SA, thanks for the link to the questions and answers to Shi Zhengli. I’m glad to see Shi Zhengli’s answer about BtCoV/4991, and her explanation as to why no samples of RaTG13 remain. I think there may still be unanswered questions, such as why RaTG13 wasn’t uploaded to the genetic databases at the time it was sequenced but was suddenly admitted to after SARS-CoV-2 had been found. I need to read this a couple more times, and also, please link to the article about the background to that question-and-answer letter.
– “A genuine scientist would probably more likely tell the truth because they will know what damage can ensue and would like to limit it. A conspiracy theory scientist on the other hand will suppress the evidence, deceive journalists, have evidence suppressed by the evil CCP and waste time that could save more people, because their job matters most.”
That’s far too either-or, SA. Scientists have very limited power, operate under commercial and political pressures, and ultimately are subject to authorities which hold the final monopoly over imprisonment and violence. Even in the UK, our scientific institutions are barely given a platform by the corporate media; they can publish in their own journals, but the majority of the public will hear only government press announcements. Most people’s time is too limited to hunt through scientific institutions’ own announcements; they expect a fair summary from the “news” media, but what they get is biased, sensationalised and badly understood by the journalists themselves and the editorial power structure. These factors are what provoke the popularity of conspiracy theory, not personal differences between “honest” and “shady” scientists.
In 1957, Fred Hoyle, the astronomer who coined the term “the big bang”, published a true science-fiction novel called The Black Cloud. Here is an extract from it; two senior scientists, one from the US and the other from the UK, attempting to deal with a major global emergency, discussing the working arrangements imposed by their respective governments:
‘All this had to be fought for. Otherwise we’d have had the same sort of set-up you objected to. Let me talk a bit of philosophy and sociology. Has it ever occurred to you, Geoff, that in spite of all the changes wrought by science – by our control over inanimate energy, that is to say – we will preserve the same old social order of precedence? Politicians at the top, then the military, and the real brains at the bottom. There’s no difference between this set-up and that of Ancient Rome, or of the first civilisations in Mesopotamia for that matter. We’re living in a society that contains a monstrous contradiction, modern in its technology but archaic in its social organisation. For years the politicians have squawked about the need for more trained scientists, more engineers, and so forth. What they don’t seem to realise is that there are only a limited number of fools.’
‘Yes, people like you and me, Geoff. We’re the fools. We do the thinking for an archaic crowd of nitwits and allow ourselves to be pushed around by ’em into the bargain.’
‘Scientists of the world unite! Is that the idea?’
‘Not exactly. It isn’t just a case of scientists versus the rest. It’s a clash between two totally different modes of thinking. Society today is based in its technology on thinking in terms of numbers. In its social organisation, on the other hand, it is based on thinking in terms of words. It’s here that the real clash lies, between the literary mind and the mathematical mind. You ought to see the Home Secretary. You’d see straight away what I mean.’
I myself dropped out of my physics degree course when I saw that 80% of graduates had been offered jobs by major arms manufacturers. I suddenly understood the main use society puts physicists to, and I concluded that yet another physicist would likely do the world more harm than good.