Philippe Lemoine Profile picture
Aug 25, 2020 26 tweets 7 min read Read on X
Many people claim that China lied about the outbreak of Wuhan and is responsible for the human and economic damages caused by the pandemic, but is this view actually supported by the evidence? (Spoiler: not really.)
I looked into this very carefully and, in a four-part essay published on @Quillette, I argue that, while there is a grain of truth to some of those accusations, they are mostly nonsense. The first part of the series has just been published.…
I know that many of you are convinced the accusations are true, but I hope you will read and share this essay anyway, because I really think you're wrong and I'm pretty sure it will change your mind on at least *some* things.
As I painstakingly argue in the essay, because they don't like the CCP (neither do I), people often draw nonsensical inferences, when in fact there are usually far more plausible explanations for what they see as proof of China's malfeasance.
I also document several cases of downright anti-China propaganda on the part of Western media/governments. Many widely repeated claims are based on clear misinterpretations of the evidence or, in some cases, on bald-faced lies and manipulations.
To be clear, that is not to say that China is entirely blameless. It did lie on some things and there was plenty of incompetence in Wuhan early on, but we've seen far worse in the US and other Western countries and it shouldn't be used as a scapegoat.
I will also post a longer, less polished version on my blog as Quillette publishes the series, because we decided to leave out some technical to keep the essay readable by a general audience but some of you will probably be interested in those details.…
Again, I know that many of you are skeptical, but this essay has required a ridiculous amount of work and I'm really confident about the conclusions I reach, so I hope you will read it with an open-mind. I will post the other parts in this thread as they are published.
The second part of my essay on the role of China in the pandemic has been published. In this part, I examine how and when human-to-human transmission was ascertained by the Chinese authorities.…
The Chinese authorities have been accused of knowing that sustained human-to-human transmission was occurring for weeks before they finally admitted it. However, after carefully reviewing the evidence, I conclude that this accusation is mostly baseless.
It's true that, for about a week before January 20 (when they admitted sustained human-to-human transmission was occurring), the Chinese authorities minimized that possibility, even though they knew it was likely.
But they likely didn't know before that and, even in mid-January, it wasn't clear to them exactly how easily the virus could transmit from person to person. I argue that accusations to the contrary are based on flawed reasoning.
However, in some cases, it wasn't just poor reasoning. I also document cases in which the media and/or governments like Taiwan peddled downright lies to make people believe that China had known for weeks that sustained human-to-human transmission was occurring.
Finally, I argue that even if China suppressed information about the virus for a while in January, we can't hold it responsible for the pandemic, let alone blame the botched response in the West on this.
Again I'm also posting a less polished, more technical version of this essay on my blog. So far, the differences are minimal, but this will change when I discuss the origins of the virus in part 3, since technical details will be relegated to the blog.…
Part 3 of my essay was just published on @Quillette. In this part, I discuss the origins of the virus. I argue that it likely didn't originate from Huanan Seafood Market, that it evolved naturally and that it probably didn't accidentally escape from a lab.…
Again, I published a longer, more detailed but less polished version on my blog. Part 3 on my blog examines whether China can be held responsible for the pandemic and its consequences, as well as whether the virus originated from Huanan Seafood Market.…
In part 4 on my blog, I examine different versions of the lab escape theory and various arguments that have been offered to support each of them, which I find unconvincing and in some cases downright confused.…
The discussion is a bit technical at times, so we removed the most difficult parts from the version published on Quillette, while including links to the relevant sections on my blog for the people who are interested in that kind of details.
In particular, I refute the Bayesian argument to the effect that, since SARS-CoV-2 just happened to have emerged in Wuhan, one of the few cities that has a lab where people study bat coronaviruses, the outbreak is unlikely to be unrelated to that lab and probably escaped from it.
The fourth and last part of my essay on China's role in the COVID-19 pandemic has been published. In this part, I discuss whether, as many people claim, China fudged its numbers about the epidemic and conclude that it likely didn't.…
That is not to say that China's official data are perfectly accurate. As I also explain, they are not doubt very imperfect, but for the most part it's for the same kind of reasons data have been very low quality pretty much everywhere, not because China deliberately fudged them.
The main approach I have used consists in asking this question: suppose that I gave you an "anonymized" dataset about the pandemic in different countries and asked you which country is most likely to have manipulated its data, would you pick China? The answer is no.
I also respond to various arguments to the effect that China manipulated the data and show they are totally unconvincing. As with the lab escape theory, there are so many I couldn't discuss all of them, so I focused on the most popular and/or less nonsensical ones.
Again, I published a less polished, slightly more technical version on my blog. The code I used for my analysis of the data has also been uploaded on GitHub and you can find a link to the repository in the article.…
This concludes my series. I like to think it's pretty convincing, but I'm under no delusion it will convince many people. I think that, *at the very least*, it should convince a rational person that many of the arguments that have been made for months against China are garbage 🤷‍♂️

