Throughput: The COVID Lab Leak Theory Resurfaces

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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131 Responses

  1. fillyjonk
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    says:

    I suspect part of the “lab leak” hypothesis is people want someone to blame. It’s unsatisfying to hear that this catastrophe was bad luck, or because humans still insist on eating meat, or that we are encroaching too far into nature and getting exposed to zoonotic diseases that are new to us. (I suspect we always have been exposed to zoonotic diseases – influenza incubates in swine and waterfowl – but we’ve not seen a respiratory pandemic like this in over 100 years).

    It’s much more satisfying to point a finger at That One Guy or That Group Of Guys and say they did evil, than it is to have to consider “the way humans live now, we may be increasing our risk for this”

    I also think there’s a weird desire in a lot of people to have “secret knowledge” that they figure makes them smarter than everyone else – even if that “secret knowledge” doesn’t fit with actual reality. This is how a lot of heresies got started through the years.

    Also, I’m kind of amazed at the level of conspiracy-theory acceptance you see in general in people, even people who are otherwise educated or savvy. Maybe it’s my scientific training where I talk about Ockham’s Razor regularly, but I look at the disease, the fact that it seems to have originated near a wet market, the fact that bats have absolutely freaky immune systems and carry some weird stuff, and I go “probably originated in bats, and we just got really unlucky this time” instead of spinning up some simple conspiracy (“Chinese bioweapon”) or a more complex one (I’ve heard ones even implicating Fauci). I mean, what we’re seeing with the recent attack in San Francisco, where people seem willing to amplify utterly batguano falsehoods because those either confirm their priors, or paint the “right” people as villains, is related to this.

    On darker days (mentally) for me, I wonder if we’re entering some new medieval period where a lot of what we’ve learned will just be ignored then forgotten, and we’ll see disease and famine become much more common. I’m too old now to live to see a neo-Renaissance so I am kind of bummed about that possibility. (But on better days, I tell myself THAT is conspiracy thinking. At least until I hear some person opposed to childhood vaccines start talking)Report

  2. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Why would Bill Gates want to cause a global pandemic?

    Okay. Here goes.

    He’s got a very, very, very long time horizon and he believes that the world will benefit, eventually, from having a very particular 1 billion people on it instead of having a haphazard 7 or 8 or 9 billion people on it all reproducing wily-nily. A pandemic can help reduce the number of people from an unmanageable one to a manageable one.

    There. That’s my best attempt.Report

  3. CJColucci
    Ignored
    says:

    Ultimately, the lab leak theory may turn out to be true, but on the evidence so far, that is not the way to bet. Neither a lab leak nor a fish market origin story would upset my world view, and damn few people I actually know have an opinion on the matter. (This is an all-too-rare example of people declining to form opinions when they have neither a need nor a basis for one.) Whatever turns out to be the case will be interesting to know, but probably not very important going forward.
    But some people, for some reason, are heavily invested in the lab leak theory. It’s hard, however, to think of a creditable reason. Reflexive contrarianism or the desire to stick a thumb in the eye of expert authorities simply because they’re expert authorities seem the most likely suspects.Report

    • fillyjonk in reply to CJColucci
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      says:

      Yeah, I’ve said “proving where it came from to an absolute certainty will not bring back my cousin or my family friend who died of COVID, it will not restore the lost senior-HS-years of too many kids who had to finish their educations online and didn’t get a graduation, it won’t restore the friendships that were fractured over differences in level of comfort with going out/masking/vaccines.” It’s broken a lot of us and the origin doesn’t matter, even if you could prove one guy did it, fining or incarcerating or executing him wouldn’t solve a damned thing.Report

  4. Michael Cain
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    says:

    Re footnote #1… At one point, I was willing to entertain a certain sort of lab leak. From samples drawn from the bat populations that harbor such viruses, taken to Wuhan for study, not handled with full BSL-4 protocol because no one knew there was a (sometimes) deadly natural pathogen in the samples. Some poor lab nerd inhaled it and sneezed directly on produce and people at the wet market a few days later. Assume, for narrative purposes, that the lab nerd is one of the significant percentage of the population who have minimal symptoms while they’re contagious.Report

  5. Chip Daniels
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    says:

    This a good writeup but you may as well be calmly explaining why Joe Biden actually won the 2020 election, or why masks help reduce the transmission of airborne illnesses.
    You might as well explain that no, children are not being forcibly given sex changes and no, teachers are not grooming them for sex, and no, for the last time there is no Satanic pedophile cult running our government.

    And this is good, to get this on record. But let’s be clear that you can’t reason someone out out a position they didn’t reason themselves into.Report

  6. Pinky
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    says:

    This is a good article and accurate as far as I know, until it gets into the motives of those who disagree. If the goal is science rather than politics, don’t criticize people’s suspected motives – particularly when one of those is that people just don’t respect scientists enough.Report

  7. Andy
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    says:

    The problem is that there is no solid evidence for any theory, nor is there evidence that disproves any theory. There is a lot of uncertainty. I haven’t revisited this in a couple of months, but it seems to me the fundamentals have not changed.

    The major problem with the wet market theory is that no animal or intermediate reservoir has been found as the source of the virus, and I believe it’s still the case that there’s no data on the precursor strain. The closest strains were at the Wuhan lab and originated from Yunan province, thousands of miles from Wuhan.

    So there’s nothing definitive linking it to the market – the primary evidence is the grouping of cases at and near the market and the association of previous outbreaks to similar markets.

    Plus, the animal reservoir for most sars viruses are bats and pangolins, which weren’t sold at the Wuhan market.

    Similarly, there is nothing definitive pointing to the lab.

    And I think we shouldn’t confine theories to just these two given these uncertainties. For instance, someone could have caught it in Yunan and brought it back and infected people at the market. This could include a researcher from the Wuhan Lab since they would go collect samples from animals around the country to study and bring them back for analysis. In other words, it could be from a lab worker but not from a lab leak. Or it could have been a random person. Or maybe someone did go catch bats or pangolins in Yunan and bring them back to Wuhan to sell at the wet market.

    There are other possible theories as well.

