To be sure, the science on this matter is no more settled now than it was before. A report commissioned by President Biden, and released in August, found conflicting assessments from U.S. intelligence agencies about the pandemic’s origin. Many scientists still believe that the virus most likely emerged from human contact with some kind of animal host, and the past few months have not revealed any definitive new evidence to the contrary. What they have revealed is that scientific, political, and media elites have not been entirely forthcoming about the true state of the experts’ knowledge of — and the uncertainty surrounding — the origin of the virus. Some appear to have actively suppressed public scrutiny of the question. At this point, we may never be able to arrive at an answer. But if the lab-leak hypothesis does turn out to be true, this episode will have done more to damage the credibility of scientific experts than any other in recent memory.
Whatever the outcome — whether we learn that the virus jumped to humans from an animal, or that it accidentally escaped from a laboratory, or we remain in a state of ignorance — the lab-leak debacle may become a potent symbol of science’s crisis of legitimacy…
What is worrisome about the lab-leak controversy therefore is not only that our public discussions and political decisions about Covid-19 may have been hampered by the experts’ mischaracterization of scientific knowledge. The long-term danger is that the experts themselves have helped to undermine public trust in scientific expertise and the institutions that depend on it, at a moment when such knowledge is more deeply intertwined with our social and political life than ever before.M. Anthony Mills, “Manufacturing Consensus” at New Atlantis (Fall 2021)
You may also wish to read: Springer Nature retracts 44 “utter nonsense” papers. As we’ve noted earlier, it’s getting to the point where “Trust the science!” is sounding more ridiculous all the time. It’s like saying “Trust the mountains” or “Trust milk.” It’s not a rational response to a lot of what we face just now.