The utter garbage going around social media

I do not follow social media so am not directly aware of all the garbage that is spread through it. I do see examples when credulous people ask for my opinion on various stories they read. I have written about one highly credulous person from Sri Lanka who seems to spend his life on social media and gets alarmed by the rubbish that circulates there. He sent me yet another item and asked me if it was true. It was such a doozy, that I thought worth sharing. Here it is.

Japan’s Nobel prize winning Professor of Medicine, Professor Dr Tasuku Honjo, created a sensation today by saying that the Coronavirus is not natural.
“If it is natural, it wouldn’t have adversely affected the entire world like this. Because, as per nature, temperature is different in different countries. If it is natural, it would adversely affect only those countries having the same temperature as China. Instead, it is spreading in a country like Switzerland, in the same way it is spreading in the desert areas. Whereas if it were natural, it would have spread in cold places, but died in hot places.

I have done 40 years of research on animals and viruses. It is not natural. It is manufactured and the virus is completely artificial. I have worked for 4 years in the Wuhan laboratory in China. I am fully acquainted with all the staff of that laboratory. I have been phoning them all, after the Coronavirus surfaced. But all their phones are dead for the last 3 months. It is now understood that all these lab technicians have died.

Based on all my knowledge and research till date, I can say this with 100% confidence – That the Coronavirus is not natural. It did not come from bats. China manufactured it. If what I am saying today is proved false now or even after my death, the government can withdraw my Nobel Prize. China is lying and this truth will one day be revealed to everyone”.

The only thing that is true is that there is a person called Dr. Tasuku Honjo who did win the Nobel prize in 2018 for his work on immune systems. The rest is obviously garbage and any person with a minimum of common sense would immediately suspect that this is not the kind of thing a reputable scientist would say or write. It looks like all you have to do is append the name of a famous or credible person to a crackpot screed for people to be taken in by it.

When I looked into it, the only place this story was found was on Facebook.

I should not be too harsh in judging people. After all, if the president of the US, who has access to people who can give him sound information, believes rubbish like injecting bleach can cure diseases, should we be surprised that others believe nonsense that they hear too?


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    Because, as per nature, temperature is different in different countries.

    The virus is propagating in human bodies. As per nature, human bodies are the same temperature all over the world; roughly 37 C.

  2. says

    Meanwhile, scientists who have sequenced the virus, have been able to place it in its evolutionary context -- they can tell where the strains have come from, and gone, and what other strain it evolved from and which sites changed during that time. They don’t know the reservoir where it evolved before it jumped to humans, but it wasn’t a lab.

    It’s probably conservative projection: the US is designing bioweapons and they want blame someone else so they can say “we need to be prepared to respond” thereby back-covering existing programs.

    the virus is completely artificial.

    What does that even mean? Assembled from pure RNA bits?

    A bioweapon would look like smallpox 2.0. And the world would find out who did it and scour them with nuclear fire.

  3. KG says

    In what biotech lab do these nuts think was created the pandemic of 1918-1920? -- Bruce@2

    The one just down the road from the physics lab that will invent time travel, of course!

  4. Ridana says

    Maybe someone should contact Dr. Honjo and tell him his good name is being misused and sullied by conspiracy nuts.

  5. Sam N says

    You do have an amusing commentariat, Mano.

    I will admit I’m not convinced it didn’t come out of a Chinese lab, but I find the notion it intentionally was inflicted asinine. I’ve worked in labs, if it did occur that way, it was from lax procedure, and probably for, at least nominally, valid reasons for study (if not valid protocol).

  6. Sam N says

    This is to say, I’m convinced by evolutionary evidence, however, I’m not convinced some Chinese program decided to study that virus, and some slack in procedure allowed it to escape.

  7. Reginald Selkirk says

    I will admit I’m not convinced it didn’t come out of a Chinese lab…

    I think you need to review the concept of the ‘null hypothesis’.

