Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeCOVID-19How Professor Nudge holds us all in contempt

How Professor Nudge holds us all in contempt


I THOUGHT I couldn’t be bothered to write any more about the wickedness perpetrated over the past few years in the name of a largely non-lethal illness which chooses its victims in line with the normal mortality curve. As evidence indicting both the inhumanity inflicted in the guise of ‘public health’ measures and the dangers of the coerced medications piles ever higher, while politicians and medical establishment chant ‘Earlier and harsher, earlier and harsher!’ and look the other way, I wonder how even genuine scientists (you know, the ones who say consensus cannot be science) have the heart to go on quoting facts and figures into deaf ears.

Then Professor David Halpern, chief executive of the government nudge unit, appeared before the Covid Inquiry, glorying in the shameless bullying orchestrated by his team to bring a Covid-fearing public to heel, and I cracked. You’d have thought he might have been just a little apologetic, at least towards the people whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by masks, isolation and jabbing, if not for the economic consequences of lockdown. But no: when the next emergency hits, he predicts (and, according to another doom-saying professor, where pandemics are concerned you ain’t seen nothing yet), our faces will feel naked, our well-trained mask-donning muscles will flex instantly into action, and we’ll lock our doors automatically against the fumes of noxious humanity.

Is it morally justifiable to ‘nudge’ people into the kind of senseless panic we have witnessed over the past few years?  Well, says Professor Halpern, ‘There are times when you have to cut through . . . particularly if you think people are wrongly calibrated.’

Hmm. ‘Wrongly calibrated.’ That’s a new one to me. Checking with the dictionary, I see that, as I assumed, ‘calibrate’ means to determine or rectify the graduation of ‘an instrument which gives quantitative measurements’. Seems a funny word to apply to a human being: ‘an instrument that gives quantitative measurements’. And there was I, thinking we were something just a little more organic than, say, a thermometer: perhaps living beings endowed with conscience and even (dare I say it?) a soul.

Professor Halpern’s moral compass is wrongly calibrated, if he is unable to see that there are no circumstances in which it is acceptable to terrify human beings into docility. Covid did not merit terrorisation since its dangers were hugely exaggerated. In the case of a genuine pandemic, one which kills large numbers of young and healthy people, rather than spreading in waves of non-lethal and frequently symptomless infection among the bulk of the population, terrorisation would not be necessary. You wouldn’t catch me, for instance, strolling around unnecessarily in streets stalked by the Black Death.

I suppose a person must have a pretty low opinion of human beings, and a pretty high opinion of himself, if he thinks himself fit to ‘recalibrate’ his fellow men and women without their informed consent. He must also have great faith in the intelligence and integrity of those he is providing with ‘frictionless access to behavioural expertise’. It is one thing to collaborate with willing individuals, using this kind of programming to change habits which they themselves find distressing, and quite another to make your ‘behavioural expertise’ available to governments which are self-confessedly ‘in the business of influencing behaviour’ without the knowledge of those being subjected to treatment.

It is depressing to think that Professor Halpern may be right in the opinions he voiced to the Daily Telegraph recently: that the majority of the public has been caught in a ‘quasi-evolutionary’ ‘habit loop’ which will ensure ready obedience should the pandemic switch once again be activated. ‘They might protest,’ says the professor complacently, but once the muscles of compliance have been trained and exercised, ‘they’re more likely to be reused again’.

One can only hope that sufficient numbers of us have trained a different set of muscles, and have formed defensive habits of questioning and critical thinking, rather than being triggered by ‘earworm slogans’ and ‘visual prompts’ into knee-jerk reactions; that enough of us are able to respond to the nudge unit’s insidious manipulation in the opposite way to that envisaged by those who so confidently predict our submission.

Hamlet says it best: ‘Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass . . . ’Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.’

We are not ‘wrongly calibrated’ instruments, requiring readjustment. We are thinking people, with the right to rely upon our own ‘most sovereign reason’ in exercising our judgement and reaching our conclusions. When Professor Halpern and his team of ‘influencers’ offer their ‘behavioural expertise’ in the service of governments, in order to induce the subjugation of the public to ill-chosen, controversial and inhumane policies, they are guilty of trespassing on morally forbidden territory.

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Gillian Dymond
Gillian Dymond
Gillian Dymond is 78, a mother and grandmother living in the north-east of England.

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