Sunday, November 29, 2020
Home COVID-19 Whatever happened to lateral thinking?

Whatever happened to lateral thinking?

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ISN’T it marvellous that we have a caring government willing to do all it can to ‘save lives’? Kind of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. That is unless you have any ability to think laterally and objectively, and aren’t susceptible to the ‘Coronoia’ that retains its stranglehold around huge parts of the population, including those in the driving seat.

The beneficent Government has disabled their critical faculties by the deployment of a consistent fear-porn barrage (‘Not suffering from quite enough anxiety yet, Madam? Here’s another Death-o-Meter to help you’). So here’s a useful analogy to present to those with Covid-addled minds.

Imagine you are approaching a burning building, but can deduce with a large degree of certainty that a path to safety can be achieved. You also have the benefit of evidence-based statistics which show there is only a 0.04 per cent chance of your dying whilst walking past it. An officious-looking Marshal blocks your path and directs you to a different route. You are told this option will minimise your exposure to the dangers and almost certainly save your life. What the nodding drongo fails to tell you is that the alternative route requires you to cross a busy motorway at night wearing dark clothing. Your ‘know better’ Marshal has just increased your chances of death from 0.04 per cent to potentially ten times that. You feel confident that had you have been presented with the relevant and accurate information about the dangers of the Marshal’s route beforehand you would have plumped for your instinctive choice, simply by employing your natural cognitive powers of lateral thinking and risk analysis. But you are reassured by Marshal Moron that all is well because at least he ‘saved you from the burning building’. Win!

Why does our government insist on the value of ‘saving us’ from an infinitesimal risk only to place us in a lions’ den of a thousand more dire consequences? When did we lose the ability to think laterally? Why have we let aversion to risk cloud our critical thinking to the point of absurdity? When did we let logic escape us? And why do we feel it’s OK to sacrifice the many for the few?

Nearly everyone I know asks themselves these questions as each dystopian day passes, yet nearly all fail to satisfy themselves with an answer. The ‘whys’ range from incompetence to wild (and not-so-wild) conspiracy theories, with many hovering betwixt the two, and with the emergence of new data on an almost hourly basis some would argue both retain equal merit.

In the case of the former, it would be catastrophic for the Government to admit ‘we got it wrong’ as this would likely (and rightly) usher in Nuremberg-style political trials for criminal negligence and quite possibly crimes against humanity. In the case of the latter, the issue of whether the Government had simply been a puppet for a ‘higher power’ or complicit in the ruse would need to be ascertained (you will all be familiar with the ‘Great Reset’ pushed by the World Economic forum and now Boris Johnson, surrounded by ‘Build Back Better’ mantras). The continual gerrymandering of case and death data does not help their cause in this respect.

Whatever the truth it is clear the population are not buying the devastation any longer. The price we are being asked to pay for supposed safety and good health is far outweighed (and always was) by the years of suffering that will come as a result, glaringly evident in the Swedish approach, which no matter how much the Guardian tries to deride it is incontrovertible in its success.

The proportionality of the lockdown approach no longer passes muster, with even mainstream media turning against Johnson and his merry band of Sagers. You know you’re in trouble when the Daily Mail releases a headline every six hours that slays your policy decisions.

The sky is closing in on those who seek to continue to justify economically debilitating measures. It’s akin to the Monty Python sketch in which the Black Knight declared the decapitation and multiple amputations he has sustained are merely ‘a scratch’ and a ‘flesh wound’. The individual governments of the UK and their responses are looking more laughable by the day.

That the political classes should be unable to extrapolate basic statistics and consider proportional hazard and risk defies belief. We are also now in the absurd and unprecedented territory which sees the Left agreeing wholeheartedly with the Draconian actions meted out by the Right, and indeed calling for tighter lockdown restrictions, which will have one effect and one effect only, and it is not to avert the effects of Covid-19: that is to strangle and devastate the poor to such a degree it will be impossible for them to recover inside a decade. Subsisting on benefits or in a job you have no idea will be in existence from one week to the next is not saving a life – it’s taking one.

A few of our current Cabinet read PPE at Oxford, but it seems they were scholars of deontological thought rather than consequentialism, the latter being concerned with the ramifications of one’s actions when deciding the rightness or wrongness of them. The deontologists (or non-consequentialists) do not seek to justify their actions on the basis of the results they produce, however good those outcomes may be, choosing instead to ‘stick to the principle of the thing’. One is a short-sighted view entirely inappropriate to the Covid situation, the other rather longer and would allow us a passage into the realms of how we have always dealt with nasty viruses, which is to dry our eyes and crack on with normal life, accepting that some unfortunate souls will not make it. Lateral thinking is the only sensible course of action during these times and the government’s approach of saving lives only from the ravages of Covid will be the worst decision made by any leadership for hundreds of years. 

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Fiona Thomas
Fiona Thomas is founder of the charity Veterans Day Out. She is also director of The Stork, the matchmaking service exclusively for those who want to start a family.

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