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How antimaskers co-opt techniques of scientific data analysis to generate COVID-19 propaganda

There’s a new paper out analyzing how antimask activists weaponize the tools of data visualization and scientific argumentation to produce convincing antimask propaganda. Antimaskers are claiming that it shows that they are more “scientific” than those supporting the consensus viewpoint with respect to COVID-19 and masks. What it really shows is that they are good at weaponizing the tools of data visualization and scientific arguments to come to the conclusions that they want to come to.

After more than two decades dealing with antivaxxers, quacks, pseudoscience advocates, contrarians, and conspiracy theorists, I’ve noticed some things about how such people operate and view themselves. For example, virtually all of them believe themselves to be “brave mavericks” of some sort, unlike the run-of-the-mill “sheeple” who accept the narrative of mainstream science and, in their mind, cower before the authority of physicians and scientists on such matters. One other thing that I’ve noticed about them is that they truly believe that they are the scientific ones, the ones “following the science,” the “true” science, at least in their minds. Obviously, my observations are just that, personal observations. I don’t claim that they are scientific. That’s why I’m always interested to find studies that try to look at the characteristics of the arguments of antivaxxers, quacks, pseudoscience advocates, contrarians, and conspiracy theorists and one reason why I’m starting by listing these characteristics that I’ve noticed having observed the rhetoric of such people online going back to the days of Usenet. (Yes, I’m dating myself.) That’s why a new narrative going bubbling up among antimaskers, COVID-19 deniers, contrarians, and conspiracy theorists caught my attention over the weekend about a paper on how conspiracy theorists misuse data analysis to spread disinformation.

Here’s a representative series of Tweets:

That last Tweetstorm goes on a while longer, but those of you familiar with science denial were likely cringing at several of the quotes from the paper referenced. (More on that in a moment.) The reason, of course, is that they seems to be saying that antimaskers are more “scientific” than those supporting the primary scientific position.

Elsewhere, Michael Levitt, a professor of biophysics at Stanford and 2013 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry who’s decided that he’s an epidemiology and virology expert, leading him to become a COVID contrarian after the pandemic started, loves the article:

Then, on Friday Mike Adams’ drone Ethan Huff over at Natural News wrote about this study under the title, “Vaccine propagandists infiltrated vaccine skeptics group, found that the skeptics are MORE scientific and rigorous in their thinking compared to obedient, dumbed-down mask wearers“. That’s why I was cringing as I read those quotes; it’s almost as though they were custom-made for antimaskers and COVID-19 contrarians to take the study and use it to promote exactly the message that Huff was promoting on Adams’ site.

The quotes I’ve included (because antivaxxers and antimaskers love them so much and are widely quoting them) are, admittedly, consistent with the self-view of antivaxxers and COVID-19 cranks that I’ve seen over the years. That’s why I decided that this week’s topic for me had to be this paper, a paper from the conference proceedings of CHI 2021 under Human-Computer Interaction (cs.HC); Computers and Society (cs.CY). It is currently available on the preprint server arXiv. The article is from MIT, credited to Crystal Lee, Tanya Yang, Gabrielle Inchoco, Graham M. Jones, Arvind Satyanarayan, and titled “Viral Visualizations: How Coronavirus Skeptics Use Orthodox Data Practices to Promote Unorthodox Science Online“, which was well-received:

I found this helpful to learn, given that most conference proceedings in medicine are actually not as rigorously peer-reviewed as journal articles.

I had to see if this paper really concludes what antivaxxers and COVID-19 contrarians are claiming that it concludes. As you might imagine, the answer is: Not really. Unfortunately, the paper is written in a manner that makes it very easy for antimaskers and antivaxxers to portray it as concluding that they are more “scientific,” understand better that science is a process, and are thus more “dedicated to science” than those trying to combat COVID-19 disinformation. It’s another example of how I wish that researchers would consider how their words might be weaponized by cranks when they write papers like this, especially computer scientists without a lot of experience in techniques of disinformation. Had the authors simply asked a couple of skeptics in the trenches to read over their manuscript, they could likely have ameliorated this issue (but that’s probably just me with an overinflated view of my own importance). On the other hand, this take on the study is true:

I’m probably being unfair. It was probably impossible to write such a paper in such a manner that parts of it couldn’t be selectively quoted. On the other hand, the authors didn’t have to make it so incredibly easy for the conspiracy theorists to quote mine.

Still, let’s dig in. Before I do, note that this paper is about what the authors describe as “antimaskers.” Appropriately (to me, at least), they use “animasker” as a “synecdoche for a broad spectrum of beliefs: that the pandemic is exaggerated, schools should be reopening, etc.,” further noting:

While groups who hold these beliefs are certainly heterogeneous, the mask is a common flashpoint throughout the ethnographic data, and they use the term “maskers” to describe people who are driven by fear. They are “anti-mask” by juxtaposition. This study therefore takes an emic (i.e. “insider”) approach to analyzing how members of these groups think, talk, and interact with one another, which starts by using terms that these community members would use to describe themselves.

As an aside, even though the study doesn’t really address the question, in my experience the Venn diagram between antimaskers and antivaxxers has at least 80% overlap, which is another reason this study interested me. It likely could apply to antivaxxers as well.

Using the same data to come to different conclusions

It will come as no surprise to scientists how scientists can examine the same data and come to different conclusions. The differences can come from emphasizing one dataset over another, doing a different kind of analysis, and a variety of other factors. It is thus not always obvious when a different interpretation of data drifts into contrarianism or even outright science denial, although frequently it is quite obvious (for example, the claim that vaccines cause autism). The abstract of this paper (sort of) acknowledges this point:

Controversial understandings of the coronavirus pandemic have turned data visualizations into a battleground. Defying public health officials, coronavirus skeptics on US social media spent much of 2020 creating data visualizations showing that the government’s pandemic response was excessive and that the crisis was over. This paper investigates how pandemic visualizations circulated on social media, and shows that people who mistrust the scientific establishment often deploy the same rhetorics of data-driven decision-making used by experts, but to advocate for radical policy changes. Using a quantitative analysis of how visualizations spread on Twitter and an ethnographic approach to analyzing conversations about COVID data on Facebook, we document an epistemological gap that leads pro- and anti-mask groups to draw drastically different inferences from similar data. Ultimately, we argue that the deployment of COVID data visualizations reflect a deeper sociopolitical rift regarding the place of science in public life.

That last sentence is a bit of a “Well, duh!” conclusion in my book, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile to explore it. In the introduction, the authors note:

Almost every US state now hosts a data dashboard on their health department website to show how the pandemic is unfolding. However, despite a preponderance of evidence that masks are crucial to reducing viral transmission [25, 29, 105], protestors across the United States have argued for local governments to overturn their mask mandates and begin reopening schools and businesses. A pandemic that affects a few, they reason, should not impinge on the liberties of a majority to go about life as usual. To support their arguments, these protestors and activists have created thousands of their own visualizations, often using the same datasets as health officials. This paper investigates how these activist networks use rhetorics of scientific rigor to oppose these public health measures. Far from ignoring scientific evidence to argue for individual freedom, antimaskers often engage deeply with public datasets and make what we call “counter-visualizations”—visualizations using orthodox methods to make unorthodox arguments—to challenge mainstream narratives that the pandemic is urgent and ongoing. By asking community members to “follow the data,” these groups mobilize data visualizations to support significant local changes.

So far, so good. What the authors discuss in the introduction is undeniably true. Antimaskers and those who minimize the severity of the pandemic have become very skilled at making slick-looking figures to support their claims, often using the same datasets used by public health officials. Seeing how they do this on social media is, therefore, of interest. So how did the authors examine this question?

First, they examined the circulation of COVID-related data visualizations through quantitative and qualitative methods. They started with a quantitative analysis of nearly half a million Tweets that used data visualization to talk about the pandemic, while using network analysis to identify user communities who retweet the same content or engage with each other (such as antimaskers and those supporting mask mandates). They used a computer vision model to extract feature embeddings and identify clusters in visualization designs, noting that they found that “anti-mask groups on Twitter often create polished counter-visualizations that would not be out of place in scientific papers, health department reports, and publications like the Financial Times.”

In addition, the authors undertook a six month long observational study of antimask groups on Facebook over the period from March to September 2020, a time frame during which these groups formed and consolidated, justifying it thusly:

Quantitative analysis gives us an overview of what online discourse about data and its visual representation looks like on Twitter both within and outside anti-mask communities. Qualitative analysis of anti-mask groups gives us an interactional view of how these groups leverage the language of scientific rigor—being critical about data sources, explicitly stating analytical limitations of specific models, and more—in order to support ending public health restrictions despite the consensus of the scientific establishment.

I don’t know enough about the computer algorithms and methodology to comment extensively on the nitty-gritty of the visualization analysis performed, but I can comment a bit on the observational study, whose methods the authors describe thusly:

While qualitative research can involve clinical protocols like interviews or surveys, Clifford Geertz [45] argues that the most substantial ethnographic insights into the cultural life of a community come from “deep hanging out,” i.e., long-term, participant observation alongside its members. Using “lurking,” a mode of participating by observing specific to digital platforms, we propose “deep lurking” as a way of systematically documenting the cultural practices of online communities. Our methods here rely on robust methodological literature in digital ethnography [30, 69], and we employ a case study approach [92] to analyze these Facebook groups. To that end, we followed five Facebook groups (each with a wide range of followers, 10K-300K) over the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic, and we collected posts throughout the platform that included terms for “coronavirus” and “visualization” with Facebook’s CrowdTangle tool [33]. In our deep lurking, we archived web pages and took field notes on the following: posts (regardless of whether or not they included “coronavirus” and “data”), subsequent comments, Facebook Live streams, and photos of in-person events. We collected and analyzed posts from these groups from their earliest date to September 2020.

One aspect of this paper bothers me. Nowhere do the authors identify which antimask groups in which they “deep lurked,” other than to note that, since September, Facebook has “banned some of the groups we have studied, who have since moved to more unregulated platforms (Parler and MeWe).” I don’t recall having read a study of this type that didn’t explicitly list the Facebook pages examined.

As a preview of the findings, the authors write:

While previous literature in visualization and science communication has emphasized the need for data and media literacy as a way to combat misinformation [43, 47, 89], this study finds that anti-mask groups practice a form of data literacy in spades. Within this constituency, unorthodox viewpoints do not result from a deficiency of data literacy; sophisticated practices of data literacy are a means of consolidating and promulgating views that fly in the face of scientific orthodoxy. Not only are these groups prolific in their creation of counter-visualizations, but they leverage data and their visual representations to advocate for and enact policy changes on the city, county, and state levels.

This preview rings true to those of us who have studied antivaxxers and other groups that oppose the scientific consensus. If anything, science denialists tend to delve very deeply into the data. The problem, of course, is that their preconceptions are so strong that, to echo the old saying about drunks looking for their keys and a lamppost, they use data for support rather than illumination. While it is true that many, if not most, scientists approach data trying to test a hypothesis hoping to find support for it, meaning that they have some degree of bias, science denialists take natural human bias to an extreme in which they will parse the data into finer and finer bits until they find a way to support what they want to believe. Alternatively, as this paper suggests, they create data visualizations that support their point of view.

The authors visualized the Twitter networks using the Louvain method of community detection, a commonly used method of identifying communities in large networks, and found six main networks sharing COVID-related visualizations:

  1. American politics and media.
  2. American politics and right-wing media (red).
  3. British news media.
  4. Anti-mask network.
  5. New York Times-centric network.
  6. World Health Organization and health-related news organizations.

Of interest, the antimask network was found to be anchored by former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson, the man who has been called the “pandemic’s wrongest man,” as well as “blogger @EthicalSkeptic, and @justin_hart.” The authors also note that a key target of this network was The Atlantic’s @Covid19Tracking project (which collates COVID-19 testing rates and patient outcomes across the United States). The antimask network also had the highest fraction of retweets of in-network Tweets.

Here is Figure 2, which includes a sampling of some antimask COVID-19 minimizing/denying countervisualizations:

Countervisualizations

The authors comment thusly on this figure:

While there are certainly visualizations that tend to use a meme-based approach to make their point (e.g., “Hey Fauci…childproof chart!” with the heads of governors used to show the rate of COVID fatalities), many of the visualizations shared by anti-mask Twitter users employ visual forms that are relatively similar to charts that one might encounter at a scientific conference. Many of these tweets use area and line charts to show the discrepancy between the number of projected deaths in previous epidemiological and the numbers of actual fatalities. Others use unit visualizations, tables, and bar charts to compare the severity of coronavirus to the flu. In total, this figure shows the breadth of visualization types that anti-mask users employ to illustrate that the pandemic is exaggerated.

And it is true. Antivaxxers, conspiracy theorists, and antimaskers have become very adept at producing memes and, as this study shows, data visualizations with deceptive messages. Overall, the authors identified eight major clusters of types of visualizations used by antimaskers: line charts (8,908 visualizations, 21% of the corpus), area charts (2,212, 5%), bar charts (3,939, 9%), pie charts (1,120, 3%), tables (4,496, 11%), maps (5,182, 13%), dashboards (2,472, 6%), and images (7,128, 17%), also noting that The remaining 6,248 media (15% of the corpus) “did not cluster in thematically coherent ways.”

Antimask discourse and data analysis

Overall, the MIT investigators found seven main themes in antimask discourse:

  1. Emphasis on original content.
  2. Critically assessing data sources.
  3. Critically assessing data representations.
  4. Identifying bias and politics in data.
  5. Appeals to scientific authority.
  6. Developing expertise and processes of critical engagement.
  7. Applying data to real-world situations.

To be honest, I was more interested in the qualitative analysis of the content of antimask Facebook groups than the quantitative analysis of the types of data visualizations they promote on Twitter, for the simple reason that it produced potentially more actionable information. I will do this in part by examining some of the quotes cherry picked by antimaskers and then putting them into context to show (1) how cherry picked they are and (2) that they do not mean what antimaskers think they mean. However, I will also discuss key points above. I’ll start with one favorite quote by antimaskers, namely that the paper supposedly concludes that they are more sophisticated in their understanding of science. Here’s the quote in context near the beginning of the article, the cited quote in bold:

As science and technology studies (STS) scholars have shown, data is not a neutral substrate that can be used for good or for ill [14, 46, 84]. Indeed, anti-maskers often reveal themselves to be more sophisticated in their understanding of how scientific knowledge is socially constructed than their ideological adversaries, who espouse naive realism about the “objective” truth of public health data. Quantitative data is culturally and historically situated; the manner in which it is collected, analyzed, and interpreted reflects a deeper narrative that is bolstered by the collective effervescence found within social media communities. Put differently, there is no such thing as dispassionate or objective data analysis. Instead, there are stories: stories shaped by cultural logics, animated by personal experience, and entrenched by collective action. This story is about how a public health crisis—refracted through seemingly objective numbers and data visualizations—is part of a broader battleground about scientific epistemology and democracy in modern American life.

Basically, this is the final paragraph of the introduction, in which the authors set up their story, which is how antimaskers use the fact that there is no such thing as a totally objective analysis of data. Of course, scientists do their best to eliminate as much bias as they reasonably can from their analysis. Antimaskers do not and dismiss criticism that their analyses are biased with observations that there is a socially constructed aspect to all scientific knowledge. It’s the same technique that antivaxxers use. Let’s just say that, in context, this quote does not support the contention that antimaskers are more sophisticated about science. Not really. I will, however, say that this sentence quoted by antimaskers is perhaps the most grating sentence in the paper, as it really doesn’t qualify the assertion made in the way that it needs to be qualified. For one thing, it utterly ignores the role of disinformation merchants in stoking antimask narratives, seemingly assuming honest motives in the case of all antimaskers.

