LIVE: Censorship of Science, with Dr. Martin Kulldorff, Dr. Scott Atlas, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya
Over the course of these last two years, doctors and experts have described an unprecedented assault on free and open scientific discourse, with potentially deadly consequences.
In this special episode of American Thought Leaders, we’re at Hillsdale College, which is hosting a conference on the censorship of science during this pandemic.
We’ll be sitting down with three thought leaders that we’ve previously interviewed on our show, namely former Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Martin Kulldorff, Stanford University professor of medicine Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, and public health policy expert Dr. Scott Atlas. All three are fellows of Hillsdale College’s Academy for Science and Freedom.
Jan Jekielek: Over the course of these last two and a half years, doctors and experts have told me they’d seen an unprecedented assault on free and open scientific discourse with potentially deadly consequences. Today and tomorrow, I’ll be joining the Censorship of Science Conference at Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center in Washington, DC. Tonight, you’ll be watching the public part of the conference where we’ll be hearing from three major thought leaders that I’ve previously had on the show: former Harvard epidemiologist, Dr. Martin Kulldorff, Stanford Professor of Medicine, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow, Dr. Scott Atlas. All three are founding fellows at Hillsdale College’s Academy of Science and Freedom. This is American Thought Leaders and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Dr. Scott Atlas: As we know, the pandemic and its management has exposed many issues beyond infection, and those issues include politicization of science. The scientific process has been damaged, and the free exchange of ideas, frankly, is under threat in the United States. To combat that, we need to do more than just fret about it. So, Dr. Arnn and his wisdom has initiated this new Academy for Science and Freedom. I am Scott Atlas, one of the co-founding fellows, along with my colleagues, Martin Kulldorff and Jay Bhattacharya, who I’m sure everyone here knows as well. It’s a great honor to be working as a group with everyone here. I have the particular pleasure of introducing Martin Kulldorff tonight as our guest speaker.
He is someone who doesn’t need an introduction, but it’s such a great introduction, I’m going to give it. Martin was a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and for over a decade, one of the world experts on statistical analyses of spread of diseases and surveillance. He was a consultant on certain committees of the CDC and the FDA, and has helped with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and as a member on the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee of the FDA.
Martin has developed statistical and epidemiological methods for disease surveillance and novel statistical analyses for indicating not just early detection of disease outbreaks, but also drug and vaccine safety surveillance, which is of some relevance these days. Martin has developed statistical analyses that are used today in the CDC and in places like New York City and other health departments to monitor COVID-19.
He is truly an authority on all of the things that we think he might know, but he is more than that. Martin is really one of the most courageous people of all the colleagues that I have come to know during this pandemic. I almost said, “During this fiasco.” People may remember that I received a sort of a censure by a group of professors at Stanford University Medical School. And Martin Kulldorff was the only scientist in the country who had the guts to go public and write a letter to Stanford, not only in defense of what I said, but specifically challenging all the signatories to a debate on the issues. Needless to say, zero accepted that challenge to debate Martin Kulldorff. So, it is really a great pleasure and honor to introduce Martin, as a colleague in this new institute, as a courageous and honest individual, and as a friend. Martin.
Dr. Martin Kulldorff: Thank you, Scott and to the Kirby Center and the Hillsdale College for hosting us both today and also for this initiative of the Academy for Science and Freedom. I think science is broken and we need to build new institutions that can help save science for the long term. I do a lot of statistical and epidemiological methods, but I’m sorry to disappoint you. I’m not going to show you a single mathematical formula today. So, instead, I’m going to talk about censoring in science and it’s sort of a personal experience. As I tell you this story, you have to realize that there are other scientists who had more harsher censoring on them than I have had, but I’ll tell you my story. And then, you can sort of imagine how other people have had similar stories.
So, if you go back in history a little bit, two years, to March of 2020, when we first heard the news about this new disease outbreak in Wuhan. I was very afraid for about 20 minutes because as soon as this pandemic hit Italy and Iran, which were the two countries outside of China who got it first, I realized that we’re all going to get this. This is going to spread throughout the whole world. There’s absolutely no way that we can stop it. It’s so contagious, it spreads without us knowing about it. So, that was very clear.
Of course, I’m a father of three children. So, as all parents, I’m much more concerned about my kids than about myself. So, I wanted to know, are they at risk? So, I looked at the Wuhan data, which was sort of the only good data available then, and I saw this risk factor that while, of course, anybody could get the disease, be infected, there was more than a thousand-fold difference between the young and the old.
And I thought, “Well, this is sort of important information because it really determines what strategy we should use for this disease.” I was no longer concerned about my kids. They would do fine. I was sort of in the middle group. And of course, for older people, we should be very concerned and make sure that they are protected.
But I tried to sort of publish this sort of simple calculations, but it was difficult. I wasn’t able to do that in the U.S. Maybe, it’s that I only have 20 years of experience as an infectious disease epidemiologist. Maybe you need 30 or 40 years, I’m not sure. Or, maybe, it’s because I was the only professor at Harvard University, and maybe they wanted a more prestigious place. But I’m not sure why, but I was unable to do so.
So, eventually, I posted what I wrote on LinkedIn because I can post whatever I want there after three or four weeks of trying. Because I figured that, “Okay. Nobody wants to hear this,” but it’s important actually that, for historical purposes, that it’s clear that there were people already, back then, who knew these things and knew what sort of what’s the appropriate approach of protecting the old, but not shutting down society for children and so on.
So, I put it there just to have it as a historical document. I’m a native of Sweden. So, I was reading the Swedish approach, which is a little bit different. But I was a little bit afraid because there was a debate in Sweden. So, I was sort of afraid that the public health authorities there, who didn’t close schools, for example, that they would buckle under the pressure.
So, I decided, “Well, I should write in Swedish.” So, I published in three op-eds in the two major… the daily newspapers. There was no problem at all getting published in Sweden. And I figured that, “Well, if Sweden can hold out until the summer, then everybody will see that that was the right approach. And then, everybody will follow the Swedish approach. Good.” Boy, was I wrong.
Eventually, I published it in English also in a sort of obscure UK online magazine. So, if we jump forward a little bit, it was sort of frustrating with the difficulty of getting one’s voice heard. I tried many different things. Actually, I managed to get into CNN. I write an op-ed for CNN Español because I know how to write Spanish. The English version, CNN English, didn’t want it.
But I was so… But we were trying to think, “How can we sort of educate the journalists?” Or, “How can we get out this message?” And Scott was, very heroically, saying things, but they were always dismissing him. “He’s just one person and he is a radiologist and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” And other people were sort of dismissed because they were one person, or they were not… There was always something wrong with them, and so there was silence.
