The Public Health leadership may be well-meaning, but they sometimes conflate criticism of their leadership with criticism of “Science.”
- Dr. Anthony Fauci said:
Attacks on me quite frankly are attacks on science, and
- Dr. Peter Hotez escalated this type of rhetoric, describing what he calls:
- This post doesn’t criticize the science of vaccines, rather it argues that people have legitimate suspicions that American Public Health Leadership have made significant mistakes and covered them up.
- Rather than these cover-ups serving to protect the institution of “Science,” public health leadership has protected themselves, while perpetuating the very distrust of Science and frontline medical personnel their invocation of “authority” was seeking to dispel.
The Twitter Files showed that Establishment prefers to suppress opposition via censorship. This has resulted in Liberals and “the educated” being the people slowest to learn of contrary information, as it takes time for the information to surface in establishment media, if it ever does at all.1
I compiled this list for those who are unaware of the legitimate critiques of the American public health leadership relating to Covid-19, with the hope that sunlight is the best disinfectant.
1) Ban: “Gain of Function”
2) Ban Lifted: #
- When this type of research is performed, it is supposed to be closely supervised to ensure adequate safety conditions are made, including that it be done in level 4 labs with extra precautions.
- It appears China performed some of this research in level 3 and level 2 labs. 5
3) Demagoguery #
Science has, in many ways, helped ease the suffering of this pandemic which was more than likely caused by science.6 Despite what they thought of Trump, Liberals must acknowledge that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. 7
4) How was Covid Started? #
- The term “Lab Leak” does not require the virus to be “engineered.” It can refer to naturally occuring viruses that were being studied when a worker got infected.
- Zoonotic origin refers to viruses originated with the domestication of animals.
Although it is not evidence of a lab leak, it is notable that:
By April, U.S. officials at the NSC and the State Department had begun to compile circumstantial evidence that the WIV lab, rather than the seafood market, was actually the source of the virus. The former explanation for the outbreak was entirely plausible, they felt, whereas the latter would be an extreme coincidence. But the officials couldn’t say that out loud because there wasn’t firm proof either way. And if the U.S. government accused China of lying about the outbreak without firm evidence, Beijing would surely escalate tensions even more, which meant that Americans might not get the medical supplies that were desperately needed to combat the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the United States.
What the Paper Said:
- The scientists’s “Proximal Origins” report concluded that:
we do not believe that any type of laboratory-based scenario is plausible, 8
What the Scientists Actually Thought: #
- Shi Zhengli — known as the “bat lady” was the Chinese scientist with the most extensive experience studying cornonaviruses in bats:
when she was first told about the virus outbreak in her town, she thought the officials had gotten it wrong, because she would have guessed that such a virus would break out in southern China, where most of the bats live.
many of the scientists who spoke out to defend the lab were Shi’s research partners and funders, like the head of the global public health nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance, Peter Daszak; their research was tied to hers, and if the Wuhan lab were implicated in the pandemic, they would have to answer a lot of tough questions.
As for the “bat woman” herself, Shi didn’t think the lab accident theory was so crazy. In her March interview, she described frantically searching her own lab’s records after learning of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.
- Privately in their email and especially Slack messages, the “Proximal Origins” scientists wrote the opposite of what the paper said. Here are some of the comments found when their email and Slack correspondence was FOIA-ed under the Freedom of Information Act: (Download Conversations)
The lab escape version of this is so friggin’ likely to have happened because they were already doing this type of work and the molecular data is fully consistent with that scenario
- Garry: “The major hangup I have is the polybasic cleavahe site… it’s not really a natural process.” Also: “It’s not crackpot to suggest this could have happened given the GoF research we know is happening.”
- Lipkin: “[A draft of the paper] does not eliminate the possibility of inadvertent release following adaptation through selection in culture at the institute in Wuhan. Given the scale of the bat CoV research pursued there… we have a nightmare of circumstantial evidence to assess.”
- Holmes (replying to Lipkin): “I agree… Seems to have been pre-adapted for human spread since the get go. It’s the epidemiology that I find most worrying.”
- Rambaut: “I am quite convinced it has been put there by evolution (whether natural selection or artificial).”
Scientists Mislead NYTimes Reporter
When approached by McNeil with questions about a possible lab leak, members of the Slack channel coordinated with each other to lead him away from the theory. “It would be prudent to continue to pre-think responses” to McNeil, Garry suggested. Andersen told his fellow authors that one of his replies to McNeil “includes humor to deflect from the fact that I’m dismissing him.” [page 19/140]
In Page 54 of the Slack messages, Kristian Anderson demonstrates how he used this technique on McNeil because he knew the NYTimes reporter well and couldn’t otherwise ignore him, as Eddie Holmes suggested in response.
