Brute Force Manufactured Consensus is Hiding the Crime of the Century

People often parse information through an epistemic consensus filter. They do not ask “is this true”, they ask “will others be OK with me thinking this is true”. This makes them very malleable to brute force manufactured consensus; if every screen they look at says the same thing they will adopt that position because their brain interprets it as everyone in the tribe believing it.

- Anon, 4Chan, slightly edited

Ordinary people who haven’t spent years of their lives thinking about rationality and epistemology don’t form beliefs by impartially tallying up evidence like a Bayesian reasoner. Whilst there is a lot of variation, my impression is that the majority of humans we share this Earth with use a completely different algorithm for vetting potential beliefs: they just believe some average of what everyone and everything around them believes, especially what they see on screens, newspapers and “respectable”, “mainstream” websites.

This is a great algorithm from the point of view of the individual human. If the mainstream is wrong, well, “nobody got fired for buying IBM”, as they say—you won’t be personally singled out for being wrong if everyone else is also wrong. If the mainstream is right, you’re also right. Win-win.

The problem with the “copy other people’s beliefs” algorithm is that it is vulnerable to false information cascades. And when a small but powerful adversarial group controls the seed point for many people’s beliefs (such as being able to control the scientific process to output chosen falsehoods), you can end up with an entire society believing an absurd falsehood that happens to be very convenient for that small, powerful adversarial subgroup.

DEFUSING your concerns

This is not a theoretical concern; I believe that brute-force manufactured consensus by the perpetrators is the cause of a lack of action to properly investigate and prosecute what I believe is the crime of the century: a group of scientists who I believe committed the equivalent of a modern holocaust (either deliberately or accidentally) are going to get away with it. For those who are not aware, the death toll of Covid-19 is estimated at between 19 million and 35 million.

Covid-19 likely came from a known lab (Wuhan Institute of Virology), was likely created by a known group of people (Peter Daszak & friends) acting against best practices and willing to lie about their safety standards to get the job done. In my opinion this amounts morally to a crime against humanity.

And the evidence keeps piling up—just this January, a freedom of information request surfaced a grant proposal dated 2018 with Daszak’s name on it called Project DEFUSE, with essentially a recipe for making covid-19 at Wuhan Institute of Virology, including unique technical details like the Furin Cleavage Site and the BsmBI enzyme. Note the date − 3/​27/​2018.

Wait, there’s more. Here, Peter Daszak tells other investigators that once they get funded by DARPA, they can do this work to make the novel coronavirus bond to the human ACE2 receptor in… Wuhan, China. Wow. Remember, this is in 2018! Now, DARPA refused to fund this proposal (perhaps they thought that this kind of research was too dangerous?) but this is hardly exculpatory. Daszak et al had the plan to make covid-19 in 2018, all they needed was funding, which they may simply have gotten from somewhere else.

So, Daszak & friends plan to create a novel coronavirus engineered to infect human cells with a Furin Cleavage Site in Wuhan, starting in mid-2018. Then in late 2019, a novel coronavirus that spreads rapidly through humans, that has a Furin Cleavage Site, appears in… Wuhan… thousands of miles away from the bat caves in Southern China where the closest natural variants live, and only a few miles from Wuhan Institute of Virology

… and we’re supposed to believe that this is a coincidence? For the love of Bayes! How many times do you have to rerun history for a naturally occurring virus to randomly appear outside the lab that’s studying it at the exact time they are studying it? I think it’s at least 1000:1 against.

From Twitter:

There are >800 known sarbecoviruses. Only one—SARS-CoV-2--contains a furin cleavage site, as planned for insertion in EcoHealth DEFUSE proposal (P<0.002)

So not only is there a coincidence of timing and location, but also the virus has unique functional parts that occur in no other natural sarbecoviruses?

And they even got the WHO (World Health Organization) to allow them to investigate their own potential crime scene.

How are they getting away with this?

It seems that when Daszak, Fauci and others in the pro-gain-of-function virology community realized that covid-19 might be their own work escaping from the lab, they embarked upon a strategy of Brute Force Manufactured Consensus. They needed people to believe that covid-19 didn’t come from their lab, so they just started manufacturing that consensus. And it worked!

