Context : Covid19
July 2023 : Further CloudOfUnknowing : https://donaldgmcneiljr1954.medium.com/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-lab-leak-theory-f4f88446b04d
The real story here is GraspingForCertainty. And in particular, the above set me thinking and tweeting :
But the problem with Lab COVID is that ALL the evidence, in both directions, is "ad hominem" claims about who is more likely to be trustworthy. There's no biochemistry smoking gun either way. Just arguments about people and institutions and what they were historically doing. 15 years ago I was saying that under netocracy, we'd move from science to conspiracy theory as the primary mode of knowledge. Sadly I keep being proven right.
I really disagree that this question is about a "failure" of science. Or science not living up to its ideals. Science was a product of the weltenshauung of the Enlightenment era. It was respected and accepted in that era. Now we're moving into "Netocracy", science is being deprecated in favour of conspiracy thinking, because the latter fits the mindset of all the players in a network economy better.
Which led me to write EpistemicInstability
Jan 2023 : PhilipBall has a good overview of the current understanding
The problem is that the lab-leak theory is both inherently possible but also endlessly attractive to contrarians and bad-faith actors: it is rich ground for “deep state” conspiracies, xenophobia, misogyny and anti-authority campaigns against figures like Fauci. “It’s really a perfect storm of everything,” says Qiu.
Did COVID come from a laboratory in China?
Some investigations implicate the US government
Here's a good overview of the current state of knowledge (or lack thereof) :
Basically both Lab and non Lab Covid have arguments for them :
- Lab argument is :
- there's a lab that was investigating this kind of thing. (circumstantial)
- we haven't seen their documents
- there's some strange stuff for a natural virus
- Non lab argument is :
- there's no specific evidence FOR it coming from the lab.
- there's no fingerprint / evidence of the typical gene manipulation tools used to manipulate genes.
In other words, really both sides can make valid arguments, but no knockdown arguments.
If ever something needed a verdict of "not proven", it's this.
Another thought. Obviously the RightWingDeathCult are keen to use the overconfident claims of non-lab Covid to discredit science.
The point is that science ALWAYS starts with conjecture ie. "guess-work". Informed by intuitions, experience, even ideology. And that's OK. It's the only way it can be.
There has to be some NullHypothesis to bounce your new statistics off. But there's no lawlike way to choose the Null Hypothesis. ConjectureIsBlind
But what if someone comes along and says "OK. If that's the case, I chose the null hypothesis that Covid is a Chinese bioweapon. Prove me wrong!"?
Moved from FakeNewsAndChina
Another dimension of the propaganda war with China is the continued insinuation that Covid19 may come "from a laboratory" as opposed to the traditional idea that it jumped from animals to humans, perhaps at a market where live animals were sold.
Diseases jumping from live animals to humans is pretty much our standard model of "new" diseases. But Western right-wingers started talking up the idea that China had manufactured Covid. Mainly, it seems, to distract from the abject failure of RightWingDeathCult governments to control the outbreak.
But now there's a "left-wing" version of the story :
Well it might be true.
Or it might be another example of the left-wing getting with the anti-China propaganda programme. (TheLeftInWesternPropaganda)
Answer from April 2020. Obviously, now, there are better reasons (earlier on this page) to suspect Lab Covid. But this is a good representation of the reasons for not embracing the narrative earlier
Quora Answer : When Trump addressed Covid-19, he called it the Wuhan Virus. Why are people so offended over that? It's not a lie.
Because the subtext of calling it "Chinese Virus" or "Wuhan Virus" is to tell people "this was done to us by the evil Chinese. All the Americans who are going to die from this are not because of me and my government's incompetencies, but because of wilful Chinese aggression".
That's bad for two reasons :
1) Trump should be held accountable for his failures. They are symptoms of his bad management. Trying to palm off responsibility for his failures by scape-goating China is a sign he feels no responsibility and is simply passing the buck. He is a truly bad leader and people should see him as that, not side-track themselves talking about China.
2) The only way to make good on an escalating story that "China did this to us" is to ramp up a conflict with China. This is universally bad. At best it's an unnecessary reduction in good will between the countries who need to co-operate to address a global crisis that is still a long way from over. (You may be bored with COVID, but COVID is no way bored or finished with you.)
At worst, it escalates from tit-for-tat trade sanctions, to acts of cyber-warfare and sabotage, through to ... what? ... the US trying to manufacture its own disease and drop it on China? All out war?
There are hawks in the US establishment who WANT conflict with China. Who fear that if the US doesn't fight China now, it will be too late in future because China will be too powerful. This is the kind of thinking that led Europe into the First World War. It's a truly dreadful, immoral and terrifying thing. The idea that the US wants to take COVID as its last chance to fight China should scare you MORE than COVID already does. (And it's not like you shouldn't already be shit-scared of COVID)
We should resist that political narrative. It's technically true that COVID originated in Wuhan. So what? H1N1 originated in the US. Different diseases originate in different places. And, of course, China will have quite a few of them because it's the country with the highest population, a sixth of humanity is Chinese, we'd expect at least a sixth of all human infections to arise there, because maths. Not because "evil Chinese did this to us"
See also :