    But to me, all of that is less important than preventing this from happening again. And I’m concerned there is so little pressure on the Chinese to clean up their wet markets and provide transparency for their lab research and specimen collection practices. We’ve had SARS and other viruses break through to humans before from China – with Covid this ended up killing tens of millions. The wet markets still exist and are in business, and still represent a threat to humanity and China is not transparent about its lab practices – and no one seems to care, least of all China.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Andy
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      says:

      And I’m concerned there is so little pressure on the Chinese to clean up their wet markets and provide transparency for their lab research and specimen collection practices. We’ve had SARS and other viruses break through to humans before from China – with Covid this ended up killing tens of millions. The wet markets still exist and are in business, and still represent a threat to humanity and China is not transparent about its lab practices – and no one seems to care, least of all China.

      What does that pressure look like to you?Report

      • Andy in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        First, I’d be talking about the problem more frequently and coordinating with allies on messaging that this aspect of China is a worldwide threat that China must address. I’d communicate clearly that if China does nothing and another dangerous pathogen emerges that wrecks the global economy and kills millions, then we will take measures to hold China accountable.

        I’d consider travel restrictions for Chinese nationals and other restrictions that are tied to progress by the Chinese government to address the problem. I’d make it an item in future trade negotiations.

        I’m not an expert on China, so better and different methods are probably available. The point is, we did much more to punish countries who spread Mad Cow in meat than we’ve done for a virus that nuked the global economy and killed tens of millions.Report

    • Chris in reply to Andy
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      says:

      The major problem with the wet market theory is that no animal or intermediate reservoir has been found as the source of the virus, and I believe it’s still the case that there’s no data on the precursor strain. The closest strains were at the Wuhan lab and originated from Yunan province, thousands of miles from Wuhan.

      Pretty much everything in this is either untrue (e.g. they did, in fact, find live virus in animals in the market), or misleading (e.g., the YunNan wildlife farms were supplying the Wuhan wet market; it is difficult to find the ancestor strain(s), but this is as much a function of the virus itself and its diversity as it is a problem with finding non-human variants that look like immediate ancestors to human strains), which is of course why scientists don’t think the two widely discussed possible origins (animal-to-human and lab-origin) are anywhere near equally probable. Now, that does not mean that the experts have, as a group, completely ruled out the lab-origin hypothesis, but they all seem pretty convinced, from the data and their knowledge of viruses, that it’s untrue, and they’ve laid out their reasoning multiple times, in multiple media, in a clear enough way that pretty much anyone can understand it.

      The last 2 1/2 years have been better than any textbook could ever be in illustrating the power and prevalence of heuristics and biases in reasoning, and of motivated reasoning generally. So much so that there are a bunch of people out there with no relevant expertise whatsoever who’ve become convinced, they, with less than 5 minutes of research, know better than the people actually studying the virus, and are not the least bit embarrassed to tell people this, repeatedly.

      By the way, nice William James avatar.Report

      • Andy in reply to Chris
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        says:

        ” they did, in fact, find live virus in animals in the market”

        Do you have a source for that? The closest I’ve seen has come from environmental sampling and not actual live animals.

        “Now, that does not mean that the experts have, as a group, completely ruled out the lab-origin hypothesis, but they all seem pretty convinced, from the data and their knowledge of viruses, that it’s untrue, and they’ve laid out their reasoning multiple times, in multiple media, in a clear enough way that pretty much anyone can understand it.”

        The experts “all” seem convinced? All of them?

        I would also note that expert opinion is not proof or evidence.

        “The last 2 1/2 years have been better than any textbook could ever be in illustrating the power and prevalence of heuristics and biases in reasoning, and of motivated reasoning generally. So much so that there are a bunch of people out there with no relevant expertise whatsoever who’ve become convinced, they, with less than 5 minutes of research, know better than the people actually studying the virus, and are not the least bit embarrassed to tell people this, repeatedly.”

        And by the same token, the appeal to authority fallacy is still alive and well.

        Point being, we still don’t know. That said, I agree the preponderance of evidence we have at this point points to the wet market, and I have no quarrel with anyone who favors that hypothesis, especially since I am one of them. But the fact remains the source hasn’t been proven to be the market, nor has the lab leak (or several other) hypotheses been disproven. Experts and laypeople who take the less popular theory more seriously than others are not cranks engaging in motivated reasoning.

        I’m not making definitive claims either way. And I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but I do push back against claims of certainty and overconfidence. And as I noted at the end of my comment, I think the future is more important and either way, China does not appear to be taking the steps necessary to prevent this from happening again.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Andy
          Ignored
          says:

          ” they did, in fact, find live virus in animals in the market”

          Do you have a source for that? The closest I’ve seen has come from environmental sampling and not actual live animals.

          ”The preprints contain genetic analyses of coronavirus samples collected from the market and from people infected in December 2019 and January 2020, as well as geolocation analyses connecting many of the samples to a section of the market where live animals were sold.

          https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00584-8Report

          • Andy in reply to Philip H
            Ignored
            says:

            Read a little further into your link, and you’ll find this:

            “Researchers then collected samples from poultry, snakes, badgers, giant salamanders, Siamese crocodiles and other animals sold there. They also swabbed drains, cages, toilets and vendors’ stalls in search of the pathogen. Following an investigation led by the World Health Organization (WHO), researchers released a report in March 2021 showing that all of the nearly 200 samples collected directly from animals were negative, but that around 1,000 environmental samples from the stalls and other areas of the market were positive.”

            The part you quoted talks about environmental samples, not samples from animals.

            I may have missed something, but I am not aware of any positive tests from animals in the market. If true, that would certainly be a game-changer.Report

        • Chris in reply to Andy
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          says:

          The appeal to authority here is no more fallacious than if I were to appeal to the authority of astrophysicists on the physics of black holes. You and I are not qualified to make judgments about the information we have; we’re not even qualified to make judgements about what information we might be missing. We’re, at best, going to pick which experts to believe based on reasons that go beyond the data. I choose to believe the vast majority of the experts. You choose to believe, well, whatever websites you’re reading.Report

          • Andy in reply to Chris
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            says:

            On this kind of topic, the websites I read are generally science journals. I’ve read a lot of those journals on this topic which is why I was surprised about your first claim and asked for a source.