Conflict of Interest: #
- After the paper, suspicions arose that the authors had been awarded million dollar grants
in exchange for a paper that exonerated a lab in Wuhan, China. (The appearance of a Conflict-of-Interest)
5) Suppressing “Lab Leak Theory:” #
- The scientist who was quoted is Dr. Robert Garry of Tulane University, the second scientist quoted above, who said “it’s not really a natural process” .. “It’s not crackpot to suggest this could have happened given the GoF research we know is happening.” and “It would be prudent to continue to pre-think responses” [to New York Times Reporter Donald McNeil].
6) Congressional Denial: Perjury? #
Congress held hearings, during which Dr. Fauci was asked about whether the NIH had funded “gain of function” research in Wuhan, China. Fauci strenuously denied this, but his reasoning appears to have used the same technicality as former President Bill Clinton when Clinton said “
I did not have sexual relations with that woman Miss Lewinsky.”
- Clinton was adopting a different definition of “sexual relations” than the questioner.
- Dr. Fauci seems to have been relying on a definition of “gain of function” research that only applied to humans, but he does not appear to have always made this distinction outside of his congressional testimony.9
Senator Paul, you do not know what you are talking about!
The political drama raised Paul’s profile on a important issue, but such politicization made him less likely to gain scientific allies, willing to contradict Dr. Fauci or the scientists involved.
Legitimate Debate: #
However even amongst the scientists who published the Proximal Origins paper, there were skeptics that seemed afraid to speak out, which Ryan Grim at the Intercept suspects was due to Fauci’s power over funding of their life’s work. Here are quotations from the lead author of the “Proximal Origins” paper, Kristian Andersen, expressing doubt in the wisdom of “gain of function” research.
I thought it was really important that we understood whether e.g., avian influenza could be transmissible between humans and importantly which steps (and how many) would need to be involved -but honestly I’m not sure that type of knowledge is at all actionable, while, of course being exceptionally dangerous. It only takes one mistake.
Fauci was and remains an outspoken supporter of such research, even arguing a decade earlier that its benefits were worth the risk of a pandemic.
Ryan Grim, a reporter at the Intercept, laid out the career implications of Anderson expressing his GOF views:
If Fauci believed Andersen was a “crackpot” who was skeptical of gain-of-function, or GOF, research, it’s reasonable to think such a belief would influence Fauci’s pending funding decision. Fauci was and remains an outspoken supporter of such research, even arguing a decade earlier that its benefits were worth the risk of a pandemic.
Old Methodology: Pre-Internet #
The Public health methodology that Dr. Fauci was trained in took place in a pre-internet world, where information was more readily controlled. If I assume the best of Dr. Fauci, he subscribes to the theory that the public is best served by the “noble lie,” expressed with confidence.
But we are not living in a pre-internet age with only 3 television networks. Critics noticed the inconsistencies in public policy; and the public is smart enough to realize that although they don’t have advanced science degrees, their intelligence is not being respected.
Although many Liberals fail to see through the rhetoric, the people who are most distrustful have been further alienated. #
Can We Tell the Truth? #
Did the American Public Health Leadership ever consider coming clean and telling the truth?
Matt Taibbi said:
It’s kind of like walking in on a spouse cheating now that people know how this research was released it’s hard to go back from that and it’s kind of destroyed institutional trust how do you see we move forward productively”.
If the breach of trust isn’t addressed, it seems trust in science and institutions will degrade, as legitimate skepticism about deception, covid origins, gain of function research, inauthenticity, and conflicts of interest spread. 10
Proponents of the vaccine argued that the vaccine would stop transmission and that even those who had recovered from Covid-19, should still be required to get the vaccine. If there is another pandemic in the next 10 years, government leadership will have to either come clean about the past or live with the distrust they earned.
Bonus Exercise: “How Could Facui Come Clean?” #
If you were the speech writer for Dr. Fauci and he tasked you with writing a speech to come clean about the past, with the goal of regaining public trust, what would you write?
Write: why “coming clean” is a bad idea.
What prompts would you give AI to answer these questions?
- Doing Diligence to Assess the Risks and Benefits of Life Sciences Gain-of-Function Research, Obama Whitehouse, Oct 17, 2014.
- White House to Cut Funding for Risky Biological Study, Donald G. McNeil Jr., New York Times, Oct 17, 2014.
- Ban on gain-of-function studies ends, Talha Burki, The Lancet, February 2018.
- Feds lift gain-of-function research pause, offer guidance, Lisa Schnirring , CIDRAP News, February 2018.