Then there’s the quote about how antimaskers value “unmediated access” to information and privilege. Let’s see the statement in its context, which is that this desire for “unmediated access to information” is so that antimaskers can use that information to promote their message, which is what leads to an “emphasis on original content”:

Many anti-mask users express mistrust for academic and journalistic accounts of the pandemic, proposing to rectify alleged bias by “following the data” and creating their own data visualizations. Indeed, one Facebook group within this study has very strict moderation guidelines that prohibit the sharing of non-original content so that discussions can be “guided solely by the data.” Some group administrators even impose news consumption bans on themselves so that “mainstream” models do not “cloud their analysis.” In other words, anti-maskers value unmediated access to information and privilege personal research and direct reading over “expert” interpretations. While outside content is generally prohibited, Facebook group moderators encourage followers to make their own graphs, which are often shared by prominent members of the group to larger audiences (e.g., on their personal timelines or on other public facing Pages). Particularly in cases where a group or page is led by a few prominent users, follower-generated graphs tend to be highly popular because they often encourage other followers to begin their own data analysis projects, and comments on these posts often deal directly with how to reverse-engineer (or otherwise adjust) the visualization for another locality.

Of course, data transparency is a good thing. Scientists themselves argue about data transparency, and there is a growing movement to make raw data used in analyses available to other scientists for analysis. This has led to the creation of, for instance, databanks for genomic data. The problem with the data visualizations produced by antimaskers is that the vast majority of them do not know what they are doing and don’t even try to control for their own biases.

Consistent with their bias, the discussion of data sources and reliability by antimaskers tends to focus on exaggerated concerns about how data can be “manipulated” for nefarious purposes

Many of the users believe that the most important metrics are missing from government-released data. They express their concerns in four major ways. First, there is an ongoing animated debate within these groups about which metrics matter. Some users contend that deaths, not cases, should be the ultimate arbiter in policy decisions, since case rates are easily “manipulated” (e.g., with increased testing) and do not necessarily signal severe health problems (people can be asymptomatic). The shift in focus is important, as these groups believe that the emphasis on cases and testing often means that rates of COVID deaths by county or township are not reported to the same extent or seriously used for policy making.

But, later in the article, the authors point out how this is a “sleight of hand” (their very words):

For instance, they argue that there is an outsized emphasis on deaths versus cases: if the current datasets are fundamentally subjective and prone to manipulation (e.g., increased levels of faulty testing, asymptomatic vs. symptomatic cases), then deaths are the only reliable markers of the pandemic’s severity. Even then, these groups believe that deaths are an additionally problematic category because doctors are using a COVID diagnosis as the main cause of death (i.e., people who die because of COVID) when in reality there are other factors at play (i.e., dying with but not because of COVID). Since these categories are fundamentally subject to human interpretation, especially by those who have a vested interest in reporting as many COVID deaths as possible, these numbers are vastly over-reported, unreliable, and no more significant than the flu.

Although the authors didn’t state it this way, I will. Antimaskers, because of their exaggerated concern over “manipulation” of the data, either go to great lengths to find ways to manipulate the data themselves to show what they want it to show or to place a naive faith in the “raw data,” which brings us to #3 and their criticism of data representations. The idea is conspiratorial at its core, namely that somehow the “raw data” are more pure and “can’t be spun”:

An ongoing topic of discussion is whether to visualize absolute death counts as opposed to deaths per capita, and it is illustrative of a broader mistrust of mediation. For some, “raw data” (e.g., counts) provides more accurate information than any data transformation (e.g., death rate per capita, or even visualizations themselves). For others, screenshots of tables are the most faithful way to represent the data, so that people can see and interpret it for themselves. “No official graphs,” said one user. “Raw data only. Why give them an opportunity to spin?” (June 14, 2020). These users want to understand and analyze the information for themselves, free from biased, external intervention.

This feeds into #4 and the identification of bias and politics. The authors cite various posts in which those creating data visualizations admit their bias but argue that, by sticking as close as possible to the “raw data,” they can “keep the effect of bias to a minimum.” But where does this bias that they fear so much come from? A lot of them point to “specific profit motives that come from releasing (or suppressing) specific kinds of information.” In addition, consistent with my aforementioned guesstimate of the high overlap between antimaskers and antivaxxers, the authors note that many are suspicious of the benefits of a coronavirus vaccine, predictably pointing out “how the tobacco industry has historically manipulated science to mislead consumers.” (Yes, as I’ve frequently pointed out, antivaxxers love to point to tobacco companies and how they manipulated and denied science, all while remaining conveniently ignorant that they are using exactly the same sorts of techniques to do the same thing.) Unsurprisingly, the authors found evidence that antimaskers believe that pharmaceutical companies have “similarly villainous profit motives, which leads the industry to inflate data about the pandemic in order to stoke demand for a vaccine.”

One of the more ironic, but not entirely unexpected findings of this paper is how antimaskers crave scientific respectability and, to try to gain it, have used appeals to scientific authority, which brings me to the quote about how this paper supposedly found that antimaskers are more, not less scientifically rigorous. I think you’ll see how blatantly that line (in bold) was cherry picked to convey a different meaning than what the authors intended:

Paradoxically, these groups also seek ways to validate their findings through the scientific establishment. Many users prominently display their scientific credentials (e.g., referring to their doctoral degrees or prominent publications in venues like Nature) which uniquely qualify them as insiders who are most well-equipped to criticize the scientific community. Members who perform this kind of expertise often point to 2013 Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt’s assertion that lockdowns do nothing to save lives [67] as another indicator of scientific legitimacy. Both Levitt and these anti-mask groups identify the dangerous convergence of science and politics as one of the main barriers to a more reasonable and successful pandemic response, and they construct their own data visualizations as a way to combat what they see as health misinformation. “To be clear. I am not downplaying the COVID epidemic,” said one user. “I have never denied it was real. Instead, I’ve been modeling it since it began in Wuhan, then in Europe, etc. […] What I have done is follow the data. I’ve learned that governments, that work for us, are too often deliberately less than transparent when it comes to reporting about the epidemic” (July 17, 2020). For these anti-mask users, their approach to the pandemic is grounded in a more scientific rigor, not less.

Notice how in no way are the authors claiming that antimaskers’ approach to the pandemic is more scientifically rigorous. They’re simply making a statement about how antimaskers themselves believe that their approach to the pandemic is more scientific. Also note how the authors mention Michael Levitt, whose copious pronouncements on COVID-19 have been referred to as “lethal nonsense” (based on his having declared the pandemic “over” in August). More recently, Levitt has been downplaying the number of deaths from COVID-19 in Brazil. Unfortunately, his status as a Nobel Laureate has given his pronouncements on COVID-19 far more heft in the media than they observe.

Of course, it is no surprise to any skeptic who’s followed, for example, the antivaccine movement or other science denialist movements that the cranks in those movements, even as they castigate science as “corrupt,” crave the legitimacy that science brings, which is why antivaxxers latch on to the pronouncements of physicians and scientists with no special expertise in the relevant disciplines to back up their claims. Examples of such scientists abound, and include people like James Lyons-Weiler, a bioinformaticist who’s recast himself as a vaccine expert and now—surprise! surprise!—a COVID-19 expert; Paul Thomas, a pediatrician with no expertise in clinical trials or vaccines who claims to be doing a clinical study of vaccines; Christopher Exley, a chemist who fancies himself a vaccine expert; Christopher Shaw, a neuroscientist who also fancies himself a vaccine expert; and the father-son duo of Mark and David Geier, neither of whom has any specific expertise in autism or fields relevant to vaccines. The same thing is happening with COVID-19, as the case of Levitt demonstrates. He’s a structural biologist whose Nobel Prize was in chemistry. Before the pandemic, he has no special expertise in epidemiology, infectious disease, pandemic modeling, or anything else relevant to COVID-19. Sadly, since the pandemic, he hasn’t developed any such expertise.

The list of such scientists with no special expertise who have become the darlings of antimaskers is a long and dishonorable one. Worse, occasionally, there are even scientists who really should know better, some of whom actually have relevant expertise, who have fallen down the rabbit hole of COVID-19 minimization. Great Barrington Declaration, anyone?

Then there’s the part about “individual initiative”:

Anti-maskers have deftly used social media to constitute a cultural and discursive arena devoted to addressing the pandemic and its fallout through practices of data literacy. Data literacy is a quintessential criterion for membership within the community they have created. The prestige of both individual anti-maskers and the larger Facebook groups to which they belong is tied to displays of skill in accessing, interpreting, critiquing, and visualizing data, as well as the pro-social willingness to share those skills with other interested parties. This is a community of practice [63, 102] focused on acquiring and transmitting expertise, and on translating that expertise into concrete political action. Moreover, this is a subculture shaped by mistrust of established authorities and orthodox scientific viewpoints. Its members value individual initiative and ingenuity, trusting scientific analysis only insofar as they can replicate it themselves by accessing and manipulating the data firsthand. They are highly reflexive about the inherently biased nature of any analysis, and resent what they view as the arrogant self-righteousness of scientific elites. As a subculture, anti-masking amplifies anti-establishment currents pervasive in U.S. political culture. Data literacy, for antimaskers, exemplifies distinctly American ideals of intellectual selfreliance, which historically takes the form of rejecting experts and other elites [53]. The counter-visualizations that they produce and circulate not only challenge scientific consensus, but they also assert the value of independence in a society that they believe promotes an overall de-skilling and dumbing-down of the population for the sake of more effective social control [39, 52, 98]. As they see it, to counter-visualize is to engage in an act of resistance against the stifling influence of central government, big business, and liberal academia. Moreover, their simultaneous appropriation of scientific rhetoric and rejection of scientific authority also reflects longstanding strategies of Christian fundamentalists seeking to challenge the secularist threat of evolutionary biology [11].

This is, of course, an apt comparison, one that the antimaskers quoting this paper so approvingly seem to have…missed…in their praise of the study. I wonder why. Of course, creationism (a.k.a. evolution denial) in all its forms, particularly “intelligent design” creationism (which does not dispute that evolution takes place but co-opts scientific arguments to argue that there must be a “designer” (a.k.a. God) guiding evolution) does indeed use similar techniques. Indeed, whole organizations have been set up for this purpose. One could even say that the most prominent of these anti-evolution groups, the Discovery Institute, is mimicking science by having been set up as an “institute” to imitate legitimate scientific societies and “institutes.” It’s tempting to note how heavily evangelical Christians are represented in antimask activism and wonder how much overlap there is in a Venn diagram of creationists or evolution deniers and antimaskers. (Oh, wait. I just did.)

Two things that antimaskers get right and wrong simultaneously

Interestingly, antimaskers don’t get everything wrong. They are, however, an example of how they can get something right in the wrong way, such that it leads them astray. For instance, let’s look in context at another quote that antimaskers have been cherry picking (bolded):

Most fundamentally, the groups we studied believe that science is a process, and not an institution. As we have outlined in the case study, these groups mistrust the scientific establishment (“Science”) because they believe that the institution has been corrupted by profit motives and politics. The knowledge that the CDC and academics have created cannot be trusted because they need to be subject to increased doubt, and not accepted as consensus. In the same way that climate change skeptics have appealed to Karl Popper’s theory of falsification to show why climate science needs to be subjected to continuous scrutiny in order to be valid [42], we have found that anti-mask groups point to Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions to show how their anomalous evidence—once dismissed by the scientific establishment—will pave the way to a new paradigm (“As I’ve recently described, I’m no stranger to presenting data that are inconsistent with the narrative. It can get ugly. People do not give up their paradigms easily. […] Thomas Kuhn wrote about this phenomenon, which occurs repeatedly throughout history. Now is the time to hunker down. Stand with the data,” August 5, 2020). For anti-maskers, valid science must be a process they can critically engage for themselves in an unmediated way. Increased doubt, not consensus, is the marker of scientific certitude.

Doubt is the product of antimaskers, just as it was the product of tobacco companies and is the product of, for example, antivaxxers and climate science denialists. This paper highlights how this is true, pointing out how very skilled antimaskers have become at sifting through data and finding areas of uncertainty to highlight as a means of casting doubt on specific scientific consensuses.

As I’ve discussed before, climate science deniers love to quote Michael Crichton’s infamous statements, such as, “Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus” and “There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.” I’ve responded to this nonsense before in detail, which is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of science. (After all, as I asked, what is a scientific theory like the theory of evolution or Einstein’s theory of relativity but a statement of the current scientific consensus regarding a major scientific topic?) Also, explanatory power is all; if your model has no explanatory or predictive power, it’s useless. So, basically, antimaskers (from my perspective) have the correct understanding that science is a process not an institution and not just a body of knowledge, but they use it to draw the wrong conclusions about scientific consensus and how to approach data.

The authors also have a point about data transparency, as I mentioned above, and consistency of coding:

This plays into a third problem that users identify with the existing data: that datasets are constructed in fundamentally subjective ways. They are coded, cleaned, and aggregated either by government data analysts with nefarious intentions or by organizations who may not have the resources to provide extensive documentation. “Researchers can define their data set anyhow [sic] they like in absence of generally accepted (preferably specified) definitions,” one user wrote on June 23, 2020. “Coding data is a big deal—and those definitions should be offered transparently by every state. Without a national guideline—we are left with this mess.” The lack of transparency within these data collection systems—which many of these users infer as a lack of honesty—erodes these users’ trust within both government institutions and the datasets they release.

These statements about data collection and standardization weren’t wrong, particularly early in the pandemic. The problem is that they use this as an excuse to “analyze” the data they can access any way they want.

Implications: Data analysis as disinformation weapon

There are a number of implications of this study, if its findings hold up. Perhaps the implication that’s most counterintuitive to skeptics and science communicators is that increasing data literacy in the public will not, in and of itself, mitigate the effects of misinformation and disinformation. As I quoted the authors above, they have a form of data literacy “in spades.” Similarly, the authors note:

Powerful research and media organizations paid for by the tobacco or fossil fuel industries [79, 86] have historically capitalized on the skeptical impulse that the “science simply isn’t settled,” prompting people to simply “think for themselves” to horrifying ends.

Horrifying ends indeed. Also:

As David Buckingham [17] has noted, calls for increased literacy have often become a form of wrong-headed solutionism that posits education as the fix to all media-related problems. danah boyd [16] has documented, too, that calling for increased media literacy can often backfire: the instruction to “question more” can lead to a weaponization of critical thinking and increased distrust of media and government institutions. She argues that calls for media literacy can often frame problems like fake news as ones of personal responsibility rather than a crisis of collective action.

And:

While previous literature in visualization and science communication has emphasized the need for data and media literacy as a way to combat misinformation [43, 47, 89], this study finds that anti-mask groups practice a form of data literacy in spades. Within this constituency, unorthodox viewpoints do not result from a deficiency of data literacy; sophisticated practices of data literacy are a means of consolidating and promulgating views that fly in the face of scientific orthodoxy. Not only are these groups prolific in their creation of counter-visualizations, but they leverage data and their visual representations to advocate for and enact policy changes on the city, county, and state levels.

The problem isn’t a deficit in information, data, or data literacy. It’s how all that is weaponized. As the authors note, the problem isn’t that antimaskers need more scientific literacy, which characterizes their approach as uninformed. Quite the opposite. They are not uninformed, or, as the authors write, “This study shows the opposite: users in these communities are deeply invested in forms of critique and knowledge production that they recognize as markers of scientific expertise.” Nor will creating “better” data visualizations ameliorate this problem. The problem is that it’s a form of critique and knowledge production that is by design in opposition of “consensus” in a way that has a hard time even considering that the consensus might have a point, scientifically speaking. All this critique is primarily done as an act of “resistance,” rather than for purposes of scientific illumination. This makes it prone to its own set of extreme biases, biases that antimaskers don’t really admit, if they even recognize them. Meanwhile, hordes of “citizen scientists” now think themselves better than epidemiologists at analyzing data.

