We See No Signs of a Lab-Employee Cluster, & Þt Makes þe Lab-Leak Theory Unlikely; & BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-05-27 Th

Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember...


But… but… but… If it escapes from the lab, it escapes into people working at the lab who then have lots of close indoor contact with others working at the lab. Thus the first sign we see of the disease is a huge cluster among lab workers. Did we see such a cluster? No. We see no antibodies in lab workers. We see three lab workers catching what look to be bad cases of the flu in November 2019, and then no radiation until we get the superspreader event at the market: 

Aylin WoodwardLab Leak vs. Animal Spillover: Evidence for Coronavirus Origin Theories: ‘The WIV staff said they found no evidence that samples of the new coronavirus had been stored at the institute…. Records reviewed by WHO did not indicate that any viruses closely related to the new coronavirus were kept in any Chinese lab…. [But] the WHO team spent just hours at the institute—which isn’t enough time to pore over files, databases, or freezer inventories. The institute’s staff also did not share all of its records or safety logs…. Shi Zhengli… “is absolutely positive that she had never identified this virus prior to the outbreak happening,” Mazet told Insider…. Three WIV staff members got sick and went to a hospital more than a month before experts identified the first COVID–19 cases in Wuhan… [with] symptoms… “consistent with both COVID–19 and common seasonal illness”… blood samples taken from WIV staff in the months ahead of the pandemic all tested negative for coronavirus antibodies…. Fauci said… it’s more likely that the coronavirus got good at jumping between people while spreading “below the radar” in China in late 2019… spreading for several weeks, if not months, before the first cases were reported. That allowed the virus “to be pretty well adapted when first recognized,” Fauci said…

LINK: <https://www.businessinsider.com/wuhan-lab-leak-animal-spillover-coronavirus-origin-questions-2021-5>

And remember:

Soonergrunt: ‘Just because China isn’t being forthright with information, it doesn’t mean Eli Lake isn’t a mendacious s—bird. China is absolutely not forthright with info the world needs. Lake is absolutely a mendacious s—bird. <https://twitter. com/EliLake/status/1397854049089818625>


No, we should not be studying dangerous viruses in labs in the middle of large cities. With nuclear weapons, there is a reason we built Lawrence Livermore lab very far indeed from the university in Berkeley that initially staffed it. We should treat contagious deadly viruses the same way. We should do this whether the lab-leak story is true or false. We should do this if we conclude that there is a 10% chance, a 1% chance, an 0.01% chance, or a 0% chance that the lab-leak story is true.

But we should not “act as though the [lab leak] story is true”. This subhead from the Atlantic is highly, highly unprofessional:

Daniel EngberIf the Lab-Leak Theory Is Right, What’s Next?: ‘We know enough to acknowledge that the scenario is possible, and we should therefore act as though it’s true… <https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/05/chinese-lab-leak-hypothesis-coronavirus/619000/>


Very Briefly Noted:

Share Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality


I want more backing for this. I guess I have to go read Craig Freedman <https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/978-1-137-58974-3_5> to find it:

Paul RomerStigler Conviction: ‘The Great Depression was a traumatic experience for… Stigler…. Stigler wanted halt to progress in economic theory because he feared that it would lead to more theories like those of Keynes and Chamberlin (who provided the foundation for Dixit and Stiglitz). For him, there was apparently too much risk that such theories might lend political support for government policies that should not be tried. Under his division of labor with Milton Friedman, Friedman took on Keynes and Stigler took on Chamberlin. Marshall, they agreed, was safe. They turned Chicago in the last bastion of opposition to the Samuelson program and thereby prolonged for decades the confusion that Marshall had spawned…

LINK: <https://paulromer.net/what-went-wrong-in-macro-history/>

Did Truman not submit this because the GATT process was already underway, seemed to be working, and he had more than enough on his plate with the Korean War and the implementation of NSC-68? Or was Truman’s decision not to submit the Havana Charter treaty to the senate a significant policy shift? I ought to know this. I do not:

WikipediaInternational Trade Organization: ‘Led by the United States in collaboration with allies, the effort to form the organization from 1945 to 1948, with the successful passing of the Havana Charter, eventually failed due to lack of approval by the US Congress. Until the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995, international trade was managed through the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)…

LINK: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Trade_Organization#Havana_Charter>

Even Levitt’s papers have “replication problems”—which is no biggie: that is why we check each other, so that we can get enthusiastic when we think we find something. But Andrew’s definition of the general freakonomics franchise as contrarian bulls---: “everything you thought was right, was wrong. Drunk walking is worse than drunk driving, global cooling rather than global warming, etc…” is correct. And assessing it as “promoting the work of Levitt’s friends and various randos on the internet” is also correct:

Andrew GellmanThinking Fast, Slow, & Not at All: System 3 Humps the Shark: ‘The chain of trust…. We discussed this general issue a few years ago in the context of the unstable mix of skepticism and trust that was characteristic of the Freakonomics franchise. The skepticism came because one of the main themes of Freakonomics was how everything you thought was right, was wrong. Drunk walking is worse than drunk driving, global cooling rather than global warming, etc. The trust came because, after their first book, which was mostly based on author Levitt’s research, the Freakonomics franchise pretty much ran out of original research and was reduce to promoting the work of Levitt’s friends and various randos on the internet…

LINK: <https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2021/05/23/thinking-fast-slow-and-not-at-all-system-3-jumps-the-shark/>

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