I chanced to glance at my toothpaste tube the other day, and noticed written there the words “Made in China.” That was a Colgate origins update for me, you might say. I then scrambled to find something that was not made in China: my M100 mouse, my Sony wireless speaker, both bore the fated words. But at least the Bamix kitchen wand I was about to use to froth some soy milk had something else written on it: Made in Switzerland. So not everything was made in China. Although by way of a slap in the chops, a nearby box of lateral flow tests was (see featured image).

With “Made in China” echoing in my mind, my thoughts turned to Covid. In a way, I thought, it didn’t matter whether Covid escaped from a laboratory or arose because of squalid conditions in a wet market: it still bore the same stamp. Made in China. Intent to inflict harm does not accompany either origin scenario, but recklessness certainly does. There is though a third possibility, which would absolve China of recklessness too: that guano collectors picked up Covid in a cave and brought it to Wuhan as unwitting carriers.

[Aside: we in the UK need not gloat about our record of animal husbandry, given what happened re: BSE. Prions are intrinsically rather frightening. From wiki:

In 2015, researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that plants can be a vector for prions. When researchers fed hamsters grass that grew on ground where a deer that died with chronic wasting disease (CWD) was buried, the hamsters became ill with CWD, suggesting that prions can bind to plants, which then take them up into the leaf and stem structure, where they can be eaten by herbivores, thus completing the cycle. It is thus possible that there is a progressively accumulating number of prions in the environment.

This story seems unlikely to me. Still, unlikely stories make for great fantasy apocalypses.]

Anyway, it seemed like a good time to update myself on the state of evidence regarding Covid origins theories. If you remember the evidence I listed as compiled in the article by Nicholas Wade, [who by the way now has a book out on Covid’s origins he’d like you to buy] you will know that the odds seemed to be heavily stacked in favour of a lab escape, but that the natural origins theory could not be discounted. What have developments been since?

JULY

Senate Committee hearings:

Senator Rand Paul, KY: Dr Fauci, knowing that it is a crime to lie to congress, do you wish to retract your statement of May 11th where you claimed that the NIH never funded gain of function research in Wuhan?

Dr Anthony Fauci: Senator Paul, I have never lied before the congress and I do not retract that statement.

… a debate about what constitutes gain of function …

Dr Anthony Fauci: Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about, quite frankly, and I would like to say that officially. You do not know what you are talking about…

AUGUST

Top of the pops for August has to be the US intelligence services analysis. This first landed on the gawping Joe Biden’s desk, and he read it thoroughly, comprehended it well, and then authorised an unclassified summary to be released to the public on the 27th. Of eight (count ’em) intelligence community “elements”, four thought the outbreak began via natural exposure to an infected animal, one thought it escaped from the laboratory, and three could not make a determination either way. The “consensus” was that the coronavirus was not a bioweapon & that the authorities were blindsided by its appearance.

The IC judges they will be unable to provide a more definitive explanation for the origin of COVID-19 unless new information allows them to determine the specific pathway for initial natural contact with an animal or to determine that a laboratory in Wuhan was handling SARSCoV-2 or a close progenitor virus before COVID-19 emerged.

Interesting that they should make such a sweeping statement when it seems obvious even to an informed bystander that there is plenty of information lurking in the viral genome. We have come a long way in the 100 years since the New Synthesis. To make an obvious point: an outbreak commencing from a single locus has an entirely different genetic construction than an outbreak arising from a population of virus adapting to a new host. So also does the unfolding future of a virus’s genetics vary depending on whether it was acquired from an animal in the wild or an animal in a lab, even if both alternatives represent a single species-jump event. How so? A hapless bat-guano collector would acquire a virus that is better adapted to living in a bat than a human, which must perforce undergo rapid selection to improve its fit to people. A virus that had been cycled through e.g. humanised mice would already be well adapted to infecting people, and would change less substantially. Plenty of scope there, one might think, to discriminate between the alternative origins theories. [The infectivity of Covid at its appearance is a measure of its adaptation to humans, and an inverse measure of the likelihood of a natural origin.]

