Patterico's Pontifications

7/19/2023

Closing the Barn Door Long After the Horses Have Escaped

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:45 am



[guest post by JVW]

Par for the course in Clown World:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has suspended the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s eligibility to receive federal funding for ten years after the lab failed to turn in requested documents about safety and security measures.

HHS issued a memo on Monday notifying the lab of its decision and warning that it is also seeking to permanently blacklist the lab from receiving future taxpayer funds. The lab hasn’t received funds from the National Institutes of Health since July 2020.

The move comes after the agency found in a review that began last September that the facility was not compliant with federal regulations.

Recall that this is not the first time that the Wuhan Lab was accused of mishandling sensitive materials, but friendly American scientists and bureaucrats were always there to bail them out:

The Wuhan Institute received a sub-award of a 2014 NIH grant that was issued to EcoHealth Alliance, a U.S.-based organization focused on preventing infectious diseases. The grant was for “understanding the risk of bat coronavirus emergence.” EcoHealth Alliance also sent U.S. Agency for International Development funds to the lab.

[. . .]

The U.S government temporarily paused funding for gain-of-function research in 2014 due to concerns over biosafety and biosecurity. However, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases staff and EcoHealth leaders found loopholes to allow the nonprofit to continue its work infecting genetically-engineered mice with hybrid viruses until the pause was lifted in 2017.

Because if there’s one thing at which federal bureaucrats excel, it’s in finding loopholes. And we all know who was directing the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases during this time, don’t we? The article further discusses the controversy over “gain of function” research being conducted at the Wuhan Labs, and Dr. Fauci’s role in downplaying it through misrepresentations and omissions, a campaign which was greatly helped along by supportive media and scientific allies.

The weird and ultimately counterproductive campaign to make Anthony Fauci into the secular saint of disinterested scientists whose motivations were then and are today pure and unquestionable was one of the worst aspects of the pandemic, and it has done incalculable harm to scientific credibility, especially in that intersection of science and government bureaucracy, should we ever find ourselves facing a similar disaster. Given what we now know about the general malevolence of China and the venality of some scientists whose livelihoods are dependent upon the uninterrupted flow of casually-regulated research money, the U.S. needs to take a long hard work at future collaborations with Chinese parties and should probably determine that they are not worth the various compromises that need to be made.

– JVW

27 Responses to “Closing the Barn Door Long After the Horses Have Escaped”

  1. I fear that someday historians will look back on the years 1990-2020 and marvel that we were so willing to ignore the consequences of conducting such close ties with an authoritarian state which seeks to project its power globally. They will especially be incredulous that we kept up the facade long after Xi Jinping demonstrated that he was a dictator in the Stalin/Mao mode.

    Xi’s China is just Putin’s Russia with cheap manufacturing.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  2. Future historians will look back in amazement that people on the left (and right) bought into the narrative that the Wuhan origin of the virus had nothing to do with the Wuhan lab. The Fauci worship will be another mystery because he was clearly misleading the world, but it became “unscientific” to question him

    steveg (1034ca)

  3. Why were we giving money to China? China has the world’s second largest economy. Does Coke give money to Pepsi?

    norcal (e5b4c8)

  4. I am a geneticist, with training in both microbiology and virology. I also follow science communications with the public closely.

    I can tell you all what the problem is, and why so many people are willing to believe unlikely conspiracy theories.

    It’s because too many scientists think nonscientists don’t understand their work, and would be afraid at any uncertainty. Science, of course, is about uncertainty…that’s what experiments are designed to help settle.

    Too many scientists won’t say “I don’t know” or “we are looking into that carefully.” Instead, in the interests of getting into the public eye, they go over the top, just as many politicians do, and for the same reasons.

    Imagine you have a problem with your car, and you take your car to the shop. The mechanic usually says, “let’s find out what was wrong.” And we seldom are upset when they find something to be unexpected.

    That all said, I’m not happy with safety at the Wuhan labs (independently of any other issue). But I wish scientists would communicate with the public as equals. We all know when someone talks down to us.

    Authority is the enemy of science, I firmly believe. And I also believe that Americans are smart enough to understand basic science.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  5. Good point, Simon. I got the feeling that Fauci was talking down to the unwashed masses.

    norcal (e5b4c8)

  6. norcal (e5b4c8) — 7/19/2023 @ 1:36 pm

    Why were we giving money to China? China has the world’s second largest economy. Does Coke give money to Pepsi?

    China had the bat viruses.

    The problem with giving money is that the lab would get paid double – by the PRC or PLA and by the United States.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has suspended the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s eligibility to receive federal funding for ten years after the lab failed to turn in requested documents about safety and security measures.

    Looking at this carefully, this was purely because they wouldn’t commit to taking and proving biohazard security precautions. Aimed at the future.

    Apparently, this was a compromise position by the Biden Administration.

    They would disregard the past but they would want to be sure of the future.

    How could you argue against requiting them to do any other lab would be required to do? Even if you would not want to imply the possibility of an origin at the lab.

