Free Speech

"The Media's Lab Leak Debacle Shows Why Banning 'Misinformation' Is a Terrible Idea"

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From Reason's Robby Soave; an excerpt:

But many lab-leak foes had not merely called the theory unproven. They had lobbied for the theory's adherents to be effectively silenced. They asserted that anyone discussing it was a conspiracy theorist or even a racist. Indeed, some are still discouraging this conversation.

"I & other AAPIs are increasingly concerned that speculation over the lab leak theory will increase anti-Asian hate," tweeted Leana Wen, a professor of public health and CNN medical analyst, earlier this week. "As we embark on a full scientific investigation, we must take actions to prevent the next escalation of anti-Asian racism."

She did not explain why speculation about the lab leak theory would increase anti-Asian hate to a more appreciable degree than speculation about the wet market theory. The idea is counterintuitive: The lab leak theory indicts a handful of individual scientists and the Chinese government, whereas the wet market theory can be used to indict broader Asian cultural traditions that have often been criticized in the West. And while an apparent surge in anti-Asian hate crimes is at this point taken for granted among professional pundits and politicians, its extent and underlying causes are far from clear. For instance, the Atlanta spa killings are often cited as the prime example of the lethal nature of anti-Asian bias, but no definitive evidence has emerged thus far that racism was a conscious motivating factor in the shootings.

Yet it's clear that a certain segment of lab-leak critics believed two things: 1) the theory would fan the flames of racism, and 2) for that reason, it should be proactively censored. Such is the slipperiness of the misinformation label, which has come to include all sorts of claims that are not straightforwardly false.

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  1. “They had lobbied for the theory’s adherents to be effectively silenced. “

    It will be interesting to see how the social media bans hold up against Florida’s new law. The new law claims to forbid banning a politician in an election year.

    Assume that the media was forced to be unbiased (Not realistic. I know.). Then since all politicians make dubious statements (e.g. Medicare for all won’t cost working Americans a single cent.) then all of them would be banned. My favorite is that politicians lie whenever their lips move.

    Instead of the League of Women Voters and Presidential debates bringing candidate statements to us, the statements could be banned on all electronic platforms. If you don’t go to a live rally, you can’t learn what they say. The Florida law seeks to prohibit such bans.

    1. Uh, there’d still be debates on tv and coverage in newspapers. What you’re basically saying is that if, say, the NYT or the WSJ decides not to print something a candidate says they should be forced to at federal gunpoint.

      1. What you’re basically saying is that if, say, the NYT or the WSJ decides not to print something a candidate says they should be forced to at federal gunpoint.

        Your reading comprehension sucks. He not only didn’t say anything “should be” (he was speculating on how the law in question could be enforced, now how is “should be” enforced), what he describes has nothing to do with any news outlet being forced to print anything.

        1. So he’s talking about the League of Women Voters and other debates being banned as electronic debates, such that you’d never hear the claims there unless you were physically present?

          “Instead of the League of Women Voters and Presidential debates bringing candidate statements to us, the statements could be banned on all electronic platforms. If you don’t go to a live rally, you can’t learn what they say. The Florida law seeks to prohibit such bans.”

          Ah, Wuzzie, you’re not reading well, are you?

          1. What the hell does all of that incoherent babbling have to do with you not understanding the difference between “could” and “should”? Or your equally stupid confusion over “printed in newspapers” vs “carried by electronic social media”?

        2. ” what he describes has nothing to do with any news outlet being forced to print anything.”

          Extrapolation, how does it work?

          1. Why don’t you tell us, Queenie, in a consistent manner? Just the other day your panties were all in a knot because some were extrapolating your claim that a professor should be forced to use “Ms” to refer to a biological male if the latter so prefers, to say that this would in turn require him to refer to someone as ‘tree’ if they so prefer. You dismissed the latter as a ‘parade of horribles’ that has nothing to do with what you propose.

            1. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

          2. Extrapolation, how does it work?

            “Can’t be banned by social media” = “must be printed by the New York Times” isn’t “extrapolation”, you moron.

        3. Nope. What DeSantis wants is the power to compel 1A actors to publish favorable stories and him, Trump and whomever else he chooses. He wants a state controlled media. So do you.

          1. Hasn’t the “medias lab leak debacle” proven that we do have a state controlled media now? That is real danger.
            A robust 1st amendment is protected as a check against a corrupt government.
            Now that the “press” is nothing but agents of propaganda for Democrats, we in fact have a state run media.

            1. “proven that we do have a state controlled media now”
              No, otherwise you would not be allowed to watch France 24, NHK, or DW

              1. The big tech giants censoring information that runs counter to the States desire is a big step in keeping people away from facts uncomfortable to the State. Exactly what happened with the “lab leak debacle”

                1. iowantwo, in the Wuhan virus conversation, there has been zero change in, “facts uncomfortable to the state.” Just an increase in fools who think ginned-up excitements probably imply facts.

                  By the way, are you familiar with the observation by William James in 1904: “. . . what affairs in the concrete are settled by is and always will be just prejudices, partialities, cupidities, and excitements.”

                  Pretty good summary of what happens on the internet, don’t you think?

                  1. “Ginned-up”? Who are YOU to decide that? This is the whole crux of the argument: a bunch of millennials at Facebook get to decide what is “ginned-up” and what isn’t, based on guidance from the government. How do you not see this as terrifying?

                    1. What’s wrong with millennials? Do you prefer older, poorly educated, superstitious, bigoted, easily frightened, gullible people (Republicans)?

                      These cranky old clingers can’t be replaced fast enough.

                    2. What’s wrong with millennials? I personally don’t want the bigoted people who are working hard to bring back racism, segregation (in particular, segregated “safe spaces”, dorms, and graduation ceremonies in college), using race for preferences in admissions, and declaring that the only way to help minorities succeed is by recognizing their inferiority to white and Asian people, telling us what can and cannot be said on social media.

                      Of course, you are personally perfectly fine with this, but then, you are set in your bigoted ways.

                  2. in the Wuhan virus conversation, there has been zero change in, “facts uncomfortable to the state

                    This is somewhat eccentric . In early 2020, the absence of evidence of an animal host for Covid-2 was not evidence of absence. The hunt for such a host had only just started. Fifteen months later, after a long and determined hunt, there’s still no animal host. This is not conclusive evidence of absence, but it’s certainly evidence*.

                    Unless you take the view that the long search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq does not constitute evidence of absence.

                    * indeed the fact that the CCP has not yet managed to infect some poor pangolin or tree shrew for CYA purposes suggests that perhaps it’s not that easy to do.

                  3. William James in 1904: “. . . what affairs in the concrete are settled by is and always will be just prejudices, partialities
                    cupidities, and excitements.”

