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Thanks, Dr. Fauci. . .

 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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25 July 2021 15:23
 

What’s the word then?

 
 
Jefe
 
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25 July 2021 15:35
 
nonverbal - 25 July 2021 03:23 PM

What’s the word then?

I don’t know if there is a single word.  Maybe under-educated. Lacking practicum and training. 

I’ll give you an example from my real life. 

I enjoy watching forged in fire on tv.  It’s a show about competitive blacksmithing - making blades in competition with other blacksmiths.  I’ve watched it on tv for several years. I think I grasp some of the surface knowledge of how to make a blade from a chunk of steel or iron, because I see the actions of those smiths and understand the basic process.

However, I do not think I’d be able to successfully jump in as an expert blade-maker simply because I watched the show for several years on TV.  I lack the theory. I don’t have any real understanding of metallurgy.  I don’t have any practical experience swinging a hammer, normalizing metal that has undergone drastic transformation.  I don’t have any deep expertise in blacksmithing.  Form myself, I think it would be a mistake to assume that just because I have watched many season’s worth of this show, that I would be a good judge of how to proceed with performing actual blacksmith work.

For many of these complex topics there is foundational knowledge that must be acquired to be able to even step into an arena and meaningfully disuss or understand the procedures or questions that could be asked, let alone should be asked.

I think it would be the same for virology.  That’s why we have ethics committees and oversight by groups of people who do have the foundational knowledge and expertise to be a part of those conversations.  A lay-person, with no knowledge of virology, or very rudimentary understanding of the field, might not know the correct questions to ask, and might, in fact misunderstand technical terminology or sount-bite summarization by news outlets, and draw incomplete or incorrect conclusions based on similarly incomplete or incorrect understandings of the amateur-level questions, let alone those questions requiring scientific expertise to begin to formulate.

Am I stupid for not being able to step into a forge and start blacksmithing usable blades? Not really.  Am I unpracticed and ignorant of some foundational knowledge and techniques required for success in the craft?  Absolutely. 

There’s a notable difference.  And for the general public,  I think that notable difference matters.

Now I’m not saying the current status of virology research is perfect. Nor am I saying Fauci is perfect.  But I recognize that he (and other virologists) have knowledge and expertise that I lack, and I’m pretty confident in predicting a similar lack of expertise in the general public. 

Now if I wanted to, I probably could learn more about virology, or blacksmithing.  And if I put in sufficient effort, I probably could become almost competent to talk about these topics with an expert.  But I don’t think there are short-cuts to understanding that come from a few interviews on TV.  And I don’t think democratizing the information out to a confused and inexpert public will clarify the issues very much for those without that foundational knowledge.

Edit: Maybe the word is lay-person, or inexpert, or something similar.

[ Edited: 25 July 2021 15:48 by Jefe]
 
 
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25 July 2021 17:07
 
Jefe - 25 July 2021 03:35 PM

Edit: Maybe the word is lay-person, or inexpert, or something similar.

This. Knowledge in specialized fields is simply beyond the vast majority of us. We have to rely on experts. Mainstream science in any particular field is likely to provide the best path to truth. While science can be wrong, it is self-correcting as more data comes in. As long as it is not influenced by politics or money, it gives us our best shot at getting where we need to be.

 
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25 July 2021 21:25
 

All science is a double-edged sword, but sticking our head in the sand isn’t the answer.  I do have greater confidence the more scientists are able to run their own show without political interference.  That said, I could potentially see an argument to be made about not funding a lab in China, not because I don’t trust Chinese people, but I don’t necessarily trust the Chinese government.  A major problem though is that the US government has been severely short-sighted in the last 20 years regarding the CDC.  As time progresses, certain politicians have been trying to make more and more political hay out of science, including the CDC.  This has meant reduced funding, and reduced discretion to research topics that the scientists at the CDC think are worth studying.  It then makes sense that the CDC might look to outsource some of its research to other places.  To add what little money it can to increase its own wealth of knowledge.

