by UnHerd
Friday, 5
February 2021

Freddie Sayers and Julia Hobsbawm debate Adam Boulton on Sky

The panelists found unexpected agreement about Neil O'Brien's Covid website
by UnHerd

UnHerd’s Executive Editor was on Sky News’ The View this morning with Adam Boulton and Julia Hobsbawm, and the discussion turned to Neil O’Brien MP’s ‘anti-virus’ website…

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  • As Sam Bowman (who’s also a contributor to the antivirus site) says, Nelson wrote exactly the same sort of thing against the everyone’s favourite epidemiologist in the Spectator, so it’s a bit rich for him to criticise a website pointing out Heneghan’s errors. It’s the usual pattern with these so-called “liberterian” free speech advocates: “We want more free speech!” people criticise them “This is censorship! Cancel culture! We need state intervention to prevent private websites removing our accounts!”

  • The interview starts with a fallacy from the interviewer – he suggests its a forgone conclusion that Lockdowns reduce the virus, frankly that is still up for debate with evidence that it does being largely circumstantial – in the UK they have been imposed after the peak in infections and areas where they have never been imposed haven’t seen markedly worse outcomes than elsewhere etc (we all know the arguments). Apart from that though, the ethical debate is a long way from being resolved – or even being had!

    The interviewer (I will charitably assume he is playing devil’s advocate) otherwise seems to be under the impression that the biggest problem we have in our societies is disinformation. It isn’t – its censorship that leads to lack of scrutiny that leads to rumour and suspicion and – ultimately – conspiracy theories.

    This is not difficult to understand. As for Neil O’Brien, he should have the courage of his convictions and take Carl Heneghan up on his offer of a debate.

    We all know the reason he wouldn’t though – its got nothing to do with ‘not wanting to give his opponents the oxygen of publicity’. Its because Neil O’Brien would lose.

  • Yes, she’s his daughter; and yes, she and Boulton are the enormous reasons to avoid the interview.

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