Bat flu or Lab leak

There has been a lot of media coverage over the last few days about the origin of COVID-19. Did it jump across species or was it engineered and somehow escape from a lab?

I may have said before that I don’t really care how COVID-19 came about – it would in no way impact upon how rubbish the last year has been. The government would still have trashed the economy and locked us into our homes.*

But there is something that I do care about.

The truth-discovery and truth-telling institutions of our society have failed.

From The Telegraph:

When the coronavirus pandemic first emerged in Wuhan in December 2019, conspiracy theorists quickly pointed out that it was close to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a leading world centre for research on coronaviruses. 

Of all the labs in all the cities in all the world, a deadly coronavirus had emerged at the spot where scientists were believed to be creating deadly coronaviruses. 

Yet within a matter of weeks, vocal members of the scientific community had roundly ridiculed the claims, criticising “shoddy” research that had spread on social media. It was far more likely, they insisted, that the virus had jumped from an animal and been picked up by a human in the Wuhan wet market

Early indicators showed that many of the people who became infected early on had links to the market, and by May last year scientists had found that the virus was 97.1 per cent similar to a disease found in bats in China’s Yunnan province.

So by last summer, despite the odd murmuring from the Trump administration, the lab escape theory seemed dead. Geneticists who claimed they had found evidence of man-made inserts in the virus were shunned, and journals refused to publish their work. 

‘[J]ournals refused to publish their work’. Looks like a massive failure of the so-called peer-review system.

So how could this happen? This morning the AFR republished a piece from the New York Time – yes, that New York Times.

In this case, because the lab leak theory was associated early on with Republican China hawks like Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, given prominence by conservative publications (Jim Geraghty of National Review has been an essential and even-handed voice on the subject) and eventually picked up by the Trump administration, there was self-reinforcing pressure – among journalists who covered the story and Twitter experts who opined on it – to put the possibility in the QAnon box and leave it there.

I will leave it to the reader to consider how a similar pressure might manifest itself in other areas, from the 2020-21 murder spike to the recent rise in anti-Semitic violence, where journalists might wish to avoid making concessions to conservative interpretations of reality.

But let me offer a narrower addition to the media critique. One key change to mainstream journalism in the Trump era was the impulse to tell the reader exactly what to think, lest by leaving anything ambiguous you gave an inch to right-wing demagogy. It was not enough to simply report, “Republican politician X said conspiratorial-sounding thing Y.”

You also had to specifically describe the conspiratorial thing as false or debunked misinformation, in a way that once would have been considered editorialising, so as to leave no doubt in the vulnerable reader’s mind.

Yep. The academy and the media so hated Trump that they were prepared to lie to the public.

*The best argument that I’ve seen for why we should care about the lab-leak theory is:

The Chinese communists, along with much of the commentary class in the West, have hailed China’s response to the virus as yet another example of the superiority of the Chinese model. It’s becoming common in much of the world to contrast the modern pathologies of America – political division, economic stagnation, social unrest – with the steady, unrelenting ascent of China’s state-directed, well-ordered economic and social model.

Yeah, but nah.

We’ve heard these arguments before. The Soviets promised to bury us. The superior Asian values of the 1990s promised to destroy us. Blah, blah, blah. Liberal democracy will prevail over authoritarianism and totalitarianism. It is the enemies within that we need be most concerned about.

Update I:

Update II: Tyler Cowen on why the lab-leak hypothesis does matter.

This entry was posted in COVID-19, Hypocrisy of progressives. Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to Bat flu or Lab leak

  1. Seco says:

    It was scientists who came up with the ghastly tests in the NAZI concentration camps. Why are they treated like Saints?

  2. Daily llama says:

    So true Sinkers, the enemy within.
    But all is not lost. Visiting one of my 30-something year old and previously totally pinko kids (who thinks I’m an evil racist bastard) in Melbourne, the cat needed a visit to the Vet. Finding ourselves in the middle of the school kids climate change march, she muttered “run the bastards over.”
    I got great glee out of telling her that’s what Askin said when LBJ came to visit.

