The Big Ruh Roh Cometh
The lab-leak hypothesis, the media's willful ignorance, and imminent revelations.
Occam’s Razor & Complacency Kills
Have you ever heard of Occam’s Razor? Probably not, and understandably so—it’s some pretty obscure, nerdy stuff. Occam’s Razor is a philosophical principle. It states that “plurality should not be posited without need,” which, in layman’s terms, basically means that if presented with two competing theories, the one with the most simple explanation is usually correct.
Hang on to that thought. But also pocket this idea as well: Complacency kills. That maxim was ingrained in me at West Point, where they made sure to remind us that our future decisions as leaders could have life or death implications, but it’s a notion I apply to everything: getting behind the wheel of a car, walking alone in a dark place, the temptation to cut corners in some way, etc.
A Question of Theories
The evidence of China’s deliberate cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan is a matter of public record. In suppressing information about the virus, doing little to contain it, and letting it spread unchecked in the crucial early days and weeks, the regime imperiled not only its own citizens but the entire fucking world. Even more nefarious was how the Chinese government censored and detained the doctors and whistleblowers who attempted to sound the alarm and warn their fellow citizens when they understood the gravity of the impending disaster that would soon unfold. But the origin of the virus—how it came about—has never been determined.
There are two theories. The first is zoonotic, meaning the coronavirus arose naturally from animals, in this case a bat. People who espouse this theory hold that a bat carrying a coronavirus infected some other creature that had also been carrying a different coronavirus disease, and out of the conjunction of these two strains a new disease evolved, which turned out to be highly infectious to humans. That, or two coronaviruses recombined in a single bat, which then spread to other bats, and a person ended up directly infected by one of these bats, and then that person caused an undetected outbreak of a respiratory disease which over a period of time evolved to become highly transmissible, but wasn’t noticed until it appeared in Wuhan.
The second theory, the more controversial one, is the one I believe. In fact, it’s something I’ve believed since pretty early on in the pandemic, and I can even recall telling my dad over the phone that I felt very confident about it. Despite what the mainstream media and China and Fauci and a long, long list of other prominent and powerful people with an interest in steering the narrative have repeatedly—indeed, adamantly—told us about how this whole mess got started and how 3.5 million people came to die, the idea that COVID escaped from a lab is not a conspiracy. Actually, as Nicholas Wade—one of the world’s preeminent science writers for the past 50 years and the former editor of the New York Times science section—has pointed out, the idea that the virus might have escaped from a lab invokes accident, not conspiracy. Unfortunately, the propagandized masses have vehemently attacked anyone who dares to question what Fauci says, in large part because it was Trump and former CIA Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who tried to bring attention to the lab accident theory. People have politicized it; anyone who’s given it credence has been pilloried as a “MAGAt” or a “Trumptard” or any of the other labels that simpletons slap on people whose views are asymmetrical to their own. And this is all because so many people were so eager to see Trump’s assertion as dispositive evidence that the lab-leak hypothesis was nothing but conspiracy tripe to be written off.
There’s no direct evidence for the zoonotic theory, just as there’s no direct evidence of a lab mishap. But people are finally, finally beginning to give the latter at least a little consideration. It seems the good old mainstream media is starting to come around because the commentariat pulling the strings has removed its collective head out of the proverbial ass of politics and is no longer indulging in its own politicized bullshit. And wouldn’t you know it, even Fauci has done a complete 180.
As you’ll soon find out, there's a lot—a lot—that’s been glossed over.
Daszak and Shi Zhengli
This whole where-did-the-virus-come-from thing has obviously been a hotly contested topic, but the natural-emergence theory has long held the upper hand, in part because of convincing statements made by virology experts early on.
“We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” a group of virologists and others wrote in The Lancet on Feb. 19, 2020, when it was way too soon for anyone to be sure what had happened.
This is Peter Daszak. It is my humble opinion that Pete here is a less than honorable individual for reasons that will soon be made clear. Daszak was the behind-the-scenes organizer of the above statement, which people have since clung to like carrion. In addition to being a zoologist and bat-virus sample collector, he also happens to be the head of EcoHealth Alliance—a group that has funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, channeling money through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to someone called Shi Zhengli. Nicholas Wade has appropriately highlighted that if the virus had indeed escaped from the research Daszak funded, he would be potentially culpable. This massive conflict of interest wasn’t mentioned to The Lancet’s readers.
