Policy based evidence making in action

Below is a recent tweet from sometime government appointee and journalist, Toby Young which indicates policy based evidence making in action. He’s not just looking for evidence – he’s looking for evidence it’s wrong!

Toby Young@toadmeisterLooking for evidence that Imperial College’s modelling is wrong, the infection fatality rate is <0.4% and the Govt should have stuck to its “herd immunity” strategy? My new website – Lockdown Sceptics – is a gathering place for Covid dissidents.

He’s already decided it’s wrong – he just needs some evidence. Good job he’s not a lawyer or a scientist – if he were he might realise he’s actually got it the wrong way round.


  1. Bill Hughes -

    Yes is is incredible that Toby Young is given any credibility when you read the Wikipedia article. You would not think his father was one of the chief architects of Labour’s 1945 manifesto. The complete failure of T B’s “free schools” project says it all. It is noticeable in his Lockdown Sceptic website he discusses the Sunday Times article on 19 April about reopening schools but completely ignores the damning bombshell article “38 days when Britain sleep walked into disaster” which completely condemns the governments actions (or inaction) in dealing with the C19 pandemic.

  2. Graham -

    Does that mean there’s no point in Imperial, for example, supplying him with evidence that their modelling is largely right (if there is such evidence) or anyone supplying evidence that the “herd immunity” proposition is fatally flawed?

    Or maybe we should send him “The scientific method for Dummies”?

    1. Richard Bond -

      He’d simply ask for evidence that everything in it was rubbish.

  3. Peter May -

    🙂 I think you’re all spot on …

  4. Jason Bush -

    You should read more carefully. Toby Young’s sentence about looking for evidence has a question mark at the end. He is not requesting evidence, but offering it. It is an invitation to visit his site to see such evidence: the person assumed to looking is the reader, not the writer. The implied subject and verb are “Are you looking…?” (question), not “I am looking…” (statement).

    In fact his site does offer evidence, such as studies by sceptical scientists. This evidence may or may not be correct. But it is not correct to say that Young is expressing views based on zero evidence that he is only now requesting.

    It is of course not scientific to dismiss such evidence out of hand – especially without reading it or even acknowledging its existence. And to dismiss anything Young says because you dislike his political views or the policies of his father is of course not “spot on”. That is dogma not rational debate.

    1. Peter May -

      You have a point. But at the very least his tweet is ambiguous.
      And he certainly has a reputation for lacking scientific method.
      I ignore the evidence because it’s yesterday’s battle.
      Today’s battle is how to prevent any more NHS staff and care workers dying as a result of the woefully late lockdown.

  5. Graham -

    Young supports the “herd immunity” strategy, I believe. Well, in history we have an example of an unplanned test of that strategy, when, starting in the late 15th Century relatively small groups of Europeans sailed west to a “new” continent, carrying with them smallpox and measles. The results were devastating. The people already there had no “herd” or any other kind of immunity and tens of millions died.

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