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Lindy McDowell

And my expert opinion is... just who or what can you believe about anything anymore?

Lindy McDowell



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Neil Ferguson. Photo: BBC

Neil Ferguson. Photo: BBC

PA

Neil Ferguson. Photo: BBC

According to experts this week, the UK is now facing a recession the likes of which has not been seen since the days of the South Sea Bubble.

The South Sea Bubble was in 1720. We do not need to concern ourselves with precise details here other than to say it was a bubble, it centred on a South Sea Company and it was bad.

Some experts, however, are going back even further still in terms of dire warning, right back to the Great Frost of 1709, which presumably was another trying time for the FTSE.

Apart from adding to the daily toll of doom, what actual benefit do we get from any of this? (I'm just surprised they haven't compared BoJo to Ethelred the Unready.)

I'm fed up with experts - both scientists and economists - bombarding us every day with daft statistics and scare stories which are often conflicting and only add to the general sense that nobody actually has a clue.

These are difficult times and we will face difficult times in future. We all acknowledge that. What's not helping is the daily blitz of contradictory reflection, prediction and supposition.

Before Covid (BC), scientists in particular would have been seen as reliable, solid sorts whose pronouncements were evidence-based and therefore pretty much indisputable. You would have assumed that generally there would be consensus because the science was there to back their analysis.

But what the current crisis has shown is that scientists are given to more squabbling, feuding and back-biting than the cast of Love Island.

Although, in fairness, at least one of them is also big on romance.

Neil Ferguson, scientific adviser to the Government, and the man urging the rest of us to adhere to lockdown rules, resigned this week after it was disclosed he'd been meeting up with a lady friend.

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Antonia Staats

Antonia Staats

Antonia Staats

As always, it's not exactly encouraging when the men who make the rules don't see the need to keep to the rules themselves. That's assuming they agree on the rules in the first place...

Also this week a former chief scientific adviser has set up a new body as a rival to the Government's support group Sage.

Continuity Sage.

The economists aren't exactly singing from the same spreadsheet either.

All those experts on matters financial are similarly divided about what happens in the near future.

If we're not heading up the Swanee in the aforementioned South Sea Bubble, we're bouncing back in a V recovery - a term which, conversant as we all now are with Government graphs, is self-explanatory.

Of course debate is to be encouraged. But from the point of view of the long-suffering public, all this speculation, all this talk about might be, could be, may be, is overdone.

No sooner has one study provided a gleam of hope for the future than the feet are taken from beneath you by a second study debunking the first.

What can you believe about anything anymore?

From the public's point of view, what's so dispiriting isn't just the misinformation (Donald Trump and his bleach injections).

It's all the mixed information.

The conflicting 'facts', findings and the many and various interpretations of what we should have done and what we should be doing and where we're going wrong. No wonder people are stressed out and sick of it all.

It's bad when you hear people saying that they now turn off the TV as soon as the news comes on because they can't take it any more.

According to a survey, the majority of people say they don't want lockdown to end any time soon.

I'm not sure that's truly the case. I think people are fearful and confused but also reaching the end of their tether, not just with lockdown but with the 'experts' who put us there.

The experts who currently all seem to be at each other's throats.

Something I doubt we have seen to such an extent since those unsettling days of the South Sea Bubble.

Low-key salute to heroes of truly just war

My late uncle Johnnie lied about his age to sign up and fight in World War II. He won the Military Medal (now Military Cross). He never talked about what he'd endured and what he'd seen. He was just one of the heroes we've saluted in necessarily low-key fashion this week on the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Few conflicts can ever be described as a just war. The fight against Hitler and his genocidal regime was undoubtedly one. And even without the pomp and ceremony, we will remember that.

DUP MLA who put his foot in it lucky not to get the boot

You are an elected representative attending an important Assembly meeting on the Covid crisis, which has claimed hundreds of lives.

And now there is an important decision to be made.

So... hmm... which is it to be? The Doc Marten boots in cherry red or those nice tan brogues in vegan leather?

North Down MLA Alex Easton has apologised after he was spotted on the live stream from Stormont doing a bit of online shopping.

In mitigation he claims his shoes were worn through and, with shops being closed, he was forced to order online.

He backed this up with a picture of one of the decrepit shoes in question, the sole very obviously very worn.

Seriously? We're supposed to see this as an excuse?

He's only got one pair? He couldn't have sourced a new pair at another time, well before they got into that state?

Does he not even have a pair of oul' gutties lying around the house he could have worn?

With what we pay them, it's not as though MLAs are on their uppers.

Okay, it's not exactly a crime he's committed. A lapse of judgment and common sense.

I just wonder, though, had it been a female MLA spotted shopping for shoes when she should have been paying attention, might there not have been a bigger furore. With all and sundry lining up to put the boot in.

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Alex Easton shops online for shoes

Alex Easton shops online for shoes

Alex Easton shops online for shoes

Annoying TV ads a crime against rhyme

Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast. And also, I suppose, you could argue the same for poetry. But there's Percy Bysshe Shelley and then there's the doggerel that's now become a feature of those endlessly repeated TV ads for one particular building society where "ordinary" people drivel on about what they want to say to themselves six months from now. Spare us this guff about toasting your wedding with fizzy pop. Don't they think TV viewers have suffered enough?

Belfast Telegraph