Daszak is a virologist, and as it turns out, he and many other virologists have a lot at stake in the assigning of blame for the pandemic. Why? Because for the last couple of decades, behind closed doors and without the public’s attention, they’ve been playing with fire: As part of their research, they routinely create viruses more dangerous than those found in nature, and they do so under the premise that if done safely, they can get ahead of nature and predict and prevent future viruses from causing pandemics. Which means that if COVID-19 really did originate from one of these lab experiments, there might be a bit of blowback.
In addition to that organized by Daszak, there was one other statement made by a group of virologists led by a guy named Kristian G. Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute. “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus,” the five virologists declared in the second paragraph of their letter. The problem is that the science used to back their assertion (just like in the Daszak letter, though I mentioned only the conflict of interest) is riddled with errors. Nicholas Wade breaks this down further:
Science is supposedly a self-correcting community of experts who constantly check each other’s work. So why didn’t other virologists point out that the Andersen group’s argument was full of absurdly large holes? Perhaps because in today’s universities speech can be very costly. Careers can be destroyed for stepping out of line. Any virologist who challenges the community’s declared view risks having his next grant application turned down by the panel of fellow virologists that advises the government grant distribution agency.
The Daszak and Andersen letters were really political, not scientific statements, yet were amazingly effective. Articles in the mainstream press repeatedly stated that a consensus of experts had ruled lab escape out of the question or extremely unlikely. Their authors relied for the most part on the Daszak and Andersen letters, failing to understand the yawning gaps in their arguments. Mainstream newspapers all have science journalists on their staff, as do the major networks, and these specialist reporters are supposed to be able to question scientists and check their assertions. But the Daszak and Andersen assertions went largely unchallenged.
This is Dr. Shi Zhengli. Besides looking absolutely fucking ridiculous in her getup here (seriously, get on the phone with Elon Musk’s people and design a better suit), in China she’s known as “Bat Lady.” Shi Zhengli has trapped hundreds of bats in nets at the mouths of caves in southern China, sampled their saliva and their blood, swabbed their anuses, and gathered up their fecal pellets. Several times, she’s visited and sampled bats in a mine in Mojiang, in southern China, where, in 2012, six men set to work shoveling bat guano were sickened by a severe lung disease, three of them fatally. Shi’s team took the samples back to Wuhan and analyzed whatever fragments of bat virus she could find. In some cases, when she found a sequence that seemed particularly significant, she experimented with it in order to understand how it might potentially infect humans. As mentioned earlier, some of her work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and some of it by the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the Department of Defense via Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance.
The laboratory Shi Zhengli works at is the only BSL-4 laboratory in China (a BSL-4 laboratory is a maximum-security biosafety-level-four facility, used to house research on the most dangerous known pathogens), which happens to be in Wuhan. According to a State Department cable from 2018 leaked to the Washington Post, there were some start-up problems when this BSL-4 lab was first opened (2015), including “a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory.”
The staff received some training at a BSL-4 lab in Galveston, Texas, but they were doing potentially dangerous work with SARS-like viruses, the memo said, and they needed more help from the U.S.
Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University and a leading expert on biosafety, wrote that he’d been concerned for some years about the Wuhan laboratory and about the work being done there to create “chimeric” (i.e. — hybrid) SARS-related bat coronaviruses “with enhanced human infectivity.” Ebright said, “In this context, the news of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan ***screamed*** lab release.”
Doubts About Zoonotic Emergence
Even though the lab theory had been widely denounced since the very beginning, there were still some extremely intelligent people speaking up and trying to point certain things out.
Take Botao Xiao for instance, a professor at the South China University of Technology, who, in early 2020, posted a short paper✎ EditSign titled “The Possible Origins of 2019-nCoV Coronavirus.” Nicholson Baker, in his awesome article in the Intelligencer, details what Xiao tried to bring attention to:
Two laboratories, the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention (WHCDC) and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, were not far from the seafood market, which was where the disease was said to have originated, Xiao wrote — in fact, the WHCDC was only a few hundred yards away from the market — whereas the horseshoe bats that hosted the disease were hundreds of miles to the south. (No bats were sold in the market, he pointed out.) It was unlikely, he wrote, that a bat would have flown to a densely populated metropolitan area of 15 million people. “The killer coronavirus probably originated from a laboratory in Wuhan,” Xiao believed. He urged the relocation of “biohazardous laboratories” away from densely populated places. His article disappeared from the server.