  3. Delta says:

    It is the enemies within that we need be most concerned about.

    Indeed it is – but add to that, “Two More Coffin Nails and 100% Certainty of COVID-19 Fraud – Can Anyone Prove It Isn’t?”

    There’s a huge amount of information at the link – make of it what you will.

  4. Rosie says:

    Covid is real then?

  5. mh says:

    It’s always good to see Sinclair Davidson posts.

  6. Paul says:

    the enemies within

    All you need to do is look at who reported what, and who backed them to identify the enemies within

  7. bespoke says:

    It is the enemies within that we need be most concerned about.

    Indeed as you pointed out. Why the disconnect?

    You began by giving a reason why a Liberal democracy may fall to authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

  8. John A says:

    Seco says: May 31, 2021, at 1:30 pm

    Why are they treated like Saints?

    Because “When Man ceases to worship God he does not worship nothing but worships everything.”

    Often attributed to GK Chesterton but for a thorough analysis and tracing of the source see Chesterton.org

    Or there is the truism that if you cease to believe the Truth, all that remains is falsehood. We are made to be worshipping creatures, so if we stop worshipping God, we will seek to worship something or someone else.

  9. thefrollickingmole says:

    Im fond of the accidental leak but deliberate spread hypothesis.

    China saw a huge emerging problem and decided it should be a global one not just theirs.
    Instead of China taking a hit to its economy its emerged the absolute winner of the infected countries via deliberate spreading of an accidental release.

  10. Graham says:

    I may have said before that I don’t really care how COVID-19 came about – it would in no way impact upon how rubbish the last year has been

    You may not care how it originated, but people who value truth still do care. We want to know how much the Chinese authorities have been lying to us and the rest of the world.

    As for the media, their behavior collectively has been despicable in their desire to push an anti-Trump agenda and their willingness to abandon truth and decency in order to advance that cause.

  11. Tom says:

    Professor Davidson, you’ll be thrown out of the academy if you continue to try to subvert the dominant paradigm that only the elite, in its divine eminence, is allowed to confer on us underlings.

  12. Paul says:

    Former Vice President Joe Biden has a humble brag he’d like to share.

    In October 2019, months before the coronavirus outbreak began, Biden tweeted a warning to the United States, saying “We are not prepared for a pandemic.” Biden then called out President Trump for rolling back measures the Obama administration took, likely referring to Trump’s 2018 disbandment of the team directly responsible for handling a pandemic response.

    Chyna Joe knew

    from Yahoo News

  13. billie says:

    scientists wrong, again

    why do so many people tell you to “trust the science”, when the scientists are just people like any others in the community

    they have pay rises and promotion at risk, mortgages to pay, kids to put through school and can make mistakes and be wrong like all the rest of us

    when it suits the media though, “science” is interchangeable with “truth”, and as easily forgotten

  14. mem says:

    I smell a lab rat leak from Wuhan to Chinese Pfizer Biochemical plant who remarkably stand to make trillions out of jab. Suited the Republicans mail vote in strategy, big techs expansion plans and CCP as well as many other big players.
    .

  15. Dr Faustus says:

    …by May last year scientists had found that the virus was 97.1 per cent similar to a disease found in bats in China’s Yunnan province.

    Ain’t Nearology a grand thing.
    Genetically, Humans are 98.8% similar to Chimpanzees.

  16. cuckoo says:

    But there is something that I do care about.
    The truth-discovery and truth-telling institutions of our society have failed.

    It might be better to ask, when was the last time a ‘truth-telling institution’ really got to the bottom of a major public issue in a conclusive way, in which there was no room for denial? I would struggle to think of one. The space in which this might happen no longer exists. Where is the agora within which Joe Biden’s corruption will be shown clearly visible to all sides and held to some kind of account? Or the death of Jeffrey Epstein? Or the lies of Christine Blasey Ford and those behind her? Just to pick some of the trivial examples.

  17. Kneel says:

    “run the bastards over.”

