Journalists should be skeptical of all sources including scientists

In March 2020, a group of scientists published a paper in Nature Medicine that contradicted their true beliefs about the origins of COVID-19. The paper, titled “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,” stated that a lab leak was not plausible, despite the authors’ private uncertainty leaning towards that possibility. The authors manipulated the media narrative and made sure their private doubts were not conveyed to reporters. Their motivations for misleading the public included avoiding a political backlash, not upsetting China, and not validating the lab leak theory touted by Trump and Republicans during an election year. The journalistic coverage of the lab leak theory has been insufficient, with major outlets dismissing it as a conspiracy theory. Journalists need to approach scientists with skepticism and not blindly trust their statements.

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