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Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion, SUNY 2003Frank Visser, graduated as a psychologist of culture and religion, founded IntegralWorld in 1997. He worked as production manager for various publishing houses and as service manager for various internet companies and lives in Amsterdam. Books: Ken Wilber: Thought as Passion (SUNY, 2003), and The Corona Conspiracy: Combatting Disinformation about the Coronavirus (Kindle, 2020).
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TABLE OF CONTENTS | REVIEWS

Reposted and expanded from Twitter,
April 27 and June 6, 2021

Stefan Lanka
Stefan Lanka: “And as soon as I get hold of original sequence data which was produced for HIV, I am going to produce you [the] coronavirus. Definitely! And this is going to be the definitively experimental disproval of virology.”

Stefan Lanka's Counterfeit ‘Control Experiments’

The Corona Conspiracy, Part 28

Frank Visser

We are eagerly awaiting Stefan Lanka's peer reviewed publication on the findings of his "control experiments".

Stefan Lanka, the Godfather of Virus Denialism, whom we have encountered several times in this CORONA CONSPIRACY series (see Part 5, Part 6), has announced two experiments that, in his opinion, are "going to be the definitively experimental disproval of virology." For decades he has claimed that viruses don't exist, and virology is one huge mistake, since it took the digital turn of whole genome sequencing instead of sticking to the methods of old. But he did not provide any empirical proof for his extravagant opinions. Claiming something is not the same as empirically demonstrating it. This time, he seems to have understood this is paramount to make any impression on the scientific community. We have alluded to these experiments before (see Part 26), but will summarize them in this chapter.

LANKA'S "PROJECT IMMANUEL"

Lanka's efforts to empirically prove his points have now been collected in the so-called "Project Immanuel", which is a reference to Immanuel Kant, who taught us: sapere aude ("dare to know"). This, apparently, is Lanka's motto: "Use your own mind... and take responsibility for yourself". We'll see if his train of thought leads to anything.

A film crew has created the following fancy introduction movie featuring Lanka:

Project Immanuel Stefan Lanka
Introductory movie for Project Immanuel, Odysee, Feb 21, 2021.

The project is introduced as follows:

In this video we would like to introduce Project Immanuel, which critically examines the scientific background of the so-called "Corona Crisis." With the help of the natural scientist and virologist Dr. Stefan Lanka, all fundamental publications on SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 are closely scrutinised and scientifically examined in a series of posts.
Our main objective is to make science understandable to everyone. All the necessary technical terms and scientific procedures of virology and microbiology that one needs to know and understand are explained in a way that is easy for everyone to comprehend and illustrated with many examples.

"All fundamental publications?" To give you some perspective, a review article published last year by Dutch internist-infectiologist Joost Wiersinga, which by now has been viewed close to 900.000 times, estimated the number of publications on COVID-19 to be 40.000, with 2200 papers to be added every week (see Part 14). So good luck with that ambitious project! The second paragraph sounds quite innocent, but that changes when you realize all of science is called into question by this project.

More specifically, three early scientific papers on the new virus SARS-CoV-2 are reviewed with these ten criteria—and found wanting in multiple respects:

Review by Stefan Lanka of Three SARS-CoV-2 Papers
THE FOUNDATION OF THE "CORONA CRISIS"
1. Formal requirements of a scientific work
2. Peer review - examination by independent experts
3. Investigation of other possible causes of the disease
4. Isolation of the alleged pathogen
5. Biochemical characterisation of the alleged pathogen
6. Demonstration of the pathogen as the cause of the disease
7. Evidence of transmissibility (infection) of the diseases
8. Determination of specific symptoms (clinical picture)
9. Detection of the viral genetic material in nature
10. Specific, reliable detection test for the pathogen
11. Everything verified by control experiments and groups

Lanka's current "control experiments" focus on #9 (the assembly of the viral genome) and #11 (the lack of control experiments).

And here's the—extremely meagre—scorecard according to the Lanka team. At most they grant that all three papers meet the formal requirements of scientific work, and they were peer reviewed—except for the Corman paper (thus repeating the misconception spread by the Borger-Kämmerer team, see Part 20):

As you can see, familiar themes among virus denialists and lockdown-skeptics show up here as well: there may be other causes of the disease, the virus has not been isolated (see Part 23), the genome has not been found directly in nature (see Part 6), the virus is not proven to be the cause of the disease (see Part 16), and so on. And yes, the issue of peer review and the reliability of the PCR test popup here too (see Part 20 and Part 24).