    Did you see the woman in the US charged with two counts of felony assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill because…. she stumbled across a “protest”, protestors starting banging on her car, so she inched forward at less than 5km/h, a couple of people fell over and scraped themselves on the tarmac. That’s apparently “assault” with “intent to kill”. There is video of it on that interwebs somewhere.
    But the “protesters” were BLM, and the city has a Democrat DA, so “attempted murder” it is!
    What a world, eh?

  18. cuckoo says:

    Finding ourselves in the middle of the school kids climate change march, she muttered “run the bastards over.”

    This is merely anecdotal, but I’ve recently had instances of people within my circle who were previously knee-jerk progressive Trump haters, who have clearly had it up to here with lockdowns and masks and are now starting to criticize the left. One friend of mine who would normally have assented to any progressive proposition, spoke with rolling eyes of her daughter going on the Climate school strike.

  19. Paul says:

    truth-telling institutions of our society have failed

    hilarious description of the lying left wing msm

    Telling the truth exposes their lies.

  20. Kneel says:

    “The truth-discovery and truth-telling institutions of our society have failed.”

    Nah, the left just redefined what “truth” means, that’s all. Truth, like gender, is now flexible – you can bend it to suit your political purposes. And if you get get caught, you blame the people you looked for who’d swear your version was correct, even though there were plenty of others around who would say the opposite.

    Oh, and “fact checkers”. “Experts” like Fau-Xi get their advise from the media, who get it from “fact checkers”. Yeah, I know, it’s supposed to be the experts telling the media and the media getting fact checked, but that’s so 20th century!
    Facts, smacts – it’s feelz wot mattas! Yous dunno nuffink! Wats siense eva done for me? Nuffink! And dem meeja peoples, they is pafetik – wot they eva done for me? I trust Google and Facebook and Leftists – they give me stuff for free! Dat’s wot mattas!

  21. Arky says:

    We’ve heard these arguments before. The Soviets promised to bury us. The superior Asian values of the 1990s promised to destroy us. Blah, blah, blah. Liberal democracy will prevail over authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

    ..
    This is delusional.

  22. Arky says:

    How’s the prevailing of liberal democracy going in South Africa, and where are you fleeing to next?
    Kinda running out of places.

  23. m0nty says:

    The truth-discovery and truth-telling institutions of our society have failed.

    Not really, Doomlord. The truth is that the lab leak theory is still that – a theory – and it is still far less likely than crossover from wet markets. Nothing about that has changed.

    As for distrust of lines pushed by Cotton and other members of the insurrection – yeah, they only have themselves to blame for their reputation. They are not even right on this one, given there is no proof at all for their theory. The source of COVID-19 is probably unprovable at this point; that is not a win for either side really.

    At best you can claim a mulligan, not write it in the scorebook as a hole-in-one.

  24. Sinclair Davidson says:

    The truth is that the lab leak theory is still that – a theory – and it is still far less likely than crossover from wet markets.

    Sure, it’s just a theory. But academic journals are full of theories.

  25. Rex Anger says:

    They are not even right on this one, given there is no proof at all for their theory. The source of COVID-19 is probably unprovable at this point; that is not a win for either side really.

    When it comes to Red-Faced Guards like you, Benito M0ntylini, even drawing a grudging concession like that out of you is a victory you fascist stooges can ill-afford to gift we deplorables. Especially as the rest of the world wakes up to your lot’s antics and gets mad.

    It suggests you might be wrong. And no totalitarian can ever suffer to be wrong. The whole house of ideological cards collapses…

  26. Sinclair Davidson says:

    How’s the prevailing of liberal democracy going in South Africa, and where are you fleeing to next?

    Stop being stupid.

    South Africa – if it ever was a liberal democracy – hasn’t been one since 1948.

  27. Infidel Tiger King says:

    They are not even right on this one, given there is no proof at all for their theory. The source of COVID-19 is probably unprovable at this point; that is not a win for either side really.

    Tens of thousands of disease riddled wet markets in Asia and the one that happened to give us Covid-19 was just down the road from a lab that was researching Covid viruses.

    “Just a theory”.