One huge disappointment I had about this paper is that, disappointingly, it hardly touched on the role of ideologically motivated astroturf groups in encouraging antimaskers, providing them with ideas and support, and helping them publicize their message. “Astroturf” refers to campaigns that are orchestrated by ideological groups but designed to appear to be “grassroots,” hence the term “astroturf,” or fake grass roots. Remember the Great Barrington Declaration, the document signed by three scientists that advocated, in essence, letting COVID-19 rip through the healthy population in order to achieve herd immunity, all while using “focused protection” to keep safe the elderly and those with comorbidities that put them at high risk from the disease. It was, as I put it, eugenics-adjacent, if not straight up eugenics. It was also the product of a right wing think tank that conceived and promoted the declaration, using it to lobby governments to lift “lockdowns” and “open up” again. It’s a group that likens itself and fellow antimaskers to “abolitionists“.

The authors seem to assume that the bulk of antimask activity on social media producing data “countervisualizations” is organic in nature, but we know that it’s not. Tobacco companies were real and tried to counter and deny the science showing the harmful health effects of smoking. Fossil fuel companies are real and, through their influence and cash, assisted by right wing think tanks, promote denial of climate science. The same phenomenon has occurred with COVID-19. Disinformation campaigns about COVID-19 mitigation measures promoting antimask and anti-“lockdown” demonstrations have been shown to be astroturf fueled by right wing donors, such as the Koch brothers, with support and behind-the-scenes coordination from The Convention of States project, which has been funded by Republican megadonor Robert Mercer’s family foundation, and two members of Trump’s White House, Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing And Urban Development. Indeed, a number of these campaigns have been generated by well-funded organizations. One example was the promotion of hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19. (If you have a cheap cure for COVID-19, you don’t need lockdowns.) So how much of this activity described by Lee et al is truly organic, and how much is a result of astroturf? That is the question, isn’t it? What disappointing to me is that the authors hardly even touched on this question, even as an area for future research.

My one disappointment aside, I do think this article is a major contribution in that it shows that the problem is most definitely not an information deficit problem, nor is it a science literacy problem. As the authors conclude:

In other words, our paper introduces new ways of thinking about “democratizing” data analysis and visualization. Instead of treating increased adoption of data-driven storytelling as an unqualified good, we show that data visualizations are not simply tools that people use to understand the epidemiological events around them. They are a battleground that highlight the contested role of expertise in modern American life.

Science has always been a battleground. COVID-19 is just the latest front, and it’s being waged by people like this:

They can even sometimes give the appearance of being justified in their boasts, but in reality, as this now defunct Twitter account put it:

This paper is borderline crazy but it makes an interesting point. Formal adherence to the scientific method does not vaccinate you against quackery, and antivaxxers are more sophisticated than you think. (they are still irresponsible and dangerous though).

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

193 replies on “How antimaskers co-opt techniques of scientific data analysis to generate COVID-19 propaganda”

I found this helpful to learn, given that most conference proceedings in medicine are actually not as rigorously peer-reviewed as journal articles.

This predictably leads to strict page limits — IJCAI is six, plus one for references.

i think this is a very interesting paper. While Orac’s recap is pretty good and fairly detailed, there are some aspects he doesn’t get to, or maybe skims a bit. i want to encourage everyone here with any interest in the topic to read the original article, which (hooray!) is not behind a paywall. It’s not a difficult read at all, either. I wouldn’t say its “borderline crazy’, but it is somewhat provocative, both in it’s conclusions and it’s discursive method — the voice of the writing [which comes from Anthropology]. A version of the OP appeared earlier at SBM, and I was kinda disappointed that there wasn’t more discussion in the comments there about the paper, as opposed to commenters offering their own opining about anti-maskers. Now, I find no comments yet here at all. Bummer…

Meanwhile, in other anti-mask news, Marjorie Taylor Greene continued her campaign to climb to the top of the trash heap of right-wing trolls by Godwin-ing the subject, going to a Holocaust comparison for mask policy in the House:

the Georgia congresswoman accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of being a hypocrite for asking GOP members to prove they have all been vaccinated before allowing members to be in the House chamber without a mask. “You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany,” Greene said. “And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.” Greene later defended her comments to CNN affiliate KPNX, saying, “I stand by all of my statements, I said nothing wrong. I think any rational Jewish person didn’t like what happened in Nazi Germany & any rational Jewish person doesn’t like what’s happening with overbearing mask mandates and overbearing vaccine policies.”

any rational Jewish person doesn’t like what’s happening with overbearing mask mandates and overbearing vaccine policies

Given that her base is (as is Trump’s; mutatis mutandis foreign policy regarding Israel) evangelical Christians, this weird bit of projection isn’t overly surprising.

She is a special southern girl; We are very proud because she stands with Trump all the way. Wait ’till y’all get a load of Tubby and Mo. You are going to eat all your words in the form of … shelter-supplied alphabet soup. Muahahhahh.

In my experience, rational Jewish people are sick and tired of non-Jewish people using them as their go-to analogy.

Funny, they don’t use any of the many graphs I’ve seen that dramatically illustrate how Covid cases/ deaths have declined as the rate of vaccinated people increased. this year.

I know that Orac’s minions know how to find these images but I’ll let the doubters fend for themselves. As if.

Anyone trying to make a claim that it’s healthier for healthy people to wear masks all the time has a very large burden. They have several million years of human immune system evolution that occurred entirely without masks to overcome–unless someone discovers a previously unknown ancient race of super-humans that thrived on mask-wearing.

Sure, anyone could make a theoretical argument that the handful of mass die-offs in history that allegedly occurred from microbes could have been prevented with the practice of healthy people wearing masks all the time–but assuming it would be foolish, in light of the complexity of the immune system–and of the historical microbe narratives.

Those arguing it’s healthier for healthy people to wear masks all the time haven’t even begun to meet their burden of proof–a fact this article dances cleverly around by focusing on the shortcomings of masking opponents.

Health and immunity is a very complicated topic, about which there is much more to learn than anyone knows now. It’s baffling how anyone can simply assume the practice of mask-wearing couldn’t possibly have any adverse effects on personal or public health.

Oh look. Mount St. Helens is doing that thing again and these anti-maskers are blocking our egress. I’m afraid you’re just going to have to step on it, Car,..err.., Becky.

“several million years of human immune system evolution”

On the bright side, you’re not a YEC.

<

blockquote>Anyone trying to make a claim that it’s healthier for healthy to make a reputation on NWO conspiracies and palling around with Rappoport people to wear masks all the time has a very large burden.

FTFY, Ginny.

Next we’ll hear about how plague wasn’t so bad in the Middle Ages, since only a third of the population died.

I honestly believe that’s already been said, although I do not remember now, where I read it. The maskholes all seem to blur together, and it isn’t easy to keep them sorted.

They have several million years of human immune system evolution that occurred entirely without masks to overcome

There’s also several million years of human immune system evolution that occurred entirely without clothes to overcome.

I expect you have no problem walking around naked.

Well, I have a problem with $thisperson_Icantremember walking around naked. And It’s not the kind of problem you might think.

“Anyone trying to make a claim that it’s healthier for healthy people to wear masks all the time has a very large burden. ”

Lucky for you, no one is saying that! Huzzah!

Recommending to choose to wear mask in crowded situations, or where there is a known risk of exposure to airborne disease is hardly “all the time”.

The subway? Yes, please. My own back yard? Nah, I’m good.

It’s all about situational awareness. I remember reading suggestions (see, there’s that word again) that people going to the big comic cons, San Diego Comic Con and DragonCon, might want to wear a mask and use a lot of hand sanitizer to avoid picking up “con crud”.

(Also, does anyone else feel like the complaining about mask wearing is very Euro-centric? Like, there are plenty of parts of the world where people wear masks or cover their faces in public. They ain’t all dead.)

does anyone else feel like the complaining about mask wearing is very Euro-centric? Like, there are plenty of parts of the world where people wear masks

You know, every eleven years or so I watch some japanese animae. And masks have always been prevelent. I think there is a huge populace in this generation, and the former one, who are not mask averce. And Crave for it to be a normalized thing {talk about hiding those window-busting zit left overs}.

It is just the one most risk-taking, cautious ‘I’m so courageous’ show of fealty ‘tards could show to The Don. Vomiting all the time is eroding my teeth, so. No more Trump stuff, for now. https://youtu.be/cZoiEJcVLfs?t=112

So Black Death is allegedly caused by Y. pestis ? Actually bacteria have lived million years with human immune system and have evolved to evade it. Y. pestis suppress immune system very efficiently.
Proving this causation is not a heavy burden. It happened long since.

@ Denise Walter,

It really doesn’t bother me that you continuously make the comment, “UPDATE?” Suggestion, it would be far more interesting if you provided an “update” of substance.

@ Orac and minions,

I apologise for making this off-topic comment about the repetitive mindset of Denise Walter.

Denice, someone recommended holding Shift when you click the refresh button – that has been working for me. I have to do it on each page, though.

That works part of the time but not always.
I try other arcane manoeuvering as well, mostly to no avail

Am I correct that you’re using an old Windoze machine and an old IE browser?

@ Narad:

Actually not that old- Asus- and I have both IE and Edge.

There are other devices here but I can type better on this

Pew, no. Denice is Edgy. Thx Narad, it works. It does appear that very new posts shown on the homepage have honestly not worked to the nodes yet. Give it a few minutes.

Actually, this Wuhan lab theory have not aged well. This no evidence, lots of conspiracy theories.

Actually, this Wuhan lab theory have not aged well. This no evidence, lots of conspiracy theories.

Actually, Aarno, I would say it’s aging quite well now that even industry sided Politifact is retracting their previous ‘false’ assessment of it.

Both the lab escape and zoonotic origin ideas are theories, yet unlike the zoonotic theory that has next to no direct or circumstantial evidence supporting it, the lab escape theory has overwhelming circumstantial evidence supporting it. For this reason, lots of credible individuals and groups are starting to concede that it’s on stronger ground.

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/politifact-retracts-wuhan-lab-theory-fact-check

You clearly didn’t read the whole post. For instance: “It has already been conclusively demonstrated by multiple investigations that the SARS-CoV-2 nucleotide sequence betrays no signs of having been artificially engineered in a lab.” That was and remains true. Whether a natural bat coronavirus escaped is the question. Analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 sequence shows no telltale signs of lab engineering. That is still true.

Then there was the part where Montagnier claimed that HIV sequences in the virus made it more dangerous, even though the sequences were so short that a lot of genes have them. That’s true regardless of whether SARS-CoV-escaped from a lab (which is still the least likely of competing hypotheses).🙄

I feel Redfield’s ‘opinion’ a little bit compelling:

<

blockquote> “I do not believe this somehow came from a bat to a human. And at that moment in time, the virus came to the human, became one of the most infectious viruses that we know in humanity for human to human transmission. Normally, when a pathogen goes from a zoonotic to human, it takes a while for it to figure out how to become more and more efficient.”

Redfield, a virologist who headed the CDC under President Trump, stressed several times that this is just his opinion, not a proven fact. “I’m allowed to have opinions now,” he said. “Most of us in a lab, when trying to grow a virus, we try to help make it grow better, and better, and better, and better, and better, and better so we can do experiments and figure out about it. That’s the way I put it together,” he said of his theory.

Redfield also said he believes the virus began spreading months earlier than once thought — perhaps since September or October of 2019, a timeframe roughly supported by recent research. That extra time the virus may have spent circulating undetected could help explain how it became “efficient” at transmission — without having been “leaked” from a lab.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-lab-theory-robert-redfield-no-evidence/

Plot twist:

It could have leaked from a lab and then got “efficient.”

@Greg Evidence for natural origin is here:
Andersen, K.G., Rambaut, A., Lipkin, W.I. et al. The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. Nat Med 26, 450–452 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-0820-9
It is, essentially, sequence similarity with known animal bat viruses. So no engineering.

Three staff members getting sick with cold-like symptoms out of a staff of nearly 600 is not evidence the virus was made in that laboratory.

Idk, Chris Preston. This is presented as within a tiny subgroup of people who are supposed to be pretty adept at not sharing stuff around — do they just drop all that when they go home to din-din?

There’s no scientific evidence that wearing a mask all day reduces infections.

Since mask-wearing began, there has been a massive drop in influenza cases. I would reconsider your comment.

This is false.

There’s been a massive drop in diagnosing influenza.

Please stop making false statements.

Also, even IF there’s less cases of influenza you have ZERO evidence that it’s specifically because of mask wearing.

So PLEASE stop lying.

@Scientism Dave
There is a paper about mask wearing:
Mingming Liang, Liang Gao, Ce Cheng, Qin Zhou, John Patrick Uy, Kurt Heiner, Chenyu Sun,
Efficacy of face mask in preventing respiratory virus transmission: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, Volume 36, 2020,101751,
ISSN 1477-8939,
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmaid.2020.101751.
(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1477893920302301)
“Use of masks by healthcare workers (HCWs) and non-healthcare workers (Non-HCWs) can reduce the risk of respiratory virus infection by 80% (OR = 0.20, 95% CI = 0.11–0.37) and 47% (OR = 0.53, 95% CI = 0.36–0.79).”
And why do you think no flu diagnosis are not made any more. Please stop making claims without giving evedence,

See any tuberculosis ward for evidence to the contrary.

But guess what! You don’t have to wear a mask all day! Mask wearing only reduces infections if you are around other people who may be infected with some pathogen or other. So whenever you’re not around people you don’t need a mask. And since you’ve already been exposed to your household for (presumably) a long time you don’t have to wear a mask around them either.

Therefore mask wearing for even the most rigorous is limited to time spent in public, so at work (if not working from home) and while shopping or taking public transit or recreating with crowds.

The raw data bit reminds me of the Lenski controversy.

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Lenski_affair

Schiafly attempts to claim that Lenski lied about evolution having happened in his e coli experiment and demands access to the “raw data” outside of graphs and etc to prove that no fraud occurred.

Needless to say, it became amusing primarily as just how out of depth creationists were on biology.

You would notice how the paper states that antivaxxers know well social construction of science. This is not very promising start.
Scientific thinking would involve, according the paper :
being critical about data sources,
explicitly stating analytical limitations of specific models
Of course antivaxxers are critical to vaccine science. Question is the critique justified. And do not criticize their favorite “scientists” all all.
They would found lots of limitations in studies they do not like, too. No surprise here. Are they right, is another matter. I remember Christine Kincaid and limits epidemiological studies. She just pick imaginary limitations.

@ NWO Reporter

You write: “Anyone trying to make a claim that it’s healthier for healthy people to wear masks all the time has a very large burden. They have several million years of human immune system evolution that occurred entirely without masks to overcome–unless someone discovers a previously unknown ancient race of super-humans that thrived on mask-wearing.”

Yep, our immune systems have evolved; but so have the microbes. Anyone who has studied the history of airborne infectious diseases will discover just how many died. For example, prior to vaccinations, about 1/3 died from smallpox and it didn’t matter how healthy they were. Would masks have prevented all deaths? Nope; but I don’t live in a world of black and white, even if they only prevented a quarter of deaths they would have done their job. Wearing a mask is no big deal, a minor nuisance. Only an idiot like you would blow it way out of proportion.

Perhaps you haven’t read that we had no flu season. Why? Maybe because of mask wearing and physical distancing. In fact, though I always get the flu vaccine, if there is any sign that flu is prevalent this coming Fall/Winter I may wear a mask with shopping, even if others don’t.

Anti-maskers seem to disregard the fact that masks have been used for a long time in East Asia. Were there excessive deaths in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan etc?. Or the converse?
TIME ( March 2020) discusses why people in Asia accept masks whilst people frequently don’t in other places ( to varying degrees of course) Their experience with SARS is only one factor that explains this cultural difference.

Anti-maskers seem to realize correlation does not equal causation.

@Scientism Dave Actually, antimaskers do understand limits of clinical trials. They think that inconclusive results mean proved false.