                    So James was the father of “Salesmanship for Idiots”

                    Said another way, All decisions are a balancing act of priorities.

                    We have seen that over the last 16 months in plain sight.
                    Science says Masks dont work, until the symbolic actions became a priority.
                    15 days to “flatten the curve” became, masks and social distancing saves lives.
                    The affairs of concrete(follow the science) was overtaken by shifting priorities. As the quote aptly points out. It’s something salesman learn or change careers.

                2. “The big tech giants censoring information that runs counter to the States desire is a big step in keeping people away from facts uncomfortable to the State.”

                  So build yourself a tech giant and censor information on it the way YOU want it censored.

          2. What DeSantis wants is the power to compel 1A actors to publish favorable stories and him, Trump and whomever else he chooses.

            Quote for us the provision(s) of the statute that give him (or anyone else) anything even remotely like that sort of power.

            1. So, what you’re saying is that DeSantis didn’t get the law he wanted?

      2. “Uh, there’d still be debates on tv and coverage in newspapers. What you’re basically saying is that if, say, the NYT or the WSJ decides not to print something a candidate says they should be forced to at federal gunpoint.”

        Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

        NYT and WSJ are not social media. And you have proven, yet again, that you are a fool.

    2. “It will be interesting to see how the social media bans hold up against Florida’s new law.”

      Does private-property no longer exist in Florida, or have the Marxists already won?

      1. Huh, you guys have claimed all along that limited regulation of the free market is necessary to make sure that the big market guys are kept in line, and that people fairly compete … only to now, all of the sudden become concerned about property rights?

        Most conservatives, and many libertarians, never subscribed to the “no regulations at all costs” point of view — they have only believed that it’s possible to have too much regulation, and that it needs to be pared back.

        It’s rich that you’re suddenly “Oh, I don’t know, doesn’t this regulation go a bridge too far?” Well, considering the censorship that this lack of regulation is enabling, maybe it’s about time to bring up some regulation to deal with it.

        Then again, the reason why you enjoy this lack of regulation is because, ironically enough, it enables censorship, and you are indeed in favor of censorship.

        1. “Huh, you guys have claimed all along […]”

          To which “we guys” are you referring?
          If you’re too confused about who you’re talking to? I intend to defend what I wrote, and occasionally, what someone else wrote if I happen to agree with it. I feel no compulsion to defend any idea that didn’t originate with me.
          Hint: What I have claimed all along is that if you don’t like how some tech company chooses to use their property, you don’t have to like it. Using the power of the state to take control of that property without providing compensation to the owner is what Marxists advocate. It’s what you are now advocating. How long have you been a Marxist?

    3. Nothing about that law or its future in the courts will be “interesting,”

      It is flatly unconstitutional on its face, and you shouldn’t be dumb enough to think otherwise.

  2. But you have to admit that labeling everything you don’t want to hear as misinformation is an effective solution to suppressing unwelcome information.

    The fact that one of the most prominent subjects of ‘misinformation’ bans has been shown to be 100% true, and another the lab leak theory has been shown to warrant a serious investigation is unlikely to convince those who still find those topics distasteful.

    1. It’s a standard approach: if you have a problem, make sure you get all the attention so that you can (mis)-direct the attention. For example, write a book about how virtuous you are!

    2. Can you provide a link to the evidence supporting your (and Tom Cotton’s) assertion that the virus was created in the Wuhan lab and intentionally released to harm the US? Where is the proof? And why did Trump fail to investigate? Who stopped him?

      1. This discussion is not about proof. Its about investigation of possibilities. The state run media declared the “lab leak” theory, as debunked, and nothing but the talk of conspiracy nuts.
        When investigations have deemed just the opposite. The possibility of animal to human transfer is astronomically unlikely, while leaks from virology labs have happened at least 6 times over the last several years.
        A rational person would start with the lab leak scenario.

        1. Always a treat when superstitious clingers offer pointers on how a rational person would reason . . .

          1. you really work hard to hide your ignorance and hate by attempting to create it in your betters

            1. It sounds like you are not enjoying American progress, FourteenFour.

              Don’t worry . . . your anger and disaffectedness will diminish when you are replaced.

              1. We saw what your ilk considered “progress” in the Civil War, when your ilk had a chance to separate themselves from the Union, and create your own government; we saw, again, what your ilk would do in the aftermath as well.

                We’re going to work hard to make sure that what you and your ilk did will go into the dustbin of history!

          2. Always a treat when you expose just how empty and vapid your rhetoric is.

        2. The possibility of animal to human transfer is astronomically unlikely, while leaks from virology labs have happened at least 6 times over the last several years.

          You are confused. You conflate the lab-created scenario with the lab-leak scenario. They are two entirely different things.

          1. You are confused. Kazinski mentioned the lad leak theory, and Pacific introduced the strawman lab-created/intentional-release theory. They are two entirely different things. And, only 1 of them was mentioned originally. Funny which one you decided to support.

      2. Can you provide a link to the evidence supporting your (and Tom Cotton’s) assertion that the virus was created in the Wuhan lab and intentionally released to harm the US?

        Can you provide a link to this alleged assertion ?

      3. Can you provide a link to the evidence supporting your (and Tom Cotton’s) assertion that the virus was created in the Wuhan lab

        Cotton never claimed that.

      4. “Can you provide a link to the evidence supporting your (and Tom Cotton’s) assertion that the virus was created in the Wuhan lab and intentionally released to harm the US?”

        How warped by conspiracy-theorist thinking does your brain have to be to arrive at “China released a virus in China to attack the United States” as a reasonable explanation for anything?

      5. “Can you provide a link to the evidence supporting your (and Tom Cotton’s) assertion that the virus was created in the Wuhan lab and intentionally released to harm the US?”

        You sure stole a couple of bases with this comment, didn’t you?

  3. It is increasingly apparent that there are severe conflicts of interest, rear-end covering, and government suppression of inconvenient facts going on.

    To anyone with a brain, it was clear that the most likely explanation was that COVID escaped from one of the Chinese labs. That’s what the Chinese social media thought…before they were shut down.

    Consider the following situation. A new strain of Ebola appears in the general population. But not in Africa. In Fredrick, Maryland. Immediately, suspicion is pointed towards Fort Detrick (which does research in Ebola, and is located in Fredrick). Any rational person would immediately suspect it escaped from the lab there. But the government blames it on an “open air market” instead…. and the media buys it.

    That’s the situation with Wuhan. One of the only three labs in the world doing gain of function research into coronaviruses is located…in Wuhan, China. And somehow, the epicenter of a new coronavirus outbreak is located…in Wuhan, China. But the Chinese blame it on a “outdoor market”. Despite no bats being sold in the market. Despite it being winter, when bats are hibernating. And despite it being in the middle of an urban area with 10 million people. That’s just the start.

