What seems to be happening here is a seismic shift. People are beginning to understand that “Science!”, loosed from its moorings, can be just plain corrupt.
That’s what makes the lab leak story important. Some of us remember being dismayed by the science news claiming the lab leak theory of the origin of COVID-19 was “misinformation” when there was every reason to think it a valid assumption.
Over the last few years, the phrase “the science is settled” has become a euphemism for “shut up.” This year, the various social media platforms have been deleting what they declare to be Covid “misinformation.” The truth, as far as Facebook, Twitter, and others are concerned, is now whatever the government’s line is at the moment. Disgracefully, the Biden administration has been encouraging social media platforms to increase this censorship.
If the Centers for Disease Control has made a pronouncement regarding the pandemic, not even a highly credentialed epidemiologist is allowed to disagree, at least until the CDC changes its mind. Last year, to suggest that Covid-19 originated in a Wuhan virology lab was “misinformation.” Today, it is the leading theory.
Obviously, the powers that be on social media have no idea how science operates. Science, almost by definition, is never settled. Scientists argue in order to find the truth (unlike lawyers, who argue in order to win the argument). Indeed, disagreement is the very engine that drives scientific advancement. That’s why scientific conferences are often contentious, even raucous affairs.John Steele Gordon, “The New Censorship” at City Journal
Gordon goes on to an interesting discussion of how it is usually younger scientists who make breakthroughs but older ones who enforce orthodoxies.
Of course, there are orthodoxies and then there are smelly orthodoxies. COVID-19 created a situation where many more people than otherwise would have discovered a really smelly orthodoxy in science.
Prediction: More people will start asking more questions.
See also: The slow descent of “Science!” As in “Trust the Science!” Varadarajan: The World Health Organization is a particular offender: “We had a dozen Western scientists go to China in February and team up with a dozen Chinese scientists under the auspices of the WHO.” At a subsequent press conference they pronounced the lab-leak theory “extremely unlikely.” The organization also ignored Taiwanese cries for help with Covid-19 in January 2020.