            In regard to “believing” experts, I believe in the scientific process first and “experts” second. In other words, experts aren’t high priests, they need to show their work and are not immune from human cognitive defects. And in this case they have shown their work.

            As I have already stated, I have no beef with the consensus view on this topic and agree the preponderance of evidence points to a zoonotic origin. In short, I don’t disagree with the experts. But the experts in this topic still characterize their assessments in terms of probabilities and not certainties. So while they may have various levels of confidence in zoonotic origin that are higher compared to a lab leak or whatever, they haven’t closed the door on the alternatives. Anyone who claims to defer to experts shouldn’t close the door either or turn scientific probabilistic assessments into rhetorical certainty.Report

  8. Kristin Devine
    Ignored
    says:

    Oh, I see, another “nothing to see here, let’s just leave this unpleasant episode in human history behind us and not ask too many questions about it, can’t we all just get along” article. Seems to be quite a theme for this week, just ask Dr. Emily Oster how that’s working out for her.

    Gonna go out on a limb here and say maybe, just maybe, the reason to figure out the origins of Covid19 have to do with continuing, or not continuing, to pursue policies that are the global equivalent of Russian Roulette. Maybe, just maybe, it kind of matters both in terms of public health and in terms of epidemiological data to know where this particular disease came from.

    Inarguably, the origin of a pandemic-level virus has important information to impart to us, that we can use in the future to do things like prevent pandemics from happening again in the future. You can’t study diseases thoroughly without unraveling their origins. After ebola, no one was like “well, it really doesn’t matter where this hemorrhagic fever came from, it’s here now and we should therefore expend resources only on treatment” BECAUSE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN INSANE. It’s why the FBI tried to find out where the post 9-11 anthrax came from – not only to stop it from continuing, but to prevent from happening again in the future.

    Origin stories matter with diseases. Undeniably. It’s why when cholera comes to town, the hero is the dude who figures out it came from the Broad Street Pump. It’s why Ignaz Semmelweis was a hero for figuring out how and why women died of childbed fever, why Dr. Barry Marshall was a hero for drinking a beaker of H. Pylori, and why Jesse Lazear was a hero for letting mosquitos bite him to prove yellow fever came from mosquitos.

    No scientist in the history of ever walks away from a mystery to solve unless they don’t want to hear the who-dun-it. Because in science, the mystery matters. The why and the how and the who, what, when and where matters.

    I mean seriously, Professor Defend-Von-Statusquoington, would you make this argument about anything else in science? Would you be like “well hurr de durr, it really doesn’t matter where Halley’s Comet came from, it’s here now, and I graphed its trajectory, but I won’t speculate further!!” Would you look up at a supernova in the sky and take its measurements and not stop to wonder “what is that blurry star about? What made it?? Where did it come from? Oh well, c’est la vie, it really doesn’t matter.” Of course not. Because the very suggestion is against everything science is supposed to stand for.

    Bizarre.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Kristin Devine
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      says:

      The problem was that Trump said it, and so everyone decided they had to pretend like it was Obviously Wrong, because being Against Trump was more important than literally anything else in the entire world.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck
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        says:

        Another small problem is that the general consensus among people who know what they’re talking about is that the theory is unlikely.Report

        • CJColucci in reply to Chip Daniels
          Ignored
          says:

          The consensus may be wrong. It often is, though not as often as people who don’t know what they are talking about seem to think. People have been looking into this. People will keep looking into this. Others here have pointed out obstacles to finding out what actually happened, and, for those reasons and others, we may never know. But nobody is proposing shutting down inquiry. So talking about the value of inquiry is either preaching to the choir or deflection.
          To be sure, the consensus view tends to overshadow other views. That’s just what a consensus is and does. It’s not a conspiracy to silence dissenting views as long as people who doubt the consensus view can look into things and present their challenge to the consensus view, and maybe create a new consensus. Or not.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to CJColucci
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            says:

            Entirely true.
            But I side with those who know how to remove a brain tumor over those who know spiritual healing crystals.

            Surgeons may be wrong, in the end. But until I see healing crystals provide real results, I’m sticking with surgeons.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Kristin Devine
      Ignored
      says:

      I think you missed a few key pieces:

      Ultimately, while figuring out the origins of COVID-19 is important if we want to prevent future pandemics, it is far less critical than other debates going on right now. Whether from a lab or from a natural origin, a SARS-like outbreak was inevitable. The virological and epidemiological communities had been warning us about it for decades. Multiple presidential administrations of both parties invested resources in trying to prevent or contain one. And it will happen again, maybe with new a disease, maybe with a new strain of COVID-19 itself. And it may be much worse. Most of our resources need to be invested in improving our vaccines, improving our treatments, figuring out what mitigation measures worked and improving our monitoring so that we detect new disease as early as possible. Yes, China has been a poor partner in all of this. Their secrecy at the beginning was a key reason the disease broke out of Wuhan. But the Chinese government is not going anywhere. One way or another, we’re going to have to prepare for the next outbreak. And pontificating about the origins of the virus based on conjecture, mistranslated memos and conspiracy theories is not preparing us for anything other than the next news cycle.

