Rand Paul's Criticism of Cloth Masks Was Stronger Than the Evidence Justifies

Whether or not YouTube should have suspended him, the senator overlooked the limitations of the studies he cited and ignored countervailing research.


YouTube this week suspended Sen. Rand Paul's account because of a video in which the Kentucky Republican claimed that "most of the masks that you can get over the counter don't work" as a safeguard against COVID-19. "The virus particles are too small and go right through them," Paul says in that video, which shows him speaking with a Newsmax interviewer. "They don't work. There's no value."

YouTube said Paul violated its "COVID-19 medical misinformation policy," which among other things forbids "claims that masks do not play a role in preventing the contraction or transmission of COVID-19." While conceding that "private companies have the right to ban me if they want to," Paul said he was troubled by the fact that the major social media platforms seem to be insisting that users toe the official line on COVID-19, which makes it harder to criticize ill-founded positions and policies. YouTube, he said, is acting like "an arm of the government."

Paul has a point. But in this case, his flat, categorical statements about cloth masks are stronger than the scientific literature supports, relying on a couple of cherry-picked studies with known limitations while ignoring countervailing evidence.

In a video responding to his YouTube suspension, Paul reiterates that "most of the masks that you get over the counter don't work" and "don't prevent infection." He argues that "saying cloth masks work when they don't actually risks lives," describing it as "potentially deadly misinformation." While N95 respirators are effective at preventing virus transmission, he says, "the other masks don't work."

Paul would have been on firm ground if he had said cloth masks offer less protection than N95 masks. But the claim that cloth masks "don't work," meaning they offer no protection at all, is inconsistent with multiple studies suggesting that they reduce the risk of infection, especially when worn by carriers but possibly also when worn by other people in their vicinity.

Paul cites two studies to back up his belief that cloth masks are ineffective: a 2015 study of health care workers in Vietnam and a 2021 Danish study that compared people who were advised to wear masks with people who weren't. Neither study proves that cloth masks "don't work."

The 2015 study, which was reported in BMJ Open, involved about 1,600 hospital employees who were randomly assigned to groups that used "medical masks" (meaning "disposable medical/surgical masks"), used "cloth masks," or followed "usual practice," which notably "included mask wearing." The researchers measured each group's rate of "clinical respiratory illness (CRI), influenza-like illness (ILI) and laboratory-confirmed respiratory virus infection." Here are the results they reported:

The rates of all infection outcomes were highest in the cloth mask arm, with the rate of ILI statistically significantly higher in the cloth mask arm (relative risk (RR)=13.00, 95% CI 1.69 to 100.07) compared with the medical mask arm. Cloth masks also had significantly higher rates of ILI compared with the control arm. An analysis by mask use showed ILI (RR=6.64, 95% CI 1.45 to 28.65) and laboratory-confirmed virus (RR=1.72, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.94) were significantly higher in the cloth masks group compared with the medical masks group. Penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97% and medical masks 44%.

The risk of infection was nearly four times higher in the control group than it was in the medical-mask group, but the difference was not statistically significant.* And the finding that infection was more common in the cloth-mask group than it was in the control group certainly does not seem to support recommendations or mandates that portray cloth masks as useful in preventing virus transmission.

But that is not the end of the story. As a "science brief" from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes, "the study had a number of limitations," including "the lack of a true control (no mask) group for comparison, limited source control as hospitalized patients and staff were not masked, unblinded study arm assignments potentially biasing self-reporting of illness, and the washing and re-use of cloth masks by users introducing the risk of infection from self-washing."

In March 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic inspired new interest in the effectiveness of cloth masks, the lead author of the BMJ Open study, Australian infectious disease specialist Chandini R. MacIntyre, likewise noted that "some subjects in the control arm wore surgical masks, which could explain why cloth masks performed poorly compared to the control group." She added that "the cloth masks may have been worse in our study because they were not washed well enough—they may [have] become damp and contaminated."

MacIntyre later did a follow-up study, reported in BMJ Open last fall, that focused on a subset of the original sample: 607 hospital employees who worked in "high-risk wards" and wore "a two-layered cloth mask." She and her colleagues found that "the risk of infection was more than double among [health care workers] self-washing their masks compared with the hospital laundry." They also reported that "there was no significant difference in infection between [health care workers] who wore cloth masks washed in the hospital laundry" and health care workers who wore disposable medical masks.

"The majority of [health care workers] in the study reported hand-washing their mask themselves," MacIntyre et al. wrote. "This could explain the poor performance of two layered cloth masks, if the self-washing was inadequate. Cloth masks washed in the hospital laundry were as protective as medical masks. Both cloth and medical masks were contaminated, but only cloth masks were reused in the study, [underlining] the importance of daily washing of reusable cloth masks using proper method. A well-washed cloth mask can be as protective as a medical mask." 

The Danish study that Paul cites, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last March, was a randomized, controlled trial in which both groups of subjects received "encouragement to follow social distancing measures" but only one group was urged to "wear a mask when outside the home among other persons." Each of the subjects in the mask-recommendation group also received "a supply of 50 surgical masks and instructions for proper use." At follow-up, there was no statistically significant difference in positive COVID-19 antibody results between the two groups.

According to an editorial that accompanied the study, "The evidence excludes a large personal protective effect, weakly supports lesser degrees of protection, and cannot statistically exclude no effect." The study did not address the effectiveness of masks worn by carriers in protecting other people, and the editorial emphasized that the study "does not disprove the effectiveness of widespread mask wearing." 

In addition to overlooking the limitations of the studies on which he relied, Paul did not address the substantial body of evidence cited by the CDC, which suggests that cloth masks do "work," at least to some extent.

That research, which includes laboratory experiments as well as observational studies, also has limitations. But instead of explaining why he is unpersuaded by the empirical case for wearing cloth masks when better alternatives are too expensive or hard to obtain, Paul simply cited a conveniently narrow slice of the relevant literature.

Furthermore, Paul did not merely say the effectiveness of cloth masks has not been proven to his satisfaction; he said research has conclusively demonstrated that they have "no value" at all. That gloss is reminiscent of the reckless judgment that then–Surgeon General Jerome Adams rendered early in the pandemic, when he tweeted that "masks" (apparently including surgical masks and N95 respirators) "are NOT effective in preventing [the] general public from catching #Coronavirus."