- China admits that labs destroyed coronavirus samples on safety concerns: Reports, Matthew Amlôt, Al Arabiya, Feb 18, 2020.
- The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2, Nature, March 17, 2020.
- Calling COVID-19 the “Wuhan Virus” or “China Virus” is inaccurate and xenophobic, Marietta Vazquez, March 20, 2020.
- Covid: WHO team investigating virus origins denied entry to China, BBC News, Jan 6, 2021.
- In 2018, Diplomats Warned of Risky Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab. No One Listened. After seeing a risky lab, they wrote a cable warning to Washington. But it was ignored. Politico, March 8, 2001.
- Lab leak Covid-19 theory is like something out of a comic book, virologist says, Maggie Fox, CNN, March 31, 2021.
- The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?, Nicholas Wade, Bulletin of Atomic Scientist, May 5, 2021.
- Fauci’s emails don’t prove a Wuhan conspiracy, but raise further questions: Why were U.S. scientists so quick to dismiss the possibility of bioengineering as the potential origin of the Covid-19 virus? Ken Dilanian, Amy Perrette and Denise Chow, NBC News, June 4, 2021.
- Fauci Responds To Attacks From Republicans, MSNBC, June 9, 2021.
- Jon Stewart On Vaccine Science And The Wuhan Lab Theory, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, June 15, 2021.
- China rejects WHO plan for study of COVID-19 origin, Gabriel Crossley, Reuters, July 22, 2021.
- Rand Paul’s Attack on Anthony Fauci Chills Scientific Debate Over Gain-of-Function Research, Robert Mackey, The Intercept. July 27, 2021.
- Why does the COVID-19 lab leak theory matter?, Antoni Worthers, Quora., August 4, 2021.
- China rejects WHO call for renewed probe into origins of Covid-19, France 24, Aug 18, 2021.
- Matt Taibbi: Report on the Censorship-Industrial Complex, Scheerpost, April 26, 2023.
“So Friggin’ Likely”: New Covid Documents Reveal Unparalleled Media Deception, Matt Taibbi, Leighton Woodhouse, Alex Gutentag, and Michael Shellenberger, Racket News, July 18, 2023.
- Email and Slack Messages of Proximal Origins Authors (download Pdf), Public, July 20, 2023.
- Key Scientist in Covid Origin Controversy Misled Congress on Status of $8.9 Million NIH Grant, Ryan Grim, The Intercept, July 21, 2023.
- Interview: Matt Taibbi Reacts to “Proximal Origins” Testimony Bombshells, Matt Taibbi, The Hill, July 29, 2023.
- Why Science Fraud Goes Deeper Than the Stanford Scandal, Eric J. Vanman, SocialNeuro, YouTube, Aug 3, 2023.
- Fauci’s Deceptions: Emails, Slack Messages, Docs Reveal Behind-The-Scenes Involvement, David Zweig, The Hill, Aug 13, 2023.
Establishment media is very quick to cover anything related to Trump (whether justifiied or not), but there seems to be a concern that holding the establishment accountable is unimportant, or even that it might help Trump. In the long term, the unaccountability of the establishment creates the tinder that demagogues burn.↩
American diplomats were shocked by what they heard. The Chinese researchers told them they didn’t have enough properly trained technicians to safely operate their BSL-4 lab. ↩
if the U.S. government accused China of lying about the outbreak without firm evidence, Beijing would surely escalate tensions even more, which meant that Americans might not get the medical supplies that were desperately needed to combat the rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the United States.
If you reflexively do the opposite of Trump, Trump still controls your decision making.↩
Andersen’s use of the term “lab leak” could be confusing, however, because he was talking in the emails about the question of whether the virus had been modified or engineered. Another theory, experts say, is that scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were studying samples of the virus taken from bats, and a mishap allowed it to escape without it ever having been modified. That could mean it arose in nature, but leaked from the lab.
Most scientists who have examined the virus don’t see any evidence that it was genetically modified. Scientists who argue against the lab leak theory have often conflated the two distinct scenarios. In fact, no examination of the virus’s genetic footprint can reveal whether the virus, taken from its natural state, was being studied in a lab. Nor can the virus’s genetic makeup speak to whether it spread to humans in Wuhan as a result of a lab accident.
Fauci’s emails don’t prove a Wuhan conspiracy, but raise further questions: Why were U.S. scientists so quick to dismiss the possibility of bioengineering as the potential origin of the Covid-19 virus? Ken Dilanian, Amy Perrette and Denise Chow, NBC News, June 4, 2021.
fact check. citation needed↩
Is it a reach to think that distrust of science also undermines efforts to fight Climate Change?↩