      See the case he’s making is that the threat of the next pandemic doesn’t actually require nailing anyone’s hide to a wall. Especially a Country who pretty much ignores all the incentives and disincentives we throw at them. We CAN”T be ready for the next pandemic if all we do is keep relitigating this one.Report

    • Michael Siegel in reply to Kristin Devine
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      says:

      “Ultimately, while figuring out the origins of COVID-19 is important if we want to prevent future pandemics”

      How do you read that as “nothing to see here” or that we shouldn’t continue to look? All I’m saying is that the heavy focus on the disease’s origins has less to do with science than politics. And the biggest failures came after the disease broke out, both in China and in the rest of the world.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Michael Siegel
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        says:

        Really? If the disease were created in a lab and released, that wouldn’t be the biggest failure? And I think we did great in the face of it. Given what we knew, I don’t see it as a poor response at all.Report

        • Michael Siegel in reply to Pinky
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          says:

          We’ve had lab leaks before and they didn’t result in pandemics. The biggest failure was China’s secrecy and lies in the early days, including claims it was not contagious.Report

          • InMD in reply to Michael Siegel
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            says:

            I see the Chinese secrecy as the crux, whatever the origin. If this came out of a wet market it seems to me that there is a really strong case for putting international pressure on China to close these things down. Maybe we could tolerate them in remote outposts in bygone eras but not in a country that expects to be plugged into big time international commerce. On the off chance it was a lab leak then there’s a really strong case for revisiting how we cooperate with China in that regard and at the very least make any continued cooperation contingent on transparency and improvement in whatever processes allowed it to slip.Report

  9. InMD
    Ignored
    says:

    My guess has always been that, absent the Chinese government allowing a neutral, international investigation we will never know. However I do think the episode is worth adding to the list of reasons we need to re-evaluate our larger economic engagement strategy with them.Report

  10. Doctor Jay
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    says:

    These days I’m asking myself what is it about human beings that makes this kind of thing so common? I think we are very, very vigilant against attacks from other humans. We tend to anthropomorphize, to see patterns where there aren’t any, and to see agency in randomness. This is a very old thing with humans, from what I can see.

    i find it important to counter it within myself, but often do not see much need to try to dispute it in other people. (But sometimes I do anyway, and usually this reminds me of why I mostly don’t).

    The question I ask myself is what are the probable consequences of holding that belief? I mean, in this case more hostility to China is probably OK, since China is getting more and more authoritarian.

    The subtext though is “those scientists can’t be trusted”, which is a bigger problem.

    Here’s a weird random thought: I watch a YouTube channel called Veritasium, which is run by a guy named Derek Muller. He’s really good at making very vivid stories out of scientific ideas. I would love to see him do a piece on the genetic research into Covid, if that were possible,.Report

  11. DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    Amusing to see how, suddenly, ProPublica is a useless garbage fake-news peddler that’s wildly misinterpreting half-understood press releases in service of hate-clicks.

    Further amusement will be had in about two weeks when everyone forgets about this article and starts approvingly citing them again.Report

  12. Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    For what it’s worth, there does seem to be an undercurrent out there that have the premise of “if it was a lab leak, then someone should be punished for what happened” and, from that, there are a lot of people who jump to:

    Since no one should be punished for what happened, then it was not a lab leak!
    or
    Many bad things happened following Covid, therefore someone should be punished for what happened, therefore there was a lab leak!

    While the latter is much more fallacious than the former, the former strikes me as demonstrating the fundamental problem with the premise.

    For what it’s worth, the lab leak theory strikes me as plausible. Part of the problem was that there was a lot of Discourse following covid kicking off that made people want to cut off the lab leak theory at the pass.

    The lab leak hypothesis, you may remember, was *RACIST*.

    And since we know that “true” and “false” are tied to moral intuition, since it was asserted that the hypothesis was racist, therefore the hypothesis was “false”. And demonstrably so.

    Q.E.D.

    And the people out there who not only disagreed with whether the hypothesis was racist but also disagreed with the maxim that “racist == false” found themselves in the middle of people arguing about stuff that had nothing to do with whether there was a lab leak but it mimicked being about whether there was a lab leak.

    I mean, remember this story? In new documentary, WHO scientist says Chinese officials pressured investigation to drop lab-leak hypothesis.

    Just because the Chinese officials pressured the investigation to drop the lab-leak hypothesis DOES NOT MEAN THAT IT WAS A LAB LEAK!!!!!

    But it does mean that if the investigation finds that there was not a lab leak that I find myself not knowing whether the investigation found what it found or if it merely dropped the possibility at the behest of the government.

    And here we are, not knowing stuff and seeing a lot of thumbs on a lot of scales.

    And it strikes me as being exceptionally reasonable to be skeptical AF. Because whatever it is that we’re really arguing about when we argue about the lab leak seems to be a moral issue rather than an issue about what actually happened.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      “The lab leak hypothesis, you may remember, was *RACIST*.”

      That’s right. I’ve been called that so often it doesn’t register,, but you’re right, the defense of the lab was based on moral superiority. I don’t agree that the lab leak argument is about morality, but it got cast that way early on, and you don’t get to toggle between positive and normative.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      For what it’s worth, the lab leak theory strikes me as plausible.

      There’s an old saying in statistics that anything is possible, very little is probable.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        Sure. But the “it’s more likely to have come from the wet market” argument relied rather heavily on pointing out that the lab leak hypothesis people were *BAD*.

        Which is weird.Report

        • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          Maybe on-line, and maybe even in popular discourse. But among the people who actually knew what they were talking about and would have been able to understand the evidence?

          Of course, you have every right to prefer to talk about how people who had nothing useful to say talked about it. And that might even be interesting. But that’s not the same as saying the consensus experts themselves “relied rather heavily” on the badness of some of the outliers.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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            says:

            Maybe on-line, and maybe even in popular discourse. But

            Cool.

            Did any of the WHO scientists talk about how China pressured them to abandon the lab leak hypothesis?

            Because if we’re in a place where there is a lot of pressure to avoid even talking about one of the avenues coming from people who had nothing useful to say, then probably want to address how people who have nothing useful to say are the ones deciding the overton window.

            And how that’s bad.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              When Michael says that the general consensus among scientists is that they sincerely believe that the wet market theory is more likely than the lab lead theory, is he incorrect?Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Chip, Jaybird doesn’t want to talk about that and we can’t make him. As a general proposition, he is more interested in talking about talk about something than he is in talking about something. Which is, of course, his right. Those of us more interested in the something will just have to talk to someone else.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                While I appreciate you speaking on my behalf pro bono, counsel, is there a form I need to fill out to ask you officially to not?

                Or is that a question that you will only answer if I pay you first?Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                It wasn’t on your behalf. But you probably already know that.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
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                says:

                Fair enough.

