Richard Ebright of Rutgers University and Jacques van Helden of Aix-Marseille University have joined 14 others in criticizing widely-publicized letters organized by Dr. Anthony Fauci, Peter Daszak and others claiming "overwhelming support for the hypothesis that the novel coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic originated in wildlife", and castigating doubters of that hypothesis as conspiracy theorists.
The new correspondence was published in The Lancet on September 17, 2021, and is unsparing in its criticism.
Scientific journals should open their columns to in-depth analyses of all hypotheses. As scientists, we need to evaluate all hypotheses on a rational basis, and to weigh their likelihood based on facts and evidence, devoid of speculation concerning possible political impacts. Contrary to the first letter published in The Lancet by Calisher and colleagues,2 we do not think that scientists should promote “unity” (“We support the call from the Director-General of WHO to promote scientific evidence and unity over misinformation and conjecture”). As shown above, research-related hypotheses are not misinformation and conjecture. More importantly, science embraces alternative hypotheses, contradictory arguments, verification, refutability, and controversy.