Reminder: World’s worst computer modeler ruined the world economy

From the “all models are wrong, some are completely useless” department. This was originally from May 6th, but it’s so bad, we deserve a reminder just as we are about to emerge from the final phases of lockdown here in California.

Dr. Neil Ferguson – screencap from Imperial College video with embellishment for spectacular wrongness

From the National Review:

‘Professor Lockdown’ Modeler Resigns in Disgrace

Neil Ferguson is the British academic who created the infamous Imperial College model that warned Boris Johnson that, without an immediate lockdown, the coronavirus would cause 500,000 deaths and swamp the National Health Service.

Johnson’s government promptly abandoned its Sweden-like “social distancing” approach, and Ferguson’s model also influenced the U.S. to make lockdown moves with its shocking prediction of over two million Americans dead.

Johan Giesecke, the former chief scientist for the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention, has called Ferguson’s model “the most influential scientific paper” in memory. He also says it was, sadly, “one of the most wrong.”

Full story here


I wonder how long it will take for people to realize that some climate models like RCP8.5 and the upcoming “hotter” IPCC models will be equally useless and damaging?

165 thoughts on “Reminder: World’s worst computer modeler ruined the world economy

  1. We should have a face off. Mann vs Ferguson. Streamed live.

    Make them show their code.

    • Mann and Ferguson would hi-five each other out of mutual respect and mutually reinforce each other.

      • Mann is squirming in jealousy because this guy thought of a way to ruin the economy of the entire planet in months instead of years.

      • I’d pay to see Mann go hockey-stick to Ferguson’s ICE (Imperial College excrement). There’s got to be a good cartoon there, Josh, Josh???

    • I’ve just checked Ferguson’s model predictions for the UK under the current intervention measures and, though it pains me to say it, he seems to be almost SPOT ON.

      He estimated the death toll would be 12k to 48k (depending on trigger numbers). The UK currently has 40k deaths.

      He predicted maximum critical care bed usage would be on around April 10th but, more impressive than that, was individual Trusts around the country were told the exact date their hospital numbers would peak. I know for a fact that he got it exactly right for the 3 Trusts for which I have been able to get detailed figures.

      Whether or not his 500k figure would have been correct if we’d just let the virus rip through the country we’ll never know but his IFR estimate of 0.9% now looks to be much closer to the true figure than some of the more optimistic numbers.

      I’d like to know where his model has failed.

      • Shush…..nobody wants to know!
        The problems of the global “economy” were rampant before the SARS-CV-2 pandemic. The USA has been living on borrowed time for over decades, the RoW not far behind. The need for scapegoats has never been more apparent. Most of the objections/objectors seem to be those with extensive personal investment portfolios’…..although most investments now seem to be related to rigging the market!

      • I have argued this point with you and others before, and I will continue to make it. In order to be worth anything a model has to be not just correct with respect to some gross measure like total deaths, but has to be correct in a number of particulars, and has to be based on understood and realistic physical mechanisms. If this were not so, then disparate impact argumentation would be logically sound, global warming would be too, and perhaps people could still purchase J&J baby powder. But nearly everyone here knows that a “model” can get some measure correct through a combination of assumptions, and corrections, that in whole are not logically sound– i.e. through “luck”.

        Thus, unless these public health models actually “modeled” the disastrously awful public policies that lead directly to perhaps 1/4 of the deaths in the U.S. you cannot call them correct models. If observations of the various experiments in the 50 U.S. states all led to results that are within tremendously wide predicted error bands, even though the tactics applied are everywhere different — is that a confirmation of the power of the model? Where I live the only recent deaths we have had are deaths from March and April, occurring in distant places, added back into our total. After having been revised downward three times and by 80% of its original its predictions, the U of Washington model for our state still may be too high by a factor of two, although people are busy trying to reclassify deaths to get to the “prediction.” The flattening of our curve of infections occurred prior to the public health orders having taken effect. We had a mild form of social health commands here, yet as the number of current infections dwindle we are still made to suffer idiotic commands that have no evidence behind them.

        Belief in the utility of these models is modern superstition. Ferguson ought to be confined to a place where the only modeling he does is putting together the various 1000 piece puzzles of the Pacific Ocean.

        • Ferguson was effectively required to model the effect on the NHS under a range of intervention scenarios. He appears to have done this quite successfully under the current intervention. Whether or not you consider this useful, Kevin, I don’t know but my daughter who is a senior manager at a large Trust found it helpful to know when admissions were likely to peak.

      • He estimated the death toll would be 12k to 48k (depending on trigger numbers). The UK currently has 40k deaths.

        No way you can trust those numbers. Certainly in the US, and because of the global pandemic of marxism, also the UK, is padding those numbers (any death w/positive COVID test is attributed to COVID). FIRST THING the marxists manipulate are numbers.

        • Excess mortality so far this year is well over 50k so we can safely assume Covid related deaths are within Ferguson’s 12k-48k range of estimates.

    • And he is still a Govt advisor – alas.
      The Imperial College today, if Ferguson is a symbol of it, is a far cry from what it was when I knew it as a chemistry student in the ’60s. The lecturers were ruthless in denouncing any shoddy experimental or library work and I bear the mental scars to this day. I witnessed a student permanently expelled from the lab class for attempting to cheat on an experiment.
      At that time the heads of all the three depts of chemistry had or were about to receive Nobel prizes for Chemistry ( not the mickey mouse one of ME Mann) .
      How are the mighty fallen. I sometimes think that they have grown fat and complacent on Grantham money.

      • I never went to collage I went to tech school, electronics in the early 70, we started wit 30 graduated 16, fifteen flunk out the sixteenth graduated was and fellow from India that had an Electrical Engineer degree, he wanted some hands on experience in electronics. Yes I had to compete with in in our all the math and theory tests. This day and age it would seem the only way you get kick out of school is to wrongly accused of rape. Low grades and cheating in class seems to be a plus not a negative in these crazy days, also you do everything in groups, that has a profound effect on the ability of out so call graduates to think for themselves

      • I studied physics at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in the ’60s and I concur with your assessment. In those days it was part of London University. Since than it has separated from London University, has taken on a medical faculty (it is now the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine) and has commercialised (eg lots of money from Gates and Grantham). It has been corrupted by the lust for money.

      • I agree 100%. I was there (at Imperial) in the ’60s (Physics). Our first-year particle physics course was taught by a Nobel Laureate.

        How have the mighty fallen.

  2. Ferguson could only guess at infection, case and fatality rates, so no wonder his output was off by at least an order of magnitude. His defenders claim that lockdowns lowered deaths in the US and UK, which is at best debatable, but in any case not by a factor of ten (20 at the moment).

    Climate is even harder to model than epidemics, yer the factors which must guessed at in GCMs are even more numerous and profound. Modeling rather than “parameterizing” clouds, for instance, would require many orders of magnitude more computing power than now available.

    The GIGO exercise is worse than worthless, except by comparison with nature to show its futility. Not fit for policy purposes is putting it mildly.

    • Yet the factors which must be guessed at.

      Next time l’ll post by computer rather than phone.

    • “…His defenders claim that lockdowns lowered deaths in the US and UK…

      But that’s moving the goalposts, at best. The original selling point was to “…flatten the curve…” to keep the peak number of infections down so health systems did not become overwhelmed, but it was never even hinted that lockdowns would reduce the total number of deaths, only spread them out over time. Now an overwhelmed health system would be unable to give some patients any treatment at all, so perhaps that could be counted as reducing deaths, but that was never part of the model assumptions! So yeah this dude should have been fired for his horribly bad modeling, even if he wasn’t caught violating the lockdowns in order to diddle his married (but not to him) mistress.

      • It was good modeling to get the poor husband and her children locked down and minimize detection. Unintended consequence however focused the public eyes on them.

      • Yup, the justification for placing whole nations under house arrest. There might be some places where the intended effect of flatening the curve in order to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed took place, but in more it led to empty hospitals going BK and people in need of urgent care and operations not getting them.

  3. Given the seriousness of the dangerously wrong politicians around the world, can we somehow bring reality into play?

    This wonderful site is great, but reaches a small audience.
    Can this audience turn the tide by opening their minds to their friends and family, regardless of their qualifications, scientifically.

    This is not a political forum. What is happening needs attention from us all.

    We are ta

  4. I do not see any problem with academics and their establishments generating models – it is when they do so with zero accountability.

