One Year Ago –The Wuhan Lab – Leak Theory : Did you say ‘Conspiracy Theory’? [UPDATE : A day to remember Carl Sagan]

“If you use ‘conspiracy theory’ or ‘conspiracy theorist’ pejoratively, ask yourself if it’s possible that you are a dumb, profoundly gullible d-bag for buying the narratives being fed to you.”

Professor Dave Collum — Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University (Twitter, May 25 2021)

May 30 2021 — From day one, the Wuhan lab-leak theory was dismissed by the Main Stream Media as a ‘Conspiracy Theory’ that only crackpots would consider plausible. The claim that COVID-19 is man-made was so ‘outrageous’ that it was simply banned on social media. Today, the same theory is taken very seriously as top scientists make it clear that this hypothesis is entirely plausible. Once again, we must ask why the MSM have been so wrong? How and why did this happen? Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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“We’ve arranged a society based on science and technology, in which nobody understands anything about science technology. And this combustible mixture of ignorance and power, sooner or later, is going to blow up in our faces. Who is running the science and technology in a democracy if the people don’t know anything about it?”

Carl Sagan

UPDATE (May 30 2022) — David Baltimore — Virologist and former president of the California Institute of Technology — won the 1975 Nobel Prize for his work with viruses.

Professor Baltimore was the first expert to point out that the furin cleavage site in the viral sequence, with its arginine codons, was the smoking gun for the origin of the virus.

“These features make a powerful challenge to the idea of a natural origin for SARS2,” Baltimore concluded.

A few days ago,  economist Jeffrey Sachs called for an independent investigation of information held by U.S.-based institutions that could shed light on the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sachs and his co-author, Neil Harrison, a Columbia University professor of molecular pharmacology and therapeutics, said that federal agencies and universities possess evidence that has not been adequately reviewed, including virus databases, biological samples, viral sequences, email communications, and laboratory notebooks. [JEFFREY SACHS PRESENTS EVIDENCE OF POSSIBLE LAB ORIGIN OF COVID-19]

Why now? Well, it turns out that US scientists had submitted an grant proposal to a division of the Defense Department called the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, laying out plans to insert a furin cleavage site into a bat coronavirus.

“We do know that the insertion of such FCS [furin cleavage site] sequences into SARS-like viruses was a specific goal of work proposed by the EHA-WIV-UNC partnership within a 2018 grant proposal (“DEFUSE”) that was submitted to the US Defense Advanced Research Projects (DARPA),” Sachs and Harrison write.

[EHA is a reference to EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit research group based in New York City that has received more than $118 million in grants and contracts from federal agencies. WIV, or the Wuhan Institute of Virology, is a Chinese research organization that collaborated with EcoHealth Alliance in the past and was listed as a subcontractor on the DARPA grant. ]

The overlap between the virus and the sequence found in human lungs is part of the reason that Covid-19 is so damaging to the respiratory system.

“For a research team assessing the pandemic potential of SARS-related coronaviruses, the FCS of human ENaC — an FCS known to be efficiently cleaved by host furin present in the target location (epithelial cells) of an important target organ (lung), of the target organism (human) — might be a rational, if not obvious, choice of FCS to introduce into a virus in order to alter its infectivity, in line with other work performed previously,” Sachs and Harrison write.

Let me summarize.

The sequence encoding the FCS of the pandemic virus contained two consecutive CGG arginine codons. This codon usage is unusual for a natural bat SARS-related coronaviruses, for which fewer than 1 in 30 arginine codons are CGG.

On the other hand, this encoding is optimal for humans for which most arginine codons are CGG codons. That sequence was known to be a functional furin cleavage site and was extensively studied at UNC. The insertion of such FCS sequences into SARS-like viruses was a specific goal of a 2018 grant proposal proposed by the EHA-WIV-UNC partnership.

And lo and behold, a year later this exact virus emerged just a few yards from the WIV. [Wuhan Institute of Virology] But it is just a coincidence…

What do you think?

PS — Allow me to repeat a small point. On May 15 2021, I reminded you that:

“The intermediary host species of SARS1 was identified within four months of the epidemic’s outbreak, and the host of MERS within nine months. But 16 months after the outbreak of this pandemic, neither the original bat population, nor the intermediate species to which SARS2 might have jumped, has been identified.”

And to this day, this statement remains true. That link — if it exists — is still unknown… I now believe that the link will NEVER be found. It simply does not exist!

