This is shall we say on-brand:
The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically demonstrated the limits of scientific modeling to predict the future. The most consequential coronavirus model, produced by a team at Imperial College London, tipped the British government, which had until then pursued a cautious strategy, into precipitate action, culminating in the lockdown under which we are all currently laboring. With the Imperial team talking in terms of 250,000 to 510,000 deaths in the U.K. and social media aflame with demands for something to be done, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had no other option.
But last week, a team from Oxford University put forward an alternative model of how the pandemic might play out, suggesting a much less frightening future and a speedy end to the current nightmare.
How should the government know who is right? It is quite possible that both teams are wrong. Academic studies often suffer from a lack of quality control, as peer review is usually brief and cursory. In normal times this doesn’t matter much, but it’s different when studies find their way into the policy world. In the current emergency, it is vital to check that the epidemiological models have been correctly assembled and that there are no inadvertent mistakes. . .
When competing models are giving wildly different, and in some cases frightening, predictions, the pressure on governments to adopt a draconian approach can be overwhelming. But, as we are seeing, the costs of such measures are extraordinarily high. Nations cannot afford to lock down their economies every time a potentially devastating new virus emerges. Setting up an effective pandemic hazard scale would inform policy makers and the public, helping fend off media demands for “something to be done” until the right decisions can be made at the right time.
The authors are Benny Peiser and Andrew Montford, of the Global Warming Policy Forum, a subsidiary of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, an England-based climate change denialist think tank, dedicated to a “balanced” discussion of whether anthropogenic climate change is real or not.
Neither has any expertise in epidemiology or virology, but on the other hand they don’t have any expertise in climate science either.
Somewhat miraculously, they aren’t law professors.