SEPTEMBER

After suing the NIH for failing to release requested information under FOI laws, The Intercept finally got the goods in September:

Documents obtained by The Intercept contain new evidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the nearby Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment, along with their collaborator, the U.S.-based nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, have engaged in what the U.S. government defines as “gain-of-function research of concern,” intentionally making viruses more pathogenic or transmissible in order to study them, despite stipulations from a U.S. funding agency that the money not be used for that purpose.

The experiments involved making a Frankenvirus and infecting Frankenmice, which suffered more from an infection by the new virus than the original.

Not to worry, these Frankenviruses don’t remotely resemble Covid, so these cackling mad labcoats could not have started the pandemic that way. I also refer the reader back to the exchange between Paul and Fauci above.

==

Another piece of evidence emerged a fortnight later in the form of another grant proposal by our friends the EcoHealth Alliance unearthed by the team of, ahem, oddballs, calling themselves DRASTIC, which apparently stands for “A bunch of people on the internet searching for clues.” The grant proposal was rejected by DARPA, but so apparently was Victor Frankenstein’s. According to The Intercept again:

…the proposal describes the process of looking for novel furin cleavage sites in bat coronaviruses the scientists had sampled and inserting them into the spikes of SARS-related viruses in the laboratory.

The Intercept quotes Alina Chan, who has an upcoming book about Covid she’d love you to buy:

“Let’s look at the big picture: A novel SARS coronavirus emerges in Wuhan with a novel cleavage site in it. We now have evidence that, in early 2018, they had pitched inserting novel cleavage sites into novel SARS-related viruses in their lab,” said Chan. “This definitely tips the scales for me. And I think it should do that for many other scientists too.”

Yes, it’s that darned furin cleavage site again. Covid isn’t supposed to have it, but it does. It might have evolved naturally, but that seems like a long shot. Now we know that our giggling splicer friends wanted DARPA to pay them to insert one, but DARPA said no. We don’t know whether an alternative funding stream was tapped for this vital and risk-free experiment.

==

Also in September came a strike in favour of the natural origins theory. Bat coronaviruses were found in Laos that had a 95% match to Covid:

To make the discovery, Marc Eloit, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris and his colleagues in France and Laos, took saliva, faeces and urine samples from 645 bats in caves in northern Laos. In three horseshoe (Rhinolophus) bat species, they found viruses that are each more than 95% identical to SARS-CoV-2, which they named BANAL-52, BANAL-103 and BANAL-236.

Why they had to give them such portentous names is a mystery.

Researchers say that parts of [the three BANAL viruses’] genetic code bolster claims that the virus behind COVID-19 has a natural origin.

However, 95% similar is not that similar. Not similar enough that these BANAL strains might have given rise to Covid directly. In fact:

…the Laos viruses don’t contain the so-called furin cleavage site on the spike protein that further aids the entry of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses into human cells.

Right, so it’s got this key piece missing that no other coronavirus has, this piece that our humanised mice jugglers wanted to insert into a coronavirus, and that makes it perfectly obvious that it has a natural origin.

OCTOBER

Covid-19: Lancet investigation into origin of pandemic shuts down over bias risk

The work of a task force commissioned by the Lancet into the origins of covid-19 has folded after concerns about the conflicts of interest of one its members and his ties through a non-profit organisation to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Task force chair Jeffrey Sachs, economics professor at Columbia University in New York, told the Wall Street Journal that he had shut down the scientist led investigation into how the covid-19 pandemic started because of concerns about its links to the EcoHealth Alliance, a non-profit organisation run by task force member Peter Daszak.

BMJ

Daszak is a name we remember, as the orchestrator of an early letter to the Lancet referring to the lab-leak hypothesis as a “conspiracy theory.” The authors of that letter declared that they had no conflicts of interest. It subsequently emerged that Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance had been funding the WIV for research that might in hindsight be considered reckless:

But Daszak’s story began falling apart last November when the non-profit group US Right to Know published emails gathered through a freedom of information request that showed he had orchestrated the Lancet statement without disclosing that he was funding Shi Zhengli [Bat Lady] through grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Daszak’s EcoHealth was also mentioned above in connection with Frankenvirus grant proposals.