And mind you, a negative answer to each of these items is only meant to bolster one conclusion (and assumption): There. Is. No. Virus. There is a deep and pervasive science-skepticism behind this project, aiming to sternly lecture on scientists how they should actually do their daily work! It reminds me of the following tweet:

We are eagerly awaiting Stefan Lanka's peer reviewed publication on the findings of his "control experiments". That will be quite a challenge, for he only publishes in his own magazine WissenschaftPlus these days. Can he even meet "the formal requirements of scientific work"? Can he assemble the genome of SARS-CoV-2 and set up a proper control experiment himself, or commission a certified lab to do this?

#9 - CLOSELY READING THE GENOME

Lanka has recently claimed that all SARS-CoV-2 genomes are arbitrary because in his understanding of genomics any set of genomes can be assembled from any set of reads (viral RNA fragments). Let me tell you why this is nonsense.

It is analogous to saying: any book can be written with any letters from the alphabet or with any words taken from the dictionary. True, but trivial, and it works only when the units to start with are very small.

When parts of sentences, full sentences or even strings of sentences are used as units for assembly, the situation changes dramatically. These are unique for one specific book. Let's give a very simple example.

UNIT OF ANALYSIS BOOK SOURCE
C ???
CALL ???
CALL ME ???
CALL ME ISHMAEL MOBY DICK!

The units used for genome assembly are not nucleotides (letters) like A, T, C or G, nor codons (words) like CGG or ATC, but long strings (a sentence or sentences) like CTTAGCCAGGTCCAA..., around 100 letters, which are highly unique for this particular virus.

For that reason, claiming any viral genome can be assembled from any set of reads (sentences) is nonsense. It would only work for very small units. Yet, this notion is spread by virus denialists like Lanka, Eckert and Kaufman.

Having dismissed genomics - only to their own satisfaction - as evidence for the existence of viruses, they turn to the old pre-digital opinion that a virus should first be isolated before it can be sequenced.

While this belief might make sense to the layman, it flies in the face of all modern day expertise with whole genomic sequencing. Organisms have been sequenced that are impossible to isolate or even cultivate these days (see Part 6).

How do we know that these genomes are indeed the genomes of the pathogens or organisms we are looking for? It is the unique string of nucleotides (letters) in the assembled sequence that tells the story.

SARS-CoV-2 genome reference sequence

Moby Dick, first page

There's even more. These long strings of nucleotides are not only unique, they also—like a linguistic sentence—have structure and meaning. A trained molecular biologist can "read" this sequence and see where the START and STOP codons are, where aminoacids are specified and how proteins are built. That is, the structure of the viral proteins is predicted by the genomic sequence.

Source: Dr Jürgen Mayer, "How to build a virus - a detailed lesson", Jul. 8, 2020.

A final thought: these genomes are not randomly assembled or constructed on a computer screen, but based on real RNA fragments that get digitized (preserving their information) and assembled.

Fun fact: Lanka had posted an ad on his website asking for someone who is experienced with whole genome sequencing. Something tells me this is exactly what he needs.[1]

#11 - CONTROLLING THE CONTROLS

Stefan Lanka Control Experiments
CPE - Control Experiment - 21 April 2021 - English version

Furthermore, Stefan Lanka recently claimed that he has done a "control experiment" which "is going to be the definitively experimental disproval of virology." It is a very spurious claim, as I will show.

His suggestion is that the so-called cytopathic effect (CPE) or cell damage usually said to prove the existence and impact of viruses is actually an artifact caused by the chemicals that are added to the viral cell cultures. Cell cultures without virus show the same damage—or so he claims.

cytopathic effect of herpes simplex virus
Cytopathic effect of herpes simplex virus

The picture he shows in this short video displays damage done to healthy cells over 1 and 5 days, with different chemicals added to the mix (antibiotics, nutrients and yeast RNA). The same that are added to virus-infected cells. Ergo: there is no evidence for a virus.

This presentation is misleading for he should have given also pictures of SARS-CoV-2 virus infected cells as a positive control (but most probably he does not have access to a lab that has the proper safety level to work and experiment with this virus).

Secondly, he erroneously suggests that in regular control experiments these added chemicals are not present. This is most definitely not the case: mock-infected cells get the same treatment as virus-infected cells, EXCEPT for the virus. You won't have to take my word for it.

MOCK-INFECTED: "Two specimens are used one that is infected with the virus/vector of interest and the other is treated the same way except without the virus. Sometimes a non-virulent strain is used in the mock-infected specimen."[2]

The key sentence here is: mock-infected controls are "treated the same way" as those infected with viruses. And yet they show clear differences in all the papers I have consulted presenting CPE effects caused by SARS-CoV-2.

