Friday, October 20, 2023

Bhattacharya on Covid censorship

A week ago Jay Bhattacharya gave a great talk at the weekly Stanford Classical Liberalism workshop. (Link in case the embed doesn't work.) He detailed the story of government+media Covid censorship, along with the dramatic injunction in the Missouri v. Biden case. The discovery in that case alone, detailing how the administration used the threat of arbitrary regulatory retaliation to get tech companies to censor covid information -- along with other matters, including the Hunter Biden laptop -- is astonishing. We now know what they did, no matter what judges say about its technical legality. 

Toward the end, it came out that Stanford hosts an "internet observatory," specifically named in the injunction for colluding with the government to find and censor people on the internet. Internal matters always drawing attention, there was a longish discussion about that.  It does matter. Using (tax exempt) universities and other "nonprofits" to do things that are illegal for the government to do is, at least, not very pretty. As with all matters Israel, academic freedom and free speech seem to be pretty selectively applied. 

Another example of university efforts on  "disinformation" came up in later discussion, at Cambridge. It has an interesting mandate: 

"Strategic disinformation is an accelerant for major societal problems such as climate change,.... "

Yes, I thought, channeling Bjorn Lomborg and Steve Koonin. The climate-catastrophe, climate-justice, degrowth, anti-capitalism, let-them-stay-poor, get-back-to-the-farm-and-set-my-soul-free crowd has spread immense disinformation about actual climate science. Oh wait, somehow I don't think that's what they have in mind.  Orwell would be proud. (I would be delighted to be wrong in this case. Let me know.) 

But these internal matters are minor, really. The story of government, using threat of regulatory attack, to censor the internet is the real shocker. It also reveals a lot about our regulatory state. Can't internet companies say "well, regulation follows rules and procedures; you can't hurt us with regulation when we haven't done anything wrong and there is no provable case?" Ha Ha. Give us the company, and we'll find the regulation.  


  1. Think of the game theory at work here: businesses are put in the difficult position of losing out to competitors with less scruples than them. For some this is a feature not a bug, i.e. they get in business aiming to rent-seek.

    The regulators know this. Too bad there isn't a ban on this sort of unproductive entrepreneurship. :(

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  3. Deep state Democrats rigged the election by censorship of the truth - stole the election.


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