Can you Critique Dr. Fauci without Criticizing “Science”?

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: anti-science aggression,


  • 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.

Timeline: # ban

1) Ban:  “Gain of Function”

In 2014, President Obama banned a technique called “gain of function” research, in which a virus is made more transmissible for purposes of studying it.
Under Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the NIH appears to used a loophole to fund “gain of function” research in Wuhan, China when the ban was in-effect. 234

2) Ban Lifted:  #

In 2017 under Trump, this ban was reversed.

3) Demagoguery #

When Trump started to call Covid-19 the “China Virus,” or “Wuhan Virus,” Liberals, Progressives, and Institutions reflexively adopted the opposite position, despite Jon Stewart’s suggestion that the opposite was an obvious possibility: 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? #

After the pandemic started, Fauci commissioned a paper to identify the cause, titled Proximal Origins.
  • 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)
    • Andersen: 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

Donald McNeil, Jr, New York Times reporter
Donald McNeil, Jr,  New York Times

The Slack messages show that scientists conspired to mislead New York Times Reporter Donald McNeil.   (Feb 6, 2020 16:42-16:50 | page 17/140) [screenshot]

Here’s a comment from Robert Garry, whom you will later see being quoted saying “Lab leak Covid-19 theory is like something out of a comic book:”

NYT serious – McNeil very credible by like every reporter can be mislead. [sic] screenshot | [page 17/140]

The journalists at Public narrate this interaction:

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 use of the “Proximal Origins” paper to suppress the possibility of the Lab Leak theory resulted in “Fact Check” stories “debunking” Lab Leak claims and  stories like this one from CNN titled:

Lab leak Covid-19 theory is like something out of a comic book, virologist says

    • 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
News stories featured headlines depicting Dr. Fauci objecting strenuously:  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: #

I suppose Fauci can still claim that criticism of “gain of function” research is an attack on science.  From reading their private emails and chats I know that the scientists involved emphasized the importance of working with the Chinese to study viruses there.  They may legitimately believe that failure to study these viruses using “gain of function” threatens to result in a more dangerous pandemic than Covid-19.

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?” #

Clean Dishes

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?

Credit: Wikipedia







  1. 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.

  2. See summary from Antoni Worthers on Quora about how Dr. Fauci used a loophole to get around the ban on “gain of function.”  (unverified)

  3. See detailed analysis: Nicholas Wade, Bulletin of Atomic Scientist, May 5, 2021

  4. In 2017, 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.

  5. In Level 4 labs, scientists must wear protective suits (among other things).  I’ve heard Level 2 compared to a dental office, but I haven’t confirmed this: (Biosafety levels)

  6. 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.

  7. If you reflexively do the opposite of Trump, Trump still controls your decision making.

  8. 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.

  9. fact check.  citation needed

  10. Is it a reach to think that distrust of science also undermines efforts to fight Climate Change?