    For the gross error in the forecast and the subsequent worldwide impact, Ferguson should have his degrees removed and Imperial College should have its accreditation to teach and award degrees withdrawn. Pour encourager les autres

  5. Neil Ferguson must have contracted Mad Cow disease, and has now infected the world with madness. I would hope no one takes him seriously again. Yes, it is a nasty respiratory disease and many people die like a really bad flu season, and I wouldn’t want to catch it either, but should the whole world shut down just for mainly a demographic that already has one foot in the grave, such as myself? It wasn’t Bubonic Plague or Ebola, but got treated as such. It created a kind of collective insanity that infected the entire world causing more economic damage than World War 1 & 2 combined.

    And now the virus is weakening with every mutation they say, as if it kills it’s host, it is also just eradicating itself quicker. And the sad part is that by the time any lock downs were implemented except for the earliest to realize what was going on like Taiwan and South Korea, the worst of the virus had already taken root and flew the coop. Sure we saved some excess mortality, but we don’t do that for a dozen other things, such as hospital acquired infections that also k*lls 100,000 a year just in the USA, and hardly anyone even knows or cares about that. Something changed with why now the world must panic and stampede off a cliff. And it is mainly the same people who want us to panic over climate change, which will be Act 2 if they get their way.

    • We have had the opportunity to live thru the first global mass hysteria. Past mass hysterias (Salem witch trials, Tanzania laughter epidemic) have been geographically local. But in this technological age, madness spreads around the globe with the speed of light. Given human nature, this won’t be the last, but next time it may not be flu related. New normal and all…

      • What about the Y2K mass hysteria? The hysteria was that at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2000 computer systems world-wide would be unable to recognize the date transition from 1999 to 2000 and would either interpret the date change as going to 1900 or would just crash. The hysteria was that computer controlled power grids would fail, financial records at banks would disappear, air traffic systems would fail, airplanes would fall out of the sky, computers would activate nuclear missile systems, computer timed bank vaults would spring open, there would be thousands of automobile crashes as traffic lights failed and street light went dark, and we’d all turn into mouth breathing homicidal maniacs with bad breath. Well maybe not the bad breath part. So what happened at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 1999? Nothing. Anyone seen my bottle of Listerine?

        • So wrong Marty. You weren’t there, perhaps. You didn’t have legacy systems to worry about. But those that did made sure there was no problem. And we’ll never know what the world missed as a result.

          • I was there most of it was BS since I worked for a bank I had four feet of documentation on all our system and their ability to cope with the Y2K problem. I did not find one piece of gear that could not work in the year 2000. That four feet of documentation was for a community bank the had about 300 million in assets. Oh by the way most of the vendors I had(one was my previous employer) would not “certify” anything but what they were selling at the time as being Y2K compliant. The wanted the sucker to buy new and the suckers did. It was a giant hoax!

          • Totally agree Marty. I am a real time software engineer with long experience in early process control systems from the early ’80s and later in telco R&D. There were plenty of catastrophes that were prevented, it was not a beat up, it was an example of a job well done. I can remember back in about 1985, me and colleagues expected our systems to have been replaced by 2000, but we did the test and sure enough some aspects of date handling went pear shaped at midnight December 31, 1999, but luckily it was mainly how dates displayed and the systems kept working properly.

        • What about the George Floyd mass hysteria?

          And why no mass hysteria, riots, lootings, etc.., etc., because of these”

          Jun 1, 2020, 85 shot, 24 fatally, over Chicago’s most violent weekend of 2020

          Monday, May 18, 2020, 38 shot, 6 fatally, in Chicago weekend shootings. Sun-Times Media Wire..

        • “So what happened at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 1999? Nothing.”

          “Nothing” happened because a lot of people put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that nothing happened. I had an online acquaintance working in the field, and they found some things which would have been bad if they weren’t fixed; the worst I remember offhand was a signalling system used in mass transport which would have been unable to send any messages in the year 2000 because it used a year value of zero to indicate a null message and would have ignored any messages it received that year.

          And things certainly did break, but most of the systems which weren’t fixed or replaced could be brought back into service by a reboot or by entering a dummy date from a different year.

          Heck, even the tests I left running over the Christmas holidays broke at the year change, but that just meant I lost a week of work.

          You can certainly argue that the media overplayed the risk; planes weren’t likely to crash, and nuclear power plants weren’t likely to melt down. But I’d hardly call it hysteria. Ensuring “nothing” happened took a lot of hard work.

          • MarkG – June 6, 2020 at 2:45 pm

            “Nothing” happened because a lot of people put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that nothing happened. I had an online acquaintance working in the field, and they found some things which would have been bad if they weren’t fixed;

            MarkG,

            Programmers that screw up can always claim a few excuses for doing so.

            MarkG, banking and accounting programs of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s could calculate “interests” and ”payment” schedules for dates long past 01-01-2000 without fear of a f-up.

            Tens-of-millions were expended on a “non-problem” that could have been solved via “testing”.

          • Y2K could not have been avoided by testing, because it was not a bug. Programmers of the 1960s used double-digit years intentionally in order to save storage space. They knew perfectly well that their code would fail on 1.1.2000, they just assumed their program wouldn’t be running then any more. Turned out their assumption was wrong in some cases.

        • Harry Passfield, Mark G – You are correct that a great deal of hard work went into averting problems and I compliment you on the work that you and other did to fix the problem and to prevent it turning into something more serious.

          My point was about the mass hysteria. Not the work that the programmers did.

          • I worked in IT at the time (though I don’t think we called it IT then) and told everyone who would listen that there wouldn’t be a disaster because the industry was well aware of the issue and had time to fix it. So I agree with other commenters that there was an issue but no need for alarm. I think the media got hooked on hysteria right then, and haven’t been able to shake off the addiction. But of course they never tried to.

        • Say what you will, but on 1 January 2000 I visited the US Naval Observatory website, and the date on their front page was 1 January 1900.

          • @James Schrumpf, so that was a key piece of infrastructure that could’ve caused the observatory to crash the telescope into the ground? 😉

          • Did you visit their site on 31 Dec 1999? Maybe no one ever updated the date when they made the page? Things were pretty primitive on the web back then.

  6. “Johnson’s government promptly abandoned its Sweden-like “social distancing” approach”

    And how did the alternative fare:

    “For months, the world has watched Sweden’s light-touch approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic, wondering whether it was genius or misguided. This week, the architect of the strategy acknowledged that too many people have died and said that, in retrospect, he might have pushed something closer to other countries’ restrictions.

    “Should we encounter the same disease, with exactly what we know about it today, I think we would land midway between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world did,” Swedish state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told Swedish Radio on Wednesday.”

    • “…And how did the alternative fare…”

      You can see how well Sweden has done here at WUWT https://wattsupwiththat.com/daily-coronavirus-covid-19-data-graph-page/ …looks comparable to the UK and several other nations that did implement lockdowns.

      There weren’t just two alternatives, though.

      As your own link and quote clearly states: “I think we would land midway between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world did.”

      On top of this guy’s models being horrifically wrong and poorly-coded, he had his married lover (who suspected her husband had COVID-19) break quarantine to visit him multiple times for sex.

      Stop defending garbage models, junk science, and poor excuses for human beings.

      • The problem with lockdowns in the US and UK was not the policy but the timing. Every week you delay lockdown increases the death rate by a factor of ten and doubles the time you need to be under lockdown to get the infection under control. This is obvious from the daily infection rate curve. That is the failure, not the policy.

        Too many governments flirted with herd immunity because they ended up believing what they found convenient, not what was fact.

        In the case of Sweden, in April the health authorities “believed” over 33% of people in Stockholm had been infected and they were well on their way to herd immunity (despite no evidence that past infection protected from future ones). They believed this, not on the basis of evidence – all the evidence from around the world indicated that the death rate was 1%, and hospitalization rates were 6%. No, they believed it because it fitted with their view of what the most desirable outcome would be. Then a few WEEKS later they found out the infection rate in Stockholm was still well below 10%. Oops!! Now they are stuffed.

        Moral of the tale: most people believe what they want to believe.

    • The point is that Sweden did no worse. Voluntary measures not better than governmental lockdown, but the same. The virus was gonna do what it was agonna do no matter what.
      Better in that there was less economic impact.

      • Also Sweden has completed the Herd immunity ahead of any other country. They will be proved right.

        • Errr no. You both obviously haven’t checked the latest from Sweden on the WHO dashboard. Infections rising, deaths 4x higher than the UK now (per 1m population), economy down 6%, no over 80s allowed in ICU, no end in sight – things getting out of control. And definitely NO HERD IMMUNITY YET. Sweden is becoming a disaster zone.

    • And how did the alternative fare:

      You’re not really posing a false dilemma are you? Emphasis added:

      “Should we encounter the same disease, with exactly what we know about it today, I think we would land midway between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world did. . . ”

      Is there only one alternative?

