Insight: Slaughtered on Suspicion
Directed by Malcolm Massey and Patrick Henningsen
In 2001, there was an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Great Britain. This resulted in the largest slaughter of animals (including pigs, cattle and sheep) in UK history. As of 2013, the livestock industry had still not recovered.
There are a number of odd features about the details of this large-scale slaughter. First, about 79 percent of the animals that were culled were not infected. Some herds were targeted without evidence, while others were ignored. Deer are very vulnerable to FMD but were also ignored. FMD for most breeds of sheep in England is no more serious than a common cold, but the sheep were culled anyway. One person kept her perfectly healthy sheep in her living room in an attempt to protect them, but that did not stop members of the army and police from breaking down the door and killing the sheep. In short, the implementation of this culling was illegal and incompetent to the point where it can’t simply be blamed on stupidity. No one could be that stupid. Something bigger must have been going on.
Why were the agencies involved checking into the wood supply in the UK in the summer of 2000? Why were they printing up large numbers of warning signs for FMD months before the first case was detected? It took large amounts of wood to burn the bodies of the slaughtered animals, but burning is believed to spread the disease even more. In many cases, it took weeks before they were able to dispose of the large piles of animals culled. I imagine that didn’t smell so good—and is that really a healthy way to deal with the problem?
This overreaction was apparently triggered (or justified) by a computer model. I don’t often pull rank and claim expertise, but I do have a degree and a lot of experience in computer engineering, so I’m going to get up on my hind legs and pull rank. Computers are not magic machines that always give you the right answer. Computer models are only as good as their programmers and the assumptions they are based on. Computers are powerful tools for crunching numbers really fast, but when the programming and assumptions are wrong, they just generate wrong answers really fast. Computers have no intelligence, and if the programmers don’t either, the answer will always, always be wrong. Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) is not just a theory; it is as valid as the law of gravity.
By now, we have seen numerous examples of computer models that have been wildly wrong in their predictions. The UK’s FMD model was wrong; climate models have all been wrong; the Covid-19 model that triggered the current panic was wrong. Yet people are still practically ready to start a religion based on a computer model. Do we ever learn?
There is also a disturbing consistency in the destructive results of these failed models. The climate model has succeeded in generating an irrational fear of carbon dioxide, which is good for plant life and all life. The FMD model devastated English agriculture. The Covid-19 model has put a major dent in agriculture and the economy needed to produce and acquire food all over the world. Destroying the enemy’s food supply is a tried-and-true war tactic. Governments everywhere seem to have perfected the use of computer models to convince us that they need to reduce our food supply for our own good. I’m not trying to start conspiracy theories, but whether this is deliberate or not, the result is equally unacceptable. The thumb is UP for this video.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2020🖨️ Print post