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An appeal for an objective, open, transparent debate re: the origin of Covid-19 (thelancet.com)
234 points by alwillis 33 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 307 comments

It's a mantra at this point that polarization has gotten out of control, but one of the biggest effects it seems to have is this reverse-psychology effect

I'm in a big American city, and I remember that until the online kids and snarky liberals started moralizing about mask protocol, there wasn't as much resistance to wearing masks among right-wing crazies.

I remember when there was that controversy about 5G networks interfering with bird migration patterns and meteorology, but as the fringe conspiracy crowd started spinning up crazy theories about how 5G was going to brainwash or sterilize or force-feminize people over the airwaves or whatever it was, most people I knew stopped talking about it, seemed to forget that they had ever thought it concerning. It reminded me of the time people were worried about pollutants causing hormonal changes in indicator species, and then Alex Jones started talking about how "they're turning the frogs gay" and the meaningful version of that discourse vanished too.

I view the same kind of thing as happening here, as well as a lot of other places. It's made me wary of the sport of finding what crazy things my political enemies believe to make fun of them, because it seems like the net effect of this is creating "opposite" erroneous beliefs with no evidence

As an American who has lived abroad for a significant number of years and returned recently, it becomes abundantly clear, that if we only measure by the amount of time spent bitching, moaning, and fighting, Americans hate each other more than anything else on this planet. Disease, war, famine, injustice, genocide, plague? None will garner as much sincere unflagging burning rage as what those other fuckers did or said, or would do or say, because hate, hate, hate, hate. It's worse than football teams or some rivalry with the neighboring state. At this point, people are literally killing themselves and others to own the other side. And maybe both sides are enjoying this thrill a little too much.

As a non-American who lives in US these days, I can assure you that there's nothing unique about the Americans' ability to hate each other. In terms of literally killing people over that, you guys are definitely far behind.

More Americans should visit the Balkans and learn the regional history. It's a beautiful area, and gives some perspective on the universal human capacity for irrational hatred.

What I've never understood is how people can get so outraged over even minor political differences. If someone agrees with you 80% then that's an ally, not an enemy.

Here's a list of characteristics of a cult. You'll probably recognize some of these in our modern (since about 1992) political discourse.


- Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

- The group has a polarized, us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.

- The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group.

- The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and control members. Often this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.

- Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.

Pretty much any region has plenty of history that Americans should reflect on. E.g. whenever the American media and/or pundits talk about the "civil war", it's inevitably framed in comparison to the US Civil War. Except that was a very atypical "civil war", as those things go - fought by well-established governments using mostly conventional armies. And while it's still the most devastating war ever fought on US soil, its casualty numbers are minuscule by the world standards of what civil strife looks like.

To find out more about what an actual civil war looks like, one might explore history of civil wars in e.g. Russia, China, or even Finland.

Spain, Yugoslavia, Lebanon.

Intersectionality. 100% agreement and compliance is required. Anything less might as well be 0%.

In terms of literally killing people over that, you guys are definitely far behind.

I think we Americans are killing each other differently. Nobody has more guns--or gun violence--than we do. We lead the world in mass shootings.

Regarding the civil war part, right now, about 2,000 Americans are dying everyday from COVID-19, where a free and readily available and safe vaccine exists.

We have governors who are essentially part of a pro-COVID death cult, who are complicit in their constituents dying by spreading disinformation against the vaccine, social distancing and masking.

We've allowed a virus in the 21st century to kill more people than a not too dissimilar virus-based pandemic from 1918 did.

All sarcasm aside, thank you for adding a bit of perspective to my day.

>because hate, hate, hate, hate.

That's what sells ads. If you read an article that makes you feel superior to another group of people, like "look what these stupid people are doing," in so many words, that's a hate-monger company. There are many. Fear also sells, and it's a cousin to hate. You can't really have hate without fear. Fear of loss, fear of some unknown boogie man (George Soros, Koch brothers, etc.) It's all to sell advertisements and keep you WATCHING and READING! Pretty sad that is all it takes: money.

> That's what sells ads.

The failure modes of the combination of democracy and America-style capitalism are fascinating, as is the reluctance of those with authority to act, to do so.

The American media is both too docile to ask difficult questions (so as to maintain access), while simultaneously riling up viewers' emotions with opinion-shows. Independent media in other western countries do a better job at holding authorities to account - even with something as basic as asking follow-up questions at press-conferences, or pushing back at incorrect characterizations.

It's amazing the huge amount of the world's ills that ultimately can be traced back to advertising. Online social networks have only turbocharged it.

Engagement == enragement

A very simple cause and effect that nobody will do anything about because dollarinos.

Your metric seems silly given that there are several groups of people actively trying to kill each other for religious, ideological, or ethnic reasons in various parts of the world.

People in the US may well hate each other more than people in most peaceful developed countries, sure. But “this planet” is a big place.

I mean that Americans hate each other more than they hate anything else on this planet. Clearly there is plenty of other groups hating each other.

This is by design. The populace is easier to control that way. This has been going on here since Bacon's Rebellion.


In my opinion this is a sign of America becoming a utopia. Most people have so little to worry about we start fighting on stuff that literally doesn't matter.

Utopia for the ruling class who have been successful in keeping the population distracted from material issues and social issues such as poverty, lack of access to health-care, education and decent, secure jobs.

Instead of bread, it’s shiny disposable gadgets; instead of circuses, it’s the culture wars.

A lot of people seem fundamentally ridiculous these days. Silly, frivolous, unserious, out of touch with reality. They should know better, and they don't care that they should know better. They're motivated by something else.

I don't know if that's a new thing or not, but that's how it has seemed to me during this pandemic.

Quite a few people have gone without an easy, safe, miraculously effective vaccine - a marvel of the latest science, freely available at their fingertips - and literally died. As far as I can tell, their deepest motivation to do this was to express their distrust of the establishment and/or stick it to their political opponents.

In a "lol nothing matters" world, all that matters to these people is whether they get to stick it to the man. Nothing bad can really happen, so no real thought is needed to stay safe. It's fine to just believe the first entertainingly outrageous quack theory that flatters your sentiments or ideology or tribe.

It's as if they were interrupted by a gunman while watching TV, and made no motion to defend themselves, assuming the gun pointed at their heads was part of the show.

I don't think you have a complete understanding of the larger opposing point of view that you think you do. What you're regurgitating is a media enhanced narrative. You are upset with a caricature.

Nah, I've talked to enough of these types to know the information and reasoning they're relying on. One of my personal quirks is a lifelong fascination with crackpots.

And for what it's worth, I have some heterodox opinions on certain COVID-related topics. For example the case against ivermectin has been greatly overstated, although there is still room for reasonable doubt about its efficacy.

Not everyone with a streak of independent thought on COVID is a fool, but essentially all the vaccine haters are. Drunk on sentimental nonsense and ideological fantasy, with just enough fact mixed in to make the toxic brew superficially plausible. The 1/6 rioters were much the same.

If you can admit the discourse around Ivermectin is confused, then perhaps you can see why some arrive at the wrong conclusion with respect to mRNA vaccines.

Is it possible that some are not as equipped as you are to discern the signal within the noise?

Is it possible you are incorrect about one or more of your heterodox opinions?

The type of sneering you're engaging in is unbelievably counterproductive. Uncivilized, even.

I wouldn't tell my aunt that it's idiotic to blindly believe spike protein sheds from the vaccinated and harms people, or that VAERS has recorded thousands of vaccine-caused deaths, because she read it on FB. But I do think it's idiotic to believe that, and every once in a while I'm going to say so.

It's not just some innocent difficulty with finding the signal in the noise. It's sentimental, ideological delusion, and it's rotten to the core. And deep down, I believe many of them do know better, even if they stopped caring years ago.

I won't pointlessly anger them by saying so to their faces, but I also won't patronize them by pretending otherwise.


Ivermectin is safe in humans, and it isn't difficult to find that out.

I'm ignoring your speculation about me and plan to continue to do so, so let's not bore each other.

Ivermectin is safe. It's an anti-parasitic, not an anti-viral. Is it effective against covid? There are very smart people out there who have serious concerns with the primary study Ivermectin proponents point to showing effectiveness against this virus.

In all fairness, my entire qualm with you is the way you've needlessly personalized this discussion. We could have discussed the issues at hand directly. Alas.

What I have never understood is if you don't want the vaccine because the long term studies are due in 2023 what subset of this group is pro Ivermectin? Ivermectin used on humans is a new area with fewer studies.

No. Ivermectin use is humans is very well understood and has been for quite some time. What isn't well understood is what is the level of effectiveness of Ivermectin in preventing the spread of covid and treating the symptoms of the disease. It's an absolutely ridiculous statement to say Ivermectin in humans is not well studied. Whoever told you that had an agenda and you should be very skeptical of anything else they tell you. There is no equivalence in uncertainty between Ivermectin and the mRNA covid treatments.

Billions of doses of Ivermectin have been taken by humans.


Ivermectin is not safe in humans at the quantities required for it's observed antiviral effect against COVID.

At least one small clinical study found that ivermectin was clinically effective at a safe dosage of 150 μg/kg. More research is needed to determine if this is a real effect or just random chance.


150ug/kg is the typical dose for deworming effect.

The antiviral effects were found in vitro at, if I remember correctly, around 8x the concentration that would be found in typical treatment.

This observation is only true if you assume what you read on the internet and media accurately represents the population as a whole.

It doesn’t.

> It's a mantra at this point that polarization has gotten out of control, but one of the biggest effects it seems to have is this reverse-psychology effect

I've long thought the best way of reaching 100% vaccination in the US was to have competing Democrat and Republican vaccines. Democrats could don a dashiki and say one thing while Republicans could put up a crack smoking pillow salesman to say another.

The whole idea that "Republicans will all just listen as long as this spokesman says so" is yet another Flyover-Country dismissal from people who don't get it--the angry conservatives do not have anyone in government meaningfully representing their views, and that's why they're so angry. Trump was the closest thing lately, but it's about deeply-held personal philosophy, not the cult of personality the media wishes it were. If Trump got on TV and started sounding like Mitt Romney, they'd toss him aside in two seconds.

> If Trump got on TV and started sounding like Mitt Romney, they'd toss him aside in two seconds.

That's right. Trump was booed the moment he suggested that his supporters get vaccinated against Covid-19.


It doesn't matter. He's still revered by many, even if he now supports vaccination. It is 100% a cult of personality.

This is straight up flame bait that adds nothing to an otherwise reasonable discussion.

This was a stroke of pure genius by this writer at Breitbart IMO. Spoilers: it breaks the narrative so it doesn't work.


Was that satire? I honestly couldn't tell.

That's pretty much my take on America right now as well coincidentally.

I mean, who cares? If it gets one person to get vaccinated it's probably worth it.

See also, the impact of claims of voter fraud/rigged elections on Republican turnout in Georgia Senate and the California recall election.

Article reads like a either 1) an infiltrated "leftist" trying to appeal to the hard right in their dialect or 2) the hard right elite losing control of their sheep.

The right sheep are definitely harder to control than the left's. Why do you think trump won? The right elite certainly didn't want that.

Doubtful. Democrats pushing for vaccines haven't been effective in getting their most reliable voting block, communities of color, to take the vaccine. Trump has been imploring his supporters to take the vaccines but they're the other large group that makes up the unvaccinated. There are groups that blindly follow whatever their partisan leaders tell them but neither party has very good control over their voters when it comes to vaccination. The media certainly would like you to think it's a partisan issue but it's only one if you ignore either of the two largest groups of unvaccinated.

Call the Republican one the “Freedom Vaccine” and market it as the way to show your Patriotism, and hint that taking it will make Liberals cry (“The Libs will HATE you for taking this vaccine!”). Also claim that the Freedom Vaccine is full of anti-Communist goodness and Proudly Made In America! (Using 99% ingredients imported from Mexico) making America Great Again!