But here's the catch: these mock-infected cells also (often, but not always) show cell damage over time, like the virus-infected cells do, but different both in quality and quantify. So it requires a trained eye to spot the difference. Just showing a couple of cells with some damage won't do here.[3]

SCIENCE LANKA
MOCK INFECTION
Moderate/No damage
MOCK INFECTION
Severe damage
REAL INFECTION
Severe damage
REAL INFECTION
Severe damage

From a scientific paper analyzing the structural characteristics of cytopathic effects caused by viruses, in comparison to what happens in mock-infected cells:

We also report the presence of annulate lamellae (AL) in Vero cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 (Fig. 2d,e). These structures are not specific of the viral infection as they were observed in mock-infected cells in few cells (around 1%), but their presence increased following infection (peak at 7% 6 hpi [hours post infection])...
As for AL, membrane whorls and autophagic-like structures were not specific of the viral infection as they were observed in mock-infected cells. However, if they were detected in 7% of uninfected cells, the number of cells containing these structures is slowly increased during the first 10 hpi, and then more rapidly to reach almost 60% of the cells at 24 hpi. Once again, these data are in favor of virus-induced mechanisms stimulating the formation of these host cell membrane-derived structures.[3]

This is the level of expertise needed to evaluate mock- and real-infected cells in culture.

Here's another example:

Cytopathic effect of SARS-CoV-2 on Vero cells. (A) Mock inoculated cells (B) SARS-CoV-2 inoculated cells.[4]

And what about the claim, made by both Lanka and Cowan (see Part 27), that both mock- and virus-infected cells are starved to the point of dying? Says a random page on viral culture[5]:

Cell culture media often includes a range of salts, vitamins, hormones and other growth factors, amino acids or proteins, glucose, antimicrobial agents, a buffering system, a pH indicator, and non-specific sources of nutrients such as foetal bovine serum.

Doesn't really look much like a starvation diet to me. These are all nutrients. And antibiotics? These are not added to kill cells, but bacteria that might proliferate as well in the cell cultures.

We can safely conclude that Stefan Lanka's much hyped CPE CONTROL EXPERIMENT itself lacks a positive control, ignores that mock-infected cells do show specific damage over time, and that controls are used properly in science. That in no way implies the non-existence of viruses.

Incidentally, in my chapter on Tom Cowan (see Part 19), who is a fan of Lanka, I showed how he grossly misread a paper on SARS-CoV-2 detection in the US. It reports that the virus affects only certain types of human cells. For other cell types it clearly stated: "No CPE was observed in any of the cell lines except in Vero cells."

This flatly contradicts and refutes Lanka's conviction that so-called "cytopathic effects" are created regardless of the types of cells used, or even regardless of the presence or absence of a virus, and are instead the result of the process of laboratory preparation itself.

Stefan Lanka Control Experiments

We can safely conclude that Stefan Lanka's much hyped CPE CONTROL EXPERIMENT itself lacks a positive control, ignores that mock-infected cells do show specific damage over time, and that controls are used properly in science. That in no way implies the non-existence of viruses.

NOTES

[1] German source on Stefan Lanka, his “Project Immanuel” and the search for a good bio-informatician (and what happened when somebody actually applied for this job): “Eine Zeitlang suchte man Bioinformatiker per Aufruf, die das De Novo Alignment beherrschen.” See: Dr. Lanka & Projekt Immanuel oder: wenn Enders den Kopf schüttelt und Kant im Grab rotiert, anonleaks.net, Feb. 9, 2021.

[2] "mock-infected", Molecular Biology Glossary, www.genscript.com

[3] Sébastien Eymieux et al., "Ultrastructural modifications induced by SARS-CoV-2 in Vero cells: a kinetic analysis of viral factory formation, viral particle morphogenesis and virion release", Springer, Jan. 2021

[4] Ian M. Mackay, "Sigh, yes, the 'COVID virus' is real", virologydownunder.com, Oct. 6, 2020. A terrific refutation of the no-isolation narrative.

[5] "Personal Study: Virus Culture", Simullab Testing Laboratory.


Check out: 27 Covid-19 Myths &
83 Vaccine Myths from docbastard.net
To all those who claim SARS-CoV-2—or any virus—does not exist: the virosphere consists of 4 realms, 9 kingdoms, 16 phyla, 2 subphyla, 36 classes, 55 orders, 8 suborders, 168 families, 103 subfamilies, 1421 genera, 68 subgenera, 6590 species. Take that. https://talk.ictvonline.org/taxonomy/

A summary of early parts of this series has appeared in the Dutch magazine Skepter 33(3), September 2020, as "Viruses don't exist" (covering Parts 1-5). German: Skeptiker (December 2020); English: Skeptic.org.uk (January 2021)






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