Monday, August 3, 2020

Facemask Follies

So it seems the politicians, public health officials, and even the general public just will not let the COVID-19 panic pass.  The latest hysteria is the mandatory wearing of facemasks among the entire population (at least, most people have learned that lockdowns don't work; they do not stop the virus; they just create more problems--for a nice overview on the stupidity of lockdowns, please check out Heather Mac Donald's "Four Months Of Unprecedented Malfeasance").  Unfortunately, mandatory facemasking is just as dumb as the lockdowns.  Those of you who think facemasks are the solution, please have an open mind and keep reading.

First of all, facemasks apparently do not stop the spread of the virus.  I know this goes contrary to the heavy propaganda push about wearing them from politicians, public health officials, and the general public, but it appears to be true.   Let's start with the World Health Organization.  Their most recent publication about facemasks is "Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19" updated on 5 June 2020, which is an interesting overview on masks in a variety of settings.  For health care workers treating COVID-19 patients, WHO clearly recommends the wearing of facemasks.  However, given how many healthcare workers wore masks and still died from the disease, one does wonder if they are as effective as WHO hopes.

Moving on to the issue at hand, it gets worse.  Even WHO admits that there is no evidence suggesting that masking an entire population will be helpful:  "At present, there is no direct evidence (from studies on COVID-19 and in healthy people in the community) on the effectiveness of universal masking of healthy people in the community to prevent infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19."

Of course, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  Universal masking could work; we just don't know yet.  However, such a pronounced change in social behavior needs some evidence before it's adopted.  The politicians such as the governor of Ohio USA who have mandated facemasks did so without evidence (mine, in the picture above, says "Resign DeWine" if you're curious--he can compel me to wear one, but he can't compel me to like it).

Even a politician with some horsesense (DeWine also was dumb enough to push for the Iraq War because of the weapons of mass destruction lies, so one expects him to make idiotic decisions; the only ones dumber than him are the Ohio voters who keep electing the moron so he can continue to make more dumb decisions to make their lives worse) such as Bernie Sanders is pushing universal facemasking.  Despite giving up on his presidential run, Sanders continues to send out fundraising emails (Why?  I have no idea.  You will have to ask him.  Maybe he's hoping the Democrats will figure out Joe Biden is senile and turn back to him at the last minute).  In a recent one, he wrote, "The science is clear: Wearing a mask is the best way to protect ourselves from the coronavirus and save lives, and the widespread use of masks will get Americans back to work sooner and reunite families who have stayed apart."  Since the research I was finding while researching mandatory facemasking was suggesting quite the opposite, I emailed Sanders asking if he could point me to that "clear science".

He did not reply, but he did send me four more fundraising emails.

I unsubscribed.  

Well, maybe he didn't get back to me because there is no clear science.  While I did find the occasional study that suggested facemasks might be good for sick people to wear, I found more often stuff that stated that facemasks were more or less useless overall such as this:  ("A cloth mask or face covering does very little to prevent the emission or inhalation of small particles.").

And this: ("In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks").

And this:  ("Viruses, including the coronavirus that scientists believe may be the cause of SARS, are so tiny that they can easily pass through such barriers.").

And this:  ("[B]oth surgical and cotton masks seem to be ineffective in preventing the dissemination of SARS–CoV-2 from the coughs of patients with COVID-19 to the environment and external mask surface").

That last link raises another interesting issue.  If you click on it, you don't go to the actual study; instead, you go to an article about the study.

This is because the study has disappeared.  It was retracted by the authors.  Parsing the retraction carefully, it looks as if the authors wanted to correct whatever mistake they made, but the editors said no.

Maybe their mistake was simply going against the groupthink tide.  One bizarre sideline of researching this issue was how much of the research tended to disappear.  A study by a retired dentist from 2016 about how facemasks don't work in dentistry?

Poof!  Gone!  You can find it mentioned by Peter Hitchens in this article, but if you go to where it was posted, you find this:  "“Why Face Masks Don’t Work: A Revealing Review” by John Hardie, BDS, MSc, PhD, FRCDC, it has been removed. The content was published in 2016 and is no longer relevant in our current climate."  However, you can still find it if you know where to look.  Take that URL from the link and go to one of the links in my link section that takes you to websites from the past.  I can't tell you more because I don't want it to disappear even more so, but you can find it if you want to.  Fortunately, the retired dentist has kept writing.  You can see what he thinks about COVID-19 here (while you're there, you might as well read "Should You Wear A Mask?  What Does The Science Say?").

I even experienced some of the Orwellian memory hole censorship personally on NextDoor.Com.  Some well-meaning moron had slapped up a quick post called "Wear A Mask!" and the thread exploded like no thread that I had ever seen on there.  Most folks were pro-mask and not just for themselves; they wanted you to wear a mask as well.  In fact, if you didn't, they thought you were a horrible person who was trying to kill them.