Make 1 vaccine brand "endorsed by Republican" and other brand "endorsed by Democrat"


I consider myself to be on the right. We use Ivermectin. We have stocked it for years. It's a very handy de-wormer. It has served our livestock very well. If you have never used it, and have never treated animals for worms, maybe you should listen more and talk less. Most experienced people I know on the left are fine with Ivermectin.

Oh, you mean for Covid? We use BioNTech and Moderna for that.

Please stop confusing people on the right with vulnerable uneducated people in general. There are plenty of those on the left and right. Donald Trump does not represent the right. He represents Trumpers. Unfortunately many of those who shape the Republican party are Trumpers. But there are obviously perfectly reasonable people on the right who are not Trumpers.

The ignorant are exploited by both sides. Please be careful to distinguish between the exploiters and the exploited.

If you are some separate "right" that has no affiliation to these "Trumpers" then stop donating to/voting for the party that is supporting candidates that clearly align with or benefit from this type of thinking. I didn't confuse anything because that's the rhetoric coming from the right. Even if all of you from the right don't agree with it, you certainly don't do much to fight it. Very few people agree with their political party across the board. Most people vote for the "lesser evil." This is a common viewpoint and is essentially your viewpoint. Your actions of course define who you are.

You assume too much. I cannot stop doing something I never did to begin with. Do you really think Biden got elected without help from the right? Many people from the right rejected Trump and contributed to voting him out of office. You don't have to be a Biden fan to recognize the danger of Trumpism.

Trump has endorsed the vaccine repeatedly and at the time when democrats were literally saying not to trust the vaccine. So I'm not sure about that

Trump has been spouting anti-vaccine rhetoric since before has candidacy. He dismissed the seriousness of the disease, and called other's response part of a hoax. Before the vaccine he made unnecessary endorsements of alternative treatments.

His push for vaccine development and encouraging people to get it might be commendable, but they ring hollow and lack effectiveness because of his past stances.

The scary part is that it's impossible to verify where most of the online content on both sides come from. The enemies of the West must be having a field day with how easy it is to insert radically opposite and polarising views into each side and then watching big issues become quashed, and little issues become magnified beyond proportion.

> The scary part is that it's impossible to verify where most of the online content on both sides come from. The enemies of the West must be having a field day with how easy it is to insert radically opposite and polarising views into each side and then watching big issues become quashed, and little issues become magnified beyond proportion.

I have a theory that I cannot provide verifiable evidence for, but due to the technical fluency of the readers here I believe it may be interesting to some.

I run a small marketing service that ingests new content submitted to a number of social media sites (colloquially known as “social listening”). We run text analytics on the content, primarily to find marketing opportunities for customers. That system also has very rudimentary checks for “bot” accounts.

Starting in early 2020 there was a massive, massive spike in the number of bot accounts creating and responding to content on reddit. Our system doesn’t “cross-reference” flagged accounts very well, but I manually went through the post history on a few of those accounts and found that many of them had responded with congruent comments to submissions of other flagged accounts.

Furthermore, most of the flagged accounts had a similar pattern in the timing of their posts. Posts and comments were relatively irregular and sporadic near the start of the accounts’s history, indicative of a real user. Then, submissions completely stopped for a number of months. After the pause, the account would resume submissions and comments with far more regularity. The patterns exhibited by those accounts may indicate that they were overtaken and sold in bulk accounts lists for use as bot accounts.

Every account that I checked was posting content with a clear narrative.

I believe these are very large bot networks upvoting and submitting content of a particular nature in order to sway popular discourse and give an appearance of a particular consensus among conversation participants.

The plausibility of my theory has been augmented by the fact that rudimentary software for creating reddit bot networks can be found for sale on various “botting” forums. Furthermore, I was accepted into the OpenAI GPT-3 beta a few months ago; the capabilities of that model have further convinced me of the validity of my theory.

If you have experience with bots, natural language processing, or another related field, please feel free to point out flaws in my theory!

I can confirm noticing the same, and I'd say there was a huge change in 2018/2019. After that it started to get _real weird_.

It reminds me heavily of the Dead Internet Theory.

I noticed a lot of comments on political subreddits around that time repeating arguments in very specific ways, often reusing "catch phrases". At the same time they made it against the rules to call out bots.

Yes exactly. It doesn't help the simulation LARPing. Really makes you wonder... lol

> I'm in a big American city, and I remember that until the online kids and snarky liberals started moralizing about mask protocol, there wasn't as much resistance to wearing masks among right-wing crazies.

We're living in very different worlds I guess.

I do know some conservative, religious, pro-Trump communities were very focused on stopping the spread of covid and locking down. It wasn’t a partisan issue, it was common knowledge that covid-19 made people sick and we had to stop it.

Until Donald Trump decided to say covid-19 is a hoax and preventative measures are unnecessary. Presumably because he‘s so contrarian that anything the Democrats supported he opposed and vice versa. It was a dumb move and many (including me) believe it cost him the election, if he decided to support lockdowns I really think he would’ve won by a long shot.

And now it’s too late, since many conservatives got so invested in the fact that covid-19 is fake, and people can’t admit when they’re wrong. I wish liberals were more sympathetic and tried to make it easier for conservatives to accept the vaccine instead of mocking and shaming. But it’s so hard to get people to admit when they’re wrong.

> And now it’s too late, since many conservatives got so invested in the fact that covid-19 is fake, and people can’t admit when they’re wrong. I wish liberals were more sympathetic and tried to make it easier for conservatives to accept the vaccine instead of mocking and shaming. But it’s so hard to get people to admit when they’re wrong.

It's interesting that you didn't say "I wish more conservatives would admit they were wrong", but instead put the onus of action on liberals.

No I do put most of the blame on conservatives. They're the ones who aren't taking vaccines or wearing masks.

It just doesn't excuse some liberals from encouraging this left/right divide and just being nasty. Things like r/HermanCainAward, being proud when vaccine deniers get sick. At least understand that when someone is literally putting themselves in danger, they're not evil or selfish, they're delusional and misinformed.

> conservatives. They're the ones who aren't taking vaccines or wearing masks.

Minorities (POC, Latinx) have the lowest vaccination rates. Do these groups generally lean conservative?


It's so strange the way that American liberals hand-wave low vax rates in minority communities. Vague references to the "Tuskegee Experiments", a real event that of course has had some effect on the way some minorities view Western medicine and vaccines. Or notions of "access", despite the vaccines being completely free and widely available for many months.

Tuskegee was many decades ago. There are much more recent examples of the pharmaceutical industry and doctors prescribing a product to millions of Americans that was later shown to be harmful, at least for some patients. I'm of course referring to Oxycontin and other supposedly "non-addictive" opioids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died as a result of these drugs. Countless more lives stunted or ruined.

In my view, events like this explain a great deal of working-class (including white, who heavily lean Republican) skepticism about novel treatments. Just today, Pfizer issued a complete recall of the anti-smoking drug, Chantix, after discovering it can increase cancer risk:


I hope we all can have more empathy for anyone who is skeptical after witnessing or experiencing harm after a incident like this. I'm not saying all fear or skepticism is valid or warranted. Just that I wish people would not judge the individuals involved for their (presumed) politics, and work towards greater education and understanding.

> It's so strange the way that American liberals hand-wave low vax rates in minority communities.

As you've commented (but then hand waved), the motive behind the distrust. "An orange man told me" vs. "The US government has spent hundreds of years oppressing our people, and the US medical system fails minorities consistently time and time again".

If you ignore my entire point about how the white working class has also been failed by the U.S. medical system in the opioid crisis, sure.

Trump has been vaccinated and recommends vaccination. Trump's administration instituted Operation Warp Speed, which supported and expedited vaccines the entire world has benefited from.

At the time, Democrats were busy sewing distrust about it.

Do you see how the opioid crisis is relatively new, but pillaging minorities has been a thing in america for hundreds of years?

Do you not see how the argument that vaccines are about "pillaging minorities" makes no sense? This is not about experiments that are being conducted on particular populations. This is about a mass vaccination campaign. One in which all Americans are being encouraged to get the jab.

It seems that you have trouble viewing things outside of this racial lens. My original comment was in hopes that you would start to consider this in a different light and understand why there perhaps might be race neutral reasons that people are hesitant. The opioid crisis is much closer to what people are afraid of. They're afraid that the vaccines are meant to help, but that they might hurt, at least if they're in a particular age group, or have a particular pre-existing condition, etc.

It's unfortunate that you're not willing to treat this issue and your political opponents with more empathy, but there's nothing I can do about that. At this point, you're pretty obviously downvote baiting me with outrageous comments, waiting eagerly for me to respond, so this is the last I'm going to engage with you.

> Do you not see how the argument that vaccines are about "pillaging minorities" makes no sense?

The argument is about government distrust. I'll skip the rest of your post.

Hispanic/Latino is 16.6% of all vaccinated while making up 17.2% of population.

Black is 10.0% of all vaccinated while making up 12.4% of population.

White (non-hispanic) is 61.5% of all vaccinated while making up 61.2% of the population.

So we're talking ~2.4 points behind at worst (stats are from the CDC link in your article). For comparison we're talking about more than a 10 point gap when comparing counties by political affilation. https://www.kff.org/policy-watch/the-red-blue-divide-in-covi...

A fourth-grader can see the flaw in your math. 61.5/61.2 is much more than "2.4 points" different than 10.0/12.4. It's much more than "10 points" too.

> At least understand that when someone is literally putting themselves in danger, they're not evil or selfish, they're delusional and misinformed.

I think you'll find most "liberals" are pretty understanding that militant anti-vaxxers are delusional and misinformed. The issue is less with their delusion and more with the militancy of their delusion and the societal consequences.

If the militant anti-vaxxers instead of being anti-vax were just pro-drinking bleach then the danger of that delusion would be personal. Only idiots drinking bleach would be harmed.

What's happening though is the delusion of the militant anti-vaxxers is causing problems for everyone. They're breaking if they haven't broken hospital systems in many parts of the country, they're a breeding ground for new variants of the virus, and they're actively fighting mitigation measures to contain the spread of the virus in kids who can't be vaccinated.

People that have acted rationally and have socially distanced, worn masks, and gotten vaccinated are being negatively affected every day by delusional sociopaths. These same delusional sociopaths have made every aspect of the pandemic worse.

Why should anyone feel the need to keep coddling them? The militant anti-vaxxers are keeping the pandemic a pandemic, had they gotten fucking vaccines we could have COVID at least partially under control at endemic levels. Their words and actions advertise the fact they are sociopaths. Dealing with them is exhausting and unrewarding.

It's sad that positions on vaccines tracks so closely to political persuasion. At the same time if delusional sociopathy is part and parcel of a so-called political philosophy maybe that suggests a little self-reflection is needed for its proponents.

I'm pro lockdown. Vaccines are a red herring and relying on them is ignoring science over profit.

When we know vaccines still put people at risk why are we not locking everyone down and closing borders?

I don't understand what the endgame of a locking down a country is, unless there is some better vaccine or treatment coming.

As far as I know, COVID isn't going to stop spreading around the rest of the world. So as soon as the lockdown in a given country ends, that country will be exposed to it and face the same pandemic they would have faced in the first place. Now, that makes a lot of sense to me if they are facing it with a new tool in hand (like the vaccine), that means a lot fewer people will die than if they'd gone through it with nothing.

But if there is no better treatment coming, what does locking down for 3 months, 6 months, or a year accomplish?

Everyone has a choice. They choose their actions, they choose who to listen to, they choose what to believe. They choose to be open or closed minded. They choose to listen to new ideas or not.

A lot of people are choosing wrong and suffering for it. They had a choice. No one can take that away from them, they always had a choice.