                For the record, I don’t consent to your speaking for me.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                When Michael says that the general consensus among scientists is that they sincerely believe that the wet market theory is more likely than the lab lead theory, is he incorrect?

                No, he is not.

                But I also know that some of the scientists on the team talk about how they were pressured to reach the conclusions that they reached.

                And that does a spectacular job of coloring my interpretation of them saying “we find the wet market theory more likely”.

                Now if you would like to explain to me that I shouldn’t take those things into account, I’d like to hear it.

                I know you don’t like being asked to look at evidence but I still will ask you to look at this evidence:

                After watching that, how do you feel about any conclusions this researcher might put forward?Report

              • Pinky in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                My next job interview, I’m going to use “I couldn’t hear your question….That’s ok, let’s move to another one”.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I’m just asking for some sort of conclusion.

                For any given statement- is the earth round or flat, did humans evolve from apes or not- there are conflicting stories and minority viewpoints even among experts.

                But people need to arrive at a conclusion. If I’m planning a trip to Japan I don’t fret about the possibility of falling off the edge of the earth because some guy at Jesus University says he has evidence of a flat earth.

                So in this case, while those minority reports “color your interpretation “, I’m not seeing any reason why the rest of us should doubt the expert consensus.

                Not to say they couldn’t ultimately be wrong. Just that there isn’t any solid reason to doubt them.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Do you associate flat earthers with born-again Christians? I have no idea if that’s the case, but I just never would have made that association.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                I’m just asking for some sort of conclusion.

                While government pressure against finding certain conclusions is useful for finding some sort of conclusion, I’m not sure it’s always useful for finding ones closer to accurate than not.

                Just that there isn’t any solid reason to doubt them.

                Did you watch the video?

                I will say that if you actively avoid certain evidence while feeling the pressure to avoid certain conclusions, it’ll be a lot easier to say that there isn’t any solid reason to doubt the consensus.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                But this leaves you and anyone who follows your advice incapable of distinguishing any truth from any falsehood.

                You are giving a minority opinion the same weight as the majority.

                1. A large group of scientists reaches a consensus:
                2. A smaller group, perhaps just one, makes an assertion of pressure;

                You credulously take the bare assertion at face value, and worse, give it an equal value to the consensus backed by empirical data and announce that you have now have doubt.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                No, that’s not true.

                It is possible to weigh evidence.

                I’ll grant that, first, you have to look at it.

                Did you watch the video?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Did you independent verify the veracity of those who say they were pressured?
                And then weigh that evidence against the scientific data?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I did not independently verify the veracity of their statements, no.

                But I find myself likely to believe that they’re telling the truth about what they say happened to them personally until I have reason to believe that they’re lying.

                There’s also a phenomenon when you see people eager to look at evidence while others seem to go out of their way to deliberately close their eyes.

                Did you look at the video?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                See this is why I keep calling this Creationist Logic.

                When you are presented with actual scientists, giving a consensus based on large amounts of empirical data, you react with harsh skepticism and doubt.
                Even though you have absolutely no way to independently assess their findings, yu treat their pronouncements as mere assertions based on nothing.

                When presented with “A guy who made a video on Youtube” you react with wide eyed credulity, an almost childlike naivete. Why would anyone say something if it were not true, you ask and you treat it as a fact.

                This is just motivated reasoning, where people apply wildly inconsistent standards of credibility in order to reach a preordained conclusion.

                In this case, you want to cast an air of doubt and uncertainty over the issue so as to make a scientific consensus and a wild conspiracy theory seem equally credible.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                What is my favorite quote to use with Jaybird?Report

              • Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw
                Ignored
                says:

                My gut says it’s something implying he’s an anti-Semite without any evidence.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                When presented with “A guy who made a video on Youtube” you react with wide eyed credulity, an almost childlike naivete.

                The video was a news broadcast. Like a real one.

                You would have seen that this was a news broadcast if you had opened your eyes.

                It’s a newscast that is talking about an interview with one of the scientists that was working with the WHO to investigate the origin of the virus.

                So this isn’t me linking to a guy that made a video after being inspired by Jordan Peterson.

                This is me linking to a news broadcast covering an interview with one of the scientists investigating the origins of the virus with the WHO.

                Seriously. You should look at the evidence.

                Open your eyes.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                “look at the evidence”

                FFS.

                Dude, you refuse to read the official scientific reports on the origins of Covid and you refuse to accept the opinions of knowledgeable people who have, but instead demand everyone look at your “evidence” which you yourself admit you haven’t even vetted or corroborated.

                The “tell” here is that you are very carefully trying to not mount an actual argument.

                You aren’t trying to make an argument in favor of the lab leak theory.
                You aren’t making an argument for some other alternate theory.

                In fact, you aren’t making any argument in support of anything whatsoever.

                The only thing you’re doing here is trying very strenuously to discredit and cast doubt on the one theory supported by actual science and data.

                This is called “misinformation”, the Gish Gallop of Creationism where the goal is to fight truth into a stalemate where lies and truth are seen as indistinguishableReport

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Dude, you refuse to read the official scientific reports on the origins of Covid and you refuse to accept the opinions of knowledgeable people who have, but instead demand everyone look at your “evidence” which you yourself admit you haven’t even vetted or corroborated.

                This is not true. I do read them and I do accept those opinions.

                However, I also do not refuse to look at other evidence.

                You aren’t trying to make an argument in favor of the lab leak theory. You aren’t making an argument for some other alternate theory.

                This is true.

                I am, instead, pointing out that there are other conclusions out there, pointing out the evidence that got people to question the main “wet market” conclusion, and pointing out that the wet market folks have problems that they have not addressed.

                Some people respond by addressing the problems.

                Others respond by refusing to look at evidence and misrepresenting the positions of others.

                The former is much more scientific than the latter, despite the latter’s claims.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                You say you “accept” the wet market theory.

                But then hastily add that they “have problems”.

                But of course they “have problems”.
                The theory of evolution also “has problems” which scientists openly admit. All theories have problems and gaps and unexplained data.
                That’s why they call them “theories”!

                But none of the “problems” you note are sufficient to discredit the wet market theory because, as you yourself admit, they remain either unverified and uncorroborated assertions or just vaporous suspicions without actual evidence.