@Scientism Dave
Actually, they do nor understand evidence that is not statistically significant is not same thing that proved false.

@ Sophie Amsden

You write: “So this blog post that hasn’t aged well.
“Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier, co-discoverer of HIV, the virus causing AIDS, went further down the rabbit hole of pseudoscience, embracing the conspiracy theory that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, was made in a lab.”

From Wikipedia. Luc Montagnier: “On 28 June 2010, Montagnier spoke at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Germany,[28] “where 60 Nobel prize winners had gathered, along with 700 other scientists, to discuss the latest breakthroughs in medicine, chemistry and physics.”[29] He “stunned his colleagues … when he presented a new method for detecting viral infections that bore close parallels to the basic tenets of homeopathy. Although fellow Nobel prize winners – who view homeopathy as quackery – were left openly shaking their heads, Montagnier’s comments were rapidly embraced by homeopaths eager for greater credibility. Cristal Sumner, of the British Homeopathic Association, said Montagnier’s work gave homeopathy ‘a true scientific ethos’.”[29]”

There is absolutely NO scientific evidence that homeopathic medicines work! ! !

Linus Pauling was an inorganic chemist who won the Nobel Prize; but in later life he began pushing megadoses of vitamin C. Pauling had NO background in medicine and research discredited his belief in vitamin C; but he stuck with it.

I could give more examples. The bottom line is just because someone has accomplished something doesn’t mean they are always right. Is it possible that COVID was accidentally released from a Wuhan Lab; yep, but probability is low. Why? Because studies of bats in China before the current pandemic found closely related serotypes to COVID and blood tests of Chinese found antibodies to several coronaviruses found in bats. And we know that SARS and MERS, two previous outbreaks of dangerous coronaviruses came directly from animals to humans. And we also know that airborne viruses that cause disease come from animals, especially bats.

Sophie, so nice to have you pop up and continue to make a fool of yourself!

@ Greg

You write: “Actually, Aarno, I would say it’s aging quite well now that even industry sided Politifact is retracting their previous ‘false’ assessment of it.
Both the lab escape and zoonotic origin ideas are theories, yet unlike the zoonotic theory that has next to no direct or circumstantial evidence supporting it, the lab escape theory has overwhelming circumstantial evidence supporting it. For this reason, lots of credible individuals and groups are starting to concede that it’s on stronger ground.

The article you link to in the Washington Examiner states: “PolitiFact, which has as much egg on its face as anyone, has retracted its article awarding Dr. Yan a “pants on fire rating.”

So, as opposed to you, I actually clicked on their link to PolitiFact and here is what it says: “When this fact-check was first published in September 2020, PolitiFact’s sources included researchers who asserted the SARS-CoV-2 virus could not have been manipulated. That assertion is now more widely disputed. For that reason, we are removing this fact-check from our database pending a more thorough review. Currently, we consider the claim to be unsupported by evidence and in dispute. The original factcheck
in its entirety is preserved below for transparency and archival purposes.”

So, based on new claims they are conducting an up-to-date review; but “Currently, we consider the claim to be unsupported by evidence and in dispute.”
Not exactly an admission they were wrong. Just one more example of how idiots like you find one source that confirms your biases and jump on it.

As for “overwhelming circumstantial evidence” actually the opposite, the overwhelming evidence is based on studies in China that found literally 1,000s of coronavirus serotypes in bats, including those quite close to the COVID-19 and a study that found many Chinese with antibodies to bat coronaviruses, quite simply people easily infected from bats with coronaviruses, just not the exact COVID-19. And there are also studies that have found in blood samples preserved from November, even in U.S. the COVID-19 virus; just the few individuals, just as most even today, were asymptomatic.

So, keep making a fool of yourself. I need the comic relief.

Below are some of the articles that I have collected and read:

Origins COVID-19 Virus

Anderson KG et al. (2020 Apr). The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. Nature Medicine; 26(4); 450-452.

Basavaraju SV Serologic testing of U.S. blood donations to identify SARS-CoV-2-reactive antibodies: December 2019-January 2020. Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Berekaa MM (2021 Jan 1). Insights into the COVID-19 pandemic: Origin, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and therapeutic interventions. Frontiers in Bioscience, Elite; 13: 117-139.

Butler D (2015 Nov 12). Engineered bat virus stirs debate over risky research: Lab-made coronavirus related to SARS can infect human cells. Nature News & Comment.

Calistri P et al. (2021 Feb 19). SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic: Not the First, Not the Last. Microorganisms; 9(2): 433.

Chen H et al. (2011 Dec 6). Animal reservoirs for SARS-like coronavirus in southern China. Hong Kong Medical Journal; 17(6 Supplement): 36-40.

Chen S (2020 Nov 16). Coronavirus hunters pick up another piece of the trail in Italy. South China Morning Post.

Chen YN et al (2019 Nov 22). Entry of Scotophilus Bat Coronavirus-512 and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus in Human and Multiple Animal Cells. Pathogens; 8(4): 259.

Cheng VCC (2007 Oct). Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus as an Agent of Emerging and Reemerging Infection. Clinical Microbiology Reviews; 20(4); 660-694.

Damas J et al. (2020). Broad host range of SARS-CoV-2 predicted by comparative and structural analysis of ACE2 in vertebrates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America; 117(36): 22311-22322.

Deslandes A et al. (2020 Jun). SARS-CoV-2 was already spreading in France in late December 2019. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents; 55(6).

Doucleff M (2021 Mar 15). WHO Points To Wildlife Farms In Southern China As Likely Source Of Pandemic. NPR.

El Boujnouni et al. (2021). Informatics in Medicine Unlocked; 24.

Fan Y (2019 Mar 2). Bat Coronaviruses in China. Viruses; 11(3): 210.

Furmanski M (2014 Feb 17). Laboratory Escapes and “Self-fulfilling prophecy” Epidemics. Scientist’s Working Group on Chemical and Biologic Weapons: Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation.

Ge XY (2013 Nov 28). Isolation and characterization of a bat SARS-like coronavirus that uses the ACE2 receptor. Nature; 503 (7477): 535-8.

Geng R and Zhou P (2021 Apr 23). Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) related coronavirus in bats. Animal Diseases; 1:4.

Ghorbani A et al. (2021 Apr 22). Comparative phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein—possibility effect on virus spillover. Briefings in Bioinformatics.

Guo YR et al. (2020 Mar 13). The origin, transmission and clinical therapies on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak – an update on the status. Military Medical Research; 7(1): 11.

Hernandez JC & Gorman J (2021 Mar 30). Origins of coronavirus remain unclear in WHO-China inquiry: ‘Extremely unlikely’ virus emerged from lab, team reports. San Diego Union-Tribune.

Hu B et al. (2017 Nov 30). Discovery of a rich gene pool of bat SARS-related coronaviruses provides new insights into the origin of SARS coronavirus. PLOS Pathogens; 13(11).

Hu D et al. (2018 Sep). Genomic characterization and infectivity of a novel SARS-like coronavirus in Chinese bats. Emerging Microbes & Infections; 7(1): 154.

Latinne A et al. (2020 Aug 2). Origin and cross-species transmission of bat coronaviruses in China. Nature Communications; 11(1): 4235.

Lin XD (2017 Jul). Extensive Diversity of Coronaviruses in Bats from China. Virology; 507: 1-10.

Liu SL (2020 Feb 26). No credible evidence supporting claims of the laboratory engineering of SARS-CoV-2. Emerging Microbes & Infections; 9(1): 505-507.

Lytras S et al. (2021 Jan 22 bioRxiv). Exploring the natural origins of SARS-CoV-2.

Marquardt A et al. (2020 May 5). Intel shared among US allies indicates virus outbreak more likely came from market, not a Chinese lab. CNN.

McKenna M (2020 Mar 23). How ProMED Crowdsourced the Arrival of Covid-19 and SARS. http://www.wired.com

Menachery VD (2015 Dec). A SARS-like cluster of circulating bat coronaviruses shows potential for human emergence. Nature Medicine; 21(12): 1508-13.

Morens DM (2020 Jul 22). The Origin of COVID-19 and Why It Matters. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene; 103(3): 955–959.

Morens DM & Breman JG (2020 Sep 9). Coming to terms with the real bioterrorist behind Covid-19: nature. STAT.

Nguyen TT et al. (2021 Feb 10). Genomic mutations and changes in protein secondary structure and solvent accessibility of SARS‑CoV‑2 (COVID‑19 virus). Scientific Reports; 11(1): 3487.

Parry J (2020 Jan 20). China coronavirus: cases surge as official admits human to human transmission. BMJ.

Pompeo (2020 May 8). “The Discussion Is Basically Over”: Why Scientists Believe the Wuhan-Lab Coronavirus Origin Theory Is Highly Unlikely: Trump and Mike Pompeo’s favorite blame-China theory makes great propaganda—but dubious science. http://www.vanityfair.com

ProMED (2019 Dec 30). Undiagnosed Pneumonia – China (Hubei): Request for Information. International Society For Infectious Diseases.
Schmidt C (2020 Jun 13). Coronavirus Researchers Tried to Warn Us: Before the pandemic hit, they struggled to get funding that might have hastened treatments for COVID. The Atlantic.

Qiu J (2020 Mar 11). How China’s “Bat Woman” Hunted Down Viruses from SARS to the New Coronavirus. Scientific American.

Seyran et al. (2021 Mar). Questions concerning the proximal origin of SARS‐CoV‐2. Journal of Medical Virology; 93(3): 1204-1206.

Subbaraman N (2020 Aug 21). ‘Heinous!’: Coronavirus researcher shut down for Wuhan-lab link slams new funding restrictions: Peter Daszak, president of the research organization EcoHealth Alliance, describes how he has been caught in political cross-hairs over his partnership with a virology lab in China. http://www.nature.com

Tang XC et al. (2006 Aug). Prevalence and Genetic Diversity of Coronaviruses in Bats from China. Journal of Virology; 80(15): 7481-7490.

Wang B et al. (2017 Feb 22). Detection and genome characterization of four novel bat hepadnaviruses and a hepevirus in China; 14(1):40.

Wang N et al (2018). Serological Evidence of Bat SARS-Related Coronavirus Infection in Humans, China. Virologica Sinica; 33: 104-107.

WHO (2021 Mar 30). WHO-convened Global Study of Origins of SARS-CoV-2: China Part: Joint WHO-China Study: 14 January-10 February 2021.

WHO (2021 Mar 30). WHO calls for further studies, data on origin of SARS-CoV-2 virus, reiterates that all hypotheses remain open.

Woodward A (2020 May 2). A US researcher who worked with a Wuhan virology lab gives 4 reasons why a coronavirus leak would be extremely unlikely. Business Insider.

Wu K (2020 May 11). This Pandemic Has Reignited a Passionate Debate Over Bats and Disease: “Don’t kill bats.” Mother Jones.

Zheng H et al. (2020 Nov 12). Virulence and pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 infection in rhesus macaques: A nonhuman primate model of COVID-19 progression. Pathogens; 16(11).

Zhong R et al. (2020 Dec 19). Leaked Documents Show How China’s Army of Paid Internet Trolls Helped Censor the Coronavirus. ProPublica.

Zhou P et al. (2020 Mar). A pneumonia outbreak associated with a new coronavirus of probable bat origin. Nature; 579(7798): 270-273.

I just quoted Orac and was pointing out that Orac’s post is now 180 degrees opposite of the scientific consensus, that the virus was, lab in origin.
Again you don’t refute the point of the post.
What Linus Pauling has to do with the story is …………

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/coronavirus/timeline-how-the-wuhan-lab-leak-theory-suddenly-became-credible/ar-AAKlIOr?ocid=mailsignout&li=BBnb7Kz

but then you probably didn’t follow the science.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/bies.202000240

https://thebulletin.org/2021/05/the-origin-of-covid-did-people-or-nature-open-pandoras-box-at-wuhan/

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/02/13/statement-by-national-security-advisor-jake-sullivan/

The hatred for Trump, made people blind to the truth or the science or the intel

“Look, I do think that it’s important to remember that part of the issue when this was first being reported on and discussed back a few months after the pandemic had begun, then President Trump and Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, both suggested they had seen evidence that this was formed in a lab and they also suggested it was not released on purpose, but they refused to release the evidence showing what it was. So because of that, that made this instantly political.”
Maggie Haberman (New York Times)

So now they blame Trump for their screw up, because the didn’t believe him and they didn’t investigate the story, they just called it a conspiracy theory.

Again with the name calling, you are a lonely, bitter, little man.

It is NOT “scientific consensus” that SARS-CoV-2 originated in a lab. Moreover, there is no evidence of human engineering in the sequence of the virus. This has been known for over a year. Is it particle that a NATURALLY occurring coronavirus might have leaked from a lab? Yes. Is it the most likely explanation for the origin of SARS-CoV-2? Not even close.🙄

The Washington Post has a timeline of the lab leak theory, which has been reevaluated based on both the evidence uncovered and expected evidence not found during the past year: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/25/timeline-how-wuhan-lab-leak-theory-suddenly-became-credible/

There is also a medium post by a NYT reporter discussing why the current evidence leans towards a lab leak: “It’s important to note that so far there is no direct evidence for either theory. Each depends on a set of reasonable conjectures but so far lacks proof. So I have only clues, not conclusions, to offer. But those clues point in a specific direction.” https://nicholaswade.medium.com/origin-of-covid-following-the-clues-6f03564c038

Nicholas Wade? That’s the best you have? I mean, he misuses the word “theory” as in “a tale of two theories.” It should be a tale of two hypotheses. As for the furin cleavage site bit? Geez, not that again. It isn’t the “slam dunk” evidence for a lab origin that Wade thinks it is, not by a long shot.

As for the rest, no one ever said that it couldn’t possibly have been a “lab leak” of an existing coronavirus that started the pandemic. However, there is basically no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was in any way “engineered” by humans or anything other than evolution.

I don’t know what you have against Nicolas Wade. Why is his writing suspect? Just because he used the term theory in a way you don’t approve of? The term has more than one meaning and was appropriate to the context although hypothesis would have served equally well.

“However, there is basically no evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was in any way “engineered” by humans or anything other than evolution.”

Agreed. Not sure what evidence you would expect if it was. As near as I can tell, there is no way to definitely show that it was not. “If a virus has been manipulated, whether with a seamless method or by serial passage, there is no way of knowing that this is the case.” Any evidence that it was created would lie in the records of the manipulation from the Wuhan lab. Records that have not been made available to the people researching the origins of the virus.

Mr. Wade points out “Yet some 15 months after the SARS2 pandemic began, and a presumably intensive search, Chinese researchers had failed to find either the original bat population, or the intermediate species to which SARS2 might have jumped, or any serological evidence that any Chinese population, including that of Wuhan, had ever been exposed to the virus prior to December 2019. Natural emergence remained a conjecture which, however plausible to begin with, had gained not a shred of supporting evidence in over a year.”

It is this lack of supporting evidence, despite an intensive search, that has led people to reconsider the plausibility of the lab leak theory. Does this lack affect your estimation of the probability? If not, why not?

Given that Nicholas Wade has been reduced to discussing his “clues” on Mark Levin’s show, one wonders if there should be a category of Retired Science Writers’ Disease to go along with Emeritus Disease ( which afflicts once competent academics).

As near as I can tell, there is no way to definitely show that it was not.

It’s possible to make the case that it very likely was not, though.

@Beth
First, “Theory” has a specific meaning in science that is different from its meaning in general conversation. “I have a theory who stole the cookies form the cookie tin” is a perfectly fine use. But in science theory doesn’t mean “hypothesis”; a theory is backed up with mountains of evidence and is able to make specific, testable predictions (see the Theory of Gravity, or the Theory of Evolution). A science writer is expected to know better.