==

On 5th October, the WSJ carried an opinion piece titled: “Science Closes In on Covid’s Origins” by Richard Muller and Steven Quay. The authors were in no doubt that the “natural origins” theory is kaput. Top on their list of reasons is the lack of evidence of a host shift. As already mentioned, a bat coronavirus is, naturally, adapted to infect bats. If it infects a human, it is likely to do so in a suboptimal way, to the extent that said human is unlikely to pass on the virus to another human:

Within months of the SARS-1 and MERS outbreaks, scientists found animals that had hosted the viruses before they made the jump to humans. More than 80% of the animals in affected markets were infected with a coronavirus.

Naturally if the animal reservoir for Covid had been found, it would have been trumpeted from the ramparts, and people would have poked conspiracy theorists in the chest saying, “See! We told you so, you losers.” That it was so easy to find such a reservoir in the previous two analogous coronavirus outbreaks, but rather difficult/impossible this time is an obvious strike against the natural origins theory.

This, together with the presence of the anomalous furin cleavage site, means that,

…the odds enormously favor a lab leak, far more significantly than the 99% confidence usually required for a revolutionary scientific discovery.

Muller is an emeritus professor at UC Berkeley (and I presume the same Muller as in Berkeley Earth), and Quay, by some uncanny confluence of events, has a book out on Covid’s origins he’d like you to buy.

==

Also on 5th October, an article in the Telegraph discussed the grant proposal rejected by DARPA, as well as the new Laotian BANAL strains:

So far the closest naturally occurring virus to Sars-CoV-2 is a strain called Banal-52, which was reported from Laos last month and shares 96.8 per cent of the genome. Yet scientists expect a direct ancestor to be around a 99.98 per cent match – and none has been found so far.

The Telegraph quotes “a WHO collaborator, who has asked not to be named for fear of reprisals.” Perhaps “collaborator” is a poor term. “Reprisals” is certainly an ominous one. But the anonymous expert explained the grant proposal in terms that anyone could understand: the plan was to harvest multiple virus strains, sequence them, create an “average”, build the RNA sequence for that average form, then use living cells as teeny-weeny factories to manufacture the actual virus that the RNA coded for.

The plans are in addition to other proposals made in the Darpa documents, including inserting a section into existing viruses to make them more infectious to humans and inoculating wild bats with aerosolised engineered spike proteins from viruses.

The idea seems to have been to try to create an aerosolised vaccine: you synthesise the spike proteins and hose them around the place, then see if your victims, er, experimental subjects, develop immunity to the actual virus. Seems like a rational approach to me.

==

Finally, I wanted to mention a story in the Mail:

What are they hiding? At the start of Covid many scientists believed it likely leaked from Wuhan lab – until a conference call with Patrick Vallance changed their minds. We asked for his emails about the call. This is what we got . . .

’nuff said. We obviously need those armchair warriors at DRASTIC to get in on the game to find out more.

43 Comments

  1. Good to see that Richard Muller has weighed in. He would also be a good person to comment again on the bad science behind the hockey stick, to start to educate those behind ‘The Trick’.

    Alina Chan “has an upcoming book about Covid she’d love you to buy” like others but she’s the only one with Matt Ridley willing to be her co-author. I’d probably start there, if I was going to buy a book about it.

    Great overview, thank you.

    Like

  2. Statistically nearly everything is outsourced to China. And financed by America. It is done to save money without worrying much about safety and accidental spills.
    So why not illegal viral research?

    Like

  3. Thanks for the update JIT, very interesting post.

    It reminded me about this BBC piece from 10 July titled “Covid origins: Scientists weigh up evidence over virus’s origins”
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-57782955

    this snippet –
    “Around that time, some scientists who had publicly dismissed the lab leak scenario came under attack, particularly on social media.
    One who has worked on Sars-Cov-2’s evolutionary origins since the pandemic’s early days says the evidence points to a natural spillover. He told me he considered leaving his field of research because the abuse had become so bad.
    The researcher, who did not want to be identified because they feared further harassment, said: “I’ve had email hacks, emails that attempt to entrap me, and claims that I’ve faked data and am part of some sort of a systemic cover-up. And others have had it far, far worse.”

    ring any bells !!!

