Life
    Culture

    Word of the week: ‘R number’

    15 May 2020

    Definition:

    The reproductive value (R value) tracks how many people, on average, will be infected for every one person who has a disease. When the R value is above 1, the disease spreads exponentially.

    Derivation:

    The infection rate of Covid-19 has national focus. Government measures are designed to push the R value down. If the R rate is low, we can relax. If it is high, we need to take action to protect people from infection.

    Arguably more deadly than Covid-19 is the wave of intellectual viruses that have attacked brains, rather than lungs – here the R rate has been dangerously high for a number of years.

    The ‘Offence virus’ and the ‘Climate Panic’ pandemic originated in American universities and spread rapidly. Whereas Covid-19 harms the physically frail, ‘Offence’ and its various strains, has mainly affected the brains of healthy, ‘privileged’ people who work in the cultural, media and intellectual sectors. It causes a degeneration in cognitive ability, whereby the sufferer loses the ability to debate honestly. Sufferers have been known to take offence at every opportunity, often on behalf of minority groups.

    The worst affected experience the feeling of being physically harmed when they encounter views that differ from their own. These ‘diseases of the intellect’ have affected the behaviour of once rational human beings. No amount of monitoring of the R rate by those on the other side of the debate seems to reduce the spread.

    The ‘Offence’ virus was a mutation of the once healthy concept of ‘equal rights’. Originating in the tortured imagination of social science academics, who were desperate to discover their own relevance, the pathogen was born. Academics, ‘activists’, journalists, writers and assorted ‘cultural creators’  were the first to fall vicim. Social media was the great super-spreader and their algorithms caused exponential infection rates.

    Thus the bizarre and paranoid thought of a few academics on an American university campus can infect the entire cultural output of the BBC in months.

    The best form of protection is to be alert and wash our hands of the worst ideas. Common sense and ‘asking obvious questions’ has proved to be an effective disinfectant.

    Other Ideas that are R 1+

    The ‘Phobia Denunciation’ Virus: an intellectual pathogen that makes people distrust those around them. Infected people develop a paranoid delusion that everyone around them is motivated by bigotry. Strains include Transphobia, Islamophobia and, in rare cases, LGBTQI+ophobia.

    The ‘You’ve Stolen Our Future’ Virus – a disease that started in sections of the adult population, who then infected school children. Patients developed beliefs that adults were destroying the world that they were due to inherit. In the worst outbreaks, children gathered in clusters of ‘School strikes for the climate’.

    The ‘Follow The Science’ virus – a virus that tricks the sufferer into believing that they are always right, because they work in academia. Those who engage in ‘research’, and have a desire to influence government policy, are most vulnerable. Some patients can be treated by demonstrating that other academics disagree with them. Others can undergo ‘science is a process, not a dogma’ therapy. However, success rates are low, and many sufferers react negatively, retreat into a defensive state, and denounce helpers as ‘science deniers’.

    Use:

    “R you talking rubbish?”