                So your only argument is an argument in favor of doubt and uncertainty.

                But based on what you’ve written here, the only reasonable conclusion an observer can arrive at is that the wet market theory is the most likely.

                Nothing you’ve written makes any serious case for any other theory.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                No, Chip.

                My statement was not about the theory having problems, my statement was about the people who are defending the wet market theory having problems.

                These are two different things.

                But none of the “problems” you note are sufficient to discredit the wet market theory because, as you yourself admit, they remain either unverified and uncorroborated assertions or just vaporous suspicions without actual evidence.

                If you refuse to look at what the scientists said, you might be easily persuaded to reach the conclusion that the evidence does not exist.

                This might be a good way to go through life, doing that. Certainly less overhead.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                “my statement was about the people who are defending the wet market theory having problems.”

                This is where you need to show:
                1. What these “problems” are and;
                2. Why these “problems” are sufficient to make the theory less likely than any other theory.

                “If you refuse to look at what the scientists said, you might be easily persuaded to reach the conclusion that the evidence does not exist.”

                This is where you need to :
                1. Tell us what the “evidence” is evidence of and;
                2. Why it makes the wet market theory less likely than any other theory.

                See, you keep thinking that merely demonstrating gaps or anomalies is sufficient to make the wet market theory unlikely.

                As it stand, even accounting for problematic sources and anomalies, it stands as the most likely and reasonable explanation.

                In any discussion about theories, “doubt” is meaningless since all theories have problems and are subject to doubt.

                What you need to do is tell us why this or that theory is more likely than the wet market theory.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                What these “problems” are

                Politicized science where governments are pushing for a particular outcome (or to avoid a particular outcome).

                Why these “problems” are sufficient to make the theory less likely than any other theory.

                They won’t. The theory is likely (or unlikely) independently of the government in charge. What the problem is is the one of truth being deliberately obfuscated by government interests. People then go on to believe they have the truth when they do not.

                Tell us what the “evidence” is evidence of

                I thought I did. It’s evidence of the Chinese government deliberately placing its thumb on the scale. The video I linked to, for example, was a scientist deliberately *NOT* talking about something that would make China upset. To the point where he dumped the call.

                Why it makes the wet market theory less likely than any other theory

                It doesn’t make the theory less likely.
                It does, however, raise questions about accurate information transfer to others.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                OK, so we are all in agreement then that the wet market theory is the most likely explanation for the origins of Covid.

                Any questions about how information is handled and manipulated by governments can then be discussed as an entirely separate item without confusing the two.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes. Sure.

                But I say that knowing that the Chinese Government pressured scientists to reach that conclusion.

                “But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t the right conclusion!”

                No, it doesn’t mean that at all.

                But some might feel that it’s a caveat worth making when one says “the wet market theory is currently the most likely”.

                And when a new report comes out about a lab leak, it’s worth investigating rather than screaming about how THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED and questioning the motives of anyone who might disagree.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                That video – and the controversy it imbodies, don’t shake my faith in him or the WHO. They are anon-partisan international body that has to serve the world community. And that sometimes means remaining silent on the actions of specific member states. As it is, the accusations of Chinese pressure on the WHO didn’t come from Dr. Aylwood – they came from Gordon Chang, a US citizen of Chinese dissent who has always been critical of China. I am not sure how to square his belief in overly strong Chinese influence on the WHO since he wrote a book in 2011 that said China would collapse in 2012.

                And none of that sways me, as a scientist, away from the large body of evidence pointing to a certain conclusion about the origins of COVID 19. Evidence that has been tested and evaluated in multiple peer reviewed journals.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                What better way to remain silent than to dump the call after refusing to answer questions?

                Hey, science is science but politics is politics.

                As it is, the accusations of Chinese pressure on the WHO didn’t come from Dr. Aylwood – they came from Gordon Chang, a US citizen of Chinese dissent who has always been critical of China.

                Yes, they came from two different people.

                Dr. Chang is the one who said “the Chinese government was pressuring us!”

                Dr. Aylwood is the one who said “I couldn’t hear your question….That’s ok, let’s move to another one” and then dumped the call when the question about China was repeated.

                I am not sure how to square his belief in overly strong Chinese influence on the WHO since he wrote a book in 2011 that said China would collapse in 2012.

                So we can look at the past of scientists and use their past to give them credit or discredit them in the current year?

                For what it’s worth, I agree with this. You’d be surprised at the number of people who refuse to acknowledge such a thing, though.

                Evidence that has been tested and evaluated in multiple peer reviewed journals.

                Sure, I guess. My argument is not “the wet market hypothesis is evil!”

                My argument is “the lab leak hypothesis didn’t get ‘that’s wrong’ argument, it got a ‘that’s racist!’ argument. Meanwhile there were multiple red flags that the scientists in charge of investigating were getting pressure to avoid certain things.”

                And looking at that evidence and saying “something ain’t right, here” was being treated as spouting nonsense by people who refused to acknowledge it existed.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Dr. Aylwood is the one who said “I couldn’t hear your question….That’s ok, let’s move to another one” and then dumped the call when the question about China was repeated.

                A journalist in Hong Kong – where the media is controlled directly and openly by China – asked a question about Taiwan which China considers part of its nation, and which everyone else (including the Taiwanese) consider a sovereign independent nation. It was a question designed to bait him into saying something the Chinese could condemn as the world not recognizing its claim to Taiwan. He didn’t take the bait. I’d say that’s got zero to do with his credibility.

                Sure, I guess. My argument is not “the wet market hypothesis is evil!”

                My argument is “the lab leak hypothesis didn’t get ‘that’s wrong’ argument, it got a ‘that’s racist!’ argument. Meanwhile there were multiple red flags that the scientists in charge of investigating were getting pressure to avoid certain things.”

                No, your argument is both are equivalent because they each carry a level of uncertainty (as all scientific inquiry should) so how can we know which is true. And to make that equivalence you point to people who aren’t the investigators claiming investigators were being pressured a certain way, when the investigators have been quite open about being obstructed by China as a state actor. That’s not being pressured to avoid something – its not getting an answer to something.