    Now, the contrarians will say “There’s no solid evidence for it escaping from a lab”. But equally true…there’s no solid evidence it came directly from animals.

    There are studies that could be done to disprove the lab hypothesis. A full, transparent investigation of the laboratory. That…was not done. At the same time, the “source animal” for the “wet market” hypothesis…continues to not be found.

    At this stage, it is most likely it leaked from the Wuhan Labs…

    1. FWIW – NPR ran hour long stories for a week in early April 2020 with “experts ” in the field describing how it was physically impossible for it to be a lab leak with the extensive safety protocols. To any objective person, the explanations for the impossibility were dubious, especially since the explanations were interlaced with conspiracy and anti trump messages.

      1. Unfortunately NPR has time and time again demonstrated that it is unable to be objective about the origins of COVID. It has a political agenda to sell. For that reason I have stopped watching NPR in favor of DW and NHK

        1. “I have stopped watching NPR ”

          He has stopped *watching* National Public *Radio*!
          Lol.

          1. Haha NPR
            it is all the same mafia-like enterprise PBS
            Now, did you have something useful to comment on?

            1. Don Nico, too bad for you. You ought to be “watching,” Meghna Chakrabarti every chance you get. She’s one of the smartest journalists in broadcasting, and a brilliant interviewer. When challenged by assorted subject matters, she shows an astonishing range of competence.

              I say that as someone who also can’t stomach most of NPR. While I admire Chakrabarti as a rare journalistic gem, I can’t believe there are not enough others like her to fully staff multiple news organizations. Where are they? What accounts for journalistic idiocy as the commonplace standard?

              1. What accounts for journalistic idiocy as the commonplace standard?

                Ooh! Don’t tell me! Let me guess! Could it be… Section 230??

          2. He has stopped *watching* National Public *Radio*!
            Lol.

            Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.

            1. Your wisdom doesn’t seem to stop you from speaking.

      2. NPR ran hour long stories for a week in early April 2020 with “experts ”

        I wonder if any of them were the same “experts” who chuckled while dismissing Trump’s claim that a vaccine would be available and start being administered before/by the end of 2020.

    2. “To anyone with a brain, it was clear that the most likely explanation was that COVID escaped from one of the Chinese labs. ”

      “To be clear, while some circumstantial evidence supports the lab leak theory, there is still no scientific consensus on whether COVID-19 emerged from a research facility, a wet market, or somewhere else. “

      1. I agree QA.
        There is insufficient evidence to reject any of the several theories

        1. There is a difference between “rejecting” a theory and assigning probabilities to the various theories.

          Any realistic assessment of the probabilities at this point would assign a >50% chance of a leak from a lab, given the current known facts.

          1. Thank you for the number. Looks like grade inflation but it’s your opinion

            1. I learned some of Bayesian Inference a while ago, but this chatter about misinformation has be restudying refreshing my understanding.

              If it ain’t falsifiable then it ain’t science. Falsification is the demarcation boundary of science from nonsense. From Karl Popper’s ‘The Logic of Scientific Discovery’. Also surprise is a good indication of an unexpected truth.

              Frequentist statistics require repetition, as in ‘tell the lie often enough and it becomes the truth’. Bayesian statistics are the statistics of unique occurances.

              My my subjective opinion is the only one that matters. A tension in Bayesian Inference is between subjective and objective.

              1. A lot of theoretical astrophysics isn’t falsifiable.

                In your opinion, does this mean it isn’t science?

                And if it isn’t science, does that mean it isn’t important to think about?

                As far as human behavior goes, I think one thing that leans HEAVILY into the lab-leak theory is the fact that the Chinese Communist Party is withholding data on the origins of COVID-19. In fact, I would argue that at some point we should just assume that the lab leak hypothesis is true if the Chinese Communist Party keeps on denying access to the data.

                1. A lot of theoretical astrophysics isn’t falsifiable.

                  For a scientific hypotheses to be falsifiable it must be possible to specify in advance a set of logically possible empirical circumstances which would demonstrate the falsity of the hypothesis.

                  What hypothesis of theoretical astrophysics did you have in mind?

                2. A lot of theoretical astrophysics isn’t falsifiable.

                  You’re confused. It isn’t currently falsifiable is different than not falsifiable.

          2. “Any realistic assessment of the probabilities at this point would assign a >50% chance of a leak from a lab, given the current known facts.”

            True, if, as in your case, “realistic assessment” means wanting to come to that conclusion.

      2. Again…your reading comprehension sucks.

        1. Not surprising….

        2. Back it up, lady. Where wuz I wrong?

          1. You confused an assertion about the “most likely explanation” with “scientific consensus”. Consensus — particularly in that sense — often means there are no significant or respectable dissents. Because there are many significant dissenters to the lab-leak hypothesis (perhaps with disrespectable reasons for dissent), it is not precisely honest to claim a consensus over the most likely explanation.

            1. “You confused an assertion about the “most likely explanation” with “scientific consensus”. ”
              I don’t see that inference at all. But you’re welcome to see what is not there in QA’s statement that there is no consensus (or anything approaching consensus) about any theory.

              By since you bring up the topic, in your mind how likely (in a Bayesian sense) is “most likely”

              1. You could try to look it up. “Most likely” is defined….

                1. We do that exercise in my class.
                  The answers are all over the map.
                  Trying to weasel once again.

                  1. Uh huh…

                    Just try. Google “Most likely defined”

                    Or don’t. Stay ignorant.

          2. Where wuz I wrong?

            Your decision to open your virtual mouth and spew your usual baseless stupidity, mostly.

          3. Back it up, lady. Where wuz I wrong?

            Where weren’t you?

            1. When you got nothing, belligerence is always an option.

    3. ” To anyone with a brain, it was clear that the most likely explanation was that COVID escaped from one of the Chinese labs. ”

      Disaffected clingers should not try to play with science in modern, reasoning America. Stick to the superstition, bigotry, and belligerent ignorance. Your betters will handle the adult tasks.

      1. Poor Rev….

        1. Dr. Fauci will dance, with me and the rest of the liberal-libertarian alliance, on the political graves of our bitter clingers.

          You get to nip at our ankles and whine about all of this progress as much as you like, though . . . so long as you continue to comply with our preferences.

          Losing the culture war, being poorly educated bigots, and choosing superstition over reason will continue to have consequences.

        2. Wait he/she still posts??? Who knew?

          1. So long as you comply with the rules established by the liberal-libertarian mainstream, Da5id, disaffected clingers are welcome to tune in or out at they wish. Just remember to continue to toe that line.

