Science, Nonscience, and the Media

1. Look at the clickbait headline for this New York Post article, review the analysis of the story by scientists, and answer the questions that follow.

The headline reads Viral New York Post article perpetuates the unfounded claim that the virus that causes COVID 19 is manmade. A New York Post headline reads Don’t buy China’s story: The Corona virus may have leaked from a lab. There is a photo of a man in lab clothes. There is a summary of the scientists’ feedback. The summary reads published in the New York Post on 22 February 2020, went viral on Facebook within days and had received more than 13 million views and 100,000 shares at the time of this review’s publication. Written by Steven W. Mosher, who lacks experience in virology or biological research, the article claims that the new coronavirus is the result of a leak in a Chinese laboratory and suggests that it is related to bioweapons research. Other outlets, such as the Daily Wire and InfoWars, have repeated the same claims based on the New York Post article. Before this article was published, similar or identical claims have been made in multiple outlets, with many based on research findings that were not peer-reviewed and are of dubious validity. Health Feedback covered several of these claims here, here, and here. Mosher’s argument is based on announcements made by the Chinese government and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology in which China’s president, Xi Jinping, called for containment of the virus in a speech on 3 February 2020 and the Ministry released a new directive on improving biosafety measures.

Why do reviewers call this headline clickbait? In what way is the article misleading? What is the flawed reasoning that the reviewers reference?

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