  28. Wallace says:

    Did you notice today’s phrase from the cheat sheet is Scotty from marketing?
    All over the abc, Trioli, short one, some stooge for an independent opinion etc.
    All Scotts fault, no money, no money, no money, we want money, no coffee…

  29. jupes says:

    Telling the truth exposes their lies.

    How was that Norman Swan clip?

    Both those dickheads on the couch knew that Swan had been saying the lab theory was bullshit for over a year. So the woman nervously asked him a rehearsed question and he delivered his bald-faced lies as if it was all new info.

    Welcome to 1984, ABC style.

  30. Baa Humbug says:

    ‘[J]ournals refused to publish their work’. Looks like a massive failure of the so-called peer-review system.

    Nothing new. Peer review has done more harm to scientific discovery than not.
    It’s a system of Pal Review and Scoff at the Outsider and Refuse to Review.
    Best minute 37 secs you’ll spend today at the tweet video below.

    https://twitter.com/KarakeMark/status/1398643830161920006?s=20

  31. Arky says:

    Stop being stupid.

    South Africa – if it ever was a liberal democracy – hasn’t been one since 1948.

    ..
    Says the bloke who is currently living in a state where you aren’t allowed to venture more than 5km from home.

  32. Damon says:

    So a bat bit a pangolin that was picked up for lunch by a lab tech who just happened to be working on bat viruses. Sherlock Holmes: ‘once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth’. And the lab escape is not in the least improbable.

  33. Arky says:

    Stop being stupid.

    South Africa – if it ever was a liberal democracy – hasn’t been one since 1948.

    ..
    Give me a quick comparison between living in South Africa when you were there and living in Victoria right now.
    1. Which one were you able to fucking leave?
    2. Which one could you travel more than 5 k from your abode?
    3. Which one condones hiring based on race? (Trick question that one).
    4. Which one demands you wear a mask everywhere.
    5. Which one kept us all under house arrest most of the last winter.
    6. Which one had/ has a system of travel permits?

  34. Sinclair Davidson says:

    Arky – you’re going to sit in the naughty corner for a bit.

  35. FlyingPigs says:

    Arky says:
    May 31, 2021 at 2:28 pm
    How’s the prevailing of liberal democracy going in South Africa, and where are you fleeing to next?
    Kinda running out of places.

    and
    Says the bloke who is currently living in a state where you aren’t allowed to venture more than 5km from home.

    fer fuck sake Arky… stop eating white bread.

  36. Professor Fred Lenin says:

    If China were in court charged with being complicit in the deaths of 3 million people due to the virus developed in the Wuhan lab the jury would find them guilty as charged and take no notice of “expert excuse “makers . Its as plain as the nose on your face that it originated in the Biological Warfare Lab belonging to the Chinese Army .
    We await the sentence to be imposed by the rest pf the world ,hopefully trade ostracism reducing their standard of living and causing internal dissent against the communist fascist dictatorship .

  37. Kneel says:

    “They are not even right on this one, given there is no proof at all for their theory.”

    Nor for the “wet market” theory either. All we have is evidence, not proof.

    However, it is worth noting that:
    3 people who worked in WIV presented at a hospital with COVID like symptoms in November 2019 (the source of DJT’s “evidence”)
    The wife of a man who worked at WIV also went to hospital with COVID like symptoms prior to it being a pandemic.
    People who live and work there say these bats were never sold at Wuhan wet market.
    The nearest place where these bats live are 1000km away from Wuhan.
    WIV was using these bats.
    WIV was doing “gain of function” research into corona virus’.

    Which would seem to suggest that “lab leak” is plausible, at least. Hardly “proof”, but certainly “evidence” and worthy of investigation IMO. Not to throw around blame, but to ensure systems are improved to help prevent this sort of thing in the future.

    And then, of course, there is the reaction that China had – can’t fly from Wuhan to anywhere else in China, but you could to overseas? That’s bad – really bad. They knew something was going on, but only cared about their own. Or maybe even actively encouraged a spread. Maybe. If that is so, and it becomes known, they may be in for a very hard time, and no amount of bribery to politicians will be enough.

