Stanford Group Says Legal Threat Won’t Stop Criticism of White House Coronavirus Advisor

Dozens of doctors and researchers from Stanford University said legal threats won’t stop them from criticizing White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Scott Atlas.

The pronouncement comes a few weeks after academics from the elite university published an open letter slamming their former colleague for spreading “falsehoods and misrepresentations of science.” They said they especially took issue with Atlas discouraging masks and other health mandates that aim to slow Covid-19 transmission.

Not long after they issued their public condemnation, the researchers behind the letter said they received a threat on Sept. 16 from a law firm demanding that they retract their claims or risk getting sued. Marc Kasowitz, of the firm Kasowitz Benson Torres, said he represents Atlas, who’s currently a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

Dr. Atlas—a radiology and neuro-radiology specialist—has no particular expertise in infectious disease. Yet the longtime physician has made a number of statements in recent months promoting the controversial “herd immunity” path for dealing with the pandemic and discouraging face coverings.

The missive condemning Atlas’s claims was posted on Twitter earlier this month, saying the authors felt compelled to write it “to prevent harm to the public’s health” and because they felt “both a moral and an ethical responsibility to call attention to the falsehoods and misrepresentations of science recently fostered by Dr. Scott Atlas.”

“Many of his opinions and statements run counter to established science and, by doing so, undermine public-health authorities and the credible science that guides effective public health policy,” the researchers wrote.

Kasowitz, in a missive responding on behalf of Atlas, called the critiques “abjectly false.”

“We therefore demand that you immediately issue a press release withdrawing your letter and that you contact every media outlet worldwide that has reported on it to request an immediate correction of the record,” it stated.

Michael Fischbach, an associate professor in Stanford’s bioengineering department and one of the academics who put his signature on the letter calling out Atlas, tweeted in response that he stands by “everything we said.”

The legal threat generated more support for the group criticizing Atlas.

On Sept. 23, an even larger group signed a new letter saying they will not be silenced. “We believe that [Atlas’s] statements and the advice he has been giving fosters misunderstandings of established science and risks undermining critical public health efforts,” reads the declaration signed by 105 doctors, scientists, public health experts and faculty. “In addition, we are deeply troubled by the legal threats that Dr. Atlas has made against us in an attempt to intimidate and silence us in the midst of a pandemic.”

14 Comments

  1. > Stanford Group Says Legal Threat Won’t Stop Criticism of White House Coronavirus Advisor

    Great! Bring it on!

    Politics has evolved in a way that it is almost impossible to have a real debate about anything.

    Instead of debating “climate change”, the warming quacks simply declare themselves the Pope of climate science and claim entitlement to massive government funding. And the social media gurus support the quacks by silencing dissenters.

    Lets have a REAL science based debate on coronavirus and medical science and wise public policy.

    The authoritarians will have to let other people have a voice.

  2. I have found that people who resort to name calling and personal attacks on those who disagree can not make a cognitive argument in support of their case. They either do not have facts that back up their opinion or those “facts” will not stand up to any scrutiny.

    In regards to Climate Change, there is ample scientific proof to back up these claims with empirical evidence. Those that deny climate change have failed to back up their argument with any scientific evidence. They claim, again without any evidence, that “Science is wrong” or that “Scientists don’t know what they are talking about”.

    There have been scientific debates on COVID-19 and there is plenty of scientific research that indicates wearing masks and social distancing help slow the spread. Unfortunately our current administration, of which Atlas is a part of, chooses to deny everything and suggest using ultraviolet light and bleach internally to kill the virus.

  3. > there is ample scientific proof to back up these claims with empirical evidence. Those that deny climate change have failed to back up their argument with any scientific evidence.

    By the way, Mr. Freliner, are YOU a scientist?

    I ask, because many non-scientists DON’T KNOW what science really is. They think of “science” as a file cabinet full of government approved facts. Or, when there is a Republican president, the file cabinet is full of Democratic Party approved facts.

    Science is a mode of thinking and a method of answering questions by conducting EXPERIMENTS.

    “Empirical evidence” may serve as a basis for a “hypothesis”, but SCIENTISTS conduct experiments to validate or “falsify” hypotheses.

    What, in your mind, constitutes “ample scientific proof’?

    And, if science establishes truth, why do scientists disagree? If there is one truth, why do we need so many scientists? Shouldn’t one scientist be enough?