    They gave them a lot of time.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  7. Simon Jester (c8876d) — 7/19/2023 @ 1:42 pm

    Authority is the enemy of science, I firmly believe.

    And peer review does nothing to counter fraud. (but may protect it)

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/stanford-president-tessier-lavigne-resigns-amid-concerns-over-research-practices-2c7229eb

    Then we get unjustified retractions. (not because of flaws in the study – just a question of whether consent included this) Once a paper s retracted it can’t be used in an argument according to the rules of the scientific game..

    https://unherd.com/thepost/publisher-doubles-down-on-retracted-gender-paper

    Following activist pressure, the academic publishing company Springer Nature retracted Bailey and Diaz’s article on the grounds that the parents had not specifically consented to have survey results published in a peer-reviewed journal. (The parents did, however, consent to the publication of survey results, which is more than can be said for much peer-reviewed research, including some of the articles most frequently cited by trans activists.)

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  8. Historians will look back at the way that Nixon split China from Russia and made Russia’s Cold War loss inevitable. They will look at Deng’s rule that brounght large parts of China into the modern world, and America’s attempt to assist.

    Then they will look at Tienanmen Square in 1989 to Deng’s death in 1997 as the period during which which China turned to the dark side, and Xi’s ascension in 2012 as the final nail.

    It is interesting that, after the Democrats thoroughly trashed Trump’s break with China, Biden is pursuing even more aggressive policies.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  9. Simon,

    It’s funny when you realize that modern Science was born in the Newton-Liebnitz hatefest, where, to buttress their positions, both sides engaged in publishing scientific journals. Until that era there were certainly “scientists” but very little exposition and debate of their discoveries.

    The whole process of science is “I’m right, you’re wrong, and he is my evidence”, argued in public. POLITICS, otoh, engages in using force instead of argument.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  10. Fauci was lying to the public and under oath to Congress. The government continued to lie to the public. They still do. Why shoukd qe ever trust them again?

    NJRob (c428c4)

  11. Slghtly on-topic: Stanford president will resign after questions about research

    Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne announced Wednesday he will resign after an investigative report found he had failed to correct mistakes in years-old scientific papers and overseen labs that had an “unusual frequency” of manipulations of data.

    The dramatic fall from the top of one of the world’s most respected research institutions followed a months-long inquiry prompted by allegations of research misconduct reported by a Stanford campus newspaper late last year.

    A panel of experts concluded that Tessier-Lavigne, a neuroscientist who has been president of Stanford for nearly seven years, did not engage in any fraud or falsification of scientific data. It also did not find evidence that he was aware of problems before publication of data.

    But the review provides a portrait of a scientist who co-authored papers with “serious flaws” and failed on multiple occasions to “decisively and forthrightly correct mistakes” when concerns were raised. Tessier-Lavigne said Wednesday that he would ask for three papers to be retracted and two corrected. A panel of prominent scientists, engaged by a special committee of the private university’s board of trustees, examined a dozen of the more than 200 papers published during his career.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  12. Suppose that in about October of 2020 a political leader insisted that the Wuhan Lab was the source of COVID-19; that the laptop left in the repair shop really was Hunter’s and counter-claims about Russian disinformation were themselves false; that voting procedures rushed into use “due to pandemic safety measures” were likely to influence the outcome of the upcoming election — by intent; and that the vaccines for COVID were being rushed, poorly tested, with important safety considerations applied to vaccines in general were being waived for the new technologies.

    Are beliefs in any of these “conspiracy theories” independent of the others or would belief in one indicate the likelihood of belief in the others?

    MAGA? Q-Anon? Science Denier?

    Pouncer (da861d)

  13. Pouncer, in my experience nobody believes in just one conspiracy theory.

    norcal (e5b4c8)

  14. Pouncer:

    The guy I am thinking of would not believe that last item.

    Appalled (d74ee9)

  15. Suppose that in about October of 2020 a political leader insisted that the Wuhan Lab was the source of COVID-19;

    But it was okay so long as he and Xi made a beautiful trade deal, Ivanka got her Chinese trademark protection, and his son-in-law sent out the FBI to round up our PPE and ventilators and ship them to China.

    that the laptop left in the repair shop really was Hunter’s and counter-claims about Russian disinformation were themselves false;

    A white whale that got him impeached.

    that voting procedures rushed into use “due to pandemic safety measures” were likely to influence the outcome of the upcoming election — by intent;

    Only because his likeliest voters could not fill out vote-by-mail-ballot and whose fault is that?

    and that the vaccines for COVID were being rushed, poorly tested, with important safety considerations applied to vaccines in general were being waived for the new technologies.

    He couldn’t eat his cake and let his dipwiddles have it too. He wanted bragging rights for “warp speed” and got boos instead.

    The sh!t that Trump throws out and hopes will stick is consistent in the same sense as actual fecal matter which is the uniform end product of many different and varied foods.

