Can even (especially) a professor’s thoughts be controlled so that they won’t even add up 1 + 1?

New appointment: Professor Linda Bauld | The University of Edinburgh

Professor Linda Bauld is almost the model public intellectual – clear, careful, insightful. She regularly performs a very valuable function for us all, almost

On Sky TV News two days ago, she was happy to tell the interviewer:

1: The Scottish Government has done far better in communicating with the people.

1: Research has shown greater confidence among Scots in the actions of their government.

Now, this is going somewhere isn’t it? It should be. Greater confidence leads to greater compliance. The researchers were certainly going there.

And, greater compliance means lower infection levels. Obviously?

1 plus 1 equals 2? Professor Bauld wasn’t going there and said:

It’s not that we’ve done better in this pandemic in terms of the indicators we look at, cases, ICU, hospital admissions and deaths. We were doing a little better in the summer but not so much overall, it’s the communication.

Wait, so the better communication and the greater confidence in the government policy in Scotland have been to no avail?

But, but, the infection level in England over the whole pandemic has been 50% higher. It’s currently nearly three times higher. The death rate over the whole pandemic has been 25% higher in England. New admissions to hospital in Scotland are falling while in England, they’re climbing.

I think I know why the professor won’t follow her own logic and face the fact that Scotland has done better. Nobody is saying that. Nobody, because it’s one of those things that cannot be said even though it is true. It’s thought control.

There’s a bit of a myth that those without formal qualifications are more prone to thought control. As Chomsky has noted, it’s the opposite. When you live and work in a world where what you are prepared to say will limit both your career prospects and your presence on high status media, many academics self-censor semi-consciously.

That’s why certain academics appear on TV and others don’t.

27 thoughts on “Can even (especially) a professor’s thoughts be controlled so that they won’t even add up 1 + 1?

  1. It’s the usual, Scotland just cannot be doing better, in any way, on any level, ever. Back in your box Scotland, you think you’re better heh? We’ll show you who’s better, take that, and that, kick, kick kick! Classic bullying. Wonder what scared the horses with Prof Bauld, she was not so long ago, very vocal about the Scottish government doing things better, was she not?

    Someone from on high had a wee word perhaps? Getting too big for your boots Scotland, can’t have that eh.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think the article I linked here yesterday, research from Germany about why people reject advice, or comply with rules, re the pandemic, and/or trust the advisers/ government, or not, is very revealing.
    Bauld says we did better, but didn’t, overall, ‘it’s about communication’, her sentences don’t really make much sense, she is holding back, quite a concerning development.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Re Professor Bauld – possibly Union sympathiser – see her Wikipedia Page. She is not a virologist nor a medical doctor.1st degree was in political science. This is the 3rd time I’ve heard her denying SG’s better handling of the pandemic.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Can you take “communication” in isolation?
    Does that have no consequences for peoples’ behaviour?
    Every man and his dog knows that,short of mass effective vaccines,the only way to control viral infections is through modifying human interactions.
    Just ask Devi Sridhar.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes. Is that why I haven’t seen professor Sridhar interviewed recently, although she was previously a regular, while I have seen professor Bauld? Or is it my imagination?

      Like

  5. Be it Sport, Journalism, Comedy, Politics or any other topic. Your career depends on not saying anything that detracts from the image of the wonderful Union.

    The message has always been clear…upset London and you will find doors closing very fast. Praise the Union and your rise is assured.
    Many walk the tightrope inbetween.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I hope you are not correct in the assertion of your final paragraph, but I fear that while it has been a gradual process that her ‘messaging’ is increasingly being shaped to fit the media ‘narrative’.

    It is, indeed, the case – and not just in academia – that there is a pressure to conform. If people want to make change, then they often need to gain some empowerment and, the gaining of empowerment often entails a Faustian accommodation.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. The Office of National Statistics has just issued the most recent data on infections in all parts of the UK.It is reckoned that 1 in 50 in London has the virus, 1 in 85 in England as a whole,1 in 60 in Wales.

    There is a graph showing infection rates in NI, Scotland, Wales and the regions of England ….. and the lowest level has been consistently Scotland’s.

    I saw this far down on the coronavirus pages of the BBC. While the London figures make the UK main news page, there is no mention of Scotland’s rate on the Scotland pages. The big feature is the EU’s refusal to admit Scottish seed potatoes under “BORIS JOHNSON’s9sic) Deal”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Alisdair

      Just heard on 12 noon news Radio2. New infections are down in Scotland.

