Evidence vs Proof

The #OriginOfCovid, Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Andrew Tuntable
ATuntable@gmail.com  Twitter @ATuntable

It has been claimed that there is no evidence to support a laboratory leak.  That is demonstrably false.  There is no proof, but here are 10 powerful pieces of evidence.

  1. Consider a murder trial in which there is no eye witness to the crime.  However the prosecution shows that the accused was near the scene of the crime at the time.  Does that prove that the accused is guilty?  Certainly not.  But it is evidence, that in combination with other evidence could lead a reasonable jury to convict.

    In the case of the Laboratory Leak, the bat coronavirus outbreak happened to occur in the same city as the world’s leading laboratory on bat coronaviruses.  Not proof of anything, but evidence.
  2. The prosecution might also show that the accused had no reason to be at the scene of the crime at the time.  In the leak case, this is the fact that the relevantbats lived over 1500km away from Wuhan, and hibernate in winter.
  3. Further suppose that nobody else could be seen anywhere near the scene of the crime.  Not absolute proof because there could be someone that was overlooked.  But evidence.  In the Leak case, it is the fact that no animals have been found to be the source of Covid-19, despite and extensive search of over 80,000 specimens.  No animals at the seafood “wet” market had Covid.  The intermediate animals of SARS-1 and MERS were identified within months.
  4. Now suppose that the prosecution also shows that the accused had a smoking gun that could have fired the bullet.  Again, not proof, someone else might also have a gun.  In the Leak case it is the unusual but powerful Furin cleavage site in the virus that looks exactly like it was engineered but might, just possibly, have arisen naturally.
  5. If the accused was an expert shooter and the victim was shot clean between the eyes at some distance that would also not be proof.  SARS-2 seemed to accurately target the human ACE2 receptor, as if created in a laboratory, rather then through the messy process of natural selection.  The virus did not initially evolve quickly like SARS-1 and MERS, but the first cases seemed to be fully adapted to humans.
  6. Likewise, suppose that the prosecution shows that the accused had written letters detailing how they would like to commit such a murder.  Again, not proof, but evidence.  In the leak case, we have the papers and grant applications to collect and genetically engineer bat coronaviruses, including to genetically engineer Furin cleavage sites.
  7. Further suppose that there was video evidence of the scene of the crime which had been deliberately destroyed by the accused.  Again not proof, but certainly evidence.  In the Leak case it was the removal of important databases of viral genomes studied in the lab.
  8. Now further suppose that it is known that other people in circumstances similar to the accused have committed similar murders.  In the Leak case many other laboratories around the world have leaked dangerous viruses, including a recent leak of the Delta strain from Taiwan (not created there).  That lab worked at high Biosecurity Level 4 (BSL-4), while the accused worked at the low level BSL-2 and concerns had been raised by both Chinese and American experts.
  9. An old skeleton in the freezer does not prove guilt.  6 bat guano miners became very ill with a SARS like virus in 2013 (3 died), which the accused mis-described as a fungal infection.
  10. Finally note that that the accused does not provide an alibi and refuses to answer any questions.   The analogy here is obvious.

In practice, it has taken far less evidence than that to convince juries that an accused is guilty, beyond reasonable doubt.  Not proved mathematically, just beyond reasonable doubt.