” “Natural emergence remained a conjecture which, however plausible to begin with, had gained not a shred of supporting evidence in over a year.” ”

Just because we never found the animal that was patient zero for Ebola or HIV or Nipha virus or MERS or SARS or plague or Sin Nombre or Hantan virus on influenza doesn’t mean that those diseases were somehow human made. While humans historically spend a huge amount of our collective resources inventing new ways to kill each other, never forget that nature has a global laboratory of new and old ways to kill everyone and everything. Laboratory escape is simply a subset of zoonosis.

The sooner that the People In Charge understand that spillovers will continue to happen, the sooner we can start preparing for the next emerging infectious disease.

I don’t know what you have against Nicolas Wade. Why is his writing suspect?

It is not his writing that is suspect so much as his approach to the evidence. This is after all the same Nicholas Wade who wrote that IQ and human behaviour are linked to race and that the success of Western Culture is because they are white.

The fact that Wade has cherry picked evidence that supports his claim while air-brushing away the large body of evidence contradicting it, that makes his writing on any other science topic suspect.

The fact that you go to Wade, rather then experts in this area show how shaky your claim is. Oh and Wade has not written for the NYT since 2012. Describing him as a “NYT reporter” is an attempt to give his opinions credibility they do not deserve.

I don’t know what you have against Nicolas Wade. Why is his writing suspect? Just because he used the term theory in a way you don’t approve of?

Heh.

@Beth To repeat, there is a good paper about SARS CoV 2 origin:
Andersen, K.G., Rambaut, A., Lipkin, W.I. et al. The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. Nat Med 26, 450–452 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-0820-9
Start reading it. There is no animal patient zero, bur there is animal viruses with close sequence similarity

‘…back a few months after the pandemic had begun, then President Trump and Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, both suggested they had seen evidence that this was formed in a lab”

Any such “suggestion” would have come from the realm of fantasy, as facts did not support it.

LOL
Here’s your problem. You assume that you have all the facts. Trust me, you don’t.
You know as much as Chinese Communist Party wants to to know and as much as US gov’t is willing to reveal at this time.

BTW. I do have enough information to know that you’ve engaged in a bit of sockpuppeting during the last two weeks. Do it again, and you’ll be banned. According to the Comment Policy, sockpuppeting is one of the only offenses that is automatically bannable:

Sock puppeting (commenting under more than one name or pseudonym). This is one of the only offenses that, when detected, will nearly always result in immediate banning with extreme prejudice.

As it is, you’re now going into automatic moderation mode for three days, given that I’ve detected sock activity coming from you. Don’t worry, I’ll let your posts through when I see them as long as they don’t violate other aspects of the Comment Policy, but sock puppetting really annoys me and I nearly always do something about it. Why I don’t just ban you outright, I don’t know. I must be in an unusually benevolent mood right now.

Three days?? Ohh, sock puppetting << spontaneous, incidental spell-nazi pedophile jokes (and rub-n-tugs).

ok, i sound like leisure suit latex now so, whatever. I’ll just, um… back to that app then.

@Scientism Dave
We actually know published scientific papers. They are a good start.

WRT Scientism,

I’ve been digging through a lot of stuff cleaning up my house and found what was probably my college chemistry textbook. A quick skim of the preface turned up this little tidbit which I thought was worth sharing.

Chemistry A Conceptual Approach
Charles E. Mortimer
Reinhold Publishing Corporation
1967

PREFACE

Nothing today is as far reaching in its importance and yet so widely misunderstood as science. The average person hopelessly confuses science and scientism. The word “scientific” has come to mean not only “systematic and exact” but also “antiseptic, dull, unimaginative, ritualistic and almost inhuman or superhuman”. “Scientific findings” are regarded as final and immutable. But science results from very human endeavor , and its findings are far from immutable. In a recent article, the mathematician Warren Weaver says

“For we now know that science is motivated by curiosity, inspired by imagination, and based on faith. We know that it seeks increasing order, and does not pretend to deal with immutable truth. Magnificent as science is, and superbly useful as are its applications, we know that its apparent objectivity is only superficial, its pronouncements open to revision. We know that, as is all art, it is culture-bound.”
To say that this book attempts to redress the grievance is presumptuous. This book, however, was written in the humble spirit of modern science.


An attempt has been made in this book to show that there are gaps in our chemical knowledge, that some current descriptions and theories are known to be inadequate, that creative imagination plays a role in the development of chemical thought, and that a full understanding of any phenomenon is never obtained == truth is only approached.

So the confusion between science and scientism is nothing new, and scientism has very little to do with the actual processes of science.

Well, I hate Trump and my first thought was lab when I saw them welding people in their houses and dragging out seemingly healthy people because they were caught on camera somewhere so maybe you are right.

“because the didn’t believe him”

You know what else shouldn’t have been believed from Trump? Telling you it’s like the flu when he secretly tells Bob Woodward “…It goes through air, Bob… It’s deadly stuff.”

President Trump and Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, both suggested they had seen evidence that this was formed in a lab

Given that neither of these astoundingly stupid and venal people ever tell the true except accidentally I remain unconvinced.

This blog is what happens when a surgeon pretends to be an epidemiologist.

It’s like a guy who learned how to use a lawnmower calling himself a botanist.

Except that I’m not just a surgeon. I’m a PhD molecular biologist and cancer researcher who’s been NIH-funded (and also funded by ASCO, the DoD, and private foundations) as well and have collaborated in epidemiology research with some of the population science faculty at my institution. It’s even in PubMed! Given that, I’m almost certainly more of a molecular biologist than you and, I daresay, very likely more of an epidemiologist than you.

“It’s even in PubMed!”

Congrats. But since I’ve since how you dismiss other reputable researchers/doctors who do not agree with your opinion I will say…who cares.

It doesn’t matter to you. Why would it matter to me?

Top secret machine gun tittie mods, yo.

Hey, in grad school I was funded by the Office of Naval Research. “When the program says ‘car’, read ‘tank’. When it says ‘stop sign’, read ‘soldier’.”

Narad, I would like to introduce you to Marjorie Taylor Green. She is going to be very close very soon; just up there a few hundred miles away up in that there Georgia {the gritz in Valdasta are very good if you can get past the stabby waitress and all}. She puts out (not the waitress, I mean) { if you can look past her politics and just relax and enjoy it because there is nothing you can do about it}. She smells a bit but has a heart of gold. Give it the ol’ college try, won’t ‘cha? World peace?

MTG has the deepest thought I’ve ever gobbled.

ps. It would mean loads to me If I could both bring you happiness and fullfillment and also get that stupid bitch off my hands. Fuck you naysayers, I’m not the stupid bitch here!

@ Scientism Dave

Besides understanding the basics of molecular biology, so I can follow what Orac writes and it is correct, awhile back I did a search of PubMed and Google Scholar and found his name on over 60 peer-reviewed articles, both on cancer and MOLECULAR BIOLOGY.

And I am a retired epidemiologist.

@ Sophie Amsden

You write: “I just quoted Orac and was pointing out that Orac’s post is now 180 degrees opposite of the scientific consensus, that the virus was, lab in origin. Again you don’t refute the point of the post. What Linus Pauling has to do with the story is …………”

Nope, the scientific consensus is not 180 degrees opposite; but some scientists and more so politicians are calling for a further inquiry. Don’t you even understand the difference? NOPE! As for Linus Pauling, I was giving an example of how someone who achieved honors by a major contribution to science could still be extremely wrong later in life. Given you mentioned Luc Montagnier, who was co-discoverer of HIV; but since then has praised homeopathy, etc. Wow! Even when I spell things out you don’t understand.

You write: “The hatred for Trump, made people blind to the truth or the science or the intel.”

Really, hatred for Trump was based on his, without any evidence at the time, blaming China for the outbreak. Perhaps, you forget that Trump was warned of a pandemic the first week in January and several more times but ignored this. So, whatever the source of COVID, Trump’s delay in acting cost literally hundreds of thousands of lives. Keep in mind that several other nations took precautions early on based on the early warnings from China. And also that Trump’s reaction was not how to protect the American people; but that threat of a pandemic was to undermine him. Not surprising given he is a malignant narcissist, someone always looking to blame others for his mistakes and taking credit for what others have achieved.

First, you link to a paper by Nicholas Wade. Among other things Wade authored a book claiming genetic differences between the races, a book that has literally been torn apart. Second, I could tear apart his paper; but it would take time and effort and no matter how well done, you would ignore.

You link to a paper entitled “The genetic structure of SARS-CoV-2 does not rule out a laboratory origin.” I guess, as usual, your immense stupidity doesn’t understand that “does not rule out a laboratory origin” doesn’t rule it in either. And one section of the paper is headed: “SARS-COV-2′S CLOSEST RELATIVES ARE BAT AND PANGOLIN CORONAVIRUSES,” which most researchers attribute COVID to.

However, I don’t entirely rule it out; but the odds are very small. As I mentioned in a previous comment, close serotypes to COVID were found in bats in China and antibody tests of Chinese found antibodies to a number of bat coronaviruses. The studies were not in Wuhan and we know that bats have limited ranges; but we also know that asymptomatic people could have carried it to Wuhan and/or it could have been in Wuhan all along; but needed one or two more mutations that could have either occurred in animals or even humans. And we have evidence that COVID-19 was found in blood samples taken from patients back in November, both in U.S. and elsewhere, so the virus could have been in people for some time; but one or two more mutilations made it deadly. And you probably don’t know that the U.S. has been conducting gain-of-function studies on viruses for decades and had a number of SERIOUS LEAKS from biosafety labs. I wonder if there was even minimal evidence that some pandemic originated in U.S. if you would be so keen to blame a lab leak? Did you know that almost all evidence finds the 1918-19 flu pandemic did originate in U.S., killing up to 100 million people worldwide and 750,000 in U.S. And, though AIDS didn’t originate in U.S. President Reagan did nothing for three years as it exploded. Had he acted sooner, again, many lives could have been saved. So, U.S. hands aren’t exactly clean.

As for your link to White House. I have NO problem with further inquiry; but as I already pointed out, though probability leak from Wuhan lab small, the origin is less important than the fact that the U.S. under Trump ignored warning and took no action, resulting in the unnecessary deaths of 100s of thousands of people. More important in my opinion to focus on this.

There is a new UN Report on future pandemics, predicting more and more based on a number of factors, not lab leaks; but human activity, including destroying rain forests, climate change, etc. You should read it; but you won’t: Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems (2020). “IPBES Workshop on Biodiversity and Pandemics: Workshop Report.” It is frightening, though nothing certain, risk of more pandemics coming in ever shorter intervals is REAL!

And I already posted in a comment a lot of papers on COVID origin. I doubt you will attempt to read even some of them. There is a recent paper that still supports the Science. Since you like newspaper and magazine articles:

Ethan Siegel (2020 May 20). No, Science Clearly Shows That COVID-19 Wasn’t Leaked From A Wuhan Lab. Forbes.

Just one quote from it: “Most recently, disgraced journalist Nicholas Wade has penned an error-filled, misleading piece promoting this nonsense, but the science tells a different story.” [as I wrote above, I could show what these errors are; but not worth the effort]

And the Atlantic Monthly has an interesting article on Trump’s war on science and how Trump supporters have joined in:

David Frum (2020 May 18). The Pro-Trump Culture War on American Scientists: Some are trying to turn the lab-leak theory into a potent political weapon. The Atlantic

Just one quote: “The United States is today in danger of repeating that sorry history. Pro-Trumpers want to use Chinese misconduct—real and imagined—as a weapon in a culture war here at home. They are not interested in weighing the evidence. They want payback for the political and cultural injuries inflicted on them by the scientists”.

You write: “Again with the name calling, you are a lonely, bitter, little man.”

As I’ve explained and you continue to ignore my “name calling” followed numerous attempts to actually enter into a rational dialogue with you. I pointed out, for instance, when you cited a New York Times article on masks that the author of the article cited several papers; but actually ignored that they included studies where masks had been helpful. So, you just quoted once more the article. You have NEVER actually addressed anything I’ve written with logic and science, including valid references. As for “bitter, little man”. Based on what? Have you ever interacted with me personally? “Bitter” NO; but extremely sad at so many lives lost and damaged that could have been prevented and people like you who are incapable of actually investigating things; but cherry-pick articles that confirm your bias and ignore anything that contradicts your bias.

Oh, by the way, I do suffer from insomnia and am getting a type of behavior therapy that might help. After today’s treatment I was handed a summary which also stated it was time for a TDaP booster shot, so I went to the nurses clinic and got my TDaP. And my BP was 120/71, better than excellent for a 74 year old man. Last Sunday, two days ago, I donated convalescent plasma, my blood pressure was 124/72. It fluctuates. And Blood Center reported my Total Cholesterol: 159. I am 5’ 10” and weigh 162 lbs. So, besides not being “bitter”, I am not a “little man” but average height and in far better health than the vast majority of Americans, even those much younger than myself.

To summarize, it may turn out that COVID originated in Wuhan Lab. What that will mean is that, despite using my science training and reading about every paper I could find, that later info gave a different result. Won’t be the first time; but for every time I have been wrong, I’ve been right 99 times. And you may prove right, not because of any understanding of science; but a rigid bias. What will that say? Basically that even a broken clock gets the time right twice daily. In other words, not that you have any intelligence; but just lucky; but that still assumes that further investigation will result in concluding leak from Wuhan Lab and that isn’t even close to a certainty at the present time.

I’ll ask the following questions; but you won’t answer: What do you base your understanding of COVID pandemic, masks, vaccines, etc. on? Have you studied any of the relevant sciences, e.g., immunology, microbiology, history and current status of vaccine-preventable diseases, epidemiology, etc.? What is your education and profession?

A perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, the less you know/understand, the more certain you are. You do realize that given a world of 7 billion people one can always find by cherry-picking one or two papers that confirm ones bias?

@ Beth

Nicholas Wade went off the deep end when he authored a book claiming genetics responsible for racial differences AND guess which race was at the top?

And his paper on origins of Covid was posted on Medium, not exactly a great source for info. Wonder why he didn’t try to get it posted elsewhere?

That’s not a rebuttal of anything he says in the post. I haven’t read his book, but I did read his post. It seemed reasonable and logical to me. Was there anything in particular that you dispute about it? I don’t discount everything someone says just because they hold an opinion I disagree with on another subject.

Joel:

Nicholas Wade went off the deep end when he authored a book claiming genetics responsible for racial differences AND guess which race was at the top?

Beth:

I don’t discount everything someone says just because they hold an opinion I disagree with on another subject.

Actually, I am fully siding with Beth here. Like, if Adolph Hitler were to tell me don’t jump off a cliff because it’s not safe, I wouldn’t say, “Right! Like I am going to trust you.”

I thought Medium was just where people put their personally authored stuff for greater reach. Say, in case it was behind a paywall or something otherwise.

I always see people bitching about Medium and I always see “thx” when someone drops a Medium mirror — less scripting, perhaps?

@ Beth

I read his paper when it first came out and noticed a number of errors; but I’m currently just too tired to go through it again; however, here’s one article that refutes it:
Ethan Siegel (2020 May 20). No, Science Clearly Shows That COVID-19 Wasn’t Leaked From A Wuhan Lab. Forbes.

And, if you go up several comments you will see I posted a huge reference list on Origins of COVID. His links are far fewer, cherry-picked, and not always an accurate rendition of the article. Again, if his piece was so great why did he post on Medium? And again, this is someone who wrote a racist book on genetics, a book that I could supply excellent refutations, that point out how he twisted and misinterpreted research.

And you should also read: David Frum (2020 May 18). The Pro-Trump Culture War on American Scientists: Some are trying to turn the lab-leak theory into a potent political weapon. The Atlantic

And as I wrote above to Sophie Amsden, whether Trump was right or wrong about COVID’s origins, he ignored early warning and repeated warning. If he had acted as several other nations did literally 100s of thousands of lives would have been saved. He also, against several attempts, refused to rebuild the National Strategic Stockpile that President George Bush built. It was 12 or more acre large warehouses stuffed with N95 masks, PPE, oxygen containers, ventilators, portable hospitals, equipment that could have filled needs in beginning of Pandemic for several months.

