"Apologies to everyone for rehashing this stuff here, but this is a site for fighting ignorance, so I can’t let it lie."

Continuing the discussion from At what point would you consider dictatorship to be better than democracy?:

In order to avoid further derailing the thread of origin, and also placed in the BBQ Pit so that the querying poster can make direct statements instead of engaging in snide insinuations, I’ve continued this discussion with quoting the last post on the topic.

There is ample evidence of a disinformation campaign by the PRC government and state-run media organs regarding origins and spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. These aren’t from Internet conspiranoia sites, but as reported in reputable media, to wit:

In fact, the delay between detection and international notification was 23 days (public announcement) and 26 days (reporting to the World Health Organization):

Good of you to truncate the sentence after the comma and then explicitly define what I am “implying” so as to make it appear as if I’m some conspiranoist promoting some kind of unregulated “gain-of-function” bioresearch effort. However, in the interests of clarity, I’ll cite the entire sentence:

I’m personally agnostic about the “lab leak” theory, and I don’t subscribe to any notions that there was any deliberate effort on the part of the PRC to propagate the pandemic (which has hurt China economically at least as bad as any other developed nation) but the reality is that in autocracies and especially dictatorships there is the immediate and reflexive response to dissemble and disinform the public because that is how they maintain control of the population.

I said nothing about genetic modification or any other efforts to manipulate the virus for enhanced transmissibility or virulence, and in fact explicitly stated that I don’t believe any theories about any intentional effort to distribute the virus. Being “agnostic” about any “lab leak” theory literally means that I don’t care to engage in speculation either way since there is no way to assess that by looking at the genome, and no independent evidence that could establish whether the virus could have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, whether it might have unintentionally brought to Wuhan by a field researcher who was naturally infected during field work, or whether it arrived at Wuhan by some other means. Of course, pathogen escape from research facilities has occurred in the past, and hardly restricted to China; nearly every nation that does research on infectious pathogens has had some kind of release, and the United States has had serious problems at all of its major research labs:

The fact that China restricted the World Health Organization investigation of the Wuhan Institute of Virology to an absurd degree (prompting criticism of the investigation from even within the WHO investigation team) does not give confidence that the Chinese government feels that it has nothing to hide, even if it is the same issues of security and safety that every other pathogen research has. Which, of course, is the point I was trying to make, to wit, that autocracies (such as the Peoples Republic of China) tend to dissemble, disinform, and lie, even when they aren’t doing something nefarious, just because it becomes an ingrained way of doing business for a regime that has to promote the appearance of absolute control in all things. And again, this isn’t just limited to autocracies, as one can certainly point to attempted coverups and lies promoted in democracies, but democracies have independent media that is allowed to criticize and publish evidence against the government, something you will never see in the state-sponsored Chinese media.

Now that we have that out of the way, please feel liberated to free yourself of the need to make sniping, passive-aggressive comments and ‘cleverly’ edit my posts to give the appearance of meaning something other than what is explicitly stated, and just express your grievances in fullness without restraint. You may use both sides of the paper and any words you find in the OED.


So you started this immediately in the Pit, showing how constructive you’re expecting this discussion to be.
I don’t have time to go through all of those links, many of which look like opinion pieces, so I’m going to go with the two most concrete ones, namely:

  1. That a Chinese diplomat endorsed a CT about the virus
  2. That the delay between initial detection and informing the WHO was 26 days.

On the point about cleverly editing your post, note that this would be against forum rules and I never did that. Yes I cut it short but I don’t think I changed the meaning at all; I ruled out genetic modification in case that is what you were alluding to (because that’s where many people here go with that), but I also just covered the theory that a natural virus leaked from the lab and why we also think that very unlikely and far from the most parsimonious explanation. So, yeah, I was responding to your point, not misrepresenting you.

I’ll respond on the links in a separate post. If I keep my posts short there’s still a chance of anyone other than me and SoaT engaging in this thread.

It is in The BBQ Pit so you can air whatever grievances you have instead of the passive-aggressive sniping and rhetorical chicanery you engage in elsewhere. Go to town.

