Will there be a non-natural origin theory for the next pandemic?
Basic
17
304
2040
76%
chance

For the next non-flu pandemic killing 250k or more in the US, will 20% or more of the population believe it has a lab-leak, bioweapon, or other non-natural origin, three years after the fact? Resolves based on high quality polls close to the date. Resolves NO if the theory is too obscure to poll. Does not resolve for a given pandemic if the consensus scientific theory is artificial origin, e.g if Wikipedia unequivocally says this is the accepted theory, or journals Nature, the Lancet, and NEJM all support this view. I will NOT require a scientific consensus on zoonotic origin to resolve this however since I think that condition would likely be controversial in case of YES.

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Title is not clear enough, unless I’m missing something… this only resolves yes if the theory is not “consensus” among scientists… who counts as scientists? What counts as consensus? Which source defines public opinion? What about lab-leak of a natural virus?

@thatMikeBishop I think consensus on YES will often be clear, I mostly want to exclude a case where it’s a known lab leak or bioterror incident from the beginning, but I will look to unequivocal statements in Wikipedia and especially if articles in leading journals about the pandemic just state without argument or caveat it is artificial, since that is evidence of a consensus. I will not bet on this market because this is potentially subjective.

I will use an average of polls of US opinion of the most respected pollsters available at the time. I don’t know who these will be now. I will set exact rules of resolution around collecting and averaging polls after the pandemic happens but well before this resolves if this is looking close.

A theory of a lab leak of a natural virus counts.

@NateWatson I would re-title "Will there be a non-natural origin theory for the next pandemic which < 50% of scientists but > 20% of the public believes?"

Too many people will miss the exclusion of resolutions where non-natural origin is the leading theory... also, please clarify whether you mean "consensus" or "leading theory."

@thatMikeBishop I mean consensus, certainly not 51%. I have edited "leading theory" to "accepted theory", though I don't think wikipedia will generally identify something as even the leading theory until it's held by much more than 50% of scientists.

Examples of consensus would be Theropod origin of birds, vaccines don't cause Autism, HIV causes AIDS. Nonexamples would be Covid origins and dark matter. A borderline case might be the theory tracing the ancestral origin of the Polynesian people to Taiwan.

@thatMikeBishop I think the title is vague enough that nearly everyone will realize they need to read the description. I doubt the caveat really lowers the odds of YES much in the end but I wanted to make the question more balanced (closer to 50%) by excluding a "cheap win" for YES.

I would propose adding flu viruses (with some criteria to distinguish from seasonal flu) too since they've been responsible for quite a few pandemics in the past.

@Akzzz123 I excluded flu because I think people widely understand and accept that flu is constantly mutating and there is a different version every year, and a flu pandemic every couple decades is normal enough that it would be viewed significantly differently than a pandemic of a non-flu disease. I want to restrict, approximately, to the reference class of "the next Covid".

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