Is ‘the Science’ scientific?
Sir: I hope that those in the highest places will have read and will act upon Dr John Lee’s excellent summary (‘The corona puzzle’, 28 March). His article cuts through the information overload and explains the surreal situation the country is now in. Draconian decisions have been made on the basis of ‘the Science’, apparently without realising that it is not science at all. The dangers of mere extrapolations, both mathematical and humanitarian, are widely understood. Modelling is, in this instance, a sophisticated form of extrapolation and even more dangerous. A specific model cannot be dignified with the term ‘science’ until it has withstood thorough testing.
We are suffering a crippling reaction justified by modelling based on seriously deficient starting data. The situation is so unprecedented that predictions must carry immense margins of error. This supposed ‘cure’ is vastly worse than the disease.
Neill G. Ross
In praise of cleaners
Sir: I was pleased to see Dr Max Pemberton’s acknowledgment of the ‘absolute forefront’ role hospital cleaners have in the struggle against Covid-19 (‘The battle ahead’, 28 March). They have been, as he says, ‘neglected… undermined and undervalued’ in the contracting-out schemes they work under. I hope that in any post-crisis examination of the NHS they will be recognised as playing a key role and be brought back within the NHS as employees, with decent wages and decent conditions.
Yes, it’s not a war
Sir: Matthew Parris is correct: comparisons with the second world war are preposterous (‘Don’t let anyone tell you there’s a war on’, 4 April). If comparisons have to be made, however, could we have less talk about Dunkirk and more about D-Day? The latter required a master plan which understandably had to be kept secret. Does the government have a plan for lifting the lockdown and defeating the virus? And since Hitler isn’t around, can we know what that plan is? I think we have a right.
Sir David Madel
The madness of the people
Sir: Marcus Berkmann’s comment in ‘Notes on pub lockdowns’ (21 March) that ‘the British hate, hate, being told what to do’ and are ‘strikingly disobedient’ puts in mind what Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary on 3 February 1665, in the lockdown during the Great Plague of London: ‘Lord! to consider the madness of the people of the town, who will (because they are forbid) come in crowds along with the dead corps to see them buried.’
The alchemy of chickens
Sir: I very much appreciated Isabel Hardman’s cautionary ‘Notes on hens’ (4 April), but she failed to mention their brilliant virtue; that of converting insects and nematodes into eggs.
Churches must re-open
Sir: The Archbishop of York designate in his article ‘Cross purpose’ (4 April) appears to relish the fact that the churches are closed and his flock can go back to emulating God’s self-isolation in the desert. ‘We will find out what being a Christian looks like when the trappings of a church are removed for a while,’ he declares. The last time our country faced a crisis on this scale was in the second world war. Then, our churches were places of enormous spiritual comfort to communities. But now, just at our hour of need, they remain shut. It really should not be beyond the wit of man to have them re-opened. Ten or so people should be allowed into a church at any one time for a limited daily period, especially if they wear face masks and there is sanitiser at the ready.
I wonder what, as Head of the Church of England, the Queen feels about the Anglican hierarchy’s acquiescence in all this.
Let Mr Wordsworth speak
Sir: I always enjoy Dot Wordsworth’s column and her nuggets of linguistic information. However, following her two most recent columns I think it only right and proper that her husband is offered some form of right of reply. It may be that he is a somewhat curmudgeonly old chap, liable to throw his whisky glass at the television, but it can be very frustrating listening to TV pundits using poor grammar, which appears to be his principal bête noire.
Perhaps he should have anticipated the response to his offer to assist the NHS, but he did make the effort. I do feel Mrs W should try to be a little more sympathetic, especially as presumably they are having to spend more time in each other’s company. Perhaps Mr (Dr?) Wordsworth could be persuaded to write a short column on, say, the merits of a pre-prandial whisky and soda?
Cattal, North Yorkshire
A lot of crosswords
Sir: This week Tom Johnson (Doc) equals the number of standard thematic Spectator crosswords — 647 — which J.A. Caesar (Jac) compiled from 1971 to the mid-1980s. I should like to congratulate Tom on this great achievement and thank him and his team of setters for providing such wonderful entertainment, which is particularly appreciated in these dark days.
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