I agree that I lack the technical background to form an unambiguous opinion on the subject of virology. You got hung up on my headline and I see that you think that such statements are rather counterproductive to what people have recognised as beyond doubt. The question of whether one believes in contagion or not is a stylistic device of exaggeration, nevertheless I clarify further on how I arrived at such a formulation and what fundamental views underlie it.
Personal perception has limits and so does what one thinks one has observed in oneself and others - especially in retrospect and under the influence of the last two years, I can say that I have lost indifference in how I view the issue of contagion. It is now rather distorted by events and I can only say that I currently have a completely different habit of observation than I had all those years ago. I am in doubt and I think it is doubt that must not lose its justification in any case.
Leaving aside the provocation caused by the statement "to believe or not to believe in contagion", I would think that every serious scientist always leaves room for doubt and remains open to further discussion. As long as it comes from people whom he trusts to have this doubt. I agree with you there. That's why I quoted the paper from the Max Planck Institute.
My post and many others refer to a subsequent context, when it comes to deciding or having to decide questions that are basically undecidable for one personally, precisely because one has no professional expertise in this area. These are therefore questions of conscience and self-reference that everyone answers subjectively (of course, it would be desirable if everyone did so on the basis of sources that offer a halfway rational foundation for this). But that is not the reality, I hardly believe that anyone takes the trouble, or even has the time, to deal with scientific papers in depth and breadth.
Ultimately, what is a jumping off point for me, is that subjective, even irrational decisions a person makes should not be taken away from them as invalid, as such irrationality occurs in all of us (often even occurs unconsciously). From experience, I can say that it is pointless to hold this against someone if there is a lack of consciousness to do so.
However, those who remain on the surface and only take offence at exaggeration or provocation without taking the wider context into account are not serious interlocutors for me either (as I have experienced in various conversations).
Where I see myself as an expert in a field (in which I have many years of theoretical and practical work behind me), it is a case of mutual respect how much space I give my counterpart who, for example, takes a different (in my eyes irrational) view to my expert statements or won views) that let me come to see where his doubt or even anger comes from.
Have you ever been surprised, in a positive sense, by the opening of the space beyond expertise, for example, by someone you did not expect?
The art of asking questions, the gift of gaining the interest of someone who is initially irrational, stupid or otherwise emotionally aroused, seems to me to be underdeveloped also in online debates. It seems to be covered by the much more dominant habit of mutually disagreeing with what one says either from one's expertise or what one says coming from one's conscience, one can hardly be played off against the other. When it comes to winning and the competition of "who has the better arguments", there is hardly any chance of parting respectfully.
The expert will find this much more difficult, because he considers himself to be the one who knows more, doesn't he? The non-expert, however, can be the greatest teacher if he is given the space to ask questions and is listened to. In my professional field, I have been surprised by people who have made clever and remarkable statements (also and precisely because they were not experts) when I was able to get down from my occasional high horse.
For me, the unusual nature of "stupid questions" or the provocation in the formulation is a point that throws a spanner in the works of habitual thinking.
It really depends on who you talk to, right? Respect is something which builts itself over time, when one realizes that you have a person in front of you, you can actually talk to.
Now, I will not talk the subject from a point of view ("do viruses objectively exist?") where I put myself above an expert but I still take liberation to explain where I come from and why I have questions. If my post did not do this for you, for example, I can't help it. But I am fine with you.