So, we figured, “Okay. If the three of us, me and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya,” who is in the back here, “… and Dr. Sunetra Gupta,” who is, in my view, the preeminent infectious disease technologist in the world… We got together and we wrote the Great Barrington Declaration—a one-page thing. We argued for better focused protection of older, high-risk people, at the same time, as we let children and young adults live near normal lives so as to minimize the collateral public health damage from these lockdowns and other measures.
Well, it got some attention and it got enormously attacked. And every time I read an article about it, whatever newspaper, attacking it, they would always have the link to the declarations. And I said, “Yes,” because then at least some of those reading it would actually click on it, actually read it. By now, I think about 935,000 people have signed this declaration, which makes us very humble and thankful.
The reaction from the director of NIH, Francis Collins, was he wrote to Tony, that is Dr. Fauci. “Look at this, the proposal from these three fringe epidemiologists.” You have two of these fringe epidemiologists here in the room today. “… who met with secretary Azar, who is secretary of Health and Human Services, “… seems to get attention.
There needs to be a quick and devastating published take down of its premises. I don’t see anything. Is it underway?” So, what do you think Dr. Fauci responded? “I am pasting below a piece from Wired that debunks this theory.” I’m sure this Journalist is probably a very fine young man, but it’s a little bit surprising that Dr. Fauci uses him as the authority on epidemiology. He’s a journalist who typically covers the climate, food and biodiversity for Wired magazine, but maybe he knows more than Dr. Fauci. I don’t know about these matters. It wouldn’t kind of surprise me, but…
Here’s another email a few days later, also from Dr. Fauci. He thought that we were similar to those people who denied AIDS a couple of decades ago, which is kind of strange because the purpose of the Great Barrington Declaration was to argue for better focused protection of those that are at highest risk. That was a major part of it. So, why would we do that if we don’t believe COVID is real? So, I don’t quite get the logic, but that’s actually what he wrote.
So, there was sort of an organized campaign against the Great Barrington Declaration with various sort of strange accusations, that it was let-it-rip, which is the opposite. We thought that we were like exorcism, eugenics, clowns, anti-vaxxers, that we did financial gains, even though the opposite is true. We were accused of threatening others, which none of us have done, Trumpian, libertarian and Koch funded, pseudo scientists, and that we received a free lunch when we were at Great Barrington writing this declaration. One of these is actually true. There is such a thing as a free lunch, actually. Actually, we get two free lunches there. So, that was kind of nice. They were good food. Other than that, yeah.
So, the focus of this talk is how censoring is both direct censoring and sort of other forms of it. So, when the Great Barrington Declaration came up, at the very beginning, it comes up at the top in the search engine in Google, but then suddenly it wasn’t there. Instead, what was there was those who criticized it. Other search engines had it at the top, but not Google, and there was some sort of discussion of that. And then, eventually, a week or so later, it came back up. So, I guess… But Google always denied that they did anything. There were some issues with CDC, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. So, I’m going to tell you what was censored.
So, here was CDC in April 2021. I was serving on a committee, a working group for vaccine safety of the COVID vaccines. And at one point, CDC decided to make a pause on the J&J vaccine because of some issues of blood clots, and those blood clots was in young women under age of 50, but they decided to pause the vaccine for all age groups. So, it was very clear from the data.
And one of the things that I spent many years on is to figure out how to, as quickly as possible, find out whether there is a problem with adverse reactions or not using post-consequential analysis over weekly looking at data. And it was very clear to me that there was a concern for women under 50, yes, but there was absolutely no evidence. And there was actually evidence that there was no concern for those over 50. And those are the ones who really need these vaccines. The purpose is not for the young women or even young men, that wasn’t the primary beneficiary of this vaccine.
And the J&J vaccine is sort of important because it’s a one-dose. So, it’s good to reach hard to reach people, like people in rural areas or homeless people where it’s hard to get the second dose. So, it’s sort of important that… After I sort of decided to… They weren’t quite interested in my views on the matter. So, I wrote a thing in “The Hill” arguing against pausing this vaccine for older adults. And then, they removed me from the committee. And four days later, they lifted the pause. But then, the damage was kind of made because it already got a bad reputation and even… This was during the height of the second wave. So, those who didn’t get it, some of those people died. So, I guess, I’m probably the only person who’s been fired by CDC for being too pro-vaccine.
Also in the Spring of 2020, I wrote on Twitter… Somebody was asking, “Do you think that young people should get vaccinated? Now, what about those who had COVID already?” So, I said, “No. Thinking that everyone must be vaccinated is as scientifically flawed as thinking that nobody should. COVID vaccines are important for older, higher risk people and their caretakers, not those with prior natural infection or for children.” So, to me, that’s sort of just basic epidemiology, nothing strange with that. But Twitter has some people who, I guess they consider themselves to be experts in this area and they didn’t like it, so they censored it so that nobody could share it or reply to it, or like it, which basically means that pretty much nobody will find it.
Later on, they locked me out for, I think, about three weeks or so because I tweeted about masks, saying that, “By claiming that masks are a good protection, some older people will sort of believe that, and they will go and do things and get infected, thinking that it protects the way it doesn’t. That’s not so good. So, they might die because of this misinformation about the masks.” But I guess that made Twitter… For three weeks, I had no access to Twitter because of this tweet.
Here’s another one. I asked… There was an article published by [the] Brownstone Institute by Roberto Strongman, who is an associate professor of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. And he wrote a very interesting historical expertise of how mask has been so used historically, for example, to silence slaves. And he talked about Anastacia, who’s this Brazilian Saint, as a former slave, and that was not popular on Twitter, so that was also censored.
Facebook, they took down the Great Barrington Declaration page for a week, no explanation. The offending post was that we argued that, with the vaccines, which at that time had just come out, we should prioritize giving it to the older, high-risk people. That’s what caused Facebook to close it down. And there was sort of some protest against it and, therefore, they picked it back up again after a week. But that was the Facebook censoring.
On YouTube, we did a round table in April with Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida. It was me and Dr. Scott Atlas, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, and Dr. Sunetra Gupta. And we talked, for example, about the fact that children don’t need to have masks. And we argued against vaccine passport; there was some rumbling starting about vaccine passport. So, then, we sort of thought, “Let’s try to argue against that from the very beginning before it sort of takes off.” So, that was removed by YouTube, which is owned by Google.
LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, they also censor. So, this was an article… It was an interview I did with The Epoch Times on the dangers of vaccine mandates. Now, they are a little bit nicer, I guess, because they, “Only you can see this post.” So, I could still read my post, but nobody else could. So, at least, they didn’t remove it from me, so that was… Yeah. This was another one. I actually didn’t write anything. I just reposted a LinkedIn post by a guy from Iceland and what he did, he just cited what the Icelandic chief epidemiologist had said, which is sort of the equivalent of the CDC director in the U.S. So, this is the official public health authority in Iceland, but that was censored.
Here, another one. Here, they were a little bit harsher because not even I was allowed to read this tweet, they removed it completely. I was arguing that since the people who have recovered from COVID, they’re the ones who have the best immunity, better than those who are vaccinated. So, they are the ones who are least likely to spread it to others. So, hospitals should hire nurses like that or doctors like that and use them for the most frail, oldest patients at the geriatric ward or the ICUs because they’re least likely to infect these patients.
Instead, the hospitals were firing them. But LinkedIn did not enjoy that post. Here’s another one. Together with Dr. Bhattacharya, we wrote a Newsweek article about how Fauci fooled America with the various things about public health, and LinkedIn took that away also. But Microsoft News, they actually republished it.
So, one arm of Microsoft is censoring this article because LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft, but another part of Microsoft is actually republishing it. So I shouldn’t be too upset with Microsoft here, but it’s a little bit… So, I guess, maybe they’re just sort of, skip it, I guess, censor themselves, I guess, or something like that.
Here’s another one that Microsoft or LinkedIn didn’t like, sort of. “During the AIDS pandemic, we blamed the sick, we stigmatized gays, we did fearmongering, we ignored the poor, slow with treatments, and NIAIDs was headed by you-know-who. And during the COVID pandemic, blame the sick, stigmatized unvaccinated, fearmongering, lockdowns harm the poor the most, slow with treatments, and NIAIDs is directed by you-know-who. So, when will we ever learn?” Hopefully, one day, we will learn.
Later on, LinkedIn actually closed down my account. And Jeffrey Tucker at Brownstone, he then wrote an article about it, which then got tweeted. So, I never asked to be reinstated, but they did it automatically. So, I think, somebody at LinkedIn read this, what Jeffrey wrote and sort of reversed the decision. So, this was the last post before suspension, “By firing staff with natural immunity after COVID recovery, hospitals got rid of those least likely to infect others.” I think this is sort of an anecdotal fact, but that was the tweet that got me in trouble.
So, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, they have permanently suspended many accounts— including scientists. I have continued to speak up, but I have since self-censored myself. Because these are important channels of communication, so I don’t want to be removed. So, I’m careful with what I say. For a while I was thinking, “Well, I don’t really want to do that because I should be able to tell what I want, and maybe I should just forget about Twitter and LinkedIn.”
And I talked to a dear friend of mine, who is also in the faculty at Harvard. Her family comes from Slovakia and her family was very active against the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. Her grandfather was one of the leading dissidents there. And she told me, “No, no, no, no. You can’t just walk away. You have to use whatever they allow you to use. And then, you just have to be careful how far you can go, so you can keep doing it. Because, otherwise, you let them win.” So, she convinced me sort of to, “Okay. I need to continue using these venues for communication.”
But censoring, it leads to self-censoring. And also, it leads to self-censoring of people who don’t… are victims of these censoring because they see that somebody else is censored. “Okay. I don’t want to be suspended. So, I better be careful with what I say.” And of course, that’s the purpose of authoritarians and the purpose of those things. And sometimes, where they sort of kind of randomly select who they censor, what they sensor, because they want people to be uncertain about what they can and cannot say.
But there are things that are ways to fight censoring. I think, one, is through exposure using alternative platforms, but we cannot only use that. We also have to use the one that reach the most people. So, for example, when Robert Malone was censored [and] was removed from LinkedIn, other people were sort of complaining about it and saying that it’s important that scientists can have debates, otherwise, that leads to bad public health. So, he was removed from LinkedIn. So, I wrote this Twitter thing and I actually did this screenshot this morning.
If you can see there on the right, they’re sort of suggesting other people I should follow. They think I should follow LinkedIn, which I’m not doing. They also think I should follow Robert Malone, which I would be delighted to do. The only problem is that Twitter has suspended his account also, but they still want to recommend that I should follow him. So, at least, that’s nice. You’ll notice that they removed his bio when you click on his thing, but on the advertisements for his account, the bio is still intact.
The alternative platforms, and I have… I sometimes post on GETTR, GAB, Parler, and speaqs, and I’ve never been censored there. There’s also Truth Social with its new platform. So, I think it’s important to use that, but I think we also need to use the existing ones. We can also try to make a little bit fun of people. So, once I wrote an op-ed in “The Hill,” and I didn’t feel I should just… Maybe if I post it on Twitter, that would censor me. So, I said, “Twitter doesn’t allow me to, vaccine scientists to freely discuss vaccines, but you can find it on these other accounts.”
Earlier this week, I said, “Having been censored by Twitter, I must be careful what I write about masks.” And then, I said, “If you do surgery, please wear a surgical mask. You’ll protect patients.” And I think that’s… Nobody can argue with that, no? Do you agree that surgeons should wear a mask when they perform a surgery? You do? Okay, good. We’re all in agreement. And nobody can say that I said something that was inappropriate.
So, it has been really stunning to be a scientist during these last two years. It’s kind of been absurd. We have NIH Director Collins and NIAID Director Fauci thinking that you promote science by silencing scientists through published takedowns. It’s pretty absurd. We have a geneticist and a virologist thinking they know epidemiology better than epidemiologists at Oxford, Harvard and Stanford, and calling them instead fringe epidemiologists.
We do lockdowns to protect young, low-risk members of the laptop class, instead of focusing protection on older, high-risk people. This mistake led to many deaths and many unnecessary death, where people pretending to care for the global poor who favored lockdowns that has caused more harm to the poor people around the world than anything other than war and slavery. That sort of astonishing and absurd, in my view.
People have been accusing working class people who opposed these devastating lockdowns as being right-wing extremists. They are the one who are taking the biggest brunt of these lockdowns, and they have lived that experience of it. We had scientists signing in “Lancet,” a famous medical publishing, a petition questioning natural immunity after COVID recovery, something that we have known about for almost two and a half thousand years since the Athenian plague in 430 BC. It’s not surprising that natural immunity is strong after COVID and that it’s better than the vaccine immunity. We would be very surprised if it was anything else.
We had a CDC director who believed that face masks provide better protection against COVID than vaccines. And then, another CDC director who questions natural immunity after recovery. We fire people with natural immunity after COVID recovery, even though they are least likely to spread COVID to others. CDC was firing me, as a pro-vaccine, for being too pro-vaccine. Big tech censoring epidemiologist who got the pandemic right, while boosting those who got it wrong as COVID experts.
