Conspiracy Theories

What’s So Special About Monkeypox?

What’s going on with monkeypox? Usually if I want to know what the conspiracy theorists are saying, I look at the comments on a website below the line. If I want to know what the official line is, I read the articles above the line. Monkeypox seems to have turned this on its head. An article by Michael Simmons in the Spectator on May 23rd asked, “Did monkeypox leak from Wuhan?” and concluded, “The initial evidence suggests not.” I’ve seen other articles asking whether the vaccines or Covid has sparked into life an, until now, dormant virus being carried by various people. The NHS has started warning people to take extra precautions, a degree of fear and concern is undeniably being created. Yet, monkeypox seems to be a not especially contagious viral infection that isn’t particularly dangerous.

Something that became all too apparent during the Covid panic was the failure of either the general population or most of the media to put things in context. We’re seeing the same again with the monkeypox scare. The Spectator published this table on May 23rd showing that in this recent scare there have been to date 56 cases of monkeypox in England and 170 worldwide.

Do These Emails Reveal the Lockdown ‘Conspiracy’?

In April 2020, the New York Times published the Red Dawn emails – email threads that included many high-ranking officials in the United States, including Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Robert Redfield. They showed what officials and researchers were sharing with one another about the developing situation from late January. In a way, this is the ‘conspiracy’ that some suggest was going on to push the world towards lockdown, in that here we see what U.S. officials and researchers were hearing and saying in the run-up to the shut downs – though it isn’t exactly the conspiracy most have in mind. Rather, it shows researchers and officials scrabbling around to analyse the limited data, attempting to work out what’s going on and how to respond – plus some serious pushing for restrictions, with Carter Mecher and Eva Lee in particular making an urgent case for NPIs as early as January. As a taste of the alarmism, Mecher wrote on January 28th 2020: “Now I’m screaming, close the colleges and universities.”

Jeffrey A. Tucker at the Brownstone Institute has republished the emails for those who missed them or had forgotten about them. This is from his introduction.

Looking into their Eyes: Covid Narrative Dissidents in Their Own Words

There follows a guest post by Dr. Raminder Mulla, Amy Willows and Rusere Shoniwa, who decided that rather than just listen to the lazy stereotypes of sceptics portrayed in the press, academia and Government, they would go and find out what people actually thought.

Anti-vaxxers want to kill your babies,” screamed the ‘Fleet Street Fox’ in a September 2021 opinion piece for the Mirror. “These people are terrorists” she added, as if baby killing alone was insufficient to evoke searing hatred against a minority of people whose real crime was merely opting out of a medical treatment – a right codified after the Nuremberg trials to prevent a repeat of the crimes committed by Nazi doctors in World War II German concentration camps.

Such headlines arguably constitute the crime of incitement to violence. After all, if there was a gang of baby killers on the loose, many might justifiably regard it as their civic duty to halt them at all costs. And history teaches us that vigilantism can be highly imaginative and resourceful once the fire has been lit.

Giving an academic veneer to the kind of wild-eyed claims made by the Fleet Street Fox, a January 2021 study by Miguel et al concluded that people who eschewed compliance with Covid containment measures were more likely to display “lower levels of empathy and  higher levels of callousness, deceitfulness, and risk-taking”.

Is there any truth in this? Prompted by a desire to foster genuine understanding between different sides of the Covid camp, a new study led by Dr. Raminder Mulla digs into this question. “Looking Into Their Eyes“, a riposte to the slogan deployed in the Government Covid safety campaign, asks dissidents of lockdown, mask, and vaccine mandate narratives to express their motivations, feelings, and thoughts in their own words.

Great Climate Conspirators of Our Time

We’re publishing an original article by freelance journalist Chris Morrison disputing the idea that anyone who challenges climate change alarmism is a conspiracy theorist. Some of them are actually quite respectable.

Just before he died the popular communicator Clive James wrote an essay entitled “Mass Death Dies Hard” in which he noted that in reporting climate science the BBC “has been behaving for several years as if its true aim were to reproduce the thought control that prevailed in the Soviet Union”. When he died, the obits mostly glossed over his apostasy, although in his lifetime the fount of eternal doom George Monbiot called him a “sucker”.

“When you tell people once too often that the missing extra heat is hiding in the ocean they will switch over to watch Game of Thrones where the dialogue is less ridiculous and all the threats come true,” wrote James. “The proponents of man-made climate catastrophe asked us for so many leaps of faith that they were bound to run out of credibility in the end.”

The writer Melanie Phillips was the first editor of the Guardian environmental supplement and today is a trenchant supporter of debating the unproven scientific hypothesis that humans cause all or most global warming. She has called the idea of settled science a “scam”. Writing on her Substack after Justin Welby said that politicians failing to address the climate emergency would be guilty of indirect genocide, she concluded that his “grossly inappropriate comparison illustrated the way in which the climate issue has unbalanced people so they lose all sense of proportion”.

