Rational Debate Can Be Respectful If We Stick to The Facts
A Rebuttal to James Lyons-Weiler by Mike Donio and Dr. Tom Cowan
In a recent article by James Lyons-Weiler, he called out non-scientists who challenged his rebuttal of Dr. Bryan Ardis’ assertion that COVID-19 shots contain snake venom. He is calling for rational, respectful debate, not personal attacks.
So, let’s cut to the chase. Is it a problem or disrespectful to engage in the sort of rational debate that he describes? Not if you stick to the facts and refrain from personal attacks. Anyone attacking either Lyons-Weiler or Ardis and not the facts is only serving to hurt their own argument. That said, it is important when debating the facts to be clear on what others’ claims are and what evidence exists to back up your own claims. What we are looking to do is to provide clarification and counter arguments to some of the claims and so-called evidence that Lyons-Weiler has said to have provided regarding viruses. So, yes, questioning and having rational debate is good for science — and both scientists as well as non-scientists can engage in it — but let’s make sure we are clear on the facts. Above all, the goal must always be getting to the truth.
As part of his attempt to thwart the attacks of those who do not believe that viruses have been proven to exist, he mentions an impossible demand that has apparently been made of him: “You should prove the virus does not exist.” He goes on to state that people should be aware that it is not possible to prove a negative, and we would agree with that. However, the challenge is not to prove that they don’t exist, but that they do. That “positive” can and should be proven, and it is the exact thing for which evidence is lacking. If you don’t prove you have the viral particle, which, in this case, is the independent variable, then how can you ascertain anything about its physical characteristics, composition or function?
A common argument against the existence of viruses is that Koch’s postulates have never been fully satisfied. Lyons-Weiler claims that this assertion is incorrect, and that he has shown extensive evidence of it. So, just what are Koch’s postulates? They are a set of four requirements that Robert Koch, German physician and microbiologist, said needed to be fulfilled to establish that a given organism was the cause of a specific disease. In my opinion, none of them have been completely fulfilled for most supposed viral diseases.
The first postulate states that the microorganism must be found in abundance only in organisms suffering from the disease, as described by a specific set of symptoms, but not in healthy organisms. This postulate appeared to make sense until it was found that animals that seemed to be positive for infection did not have any symptoms or outward illness. Thus, the idea of asymptomatic spread was born, and that shot down the first postulate on the spot. How could the first postulate hold up if the supposed pathogen did not lead to illness in every exposed subject? Even Koch himself abandoned a universal requirement for fulfillment of the first postulate after this phenomenon was discovered. The idea of asymptomatic spread is, therefore, fallacious.
The second postulate says that the microorganism must be isolated from a diseased patient and grown in culture. We have seen several people throughout the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate that there is no evidence that any virus has been isolated. In this case, isolation would have to be separation of the virus from everything else, otherwise known as purification. It turns out that this is not the way that the word isolation is defined by most virologists and this leads to much confusion. Many prominent proponents of viral theory admit that purification of virions is not possible either due to the fragility of the virus or lack of sufficient quantities in each patient sample. Of course, that begs the question of how the virus is supposed to make a person sick if it is not found in significant quantities. That’s just the first part of the postulate, and we are off to a poor start.
The virus, once isolated, must be cultured, and sure enough, it is well known that more than a few viruses are difficult, if not impossible, to culture. Well, that pretty much takes care of the second postulate, which many virologists agree must be suspended because of these findings.
On to the third postulate. The isolated, cultured virus must now be introduced into a healthy organism and shown to cause the same disease or set of symptoms as the original organism from which it was isolated. Oh wait, apparently this one was edited from “must” to “should” once they found out that not all organisms would get sick when introduced to the cultured virus. With several supposed viruses, you can’t even infect animals with the human version, so you need a separate species-specific strain, and when you inoculate animals with it, you get a set of symptoms that in no way mimic the original human disease. Also, some of the animal models used to study human viruses have no translatability to a human whatsoever, such as inbred, genetically modified mouse models. These issues with animal models and the inability to replicate the same or any disease are well known amongst virologists. Therefore, we conclude that there is ample evidence that Koch’s postulates have not been fulfilled for viruses, and Koch himself, as well as many prominent virologists, agree.
The ideal experiment whereby you willfully expose healthy individuals to the isolated virus is admittedly challenging from a moral standpoint. However, Lyons-Weiler claims that it cannot or has not been done, so just defers to the rest of the data he has presented as fact. He might be surprised to find out that these types of experiments have been conducted and provide powerful insights into the existence and transmission, or lack thereof, of viruses.
