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Hypothesizing the origins of the Pandemic

I keep reading how the pandemic is really just the result of manipulation. I disagree. It is true that manipulation, especially of public opinion, is happening all the time. Some of it is quite effective, some of it falls flat. A third of it cancels out another third. This pandemic is nothing special in this regard. The pandemic is out of the ordinary as an event; really it is a once-in-a-generation thing. So perhaps people are paying attention more. But I don’t pick up a heightened amount of manipulation on this topic as compared to any other. Sure all sorts of interests are trying to spin it (after years of remarkable success, Trump has done a giant belly flop on this one). And it attracts an unusual amount of conspiracy-minded speculations precisely because it is such a big deal. And already much of that has aged poorly. So people shift the goal posts. “It’s nothing; all overblown” to “It only kills old people and people with preexisting conditions”–which tacitly admits that perhaps is is more than nothing after all. By July we will be shocked by the number of people in our society who had preexisting conditions, and the conspiracy-minded will be taking shots on the next goal. The problem is that they are taking a reactive stance, and perhaps not even noticing that they have changed attitudes five times in three months. Meanwhile, wiser heads will practice the exercises in Steiner’s “Practical Training in Thought” and evaluate the results of their predictions, studying where they went wrong. Many aspects of the pandemic have been completely accurately predicted. Perhaps it is worth paying attention to the people who have called it accurately so far.

In the US the lockdown has broad popular support from both sides of the political spectrum, and the choices that various authorities have made have been very mindful of local sentiment. Now you can certainly argue that the public are a bunch of dumb sheep. That line of thought is also broadly popular on both sides of the political spectrum. And I’m sure plenty of people here will argue that the public have been brainwashed by “the authorities” and that is the only reason they support such foolishness. To which I’ll remind them that most people on the other side of that generally consider them idiots brainwashed by transparently foolish conspiracy theories. So the only common ground is that nobody trusts anyone else to actually think properly or have a valid opinion. Now I wonder what forces might be behind that?

But back to the pandemic. Really, it is more of a natural phenomena, like an earthquake. It proceeds from the lawful processes of the universe. Humanity is reacting as best they know how. Even the reactions are fairly easy to categorize: denial, anger, depression, etc. as well as wishful thinking, integration into existing belief systems, and so on. And opportunistic exploitation towards whatever ends one was bent towards in the first place. To focus just on the fact that there are various modes of deception operating in all this is to pick but one small slice.

The 1918 flu pandemic was caused by an ordinary influenza pathogen in a slightly unusual configuration (it was gene sequenced in 2009 using a sample from the Arctic permafrost taken from a victim who died, froze, was buried, and stayed frozen). Meanwhile there are at least 6000 coronaviruses endemic to Asian bats. There is really no need to posit that this one is manipulated. Beyond that, most every expert in viruses who has analyzed it says it shows no traces of manipulation. It is true that the Wuhan lab was doing gain-of-function tests, that these tests are problematic enough to have been banned in the US. They were doing a lot of other research as well. Lab accidents cannot be ruled out categorically, though it is worth noting that most of the studies cataloging bat coronaviruses are done on deactivated samples. Beyond that no one trusts the Chinese authorities to accurately report on anything. For me the decisive factor is ultimately that the overwhelming consensus among virologists is that SARS-CoV-2 is natural. How, when, and where it jumped the species barrier is unknown. But there is nothing beyond circumstantial evidence to suggest otherwise, and when circumstantial evidence is contradicted by direct evidence, it is usually the theories supported by the circumstantial evidence that are thrown out.

Humans and bats interact a lot more than you would think, especially in Asia. But even when I was living in Austin bats were a real presence, and I’ve been splashed with bat urine more than once as a result of a fly-by. People are routinely exploring bat caves, and bat guano is gathered and used as a fertilizer in Asian sustenance agriculture. To say nothing of bats in traditional south Asian cuisine.

So we have a painstakingly assembled scientific scenario for how Covid-19 started. Or we can posit a global conspiracy by moneyed interests to infect the globe in the interests of, well, doing what they are already doing, just somehow the pandemic makes it easier. I’ll go with the science.

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