The takeaway is that the bats carrying the closest known relatives of COVID-19 live in caves in Yunnan, which is in southern China. If the pandemic’s start had involved people living near these caves becoming infected, obviously that would strongly suggest the virus had a natural origin. The problem is that the pandemic broke out in Wuhan, almost 1,000 miles away from these caves and at the time of year when bats go into hibernation.
Around the same time that Xiao posted his work, a group of French scientists from Aix-Marseille University posted a paper describing their investigation of a small insertion in the genome of COVID-19. They had discovered something very interesting. The virus’s “spike protein” contained a sequence of amino acids that would react in the presence of an enzyme called “furin,” which is a type of protein found everywhere within the human body, but especially in the lungs. They determined that this enzyme, furin, was capable of intensifying the pathogenicity (deadliness) of a disease.
“Since 1992 the virology community has known that the one sure way to make a virus deadlier is to give it a furin cleavage site,” writes Dr. Steven Quay, a biotech entrepreneur interested in the origins of COVID-19. At least 11 such experiments have been published, including one by Shi Zhengli.
“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,” said David Baltimore, an eminent virologist and former president of the California Institute of Technology. “These features make a powerful challenge to the idea of a natural origin for SARS2,” he said.
Shortly after the observation by the group of French scientists, a professor at National Taiwan University, Fang Chi-tai, gave a lecture on the coronavirus in which he described the anomalous ways in which the virus’s spike protein was especially receptive to the furin enzyme in humans. The virus was “unlikely to have four amino acids added all at once,” Fang said—natural mutations were smaller and more haphazard, he argued. “From an academic point of view, it is indeed possible that the amino acids were added to COVID-19 in the lab by humans.” But when the Taiwan News published an article about Fang’s talk, Fang disavowed his own comments, and the video copy of the talk disappeared from the website of the Taiwan Public Health Association. “It has been taken down for a certain reason,” the association explained. “Thank you for your understanding.”
Alina Chan, a scientist who works at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, also determined something interesting: “By the time SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) was first detected in late 2019, it was already pre-adapted to human transmission,” Chan said, whereas SARS, when it first appeared in 2003, underwent “numerous adaptive mutations” before its evolution had ceased. For viruses jumping to new hosts, it usually takes a lot of time and many mutations to perfect the adjustment to a new target species. This process has been mapped in detail for the SARS1 virus, as viruses transitioning from an animal host to humans usually leave a trail of signatures in the natural environment. But no one has found the bat population that was the source of COVID, if indeed it ever infected bats, and no intermediate host has presented itself despite an intensive search by Chinese authorities that included the testing of 80,000 animals.
In fact, research has found that from the moment it first appeared, COVID was almost perfectly adapted to human cells and has changed hardly at all since.
In order to provide some more context to the present, it’s necessary to take a look back at the recent past. This is where things get really interesting. As noted by Nicholson Baker, the AIDS epidemic brought on a new era in government-guided vaccine research under the guidance of Anthony Fauci. Around the same time (early 90s), a virologist at Rockefeller University, Stephen S. Morse, began giving talks on “emerging viruses”—other plagues that might be in the process of coming out of nature’s woodwork. There were also several notable books published that did a great job of scaring the shit out of people, including Richard Preston’s best-seller about Ebola, and Laurie Garrett’s The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance. And so the idea that we were on the brink of emergent, zoonotic plagues took hold, a zeitgeist that influenced the National Institutes of Health in determining what kind of research to fund.
Then came 9/11, the week after which was when the mysterious anthrax mailings began popping up. With emerging biothreats from humans as well as from the evolving natural world, “biopreparedness” became a sort of fixation. Fauci’s anti-terror budget went from $53 million in 2001 to $1.7 billion in 2003. Vaccine development had to progress much faster, Fauci believed; he wanted to set up “vaccine systems” and “vaccine platforms,” which could be quickly tailored to defend against a particular emergent strain that might one day be released by an enemy of the U.S. This effort would become known as “Project BioShield.”
In 2002, Dr. Ralph Baric, a distinguished coronavirus researcher at the University of North Carolina, managed to do something pretty remarkable: While conducting “interspecies transfer” experimentation, he and his team found a way to create a full-length infectious clone of an entire mouse-hepatitis genome. This “infectious construct” replicated itself just like the real thing, they wrote. Even more noteworthy, they figured out a way to do this without any signs of human alteration; in other words, nobody would know if the virus had come from nature or had been fabricated in a lab.
