as a 12-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week service alongside the normal NHS pharmacy contract. That’s five minutes per jab alongside all other services! There would have to be additional funding for a second pharmacist or suitably trained pharmacy technician and probably an additional support staff member. Of course, this won’t be happening. Without these unworkable criteria, the approximately 13,000 community pharmacies in the UK could make real headway in the timely vaccination of the vulnerable. However, these ridiculous criteria mean that all but the largest city centre corporates will be able to provide the staff, space and throughput to do this.

Just why? It’s not just a slap in the face for pharmacists who have continued to see patients face-to-face throughout the pandemic as well as supporting the shielded, but to patients, who will now not be able to have the all-important accessibility that vaccination at a pharmacy provides. This has proven to be so efficient with the flu jab. No one understand the logistics of procurement, storage and administration of medicines like a pharmacist, it’s what we are trained to do. So just why have they done this?

Does anyone feel another letter to their MP coming on?

GMC Pressures Doctors to Have Vaccine

The GMC’s vaccine advice to doctors

A concerned doctor has written to us about the new vaccine guidance received from the General Medical Council.

My wife was circulated this info from the GMC – which strongly seems to imply a moral duty of doctors to be vaccinated to prevent spreading coronavirus to vulnerable patients. The wrong implication is that you have to prove very clearly why you shouldn’t have the vaccine, and even then you will be causing a lot of problems for colleagues and patients.

Since a) there is as yet no evidence whatsoever that vaccination prevents transmission and b) the whole point of vaccination is surely to protect those vulnerable patients in the first place, why such need for fit, working doctors – who will all be in much younger age groups than the elderly and vulnerable – to be vaccinated to protect anyone other than themselves if they wish to do so.

Will vaccination soon be required for registration with the GMC? Given that a recent poll suggested 40% of doctors wouldn’t want to take the vaccine, I suspect there will be an even bigger rush for the exit from the NHS.

Hold Your Local Authority to Account Over Lockdown

Surrey County Hall

Lockdown Sceptics reader Philip, who runs Unlock Surrey, has written to tell us about an effective way of taking action on a local level. Over to him.

I would like to alert my fellow sceptics to another possible front and forum in which to air our grievances, especially now that we are under a “local” lockdown regime. Local authorities on the county council and city council level across England have been given additional powers and responsibilities such as closing non-compliant businesses and venues without recourse and handing out fines. They also have to find the money to fund vastly greater levels of expenditure, from disseminating propaganda and deploying additional lockdown enforcement and compliance squads in local police forces, to mass testing programmes and even paying people to self-isolate. We can expect mass vaccination programmes to be added to these in the coming months.

In many cases a new committee is supposed to oversee these activities, often called the Local Outbreak Engagement Board (LOEB). According to the webpage of my county’s LOEB (Surrey County Council) it was “established to provide political ownership, public-facing engagement and communication for outbreak response”, as “each Upper Tier local authority is expected to develop Local Outbreak Control plans by the end of June. Local Outbreak Control Plans are designed to clarify how local government works with the national Test and Trace service, so that the whole local system is geared up to contain the virus.”

Anyone who has ever tried to complain to a council about something will be aware that they are not the most responsive of bodies. However, a great many of their meetings have been moved online – meaning that it has never been so convenient to hold these people to account. Unlike PMQs or opportunities to submit a question to a cabinet minister, not many people know about or care to engage with these local bodies making it possible to pack the allotted time for questions and petitions with scepticism which the officials must respond to. Petitions require numbers of signatures on the order of hundreds, not hundreds of thousands, so more can be produced with far less effort. The constitutional norm is usually for the questioner, should they wish to (virtually) attend the meeting, to have the right of reply and ask follow-up questions. Of course this does not guarantee a useful response, but if we take a page out of YouGov’s book for instance a carefully phrased question can back anyone into a corner and cause embarrassment!

If nothing else these local arms of government oppression should be made aware that there is a real opposition out there, that people are motivated, getting organised and paying attention. We ought to pressure local government to intervene on behalf of the people it is supposed to represent. Central government should be made to answer why it will not properly justify or explain its methods even to the people who are supposed to carry them out. If nothing else, the general public ought to have an opportunity to watch the videos of these meetings and see who is ruling over them so disastrously without remorse or repentance.

The Surrey LOEB had taken no questions from the public at all for several months until its latest meeting in November. Thanks to the efforts of Unlock Surrey, a support group and activist organisation (using the term loosely!) for sceptics, it had more questions to answer than it can address in a single meeting. All any interested reader has to do to accomplish the same is go to the “Democratic services” or “Meetings” or “Committees” section of their local Council website and find either the LOEB or in absence of one the public health committee, where they should be able to find the details of the next meeting and how to submit a question. Readers who wish to find out more about holding their local authorities to account are welcome to contact Unlock Surrey and we may be able to point them in the right direction. All Lockdown Sceptics in and around Surrey are of course welcome to join!