The only Apollo scientist who went to the moon, Harrison Schmitt, argues that there is “no evidence” that humans cause climate change, a reference to the fact that the hypothesis has yet to produce a single peer-reviewed, credible science paper that proves it. His scepticism is shared by Buzz Aldrin, causing the polemist (and sceptic) Mark Steyn to note: “Clearly this Buzz Aldrin kook is just some whack job who believes the moon landings were filmed in Nevada.”

Covid Flip-Flopping is Cock Up, Not Conspiracy

I’ve written a piece for Mail+ today trying to explain communications omnishambles of the past few days. Here is an extract:

Boris Johnson has executed so many U-turns in the past 18 months, it’s as if his solution to the supply chain problem is to retrain as an HGV driver. But even by this Government’s standards, the past few days have seen some spectacular flip-flopping.

Will vaccine passports be introduced for nightclubs, sports stadiums and other large venues? Judging from the string of contradictory ministerial statements about this, the answer seems to be: “No, but, yeah, but…”

The week began with Boris saying he wanted a “bonfire of Covid regulations”, only for him to give a press conference yesterday warning of more restrictions to come this winter.

Then there was Professor Chris Whitty’s bizarre remarks on Monday about vaccinating healthy 12 to 15 year-olds, which will have left most parents none the wiser about whether it’s a sensible precaution or not.

The only thing Boris seems to have set fire to this week is his last vestige of credibility.

According to some cynics, this conflicting advice is a deliberate attempt by the Government to gaslight us. Trying to discover some rhyme or reason beneath the recent spate of back-of-the-envelope announcements is to misunderstand what Boris is really doing, which is to deliberately confuse us.

In their conspiratorial eyes, it’s designed to soften us up for the mass rollout of ID cards, digital currency and – eventually – a Chinese-style social credit system in which anyone who challenges the billionaire-financed technocratic elite will be socially isolated and financially impoverished. They refer to this diabolical plan as ‘the Great Reset’.

I’m not convinced. As a journalist who has been writing about politicians and their shenanigans for more than 30 years, I’m a subscriber to what’s known as ‘Hanlon’s razor’ – never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. In other words, it’s usually cock-up rather than conspiracy. Most politicians I know couldn’t even reset their alarm clocks.

Worth reading in full.

Authors of Lancet Letter Welcome Investigation Into COVID-19 Origins, but Don’t Apologise for Calling Lab Leak a “Conspiracy Theory”

In February of 2020, 27 scientists wrote a letter to The Lancet, claiming studies “overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife”. The authors stated, “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”

Fast forward to May of 2020. 18 other scientists – including some of the biggest names in the field – wrote a letter to Science stating, “Theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable” and we must “take hypotheses about both natural and laboratory spillovers seriously until we have sufficient data”.

Now some of the authors of the Lancet letter have penned a new letter for that journal. As several commentators have noted, it’s a rather shameless piece of writing. This is particularly true given that the authors were already criticised for not declaring conflicts of interest.

They begin by describing the context of their original missive: “Unsubstantiated allegations were being raised about the source of the COVID-19 outbreak and the integrity of our peers who were diligently working to learn more about the newly recognised virus.”

Given the location of the first outbreak, and other circumstantial evidence, suggesting the virus might have leaked from a lab was perfectly reasonable. Yet the authors still refer to such suggestions as “unsubstantial allegations”, even though their own theory is just as “unsubstantiated”.

They claim that their peers – by whom they presumably mean scientists at the Wuhan Institute – were “diligently working to learn more about the newly recognised virus”. The implication here is that it was unfair for people to suggest they might have dropped the ball on lab security.

However, these scientists weren’t “diligent” enough to mention that a virus in their database whose genome is 96.2% similar to SARS-CoV-2 was identical to one that had been implicated in an unexplained 2012 outbreak of pneumonia. Nor have they been “diligent” enough to share their lab records with other scientists. Ironically, the authors later mention the importance of “transparent sharing of data”.

They go on to say: “We believe the strongest clue from new, credible, and peer-reviewed evidence in the scientific literature is that the virus evolved in nature, while suggestions of a laboratory-leak source of the pandemic remain without scientifically validated evidence that directly supports it in peer-reviewed scientific journals.”

New Article by ex-New York Times Science Writer Claims Lab Leak Theory Is More Plausible Than Natural Origin Theory

The former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade is no stranger to controversy. Now he has written a long essay arguing that the “lab leak” hypothesis is more plausible than the “natural origin” theory.

As readers may be aware, there are two main theories for SARS-CoV-2’s origin. One maintains that the virus originated in bats, and then jumped to humans, most likely via an intermediate host species. The other states that the virus originated in a lab, but then accidentally escaped, perhaps due to inadequate safety protocols.

At the start of the pandemic, the lab leak hypothesis was dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” by many scientists and much of the mainstream press. Since then, however, more and more evidence has emerged that casts doubt on the alternative, natural origin theory.

Back in January, New York Magazine ran a long essay by the journalist Nicholas Baker, which tentatively argued the lab leak theory could be right. Then in March, Undark ran a piece by the science writer Charles Schmidt, stressing that the virus’s origin is very much an open question. At the end of March, The Telegraph ran a similar article by the author Matt Ridley and the biologist Alina Chan. (Indeed, the pair are writing a book on the pandemic’s origin called Viral, to be published later this year.)