Sometimes people sort of… These are these COVID experts and there’s people who actually are not even… who don’t understand infectious disease epidemiology and public health at all. And then, we have zero COVID, and I won’t talk about that one. So, what are the alternatives? Well, we have debates instead of censoring and slander. Scott mentioned that I offered to debate any of these, was it 98 or so, Stanford faculty members who wrote this letter criticizing him, and that invitation is still open. If you know any of them, let them know that I’m happy to debate them either here or somewhere else.
We should have had discussion how better to protect high-risk, older people. We should have much more discussion about all these lockdown harms, the collateral public health damage from these… Because public health is not just one disease, it’s multiple diseases. It’s not just short term, it’s long term. So, those are basic principles of public health that we have to follow. We didn’t, during this pandemic.
We have to trust the public with honest information, otherwise they’re never going to trust public health and science. And that’s exactly what happened. There are good reason why people don’t trust public health and science. I think the Academy of Science and Freedom, one aim is to sort of restore it, so that we deserve that trust again. So, those were my remarks from the last two years. And I like, now, to invite up to the podium my colleagues, Dr. Scott Atlas, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya; to moderate a Q&A session here. Jan Jekielek, from Epoch Times.
Mr. Jekielek: So, we’ll jump right in. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be here with these three American thought leaders—genuine thought leaders. And we’re actually going to do this as a audience Q&A mostly. So, I’ll just get us started here. As Dr. Kulldorff mentioned, there’s a lot of alternatives to absurdities that were offered. And we’ve also discussed a bit, certainly, in The Epoch Times and in discussions I’ve had with all three of you, the cost, this collateral damage, of the lockdowns. And I’ve learned recently that in the UK, at least, there were a lot of counter indications that the government had information that explained why not to do lockdowns. And the question that I have is, didn’t this sort of thing exist in the U.S, and it was just either ignored or just sort of thrown out?
Dr. Kulldorff: So, there was a paper in 2006 by Don Henderson, who is a famous infectious disease epidemiologist. He was instrumental in the eradication of smallpox. And he’s laid out very clearly that lockdowns are not the way to go and for a variety of reasons. So, I think most countries had this sort of pandemic plan as to what to do. And they were all, “Protect those who were most vulnerable and try to have a society function normally. Jeffrey Tucker wrote a very good article just recently in Brownstone Institute, about Don Henderson and what he said in that paper in 2006.
Dr. Atlas: Yes. If I may add, I mean, this is something that I don’t think the public understands, that this is not news, that lockdowns don’t work and shouldn’t be done and are extraordinarily harmful. The standard literature on pandemic management, before this pandemic, was that lockdowns should not be used because they don’t work and they’re extraordinarily harmful. And the key paper that Martin is talking about was really accepted. This was a complete change in the accepted management of a pandemic, what was done.
Mr. Jekielek: Do we have a mic going around? Let’s do a question from the audience. Right over here, first hand.
Audience Question: So, Dr. Kulldorff, thank you for your remarks. The whole time I’m listening to you talk about the way that you’ve been censored, and all of you’ve been censored, the question is why? What is it that drove what we’ve seen over the last two years? Was it greed? Was it partisanship? Was it fear? Was it ignorance? What explains the way that we have seen, not just our government react, governments around the world, and big tech and pharma, all of that stuff? Why?
Dr. Atlas: Oh, I can start because there are… This is always the most challenging question. I get asked this all the time. Why? The answer to why is always very difficult, but in this case, I tend to think that there was a confluence of different interests, a confluence of different motivations, rather than this idea that there was one major motivation to do this.
And what I saw in the White House gives me that basis because what I saw was a combination of gross incompetence, tremendous hubris by people who are protecting their own status and positions at all costs, people with bureaucratic sort of motivations, that’s my phrase, really, which is not the same as the free exchange of ideas and debating like in typical science before this. Of course, there is a very complex web of funding science that one of… This is one of the things that we want to expose and then fix, if we can, where there are funding streams coming from people who have massive power, not just over the funding of the research, but over everyone’s career doing the research.
So, university professors, who are assistant professors, are not going to really feel very comfortable speaking out against the NIH, when the NIH is the determining factor for their own career and then big pharma and everything. So, the second part of it though, is that there… I think we cannot underestimate the fear. And I’m talking about the fear from COVID, even in the people who are making policy. Fear is a very powerful distractor from rational thinking. And when there is pressure in a situation, I think we all know this in our own personal lives, your true nature comes out. Your true character comes out.
And this was a highly pressurized environment, of course, the biggest healthcare crisis in a century during an election year, which was another motivation that I don’t think we can ignore—the political side. So, when you have people who are personally afraid and are motivated by extraneous things, it’s a very, very bad mix, particularly when they are intimidated by people who have their own personal names on the prescribed policy, which was the lockdowns.
And so, there’s no easy answer to why, in my view. There’s a tremendous amount of corruption, and I mean, moral corruption, not just financial, because the universities… I’ll give you an example. Stanford University receives over $500 million a year in NIH funding. There are some schools that have received over a billion dollars a year in NIH funding. What do you think the likelihood is that those recipients of that money can speak freely? So, there’s a lot of motivations. I could go on and on, but I won’t, first of all, I’m going to let Jay answer, but also because there is no real short answer to the question, so-
Dr. Jay Bhattacharya: Okay. So, I don’t disagree with anything Scott just said. I think all of that is true, but let me just add a couple of notes too. So, in particular about the emails that you saw, the absolutely shocking emails you saw from Francis Collins and Tony Fauci and then Tony Fauci about me, Martin and Sunetra Gupta.
One of the motivations for that was a motivation to create a consensus within the public that… an illusion of consensus within the public that there was no scientific dissent against lockdowns. The reason why the Great Barrington Declaration, they reacted that way… Because the idea is… I mean, I love them, but they’re ancient. I mean, Martin told you, these are not, the idea of protecting the vulnerable. I bet you, everyone in the audience had that idea during the pandemic. Right? I saw several people in the audience, very brave people, who spoke up around this.
But the fact that we are from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford… I mean, I never cared before about coming from Stanford, I’ll tell you, before the pandemic. But from Harvard, Stanford and Oxford, and we got this viral attention, was a problem for this group. It posed a political problem for them because they wanted to tell the public that there was no dissent. And so, they had to destroy us. They had to do a devastating takedown. It was a political problem they were solving, motivated by some of the things that Scott was saying. Right? So, I think that’s the immediate context for why they did what they did. The other thing I… So, I want to be as charitable as I can be.
