breaking news from the world of ideas

by Henry Hill
Thursday, 15
April 2021
Reaction
07:00

Delaying the ‘indy’ vote will leave Nicola Sturgeon vulnerable

Here we go. While Nicola Sturgeon continues to bullishly insist that she will be calling an independence referendum if she wins next month’s Scottish elections — despite it not being in Holyrood’s power to authorise one — the SNP leader’s natural caution has surfaced once again.

The First Minister has suggested that she might push back any vote until 2024 if Scotland was still grappling with the aftermath of Covid-19 for the next year or two. Apparently, this is the first indication she has given of holding it later than 2023, the mid-point of the next Scottish Parliament.

Such a delay is, within the context of another referendum being generally a very bad idea, perfectly sensible. It is inevitable that a referendum campaign would consume the bandwidth of a separatist Scottish Government to the detriment of almost anything else — and a cynic might say that if there are great costs to be borne, it is best they are borne by Britain’s broader shoulders. ...  Continue reading

by UnHerd
Thursday, 15
April 2021
Video
00:00

Did Sweden get Covid wrong?

One year ago, an interview with Professor Johan Giesecke of Sweden began to go viral on YouTube. It was early in the pandemic, and he was the most senior voice (as a former state epidemiologist of Sweden, Chief Scientist at the European Centre of Disease Control and advisor to the Director General of the WHO) to come out forcefully against lockdowns.

He promised to come back in a year to review the evidence — and with typical Swedish punctuality, here he is.

What he got wrong, what he got right, and much besides. Don’t miss.

by UnHerd
Wednesday, 14
April 2021
Video
15:36

Bridget Phetasy: will YouTube disappear me?


Around the world, California is romanticised as a glamorous haven of luxury and sunshine. But the reality, as we have been finding out, is quite different: rubbish stacked in the streets, a homelessness crisis, and an exodus of disillusioned residents. One of these disillusioned residents is Bridget Phetasy, a comedian, writer, podcaster and YouTuber based in Los Angeles, who has grown increasingly frustrated with her home state. California is in a ‘premageddon’, she fears, and that’s not just because of Gavin Newsom’s (the California governor who is up for recall) poor Covid response: ...  Continue reading

by Aveek Bhattacharya
Wednesday, 14
April 2021
Chart
10:30

‘Levelling up’ Hartlepool will be harder than Boris thinks

Hartlepool, site of the forthcoming by-election, has been badly hit by Covid-19. The town’s death rate from the virus has been 27% higher than the national average — higher even than the rest of the North-East. Fortunately for the Conservatives, much of the electorate seems to be more interested in looking forward, and whether the Government can deliver on its promise to ‘level up’ places like Hartlepool. Yet coronavirus has uncovered huge health disparities across the country, and the Conservative government should be aware of the challenge they face.

Hartlepool was particularly vulnerable going into the pandemic because it started from a position of relatively poor health. It is near the top of national league tables for a range of ‘lifestyle’ risk factors. 76% of Hartlepudlians are classified as overweight or obese, the second highest share for local areas in England. It has the fifth highest proportion of adults who smoke at 19% — and it ranks 13th for alcohol-specific deaths. ...  Continue reading

by UnHerd
Wednesday, 14
April 2021
Video
08:00

Superforecaster: Academic intolerance will be a ‘blip’

 

As each week passes by, the state of academic freedom in the West looks increasingly precarious. As of this month, 162 scholars have been ‘cancelled’; no-platforming has skyrocketed; and support for political intolerance has grown among faculty members and post-graduates to record levels. ‘Viewpoint diversity’, the one form of diversity that has always been conspicuously absent from SJW manuals, is suffering as a result.

So much was confirmed at a recent talk about intellectual diversity in academia last weekend. Hosted by the University of Michigan, Less Jussim, a psychology professor at Rutgers University, meticulously details all the ways in which academic freedom has been constricted over the last 10 years and beyond. ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Tuesday, 13
April 2021
Reaction
15:30

Boris Johnson needs a lesson in communication

Another day, another blunt, vague statement by the government displaying a complete lack of the nuance that was once so essential to scientific communication. Today, it was Boris Johnson, once more appearing to throw cold water on our dreams of a post-vaccination freedom.

During a Sky News interview, Boris declared that it was:

Very important for everybody to understand that the reduction in hospitalisations, deaths and infections has not been achieved by the vaccination programme…It’s the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement
- Boris Johnson

https://twitter.com/johnestevens/status/1381922550154981377?s=20 

He later backtracked slightly saying: “yes, of course the vaccination programme has helped….”, but too late, in this world of soundbites, clickbait and slogans, the headlines had already been written. ...  Continue reading

by Will Lloyd
Tuesday, 13
April 2021
Campus Wars
11:06

The decline of Standard English is not progress

There is something rather melancholy about Hull University’s decision not to dock marks for spelling mistakes because requiring good English could be seen as “homogenous North European, white, male, elite.” 

Hull is one of several universities that are adopting “inclusive assessments”. These are designed to narrow the attainment gaps between different ethnic groups in higher education. Hull insisted that dropping the requirement for a high level of proficiency in written and spoken English will “challenge the status quo”. The University of the Arts has issued similar guidelines, telling staff they should: ...  Continue reading

by Poppy Coburn
Tuesday, 13
April 2021
Reaction
07:00

Abolishing the police won’t help women

How did defunding the police and abolishing prisons become the cause du jour of so many liberals? Take the proposed changes to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill a few weeks ago. They prompted a furious response across left media outlets and organising collectives. The UK-based Abolitionist Futures collective hosted several #KilltheBill solidarity events advocating “a future without prisons, police and punishment”. Sisters Uncut (previously in the news for bringing ACAB signs to the vigil of Sarah Everard) released a ‘Feministo’ calling for the end of having “more people in the policing and prison solution — including perpetrators”. ...  Continue reading