You wouldn’t happen to be Beth Clarkson???

You wouldn’t happen to be Beth Clarkson???

Yup. She just dropped the surname at some point in her drop-in commenting episodes.

Ethen Siegel, in his article, does not debunk the arguments that Mr. Wade made. Establishing that it wasn’t done deliberately to create a pandemic doesn’t negate the hypothesis of an accidental lab leak. Was there anything specific in Mr. Wade’s article that you dispute? Or do you just disagree with his assessment of the facts available?

Even if Mr. Frum is correct, and the hypothesis is being deployed as a political weapon, that doesn’t say anything about whether or not the hypothesis is true.

@ Beth

As I wrote, I don’t feel like taking the time to go claim by claim through his paper, especially don’t care what you think. As I wrote some time ago, I got an A in a course in mathematical statistics; but wouldn’t dare claim to be a mathematical statistician; but you claim you took one course in epidemiology; yet the type of work you do is not remotely related to epidemiology; yet, you think you know what you are talking about.

I gave a long list of papers above which I read, Wade doesn’t mention most of them, tells me he cherry-picked and as I pointed out two things: 1. his book on racial genetics and 2. his choice of venues to publish his article. Does make anyone with common sense question what he writes.

And, as I pointed out, even if it was an accidental leak, so what? Trump had advanced warning early on and did absolutely nothing. We have had numerous leaks from biosafety labs of gain-of-function extremely dangerous microbes. So, focusing blame on the Chinese would have nothing to do with the deaths from the pandemic as could have come from one of our labs; but everything to do with ignoring that our government screwed up and 100s of thousands died. Maybe I will eventually look at Wade’s paper or maybe Orac will. Would be nice if he did it. He has far more energy than me. I am currently proof-reading and editing manuscript for colleagues next edition of best selling undergraduate Microbiology book. Given my problems with insomnia, it takes a lot to focus on it.

And even if I did take the time to refute point by point his paper, you would just find something else based on your biases and lack of any actual understanding of epidemiology or infectious diseases.

@Joel

You’re under no obligation to go through his paper at all. If you aren’t interested, that’s fine. Likewise, I’m under no obligation to accept your judgement that his hypothesis is wrong when you offer no specifics about why you think he is wrong. You haven’t expressed disagreement with any of the facts as I understand them or as Mr. Wade and other reporters have presented them. That’s all I was asking about.

Apparently, the top U.S. health official now thinks it worth more investigation.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/05/25/us-demands-who-investigation-coronavirus-origins/

It will be interesting to see what additional actions are taken in pursuit of that hypothesis.

BTW, you may have me confused with someone else because I’ve never claimed to have taken a course in epidemiology. I haven’t. I know you may find it hard to believe, but I don’t have any set belief about the origin other than I don’t know and apparently, no one else does either. I’m just trying to ascertain what facts exist and how and why different experts interpret them the way they do.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/primate-diaries/on-the-origin-of-white-power/

Nicholas Wade’s book is a mess. Here is a quote from the review I have referenced above:

A Troublesome Inheritance is wrong in its facts, sloppy in its logic, and blatantly misrepresents evolutionary biology…Instead of providing a Darwinian success story, Wade’s thesis deserves a quick extinction.

With this in mind, I feel confident that I can dismiss Wade’s hypothesis as unfounded. Why? It saves time, at least.

<

blockquote>
And, as I pointed out, even if it was an accidental leak, so what? Trump had advanced warning early on and did absolutely nothing. We have had numerous leaks from biosafety labs of gain-of-function extremely dangerous microbes

<

blockquote>

I definitely don’t agree with this dismissive statement. If it were a lab leak, it would very rightly bring greater scrutiny to the whole vaccination exercise and the dogmatic trust that has been instilled in them. Perhaps the public may really start questioning whether that trust is indeed deserved. Could it be that the antivaxxers have a point and they, the public, may have to start rethinking the mantra that vaccines are ‘safe and effective’? Is there really more that is not being disclosed?

This is why most pro-vaxxers are hell bent on denying the lab-leak possibility. They are fully aware that conceding will bring greater scrutiny of vaccines. They cannot have this.

@Beth I posted citation of actual scientific paper(by Anderson) as an answer to your previous post. So read it, and try to refute it. Dp you find it believable, too.
The paper establish a close sequence similarity with bat and pangolin viruses, and a cladistic tree. The similarity is not perfect, so it is not a laboratory leak.
Wade thinks that Nature Letters are opinion pieces. He have not read any of them, obviously.
Wade mention GOF studies about mouse coronavirus, making one similar to human ones. Seems to be a mouse problem, and no more dangerous human viruses were produced.
He does didcuss Andersen’s main point, which is sequence similarity mentioned before.,

@Beth Damned strategic typo. I meant that Wade did not discuss Anderson’s main point, which is close similarity between SARS CoV 2 and bat and pangolin coronaviruses.

I’m just trying to ascertain what facts exist

Not very earnestly, it seems.

I’m pretty sure I could identify one of Beth’s posts as hers with any name identifier blinded. Her rhetorical devices, and her written ‘voice’, are consistent and distinct, iIe. I figured right away that this Beth was our same old Beth.

@JustaTech

Yes, I’m aware that “Theory” has a specific meaning in science that is different from its meaning in general conversation. This was clearly a general conversational context, not a scientific context. I don’t understand why that is considered a reason to dismiss his hypothesis.

“Just because we never found the animal that was patient zero for Ebola or HIV or Nipha virus or MERS or SARS or plague or Sin Nombre or Hantan virus on influenza doesn’t mean that those diseases were somehow human made.”

Mr. Wade states: “both the SARS1 and MERS viruses had left copious traces in the environment. The intermediary host species of SARS1 was identified within four months of the epidemic’s outbreak, and the host of MERS within nine months.” Are you saying this statement was incorrect? Or did you mean something else?

I don’t think they are looking for patient zero, just traces of the precursor virus in the environment. I gather they have looked hard for such traces and come up with zilch. When do you think the absence of such evidence become evidence of the absence of such a virus and thus, point to a different origin?

Thank you for attempting to answer my question. That paper was published more than a year ago.
It’s not just Wade. Here’s a quote from an article published today in the Washington Post:
“scientists who study zoonotic diseases say that’s still the more likely scenario. But in part because they have not yet identified the animal that may have spread the virus to humans, the Wuhan lab theory has gained more credibility.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/05/25/us-demands-who-investigation-coronavirus-origins/

Apparently, the intermediary host species for COVID19 are still unknown. At what point does the absence of evidence looked for become evidence of the absence of the thing looked for?

@Beth Your attempt to answer was not very good. Perhaps you would like to mention name of scientist who think that it is a lab leak ? Citing something more scientific than Washington Post would be good, too.
Scientific consensus does not mean “even supposedly liberal paper like it”.

“Are you saying this statement was incorrect? Or did you mean something else?”

No, I am not saying that statement is incorrect. However, saying one thing about SARS and MERS (neither of which caused a pandemic which rightly has been consuming resources that might have been used for wildlife sampling), does not mean anything about SARS-CoV-2.

What I am saying is incorrect is “come up with zilch”.

Arno has offered a paper on pangolins, and Narad offered a paper on the genomic clades from two weeks ago. So no, far more data has been found than “zilch”. That is the objection to the paper: that it is ignoring the evidence in favor of a specific point of view.

(Pro tip for everyone: leave bats alone. They do a huge amount of good through pest reduction and pollination, and they also carry a staggering number of viruses. Just leave them be and we’ll all be better off.)

I haven’t seen Narad’s post yet, but will look at the paper when I do. I did look at Aarno’s and responded to it. The lack of the intermediary host species does seem to be considered a key support for the lab leak hypothesis. I take you don’t feel it has any significance at this point in time. Is that an accurate statement? Is there some point in time when it would, or is it, in your opinion, a non-significant issue in determining the origin of the virus?

Or, if you want a pet bat, you can tie a pebble out about 6 ft. from the tip of your rod and spin it around above your head. Gets ’em every time. Or,.. never mind.

@Beth You answered by citing Washington Post. There are two candidates for intermediate host, another one is a bat,

@ Beth

You write: “BTW, you may have me confused with someone else because I’ve never claimed to have taken a course in epidemiology.”

So you aren’t Beth Clarkson? You aren’t a mathematical statistician? Because if you are, then you definitely claimed a while back you had taken a course in epidemiology!

Why do you care so much about the origin? As I wrote, American research on gain-of-function which created extremely deadly viruses has had numerous breaches of Biosafety Labs over the past 30 years, so, though highly unlikely, not impossible it escaped from a Wuhan Lab. However, as I continuously point out, we received warnings early on that were ignored, so whether the virus escaped from a lab or more than likely was a natural phenomenon, it was President Trump’s refusal to act early on that has resulted in the vast majority of deaths in the United States. And it was President Trump’s refusal to renew the National Strategic Stockpile that would have absolutely helped immensely during the first few months of the pandemic.

And something I do; but apparently you don’t, I check out references given in papers. There were several hyperlinks in Siegel’s paper. Nope, he didn’t directly go point by point refuting what Wade wrote; but he explained with credible links why highly unlikely:
.
MacLean et al. (2021 Mar 12). Natural selection in the evolution of SARSCoV-2 in bats created a generalist virus and highly capable human pathogen. PLOS BIOLOGY.
Parrish et a. (2008 Sep). Cross-Species Virus Transmission and the Emergence of New Epidemic Diseases. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews.

And I gave a huge reference list in a comment above. Check it out. Why should someone else spoon-feed you?

though highly unlikely, not impossible it escaped from a Wuhan Lab

“Scenarios where an infected laboratory worker, an escaped lab animal or faulty waste disposal spread not one but two lineages of SARS-CoV-2 specifically to different wildlife markets are difficult to rationalize.”

a/b testing. see which one works better for them in a real world scenario. screw the user.

In Lab Leak scenarios diversification of SARS-CoV-2 to its two separate early lineages A and B would have had to occur in the laboratory

But, didn’t the Chinese whistle-blower, Yan, agree that’s precisely what happened in the lab, the splicing of two virus, and that RatG was just a smokescreen, a virus that doesn’t exist?

The evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2 should be a laboratory product created by using bat coronaviruses ZC45 and/or ZXC21 as a template and/or backbone

https://zenodo.org/record/4028830#.YK8CJmkXYz

@ Greg The paper is full of conspiracy theories. At least it shows that lab leak hypothesis is not a majority scientific opinion. Otherwise authors would not have such a heavy axe to grind.
It dully claims that SARS CoV 2 is a bioweapon. Why anybody would use a weapon that kills 2% ? There are more lethal viruses around, ones there is a vaccine against and which does not mutate (and cause problems to the originator). Author does not understand that, so he cannot be a whistleblower.
He did mention Andersen’s work with bat coronaviruses. But he says that the paper describing one with close similarity with SARS CoV2 is a Chinese military plat. Rational discussion anyone ?

@ Greg The paper is full of conspiracy theories

Yeah — whatever!

I was more hoping you or someone else here, maybe Joel, would address whether splicing two viruses in the lab to create Covid-2 as Yan contends could account for the early emergence of the two distinct lineages.

@ Greg

You write: ” If it were a lab leak, it would very rightly bring greater scrutiny to the whole vaccination exercise and the dogmatic trust that has been instilled in them. Perhaps the public may really start questioning whether that trust is indeed deserved. Could it be that the antivaxxers have a point and they, the public, may have to start rethinking the mantra that vaccines are ‘safe and effective’? Is there really more that is not being disclosed?”

Whether it was a leak from a lab or more than likely a natural phenomenon, once out the virus lead to immense suffering, hospitalizations, long Covid, and deaths. So, I guess in your insane view if it were a lab leak then we should just have allowed people to suffer, be hospitalized, develop long Covid, and DIE. How does the origin relate to the effectiveness and safety of vaccines? You just get STUPIDER AND STUPIDER.

Whether it was a leak from a lab or more than likely a natural phenomenon, once out the virus lead to immense suffering, hospitalizations, long Covid, and deaths. So, I guess in your insane view if it were a lab leak then we should just have allowed people to suffer, be hospitalized, develop long Covid, and DIE. How does the origin relate to the effectiveness and safety of vaccines

Joel, you missed my point. It had nothing to do with how we should approach the pandemic, and even if I have reservations about an experimental vaccine. I was more touching on the lessons that would be taught if a lab leak was confirmed.

You guys have been insisting that vaccines are ‘great and the antivaxxers are kooks because you have the brightest, most skilled, and best system in place to ensure vaccines ‘greatness’. A lab leak would be a refutation of that, and perhaps causing the public to have less faith and they might start questioning more. As I stated, I think you guys are most fearful of this.

It was supposed to be a bioweapon, was it not. Nothing to do with vaccines.,

@ Beth

Narad linked to an excellent up-to-date paper on the origin. Robert F. Garry (2021 May 12). Early appearance of two distinct genomic lineages of
SARS-CoV-2 in different Wuhan wildlife markets suggests SARS-CoV-2 has a natural origin. virological.org

And as others have written, not finding the source is par for the course. Finding the source is the exception in many cases.

And I repeat and someone else above said the same, while I gave an extensive list of references, Wade cherry-picked only a handful.

And I don’t believe you when you claim you don’t have a bias, that is, want the source to be a Wuhan lab.

No, I’ve never claimed to have had a course in epidemiology. Because I have never taken such a class. Last summer, you harangued me having claimed to have taken a math modeling course (I have).

I found Narad’s linked paper quite interesting. Certainly another drop of evidence for the naturalistic hypothesis. Whether not finding the source is par for the course or given the resources that have been put into the search is an opinion being debated right now.

No, I have no particular desire for the source to the Wuhan lab. That you perceive my curiosity and lack of conviction regarding the naturalistic hypothesis as bias is more likely due to your own biases. I don’t even rate a lab leak as the the more probable hypothesis. I just don’t think it’s particularly outlandish and want to know more about what clues exist to draw a conclusion from and how the appointed experts are going about looking for them. I find it a fascinating endeavor and I like hearing divergent opinions about it and why they feel their POV is correct.

In other anti-vax news ( file under out of one’s depth)

— It appears that Dr DG has got into a conversation about spike protein with Dr Naomi Wolf ( @ naomirwolf). Imagine that!

— various scoffers vs regulars above in this very comment section

— PRN’s chief discusses how Bill Gates is insufficiently educated ( ” no college degree”) to discuss vaccines Unlike himself.
.

I’m going to have to agree with Beth about Wade’s use of “theory”. Writing at Medium is intended for a general audience, for whom the presumed (dominant) usage of “theory” is synonymous with “hypothesis”. it’s also pretty clear from the context.which sense of the word he intends. The problem with the term comes when anti-science types deliberately mangle the distinction between the senses, distorting the scientific meaning (well, really the academic meaning, since it applies outside the sciences as well) in order to reject well established explanations of phenomena as “just a theory.” To be fair, we shouldn’t mirror that in the opposite direction…

I’m not sure publishing an article on Medium is evidence of a lack of credibility, either. i don’t have a lot of experience with the site, but I’ve seen some good pieces there. Of course, an appearance there doesn’t confer any credibility, either. OTOH, Mr. Wade’s history of making specious arguments is extremely relevant to his credibility, as his appearance with Mark Levin. As I’ve noted here before, anyone with half-a-brain who would hope to present themselves as credibly rational observer of anything would not go on a show hosted by a far-right, conspiracy slinging propagandist who is just this side of Alex Jones.