Daszak and Fauci organized a letter in The Lancet which condemned any discussion of the possibility that covid-19 might be a lab leak as a “conspiracy theory”. Daszak’s name appears as one of the authors. That letter and the aura of officialness granted to it by The Lancet guided the mainstream media to denounce lab-origin theories as conspiracy theories, and that in turn caused most social media sites to ban any content discussing that, and even permanently delete people’s social media profiles in some cases.

By 2022, things had calmed down a bit and people started to question whether there was a conflict of interests whereby the authors of the Lancet Letter which claimed that covid-19 Lab Leak theories were silly conspiracy theories might be part of an actual conspiracy to cover up the fact that covid-19 had escaped from their lab. Yikes!

But since then there have been further rounds of Brute Force Manufactured Consensus; for example a NYT article based on a paper by Worobey said that new evidence suggests that covid-19 started in Raccoon Dogs in a wildlife meat market. There are two problems with this: one, it’s still an unlikely coincidence that a natural spillover event would just happen to occur right on the doorstep on WIV and right at the point in time when the Daszak/​Ecohealth group was working on making a humanized coronavirus. Second, these papers have various fatal flaws, such as drawing heatmaps based on biased sampling—essentially they went and looked for covid-19 RNA around the raccoon dogs and they found it. But they didn’t look as much elsewhere—obviously if you look more in one place, you’ll find more in that place! But these downgrades to the credibility of the Worobey paper have not been widely reported on.

My personal breaking point on this is that yesterday, 2nd Feb 2024, The Global Catastrophic Risks institute released a report which found that in a survey of 162 “experts”, about 80% of them thought that covid-19 had a natural origin.

However, about 80% of these “experts” said that they had not heard of the DEFUSE grant from 2018 that I just showed you above. You know, the one with Daszak’s name on it, pictures of flappy bats and a step-by-step recipe for how to make covid-19.

So it seems that Brute Force Manufactured Consensus works on most (but not all) “experts” too. I mean, why wouldn’t it? Some guy in 2024 working on his own little subfield of virology or epidemiology has no particular reason to deviate from the New York Times orthodoxy, and this is probably why only 22% of the experts said they had heard of DEFUSE but 33% said they had heard of Hanlen et al, 2022 - which is a fake study that doesn’t exist and was inserted to check whether respondents were paying attention.

Now that public attention is off covid-19, the people responsible for it are mounting a perpetual delay-and-denial operation. UNC-Chapel Hill is in the process of hiding key documents which could contain further evidence about covid-19′s origins right now. Scientists like Joseph Osmundson seem to think that killing 20 million people with an engineered virus is something to joke about and not take seriously, for example:


Small exchanges like this show the power of social consensus. If you can manufacture the right social consensus, control the key nodes in our social epistemology-plex, you can get away with just about anything and nobody will care, except a few very determined contrarians. But I will not go gentle into that good night.

EDIT, Afterthoughts:

Some people are claiming that there’s a separate, honest case that covid-19 is probably a natural virus, so I thought I’d strengthen the Bayesian arguments against a natural origin a bit.

Here’s an argument you could have made in early 2020 that covid-19 was not natural (and I did, on Metaculus). Wuhan has a population of 10 million or so, which is about 0.7% of the population of China. It is nowhere near Yunnan. Wuhan is also special with respect to dangerous biological work though, with China’s first BSL-4 lab.

“As China’s first BSL-4 laboratory put into operation, Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory conducts studies on highly pathogenic viruses. Since January 2018, the laboratory has been in operation for global scientists who wish to conduct scientific experiments on BSL-4 pathogens” *

See also this Nature article from 2017:

Inside the Chinese lab poised to study world’s most dangerous pathogens
A laboratory in Wuhan is on the cusp of being cleared to work with the world’s most dangerous pathogens. The move is part of a plan to build between five and seven biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) labs across the Chinese mainland by 2025, and has generated much excitement, as well as some concerns. Some scientists outside China worry about pathogens escaping.

