Author Archives: Robert Dingwall

Could we live with a ‘second influenza’?

Somewhere along the line we have lost a sense of proportion about the Covid-19 pandemic. At the beginning, we were rightly concerned that a novel virus, to which human populations had never been exposed, might represent an existential threat to our species. This justified rapid, and often poorly-evidenced, actions to interrupt transmission of the infection.… Read More »

The ‘New Normal’: Webinar with Culture, Mind & Brain group, McGill University

21 May 2020 PANELISTS: 2:00 Samuel Veissière (McGill): Introductory remarks on the ‘infodemic’, the role of the Internet, and pre-existing social pathologies 2:15 Cécile Rousseau (McGill): Symptoms – Virtue – War 2:30 Stefan Ecks (Edinburgh): The importance of social science in pandemic epidemiology 2:45 Robert Dingwall (Nottingham Trent): The three social pandemics: fear, explanation and… Read More »

How do pandemics end?

In the midst of the present chaos, it is easy to forget that the world has had pandemics before and that they have come to an end. Can we learn anything from these experiences that might help us in dealing with Covid-19? Note first that no pandemic has actually wiped out humanity. While this may… Read More »

Covid-19: We cannot sit in our own little bubbles forever…

“The lockdown is loosening, but life is nowhere near back to normal. As schools and businesses reopen, they are being asked to follow social-distancing rules, keeping everyone two metres apart. But is all of this disruption worth it, particularly as the pandemic recedes from view? Many are also still afraid to go back to work,… Read More »

LIFTING THE LOCKDOWN: Balancing health and wealth

Who’s to say what’s right and wrong in these strange coronavirus times? But what’s clear is that the longer any lockdowns last, the more jobs are lost. You may be healthy, but hurt. When is it the right time to loosen the shackles? Panel discussion for Roundtable, a current affairs programme by TRT World (Turkey).… Read More »

New Podcast – Robert Dingwall vs Richard Horton on UK government decision-making about Covid-19

Going Viral is a podcast developed by Mark Honigsbaum, a journalist and historian to look at issues around infectious disease outbreaks. The current focus is on Covid-19, with a historian’s interest in the longer-term context of the immediate UK government response. Richard Horton has been arguing that rapid action should have followed the publication of… Read More »

Coronavirus – Global Agenda: World Lockdown – Battling the Pandemic

Panel discussion for NHK – the Japanese public broadcasting network Borders can’t contain the raging COVID-19 pandemic. It has forced unprecedented action, but the outlook is grim. What is the nature of the coronavirus and how should we confront the worldwide risks? Moderator Ebara Miki Chief International Correspondent, NHK WORLD-JAPAN Panelists Shindo Nahoko Senior Advisor,… Read More »

Coronavirus: Lockdown is another triumph of populism over science – most people have behaved rationally so far

All infectious disease outbreaks generate three social epidemics – of fear, explanation and action. The last describes the pressures to “do something”, however pointless or irrelevant. The Government’s lockdown represents another triumph of populism over science. Its approach is reminiscent of the line from the Communist playwright Bertolt Brecht about the failure of the people… Read More »