                But as an astute observer and recorder of the world I assume you know all this and think you are playing 7 level chess.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                Hey, science is science but politics is politics.

                No, your argument is both are equivalent

                No, it isn’t.

                That’s not being pressured to avoid something – its not getting an answer to something.

                It’s dumping a call in an effort to not say something that the Chinese government might find offensive.

                Hey, how far does that go?

                For the record, there’s additional information out there about the WHO getting pressure. Peter Ben Embarek from the WHO said:

                The politics was always in the room with us on the other side of the table. We had anywhere between 30 and 60 Chinese colleagues, and a large number of them were not scientists, not from the public health sector. We know there was huge scrutiny on the scientific group from the other sectors. So, the politics was there constantly. We were not naïve, and I was not naïve about the political environment in which we tried to operate and, let’s face it, that our Chinese counterparts were operating under.

                This is a guy who found for the wet market hypothesis. This isn’t some weirdo with a grudge. This is the WHO guy who said that there was pressure.

                He also argues that, hey, his team did *NOT* succumb to the pressure.

                Which is good! I think that that would be great.

                But the whole “there were thumbs on the scale” thing *IS* a red flag. It’s possible to overcome it, of course… but seeing prominent scientists dump phone calls to avoid upsetting China is one of those things that *LOOKS BAD*.

                (To be honest, I can also see the benefits of refusing to look at things that look bad.)Report

              • Philip H in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Ah so you care about the optics . . .

                Tell me, if the optics don’t change the conclusions, and don’t impact your support of a set of conclusions, then why bother?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                It has to do with issues relating to institutional trust and credibility.

                Did you see the Atlantic’s article about Pandemic Amnesty the other day?

                Optics are *VERY* important.

                They do stuff like keep stuff resilient for next time.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                Because that’s something he can talk about. Actual substance is too much work.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      I mean, just in case people forgot-on-purpose, at one point we were being told that COVID-19 was European in origin, because New York City was on the East Coast of North America, which is closer to Europe than it is to China…Report

      • Pinky in reply to DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        Right, the theory was that the more dangerous version that hit the US had started up in Italy? But it was played as “don’t fear the Asians”, not as some epidemiological analysis, at least in the press.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Pinky
          Ignored
          says:

          You all are mixing and matching a lot of things here.

          You do remember that in WW2 we as a nation interned tens of thousands of Japanese Americans because we believed they would be disloyal and help Japan? See, one of the lessons that I learned form that is that we might not want to attack people by the country of origin of their families when something bad comes out of that country or region. And lots of media types try (with mixed results) to adhere to that rule. There’s also this inconvenient set of facts:

          The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has documented a 77 percent increase from 2019 to 2020 in hate crimes against Asian people living in the US. And during the period from March 2020 to June 2021 more than 9,000 anti-Asian hate incidents were self-reported to the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate. Yet, such crime statistics are likely vastly underreported. Meanwhile, profound research gaps hinder broader understanding about violence and racism affecting the Asian American community.

          https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/forefront.20220411.655787/

          So the reporting at the time was that a virus first detected in China has made its way to the East Coast via one of two routes – across the country from the west coast and directly via Italy. Both were epidemiological reporting activities, and as it turns out, both are probably scientifically true. And the request to not attack Asian Americans over the country of origin of the virus was meant to stem the attacks documented above.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Philip H
            Ignored
            says:

            Interestingly enough, we discussed the 567% increase in hate crimes against AAPI in San Francisco a few months back.

            For what it’s worth, I think that the failures of government were responsible for at least some of these things (as well as the tendency of people to defend government against attacks that “government is failing at this!”).

            I think it will, at least, require a pivot toward more aggressive prosecution and, yes, incarceration to deal with this sort of thing.

            But, for some reason, there has been a push against that kind of response in recent years.Report

            • Philip H in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              For what it’s worth, I think that the failures of government were responsible for at least some of these things (as well as the tendency of people to defend government against attacks that “government is failing at this!”).

              I think it will, at least, require a pivot toward more aggressive prosecution and, yes, incarceration to deal with this sort of thing.

              There’s another part of this – politicians, TV anchors and pundits can actually uniformly speak out against this sort of thing. Not nearly as satisfying as running people through the legal system, but equally powerful.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                politicians, TV anchors and pundits can actually uniformly speak out against this sort of thing

                You’d be shocked to see who is willing to defend politicians against criticisms that they effed up condemning a hate crime.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                If the people who committed these anti-Asian hate crimes are caught, they will be prosecuted, aggressively. If the cases are solid enough, they will be convicted. If they are convicted, they will be incarcerated. This suits the political interests of law and order conservatives, progressive DA’s, and anti-hate groups, Asian and otherwise. Who, exactly, is “pushing back” against this?Report

              • Philip H in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s a Jaybird question. He raised the issue.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                The issue of anti-AAPI hate crimes was raised by you with your link to healthaffairs.org.

                Here’s the paragraph you quoted:

                The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has documented a 77 percent increase from 2019 to 2020 in hate crimes against Asian people living in the US. And during the period from March 2020 to June 2021 more than 9,000 anti-Asian hate incidents were self-reported to the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate. Yet, such crime statistics are likely vastly underreported. Meanwhile, profound research gaps hinder broader understanding about violence and racism affecting the Asian American community.

                In response to your bringing it up, I linked to one of our discussions of San Francisco’s 567% increase of anti-AAPI hate crimes that we had here at OT.Report

              • Philip H in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Jaybird:

                I think it will, at least, require a pivot toward more aggressive prosecution and, yes, incarceration to deal with this sort of thing.

                But, for some reason, there has been a push against that kind of response in recent years.

                CJ:

                Who, exactly, is “pushing back” against this?

                Your statement and thus your question to answer.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh, of course! I get it now.

                So the question is “who, exactly, is pushing back against this?” (where “this” is defined as “more aggressive prosecution and incarceration”).

                So the question is “Who, exactly, is pushing back against more aggressive prosecution and incarceration?”