    Like

  4. On the wet market story:
    1) We were told that the most likely transmission path was from bat to pangolin to human. But people in Wuhan don’t eat bats, and the relevant bats lived hundreds of kilometres away. And pangolins are very large river beasts which are not eaten, don’t live in China, whose sale is illegal, but parts of which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. So the market theory requires unsaleable inedible bats being stocked above a large tank containing an unsaleable, illegal and highly visible beast imported from hundreds of kilometres away.
    2) We were told that people who’d been to the market had fallen ill. We weren’t told what they’d bought and eaten, though presumably they were asked.

    The letter to the Lancet describing the lab leak hypothesis as a conspiracy theory was signed by a number of intelligent people who must surely understand the meaning of the word “conspiracy” and that it can’t possibly be extended to mean “accidental leak from a lab.” Scepticism about the accidental leak theory is not conspiracy theorising but could be more accurately defined as “distrust of the (official) science.” The key scientific paper claiming to establish a link between distrust of science and conspiracy theorising was one by professor Lewandowsky, whose move to Bristol was aided by a five figure cheque from the Wellcome Trust, which I believe was active in promoting the letter to the Lancet. There seems to be a bit of fake news floating around in the higher reaches of the medico-academic complex to the effect that distrust of experts is the same thing as conspiracy theorising.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Richard, The Intercept did not mention Chan’s co-author so I was unaware he was Ridley. I somehow doubt that an authoritative history of this pandemic can be written yet, what with constant updates from FOI etc.

    Hunterson, yes, we can’t even manufacture our own Frankenviruses, which was a joke I was going to splice in to the post but thought better of it.

    Dougie, it does ring bells (in a climate sense) and I would hope that people do not hound someone who is pursuing the truth, even if they vehemently disagree with said person’s conclusions. It’s interesting here that to judge from your excerpt, the fear of reprisals is on both sides.

    Geoff, there is evidence that the declaration of conspiracy was self serving, because even if the key author of the letter had an absolute confidence that Covid had not escaped from the lab, he ought to have laid out, in a Feynmannian style, all the evidence from the other side, which has instead been unearthed by degrees as in a large-scale archaeological dig (and to judge from the Mail, is incomplete). We might surmise that mentioning the various grants, approved and rejected, would have been “giving fodder to sceptics.”

    The Lancet letter was February 19, 2020. Would we be in a different place now if it had said: “There is a very real possibility that this outbreak began with an accident in a virology lab”?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Here’s another protagonist trying to dismiss a lab-leak as the territory of conspiracists:

    We’ve seen such attempts to combine perfectly reasonable ideas in climate with the utterly ridiculous, as if they’re all equal, and yet, surprise surprise, contradictory.

    The whole thread by Courtier Orgogozo is “devastating” according to Matt Ridley.

    Lessons for other areas can be learned from all this.

    Like

  7. Geoff: ‘And pangolins are very large river beasts…’

    Wot?

    ‘… which are not eaten…’

    Wot?

    ‘…don’t live in China…’

    Wot?

    ‘…whose sale is illegal…’

    In China?

    ‘…but parts of which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.’

    Oooh, you got something right.

    Have I misunderstood a Chambers joke? Wouldn’t be the first time.

    Like

  8. Richard, from the Rasmussen article:

    Unfortunately, this did little to quell often contradictory and sometimes outright ridiculous conspiracy theories that spread faster than the virus itself: SARS-CoV-2 was the result of a laboratory accident or was intentionally engineered, and this was concealed to hide either spectacular incompetence or a complex international conspiracy involving Bill Gates, the Chinese Communist Party and 5G wireless network infrastructure with an end goal of ushering in a new world order.