Although the CDC concludes that "experimental and epidemiological data support community masking to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2," it acknowledges that "further research is needed to expand the evidence base for the protective effect of cloth masks and in particular to identify the combinations of materials that maximize both their blocking and filtering effectiveness." Paul could have provided a useful alternative perspective if he had focused on the limits of the existing research and the gaps in our knowledge instead of dismissing the evidence without even considering it.

Although Paul presents himself as a defender of scientific standards, it does not seem like he is actually interested in having this conversation. In a tweet responding to his YouTube suspension, he called it "a badge of honor," saying "leftwing cretins at Youtube" were "banning me for 7 days" even though he cited "2 peer reviewed articles saying masks don't work."

YouTube's response to Paul's overstatements, of course, is hardly a model of rational discourse, which requires rebutting arguments by citing contrary evidence instead of treating them as too dangerous for people to consider. "Private companies have a right to ban me if they want to," Paul said, "but I think it is really anti–free speech [and] anti–progress of science, which involves skepticism and argumentation to arrive at the truth."

I am inclined to agree with Paul that social media companies, partly in response to inappropriate government pressure, are constraining online debate about COVID-19 issues in an arbitrary and unhealthy way. But this particular example would have been more compelling if Paul had been more careful in framing his case against the prevailing wisdom.

*CORRECTION: This post originally stated that the Vietnam study suggested medical masks were effective at reducing infection, but that result was not statistically significant.

NEXT: A Philly Man Who Spent 37 Years of a 50-Year Prison Sentence in Solitary Confinement Has Been Freed

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  1. The head of the CDC cites bad studies and she's "the science". Rand Paul does it and he gets booted off YouTube for misinformation. I wonder if Big Tech has an agenda?

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    1. "Muh private company"

      When your multinational conglomerate owned by (tens?) of thousands and operated by an unelected board, controls the speech of billions, it's far more of a government than a company.

      When it silences open debate about pandemic policy worldwide, and censors hundreds of thousands including prominent virologists (a la Twitter). It's a threat to humanity.

      1. Better that hundreds of thousands including prominent virologists were censored than one government flunkie speaking on behalf of an unelected bureaucracy in order to threaten and terrify the citizenry need to correct themselves.

        1. Or maybe; there could be no censoring at all???? eh?

      2. "it’s far more of a government"

        Google doesn't have a police force. They cannot kidnap you, throw you into a cage, or steal your property. One thing as dangerous as government, is people not knowing why government is dangerous.

        1. Nope; but when 'government' has a legacy of already kidnapping companies, stealing company property and throwing them into regulation cages and then sends them *orders* to do x,y,z to said companies (de-platform) as well established in Non-Nazi news outlets request threats from Democratic Politicians.

          It's correctly stated as an, "arm of the government".

    2. How about analyzing the effectiveness of mask mandates before asking for more of them? Did they work last year? We have plenty of data to compare, state by state and even county by county.

      1. We sure do!

        Mask mandates were associated with decreases in daily COVID-19 case and death growth rates 1-20, 21-40, 41-60, 61-80, and 81-100 days after implementation. Allowing any on-premises dining at restaurants was associated with increases in daily COVID-19 case growth rates 41-60, 61-80, and 81-100 days after reopening, and increases in daily COVID-19 death growth rates 61-80 and 81-100 days after reopening. Implementing mask mandates was associated with reduced SARS-CoV-2 transmission, whereas reopening restaurants for on-premises dining was associated with increased transmission.

        1. .. associated with
          Correlation, not causation.

        2. The study that ignored seasonality of the virus?

        3. Now compare the results to states that didn't have mask mandates, not just the states that enacted them, before and after.

          If the mandates had worked, California would have avoided that huge spike in November and December.

        4. Author --- "CDC Public Health Law Program"
          One just has to love how Gov creates their own Gov-Biased studies.

        5. Why look at one cherry-picked study? It's not like mask mandates and lockdowns were only tried in a few small areas and practiced by small communities of people, we've got massive datasets across all manner of circumstances and cofactors and showing their efficacy.

        6. Those mask mandates were enacted at the same time social distancing was required. It is easy to see how distancing would be more important than masks. And when it was determined that the virus' main transmission mechanism was via aerosol (versus droplets), anything less than a tight-fitting N95 mask became virtually useless.

          Now, just compare states with comparable situations (NY to FL, and NM to SD). The former ones had mask mandates while the latter ones didn't. The data says the infection rates were nearly identical.

          Now, one might argue that if people wore their masks correctly and replaced or cleaned them effectively and regularly that the protective factor may well be higher. But, in order to achieve that, we would have to create a mask police. Are you really willing to go there?

          1. "But, in order to achieve that, we would have to create a Mask Police. Are you really willing to go there?"

            Progs certainly are ...

    3. The net affect on society at large by mandates requiring mask usage has been utterly negative. If you want to wear a bandana or something made by your Aunt Tilly around your face, have at it, but when government tells us that even these are effective at stopping the spread of the disease and MUST be worn, then a reasonable person may rightly suspect an agenda beyond public safety.

    4. Where is the evidence that masks work outside of highly controlled observational studies? All the data at the population level suggests that mask benefits are either so random or so trivial that they don’t show up at scale. Look at the cities that have strict mask mandates and compare them to ones that don’t. See the difference? Neither do it.

      This is simply an attribution error. Masks seem like they SHOULD work, so we assume they do. But look at natural control groups (Sweden, to cite an obvious one) and it’s easy to see that masks are as ineffective as we knew they were back during the Spanish Flu and right up until early 2020.

  2. Whether or not YouTube should have suspended him, the senator overlooked the limitations of the studies he cited and ignored countervailing research.

    So social media is banning politicians for saying shit that's not even "untrue" but "in dispute".

    Fuck the social media companies, I hope they collapse, leaving everyone in their midst in financial ruin.

    1. How would I be able to see what my coworker's ex-girlfriend ate for dinner last night? Or get my niece's explanation of why no one should go to the beach because of the climate impact in 140 characters?

    2. They used to deplatform you if you linked to non-peer-reviewed data. Now they deplatform you for linking to the wrong peer-reviewed data.