      There’s more chance of hearing the FM at peak times on Radio 4 than on Radio Scotland

      Like

  8. Is it . . .
    a) I think the Prof Bald’s heid has been blown up like a baloon, and she likes it. She says what she thinks the propagandists want to hear so she keeps getting back on the telly.

    Or
    b) Developing a high public profile, the Unionist establishment looking after one of their helpers. Even though she is regularily spouting nonsense she is furthering her career.

    Spouting nonsense publically . . . A well trodden route to the top for Unionists.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Yes I watched her say this .
    I think she was presented as being from Edinburgh university and what struck me immediately was that there is another female expert from Edinburgh university who regularly makes comment in the media and is very complimentary of how the Scottish government and Nicola sturgeon have done things during covid .

    When I heard Prof Bauld say this and I’m not sure it was self censorship it was in my mind that she is competing with the other expert at the same university and I formed the opinion that she is a britnat and was on tv to do a job for the britnat cause opposing the other experts positive view.

    I agree with you prof Bauld didn’t make sense one sentence saying how good Scottish govt and Nicola sturgeons communication has been about covid but then saying it’s done no good ?
    That was meant , a sly britnat ploy to try and erase the months and months of good work and dedication by Nicola sturgeon

    Bauld is a britnat not a self censor

    Liked by 2 people

  10. This from Professor Bauld is indeed ‘noteworthy’ coming from someone with a professional expertise in social policy and public health. She will be well versed in the analysis of both quantitative and qualitative research evidence. An ability to present the results of such analyses should not desert her at the door of a TV or radio studio.

    She refers to four indicators’ – cases, ICU, hospital admissions and deaths. We have information on all expressed in numerical terms. The comparative analysis of these ‘indicators’ between the four UK nations – using population ratios where relevant – should be capable of objective statistical analysis and should provide relatively uncontroversial numerical findings.

    The implication of the professor’s remarks – given her profession – must be that she has undertaken the analysis and has indeed found NO statistically significant difference between Scotland and the rUK. Having to draw any other conclusion from the professor’s remarks would be ‘disappointing’ to say the least!

    On the other hand, she argues that the only difference is in ‘the communication’. But here she is drawing on something that must be more subjective, and something where outcome and impact are less amenable to comparative statistical analysis. (Unless someone knows better – and can point to published research.)

    So the professor claims no significant differences in the numerical evidence on the ‘indicators’ but claims there is a significant difference on ‘the communication’. Odd!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. My instincts is she has been leaned on to toe the UK official line and has aired the contradiction consciously. The “management” have form, it is not just Patel and Gove who are skilled in the finer arts of cutlery…
    What is amusing about the UK media/HMG concert is the days of UK media having monopoly over UK public information is gone, they have a diminishingly compliant audience, BBC credibility is sinking and the Pacific Quay submarine is running on fumes.
    News is global, Covid is global, Scottish Independence is of global interest, foreign media can’t be leaned on and the data is public, the lie will collapse no matter how HMG try to fiddle it, and this Blog eloquently assists the process.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I think you have all spun a marvellous confection out of very little. Prof Bauld’s output over time should be judged as a whole and if done would not support your conclusions based on a couple of sentences in one interview.

    If you really want examples of academics prostituting themselves for the sake of Grant’s and/or preferment read some of their utterances during indyref1.

    Meanwhile here are today’s figures for Scotland

    Scottish numbers: 24 December 2020
    Summary
    1,314 new cases of COVID-19 reported
    27,872 new tests for COVID-19 that reported results – 5.3% of these were positive
    On 24th December, 43 new reported deaths of people who have tested positive
    56 people were in intensive care on 23rd December with recently confirmed COVID-19
    1,008 people were in hospital on 23rd December with recently confirmed COVID-19

    Like

    1. A sensible cautionary statement.

      In an interview Professor Sridhar spoke of the amount of both trolling and criticism from unionist politicians she had received over this year band how in the early part of the year, she had been taken aback, horrified, and puzzled. But she then said that as the year progressed she became more au fait with the politics of Scotland and learned how to deal with it in a diplomatic but rigorous way. In addition, like many women in the public spotlight – from the FM and Diane Abbott to Ruth Davidson and Theresa May – she had become more able to deal personally with the misogynistic, sexual and racist abuse. I imagine that Professor Bauld has had similar experiences.

      I hope she is managing to sustain academic rigour.

      Like

    2. In the last few days after our FM had to start clamping down on The Christmas lackdown, Prof Bauld described the FM’s actions a retreating from her previous position.
      When the facts change A change of opinion / course of action is a more apt description of the FM’s actions.