    Climate sceptics have of course been on the receiving end of such strawmannery. Its easier to deal with hard arguments if you bundle them up with absurd arguments and dismiss them all. As a consequence of the silencing of contrary voices, it has become difficult to criticise even the most irrational climate policy ideas. If the obvious answer to sky-high global gas prices is home-grown production, the media are keeping very quiet about it. That prices in the US are nothing like those in the UK seems to be a censored fact.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Vinny Burgoo (10 Oct 2021 6.12pm)

    I should be more careful, I know, but:
    1) Pangolins are 30-100cm long (Wiki) – so biggish. A three-foot-long scaly turd is not something I’d like to find curled up in the compost heap.
    2) You’re right, they’re eaten.
    3) I couldn’t find anything about them living in China, probably because of 2) above, though a BBC article has them in Vietnam near the Chinese border, and talks of 30,000 being exported to China.
    4) Certainly they’re illegal. China has signed all the right UN conventions. You may argue that the Chinese have little respect for the law, to which it can be replied that punishments are often harsh. On balance I suspect that a live pangolin on show in a tank (and apparently they’re very hard to keep in captivity) in proximity to a live bat from a cave hundreds of kilometres away is an unlikely thing to happen.

    And isn’t it odd that in the dozens or hundreds of articles I’ve seen about the likely source of Covid, I’ve yet to see a single picture of the wet market? Perhaps an image of hundreds of live chicken and crayfish would be too upsetting?

    [added 9.15pm. From French Wiki, on “Manidae, or Modern Pangolins,” but missing from the English version: “With the exception of the giant pangolin, which can weigh more than 30 kilos and attain a length of more than 1.5 metres, the seven other species living in Africa and Asia are about the size of a big coypu.”

    Hence the Chinese expression: “inconspicuous as a giant pangolin in a wet market.”]

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Geoff, I did a bit of googling and was surprised to find that pangolins can swim. For some reason that seems as unlikely as hedgehogs being able to swim – and that turns out to be true as well.

    Anyway…

    A recent paper found that bats and pangolins weren’t sold in Wuhan’s wet markets.

    Serendipitously, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, over the period May 2017–Nov 2019, we were conducting unrelated routine monthly surveys of all 17 wet market shops selling live wild animals for food and pets across Wuhan City (surveys were conducted by author X.X.).

    I believe you, X.X of China’s Ministry of Education.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-91470-2

    Geoff: ‘And isn’t it odd that in the dozens or hundreds of articles I’ve seen about the likely source of Covid, I’ve yet to see a single picture of the wet market? Perhaps an image of hundreds of live chicken and crayfish would be too upsetting?’

    The Nature paper includes photos of hedgehogs, marmots and other caged mammals at Wuhan’s oddly named seafood market.

    https://media.springernature.com/full/springer-static/image/art%3A10.1038%2Fs41598-021-91470-2/MediaObjects/41598_2021_91470_Fig2_HTML.png?as=webp

    Like

  11. VINNY
    Looking at the photos in the article, you can see why Western media didn’t make a big thing of the scandal of Chinese wet markets. It’s difficult to drum up much sympathy for the king rat snake, the racoon dog or the Chinese bamboo rat.

    Like

  12. Wot? Those are all gorgeous.

    And what about the marmot? Skeptical Science used to list bigger marmots as one of the few benefits of global warming. Why would they have done that if marmots weren’t sympathique? (I don’t think they were talking about culinary benefits.)

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  13. billbedford, it seems so. Have you read this interesting (and currently unpaywalled) article* in History Today positing marmots as big players in the Black Death?

    URL:www.historytoday.com/archive/natural-histories/black-death-new-culprit

    Still, does being a plague reservoir mean that you can’t be cute? Marmots are like fat angry hamsters. John Belushi with a tail. What could be cuter? (I’m not saying that Belushi spread diseases.)

    ===
    *A 1990 photo in that article shows a Mongolian marmot-hunter wearing red and perhaps bloody rabbit-like ears on top of his head. The caption says he was ‘disguised as his prey’, which seems an unlikely explanation for such attire.