After SARS appeared in 2003, Baric moved up the National Institutes of Health funding totem pole. Because SARS was considered both a security threat and a zoonotic threat, he hoped to find a vaccine. Year after year, long after the SARS disease had been contained, Baric, with the continued support of the National Institutes of Health, kept up his search. It wasn’t really gone, Baric rationalized; like other epidemics that emerge and then disappear, as he told a university audience some years later, “they don’t go extinct. They are waiting to return.” With this notion now driving his research, Baric started tinkering with the SARS virus. In 2006, he wrote a paper✎ EditSign detailing the threat of “weaponizable” viruses that also succeeded in scaring the shit out of people. That same year, Baric and several other scientists were granted a patent for their invisible method of fabricating a full-length infectious clone, except this time it was a clone of the human SARS virus.
Baric and Shi Zhengli of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the two top experts on the genetic interplay between bat and human coronaviruses, began collaborating in 2015.
Playing With Fire
Project BioShield eventually morphed into a program called “Predict” under Obama. Jonna Mazet, a veterinary scientist from UC Davis, was in charge of Predict, which was a component of USAID’s “Emerging Pandemic Threats” program. Under her guidance, she had teams of scientists collect samples from 164,000 animals and humans. Mazet claimed she’d found “almost 1,200 potentially zoonotic viruses, among them 160 novel coronaviruses, including multiple SARS- and MERS-like coronaviruses.”
Baric, Jonna Mazet, and Peter Daszak worked together for years—and Daszak also routed Predict money to Shi Zhengli’s bat-surveillance team in Wuhan through his nonprofit, mingling it with National Institutes of Health money. In 2013, Mazet announced that Shi Zhengli’s virus hunters, with Predict’s support, had, for the first time, isolated and cultured a live SARS-like virus from bats and demonstrated that this virus could bind to the human ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) receptor, which Baric’s laboratory had determined to be essential to human infectivity. “This work shows that these viruses can directly infect humans and validates our assumption that we should be searching for viruses of pandemic potential before they spill over to people,” Mazet said.
Which brings us back to the “playing with fire” point I made above, and how they justified manipulating extremely dangerous viruses and enhancing the ability of these viruses to infect people in the name of “getting ahead of pandemics.” They referred to these as “gain-of-function” experiments.
Virologists started studying bat coronaviruses in earnest after these turned out to be the source of both the SARS1 and MERS epidemics. In particular, researchers wanted to understand what changes needed to occur in a bat virus’s “spike proteins” before it could infect people. Those little red things are the spike proteins; they determine which species of animal the virus will target.
The work that Shi Zhengli and Ralph Baric collaborated on involved increasing the ability of bat viruses to infect humans, and they managed to create an entirely new virus by taking the backbone of the SARS1 virus and switching its spike protein with one from a bat virus. This new manufactured virus was called “SHC014-CoV/SARS1,” and it was capable of infecting the cells of the human airway. But this project didn’t sit well with many virologists because this was some dangerous shit. If COVID-19 was in fact created in Shi Zhengli’s lab in Wuhan, then its direct prototype would have been SHC014-CoV/SARS1.
According to Nicholas Wade:
Dr. Baric and Dr. Shi referred to the obvious risks in their paper but argued they should be weighed against the benefit of foreshadowing future spillovers. Scientific review panels, they wrote, “may deem similar studies building chimeric viruses based on circulating strains too risky to pursue.” Given various restrictions being placed on gain-of function (GOF) research, matters had arrived in their view at “a crossroads of GOF research concerns; the potential to prepare for and mitigate future outbreaks must be weighed against the risk of creating more dangerous pathogens. In developing policies moving forward, it is important to consider the value of the data generated by these studies and whether these types of chimeric virus studies warrant further investigation versus the inherent risks involved.”
That statement was made in 2015. From the hindsight of 2021, one can say that the value of gain-of-function studies in preventing the SARS2 epidemic was zero. The risk was catastrophic, if indeed the SARS2 virus was generated in a gain-of-function experiment.
A Matter of Public Record
Let’s return to Dr. Shi Zhengli, who was genetically engineering coronaviruses to attack human cells—which we know for a fact she was doing.