Propaganda only works if you choose to believe it.

It's not always a free choice.

For you and me it might be, because we may have the acquired skills to research sources, spot bullshit, etc. We still miss stuff.

But for a lot of people "choosing wrong", it might just be the sum of their environment. A media diet too heavily reliant on Facebook for example.

Ah but they're choosing to stay on Facebook you say... Well, yes, but if they can't directly make the link between Facebook and the propaganda, they don't even know they have a choice to make.

"Free will exists" is a hand wavy way of victim blaming here, imo. There is a reason these people are called victims of propaganda, not willful soldiers.

For what it's worth, I don't disagree with you entirely. However I don't think it's as simple as being helpless victims of propaganda or other deceitful information.

Everyone has the choice to ask, "but what if they're wrong?" That simple question alone illuminates the incremental path to greater understanding (however long the journey may be). Many of these people who have been enthralled by the narrative that vaccines are dangerous and unnecessary are otherwise normal people. They're able to function in their jobs and day to day life. If they believed everything anyone told them they'd never be able to function in society, and yet they do function. Precisely because they are able to choose who and what to believe; we all do it every day! They choose to never question certain sources or authorities. It's a willful choice.

To be clear, while many of the common people who are taking the largely anti-mask/vaccine messaging from the big voices in their camp aren’t doing it because they’re evil, they are being selfish regardless of the fact they’re delusional and misinformed.

To be even more clear however, the kinds of people pushing these viewpoints within their community are actually evil and doing it in bad faith for their own self gain. Even the mainstream conservative voices like Tucker Carlson, who is vaccinated and works at an institution with a vaccine requirement, is using his platform to deliberately cast doubt on its efficacy and safety. He knows better, but he is sending the message his supports want to hear. This is evil. Senators who are going out of their way to make sure nobody can be made to wear a mask in certain settings are doing it deliberately for political points and are objectively evil for this.

I don’t fully spite the average person who is listening to and hearing all these voices that align with the rest of their politics and choosing to take the position for no other reason than it’s being fed to them, but there is a limit. And maybe I’m just not aware enough but there is a ton of intentional gritting in the conservative/right-wing space now intentionally pulling on the talking points for a profit motive that I don’t see in left-wing spaces. And that might be okay even, except their also a total scam and bullshit. Selling people a “freedom phone” which is just a rebadge of a cheap Chinese phone (the irony) for a huge markup because it won’t let you be censored. This kind of behavior. Preying on their own audience that they’ve cultivated to specifically exploit them.

There is a lot of evil there.

I don’t think it’s appropriate to dunk on people dying. But it isn’t really surprising that there is that level of response among some people on the left-leaning space. It’s equivalent to the “owning the libs” on the other side. I’m not in for it personally, but I don’t think it’s any more or less popular on either side. Just the general shape of overall disgusting polarization we’re at now.

If people want to live in their own version of reality I don’t care. But when their version of reality is ruining it for the rest of us, it is a problem and there isn’t a lot of room for discussion with someone who isn’t willing to engage with reality.

> If people want to live in their own version of reality I don’t care. But when their version of reality is ruining it for the rest of us, it is a problem

Are you sure that is a true statement? What exact ruination are you referring to? Are you saying that we would not have had a delta wave in the U.S. if more people had vaccinated? Or that lockdowns would have gone differently? Or schools?

Australia still has a covid problem, despite their lockdowns. Israel is still having covid breakouts, despite their high vaccination rates. It's putting a strain on many health care systems.

What do you think will change if we had closer to 100% vaccine compliance?

> and there isn’t a lot of room for discussion with someone who isn’t willing to engage with reality.

Quite the contrary, there's plenty of room for discussion. You obviously don't understand their point of view. Not everyone thinks the way you do. This ending to your comment struck me as quite dismissive. That's a lot of people you just wrote off.

Where does it leave us if we can't talk about these things, and respect our different values?

> Israel is still having covid breakouts, despite their high vaccination rates. It's putting a strain on many health care systems.

While Israel got far out ahead in its vaccination campaign early on, it’s current rate of vaccination isn’t particularly high, still below 65% of the population has completed the full course of vaccinations.

Heard immunity estimates have always been at the 70-85% level, so there’s no reason to believe Israel was immune to such outbreaks, especially with a more virulent variant such as delta. All that matters is whether the replication rate is above or below one, if you don’t have the level of population immunity to keep that R value below one, you will see outbreaks.

I’m not pretending or saying that if everyone was vaccinated or wore masks when they should, it would all be over. That said, a lot less people would be dead and we can clearly see in the data as it exists now that areas with lower vaccination rates are doing worse. And of course, the overwhelming majority of deaths are among the unvaccinated. It isn’t rocket science. And we still have a non-trivial segment of the population who can’t get vaccinated (under 12) who are quite literally the victims of people who are largely unvaccinated and making the conscious and what they believe to be moral choice to not wear a mask or be vaccinated.

As far as people not living in reality, this isn’t even primarily about COVID. It also isn’t a refusal to try and have a discussion on my part. It is what happens when people reject information that doesn’t reflect what they believe. They have written themselves off. You’re right. I don’t understand the point of view of someone who thinks there is a satanic cabal of liberals who prey on children. I don’t understand the point of view of someone who thinks 5G is going to read their minds. I don’t understand the point of view of someone who thinks the vaccine is the mark of the beast. I don’t understand the point of view of, based on various polling, 70-80% of republicans who don’t believe Biden won the election legitimately.

Or rather, I do. Or at least I can see how they got there. But what I can’t do is convince them that these things aren’t true. I can’t convince them that someone on the internet who claimed to be an insider and now hasn’t posted anything in like over a year wasn’t actually able to predict all the future events leading up to Donald Trump being reinstated as president and rounding up all the Democrats and liberals and child abusers. These people have already bought into something that is so far out that there is no reaching them. It isn’t for lack of trying. They aren’t willing or ready to accept anything else.

Eventually some of them will find their way out of it, but that is a place they have to get to on their own before anyone can help them out of it.

To answer your final question, it leaves us in a terrible place and exactly where we are. I don’t enjoy this. I’m not reveling in it. It’s fucking depressing. It’s sad. It’s an actual tragedy. We’re in a bad place and I don’t see that changing or getting better any time soon.

I’ll happily discuss things of this nature with people who don’t agree with my general beliefs but I don’t have a lot of patience for someone, and I’ve interacted with more than a few, who flat out deny things that are objectively recordable, let alone anything subject to interpretation. They closed the door, they shut down the conversation.

You brought up a log of topics, some more fringe than others. I think there's been a lot of changes in the world the past few decades that have left a lot of people feeling culturally adrift. Lack of trust in various institutions. Perhaps it is a loss of personal identity, replaced by mass media tribalism? Perhaps the internet is a big part of that - a printing press in everyone's pocket? Finance and globilzation doesn't help. Politicians are not helping.

On the topic of covid specifically, I think that people have vastly different outlooks on the personal and/or societal risks of dying versus the impact of extended lockdowns. I don't think it is an unreasonable position. It's hard to point at definitive data proving that anything works for certain, there's a lot of confounding factors and surprises in the numbers. Some people can't get past the individual tragedies. Some people only look at the population scale numbers. Some people are more educated than other. Lots of people make up their minds on a hunch, as you said, and look for sources that confirm their biases.

A fascinating book I read called "The Republican Brain" talked about this stuff, theorizing that some of the partisan divide is due to personality differences, that people are born with different feelings about authority, hierarchies, individualism, communitarianism, etc. I was left with the impression that this was an evolutionary advantage as a species, that the variety of ways of thinking makes us better as a group.

I don't think that it's the end of the world that we as a group don't agree on everything. We could celebrate that and support each other in our differences, or at least respect each other. But so many do not, both on the left and on the right. They'd rather win 51% of the vote, and impose their point of view on the losers, winner take all. Mass media and further removing isolating people make the problems worse.

> And we still have a non-trivial segment of the population who can’t get vaccinated (under 12) who are quite literally the victims of people who are largely unvaccinated

You called out some things the other side say that are unreasonable. I think the language you used above is a bit strong, and I'm not sure how much fact vs feeling it is. Not a lot of kids die of covid. It's similar for them to the risk from the flu in other years. And RSV. And the vaccine is not 100% effective, lots of people will still die, just like people die of the common cold every year. It seems unreasonable to draw a "quite literally" connection between the vaccinated and the small amount of kids who die, some every year, from respiratory ailments.

Also there is no country in the world who has a 100% vaccination rate, so maybe it is outside the bounds of human nature to expect that amount of compliance on such a short notice controversial issue? Perhaps it would be better for politics to account for the strong beliefs that large segments of their populations hold? For instance, why haven't we build more hospitals in the last 18 months? Are there better ways to support the vulnerable? What are the numbers used to justify various decisions? Can we admit what we don't know? etc

There's a reason why this kind of content is going to dominate any online discussion platform.


> No I do put most of the blame on conservatives. They're the ones who aren't taking vaccines or wearing masks.

My comment was about how, if this statement is true, you mostly skipped over it in favor of asking for action out of non-conservatives.

It feels like in a lot of circles now the expectation is for Conservatives to be unreasonable idiots, so people tend to put the blame on non-conservatives in the same way you'd blame the parent for raising a snotty child

I kind of feel the same way. Like if our goal is vaccination, yea, republicans do have to eat some humble pie, but liberals shouldn’t make it harder for them than it has to be.

> but liberals shouldn’t make it harder for them than it has to be.

It's not hard. It's insanely not hard. It's so unfathomably not difficult that this comment reads like satire. Walk into any grocery store or pharmacy.

Emotionally difficult*

The comment is calling republicans special snowflakes who can't change their minds without being coddled to do so, so they can keep an air of superiority over the liberal degenerates

If only liberals weren't so damn smug, conservatives would find their way to doing the right thing?

That's not how it works. At all. Progress in every aspect of political life has come from being pushy, not from coddling.

It’s interesting. Her run the U.K. vaccine take up amongst older demographics is nearly 100%, and the left/right split has major age differences. The right and old are massively pro vaccines because their man in government (Johnson) slapped a flag on it and said it was great.

If Corbyn had won in 2019 (from a higher youth turnout and lower elder turnout), there’s no way the press or the elder demographics would be so accepting, and the country would be polarised with covid as a pivot.

I don't think so. Healthcare just isn't a politicised issue in the UK in the same way as it is in the US. If Corbyn had won you'd probably have seen a lot of objections to the massive public spending on furlough schemes and the like, but pretty much everyone in mainstream UK politics is onboard with vaccines. And there's much less of a tendency to pick a fight for the sake of picking a fight here.


> you remember the early days of the pandemic when Donald Trump was very pro-mask, including regularly wearing a mask himself,

I don't remember it. Because it never happened: https://apnews.com/article/michael-pence-virus-outbreak-dona...

It wasn't until the pandemic was raging in the summer that he wore a mask in public and then quickly stopped doing so. He even put on a show of ripping off his mask after he came back from his Covid hospitalization.

Either you are being downvoted for sarcasm, or you're being downvoted for being wrong. Hard to say, but I suspect you're shot by both sides.

Are we talking about political figures or the people that follow them? The poster I'm responding to is talking about the latter.

edit Someone already pointed out that this is an obvious biased misinformation post.


I think they were being facetious. Yes, mask compliance was probably a bad example, because this was politicized from both sides pretty much right away. I think the general point stands though

They're not delusional, they're sarcastic. Like hyperbole, this isn't conducive to good discussions. I'm so tired of internet discourse where people are constantly trying to one-up each other.

It's pretty easy to find old video clips of both Biden and Harris talking very skeptically about how fast a vaccine could be rolled out, its efficacy, and safety before they won the election. Contrast with the administration's policy today.