  8. Sam N says

    By the way Marcus, you are aware that we can construct whatever polynucleotides we wish, and often do. It’s a hallmark of current biotech. But without some obscene human testing labs, yes, it would have to be based upon what is already effective (i.e. smallpox). We regularly test hundreds, even thousands of artificial viral constructs in rodents. The jump to humans isn’t difficult, only requires the morals already exhibited by those in power.

  9. Sam N says

    Reginald, I deal in probabilities not true/false. I give it 10% lax procedure in a Chinese lab studying the virus was the cause. I may be highly overestimating, such is the folly of being human.

  10. invivoMark says

    Sam N, please listen to the actual coronavirus experts who are telling the world that the virus was not created in a lab, full stop.

    The idiotic notion that it was is harmful and racist and it needs to die before more people believe it than already do. If you think there’s a possibility that it was created in a lab, then you do not understand the evidence.

    Sincerely, a virologist who understands the evidence.

  11. Sam N says

    invivoMark, I think the notion it was created in a lab is asinine. I think the notion it was studied and escaped a lab from lax protocol is not. Do you understand the difference?

  12. Sam N says

    I also find the notion that human endeavor could not artificially construct such a thing (given sufficient erosion of morals and oversight), plausible, the cause of my reply to Marcus. I sincerely find the evidence that covid 19 is not such a construct very convincing.

  13. Sam N says

    Human study viruses, the Chinese government would have very good reasons, valid reasons to study corona viruses. I see no evidence of conspiracy aside from perhaps covering one’s own ass from a mistake. I see the potential of human malpractice having created a situation.

  14. Sam N says

    I also wasn’t making a jab or jest that the folks here make some good jokes. I found the comments sharp and I enjoyed them. KG’s for example.

  15. invivoMark says

    Sam N, please stop. Your ignorance is infuriating.

    SARS-CoV-2 was never cultured in a lab. Its genome does not match any virus that has ever been cultured in a lab. It is not adapted to infecting either cell cultures or animal models in a lab. It is a virus that clearly has a natural source, and there is an entirely plausible series of events that naturally led to its adaptation to infecting humans.

    Please. Stop. Spreading. Bullshit.

  16. Sam N says

    Here you can honestly inform me. Scientists don’t culture wild viruses for study with frequency? I definitely am ignorant if that is the case. If there is evidence from experts that such could not be the case, I’m open. You’re right, I’m not a virologist, I’ve merely used them as tools and relied on them to create the tools I wanted.

    Seriously, please follow up with why my suggestion is complete bullshit. My eyes are open. I sincerely am eager to learn. It certainly could be the case my priors are terribly calibrated.

  17. Sam N says

    Is this how you treat your reviewers? Sometimes they are ignorant, but I’ve found most are fairly reasonable with clear argumentation why their criticism does not apply. A few aren’t, might sound like tone trolling, and I’m not terribly offended. I understand my own limitations. I just don’t understand the severity of tone.

    I haven’t suggested China be punished for the virus. I have observed enough fuckups in procedure, in American labs, to be concerned about handling of viruses. My primary shock, if it turned out to be correct is that it didn’t happen in a US lab, first.

  18. Sam N says

    My priors are bad, just talked to a virologist, and apparently Chinese communication about corana viruses has been incredibly. It seems there would be a secretive study of wild-type viruses is very unlikely, they have been very transparent in such cases.

  19. Sam N says

    By the way, he agrees with me completely on fuck-ups in protocol, I just was unaware of how open the Chinese academics have been regarding their research… I revise my probability estimation to about .1%, in other words, I will communicate how incredibly unlikely it could have escaped from legit study of wild type corona.

