The Wisdom of Irrevocable Assertion.

I am getting a bad feeling about this. A not yet peer reviewed pre-print.

Some people cannot ever admit that they are wrong or so it seems. They can dig for themselves a hole with the spade of pride. They can refuse to see what is happening before their eyes because they MUST be right. Macho bullshit can lead to a new pile of corpses because until their “position” becomes so obviously untenable they will refuse to admit any error. By the time it is untenable it is already too late.

We are hearing crazy PR terms like messaging.

I hope that this hole digging dynamic does not come into play. Once one has bigged something up so big, it is much harder to back down.

The Problem with Assertion

Over the last year or so we have heard various politicians making a whole bunch of assertions without considering a) the facts and b) the implications of their assertions on the general public.

To my eye there has been evidence of confirmation bias.

Some politicians have led their nations far up shit creek in a barbed wire canoe and without a paddle.

These assertions have proven in some cases to be fatal.

I don’t know if you can remember, when the AZ vaccine came out there was not much data on its efficacy for the over 65s. Now after only a tiny number of cases of clots it is no longer being recommended for the young, but it is relatively OK for old gits like me. Volte Face.

These knee-jerk reactions to tiny amounts of data cause politicians to assert. For some reason they are not prepared to say it is an evolving situation, stay calm, we are monitoring.  

Must have a sound byte…

When I saw a graph today of risk of the AZ vaccine versus risk of nasty Covid per age cohort I thought wow that is unwise. It is OK for me because like many scientists I am more interested in the data and understand that it can change rapidly. But the general public will see the graph and conclude.

FFS there has been less than a hundred cases of clotting…conclude…on that basis?


People who like attention are prone to assert without checking. For whatever reason, they need to opine, and they do not consider what it is they are doing. They sow and the fruit of their sowing grows.

Is it really that, some people like the sound of their own voice, so very much?

Do people really want that attention so badly that they will risk messing up other people’s lives?

The world mirrors us.

Here is a question.

Have you ever, in the moment made an assertion, for which you had no evidence?

Why did you do that?