While many of our leaders spent the last two years crafting devastating lockdowns and freedom-killing edicts, a truly diverse group of people from all walks of life banded together to actually study the data and fight back against some of the incoherent madness emanating from federal, state, and local agencies.
On Saturday, I attended a lively conference in San Diego called “Rational Ground,” a group formed by businessman Justin Hart. Rational Ground, an entire team of rational thinkers, presented headliners such as Scott W. Atlas, MD, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, and former Levi’s exec Jennifer Sey, who joined lesser-known but equally important voices at the podium to decry what has happened to public health over the COVID years.
The speakers covered a wide range of topics, from the data behind COVID infection rates to the ineffective measures aimed at “stopping the spread,” to the rampant censorship of dissenting views, to the public’s complete loss of confidence in our public health institutions. It seemed fitting that as the audience gathered, news broke that author and noted mRNA vaccine critic Alex Berenson was once again banned from Twitter. The bluebird also temporarily took down a post from Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who recommended against mRNA vaccines for men under 40 due to the heightened risk of myocarditis.
The conference was long and informative, with eight information-packed sessions that ranged from data analysis to activism to lawfare. One of my main takeaways, however, is the monumental power of Twitter. Many of the people at this event had met via the online public square, formed private chats, traded information, and fought school boards and public health entities as a team. Most were meeting each other for the first time in person, some after years of interaction. “Twitter actually became the weapon [we use] to fight back,” Hart said in his introductory remarks. The power of realizing that you are not alone cannot be discounted, and many attendees greeted each other effusively after hearing each others’ Twitter handles.
As Scott Atlas said, “There is only one way to proceed. That is by knowing the data.” Four regular Joes with day jobs, for instance, were each interested in statistics and started running COVID numbers in their free time. They connected via Hart’s group and Twitter, and eventually, their charts and information were featured by Atlas, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and even President Donald Trump. They’ve uncovered numerous examples of flawed data used by the CDC to promote restrictive policies, and they’ve repeatedly brought such issues to light despite some remaining anonymous. Their strongest warnings were about wrong denominators being used (an issue Bhattacharya also highlighted), the alarming myocarditis numbers, and the disastrous performance of pediatric covid vaccines.
Another takeaway is how prevalent censorship has become in America, and how many people are quite simply scared. Many of the attendees at this conference do not use their real names on Twitter for fear of losing their jobs or being canceled by friends and family members. Bhattacharya has been subject to several campaigns to get him fired or delegitimized, as colleagues and former friends have written furious letters to the Stanford Administration viciously attacking the doctor for expressing his opinions.
Dr. Atlas, meanwhile, recalled how when he was first called to the White House, former aide Jared Kushner told him, “they’ll destroy you.” Just the words you want to hear on your first day at a new job.
But the experience of almost everyone there was to keep speaking up. As Laura Powell, a panelist and advocate for free speech said, “Every interaction with people is an opportunity to educate them and normalize our viewpoint.” We must “normalize dissent,” Jennifer Sey agreed.
One thing that virtually everyone seemed to have in common is that they’d experienced loss during the pandemic for questioning authority or rejecting mandates. Some had family members or friends who no longer spoke to them, others had lost jobs for their views or their vaccination status. Sey spoke movingly about how she had been rejected by most of her friends, some family members, and former colleagues. “I’ve lost a lot,” she said simply.
One grey-haired attendee told the crowd: “I’ve been a liberal for decades. These people were my tribe… and they turned on me. It was vicious. And I just don’t understand.” He appeared to be close to tears, and he was far from the only person with that experience. Out of the over a hundred attendees and speakers, only one person had heard anything resembling an apology for mistreatment and ostracization over holding heretical views that have since been proven to be correct.
In case you weren’t able to attend, and need a little dose of rational grounding, here’s a summary of the main speakers:
Dr. Scott Atlas MD
Atlas is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, a former COVID adviser to Donald Trump, and the author of “A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID from Destroying America.” The book recounts his efforts at establishing sanity while fending off the manic Dr. Anthony Fauci and the dishonest Dr. Deborah Birx.
Atlas described his days at the White House trying to counter the panic emanating from the Fauci/Birx regime. He chronicled how there was an institutional “abrogation of responsibility,” meaning that everyone just stood aside and let Fauci-Birx have a free rein–with catastrophic results. Moreover, it was the poor and minorities who were hurt most by lockdowns and school closures. “Lockdowns are a luxury of the rich,” he explained. His recommendations for what he termed “targeted protection” were mostly ignored. He concluded:
It is Orwellian or even Kafkaesque to blame people who criticized the lockdowns that were implemented for the failure of the lockdowns that were implemented.
You can hear more from a similar talk Atlas gave in June:
Dr. Jay Bhattacharya
Bhattacharya is a professor of medicine at Stanford and co-wrote the Great Barrington Declaration with Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard in the early days of the pandemic. Released in October 2020, the document stated: “As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies and recommend an approach he called “Focused Protection.” It was one of the earliest and most important criticisms of the pandemic response.
Bhattacharya asked a simple question: “how did a small group of people hijack the world?” He called the federal government’s response to COVID “the single biggest health disaster in peacetime history.” He also explained why so few doctors were willing to speak up, and the answer is simple: if you cross Fauci, you are risking your career. Fauci is head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and therefore has broad authority over millions of dollars in funding that go to universities and researchers. Simply put, if your opinions cost your university massive funds from NIAID, you’re probably going to lose your job, or not even get one in the first place.
The unexpected thing about Bhattacharya is how funny he is. Even when describing how his colleagues attacked him mercilessly, the smile never left his face. You can see more of what he has to say here:
Jennifer Sey, meanwhile, was a senior executive at Levi Strauss & Co. and on the path to becoming its next CEO when her Twitter musings questioning school closures drew the attention of the Board. They let her know she would no longer be a welcome presence at the jean giant unless she muted herself; refusing to bend, she resigned in February and has continued to be an outspoken critic of COVID insanity.
Sey’s talk was perhaps the most personal and moving, as she shared how the woke corporate culture at Levi’s turned toxic when she started complaining publicly about closed playgrounds and the negative effects lockdowns were having on kids. Levi’s basically told her to shut up.
Her book, titled Levi’s Unbuttoned, is set to come out shortly, and we were lucky enough to hear her read the introduction. She described how she was shocked by the “progressive savagery” she endured when she refused to stop tweeting her opinions. She discussed what she called the “tribalism” of the progressives and how their political beliefs have become a virtual religion. “I read the New York Times and the Atlantic,” she mimicked. “Why would I need to look any further?”
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Justin Hart, the founder of Rational Ground who has a new book coming out on October 18 titled, “Gone Viral: How Covid Drove the World Insane.” While he includes graphs and charts in the appendix, the tome focuses on humanity’s experience rather than technical jargon. It is a great read, and serves as a counterpoint to the new strategy of our leaders saying that we never locked down, nor had mandates, nor claimed the vaccine would stop infection.
Morano is a co-founder of ClimateDepot.com and author of The Great Reset: Global Elites and the Permanent Lockdown. He gave an intense and frankly scary presentation showing how all the COVID madness looks to be a trial run for what our Davos-attending superiors plan to do to us regarding climate change. Ugh.
Many people have experienced loss, depression, and despair as we watched our country go insane in front of our eyes when COVID struck. But there are also many people fighting for a new normal–famous people, everyday people, moms and dads, concerned citizens–and they’re using science, data, opinion and just plain old defiance to get their message out.
Rest assured, if you too are outraged over the madness, you are not alone.