  4. What are we to make of the criticism leveled? Are the 105 critics in agreement on a specific assessment of the Covid threat, or on a preventative strategy more concrete than “we endorse masks and social distancing?” If so, let’s hear it; if not, then we have no reason to pay them any attention.

    Since there was no link to the critic’s letter I can conclude nothing other than that a disagreement exists. From those presenting themselves as experts I would appreciate an explanation, as well as corroborating evidence, as to how the masks most commonly in use offer a significant level of protection from a molecule far too small for their filter rating? And please, spare us all the unacceptable justification about how Covid sometimes rides along on larger molecules.

    If the experts were to tell the public that yamaka’s protect cyclists’ heads from injury I guarantee you that neither the public nor even the incompetent media would accept it without question. Yet here we are, demonstrating great enthusiasm and maximum virtual signalling, wearing masks that are not the required quality (N-95) to have any real effect, not to mention falsely attributing our wearing them to the decline in the virus’s spread.

  5. Personally I have no intention of sitting here to argue about facts and experiments that are easily found. You are welcome to search the internet for legitimate sources of scientific experiments and evaluation of the validity of wearing masks. Whether you choose to believe it or not that is completely up to you. I’m not here to be your scientific valet. I will say that there is ample proof that the administration and their ideas are actually dangerous. The administration, which includes Atlas, has advocated things that are proven to be not only dangerous but deadly. This information is also readily available should you care to look for it.

    You said that the debate has already taken place among experts and I tend to agree. Have you reviewed any of that debate have you applied common sense to the arguments being made by both sides? Have you looked at the test of people who wear masks and how they work to prevent the spread of virus. I do not believe you will find any scientific evidence that claim masks are 100% effective, that is why other measures such as social distancing and practicing good hygiene are also highly advocated in addition to masks

    As for other scientists disagreeing with the mainstream, if you look you can find “scientists’ who disagreed that the Earth is round. You can find doctors who believed in witchcraft and Spirits causing Coronavirus. You don’t have to look hard Trump was able to find one to backup some of his arguments.

    People have their own agenda and honesty is not always 100% aligned with their agenda. Instead of looking for one or two outliers look at what is accepted by the mainstream scientific establishment and then apply a simple common-sense logic to it.

  6. James,

    I have searched the internet for myself and the conclusion I have come to is:

    You have an agenda.

    I have read several scientific papers regarding both Climate Change (which is different than Man Made Climate Change by the way) and masks and social distancing. After all that I have come to different conclusions than you. Therefore it must be YOU who has the agenda, cause it ain’t me.

  7. > People have their own agenda and honesty is not always 100% aligned with their agenda.

    Seems to be a compelling argument for why people should not believe you, Mr. Frelliner.

    And, by the way, you still haven’t provided any convincing evidence that you know how science works, only that you can cite placebo “journalists” who write thumb sucking articles funded by politicized grants from the Al Gore Environmental Protection Agency.

  8. Here’s some more good news for the Democrat voter base:

    https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/qanon-leaders-look-rebrand-after-tech-crack-downs-n1241125

    > “QAnon leaders look to rebrand after tech crack downs

    > The shift in tactics comes the same week as Twitter released new data stating that their ban on QAnon-related accounts was severely limiting the reach of the conspiracy theory.”

    > “Facing crackdowns from tech companies that limit the reach of their content, leaders in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement have been urging their followers to drop the “QAnon” label from their wide-ranging conspiracy theories and simply refer to their fight against a fictitious cabal of powerful baby-eating politicians without their increasingly problematic branding.”

    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Mr. Tech Company is thoughtfully taking steps to “limit the reach of . . . content”.

    Let me explain, in case you miss the point.

    Mr. Tech Company is limiting the reach of content . . . limiting it from reaching YOU!

    But, it was probably bad content, and you really didn’t need to know about it anyway. And, you’re probably better off having LESS information than having TOO MUCH information.

    I’ve always heard that the LESS informed voters are, the better for DEMOCRACY!

    Thank you, Mr. Tech Company for helping make a strong Democracy!

  9. Censorship and information control by “tech companies” is just getting out of control!

    Here’s a comment by L Lin Wood, attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse and Nick Sandmann who won a big judgement against CNN:

    https://twitter.com/LLinWood/status/1309664993701289984?s=20

    “Google owns YouTube. They work together to suppress views & comments of “Truth in 11 Minutes” about Kyle.

    Do monopolists, leftists & censors who run these companies believe we are not going to sue the hell out of them at right time?

