Sifting through the litany of accusations levelled at the government by Dominic Cummings this week will be the work of a lifetime. Seven hours of testimony to MPs has delivered so many accusations of troubling behaviour that it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. So we’ve asked a team of experts to go through the material to help us work out which pieces of information are worth our attention.

Matt Flinders explains what Cummings was up to in what he chose to reveal about the government’s chaotic response to COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic – and what he chose to hold back.

Nina Marie Jörden and colleagues have identified the five most pressing questions that must be asked of government in the wake of these revelations. Meanwhile, Trish Greenhalgh has zeroed in on Cummings’ comments about the government focusing too much on handwashing in the early days of the pandemic and failing to understand that COVID is mainly an airborne disease.

And, since Cummings accused experts of succumbing to group-think in their pursuit of herd immunity in March 2020, Colin Fisher examines the phenomenon.

Meanwhile, in this week’s episode of The Conversation Weekly podcast, scientists discuss a hugely significant change that has been made to the rules governing stem cell research.

There’s still time to support our unique form of expert journalism by donating to The Conversation. A big thank you to everyone who has donated so far – every contribution helps secure our future.

Laura Hood

Politics Editor, Assistant Editor

EPA/UK Parliamentary Recording Unit

Dominic Cummings: look closely to see the traps he is setting

Matthew Flinders, University of Sheffield

He can’t pull the trigger now he has been ousted from his job at Number 10 -- but he can help direct the gun.


Dominic Cummings evidence: five key questions that must be investigated

Nina Marie Jörden, Loughborough University; Chris Zebrowski, Loughborough University; Daniel Sage, Loughborough University

The former adviser's seven-hour evidence session is full of strong lines to follow when the public inquiry into the pandemic response gets underway.

Nomad Soul/Shutterstock

Group-think: what it is and how to avoid it

Colin Fisher, UCL

Why do groups of knowledgable people sometimes all make the same flawed decisions?

Illustration of an early stage human embryo. nobeastsofierce via Shutterstock

Growing human embryos in the lab and why scientists just tweaked the rules – podcast

Gemma Ware, The Conversation; Daniel Merino, The Conversation

Plus, how a new wave of South African romcoms is reimagining Johannesburg. Listen to episode 17 of The Conversation Weekly podcast.

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