      “Retreating, defending, attempting” these words are straight of the BBC’s manual of how to address an SNP politician’s action.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. On Sky TV News two days ago, she was happy to tell the interviewer:

      1: The Scottish Government has done far better in communicating with the people.

      1: Research has shown greater confidence among Scots in the actions of their government.

      Now, this is going somewhere isn’t it? It should be. Greater confidence leads to greater compliance. The researchers were certainly going there.

      And, greater compliance means lower infection levels. Obviously?

      1 plus 1 equals 2? Professor Bauld wasn’t going there and said:

      It’s not that we’ve done better in this pandemic in terms of the indicators we look at, cases, ICU, hospital admissions and deaths. We were doing a little better in the summer but not so much overall, it’s the communication.

      Wait, so the better communication and the greater confidence in the government policy in Scotland have been to no avail?

      But, but, the infection level in England over the whole pandemic has been 50% higher. It’s currently nearly three times higher. The death rate over the whole pandemic has been 25% higher in England. New admissions to hospital in Scotland are falling while in England, they’re climbing.

      So, ‘her output over time’ means I cannot question this clear misrepresentation of the facts?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed, John. An acknowledgement of ‘better communication’ made by an expert academic is all well and good but it is JUST limited to ‘communication’ technique/process. And is the commentator an expert in communication effectiveness?

        ‘Communication’ alone is of no public health value in the present context if it cannot then be linked through evidence to a ‘better’ public health outcome or impact. The professor in her interview seems to be discounting any measurable, differential public health benefit evident in Scotland amongst the ‘indicators’ she relies upon. Her argument seems to be that ‘better communication’ has had no measurable public health benefit! If that really is her conclusion then it may be subject to challenge, including over time by her peers.

        This is no ‘confection’. Academic researchers are challenged constantly by their peers on the basis of the evidence they present, the logic of their argument, and the objectivity and robustness of their conclusions. That is how peer reviewed research operates, and knowledge and knowhow progresses.

        There is no reason why the bar should be lowered for academics in a TV or radio studio. And there is no reason why members of the public to whom academics present their views via the media should not also question/discuss the academic’s media output – and yes, politely.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. ONS figures for week to 18th Dec as reported on BBC website
    England 1 in 85
    Wales 1 in 60
    Scotland 1 in 140.

    No figure was given for N Ireland but they did say it was high.

    Bear in mind that ONS figures are estimated and are usually reported with confidence limits. They are also subject to revision usually because delays in the Laboratory testing mean that they go to press with varying degrees of incomplete data.

    You can look at the data, current and past, here
    https://www.gov.scot/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-infection-survey/

    Like

  14. thanks John for this and apologies for the delay in reply

    I agree Scotland’s latest position is better overall than England – my comments (which I don’t recall in detail for the interview you mention, I do several interviews most days) were intended to reflect that internationally the UK as a whole has suffered badly and while the examples you provide below are correct (although I think it’s important that we don’t overclaim on the care home front, as my colleagues at Stirling point out in their report) the main drivers of the pandemic have been factors that Scotland does not have control over (borders, financing etc).

    So when we assess Scotland in a global context, I don’t think major differences in key indicators are hugely significant between Scotland and England IF we compare those indicators with countries that have managed so much better overall. Of course this might change in time.

    I’ve been extremely supportive of the public health response in Scotland to date. This is not simply about the government but also about what my expert colleagues in Public Health Scotland, the NHS and local government are doing. They are all working extremely hard to address current challenges. My main aim has been to try and re-iterate key public health messages in the media to help contribute to the public health response. Occasionally this gets political and I’m never comfortable when it does.

    All the best
    Linda

    Like

  15. Don’t recall? I quoted them.

    Thanks
    But what you said lends credibility to the popular myth dominating the public discourse and suiting the Unionist agenda ie that it’s all spin
    ‘when we assess Scotland in a global context, I don’t think major differences in key indicators are hugely significant between Scotland and England IF we compare those indicators with countries that have managed so much better overall’
    ? 17th in death rate and 65th in infection rate after initial hobbling by 4 Nations approach? maybe not hugely significant but isn’t significant significant by definition?
    ? You point to better comms and better public confidence yet baulk at obvious conclusion, better compliance, better results
    ? if better confidence has not led to better compliance and that has not led to better results then what?
    John

    ‘Occasionally this gets political and I’m never comfortable when it does.’

    You and all of us have no choice. Everything is always political. You make choices all the the time. What you said suits the Unionist agenda. What I say suits the indy agenda.
    You’re a social scientist, you must know that.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.