Should we have a debate about that funding?  Sure, but in the current political/media environment, that public debate will be very meaningless.

 
nonverbal
 
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26 July 2021 07:18
 

I get what you’re saying, Jefe. But you don’t need to be a metallurgist to sharpen a blade the same way an expert would. Scientists and engineers sometimes need to explain what they do, in lay terms without jargon. Technical writers need not be experts in the fields they work in, after all. (That is, you don’t need a master’s or Ph.D to be a technical writer.)

 
 
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26 July 2021 08:56
 
nonverbal - 26 July 2021 07:18 AM

I get what you’re saying, Jefe. But you don’t need to be a metallurgist to sharpen a blade the same way an expert would.

I wasn’t talking about being a metallurgist.  I was talking about practical blacksmithing. I wasn’t talking about merely sharpening a blade, I was talking about making one from scratch.  And referencing the depth of knowledge needed to do those things.  Was that message lost?

nonverbal - 26 July 2021 07:18 AM

Scientists and engineers sometimes need to explain what they do, in lay terms without jargon. Technical writers need not be experts in the fields they work in, after all. (That is, you don’t need a master’s or Ph.D to be a technical writer.)

I grant you that science communication is lacking in some cases, but it is a 2-way street.  All the plain language in the world might not be enough for a lay-person to understand the ins and outs of virology.  For instance, did you know that the seasonal influenza vaccines were developed utilizing gain-of-function research on influenza?  They save lives.  Lots of lives.  Is that worth while?

And you’ve run with the powermax story of Fauci and Paul, but have you read any other articles about their exchange, or why it matters?
Would tv media be any different? Would the average viewer consume multiple different interviews and shows looking for a more complete understanding of the complex issues of virology - or would theyy just continue to rely on their preferred media sources.  Where does that leave viewers of misinformation-outlets?  Or heavily-politicized ‘opinion-as-news’ like Tucker Carlson viewers?

 
 
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26 July 2021 09:41
 

And there are a ton of places you can go and learn how scientists do their job.  There is a ton of published research to go and read on this topic, even before 2020.

Unfortunately, without expertise, there is a limit to how well you can know this stuff.  The other good field to imagine is high level physics.  The analogies that get shown in tv shows and documentaries are useful for expressing an extremely simplified form of the concept, but they do not actually teach you the physics.  You can’t actually apply the knowledge you get by watching Cosmos towards a physics degree.  To do that, you’d have to actually learn the math.

1. Viral genomic sequencing does not involve cell cultures.  When doing this kind of work on a virus, it is inactivated, and so the risk of escape is negligible.  It is possible that the inactivation was done improperly, but the virus isn’t given host material for breeding, which makes it extremely unlikely that this kind of work results in infection.  To date, no known infection has happened due to this kind of genomic sequencing.

2. No known early cases of SARS-CoV-2 have been traced to an employee or family member.  If there was a lab leak origin, we would expect to find lab employees and family members at the epicenter of early cases.  There are reports of influenza like symptoms…. during flu season… but none of these have ever been confirmed to be SARS-CoV-2.  Based on what we know about the virus, we would need to see multiple people hospitalized with the virus prior to Dec 2019.  There is no evidence of this having happened.

3. The Wuhan lab uses a serial amplification process of fecal matter.  This process routinely destroys the furin cleavage site.  This makes the work as an extremely unlikely source for the SARS-CoV-2 progenitor, since it literally destroys the part of the virus that the virus is best known for.

4. There is no known published material of a different virus containing the furin cleavage site.  This means that the Wuhan lab did not posses a sample of a virus with that cleavage site and was intentionally using it for gain of function research.  Again, this makes the lab an extremely unlikely source for the progenitor virus.

5. The most common leak pathway would be from laboratory mice.  The earliest strain of the virus infecting humans was not good at infecting mice at all.  In fact, it took researchers months after the pandemic had already spread around the world to make the virus suitable for testing in mice.  Therefore, the most likely testing method in a lab is a nearly impossible method to produce a lab leak.

6. The N501Y sequence was not present in the original strain.  This is the genetic marker present in the UK, Brazil, and South Africa variants.  The fact that this variant arose independently in multiple strains of the virus indicates that if the virus were being tested for human infection, it would have already developed it in the lab.  When interacting with human systems, the virus is HIGHLY likely to develop this sequence, and so therefore we can conclude that prior to the pandemic it was not exposed to human samples.

7. The virus has routinely adapted to increase infection in the human population.  It started off less efficient than it is now.  In addition, we know that similar structures to what the virus has evolved into already exist in the wild, but previous research had not indicated that these structures would be effective in humans.  Unrelated strains of SARS-CoV already exist in pangolins with similar binding receptors based on their amino acid structures.  So, these structures are naturally occurring.  That these structures have continued to adapt for increased infectiousness indicates a zoonotic origin is more likely.

The circumstantial evidence surrounding the lab is irrelevant if we go to examine the physical evidence of the virus and continue to find that the virus didn’t need any help, and is unlikely to have acquired any help, from humans.  It was perfectly capable of doing all of this on it’s own, and the pattern of spread is highly indicative of a zoonotic origin.

Lastly, I would point to two different events for an analogy.  When JFK was shot, it had huge ripple effects on our country.  As humans, it is hard for us to believe that such seismic shifts in our history are possible through the actions of a lone gunman who had no plan.  In order to try to explain this event, a lot of theories developed, and many people became convinced that it had to be the result of a conspiracy.  It had to be larger forces at play, as that is the only way such an event could be understood.  In contrast, when Reagan was shot, there were some brief concerns, and certainly it had a massive impact on James Brady’s life, but because the incident quickly passed into history with few after effects, no one sits around coming up with conspiracy theories to try to explain it.

Covid has had an immense effect on the world.  It’s killed millions of people, shuttered our economy for months at a time, lost millions of people their jobs, and it has dominated our psyche for over a year now, and likely will continue to dominate the world for another year or two.  Because it is an event with enormous impact, there is a desire to attribute agency to the event.  Since we can’t really give bats/pangolins/racoon dogs/virus agency, some people are looking for a way to blame it on humans.

Our explanation of this event cannot start first with the premise that because it is a huge event, it must therefore have a sinister cause.  Me must examine the physical evidence we have, and follow the conclusions that this evidence points us towards, regardless of whether we like it or not.

 
nonverbal
 
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26 July 2021 10:04
 

Weird, an accident can happen. The coverup is sinister.

 
 
Jefe
 
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26 July 2021 10:21
 
nonverbal - 26 July 2021 10:04 AM

Weird, an accident can happen.

Certainly it ‘can’ happen.  But did it happen? Are you privy to evidence that previous investigatory teams weren’t?

nonverbal - 26 July 2021 10:04 AM

The coverup is sinister.

If there even is a ‘cover-up’, to be sinister.  Without actual evidence for said cover-up, are you not just re-broadcasting politicized speculation?  Just like the purported ‘vote-fraud’ accusations from the former president that has yielded no significant evidence in many different investigations - including the farcical Maricopa re-count in Arizona.

Multiple teams have analyzed the lab-leak idea and found no evidence to support it.  AND, there is evidence contrary to that idea that supports a non-lab-leak origin.  Which evidence do we believe?  How do we choose the narrative we ‘prefer’ in this situation?

In a court of law, or for any legal repercussions to be viable, evidence must support the claims being made, or those claims can be dismissed as simply hot-air.

[ Edited: 26 July 2021 10:24 by Jefe]
 
 
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26 July 2021 11:44
 

Jefe, even if it’s a mistake, the lethality of the mistake is drawing attention. I haven’t heard anything about how the Wuhan lab has improved its administration of needed precautions. Drastic measures need to be taken, wouldn’t you say? So far, I don’t think the relevant laboratory has even been shut down.

 
 
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26 July 2021 12:00
 
nonverbal - 26 July 2021 11:44 AM

Jefe, even if it’s a mistake, the lethality of the mistake is drawing attention. I haven’t heard anything about how the Wuhan lab has improved its administration of needed precautions. Drastic measures need to be taken, wouldn’t you say? So far, I don’t think the relevant laboratory has even been shut down.

Shutting down any lab would, in my mind, require evidence of wrong-doing or faulty safety precautions. Evidence which has not yet been found.
Drastic measures would only be called for if there is a problem that needs fixing.  To assess whether there is a problem that needs fixing, we’d need evidence of such a problem, no?

Do you have that evidence?

PS - China has implemented new biosecurity laws regarding virology research - back around February 2020, IIRC.  These laws are a response.  These laws ‘improve administration and precautions’ for virology research.  Were you aware of that?  Does this new information change anything?

[ Edited: 26 July 2021 12:09 by Jefe]
 
 
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26 July 2021 12:02
 
nonverbal - 26 July 2021 07:18 AM

Scientists and engineers sometimes need to explain what they do, in lay terms without jargon. Technical writers need not be experts in the fields they work in, after all. (That is, you don’t need a master’s or Ph.D to be a technical writer.)

You don’t have to be an engineer or have a Ph.D to be a technical writer but it helps to have enough understanding about the subject to explain it in words to other human beings.  Especially considering we don’t all speak the same language.   

If a technical writer who works for IKEA does have an understanding of the way the company puts furniture together, and a talent for conveying directions of how to go about it, they are likely originally written in Swedish.  When other technical writers translate the same directions in Japanese or German or English it may not be as helpful if they haven’t the same understanding as the Swede or at least some experience with the material.  The information may be technically true but there are perhaps better word choices that would make those directions more accurate.  Depending on the language.

We’ve all referenced manuals enough to recognize when a writer has never handled, let alone assembled, the equipment they describe.

 
 
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26 July 2021 12:17
 
LadyJane - 26 July 2021 12:02 PM
nonverbal - 26 July 2021 07:18 AM

Scientists and engineers sometimes need to explain what they do, in lay terms without jargon. Technical writers need not be experts in the fields they work in, after all. (That is, you don’t need a master’s or Ph.D to be a technical writer.)

You don’t have to be an engineer or have a Ph.D to be a technical writer but it helps to have enough understanding about the subject to explain it in words to other human beings.  Especially considering we don’t all speak the same language.   

If a technical writer who works for IKEA does have an understanding of the way the company puts furniture together, and a talent for conveying directions of how to go about it, they are likely originally written in Swedish.  When other technical writers translate the same directions in Japanese or German or English it may not be as helpful if they haven’t the same understanding as the Swede or at least some experience with the material.  The information may be technically true but there are perhaps better word choices that would make those directions more accurate.  Depending on the language.

We’ve all referenced manuals enough to recognize when a writer has never handled, let alone assembled, the equipment they describe.

I’ve never in my life been involved with a more trivial debate. Kind of fun for a change.

 
 
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26 July 2021 12:21
 
nonverbal - 26 July 2021 10:04 AM

Weird, an accident can happen. The coverup is sinister.

All evidence about the virus and how it spreads indicates it came from the huanan market, and not the lab.  What piece of evidence about the virus do you think contradicts this?

I don’t care about what is theoretically possible.  I care about what actually happened.

 
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26 July 2021 13:39
 
weird buffalo - 26 July 2021 12:21 PM
nonverbal - 26 July 2021 10:04 AM

Weird, an accident can happen. The coverup is sinister.

All evidence about the virus and how it spreads indicates it came from the huanan market, and not the lab.  What piece of evidence about the virus do you think contradicts this?

I don’t care about what is theoretically possible.  I care about what actually happened.

Yes—all evidence that you see as being valid.

 
 
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