breaking news from the world of ideas

by Rob Lownie
Thursday, 23
March 2023

Three years on: Britons still support lockdowns

New UnHerd polling reveals most of the nation thinks the measure was justified

Three years on from the imposition of the first Covid lockdown, new polling from UnHerd Britain shows that much of the population still feels the measures were justified. When presented with the statement ‘In retrospect, lockdowns were a mistake’, just 27% of respondents agree compared to 54% who disagree, with 19% ambivalent. 

The polling, conducted by FocalData, looked at responses from 10,000 voters and used MRP to produce estimates for all 632 constituencies in Great Britain, excluding the Northern Irish constituencies which are more difficult to estimate using this method. There is not a single one of these 632 constituencies in which there is more agreement than disagreement with the statement. Despite what might appear to be a nationwide consensus, though, there are clear trends between the areas which remain committed to the pandemic measures, and those in which dissent is more likely.  ...  Continue reading

by David Rozado
Wednesday, 22
March 2023

Left-wing bias persists in OpenAI’s GPT-4 model

Despite improvements, it is easy to game the system

Recent advances in artificial intelligence are palpable in new technologies such as ChatGPT. AI-powered software has the potential to increase productivity and creativity by changing the way humans interact with information. However, there are legitimate concerns about the possible biases embedded within AI systems, which have the power to shape human perceptions, spread misinformation, and even exert social control. As AI tools become more widespread, it is critical that we consider the implications of these biases and work to mitigate them in order to prevent the degradation of democratic institutions and processes. ...  Continue reading

by Petra Bueskens
Wednesday, 22
March 2023

The truth about Posie Parker and the neo-Nazis

Australian politicians were too quick to tar gender-critical feminists


Last weekend demonstrated that the trans wars are raging just as fiercely down under. The women’s rights campaigner Posie Parker — otherwise known as Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshell — has this month brought her Let Women Speak tour to Australia, aiming to provide a public space for discussion of the conflict of interest between trans rights activism and gender-critical feminists. The fifth leg of the tour, unfortunately, played host to some extremely unsavoury visitors.

At Saturday’s event in Melbourne, black-clad members of the far-Right National Socialist Movement crashed the feminist gathering, performing Nazi salutes and displaying signs which accused trans people of being child abusers. They clashed with the Socialist Alliance, who were protesting the event, and hogged the media limelight at the expense of Parker and the other speakers. ...  Continue reading

by William Nattrass
Wednesday, 22
March 2023

Giorgia Meloni confronts increasingly sceptical public on Ukraine

The Italian PM remains committed to providing military aid

Giorgia Meloni’s election as Italian Prime Minister last autumn struck horror into the hearts of Europe’s technocratic elite — but it needn’t have. On the key issue of support for Ukraine, Meloni shares little with the populist style of politics with which she is so often associated. 

Speaking yesterday to the Italian Senate, Meloni vowed that Rome will continue to support Ukraine’s war effort, even though much of the Italian public is against providing more military aid, because “it is right to do so in terms of national values and interests.” A poll last month found that 45% of Italians are against sending weapons to Ukraine, compared with only 34% in favour. Supporters of Meloni’s own Brothers of Italy party are particularly sceptical about her Ukraine policy, with 47% opposed to arms deliveries.  ...  Continue reading

by Debbie Hayton
Wednesday, 22
March 2023

Trans activists are today’s Militant Tendency

If Keir Starmer wants to succeed, he must face them down

If Labour wants to form a new government, then the party needs a new policy on trans rights. If anyone is still in doubt about that, they need only look north of the border. Three months after Nicola Sturgeon forced her doomed Gender Recognition Reform Bill through Holyrood she is now packing her bags, and the once invincible Scottish National Party is in a tailspin.

Keir Starmer, however, has a problem. He has already sold himself to the activist lobby that thinks the law can be changed to allow anybody to change their legal sex and that nobody will take advantage. That is why senior figures are now warning him to change his trans policy to be more in line with the public’s views on the matter. ...  Continue reading

by James Billot
Tuesday, 21
March 2023

How Nature journal hurt Trump supporters’ trust in science

A new study shows that endorsing Biden had a polarising effect on its readership

A leading science journal’s endorsement of Joe Biden in 2020 resulted in a significant reduction in trust among Donald Trump-supporting readers, a new paper has found. At the same time, trust among Biden supporters rose only slightly.

Performed in late July and early August 2021, the experiment randomly assigned participants to receive information about Nature’s endorsement, while the control group were given irrelevant information about the journal’s new website design. Both Trump and Biden supporters were presented with the author’s summary of the messages conveyed in Nature’s 2020 editorial.  ...  Continue reading

by Noah Carl
Tuesday, 21
March 2023

The myth of Sweden’s voluntary lockdown

Mobility data shows that Swedes' behaviour barely changed during the pandemic

No matter how you slice the excess death figures, Sweden performed exceptionally well during the pandemic. According to Britain’s Office for National Statistics, it has the second lowest rate of excess mortality in Europe — lower than Finland, Denmark and Iceland (only Norway did marginally better). Other databases show similar results.  

This fact is evidently inconvenient for proponents of lockdown, given that Sweden was the only major Western country not to lock down in the spring of 2020. If stay-at-home orders and mandatory business closures were as effective as their advocates claim, Sweden shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the leaderboard. ...  Continue reading

by Peter Allen
Tuesday, 21
March 2023

Paris rises up against ‘King Macron’

Charles's forthcoming visit to France couldn't come at a more difficult time


Macabre references to beheadings have dominated the latest crisis in French democracy. “Decapitate Macron” graffiti is commonplace, as protesters compare the President of the 5th Republic to an ancien régime monarch fit only for the guillotine. 

They are furious at the way he bypassed a parliamentary vote on raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 last week, and instead pushed through the hugely unpopular measure by emergency decree. Even when opponents of Emmanuel Macron’s government attempted to bring it down with two no-confidence votes on Monday, both failed — the principal one by only nine votes. This was despite opinion polls showing that close to 70% of the country is against the reform, and multiple MPs receiving death threats advising them not to support Macron. ...  Continue reading