Nobody knows the exact origin of the Wuhan Flu (but "bogus claims" will be censored)

Pick a lane, BBC:(emphasis mine)

Sportswear maker Lululemon has apologised after one of its employees posted a T-shirt design on social media that caused outrage in China.

The firm said the design, seen as a racist reference to coronavirus, was not one of its products and the employee had been dismissed.

The design, which depicted a takeaway box of "bat fried rice", had prompted calls for a boycott of the brand.

Bogus claims the virus was spread by people eating bats have swept the web.

Lululemon said the design was "inappropriate and inexcusable".

The row began on Sunday, when one of the Canadian firm's art directors, Trevor Fleming, posted a picture of the design on Instagram, which is unavailable in China.

However, the image, created by a California-based artist, found its way to Chinese social media platform Weibo, where it spawned the hashtag "Lululemon insults China" and garnered hundreds of millions of views.

People also expressed anger on Twitter using the hashtag #BoycottLululemon.

"We acted immediately and the person involved is no longer an employee of Lululemon," the firm said on Instagram, without naming the employee responsible for the design.
Trevor Fleming has been cancelled. His crime? Creating Freaking posting a decently clever but not particularly cruel "Bat Fried Rice" t-shirt. Normally this would be a snipe against the ridiculousness of cancel culture, but not today.

In the bold section of the article I mention that the BBC says the bat eating claim is bogus. They include a link to this story where the World Health Organization (not these guys again!) traveled to Silicon Valley to push Big Tech into censoring stories that they labelled as false, including the bat soup myth. Later on in this same BBC article where they talk about these wild "eating bats" claims, they link to this story with the note that the Wuhan Flu "is thought to have originated in bats". Clicking that link takes you to a BBC story about how this Chicom virus "is thought to have originated in bats, with other wild animals, possibly pangolins, playing a role in transmission to humans".

What do you mean "is thought to have"? You mean...we don't know? It is thought to originate in bats and then traveled to "some animal" and then to us. We don't know for sure it's bats but that seems a good guess. But how it went from bats to humans is still unknown. The BBC article refers to a metadata analysis in Royal Society Proceedings B that collected data about zoonotic viruses and compared to the Red List of Threatened Species, determining that rodents/bats/primates are the host for the majority of these viruses as of 2013. That's right, when you actually read the study you find a little wrinkle the BBC left out: the virus data was only published through December 2013 and the IUCN 2014 Red List was the specific year they highlighted. In other words, this study (which was received by the journal in late November 2019) completely predates the Wuhan Flu. While the BBC tries its best to obscure this important fact, the researchers they are consulting can only say 75.8% of zoonotic viruses (as of 2013) come from the rodent/bat/primate trifecta.

That means that the "bats to some animals to us" remains only a theory. While some people have been citing "forensic" research proving the virus is of natural origin even that is only a supposition. Here's their "evidence":
The scientists found that the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein had evolved to target ACE2 so effectively that it could only have been the result of natural selection and not of genetic engineering.

Furthermore, the molecular structure of the backbone of SARS-CoV-2 supported this finding. If scientists had engineered the new coronavirus purposely as a pathogen, explain the researchers, the starting point would likely have been the backbone of another virus in the coronavirus family.

However, the backbone of SARS-CoV-2 was very different than those of other coronaviruses and was most similar to related viruses in bats and pangolins.
Not exactly conclusive is it? "We likely would have done this another way" is not really that much of an argument, and it certainly doesn't correspond with evidence. If this was a court and this was the proof of your guilt, you'd expect your lawyer to pick it apart: "the Crown has not provided any evidence that my client committed this crime, all that was provided was evidence that this crime was done in a way client might have done". Even today's much-hyped news from Western University in Ontario only says the virus is related to bat viruses. Indeed LiveScience commenter "raywood" notes that the study doesn't preclude a weaponmaker adapting an existing virus isolated out of the wild:
One interpretation of these remarks is that the maker of a bioweapon would not choose a virus that could actually spread rapidly among people. That is not credible.

A better interpretation of these claims is that a weaponmaker might choose the SARS-CoV-2 virus if s/he knew of its potential, but the maker would not know of its potential because computer models would suggest that it wouldn't work. That may be. But (a) these articles give us no information on the relevant computer models, nor on the authors' expertise or research into the development of such models, and (b) there is an assumption that a weaponmaker's knowledge would be limited to what s/he could learn from computer models. There is no discussion, here, of other sources of knowledge upon which a weaponmaker could draw (e.g., unpublished research; insightful hunches; the lab notes of one's former professor or colleague).

The Scripps quote (above) seems to say that only natural selection could design a spike protein that was highly effective at binding to human cells. In this sense, the articles do not seem to explain why a lab would be incapable of developing such a design. They seem to rest upon assumptions about what a weaponmaker would do.

There does not seem to be any suggestion that a researcher would be unable to design such a virus now, given today's knowledge about how it works. In this sense, the articles seem to contend that nobody knew what was possible until it actually happened. That is an assertion about historical fact. It can be tested by means of historical research. One might begin with an investigation of the Wuhan lab's facilities and records and interviews of relevant personnel. As the source of this virus, China should be expected to permit that investigation. Its unwillingness to do so does raise a question of whether it has something to hide.

This appears to acknowledge that a researcher may have found the virus ready-made in nature. There may be other such viruses in nature. They may never make the jump to humans without the assistance of a researcher who collects them and stores them in a lab. That may have happened at Wuhan. It seems obvious that an investigation of that lab, yielding signs of work on (or at least storage of) something like SARS-CoV-2, would help to resolve the question of which scenario was most likely.

The Scripps article says that the research "found no evidence that the virus was made in a laboratory or otherwise engineered." That is not a statement that no such evidence can be found, nor that an investigation of the Wuhan lab would find nothing.

Thus, the Scripps article does not seem to justify some of the language found in the LiveScience article. The latter appears to be politically biased. Consider, specifically, its description of the lab hypothesis as a "persistent myth," and the ridicule of this "myth" as the "escaped from evil lab theory." Such language suggests a preconceived outcome -- that Jeanna Bryner, the writer, already knew what the truth was, and was simply waiting for the Scripps study to establish her prior convictions. That is not science.

Contrary to the desires of non-science writers, science is often a matter of collecting evidence that appears to be persuasive, but that is subject to later reinterpretation in light of new information. Ridiculing and dismissing ideas that are not currently popular among one's friends seems like a good way to discourage real scientists from trying to learn things that might prove very useful in the future. LiveScience should discourage such prejudgment. The better approach would be to take a critical and thoughtful stance when reporting on such research -- to pause and reflect on what it says and, ideally, to find out (or at least be generally informed on) what persons of another viewpoint might say about it.

So with all this uncertainty what the hell is the BBC doing "fact checking" rumours like "the virus wasn't created in a lab"? You aren't allowed to say it came from bat soup, you aren't allowed to say it was manmade. So the only thing the BBC thinks you should be allowed to say is a theory from 2013.

Bonus BBC Bias: Notice that this BBC article about "how crazy those Trump loving Americans are protesting the lockdown" ignores other countries that have seen anti-lockdown protests.