What's the evidence against SARS-CoV-2 being engineered by humans?

In this question, a mod deliberately deletes only certain comments (which presumably he thinks took a side), claiming "Please don't introduce new conspiracy theories in the comments. If you want to question a specific claim, try Skeptics.SE. Locking comments for now; when the lock comes off please use these comments only to suggest improvement to the question."

My comment is one of them. How is my comment:

"Neither of natural origin/lab-made should be called a conspiracy theory. They are called competing hypotheses when neither has been solidly-proven. This commits the same mistakes as when church people branding Darwin's theory of evolution as conspiracy when their Creationism had not been proven."

not an attempt to improve the question/remind the OP to reduce bias (from attracting just pre-opinionated story, reaffirming his prior beliefs)? The OP's only has biased personal story with unsourced claims such as:

  1. there is a consensus that the most probable source of the first infection was in an animal market in China.

  2. since that animal market was actually composed of a plethora of animals belonging to various species (mixed with humans), a virus had a bigger chance of evolve a mutation that might infect an individual from another specie (a thing that is way less unlikely in the wild since many of those animals do not sit close to each others or next to humans)

Not saying all comments deleted are unjustified, but I would like to hear your rationale for deleting my above comment.

I will probably get a lot of hate, but just pointing how ridiculous this is for one person has an opinion and then he has the power to selectively delete whatever doesn't suit his interests. Some comments have absolutely no elements of personal attacks/violation of conduct.

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not meant for extended discussion. This question is a good example how not to do it. I think we will remove most of the other comments later as well. $\endgroup$ – Chris Mar 16 at 17:41
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    $\begingroup$ You are a scientist, which should not take side so easily. Maybe you can ask yourself in all honesty how sure are you in your own theory of wildlife origin when we havent found the patient zero? Compared to climate change is manmade? More reading may convince you that things are not that simple: google.com/… $\endgroup$ – y chung Mar 16 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ And what do you mean by "extended". Is one not allowed to point out potential flaws in a question? $\endgroup$ – y chung Mar 16 at 18:13
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    $\begingroup$ Discussing the question/answer in the comments is not well liked. Pointing out flaws is ok. But always remember: Comments are not permanent and can (sometimes will) be deleted at some point. $\endgroup$ – Chris Mar 16 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris According to what you said, my comment appears just fine. So anyone can give further explanation why the deletion? Not trying to be mean, I know things are rarely perfect all the times, but you have to understand it looks incredibly bad from the perspective of those that got deleted, it appears just like an oppressor silencing voice that you dont like. $\endgroup$ – y chung Mar 17 at 1:51
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    $\begingroup$ WIth 3 downvotes still nobody is able to tell me what's wrong with my comment and what is the exact selection criteria that some comment get preserved and some not and get categorized as "introduce new conspiracy theories". I am honestly impressed. $\endgroup$ – y chung Mar 17 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ Downvotes on meta are a sign of disagreement. $\endgroup$ – Chris Mar 17 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ And your reason? Disagreeing on what? $\endgroup$ – y chung Mar 17 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ My advise to you mods, let go of your ego and try to humble yourself to see views that are not exactly aligning with yours. And I am not even taking sides, just pointing out both sides havent been solidly-proven yet. $\endgroup$ – y chung Mar 17 at 18:04
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    $\begingroup$ @ychung The "both sides" argument gets quite tiring; I assure you, biologists are quite familiar with it. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Mar 17 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ You sound just like government officials running out of excuse. Tiring to who? You? Because this tires you, you can silent 6 voices (including those who liked the comment) Who are you to represent the entire biologist body? I can assure you there are substantial amount of people claiming anything other than wild animal market origin is a conspiracy as early as late Jan before even any good quality science emerge (that's how they gain "main stream" status). You cant take those people seriosuly. $\endgroup$ – y chung Mar 17 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ @ychung There was one article submitted that claimed evidence of artificial origins; it was quickly debunked (Chris's answer addressed this). There is lots of biological evidence for one side; no (biological) evidence for the other, only a plea to consider "both sides". Both sides can be considered when both sides have evidence. Sequence information for the virus is not secret; labs all over the world have access to it, so it isn't like this is a conspiracy by one government who holds all the information. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Mar 17 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ You are being too simplistic. Since we havent found patient zero and China is restricting anyone from outside to investigate or even just take bat samples, many of the conclusion are just "probable" to say the best. Besides scientific evidence, another line of evidence is investigative, which of course China tries to block all of them. Even some Chinese scientists try to investigate themselves and condemn the government but of course they got silence and jailed. $\endgroup$ – y chung Mar 18 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ I wonder if you read the paper: proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. Playing words at its finest. In the abstract "analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus", but in the conclusion it says"More scientific data could swing the balance of evidence to favor one hypothesis over another. Obtaining related viral sequences from animal sources would be the most definitive way of revealing viral origins.....". $\endgroup$ – y chung Mar 18 at 1:30
  • $\begingroup$ And their main point is based on the assumption that one would design exact optimal binding according to computational model (if it is labmade) but in reality the virus doesnt have the most optimal solution, who said that? Cant they design or modify a suboptimal one? And what about just the possiblity of lab negligence leading to leakage? $\endgroup$ – y chung Mar 18 at 1:31

The problem, in my opinion, is that this question is unsuitable for SE Biology as it does not come under any of the categories in the Tour:

  • general questions about biological concepts
  • questions about the biological mechanisms behind medical conditions
  • questions about techniques in a biological or biochemical laboratory

I regard it as call for discussion on conspiracy theories — off-topic in any circumstances, but irresponsible in the current situation — and stated this very strongly, voting to close. However my view was not supported by other list members and the question stood and still stands.

You came to the question and took it on its own terms and it is perhaps understandable that you felt it valid to add your two cents to the conspiracy theory and feel aggrieved at the outcome. However, if you had read the description of the purpose of the site you would have realized the question was off-topic and, even assuming it on-topic, you should have answered in an answer not a comment.

I would ask you not to use emotive expressions like “get a lot of hate” and “accept the possibility that you will anger someone”. This may be a language problem, but these expressions are inappropriate on any SE and especially on Meta where one tries to discuss issues about the site frankly, but in a civil manner. Because people disagree with you it does not mean they hate you, and the moderators must perform their duties regardless of the intemperate responses they may provoke.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well thanks for your answer. At least you give an effort to explain, I am sorry your decision were not supported by other mods. But you can tell how the mods above failed to explain the selective deletion in anyway (just said that comment is meant not to be permanent whatsoever), it is hard not to be angry in such a situation. It is not "civil" for someone to silence another without a valid reason may I remind you. Lessons be learnt, mods. $\endgroup$ – y chung Mar 30 at 5:02

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