  20. invivoMark says

    Wild bat coronaviruses have been cultured in labs. This was most famously done in 2015 as a collaboration between the Wuhan virology lab and US researchers:

    We have the sequences of all these cultured viruses. We have the sequences of more than 170 coronaviruses. Nothing that was cultured in a lab matches with SARS-CoV-2. The lab in Wuhan checked all their cultured viruses and stocks and compared them against SARS-CoV-2:

    Virologists around the world have published a statement in The Lancet affirming that the virus has a natural origin and did not come from a laboratory:

    My words are firm for the same reason the wording of the Lancet article is firm: the rumor that the virus came from a lab is harmful and it has been thoroughly discredited.

  21. Sam N says

    Mano, you can delete my comments prior to Mark’s 21. It’s sound reasoning and should be communicated to any of your readership over mine.

    [Sam N: If I delete all your earlier comments, the comments of other people won’t make much sense. Furthermore, since you have been so open and gracious in accepting fresh evidence and arguments that went counter to your earlier beliefs, I think that keeping those comments reflect well on you, not badly. -- Mano]

  22. Holms says

    I don’t get it. Not once did Sam N say that it was an artificial construct. My reading of his posts was that he believes the virus is a naturally occurring wild virus that was being studied; comment 12 in particular makes this clear. The puzzling bit: Sam N, why on earth are you retracting your claims of artificial design, when you never made such claims?

  23. Sam N says

    Holms, I’m retracting my claims it came from a lab. Because a very dear friend of mine with far more expertise on the subject suggested that is likely the case. I haven’t retracted my claim completely. I still think there is a .1% chance. I just think it so unlikely that to base policy on it would be absurd. So I will argue otherwise.

  24. Sam N says

    More specifically, as invivoMark clearly demonstrated, the chinese have been rather open about studying wild-type corona, and sharing that information with the USA. My belief it was a fuck-up, what is the chance a fuck-up would occur in a cover operation via their open research? Unlikely is my opinion.

  25. brucegee1962 says

    In defense of Sam N, I think that about a week ago it seemed like the lab escape seemed like a perfectly reasonable theory. The CIA was investigating it and media like the Washington Post and the BBC were doing articles about it:
    More evidence has now come out — the Sci Am article was actually published tomorrow! It’s hard to keep up with all the news as it breaks. I’m coming to think that the info I get in the comments here at FtB is a better source than my iPhone news feed.

  26. Sam N says

    Thanks Bruce, I don’t need defense, I’ve had to publish a number of articles. Yet, I do appreciate it, truly. I tend to be externally motivated. It helps. Holms, too. I was ignorant, not stupid.

  27. Sam N says

    @24, Mano, I agree with you completely. Great demonstration I’m intellectually honest. Just worried my criticism could be used by others for bad purposes. Despite my retraction, I feel like I made the strongest arguments in face of evidence. I may be a narcissist, just one with concerns of others. Might be overestimating your population severely. I simply don’t know.

  28. Reginald Selkirk says

    brucegee1962 #30: In defense of Sam N, I think that about a week ago it seemed like the lab escape seemed like a perfectly reasonable theory. The CIA was investigating it …

    I have never heard that story expounded by a credible source. The first I heard of it was from Trumpistas like Mike Pompeo, after a month or so of Trump talking about the “China virus”.
    The CIA investigates things. In the 1970s they investigated things like ESP. That the CIA is investigating things does not make those things credible.

  29. jrkrideau says

    /…about a week ago it seemed like the lab escape seemed like a perfectly reasonable theory. The CIA was investigating it and media like the Washington Post and the BBC were doing articles about it:

    This did help reinforce my belief that it was not an escapee from the lab.

  30. Jenora Feuer says

    Sadly, there has been at least one Nobel-prize winning doctor that has gone with that theory:
    Respectful Insolence: Nobel laureate Luc Montagnier embraces the conspiracy theory that SARS-CoV-2 was made in a Wuhan lab
    Granted, Luc Montagnier (who got his prize for his work on HIV), also pushes homeopathy and is apparently an anti-vaxxer, so it’s not like a lot of other Nobel laureates who have a lot of good work but a bit of crankery on the side, with Montagnier it’s almost all crap aside from a moment of actual brilliance in the middle.

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