• Science Versus Public Sentiment: “Covid-19 is not a Bioweapon Created in a Laboratory, Say UK Scientists”, “Nope, Don’t Believe It”, Say UK Public

    John Paull (see profile)
    War and society, Narrative medicine, Medicine--Philosophy, Medicine, History
    Item Type:
    pandemic, Caronavirus, covid, virus, public science, Philosophy and medicine, Medical history, Global studies
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    In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, an unresolved question is the aetiolo-gy of Covid-19: Where did this novel coronavirus come from? When an ac-count by “UK scientists” ruled out Covid-19 as a bioweapon and as a labora-tory creation, the dismissal of the claims by the ‘vox pop’ was swift and deci-sive, considered and multifactorial. There was a consensus of public sentiment (of 100%) to reject the two scientific propositions of “no bioweapon” and “no laboratory involvement”. The present paper reports on the top 100 comments (ranked by reader votes and accounting for 13,983 votes, comprising 13,156 up-arrow votes and 827 down-arrow votes) of UK newspaper readers to the dismissal of Covid-19 as a bioweapon and as a laboratory construct. Com-mentators pointed out the coincidences surrounding the outbreak, especially that the reported ground-zero city of the outbreak, Wuhan, China, was also host to several coronavirus research laboratories. Commentators expressed their skepticism of governments, institutions, and also scientists to tell them the truth (even if those entities knew it). Commentators dismissed the lan-guage of the scientists, pointing out (quite rightly) that “improbable” does not equal “impossible”. Commentators proposed variously that Covid-19 escaped from a laboratory, was “Made in China”, and was a bioweapon. Some readers called for banning the eating of wild animals in China and thereby excluding that channel as a potential viral source in the future. The proximal origin of Covid-19 is presently an unsettled question. Scientists’ dismissal of the hypo-thesis that Covid-19 is a bioweapon or a laboratory construct is itself dis-missed by the public. The public want answers but they are also quite ready to question and reject the accounts of scientists. In the meantime, the aetiology of Covid-19 can be expected to remain contested and unsettled for some considerable time.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago


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