Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Uncommon Knowledge: Questioning Conventional Wisdom with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya

 

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya is a professor of medicine at Stanford University. He is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a senior fellow at both the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research and the Stanford Freeman Spogli Institute. His March 24, 2020, article in the Wall Street Journal questions the premise that “coronavirus would kill millions without shelter-in-place orders and quarantines.” In the article he suggests that “there’s little evidence to confirm that premise—and projections of the death toll could plausibly be orders of magnitude too high.” In this edition of Uncommon Knowledge with Peter Robinson we asked Dr. Bhattacharya to defend that statement and describe to us how he arrived at this conclusion. We get into the details of his research, which used data collected from hotspots around the world and his background as a doctor, a medical researcher, and an economist. It’s not popular right now to question conventional wisdom on sheltering in place, but Dr. Bhattacharya makes a strong case for challenging it, based in economics and science.

Recorded on Zoom on March 27, 2020.

Published in General
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 10 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Henry Racette Contributor

    I was quite impressed by the doctor during his Ricochet podcast appearance, and I’m looking forward to hearing this updated interview.

    • #1
    • March 31, 2020, at 9:49 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  2. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Peter,

    First, thank you, thank you, thank you, for sharing this with us. This is why I keep hammering away at the new woke meme, “Facts don’t matter only the narrative matters.” In our present situation, the facts matter in such a critical way that we should consider the woke meme as intellectually criminal.

    We will wait for Dr. Bhattacharya’s results with bated breath. At least at this moment, this country is mobilizing everything it has to fight back. FDA is radical fast-tracking big time. NYC is accepting help from whoever will give it. To quote a spokesman for our last major enemy, Admiral Yamamoto, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” I think the virus has had its Pearl Harbor and now will experience major defeat.

    Thank you again, Peter. I have never been prouder or more sure of the worth of being a member of Ricochet than I am right now.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #2
    • March 31, 2020, at 10:35 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Flapjack Member

    Thank you for posting that interview.

    • #3
    • March 31, 2020, at 11:19 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Hammer, The Member

    Peter – in addition to wanting to tell you that the t-shirt under a sport jacket seems very strange on you, :) I’d like to ask you to do a follow-up with Dr. Bhattacharya – the number of deaths has risen significantly (as I’m sure he and everyone else anticipated) since his publication of the article, and I’m hoping that there has maybe been some progress in the studies he is working on. With things like this changing daily, I’d like to know if his opinions have changed in any way, or if he has anything to add. A quick follow-up would be very interesting, even if it is not an interview or an article, just an update.

    Thanks!

    • #4
    • March 31, 2020, at 12:08 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Blue Yeti Admin

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    Peter – in addition to wanting to tell you that the t-shirt under a sport jacket seems very strange on you, :) I’d like to ask you to do a follow-up with Dr. Bhattacharya – the number of deaths has risen significantly (as I’m sure he and everyone else anticipated) since his publication of the article, and I’m hoping that there has maybe been some progress in the studies he is working on. With things like this changing daily, I’d like to know if his opinions have changed in any way, or if he has anything to add. A quick follow-up would be very interesting, even if it is not an interview or an article, just an update.

    Thanks!

    We will definitely have Jay back on the Ricochet Podcast and on UK in about 10 days for an update. 

    • #5
    • March 31, 2020, at 12:27 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  6. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Blue Yeti (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):

    Peter – in addition to wanting to tell you that the t-shirt under a sport jacket seems very strange on you, :) I’d like to ask you to do a follow-up with Dr. Bhattacharya – the number of deaths has risen significantly (as I’m sure he and everyone else anticipated) since his publication of the article, and I’m hoping that there has maybe been some progress in the studies he is working on. With things like this changing daily, I’d like to know if his opinions have changed in any way, or if he has anything to add. A quick follow-up would be very interesting, even if it is not an interview or an article, just an update.

    Thanks!

    We will definitely have Jay back on the Ricochet Podcast and on UK in about 10 days for an update.

    Yeti,

    Good deal!

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #6
    • March 31, 2020, at 12:55 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Skyler Coolidge

    Peter only ever interviews intelligent, well-spoken people.

    This was a good one, Peter.

    • #7
    • March 31, 2020, at 2:45 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Scott R Member
    Scott R Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Peter, next time you speak with Dr B I’d appreciate his guess of the effect of weather on the virus. Eg, chilly and average-sized MI now has death totals comparable to giant CA and giant TX combined, despite a friendlier starting point weeks ago. And with every passing day the gap between the per capita death totals of North and South grow. 

    At what point can we claim strong evidence that a spiraling outbreak is more easily avoided in warmth? And what are the implications for getting back to work in the South soon, and in the North sooner than expected?

    And now that I think about it, what are the implications for his native India, which has a barely detectable number of infections relative to its population, yet is responding aggressively (and IMO destructively)?

     

    • #8
    • March 31, 2020, at 2:51 PM PDT
    • Like
  9. Henry Racette Contributor

    I love this guy. I hope he’s right — not least because he’s saying what I’ve been thinking all month.

    One minor quibble with the slide that opened the interview, in which he posited the mortality rate based on an assumption of a January 1 introduction and six million cases and only 499 COVID-19 fatalities. If we’re going to assume that the virus has been circulating that broadly, we probably have to credit a certain proportion of deaths occurring this year and previously attributed to complications of influenza (for example) to the Wuhan virus as well. That would increase that numerator (499) by an unknown amount.

    But the true case fatality rate would still be below influenza.

    “We [medical researchers] have a very very strong responsibility to be utterly honest as we can be about what we know and we don’t know.” — Dr. Jay Bhattacharya

    Amen.

    • #9
    • March 31, 2020, at 4:45 PM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  10. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    This is a great interview. I sent a link of this to my colleagues in the IL House of Representatives, because those of us who will be tasked with crafting the public policy stemming from the fallout of this on the state level need to hear rational, measured voices as to what we know and what we don’t. Dr. Bhattacharya cuts through a lot of the hype and hysteria and I really appreciate it.

    • #10
    • April 3, 2020, at 7:00 AM PDT
    • 2 likes