Being skeptical of a hypothetical like that is fine. Once the vaccine came out and was shown to be efficacious, they updated their opinions with the data. This is exactly the manner in which one would hope, and indeed expect, their political leaders to behave. To do otherwise is pure reality-denying insanity.

I was also very skeptical of the speed at which a vaccine could be created and rolled out. But, once it was rolled out and it was shown to be reasonably safe, certainly far safer than actually getting COVID, I went and got the jab. These are not hypocritical or diametrically opposed viewpoints and actions. They are the behaviors of someone living in reality, with all of the uncertainty that entails.

I change my mind when facts/reality change. What do you do?

> I change my mind when facts/reality change. What do you do?

Exactly this.

Which is why I remain skeptical. My elderly father had a massive stroke 3 days after receiving the second shot, which was administered right after he recovered from covid, which he contracted after the first shot.

I'm also certain his care givers did not report this to the FDA's voluntary MedWatch database, which is the only way the government is tracking adverse events.

Do you know the difference between Causality and Correlation?

Edit: Yes. And I know the difference between evidence and proof and even the difference between skepticism and certainty.

I also recognize ad hominem arguments.

So what evidence would you accept to prove you wrong? I have two injections and didn’t get a heart attack. Millions of people have two injections and didn’t die of heart attacks. If that doesn’t make you hesitate believing what you believe what would? If your answer is “nothing” then you are not being rational.

> I'm in a big American city, and I remember that until the online kids and snarky liberals started moralizing about mask protocol, there wasn't as much resistance to wearing masks among right-wing crazies.

In Berlin, you could see graffitis such as "we will vaccinate you all!" or "covid deniers out". If there was any way to measure it, I'd bet that the net effect of that is negative.

> I'm in a big American city, and I remember that until the online kids and snarky liberals started moralizing about mask protocol, there wasn't as much resistance to wearing masks among right-wing crazies.

The Law always provokes its opposite.

It happens occasionally, but rarely.

> It happens occasionally, but rarely.

For some definitions of "law" this is probably true. But I think under the more general principle it's much more likely to happen than not. If you look at the law as any set of rules, you find that they generally accuse you (it is not the subjunctive mood, but the imperative that is the mood of least reality): why do I have to tell my kids to wash their hands after going to the bathroom? Because they don't. It's the law of hand-washing. (For a more humorous take, Gary Larsen forever immortalized the idea with the alarm + light over the men's room.)

COVID's hand-washing suggestions are the grown-up version. And the way my kids resent it when I tell them to go back and wash their hands is not much different than the way some of my otherwise reasonable co-workers reacted. Of course not everyone reacted this way, but if the messaging were somewhat different I wouldn't be surprised to have found compliance higher.

Law is always paired with a consequence. For my kids, it's a short trip back to the washroom and possibly a haranguing depending on whether I'm extra irritable. For our society, it's sometimes death and/or being subjected to schadenfreude (haha, stupid rednecks took ivermectin and not only poisoned themselves but also died of COVID).

YMMV, but I have found this basic principle explains a lot: the law always accuses, and it always provokes its opposite. Moreover, people are really good at hearing law even if that's not the intent of the speaker. Communicating is hard.

A friend was a climbing instructor for awhile, and she related that when teaching people who were scared of heights to climb that the phrase "don't look down" (the law of "don't look down") was verboten. Instead, the command was "keep looking up." The difference between the two phrases was illuminating.

There's a big difference between always provoking opposite behavior and communication skills (i.e., don't attack people).

When the law says, 'separate your plastics and glass for recycling', not many people intentionally start mixing them. When it tells businesses to pay minimum wage, they don't cut wages further below the new minimum. Most people think of most laws as reasonable.

Yes, it needs to be communicated effectively. If you attack people, they feel unsafe and get defensive. Most law is very dry reading, not accusatory or emotional. And very few people read the actual laws.

> until the online kids and snarky liberals started moralizing about mask protocol, there wasn't as much resistance to wearing masks among right-wing crazies.

Surprising how easy it is to fracture American society then.

I would have been surprised even as recently as ten years ago. Now, I am not. American society has been fractured for quite some time, and is only growing more fractured, exactly because of how easy it is in the current political climate and with current technology

After Trump nothing surprises me any more.

The only people who think Trump was the source of the division are out-of-touch liberals. I don't even mean this pejoratively. I just encourage you to look beyond the current predominant media narratives. This society has been breaking apart for a while. All the signs have been there. Trump shocked the liberals, but Obama shocked the conservatives before him, and we can ping pong back and forth for a while I'm sure.

(And yes, conservatives who believe Obama was the sole source of division are also out of touch. People really need to try to understand the other side).

Obama wasn't that shocking. There was just a massive outrage factory attacking him. There are controversial things the Obama administration did, but the outrage wasn't commensurate.

Obama's association with Ayers, his pastors sermons while Obama sat through them, his derision for people clinging to guns and religion were all things very reasonable people could be upset by. You are being purposefully selective in your remembrances.

Yeah, i remember how upset conservative voices on the Intenrt were at the election of Obama.

It was like a mirror image of Trump's election in 2016.

While personally I preferred Obama (as a non-US citizen) it's really sad how much anger and rage is expressed over these political differences.

Personally I think gerrymandering is the proximate cause, as it creates more safe districts for party members, which allows them to be more extreme than would be acceptable in a more competitive district.

I just puzzled how did Obama win with a landslide yet very divisive (not Obama fault).

Hint it's the internet, mainly social media. It's a poisonous parasitic infection that oozes puss throughout society. If the 2000 election happened in this era, America would have been blown up by now.

I don't think there's such a thing as an "American society" anymore. Or, for that matter, an "American nation".

I remember back in 2016, when all the Trump/Putin brouhaha first started making rounds, one staunch right-winger whom I know said something along the lines of, "if Putin helps him hang all our traitors and clean the trash out like he did in Russia, I'm all for it".

> there wasn't as much resistance to wearing masks among right-wing crazies.

Maybe because data started showing that masks aren’t reducing infections? Or Gavin Newsome and London Breed partying like rock stars without masks.

Or the Met Gala where only the servants wore masks?

Or the data (from schools,) that show the masks weren’t affecting infection rates?

Or Fauci saying “no” privately? Then yes publicly? Or the insanity of people wearing masks when driving alone in their car? Or running in the woods?

Nothing about mask policy has been sane.

>It's a mantra at this point that polarization has gotten out of control, but one of the biggest effects it seems to have is this reverse-psychology effect

Covid19 is a religion. You cannot question religions. It's also not a problem until something goes beyond.

>I'm in a big American city, and I remember that until the online kids and snarky liberals started moralizing about mask protocol, there wasn't as much resistance to wearing masks among right-wing crazies.

Until it became a religion. Those right-wing crazies are religious seeing it as religion vs religion.

Compared to the flu seasons, which we go get a shot and then do nothing else. Covid for ages 25-35 is 40 times less likely to harm you compared to the regular flu season.

If you are 25-35, you go get the shot and then stop giving a shit about covid because it's virtually no risk. By all measures soon as the covid shot was available. You offer it as the flu shot and tell people to get it and you go back to flu season measures. Which is basically nothing.

Yet I know how many people who will drive 100km/h in a school zone are scared shitless by covid. The risk mismatch is not because of actual risk but rather because it's a religion. Morality tells them they need to be scared.

>It reminded me of the time people were worried about pollutants causing hormonal changes in indicator species, and then Alex Jones started talking about how "they're turning the frogs gay" and the meaningful version of that discourse vanished too.

There are 9 confirmed estrogens in our drinking water. Especially true of salt-water coastal cities. Hence why you pretty much MUST have water filtration.

How well would society function if we were doing mass hormone replacement therapy on everyone? Would people start being far more likely to be gay frogs or trans or just emotional messes like typical HRT symptoms. Especially if you aren't aware HRT is occurring. Why the huge increase in trans people? Is it because of these estrogens in our drinking water? Nestle and others approve though.

> It's made me wary of the sport of finding what crazy things my political enemies believe to make fun of them, because it seems like the net effect of this is creating "opposite" erroneous beliefs with no evidence

We are on this world together. Finding 'crazy things' or trying to start fights by calling people names does not benefit anyone.

Is there a cheap way to test my tap water for said estrogens?

>Is there a cheap way to test my tap water for said estrogens?

No test necessary. I can guarantee you 100% you have more than 1 estrogen in your tap water. Also multiple kinds of antibiotics, anticonvulcants, mood stabilizers.

The majority of estrogens in the water will be estriol, estrone, and estradiol. If you're salt water coastal where they keep that water around for long. You will also have equilenin, progesterone, and lots of BPA.

If you have wondered why filtering your water is important and why there's so many filtration options its because of this.

Everyone's a reactionary.

It's an important statement, but because it's the self-justifying propaganda of reactionaries. People work together and get things done; I see it all the time; in fact, that's how democracies - by far the most successful form of government in human history - that's how they work.

How could you possibly say democracy is the most successful government system in history? There is little reason to believe that. These sorts of kitschy phrases being substituted for real discourse is why were here.

Democracy is nice, but historically it leads to very bad outcomes in a few hundred years. What remains to be seen is whether or not this democracy will sustain itself.

> How could you possibly say democracy is the most successful government system in history?

Never in history have people been more free, had more economic self-determination, and been more safe and had more peace - for billions in every part of the world. What other system of government has even approached it?

Rome? The empires of china? Both of which brought peace to their known worlds for many thousands of years. America has only enforced pax Americans for about 70 years after WWII. Meanwhile, the empires of china regularly brought peace for thousands of years to their region.

This is just magical thinking. It's the same thinking behind the magical forms of american exceptionalism

It is the most stable form of governance that doesn't require subjugation of citizens and has the ability to self-correct because election disallow personal

Democacies are indeed young so I don't get your point that it will lead to something "very bad".

Democracies are not 'young'. Rome was a democracy for four hundred years before falling into autocracy and empire. As was Athens and some other Greek cities. Many 'barbarian' tribes were democracies as well. Democracy is not something invented in 1776. All experiments in democracy have so far failed. Most fail spectacularly and devolve into authoritarianism (see the 1st French Republic). There has never been a long-sustained democratic government. The most stable forms of government is a representative monarchy or an empire. In 2066, the monarchy of England will celebrate 1000 pretty-much contiguous years. There are actually monarchies that have lasted longer (like the Eastern half of the roman empire which lasted more than 1500 years, as well as the pharaohs of Egypt or the empires of China). There is no democracy that has lasted that long. And to say that the English monarchy requires 'subjugation of its citizens' is quite silly, or even that the Roman empire under Caesar required constant human rights abuses of its citizens (it didn't... roman citizens had lots of rights we enjoy today).

Look.... I believe in democracy, but I don't have a religious fervor over it. I am shocked when my fellow Americans seem so unschooled in basic history. Indeed, many of the undemocratic things put into our constitution (like the much maligned electoral college) were put there by our founders hoping to avoid the pitfalls of democracy. They were very aware that democracy typically fails spectacularly, and put in many anti-democratic things into the constitution to avoid it.

Rome was a democracy like North Korea is a democracy. Sure, different time, but the pleb certainly had zero influence on policy direction. But in any case I wouldn't call it "not successful".

Contrary to that England is a parliamentary democracy for nearly 200 years now and the monarch only has a representative role.

But on that account every form of governance has failed. How many autocracies and monarchies have failed? In that case it isn't because of fundamental flaws and had other reasons?

I don't think the US constitution is full of anti-democratic rules at all. On the contrary, its intent is to grant rights.

> I don't think the US constitution is full of anti-democratic rules at all. On the contrary, its intent is to grant rights

People make statements like this and I can only hope they're not american, because the idea you could be educated in an american school and come out believing this is too horrifying to ponder.