    3. Fuck the social media companies, I hope they collapse, leaving everyone in their midst in financial ruin.

      I'm still a bit confused about how Twitter came to be regarded as anything other than the men's room wall of digital media/journalism. I get that the Arab Spring apparently lent it some legitimacy but email, instant messaging and web publishing (forums, BBSs, etc.) were already well-established technologies. Apparently, nobody stopped to question "Why is the primary source for a political revolution the men's room wall?"

      1. "Apparently, nobody stopped to question “Why is the primary source for a political revolution the men’s room wall?”"

        Well, it was organized by the Obama admin...

  3. Really Reason the mask is off now? pun intended

  4. You're right Sullum. All Paul's first study proves is that cloth masks trapping moisture next to your face all day increases infection rates. It doesn't compare surgical masks to people without masks at all.

    Your face diapers are still useless. Some of them are just actively harmful.

    Fuck off slaver.

    1. Yeah I love how this was the "Kill shot" on the first study:

      ""The majority of [health care workers] in the study reported hand-washing their mask themselves,"" the majority of health care workers (cloth maskers) in that study...did exactly what every person with a cloth mask has done. I don't see ANYONE screaming "JUST WEAR THE MASK, AND THEN TAKE IT HOME AND WASH IT DAILY IN A MANNER SIMILAR TO A HOSPITAL LAUNDRY SERVICE!"

      The CDC never talks about care of masks- or if they do, it is never repeated by all the media. Saying that Rand Paul's study is "problematic" because it happens to track maskers doing exactly what 90% of the masking populace thinks they should be doing is pretty weak tea from Sullum.

  5. Plastic faceshields, we were told "don't work" UNLESS they were worn with a porous paper mask as well.

    You see how funny research can get?

    Singing rain-rain-go-away doesn't keep you dry in a rainstorm, unless you wear a raincoat and hold an umbrella WHILE you sing Rain-rain-go-away.

    1. I really thought the song was working, but then I noticed the awning I was standing under.

    2. The Science says an umbrella won't keep you dry unless everyone else also has an umbrella anyway...

    3. It's not a question of whether masks work or don't work, but whether they reduce transmission. I know people discussing politics love such binary thinking, but the world is more complicated than that.

      1. They didn't seem to reduce transmission much in California during last winter's holiday spike.

        1. Or in LA after they mandated them again.

          Or anywhere else in the country.

        2. Your evidence for that being what?
          Here is the evidence that masks significantly reduce transmission of the virus

          Of course, there is no point in posting this, as you are just going to attack the source. Political arguments cannot be resolved with facts, as the other side will simply reject facts by attacking the source or citing their own source which provides alternative "facts."

          But anyway, your threshold for proving me wrong remains very high. You would have to show that masks do not significantly reduce transmission (whatever significance threshold we can agree on). Good luck with that.

          1. Lol

            An investigation of a high-exposure event, in which 2 symptomatically ill hair stylists interacted for an average of 15 minutes with each of 139 clients during an 8-day period

            Did you read the study? It was based on flawed, non controlled studies. This was one of the earliest releases from the cdc and widely mocked.

            And you out of hand dismiss a years worth of data showing no correlation. So you have that going for you. Those 2 hair dressers are way more scientific.

          2. You're wrong about the burden of proof here, nitwit.

          3. Check the case curves in states that had mask mandates and states that did not. There's very little difference, except for seasonal and climate variation.

          4. I really like the statement that the randomized Dutch study of 800 was too small to be accurate while quoting a study of 2 people as proof mask work.

            You really need to read the studies you post every study in that meta analysis is opinion or presumption not an actual scientific study.

          5. Wrong, Chipper. The issue is not whether masks CAN work, it's how much people are willing to pay to protect themselves (and others) and how people use, handle, and clean what they choose. Your study cites the use of virgin, multi-layer, well-fitting masks. It's easy to see how these could help. Now, step outside the lab into the real world. How many people are going to be able to afford a new, multi-layer, N95 or equivalent mask every day? And, if they can, how many will wear it correctly? You quickly run into the real world issues, which is why mask mandates don't work. Infection is not an issue of if, but when. For society at-large, the best solution is vaccination. But we cannot force people to do so. If one chooses to get vaccinated, then one need not spend much time worrying about dying. On the other hand, if one chooses not to get vaccinated, they take their lives into their own hands. Not our concern. And, just to short-circuit the argument that the unvaccinated will create mutations, it is now clear that vaccinated people are carrying the virus as well. Ergo, everyone is now a mutation lab.

      2. The question I was referring to was whether or not plastic face shields worked or not. Researches couldn't bring themselves to say they didn't work, so they said they only worked if they were worn with a mask. I'm giving the benefit of the doubt that masks reduce transmission, so if transmission is reduced by 20-50% (in pristine laboratory conditions) and the transmission reduction of a plastic face shield is 0%, rising to 20-50% when worn with a cloth mask...

      3. When will you advocate for national 25 mph speed limits?

      4. It’s not a question of whether masks work or don’t work, but whether they reduce transmission. I know people discussing politics love such binary thinking, but the world is more complicated than that.

        Agreed. It's exactly why a blanket mandate is retarded. A person with a 30% chance of contracting the disease and a 10% chance of dying of it would benefit more than someone who has a 0.5% chance of contracting the disease and a 0.05% chance of dying from it. Moreover, it more accurately demonstrates that for a virus that is airborn, more diligence (wearing multiple masks, washing or switching out masks more often, minimizing exposure even with a mask, etc.) pays off better for the person at greater risk.

        I know some people discussing politics love to interpret narrow results in favor of stupidly broad mandates and fucking everyone over "equally", but the world is more complicated than that.

  6. Imagine how stunted medical science would be today if we had always followed the "trust the science" and "prevailing wisdom" mantra that allows for no dissent.

    1. People forget phrenology was once the “prevailing wisdom “.

      1. Eugenics! Don’t forget eugenics!

      2. The miasma theory of disease propagation!

    2. Trust the science is the new piety.

    3. Earth would have been flat.

      1. center of the universe, too.

