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Harvard's Latest Act of Shame

Harvard’s Latest Act of Shame


[This article was coauthored by documentary filmmaker Janus Bang]

This month, we received the very disturbing news that Professor Martin Kulldorff was fired from Harvard. His own account of what happened, “Harvard Tramples the Truth: When it came to debating Covid lockdowns, Veritas wasn’t the university’s guiding principle,” is an account of wrongdoing and a testimony to the rapid decline in scientific decency and the increase in censorship we have seen during Covid-19. 

Martin was our first guest on Broken Medical Science, which we launched half a year ago. One of our reasons for creating the channel is the decline in free speech, unbiased reporting, and scientific honesty that the Covid-19 pandemic aggravated. Martin was the perfect guest for us because he stood his ground by being truthful to what the science told him. 

Few people dared stand up to the madness that most of the world endured in 2020-2022. Officials and politicians made it clear that if anybody questioned their draconian policies about masks, lockdowns, and mandatory vaccinations – even of small children and people who had already been infected with the Covid-19 virus – the consequences would be dire and could include firing.

Scientists like Martin Kulldorff and John Ioannidis from Stanford, who will appear in a later podcast, have been proven right. Government policies were wrong on so many levels and led to tremendous collateral damage, which both professors pointed out to us. 

Soon, the Supreme Court in the US will begin evaluating the censorship on social media that hit honest scientists. Martin is one of the plaintiffs and he explains in his article that,

At the behest of the U.S. government, Twitter censored my tweet for contravening CDC policy. Having also been censored by LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube, I could not freely communicate as a scientist. Who decided that American free-speech rights did not apply to honest scientific comments at odds with those of the CDC director?

Martin notes that, despite being a Harvard professor, he was unable to publish his thoughts in American media, which is why he took to social media, which then blocked him. This is extremely worrying for democracy in the US. Martin wanted to warn against lockdowns and he was right. He is Swedish, and as we discuss in our podcast with him, Sweden did better than virtually all other Western countries by not locking down and by not mandating facemasks. Numerous studies have shown Sweden’s excess death rate to be among the lowest in Europe during the pandemic and in several analyses, Sweden was at the bottom.

On Sunday, 24 March, we decided to test the censorship on YouTube. It took YouTube less than an hour to remove a video with professor Gøtzsche and professor Christine Stabell Benn, one of the most outstanding vaccine researchers in the world, in which they discuss non-specific beneficial and harmful effects of vaccines. The video is announced this way on our website:

In this episode, Peter C Gøtzsche discusses with Professor Christine Stabell Benn the research that has shown that live, attenuated vaccines reduce total mortality by much more than their specific effects would predict; that non-live vaccines increase total mortality; that the order in which the vaccines are given is important for mortality; what the harms are of the Covid-19 vaccines; and why they are overused.

YouTube informed us that, “Our team has reviewed your content, and, unfortunately, we think it violates our medical misinformation policy.” 

We appealed and received YouTube’s standard message for appeals: “We reviewed your content carefully, and have confirmed that it violates our medical misinformation policy.” It took YouTube less than an hour to evaluate the video carefully. This is impressive, as it lasts 54 minutes. Who did this work and what are the credentials for this person? Are they any better than for the two professors who discussed vaccines? Hardly. It has been documented that fact-checkers rarely have any medical or scientific background and that they have very often labelled correct information as being false. 

The video has been online on our website for 6 months, and we do not have censorship, of course. Why are social media still preventing rational scientific debate about the benefits and harms of vaccines? Free debate lies at the heart of science. This is what makes us all wiser and advances science.

The problem with censorship is that the public trust in science declines. People cannot know what has been hidden from them, which creates distrust that could reduce uptake of important vaccines. 

Another reason why scientists must be allowed to debate freely online and in public is that policies and politicians operate in the public sphere. The current state where people are advised to ignore these debates if they come out at all and instead go to websites of governments, the World Health Organization, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find “truthful” information is not what we want in an enlightened society. 

Furthermore, official information has been proven wrong again and again, e.g. the information from the CDC about influenza vaccination is seriously misleading and contradicted by the most reliable science we have. 

Censorship can cause other scientists to keep quiet for fear of harassment, which will aggravate the misinformation because those left will say what falls in line with current government policy. 

Harvard, once an esteemed and trustworthy source in science, has lost its way. The firing of Martin for speaking freely during the pandemic is a disaster for Harvard’s reputation. There is a petition for having Martin reinstated at Harvard, but we hope he is not interested in going back, which does not deserve to have a professor like him among its faculty. 

Martin should be honoured for his courage. He stayed loyal to the science, which all scientists should do, no matter the consequences for themselves, instead of being loyal to a world that ran amok in what looked like a competition in stupidity. History won’t be kind to what happened.  

Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
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  • Peter C. Gøtzsche

    Dr. Peter Gøtzsche co-founded the Cochrane Collaboration, once considered the world’s preeminent independent medical research organization. In 2010 Gøtzsche was named Professor of Clinical Research Design and Analysis at the University of Copenhagen. Gøtzsche has published more than 97 papers in the “big five” medical journals (JAMA, Lancet, New England Journal of Medicine, British Medical Journal, and Annals of Internal Medicine). Gøtzsche has also authored books on medical issues including Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime. Following many years of being an outspoken critic of the corruption of science by pharmaceutical companies, Gøtzsche’s membership on the governing board of Cochrane was terminated by its Board of Trustees in September, 2018. Four board resigned in protest.

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