Our founders directly stated in contemporaneous documents their fear of unchecked democracy and how it can descend into tyranny.

There is a natural conflict between democracy (and any form of government) and individual rights.

The founders sought to create a republic (not even a democracy really) with heavy protections for individual rights which they saw as at risk from democratic forces

That you think individual rights and democracy are intertwined is only because of bad history linking the american constitution to some great creation story of democracy itself. Many democracies have been authoritarian nightmares for those in the minority

Some Americans wanted a monarchy after the civil war, but they still wanted individual rights protected. Democracy won out but not because of its human rights record. Indeed, the founders were familiar with democratic tyranny based on their classical studies.

The examples of the natural misalignment between democracy and human rights are numerous. Slavery, Jim crow laws, drug laws, all of which were highly popular in their day or are popular now, but agree or disagree obviously curtail individual rights.

Now to your points.... No the Roman republic was not at all like north Korea. The Roman republic was an actual republic, with elections, power transfers etc.

England has been a monarchy for a thousand years and still is. Parliament is a nice thingy but the queen can get rid of it if she wants and she knows that. That's why they behave themselves most of the time. In fact she did this in recent memory in Australia.

All governments fail, but some fail faster and more spectacularly than others.

(I don't have time to give you every thing said by the founders on the danger of democracy and it's nTueal tension with individual rights... Here's a good starting point https://finance.townhall.com/columnists/jimhuntzinger/2018/1...)

Is there a term for this phenomenon yet? I’ve had these same thoughts.

> polarization has gotten out of control

> right-wing crazies

Seems to be a bit hypocritical, no?

The amount of censorship, especially among the qualified scientific community in just about every facet of this disease is alarming. Even if the origins were accidental or lab-born or whatnot, the response has been so politicized worldwide that pure science has been largely thrown out the window. Every possibility should be analyzed & tested, even if it goes against the interests of a ruling party and all parties are guilty of exploiting this.

I don't believe it is fair to call what the qualified scientific community is doing as "censorship", in fact I would go even further and say that calling it as such is purely political propaganda.

The scientific community is doing the studies, all the studies, every possibility is be analyzed & tested, even the most outlandish claims are being thoroughly tested in many many scientific studies/trials. Every scientist in any related field wants to be the one to find a cure, or find the source, or find any other relevant information on this disease (for the career advancement, the citations, the bragging rights). That the scientific community is correctly trying (and unfortunately failing) is to suppress the spread of false and/or misleading information that is not supported by the science, like the following:

1. Sensationalist press releases that are not supported by the underlying scientific paper.

2. Press releases propping-up weak new papers/studies that are less statistically powerful than the current consensus and therefore don't change the consensus.

3. The general press proping up scientific pre-prints without peer review.

The whole point of the present article is that the "current consensus" has been astroturfed, and is based on no evidence whatsoever. If you allow me to get more cynical, several journalists have now written about how (1) natural origins was initially popularized as a "consensus" view by just a few scientists on Twitter an effort to smear Tom Cotton. Due to the political valence, this messaging caught on with journalists.

(2) The correspondence of the authors behind the initial Lancet article which dismisses non-natural origin investigations as conspiracy theory (seeking to build the consensus view and much cited by the above jornalists) has been obtained by FOIA. It reveals the authors engaging in conspiracy and collusion: the managing editor bypassed the normal editorial process, the authors decided not to have some people sign so the statement would look less partisan and chose wordings that they knew were not supported by evidence, in particular deciding to ignore concerns about the very unlikely codons at the furin cleavage site. Moreover, none of the authors declared conflicts of interest. (And still, after much outcry, only one has made such a declaration.)

In short, any consensus for a natural origin is very much artificial and should be considered irrelevant.

> The scientific community is doing the studies, all the studies, every possibility is be analyzed & tested, even the most outlandish claims are being thoroughly tested in many many scientific studies/trials

This is misinformation. A group of prominent virologists wrote, early in the pandemic:

> The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins. We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.

It's nice to _believe_ that scientists are pursuing every possible theory. But in actual reality, some scientists are demanding that other scientists not pursue certain theories. That's what's happening in the real world that we live in. Don't let your idealized mental image of "science" blind you to the facts.

Realistically, at that stage, the origin of the virus was far less important than the other research.

If the narrative that it was an accidental lab leak took hold (even if that really is the case), China would likely cease all cooperation on the rest of the science.

It is both reasonable and rational then for the virologists to condemn such theories, to avoid harming the more important research into how infectious the disease it, what the symptoms are, what mitigations might be effective, etc, all of which could be helped by cooperation with China.

Keep in mind that analyzing and testing every possibility for SARS took over a decade. The actual science may well he happening, but it's completely overwhelmed by the noise from the political backed "science."

Personally, I think we should just quietly let the origin research happen and all of the political fervor should be immediately leveraged towards preventing any future zoological or lab leak pandemics.

As someone mentioned on Twitter: "When you mix Science with Politics you end up with Politics"

Given that science relies on communities to verify each other's work, it is inherently a political enterprise. Politics is the study of the 'polis', or an organized community. Given that science itself forms an organized community of scientists, science is an inherently human and political endeavor, even if it's oriented at finding natural truth.

Anything + Politics = Politics

And also Science + Anything = Not Science, I suppose!

Anything = politics

religion + politics = religion (?) eg. Aztec empire

edit: the Aztec empire is an example for this. The religion was politically enforced and thus the political system became part of the religion.

So the question is, isn't religion a case that refutes the parent's hypothessis.

religion is a way to coalesce and exert power on large groups of people. religion is politics.

That’s a political view of religion, most religious I know are simply asking ‘why something instead of nothing?’

but that's like looking at a function and defining it by its initial value. a function has meaning and importance beyond the 0th-order. and it's a philosophical view moreso than a political one (a political view posits how to use religion in the service of power).

Maybe. That wouldn’t explain why religion (asking these questions) has existed in every human tribe forever.

that seems self-evident? tribes are (small) political organizations.

one of the central problems of organizations is control/coordination, and religion (through normalizing and centralizing beliefs) provides a very convenient avenue for that (especially because the locus of power is perceived to be beyond any given tribal member). force can be used for control but that's adversarial (also limits size, and therefore power), and a cognizant leader eventually realizes its easier to have the people control themselves than always exert force on them (something most children eventually learn, at least subconsciously, during play).

politics isn't necessarily negative by the way--it's simply a part of the bargain when people aggregate into larger bodies and need to coordinate. it's also a relatively recent innovation that we try to separate government from religion, the intertwining of which had been a long-established norm across cultures.

For very narrow definitions of religion, sure.

rather a very significant aspect of religion, otherwise spirituality would suffice.

> the response has been so politicized worldwide that pure science has been largely thrown out the window. Every possibility should be analyzed & tested, even if it goes against the interests of a ruling party and all parties are guilty of exploiting this.

This has been the case since Global Warming was coined, then the models didn't line up so they called it Climate Change and castrated anyone who questioned the science.

I wonder if a more productive way of looking at this type of behavior is reaction hedging.

It's pretty clear that the vast majority of humans prefer reacting to understanding.

Or put another way: If you assume that people will take the time to understand what you're saying, you're going to be disappointed. Sure, some will, but it will not even be close to the majority.

I think it's pretty natural to try to avoid that outcome, and it's a much better hypothesis given hanlon's razor.

Keep In Mind that among he ignorant posting information that is transforming coupled to the bio-tech we now have access to puts the non-skilled-in-critical thinking to direct harm and death.

In fact YouTube just banned someone for posting self DIY COVID vaccines for this reason.

And on top of it we have social platform that aim to cause discontent harm to earn profits as their stated goal, FB in particular.

ITS not Censorship when are responsible for the things we talk about!

Do you post jest about doing a felony? No of course not. is it censorship because you exercised responsibility?

Be [precise with wording as those who want a darker future want everyone to delve down to non precision as a way to hide their own dark intentions.

The best piece that one can read on the origin of covid is by Zeynep: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/25/opinion/coronavirus-lab.h...

I am still confused how people think that it being an accidental "lab leak" is any more damning of the role China played in the initial outbreak. China made a lot of mistakes and also kept other countries in the dark for way too long no matter the origin. It can also serve as a warning against authoritarian models of rule.

My criticism doesn't mean I think we shouldn't investigate the origins either. It is in the world's public interest to err on the side of knowing too much so that maybe the chance of this happening again is reduced.

I think what it really brings to light (at least for me) is the incompetence of the CCP in the matter.

I have no qualms about China conducting research in this regard, other countries are doing it too and we would be naive to think otherwise. However, if it is proven to be true that gain of function research was being conducted at the Wuhan laboratory, it highlights the sheer stupidity of the government in thinking they could build a military bio-weapons research laboratory in the heart of a major city center. Western nations that do have such facilities place them far away from high-density urban populations, precisely as a last-ditch measure to mitigate the impact of an (eventual) breach.

It's worse for the CCP if it boils down to incompetence rather than malice. Becoming a laughingstock of the world and not being taken seriously is perhaps their deepest fear.

I don’t know if they do gain of function research there, but NEIDL is in the heart of Boston. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Emerging_Infectious_D...

Pretty much every BSL4 facility in the US is within easy commuting distance from a major city. The CDC being a great example.

These are not military, but it doesn't matter.

In the US. . . EVERYTHING is Military. EVERYTHING.

> I think what it really brings to light (at least for me) is the incompetence of the CCP in the matter.

Incompetence? I think the regime came out of this pretty well. They’ve completely disrupted literally every country in the world, and China itself has been only marginally affected, lacking any of the truly large waves that devastated the US and India.

If they were competent, wouldn't they have made it look like Israel or Iran or the US or Islamic terrorists were responsible for the outbreak?

> the incompetence of the CCP in the matter.

Oh, how incompetent. They shut down a 10MM population city overnight...

If any other one can do that for a 1MM population city, we'd have a nice vacation in some random city on earth...

Zing! This is how communist regimes work in practice:

* Utter incompetency. Got to promote the 'working class' in positions of authority across the board regardless of actual qualifications. Got to follow ideological prescriptions to a T regardless of real-world outcomes.

* Extreme message control. The communist society is perfect, except for those horrible people that refuse to support the party 100%. And also moving every day closer to perfection. Don't you dare ask questions, because then you become the reason why perfection has not been achieved, and the Party, as the legitimate representative of the people, will be justified to act against you.



Well, if you read it. You can see that one way to frame the discussion is to discuss as it is, and not applying grandiose general statement.

If one say, I often see Chinese government is incompetent, and list some examples; then follow with a proposition that since China claims to be pursuing the communism ideology, and all previous attempts in any government has incompetency.

That's a closely relevant reasoning.

"Communist government utterly incompetency" as a statement is what? Really makes sense to you at all?

And back to the original statement, communism country simply does not apply, since China is not communism...

> China made a lot of mistakes and also kept other countries in the dark for way too long no matter the origin. It can also serve as a warning against authoritarian models of rule.

It's typical CYA stuff from corrupt institutions that cannot abide transparency. For some, the appearance of having made a mistake or having been incompetent is so uncomfortable that they will stonewall all possible investigations to avoid looking like they've made mistakes. Even when those mistakes were just that--mistakes.

Just wanted to second that I think Zeynep Tufekci has consistently had by far the best rational analysis of the pandemic over the past 18+ months. I find her commentary always does a great job at analysis and she never falls into the trap of social pressure affecting her conclusions or messaging.

> I am still confused how people think that it being an accidental "lab leak" is any more damning of the role China played in the initial outbreak.

Huh. I think most people find that if something "happens to you" it's less your fault than if you "made it happen". If your house burns down from a gas line explosion nearby, that's bad luck for you. If it burns down because you had a pile of paper next to your stove while operating it, that's on you.

