Lab-leak is a Conspiracy Theory

The term “Conspiracy Theory” has a very specific meaning. It is not simply a way to dismiss a claim you do not agree with. I’d guess that you are familiar with the term and also have a good grasp on exactly what it means. However, for completeness, let me cite the Wikipedia page on the topic (emphases is mine) …

conspiracy theory is an explanation for an event or situation that invokes a conspiracy by sinister and powerful groups, often political in motivation,[2][3] when other explanations are more probable.[4][5] The term has a negative connotation, implying that the appeal to a conspiracy is based on prejudice or insufficient evidence.[6] A conspiracy theory is not simply about a conspiracy; instead, it refers to a hypothesized conspiracy with specific characteristics, such as an opposition to the mainstream consensus among those people (such as scientists or historians) who are qualified to evaluate its accuracy.[7][8]

There is of course a bit more to it. Generally such theories resist being disproven, and will adapt as wholly appropriate criticism and debunking arises.

Let’s work a few quick Examples

Claim: 9/11 was an inside job, the towers were brought down by a controlled demolition

  • It’s a popular conspiracy theory. Those who accept it will generally embrace this as “truth” and not a conspiracy theory.
  • There is “evidence”, but drill into it and it quickly evaporates until you are left with hand-waving and supposed evidence just over the horizon that is not actually there if you take the time to check.
  • I’ve mentioned this one because the actual explanation is that there really was an actual conspiracy that involved fanatical religious fundamentalists. No controlled demolition needed, flying fully fueled aircraft into the towers was wholly sufficient.

If you do indeed think that the impact of jet aircraft at high speeds in combination with subsequent fires can’t explain the collapse of the Twin Towers then you need to take that up with the 9/11 Commission and most of the civil engineering community and persuade them. After over twenty years, so far nobody has managed to do that due to a lack of persuasive evidence.

Further Reading: Wikipedia – 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

Claim: The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting never occurred, nobody died, they are all actors

  • I’ve pulled this one up because it is an example of how such ideas can be truly obnoxious. Imagine the horror of being a parent whose 6 year old died at Sandy Hook.
  • Now take that a step further, imagine been harassed on a daily basis by people persuaded that it was all faked, and that your murdered child never existed.
  • Lenny Pozner, whose son Noah was the youngest of 20 children murdered, was physically threatened and told that he would be killed if he did not drop his supposed act. The originator of this threats, Lucy Richards, went to jail.

My point here is that conspiracy theories are not simply whacky but harmless claims. Believing them has real-world consequences.

Further Reading: Wikipedia – Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting conspiracy theories

I’m really writing about the SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan Lab-Leak Conspiracy Theory

That’s enough background, let’s get into the reason for this posting.

There is a possibility that SARS-CoV-2 originated via a leak from the Wuhan lab.

I’ll be wholly clear about this and try to keep it very very simple.

  • Right now the most probable origin is zoonotic. We don’t know the precise transmission path it took, but this is where this stuff comes from.
  • The other possibility is an accidental leak from a lab in the area that studied it. This is the lab leak theory

Both are possible. Both are plausible. Put side by side the most possible and plausible by far is a natural zoonotic origin. I’ll explain why a bit further on.

There are fans of the Lab leak idea that have basically decided that this is the “truth” on the basis of no real evidence at all, and have dismissed the more plausible zoonotic explanation on the basis of no really evidence at all.

Because the issue has become so politicised, what we have now ended up with are lab leak proponents using a combination of bad science, appeals to incredulity, and conspiracy thinking to promote the lab leak claim. The net effect is that the plausible but improbably lab leak explanation has morphed into a full blown conspiracy theory.

Further Reading on the Lab Leak being a Conspiracy Theory

Dr David Gorski takes a deep dive into this within this recent posting – The “lab leak” hypothesis is becoming a conspiracy theory.

Be warned, it is a long detailed read, but also rather fascinating as well.

Where did COVID come from – What is the real truth?

The simple answer is this: I don’t know for certain and neither does anybody else.

We might never know.

What we do know is that the most probable explanation is zoonotic.

Why is this probably the case?

I did promise to explain why, so briefly, here it is …

  • Past experience often tells us a great deal. SARS and MEARS both had a zoonotic origin
  • When viruses have been in the freezer for many years, scientists can see the missing years of evolution in the viral genome. When viruses have escaped from labs, they looked like viruses that had been kept in labs. When H1N1 reemerged in 1977, it was missing 27 years of evolution due its time in the deep freeze.
  • The Lab leak scenario for SARS-CoV-2 is inconsistent with several established facts regarding the origin of SARS-CoV-2, including the fact that the majority of early cases were linked to different markets that sold wildlife or wildlife products in Wuhan. Theories on the origin SARS-CoV-2 must also account for the fact that two distinct lineages of SARS-CoV-2 (lineage A and lineage B) were distributed at different Wuhan wildlife markets.
  • The original SARS-CoV outbreaks in 2002-2004 were linked to the wildlife trade.
  • Several independent sources indicate that wildlife species susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, including civets and raccoon dogs, were sold at the Huanan market and other wildlife markets in Wuhan.