    4. “At this stage, it is most likely it leaked from the Wuhan Labs…”

      AL,
      I disagree with your most likely claim, but I admit that it is as likely as purely a zoonotic transmission plus subsequent mutation. Could either hypothesis be established at a compelling level?

      Not if China continues to stonewall and bar full investigation.
      If China continues to act as it has, that throws an every brighter light on either an accidental or deliberate leak.

      1. “I disagree with your most likely claim, ”

        Based on what evidence?

        1. Based on the facts
          1) that all individual aspects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are found in naturally occurring viruses,
          2) that zoonotic transmission of viruses is a well known phenomenon, and
          3) that you offer no compelling evidence that the lab leak theory is viable, let alone correct.

          You you are is suspicious of the WIV and the CCP. Good for you. I am too.

          1. Last line
            “You are just suspicious of the WIV and CCP. Good for you. I am too”

          2. 1) Labs (including the WIV) study naturally occuirng viruses
            2) Transmission from animals in laboratories to people in laboratories is quite possible.
            3) The WIV had a history of safety errors. Three top researchers from it were hospitalized for an “unknown” virus in late 2019. There’s evidence that a large portion of the lab was shut down or had highly restricted access in October 2019

            4) There’s no evidence to support that it came from an animal in Wuhan’s “wet market”. No animal in that wet market has been found to have COVID. That would be a so called “golden bullet” to prove the zoonotic transmission from the wet market. And it hasn’t been found.

            That’s more than enough evidence.

            Again, think of the Ebola analogy. If Ebola “magically” appeared in Frederick, Maryland….would you assume it leaked from the local BSL4 lab? Of course.

            1. You actually presented no evidence at all for your hypothesis.

              1. You provided no evidence for your hypothesis that COVID was from naturally occurring zoonotic transmission.

                You keep accusing others of presenting no evidence, when you fail to produce any yourself.

                1. You’re the one saying “anyone with a brain knows it came from a lab.”

                  Maybe you SHOULD present some fucking evidence, since you’re the one making such an assertion.

                2. You obviously cannot read.
                  First I noted that there are NO unique specific features of SARS-CoV-2 that do not also occur naturally.
                  Second, I advanced no specific hypothesis that need defending. My statement is that several hypotheses are plausible and all need forensic investigation.
                  Your objection fails Cousenlor.
                  Back to your Armchair.

                  1. “My statement is that several hypotheses are plausible and all need forensic investigation.”

                    This is simply, to use your words, “weaseling.”

                    Hypotheses need probabilities. What’s a probable hypothesis. What it very unlikely. And so on. Resources are limited. Where are those resources going to be focused? Where not?

            2. But your counterfactual never happened.
              In fact the Chinese do claim that the US Army brought the SARS-CoV-2 virus to Wuhan in late November as part of some athletic events.
              The US Army is know to do biological weapons research including weaponizing naturally occurring pathogens.
              The US Army is known not to have a clean safety record.
              The Administration of the Orange Clown was known to have an open hostility to China and perceived benefit from spreading the idea of a Chinese bio attack or at least Chinese carelessness in dangerous research.
              See how that works if you are a buddy of Pres. Xi?

              1. You’ve got two separate hypotheses going on with your facts though which are contrary.

                On one end, you have the US army deliberately sending COVID to China
                On the other end, you have the US army having safety issues.

                The US Army cannot simultaneously deliberatately and accidentally “Send” Covid to China.

                COVID most likely escaped from a lab. Don’t just trust me. Trust the former director of the CDC.

                Now, there are a number of experiments that could be done to help disprove this theory. The bloodwork for those workers who fell ill in November 2019 could be released. The lab workers could’ve been tested for antibodies against COVID in early 2020. The lab could release the full database of all the coronoviruses it was working on. A full forensic investigation of the WIV could be done.

                None of this has occurred. Why?

                1. I don’t have two hypoyheses,
                  But I am repeating China’s claim. That the US Army brought the virus to Chine either deliberately or accidentally.
                  As for your leak assertion is is just that an assertion without any physical evidence. Counselor, you loe in Court you lose in public and you lose in this blog.
                  Why is it that you cannot accept anyone else’s opinion?
                  Did you have divine revelation.And as for your completely disingenuous cite of the former CDC director, that is not evidence and your expert will be torn to shreds under cross-examination.

                  Finally you almost make one statement that I agree with and which has been my point all along: a full forensid investigation should be done. But even there your strong bias shows. You want the investigation confined to the WIV.
                  Sorry Counselor, case dismissed, get back to your Armchair and learn some real respect for the opinions of others

                  1. “But I am repeating China’s claim”

                    And you believe that to be “plausible”? Really? If not, why bring it up repeatedly?

                    1. “Plausible”? Yeah. Likely? Different question. The minimal qualification for plausibility is that it doesn’t contradict any known facts. The fewer known facts you start with, the easier it is to reach plausibility.

            3. “Again, think of the Ebola analogy. If Ebola “magically” appeared in Frederick, Maryland….would you assume it leaked from the local BSL4 lab? Of course.”

              Which Ebola? Ebola-Zaire or Ebola-Reston?

              Did the UK variant of COVID-19 or the Brazil variant ALSO escape from the Wuhan lab?

          3. Again, really, think about this….

            If COVID popped up in Beijing, or Shanghai, or deep in the rural Yunnan province….zoonotic transmission would make sense.

            But RIGHT in the ONE city that had a laboratory studying bat coronaviruses? What are the chances?

            1. Al,
              You are entitled to believe anything that you want to. If I were the administrator of the international forensic team, I would not have you on it because you come with an overwhelming prejudice.

              You believe what you will. Have the courtesy to respect the opinions of others who are not as convinced as you.

              1. Prejudice? Because of a realistic look at the odds? But I suppose if your were head of an international forensic team, you would be just what the Chinese government likes…

                In terms of courtesy….you may want to look in the mirror, given your comments.

                1. You are not assigning adequate weight to the point that you are a partisan bigot prowling for opportunities to play gotcha with your betters, motivated by resentment and disaffectedness deriving from failure in the culture war, Armchair Lawyer.

                  1. Do you always have to be such an asswipe? Just answe his point.

                2. Prejudice, firend, your comments reek of it.
                  In contrast I’ve identified multiple plausible hypothesis, all of which are amenable to investigation. If you cannot see the difference , then your blinders are very narrow indeed.

                3. “you would be just what the Chinese government likes”

                  do you mean an internationally recognized scientist from one of America’s leading universities who considers several scenarios as plausible and is intent on fully investigating each?

                  I did not know that you give Mr Xi so much credit

                4. “you may want to look in the mirror, given your comments.”

                  You’ve got a mighty thin skin, maybe that explains your retreat to the Armchair.