How it was handled after the fact is probably similar (though again, if it was your own source, then it probably meant you had even earlier warning), but I believe it's mostly down to "things that happen to you versus things you cause".

If you had a grease fire in your kitchen but didn't call the fire department because you didn't want your neighbors to know you couldn't cook the situation would be similar. Especially if it burned down the whole neighborhood.

> China made a lot of mistakes and also kept other countries in the dark for way too long no matter the origin.

Let's make that mistake and blackout in the scale.

Let's compare China's mistake and blackout against US, the closest nation in population and economy scale.

Well, now we see that China's mistake and blackout are indeed less damaging then US' mistake and blackout...

I don't understand your comment,

> Well, now we see that China's mistake and blackout are indeed less damaging then US' mistake and blackout...

What mistake and blackout did the US make?

This is stupid. You can't debate facts. Either SARS-CoV-2 escaped from a lab, or it didn't. Unless somebody comes forward to say, "Yeah, I tore my glove while transporting some test tubes and I got sick two days later," we're never going to know for sure.

The only sensible thing to do is assume that it's at least possible that it was a lab leak and reevaluate the risk-benefit tradeoff of this type of research. That is a debate worth having. The rest is just posturing.

The issue they are addressing, is that some people assert a natural origin of COVID-19 as fact, when in fact as shown in this article, there is no evidence to support it.

So in one sense you're right, we can only debate the likelihood of finding facts to support the theory of lab leak vs natural origin right now. The aim of this paper is to encourage that debate rather than try to silence it, the way the natural origin proponents seem to want to do.

I understand all that. My point is that "debate" is about persuading people to hold your point of view, while this is a question of fact. You can't change a fact no matter how persuasive you are, because facts aren't subject to debate.

Now, in this case, the fact is hidden from us. SARS-CoV-2 had a natural origin or it didn't, but we don't have enough evidence to decide that question either way. In the absence of evidence, people are using prejudice to decide what is true, and trying to persuade others to adopt their prejudices. That is utter folly.

What we should do is give up on trying to establish the facts unless and until new evidence emerges. Instead, let's admit that lab leaks are possible, and regardless of whether it happened in this case, it should cause us to reexamine our assessment of the risks inherent to this type of virology. We have a demonstration of how bad we are at containing epidemics, and how damaging even a relatively benign virus is. We don't know what a more deadly virus would do, but we can safely assume it would be very bad.

Ok, I grant that I was a little harsh on the authors of this paper; they're really only saying that the lab leak is plausible, and we should examine it seriously. Fine. But I still think it's a red herring. Even if we could find patient zero and nail down the animal that infected him to conclusively prove a natural origin, we should still revisit our thinking on whether and how to conduct research with viruses. That we're a long way from that sort of conclusion makes it all the more important.

> In the absence of evidence, people are using prejudice to decide what is true, and trying to persuade others to adopt their prejudices. That is utter folly.

The problem is that prejudice one way leads to never solving the mystery at all, and prejudice the other way leads to having a snowballs chance in hell of solving it.

One party in this saga is actively covering up all evidence. So unless we hunt down what exists now (if anything still does) we’ll never have the answer.

I do agree that the answer doesn’t particularly matter though. It’s best to act as if it were a lab leak, and natural infection both, and change procedure based on that.

There are two parts to this.

Whether COVID came from a lab or not is only of tangential importance. If you have a system in place, it will get breached eventually. Forever and always. It's China. Nobody else is responsible for China.

What is VASTLY more significant, and where most of the debate is centered, is how we responded to the fact that a deadly virus was spreading. The terms "Wuhan-flu," "kung-flu" and "China virus" were direct attempts by political leaders to deflect the responsibility for their lack of action and failure to mitigate the affects of the virus.

Hell, it's a lesson even a child should know: you are not always responsible for the situation you're in whether that's a kid picking on you or COVID, but you are fully responsible for your reaction. My son's favorite word right now is "well...." because as very bright 8 year old, he wants to discuss his reasoning process with me to justify why he acted the way he did. And mine is "well, nothing..." because most of the time when we have these incidents, his reaction is out of step with how we've taught him to behave in the situation.

The political arm of the Trump administration was FULL of "well..." instead of addressing the issue, and the political polarization of the US has allowed a big percentage of the population to justify their own responses to mitigation efforts in the same manner. Because most adults have gotten there by reaching a certain age, not by reaching maturity.

I remember watching in horror as the US was shutting down its borders because the virus had spread to Europe, but people were packed into our major international airports like sardines and remained there for hours. It was and is incredibly stupid and irresponsible.

There is a correct truth value to the claim 'SARS-Cov2 leaked from a lab', but the value is currently unknowable, and reasonable debate can be had to the evidence in either direction.

It is stupid. Previous authors published in the Lancet did call for suppression of debate and facts. From the first sentence of the parent article:

On July 5, 2021, a Correspondence was published in The Lancet called “Science, not speculation, is essential to determine how SARS-CoV-2 reached humans”. The letter recapitulates the arguments of an earlier letter (published in February, 2020) by the same authors, which claimed overwhelming support for the hypothesis that the novel coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic originated in wildlife. The authors associated any alternative view with conspiracy theories by stating: “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin”. The statement has imparted a silencing effect on the wider scientific debate, including among science journalists.

The 2/20 letter stated:

The rapid, open, and transparent sharing of data on this outbreak is now being threatened by rumours and misinformation around its origins. We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.

These are the scientists who wanted to deny facts: Charles Calisher, Dennis Carroll, Rita Colwell, Ronald B Corley, Peter Daszak, Christian Drosten, Luis Enjuanes, Jeremy Farrar, Hume Field, Josie Golding, Alexander Gorbalenya, Bart Haagmans, James M Hughes, William B Karesh, Gerald T Keusch, Sai Kit Lam, Juan Lubroth, John S Mackenzie, Larry Madoff, Jonna Mazet, Peter Palese, Stanley Perlman, Leo Poon, Bernard Roizman, Linda Saif, Kanta Subbarao, Mike Turner

The above statement may sound mild-mannered to a lay person but it had greater import and effect, as outlined by this BMJ article, "The covid-19 lab leak hypothesis: did the media fall victim to a misinformation campaign?" [https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n1656]

Scientists and reporters contacted by The BMJ say that objective consideration of covid-19’s origins went awry early in the pandemic, as researchers who were funded to study viruses with pandemic potential launched a campaign labelling the lab leak hypothesis as a “conspiracy theory.”

A leader in this campaign has been Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit organisation given millions of dollars in grants by the US federal government to research viruses for pandemic preparedness.1 Over the years EcoHealth Alliance has subcontracted out its federally supported research to various scientists and groups, including around $600 000 (£434 000; €504 000) to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Shortly after the pandemic began, Daszak effectively silenced debate over the possibility of a lab leak with a February 2020 statement in the Lancet. “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that covid-19 does not have a natural origin,” said the letter, which listed Daszak as one of 27 coauthors. Daszak did not respond to repeated requests for comment from The BMJ.

In the absence of anything else, the existence of RaTG13 seems like pretty reasonable circumstantial evidence of it being a lab leak. The lab had RaTG13 samples - so either the disease travelled a rather long way from Yunnan to Wuhan or someone in the lab was experimenting with the virus doing something interesting and novel.

My take is that there is sufficient motive for China not wanting it to be a lab leak. It opens up the door for blame and scrutiny, something the Chinese Government hates beyond all other things if we look at their profile of operation.

That alone, and doors that got closed when it came to researching the lab is suspicious.

Whatever it may be, the original sars had a solid origin within 6 months of research.

> the original SARS had a solid origin within 6 months of research

… citation required and also an explanation of what “within 6 month of research”. Exactly when did this 6 month period start and finish?

See Wikipedia on SARS section “origin and animal vectors”

I would encourage everyone interested in the virus origins to read the US DNI Unclassified Summary of Assessment on COVID-19 Origins. While it's inherently somewhat politicized it contains a good, readable summary of the origin hypotheses and evidence.


Does it even matter any more? From where I stand Covid-19 might have been much less devastating globally if it had been treated seriously in the early days.

In fact, based on the initial footage from Wuhan, countries should have adopted more stringent protocols when they repatriated their nationals, i.e. quarantine on arrival etc... If in doubt throw everything including the kitchen sink at just to be sure. But it is what it is. I just hope we've learnt from this and are prepared for the next one.

I guess we have to accept the fact that when Russia or China is involved, then we cannot find the truth. The same can even be said of the US.

The 1977 H1N1 spread was never truly explained, here a possible lab incident in Russia was one of the possibilities:


The Coronavirus from Wuhan, China has a similar story, only this time it is in China.


To me a solid scientific explanation is still useful, e.g. the intimate study of the Wuhan lab into Coronavirus seems risky at best.

It's clearly too virulent to contain as is evident nearly 2 years later.

Yes it matters. If China (and other orgs) are responsible they should be held criminally and civilly liable. Millions have died on account of what appears to have been reckless and dangerous gain of function research. If there's no accountability, it will happen again.

How are you going to do that then? Without a painful rethinking of the world economy, China does what it pleases. That’s the realpolitik.

The US could start by not funding gain of function research in China..

Well, the US media could report on it and the actors in government that funded GOF research in china, and their political supporters so that they could be voted out of office.

The world economy is already being re-thought. The pain has started.

In the UK we quarantined all people coming in from Wuhan, while flights from Chinese cities outside of Wuhan continued to run without restriction, even though it was known that the virus was there too.

There was a lot of wishful thinking and denialism back in January/February 2020.

The only country that got the initial response right was North Korea, they shut all their borders, and were mocked for it too.

It's reasonably plausible that what doomed efforts to keep Covid out of the UK (and the US too!) was travel from Italy, not China. Both countries had pretty decent contact tracing for cases linked to China and those people didn't spread it much, the initial outbreak cities of London and New York had substantial travel to the worst-affected region of Italy due to Fashion Week, and the first exported case from the UK detected in I think Singapore had direct ties to that.

Also, something definitely seems to have gone seriously wrong with Italy's response - they were detecting zero cases up until way too soon before their hospitals collapsed, which suggests they were doing a worse job of testing people hospitalized with potential Covid symptoms than even the US which had screwed up so badly it had an official policy of not doing so due to test shortages. Trouble is, Italy is currently run by the kind of technocrats the media likes, so there was no incentive to drag them through the mud. Instead the press spun other countries as worse because they weren't caught by surprise like Italy and so should've done better, without asking questions about how that surprise happened exactly.

The hospitals never actually collapsed. I remember this at the time - there were many reports claiming they were about to totally run out of beds, and this kept being upgraded by commenters into "they have already run out". I kept asking for links that proved this and not getting any. Later some patients got moved to hospitals in Germany but there was some odd stuff about it: an Italian politician was demanding to know why patients were being moved there when there were nearby hospitals in Lombardy with spare beds.

Overall the idea the hospitals collapsed seems to have been a form of telephone game exaggeration, egged on by media reports claiming there were so many bodies they were piling up (actuality: undertakers were refusing to touch bodies because they are mostly old and had been told it would kill them).

What did collapse were care homes. But not because of COVID. Staff fled in fear, often back home to Eastern Europe before the borders closed, leaving too many elderly to die of dehydration and abandonment.

Japan closed its borders 3 weeks before North Korea. Several other countries too. I suppose one difference between North Korea and Japan is Japan allowed residents to return, however that's unlikely to be an issue for North Korea, given residents aren't allowed to leave in the first place.

That would be true had COVID not also spread through animals and pets. We can’t control the animal response to a pandemic…

It doesn't work. It didn't work for Australia and NZ. It just fuels racism and police abuse. What works is vaccinate as many people as possible even from poorer nations.

The disease was already in curculation in Europe and the US when we found out about it.

Its outcome will change the way we travel for years to come just like 9/11 has.