Because in the U.S., grant proposals are a matter of public record. Her work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, but this decision was made by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)—the director of which, since 1984, has been Dr. Anthony Fauci. The proposals in question are unequivocal: Shi Zhengli was trying to create novel coronaviruses with the highest possible infectivity for human cells. Also of public record is that from June 2014 to May 2019 Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance had a grant from the NIAID to do gain-of-function research with coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, research that was subsequently subcontracted to Shi Zhengli.
The implications are pretty clear here, I think. If COVID-19 did in fact escape from the Wuhan institute, then the NIAID, under Fauci’s leadership and with his approval, will have funded the extremely risky and dangerous experiments that led to the death of 3.5 million people.
But it gets even worse: There was a moratorium on funding exactly this kind of exceedingly dangerous gain-of-function research. The first version of that moratorium expired in 2017, and it was replaced by a reporting system called the “Potential Pandemic Pathogens Control and Oversight Framework,” which required agencies to report for review any dangerous gain-of-function work they wished to fund. The moratorium, referred to officially as a “pause,” specifically barred funding any gain-of-function research that increased pathogenicity. It defined gain-of-function✎ EditSign very simply: “research that improves the ability of a pathogen to cause disease.”
But there was a loophole in the moratorium. In a footnote✎ EditSign on the second page, it states that “An exception from the research pause may be obtained if the head of the USG funding agency determines that the research is urgently necessary to protect the public health or national security.” Essentially, if Fauci was able to effectively rationalize why this research should proceed, then that moratorium could be ignored.
“Unfortunately, the NIAID Director and the NIH Director exploited this loophole to issue exemptions to projects subject to the Pause—preposterously asserting the exempted research was ‘urgently necessary to protect public health or national security’—thereby nullifying the Pause,” Dr. Richard Ebright said in an interview with Independent Science News.
And wouldn’t you know it, right before the pandemic was first reported, Daszak gave an interview in which he himself actually talks about what the researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been working on:
“And we have now found, you know, after 6 or 7 years of doing this, over 100 new sars-related coronaviruses, very close to SARS,” Dr. Daszak says around minute 28 of the interview. “Some of them get into human cells in the lab, some of them can cause SARS disease in humanized mice models and are untreatable with therapeutic monoclonals and you can’t vaccinate against them with a vaccine. So, these are a clear and present danger….
“Interviewer: You say these are diverse coronaviruses and you can’t vaccinate against them, and no anti-virals — so what do we do?
“Daszak: Well I think…coronaviruses — you can manipulate them in the lab pretty easily. Spike protein drives a lot of what happen with coronavirus, in zoonotic risk. So you can get the sequence, you can build the protein, and we work a lot with Ralph Baric at UNC to do this. Insert into the backbone of another virus and do some work in the lab. So you can get more predictive when you find a sequence. You’ve got this diversity. Now the logical progression for vaccines is, if you are going to develop a vaccine for SARS, people are going to use pandemic SARS, but let’s insert some of these other things and get a better vaccine.”
But after hearing about what was happening in Wuhan, Daszak didn’t provide public health authorities will all the things he surely knew. That’s something we also know, because he almost immediately started a PR campaign to basically convince the world that there was no way the epidemic could have possibly been caused by what they were doing inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology. “The idea that this virus escaped from a lab is just pure baloney. It’s simply not true,” he declared in an April 2020 interview.
About four months into the coronavirus emergency, a deputy director at the National Institutes of Health wrote an email to Daszak. “You are instructed to cease providing any funds to Wuhan Institute of Virology,” it said. In response, Daszak got 77 Nobel Prize winners to sign a statement saying that the cancellation deprived the “nation and the world of highly regarded science that could help control one of the greatest health crises in modern history and those that may arise in the future.” Later, as a condition of further funding, the National Institutes of Health wrote to say it wanted Daszak to arrange an outside inspection of the Wuhan lab and to procure from Wuhan’s scientists a sample of whatever they’d used to sequence the SARS-2 virus. Daszak, outraged, retorted, “I am not trained as a private detective.” He was apparently reluctant to give up his own secrets, too: “Conspiracy-theory outlets and politically motivated organizations have made Freedom of Information Act requests on our grants and all of our letters and emails to the NIH,” he told Nature. “We don’t think it’s fair that we should have to reveal everything we do.”
“This work never should have been funded.”
And so let us yet again return to Dr. Shi Zhengli, because it gets even more interesting.
