Archive for the Behaviour Category

The Government scientists’ credibility is shot to pieces

The Government scientists' credibility is shot to pieces

Imagine.  No, not the silly childish song by John Lennon.  Imagine there were no vaccines available.  What would Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health, do? He might ask people to pay more attention to the scientific advice. But the plain fact is that the credibility

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Want people to get the Covid vaccine? Pay them

Want people to get the Covid vaccine? Pay them

The vaccines seem to be coming thick and fast. The task now is to ensure that enough people get them to keep the virus under control. The first issue is one of logistics. The track record of the UK’s health bureaucracy during the crisis has not been

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The public are not to blame for the second lockdown

The public are not to blame for the second lockdown

Justice secretary Robert Buckland last week blamed the public for England’s new lockdown. In particular, the fault was with people failing to self-isolate properly. Of course, in a purely technical sense Buckland is right. The virus spreads by contact with an infected person. If people do not

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Heavy-handed Westminster diktats have eroded trust — now only localised Covid policy can restore it

Heavy-handed Westminster diktats have eroded trust — now only localised Covid policy can restore it

Last month, the official group of scientific advisers — SAGE — warned the government that only a quarter of those who need to self-isolate due to coronavirus symptoms were in fact doing so. This illustrates a concept which is of great practical importance: namely the conflict between

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Following the science? This government lacks a basic grasp of the scientific method

Following the science? This government lacks a basic grasp of the scientific method

Verification and validation. It is hard to imagine a more nerdy phrase. But it is, in essence, how science makes progress. It is what we have to do to check whether a scientific claim or theory is correct. And it has been seriously neglected during the Covid-19

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On coronavirus, governments have been the most irrational of us all

On coronavirus, governments have been the most irrational of us all

Decisions, whether by individuals, companies or governments, are often made with imperfect and incomplete information. This is so obvious as to hardly seem worth stating. But for well over a century economic theory assumed that decisions were made with complete information. Economists knew full well that this

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A tip for Dominic Cummings: Don’t hire anyone who fails to grasp the power of incentives

A tip for Dominic Cummings: Don’t hire anyone who fails to grasp the power of incentives

The job advert issued by Dominic Cummings for people to work in government has attracted a wide range of comments. One particular focus has been on the sorts of skills he is looking for. Computer science, forecasting, artificial intelligence, causality theory — all these topics excite his

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From World War II to the financial crisis, our institutional memory is fading fast

From World War II to the financial crisis, our institutional memory is fading fast

The young contestants on Lord Sugar’s reality TV show The Apprentice sparked outrage last week. They appeared to have virtually no knowledge about the Second World War. The online clips of the sequence capture to perfection their expressions of bovine outrage at even being expected to know

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