I know… Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Yet, this is becoming a serious issue for the proponents of the natural origin hypothesis. Amazingly, the ODNI report does not say a word about this issue… Why on earth not?

“Science is more than a body of knowledge, it’s a way of thinking. A way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility. If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those who tell us that something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we’re up for grabs for the next charlatan, political or religious, who comes ambling along.”

Carl Sagan

END of UPDATE

“In light of ongoing investigations into the origin of COVID-19 and in consultation with public health experts, we will no longer remove the claim that COVID-19 is man-made from our apps.”

Facebook (May 26 2021)

The Washington Post ran an interesting piece this week : “Timeline: How the Wuhan lab-leak theory suddenly became credible”

The source of the coronavirus that has left more than 3 million people dead around the world remains a mystery.

But in recent months the idea that it emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) — once dismissed as a ridiculous conspiracy theory — has gained new credence.

How and why did this happen? For one, efforts to discover a natural source of the virus have failed.

Second, early efforts to spotlight a lab leak often got mixed up with speculation that the virus was deliberately created as a bioweapon. That made it easier for many scientists to dismiss the lab scenario as tin-hat nonsense.

But a lack of transparency by China and renewed attention to the activities of the Wuhan lab have led some scientists to say they were too quick to discount a possible link at first.

“It was ultimately recognized, as Poincaré pointed out, that a complete conspiracy is itself a law of nature! Poincaré then proposed that there is such a law of nature.”

Richard Feynman — Physics Nobel Prize (1965)

As Professor Stephan Lewandowsky — Chair in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Bristol — wrote, conspiracy theories are not harmless fun.

“9/11 was a false flag operation planned by the US government. That same government sold weapons to Iran in order to fund Central American terrorists, and also created AIDS to exterminate gay people, and the CIA organized a fake vaccination drive in Afghanistan to get Osama bin Laden’s family DNA.

There is no doubt that two of those conspiracies actually happened and were hushed up by the conspirators, whereas the other two are widely dismissed as fantastical conspiracy theories.

This is the long-standing dilemma confronting philosophers: conspiracies do occur and they can seem quite outlandish and unexpected once publicly revealed—who would have thought that Oliver North would sell arms to Iran from the basement of the White House and launder the money to supply arms to Nicaraguan rebels in contravention of explicit legal prohibitions.

But by the same token, most conspiracy theories are bunkum—we can be quite certain that the US Government did not create AIDS or fly airliners into the Twin Towers.

What are the differences between conspiracy theories that are almost certainly false and the evidence for actual conspiracies?

This is a non-trivial philosophical challenge, but it is an important one to sort out, given that the mere exposure to conspiracy theories can undermine people’s trust in government services and institutions.”

Understanding the differences between conspiracy theories that are almost certainly false and the evidence for actual conspiracies is not an easy task.

The job requires years of serious research that few journalists are willing to do nowadays.

Sadly, I no longer expect such serious research from most journalists. The Iraqi WMD fiasco and the Steele dossier are recent evidence that they will never learn.

To quote Richard Feynman:

“I don’t know what’s the matter with these people: they don’t learn by understanding. They learn by some other way – by rote, or something. Their knowledge is so fragile!”

This is a serious problem. And a solution is badly needed.

PS — On May 26 2021, Joe Biden ordered the US intelligence community to intensify its efforts to study the origins of coronavirus, adding that it will continue to press for China to participate in a full investigation.

“I have now asked the intelligence community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days.”

This week, I will attempt to guess the conclusions of the US IC investigation into the origin of the COVID pandemic as we will learn them from the media when the Fall returns. And this is not a Sunday joke!

“When I first saw the furin cleavage site in the viral sequence, with its arginine codons, I said to my wife it was the smoking gun for the origin of the virus. These features make a powerful challenge to the idea of a natural origin for SARS2.”

David Baltimore — Virologist and former president of the California Institute of Technology

1975 Nobel Prize for his work with viruses

Facebook lifts ban on Wuhan lab leak theory after censoring earlier reports

Facebook has retracted its ban on posts that claim COVID-19 was man-made or manufactured as support grows for a wider investigation into the origins of the virus.

The social media giant banned any content that asserted COVID-19 was man-made or manufactured in February but told Politico the decision has now been reversed.

The change in Facebook’s policy came following calls for a fuller investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

REFERENCES

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The Wuhan lab-leak theory : Did you say ‘Conspiracy Theory’?

One Year Ago –The Wuhan Lab – Leak Theory : Did you say ‘Conspiracy Theory’? [UPDATE : A day to remember Carl Sagan]

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