    Are they arrogant to point of being stupid?
    6:24 PM · Sep 25, 2020·Twitter for iPhone”

    – – – – – – – – –

    WHY do we want Mr. Google to be our neighbor and “help” our local elected officials to run our community?

  10. SJOB,
    Silence you fool! The experts are always right, that’s how they got to be experts!. There were people who didn’t believe the experts when the experts said the Earth was flat and those experts who said that the Earth, not the Sun, was the center of the universe! Haven’t you learned anything, you flat-Earth denier! Listen to the experts! C’mon man!

  11. No one has demostrated anything on masks, social distancing or global warming. There are no “tests” or experiments. There is no falsification. There are models. Any data that runs counter, Sweden, studies categorizing surgical masks as “courtsey masks, Cambrian explosion, the dust bowl and the extreme temperatures of the 1930s, the fact that CO2 increases trail temperature increase, are all either caste as “cherry picking” or remodeled to the pount of erasure.

    To all you Mr Freliners who think there is anything that is settled science or is not willing to always be highly skeptical are not looking for science, they are looking for power.

  12. In addition to pushing fallacious infectious disease information and policy prescriptions for the Trump administration, Atlas was recruited by Republicans in the House of Representatives to do a hatchet job on guaranteed, universal and publicly financed health care insurance during a hearing back in December 2019. Have a listen to his libertarian tirade on this issue at the 1:30:30 mark (and at other points) here: https://energycommerce.house.gov/committee-activity/hearings/hearing-on-proposals-to-achieve-universal-health-care-coverage. Atlas acts and sounds like the real thing but he is the very definition of an elite private university/corporate hack.

    If anyone is interested in the best (social) science on the efficacy of a single-payer guaranteed, universal health care system in the U.S., they should have a look at these two articles: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(19)33019-3/fulltext; https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003013.

    As to the role and efficacy of wearing masks, not a single one of the six previous commentators could cite any scientific evidence for their claims one way or the other. Whether their inability to provide evidence and sources is due to indolence, ineptitude, insincerity or irresponsibility, or some combination of these, is only known by them. So let me make a modest attempt.

    First source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/coronavirus-mask/art-20485449. Second source: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31142-9/fulltext which found, among other things, that “…Face mask use could result in a large reduction in risk of infection, with stronger associations with N95 or similar respirators compared with disposable surgical masks or similar (e.g., reusable 12–16-layer cotton mask). Eye protection also was associated with less infection.” Third, my personal favorite, as it has links to many major studies, even one conducted by the CDC among U.S. Navy personnel aboard the U.S.S. Roosevelt: https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/21299527/masks-coronavirus-covid-19-studies-research-evidence.

    The takeaway: even though our knowledge of novel coronavirus remains limited, the evidence increasingly points to reduced contagion–i.e. saved lives–in places where people are using masks in public and combining this with social distancing and hand washing. The precautionary principle tells us to adopt the best-known methods to protect ourselves in this pandemic. Anything less is reckless endangerment of the public, regardless of what high-paid hacks say to the contrary.

  13. @Econoclast
    I checked the Mayo Clinic report you cited.

    Right off the bat it is stated that masks HELP slow the spread of the virus WHEN COMBINED WITH FREQUENT HAND-WASHING AND SOCIAL DISTANCING.
    This is the equivalent of saying that driving the speed limit helps reduce pedestrian fatalities when combined with driver alertness and yielding at crosswalks.

    Next : “the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any type of surgical mask specifically for protection against the coronavirus, but these masks may provide some protection when N95 masks are not available.”
    MAY PROVIDE SOME PROTECTION? That reads like a marketing claim by the world’s worst condom supplier.

    Followed by: “Some N95 masks have valves that make them easier to breathe through… unfiltered air is released when the wearer exhales.”
    So the most effective masks do not protect others from the wearer’s infections.

    Lastly: “Asking everyone to wear cloth masks can help reduce the spread of the virus by people who have COVID-19 but don’t realize it.”
    Not exactly a bold claim, given the fact that people infected but unaware are likely to be feeling fine (i.e. not congested and coughing). Nevertheless, should you get close enough to a person infected but unaware, and should that person find a novel way to send enough of the virus your way, your recently LAUNDERED MASK, PROVIDED YOU SANITIZED YOUR HANDS before putting it on, can HELP REDUCE your risk.

    Sorry, but the cited piece read like it was written by a life insurance salesman.

    ****Initially posted and then unaccountably removed.