Academy set up by scientists to allow ‘free exchange of ideas’

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info

The Academy for Science and Freedom, at Washington’s Hillsdale College, is expected to be running within months, with the aim of combatting “the recent and widespread abuses of individual and academic freedom made in the name of science”.

Professors Martin Kulldorff and Jay Bhattacharya who are involved in the academy were two of the three creators of the Great Barrington Declaration, which called for a focussed protection approach to Covid rather than blanket restrictions.

Both men faced heavy criticism for the proposal, with trolls branding them ‘alt-right’ and even ‘climate change deniers’.Harvard’s Prof Kullfdorff suggested a “cartel system” had seized control of scientific debate, resulting in scientists being too scared to speak against the then-accepted narrative.

“No scientists have a monopoly on the truth”, added Prof Bhattacharya, of Stanford University.

He said: “The level of suppression of freedom of discussion has been a shock to me during the pandemic. “Big tech and the government have worked together to ensure voices were suppressed. “Many scientists remain silent for fear of being smeared.”

Sir Jeremy Farrar – director of the Wellcome Trust and a senior Sage member – claimed in a recent book that government adviser Dominic Cummings “wanted to run an aggressive press campaign against those behind the Great Barrington Declaration and others opposed to blanket Covid-19 restrictions”.

Prof Kulldorff added: “Our focus is on the scientific community and our goal is to inform how science operates so we don’t have the current cartel system in which small groups control us.

“At the moment scientific debate is controlled and we want to reform how science is funded including promotions and publications.”

Oxford University’s Professor Carl Heneghan called for tech to be regulated by an independent arbitrator to prevent the suppression of scientific debate.

Prof Heneghan, Director of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, experienced censorship first-hand during the pandemic.

In November 2020, Facebook slapped a ‘false information’ warning on link to an article he had written on facemasks with colleague Dr Tom Jefferson, and last March, twitter temporarily suspended his account after putting a ‘fake news’ warning on an article he wrote suggesting Britain’s coronavirus death toll may be lower than thought.


He added: “Not all people get the same violations on Twitter taken down, but one person can so there must be people amplifying complaints saying, I don’t like their message so let’s target these individuals. And then Twitter respond: “we’ve got complaints. It meets an algorithm. Let’s take it down.” 

He said social media should be overseen by an independent organisation similar to the Independent Press Standards Organisation which regulates press complaints: “I’m not worried about myself, I’m worried about the basic principle that you can manipulate facts and information to suit a particular ideology, particular morals or particular issues that you think are correct. That is a huge problem. 

“What is a social media entity? Is it news? Because if it’s news, it can have editorial decisions about what it does and doesn’t publish.

Or is it a social media platform where it’s a host for information? If the latter it doesn’t need any regulation. But it does operate a bit like the press because it wants to have editorial decisions over what is and isn’t published. Therefore I think it could be overseen by a body a bit like IPSO, which has an ability to look at a complaint and decide whether it is upheld.”

His comments come as billionaire Elon Musk put his £35bn takeover of Twitter “temporarily on hold” over concerns about the number of spam and fake accounts on the social media platform. The controversial entrepreneur, a self-described “free speech absolutist” has said that he wants to acquire Twitter to defend freedom of speech. 

Source: Read Full Article