      2. No one ever thought that. You can literally see the curvature of the Earth if you watch a ship on the horizon

        1. People that didn't live near large bodies of water probably did.

        2. So the Vikings never actually believed that the realm of earth was a disc surrounded by a snake that held all the water in? Huh.

          1. The Abrahamic religions insisting upon the historicity of their myths really screwed up our modern perception of ancient peoples

            1. ^

            2. Yeah. Why couldn't they spread a more socially beneficial and historically agnostic set of values like forgiveness and redemption?

              1. I wasn't making a judgement regarding their value(s), just a criticism of our common modern perspective of ancient peoples and an observation as to the source of our misunderstanding.
                Both the literal sense of monotheism and the metaphorical sense of paganism have their place, but our emphasis on and upbringing in the monotheistic mindset, and ignorance of the pagan metaphorical truths, lead us to some stupid beliefs like "ancient man really did think the earth was flat".
                This has been worded poorly, but hopefully somewhat clarifying.

        3. I have had people deny that, and try to claim that the sky dome above the flat earth distorts the perspective.

          Amazing conversations there.

          1. I wouldn't deny that. I would understand how someone, depending on when you're saying the Earth was discovered/proved to be flat, would believe that or arrive at that as the natural conclusion. For perspective, how would you prove that The Matrix is a sphere?

    4. There's a saying (more or less) that science only progresses because a previous generation of scientists dies, taking their dogma with them

  7. I love the framing on this. A massive corporation acting as an agency of the government silences a member of the opposition for criticizing the government's official position, and the problem is that that opposition member's criticism was stronger than it should have been.

      1. Build your own internet taxpayer-funded, regulation-grandfathered telecomm and financial infrastructure from the ground up while being barred from raising money by already existing taxpayer-funded, regulation-grandfathered financial institutions and fighting off frivolous legal battles against the entirety of the administrative state.


      2. He doesn't even have to do that. There are plenty of other sites that host video content.

          1. I am pretty sure Rand Paul is already banned from Pornhub.

        1. I mean it's just fine if massive corporations who have a history of killing off competitors collude with government, right?

          Why did you ever claim to be a libertarian? Need me to post your marxism/libertarian comment again?

    1. Don't worry. Pretty soon we'll all be shuffled off to the entirely private gulag run by the wholly private sector buddies of the king for the crime TOS violation of voting for the wrong candidate at the privately run voting booth.

      1. Sullum's been dreaming of making Omni Consumer Products real since he was a kid.

  8. Been wearing my damp mask for 4 hours now. Occasionally taking it off to eat and drink, while the person next to me wears his around his chin.

    verdict: Effective.

    1. I once asked someone why they wore their mask under their nose. I already knew what they'd say, but I wanted to check anyway. As I suspected they said it was because they breath through their nose and that way they aren't breathing through their mask.

      But it still doesn't top the multiple people I've seen lower their mask so they cough into their hands

      verdict: Super Effective!

  9. Wow, yeah if they were so necessary and effective why didn't Obama require them at his party? Answer because the elites don't care and they want to show you that you're a peon.

    1. Exactly, it's not that they think we're idiots.
      They know we recognize their middle school-level sophistry. They enjoy parading their lack of accountability. It's a show of power.

    2. Ahem! They are a sophisticated set of people.

  10. YouTube maskerading as a public health information repository. How cute.

    1. Sullum maskerading as a libertarian is cute too.

    2. You mean watching Dolla the rapping Doctor’s YouTube channel isn’t the same as going to Med School?

      That I find hard to believe!

      1. He was right about what was causing my hemorrhoids though…

        1. Prior to your discovery, did you have rhoid rage?

          1. My itchy butthole gave me all sorts of fits and tantrums.

    3. Yesterday I was watching a registered dietitian on YouTube pointing out all the serious misinformation about nutrition and food that other Youtubers were posting. Among these were Youtubers extolling the supposed vitamin D benefits that women will allegedly receive if they expose their vaginas to direct sunlight. Yet none of these sites was banned for providing medical misinformation.

      It seems that only certain forms of medical misinformation are offensive.

      1. Is a sunburned bag dangerous to other people?

        1. Vag. Not bag

          1. You shouldn’t call yourself names.

            1. Good one Mac and cheese

  11. entire fucking thing about who's banned for saying what is just stupid. censorship bad. doesn't matter who the censor is.

    1. In the interest of an open dialogue… please sit quietly and watch this film.

      1. they have a chair w/my name on it waiting for me.

        1. Clint Eastwood’s chair?

    2. Sounds like you have a definition problem. If youtube banning someone for violating their terms of service is censorship, and if censorship is always bad, I wonder how you would feel if someone interjected themselves into your family discussion.

      1. only use youtube to send my nephew videos of songs he should try. and Simpsons clips pertinent to these threads.

      2. >>I wonder how you would feel if someone interjected themselves into your family discussion.

        like "shut up I'm talking to my mom"?

      3. Please keep defending unconscionable contracts that are disallowed in virtually every other industry.

  12. >>the lack of a true control (no mask) group for comparison

    feature. light would shine on their lies

    1. Even without the control group, none of this bullshit nonsense in the article even remotely proves what Sullum thinks it proves. In fact, it pretty much proves Ron Paul's point- cloth masks are basically useless when a) worn improperly, and b) not correctly or adequately washed and sanitized. Surgical masks are a little better, WHEN PROPERLY WORN, and disposed of after use.

      How many regular people are washing their cloth masks properly? How many regular people keep a mask in the glove compartment- the same mask since day one- and grab it when they go somewhere that requires a mask? How many regular people are wearing the same disposable surgical mask over and over again, before they lose it and grab another one?

      Obviously, in a health care setting, with people trained to wear them properly, and when they are washed adequately, masks will be somewhat useful. On Karen, who picks out masks because they're cute and match her outfit, not so much.

      1. >>masks because they’re cute and match her outfit

        more clothes on chicks is never the answer.

        1. On some chicks, it is.

          1. Case in point: Kate Brown.

  13. Senator Paul was giving his opinion. You can disagree with him, but that does not mean he was expressing "misinformation." Big Tech needs to learn the difference between fact and opinion.