Why are you saying that it didn't work for NZ? Sure, they still got infections, but the scale is incomparable to those countries that didn't lock down travel.

We live in interesting times, where "conspiracy theories" become true after about 6 months.

The reality of the situation is that people who actually pay attention, not the ones who constantly watch the TV news narrative, have been able to not only understand the true origin of covid, but also predict the entire chain of events that has occurred as a consequence.

When will the general public stop seeing conspiracy theories as imaginary tales? They have been 100% accurate so far with covid.

People who follow conspiracy theories are not stupid - that's why they are looking for what actually happened.

> When will the general public stop seeing conspiracy theories as imaginary tales?

Covid leaked from a lab is viable. Bill Gates injecting microchips into everyone in order to invoke a new global cabal I would argue is firmly in the imaginary tale bracket.

I monitor conspiracy stuff heavily and I never saw anyone there claim there were microchips in the vaccines.

I did however see a bunch of comments in “mainstream” sections mocking a conspiracy I never saw support for.

My wife's cousin certainly believes it. But even in the small southern town she lives in that is full of people who think covid is made up, everyone else else thinks she's crazy for thinking the vaccines have microchips in them.

My mother went all in on the conspiracy theories due to COVID (by now it extends to 5G and Illuminati). From looking at the stuff she shares, there's plenty there about microchips.

So far, I agree. Nothing has been able to show microchips in the vaccines. If its there, it's using technology that is so far ahead of what's in the general domain that it's undetectable. It doesn't seem plausible at all.

Also, why? What gain would come from putting little computers into people's blood?

If it's for some sort of behavioral tracking, it seems like a lot of effort considering everyone is already carrying a computer in their pocket.

I guess I also would like to know why Bill Gates has become such a target for conspiracy theorists lately? My impression has been that he's pretty sincerely involved in improving conditions in the underdeveloped world. I'm wondering if I missed something that caused people to believe he has some horrible intention?

I hope this is taken as an honest question. I know it's easy to bash on folks who buy into conspiracy theories, but I also happen to know (and am fond of) quite a few of them. Bringing up these topics is always delicate, and I'd be interested in getting to know what's going through their minds.

> The biggest reason for Bill Gates conspiracy theories is event 201: https://centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201/ Bill Gates's foundation initiated that. It's a pandemic wargame which happened suspiciously close to the actual pandemic, and it's also the only pandemic wargame they ever did.

I can see why that might seem suspicious, but isn't it equally likely it was a sincere effort to prepare the world for a somewhat periodic event? Especially given previous disease prevention efforts by Gates.

Coincidences also happen surprisingly often, if you watch out for them. For example, there are many known cases throughout history where multiple people independently discovered or invented the same thing at about the same time.

So that Covid19 happened so soon after his wargame doesn't seem suspicious to me, just coincidental, and it shows that Bill knows what he's talking about and that his concerns in this area are worth listening to.

> If it's for some sort of behavioral tracking, it seems like a lot of effort considering everyone is already carrying a computer in their pocket.

Not to mention.. how would you even get the data off the microchips? (Or onto it for that matter, what magical microscopic sensors can detect your behaviour from your blood?) The antenna would be incredibly tiny and if my limited knowledge of wireless tech is anything to go by, that would mean you'd need a very high energy high frequency RF signal. Where's this energy being pulled out of and how is it getting through your skin and doing it without burning you?

About the only possible thing I could think of is something passively readable like an ID. But even then, I'm not convinced something that's microscopic enough to fit in the vaccine needles (which are tiny!) would be detectable through skin and muscle tissue.

Somewhat related--this kind of reminds me of the somewhat common belief that your phone is listening to your conversations, due to oddly relevant ads coming up after discussing some product with a friend.

It seems like if that were true, companies must be employing some wildly amazing technology to solve energy and data issues.

I think I'm put off by quite a few conspiracy theories because they seem to assume the powers at be are amazingly competent, and I just have a hard time believing that's actually the case.

> they seem to assume the powers at be are amazingly competent

This is so true! Half the time they barely manage to get even simple things done because it’s incredibly hard to get consensus or agreement on something. Or things are brought to a standstill due to bureaucracy.

> I guess I also would like to know why Bill Gates has become such a target for conspiracy theorists lately?

He has been warning about this pandemic and has been pushing vaccines. I don't know his motives but the conspiracy theorist narrative is that it's to control population growth, sterilize poorer people etc.

When will the general public stop seeing conspiracy theories as imaginary tales? They have been 100% accurate so far with covid.

This can either mean a) all covid conspiracy theories are 100% accurate or b) some covid conspiracy theories are 100% accurate.

Many covid conspiracy theories are incompatible with one another, so they cannot each be accurate 100%. So you cannot mean a). But b) is a much weaker claim: anything can be called a conspiracy theory, and consequently the claim just ends up being that somebody was right at some point in time. Claim b) has little to no predictive power.

Psychology experiments into conformity show, conclusively, that the vast majority of people will unconsciously distort (to varying degrees) their own perception of reality to fit a prevailing orthodoxy, or 'narrative'. In many contexts many are, in a sense, incapable of unorthodox thinking.

Personally I find this research quite depressing, but revealing about the current environment, since it seems to be getting worse. argumentum ad populum defines the truth since any fact is so easily 'fact-checked' in to oblivion.

The interesting thing about conspiracy theories are that those few which have merit quickly get talked about in the open by credible researchers rather than trivially debunked by the average person after about 5 minutes of internet research.

The lab leak hypothesis has backing from credible scientists. Conspiracy nuts had nothing to do with it's rise to prominence. They just related it to their existing batch of paranoid delusions.

Ivermection has backing from credible scientists in India.

So does Hydroxchloroquine from credible scientists all over the world.

You're just picking and choosing who you call credible.

Please give us a list of the 100% accurate conspiracy theories for COVID.

> but also predict the entire chain of events that has occurred as a consequence

I wouldn't have agreed with you a year ago, but having seen it for myself, it's scary how true it is. All the wild "conspiracy theories" about the vaccine passport notably came to reality 6-8 months or so after being voiced.

What's the conspiracy aspect of that? It was widely understood early on that if anything would be a long-term solution, it's vaccines. And vaccine mandates have been around for many decades, so why was it surprising that they also showed up?

First it was a time were no vaccine was remotely on the radar so media weren't promoting a non-existing solution. It's only months laters that some get approved for experimentation on humans.

Secondly linking participation to social life and freedoms such as moving inside the country (or heck even buying food!) to the vaccination status of an individual is totally unheard of. The last time remotely similar measures were implemented was during WWII were passes where need to go from occupied zone to zone libre. This whole thing is astonishingly shocking and it's scary how many zealots will defend it. Especially now that data shown the virus is only dangerous for a very small segment of the population (obviously increased in countries were large segment of the population is obese).

The vaccine was "on the radar" from the get go - they didn't have one yet, but there was broad awareness that one would have to be made to solve the problem. The initial lockdowns and the (belated) masking mandates were explicitly described as stopgap measures to hold the line.

"Linking participation to social life and freedoms" has been around for decades in form of school vaccine mandates. Mandatory masking had a clear precedent in 1918. If you're surprised by any of this, I don't even know what to say.

It's surprising, because many politicians and many newspapers and magazines spent months publishing articles that such a system was firmly in the realm of crazy conspiracy theories. Stop gaslighting.

"In addition, the international research community has no access to the sites, samples, or raw data."

The reason lab leak is considered a conspiracy theory, is because it's a literal conspiracy theory. The conspiracy being the CCP and potentially U.S. covering up a virus leak from their lab. Of course all sorts of other politics and disinformation get attached.

Nobody has the evidence necessary to make evidence based theories on lab leak. All we have is hand waving and "maybe".

Even if it did happen, what do you do? Sanction china? Tell them they were naughty? What this focus on lab leak without evidence does, is riles up the public, gets psuedo intellectual personalities in on the hand waving, and politics turns it into disinformation. The end result being anti-vaccine, anti-pharma, etc. Lab leak hypotheticals have so far done an incredible disservice.

The US federal government still officially considers a lab leak as a possibility. If it were ever proven then sanctions against China would be likely.


A hallmark of a conspiracy theory is you always have a cartoon villein behind it. In this case the CCP is Dr Evil.

Also will say the approach the conspiracy theorists and foreign policy operatives have taken with this isn't likely to garner any transparency from China going forward. That's bad because fundamentally despite differences the Chinese and the the US have common interests in this.

> A hallmark of a conspiracy theory is you always have a cartoon villein behind it. In this case the CCP is Dr Evil.

That seems to impliy that everyone who thinks the lab leak is possible also thinks it was intentional. Which I didn't see much of, in real life.

It seems to me the consensus has been on "it's plausible" for a while now.

However, sometimes i see people paint a picture where experts are categorically denying the possibility, and i don't understand the field well enough to be sure one way or another.

What would be the minimum necessary steps to create something like Covid-19?

Corollary: If i mix 100 different natural strains together with a couple dozen CRISPR cutters at random, and inject it into a human. What are the chances of a permutation to be infections/dangerous, and transmissible between humans?

An objective, open, transparent debate seems to be no longer possible these days. Maybe it never has been.

It's time we admit a lot of 'science' was done with the express purpose of contradicting a republican president, and then admit that this is the reason why many conservatives do not trust science and scientists and experts anymore. Until we do that, this country will not be able to come together.

The "science" more often than not seems like "scientism" to me.

I've never worked in virus research, but my understanding is that any researcher would be keeping meticulous records of every virus they're studying, as well as detailed information about genetic differences with any variants they have produced. So if the Chinese govt simply seized access to all research projects at the lab at Wuhan they would have been able to compare all viruses within the lab with SARS-Cov-2 within a matter of weeks and have an extremely confident Yes or No as to whether it came from their lab.

I'd love to be refuted on the above by someone with actual viral research experience because the alternative conclusion is that the Chinese govt has known the true origin of SARS-Cov-2 since early 2020 and simply won't tell anyone.

The lab did do that (...or just claimed they did, if you're inclined to believe there's been a cover-up):

>Shi instructed her group to repeat the tests and, at the same time, sent the samples to another facility to sequence the full viral genomes. Meanwhile she frantically went through her own lab’s records from the past few years to check for any mishandling of experimental materials, especially during disposal. Shi breathed a sigh of relief when the results came back: none of the sequences matched those of the viruses her team had sampled from bat caves. “That really took a load off my mind,” she says. “I had not slept a wink for days.”


If she really did do this, why didn't she publish all the records for public perusal? Even if the records can't be proven to not have been altered, it seems this would be a show of good faith.

Now how would anyone else ever get access to that evidence, if the people who physically control it don't want it to be widely known?

If indeed it ever existed, such would almost certainly have been destroyed by now.

Ultimately the source/origin story only matters to narrative or those who would push political narratives of good/evil guilty/innocent. We have to live in the world that exists today regardless of whether it was chance or carelessness that caused it.

Slightly off topic, but with so many viruses crossing the animal-human barrier from bats, has there ever been consideration of eradication?

It's well known that local Chinese authorities silenced a doctor (Li Wenliang) who was giving early warnings about the virus. That to me is a more grave mistake than an accidental lab leak, because they lost a chance to nip it in the bud. Accidents happen and quick response is essential.

An intentional lab leak makes no sense to me at all. Its like starting a fire in your house to spite your neighbour.

> An intentional lab leak makes no sense to me at all. Its like starting a fire in your house to spite your neighbour

But isn’t this precisely the strawman argument that’s effectively destroyed rational discussion about the lab-leak scenario?

As far as I know, absolutely no rational scientist has suggested the intentional ‘bio-weapon’ release of the virus on China’s own population as a realistic scenario, in any way.