In science, the norm is we… Frankly, science is just another way of fighting with each other in a structured way. I mean, it’s like, it’s really fun. I have an idea. Vinay Prasad has an idea. We fight with each other and then there’s data. There’s some experiment and Vinay turns out to be right. I’m like, “God damn. Vinay got it right this time.” I mean, that’s what science is. That’s the warp and woof of science. It’s a discussion among people who are… we’re all equally struggling with a difficult thing. We don’t know the answer. That’s the fun of science, right? It has to have that kind of norm of fun discussion with each other where we take each other in good faith.
The norm in public health is a little different, right? In public health, if I, as a professor in a school of medicine, get up and say, “Smoking is good for you.” I’ve committed a sin, right? The scientific literature’s completely convincing that smoking is terrible for you. I should not ever get up and say smoking good for you. I shouldn’t even hint at it. Frankly, joking about it right now is probably going to get me in trouble. So, I-
Dr. Atlas: That’s going to be an excerpt on YouTube.
Dr. Bhattacharya: Oh, God. Please, no. I violated a norm, a real true norm, a good norm, right? Because I have a responsibility because I act in public health and not crossing that line and misrepresenting what’s in the scientific literature. That’s a true norm in public health. So, public health doesn’t actually encourage complete free discussion of ideas, I mean, legitimately, doesn’t. But the ethical basis for that norm is that there’s a scientific consensus. And when you have a novel disease, when you have a situation where there’s a whole lot of scientific ignorance because we just don’t know about a whole… how does the disease transmit, who’s really most, what’s the risk of dying if you get the disease, how best to treat it, so on and so forth.
Well, you don’t have that moral basis. Scientists need to be able to talk freely with each other about these things before you can apply the public health norm morally. And what happened was that the folks that Martin showed you, they applied the public health norm before the scientific discussion had actually been done, before the consensus happened. And it was an immoral act because they misapplied a legitimate norm in public health to scientific free discussion.
Dr. Atlas: Can I add something to that? Because I’m going to disagree a little bit. A lot of the stuff was known in the Spring of 2020.
Dr. Bhattacharya: That’s true.
Dr. Atlas: The first person that came out saying that the-
Dr. Bhattacharya: See, I can censor you for… Oh, sorry. I’m just kidding –
Dr. Atlas: Targeted protection was John Ioannidis, to my knowledge, who’s an epidemiologist at Stanford. And he was met with a backlash. And in March, I wrote a paper on calling for targeted protection, stating some facts about who was at risk because this was already known. There was a body of literature in March and April of 2020. And when I wrote my paper in March of 2020 asking for targeted protection, I sent it to the Wall Street Journal. I’m naming them because I think a lot of people think, “Oh, there’s some kind of a left-wing media cabal.” No, it really was much more pervasive than that. My rejection from the Wall Street Journal said, “Oh, we’re already publishing all this stuff on targeted protection.”
Because people asked me, “Why did the first paper you wrote go into the Washington Times?” I put it in the Washington Times because it was rejected from the Wall Street Journal, and it was urgent that this stuff was laid out, that the risk to it was known in a very targeted group of people, that we need to protect those people, that it’s very harmful to do the lockdowns, et cetera.
And so, there was an enormous amount of information known from studies all over the world. It was known by the end of Spring 2020, that we must open the schools—it was proven. It was not arguable that children had an extremely low risk if they were healthy, that most children did not spread significantly the disease and that there was enormous harm for closing schools. That was known in the Spring of 2020. And when you said that, you were vilified, and as Martin articulated here, it was pointed out that you were dangerous.
And that’s how the lockdowns were accepted by the public, is that there were two things done. One, everyone who was calling for ending the lockdowns was called dangerous because they were somehow therefore calling for, what Martin said, let-it-rip, herd immunity strategy, no protection, which was a lie. And the second reason was they were claiming anyone who was against the lockdown was prioritizing the economy over lives.
Yet, there was multiple decades of literature showing that severe economic downturns killed people. So, the answer of ending the lockdowns for saving the economy was because it was lives versus lives. So, everyone on this stage was vilified to varying extent and demonized as if you were dangerous. And that is why, in my view, the public bought into this, even though it defied all logic. Because when I speak, as these guys do all over the country, everyone in the audience says, “That’s exactly what we thought when I go through all the data. Because it’s simple logic that you knew who was at risk, you do everything you can to protect them, and you don’t destroy the people who did not have a significant risk.”
Dr. Bhattacharya: Now, I’m really glad I didn’t censor him since I just learned something from it.
Mr. Jekielek: Super quick follow up. It seems to be pervasive that there’s, whenever… Many important issues like this one, the straw men are created and attacked. So, how do you counter that, especially when they’re amplified at such a great degree?
Dr. Atlas: Well, countering a straw man argument… It happens when I was raising my kids because that was our typical dinner conversation. But, honestly, the solution to all of this stuff, the number one solution, to me, is stopping the censorship and having transparency of information. You need to think critically when someone makes a straw man discussion, it’s easy to sort it out if you have the information. You cannot, in fact, beat… There’s no such thing as critical thinking without hearing things that differ. If you only hear one viewpoint, by definition, there’s no possibility.
Dr. Bhattacharya: Let me give you an example of this. So, they’re saying that we wanted to let the virus rip. That’s a lot. We never wanted to let the virus rip. We wanted focused protection of the old. In the Washington Post, every single time they published an article talking about the Great Barrington Declaration, [they] would have a quote from Fauci saying that the strategy was nonsense, and that we wanted to let the virus rip. They never asked me to reply to that. They would just, “As boilerplate put, let the virus rip.” It seems like journalists have a responsibility to try to get the story, at least the other side of the story. They can put Fauci’s side, but let me answer.
Audience Question: Yeah. Just one quick observation and then the question. So, I think that, just given the term, the war against the virus and the fight, I think from the very beginning, there was an analogue to war, to a war situation, rather than to managing an emergency. We all know what happens in war and everybody’s striving for consensus. You cannot question anything. I’m coming from a country that had a lot of wars. I was born in Israel. And I think that that was an analogy that can explain the mentality, and also many of the things that you talked about.
What I wanted to ask though is… The infrastructure of science are the universities. And one of the things that disturbs me is how universities behaved, not only in terms of what scientists expressed, what opinion scientists expressed or didn’t express, but rather that how they manage themselves and their students. And to a large degree, universities were maybe the most extreme manifestation of all of these bad policies.