    That monocular hanging from his neck, though. I’m almost certain that I own exactly the same model. I bought it in a shop near Victoria Station in the 1980s. Made in the USSR. Still my favourite ‘binoculars’ when out and about.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. ‘…which seems an unlikely explanation for such attire.’

    Or perhaps not. From a 2008 paper:

    The traditional Mongolian tasseled hat (“daluur”) worn by marmot hunters may have originally been adopted to help hunters avoid plague-infected populations (Formozov et al. 1994). The unique hunting costume was meant to elicit alarm calling behavior from their quarry and, because alarm-calling behavior declines greatly in plague-affected colonies, animals which were obviously sick were more easily avoided (Formozov et al. 1994).

    A more recent photo of a marmot-hunter wearing a ‘daluur’ bunny hat:

    chasseurs de marmottes mongols, woodchuk hunters

    No MP2 8×30 monocular, alas.

    Like

  15. Just started reading “Failures of State – the inside story of britain’s battle with coronavirur”

    seems to going after Boris/Tories, but only read 1st chapter titled “the best clue to the origins”

    reason I mention it because it quotes a paper 2016 by Dr Shi Zhengli – https://www.nature.com/articles/nm.3985/

    which has this comment – “30 March 2020 nature medicine Editors note, March 2020: We are aware that this article is being used as the basis for unverified theories that the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 was engineered. There is no evidence that this is true; scientists believe that an animal is the most likely source of the coronavirus.”

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  16. long read to the end, where the paper states – Key Laboratory of Special Pathogens and Biosafety, Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China

    Xing-Yi Ge & Zhengli-Li Shi

    Like

  17. Not in itself evidence in either direction, but reveals how desperate China is to deny the lab-leak theory:

    “Facebook uncovers Chinese network behind fake expert”

    Facebook owner Meta Platforms has removed more than 500 accounts linked to an online disinformation network primarily based in China.

    The accounts had promoted the claims of a fake Swiss biologist called “Wilson Edwards”, who alleged the US was meddling in efforts to find the origins of Covid-19.

    Edwards’ comments had been widely carried by Chinese state media outlets.

    However, the Swiss embassy said that it was unlikely this person existed.

    It seems as if they invented a Swiss professor called “Wilson Edwards” to argue against the lab-leak theory or futher investigations into Covid origins. Then the state outlets could approvingly quote his remarks as a supposedly neutral voice.

    Eventually I suppose we’ll have bots arguing with bots on the internet, cutting out real people altogether.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-59456548

    Like

  18. Jit:

    Not in itself evidence in either direction…

    Are you sure? 😉

    Eventually I suppose we’ll have bots arguing with bots on the internet…

    The way I see it we’ve had that since 2000 or earlier.

    …cutting out real people altogether

    Nyet, as the Russian troll farm/bot would say. The whole aim is, of course, to influence and inflame real people.

    There’s a lot of *science* behind these efforts by now, if everyone will excuse the term.

    Like

  19. @Jit – tried your link & failed !!!

    no wonder the MSM have the public “go to” pages.

    how many “public” go to a “gov” website I wonder ?

    Like

  20. dfhunter: It’s working for me. That’s on both my Macs running ‘Big Sur’ (the latest operating system but one) using the Chrome browser. (It’s worth giving those ‘platform’ details when reporting a problem.)

    Jit: Thanks. Looks like it’s going to be fascinating stuff. Horton’s attempt to play the race card (trying to combat hatred of Chinese people) right up front reminded me of what Bari Weiss has said about going after truth in other areas: you have to be willing to be thought racist these days to get anywhere.

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  21. Thanks Mark. The same day as Matt Ridley in Spiked I was struck by one phrase in the Mail headline and text:

    IAN BIRRELL: Why DID the science establishment try so hard to silence those who feared Covid had leaked from China lab?

    The science establishment has been shown to be highly dishonest and thus highly unscientific. What could the motive possibly be?

    And why did the science establishment work so hard to silence dissident voices? Indeed, it seems incredible that not only does Farrar remain in a job in which he directs so much crucial medical research, but even saw his annual salary rise by £28,000 to £512,000 last year, according to latest accounts.

