How do you argue with a 'lockdown zealot'?

When you are faced with what i call a 'covid zealot', it can sometimes be hard to get your thoughts together in a constructive way to respond effectively. I am used to talking to the public, so the arguments against lockdown come more easily to me. Going into Oxford every Saturday and speaking to the public, we have to be prepared and know our stuff, so we end up repeating the same arguments week after week and they become second nature. But if you have not been doing this yourself, and sometimes find yourself at a loss for words, here are some good arguments you can use.

Zealot: Cases are rising at an astronomical rate. If we don't lock down, hospitals will be overwhelmed.

Sceptic: Well, first of all, we are not dealing with the bubonic plague. Covid19 has a survival rate of approximately 99.7%. Chris Whitty even told us , "The great majority of the population won't die from this. A proportion of the population won't get the virus at all. Of those who get symptoms - 80% mild or moderate. Even the very highest risk groups - the great majority if they catch this virus will not die".

Not that much different to a bad flu really, and we never talked about shutting down the world and criminalising people for meeting their friends before. And people have very short memories. Does nobody remember that the NHS has been in 'winter crisis' for many previous years?

And secondly, do you know anything about how the PCR test works which is detecting the astronomical rise in cases? (NB: my personal experience is that they don't know anything about how the PCR test works). The PCR test is running at 45 cycles in the UK. Anything above 35 cycles is useless. So the possibility of any of the so-called cases that they keep threatening us with actually being infectious is less than 3%. This short video explains it very well:

(You can find more excellent videos from my friend Paul Simon on Youtube here.)

Zealot: Yes, but the difference with Covid19 is that you can be an asymptomatic spreader and end up killing Granny.

Sceptic: There is no evidence for asymptomatic spread. Researchers in Wuhan did a city-wide screening between May 14 and June 1 using the PCR test. Among eligible residents, which was those aged six years or older, 92.9 percent participated, which amounted to 9,899,828 people. They identified no new COVID-19 cases. As the authors stated, “there was no evidence of transmission from asymptomatic positive persons to traced close contacts.” The asymptomatic individuals who tested positive “were unlikely to be infectious.”

You can read the study here.

Zealot: That's rubbish. The government tells us that the biggest threat is asymptomatic spread. You're a moron. (a typical response based on personal experience).

Sceptic: So you prefer to believe Matt Hancock who has no scientific background and who does not have a good track record of caring if people live or die, rather than a study of 10 million people?

Zealot: (if he has not stormed off by now in a cloud of angry cognitive dissonance). Matt Hancock is relying on the top expert scientists and I trust their opinion.

Sceptic: Have you studied the backgrounds of the group of people who make up SAGE? Most of them have ties to the pharmaceutical industry, and it is turning out to be notoriously difficult to get any transparency about these people who are making decisions affecting the lives of millions. On the other hand, the scientists that we follow are independent and not funded by Big Pharma. People like John Ioannidis, Michael Levitt, Carl Heneghan, Sunetra Gupta, Michael Yeadon. None of these people have vested interests and it's interesting how their opinions are in stark contrast to those of SAGE and the government narrative. It's also interesting how their opinions are either censored by the BBC and most mainstream media outlets. If the lockdown arguments are correct, why would you need to censor anyone who disagrees?

Zealot: (if he/she is still being polite and contuining to engage, which from experience, is doubtful at this stage). But is it not best to be on the safe side and continue to social distance and wear masks?

Sceptic: But I just explained that there is no evidence for asymptomatic spread. And this being the case, you have to think about the negative psychological and economic effect of these policies which will contribute to loneliness, despair, loss of income and poverty, all of which are actually a much greater threat to mortality than Covid19 will ever be. Do you really want to spend your life afraid of anyone you come across for the forseeable future? They have even told us that the rollout of the vaccine will not mean the end for social distancing and mask wearing. Do you really want to forego seeing your friends and family for at least another year, if not longer? And do you really want to continue with your life believing that everyone you meet is potentially infectious until proven healthy?

At this point, if you really are still in conversation, you can expand the conversation to include the wider impacts of lockdown policy:

The World Food Programme said that 100 million people would starve in 2020 because of lockdown and that 27 million would starve to death in the first three months of and because of lockdowns. That's 300,000 per day. You can read the report here.

On the government report from July: "More than 200,000 people could die from the impact of lockdown and protecting the NHS, an official government report shows". In an earlier report published in April they calculated that up to 25,000 could die from delays to treatment in the same period and a further 185,000 in the medium to long term - amounting to nearly one million years of life lost. Here's a link to the article in the Telegraph.

And here's another list of negative consequences of lockdown that you can mention:

The above list is from the Back to Normal campaign website which you can find here.

Chances are you won't get that far in the conversation. And I have not even touched on the subject of the lack of evidence for the effectiveness of mask wearing! I think that deserves an entire post all to itself.

If you can think of any other 'covid zealot' arguments as to why lockdowns are a good idea, please leave a comment and I will try to give the 'sceptic' answer.

Good luck with your debating!

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