Post by George Herold Post by firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite the deference to "scientists," I didn't see any scientific
arguments, merely "scientists" speculating, and their speculations
being tossed around non-scientifically by non-scientists.
ISTM it's a forensic matter rather than scientific. If China were
a free country, we'd simply scour their labs' collections for traces
of the Wuhan Scourge. If it's not there, the lab's excluded. And
we'd look at personnel records too, maybe, to find the first cases.
However, China won't allow it.
Absent that, it's entirely possible this group -- known to have been
studying coronavirus reservoirs in the wild -- collected SARS-CoV2,
then lost control. Or synthesized something, or collected, then
modified something wild, etc. Or that none of that happened.
There are manifold possibilities that can't be excluded -- it's a
The NYU Shanghai prof's Twitter thread is full of gaping holes.
I agree. Say James, what news sources do you read? I find most news
almost impossible to read, because of the 'slant' of the source.
It's not that the 'slants' have gotten worse, but my tolerance is
much lower. (grumpy old man complex)
That's a good question about news sources. I had to think a bit to
re-trace my process.
In my youth I was exposed to some honest-to-goodness communist
propagandizing from directly across the Iron Curtain, which has affected
the way I process information later in life. I've seen Orwellian police
states personally and heard their official voices deny obvious truths.
And all of that has bred a keen sense for when I'm getting incomplete
information, straw-men, narratives, and rhetorical devices instead of
facts. I can usually spot con-men instantly, too. Same thing.
I think my staying-informed process consists essentially of collecting
seeds from wherever, suggesting possibly interesting happenings to
investigate. From there, I'll possibly read a few treatments of the
issue first to see what's being argued, then go directly to the source
so that I can evaluate the arguments being made.
When I go to the source and watch the actual person saying the actual
thing, or read the law itself, or proposed legislation, I often find
the popular reporting omits critical details, or flat-out
mischaracterizes or even misstates what was actually said.
So when reading an article in the popular press, I just read through
the slant gleaning objective facts. For example, this AP article says
" The punishment of eight doctors for “rumor-mongering,” broadcast
on national television on Jan. 2, sent a chill through the city’s
“Doctors in Wuhan were afraid,” said Dali Yang, a professor of Chinese
politics at the University of Chicago. “It was truly intimidation of
an entire profession.” "
Okay, on Jan. 2, China was aware of and suppressing news of their
epidemic. That's useful. But later, after making a balanced
presentation about why Chinese leaders might have wanted to avoid
public panic, the article takes a swipe at President Trump for the
same thing with no such mitigation. Orange Man is Bad, you see.
In pursuit of their Orange Man Bad thesis the AP article makes
ignorant statements about the U.S. response, such as "However, even
the public announcement on Jan. 20 left the U.S. nearly two months
to prepare for the pandemic."
The AP is clearly trying to argue that the U.S. failed to act, and paint
that on The Donald. But I already know the U.S. didn't have its first
known case until Jan. 21st -- by that measure we had exactly one day
to prepare for the pandemic. It's a lame argument. And I also know
that on Jan. 20th, Dr. Fauci had announced the National Institutes
of Health was already working on a vaccine for the coronavirus. That
doesn't sound like inaction or inattention to me. That sounds like our
officials were on high alert, working aggressively to counter the
threat. But the AP doesn't mention those things I already know,
important things devastating to their argument. So, I immediately know
the AP is cherry-picking, poorly-informed, or they're pitching me.
So, I try to dig out the facts wherever I can, read through the slant,
and reach a reasonable understanding of reality.
And never forget -- the most insidious power of the media is the power
to ignore. Whenever you're getting only the costs of a thing but not
the benefits, or only the benefits but not the cost, you're not being
informed, you're being played.