Beyond the generic credibility-sinking of the Levin appearance, it establishes that Wade has a political bias. As Dr. Joel puts it, focusing blame on the Chinese has “everything to do with ignoring that our government screwed up and 100s of thousands died.” I looked at Wade’s article, and I found its claims to be even-handed disingenuous, that is it seems to me he’s clearly trying to insinuate that the pandemic is some sort of diabolical Chinese Commie conspiracy. I also find Beth’s attempts to represent the article as even-handed to be disingenuous. There’s definitely a conflation of a ‘lab leak’ hypothesis, with an ‘engineered virus’ hypothesis, with an ‘evil ChiComs’ hypothesis. i shall leave it to others better qualified to comment on any of the science specifics in Wade’s article, but it sure seem to me he’s singing the same tune as Rand Paul, so i will understand if they decide doing so isn’t worth their time.

<

blockquote>Like, if Adolph Hitler were to tell me don’t jump off a cliff because it’s not safe, I wouldn’t say, “Right! Like I am going to trust you.”

<

blockquote>Wow, that’s the second comment in this thread (after NWO Reporter 5/24/21 at 2:46 pm) that is so stupid I’m convinced stupidity could not account for it.

I’m not sure publishing an article on Medium is evidence of a lack of credibility, either.

Well, if the author of a Medium piece had credibility, he or she would most likely have published somewhere like a science journal. It’s one thing if the author had a piece published in a high impact magazine and then republished in Medium to gain a wider audience. If the only place someone can get published is Medium, then that does raise valid questions about credibility.

I appreciate your support on the use of the word theory. I’m sorry that you found my post disingenuous, but I don’t agree that Wade’s article was “trying to insinuate that the pandemic is some sort of diabolical Chinese Commie conspiracy.” I suppose you could read it that way, but I didn’t. I don’t see a lab leak as any sort of conspiracy other than (assuming it’s true) the normal bureaucratic cover-up of a problem discovered on their turf. Certainly not the “mad scientists laughing maniacally in their lair” in the Ethan Seigel Forbes article linked by Joel to ‘debunk’ Wade’s article. Even the Washington Post is writing about the theory seriously now rather than as a tin-foil hat conspiracy theory.

@ Beth

I explained that Siegel’s article linked to several excellent peer-reviewed journal articles, which I listed and you could have accessed; but you didn’t. While not a direct refutation of Wade’s article, valid info why he is highly likely to be wrong. And you ignore what I and others wrote that Wade cherry-picked a small number of papers. I gave Seigel’s article as one example. I gave a huge reference list; but you didn’t bother to check.

As for the Washington Post, first it isn’t the newspaper it was years ago and second newspapers “if it bleeds it lead”, quite simply they play up scandals, etc. Doesn’t mean “a tin foil conspiracy”; but just an example of how you exaggerate.

And your tone and how you react indicates that you want it to be a lab in Wuhan. Admit it! And are you Beth Clarkson? Why can’t you answer?

SARS CoV2 hit China very hard: There, you did have real lock downs. The conspiracy theory is that Chinese would cover up people who caused this mess.

“I’m sorry that you found my post disingenuous”

There’s a lengthy history of disingenuous posts by Beth to support that theory.

So, considering the strong circumstantial evidence supporting the lab leak theory, has anyone actually calculated the probability that that evidence was defied and the virus had a natural origin? Wait! — looks like someone has…

Conclusions are always provisional, but in the absence of evidence to the contrary, anyone open to persuasion ought at this point to conclude that a probability of 17,640–1 far exceeds that threshold. A lab escape should at this point be the default hypothesis.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-china-who-never-find-zoonotic-origin-covid-19-latham-phd

@ Greg

I neither outright reject the paper you link to nor automatically accept it. Tomorrow I will read it carefully; but it is still one paper based on selected variables, maybe correctly chose. The difference is that you, moron that you are, find a paper that confirms you unscientific bias and jump on it. I go with the science.

However, as I’ve written many times, so what? Even if it was an accidental leak, the vast majority of deaths, despite early warnings, were because President Trump and leaders in several other nations refused to act. And, as I’ve written umpteen times, the U.S. has conducted gain-of-function tests creating highly dangerous viruses and there have been numerous leaks from U.S. biosafety labs. Could have happened here.

Before jumping to conclusions like you do, as I said, tomorrow I will carefully read the paper, and, as opposed to you, I understand the science; but even if I find it has some credibility, I won’t jump to any conclusions. I’ll wait to see if further studies back it up. I’ve learned over many years that even the absolute best done studies can miss some crucial variable(s). Not criticizing any particular researchers; but life is highly complex, something you don’t understand.

However, you already made it clear that if it escaped from the lab that we should have just let people die rather than develop vaccines.

^ I’m pretty sure Orac will recognize the name “Vandana Shiva.” Great choice for an epigraph.

However, you already made it clear that if it escaped from the lab that we should have just let people die rather than develop vaccines.

Where exactly did I say that, Joel? I will reiterate: I am all for protecting the elderly who are at greater risks. If that meant locking them away during the early stages of the pandemic– fine! If that means now giving them the vaccine that might be saving lives — fine! What I am against is giving healthy, under 70 people an experimental vaccine. For those people, let natural immunity do its job, and perhaps choosing that course may even offer better protection for the elderly in the long run.

Slightly unrelated, could any of you drug pushers explain what is happening in the UK with their Covid numbers? Touted as such a vaccination success story, their numbers have been inching up and is now on par with other European countries that vaccinate far less.

Wait, I think I may have gotten my answer…

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/three-quarters-uk-covid-cases-163215720.html

But now I have even more questions: Why did the Indian variant make it to the UK first, the most heavily vaccinated European country? Did the variant actually arrive from India, or it was native and mutated to that variant? On that point, is this evidence for what some have argued (ie Bosseche), that overvaccination may actually breed more contagious and virulent strains?

“that overvaccination may actually breed more contagious and virulent strains?”

Idk, but one thing that might limit “more contagious and virulent strains” is to stop the replication. Lava seems to work, unlike with prions.

Well, it would have to have lava in it. Or some other physical, chemical or mechanical means for stopping replication.

Just out of curiosity, is there some eutectic mixture for rocks whereby one may turn regular lava into “a bit runny” lava without the standard many PJ of additional heat?

I know that my solution that falls in line with Greg’s, er, protocol, is not particularly seen as the most advantageous approach among some minority living beings**.

I don’t know where CRT fits in, here. aND, Qball, I’m so crushed about that. I feel really just so.. I’ve raped so many cultures for so long. Would you like to give me a hug and maybe.. change.. me??

**see: Ask the minks.

You may: Ask them at wethemustelawillnot…………[email protected]/SAVETHEMINKS.ONION

WE WONT SHARE YOUR PERSONALL INFORMATION, NUBE.

Guh. Strike that. Foiled again. Never ASSuME that the spelling errors are really a native speaker trying to hide their identity.

As it turns out, “WE WONT SHARE” == “we are wont to shear.” It is still spelled bad but I stand by my assesment because I’m right, it is a closer translation, and I got so raped. I lost $9 because fucking Musk’s stupid son, X Æ A-12 {cat running across keyboard} can’t cut his fucking fat little aspiring wannabe rocket-launching thumbs off before his bownian motion fumbling on his fucking fondle-slab twitter-twatter Hello Kitty Samsung tablet with it’s God damned colorful little virtual hot keys ruins my day again.

Anyways, don’t interact with that address. My bad.

Just out of curiosity, is there some eutectic mixture for rocks whereby one may turn regular lava into “a bit runny” lava without the standard many PJ of additional heat?

Less silica = more runny. Drop lots of ferromagnesian rocks into the caldera if you want the lava flow to become the fun fast-moving Pahoehoe type, rather than boring slow-moving Aa.

Ah! Good to know, thx. But my use case in mind would be more along the lines of turning boring, already on the ground lava into lava that can outrun a sixer rad-zombie without the addition of extra sensible thermal input– Something one may deploy using firehoses or spray/dump it out of a plane or snowblower if a solid.

And it needs to be a tiny volume of the lava, just a little bit of catalyst. Big rocks take energy to move. If I were going to go to all that trouble, I’d just use the Italian space lasers they stole the election with.

I suppose that raises the question of sodium hydroxide. Hot lye can really do a number on silica and it is ok if only the surface gets a bit runny and runs off, leaving the rest of the mass to supply energy for even additional phase change of rapidly runnifying aggregate surface material.

I don’t know how much time would be required, I imagine most of the stuff would disassociate or boil off in seconds. If it fails, the roiling cloud of super-heated, silica-heavy lye vapor would probably have the same end effect but that just does not sound as much fun.

MP cheeze shop:
https://youtu.be/Hz1JWzyvv8A?t=150

Doh! I thought I had it. Gallium. The hot lye strips the silicon and all the aluminum gets really runny in thje presence of gallium (and mercury but some investors lost interest so the helo got lighter). Yay!! It’s going to get really fucking runny now! wait. It just turned into a giant hydrogen fireball and… something. It does not appear to be much extra runnier.

No matter, I’m sure I’ve got it. In about 143 years, when I have enough gallium, I shall try my solution at scale and save a small unsuspecting happy village from the horrors of replication.

@ Greg

You write: “So, considering the strong circumstantial evidence supporting the lab leak theory, has anyone actually calculated the probability that that evidence was defied and the virus had a natural origin? Wait! — looks like someone has… “Conclusions are always provisional, but in the absence of evidence to the contrary, anyone open to persuasion ought at this point to conclude that a probability of 17,640–1 far exceeds that threshold. A lab escape should at this point be the default hypothesis.”

So, as promised I carefully read the paper, not for you; but out of curiosity. I’m always open to science. The paper:

Jonathan R. Latham (2021 Feb 25). Why China and the WHO Will Never Find a Zoonotic Origin For the COVID-19 Pandemic Virus. http://www.linkedin.com

Latham writes:

So, right off he admits that his calculations are based on missing data.

Latham writes: “What Figure 3 illustrates is that human coronaviruses are distributed widely across the coronavirus family tree. That is to say, previous spillovers to humans happened at diverse and seemingly random points on the coronavirus tree and have involved both Alpha- and Betacoronaviruses. . .The crucial point is that the chance of a spillover coming from each species is, as far as anyone knows, seemingly equal. . . As discussed, from a zoonotic perspective, nothing appears to be special about these SARS related coronaviruses. Consequently, the emergence of a second pandemic virus from the same coronavirus species constitutes a second surprising coincidence. We can again calculate its probability. If each Alpha and Betacoronavirus species is equally likely to spill over to humans, which is consistent with our understanding, then the probability of a virus from the SARS-related coronavirus species starting a zoonotic pandemic is 1 in 28.”

This is NOT consistent with our understanding. Mutations are random; but only when one looks at them in general. Mutations can damage a virus, lead to no changes, or add to its virulence. However, take two viruses, both have mutations; but one allows for a subsequent mutation to add to its virulence, then viruses with certain previous mutations, etc. will be more likely to become virulent. However, there is one major flaw in Latham’s reasoning regarding randomness, that is, lightening can strike twice in the same place, actually occurs often. There is great, fun to read book, that deals exactly with this: David J. Hand (2014). The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day. Scientific American Books.

And according to MacLean et al. (2021 Mar 12). Natural selection in the evolution of SARSCoV-2 in bats created a generalist virus and highly capable human pathogen. PLoS Biology: ““Coronaviruses frequently recombine in their bat hosts, with the Spike open reading frame (ORF) being an apparent hotspot for recombination events, with potentially adaptive implications for the viruses, e.g., antigenic shift in the context of immune evasion.” In other words, not a random mutation.

And: “The spike protein is a focused target of COVID-19, a pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2. A 12-nt insertion at S1/S2 in the spike coding sequence yields a furin cleavage site, which raised controversy views on origin of the virus. Here we analyzed the phylogenetic relationships of coronavirus spike proteins and mapped furin recognition motif on the tree. Furin cleavage sites occurred independently for multiple times in the evolution of the coronavirus family, supporting the natural occurring hypothesis of SARS-CoV-2.” [Wu (2021 Jan). Furin cleavage sites naturally occur in coronaviruses. Stem Cell Research.]

So both articles above make it clear that the mutations were not necessarily random, clearly refuting Latham’s claim.

Latham also ignores reports that blood taken from patients in U.S. and elsewhere as early as Oct/Nov found SARS-CoV-2. Yet, no symptoms of the disease. Why? Simple, first the vast majority of infected even now are asymptomatic and second, quite possible it needed one more mutation. And one paper states: “ Point mutations in a murine coronavirus spike protein can result in increased virulence through instability of the viral machinery and altered viral to cell membrane fusion. This observation may partially explain the discrepancy in predicted deaths from COVID-19 between the East Coast and West Coast.” [Brufsky (2020 Apr 20). Distinct Viral Clades of SARS-CoV-2: Implications for Modeling of Viral Spread. Journal of Medical Virology.]

So, one point mutation may have made the difference.

And though written before the current pandemic: “Spillover or epidemic infections have occurred between hosts that are closely or distantly related, and no rule appears to predict the susceptibility of a new host. Repeated virus transfers between chimpanzees and humans, who are closely related, resulted in HIV establishment (see above), while the transfer of a feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) to dogs reflected adaptation between hosts from different families in the order Carnivora. A SARS CoV-like virus of bats was apparently transferred to the distantly related humans as well as to civets and other carnivores.” [Parrish (2008 Sep). Cross-Species Virus Transmission and the Emergence of New Epidemic Diseases. Microbiology and Molecular Reviews.]

Latham writes: “knowing that (1) bats and other animals which harbour coronaviruses are found practically all over the world, and (2) that the population of Wuhan is 11 million, and that (3) the global population is 7 billion, we can calculate the likelihood of Wuhan being the epicentre of a natural zoonotic coronavirus pandemic: The chance of a person from Wuhan being patient zero is approximately 1 in 630.”

His assumption is that bat populations, their densities, and nearness to human populations are distributed equally among human population densities and nearness/contact. Not so. According to Brittanica Online Encyclopedia (2020 May 23). Bats: “Bats are particularly abundant in the tropics.” According to Wikipedia. Bats: “Flight has enabled bats to become one of the most widely distributed groups of mammals. Apart from the high Arctic, the Antarctic and a few isolated oceanic islands, bats exist in almost every habitat on Earth. Tropical areas tend to have more species than temperate ones. Different species select different habitats during different seasons, ranging from seasides to mountains and deserts, but they require suitable roosts.” For Latham’s figure to be valid he would have to map the distribution and population density of bats together with human density and populations. Dividing the population of Wuhan with the World’s assumes facts not in evidence and probably not even close to valid.

He lists/cherry-picks a number of peer-reviewed studies.

Finally, though no bats or other animals in the vicinity of Wuhan have been found with SARS-CoV-2 or related coronaviruses, many travelers from different areas of China visited Wuhan and could have easily carried an asymptomatic strain that only one more point mutation was necessary.

In any case, as I’ve written before, I am not vested in where the origin of the current pandemic came from. So far the research points to natural origins; but I will not rejected quality future research. However, as I’ve pointed out over and over, U.S. labs have been researching gain-of-function creating deadly viruses and there have been a number of breaches of U.S. biosafety labs. So, if it happened in Wuhan, tragic; but doesn’t make Chinese any more guilty than the possibility an equally or even worse virus could have escaped from American labs. What is important is that nations that took the early warnings from China seriously have experienced far fewer deaths. President Trump rejected several times suggestions to re-stockpile the National Strategic Stockpile and he ignored several warnings that if he had acted immediately literally 100s of thousands of lives would have been saved and he when he finally accepted the seriousness of the pandemic, he left it up to the individual states, including competing on buy PPE, etc. Pandemics don’t recognize border and what was necessary was a coordinated national response.

So Greg, your strong circumstantial evidence and quote of “a probability of 17,640–1” just shows how you jump at anything that confirms what you choose to believe. As I made clear above the 1/28 and 1/630 were based on faulty assumptions and even the author admitted:“Such a calculation requires that we set aside momentarily all the varied, potentially important, but hard-to-quantify-and-mostly-unknown local factors, like those mentioned above, that may make certain locations or populations less or more likely to originate a pandemic.”