One of the most famous is the Rosenau experiment during the 1918 influenza pandemic. These were a series of experiments conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service and the U.S. Navy under the direction of Milton Rosenau in 1919. They selected 100 volunteers that had no prior history of influenza and inoculated them with several strains of Pfeiffer bacillus, which was originally thought to be the causative agent responsible for the outbreak of illness. It was administered by spray and swab to the throat and even into the eyes. None of the individuals became sick, so they inoculated them with mixtures of organisms taken from patients with influenza. They even gave injections of blood from sick patients. Nothing. No sickness whatsoever. As a last-ditch effort, they selected 10 of the healthy volunteers and had them engage in close contact with sick patients, where they shook hands, talked and were coughed on. Want to wage a guess as to what happened? If you said none of them got sick, you’d be correct. This greatly puzzled Rosenau, but it was still one of the most thorough attempts to prove contagious illness and was an abject failure. There have been other similar studies conducted as well and none clearly demonstrated transmissibility of any disease.
Last, Lyons-Weiler suggests that, if SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t exist, thousands of labs worldwide would have had to coordinate the creation of made-up sequences encoding the SARS-CoV-2 genome. He goes on to imply that because the SARS-CoV-2 genome fits nicely next to that of SARS-CoV-1 in the phylogenetic tree, it cannot be made-up. First, he links to a page on the NIH website titled “NCBI SARS-CoV-2 Resources.” This page includes the “SARS-CoV-2 Reference Resources,” which links to the genome reference sequence. It turns out that this reference sequence is from the first patient identified in Wuhan, also known as Wuhan-Hu-1, and its identification is detailed in a paper from Wu et al published in Nature in 2020. This sequence was identified from the lung fluid of a single patient, and at no time did Wu et al ever isolate a viral particle to definitively determine that the genome originated from a virus.
Also, I do not believe that anyone is suggesting that there is a highly coordinated effort around the world to make up the SARS-CoV-2 genomes. In fact, I’d argue that it’s more plausible that it is not coordinated at all since that lends itself to the identification of the supposed variants. The lack of coordination allows for the appearance of mutation and genetic drift in the sequence.
What about phylogenetic trees? A phylogenetic tree is a diagram that is supposed to show the relationships between different species based on comparison of their physical and genetic characteristics, in this case, the viral genomes. So, the claim is that the genomes of the SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 viruses are so closely related that they are next to each other in a phylogenetic tree. However, we just noted that the first genome identified, the NIH’s reference genome, was derived from a single patient, and its viral origin was not verified. The genome was generated from tens of millions of 150 base-pair sequence products that were de novo assembled into sequences. Even then around 1 million sequences were compared specifically to previously identified pathogenic agents, i.e., viruses, bacteria, etc. It was a highly biased search, which showed that two of the longer sequences closely matched a bat-like coronavirus genome. The homology was about 90 percent. This means that 10 percent didn’t match, and that’s not trivial when you are dealing with an approximately 30,000 base-pair genome. Also, there were many other sequences of various sizes with similar or higher homology to other known sequences. Without isolating a virus to know that the genome came from it, how can you possibly separate viral from endogenous human nucleic acids from endogenous microbial nucleic acids or anything else? It is likely that the original SARS-CoV-1 genome was identified in much the same manner, so any relationship between the two is highly coincidental and based on biased approaches. Therefore, there is no way that relationship or proximity in a phylogenetic tree can provide evidence of the existence of a virus.
By no means do we have to agree on everything, but, if we are to engage in rational debate, then it must be respectful. It's too easy when so much is at stake to fall into straight criticism, but we need to be sure that we stay away from personal attacks. Anyone, regardless of scientific background, can be empowered to take an objective view of these issues. If the goal is truth, then more engagement by a variety of people with different viewpoints is preferred. Ultimately, it is the evidence that matters, not simply belief, and if viruses are real, there should be more than enough evidence to prove their existence. We call for open examination and debate of all evidence of viruses by all those who are interested in the truth.
Logical, rational thinking and the scientific process depend on clarity of thinking and a strict examination of every assumption. These are sorely lacking in today’s scientific community. For example, as we described, it is not logical, rational or scientific to claim a phylogenetic tree of in silico (i.e., in the computer) genomes prove the existence of a virus when the origin genome did not come from a purified, isolated virus, as was acknowledged by the author of this origin genome. Nor is it logical, rational or scientific to claim that pieces of an organism (e.g., the "spike protein", the genome, etc.) prove the existence of the organism if the intact organism has never been found, isolated and purified. Rational, logical people would never make the mistake of claiming a part of a hoof came from a unicorn unless they had proven the existence of the unicorn first.
Virologists seem to have forgotten or chosen to ignore these basic principles of rational, logical thinking. Ultimately, this leads to conclusions and actions that are not compassionate. If you believe in imaginary, disease-causing viruses, whether engineered, natural or lab created, eventually you will start locking people in their houses, forcing them to wear useless masks, injecting them with toxic substances, and ultimately destroying the lives of millions and millions of people. That is the opposite of compassion. They have named the concept that unseen particles cause an untold number of human and animal diseases "viral theory." This theory is incorrect, and it is at the root of a misconception that threatens to destroy our lives. It’s time for it to go away.
Walking boldly in truth is a dangerous business these days.
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