They actually went to remote studies for the longest time possible, other than a few exceptions, they are now mandating boosters to the lowest risk population from the disease and the highest risk from side effects. Even for people that were recovered, 30 days later, they are mandated to be vaccinated. Then, I have to say, personally, I’m asking myself very tough questions at home. And one of my conjectures is that universities are not managed anymore by academics and by scientists. They are managed by lawyers that just say, “Hey, that’s the CDC guidelines,” without… That’s how it… So, I wonder what is your perspective on that?
Dr. Bhattacharya: I mean, so a couple of notes on this. So, universities sent the… they call them kids, they probably shouldn’t call them kids… or young adults home in Spring of 2020. One of the big problems of focused protection is multi-generational homes, right? You have older people living together with young people. We created multi-generational homes out of whole cloth by sending all of our university kids home. I keep calling them kids. People always tell me like… That’s true. But I completely agree with you that the policies the universities followed had nothing to do with science.
It’s a form of groupthink. Each university’s copying all the other universities. They’re not referring to science to justify their actions. The key thing is they want to make sure that no one dies of COVID in the university. It’s fine if they die of COVID outside. It’s fine if they kill themselves. It’s fine if all kinds of bad things happen to their education. They failed in their mission. It’s the top universities that have failed in their mission, the educational mission, the research mission, the commitment we have to the young adults in our charge. We have failed in all of those missions.
Dr. Atlas: I can add one quick thing, which is, people don’t know this because it’s been scrubbed from the internet. But October 2020, the CDC posted a paper on their policies about schools. I was in Washington in the White House at the time. And the CDC said, “It is unethical to require testing of students if they don’t want to be tested.” Now, that doesn’t even go toward forcing vaccinations to healthy people, young people, who do not have a significant risk for serious illness, an experimental vaccine. But they even have forced testing, even though the CDC itself in October 2020 said it was unethical.
The point is we have had a breakdown of the ethical leadership of young people, a moral breakdown in the United States, not just by closing schools, but by forcing vaccines that are experimental, that have known side effects on young people who are healthy and have no significant risk of a serious illness. If, as a society, we’re going to claim we need to vaccinate children to use them as shields for adults, that is a complete break in the moral contract that we have, as human beings, to our children. You are the shields for your children. Your children are not meant to be shields for adults.
Audience Question: Gentlemen, it’s a pleasure and honor. So, I’ll make a brief observation and a question. The brief observation is that, I’m an economist, and I look at you and you’re all surprised because maybe for the first time or for a rare time, one of the precise scientists, science is suddenly… The mentor is taken and we see how it politicizes. If you talk to economists, sociologists, literature department, everything else has been cleared of any alternative thought, of any alternative thinking, of anything that doesn’t follow the party line long ago. So, you are surprised because of the nature of your work, you’ve been shielded from this complete… I don’t know what to call it-
Mr. Jekielek: Monoculture?
Audience Question: … destruction. And I’m also from Eastern Europe, so I spent the first part of my life under a similar system. So, I’m particularly aggravated that these things start to look a little familiar.
The question though, that I have for you is… We all understand what was the situation here in 2020, the political context, how the whole bureaucracy, the whole monopolies, they were all against a certain politician and a certain group and everything worked in unison. So, my question is how these lockdowns happen around the world? In a sense, every country is an interesting, separate case. Did they have a similar political structure? Did they have the similar censoring? How, I know that Sweden had a little bit different but…
For example, I’m originally from Bulgaria. So, this little stupidest European countries, they were all saluting EU and doing whatever they were told to do, pretending that they have local experts, which they didn’t have any. So, a lot of damage was done to this much weak economies in the name of life and all this. So, do you have any views of how different countries, because of their institutional frameworks and their political politics, maybe was not so dictatorial when we were not so political? Maybe they did it better than us. Thank you.
Dr. Bhattacharya: So, why don’t you talk about Sweden?
Dr. Atlas: Yeah. Why don’t you talk about that?
Dr. Kulldorff: Well, Sweden was very different, I think. And it was a huge contrast to see it, living here, but still following the news in Sweden. And every time I thought, “Well, it’s completely crazy here.” I read the Swedish newspapers and I feel like there is one place in the world where there’s some sanity. And I think it’s not just Sweden because all the Scandinavian countries sort of have had a fairly similar policy with among the lowest amounts of lockdowns, as well as now, for two years, among the lowest COVID mortality and the lowest excess mortality.
And there was a discussion in Sweden because those who opposed, those who wanted to lock down more, they had some powerful people arguing the case, including academics and the editor-in-chief of the sort of equivalent of The New York Times in Sweden. But if you go to other European countries, I think, in the UK, it was very similar in a sense to the U.S. If you go to Uganda, I think, the schools were closed for two years. So, there were many countries who sort of followed the leads of, I think, the U.S. and the UK on these matters.
Dr. Atlas: And if I can add. I think that’s my perception. There’s a massive influence of the Western countries we cannot underestimate. It’s not just that the United States is economically intertwined and, therefore, if we lock down the U.S., there’s a chain reaction; the Western European countries, everyone in the world suffers. When you have the head of the U.S. effort get on TV almost every single day for a year, talking about lockdowns, and when you have the United States’ federal guidance, that was, “Lock down businesses, shut schools, restrict… don’t see your families, don’t see the older people, don’t even go into the hospital if you’re ill…”
When you have people like Dr. Fauci, the most visible person on the task force during the previous administration and the head of the whole effort now, and Dr. Birx, who was the task force medical side director, when they get up on stage with the President of the United States or next to the President, and they put that out there and it’s on TV and in the newspapers all over, these other countries don’t just say, “We’re going to do what we want.”
I think that’s sort of not the way it works. I may be overstating the influence of the United States, but I don’t think so. They still quote what Dr. Fauci’s saying in these other countries and given that the statistical modelers, that Martin can talk about a lot better than I can, in the UK started this whole thing really, and in the U.S. And they were so wrong, their models were proven wrong, grossly wrong, making false assumptions. But those things were put on for some reason on TV, and there was just a herd mentality. And the influence of the United States’ public health leadership, in my view, is to blame for what happened in the rest of the world to some extent.
Audience Question: We were told at my university that we couldn’t come to work to do our research if it was non-essential. Nobody likes to hear that their work is not essential. So, I converted my lab to SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance. And for the past year and a half, I’ve generated troves of data on virus transmission using wastewater. And one of the things that I’ve realized is that you could plot these data and superimpose when mask mandates are put in or fines or whatever those things, and get a really amazing picture of how effective those policies are using wastewater.
And so, I’m wondering if you are… if anybody’s doing this on a bigger scale. I’ve been doing it for my community, for San Luis Obispo. I’ve gotten in trouble for saying some of the things that I have, but it’s grounded in science, it’s grounded in poop, and the transmission data that I’m seeing. And I’m just wondering if you’ve seen anybody… if anybody’s doing this kind of work, looking at wastewater and correlating trends in wastewater virus loads to certain interventions that have been used.