A few illustrative examples of webpages for these committees across the country are: Surrey, Cornwall, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight, Devon, Bedford, Oxfordshire and Newcastle.

They Lied

A poem by Lockdown Sceptics reader Mike Smelt.

They lied about their modelling

They lied about the deaths.

They lied about immunity

They lied about the meds.

They lied about PPE contracts

They lied about shutting schools.

They lied about pathology

They lied about the rules.

They lied about effects on cancer

They lied about Vitamin D.

They lied about track and trace

They lied about its fee.

They lied about susceptibility

They lied about asymptomatic spread.

They lied about false positives

They lied about hospital beds.

They lied about the cases

They lied about the second wave.

They lied about hospitality

They lied about how to behave.

They lied about the testing

They lied about the forecasts.

They lied about conflicts of interest

They lied about the masks.

They lied about the care homes

They lied about data seen.

They lied about absolutely everything

Now they want us to trust them with the vaccine.

One in Five UK Adults Do Not Think Covid Vaccines Are Safe

Source: Opinium online survey of 2,002 UK adults from December 3rd-4th 2020 (results weighted)

A new poll from Opinium reveals the high levels of uncertainty and distrust among Brits when it comes to the Covid vaccines. Hardly a surprise when they’ve been developed and approved in lightning-fast time.

Younger generations are most likely to be opposed, with over a quarter (27%) of those age under 45 thinking an approved Covid vaccine is unlikely to be safe, compared to just 14% of those aged 45-64, and 7% of those aged 65 or above. Young men are also more likely to be opposed, with 32% of men aged 18-44 saying they do not think an approved vaccine would be safe. Young women are more likely to have more general concerns, with 36% of women aged 18-44 feeling uneasy about the vaccine – partly a result we can probably assume of the uncertainties around the effect on pregnancy and fertility.

Round-up

Theme Tunes Suggested by Readers

Two today: “Planet Hell” by Nightwish and “I want to be free” by Toyah.

Love in the Time of Covid

We have created some Lockdown Sceptics Forums, including a dating forum called “Love in a Covid Climate” that has attracted a bit of attention. We have a team of moderators in place to remove spam and deal with the trolls, but sometimes it takes a little while so please bear with us. You have to register to use the Forums, but that should just be a one-time thing. Any problems, email the Lockdown Sceptics webmaster Ian Rons here.

Sharing Stories

Some of you have asked how to link to particular stories on Lockdown Sceptics so you can share it. To do that, click on the headline of a particular story and a link symbol will appear on the right-hand side of the headline. Click on the link and the URL of your page will switch to the URL of that particular story. You can then copy that URL and either email it to your friends or post it on social media. Please do share the stories.

Social Media Accounts

You can follow Lockdown Sceptics on our social media accounts which are updated throughout the day. To follow us on Facebook, click here; to follow us on Twitter, click here; to follow us on Instagram, click here; to follow us on Parler, click here; and to follow us on MeWe, click here.

Woke Gobbledegook

We’ve decided to create a permanent slot down here for woke gobbledegook. Today, some good news. Cambridge University’s academic staff have successfully rebuffed the vice-chancellor’s attempt to impose a woke code of censorship on the University.

A vote on free speech at Cambridge University has strongly rejected guidelines requiring opinions to be “respectful” – after warnings this could limit freedom of expression. Instead the policy on free speech will support “tolerance” of differing views.

The proposed rules would have required staff, students and visiting speakers to remain “respectful” of the views and “identities” of others. But there were claims this would block controversial ideas and debates.

The university’s governing body, the Regent House, has voted by a big majority in support of amendments from those worried about a threat to academic freedom, introducing a commitment to “tolerance” rather than “respect”. The revised wording on free speech ensures the right to express “controversial or unpopular opinions within the law, without fear of intolerance or discrimination”.

The guidelines, adopted after the vote, will expect “staff, students and visitors to be tolerant of the differing opinions of others”. There is also an assertion of the need to hear from outside speakers, even if controversial, as long as they remain within the law.

Let’s hope this draws a line under the questionable decisions and double standards from Cambridge in recent years. 162 voted for the vice-chancellor’s “respect” proposal; 1316 voted for the “tolerance” alternative. Quite a victory. Congrats to Arif Ahmed, the leader of the resistance and member of the Free Speech Union’s Advisory Counsel.