    1. There can no only one opinion.

    2. Holding a wrong opinion is an even more severe offense than spreading misinformation

  14. Even more ludicrous is anyone defending google youtube for this bullshit. Trillion dollar companies run by amoral billionaires supported by the federal government to do their dirty work is not something libertarians should praise. I realize that many here are actual Joe Biden voters who cosplay libertarians, and that those assholes will be posting their stupid shit over and over because paid trolls do that.

    1. And on cue, chipper eunuch shows up

  15. I want public health authorities to back to just letting me know that the sky is falling.

    I'm sick of them trying to save me from the sky.

  16. Masks don’t work.

    1. If they did, nobody would be sick.

    2. Masks don't work 100%, therefore they are 0% effective. Got it.

      1. Your life has no value

      2. Do they stop the virus from going through the population? No. Will we all eventually be exposed? Yes.

        To the extent that masks 'work', they are simply prolonging the crisis.

        1. Maybe you, but I got the vaccine so I’ll skip the whole ventilator thing. But you have fun.

          1. Turns out, that may not be true.

          2. Like 99.9% of everyone who got sick

          3. I'm a healthy male under 65. I'm not going on the vent anyway.

          4. Ah yes, ventilators. Another thing that didn't work for covid. Early on in this pandemic people were really out there trying to ventilator their way out of the pandemic. The overemphasis on ventilators as the critical medical intervention for the virus probably ended up killing thousands of people.

            Next up is the vaccines, which cause their users to leak more contagious and now vaccine resistant variations of covid. Parents are getting vaccines to protect their children who are too young to also be vaccinated or to protect their immunocompromised family members. Now kids are getting infected at higher rates thanks to their vaccine-resistant carrier parents. The immunocompromised are getting sickened thanks to their brave family members who got the vaccine to protect them.

            Perhaps some deaths could have been avoided if the primary emphasis was on some actual therapuetics (like ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine) rather than on dangerous medical equipment, masks that at best delay the inevitable and vaccines that cause you to become a carrier of new vaccine-resistant strains.

            1. Next up is the vaccines, which cause their users to leak more contagious and now vaccine resistant variations of covid.

              So, it's been conjectured multiple times that vaccinated individuals will cause fewer mutations. There's no substantiation of this claim, but it's being passed off as though it's legitimate medical information despite the fact that there's completely plausible explanations for (and peripheral data to support) the opposite.

              A contrary hypothesis that has no less basis in fact than the assertion that vaccinated individuals don't breed mutation: for natural immunity, you develop antibodies to the COVID-19-specific spike protein as well as other surface proteins and pretty much any part of the viral capsid (not to mention any replication machinery encoded in the wider genome). However, for the mRNA vaccines, (nearly) only the spike protein is included and it's enclosed in a capsid to a completely different virus. So, while natural immunity has more cross-reactivity to variants because you're immune to the whole capsid, the mRNA vaccine only generates immunity to the specific spike protein. A variant in a/the spike protein (or any other) would likely still be targeted by a naturally-developed immune system but not to an immune system tuned to the specific spike.

              The peripheral data? It's becoming clear that the vaccines are going to require boosters for at least some people while natural immunity appears to be much more durable and long-lasting. Indicating that while previous claims (that have largely been ignored or dropped) that the vaccine is as robust as natural immunity at combatting COVID-19 may've been true, the robustness against variants wasn't (and couldn't even have been tested). Again, there's very little direct data to support this assertion. However, the conjecture about the vaccinated being less mutagenic is based on indirect assumptions about viral loads and data based on qualitative measurements of quantitative values.

      3. Hey Jeff, why did you lie this morning when you were attacking Rand Paul?

        1. It sure seems like a lot of libertarians would do anything to keep republicans out of their club.

          1. If you want to consider collectivistjeff libertarian just because he likes calling himself that, go for it - but he's killing your brand

          2. Except Amash. *rubs chin* I wonder why.

        2. I didn't. You fabricated an imaginary "lie" because you are a troll.

          Why did you like about government authorities claiming that the vaccine was "completely safe with no side effects"?

          1. *lie

          2. No you did. It’s right there for everyone to see. You called Rand a swamp creature. Then you said you were just quoting an article that did not, in fact, call Rand a swamp creature.

            So make yourself clear, do you think Rand Paul is a swamp creature?

            1. Congratulations, Troll-mac. Tulpa-level trolling: achieved

              Why did you lie about government authorities claiming that the vaccine was “completely safe with no side effects”?

              1. Do you think Rand Paul is a swamp creature?

                1. It's amazing that collectivistjeff keeps going like nobody can see what's been posted.
                  The totality of his state of denial is impressive.
                  Not going to end well for him, but still impressive.

      4. Your mom was 0% effective last night.

  17. What the Rand Paul case shows is that people should NOT overstate their views as it leaves open a loophole to declare the view as misinformation.

    1. I think you are overstating the situation.

  18. But, but, but.... his hair!

    I wish I had hair like that.

    I wish I had hair.

    1. Whenever he posts on Twitter there is always a reply attacking his hair.

      The classic "ad capillum" fallacy.

      1. and someone applauding his neighbor for breaking his ribs. nice people.

    2. I wish I was a little bit taller.

      1. I used to be a baller

      2. Be a man, pick up the phone
        and call her.

  19. So Sullum in those studies does the N95 mask versus cloth versus surgical take in the fact that every day people don't have good permanent seals around the face when wearing? Or is this piece to semi refute Paul based on a perfect scenario which is not possible for every day folk.

    1. I'm saying this because the premise of your starting article is he cherry picks to prove a point

      1. And what's point?

        If this is an infringement on free speech, it doesn't matter whether Paul is right.

        The First Amendment doesn't only protect true religions, and it doesn't only protect true speech.

        1. Agreed probably unconscious bias on a Sullum's personal views of Paul.

          1. I think he's trying to rationalize the things he's argued in the past on the basis of what's happening today. I didn't change my mind about this stuff overnight either. They want to believe this is about private property and association rights, but it's not.

            The government imposing the Hollywood blacklists under the guise of breaking up the studio system on antitrust grounds wasn't an excellent example of the studios exercising their association rights either, and this is the same thing.

            I don't know if I could have brought myself to play a sad fiddle while Hollywood purged itself of communists back in the day, and I think people who hated Trump have a hard time seeing the truth of this for similar reasons.