There are four degrees of safety designations for labs, and my understanding is that this is an international system that all virologists use. In the photo above, Shi Zhengli is working in a BSL4 lab, which is the most restrictive level designed for deadly pathogens like the Ebola virus. But that marshmallow-looking suit she’s wearing, which is weirdly reminiscent of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, is obviously cumbersome to wear, especially when you’re fucking around with stuff you probably shouldn’t be fucking around with. Apparently, virologists worldwide really don’t like working in BSL4 conditions, because in addition to the marshmallow suit you have to follow all kinds of protocols that effectively guarantee your work is going to take twice as long—which is why the rules had become a little more lax than was probably prudent.
Regardless, it’s obviously important to know the regulations Shi Zhengli had been working under, given what she’d been working on. Luckily, she actually disclosed that information in an interview✎ EditSign with Science magazine. “The coronavirus research in our laboratory is conducted in BSL-2 or BSL-3 laboratories,” Shi Zhengli said.
You want to know what BSL2 consists of? It’s essentially what dentists operate at: lab coats, gloves, and slapping up some biohazard signs. A gain-of-function experiment with an agent as infectious as, say, COVID-19, would mean lab workers had a high chance of infection.
“It is clear that some or all of this work was being performed using a biosafety standard — biosafety level 2, the biosafety level of a standard US dentist’s office — that would pose an unacceptably high risk of infection of laboratory staff upon contact with a virus having the transmission properties of SARS-CoV-2,” says Dr. Ebright. “It also is clear,” he adds, “that this work never should have been funded and never should have been performed.”
It was recently reported by the Wall Street Journal that in autumn 2019—right before the pandemic began in earnest—several researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough to require hospital care, “with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illness.” David Asher, a fellow at the Hudson Institute and former consultant to the State Department, provided more detail about the incident at a seminar. Knowledge of the incident came from a mix of public information and “some high end information collected by our intelligence community,” he said. This was “the first known cluster that we’re aware of, of victims of what we believe to be COVID-19.”
Additionally, a private analysis of cellphone location data purports to show that the Wuhan laboratory studying coronaviruses shut down in October, three sources briefed on the matter told NBC News. U.S. spy agencies are reviewing the report, which says there was no cellphone activity in a high-security portion of the Wuhan Institute of Virology from Oct. 7 through Oct. 24, 2019, and that there may have been a "hazardous event" sometime between Oct. 6 and Oct. 11.
It cannot yet be stated that Dr. Shi Zhengli did or did not generate COVID-19 in her lab because her records have been sealed. The Chinese government has also suppressed all records at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and closed down its virus databases, releasing a trickle of information, much of which may have been outright false or designed to mislead. Chinese authorities had every incentive to present any evidence disproving the lab-leak theory to the World Health Organization when it visited Beijing in February of this year. Instead, they did their best to manipulate the WHO’s inquiry into the virus’s origins, and led the commission’s members on what now appears to have been an orchestrated run-around. Interestingly, the only America-based representative in the WHO’s commission is a familiar person:
A Reuters article revealed President Joe Biden ordered aides to find answers to the origin of the virus that causes COVID-19, saying on Wednesday (5/26/21) that U.S. intelligence agencies are pursuing rival theories potentially including the possibility of a laboratory accident in China. Intelligence agencies are considering two likely scenarios but still lack strong confidence in their conclusions and are hotly debating which is more probable, Biden said.
Matters currently stand at an impasse, but the bottom line is that neither the natural emergence nor the lab escape hypothesis can yet be ruled out. There is still no direct evidence for either, so no definitive conclusion can be reached, and until Chinese authorities unlock the records of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, there is no proof that the virus escaped from Dr. Shi Zhengli’s lab, however plausible it might seem.
In conclusion, I want to underscore how the mainstream media has indulged in what I believe is willful ignorance. They had every opportunity to actually look into this stuff, but they proved incapable of anything more than knee-jerk dismissal and derision.
In January 2020, the Washington Post wrote a story headlined, “Experts debunk fringe theory linking China’s coronavirus to weapons research.” The reason I mention this story is because it portrayed the Wuhan lab’s security as essentially unassailable when this wasn’t something the media was in a position to assess, asserting that “the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory is a ‘Cellular Level Biosafety Level 4’ facility, which means it has a high level of operational security and is authorized to work on dangerous pathogens, including Ebola.” This erroneous assumption was then cited in much of the coverage to follow.
