FP Forum Recording: Bari Weiss and Jay Bhattacharya

For those of you who missed last Wednesday's Zoom.

Thanks to everyone who came to last week’s inaugural FP Forum with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya. As promised, here is the recording for subscribers who couldn’t make it. Below are a few highlights from the conversation. 

(19:22) On the reaction at Stanford to the Great Barrington Declaration

“I’ve been at Stanford for thirty-six years. It’s my home. It felt like my home was invaded by aliens. When I wrote the Great Barrington Declaration, I expected there to be at least some discussion on campus about it. Instead, there was this campaign of ostracism. I’m never gonna forget this for the rest of my life. There was a poster campaign some group organized on campus, where they put a picture of me up next to [a graphic of] the Delta wave in Florida at the time, essentially accusing me of killing people in Florida. They put it all over campus, including near a coffee spot where I’m pretty well known to get coffee every day. I was actually physically afraid to walk on campus.”

(28:32) On kids and Covid protocols:

“The anti-child bias is still shocking to me. There was evidence from Iceland and from Sweden that keeping schools open was relatively safe. Even during the summer of 2020, it looked somewhat hopeful that we’d learned from our mistakes in the spring. The AAP, the American Academy of Pediatrics, came out with some statement along the lines of: ‘We should open schools.’ The head of the CDC said we should open schools in the fall. Then, all of a sudden, it turned on a dime. President Trump said we should open the schools and suddenly people decided that because President Trump said it, we shouldn’t do it. In the United States, especially in blue states, there was this sense that children were super spreaders, which was just not true based on the evidence available at the time. We ignored the effect of school closures on children, which will be something that we in public health look back on in shame for the rest of our careers.”

(35:07) On academic freedom at elite universities:

“I do think that there is a monoculture in a place like Stanford. I mean, I’m not a Republican, I never sign on for any party. Because I’m in public health, I feel like I should be able to talk to anybody. But there are very few Republicans at Stanford. I think that’s a problem. If we’re going to be an institution of higher learning that serves the United States, we should reflect something like the ideological balance of forces within the United States, or at least be tolerant of them. Instead, what you have, especially after the election of Donald Trump, was this sort of demonization of anyone who disagreed with the reigning politics of folks at Stanford. In the sciences, I thought I could just ignore it and it would be fine. Obviously, that wasn’t right. I think universities, especially top universities, need to ask themselves serious questions about this. If you can’t tolerate what half the country believes at all, not even agree with—just tolerate—so you can understand what they’re trying to say and engage with them as human beings, I think you can’t be a top university.”

(52:07) On whether the Covid19 vaccine causes myocarditis in young men:

“As a cultural phenomenon, people are thinking that this vaccine causes harm to young men. You can’t stop people from latching on to that idea by suppressing it, by calling it misinformation. The cultural phenomenon of thinking that [myocarditis] was caused by the vaccine is a reflection of the distrust in public health caused by public health itself—both by its overstating the effects of the vaccine in stopping transmission and a whole series of other mistakes that public health made during the pandemic.”

(53:14) On gain-of-function research:

“I believe that gain-of-function research is tremendously dangerous. I don’t believe that it was wise to restart it. I know that Tony Fauci was a proponent of it for much of the last decade-and-a-half. And I think that we should end gain-of-function work in some kind of international treaty. The promise of it to predict pandemics failed. We know that it is dangerous to work with some of these pathogens in laboratories in the way that the gain-of-function work envisions, and they leak out of laboratories.”

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