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Lab Leaks, Contrarians and the Semiotics of Lying Your Ass Off

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about a Sudan-Israel peace agreement, in the Oval Office on October 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump announced that Sudan will start to norma... WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about a Sudan-Israel peace agreement, in the Oval Office on October 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump announced that Sudan will start to normalize ties with Israel. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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June 10, 2021 5:19 p.m.

Probably unwisely, I have waded back into the ‘media got it wrong about a lab leak’ debate with my friends Matt Yglesias and and Jon Chait. They’re not the worst on this. But as is often the case in life you’re most ticked by people you think should know better but apparently don’t. As I’ve noted, it’s a complicated question because the informed consensus has shifted a bit. Just not that much. The best informed discussion of the state of play is here.

To the extent there’s a problem with the media coverage on this topic from last year it’s that some commentators went from saying this was a claim with zero evidence, that actual experts didn’t agree with it, that it was very unlikely to calling it a ‘conspiracy theory’ which had been ‘debunked’. These aren’t the same things. But they aren’t terribly far apart either. That is especially so when the people making the claims have a history of being chronic liars.

Still, they’re not precisely the same.

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