Dr. Bhattacharya: So, there was a recent New York Times story, I don’t know if you saw, where the CDC admitted to hiding data, hiding information. One of the things that they admitted to not really revealing was their wastewater surveillance. The idea that a premier public health agency in the United States is hiding data, I can’t wrap my mind around this, right?
We basically are owed transparency by this. Your work and the work of others who are tracking the spread of the virus efficiently has gotten no attention because I think, again, it’s the same thing. They wanted to create this illusion of consensus. This illusion of they are in control of the science. Anyone who was on the outside, well, you don’t… You’re just on the fringe. Just imagine how much better we would’ve done if we’d had all our minds, all the minds of people, contribute to this discussion in a normal way. We would’ve had a lot more fights, but it would’ve… We would’ve ended up in a much better place, I think.
No. I’m sorry. He’s next. And then-
Dr. Atlas: There’s a microphone there.
Audience Question: Oh, sorry. Yeah. So, we worked on a little paper very early on, looking at whether the IHME model was calibrated. And so, we were the ones that said, “The 95 percent confidence intervals cover the next day, 20 percent of the time.” That was us. So, we sent it to a journal. And of course, “We’re not going to… We’re sorry to tell you, but we’re not publishing yet, yada, yada, yada.” And then, in the middle of the paragraph was, “We don’t want people to be complacent.” So, you can parse that however you want to parse it. And then, they kept going. So, it was like this non sequitur sentence right in the middle, right in the middle of the thing. I don’t know. To this day, it… Every day I think about that sentence. But it seems like these journals were really guardians. They thought themselves as guardians of the universe. And basically-
Dr. Bhattacharya: Can I ask, were you Gates funded?
Audience Member: What?
Dr. Bhattacharya: Were you Gates funded?
Audience Member: Oh, yeah. Yeah. He gave them $400 million.
Dr. Bhattacharya: Okay.
Audience Member: Yeah. He gave that place four… You can’t… you see the journals can’t argue with that.
Dr. Bhattacharya: So, there’s a couple things there. One is that, early in the pandemic, actually even now, there was this idea that if you came out with a result that underplayed the lethality of the virus that you were going to cause people to act irresponsibly. Neil Ferguson, the guy who did the Imperial College model famously gave an interview where he said that it was fine if he got it wrong in the right direction, if you overpredicted. The irresponsible thing is to get it wrong in the wrong direction, underpredicting. But in fact, when the World Health Organization said, in the early days, the pandemic, that the death rate from the virus is three percent or four percent, they’re talking about case fatality rate.
It’s a very misleading number versus what your real true risk is if you are exposed to the virus. And as Martin said, there’s just a thousand-fold difference by age. Are you underplaying the virus if you tell people truly, if you’re young, your risk of dying is low? It’s a use of science to control people, the behavior of people, that has no place in scientific discussion. I would love to see your story written up and told because it’s absolutely shocking.
Dr. Atlas: Well, it’s not shocking to me because, I remember, you sent me your paper and you said, this is back in, I think, Spring/Summer 2020.
Audience Member: Yeah. April.
Dr. Atlas: April. And you said, “I can’t get this paper published.” And, yes, this is an example of the internal… So, there’s two types of censorship going on here. One is by science itself, the journals, the universities, the NIH, the powerful people. And then, there’s another type which is the media. And the media is the pathway, of course, the interface between the public and the science journals. So, regular people are not going to look up the science publication. So, the media is so critical.
And when you have an interface that is the filter and is somehow the imprimatur of scientific truth, telling Martin Kulldorff that he doesn’t know what he is talking about, about the vaccines, we’re in a very dangerous place. And so, this is one of the things we’re going to try to do with peer review here. There’s a need to get more rapid publication with accountable peer review or less obstructive peer review, and we… So, the solutions are not obvious, but we know the problems are very, very profound, and we need to fix them.
Audience Member: Okay, just one more point in that kind of vein. When I’m very grouchy in the morning, I think, is there any way we could audit the journals? I mean, let’s take a journal, and let’s look at the papers on COVID that were accepted, and let’s look at the papers that were rejected. And let’s check. And let’s get the comments between the editors about the papers. That would really… I think, that’s kind of a John Ioannidis kind of a project, but that’s something…
Dr. Bhattacharya: He’s over here. Yeah. We’ve got you next.
Audience Question: You mentioned you were at the White House in October 2020. I’m wondering if you can shed some light on why was President Trump and maybe his advisors didn’t have any of you people advising him instead of Dr. Fauci?
Dr. Atlas: Well, I was called… I detailed this in my book. I don’t want to bore everyone with all the details. But at the end of July, they asked if I would help the president. And so, I said, “Yes. Okay,” because there is no other answer. It’s my country. When I got there, I was shocked at what I saw because the people on the task force on the medical side were incompetent, didn’t know the data, and concerned about self-protection, and threatened when I would walk into a meeting with 12 or 15 scientific publications, and go through a little mini soliloquy of the data. And they had nothing, except, “You’re an outlier,” they would say. And they would go to the media. And what happened… The question is what happened, really, why? There was a…
Somehow, we diverged into a country where our leaders have abrogated their responsibility to lead by saying, “Oh, that’s the CDC guidance.” That’s what Fauci and Birx say. They were given the authority as opposed to just being there, advising and letting the people in charge have the authority. And so, now, we have somehow a CDC that is taken as a law issuer, a rule issuer. That’s not what the CDC ever was intended to be. It gives guidance, that’s it, but that’s not the current situation.
The second point I want to make is I did view myself as an advisor that was needed to bring in the experts, who knew what they were talking about and who are actually doing the research. And so, I set up a meeting and brought in Martin Kulldorff, Jay Bhattacharya, Joe Ladapo, and others, people from Stanford and Harvard and UCLA and Tufts University, and we met with the President. And the people on the task force, specifically…
That meeting was scheduled so Dr. Birx could attend. Dr. Birx withdrew from the meeting right before it happened, didn’t want to have the discussion with people doing the research. That’s not the mark of a scientist. Okay. Science is the debate. Science is being able to know the material enough so that you win on the basis of knowing more. And if you don’t know more, your opinion doesn’t carry the day.
And so, we met with President Trump, and the next day we met with, the five of us, of the people, met with Vice President Pence. And then, later, I brought in Dr. Gupta, Bhattacharya and Kulldorff to meet with Secretary Azar because Secretary Azar wanted to hear answers to his questions. And so, we did the best we could, but the bottom line was the authority over the federal guidance to the pandemic was given to Doctors Fauci, Birx, and Redfield. And today, that continues because it is given, as you’ve heard our current President say many times, “Whatever the CDC says, whatever Dr. Fauci says,” and that is the really gross malfeasance of leadership, in my opinion.
