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Opinion

The algorithm myth: why the bots won’t take over – The Spectator

Google once believed it could use algorithms to track pandemics. People with flu would search for flu-related information, it reasoned, giving the tech giant instant knowledge of the disease’s prevalence. Google Flu Trends (GFT) would merge this information with flu tracking data to create algorithms that could predict the disease’s trajectory weeks before governments’ own estimates.

But after running the project for seven years, Google quietly abandoned it in 2015. It had failed spectacularly. In 2013, for instance, it miscalculated the peak of the flu season by 140 per cent.

According to the German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer, this is a good example of the limitations of using algorithms to surveil and study society. The 74-year-old has just written a book on the subject, How to Stay Smart in a Smart World. He thinks humans need to remain in charge in a world increasingly filled with artificial intelligence that tries to replicate human thinking.

http://archive.today/2022.02.17-120640/https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-algorithm-myth-why-the-bots-won-t-take-over

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News

School closures ‘did not significantly reduce Covid spread’ – The Telegraph

There is “no evidence” that school closures significantly reduced the spread of Covid, a study has found.

The research, published in the journal Nature Medicine, used data from Japan, where each municipality is responsible for the closure of schools in their areas.

…”Empirically, we find no evidence that school closures in Japan caused a significant reduction in the number of coronavirus cases,” they said.

“If opening schools leads to the spread of Covid-19, spikes of cases would occur in the control group; however, these were not observed. The implication is the same: school closures do not help reduce the spread of Covid-19 significantly.”

…Separate research, published earlier this year, found the UK had closed schools for longer than anywhere in Europe other than Italy over the past 18 months.

http://archive.today/2021.11.01-222952/https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/11/01/school-closures-did-not-significantly-reduce-covid-spread/

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Opinion

Masks Are Changing How Kids Interact – The Atlantic

Some psychologists and educators worry that such impairment in facial processing can lead to a spate of challenges with socialization and communication. Kids may find reading people’s emotions through masks particularly difficult. And for children who are meeting new classmates for the first time while masked, recognition difficulties can slow down the getting-to-know-you process and, in the long run, hinder the development of trust. England opted not to require children to wear masks in elementary school, at least for the time being; according to The New York Times, both the Conservative and Labour Parties are concerned that masks make communication harder for kids. The World Health Organization also recommended that schools weigh potential “psychosocial development” concerns when deciding mask requirements for children ages 6 through 12.

http://archive.today/2021.10.12-183302/https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2021/10/how-schools-can-help-kids-make-friends-through-masks/620356/

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News

Americans with PhDs are the most reluctant to get vaccinated against COVID, study finds – Daily Mail

People with a PhD are the most hesitant when it comes to getting the Covid-19 vaccine, according to a paper by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Researchers surveyed just over five million US adults in an online survey, with 10,000 reporting that they were educated to PhD level.

The report showed a surprising U-shaped correlation between willingness to get a Covid vaccine and education level – with the highest hesitancy among those least and most educated.

http://archive.today/2021.10.25-224325/https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9893465/Americans-PhDs-reluctant-vaccinated-against-COVID-study-finds.html

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News

Covid: Home-education numbers rise by 75% – BBC News

The number of children registering for home education in the UK rose by 75% in the first eight months of the current school year, according to BBC research.

http://archive.today/2021.07.19-095252/https://www.bbc.com/news/education-57255380

Categories
Opinion

Scrap Covid tests in schools, says Oxford vaccine pioneer

Covid testing in schools is hugely disruptive and should be suspended, experts have said, as it emerged that up to 60 per cent of “positive” tests a week are coming back negative when checked.

