Ivo’s best shot not good enough – Ian Macleod

Stepping into Nick Hudson’s PANDA corner, we have journalist and business science fundi, Ian Macleod, taking his challenger Ivo Vegter on at his own game; carefully thought-out penmanship. Luckily, this is not tag-wrestling, or we’d soon have somebody springing out from Ivo’s corner to take on Ian, but a quick glance at Ian’s arguments cannot fail but get you thinking. Both sides are highly skilled at getting through the other’s defences, delivering body punches wherever the argument is weak or not properly substantiated and asking hard questions that seem to leave their opponent at a temporary loss, or at the very least both protagonists tangled in an unloving clasp. As an audience we can only hope they’ll break’ apart and set to again, providing endless fascination and stimulation, with each one of us declaring their favourite the winner. If Ian were the referee, he’d say Ivo’s not fighting by the Queensberry Rules. But then again, he’s not. This article was first published on the Daily Friend.– Chris Bateman.

Grave assertions demand grave justifications: An open letter to Ivo Vegter

Hello Ivo

You allege in your recent piece in The Daily Friend that PANDA and its chairman Nick Hudson cannot be taken seriously. You attempt to show PANDA is so dangerous, so systematically untrustworthy and so malignant that we ought to ignore them.

These are grave assertions in an open society.

I submit that you have failed to meet the high evidentiary burden. And worse, that you have broken principles by doing this.

1. Cancel column

You haven’t used the word, but your intention is to “cancel” PANDA.

Your entreaty goes far beyond stating your stance. Individually, you can and should take seriously whoever you choose. But you have made a public appeal.

I take your point that there are some sources so malicious and murky that nobody ought to give them any attention. But in a healthy society, this demands a high evidentiary burden to justify appealing for. As I demonstrate here, and as Nick does in his meticulous retort to you, you’ve not met this.

2.“That’s just… like, your opinion, man” – The Big Lebowski

As the wise “Dude” Lebowski teaches us, we’re entitled to our opinions. In your piece, you attempt to deny PANDA theirs.

I’ll deal with one instance. Nick says of Covid, “This is a disease that affects a vulnerable minority and for the rest of us there’s negligible risk posed by this disease.” You call this callous. You have that right. You add it to the case for cancellation. You don’t have that right.

Nick’s piece presents voluminous evidence to back up his opinion. Here I add just two data points to refute your claim that they are egregiously unjustified in their assertion.

First, let’s go to the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS). This shows what is, in my opinion, a minority of deaths among youngsters over the course of eight months in England and Wales.  The “Under 65” column is striking.

Second, America’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows the prevalence of comorbid conditions among those who die from Covid.

You are free to call this not a disease of the vulnerable and old. And to disagree with those who do. You are not free to punish PANDA for calling it one.

3. Guilt by association

You call Robert F. Kennedy Jr. an anti-vax conspiracy theorist. Your justification: his family says so.

You describe Denis Rancourt as “a physicist best-known for his academic misconduct”. Your reference, without discussion or elaboration: Wikipedia.

Then, satisfied you have discredited Kennedy and Rancourt, you extend the fallacy to PANDA. You paint them with an empty brush.

Were Kennedy and Rancourt wrong in the instances PANDA cited them? You’ll have to do that work. Did PANDA cite them as infallible sources? You’ll have to show us that.

You need to consider evidence and engage with arguments to be taken seriously.


Ivo, you’ve made grave assertion against PANDA and Nick Hudson. They have challenged you on every detail. Here I press you on three matters of principle.

Cancellation is not part of a healthy, open society. Reasoned opinions are allowed. Guilt by association is folly.

I’d be obliged to get your response.

Ian Macleod

  • The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR
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  • Ian Macleod studied business science at the University of Cape Town, and journalism at Rhodes University. He completed his MBA at the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) during 2016-2017, penning his thesis on the challenges inherent in private equity investments into family business. During his studies he worked at professional services firm EY in their People Advisory Service (PAS) consulting wing, working primarily on change management. Macleod returned to GIBS shortly after graduating to help launch the school’s new Africa centre, the Centre for African Management and Markets (CAMM), and to drive an exploration into the viability of a family business network for Africa housed at GIBS. He combines his interests in journalism, business and academia in his online platform, Investment Narrative (https://www.investmentnarrative.com/). Macleod has run five Comrades Marathons, and once rode his bike 900km off-road from Joburg to Scottburgh in nine days.

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