An MIT molecular biologist admitted in an interview that scientists suppressed the theory of a lab leak from the Wuhan lab because it was associated with Donald Trump.
Alina Chan was one of 17 scientists who signed a letter in May, published in the prestigious Science Magazine, asking for a full, independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, including the possibility it might have leaked from a lab in Wuhan. She called for a full investigation into the origins of the pandemic from its earliest days.
Related: Media Pretending They Never Tried to Censor Those Writing About the Wuhan Lab-Leak Theory
But what she told NBC News is extremely disturbing: “At the time, it was scarier to be associated with Trump and to become a tool for racists, so people didn’t want to publicly call for an investigation into lab origins.”
What should it matter to a scientist if the Klu Klux Klan — much less Donald Trump — had advanced the lab-leak theory,? Why should a scientist investigating the origins of a coronavirus be concerned with the views of other people who might think a leak from a Chinese lab was the origin of the pandemic? It’s insane.
Chan isn’t alone.
Chan isn’t the first member of the scientific community to admit that resistance to the lab-leak theory was largely driven by politics. J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told NPR in May that scientists “recoiled” against the theory because of Trump: “[It] got jumbled up together with some of the more crazy aspects of Trump, and scientists recoiled against that and went in favor of the theory that COVID-19 had emerged out of a natural process versus a lab escape.”
Washington Post senior reporter Aaron Blake made a similar admission in May.
“Given everything we know about how Trump handled such things, caution and skepticism were invited. That (very much warranted) caution and skepticism spilled over into some oversimplification, particularly when it came to summarizing the often more circumspect reporting,” Blake wrote.
When scientists betray the fundamental tenets of their discipline, there should be punishment. Ostracization used to be the preferred sanction. No respected journal would publish their work, their colleagues would avoid them, and the top jobs were unavailable to them.
But those punishments were for scientists who cooked the books or tried to perpetrate a hoax. What do you do with scientists who allow politics to dictate the scope of their work? What do you do with scientists who cower in fear of the mob because they may agree with someone who holds unpopular views?
Anyone who suppressed the lab-leak theory because it put them in agreement with Trump needs to be disciplined. With science already under siege as a result of political advocacy for draconian climate change measures, “science” in general doesn’t need more political intrusion from those seeking fame (Fauci) or fortune (Peter Daszak).