Under plans to keep schools open, more than 50 million lateral flow tests have been carried out on youngsters, leading to thousands of pupils and their social bubbles being forced to self-isolate for 10 days.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/06/17/scrap-covid-tests-schools-says-oxford-vaccine-pioneer/

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Opinion

This is what we do about anti-vaxxers: No job. No entry. No NHS access – Independent

But the time has come when the hard choices are looming closer. If we don’t want this Covid crisis to last forever, we need some new simple, guidelines: No jab, no job; no jab, no access to NHS healthcare; no jab, no state education for your kids. No jab, no access to pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, stadiums. No jab, no entry to the UK, and much else.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/antivaxxers-vaccine-coronavirus-nhs-b1849437.html

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Opinion

My darkest predictions have come true… the effects of Covid lockdowns are catastrophic – Dr. John Lee, Daily Mail

One year on from the start of the first lockdown, the brutal price of this drastic policy is all too obvious. Amid battered public finances, rising unemployment and widespread business failures, entire sectors of the economy have been devastated.

…Indeed, the average age of Covid fatalities is over 82, higher than the UK’s average age of death from all causes. And among those who contract the disease, just two in 1,000 (or fewer) actually die.

…But, while every death is a tragedy for bereaved families, 7 per cent above average does not strike me as a particularly shocking figure, especially since some of those deaths were caused by lockdowns themselves.

…In fact, there is no authoritative research that reveals a clear correlation between the severity of lockdowns and the avoidance of viral peaks.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-9386953/DR-JOHN-LEE-darkest-predictions-come-true-effects-lockdowns-catastrophic.html

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Publications

Face coverings in education – Department for Education

No pupil or student should be denied education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/967285/Face_coverings_in_education-March-2021.pdf

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Publications

Closing schools is not evidence based and harms children – BMJ

Some 8.8 million schoolchildren in the UK have experienced severe disruption to their education, with prolonged school closures and national exams cancelled for two consecutive years. School closures have been implemented internationally1 with insufficient evidence for their role in minimising covid-19 transmission and insufficient consideration of the harms to children.

https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n521

Categories
Opinion

‘It’s the isolation’: parents on the impact of lockdown on children

With many primary school pupils learning at home, and toddlers missing out on critical social interactions with their peers,parents of young children have concerns about the long-term impact of long periods spent at home.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/feb/10/its-the-isolation-parents-on-the-impact-of-lockdown-on-children

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News

The Techies Who Are Hacking Education by Homeschooling Their Kids – Wired

Published 4th Feb 2015

This may come as a shock to those of us who still associate homeschooling with fundamentalists eager to shelter their kids from the evils of the secular state. But it turns out that homeschooling has grown more mainstream over the last few years. According to the most recent statistics, the share of school-age kids who were homeschooled doubled between 1999 and 2012, from 1.7 to 3.4 percent.

And many of those new homeschoolers come from the tech community. When homeschooling expert Diane Flynn Keith held a sold-out workshop in Redwood City, California, last month, fully half of the parents worked in the tech industry. Jens Peter de Pedro, an app designer in Brooklyn, says that five of the 10 fathers in his homeschooling group work in tech, as do two of the eight mothers. And Samantha Cook says that her local hackerspace is often filled with tech-savvy homeschoolers.

http://archive.today/2015.02.04-185234/http://www.wired.com/2015/02/silicon-valley-home-schooling/

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News

Homeschooling in the UK increases 40% over three years – BBC News

Published 26 April 2018.

The number of children being homeschooled has risen by about 40% over three years, the BBC has found.

Across the UK 48,000 children were being home-educated in 2016-17, up from about 34,000 in 2014-15.

http://archive.today/2022.01.31-164041/https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-42624220

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Publications

COVID-19 isolation having detrimental impact on children’s education and welfare, particularly the most vulnerable – Ofsted

Repeated isolation has chipped away at the progress pupils have made since returning to school in September

The effectiveness of remote education is varied and difficult to determine

Children arriving at secure children’s homes are, in effect, put into solitary confinement

Many children with special education needs and/or disabilities (SEND) are not attending school, are struggling with remote learning and are at risk of abuse or neglect.

Even more schools report at least one child now being home schooled. Many parents doing this say their children will not return to school ‘until pandemic is over’

https://web.archive.org/web/20201215125700/https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-isolation-having-detrimental-impact-on-childrens-education-and-welfare-particularly-the-most-vulnerable