      Continuing in your source article:

      “Tegnell later elaborated that, despite his second thoughts, he believes the country’s basic approach remains sound.

      ‘We basically still think that this is the right strategy for Sweden that we are doing,’ Tegnell told reporters at a Stockholm news conference, where he was dressed in an olive-green sweater and plain brown pants, as though he had just come in from a long hike. ‘This is a bit like having an ocean liner and trying to steer it, but with a lag of about three or four weeks.'”

      So what say you? Does Tegnell contradict himself or is your dilemma a false one?

      • “You’re not really posing a false dilemma are you?”
        No. What is the dilemma? The fact is that Ferguson presented modelling that said, if you don’t do something, it will get bad. UK belatedly did something. It still got fairly bad. Sweden did less, which is sometimes celebrated. But they now regret that they didn’t do more.

        It’s really rather silly picking on Ferguson here. It’s just obvious that if a dangerous infection is sickening an exponentially increasing number of people, something has to be done. The Chinese, Koreans, even Australia and NZ, worked all that out without benefit of Ferguson’s model.

        • No. What is the dilemma?

          Well you were the one who alleged there was only one alternative, so you tell me?

          The fact is that Ferguson presented modelling that said, if you don’t do something, it will get bad.

          He said a little more than just that don’t you think? He proposed some pretty shocking numbers that can never be substantiated, thereby scaring the poo-poo out of everyone, including policy makers, who then destroyed their own countries’ economies for a time.

          I suppose that’s the problem for some of us who like things more concrete, and rightly so if Sweden is any gauge.

          The NR article goes on to show examples of how badly he was wrong in ’02, ’05, ’09.

          Sweden did less, which is sometimes celebrated. But they now regret that they didn’t do more.

          So you would argue that Tegnell is regretful here:

          “We basically still think that this is the right strategy for Sweden that we are doing . . . ”

          I can’t really see how this should be interpreted as “regret.” How do you do it?

          It’s really rather silly picking on Ferguson here.

          Who’s picking on Ferguson? He’s not here, you are. 🙂

          • “He proposed some pretty shocking numbers that can never be substantiated”
            No, the numbers are elementary. At least 60% need to be infected before herd immunity (if it works) will stop the infection. At an IFR of about 1%, you get the numbers that Ferguson was talking about. About 2 million for USA. And which China, Korea etc had figured out without his help. You can argue about the IFR, but the numbers are still unacceptable. Something had to be done, and was done. That outcome was avoided.

          • No, the numbers are elementary.

            You don’t even believe that proposition yourself:

            “At least 60% need to be infected before herd immunity (if it works). . . ”

            “At an IFR of about 1%, you get the numbers that Ferguson was talking about.”

            But:

            “You can argue about the IFR . . . ”

            Hmmm . . .

            About 2 million for USA. And which China, Korea etc had figured out without his help.

            Did they? That’s interesting, where’d you read that China and Korea had determined 2M deaths for USA?

        • I believe that you are wrong about the Australian model Nick. I’m quite sure that the Doherty Institute said their model was based on Ferguson’s work, as well as other data.

          • Given Australia has done exceptionally well, “Ferguson’s work” can’t be all that bad.

            Best not get bogged down with ‘Ferguson and his model’, that’s all just smoke and mirrors. Like every other post here that is in anyway related to “modelling”, the raison d’être of this post is to lump all modelling together and call them all bad, thus casting doubt on climate modelling. In this case epidemiological modelling has drawn the short straw and is to be considered merely colateral damage.

            As a bonus, the fans get to complain about freedom-hating totalitarians. Two boxes ticked.

          • Professor Pantsdown’s shonky doomsday model did indeed influence Dear Leader Jacindarella and her fellow Labour/Green comrades in govt here, as well as another ‘hot model’ by climate worrier Professor Shaun Hendy (physicist, Auckland University).

            He’s (in)famous for refusing to fly by aeroplane (for one whole year!) to help save the planet. As a side-job, he writes books extolling the virtues of reducing one’s carbon footprint. His biggest faux pas, however, was claiming 80,000 New Zealanders would perish if the Princess Prime Minister didn’t shut the whole place down.

            Despite relentlessly claiming she acted “hard and fast” – read: floppy and dithering – Jacindarella’s State of Emergency Lockdown resulted in tens of thousands losing their jobs, myself included, and a (debatable) total of 22 deaths, the majority from one aged care home, with an average age of 80.

            N.B. Shaun Hendy is, apart from president of the NZ Mathematical Society, the director of “a centre of research excellence in complex systems and data analytics” according to wonky.p.dia. More like foot-in-mouth prognosticator of chicken entrails.

        • Epidemics do not grow exponentially except in the first instance. They follow logistic curves.

          As regards herd immunity, which you refer to, this only has meaning in a population that has equal susceptibility, which Sars_cov_2 does not.

          The trouble with physicists who comment on medical issues like Fergusson, and your good self, is that you think like physicists rather than physicians. You tend to become obsessed with extremely naive models and imagine that they represent reality.

    • Gee Nick, this is pretty direct support for Ferguson’s model. He deserves no qualification to what he has done. Ferguson himself disagrees with you, which is sbout all the saving grace he deserves. Your news from Sweden deserves attention, but not even the slightest indirect caveat to the disgrace of the modeler.

      Worse, you do no service to the ‘usefulness’ of climate models by conveying anything good about the covid model that shook the world. You know climate models are and will be seen as in the same boat given the orders of magnitude more difficult they are (or should be) to construct and the fact that climate futures are essentially by nature indeterminate. That’s what is perhaps the most obvious message that will be drawn from the Ferguson disasterous future for humankind under Covid19.

      • Only if the General Public is frequently reminded of the modelling errors. Can we depend on the MSM to report on this regularly, to do in-depth articles or hour-long specials on CNN with Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta?

    • As usual, Nick tries to defend the indefensibly corrupt model and modeler.
      Par for the course….

    • Telling lies again Nick? Or did you just rely on the Grauniad for what Tegnell actually said?
      Perhaps you should check out The Telegraph or Lockdownsceptics.org and see what his thoughts really are.
      He regretted the number of deaths. I would hope that even Ferguson might do that. He freely admitted that with a new virus they are learning all the time and he might, given his time again, have done things differently. But he couldn’t at present say exactly what. Perhaps NOT put restrictions on college kids.
      Regret not following the UK’s fiasco? Absolutely not!
      Yet again you come on here peddling snake oil.
      HOW DARE YOU?

    • Until a reasonably accurate estimate of the number who have died, or will die, due to lockdown measures (loss of job and income, poverty, undiagnosed and untreated fatal conditions, mental health, domestic violence, poor health due to lack of outdoor exercise) then there is no way of knowing if lockdowns have saved lives in countries unable to prevent Covid spread at initial outbreak, or caused more deaths.

    • How did Sweden fare? As of today, Sweden’s death rate is 461 deaths per million people. They did not suffer the model’s prediction of a ‘do nothing’ strategy.

      Britain did, to a fair extent, use the model’s results to minimize deaths. Their death rate is currently 596 deaths per million. Their outcome is worse following the model, than Sweden’s ignoring of the model. The model is not just wrong, it is garbage.

      Why? Because the model did not limit the deaths to the most susceptible population; the elderly. It applied the same statistics over the entire population. The correct action was to take precautions limiting possible exposure of the virus to the elderly, and not locking down the general population. By locking down the general population, you kept small groups of people in close contact with any virus carrier, more easily spreading the virus.

      Sweden shows you what happens if you do nothing; the elderly will die. The UK shows you what happens if you just lock everyone down, with no special measures for the elderly; the elderly die, plus some in other groups who would have been spared the virus if not locked down.

      Models, alone, are not fit for the purpose of making policy decisions. They merely indicate areas which may be fruitful for further investigation. They are a starting point, one which may lead to nowhere, not an endpoint. That should be obvious to anyone.

  7. I stopped my car at a traffic light and a bicycle ran into the back of my car , bicycle paths both left and right.side of the Road,

    Here in Germany it cost me euros 1,800 Based on this *Justice” what should happen to Mr. Ferguson?

  8. I wondered about the psychological state of Boris at the time he pulled the plug on the rational approach to the WuFlu. He had just been very ill and had a new baby, the latter usually leading to intense protective emotions. This would make him vulnerable to accepting catastrophic predictions without questioning. A ‘prophet’ like Ferguson would be more influential under these conditions.

    If I hear the words ‘Keep safe’ again I will puke; my son who has had to abandon his near-term plans and is fishing around for a new direction is very very angry. Indeed, most people here being frightened sheep makes me angry.