  38. Boambee John says:

    m0nty says:
    May 31, 2021 at 2:32 pm
    The truth-discovery and truth-telling institutions of our society have failed.

    Not really, Doomlord. The truth is that the lab leak theory is still that – a theory – and it is still far less likely than crossover from wet markets. Nothing about that has changed.

    Professor munty, PhD and Four Bars has again spoken, using hias vast and deep knowledge of virology to hit any doubts beyond the sideline. All praise Perfesser munty!

  39. mareeS says:

    “If you believe in nothing, you will believe in anything” has been attributed to several philosophers and writers, but it still holds true.

  40. cuckoo says:

    Get back to me when those ‘truth-telling institutions’ get to the bottom of
    1. who ordered private security in Victoria’s hotel quarantine
    2. who ordered the curfew in Victoria

  41. Andre S says:

    The coronaviruses by their nature cause respiratory illnesses. Within 4-6 weeks it was clear they weren’t going to have the deathly impact of an Ebola (non reparatory virus) like virus. The problem was that the morons in charge new it was a gain of function virus, hid the truth to save their hides. Knowing the more dangerous potential of a gain of function virus, they panicked and introduced these stupid lockdown measures etc whilst not disclosing their real fears so as to protect their incompetence and crony mates ………One year into the future smug Victorian bureaucrats think they’re really smart for locking down 6.5 m people because of several coronavirus cases, after all everyones running to get vaccinated now and this strategy of compulsion has worked. I am all for voluntary vaccination but these latent authoritarian bureaucrats, given power are more dangerous than just about any virus ever to come into existence…

  42. Faye says:

    China scatters their virus across the world.
    Medical hospital staff tell patients to go home and come back when you are really sick.
    The unlucky patients who come back are put on a ventilator and die, not from the virus but from tiny blood clots in their lungs.
    Several maverick doctors are told to go to hell when they protest about the failing treatments and suggest alternatives such as Ivermectin, etc proven by countries which have used them.
    So, China is the despicable enemy without and the medical hierarchy is suspect within.

  43. MatrixTransform says:

    you’re going to sit in the naughty corner for a bit

    well, that was weird

  44. old bloke says:

    Bat flu or Lab leak

    Both.

    They aren’t mutually exclusive.

    SARS-COV2 is the SARS virus conjoined with a bat virus from the horseshoe bat species. The Wuhan research laboratory was working on this virus and was reporting on its progress through the profession’s journals. You can find in the Nature magazine that a French micro-biologist published an article critical of the development, particularly when the testing started on primates.

    I don’t have those details here, I’ve posted them before, around or after December 2019.

    The origin isn’t an issue, I also don’t think the Chinese released it intentionally. They certainly should have alerted the world to the problem much earlier. The question now is, why was the USA financing this work?

  45. Leo G says:

    The question now is, why was the USA financing this work?

    … and why were so many virologists with close associations to Chinese military biowarfare research employed by US agencies, particularly in US military biowarfare programs.

  46. dover_beach says:

    Not really, Doomlord. The truth is that the lab leak theory is still that – a theory – and it is still far less likely than crossover from wet markets. Nothing about that has changed.

    Wow. Have you not read the Wade article on this? The evidence for the lab leak theory is more plentiful than the natural emergence theory but you really cannot admit it. Can you, monty? Shame.

  47. Maniac says:

    Faye’s right. This was a deliberate attempt by China to bring about a global recession so they could usurp the overall economy.

    As I’ve said, I hope they don’t make the “vaccines” mandatory for work because I’ll be tapping my 401K early.

  48. Fisky says:

    I love the claim that we mustn’t talk about the lab leak because it will inflame hatred towards Chinese people, as if the alternative explanation – their disgusting lack of hygiene caused a global pandemic! – isn’t vastly less sympathetic!

    (now, we all know the real reason the lab leak hypothesis is loathed has nothing to do with race relations, it’s because it directly threatens the paradigm of “China engagement” that is rapidly falling out of favour, and in such a context, the opportunities for grifting will dry up with it)

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