The Washington Times: Scientists to interrogate COVID lockdown policies at new D.C. academy
[Photo Image Above: Hillsdale College President Larry P. Arnn, Dr. Scott Atlas, Professor Martin Kulldorff, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya gathered on December 8 to discuss their new Academy for Science and Freedom in Washington, D.C.]
Scientists to interrogate COVID lockdown policies at new D.C. academy
December 22, 2021: Hillsdale College is opening an Academy for Science and Freedom in Washington, D.C., with three scientists who will push back against the media’s use of science to silence questions about COVID-19 lockdown policies.
Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist and health care policy fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution will join Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University, and retired Harvard Medical School professor Martin Kulldorff as founding scholars of the academy.
“We’ve seen science used during the pandemic to silence people from speaking about the data in any way that diverges from the media narrative,” Dr. Atlas said. “That impeding of the scientific process itself is an absolute danger to a free society because it intimidates free speech and eliminates scientific inquiry.”
He said the use of science to stifle dissenting views about COVID-19 health policies is “happening especially at universities, which are supposed to defend free speech.”
“Part of this is about helping the public rebuild their trust in science, which has been squandered by severe lockdown policies that were contrary to the evidence and failed to stop the spread of the infection but inflicted enormous harm on children and lower-income groups,” Dr. Altas said.
An outspoken critic of the government’s pandemic response, Dr. Atlas was a key science adviser in the Trump administration, and has drawn sometimes heated criticism from some in the scientific community.
Mr. Kulldorff, a biostatistician and epidemiologist who serves as president of the nonprofit Brownstone Institute for Social and Economic Research, said the D.C. academy will encourage healthy debate over pandemic policies as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads.
“As a fellow at the Academy of Science and Freedom, my goal is to combat centralization, herd thinking, silencing, slander and censoring in science, which resulted in a pandemic strategy that can only be described as the biggest public health fiasco in history,” Mr. Kulldorff said.
Dissenting questions are essential to scientific progress, he added.
“Science can only thrive, and it only deserves the public’s trust, if scientists can engage in free and open scientific inquiries and debate without having to worry about retaliation from powerful directors of scientific research funders, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci,” Mr. Kulldorff said.
Dr. Bhattacharya, who serves as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, said he hopes the academy will strengthen the role of science in the pandemic.
“I view my role to help promote the mission of the academy, which in my view includes to restore the norm of open and vigorous discussion of ideas within science, lost during the pandemic, and to restore science and technology in their place as instruments that promote a free society, rather than suppress freedom,” Dr. Bhattacharya said.
Hillsdale is a Christian liberal arts college based in Michigan that operates independently of government funding. It is opening the Academy for Science and Freedom at its D.C. campus on Massachusetts Avenue NE.
The academy’s program will include scientific workshops and conferences, summer school classes, visiting scholar sabbaticals, media panels and government outreach. Its first public event is tentatively scheduled for January.
It also will publish position papers, opinion pieces and digital and print literature.
Hillsdale President Larry P. Arnn said the academy’s founding scholars “are held in great esteem both for their expertise and their level-headedness in the midst of the pandemic.”
“What we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic was a silencing of scientific inquiry in favor of policies absolutely hostile to freedom,” Mr. Arnn said.
“Liberty is the common good that defines a free society,” he added. “Policy and science should seek to preserve it whenever possible.”
By: Sean Salai