The bad faith of the Great Barrington Declaration

Jay Bhattacharya is one of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, which called for the immediate elimination of all lockdowns and “focused protection” of the vulnerable. 

Yesterday Bhattacharya tweeted this:

Putting the snark aside, this seems consistent with the Great Barrington Declaration; the GBD claimed that the costs of lockdowns are high and exceed the benefits, especially if those vulnerable to covid are adequately protected.

But just before this tweet, he retweeted this:

This tweet rejects any need to balance costs and benefits.  It’s simply a categorical rejection of policies that Bhattacharya doesn’t like, based on a deontological rule (“do not harm”).  Vaccination requirements for international travelers? No. Masks in grocery stores? No. Close movie theaters and concert halls during surges? No. Work from home requirements? No.

To the best of my knowledge, Bhattacharya and his libertarian comrades never attempt to think seriously about the costs and benefits of different non-pharmaceutical interventions. They simply reject them all out of hand, without attempting to identify tradeoffs. They use cost/benefit analysis as a rhetorical weapon to criticize their opponents, not as a framework for principled decision making.

The bad faith is astonishing. This is an important reason most public health policymakers and academics refused to engage with supporters of the Great Barrington Declaration.