But I’ve found whenever discussing an accidental leak with people who oppose it, they almost invariably use this as their main argument rejecting it: “why would the Chinese use this weapon against themselves?”

It seems just another example of the debate being clouded by a politicization that isn’t even there.

I didnt oppose accidental leak possibility. My main argument was that restricting the flow of information has caused (or rather may have caused as @simonh rightly pointed out) the accident to be worse than it could have been.

Perhaps including the second part you quoted wasnt necessary for my point, but if you think that makes my post politically motivated then Im afraid its only because you choose to see it that way.

> An intentional lab leak makes no sense to me at all.

Very few people are arguing that it was intentional. I agree that an intentional lab leak is highly, highly unlikely, but I think an accidental lab leak is at least just as likely as the wet market hypothesis and CCP certainly acted extremely suspicious.

Accidental lab leaks happen often and are owned up to. Not just in China, everywhere (US, France, Russia, Hungary, Sierra Leone, etc): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_laboratory_biosecuri...

If you scroll to the bottom of it, China owned up to accidentally leaking brucellosis mere months before Covid became a thing, sourced by China Daily (CP's English website). That's why I don't get the accidental lab leak hypothesis. It's inconsistent with previous ones unless you make some 4D chess plays in reasoning.

As for suspiciousness, is that action different than in other situations, or are we they just behaving like that all the time and most of the West is only learning about it now? I'm leaning towards the latter.

The simplest explanation is that they didn't report it because they thought they could contain it; and why embarrass yourself when you believe that you can avoid that?

It might not even be something initially decided by those on top. Just as likely that the lab management decided to sweep it under the rug to avoid damage to their reputation, and then by the time it blew up, the higher-ups couldn't admit to being ignorant without damage to their reputation; and so on, all the way to the top. It happens all the time in bureaucracies.

I just hope the objective truth prevails whatever it turns out to be, regardless of politics the world needs to know in detail how pandemics can arise if we want to be more effective at preventing them.

> and CCP certainly acted extremely suspicious.

They would have acted the same regardless of what the initial case was caused by. That's just the way they roll.

The initial response to the pandemic would likely be the same no matter of the cause; however, the later actions of restricting international researcher access to trace the possible origins is a bit different issue.

Perhaps. It still paints them in a very untrustworthy light though and since some of their actions (actively suppressing that covid was even a thing) directly caused many deaths, they are definitely guilty, even if not of everything.

I’m not saying it proves it was a lab leak, just that I don’t trust them, so when they say it wasn’t, that’s rather meaningless. And since the WHO weren’t allowed to investigate for over a year, that they say they didn’t find any evidence is also meaningless. The fact that the lab leak hypothesis kept getting shut down early for less than scientific reasons (calling it racist for example) also doesn’t help building trust.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

All major world governments do illegal and shady acts when faced with situations that may result in the need for extreme ass-covering. (cf. "righteous strike")

If it were an accidental lab leak: so what? How does that change things? If anything, it would accelerate a {trade,cold,cyber,shooting} war with China, which is universally a bad thing, even in pursuit of justice for something that was likely accidental (if indeed it came from a lab, which is presently undefined/unknown to the public).

> If it were an accidental lab leak: so what?

> pursuit of justice

It has nothing to do with a pursuit of justice, at least not for me. It's about understanding where the disease came from and how it jumped to humans, so that we have a better shot at stopping something like this happening again.

I suppose a better question in that case would be: is it possible to engineer something like SARS-CoV-2 in a lab (perhaps via existing GOF techniques) if it were one's explicit intent to cause a damaging pandemic?

That's a more important question about whether or not this particular virus came out of a lab or not, because, if the answer to the above is "yes", then we need to take whatever your/whoever's proposed mitigation/prevention steps even if this thing came about via natural pathways. Even banning GOF research in labs might not be sufficient, if malicious people (wooo "bioterrorism") could go about doing this outside of labs.

Also, we need to plan and prepare for the next global respiratory pandemic in any event, as we know they happen periodically regardless of origin. That's true even if we never authoritatively understand the origin of this one.

Your argument is that we should take very stringent preventative measures whether or not COVID leaked from a lab.

While I agree with that, what this misses is that knowledge of if and how the virus escaped is valuable knowledge that helps us by showing us where the flaws in our current processes are.

Flight safety is a fitting analogy. You need to analyze exactly why a plane crashed so that you can see the gaps in current safety processes. It is that iteration (crash -> analyze -> improve -> crash -> analyze -> improve) over many generations that is why flying is so safe. Without this, it's armchair theory and you are not left with a system that is robust to the real world.

How is it valuable?

If it could be made in a lab and released (intentionally or accidentally), another could be made in a lab and released (intentionally), and our strategy should be exactly the same even if SARS-CoV-2 is of entirely natural origin, as the entire planet now knows the destructive value of this class of bioweapons (if constructing such artificially is within our technology).

The US ban on GOF research suggests that it is believed to be technically feasible to achieve this. This means we must proceed strategically as a species as if the lab leak hypothesis were true, because over time the probability of an intentional lab leak approaches 1. The origin of this particular pandemic remains irrelevant in that case.

> How is it valuable?

> our strategy should be exactly the same even if SARS-CoV-2 is of entirely natural origin

This is still missing the point. The point is that studying the details of how it leaked (if it did leak) gives you information that you can use to refine safety processes. Without these details, you are left with mere armchair theorizing about what new procedures are necessary and what the flaws are in current procedures.

Read about the history of plane crashes, where the details of how planes crashed were used to improve flight safety.


- United Airlines 232 "The NTSB later determined the accident was caused by a failure by mechanics to detect a crack in the fan disk ... The accident led the FAA to order modification of the DC-10's hydraulic system and to require redundant safety systems in all future aircraft."

- TWA 800 "It was everybody's nightmare: a plane that blew up in midair for no apparent reason ... most likely after a short circuit in a wire bundle ... The FAA has since mandated changes to reduce sparks from faulty wiring and other sources."

Now how could such improvements have been made without knowing how the plane crashed?

I think we're talking at cross purposes. (In any case, thanks for explaining!) I'm talking about defensive measures that a species needs to take to protect itself against dangerous respiratory viruses. You're talking about security measures that a laboratory needs to take to protect the world from the escape of things from containment.

While finding out the answer to the latter is interesting, I think "a ban on GOF research" is likely closer to the answer to the former, which reduces the significance of the latter.

We're going to see more of these, whether from SARS-CoV mutations, bioterror, or future lab leaks. The large-scale changes our society needs to make are identical even if we were only facing a subset of these threats (ie if lab leaks could be completely eliminated, which is what I believe you're talking about).

I think we need to go beyond fixing whatever lab leak may have allowed this virus out this time. We shouldn't have humans working in proximity to experimental viruses at all. Virus research should be done entirely by robots inside sealed containers that are never opened. The bits of technology for this all exist, though it'll take some integration to make it all work. Anything less risks billions of life-years.

While silencing Li was appalling, in practice it probably didn’t slow down recognition and escalation of the issue much as there were other doctors already aware of it and raising the alarm. Wuhan CDC had been alerted on 27th December, and the WHO had been told there was a pneumonia cluster of unknown origin on 31st December, 3 days before Li was strong armed.

All the instances of messing up found so far were incompetence and bureaucratic bullying. This certainly obstructed the free flow of information and delayed effective investigation and action though, but there’s no real sign of a concerted cover up because there were several lines of investigation in the open from early on that were never shut down.

But probably the best thing that happened early WAS free flow on information from China, they sequenced the genome early and released it to everyone, that put the mRNA vaccines on a fast track ...

They heavily curated what info was released, and obstructed independent investigations within China, but yes they did share some critical information fairly rapidly.


1) Natural bat origin

2) Natural non-bat origin

3) Originated elsewhere (per above) and broke out in Wuhan

4) Unintentional lab leak of a natural strain

5) Unintentional lab leak from GoF research

6) Unintentional lab leak from bioweapons research

7) Intentionally released to by the CCP

8) Intentionally released by internal opponents of the CCP

9) Intentionally released by external opponents of China

10) ... and so on

I can come up with sensical (if not always likely) scenarios which fit all of those, and many more.

Most of the scenarios suggest we should be doing much more.

For example:

* If there was an unintentional lab leak of a strain in GoF research, China knows things about COVID19 we don't. They took extreme measures. It's reasonable to assume they might have had some reason.

* If this was a "test" of a bioweapon -- understand China's and the world's response -- it's worth treating as a dry run (note that this does not necessitate Chinese-run test)

* If this were a bioweapon, we should take long COVID very, very seriously, since the best bioweapons are designed to cripple rather than to kill.

What's odd to me is that, as far as I know, no one has compiled a list, evidence, or implications.

> An intentional lab leak makes no sense to me at all. Its like starting a fire in your house to spite your neighbour.

Just playing the devil's advocate here, but, I'd argue that it makes quite a lot of sense from a biological warfare perspective in terms of intelligence gathering on how different societies and countries behave against such a threat.

In particular, the pandemic has brought to the surface the how large schism between the two parties in the US, the constant politicization of science and nearly every other topic, the vast differences in perspective of different groups of the population, and provided information on the outcomes of different measures in different cultural landscapes, the level of preparation of different countries, the time it takes to figure out the correct response, and the responses of the people in guideline changes.

It has also shown that a well prepared, authoritarian country, with mRNA vaccines in the works can incur very minimal losses in terms of population due to swift vaccine rollout, hard lock-downs and strict measures.

China's losses compared to say UK, US, India, Russia and others have been very small if the data they have actually provided are to be believed.

But all of this is pure speculation from a random netizen so take it with huge grains of salt.

If that indeed was a master plan then Id argue it backfired massively, that information is not worth the losses and the risks, and is exactly why modern armies don't deploy biological or chemical weapons or zeppelins (because they are hard to control and are not effective against armies).

Could you expand why it backfired massively?

I did in the next part of the sentence, because the cost of that information was too big, even for China

I disagree; although I have no reason to assume that this was intentional, I can certainly imagine that looking back at what happened, many military planners would consider the current cost of Covid-19 to China as completely reasonable if it meaningfully changes e.g. ww3. Taking their stats at face value, <5000 deaths in China is something appropriate for a small conflict, and the economic cost from a country-leader perspective is effectively zero if your competitors bear the same cost or even a benefit if your competitors fare worse, which arguably happened.

It would take some years until we properly see all the consequences, but I wouldn't be surprised if afterwards historians would note Covid-19 as a factor that benefited China in their long term competition w. "the west", not as a cost.

Like, 5k deaths is something that I wouldn't approve of for almost any reason, but looking back at documented 20th century history, planners (both in China and elsewhere) were clearly willing to pay such and even much higher costs for reasons of global politics/power play, so the mere existence of such a cost by itself certainly does not mean that it's implausible that someone would intentionally order a thing like that.

Could you elaborate exactly on what that cost was? Credibility? Deaths? Economic?

What I'm saying is I think the risk itself is cost enough for them not to do it. Add whatever the losses are or we believe they are on top of that.


What you're proposing seems possible, but without any sort of evidence it's hard to see it as anything other than FUD.

That being said, you're absolutely right that the virus has generated all this data. What's suspect is whether someone created the virus with the intention just to collect that data.

Perhaps not necessarily created for this purpose, but assuming it leaked, and information about the lethality and transmissibility was known in models, it doesn't seem implausible that the approach of CCP didn't change as the events unfolded.

I didn't mean to spread FUD, I stated from the beginning that it was just a hypothetical scenario, and we should be making hypothetical scenarios to see how events unfold over time, if we can't have these discussions, then are we doing anything but regurgitating information?

Or COVID was leaked into the public in China by an actor other than China.

China figured it out and unleashed a global pandemic by opening the borders to not be a victim of day the CIA.

It’s possible it’s intentionally leaked but not by China

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