    So, yeah, a deranged baboon could promote all those things and who knows which he actually believes himself?

    nk (4e04ed)

  16. Long term butthurt over Trump losing is a thing, nk.

    norcal (e5b4c8)

  17. You have to be careful with people with nukes: see putin. Posters here are not responible for the lives of 350,000,000 americans.

    asset (664b93)

  18. Announced today July 19th 2023 that they stopped funding Wuhan in 2020 because the facility was “not up to federal standards”. Yeah, we already that facility issue figured out out back in late February 2020, and they called people racist for saying so.

    steveg (0f9632)

  19. If only we had had a leader.

    nk (4e04ed)

  20. Yeah, we already that facility issue figured out out back in late February 2020, and they called people racist for saying so.

    No, no, steveg. We knew that back in 2014, yet we let Fauci and his minions go ahead and keep the funding going through “loopholes” for the next six years. It’s unbelievable.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  21. And yeah, it’s ironic that this story comes at the same time the Stanford President is forced out because his lab produced some very questionable research for, oh, about fifteen years. For what it’s worth, here is a comment I left at the NRO article:

    [Quote from the NRO Article] “Specifically, the Panel did not find that I engaged in research misconduct regarding the twelve papers reviewed, nor did it find I had knowledge of or was reckless regarding research misconduct in my lab.”

    [My Response] These academics take the cake. When the accounting department of a Fortune 500 company is found to have cooked the books and defrauded the shareholders, or when the product department is found to have used shoddy materials or ignored safety guidelines in manufacturing, the CEO ends up getting pushed out even if they didn’t know about these problems. That’s the whole point of being a CEO.

    Prof. Tessier-Lavigne was in the same sort of CEO position as head of his lab. In fact, I would be willing to bet that his lab had his name on it, the Tessier-Lavigne Lab. So in that regard, he very much is responsible for fraud and dishonest shortcuts among his junior scientists and lab workers. Yet he, like so many other academics, believe that they can get away with playing the “I wasn’t aware about misconduct in the lab that bears my name and which I supposedly oversee” defense. That just won’t cut it. In fact, if you’re asking me, I think whether Tessier-Lavigne should be allowed to return to his lab as a professor ought to be an open question. I would support the idea of Stanford cutting ties with him entirely, just to show that there is no tolerance for research misconduct.

    And the fact that he had apparently been investigated for problems in his research at least three separate times before he was hired as President of Stanford suggests to me that Stanford made a horrible decision in rushing this appointment through without due diligence.

    I was at MIT when David Baltimore’s lab got caught with a senior researcher fabricating results, and then tried to bully a young post-doc who discovered that her results couldn’t be replicated. Baltimore used the same defense that Tessier-Lavigne used: I can’t be responsible for everything that goes on in my lab. It worked for Baltimore — though he was taken out of the running for the Presidency of MIT, he ended up in the top job at Caltech — but it was just as unbelievable then as it is now.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  22. @19 AOC is a leader and soon will be leading.

    asset (ceabf9)

  23. AOC is a leader and soon will be leading.

    asset (ceabf9) — 7/19/2023 @ 11:19 pm

    She won’t be getting my vote, unless her opponent is the ALL CAPS degenerate.

    norcal (e5b4c8)

  24. @23 AOC doesn’t need your vote she needs and will get the bernie/left voters and young latinx voters (young latinx girls want to be her) Also democrats fed up with corporate establishment wing crooks and liars like bidens and clintons. Biden had to cater to the left so they wouldn’t run in the primary against him. Dr, cornel west scares DNC that he is another jill stein. RFK jr. will get an embarrassing amount of protest votes. To show the future the CW song try that in a small town attacking antifa and black lives matter had to be banned to appease the sponsors. (capitalism in action!)

    asset (ceabf9)

  25. AOC showed her racist colors this week with her attacks on Israel.

    NJRob (eb56c3)

  26. JVW. I agree and I know what what you are doing, but nearly everyone who was listening to the early news coming out of, well, Wuhan, where there was a wet market and this lab started to put it together. It took me a little longer than most because I’ve been to wet markets in Asia, I’ve seen “bushmeat” butchers, I’ve eaten cousin louie the unfortunate primate that got hit with a crossbow and I’ve watched a man select a fresh river otter penis in the wet pharmacy. So I was willing to entertain the idea that it could be a coincidence, but was much more likely to have transmission from Wuhan lab to crowded wet market.

    I think the problem was Fauci lied, lied, lied about lying and then lied about that too. He denied chimeric research at Wuhan, then he changed that claim to chimeric research was not the same as gain of function- and then impugned the questioners credentials. I don’t care if it was Cletus the slack jawed Trump voter who was asking the question, that is a chicken-s elitist move but Fauci could not tell the truth. They were engaged in a type of “gain of function” research. He could not argue that “yes they’d done a safe form of research, but were being extraordinarily careful” because- well- people were dying and the world was panicking. Fauci was as believable as Jussie Smollett and like Smollett, the people invested in his narrative, political tribe refuse to look at the truth staring them in the face. I sort of understand why people held on to Fauci. They’d been told Trump was a dunce who couldn’t handle this, and Fauci was THE expert here to save us all from coronavirus and from Trump f-ing it up.

    steveg (0f9632)

  27. When does the world hold China accountable for millions of deaths and trillions of damages?

    NJRob (eb56c3)


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