Finally, why post his paper on linkedin.com ?

Not exactly a venue known for its rigorous science, more a social media gossip website.

Greg, at least your are consistent in your immense stupidity!

So both articles above make it clear that the mutations were not necessarily random, clearly refuting Latham’s claim

Yet, Joel, you failed to acknowledge one of Latham’s strongest point; the history of corona outbreaks indeed showed that they were occurring randomly. Not one of the previous outbreaks came from the same virus lineage. Why is that, Joel?

As to Latham’s assumption of an even distribution of bat populations, indeed that was problematic and may have actually thrown off his numbers; yet, by how much can we assume, Joel? Is it reasonable to assume that the likelihood of a person in Wuhan coming down with Covid would’ve actually been 1 in 5, or 10, or even a 100? Joel, it’s reasonable to assume that the rate would’ve been much worse.

Yes, what Latham is surmising is not exact science, and I don’t even think he intended it to be. Nevertheless, I believe he did a good job at providing a crude estimate of how unlikely it is that a Corona outbreak would’ve occurred in Wuhan, and, for the millionth time, the same city that was conducting experiments on coronaviruses. And, Joel, in your lengthy rebuttal, there is actual nothing of substance suggesting otherwise. Your rebuttal is just purely academic.

PS: Joel, I also won’t bother with the other unrelated stuff that you are rebutting because my interest is now elsewhere. I apologize. Joel, I am now hoping that you will respond to the suggestion that the splicing of two viruses to create Covid -2 may actually account for the two distinct early lineages of the virus.

I am now hoping that you will respond to the suggestion that the splicing of two viruses to create Covid -2 may actually account for the two distinct early lineages of the virus.

It is difficult to conceive how splicing part of one virus into another would actively account for two distinct early lineages of a virus, other than simple passage of time after the splicing event. I suspect you don’t understand the nature of the splicing event.

@ Greg

You write: “Where exactly did I say that, Joel? I will reiterate: I am all for protecting the elderly who are at greater risks. If that meant locking them away during the early stages of the pandemic– fine! If that means now giving them the vaccine that might be saving lives — fine! What I am against is giving healthy, under 70 people an experimental vaccine. For those people, let natural immunity do its job, and perhaps choosing that course may even offer better protection for the elderly in the long run.”

As I explained above, half of deaths from COVID were under 65. In my hometown alone according to a article in our local newspaper, about 60% of adults have one or more comorbidities that make them more vulnerable to COVID. For instance, check out: Dennis (2020 Oct 16). Multi-organ impairment in low-risk individuals with long COVID; Huang (2021 Jan 8). 6-month consequences of COVID-19 in patients discharged from hospital: a cohort study; Iacobucci (2020 Nov 17). Long covid: Damage to multiple organs presents in young, low risk patients. BMJ.; Steven Novella (2021 May 26). COVID Morbidity. Science-Based Medicine.

Yep, let natural immunity do its job, vascular damage, lung damage, etc. and, of course, half of deaths under 65.

And it isn’t an experimental vaccine. Not only is it based on 30 years research; but prior to releasing to public was based on animal studies, Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 clinical trials, has now been given to public for approaching six months with excellent post-marketing surveillance as well as those in the clinical trials being continuously monitored.

You write: “Slightly unrelated, could any of you drug pushers explain what is happening in the UK with their Covid numbers? Touted as such a vaccination success story, their numbers have been inching up and is now on par with other European countries that vaccinate far less. . .Wait, I think I may have gotten my answer…But now I have even more questions: Why did the Indian variant make it to the UK first, the most heavily vaccinated European country? Did the variant actually arrive from India, or it was native and mutated to that variant? On that point, is this evidence for what some have argued (ie Bosseche), that overvaccination may actually breed more contagious and virulent strains?”

According to GOV.UK Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK
Vaccinations in United Kingdom
People vaccinated
First dose total: 38,614,683
Second dose total: 24,043,956

The current population of UK is 68,210,721
Number of COVID cases is 4,473,677

So, if one adds 38,514,683 and 4,473,677 = 43.088,360
now divide by current population = 63%. Not near close to herd immunity and that assumes randomly distributed. If pockets of lower vaccination, then more vulnerable.

As for the Indian variant, you do understand that UK has a large Indian/Pakistani population and according to one newspaper article, title says it all: “Hugo Daniel (2021 May 18). “Up to 1,000 people flying into UK from India daily despite concern over Covid variant: There is concern Covid variants are spreading during hours-long queues at arrivals.” http://www.inews.com

There is NO credible evidence that over vaccination leads to breeding more contagious and virulent strains. Not today. Not historically.

You choose to believe the worst about vaccines and have not once answered my questions concerning your education/knowledge of immunology, molecular and microbiology, vaccine-preventable disease history, epidemiology, etc.; but you just keep grasping at straws. So, now I’ve refuted your stupid citing of Latham’s article, your ignoring that half of COVID deaths under 65, that many who survive, even those who were asymptomatic, are suffering long-COVID, your refusing to understand that to reduce deaths and illness one must reach a certain percentage of vaccinated and/or infected (the latter though resulting in deaths and long-COVID, and your stupid assumption that the Indian variant developed as a result of vaccination.

So, I look forward to your continuing to make a fool of yourself.

@ Narad

You write: “I’m more than a bit dubious about “Independent Science News,” which is basically what Gerg barfed up.”

THANKS! The link Greg gave went to http://www.linkedin.com. Good to know its original origin.

@Joel and @Narad

Per Media Bias/Fact Check, Independent Science News is a conspiracy-pseudoscience site.

Overall, we rate Independent Science News a moderate Pseudoscience source as they publish occasional scientific misinformation.

In review, Independent Science News is a food, agriculture, and biotechnology science website that does not support the consensus of science on GMOs. In fact, recently they published a misleading article regarding the nutritional value of Golden Rice. The article claims “GMO Golden Rice Offers No Nutritional Benefits Says FDA.” While that may be true based on the amount of rice Americans consume, it is not accurate for developing nations where rice is a staple food.

Independent Science News also has a news feed that delivers science news from a wide variety of sources. Most of the information comes from credible sources, however, some do not. For example, they use known pseudoscience websites such as Sustainable Pulse and gmfreeze.org to name a few.

https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/independent-science-news/

Orac, as you may be aware, President Joe Biden has called for a full intelligence probe into the origins of Covid. He is also claiming that his Intelligence Committee are now considering the lab leak theory as equally likely as the zoonotic one. In addition, I already mentioned Politifact retracting their ‘debunked’ assessment of the theory. In fact, the entire MSM is now doing an about face, including Facebook that say they will no longer take down postings about the claim.

Orac, in my determined effort to improve the quality of this blog, from time to time I have made suggestions of interesting topics that you should blog about; I am now suggesting you should blog about the lessons can be learned from the lab leak flip-flop. Perhaps Orac, you may discuss whether it’s really in the interest of truth or science to brand certain unpopular ideas that go against the ‘consensus’ as crazy conspiracies, hurl nasty insults at their supporters, call for such discussions to be shutdown because they might give false balance and cause public harm, and even go so far as suggesting anyone in the scientific community advocating such unpopular ideas should be removed from their positions. I trust that you will agree that with the lab-leak180 all these points are interesting things to reflect on. Isn’t that so, Orac?!

Orac, as you may be aware, President Joe Biden has called for a full intelligence probe into the origins of Covid. He is also claiming that his Intelligence Committee are now considering the lab leak theory as equally likely as the zoonotic one.

Yep. It’s pure politics, given that there has been zero new evidence to make the lab leak hypothesis more plausible. Surprise! Democrats can play politics too! Here’s a hint: Just because there are two competing hypotheses to explain a phenomenon does not make them equally plausible.🙄

As for conspiracy theories, the lab leak hypothesis started out as a conspiracy theory with a Chinese “bioweapon” having “escaped” from the lab near Wuhan. Given that there is no good evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was engineered and a lot of evidence from its nucleotide sequence that it is not. So the hypothesis “evolved” to claim that it was a natural virus being collected and studied that escaped. Is it possible that happened? Sure, it’s possible. However, nothing has changed in terms of the evidence base to make it the more likely of the two potential sources.

No, basically nothing has changed in terms of evidence

With his rebuttal, I will say Orac is not getting all the details quite right. From the beginning there was the claim that the virus was an engineered bioweapon, and also the claim that it could’ve been a virus that was being studied in the Wuhan lab that accidentally escaped.

Of course, ‘studied’ would also imply manipulated in the gain-of-function way to make it more infectious to humans, but not necessarily ‘engineered’ in the sense of purposely archetecturing a new virus. It’s a subtle distinction that the ‘debunkers’ were quick to exploit. By deviously conflating the two, the lab escape theory was also dismissed as a conspiracy one.

And now that the lab leak theory is gaining traction, we have the ‘debunkers’ eager to emphasize the difference. They will now say they never called the lab escape idea a conspiracy theory, just the engineered bioweapon one. They will say they just considered the lab escape theory as possible although unlikely and not supported by the evidence. Right!

RI readers, I regret to inform you that it appears my banishment is imminent. Some of my comments have been slow to get through, and it appears Orac is completely blocking the last one.

Of course, this would be my fourth banishment at this site. I consider such treatment unfair when all I ever wanted was to enter into good faith scientific discussions. I am so hoping Orac will see this and halt the undeserved persecution.

@ Greg

You write: “all I ever wanted was to enter into good faith scientific discussions.”

Bull Shit! and Good Riddance.

However, thanks to some of your dishonest comments, I did build up a library of papers, etc.

A scientific discussion would involve such arguments as ‘no that isn’t a confounding factor because of…’ or ‘that study’s inclusion criteria eliminated precisely the people at most risk’ or ‘if you use X analysis on Y data you’ll see…’

Your scientific discussion would involve accusations of ‘drug pushing’ and ‘that’s a big fat lie and so is your mum and anyone who disagrees is obviously being payed to do so because I’m more intelligent than a Einstein/Hawking genetic hybrid’.

RI readers, I regret to inform you that Greg hasn’t been banished, he’s simply been affected by the same glitch that Denice, myself, and probably several others have been plagued by, where the site doesn’t show the most recent comments. There’s a fix for it, rather simple, but I doubt Greg is intelligent enough to be able to use it. Simply hold down the SHIFT key while clicking the refresh button any time you want the page you are on to be updated with the most recent comments. You have to do it for every page, and you have to do it every time you want to make sure the page is updated.

I never wore a mask. Always thought it was toxic. Like a petri dish on the face.
Glad I didn’t . They’re useless. Even in Manhattan where a lot of liberals were wearing 2 masks and gloves (LOL) people are leaving their mask at home.
Except the thugs of course. You have to wonder if that wasn’t the …..

I never wore a mask. Always thought it was toxic. Like a petri dish on the face.

Oh, the irony.

Pretty obvious that covid was man made.
What are the odds that it appeared spontaneously exactly where the lab is in Wuhan.
Then the genomic study shows 159 foreign codons for HIV and Malaria: obviously those were not natural.
We even know who funded the lab for gain of function: Fauci (Fausti?) with American taxpayers money.
Fauci emails have been released and it’s a giant coverup: he knew of the manufacturing, the uselessness of masks, human contagion, efficacy of hydroxychlorquine etc…
What a disaster.

What genomic study actually shows is this:
Dallavilla T, Bertelli M, Morresi A, Bushati V, Stuppia L, Beccari T, Chiurazzi P, Marceddu G. Bioinformatic analysis indicates that SARS-CoV-2 is unrelated to known artificial coronaviruses. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2020 Apr;24(8):4558-4564. doi: 10.26355/eurrev_202004_21041. PMID: 32373995.
Natural viruses are much more close to SARS CoV 2 than artificial ones. This includes the notorious Wuhan virus.

Ah, c’mon, Orac! Anderson was the numero uno, go-to guy for ‘debunking the lab leak theory. Everyone quoted his study whenever they wanted to piss on it — including you Orac! Now you will have us believe it’s no big deal that he was whistling another tune in his email to Fauci because others have also disputed the theory?! Orac, please advise!

Orac doesn’t “piss”, he tinkles { I think boxes have prostates. In fact, I’m assuming so. Serves ’em right. Damn boxes.}.

For those that don’t want to go hunting for Greg’s dross, this is the email he’s talking about, from Kristain G. Andersen:

Hi Tony,
Thanks for sharing. Yes, I saw this earlier today and both Eddie and myself are actually quoted in it . It’s a great article, but the problem is that our phylogenetic analyses aren’t able to answer whether the sequences are unusual at individual residues, except if they are completely off. On a phylogenetic tree the virus looks totally normal and the close clustering with bats suggest that bats serve as the reservoir. The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome (<0.1%) so one has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered.
We have a good team lined up to look very critically at this, so we should know much more at the end of the weekend . I should mention that after discussions earlier today, Eddie, Bob, Mike, and myself all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory . But we have to look at this much more closely and there are still further analyses to be done, so those opinions could still change.
Best,
Kristian

So they found some potential markers of genetic engineering, pulled a team together to examine it more closely, and realized that the markers are in fact consistent with evolutionary expectations. They then wrote a paper that was accepted for print a month later explaining exactly why it fits expectations (and yes, I did re=read the paper). Sorry Greg, but this is how science works.

@Greg You did not read even the authors list ? This is not Andersen’s paper. It is written by Italians. I suggest that you read the actual paper.

They then wrote a paper that was accepted for print a month later explaining exactly why it fits expectations (and yes, I did re=read the paper). Sorry Greg, but this is how science works.

Of course, Kevin, I am well aware of the ‘science’ always works with you all. Inconvenient finding crops up, but when you ‘search’ a little more –voila!– they always disappear.

@Greg Actually there is no fact before experiments are done. There is suspicion, nothing more. So read Andersen’s paper and tell us what is wrong with it.
Other scientists tend to agree with Andersen. You did not leak my link, did you ? Wuhan bug sequence differs very much from SARS CoV 2. It was written by Italians, too.

That’s a time capsule of thinking nearly 16 months ago. There’s been 15 months of studies since then that have failed to suggest that SARS-CoV-2 was “engineered.”🙄🤦🏻‍♂️

Did you notice that Dr Wicklund cited the actual email
“But we have to look at this much more closely and there are still further analyses to be done, so those opinions could still change.”
This is not a political opinion. Scientific opinions do change when new facts are found.
Many others agree with with Andersen’s opinion. Like people who wrote article I cited.

Aarno, it’s actually my wife who is Dr. Vicklund. (PhD in Medical Anthropology) I just act as her science advisor.

Here Greg. This guy puts it all together much better than you. I note that he conflates/confounds “engineered” with “lab leak/intentional release” {I concure that a bioweapon does not have to be lethal, or predictable. If the point were to cause disruption then “mission accomplished.” I futher note that Tucker Carlson is his go-to appeal to authority.

https://youtu.be/DNxoVFZwMYw?t=220

For those who enjoy reading ginormous walls-o-text composed primarily of tiny letters with tinier numbers attatched all over the place, does this dweeb have a point about exemption 5 of the FOIA and it possibly being used incorrectly even if the topic and specific persons are under some secret litigation?

https://www.justice.gov/oip/foia-guide-2004-edition-exemption-5

I tried it on guitar. It was not a very good riff, but it was not awful. As a chord, it is pretty much not solid for me as I have arthitis, weak callouses, uncut fingernails, and an analouge guitare wit strinds. I can’t do CC or GG in under the Plank time it would be require for them both to be there at the same time. So, IMHO, it does not matter one whit. Perhaps, you were thinking of some more weighty, expert evaluation? Like from Joel? Meh! Try the Eagles: https://youtu.be/NpPtSTcNzPY?t=21

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