When Senator Tom Cotton appeared on TV to raise questions about China’s lack of transparency in the matter, reporters of course immediately had a conniption fit. The New York Times labeled Cotton’s remarks a “conspiracy theory.” The Washington Post’s account was headlined, “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked.”
Vox reported, “In some right-wing news outlets and on social media, a dangerous conspiracy theory about the origin of the health crisis won’t die.” This “conspiracy theory” was of course in reference to the lab-leak possibility.
An NPR report stated, “Virus researchers say there is virtually no chance that the new coronavirus was released as result of a laboratory accident in China or anywhere else.”
The Guardian made a habit of declaring Trump was spreading conspiracy theories with headlines like “Trump fans flames of Chinese lab coronavirus theory during daily briefing.” (Note: As was his modus operandi, Trump didn't exactly deliver his thoughts tactfully)
Slate, in yet another attempt to make sure people know it’s a step below BuzzFeed when it comes to serious news reporting, blamed the lab-leak theory on bigotry: “The rumors of a lab escape or a bioweapon stem from historical amnesia, a caricatured villain, and good old-fashioned racism.”
Business Insider reported with alarm that a quarter of the public believed a “conspiracy theory” that the virus originated in a lab.
An Associated Press fact-check in December, rounding up various myths related to the pandemic, described the lab-leak hypothesis as a “falsehood.” The story proceeded to assert the virus “likely originated in nature.”
There are many, many more examples.
*PLEASE NOTE: I did NOT do the original research here. Although I’ve been reading (probably a little too much) about all this in depth for months, the information included was pulled from a variety of sources. For the sake of time and because I think the size of this post is really pushing Substack’s formatting limits, I did not use footnotes, but tried to include links to information where it felt most appropriate. Regardless, Nicholas Wade, Nicholson Baker, Jonathan Chait, and Jeremy Page are four writers I drew heavily from, and all of them are worth searching for on Google if you’re looking for more information.
And (believe it or not), there’s actually quite a bit of supporting information in regards to the lab-leak hypothesis that I didn’t include due to its dense scientific nature, and because I didn't want you, the reader, to stop reading before finishing. But believe you me, if you have the patience to parse through the verbiage, it'll amaze you how blinkered people have been. Start here.
Quotes of the Week
“Liberal journalists, who only speak to and for one another, always believe that the primary if not sole metric of journalistic credibility is how popular one is among other liberal journalists." —Pulitzer prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald in response to a Washington Post article claiming he'd "done a good job of torching his journalistic reputation" because of critical takes on the mainstream media's bias.
"It was said to me, ‘Well, you’re really not a minority.'" —Former NFL offensive tackle Eugene Chung on what he was told by a team during an interview for a coaching position this offseason.
"In the past ten years, my email correspondence has been increasingly given over to calming down students who are hyperventilating with anxiety—about grades, about their potential marketability, about their Instagram followings." —Barrett Swanson, a tenure-track university professor, in an article written for Harper’s.
“The desire to have influence and respect is universal, and it’s part of what is driving a lot of behavior in this country right now.” —Bruce A. Webber, the recently retired director of the Rural Studies Program at Oregon State University. In five counties in eastern Oregon, conservative residents are pushing to secede from the state and join their more like-minded neighbors in Idaho.
"NYC Pride is unwilling to contribute in any way to creating an atmosphere of fear or harm for members of the community." —NYC Pride organizers, in a press release announcing✎ EditSign that gay cops will no longer be allowed to march in uniform at the Pride Parade. (Author’s note: big·ot·ry [noun] — obstinate or unreasonable attachment to a belief, opinion, or faction; in particular, prejudice against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group)
Numbers and Figures
1.1: The 0-60 time, in seconds, of a Tesla Roadster equipped with “SpaceX package” cold air thrusters. The Roadster will be available beginning in 2022.
77%: The amount of viewers CNN host Don Lemon has lost since the Trump presidency ended.
1/3: The proportion of federal correctional officer jobs that are vacant, which means other prison workers, like teachers, cooks and nurses, have to guard inmates.
9: The number of people killed at a San Jose rail yard on Wednesday when Samuel J. Cassidy , a 57-year-old “disgruntled worker,” opened fire with 9mm handguns.
Reads from the Archive
Mental Health Break
The doggo lexicon.