If we search Google Scholar for “Coronavirus China” from 2000 to 2019, the top result is the WIV group. Granted, publicity since then may have boosted the scholar rank for WIV results more than for other groups, and Scholar doesn’t allow you to easily see what the results would have been in 2019. But if we add the term “bat” to the search, Daszak, Ecohealth or WIV are included in all 8 of the top 8 results, for example in highly cited pre-2019 papers going back as far as 2007. Then there’s this paper by Daszak from 2013 on coronaviruses and the ACE2 receptor which has 413 citations from before the pandemic.

Also, if we search Google limiting results to before 2019, we get various articles on WIV, Ecohealth and Daszak. There are some other groups who work on this. But the Wuhan/​Ecohealth group is the most prominent by a long shot.

What are the chances that the bat coronavirus which caused a once in a century pandemic managed to navigate its way all the way from a Yunnan cave and home in on the city with the lab having the top Google hits for “Coronavirus China” and also the location of China’s first BSL-4 lab? Well, that would be approximately 1 in 200, since that is the fraction of China’s population in Wuhan.

We must also account for the timing here. Each year in the modern period from, say, 1970 until today has a decently large chance of human-animal transmission, perhaps with some bias towards the present due to more travel. But gain of function is a new invention—it only really started in 2011 and funding was banned in 2014, then the moratorium was lifted in 2017. The 2011-2014 period had little or no coronavirus gain of function work as far as I am aware. So coronavirus gain of function from a lab could only have occurred after say 2010 and was most likely after 2017 when it had the combination of technology and funding. This is a period of about 2 years out of the entire 1920-2020 hundred-year window. Now, we could probably discount that hundred year window down to say an equivalent of 40 years as people have become more mobile and more numerous in China over the past 100 years, on average. But that is still something like a 1 in 20 chance that the worst coronavirus pandemic of the past hundred years happened in the exact 2-year window when gain of function research was happening most aggressively, and that is independent from the location coincidence.

For a natural coronavirus century-scale pandemic spillover event to start in the specific location of the first BSL-4 lab and top Google hits for “coronavirus China”, and to hit in the 2-year window of gain of function research after the funding moratorium is something like a 1 in 4000 chance; I can see this being knocked down a bit—maybe 1 in 1000 or even 1 in 500, depending on more complicated details of how natural spillovers would actually distribute in space and time. But not lower than that I think.

Another way to look at this is if gain-of-function research is safe and WIV is safe, then we’d typically expect the once-in-a-century pandemic to happen a long time before or a long time after gain-of-function research gets going, and quite a long way away from the biggest lab that does it. Perhaps it would have happened in say Xiamen in 2038.

These arguments are fairly robust to details about specific minor pieces of evidence or analyses. Whatever happens with all the minor arguments about enzymes and raccoon dogs and geospatial clustering, you still have to explain how the virus found its way to the place that got the first BSL-4 lab and the top Google hits for “Coronavirus China”, and did so in slightly less than 2 years after the lifting of the moratorium on gain-of-function research. And I don’t see how you can explain that other than that covid-19 escaped from WIV or a related facility in Wuhan.

Some of the more involved arguments about enzymes and stuff are pretty neat. But they are more involved, there are more places to go wrong or make a false assumption, and more places for an adversary to mess with the evidence.

One final way to look at this is imagine a time traveler appears to you in the 2000s and tells you that a massive global pandemic caused by a bat coronavirus happens at some point before 2020. If that pandemic is a natural spillover you shouldn’t be able to use Google results from 2019 and Google Scholar results from 2019 to predict where and when it will occur by googling the type of virus and the host.

EDIT, AGAIN: I found one final thing in a twitter thread which is particularly damning—this Nature article from 2015:

Engineered bat virus stirs debate over risky research

In an article published in Nature Medicine1 on 9 November, scientists [Zhengli-Li Shi from Wuhan Institute of Virology & Ralph S Baric who is on DEFUSE] investigated a virus called SHC014, which is found in horseshoe bats in China. The researchers created a chimaeric virus, made up of a surface protein of SHC014 and the backbone of a SARS virus that had been adapted to grow in mice and to mimic human disease. … other virologists question whether the information gleaned from the experiment justifies the potential risk. Although the extent of any risk is difficult to assess, Simon Wain-Hobson, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, points out that the researchers have created a novel virus that “grows remarkably well” in human cells. “If the virus escaped, nobody could predict the trajectory