                  1. Just to repeat what I said below:
                    Every individual aspect of SARS-CoV-2 is also found in naturally occurring viruses. The problem with mutation is that they are random events. Discounting there effects is know to succumb to the well know fallacy that fluctuations in natural events are small.
                    What you think are improbable events happen frequently and all the time.

                    1. Some people do not believe that mutations happen because they have taken the position that God prohibits evolution.

                  2. There’s such hypocrisy from you, friend…

                    You accuse me of a lack of courtesy, then turn around in the same thread, and accuse me of having a “thin skin”?

                    Unbelievable.

                    1. What, exactly, is so “unbelievable” that you have a thin skin? There appears to be considerable evidence for this proposition.

                5. You have no realistic look at the odds. Your best shot is an unproved assertion with no physical evidence, no tissues samples, no pathology cultures, nada
                  You clearly have minimal understanding of the statistics of synchronicity. Study that topic first before you base accusations on meager circumstance.

                  1. But let’s go further AL and expose the slander behind your theory.
                    1) You claim that SARS-CoV-2 was never found in the wild prior to the infections in Wuhan
                    2) You claim that zoonotic transmission followed by mutation in humans followed by community transmission is improbable.
                    3) Then you claim without hard evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was leaked from the WIV.
                    SO, WHERE DID THE WIV GET IT. You have already said, not from the wild. And you say that it could not be a wild mutation.
                    4) Your implied slander is that a human pathogen was deliberately made in the WIV by Gain-of-function research funded by Fauci.
                    5) But those sloppy Chinese let it escape.

                    And you expect us to believe that you are unbiased.

                    1. 1) Has it? It has not, to my knowledge.
                      2) I do not claim that. This is slander to say I have.
                      3) I claim it is LIKELY that it leaked.
                      4) This is slander AGAIN. I never claimed it “could not” be a wild mutation

                      You repeat slander, continuously. You are clearly biased, and unsuited to any “investigation”…

                    2. Let me add on one additional major point.

                      You continually mischaracterize or lie about by arguments. Whether it be saying there’s “no doubt” China leaked COVID, when I said it was most likely. Or any of the several other times.

                      It’s a sign of intellectual weakness that you need to continually lie about the argument that I’ve made.

                6. Prejudice? Because of a realistic look at the odds?

                  Saying “I think this is likely/unlikely” is not looking at the odds, realistically or unrealistically; it’s just handwaving.

                  Also, one can’t look at the odds of a specific event occurring after it occurs, note that the odds are low, and therefore conclude that the event must have been the result of a conspiracy. What are the odds that John Smith of Sarasota, Florida, picked the winning numbers in the Powerball on Saturday? Infinitesimal. And yet, he did.¹ Does this prove the lottery fixed? Of course not.

                  ¹Actually, I made up the details; all I know is that the winning ticket was sold in Florida.

            2. “But RIGHT in the ONE city that had a laboratory studying bat coronaviruses? What are the chances?”

              How crazy would it be to set up a laboratory near where the thing you want to study is happening. Mt St. Helens erupted RIGHT at the site of the Mt. St. Helens volcanic laboratory. Obviously, the volcano escaped from the lab!

    5. A new strain of Ebola appears in the general population. But not in Africa. In Fredrick, Maryland. Immediately, suspicion is pointed towards Fort Detrick (which does research in Ebola, and is located in Fredrick). Any rational person would immediately suspect it escaped from the lab there.

      Armchair, I disagree. Ebola shows up in the world regularly and repeatedly, from unidentified natural sources. How frequently has ebola escaped from Fort Detrick?

      People travel, and the DC area is a particular magnet for world travel. If anyone in the greater DC area shows up with ebola-like symptoms, you think it’s more likely from Fort Detrick, and not from some African traveler? My guess is it’s far more likely from an exposure in Africa.

      Now think about Covid and Wuhan. Covid was a novel disease among humans, which delivered flu-like symptoms. The first medical practitioners to encounter a natural outbreak of Covid-related disease in Wuhan would almost surely mis-diagnose it as ordinary flue, while it spread among a widening circle. What is the one place in Wuhan which would make the correct diagnosis? The lab, of course. It seems far more likely that Covid in Wuhan was a natural outbreak, which eventually infected someone who happened to work at the lab, where it was recognized. Or that the lab may have recognized Covid from a sample taken in the community. Or that the lab had no connection at all.

      People who insist it was an escape from the lab will have to find evidence about some untoward occurrence at the lab. So far, no one seems able to point to anything like that. All the talk is about circumstantial guesses—guesses founded on wildly distorted notions about the probability of disease escapes from, for instance, Fort Derrick—which by the way, have happened. But the causes were identified in real time, and linked to lab mishaps. Which is exactly the kind of evidence it will take to prove a lab origin for Covid in Wuhan. Good luck finding it.

      Transmission of novel pathogens from natural hosts to humans is commonplace. Lab escapes of novel pathogens which create global pandemics are unprecedented. But you think a, “rational,” person would immediately assume the latter was a more likely explanation than the former? That seems unwise.

      1. “People travel, and the DC area is a particular magnet for world travel. If anyone in the greater DC area shows up with ebola-like symptoms, you think it’s more likely from Fort Detrick, and not from some African traveler? My guess is it’s far more likely from an exposure in Africa.”

        The series of coincidences that would need to occur in your magical hypothesis boggles the imagination.

        To review, there’s a new strain of Ebola. Under your magical hypothesis, it doesn’t show up in Africa. It doesn’t show up in the airports in Africa. It doesn’t show up in the airports in DC. It doesn’t show up in downtown DC. Instead, it magically shows up in a small town of 70,000, an hour’s travel away from downtown DC. This mysterious person somehow travels from Africa, through crowded airports, multiple cities, without infecting a soul, until he arrives in a small town an hour outside of DC, and then and ONLY then proceeds to start an outbreak of Ebola, just in that small town. The fact there’s one of the only BSL-4 labs that studies Ebola, in that town…just a coincidence…

        1. Cut your stupid Ebola scenario. All you have advanced for you theory (>50%) is broad circumstance that would never stand up to scrutiny even under the preponderance of evidence.

          1. It’s enough that the former director of the CDC supports the argument.

    6. To anyone with a brain, it was clear that the most likely explanation was that COVID escaped from one of the Chinese labs.

      AL, a useful heuristic that I’ve learned in my years of self-reflection, reading, and research – though I believe you’re at least two decades older than I am – is to treat this kind of certainty with a kind of careful skepticism. Obvious conclusions often seem obvious only because I haven’t done the work to fully consider alternatives.

