[conspire] (forw) Re: [skeptic] The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora???s box at Wuhan?

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue May 25 12:37:23 PDT 2021

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Date: Tue, 25 May 2021 12:35:13 -0700
From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
To: skeptic at linuxmafia.com
Subject: Re: [skeptic] The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open
	Pandora???s box at Wuhan?
Organization: If you lived here, you'd be $HOME already.

Quoting Terry W. Colvin (fortean1 at mindspring.com):

> The source organization is reputable; however, the author is unknown.  He seems even-handed although he does
> favor virologists (Wuhan lab or elsewhere) making the SARS-2 more easily transmissible.  Comments welcome.
> https://thebulletin.org/2021/05/the-origin-of-covid-did-people-or-nature-open-pandoras-box-at-wuhan/

Author Nicholas Wade is a known-competent (but there's a catch; wait for
it) science journalist, albeit sometimes a bit of a loose cannon, and
has raised the significant ire of scientific specialists over, in their
view, his misrepresentations of their work, on a couple of occasions.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Wade (See the "discuss" page for
some head-spining wikilawyering about the various controversies.)

He's an intelligent and somewhat fallible educated layman.  What he's
not, is a virologist (nor am I, of course).

Longtime conservative political journalist David Frum considers Nicholas
Wade something of a nutcase on this subject, pointing out that Wade had
accused not _only_ the Beijing government of coverup, but also accused
the Trump Administration's science bureaucrats, the USA scientific
community, and the entirety of the mainstream press of complicity in
that coverup:
Of course, Frum isn't a virologist, either.

I'm only just now reading Wade's latest piece.  (Thanks for the
reference.)  I note with amusement the title:

   The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?

That makes me immediately think of
http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/lexicon.html#betteridge :

   Betteridge's Law

   "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the
   word 'no'."

   British technology journalist Ian Betteridge made this observation in a
   February 2009 article, reasoning that journalists resort to that style
   of headline when they know the story is probably bullshit, and don't
   have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it.

(Wade's title cannot _literally_ be answered "no", but the point about
use of the ending question mark in clickbait titles arguably applies.)

Perhaps I can comment more after slogging through Mr. Wade's latest, but 
here's the larger problem:  We're all at risk from Dunning-Kruger
Effect, and we're all now amateur virologists -- except for the very few
who are professional virologists.

A year ago, as I was getting ready for surgery, I mentioned the Wuhan
Institute of Virology theory to my surgeon, and he vehemently asserted
that he _totally_ believed the pathogen was made there, and cited his 
family being from Taiwan, whose government and people had learned to
expect routine lying from Beijing, and to double-check all information
from the mainland.  And of course the Taiwanese have and have had
reason, but my surgeon isn't a virologist, either.

Dr. James Duehr _is_ a virologist.

That's his FAQ entitled "Wny SARS-CoV-2 Is Not Connected to the Wuhan
Institute of Virology in Any Way".  He also cites his reasons for being
confident that the virus is not manmade anywhere else, either.  In a
nutshell, he thinks it's highly likely ('by a landslide') that
SARS-CoV-2 arose zoonotically in humans from bats or other species, and 
is not connected to Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) or any other
laboratory in any way.

His science details look pretty convincing to me, including but not
limited to specific evisceration of several pivotal points made
(erroneously) about WIV work in Wade's current paper.

OTOH, I'm a senior sysadmin, not a virologist.  You be the judge, and
you, and you, and you.  Happy spending of y'all's Dunning-Krugerrands.

Cheers,                         Grammarian's bar joke #22:  The past, present, 
Rick Moen                       and future walked into a bar.  It was tense.
rick at linuxmafia.com                                                           
McQ! (4x80)

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