Excellent Science Reads

Following up on science stories that have been badly handled by the media.

UFOs

I am tempted to refer to this phenomenon as “flying saucers” to emphasize the nonsense that surrounds it. The report was released last week and seems to have been drowned out by Critical Race Theory and other shiny objects thrown out to distract from real issues.

Kelsey Atherton comprehensively explains why, no matter what UFOs may be, the military will never tell us everything they know. Everything they know would inform adversaries of the capabilities of military sensors and other things we’d rather they not know.

Here’s another view of the reporting on UFOs and other things, and I’m quoted.

Leaky Labs

The argument that on the way from animals to humans, the SARS-CoV-2 virus stayed in a laboratory in Wuhan is still around, but it looks to me like the largely evidence-free argument is slowing down as solid articles debunk the fantasies.

In either case, a natural source of the virus needs to be found, and that hasn’t happened yet, although close relatives have been. Investigations like this for other diseases have taken years, so don’t expect much from the 90-day intelligence assessment President Biden requested. The intelligence community is poorly suited to such an assessment anyway.

Lindsay Beyerstein has provided intelligent commentary on Twitter and has now published two articles summarizing what she has learned by actually interviewing virologists and bat biologists, unlike most of the proponents of laboratory escape. This is a comprehensive article, summarizing what is known and not. This (paywall) is more specifically about bats as possible carriers of the virus and takes a swipe at Zeynep Tufekci’s long New York Times guest essay, which has multiple problems.

Tufekci has a devoted following on social media who are quick to attack critics, so Beyerstein is taking a chance with that second article. I think another article criticizing that guest essay may be coming out soon. Seems like attacking the person indicates you know you’ve got a weak argument.

I’ve mentioned Justin Ling’s article before. With Beyerstein’s article, or either, you have a good basis for understanding the issues.

Tom Levenson considers the journalistic aspect of writing on the source of SARS-CoV-2.

Not about virus origins, but this guest essay in the New York Times deserves mention. There’s a lot of panicky writing about the delta variant, but it shares the evidence-free approach that the lab-leakers use. There are many reasons that one variant might replace another that DO NOT mean that the variant is more transmissible or more dangerous. Delta is certainly replacing other variants, but the evidence for other claims about it is slim to none. Conclusion? Vaccination, masks, social distancing, and other precautions are the most effective protection.

Directed-Energy Microwave Weapons

This topic seems to have been inundated along with UFOs, but here’s my article pointing out that we don’t know how microwaves cause the damage they are blamed for nor how such a weapon might look.

Cross-posted to Balloon Juice

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