            It's hard to see the truth when we don't want something to be true. It's especially hard if going against Trump means not only a $3.5 trillion expansion of socialism but an all out war on free speech, too, and you spent the last election cycle arguing against Trump.

            Did you ever see the end of that movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai? The POW commander became so wrapped up in showing the Japanese army how industrious and innovative the British can be, that he doesn't realize he's facilitating their war effort until the very end. "What have I done?", he says.

            Trump losing was the worst thing to happen to libertarianism in the USA since Johnson and/or FDR, and that's a hard pill for never-Trump libertarians to swallow.

            1. Sullum is a Global Socialist lackey.
              He has no principles, no ethics, no standards, and nothing he won't write in the service of leftist totalitarianism.

            2. Well stated.

              Also great point about that movie. I watched Bridge over the River Kwai when I was ten and simply couldn't understand why the British commander was so fixated on building that damn bridge.

              Libertarianism (TM) really had a hard time negotiating it's ideology around the reality that was Trump and it's to the point where they are so busy cracking shots at the empty vessel that once carried Trump that they have no ammo left while they're getting steamrolled by actual threats to individual liberty.

  20. "Paul said he was troubled by the fact that the major social media platforms seem to be insisting that users toe the official line on COVID-19, which makes it harder to criticize ill-founded positions and policies. YouTube, he said, is acting like "an arm of the government."

    Paul has a point. But in this case, his flat, categorical statements about cloth masks are stronger than the scientific literature supports, relying on a couple of cherry-picked studies with known limitations while ignoring countervailing evidence.

    ----Jacob Sullum

    Major social media platforms insisting that users toe the official line on COVID-19 [censoring speech that contradicts the government] is troubling regardless of whether Paul was right or wrong about masks. If we can't make a point without using a red herring, we probably don't have much of a point. And if YouTube is doing this because Biden's Justice Department is suing to break up Google via antitrust, then it's more than merely troubling. It's an assault on free speech akin to the Hollywood blacklists "deplatforming" content creators during the Red Scare.

    Yes, the Hollywood blacklists were also implemented against a background of breaking up the studio system on antitrust grounds. The day is soon coming when we won't be able to walk back apologizing for the progressives and their assault on free speech. Outside of this website, have any of you seen a progressive defend the right of Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube to discriminate on freedom of association grounds or to preserve the sanctity of property rights?

    Deplatforming an opposition politician for contradicting the government--while the platform in question is under imminent threat of an antitrust break up--may be the worst possible example of private parties exercising their association and property rights right now. And if Biden and the progressives are accidentally defending our association and property rights by pressuring social media companies to censor speech, somebody tell them and maybe they'll stop.

    1. I'm just going to start linking John Stuart Mill's On Liberty essay, and tell people to pay particular fucking attention about the importance of incorrect ideas in the public sphere.

      1. ^

  21. Social media will always side with the party in power because both are threatening them that they are too big and need to be split into smaller entities. As long as they censor any view point not in compliance with the party in power, they are protected.

    1. Guess Trump, though president, wasn't really in power when they banned him.

      Big Tech, and all megacorps, will always side with the totalitarians, and that is the left.

      You really can't both sidez this away.

      1. In many ways he wasn’t really in power. It would have been nice if a libertarian publication had been concerned with unelected bureaucrats and the intelligence community usurping some power from the duly elected president instead of parroting propaganda, but here we are.

        1. To give Liberal_NV the widest possible consideration, perhaps he meant "side with the establishment's prevailing opinions". Which, I would agree with that.

          1. Yeah, that was my point. Whether Liberal_NV meant that or not.

            1. I think we're all correct here

    2. We'll just ignore 2016-2020 because we're all friends here.

  22. If cloth masks are so effective, why didn't we hear about that from the outset? There was never a cloth shortage. Why did they need to protect the stockpile of masks with that noble lie if they could've just told us to cut up a t-shirt?

    1. I've been told "the science evolved."

      Sure "evolving science" is just a euphemism for "our hypothesis were deadly wrong and we'll never admit it, even as why try out new hypotheses that we hope will make our neurotic authoritarianism seem respectable" but look how many words you save by just saying science evolved.

  23. Google is within its right to boot Rand Paul or anyone it likes off its platform, but there's no getting around what a bad look it is. Jacob Sullum leaping to their defense not on the grounds that it's their private property but rather that silencing political debate is totes okay is just sick.

    Fuck you Jacob Sullum. You ARE the problem.

    1. I will go back to Prof Volokh citing actual court decisions from the 9th circuit stating that once government begins asking an industry to reform their speech the industry can fall under 1a restrictions.

      Let's not pretend there isn't a revolving door a d incestuous relationship of funding these corporations. Amazon just got a multi billion dollar contract.

      1. That may or may not be applicable here (I'd always like to give people the benefit of the doubt), but my point is that "private property" is the only possible defense of this. Whether that defense works or not can be argued, but it's the only thing that can be reasonably be argued about. Jumping on the "but I agree with GIANT CORPORATION THAT IS PUPPET OF POLITICAL PARTY so everyone who disagrees has no rights" is some weak argument material.

        1. There is no private property as you must pay rent to the government.

  24. "Two Democratic senators introduced a bill Thursday that would strip away the liability shield that social media platforms hold dear when those companies boost anti-vaccine conspiracies and other kinds of health misinformation.

    The Health Misinformation Act, introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), would create a new carveout in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to hold platforms liable for algorithmically promoted health misinformation and conspiracies.

    ----Tech Crunch

    Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.

    ----First Amendment

    If someone else can find a carve out in the First Amendment for laws that abridge the right to spread "misinformation", I don't see it. The question isn't whether Rand Paul is right. The question is whether the Democrats are engaging in rank intimidation using the coercive power of government, and the answer is yes.

    Don't fall for the red herring. Freedom of speech includes the right to voice opinions that are false, misleading, and wrong. The most appropriate response to those who say otherwise may be our middle fingers. What Rand Paul said wasn't defamatory, fraudulent, or a violent threat. He was merely expressing his opinion. The reasons his speech was prohibited on YouTube was because it contradicted the government and because the the Democrats are threatening to break big tech companies in an effort to intimidate them into censoring speech that contradicts them.