      Here, you claim that “anyone with a brain” would reach a particular conclusion about the most likely origin of COVID, despite lacking any direct evidence, despite lacking any reliable way of gathering or evaluating what evidence there is, despite lacking any particularly relevant expertise.

      But you offer scarcely any justification for this degree of certainty. You offer an Ebola hypothetical that so clearly just begs the question that it’s laughable. You cite certain aspects of the Chinese account as being implausible, but the parts you deem to be implausible just… aren’t, or aren’t relevant.

      At this point in time, I think it’s fair to say that a reasonably informed person would find multiple possible scenarios – including the “lab leak” theory – to be plausible, but in need of further verification. But that’s based on what we know now, not on what was half-known back at the time. We would not have had any better knowledge, or intuitions, about the possible sources at that time. So your claim about “anyone with a brain” is just specious in the extreme. You’re just banging pots here, like some annoying toddler.

      1. “Here, you claim that ‘anyone with a brain’ would reach a particular conclusion”

        “Anyone with a gall bladder” or “anyone with a large intestine” just don’t have the same convincing certainty, do they?

  4. EV is still stuck in a nineteenth century timewarp.

    Instead of doing all that calculus as a kid, he should have taken the opportunity to look about, while he was still living in the land of Lenin and his heirs.

    One does not divide “information” into the old bourgeois categories of “True” or “False”, but into the essential categories – “Useful” or “Not Useful.”

  5. “Twitter—the preferred medium of progressive politicos and journalists”

    Uh, and Trump to name one major non-‘progressive politico and journalist…I mean, he notes in the very article how critical many on the left have been of Twitter.

    1. I don’t know what point that tu quoque was trying to make, but if it is that progressive politicos and journalist are as bad as Trump, I won’t argue it.

  6. “As we embark on a full scientific investigation, we must take actions to prevent the next escalation of anti-Asian racism.”
    This is the typical BS to be expected from dupes of the CCP regime.

    1. We must fight the Chinese Commies by embracing racism.

  7. Mr. Soave and Prof. Volokh are a cute couple.

    Of clingers.

  8. Poor RAK defending dupes and useful idiots again.

    1. Winning the culture war, shaping American progress, and stomping right-wingers into political and cultural irrelevance is enough for me.

      See you guys down the road apiece . . .

  9. So sad, his whining sniveling defense of himself.

  10. Cool. Now do election fraud.

    1. I’m sure if you wait long enough, you’ll catch SOMEONE doing election fraud.

  11. In a twist of irony, the movie “Final Account” appeared in theatres during the campaign against misinformation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qobRIgAyQiY

  12. Saying it’s a “terrible idea” presumes that the people who did it were interested in getting the facts correct. Their pattern of behavior tells us they have no such interest.

    They’re not scholars or historians. They’re more like middle-school mean girls. They got what they wanted and that’s all that will ever matter to them.

    1. The mute user feature is really nice

      1. Indeed. Buh-bye!

  13. “It will be interesting to see how the social media bans hold up against Florida’s new law.”

    I predict the Constitution will win, and whoever has to defend the Florida legislature in court will not.

  14. ” They asserted that anyone discussing it was a conspiracy theorist or even a racist.”

    Yeah, discussing racist conspiracy theories DOES open you up to an accusation of being a conspiracy theorist, or even a racist.

    1. It was particularly racist to promote the image of filthy Chinese wet markets and “bat soup” being the cause of the world’s COVID misery, wasn’t it? Somehow the CCP (and the CDC) found that a far more palatable theory for the infection than that of possible credentialed incompetence among its best and brightest.

      Cui Bono? We know who.

    2. “discussing racist conspiracy theories DOES open you up to an accusation of being a conspiracy theorist, or even a racist.”

      The epicenter of the pandemic was apparently a couple of blocks away from a lab that works with the virus that was at the center of the pandemic.

      What is racist about saying “you know, that lab is potentially involved in starting this thing. Let’s take a look and see”?

      Anybody who said that was ridiculed as a racist conspiracy nutcase. Throw away your partisan thinking and open up your mind.

      1. “Anybody who said that was ridiculed as a racist conspiracy nutcase. Throw away your partisan thinking and open up your mind.”

        Genius, I’m not a member of a political party and say so on a fairly regular basis. So, no, I will not be taking this opportunity to embrace your party-line at this time.

  15. Actually, banning misinformation would be tolerable (barely) if it was replaced with objectively good information. But it’s not. What they call misinformation is just being replaced with just different misinformation.

    So it leaves it up to the reader to decide whose information is correct — if any! No wonder big media readership is tanking. Their product is subpar.

    We see once again that TRUST is the ultimate currency. Trust is established by honesty and openness.

    1. “Actually, banning misinformation would be tolerable (barely) if it was replaced with objectively good information. But it’s not. What they call misinformation is just being replaced with just different misinformation. ”

      The problem is that some people actively prefer misinformation to accurate information. It’s not a surprise to learn that they will find sources of their misinformation as long as they keep looking for it.

      1. For such people, wanting it to be true is a suitable substitute for it being true.

  16. Actually, the way the “lab leak” discussion has started up again shows how problematic misinformation actually is.

    Let’s be clear on what the recent development was. The “lab leak” theory is based on some unverified, second-hand intelligence that three workers in the Wuhan lab came down with COVID-like symptoms in November of 2019. That’s it. It’s not known whether they got it from the lab, or from community spread. It’s not known whether they got it in the course of doing “gain of function” research or in some other circumstances. It’s just known that they got sick. So there’s some divergence within the intelligence community about what actually happened, so it’s good that Biden has ordered them all to get their shit together and reach an actual conclusion about it.

    But reading the comments here, you can see how few people understand that. There’s nonsense about Fauci’s “criminality,” conviction that “Trump was right” about the Chinese being responsible, dark intimations about the “deep state” conspiracy against Trump, etc. Nothing new has actually come out about the “lab leak” theory. But suddenly these morons think they’re vindicated.

    It may be fair to say that the media was overly and unnecessarily critical and suspicious of a lying and defrauding, known huckster’s meandering and incoherent claims about China’s culpability for COVID, interpreting it as a ham-handed and racist way of deflecting blame for his own incompetent handling of the pandemic. But their error is not so hard to understand, in context.

    1. You and your ‘reasoning’ are interfering with Prof. Volokh’s lathering of his right-wing rubes, SimonP. Please take care not to use mean words (such as -sl_ck-j_wed’ about conservatives, because you are setting yourself up as a prime candidate for a visit from the Volokh Conspiracy Board of Censors.

      1. I’m not any more interested in your schtick than Eugene is, RAK.

        1. There were likely reasons “mute user” was created, and I’d bet RAK looms large among them.

        2. What is Prof. Volokh interested in? Not a (right-wing) government issuing gag orders to journalists and their lawyers while seeking communications records. Not a (right-wing) government enacting must-carry statutes with respect to (certain) speakers. Not the Lindell-Trump litigation follies.