You literally cut the post off in mid-sentence, removing the qualifier so make it seem to someone reading it without referencing the original post that I am endorsing a conspiracy theory that is contrary to “the scientific community”, and the proceed to explicitly define the term ‘agnostic’ to have a specific meaning that reinforces this perception while completely cutting off the actual point I was trying to make, ie. “the reality is that in autocracies and especially dictatorships there is the immediate and reflexive response to dissemble and disinform the public because that is how they maintain control of the population.” You could not be more intentionally intentionally misrepresenting me if you claimed I was a front man for Fox News.


Not saying you are, or you aren’t… it’s just that your profile is hidden, so…

I am agnostic as to the origins (and originating participants) of this thread, but I fully endorse this line of thinking. The pit has its uses.

You brought up this tangent and have gone off on this rant.
I’m sure you’d like nothing more than me to take the bait, and start with the name calling and other nonsense, but I am only on the dope to fight my, and others’ ignorance.
I can, and have, admitted error before, and I have criticized China many, many times.

However, as mentioned previously on the Dope, I lived in China through most of this crisis (though I am in the UK now), doing a job that involved travelling to various hospitals around China. I know for a fact that a lot of the speculation that was in the media is false, and, as I have pointed out here, in some cases as with CNN, they have pulled back from such claims.

Now on to the links:

Chinese diplomat promotes coronavirus conspiracy theory
Zhao Zijian is the Deputy Director of the Information Department of Foreign Affairs, a title a lot less senior than some accounts have implied. His comments have not been supported by his superiors such as the actual Director, Foreign Minister, Assistant Foreign Minister or Ambassador to the US.
It’s certainly a lot easier to find examples of misinformation spread by the US administration at the time.

Appraisal of China’s Response to the Outbreak of COVID-19 in Comparison
For your numbers of 23 and 26 days you’ve just looked at the “days since onset”. But this does not mean “days of suppressed information”. 8th December has simply been defined as the definite point at which patients presented primarily for a respiratory condition and which have subsequently been confirmed as covid.
As this, more detailed, timeline explains, doctors did not know that they were dealing with a novel, SARS-like virus until late December.

No, what I’d like is for you to stop with the sniping comments, the imposture, the rhetorical manipulation, and editing and interpreting my posts to make it seem as if I’m espousing ideas or beliefs that are contrary to what I’m actually saying. I’d like you to just address whatever issue you have that causes you to engage in this passive-aggressive provocation at a level just not quite explicit enough that a moderator feels justified to comment but sufficient that if I respond you screech about the hostility and unwarranted retort. Or you can continue playing this faux-wounded “What did I do?” act, but you’ve had your opportunity here to speak up and vent whatever it is that is actually bothering you rather than continuing with this interminable low level agitation.


Lol, stranger is dipping a toe off the plantation. He must have not got the memo on how it’s racist to think that China might not be telling the truth.

There’s a much longer piece published here:

and what it reveals is that COVID19 may have involved gain of function research, which was funded by at least two countries (China and the U.S.) to develop therapies for future viruses and to weaponize viruses. Groups included scientists, NGOs, and government agencies, and probably military and intelligence organizations and pharma.

Could be a TapeWorm.

First of all, let me say I’m only going to dip into this thread peridically; maybe once a week.
I’ve never been very interested in attack threads, regardless of who is the attacker and who is the attackee.

Now, on to the responses.

I can’t express how disappointed I am with this turn of events.
I have been a member since 2006, and I can recall many times interacting with you, and having respect for you. You seem very knowledgeable on scientific topics, and I have enjoyed this discourse.

I genuinely am surprised that the one time we disagree you immediately take it to the Pit, and furthermore accuse me of being disingenuous or playing games, or whatever, without actually providing evidence of these claims.
And now you’re even taking the fact I am unwilling to engage in the banter but instead steer us back to the debate as evidence of how dishonest I am being. WTH?

Do you have a response to my points, or not?

The thing is, even if this kind of CT were true, it wouldn’t support the original argument of the tangent.

The tangent came up in a thread comparing different forms of government, and the argument was that authoritarian governments like China’s lead to dishonest reporting of epidemics like Covid. If we’re now saying that actually it’s a conspiracy between China and the US, and organizations like the NIH, then what is left of the original point?

Obviously in my case it is not that I am trusting China, it’s that I was there and saw first hand how well the containment worked.