    P.S. If YouTube were an independent company, the Democrats would be no less concerned about forcing them to censor speech that contradicts their one party government.

    1. The question is whether the Democrats are engaging in rank intimidation using the coercive power of government, and the answer is yes.

      If that is the case, then EVERYTHING the government does is "rank intimidation", and EVERYONE should be presumed to be acting under orders from the government. Therefore EVERYONE should be subject to the entire Constitution and Bill of Rights for acting as quasi-governmental agents.

      If Alice, as a private property owner, does not wish to have guns on her property, and forbids a guest from bringing guns onto her property, how can you tell that Alice's decision represents her own authentic choice, or that Alice's decision represents "rank intimidation" from Democrats in charge of the government, based on their well-known hostility to the Second Amendment? Should Alice be compelled to accept guns onto her private property because she ought to be considered a "quasi-governmental agent" being intimidated by her government?

      I absolutely agree that it is possible for the government to intimidate and coerce people into doing things that they otherwise wouldn't do. But in order for this argument to be sound, there has to be a clear dividing line between what constitutes a person's authentic decision, and what constitutes an act of coercion. Otherwise it is all just special pleading based on the result of the decision. "I like that result, so that one must be an authentic choice. But I don't like that result, so that one must be government coercion."

      1. Here is my dividing line.

        In order for some government action to constitute "rank intimidation", it has to consist of more than just words and hot air. It has to consist of some tangible action that is directed against a specific target of said intimidation.

        Why is this important?

        Because EVERYONE has free speech rights. Even Senators. They have the right to say mean things about anyone they wish without it being construed as some NAP-violating coercion.

        When he was president, Donald Trump said a lot of mean and horrible things about CNN. Was he intimidating them? Was he coercing CNN to try to do his bidding? Or was he just running his mouth and tweeting?

        1. "In order for some government action to constitute “rank intimidation”, it has to consist of more than just words and hot air. It has to consist of some tangible action that is directed against a specific target of said intimidation."

          I don't know about you, but being required to appear in front of Congress to speak under oath...seems to be a tangible action does it not? Like you'd have to leave your job duties, retain council, etc. And what happens if they did it again and again and again?

          If a police officer keeps showing up at your house demanding that you answer questions and never charged what point is their continued harassment of you considered "tangible action"?

          How about when the DA of Illinoise (?) was sending letters about their concern that payment companies were working with companies like backpage? Did that not cross the line?

          (And of course I mention below the Hollywood Blacklist).

        2. In order for some government action to constitute “rank intimidation”, it has to consist of more than just words and hot air. It has to consist of some tangible action that is directed against a specific target of said intimidation.

          So, Fat Tony showing up at your house with Vinnie the Snake and Crazy Jimmy to insist you make a payment to them because otherwise you might find your place burned down and your kneecaps busted totally isn't rank intimidation. I mean, after all, it's just words and hot air, right?

          1. So Skinny Tony, a 14-year-old 120lb wimp, and his two similarly-built loser friends, show up at your door, and do the exact same thing. Is that "rank intimidation"?

            1. Can you even tie your shoes?

              1. His mom tied my shoes last night.

                1. Funny, she untied mine.

        3. Guess you're not a believer in incitement anymore...

        4. You make a good fascist.

          1. No, not good - just obedient.
            Doesn't have much of anything to offer beyond that.

      2. If that is the case, then EVERYTHING the government does is “rank intimidation”

        It is. Now you're starting to understand.

        1. Okay, so your typing right now is the result of "rank intimidation" from the government. Perhaps you should be considered an implicit agent of the state. Why not?

          1. How so? Show your work. You MIGHT have a case if I was self-censoring because I was worried government would kick me off a platform. Obviously I do not worry about that here.

            We can show exactly how the government intimidates FB and Twitter.

            Paying my taxes is done through rank intimidation.

            1. Cri is a total airhead.

        2. In this case, rank intimidation is suing to break up social media companies because they tolerate speech (AKA "misinformation") that contradicts the government .

          The Democrats want to use the coercive power of government to threaten making Facebook divest itself of Instagram and WhatsApp and Google to divest itself of YouTube on the basis of their willingness to tolerate certain kinds of speech--speech that is protected by the First Amendment. They claim that if there was more competition between platforms, there would be less tolerance of "misinformation" on those platforms, which is ludicrous. They don't care about competition forcing platforms to censor more speech like Rand Paul's. They simply want to intimidate social media companies into censoring speech that Democrats don't like by threatening to break them up.

          If the police arresting you for armed robbery or Congress declaring war on Japan is also rank intimidation by government, it isn't the kind of intimidation that clearly violates both the spirit and text of the First Amendment. How 'bout that?

      3. But in order for this argument to be sound, there has to be a clear dividing line between what constitutes a person’s authentic decision, and what constitutes an act of coercion.

        It isn't always such a bright line. People can do any number of things and be influenced in some way by any number of factors. Here, it is undisputed that social media companies like Youtube are towing the official government line on masking and that Democrats are proposing penalties for these same companies if they feature "health misinformation." It is reasonable to conclude that Democrats' actions are purely coercive and designed to intimidate these companies into compliance. It is also reasonable to conclude that Democrats' actions are having a non-trivial effect on these companies' decisions.

        1. Here, it is undisputed that social media companies like Youtube are towing the official government line on masking

          Is it out of coercion, or is it out of their authentic agreement with the position?

          After all, the government recommends that I brush my teeth every night, and I do (most nights). Is the government coercing me into brushing my teeth? Should I sue for an infringement of my rights?

          and that Democrats are proposing penalties for these same companies if they feature “health misinformation.”

          I think this is a horrible idea. But how do we know, as outside observers, whether this Health Misinformation Act is either intended to coerce social media companies into compliance with their will, or is their inept approach to solve a problem that they view as pressing?

          Suppose Senator Huffalumps proposes a tax increase on gasoline. Regardless of whether the tax increase is a good idea or not, is Senator Huffalumps motivated by a desire to solve some problem (infrastructure, environment) or is he motivated by wanting to punish and coerce ExxonMobil?

          I absolutely agree that depending on the circumstances the answer could be either one. But without clear standards what will end up happening, which is what has ended up happening when it comes to Big Tech, is to come to the most sinister conclusion possible and just assume that the government is out to coerce and punish everyone. And while government's actions are frequently bad, they are also not cartoon villains and we should understand what the actual motivations are.

