Not much new here, informationally, but I think this passage is really interesting:
- The stakes are high on all sides. From one perspective, proving the virus has a natural origin is even worse for China. If wildlife farms were responsible for the pandemic, that would implicate the policies of President Xi Jinping. If there was a lab leak, just one, or a few, scientists are culpable of an accident. Either way, it is likely that the Chinese government prefers a storm of swirling theories, within which they can continue to push their own: that U.S. soldiers brought the virus to Wuhan in October, 2019, during the World Military Games, or that the American government manufactured the virus in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Or they can blame imported frozen food. The conspiracy theories branch out from there, in their own kind of evolutionary tree.
I've always considered the Occam's razor explanation to be that all the obfuscating and destroying of evidence was evidence itself of a lab leak. Didn't consider the negative economic consequences of the natural theory. This article, which tries to refrain from taking sides while clearly favoring the natural hypothesis, is interesting insofar as it posits that from the Chinese government's perspective, the chaos is the point, not the coverup of any specifics facts, per se.
I have to say though, that I was down right offended by this passage:
- The lab leakers tend to be more interested in biosecurity, transparency, and human hubris. They exhibit an admirable drive to follow the money, to upend centralized power, to overturn academic hierarchy, and to expose the injustices of oppressive governments. Some are China hawks. By and large, they have not done virus-hunting field or lab work.
On the natural-origin side, most people have done the kind of field and lab work that the W.I.V. pursued—and are regularly bowled over by nature’s endless diversity. They believe in scientific precedent, as opposed to uncertainties that have yet to be resolved.
You can't say something like that without also adding a discussion of probability; specifically, the probability of the closest cousin existing less than a kilometer from the virus's known geographic origin. My sense of the lab leak proponents is that most of us are just simplest-explanations-are-best-explanations types. Show me better evidence that doesn't rely on half a dozen low probability hand waves, and I will happily change my mind.