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The Humboldt-Universität condemns the vilification of scientists in the media

Complaint filed with the German Press Council against the BILD newspaper

The President’s Executive Council of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin condemns the reporting by the BILD newspaper from 4th December 2021. This described the three scientists Dirk Brockmann (HU), Viola Priesemann (MPI for Dynamics and Self-Organization) and Michael Meyer-Herrmann, from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, as “lockdown makers”. It thereby suggests to the readers that scientists are responsible for political decisions.

This type of journalistic portrayal is dangerous and irresponsible in the debates concerning the cohesion of society in pandemic times. It brands scientists. Supporters of conspiracy theories thereby receive support from the media for their view that science is a driver of political decisions. That is not the case.

The President’s Executive Council of the Humboldt-Universität protests such false claims and will protect each of its members who are defamed in this way. In addition, the HU’s President’s Executive Council declares solidarity with all those who defend themselves against such deliberate false statements. This type of reporting is a far cry from any kind of journalistic integrity. The Humboldt-Universität has therefore lodged a complaint with the German Press Council against this article in the BILD newspaper and especially its headline, which labels Dirk Brockmann, a professor at the HU, as a “lockdown maker”.

The HU stands for freedom and tolerance based on mutual respect and recognition. This means abiding competing views and turning differences into argumentative disagreement. Our university is and will remain a place of free and independent exchange – and also a place of political advice. The prerequisite for this is that every member of the HU can express academic views and put them up for discussion without fear. If this is not possible due to the stigmatisation of scientists in the media, these scientists will shy away from advising politicians to the best of their knowledge and belief and for the good of society out of fear. This means that politicians will be left on their own and will make decisions without expertise.

Further information

Alliance of Science Organisations: Call for more objectivity in crisis situations

Press contact

Hans-Christoph Keller
Press spokesperson for the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Tel.: 030 2093-12710