          Instead, he focuses on the plight of beleaguered males in assault cases and on
          amplification of Robby Soave’s partisan, misleading ankle-nipping.

        3. schtick — That’s a very good characterization. It’s like a vaudeville impersonation of a serious intellectual. I may use that myself.

          “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”

    2. “The “lab leak” theory is based on some unverified, second-hand intelligence that three workers in the Wuhan lab came down with COVID-like symptoms in November of 2019. That’s it.”
      Simon,
      Tell that to Armchair Lawyer. That is his best claim of real evidence.

      What is known is that China suppressed and changed the description of “severe respiratory illness” on early hospital reports in Wuhan. There could be several motives including wanting to ascertain facts after SARS.

    3. From Vanity Fair’s quite good article: “A small group within the State Department’s Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance bureau had been studying the Institute for months. The group had recently acquired classified intelligence suggesting that three WIV researchers conducting gain-of-function experiments on coronavirus samples had fallen ill in the autumn of 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak was known to have started.”

      That’s hardly the basis of the lab leak theory, but it’s not bad evidence for it. It’s very good evidence. However, it’s also not conclusive on its own.

      1. That is the basis of the lab leak theory. The intelligence they’re relying on is unverified by our own intelligence community, and it doesn’t show a causal link between the researchers’ illness and a “leak.”

        There’s nothing else, apart from question-begging speculation.

    4. Simon, there’s nothing wrong in thinking that the lab could have somehow been the source of the outbreak. It’s certainly possible. And worth investigating.

      Saying if definitively like Trump did was idiocy, but that’s our Donald. The problem is the media went just as hard the opposite direction because of Trump.

      Nobody can be open minded and think rationally.

      1. My theory on this is that Trump heard some of the early intelligence, seized on the bit that he felt most clearly exonerated him, and made that into his spin.

        I agree that it’s worth investigating. Like I said, I think Biden is acting prudently in trying to settle the issue as best he can so that we can move on from it. And I appreciate that the media may have been spinning things too hard, just like they have done on a lot of the COVID coverage. A ton of it was clearly motivated by editorial decisions to get readers/viewers to “take it seriously,” and they glossed over a lot of nuance to do so.

        1. “A ton of it was clearly motivated by editorial decisions to get readers/viewers to “take it seriously,…”

          If the media overplays the danger of a coming pandemic/hurricane/whatever, that can be explained by the happy overlap of getting more clicks and trying to get people to prepare. I think it’s ill-advised, because of the ‘crying wolf’ problem, but it might be driven by good intentions.

          But whether covid was a lab leak of species jump in the wild is irrelevant to whether people will take the pandemic seriously. If anything, I think I’d be more worried by ‘this virus is the product of GoF optimization as a pathogen’ than ‘this virus is better adapted to bats and just managed to jump to humans’. The intense desire to suppress discussion of a lab leak as a possibility seems more like straight up playing politics than making people take the pandemic seriously. In fact, by spending credibility that way, they made it less likely they would be believed about other pandemic related things where they could have made a difference.

          1. What you call “playing politics,” I call being over-zealously skeptical of Trump’s claims due to his being a notorious liar and fraud who will seek to deflect blame 100% of the time.

            1. If Trump was the only one saying it, fine, but there were respectable scientists saying we needed to look at the possibility of a lab leak. Suppressing them isn’t being skeptical of Trump.

              As I think Brett has said elsewhere, if Trump says the sun rises in the east, that may not be evidence that it does, but it isn’t proof that it doesn’t. A stopped clock and all that.

            2. I don’t think going off of Trump’s knee jerk assumption is very helpful in either direction. If he had jumped on the wet market theory (those backward Chinese people and their ridiculous cultural norms) would that somehow have made the lab leak theory more plausible? Or at least more palatable to discuss at all? If so, that’s a problem.

              If the media waits to see what Trump thinks, and then just goes hard the other way, that doesn’t seem like the best system for accurate discovery.

          2. “If anything, I think I’d be more worried by ‘this virus is the product of GoF optimization as a pathogen’ than ‘this virus is better adapted to bats and just managed to jump to humans’. ”
            That may be reasonable worry to have at the back of your mind, but one with no genetic or virological evidence what so ever.
            But we should keep an open mind and investigate all possibilities

            1. It’s a statistical argument: it may well be that some novel virus that just made the jump from aardvarks to humans is the worst virus ever, worse than one where GoF was used to develop the nastiest possible human virus, but I don’t think I’d bet that, on the average, virii specifically selected for human virulence won’t be unusually virulent.

              1. The events of which we speak are so numerous in variant that the probability of any specific scenario is small. Yet highly unlikely events happen all the time. Our instinct about rare events are typically extreme;ly misleading

                1. I’m not following. You seem to be making an argument along the lines of ‘the odds that a once in a hundred year storm will occur somewhere every year are high’, which is true but not relevant.

                  The argument is more ‘if you randomly pick someone from the population at large, and someone else from an NBA team which has been selected for height, odds are the NBA player will be the taller of the two’.

                  1. I am saying that many things happen each of which is highly unlikely if you demand a priori that specific happens. We know that some among these events always happen because there is a long time for something to happen. In statistics that is an issue of synchronicity

                    But to make matters very simple, one either believes that SARS-CoV-2 happened spontaneously due to natural mutation and evolutionary process OR that is was fabricated by human intervention.
                    The natural path had led to almost all of the virus we know of. Each of thos formation events was extremely unlikely a priori.

        2. “I think Biden is acting prudently in trying to settle the issue as best he can so that we can move on from it.”

          I’m not as convinced it is prudent. There are people who will be skeptical of whatever the intelligence agencies find because A) they’re skeptical of the intelligence agencies, or B) Biden is a politician, and they all always lie, or C) Biden is a Democrat, and they all always lie or D) simply being unable to follow the trail of how we know what we know.

          I’m also not so certain that it matters where, exactly, the virus came from. Efforts to determine this answer may misdirect effort and resources away from something we did need to know. Late in the Clinton Presidency, Republicans bought into the “wag the dog” theory regarding the Clinton administration’s warnings about bin Laden funding terrorism against US targets, so they didn’t take those warnings seriously. Remind me again how that worked out.

      2. “Simon, there’s nothing wrong in thinking that the lab could have somehow been the source of the outbreak. It’s certainly possible. And worth investigating.

        Saying if definitively like Trump did was idiocy, but that’s our Donald.”

        He’s not my Donald. Florida can keep him.

