“Hindsight bias”, as psychologists call it, is when we conveniently forget our incorrect opinions, says Daniel Hannan in The Sunday Telegraph. Some 66% of Brits backed the Iraq war when it began in 2003, but by 2015, only 37% remembered supporting the invasion. Something similar will happen with lockdowns. The evidence of their futility “keeps piling up”: a recent meta-study of 24 different surveys found that compulsory lockdowns reduced the Covid mortality rate by 0.2% – around 100 lives for the first wave in Britain. When you consider all the undetected tumours, the “taped-off playgrounds”, the loneliness and the bankruptcy, was it really worth it?
Yet it’s precisely the degree of sacrifice that makes most people still believe lockdowns were worthwhile. “The thought that these things were needless is too painful to contemplate.” There was certainly no dissent permitted back in the “sun-drenched, terrified, illiberal spring” of 2020. Merely pointing out that alternative approaches were possible – as in Sweden – courted “vilification”. But now, as the evidence against lockdowns mounts, people are looking for someone to blame. Tony Blair became a hate figure not because of Iraq, but because the people who supported his war felt guilty and needed a scapegoat. Boris Johnson – ironically, given his libertarian instincts – will fulfil the same “sacrificial” role for lockdown.