“Mask Exempt” Lanyards

We’ve created a one-stop shop down here for people who want to buy (or make) a “Mask Exempt” lanyard/card. You can print out and laminate a fairly standard one for free here and it has the advantage of not explicitly claiming you have a disability. But if you have no qualms about that (or you are disabled), you can buy a lanyard from Amazon saying you do have a disability/medical exemption here (takes a while to arrive). The Government has instructions on how to download an official “Mask Exempt” notice to put on your phone here. You can get a “Hidden Disability” tag from ebay here and an “exempt” card with lanyard for just £1.99 from Etsy here. And, finally, if you feel obliged to wear a mask but want to signal your disapproval of having to do so, you can get a “sexy world” mask with the Swedish flag on it here.

Don’t forget to sign the petition on the UK Government’s petitions website calling for an end to mandatory face masks in shops here.

A reader has started a website that contains some useful guidance about how you can claim legal exemption.

If you’re a shop owner and you want to let your customers know you will not be insisting on face masks or asking them what their reasons for exemption are, you can download a friendly sign to stick in your window here.

And here’s an excellent piece about the ineffectiveness of masks by a Roger W. Koops, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry. See also the Swiss Doctor’s thorough review of the scientific evidence here.

Stop Press: Whose bright idea was it to put Santa in a big plastic bubble?

Wrong on so many levels.

The Great Barrington Declaration

Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya

The Great Barrington Declaration, a petition started by Professor Martin Kulldorff, Professor Sunetra Gupta and Professor Jay Bhattacharya calling for a strategy of “Focused Protection” (protect the elderly and the vulnerable and let everyone else get on with life), was launched in October and the lockdown zealots have been doing their best to discredit it ever since. If you googled it a week after launch, the top hits were three smear pieces from the Guardian, including: “Herd immunity letter signed by fake experts including ‘Dr Johnny Bananas’.” (Freddie Sayers at UnHerd warned us about this the day before it appeared.) On the bright side, Google UK has stopped shadow banning it, so the actual Declaration now tops the search results – and Toby’s Spectator piece about the attempt to suppress it is among the top hits – although discussion of it has been censored by Reddit. The reason the zealots hate it, of course, is that it gives the lie to their claim that “the science” only supports their strategy. These three scientists are every bit as eminent – more eminent – than the pro-lockdown fanatics so expect no let up in the attacks. (Wikipedia has also done a smear job.)

You can find it here. Please sign it. Now well over 700,000 signatures.

Update: The authors of the GDB have expanded the FAQs to deal with some of the arguments and smears that have been made against their proposal. Worth reading in full.

Update 2: Many of the signatories of the Great Barrington Declaration are involved with new UK anti-lockdown campaign Recovery. Find out more and join here.

Update 3: You can watch Sunetra Gupta set out the case for “Focused Protection” here and Jay Bhattacharya make it here.

Update 4: The three GBD authors plus Prof Carl Heneghan of CEBM have launched a new website collateralglobal.org, “a global repository for research into the collateral effects of the COVID-19 lockdown measures”. Follow Collateral Global on Twitter here.

Judicial Reviews Against the Government

There are now so many JRs being brought against the Government and its ministers, we thought we’d include them all in one place down here.

First, there’s the Simon Dolan case. You can see all the latest updates and contribute to that cause here.

Then there’s the Robin Tilbrook case. You can read about that and contribute here.

Then there’s John’s Campaign which is focused specifically on care homes. Find out more about that here.

There’s the GoodLawProject’s Judicial Review of the Government’s award of lucrative PPE contracts to various private companies. You can find out more about that here and contribute to the crowdfunder here.

The Night Time Industries Association has instructed lawyers to JR any further restrictions on restaurants, pubs and bars.

And last but not least there’s the Free Speech Union‘s challenge to Ofcom over its ‘coronavirus guidance’. You can read about that and make a donation here.

Samaritans

If you are struggling to cope, please call Samaritans for free on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year, providing a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Quotation Corner

We know they are lying. They know they are lying, They know that we know they are lying. We know that they know that we know they are lying. And still they continue to lie.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Charles Mackay

They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he’s doing is good, or else that it’s a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions…

Ideology – that is what gives the evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you never should trust experts. If you believe the doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require to have their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get into the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man, who knows where it hurts, is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialist.

Sir Winston Churchill

If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science.

Richard Feynman

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.

Albert Camus

We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

Carl Sagan

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

George Orwell

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Marcus Aurelius

Necessity is the plea for every restriction of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

William Pitt the Younger

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Joseph Goebbels (attributed)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Shameless Begging Bit

Thanks as always to those of you who made a donation in the past 24 hours to pay for the upkeep of this site. Doing these daily updates is hard work (although we have help from lots of people, mainly in the form of readers sending us stories and links). If you feel like donating, please click here. And if you want to flag up any stories or links we should include in future updates, email us here. (Don’t assume we’ll pick them up in the comments.)

And Finally…

The new Tiny Tiers ‘Hancock’ Special Edition, the ideal kids Christmas present for 2020