  9. “Johnson’s government promptly abandoned its Sweden-like “social distancing” approach”

    Ahhmm…
    Wasn’t it because somebody nearly died from the virus?

    About Sweden.
    It is much worse epidemically and not better economically.

    • Your timing is way off, Alex! The UK was locked down before Boris got sick by a long shot!

      And Sweden did better “epidemic-wise” than the UK…..and will no doubt continue to do well economically for its common sense approach to yet another respiratory virus. Norway & Denmark are now saying publicly that they wished they followed Sweden’s approach.

      Check your facts please before posting nonsense! Thanks!

      • “Norway & Denmark are now saying publicly that they wished they followed Sweden’s approach.”

        But they sure won’t open their borders to Sweden. With good reason. They have the epidemic under control. Sweden hasn’t. We recently topped french mortality and at current rates will overtake Spain and Italy by Midsummer.

        • Gee, tty, death rate is 0.045% so far) of the population and the country has herd immunity. Deaths will drop off quickly. I’m sure that almost all the deaths are for 70+yr olds with other serious illnesses. Next year, the ones who locked down will lose more citizens.

          When you cite the economy, you have to add economic losses for the lockdown which dwarfs that actually was lost to disease. With most of the deaths by retirees, a more cold blooded type could say that it represents a saving! Im in my eighties so I’m not unempathetic.

          • Herd immunity? You silly.
            Germany has “herd immunity” already, because the SARS2 hit just after a huge flu (normal “cold”) wave caused by another endemic corona virus. That is why Germany is a way better of than the others. The antibodies are very similar.
            But this “herd immunity” won’t last till the fall.
            And in a year, it does not matter whether you had any “immunity” or not.
            Your immunity will be fresh for a new wave.

          • Alex: The Spanish flu was a once off event. Maybe this one won’t even appear again. Many specialists say that it is normal for a virus to evolve into a milder form. It would still probably pick off mainly elderly folk with other issues that may have escaped the first time under lock down. In any case no measures taken and herd immunity reaches a pretty high percentage.

            I’ve researched daily the covid scene and HCQ issues and so on – it’s what a proper sceptic does. A guy committed to a viewpoint of info-lite opinion supplied by his “leaders” and a priori reasoning (the linear thinking a teenager without empirical experience has to use) is a contribution not much valued on this site. Reread your posting. Maybe you will get what I’m driving at.

  10. It is my strongly held view that Ferguson and the climate modellers are best described as liars than idiots.

    ‘Last month (2005) Neil Ferguson, a professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London, told Guardian Unlimited that up to 200 million people could be killed.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/sep/30/birdflu.jamessturcke

    Only 440 died. That is not a mistake, that’s a vast exaggeration (lie).

  11. Science advance is supported by experimental evidence. Here in Europe there three different parallel experiments, east European states, western advance economy countries and Sweden. Sometime in the near future epidemiologists and economist will have a bit of a tussle over the meaning of the final score in the both fields.
    http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/EuropeCV.htm

  12. I taught computer modeling in a university. I have worked professionally developing models for epidemiologists.
    Of course the early models predicted disaster. I made a model. Using then-current data I got similar results. If no steps at all were taken we would clearly run out of hospital room.

    Good models change with changing data.

    My current model shows a death-rate of everyone, not those who have it, as being quite similar to but in addition to annual flu. I don’t want either SARS-CoV-2 nor influenza. I got my flu vaccine and am taking pre-exposure steps. A Zn-ionophore (Quercetin OTC), Zn, added C, added D.

    • I’m a chemist, Old.George, and am taking the same set of prophylactics. They’re all justified in the med-chem literature.

    • “Good models change with changing data”.Seems like the majority of the WUWT crowd have been blinded by hindsight.

  13. Channeling my Mosh:

    RCP8.5 is not a model. It’s a CO2 emissions/land use change forcing scenario all the models of CMIP5 were evaluated against. It’s of course now understood to be a garbage scenario (“not even wrong”). Its cynical inception and inclusion in the CMIP5 was implemented so that scare stories could be written (where little scare comes from more realistic scenarios), and researchers from diverse disciplines could use it to jump on board the climate gravy train to grant success.

  14. But Ferguson’s model fit the narrative. Any bets this guy will be considered for the Nobel Prize?

  15. The best section of the National Review article (my bold):

    His incompetence and insistence on doomsday models is far worse.

    Elon Musk calls Ferguson an “utter tool” who does “absurdly fake science.” Jay Schnitzer, an expert in vascular biology and a former scientific direct[or] (sic) of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in San Diego, tells me: “I’m normally reluctant to say this about a scientist, but he dances on the edge of being a publicity-seeking charlatan.”

    Indeed, Ferguson’s Imperial College model has been proven wildly inaccurate. To cite just one example, it saw Sweden paying a huge price for no lockdown, with 40,000 COVID deaths by May 1, and 100,000 by June. Sweden now has 2,854 deaths and peaked two weeks ago. As Fraser Nelson, editor of Britain’s Spectator, notes: “Imperial College’s model is wrong by an order of magnitude.”

    Indeed, Ferguson has been wrong so often that some of his fellow modelers call him “The Master of Disaster.”

    Well I think it’s a pretty fair assessment that Ferguson only did what he did by taking a page from climate modelers’ playbook on getting attention, notoriety, and most importantly funding.
    The corruption of so much science is largely the career make-or-break grant-making process rewards those who yell “Fire” the loudest in their work.

    • From my post below:
      The open question is “Were the Covid-19 “experts” utterly incompetent, or were they deeply and widely corrupt?” How did they get it so wrong? WAS THAT A DELIBERATE SCAM?

      It seems improbable that any rational professional person could be this stupid for this long– it was a fairly easy call from early-March2020 data that Covid-19 was only dangerous to the elderly and infirm – so protect them (over-protect) and only them!

      I have this nagging feeling that we have all been run down an ever-narrowing cattle chute – subjects in a human-conditioning process run by wolves to stampede the sheep. The conduct of Dr. Falsi seems bizarre, or intentionally destructive. The devious motivations of Democratic governors who resist easing the lockdown is more than obvious.

      Something stinks about this whole lockdown debacle – I repeat, how could any rational person be this stupid for this long?

      Regards, Allan

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/06/03/covid-19-leaked-emails-who-was-frightened-scientists-would-be-violently-attacked-by-china/#comment-3008906

      I posted a Covid-19 summary weeks ago, included below. Willis and I independently called this Covid-19 illness and lockdown correctly on 21March2020. The point is not that we are so smart – the point is it was not that difficult to get it right, and two non-experts in the field did so and were confident enough to publish.

      At the same time, the so-called epidemiology “experts” with their models got it totally wrong, and wasted trillions of dollars and harmed billions of lives with their needless full-Gulag lockdown.

      This was only the fourth major conclusion that I have published outside my professional career expertise – and the other three, on climate-and-energy, were made after ~17 years of study – this conclusion, my fourth, was studied for only a few weeks. I did not publish my conclusions lightly – I was highly confident.

      The open question is “Were the Covid-19 “experts” utterly incompetent, or were they deeply and widely corrupt?” How did they get it so wrong? WAS THAT A DELIBERATE SCAM?

      The full lockdown was unnecessary – instead, we should have over-protected the elderly and infirm and everyone else should have taken reasonable precautions and carried on with their jobs.

      Instead, we did the exact opposite. Some states like New York and the UK even adopted policies that selectively exterminated their elderly and poor. This made no sense. Whatsupwiththat?

      Best personal regards, Allan
      __________________________

      MY ASSESSMENT OF COVID-19 – MID-MARCH, 2020 –CORRECT-TO-DATE

      I examined a large amount of data on Covid-19 starting in late January 2020. Much of the data was of poor quality, with several exceptions. For example, the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama provided excellent data on the morbidity/mortality of Covid-19 for different age groups – it had little or no effect on the majority younger healthier population, but was highly dangerous to the old and infirm. That was my confident conclusion by mid-March. I published that the full-lockdown was NOT necessary on 21-22Mar2020 and events have shown that to be correct.

      wattsupwiththat.com/2020/03/21/to-save-our-economy-roll-out-antibody-testing-alongside-the-active-virus-testing/#comment-2943724
      [excerpt- posted 21Mar2020]

      LET’S CONSIDER AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH, SUBJECT TO VERIFICATION OF THE ABOVE CONCLUSIONS:
      Isolate people over sixty-five and those with poor immune systems and return to business-as-usual for people under sixty-five.
      This will allow “herd immunity” to develop much sooner and older people will thus be more protected AND THE ECONOMY WON’T CRASH.

      rosebyanyothernameblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/21/end-the-american-lockdown/comment-page-1/#comment-12253
      [excerpt- posted 22Mar2020]

      This full-lockdown scenario is especially hurting service sector businesses and their minimum-wage employees – young people are telling me they are “financially under the bus”. The young are being destroyed to protect us over-65’s. A far better solution is to get them back to work and let us oldies keep our distance, and get “herd immunity” established ASAP – in months not years. Then we will all be safe again.
      ______________________________

      I concluded in writing on 21March2020 that there was no justification for the full lock-down, but an obvious need to over-protect the elderly and infirm. Countries that did so did very well.
      http://www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps

      In contrast, New York State Governor Cuomo (and others) did the exact opposite and eliminated multitudes of New York’s high-risk population. Cuomo mandated that nursing homes must accept coronavirus patients even though older people are the most at-risk to die from COVID-19!

