Stanford professor who challenged lockdown and ‘scientific clergy’ declare academic freedom ‘dead’

A Stanford University professor of medicine says “academic freedom is dead” after his life became a “living hell” for defying coronavirus lockdown orders and “scientific clergy” during the pandemic.

“The basic premise is that if you don’t have security and academic freedom in difficult cases, when a faculty member has an idea that is unpopular among some other faculty – powerful faculty, or even the administration … If they don’t protect it in that case, you don’t have academic freedom at all,” Dr. Jay Bhattacharya told Fox News Digital in a phone interview.

Bhattacharya is a permanent professor of medicine at Stanford University and also an economist who serves as director of Stanford’s Center for Demography and Economics of Health and Aging.

He came under fire during the pandemic after co-authoring the Great Barrington Declaration, an open letter signed by thousands of doctors and scientists in 2020, calling lockdowns harmful. Harvard Professor of Medicine Dr. Martin Kuldorf and Oxford Professor Dr. Sunetra Gupta joined Bhattacharya in co-authoring the document.

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Dr. Jay Bhattacharya speaks during a roundtable discussion with members of the House Freedom Caucus on the COVID-19 pandemic at The Heritage Foundation on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya speaks during a roundtable discussion with members of the House Freedom Caucus on the COVID-19 pandemic at The Heritage Foundation on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022.
(Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. The announcement was immediately condemned by other health leaders, including Anthony Fauci, who described the call for herd immunity in the document as “nonsense and very dangerous”.

Bhattacharya spoke at the Academic Freedom Conference at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business earlier this month and said that in the current era, “we have a high priest who declares from above what is true and what is not true. Is.”

He told the conference, “When you take a stand that is contrary to the scientific clergy, your life becomes a living hell.” “You face an intensely hostile work environment.”

Bhattacharya said that soon after the Great Barrington announcement gained widespread attention, he received death threats, hate mail and questions about where he got his funding, which he noted, “Most of my money has come from me for most of my life.” For the time being came from the NIH.”

“The purpose of the one-page document was to convey to the public that there was no scientific consensus in favor of the lockdown, in fact many epidemiologists, many doctors, many other people – key people – disagreed with the consensus,” Bhattacharya said in his 10 minutes at the conference. said during the lecture.

The College Fix reported his comments at the conference, and on campus, “a chill” set in on the debate and he was denied a campus talk and an effort to organize a debate on COVID policies stalled.

“If Stanford was really, really committed to academic freedom, they … would have worked to make sure that there was debate and discussion, seminars, where these ideas were discussed among faculty,” whether academics Agree or disagree, he told Fox News Digital after his address at the conference.

A view of Hoover Tower and the Stanford University campus as seen from Stanford Stadium.  One of the accused has been living in the campus for almost a year.

A view of Hoover Tower and the Stanford University campus as seen from Stanford Stadium. One of the accused has been living in the campus for almost a year.
(David Madison / Getty Images)

Bhattacharya argued in his comments to Fox News that in many scientific circles during the pandemic, “power has replaced the idea of ​​truth as the guiding light.”

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“So you have someone like Tony Fauci who says, ironically, that if you question me, you’re not just questioning a man, you’re questioning the science itself. It’s a display of raw power.” practice, where he effectively positions himself as pope.” of science rather than a genuine desire to learn the truth.”

Coronavirus Prevention Face Mask Safety N95 Mask and Medical Surgical Mask at home.

Coronavirus Prevention Face Mask Safety N95 Mask and Medical Surgical Mask at home.
(iStock)

“He systematically tried to pretend that everyone agreed with his views on COVID policy, when in fact there was deep disagreement among scientists and epidemiologists about the correct strategy. So we set out to tell the public Great Barrington wrote the manifesto that it was. Disagreement. Another alternative policy was available,” he said.

Bhattacharya alleged at the conference that “academic freedom is dead” and that he was left without the support of Stanford leaders.

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“University policy, when the pressure is on, is to allow this type of hostile work environment,” he said. “What if this was an open scientific debate on campus sponsored by a university? So people knew there were valid alternative views?”

A general view of the Main Quadrangle and Hoover Tower buildings on the Stanford University campus prior to a college football game against the Oregon Ducks at Stanford Stadium on October 2, 2021 in Palo Alto, California.

A general view of the Main Quadrangle and Hoover Tower buildings on the Stanford University campus prior to a college football game against the Oregon Ducks at Stanford Stadium on October 2, 2021 in Palo Alto, California.
(David Madison / Getty Images)

He argued that if the Stanford president had insisted on a debate on when the Great Barrington Declaration was written, “there would have been tremendous controversy around it.”

“But at the same time the hostile work environment would have ended because what he would have said is, ‘Look, there’s a debate, it’s legitimate to have this debate, a place like Stanford is where this debate should happen.’

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Neither Stanford’s media team nor the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases immediately responded to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment on Bhattacharya’s comments.

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