Beating a dead raccoon dog
CNN etc pretend a new study helps prove Covid probably didn't come from a lab. Nope. Worse, they trumpeted the same nonsense - from some of the same authors! - in November. And July. And...
On Saturday, a new 67-page “preprint” purporting to show Sars-Cov-2 did NOT leak from a lab was published online.
Naturally, the same media outlets that called the lab leak theory anti-Chinese propaganda for two years were all over this study. At one point, the New York Times website gave it basically equal billing to the war in Ukraine.
What new evidence did the researchers find in this preprint - which was of course funded by Dr. Anthony Fauci and the National Institutes of Health? A coronavirus variant in bats that nearly matches Sars-Cov-2? An Chinese promise to open the Wuhan labs to a credible outside investigation?
Nope. The authors made a map.
On the other hand it was a pretty map.
The study looked at where the people who came down with Covid at the beginning of the epidemic lived - at least according to the data the Chinese provided to the World Health Organization. Lo and behold, many of those people were gosh-darn close to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, conveniently located in the center of Wuhan.
Further, the authors reported that the market sold raccoon dogs, which are in fact neither raccoons nor dogs but are occasionally lunch in China. Don’t judge. Or do. The Chinese don’t care. And raccoon dogs can be infected with Sars-Cov-2, if you try hard.
Case closed! It was the raccoon dogs. Not the giant lab in Wuhan experimenting with the closest known precursor to Sars-Cov-2. The raccoon dogs!
Never mind that despite looking very hard, China has never been able to find any animal infected with Sars-Cov-2 at the Huanan market - or anywhere else in China.
And never mind that both China and the rest of the world have known for two years that many early cases were linked to the Huanan market. As the MIT Technology Review wrote in that piece a year ago:
The genetic evidence indicates that these cases are a branch of the early outbreak—that the market was a place where its spread was amplified, but not necessarily the starting point.
Imma confess something now. I haven’t read all 67 pages of the new study. Still, I feel like I know what it says. In fact, I feel like I’ve read it before.
That’s because I have, more or less.
Back in November, the paper’s lead author - a biologist named Michael Worobey - made essentially the same claim, using essentially the same data on the the location of the early cases.
But wait, there’s more!
Worobey peddled the same dreck - look, lots of cases around the market, it was the raccoon dogs! - in July 2021 too.
So who is working with Worobey to peddle old nonsense in new bottles?
Well, the co-authors on the new paper include - surprise, surprise - one Kristian G. Andersen.
In case you’ve forgotten, Kristian is the fine fellow who warned Dr. Anthony Fauci in January 2020 that Sars-Cov-2 appeared to have some oddly suspicious features. Then, after a conference call with Fauci - who had helped fund risky research at the lab in Wuhan that was a plausible source for the virus - Kristian decided to write a paper that said exactly the opposite. What really happened in those frantic days in early February 2020? Them that know are not telling, not yet.
Can I get a subpoena, Jim Jordan? I guess we all gotta wait a few months.
But Kristian has clearly decided that the best defense is a good offense. And the best offense is to offer the same theory over and over (the Chinese pioneered this strategy, as Alina Chan and Matt Ridley brilliantly demonstrate in Viral), so that it seems like it’s coming from lots of different people and places.
You don’t need new evidence, not really. You can just reanalyze the evidence you already have and write a longer paper. With charts!
Even better, you can get taxpayer money to do it.
Lots of taxpayer money:
Of course, this plan works even better if you have some useful idiots in the media who can’t remember they wrote the same story three months ago. Or maybe they don’t care, because they’re so embarrassed they failed to ask any questions about the origins of the virus for than a year.
Science! It’s the best.