      Donald Trump was initially correct but was persuaded to change by his advisers. He wisely left the lockdown decision to the Governors, a few of whom actually got it right, but many more chose full-lockdown. Now the Dems are extending the lockdown to try to harm the economy – and Trump’s chances of re-election.

      What really happened in many cities was a disaster – hospitals were emptied of patients, elective surgeries were cancelled, and then the hospitals were near-empty for ~8 weeks awaiting the anticipated “tsunami of Covid-19 cases“ that never arrived. Now there is a huge backlog of medical cases that will take many months to clear, and some patients will die awaiting treatment… and the economy is trashed, and low-income people are too, and small businesses are destroyed, and their employees are as well, and…

      I don’t publish such strong conclusions lightly – my track record of being correct is excellent.

      Statistician William M. Briggs independently reached the same conclusion based on more data:
      “THERE IS NO EVIDENCE LOCKDOWNS SAVED LIVES. IT IS INDISPUTABLE THEY CAUSED GREAT HARM”
      Wmbriggs.Com/Post/30833/

      The full-lockdown was an unnecessary, costly debacle.
      ___________________________

  16. Why does every Jack-the-lad academic think they are software developers?

    There’s more to producing an application than just writing the code.

  17. With the latest (2020) panic in New York, it’s surprising that no mention has been made of the reaction to the 1938 radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” made by Orson Welles.

  18. Nature has been running editorials about misinformation in social media, etc about the corona virus. Ironically most of the consequential misinformation seems to be coming from academia

  19. A great movie, Paint Your Wagon, has a scene near the end of the movie where Lee Marvin is walking through a town that the buildings are collapsing around him. He just shrugs his shoulders and keeps walking. The town is collapsing because he and a few of his partners dug tunnels under the town to get the gold dust that fell through the cracks in the floorboards of the saloons and cat houses. He doesn’t seem to get any blame for being the cause of disaster. Every time a big disaster occurs today, the image of Lee Marvin shrugging his shoulders pops into my head. Until the real people who cause these man-made disasters are held responsible they will continue to cause more.

  20. Where did this obscene trust in models come from? Maybe we can trace all fault back to Mann? Perhaps all models are wrong and some are just helpful research tools, not policy tools.

    • Models in many fields are right, from simple numerical models to complex models of structures, fluid dynamics, etc. Of course they are based on reality and tested against reality for validation.

      Mann isn’t/wasn’t really a modeler.

    • “Where did this obscene trust in models come from?”

      It’s just part of the cult of Expertism.

      For generations, kids have been taught to ‘trust the experts’. And now we’re finally seeing that the experts often know less than the non-experts, even when they were trying to be honest and not pushing a financial or political agenda.

  21. Another in a very long list of completely, utterly amoral climate doom prophets. Modelling his personal behaviour after Arnold, and his professional misconduct after Mann.
    Are we the only ones who can see the naked emperor wannabes?
    No, I don’t think so, that’s why after decades the public still isn’t buying the climate change nonsense. But the public has not yet realized the enormous evil they are trying to accomplish.

  22. The numbers produced by Fergerson’s model were intended as a worse case scenario, i.e. what would happen if people and governments did nothing. And they still seem reasonable. In the UK there have been 40 000 deaths and the latest studies suggest that only 10% of the population have antibodies to the virus. Thus a very rough estimate would suggest that by the time all of the population had been exposed the number of deaths would be 400000 or roughly what the original model suggested. In the USA the death rate for the virus is still over 5% and again extroplating that to the entire population would result in over 2 million deaths.

    Of course one would expect that the worse case scenario would never come true since the moment significant numbers of people started dying then people’s behaviour would change as would government policy. Simply by making such predictions public Fergerson’s team ensured that they would not come true. But governments need to plan for prevent the worse case scenario and that is what they have done.

    • “The numbers produced by Fergerson’s model were intended as a worse case scenario, i.e. what would happen if people and governments did nothing. And they still seem reasonable.”

      Yes, Fergerson’s numbers were a worst-case scenario guess of 500,000 unmitigated deaths in the UK.

      The latest so-called most accurate virus computer model, with the benefit that the modelers have to do a lot less guessing because they have actual data about the Wuhan Virus to input, projects 370,000 unmitigated deaths.

      So it seems to me, and I don’t know Fergerson from Adam, and have no dog in his fight, that Fergerson came pretty close using just a best guess.

      On top of that, whether Boris Johnson had been presented with the 500,000 figure from the most terrrible model in human history (Imperial College), or was presented with the 370,000 figure from the virus model held most highly, the results would have been the same, a social distancing lockdown.

      There are about two or three dozen virus computer models. How far off the mark are all those models initial projections as compared to Imperial College? I haven’t seen them, but I would bet most of the models look pretty similar with similar figures.

      Anyway, I think trashing the Imperial College model only serves the purpose of those who want to trash the whole concept of social distancing as a means to handle an infectious, dangerous virus.

      Saying the Imperial College Model had a problem therefore all models are trash is not helpful. We should think about what we are going to do the next time a virus shows up, and I don’t think trashing models is the way to proceed. We need to find a way to make accurate models for the future. Thinking models are useless won’t get us there.

      And btw, the models have not been proven useless or even inaccurate. Trump was highlighting the 100,000 to 140,000 range of mitigated deaths projection and the actual deaths have exceeded 100,000 now, and the projection for 370,000 unmitigated deaths in the UK has not been shown to be wrong nor has the 2.2 million figure Trump uses for the U.S.

      Once we nail down all the attributes of the Wuhan virus, then we will be able to know what the unmitigated deaths might have been. I’ll be interested to see that number, to see how far off the model numbers were, if any.

      Unscientific trashing of the Virus Computer Models is what is going on here, viewed through the filter of the state of the economy, which causes some to reach erroneous conclusions because that’s the conclusion they want to see. Confirmation bias.

      I’ve been a trasher of the Human-caused Climate Change computer models for as long as they have existed, so I find myself in an ackward position (going against the grain on WUWT) but I think the arguments against all the virus computer models because the Imperial College model had a problem are very weak. No conclusions can be made about these models yet, but some people are making their conclusions anyway. I say that’s unscientific.

      I would like to see a situation where we can count of the virus computer models to put us in the ballpark. The arguments here are that they don’t, but where’s your evidence that they don’t? You don’t have any evidence because it’s too early to reach conclusions.

      • TA,
        FWIW, my analysis is similar to yours.
        Many people are jumping to conclusions that are invalid until more time yields better data.
        Geoff S

      • “No conclusions can be made about these models yet, but some people are making their conclusions anyway. I say that’s unscientific.”

        Hear, hear! Seems to be too much ideologically motivated ranting going on here.

        • One good thing about the virus computer models as opposed to the Human-caused Climate Change computer models is that we will have actual data for the virus computer models which we can then compare to reality.

          We don’t have that kind of data for the climate computer models. Instead, we have lots of guesses and the climate computer models don’t have any comparison with reality, other than maybe the least extreme of them all. The Russian model seems to be making better guesses and tracks reality closer than the other climate computer models. But the Alarmists cannot accept the Russian model as valid, ottherwise, it destroys their CO2 scaremongering.

    • Gee, Izaak, Sweden lost to date 4,652 of a population of 10.1 million (0.046%) with probably 75% of the population exposed to it in a do-little experiment. The US has lost 108, 000 which is 0.033%. They may lose proportionately more than Sweden next year. Most of the deaths are to retired, unwell people, and next year, this will be even more starkly in this age range. I’m in my 80s so I’m empathetic about this fact.

      Sweden’s figures and a number of others in Eastern Europe show the infamous model to be ridiculously unrealistic. You are not a modeller, and what you suggest with your simple calculation is that is how this so-called professor of mathematical biology did his calculation.