    For Sir Jeremy is a pivotal figure in the sequence of secretive events that followed the emergence of a new disease in Wuhan in late 2019.

    Or in Ridley’s devastating last paragraph (read the earlier ones for context):

    In August 2020 Kristian Andersen and Robert Garry were among the lead investigators to receive $8.9million to study emerging infectious diseases, in a grant from Anthony Fauci’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of Francis Collins’s National Institutes of Health.

    So, money could be one.

    This distrust not of the scientific method but of the science establishment will I believe be highly transmissable to the climate case, as people begin to face up to the lessons of covid.

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  22. Thanks Richard. It’s about time I canvassed the developments since my first update. I see I intended to read up about the Farrar mails but, er, forgot. Another thing to add to the list.

    Why did China delete the database? It raises a natural suspicion of shenanigans. But they could have reinstated it with any incriminating sequences removed. Why not do that? Pity that no-one retained a copy.

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  23. Jeffrey Sachs blows the whistle on his own Lancet Covid Commission. With physicist Steve Hsu (who made an appearance in a jollier video with Freeman Dyson I pointed to on The Hedgehog and the Elephant in April. Science good and bad.)

    Like

  24. Richard – thanks for that great vid from Steve Hsu with Jeffrey Sachs.

    a must view for anybody following this thread. Jeffrey also throws in some interesting comments at the end on Nord stream 2 which I was not aware of.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Thanks dfh. I think this testimony is mega-important in its own right and also as an example of how a false consensus can begin to fall when a key insider is willing to admit a gigantic misjudgment he himself made and follow through on the implications, without fear. So who is the Jeffrey Sachs of the imaginary climate crisis? (It’s different in detail but the question is I think well worth asking.)

    Here are four tweets from Hsu for those who don’t have time to watch the whole thing.

    He then links to a full transcript. Recommended.

    Like

  26. I would Recommend watching the vid, it gives his POV more force.

    that’s not to say the “lab leak” against “wet market” will ever be determined for sure, but it does show, once again, that people who question the “Settled Science” & are labelled “conspiracy/Contrarian nutjobs” just think for themselves.
    and when MSM/backed by experts push a meme – don’t swallow before checking for the hook.

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  27. I agree the video is best, allowing Sachs’s integrity and good sense to come through. He is also, as you say, an excellent example of how to deal with allegations of mad conspiracism. Very calmly.

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  28. Richard, thanks for the link to that interview. It was indeed compelling for the most part, though Sachs somewhat let the side down at the end. Not all conspiracy theories are true just because one might be proven to be. In particular the existence of a transponder track of a US military plane over the relevant area of the Baltic is not evidence of anything. Military planes engaged in nefarious activities would turn their public transponders off while still on the ground. In fact military planes do this all the time – I’ve heard fast jets overhead, turned to one of the public tracking apps, and found that the plane(s) are not there. On the other hand, sometimes they have them turned on, even when doing curious flight paths. Also, I have no doubt that people turned to the public tracking apps in the wake of the sabotage to look for suspicious activity. But was there such activity also 6 weeks ago or 6 months ago?

    Note that I am not saying that US forces did not sabotage the pipelines, only that this is not compelling evidence that they did.

    Despite his assertions, it also seems irrational for Ukraine to shell their own nuclear plant. A release of radioactivity would damage the country that they hope to recapture and live in.

    But the Covid taskforce story was very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. In particular the existence of a transponder track of a US military plane over the relevant area of the Baltic is not evidence of anything.

    I agree that this part of Sachs’s argument that we are being told ridiculous lies about the conflict in Ukraine was weak. I also agree with you and Sachs about the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. I would, like him, consider this just one of the stream of ridiculous lies that pass for serious reporting about the terrible goings on in that country. And then, on one occasion, in the Baltic. Because I agree with him and others that the idea that Putin sabotaged his own pipeline is utterly ridiculous.

