As a result of his life becoming a “living hell” for defying coronavirus lockdown orders and the “scientific clerisy” during the pandemic, a medical professor at Stanford University claims that “academic freedom is dead.”
“The fundamental tenet is that without protection and academic freedom in difficult situations, when a faculty member has an idea that is disfavored by some of the other faculty—powerful faculty, or even the administration… You have no academic freedom at all if they don’t protect it in that situation “In a phone interview with Fox News Digital, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya stated.
Bhattacharya is the director of Stanford University’s Center for Demography and Economics of Health and Aging and a tenured professor of medicine. He is also an economist.
After co-authoring the Great Barrington Declaration, an open letter that was signed by thousands of medical professionals and scientists in 2020 and criticizing lockdowns as harmful, he came under fire during the pandemic. In addition to Bhattacharya, the article was co-authored by Oxford professor Dr. Sunetra Gupta and Harvard medical professor Dr. Martin Kulldorff.
Other medical authorities swiftly condemned the declaration, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who called the document’s call for herd immunity “nonsense and very dangerous.”
Bhattacharya stated that the current era “has a high clerisy that declares from on high what is true and what is not true” during a speech at the Academic Freedom Conference at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business earlier this month.
He said at the conference that adopting a position that is opposed to the scientific establishment makes life “a living hell.” You work in a very hostile environment.
Bhattacharya claimed that shortly after the Great Barrington Declaration attracted considerable attention, he started receiving death threats, hate mail, and inquiries about his funding, to which he responded, “Most of my money has come from the NIH for most of my life.”
“The purpose of the one-page document was aimed at telling the public that there was not a scientific consensus in favor of lockdown, that in fact many epidemiologists, many doctors, many other people — prominent people — disagreed with the consensus,” Bhattacharya said during his 10-minute talk at the conference.
As a result of his comments at the conference, “a chill” on debate on campus descended; he was denied permission to give a campus speech, and an effort to host a discussion on COVID policies came to a standstill.
Whether academics agreed or disagreed, he said after his speech at the conference, “If Stanford really truly were committed to academic freedom, they would have… worked to make sure that there were debates and discussions, seminars, where these ideas were discussed among faculty.”
In his remarks to Fox News, Bhattacharya argued that during the pandemic, “power replaced the idea of truth as the guiding light” in many scientific circles.
“As a result, there are people like Tony Fauci who state bluntly that if you disagree with me, you’re not just disagreeing with a man; you’re disagreeing with science. Instead of genuinely wanting to know the truth, he is effectively establishing himself as the pope of science through that exercise of raw power.”
“When there was actually significant disagreement among scientists and epidemiologists about the best course of action, they made a concerted effort to make it appear as though everyone shared their opinions on COVID policy. To let the public, know that there was a disagreement, we wrote the Great Barrington Declaration. Another alternative policy was available,” he said.
At the conference, Bhattacharya alleged that “academic freedom is dead” and that Stanford administrators had abandoned him.
When it counts most, he said, “the policy of the university is to permit this kind of hostile work environment.” “What if this topic had been the subject of an open scientific discussion sponsored by the university on campus? so that people would be aware that there were valid opposing viewpoints?”
When the Great Barrington Declaration was written, he claimed, “there would have been tremendous controversy around it” if the Stanford president had pushed for a debate.
“But at the same time the hostile work environment would have dissipated because what it would have said is, ‘Look, there’s a debate, it’s legitimate to have this debate, a place like Stanford is where this debate ought to happen.”