Friday 18 June 2021

Jonathan Sumption, Planet-sized Brain? Hmm

Many years ago I was involved in a truly massive litigation.  Both sides were desperate to get Sumption on the case, such was the awe in which he was held.  I heard it from enough lawyers that I'm inclined to believe it.  Now, of course, he's retired (from the Supreme Court) and is making a name for himself on the libertarian side of the debate over Covid lockdown etc.  Several of our BTL readers have warmly advocated reading his works; and we should all be glad of brainpower and general firepower on the side of anti statism and wokery - Heaven knows, there may be enough need of it in the years to come.


I have just read one of his DTel pieces; and if that brain really is as big as claimed, well, it's being deployed for partisan sophistry here - hardly unknown in the legal profession, of course, but not at all becoming.  

Here's one of the offending passages.

There were only ever two rational choices [back in Feb-March 2020].  One was a total lockdown until all vulnerable groups had been vaccinated, which would have been politically impossible if the Government had been upfront about it.  The other was a voluntary system under which people were allowed to take responsibility for their own risks assessments.

That statement of the range of possibilities open to the government at that time is wholly lacking in merit as a piece of analysis - a classic trial-lawyer's contrived framing of the kind "if the glove don't fit, you must acquit".  It can be contested on almost every phrase (particularly since "only ever" is so strong) and is self-evidently a grotesque over-simplification on a massive issue.  To fall for it is to be a putty-in-his-hands member of the gullible OJ Simpson jury.  Maybe that's your average DTel reader.  

But for a man as rich as Croesus with the fine reputation he built, he should be above that kind of stuff at this point in his 'career'.



dearieme said...

I read the Tel. I must admit that I've always been uncomfortable with Sumption's articles - not with their conclusions but with their style of argument.

It's odd: I used to know a clever lawyer, and he really was clever. But we were young. Maybe a lifetime among lawyers leads to an attrition of intellectual ... um ... precision.

Anonymous said...

I've been involved in numerous court cases as an expert witness. In my first case I was in awe of the apparent intelligence of the barristers. But I learned quite quickly that it is a learned technique - an acquired skill. One case went all the way to the Royal Courts of Justice and lasted five weeks. In the end I was less than impressed with the barristers, and even less impressed with the judge, who kept dozing off.
Yet Another Chris

Timbo614 said...

Even for Dimbo Timbo there is so much wrong with that statement, just for starters:
There was no vaccine in Feb/March 2020 and no guarantee there would be one. So it was impossible to be politically impossible, upfront or not!
It also says there is no "middle way" when all government is about finding a middle way/compromise.

P.S. having watched a game of football it occurred to me at about 70 minutes in that this was a politically agreed draw ( a, ermm, compromise). No one tried too hard IMHO.

E-K said...

I feel that he's being vindicated.

We've had the lockdowns, we have the vaccines... we are still restricted and there is intense pressure on the PM to keep us under restrictions.

The financial bills haven't manifested themselves yet. The Lockdown deaths haven't even begun to manifest themselves yet and the Government isn't even bothering to count them.

We will be unable to assess whether lockdown was the right thing to do because we won't be told the true figures on its cost. Just be aware that society is going to be very very different from what it used to be.

Those who choose total safety over freedom get neither.

Frankly I'm appalled at the way we've behaved.

Don Cox said...

"The Lockdown deaths haven't even begun to manifest themselves yet and the Government isn't even bothering to count them."

How can they count them if they haven't yet manifested themselves ?

There are plenty of statistics available of average deaths over recent years and deaths from various causes.

Over the next decade there will be many studies comparing the effects of the various policies or lack of them in different countries during this pandemic, which may help with responses to future pandemics (which are likely to have higher death rates).

I think people are trying to blame the government when blame should be placed on the virus.

Don Cox

E-K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E-K said...

Unknown - because they are not counted as "lockdown" deaths whereas every person who died within 28 days of catching covid died of covid - and this includes a lot of very old and very sick people before they caught it.

By this loose rationale anyone who was killed whilst driving vice a train journey should be counted as a lockdown death. Anyone who died on an NHS waiting list should be counted as a lockdown death. Anyone who died alone should be counted as a lockdown death. Anyone who committed suicide should be counted as a lockdown death. Anyone who dies on the street, of violent crime, of poverty... should be counted as a lockdown death.

We don't count lockdown deaths and this is the only honest way to weigh up the value of locking down.

Then there's the future...

Anyone who commits suicide for years to come, dies on a waiting list for years to come, dies in a road crash vice train journey for years to come. Railways are about to become irrevocably reduced soon - reductions and mass redundancies have been announced and endless temporary speed restrictions over unfunded track... WFH is about to become permanent for many.

We have to make decisions now, not wait for hindsight.

Yes I blame the Government.

I spotted the Indian variant months ago and said that this would be the one they would use to keep us in lockdown on the flimsiest pretext, and they kept the border open.

Behind scenes I fear Boris is being pressured thus "The Tories can't survive a high BAME death rate." among the communities where the Indian variant surfaced and where there are the most refusenicks.

Lord Sumption was right to point out the illegality of lockdowns and I have some respect for the hardiness of the BAMEs. If only we could have a bit more courage ourselves.

jim said...

A court of law is not a place to discover 'the truth', it is a place to persuade and win. A lawyer is trained to do that - however bad the smell. Sumption is trained for the dodgy argument.

As for whether Boris was right or wrong back in Feb-March '20 hardly matters now. No one is going to prison and an election is a long way off. The D Tel merely needs another slab of uncritical scribble.

Realistically no affordable 'contingency plan' for a Covid could exist. Our real problem was that the NHS is deliberately run hot and slim-line and the assets well sweated. The public health administration was expensively staffed and negligably resourced. The consequence is obvious, just look at how different the German experience was. Perhaps if we integrated the costs over a decade or so we may find the UK versus German costs are not much different. Interesting for someone maybe.

But the real test is 'could I have done any better?'. Personally I think I would have thought 'just a bad flu year'. Which begs the question - just what were all our spies in China doing?

Matt said...

@ Anonymous [10:04]

Courts are not really there to discover the truth. They are really only there for show because the assumption is that only the guilty are tried. Hence a judge falling asleep isn't a problem as he only has to proscribe sentence at the end anyway.

Yes, I know some people are found "Not Guilty" or acquitted but that's where it's really obvious Plod have fitted them up. Usually because Plod can't keep their lies consistent.

Take the recent controversy over the falling rape convictions. Politicians decided to pander to the calls from those that think all men are rapists to do something about it. So they tried more men but this meant taking more shaky cases to court. Where it comes down to "he says, she says" there were lots of acquittals despite the increased costs. So they went back to only trying cases where there was a realistic chance of conviction. Hence the number of cases went down and the harridans are back on the case.

dearieme said...

"just look at how different the German experience was"

You make the unwarranted assumption that government policy has been a big deal. There's not much evidence for that. What do you have in mind?

If I had been King I'd have protected the care homes (imperfectly, to be sure) and avoided lockdown. Would that have been better? Probably - perhaps even much better. Maybe in five years or so things will be clearer.

lilith said...

Meanwhile, the world takes part in phase 3 trials. These trials are no good because they are not properly collecting outcome data. Any adverse reactions are not collated and connected to the vaccine because "the vaccines are 100% safe". The vaccine is meant to remain in the arm but they are finding that it is accumulating in bone marrow and ovaries at extraordinary high levels. Clotting disorders are not the only problem. The future is very poorly.

djc said...

Jim @ 11:26
" Personally I think I would have thought 'just a bad flu year'. Which begs the question - just what were all our spies in China doing?"

You are not the first to wonder. I thought lockdown was wrong in March 2020 as a matter of principle, but I might have been persuaded otherwise by some secret intelligence from China. I might even have forgiven a three week panic based on dodgy intelligence— WMD again.

lilith said...

Older people don't seem to be getting the same problems with the vaccines. When I ask people how they felt afterwards it is the over 70s who say they had no ill effects afterwards. It's hitting the reproductive system of some young women and the cardiovascular system of some young men so please urge your young to be cautious as they are not at serious risk from Cov19 unless they are diabetic.

lilith said...

Sumption is great at presenting himself as the cuddly wild uncle we look forward to seeing at Christmas in spite of his concept manipulation skills....

Don Cox said...

" they are finding that it is accumulating in bone marrow and ovaries "

Which vaccine is this ? Who are "they" ?

A link to a reliable peer-reviewed paper would be good. Otherwise I would suspect that this claim is pure invention.

It is certainly true that no vaccine is 100% safe. The main ones currently in use against COVID seem to be at least 99.999 % safe.

Don Cox

lilith said...

It is amazingly hard to find anything that suggests there are any problems with the vaccine.
This video has been deleted from Youtube and is a copy. The inventor of MRNA vaccine technology, Bret Weinstein and Steve Kirsch (annoying, interrupty, shouty but doing God's work)

The ovary/bone marrow stuff is discussed and the source of that data was from Japan.

lilith said...

I'd love to know what you think of the discussion being had by these three gentlemen, Don! I don't personally think they are fear mongering but Bret is a Lefty so there's that :)

Don Cox said...

Useful summary of what is known so far:

Don Cox

lilith said...

Here's a short version summary graph of the Japanese data vis a vis Pfizer

lilith said...

And this clip 11mins they talk about repurposing off label drugs

lilith said...

Page 6 of this PDF shows pfizer aware that lipid ends up all over the body in rat experiment (not that we're rats....or are we?)

lilith said...

Sorry page16

E-K said...


One mouse says to the other "Have you had your jab yet ?"

Second mouse says "No. I'm awaiting the outcome of the human trials."

I've emailed you. I'll try on the second one I have in my contacts.

lilith said...

Nowt in email yet Kev. Have just emailed you!

E-K said...

Yup. Got that.

See you both soon.

E-K said...

"I should have grasped then that many people actually wanted to be afraid, wanted to stay at home, wanted to wear masks, wanted to shut down society. But I didn’t."

Peter Hitchens today.


Inflation and outsourcing is on its way big time.

Nick Drew said...

Kev, as mentioned (confessed) here before, I too completely misjudged another aspect of all this: Granny's life vs GDP.

Here's what I wrote on 1.3.20 (in response to the following quotation):

"I am going to put the choice more bluntly... Should we take every measure available to try to counter the virus and at whatever economic and social cost? Or ... take less stringent steps to minimise the impact on society, at the price of ... elevating the risk of death?"

I replied:

It's a given: governments everywhere will choose the latter. The only question is how they sell it to the public. And on balance you may find the public agrees anyway.

And about "governments everywhere" I, like Hitchens, was wrong

Elby the Beserk said...

Don Cox

The bloke who INVENTED the mRna technique is clear there is a disaster in the making.

And we were told this would NOT happen.

I'm thinking this guy knows more than you and I. Certainly, as soon as I learnt that minimal animal testing had been done, I was out. Why? Because all attempts at a vaccine for SARS (Covid-19 870% identical to SARS) foundered when they tested on animals (Antibody-dependent enhancement, causes a cytokine storm, causes mass organ failure). And this was skipped this time round.

You may care to read this as well.

Geert Vanden Bossche, DMV, PhD, independent virologist and vaccine expert, formerly employed at GAVI and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"Why mass vaccinaton amidst a pandemic creates an irrepressible monster "

Frankly, putting your faith in Big Govt cuddling up in bed with Big Pharma seems to me deranged. Remember Swine Flu? Exactly the same happened them in 2009, with Big Pharma whipping up hysteria then damaging more people with their vaccine than Swine Flu did.

And Tamiflu? A complete non-starter

I'm not an ant-vaxxer. I'm an anti-dangerous Vaxxer. Had the PPE shot last year, as I don't want Pneumonia, and it is simply a soup of pneumococci bacteria and neutral adjutants.

If you want any more reading, I have link after a link.

Start here...

Elby the Beserk said...

I should mention that Sumption's book on The Hundred Year's War IS a masterpiece.,_Lord_Sumption#The_Hundred_Years'_War

Haven't posted an Amazon link, as once I had completed Shosona Zuboff's detailing of just how malignant Big Tech is, "Surveillance Capitalism", I deleted my Amazon account. Only regular Google (Motto should be, not "Do No Evil"n rather "We are Evil Incarnate" service I use is YouTube. You can dump Chrome for Brave, Chrome based but nothing to do with Google, and has an excellent built in ad and tracking blocker.

andrew said...

Sumption spent his life putting forward the best case possible that produced one part of a binary result.
Later on hearing other people doing the same and then contributing to making that bunary judgement.
We should not be surprised if he thinks and speaks like that.

We dont expect footballers to be good at anything other than footy.
Sumption is a professional arguer...

dearieme said...

"please urge your young to be cautious": I did, to no vail. "Let other young things be the guinea pigs" I eventually said, cynically, in desperation. Nope.

E-K said...

Nick, we're meeting up soon when I will be able to apologise to you personally for hijacking Dom's highly esteemed site. Then we'll have some laughs over a few ales while our vagrant... oops... FRA-grant ladies will chunter on about babies and shit.

I never advocated 'killing granny'. I was for what we did with my own mum, which was highly effective focused shielding. She's happy and proudly wears her rebellion lanyard - ever the renegede, she was.

The one person I know who double-masked and gloved up and washed his apples dropped dead yesterday outside a shop - his last fifteen months were hypochondriac misery.

But I think the measures we are pledged to most definitely WILL kill granny.

Boris's green measures will result in deaths by hypothermia and inability to transport granny to her frequent NHS appointments. Funny that these don't ever get mentioned by the Left who absolutely LURRV Covid restrictions and people being muzzled.

I'm freeeeeeee. Declaring a mental trauma is the ultimate get-out. It even got me my job back !!!!

E-K said...

Mike was his name.

Shall we put him down as a lockdown death ?

He was certainly too anxiously protected to have been put down as a Covid death.