The fear that the politicians and public health officials have whipped up about the virus goes beyond even the considerable fear whipped up by the politicians during the War On Terror.  Back then, we were supposed to be afraid of terrorists; now, apparently, we're supposed to be afraid of one another.  For those of us old-fashioned Americans who believe along with FDR that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance", this is particularly annoying.

These folks couldn't be reasoned with.  I would cite the WHO report, and they would tell me I was citing "junk science".  One poster claimed that New York USA had mandatory facemasking and that's why they were doing better than we were in Ohio USA.  But when I looked up the per capita death rate on the CDC website, New York was so bad they had it divided into the city and the state, and they both were in the top ten in the USA with the City being #1 by itself (Ohio was 27th or something at the time, with something like 1/10th of the per capita deaths of NY overall).  When I pointed this out, they carried on as if they lived in some alternate reality where Ohio had the larger death rate.  It was like people thought they had a right to their own facts, not just their own opinions.

The people on my "side" per se and resistant to mandatory facemasking were an interesting bunch as well.  Most seemed to believe in various conspiracy theories about the virus.  I get the conspiracy theory appeal.  Even when they're daft, they still reassure people that someone somewhere, even if they're evil, knows what they are doing, and life is not as chaotic as it seems.

There is a comfort in that because otherwise the truth appears to be that we are just led by morons who have no idea what they are doing.

Eventually, NextDoor.Com just deleted the whole thread.  Maybe someone complained, or maybe they didn't want to offend the State Of Ohio, who was one of their main advertisers (reminding us all to "Wear A Mask!" among other things).  I tried contacting them to find out, but there seemed no way to reach them.  Since I wasn't down with censorship, I just deleted my account.

The censorship and groupthink is definitely creepy.  To add more creepiness on top, my home county made headlines for establishing a snitch line where people could inform on those not wearing masks.  I am sure this is in a fine tradition of fascism.  Maybe the Nazis had such a snitch line in Amsterdam and that's how poor Anne Frank got caught.  Either way, it's annoying to pay taxes to these people and they won't even provide basic services because they're terrified of the virus (for example, closing most of the county buildings to the public), but they'll waste tax money on a snitch line about something that does nothing to help the situation.

My county is corruptly run by Dems while Ohio is corruptly run by Repubs, but when it comes to mandatory facemasking, they're in agreement.  They love citizens being muzzled.  Not only is it a nice symbol of a voiceless public, but it makes the politicians able to pretend that their failed lockdown policies weren't to blame for failing to stop the virus and then creating an economic disaster (a gift that may keep on giving), it was the public not wearing masks that is to blame.

In truth, the virus isn't going to be stopped.  It's going to run its course.  All the politicians and public health officials on power trips and the population that supports the nonsense they slop out can do is make more problems on top of the annoying virus.  Some countries such as The Netherlands and Sweden have somewhat recognized this.

Sadly, if you watch the network news and read a lot of the panic porn articles online, you probably are too terrified to critically think enough to recognize that the true way forward is to return to normality as quickly as possible (indeed, we never should have panicked in the first place).  Strangely enough, the voices of reason currently seem to be all coming from right wing nutjobs, which makes things even more terrifying.  I suppose, like a stopped clock, they are right once in a while (in the stopped clock's case, twice a day; in the right-wingers' case maybe only on this issue).  So, if you need an alternate to the mainstream media hysteria, check out Justin Hart and Alex Berenson for some counterweights.  Just like Trump, when liberals and progressives push nonsense, it just makes them harder to believe the next time, even if they're right.  So, please, people who are otherwise semi-reasonable, stop pushing for mandatory facemasking and other strategies that will do little or nothing to stop the virus.  Start pushing for a return to normalcy and away from hysteria over a nasty variation of the common cold.  There are almost 8 billion human beings, more than ever in history; this virus is not going to make a dent in that number overall.  Politicians and public health officials cannot conquer death; they can make a mess of life though. 

In 1984, Orwell wrote "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever."  Even old George couldn't imagine that we would be so dumb that the face would be wearing a facemask.

1984's a better book overall, but it isn't as funny as Edna's Employment Agency, and, let's face it, if you made it through that post about how crazy Americans have gotten panicking over a virus, then you need a laugh.

2 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The previous comment had a typo and I couldn't just edit it. It is fixed below.


    Now the Swiss seem to be pooping on the idea that mandatory facemasking, so it's only a matter of time until the U.S. also learns better
    (Wait! The European countries got national healthcare after WW2 for the most part, and we still haven't in the USA. Might be a long matter of time . . .): https://swprs.org/face-masks-evidence/

    ReplyDelete