From a Leak to a Deluge

How "Updated" COVID Origin Reporting Shows Why Science and Politics Don't Play Well Together

This is an updated version of the story posted on American Thinker. You can check out the site at https://www.americanthinker.com/

Now that the great white shark that is the media – always hunting, always devouring – has moved on to fresh victims, it once again appears to be safe to jump back into the waters of the COVID lab leak hypothesis.

As it always should have been.

Imagine a scenario in which you buy an American made car and show it off to your mechanically inclined friend and they immediately say ‘Well, the one thing I know for sure is that it wasn’t made in Michigan.”

Asking how they could know that, they explain that that make and model is typically made in Ohio and may even have parts from Kentucky or Mississippi or Mexico.  A satisfactory, if pedantic, explanation, it seems.

Now imagine a similar scenario in which you do not mention the make or model and they still say it could not have come from Michigan, even though the state produces the most automobiles in the country.  Such a blanket assertion made in an information vacuum would not be satisfactory, even given their expertise.  And, when pressed on the assertion, they simply respond that they know because they know and that’s that (oh, and they fail to mention their recent investment in a Hyundai dealership).

As the Wuhan Institute of Virology can rightly be called the Detroit of coronavirus research, a claim that the one place in the world it could not have come from is that lab was and is just as ludicrous as saying the car could not have come from Michigan.

The assertion that it could not have possibly come from the lab was clearly – and sadly – political in nature.

Science and politics do not play well together.  At its best, the scientific process is a perpetual search for the best explanation possible for everything that goes on around us.   The process builds upon itself, shedding parts that eventually prove untenable and allowing new ideas to be investigated in an effort to create as clear a picture of reality as possible, ad infinitum.

At its best, politics is a grasping search for literally anything – true or not - that will help secure one’s personal position of power until at least Friday.

From the beginning, the lab leak hypothesis (and the word hypothesis is used advisedly – a hypothesis in science is the term for an idea that merits further rigorous investigation and testing to prove it one way or another; a theory is what results from that process if the hypothesis turns out be correct, or at least very highly probable, and can stand up to on-going scrutiny) clearly had enough merit to not be dismissed out of hand, let alone face such virulent attacks that even people who claim the Moon weighs exactly 17 pounds tend not to have to struggle against.

It is also crucial to note that “science” is a verb, not a noun, and that the concept of “settled science” is anathema to the entire undertaking.  Science is not to be followed like a road from your home to the store because when new information emerges the store could end up in a completely different location or even disappear altogether.

While not unexpected, the attitude toward the lab leak hypothesis has been both unprecedented and incredibly damaging.  Now, though, even those who were so quick to staple gun tin foil hats to the heads of anyone who even dared broach the subject seem to have come to the realization they were wrong to condemn an idea that not only had merit but was in fact, comparable to other concepts floated, the most likely cause of the pandemic – it got out of the lab during unnecessary and slipshod gain-of-function research.

But even these mea culpas are coming with a qualifier.  After more than a year of following the party – in this case literally, as in the CCP -  line on the topic there is a clear attempt to shift the blame for their failure onto the former president.  The reasoning, such as it is, can be summed up thusly:  We decided to think he was lying – and tell everyone else he was lying - because we didn’t like him and we wanted to do everything we could to make sure he was not re-elected, the scientific method and even human safety be damned.

The hatred was so visceral that if Trump had ever tweeted that “eating food is an important part of staying alive,” the assertion would have been met with fat jokes and general derision, “fact checked” as, at the very least, “missing context” because sometimes people shouldn’t eat, like before surgery, and at least one story would have appeared claiming that the tweet was a violation of federal law and an ethical breach that could lead to impeachment for self-dealing because people buy food at his hotels.

(If Hilary Clinton, when she was still relevant, had made such a statement a similar reaction could very well have occurred – that she is only asking people to eat food because she and Bill made Vince Foster, before they had him killed, set up a Cayman Island shell company to purchase a Mena airstrip-based outfit that specialized in distributing expired canned food to refugees.  The difference being that that claim would have deservedly remained confined to bouncing about the sillier parts of the internet and would never have made it to the front page of the Post and the Times.)

In the case of Trump extolling food, the scenario is of no lasting importance and a bit silly, even if depressingly plausible.  But in the case of COVID, placing immediate political necessity above the need for the truth has had lethal real-world consequences. 

And that is the tragedy of mixing politics and science.