                It makes me wonder if the question is asked incredulously as if he has no idea how anybody could possibly oppose aggressive prosecution or more aggressive incarceration. But maybe he’s asking because he knows exactly who is opposing those things and wishes to point out that those people are not representative of any particular group and are outliers to the point where it’s dishonest to bring them up, despite at least one of them having been prominently recalled recently.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                If you’re really wondering, and I’ll pretend to believe you are, the political incentives for aggressive prosecution and incarceration of anti-Asian hate crimes, assuming — and this is the necessary first step — that you catch the bastards, because you can’t prosecute and incarcerate them if you don’t, line up in ways that favor aggressive prosecution and incarceration for everyone involved. I know that anti-Asian hate crime has been increasing. I haven’t seen any progressive DA that doesn’t aggressively prosecute and incarcerate such cases when they have them. But DA’s don’t catch criminals or prevent crimes. As Dick Wolf has told us for decades, there are two, equally important…. The cops have to find and arrest the miscreants first. That doesn’t mean DA’s don’t sometimes take the fall for trends in crime that they don’t influence. We’ve seen that recently. All the more incentive to be aggressive in prosecuting and incarcerating hate criminals.
                So who, exactly, has any political incentive not to prosecute and incarcerate perpetrators of hate crimes?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, when it comes to Chesa specifically, it does seem that he attempted to downplay a particularly egregious hate crime by describing it not as a hate crime but he called it a “temper tantrum”.

                Whether or not that actually counts as “downplaying” is up for debate, of course.

                But the AAPI community appears to have felt that it was.

                If we’re not going to use their measuring stick, I’d like to hear the reason we should use someone else’s (and whether that reason scales beyond this particular issue/group).Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Good idea let’s use the AAPI themselves as a yardstick:

                Two years later, politicians continue to blame China for COVID-19 in even more blunt terms. Shelley Luther, a candidate who ran for and lost the 2022 Republican primary for a Texas House seat, tweeted in January 2022, “China created a virus that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

                In March 2022, Dr. Mehmet Oz, 2022 candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania tweeted, “CHINA GAVE US COVID.”
                Former President Trump continued to use the terminology “China Virus” to describe COVID-19 in a posting to his Truth Social platform in July 2022.

                https://stopaapihate.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Stop-AAPI-Hate-Scapegoating-Report.pdf

                Wow. Its almost like continuing to amplify the lab leak theory is leading to AAPI hate crimes.

                We definitely need aggressive prosecution against that.

                By the way, what is Ordinary Times’ policy towards commenters who continually assign blame for Covid to China?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Wow. Its almost like continuing to amplify the lab leak theory is leading to AAPI hate crimes.

                While I might be willing to entertain that attacks against southeast Asians were influenced by people saying “Wuhan Virus” instead of “Covid-19”, I’m not sure that the attacks against AAPI people such as Vichar Ratanapakdee can be explained as such.

                But I would like to hear an explanation for why it might be.Report

    • Michael Siegel in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      The main reason I think the wet market origin is more likely is because of the Science papers published this summer, which broke things down on the gene level and showed it was consistent with a wild-type virus rather than a lab one. This was the same kind of investigative technique that showed the anthrax attack was likely from a lab variant, not a wild one.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Michael Siegel
        Ignored
        says:

        That’s a fair reason to have “it was the wet markets” as a working conclusion.

        There was a *LOT* of fishy stuff going on with the various groups investigating and reporting on the investigating and, for some reason, it turned into a team sport between Team Good and Team Evil.

        None of that helps inspire confidence about the outcome, even if the outcome is the one that would be best for everybody involved.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          None of that helps inspire confidence about the outcome, even if the outcome is the one that would be best for everybody involved.

          That’s only true if you give the dissenters credence they haven’t earned through rigorous scientific analysis. Which a lot of lab leak theorists do.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Philip H
            Ignored
            says:

            Creedence to do what?

            Assert a conclusion? Nope. Nobody is doing that.

            Question the dominant narrative? I think that science ought to be able to withstand “hey, whatabout” questions.

            Yes, even gish gallops.

            We have keyboards now.Report

            • Philip H in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              “Science” withstood it. “Science” is still investigating to gather more data and expand or revise the conclusions reached to date. Hell the US Intelligence community looked at the idea of a lab leak and found it unlikely.

              And yet you are gish galloping straight back as if none of this has happened, and trying to what about the lab leak hypothesis as if it could still stand next to the wet market hypothesis as a credible alternative. You are giving credence to the lab leak hypothesis by continuing to insist that we have to look at it.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                I love that scene in the third Indiana Jones where he says “Science is the search for facts. If its truth you want, Dr. So-N-So’s philosophy class is right down the hall.”

                No matter how ridiculous a theory sounds, no matter how problematic it is, no matter how uncredible the source of the theory is, so long as it remains the most likely explanation for the facts in front of us, it will be the accepted one.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                That raises interesting questions about who “we” are and how “we,” however defined “have to look at it.” We may all “have keyboards now,” but a keyboard and google are no substitute for expertise or understanding*
                Probably none of us here could evaluate the research if we managed to dig it up. Whether the wet market or lab leak theory or something else turns out to be true will be established, if it ever is established, by actual experts, not google-knowers or bar-room loudmouths.
                Most of us, quite sensibly, are not invested in any theory; most who are invested are the lab-leak advocates, and they can try to explain for themselves why — other than reflexive contrarianism (running in one particular and consistent direction). Most of us, quite sensibly, can and will wait and see.

                * http://www.atlas101.ca/pm/concepts/google-knowing-vs-understanding/Report

              • Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Most of us, quite sensibly, are not invested in any theory

                As has been demonstrated.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Glad we agree on that. Still leaves the question of why the lab-leakers are so invested.Report

              • Philip H in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                because they want a human to blame for circumstances they don’t control.Report

            • Slade the Leveller in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              Nobody is asserting a conclusion? Hell’s bells, those conclusions were reached in the spring of 2020, based on absolutely nothing.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      If we could just prove the lab leak theory, we’d know whose fault it is, and that would mean that the masks and vaccines are useless.Report

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