But in your case, you don’t need to trust China, or me, you can instead look at the research published by The Lancet, Nature, The Journal of Infection, The WHO, et al whose reviews summarize international epidemiologists’ findings.

Or whatever, trust your own gut.

I agree.

The irony in the whinging about this being an “attack thread” where, save for identifying your passive-aggressive behavior which is on full display, I haven’t actually attacked or insulted you, while in the original thread you made a specific effort to call me out for propagating conspiracy theories, the impression of which you created by so selectively quoting my words out of context that you literally cut it off in mid-statement. In fact, in doing so you ignored the actual point of the statement in which I asserted that regardless of origin or cause, autocratic and authoritarian governments often default to secrecy and disinformation by default even when they have no specific malfeasance to conceal because control of information os an ingrained principle.

As for the claim that this is a reflexive response to “the one time we disagree” is disingenuous to the extreme. The casual sniping, using prejudicial language, misattributing statements or intent, et cetera and then complaining about my hostility when I point it out had become such a pervasive problem that for years I’ve actively avoided engaging with you and often just leaving threads entirely rather than getting drawn in to some pointless arguing about something I didn’t even write or an interpretation based only on misrepresenting my words, and I would have continued to just avoid you in that thread if you didn’t specifically identify me as pushing a conspiracy theory.

I disagree with people all the time—and frequently acknowledge that I’m mistaken, uninformed, or have changed my view based upon a sound counterargument—and I don’t believe I’ve ever previously felt the need to take the disagreement to this forum. I did so here not as an “attack thread” but to present you with the opportunity to air whatever grievance you hold that has you intentionally misrepresenting my statements. If you don’t have any complaints I’ll assume that you’re going to stop with the sniping and creative reinterpretation of my words.


I don’t think anyone has questioned that China did a very effective job of containment. What’s been questioned is whether China actively suppressed the notion that the virus might have escaped from the laboratory that collected and studied this type of virus. The reporting I’ve seen suggests that China essentially vetoed this suggestion, while destroying all the evidence that might have proven or disproven it, and while preventing foreign researchers access to relevant people, places, and samples.

Fwiw, I’ve never thought China intentionally released the virus, but I’ve thought from the beginning that it was moderately likely that it was accidentally released, by way of an accidentally infected researcher. And I’ve seen quite a lot of evidence that China has attempted to suppress that notion. I’m honestly not certain why.

Again, this is the one and only example you have cited of me being supposedly disingenuous, and I responded to it; cutting that sentence at that point in no way changes the meaning.

I don’t understand what has caused you to behave the way you are in this thread – I have asked you repeatedly to get back on topic and attack the ball and not the man, and you just can’t do it.

Actually, yes, people are still questioning that, and probably aren’t aware of just how implausible some of that speculation is at this point. In early 2020, when the BBC et al was counting the number of cremation urns and speculating that deaths were higher than China was officially reporting, that was probably fair speculation (although there was never a clear basis of comparison for how many urns there should be).
But at this point, any proposition that China is not among the absolute best countries at containing this virus is far-fetched in the extreme – they would need to somehow be hiding millions of cases even from the Chinese people themselves. Somehow even hospitals appear to have no cases.
Accordingly, the BBC and others have stopped making such speculation, but the general public is still left with the impression that this is a realistic possibility.

I agree with the bulk of your post. China, true to form, has suppressed information.
In terms of specific misinformation though, the US has definitely given them a run for their money, and that was the point of contention in the original thread.

Oh, and, FTR, if anyone were to say words to the effect of “China’s containment measures were very successful, but the case numbers may still not be entirely accurate”. I’d have no problem with that at all. I’m only taking exception to more extreme suggestions like “who knows” whether China managed to contain the virus better than, say, the UK.

These have the same meaning?:

I’m personally agnostic about the “lab leak” theory,

I’m personally agnostic about the “lab leak” theory, and I don’t subscribe to any notions that there was any deliberate effort on the part of the PRC to propagate the pandemic (which has hurt China economically at least as bad as any other developed nation) but the reality is that in autocracies and especially dictatorships there is the immediate and reflexive response to dissemble and disinform the public because that is how they maintain control of the population.

I guess I am, so paraphrase Salieri, using “too many words”?