I’ve not dived into all the details this time because I have already covered a lot of that within other postings …

The bottom line is this. Anybody claiming with certainty that it was a LabLeak has made the leap from a possibility to a conspiracy theory, one that has no evidence. Your best friend here is doubt because facts matter. In this instance at the moment, LabLeak is just a remote possibility, and not an established fact.

1 thought on “Lab-leak is a Conspiracy Theory”

  1. Not sure why anyone would take up questions concerning the physical, structural engineering, and architectural evidence that don’t support the Bush Admin’s conspiracy theory about 9/11 with the 9/11 Commission. While a great deal of background on the national security issues the Commission generated concerning Al Qaeda threats in the years leading up to the September attack is reasonably accurate and not in much dispute can be found in the Commission report, the authority most able to answer the outstanding questions about the science of building failures on 9/11 is NIST.

    The scientists who, for instance, designed and executed the fire stress tests for floor assemblies are to be commended for pretty much proving that the fires in both towers were not sufficient in intensity nor time to explain how the buildings completely, catastrophically failed after less than one hour and an hour and a half of fire. Their well documented report explained their methodology, the observed evidence of the fire’s locations in photos and videos, estimations of the office material fuel available and movement of the fires based on available fuel, as well as estimations from well documented simulations as to direct damage from aircraft parts on the steel structural parts and jet fuel distribution initiating the fires all of which leaves open the question of how such short duration, low intensity fires could result in complete catastrophic destruction not simply once but twice in nearly identical failures from two considerably different damage patterns. NIST scientists’ own work calls into question the Bush conspiracy theory. The floor assembly tests mocked up fires meant to simulate the actual fires but required much more intense burns and length of burns in order to cause damage to the assemblies. In no case did the fire tests resemble either the estimated intensity of or the known length of time of the actual fires. And unlike other events listed as conspiracy theories in Dave’s posting, such as the Sandy Hook massacre which was not an engineering and structurally technical crime scene involving measurable fundamental physical attributes such as jet fuel potential energy, metallurgical standards of heat absorption, or acceleration due to gravity, the NIST study provides a wealth of sound scientific analysis that to this day stands in opposition of the weak conclusions political leadership drew from the science. One indisputable fact the science laid bare but which the leadership, and Dave, has ignored to this day, is the fact Building 7 fell at free fall acceleration through over 100′ in a symmetrical fashion as nearly all controlled demolitions do and in a manner bearing no resemblance to the publicly released simulation NIST leadership hoped would detract from the observed failure of the building. Not only is their publish simulation not even a reasonably close facsimile of what was seen, the observable failure of Building 7 tracks very closely to what is seen in countless other buildings brought down by controlled demolition. Similar, though more complex, arguments can be made about the length of time and physical manner in which the two towers failed, arguments requiring a close examination of video and photographic evidence, mass and energy considerations, eye witness reports of many explosions from within and outside the buildings, much of which was dismissed by the 9/11 Commission when interviewing people who had been within and outside the buildings at or around the time of failure.

    While the 9/11 Commission discusses valid issues about the enemies that plotted years in advance to attack America, the science NIST generated paints a very different story from the official conspiracy theory Dave ascribes to. The politics of THAT conspiracy theory require avoiding the very messy likely scenario of a highly compartmentalized faction in government making sure the Al Qaeda attack would be spectacular, fearful and convincing enough to motivate the public to get behind a particular agenda. The Reichstag fire is a historical precedent for staging a spectacular event to sway public opinion and policy. Understanding that a compartmentalized faction could have the means, motive, opportunity, and expertise to pull off such a spectacular event is certainly not a desirable thing for conspirators to have the public understand. The NIST leadership coverup was needed to assure that the public doesn’t.

    The “9/11 conspiracy theory” IS popular and hasn’t gone away because too many questions remain, questions which the handwaving of people like Dave here, lacking in substance and heft cannot wave away being the fundamental physical principles that form the basis of those questions, try as Dave and so many other conspiracy theorists might.

    And btw, I agree with Dave on a range of issues, including his postings on climate change, and what the available science regarding the lab leak story shows. He engages himself in conspiratorial thinking regarding 9/11 in the exact way he accuses people like me of thinking, ignoring the science and hard facts that support the observable phenomena.


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