      While rescuing Ferguson, who doesn’t rescue himself in his no-excuse apology and resignation from his job, you reveal a troubling lack of standards for such modelling work on a pandemic that at least ultimately the very few bits of data needed can be acquired. Imagine how easily with such lack of standards you accept climate modelling where what is being modelled is many orders of magnitude more complex and confounded with factors unknown in kind and magnitude of effect.

      Now I could have cut Ferguson some slack if his full 20 years of practice hadn’t been a 100% multi-orders of magnitude wrong in the direction of alarm concerning other flu ‘epidemics’ bird and swine. By speaking out on Ferguson’s behalf you reveal that the very same failures of climate models (300% too high in the warming prognoses) over the past 40 yrs are just fine. They didn’t even tune these down after failure, they simply moved the 1950 goalpost they were measuring from, back a hundred years to bankroll the 0.6C of natural warming into human caused warming to ‘correct’ the data. The 1.5C of warming they came out with in 2015, is simply an extrapolation of the natural warming of 0.6C to 1950 out to 2100. So far, doing absolutely nothing about emissions, it seems that we are unlikely to exceed 1.5C by 2100 with business as usual. This is why there is such a hurry to enact legislation. Another decade, the jig would be up.

      • Gary,
        I would like to know where you get the figure that 75% of Sweden’s population has been exposed.
        The best estimates that I have seen puts the figure much lower at less than 7% based on antibody tests. So again the models worse case scenario looks plausible. Nobody expects these numbers to
        be realised since people will act to reduce the transmission rates by social distancing.

        COVID-19 is a new disease which means that people do not have a natural immunity. A death rate of 1% is not unreasonable nor that 80% or so of the population get infected before herd immunity sets in. Which implies that a million deaths in the USA is a plausible number.

        • “COVID-19 is a new disease which means that people do not have a natural immunity. ” Sorry wrong it looks like this new disease has about 30% on the population already immune to it, even worse it looks like only about 20% get it under ordinary circumstance or even on a cruise ship. As documented it also looks like herd immunity is between 15 to 25%. The unknowns are still huge, the known now is that it might be a little worse .3 for COVID as oppose to .1 to .2 with the flu we get traversing the human population ever year.

    • “…Of course one would expect that the worse case scenario would never come true since the moment significant numbers of people started dying then people’s behaviour would change as would government policy…”

      So your defense of the model is…that it is fatally flawed in the first place? Government policy would not have to be implemented for peoples’ behavior to change.

      The original results were only made available for the US and UK. However, Sweden’s policy implementation (or lack thereof) has since been run using the Imperial College methodolgy. The results? 96,000 deaths predicted by the end of June (40,000 by early May), with a best case of just under 30,000 deaths by the end of June if it had implemented policies similar to the rest of Europe beginning April 10. In actuality, we’re into June, and Sweden is at 4,562 deaths as of yesterday.

      Fail.

  23. Here’s a useful model, as described by Micheal Fumento back in April:

    https://nsjonline.com/article/2020/04/fumento-its-time-to-permanently-dump-epidemic-models/

    “The only “model” with any success is actually quite accomplished and appeared in 1840, when a “computer” was an abacus. It’s called Farr’s Law, and is actually more of an observation that epidemics grow fastest at first and then slow to a peak, then decline in a more-or-less symmetrical pattern. As you might guess from the date, it precedes public health services and doesn’t require lockdowns or really any interventions at all. Rather, the disease grabs the low-hanging fruit (with COVID-19 that’s the elderly with co-morbid conditions) and finds it progressively harder to get more fruit.”

  24. I suspect the incompetence inherent in Ferguson’s methodology is probably also inherent in many of the medical predictions of deaths due to a variety of perceived causes. NOx, 2.5m particulates, smoking, diesel fumes, various life styles etc. you name it. Obviously there are risks; but extrapolating those risks by dubious statistical means is very dangerous, often leading to foolish policy decisions.
    The prediction that human CO2 emissions will lead to mass extinction perhaps takes the biscuit; but I do not assign that nonsense to the medical profession.

  25. “But governments need to plan for prevent the worse case scenario and that is what they have done.”

    Governments do NOT need to plan for the worst case scenario. That’s ruination. They should plan for the most likely range of scenarios, and address that equitably.

    Not squander their resources planning for the worst case.

  26. It is not so much that Ferguson was way wrong. He has been way wrong several times before. Hoof and mouth, BSE, 2009 swine flu. Modeling what you know you do not know does that.

    It is more that his poorly documented Epidemiological 15000 line spaghetti code was so off from basic sound Software engineering practices that Imperial brought in Microsoft to clean it up, and rewrite everything in C++ before before finally releasing a version to others. They failed. Run on different machines, different results. Run on same machine twice, different results, as Edinborough found running the Microsoft ‘cleaned’ code. Beyond buggy. Junk from memory array bad housekeeping. Discussed at length by professional programmers elsewhere.

    • Testing the heavily-modified code may only be revealing bugs added by Microsoft programmers. The only way to evaluate the quality of the model that produced the original predictions is to test it directly, not some derivative code. It is inexcusable that every scrap of original code, change logs, all validation data and test results are not made available. The Trump administration or some Senate committee should be issuing subpoenas right now. If Imperial College had any concern for their reputation they would be doing likewise.

      The real blame here is not on Neil Ferguson, but on the people in government that made multi-trillion dollar decisions enforced in law based on an unverified model, especially given the creator’s previous record. Gross misfeasance.

      And of course the MSM did absolutely zero checking into Ferguson’s background before running headlines “millions will die”. But I have come to expect the MSM to be biased, incompetent and lazy and they seldom disappoint.

        • Ferguson’s 500k figure was for an unmitigated spread.

          His estimate for the current intervention measures was 12k to 48k. The UK is currently at 40K.

          He predicted that critical bed usage would peak around April 10th. Spot on.

          He used an IFR fro the UK of 0.9%. Recent estimates from serological studies suggest ~0.88%.

      • “Testing the heavily-modified code may only be revealing bugs added by Microsoft programmers”.
        Are you telling me lock-me-up-Fergie was using WINDOZE?

        I thought added bugs from Microsoft was part of the normal insect world.
        In our part of the world, the insects breed like fury during the early spring,only to breed the real nasties to bite you in April-June.

        I suspect Microsoft since as long ago as Numtpy Technology v 3.5 has the same bug gestation period as all the “fire bug” maniacs.
        You wait ’til they release the Covid Service pack 3a, then the “critical patches and updates”…

    • Anyone else ever work with Ada? It would have prevented all that memory array nonsense by forcing good housekeeping with its insanely rigorous typing.

      • There is no such thing as a programming language which can prevent people from writing buggy code. The quest to make programming easy and reliable goes back to the birth of the art and many theories have been tried. COBOL, ALGOL, Pascal, C, Smalltalk, C++, Java and others were each supposed to make programming better and more reliable, yet programs still have bugs. ADA would have been no different.

        P. J. Plaugher once made this comparison between Pascal and C:

        Pascal puts a lot of restrictions on what you can do, most of them arbitrary. C lets you get away with murder, usually your own.

        Despite the restrictions, it is perfectly possible to write bad Pascal.

        As others have noted, iterative floating point calculations require special care to maintain accuracy; it’s not enough to get the equations right. Competent programming is a skillset distinct from mathematics and competent numerical programming is even more specialized.

        A thorough code audit would have raised red flags on the Imperial College model. The shocking thing is that politicians were willing to risk their national futures on a piece of computer code that apparently hadn’t be audited at all.

        • I think that if you’ve never been directly involved in software development (i.e. never earned your living writing or maintaining code), the concepts of code reviews, numerical computing, “clean” code, etc. are far too abstract to understand. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that. Most people want their phone, tablet and laptop to work like the proverbial toaster: you turn it on and it helps you get on with your work or entertainment. If it doesn’t work, you find someone to fix it.

          The problem occurs when decision makers in powerful positions take the output of these simulations as fact, when they should be demanding a thorough inspection of the various internal assumptions and inputs. Or at least a track-record of accurate predictions from the group producing their predictions.

    • “hey failed. Run on different machines, different results. Run on same machine twice, different results, as Edinborough found running the Microsoft ‘cleaned’ code.”

      Good Lord! What a fiasco!

  27. Our government leaders were not forced to use any model as a basis for their decisions. They appropriately relied on the advice of their health/medical advisors, who, unfortunately, were almost all long-serving government bureaucrats. Time for a change. Maybe a rotation of a group of 5 of the truly best and brightest for overlapping (for continuity) 5-year terms, with a scheme for rotating new blood in.

    • “Our government leaders were not forced to use any model as a basis for their decisions.”