In his new essay, Wade adopts a more forceful tone. Though he acknowledges “there is no direct evidence for either theory”, he maintains that the lab leak theory provides a far better explanation of the available facts. As Wade notes:

It’s documented that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were doing gain-of-function experiments designed to make coronaviruses infect human cells and humanized mice. This is exactly the kind of experiment from which a SARS2-like virus could have emerged. The researchers were not vaccinated against the viruses under study, and they were working in the minimal safety conditions of a BSL2 laboratory. So escape of a virus would not be at all surprising. In all of China, the pandemic broke out on the doorstep of the Wuhan institute. The virus was already well adapted to humans, as expected for a virus grown in humanized mice. It possessed an unusual enhancement, a furin cleavage site, which is not possessed by any other known beta-coronavirus, and this site included a double arginine codon also unknown among beta-coronaviruses.

By contrast, there are several pieces of evidence that the natural origin theory has great difficulty explaining:

No one has found the bat population that was the source of SARS2, if indeed it ever infected bats. No intermediate host has presented itself, despite an intensive search by Chinese authorities that included the testing of 80,000 animals. There is no evidence of the virus making multiple independent jumps from its intermediate host to people, as both the SARS1 and MERS viruses did. There is no evidence from hospital surveillance records of the epidemic gathering strength in the population as the virus evolved. There is no explanation of why a natural epidemic should break out in Wuhan and nowhere else. There is no good explanation of how the virus acquired its furin cleavage site, which no other beta-coronavirus possesses, nor why the site is composed of human-preferred codons. 

Though some scientists claim we may never pinpoint the exact origin of SARS-CoV-2, the debate will no doubt continue over the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, Wade’s essay is worth reading in full.

WHO Distances Itself From its Own ‘Whitewash’ Report Dismissing Covid Lab Leak Theory

No sooner had the World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday published its report into the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus, than the Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was making a public statement distancing the organisation from what observers are calling a “whitewash”.

The report, which had been conducted with heavy reliance on Chinese scientists and under pressure from Chinese authorities, concluded it was “extremely unlikely” that SARS-CoV-2 had escaped from a lab, claiming instead it was most likely the novel virus had passed from bats via an “intermediate animal host” before sparking an “explosive outbreak” in Wuhan in December 2019.

With a rare and welcome criticism of the Chinese Government, Dr Ghebreyesus said: “I expect future collaborative studies to include more timely and comprehensive data sharing” and insisted that “all hypotheses remain on the table”.

The United States, the UK and 12 other countries (Australia, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, South Korea and Slovenia) issued a joint statement echoing the Director General’s concerns: “It is equally essential that we voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples.”

The European Union, more meekly, said that it regretted the delays and the “limited availability of early samples and related data”.

Dr Peter Ben-Embarek, head of the WHO mission at the centre of the controversy, defended his report, saying the “zoonotic origins” of the pandemic had been the agreed remit of the investigation rather than a potential laboratory accident. A defence which rather begs the question as to why the investigation was disbarred by design from looking into one of the key possibilities.

Dr Ben-Embarek, for reasons best known to himself, felt moved to offer a rather feeble defence of the Chinese Government’s lack of cooperation.

Of course there are areas where we had difficulties in getting down to the raw data, and there are many good reasons for that. In China, like in many other countries, there are restrictions on privacy laws that forbid the sharing of data, including private details to outsiders in particular. Where we did not have full access to the overall data, this has been put as a recommendation for future studies. So the idea is that, because we didn’t have time or because certain authorisation needs to be given before we could get access to the data, all that could be done in the second phase of studies.

Science journalist Matt Ridley aptly called it a “pure whitewash” when he appeared yesterday morning on Julia Hartley-Brewer’s show on talkRADIO. He pointed out that although the report concludes it’s very likely that an animal carried the virus to Wuhan, this conclusion is at odds with the 20-30 pages in the report which note that 45,000 animals in China have been tested for the virus and none have been found with it.

Former CDC Director: SARS-CoV-2 Escaped from Wuhan Institute of Virology

A former director of the CDC in the US – Robert Redfield – has told a CNN interviewer that he believes the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and didn’t originate in the city’s wet market. MailOnline has more.

The former director of the CDC, Robert Redfield, says he believes COVID-19 “escaped” from Wuhan lab in China and may have been circling as early as September 2019.

Redfield made the admission in a CNN interview on Friday but stressed it was his “opinion”.

It is the first time Redfield, who was appointed CDC director by President Trump, has stated publicly that he believes COVID-19 originated in a lab and not in a wet market where an initial cluster of cases was linked to.

“I’m of the point of view that I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory… escaped. Other people don’t believe that, that’s fine. Science will eventually figure it out,” he said.

“It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in laboratories to infect the laboratory worker.

“That’s not implying any intentionality. It’s my opinion, right? But I am a virologist. I have spent my life in virology.”

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: Readers of Lockdown Sceptics won’t need reminding that this hypothesis used to be dismissed as a “conspiracy theory”. But the theory is gaining more and more traction and is the subject of Matt Ridley’s next book.