Mr. Jekielek: So, this will actually be the final question. But doctor, carry on.
Audience Member: As follow up to that, I think this problem with the relationship between science and political authority is a very, very difficult one. All of the solutions seem to be in a sort of all or nothing extreme direction. And I’ve thought a lot about, “Okay. What created that?” And it seems to me that the political authorities are going to anoint some scientist or group of scientists to be… in the current climate, the experts that we’re going to listen to. And unfortunately, Dr. Atlas, you just named the ones that were anointed, and we all know sort of the results of that, but I think one of the challenges is that the answer to most scientific questions is nuanced. Right?
The Great Barrington Declaration is nuanced, in the sense of, is COVID bad? Well, it depends. Are vaccines good or bad? Are they helpful or unhelpful? Well, it depends. It depends on your age group, your risk category. All of these nuances, which, at the journal club at the medical school, we discuss and it’d get down into the weeds on. Politicians don’t really seem interested in that. They want something for the stump speech. They want an answer. Especially early on in the pandemic, when the media was focused on COVID case counts and COVID death counts and state by state comparisons. There seemed to be this kind of mimetic rivalry between governors to do more and more extreme measures. Like, “I’m seen as doing more to address COVID if my lockdowns or my policies are sort of more extreme.”
But my question has to do with how can the nuances of science actually interact with the more binary or all or nothing sort of policy tendencies that people who are looking to get reelected or the media… I think this has to do with the media as well, right? You get 60 seconds to do a sound bite, and it’s hard to get a lot of nuance in that context. How do scientists interact with those systems without compromising what we should be good at, which is subtlety?
Dr. Kulldorff: I think-
Dr. Atlas: Go ahead.
Dr. Kulldorff: I think public health and public health scientists have no choice, but to trust the public. If it wants to be trusted, it has to trust the public by honestly saying what we know, by honestly saying what we don’t know, both of those things. Because what’s happening is that public health, CDC says something which then turns out to be wrong, nobody’s going to trust CDC then. So, the only way forward is to be honest, even those things that we don’t know about.
Dr. Atlas: And it also requires courageous leaders. Okay. We do have people in this country who looked at the data and made a decision that used logic. I mean, I could point to several of them. One that everybody talks about is Governor DeSantis. We all had… I had conversations with Governor DeSantis since the spring of 2020. We’ve all appeared on panels and had many conversations. This is a person who makes it his business to know the data and then to make a common sense assessment of what needs to be done. And he’s been proven right.
Okay. He did better than a lot of states, most states that did the lockdowns, and better than my own state of California on a data-driven analysis. And so, you need people who are not afraid in… I once wrote a book in my pre-health policy life called “Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain and Spine.” And I never… I always thought there are people who don’t really have a brain, but I never knew how few people had a spine.
Dr. Bhattacharya: Erick, can I address one thing? You said it’s quite important. You have to have scientific advice. If you’re a leader, you just have to. You can’t expect political leaders to all have read the scientific literature. This is not realistic. The key thing is that the scientific advisors, they cannot be in a position to silence the rest of the scientific community so that they themselves are seen as the science. You cannot have a scientific advisor who goes around thinking that, “If you challenge me, you’re not simply challenging a man. You are challenging science itself.” Right? I think that hubris has been a key part of the failed response to COVID in the United States and elsewhere.
Audience Question: Is there a selection bias toward those who are sort of more all or nothing or lack nuanced because that’s what some of the politicians want? If you wring your hands too much and say, “Well, on one hand, or on the other hand, they’re not going to call you again.” Do you know what I mean?
Dr. Bhattacharya: Scott has a very good way of distilling scientific nuance into a compelling way. You can hear him when he speaks, right? There’s a reason why presidents speak with him. I think there’s a skill to that. But Scott is also open to reading the literature and we’ll have scientific arguments.
Dr. Atlas: I mean, to be honest, I called these guys and John Ioannidis everyday and every other day for nine months straight because you need to hear people’s opinions. We all can read. We’ve all reviewed papers. We’ve all reviewed grants. We’ve all submitted these things, but you need to hear what people think and bounce things off of people. That is what is the essence of really coming up with the right answer.
I think Martin said something very important, too. The information is needed not just for the public and to trust the public, and that is. But it’s also needed because that’s why I brought in a bunch of other people to talk to the President. The Presidents, these politicians, they need to hear it. They need to get enough divergent opinion so that they can be critical thinkers because it’s their responsibility. And so, I think, again, it all boils down to the lack of censorship, the transparency of information, and that really is the sort of most obvious solution to most of these things.
Mr. Jekielek: Okay. I guess final thirty second thought from each panelist, starting with Martin, and then we’ll finish. Dr. Kulldorff. Pardon me.
Dr. Kulldorff: Well, thank you all for coming here and for listening. And I think the role of the task of restoring trust and restoring… in public health and science is something that we all share. So, I hope that’s something that we can all do together, both everybody here, as well as many people around this country and around this world. We have to do this together.
Dr. Atlas: Yes. I’ll sort of echo what Martin said. I want to thank everyone for understanding the seriousness and really the urgency of the problem here. The country and the world was harmed significantly and we can’t let that happen again. And so, I’m very delighted that so many people accepted our invitation to come here, also for our event tomorrow. I must say that there are still people who said they support us, but they wouldn’t come tomorrow. They’re afraid.
So, this is a problem that is very serious. There’s no quick solution, but it’s going to take everybody’s effort, and more, more people to have some sort of commitment and courage. And eventually, with a wide sort of population basis of getting something good accomplished, we will do it. Because it will not come from top down, all these things, these changes have to come from bottom up people.
Dr. Bhattacharya: So, I just wanted to thank each of you that’s come. From many of you, I’ve learned during the pandemic. I’ve read some of your papers. Frankly, you give me hope that scientific discussion, science is still alive. And I’ve doubted that, sometimes, during the course of the pandemic. I think in order for science to have… to revive, to be what it really should be, it’s in badly need of a reformation, a reestablishment of the norms of the enlightenment that, to me, it’s darkened during the pandemic. And I think this effort, you all that are in the room, I know, will be a big part of that reform and reestablishment of science as a force for good in this world.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, and let’s give them all a hand of applause.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Subscribe to the American Thought Leaders newsletter so you never miss an episode.
Download EpochTV Ebook for free.
Follow EpochTV on social media: