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So your/their assertion is that the 'lab leak' claims were always a reasonable exploration of the possible origins of COVID-19 (i.e. not a conspiracy theory)? If that's the claim, then the timeline I'd like to see is how the lab leak claims were being promoted at this time and what evidence was presented to support the claims to show that they weren't just baseless accusations.

Edit: I found a timeline of high-profile claims/accusations, published May 2020

Edit2: Some specific date:

Washington Times, Jan 26

"The deadly animal-borne coronavirus spreading globally may have originated in a laboratory in the city of Wuhan linked to China’s covert biological weapons program, said an Israeli biological warfare analyst."

Fox News, April 20

"There is increasing confidence that the COVID-19 outbreak likely originated in a Wuhan laboratory, though not as a bioweapon but as part of China's attempt to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States, multiple sources who have been briefed on the details of early actions by China's government and seen relevant materials tell Fox News."

The Wash Times article now has a 'retraction notice' of sorts, saying that it's clearly was not a biological weapons program. But that is the atmosphere within which Andersen et al were operating when they wrote the paper. The Fox News article is more reasonable, but vastly overstates the 'confidence' in the lab leak theory. To this day, evidence of the lab leak has not been released, and people just hang their hats on "well, we can't rule it out conclusively". It has never been the favored hypothesis among experts.

Would you care to summarize the main claim of that article and outline the evidence (similar to an "abstract" in a scientific article")? I've read a chunk of the article (and several of the linked articles), and despite seeing lots of insinuations I don't really see anything nefarious in the timeline so far.  The worst accusation seems to be that Andersen et al received a crash course on coronavirus physiology from a couple of experts who were not included or acknowledged in the final paper; at worst, this is mildly scummy, but there's a good chance it is totally above-board. Other than that, all I see is the suggestion that various people have conflicts of interest due to friend-of-a-friend type relationships ... where these "friend" relationships amount to about 1% of an institution's budget.

Hi all. I haven't been to LessWrong in a while...but the mess in the world has reminded me how important it is for us to strive for clear thinking as a community. With that, I'd like to share a Coronavirus pandemic information site that has really good analysis for tracking the progress of the pandemic. It's here: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/daily-covid-cases-3-day-average

(it seems that I cannot embed or add images)

<iframe src="https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/covid-confirmed-daily-cases-epidemiological-trajectory" style="width: 100%; height: 600px; border: 0px none;"></iframe>

"One can reasonably conclude that in politics, as with math, the "average person" is ignorant and their opinion is not based on any sort of expertise."

Even if you limit the population to those who are well informed, that population is still rather evenly split and so his points still hold.

Good points, but it was inappropriate to question the author's motives and the attacks on the SI were off-topic.

If I were to downvote, it would be because of the unfair/inaccurate description of particle physics (existential threats, not that important, arbitrary conclusions)

Especially in the modern environment with many thousands of scientists, there won't be much delay caused by a few scientists witholding their results. The greatest risk is that the discovery is made by someone who will keep it secret in order to increase their own power.

There is also a risk that keeping secrets will breed mistrust, even if the secret is kept without evil intent.

"any other belief"

This invites us to look at why beliefs differ. First we have to acknowledge that we are talking about differences between people with comparable levels of expertise, so this isn't the same as the disagreements that exist between experts and novices.

For elections, I think we can say that people disagree in large part because the situation is incredibly complicated. It it hard to know how government policies will affect human welfare, and it is hard to know how elected officials will shape government policy.

The only interesting factor that I can think of is differences in our scope of altruism -- one voter may feel altruistic towards their city, while another focuses on the nation, and a third focuses on all of humanity.

Thanks for putting this together. There are many interesting links in there.

I am hopeful that Bayesian methods can help to solve some of our problems, and there is constant development of these techniques in biology.

Scientists should pay more attention to their statistical tests, and I often find myself arguing with others when I don't like their tests. The most important thing that people need to remember is what "NHST" actually does -- it rejects the null hypothesis. Once they think about what the null hypothesis is, and realize that they have done nothing more than reject it, they will make a lot of progress.

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