        Let’s play a thought experiment: If the COVID-19 virus escaped from a lab, how many people will be cured of the disease if we prove, indisputably, that it escaped from a lab? How many people will trudge down to the football stadium parking lot to get their vaccinations if you prove that it did NOT escape from a lab?

        What the Republicans taught us in 2020 is that A) pretending that a pandemic is not happening does not keep people from getting sick, and B) nor does it help you win elections.

    5. Let’s go further and expose the slander behind Armchair Lawyers theory.
      1) He claims that SARS-CoV-2 was looked for and never found in the wild prior to the human infections in Wuhan
      2) AL claims that zoonotic transmission from bats or an intermediary animal followed by to the SARS-CoV-2 mutation in humans and subsequent community transmission is highly improbable.
      3) Then AL claims without hard evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was leaked from the WIV.
      SO, we must ask
      WHERE DID THE WIV GET the SARS-CoV-2 virus?
      AL already said it was not from not from a wild mutation. And nor could it have been a mutation in humans of a previous zoonotic transmission. One is let with one story about the origin of SARS-CoV-2.
      4) Armchair Lawyers implied slander is that the SARS-CoV-2 human pathogen was deliberately made in the WIV by Gain-of-Function research funded by Fauci.
      5) But those sloppy Chinese let it escape.

      And he expects us to believe he is unbiased and recognizes legitimate evidence expect us to believe that you are unbiased when his entire “theory” begs the question of the origin of SARS-CoV-2.

      1. 1) As far as I’m aware, it hasn’t been. And it’s been looked for. Do you have evidence that it has been?

        2) I did not claim this. You have lied about my argument again.

        I say it is the most likely hypothesis. You claim to support all plausible hypotheses. Do you support this as plausible? If so, you can answer your own question.

        And again, you’ve lied about my argument. I have never said it could not be from a wild mutation. Nor have I said it could not be a mutation in humans

        4) I never claimed anything about Fauci…never even mentioned him.

        —The only way your argument works, is if you contunally lie about what I says

        1. AS is usual you squirm. I never claimed SARS-Cov-2 was found outside of humans. In fact I consider mutation in human hosts as a probable path.
          2) I am not going to hunt through your blah-blah. Your accusation of “lies” is offensive. But I have come to expect that of you. You have said that natuarl generation was highly unlikely and that is why you like the “lab leak” even though it begs the question.

          3) Maybe I conflate your ideas about Fauci with those of your fellow fans of the Orange Clown.i so I apologize. However, the lab leak theory does impute fabrication to the VIW by your point (1). You cannot have it both ways.

          My argument is that either the virus is natural or that it is man-made. To the extent that you discount natural origin, you imply the second.

          SO back to the fundamental question: What is the ORIGIN of SARS-CoV-2?

          Don’t duck by saying that a lab was the original point of dispersal.

          1. “SO back to the fundamental question: What is the ORIGIN of SARS-CoV-2?”

            God done did it. He also aborts more pregnancies than Planned Parenthood.

        2. BTW,
          Do you support the call of the Orange Clown for COVID-19 reparations from China?

  17. Everyone here really needs to read this: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/06/the-lab-leak-theory-inside-the-fight-to-uncover-covid-19s-origins

    There seems to be a lot of misinformation or inadequate information in the comments here on both sides.

    There isn’t a slam dunk case for any origin, but imo the scales are tipping in the lab leak direction at this point. It’s not a certainty, and it probably never will be (in either direction). To be certain, China would have had to allow an open investigation of WIV back in Jan-Feb of last year, with outside independent experts. That never happened. (And, fwiw, there’s pretty much no case for a zoonotic origin at this point. Just the weight of background evidence that pandemics generally come from zoonotic sources. There is no evidence specific to covid in support of this hypothesis, and that’s actually somewhat surprising. Now, that doesn’t mean we can discard all that background information as meaningless, but it does mean the case for a zoonotic origin is a lot thinner than its believers are willing to admit).

    1. “There is no evidence specific to covid in support of this hypothesis, and that’s actually somewhat surprising.”
      Except that every individual aspect of SARS-CoV-2 is also found in naturally occurring viruses.
      Moreover, the problem with mutation is that they are random events. Discounting there effects is know to succumb to the well know fallacy that fluctuations in natural events are small

      1. That’s not really evidence of a natural origin. We don’t even have evidence those parts came together in nature. (We aren’t talking mutation at that point, we’re talking virus gene sharing, because you have full functional gene modules from very different coronaviruses spliced together – which *can* happen in nature, but for which we have no evidence of this specific crossover having occurred).

        Something being possible is not evidence of it actually having happened.

        1. (And to the degree that evidence of possibility is relevant – the more specific that evidence, the better it is. We can’t even identify an intermediate host species for Covid-19 in which that genetic mixing might have occurred, much less identified a population of such a species which has said viruses).

          1. “much less identified a population of such a species”
            for that very reason one needs to consider evolution in human hosts after a zoonotic transmission of a precursor virus

        2. Squirrel,
          You either have to believe that it came together naturally through mutations Or that the virus was fabricated by humans either at WIV or elsewhere. The Chinese for their part point to the US Army.

          The virologists supporting the natural evolution in one or two animal jumps (for example, NATURE MEDICINE | VOL 26 | APRIL 2020 | 450–455) at least offer a theory of origin. Perhaps they discount the lab leak too early as an explanation of early contagion in Wuhan. But they do not beg the question.

          If one ascribes the WIV as the point of origin of the virus, one must explain how it got there. An accidental mutation in the lab or a deliberate fabrication in GoF research for example.

          The problem that we face is that there is no real evidence of what happened at the origin. Certainly without a full forensic investigation with complete cooperation of the Chinese government, we are unlikely to have more than politically motivated polemics to fall back on.

        3. “That’s not really evidence of a natural origin.”
          What is your alternative?
          Was SARS-CoV-2 engineered by humans in a lab?

  18. “Therefore, those of us who oppose racism must be sure that we never refer to the virus as Chinese, or deny that it is, in fact, Chinese.”
    — Titania Gethsemane McGrath (ultra-woke, 24-year-old, militant vegan), April 2020 (at https://thecritic.co.uk/issues/april-2020/why-vaccines-are-deeply-racist/ )

    1. “militant vegan”
      That is all I had to see to disregard her opinion.

      1. Your lack of knowledge of Titania McGrath gives some credence toward your refusal to see how possible the Wuhan virus got loose. Anyone who lives that much in the dark is missing too much of life.

        1. I looked up “Titania McGrath is a parody Twitter account created and run by comedian and Spiked columnist Andrew Doyle.” My knowledge of any particular activist mouthpiece has nothing to do with how I evaluate the possible modes of origin and spread of SARS-CoV-2.
          As for your last comment, you live your life, I’ll live mine.

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