      That’s right. And the Imperial College model was not the only one out there. The U.S. does its own virus computer models, and they also look at the two or three dozen other models that are created.

      The focus by the critics on the Imperial College model is because they can show demonstrable problems with it, and thus use it to smear the whole enterprise. Their error is in equating the Imperial College model errors with all other virus computer models, who did not have such errors in their software.

    • I am surprised that Imperial College only removed the imperial from their motto.
      Maybe they should complete the job by removing the word ‘Imperial’ from the name of the college.

  28. Governments typically work on the precautionary principle, e.g., better safe than sorry. Still, everyone should have vetted the model results before using it as the basis of public health policy. The media and the medical community should be held accountable for this happening. Yes, Birx and Faucci are complicit, as were the FDA and the CDC, too.

    It’s not surprising the left-wing governors and mayors kept their jurisdictions on lockdown for so long. They saw and opportunity to trash the booming Trump economy and took it. The left would rather put millions out of work and on the edge of poverty than allow Trump to use the economy for his reelection platform.

    It is surprising the non-democrat, non-leftist governors kept their states in lockdown for as long as they did, too. When the facts* changed, the lockdown policies should have changed as well.

    * Model results are not facts. Models to not produce data. Models show possibilities. The results of the various epidemiological models depend heavily upon the presumptions of the modelers and the quality of the data used as inputs.

    • The Minnestupid governor, late in the game still use a model that assume a 2% fatality rate long after it was known not to be anywhere near that. It was about control and the inability to admit one’s mistakes, not science.

  29. The UK government had chosen as policy over many years to dismantle and de-fund the country’s health system.

    From that point it really didn’t matter what any computer modeller said or did, we were in a mess!

    • John Cooknell
      You are having a laugh.
      The British Government has been hosing money into the sacred cow NHS for years.
      More and more managers building their own little empires.
      Many of the egregious farces experienced in the last 5 months have been owned by NHS managers. Lions led by donkeys again.
      Of course, HMG have added another layer of ineptitude icing and sprinkles to the cake.
      Exercise Cygnus?
      No spare surgical gowns in the Country?
      An almost total dearth of everything from swabs to body bags?
      Having to emergency airlift masks, gowns, gloves in from China and Turkey which then proved faulty and useless?
      Yeah that underfunding and dismantling thing again, I suppose.

  30. Still no Covidapocalypse here at the Lake of the Ozarks from the crowded Memorial Day outdoor parties that got so much news play two weeks ago.

    Thursday, the Missouri Department of Health announced no reported Covid cases so far. People visit the lake from all over and a few neighboring states report a few cases that they linked to the bacchanals at Backwater Jack’s and other venues.

    Recently we’ve seen that combating largely imaginary systemic racism is more important then combating the SARS-2-Cov-2 virus. Incidentally, the protesters are not observing social distancing but the rioters are wearing masks.

  31. May I remind people of another model that tried to change the world? “Limits to Growth” by Forrester, Meadows et al. I had the good fortune to be on a small team that was asked by what was known as the Rothschild Think Tank to look at some of the claims of that work in my first job. I learned the DYNAMO language in which it was programmed, and looked at their code in detail. We designed our own model (which I translated from concept to four card trays of FORTRAN and data – plenty of C cards included, run on what was Europe’s largest hunk of IBM mainframe at the time) which produced some rather underwhelming levels of alarm. We did not approach our work with prejudice. But when we had completed it, I came across critiques of LtG from Prof Wilfred Beckermann (one of the more memorable of which was that if we had used LtG approaches to modelling in the 19th century, we would have forecast that London would be under 6ft of horse manure – which of course is where we find ourselves today, metaphorically at least).

    Ever since I have been highly skeptical of models in whatever sphere that are not well founded either for data or for mechanism, and worse – both.

  32. I do not blame Ferguson, as inept as he might be. The actual problem was with the politicians who came up with a train wreck solution to a potentially serious threat. They did not make an effort to do some technical stuff like measure the extent of the virus spread then proceeded to locked down the economy with their heads buried in the sand. They then vilified treatments for the virus to compound their errors.
    Quarantine the sick, protect the vulnerable and focus on the best curative treatments. Even today the best treatment has a stigma of “anecdotal” after fraudulently being smeared in major medical publications. Fortunately summer is upon us and the virus does not seem to do well with sunshine and warmth, kind of like a typical flu season. The politicians can now congratulate themselves with another job well done and move on to the next crisis of their own making.

  33. Hold on. Donald has told us over and over that he saved millions of lives worth his decisive actions

    Do you mean to say he’s wrong about that? If so, why would he repeat it over and over?

    • Donald has told us over and over that he saved millions of lives worth his decisive actions.

      On the contrary Joshua.

      Neil Ferguson said Donald has “saved millions of lives worth [sic] his decisive actions”

      • On the contrary, sycomouting. Donald has said over and over that he saved millions of lives. Google it.

        • Google it.

          First, Joshua, the way intellectual discourse works among grown-ups is you prove your own argument. That means *YOU* offer evidence in support of your assertions, and then I offer evidence in support of mine. Demanding that your opponent go out and find evidence for your assertions means you fail. That’s Debate 101.

          But I forgive you. Perhaps you studied climate science at University, and therefore your [lack of] education has failed to prepare you for the real world. I’m going to try to show you how we do it in the grown-ups world. I’m even going to start by using what I assume would be one of your own “fav” sources for information, CNN.

          Premise #1:

          Donald Trump has suggested that 2M people would’ve died had he not done nothing to address the C-19 crisis (emphasis added):

          “‘In every way the best economy in the history of the world. We were blowing away China. We were blowing away everybody. We were the envy of the world and then they came in and they explained it, and they said, sir, you have to turn it off. We have to close the country. And I said, say it again. They said, sir, you have to close the country. Nobody ever heard of a thing like this but they were right because if I didn’t we would have lost two million, two and a half million, maybe more than that people, and we’ll be at 100,000, 110,000, higher — the lower level of what was projected if we did the shutdown, but still you’re talking about — I say two Yankee stadiums of people.'”

          https://tinyurl.com/ybc45hc3

          Premise #2:

          Neil Ferguson’s model predicted that if nothing were done to address C-19, 2M Americans would die.

          https://tinyurl.com/yb6rua84

          Ergo, Neil Ferguson “said” Donald Trump has saved millions of lives.

          • Trump: “and we’ll be at 100,000, 110,000, higher — the lower level of what was projected”

            The lower level of what was projected, Nick. Not 60,000. Not 42,000.

          • Thanks for that CNN link, sycomputing.

            https://tinyurl.com/ybc45hc3

            I think that subject matter will enter the discussion sometime in the near future. It needs a little debunking. The CNN take on Trump’s projections, I mean. 🙂

          • Tom:

            It needs a little debunking. The CNN take on Trump’s projections, I mean.

            If DJT happened to comment on how poo stinks, CNN, et al., would publish 50 stories for 2 weeks on how he’s wrong.

  34. “I wonder how long it will take for people to realize that some climate models like RCP8.5 and the upcoming “hotter” IPCC models will be equally useless and damaging?”

    Um, before the sun goes out? Before the CO2-reducers bring on the next Ice Age?

  35. Well. . . whatever. Anybody who composes a model of a future calamity is going to add a safety factor of at least two. Better to err on the side of caution, right? so I’m inclined to cut Ferguson some slack.

    The greater scandal is the donkey-like refusal of the media to admit that COVID-19 is much more deadly in the aged than in the young. Here in Canada, our federal government pandemic update page just refused to publish the ages of the dead. Our national public broadcaster, the CBC, didn’t publish the median age of the COVID dead (which is 84) until the eighth week of the pandemic. I really think that if, before the lockdowns were instituted, the authorities had said that there was a new strain of pneumonia on the way, and that half of the fatalities would be in persons 84 or older, the lockdowns would have been far less severe.

    The current tolerance of the authorities of the mass protests of police brutality call into question whether or not those authorities really believe the lockdowns are still necessary.

  36. Actually, the real insanity is the fact that western governments did what has never been done before. They isolated entire healthy populations and shut down economic activity in their countries, rather than just simply isolating and treating infected people.

    This has been one of the greatest blunders by western nations. And it all happened based on false information from the China-centric World Health Organisation and from so-called experts who got it so wrong.

  37. This guy has been wrong so many times its quite funny! And people still listen to him.

  38. Prof. Lockdown broke his own lockdown rules. He allowed his married lover to visit him for some rumpy pumpy where she thinks both her husband and her lockdown lover are all of one family in one family home.

