Neil Ferguson

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Not to be confused with Niall Ferguson.


  • 1987 - 1990 - MA in Physics, University of Oxford [1]
  • 1990 - 1994 - DPhil in Theoretical Physics, University of Oxford [1]

Positions held


Colloquially known as Professor Pantsdown [2] [3] [4] , after breaking his own COVID-19 lockdown rules (only essential travel, don't go to other people's homes) in May 2020 to go and visit his married lover Antonia Staats.

Better known for his inability to accurately forecast things involving his apparent area of knowledge (including COVID-19):

  • 2001 - Ferguson was behind the disputed research that sparked the mass culling of eleven million sheep and cattle during the UK 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, deemed later to have been totally unnecessary [5]. It cost the UK economy £10 billion[6]
  • 2002 - Ferguson predicted that, by 2080, up to 150,000 people could die from exposure to BSE (mad cow disease) in beef. In the U.K., there were only 177 deaths from BSE.[7]
  • 2005 - Ferguson predicted that up to 150 million people could be killed from bird flu. In the end, only 282 people died worldwide from the disease between 2003 and 2009.[8]
  • 2009 - A UK government estimate, based on Ferguson’s advice, said a “reasonable worst-case scenario” was that the swine flu would lead to 65,000 British deaths. In the end, swine flu killed 457 people in the U.K.[8]
  • 2020 - Ferguson admitted that his Imperial College model of the COVID-19 disease, of 500,000 deaths unless an immediate lockdown was implemented, was based on undocumented, 13-year-old computer code that was intended to be used for a feared influenza pandemic, rather than a coronavirus.[8] Other data analysts opined that using such modelling in a private business context would get one fired.[9]