Andrey (azangru) wrote,
Andrey
azangru

I've written here, on more than one occasion, of my very conflicted feelings about Bret Weinstein — on the one hand, he often says common-sense things that I fully support; on the other hand, he has a charisma of a wise person, which comes from his academic credentials, his slow, ponderous manner of speech, and his at times outrageously oversophisticated vocabulary (the way he overuses the word "deploy" is staggering) — and which is not supported by the actual, detailed, practical knowledge. I've already commented on how he described coronaviruses as retroviruses; or how he and Heather talked about masks. This week, in a conversation with Benjamin Boyce, he said this:

Early in this pandemic, there was a lot of information suggesting that the diagram that's in all of the textbooks about how a virus invades a cell was misleading. That the amount of contact with a virus — with this virus, with SARS-CoV-2 — the amount of contact that would give you covid-19, was actually a quantity. So, it wasn't true that a virus, getting into your system, and invading a cell, was the key to understanding what was happening. Something else was going on, it was a matter of dosage. Now, why would there be a matter of dosage. I couldn't figure it out at first. And so the question was, is something incorrect about the data that suggests a dosage relationship, or is there something about our understanding of the interaction with the body that was off. And it turned out that the answer ... had to do with innate immunity.

Now, this passage would suggest that Bret is unaware of the concept of the median infectious dose (ID50) that is a metric applicable to all infectious agents and is standard knowledge that medical students learn in their undergraduate microbiology classes. Which, in turn, suggests that, despite having a PhD in biology and despite professing to be interested in covid, Bret has not spent the last year leveling up his knowledge of medical microbiology and virology. Which is something one would expect from a conscientious academic willing to deliberate on a scientific topic.

However, their last episode of the Dark Horse podcast was useful in that it reminded the viewers of the politization of the discussion of the origins of SARS-CoV-2, and of the moving window of admissibility of the discussion of a particular hypothesis, and of how the New York Times, or the 60 minutes, are the institutions that can, and are allowed to, move this window. I got reminded of this episode when I saw a link to this article on Bellingcat from a year ago:



This is Bellingcat. A resource that has, presumably, tracked down Skripal's and Navalny's poisoners. Notice their absolute conviction at that point that the lab leak hypothesis was false ("the origin point for this false theory"). Not questionable, not unlikely, not far-fetched — the author has no shred of doubt about its falseness.
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