Origin Matters

Since I mentioned it three weeks ago, the discussion about the possible lab origin of SARS-COV2 has taken off and the subject has moved from "purportedly racist conspiracy theory" into the middle of the Overton window, no the least via this Letter in Science.

First off, I never understood how the lab leak was supposed to be more racist than a wet market origin. The latter can easily be understood as calling Chinese "filthy bat eaters", no? In any case, this is a fine example of how well-intentioned policing of opinions can get in the way of finding the truth.

And the truth is hugely important in this case! Because even though the origin might not be the most important factor for the response to the pandemic once it started, it matters a great deal about how we go about preventing the next one.

A disinterested investigation is what we should want but there is so much prestige at stake, for the CCP as well as the scientists and funding agencies involved, that it is difficult to go beyond preformed opinions.

Lab leak turning out to be true could shake things up, not in a good way:

Should it turn out that scientists and experts and NGOs, etc. are villains rather than heroes of this story, we may very well see the expert-worshiping values of modern liberalism go up in a fireball of public anger.

Hopefully though, we would instead get our act together and figure out how to properly handle bio-risk.

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