    It was a small percentage of the video but for me the quality didn’t decrease too much. “Not all conspiracy theories are true just because one might be proven to be” is of course true. It’s also true that the “theory” in conspiracy theories is ridiculous, across the board. None of them reach this level. Yet conspiracies do happen.

    Sachs doesn’t trust his own government or the mainstream media in the English-speaking world. Nor do we. He has his reasons. So do we. We’re all recovering dupes. But I liked his honesty and grace in the Covid origins case.

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  30. Talking of dupes, it seems clear that the Azerbaijani whose truck exploded on the Kerch bridge on Saturday was one. Ukrainian security forces managed to dupe him and thus kill him. Nobody it seems in the western media has even mentioned this fact – what might just be taken as a black mark against the saints of Kyiv. Alexander Mercouris does mention it at the start of his video on the situation on Sunday. One can call this lying by omission. The rest of the lying has been more normal: exaggerating the gains made by Ukraine and the losses suffered by Russia, as the whole video discusses. Meanwhile we all know that Russia has been running out of missiles, because western sources have been emphasing this fact since March. Imagine my surprise when General Sergei Surovikin still had a few left yesterday and today. Mercouris covers that point nicely too (jumps to the place he discusses it). This skewing of war reporting matters because … well I won’t even try to explain. It matters that there has been lying about the origins of a virus that has killed 18 million people. It matters that the US defence industry seems to have been intimately involved in the cover-up. And it matters that there has been lying about climate change, though there too it is lying by omission that I now think is most crucial. Cue Lomborg on deaths from extreme events. To be ignored for the upteenth time but those who are desperate to debate the number of angels on the tipping point of an imaginary catastrophe.

    For a taste of real catastrophe try the recklessness of the current US regime in relation to both Russia and China. Mercouris discussed this on 24th September, Tucker Carlson the day before, duly marking the seven month point of the Ukraine conflict. We already knew that the regime Biden fronted was reckless about the need of the poor across the world to have cheap and reliable energy, a massive loss today purportedly to improve climate very slightly in decades hence. Far more reckless on that than the peaceable lot that came before, who would surely also have insisted that Ukraine cut a deal with their neighbour. For me it is all of one piece. You mileage will of course vary.

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  31. So it was an Azerbaijani who drove a bomb carrying truck over the Kerch Bridge was it ? and the western press are deliberately keeping that quiet.. or is it? I have no confirmation from anywhere else (not that I’ve looked seriously). So like many things in life, I read, I ponder the likelihood of the item being true and I file it away awaiting confirmation or denial.

    One of the imponderables is why should the entire western press hide the Azerbaijani link, what’s in it for them? In fact one must assume that the organisation that breaks the story gets a scoop, leaving the others to catch up. If on the other hand, the story is a fabrication, one might expect the rest of the media to join forces to expose the fraudulent. There’s a story in doing that.

    Long ago I learned to be sceptical about most things. Only things you have learned for yourself are possibly true. Even then you can delude yourself. That’s why doing science was so instructive.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Richard & Alan

    I’ve only seen the short vid showing the bridge blast & it did seem to show a truck bomb to me.
    as for the TV MSM, it seems they all get their “news” from the same source these days.
    I switch channels hoping for another slant on any story, without any luck.

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  33. dfhunter:

    You, like many other people, have missed something about this incident. At the time of the explosion, the train was stationary. Later reports have suggested that the railway signals had been tampered with (shades of the Great Train Robbery). If that is true, “someone” was on the bridge before the explosion and could have placed charges exactly where they could do the most damage to the train. The thinking is that the truck was a decoy, and the charges were set off remotely.

    Interestingly, the post office in Kiev showed off some new stamp designs soon after news of the attack broke.

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  34. The claim on the BBC was that the explosion was slightly behind the truck. I’ve watched the footage at 0.125 speed on youtube, but can’t confirm that: the explosion is essentially instantaneous. However, there was a suspiciously-timed eddy in the water under the bridge on the view from a cctv hung under the rail bridge. (Second vid here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-63192757 )
    The beeb also reported that a conked-out Ukrainian marine drone had been found by the Russians a few days earlier. But to this complete amateur it does not look man enough for the job.

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