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More from @phl43

Jul 16
We're at the point in France where, in most large cities, immigrants are responsible for between 1/3 and 1/2 of reported crime or even more than that, but there are people seriously explaining that Science has demonstrated immigration has no causal effect on crime because a paper using a shift-share instrument in Italy on data that are 20 years old found no statistically significant effect 🙃 We are truly reaching level of midwittery previously thought unimaginable.
It's really hilarious that those people don't understand that, when some groups are overrepresented in reported crime by a factor of e. g. 5, if a paper using sophisticated statistical jujutsu finds no effect the rational thing is not to believe the paper.
Once again, there is a real problem with people drawing inferences from papers based on techniques where a million things can go wrong, without ever thinking about mechanisms or doing a back-of-the-envelope calculation to check the plausibility of their conclusions.
Read 9 tweets
Jul 6
Les instituts de sondage font des projections assez différentes, mais elles mettent toutes le RN beaucoup plus bas que mon modèle. Qu'est-ce qui explique cela ? Je voudrais explorer cette question, car je pense que ça éclaire les enjeux de la modélisation du second tour 🧵

Quand je modélise la probabilité de victoire au second tour en 2022 des candidats RN en fonction de leur avance ou retard au premier tour, lisez le tweet cité plus haut et le fil dans lequel j'explique la méthodologie pour comprendre ce que je fais exactement, ça donne ça. Image
On voit que, selon le parti/alliance auquel il fait face au second tour, le RN a plus au moins de chance de l'emporter à avance ou retard égal au premier tour. Mais honnêtement il était bien plus compétitif que ce à quoi je me serais attendu intuitivement.
Read 26 tweets
Jul 1
Avec les résultats du premier tour, le modèle donne ça :
- RN et LR-Ciotti : 274 (263 - 284)
- NFP : 126 (120 - 132)
- Ensemble : 102 (96 - 109)
- Divers Droite : 20 (17 - 23)
- LR et UDI : 19 (16 - 23)
- Divers Gauche : 15 (12 - 16)

Autrement dit on se dirige vers le chaos 🤷‍♂️
Encore une fois, c'est à prendre avec des pincettes, puisque c'est basé sur l'association entre les écart au premier tour entre les candidats qualifiés pour le second et la victoire au second en 2022, mais cette association pourrait être très différente cette fois-ci.
Par exemple, le modèle implique que, à avance ou retard égal, c'est beaucoup plus facile pour un candidat Ensemble de gagner au second tour que pour un candidat RN ou, plus encore, pour un candidat Nouveau Front Populaire.
Read 5 tweets
Jun 15
We're at the point where Serge Klarsfeld, the most famous French Nazi hunter (who also wrote a very important book about the role of France in the Holocaust), explains that if he has to choose between the far-left and Le Pen's party he'll vote for the latter "without hesitation".
It's really hard to convey to a non-French person how revolutionary this is. If you had told that to someone 30 years ago, he would have thought you had completely lost your mind and laughed to your face.
I think people who claim the National Rally has been fully normalized are delusional, but still it's hard not to see there has been a sea change. 20 years ago over a million people went into the streets against the National Rally. Today it's just a handful of far-left activists.
Read 5 tweets
May 22
So many Arabic speakers have reported that the translation was grossly inaccurate without anyone even trying to deny it that, at this point, I no longer have any doubt that it's true.

You can learn a lot about people's intellectual honesty or lack thereof by looking at who shares this video and doesn't take it down even after the issues with the translation have been pointed out to them.
I've read all the community notes and checked dozens of replies to this tweet and others sharing the video, so I know some claim ISIS used the word to talk about sex slaves, but even if that's true that's not a defense of the translation since nobody is talking about pregnancy.
Nor is this the only issue with the translation, if you check the community notes, tweets and replies that people have made about it, you'll see that Arabic speakers have pointed out several other issues. It's crazy that we're even having a debate about whether it's misleading.
Read 12 tweets
Jan 25
A French journalist asked an IDF spokesman whether they still believed there was a Hamas command center under al-Shifa Hospital, pointing out that the evidence presented after the IDF seized it didn't match the original claims made by Israel.

He replied that it was "unacceptable" for "a democracy like yours to ask another democracy a question" and added that such a question was "extremely weird or even nauseating" (if you see what I mean).

The journalist was almost apologetic and tried to argued that it was normal practice, but the IDF spokesman was having none of it. For some reason I'm supposed to give those people the benefit of the doubt though 🤷‍♂️
In case you have forgotten, let me remind you what the IDF originally claimed was under al-Shifa Hospital.
Now if you want to compare that to what the IDF showed journalists after it seized the hospital, Sky News created a 3D model of the tunnels that journalists were able to see.…
Read 5 tweets

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