  39. When the dust settles, serious studies must be done with all the parameters entering the epidemiology study of a rapidly spreading infection, the health authorities of each country should settle on a way to face it in the future, assuming COVID 19 was a test. We were lucky the infection was not more virulent than the flu. Next time one with a death rate closer to the medieval plague could spring up, which left some areas with 50% dead, not just the old and infirm.

    In most countries the real choice was not between number of deaths and the economy, although in the news it sounds like that. It was between the saving of the health care system , and its demolition as was clearly seen in what happened in Lombardy. I think those videos of dead in the hospital corridors and trucks carrying coffins influenced the government decisions more than any models .

    Nobody has answered the question: “can an economy survive if the health care system is demolished”?

    In retrospect each country need only do lockdowns in specific regions and facilities, which they still do in Greece, even now when general lockdown has been lifted . Certainly the damage to the economy would have been less. Hind site is useful only for planning for future reactions.

  40. Poor modeling isn’t the problem, failed public instruction that fails to provide their graduates with basic understanding of science and the ability to think for themselves is the fundamental flaw. After decades of climate models being proven wrong the virus models should have been met with skepticism.

  41. As of the 2020-06-05 data from the CDC for weeks 1 to 16 in 2020 all states are listed as complete although more updates to the data will happen. I’ll re-run this again when they update the states that are not at 100% yet.

    For 2020 the USA has an “excess death” rate about 6.6% (60,607) higher than the previous 4 year average for weeks 1 to 16. As a comparison I checked the first 16 weeks of 2018 compared to the previous 4 year average and it was 7.2% (63,260).

    The script and all related files are here if you want to kick the tires:
    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/fh9x5fngmfbeiiu/AAAH-OtOMqiY_R9qqG6YccCRa?dl=0

    Recently Yoram Lass (formerly director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Health) gave an interview and said “total deaths” was the only way to look at it.

    https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/05/22/nothing-can-justify-this-destruction-of-peoples-lives/

    “Mortality due to coronavirus is a fake number. Most people are not dying from coronavirus. Those recording deaths simply change the label.”

    “The only real number is the total number of deaths – all causes of death, not just coronavirus.”

    PS. I’ve also done up the first run of weeks 1 to 21 and it is on the dropbox as well but it is missing a combined 8 weeks of data (Conneticut(3), North Carolina (4), West Virginia (1))

  42. “all models are wrong, some models completely destroy economy and lead to poverty”

  43. I started programming for hire in third year university. My first program worked well, and saved us countless hours of manual calculations. This was long ago, in 1970. The computer was an IBM360 – the languages were Waterloo Fortran, aka WATFOR and FORGO (earlier more primitive languages were ONCEUPONATRAN AND BEFORGO).

    I subsequently programed in GPSS, a simulation language, ALGOL and other languages. and much later produced very large scientific, engineering and economic models in Lotus123 and later Excel. My models worked well because I really sweated the details, and checked and re-checked them – hindcasting and forecasting. I think it requires great diligence to produce an accurate model.

    I’ve also found some egregious errors in the models of others, even models that had been used for years for submissions to government regulatory agencies. Those models produced total cr@p.

    Some modelers bash together a model and if it produces results, they’re done! Doesn’t matter if the results make no sense, don’t hindcast or forecast correctly, or essentially produce nonsense – it’s done by computer – it must be right! Right? … ah, No – not even close! Climate models fall into this category – they don’t even have the basic physics correct – they just produce total cr@p – and yet our idiot politicians have squandered many trillions of dollars of scarce global resources to “fight runaway global warming”, aka “fight climate change” – the first of which is NOT happening, and the second has happened since the dawn of time.

    What is even more foolish is the idea that they can combine the results of dozens of cr@p climate models and produce a better result – ask any little kid what happens if you combine many small piles of cr@p – you just get a much bigger pile of cr@p! And these modelers were paid to produce this nonsense, which is why they do it – if they admitted it was all cr@p, they’d all be out of work!

    The mainstream computer climate modellers have made about 50 very-scary climate predictions, and every one of them has failed to materialize – nobody should believe them.

    We’ve done a lot better, as follows:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/06/03/alarmist-queen-hayhoe-takedown-by-friends-of-science/#comment-3008219

    Told you so – 18 years ago. [That includes you, Michael Moore.]

    The ability to predict is the best objective measure of scientific and technical competence. Every very-scary prediction of runaway global warming and climate chaos made by the global warming alarmists has failed to materialize. Nobody should believe them – about anything.*

    Following are our two major statements we published in 2002 – these statements are correct-to-date, for anyone who understands climate and energy. The climate alarmists and their slave leftist media, with their “100% wrong predictive track record”, will dispute them. *See note above. 🙂

    Regards, Allan MacRae
    _________________

    OUR TWO MAJOR STATEMENTS PUBLISHED IN 2002

    In 2002 co-authors Dr Sallie Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian, Dr Tim Patterson, Paleoclimatologist, Carleton U, Ottawa and Allan MacRae wrote:

    1. “Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”

    2. “The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”

    • Edit:
      The mainstream computer climate modelers and their minions have made about 50 very-scary climate predictions, and every one of them has failed to materialize – nobody should believe them.

  44. When the dust settles, serious studies must be done with all the parameters entering the epidemiology study of a rapidly spreading infection, the health authorities of each country should settle on a way to face it in the future, assuming COVID 19 was a test. We were lucky the infection was not more virulent than the flu. Next time one with a death rate closer to the medieval plague could spring up, which left some areas with 50% dead, not just the old and infirm.

    In most countries the real choice was not between number of deaths and the economy, although in the news it sounds like that. It was between the saving of the health care system , avoid its demolition as was clearly seen in what happened in Lombardy. I think those videos of dead in the hospital corridors and trucks carrying coffins influenced the government decisions more than any models .

    Nobody has answered the question: “can an economy survive if the health care system is demolished”?

    In retrospect each country need only do lockdowns in specific regions and facilities, which they still do in Greece, even now when general lockdown has been lifted . Certainly the damage to the economy would have been less. Hind site is useful only for planning for future reactions.

  45. The problem is not that Neil Ferguson was wrong; the problem was that it took the politicians in the US and UK too long to wake up to the threat of Covid. His prediction of 500,000 deaths in the UK didn’t need a computer model; you could do it on the back of an envelope. The death rate from Covid is 1%. That was known in February. The UK population is 66m. 80% infection = 500,000 deaths. Q.E.D.

    Despite lockdown we’ve had the worst death-rate in the world here in the UK (40,000 recorded so far, over 60,000 excess deaths, heading towards 100,000 – so Ferguson wasn’t wrong! He was late.). Why is it so bad here? Because we delayed too long. You either go into lockdown early or you don’t bother (NYC probably shouldn’t have bothered in the end > 25% infection rate anyway so lockdown probably only halved the death rate). Every week you delay lockdown increases the death rate by a factor of ten and doubles the time you need to be under lockdown to get the infection under control. This is obvious from the daily infection rate curve. That is the failure.

    As for the modelling: the problem is that epidemiologists are like climate scientists – 2nd rate academics who peddle mathematics (or physics) they don’t understand. The maths of infection is not difficult. It is 12th grade stuff. It is the same as the maths of nuclear chain reactions (1st order differential equations). Moderators in nuclear reactors perform the same function as social distancing does in epidemics. It reduces the R number. So if you want someone to model your outbreak, ask a nuclear physicist, not a medic or social scientist.

  46. The Model E code is almost as amateur as this disaster. I’ve looked.
    Some facts – not all code libraries use the same pseudo random number generators so same seed gives different results on different systems. – not all CPU’s use the same ‘floating point’ processing algorithms – error propagation via inherent rounding will always taint a model like this – stochastic (ie, iterative with random numbers) is wrong, he should have the mathematical skills to create the partial differential equations that represent the ‘true’ model, not a lazy monte christo simulation…

    • The climate is a chaotic system. It cannot be modeled well for long-term forecasts.
      The weather is a chaotic system. It cannot be modeled well for long-term forecasts.
      The economy is a chaotic system. It cannot be modeled well for long-term forecasts.

      Virus propagation follows known math. It can be modeled well.
      Days from infection to symptoms plays a major role in early models when data is sparse. When days-to-infection is close to zero quarantining the ill works. Larger numbers indicate masks and distance from possible carriers. A large number, like 5, indicates a steep initial curve. When the days-to-double rate is known through data one must change the model. Time from infection to symptoms is merely interesting. Time to try a Gompertz function.
      When years and years of data (like, I dunno, HCQ) are available no model is necessary. Clinical data: It is safe. Hippocratic Oath satisfied. CAN’T HURT; might help if enough Zn in patient. Forgive off-topic rant.

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