Today, karma finally kicked in. After spending the last year "just asking questions" and trying to fish out information relevant to the #OriginsOfCovid, I finally became a target of a conspiracy theory and an anonymous twitter mob.
I had been warned about this situation by well-intentioned colleagues, journalists, and even other anonymous twitter users. That a day would come when I would get attacked by anonymous users.

There was always a stream of online harassment, but it definitely peaked this week.
It definitely made me feel more empathy for other scientists who are in a similar situation. I had already been expressing empathy for them and actively asked people on twitter please not to attack because it just makes the conversation immediately adversarial and non-productive.
I also tried to practice what I preach by trying to explain the science, even if it is work from years ago, and share as much information as is appropriate to clarify the situation.

But it's definitely trying and I did the rare thing of blocking some very rude people today.
These situations slow me down but will not stop me from continuing to look into the #OriginsOfCovid

But I figured it might be a good opportunity for scientists who have suffered, due to my actions, to relish the karmic justice unfolding now.
Also a good time to revisit this old thread.

And I can't believe this needs to be said:
I don't need to be associated with Jeffrey Epstein to disagree with people about banning gain-of-function research.

This world doesn't consist of you and your friends versus all the evil people.

Yes, some very good and some very bad people exist. But mostly people are in the middle. You might also be in the middle, but are just unaware of it.
I’m getting asked for my opinions on the personal values of a co-organizer of a conference I was invited to speak for 7 minutes at in 2016 when I wasn’t working at my current institute.

I have a newsflash for non-scientists. Scientists in the same field who speak at the same conferences don’t often have warm and fuzzy feelings for each other. More often than not, they’re direct competitors who fight over the same sources of funding.
Not wanting to comment on someone else’s personal values on twitter doesn’t mean you endorse them. It just means you’re keeping it civilized.

If you need to bash someone, use your own account. No need to involve me. Thanks.

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More from @Ayjchan

30 May
I see this is raising eyebrows so I better nip it in the bud.

The work I did on human artificial chromosomes (HAC) had been widely presented at local meetings & on the lab website. I talked so openly about it that it could not be patented because it had been publicly disclosed.
The rest of the thread above rightly criticizes the meeting being “secret” - but I always thought that it had been labeled “secret” by the organizers to drum up media coverage (sorry, organizers!).

As far as I could tell, all of the research at that meeting was in public domain.
I’m sorry to reveal this gimmick but actually I think many of the scientists and organizers were eagerly awaiting journalists to call them to talk about the “secret” meeting.

In reality, most scientific meetings happen without any journalists paying attention.
Read 12 tweets
29 May
One thing I hate about the ongoing lab leak debate is how it is getting polarized as scientists against anti-science people.

You can hold a very pro-science (maybe even pro-virus engineering) POV, recognizing the value of virus research, while asking for safeguards.
I told @onthemedia @WNYC that I think pathogen research has a lot of value and we should not stop doing it.

There are surely creative ways scientists can develop vaccines and therapeutics without the risks of an uncontrollable lab-based outbreak.
The US is not going back into the 1900s while other countries race forward, send rockets to Mars & extend their population’s healthspan by decades.

We have to be leaders in scientific technology and also leaders in biosecurity. Both go hand in hand.

Coming from a 🇨🇦 in the US.
Read 6 tweets
29 May
This is a balanced assessment of the debate around the #OriginsOfCovid by @stephenburanyi in @guardian

I particularly like the honesty at the end of the piece.…
Rather than guessing which origin scenario is more likely, it’s good to acknowledge which scenario you would prefer to be true.

“A lab-leak would tarnish the job of scientific research for a lifetime and prove some of the worst people in the culture war – partially – right.”
My guess is, for most scientists, we would prefer if this virus has 100% natural origins - zero involvement of researchers or research activities.

Then, presumably, we wouldn’t have any blame for not putting in better biosafety / research regulations years ago or even today.
Read 17 tweets
28 May
Very happy to chat with @gbrumfiel on @NPR @NPRGoatsandSoda on the topic of the #OriginsOfCovid

Also glad to hear Dr Lipkin state that it’s possible this virus passed through a lab and accidentally leaked.

We need to launch a true investigation ASAP.…
"Our lives depend on finding out how this virus got started so we can prevent another one from getting started 5 to 10 years from now."

Some might think I’m being dramatic but I don’t want to experience another outbreak like this, especially when I’m old.…
The reason why I find it hard to make up a % likelihood for #OriginsOfCovid is because evidence can emerge & flip everything we know.

Eg what if tomorrow a whistleblower tells us they’ve been putting furin cleavage sites in natural SARS CoVs?

We are going to see U-turns.
Read 11 tweets
28 May
My twitter became an open forum for the #OriginsOfCovid

Starting out strong on the topics of gain-of-function research, SARS2-related viruses under study at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and the lack of intermediate hosts for SARS2.

H/t @TheSeeker268 @franciscodeasis
Interesting comparison of CRISPR babies and virus research in China by @antonioregalado on @WBUR @radioopensource

And what scientists privately said about the #OriginsOfCovid
Read 9 tweets
27 May
I would like to suggest one thing to journalists asking about the #OriginsOfCovid - whether natural or lab-based.

Everyone is asking what do we know, what evidence do we have.

Ask scientists what we don’t know, what evidence are we still waiting for.
New evidence, new information should change a scientist’s perspective.

By forcing scientists to give you a likelihood estimate now, in the absence of definitive evidence, you’re constraining their future ability to change their minds.

We’ve already seen some minds changed.
Scientists should be able to change their minds completely in the span of a year.

The lab leak hypothesis has transitioned from a conspiracy theory to a near certainty in the minds of some scientists over the past year.
Read 4 tweets

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