          1. Well, until we get any of these people on the stand, with the real prospect of penalties for lying under oath, and also have the chance to review all of their internal communications, we will never know their motivations with complete certainty.

            1. "with the real prospect of penalties for lying under oath"

              So... never.

          2. Is it out of coercion, or is it out of their authentic agreement with the position?
            Well when Biden acknowledged the lab leak theory was plausible, social media changed their policies instead of banning him. What are the odds that these people change their position at the EXACT TIME that Biden does?

            Ditto third boosters and mask rules.

            1. No need to invoke odds, we aren't dealing with random variables here.



              Other platforms including Twitter have said that misleading claims about the virus’ roots may also violate its policies. But Facebook’s move marks the first major sign prominent social media companies are revisiting those rules as the Wuhan lab-leak theory gains attention.

              Asked whether Twitter plans to revisit its own rules on Covid-19 origin claims, a company spokesperson said late Wednesday they had no updates to share at this time. Twitter continues to "work in close consultation with global public health authorities" on coronavirus misinformation issues, the spokesperson said in a statement.

              A YouTube spokesperson confirmed in a statement Thursday that claims that the virus was man-made or originated in a lab accident do not violate the platform's policies because "there has not been consensus" on its origins. So the company's policy remains unchanged.

          3. Is the government coercing me into brushing my teeth?
            No, but I’m guessing someone should.

            1. They try, but he keeps eating all the damn toothpaste out of the tube.

        2. The government doesn't need to be guilty of outright coercion to be guilty of violating the First Amendment. Plenty of Supreme Court cases cite the "chilling effect" certain policies might have.

      4. You continue to make this odd argument. We aren't talking about the government banning misinformation. We are talking about the government very clearly signaling a type of speech they don't want, and then threatening the platform being punished if they don't ban that content.

        In the earliest case, we had the government specifically telling Big Tech leaders that they will be broken up if they don't reign in misinformation. In the case cited by Ken above, it is the government literally saying, "Stop anti-vaxxer speech, or we will make you liable for ALL speech from customers on your platform." They are basically saying, "Censor or get enough libel lawsuits that you will no longer function as a company".

        But let's flip this around. Where will you draw the line? At what point has the government crossed the line. Because as far as I can understand your logic, government could tell me to do anything unconstitutional as long as they merely threaten to ruin my business, and don't pass an actual law doing so.

        1. I said where I draw the line. Where do you draw the line? And where do you draw the line that protects the speech rights of ALL parties involved?

          1. So you would say that the Hollywood Blacklists were not unconstitutional then?

          2. Sorry, I missed the followup.

            Just to be clear- it is thus your position that the Hollywood Blacklists were not unconstitutional?

            1. Ugh- stupid squirrels.

              Anyway, the reason I call out the Hollywood Blacklists is that in a previous thread, you seemed to imply that the blacklists were different for some said people went to jail- but the government never sent people to jail for failing to have a Blacklist. They sent them to jail for failing to show up for a subpoena'd appearance....So is it unconstitutional when hauled in front of congress?

            2. I will answer your question, but we have had this discussion before and frankly I'm kinda tired of always being the guy having to defend his ideas.

              Why don't you present your idea of where you think the dividing line is between acceptable speech and unacceptable coercion, and I'll then be happy to address your question.

              1. No. We have gotten to this point and to my knowledge you have bailed at this point in the debate. If you answered it later in a thread I’d be happy to review it. Where is the link?

                In any case my point has been made clear and similar to Ken’s for awhile. When a legislator threatens to ruin your business or life if you don’t censor specific speech, then you doing so is government censorship.

                It is a fact that the government is threatening to ruin Google for many reasons one of them being failure to censor speech. That is the threat. They have specifically told the companies what speech to censor. The companies have done so. My line is clear. It has been crossed.

                As for being the guy who has to defends his ideas, I don’t really know what to do with that. If you tire of defending your ideas then maybe you should ask why. Around the time I get tired of defending my ideas is the time ask whether my bias towards the right has left me defending something that I know deep down is inconsistent with my principles.

                When I read your “no tangible action” statement it strikes me as something that you would absolutely never take in other contexts. (Say a police officer who follows a black man around a mall for hours but taking no tangible action).

                1. I once got real tired of defending no child left behind. And immigration restrictions. The first was my realization that my bias towards Team Red was leading me to abandon traditionally republican values. And when I tired of defending immigration restrictions, I realized my bias towards the GOP was leading me to accept socialist principles around market manipulation.

                  You might consider that maybe it is abandoning your principles when you say a government should be free to intimidate and threaten as long as no tangible action is taken.

                  1. Based on your discussion of immigration restrictions I can infer you are not from a border state?

                    Open borders do have a real cost. Towns in Texas are spending 10k a day trying to care for illegal immigrants or sending them elsewhere. Ajo Arizona had to empty their food banks due to the surge. Most Southern Arizona hospitals last their trauma 1 care centers from uncompensated costs of care.

                    Realizing born costs is not an anti libertarian ideal. I have noticed that those furtherst from the realized costs are the most open border set of people.

                    1. I have lived in border towns. And by and large the problems with the costs of illegal aliens are inflicted because the US Government and in less common cases, the towns themselves, have interfered in an otherwise orderly process.

                      I have family in Texas and California who never would have thought this needed to be such a fucking catastrophe. Many lived on either side of the border, and never had an issue transitioning from one side of the border to others.

                      Indeed, California has long had migrant workers coming to work on farms for peanuts in orderly and completely unremarkable fashions. Farms would recruit these workers, bus them up, house them, care and pay for them during the year and ship them back to Mexico at the end of harvest. But Democrats and Unions saw a class of potential grievance mongers, and Republicans saw potential to stir nativist rabble, and as a result the federal government intervened in all sorts of places that destroyed these market-based mechanisms.

                      Hold up for a minute and consider looking at this through the lens you view covid. We don't have mass unemployment and the utter devastation of small business because of COVID, but rather because of the GOVERNMENT REACTION to COVID. Now before reflexively disregarding my statements because they disagree with restrictionist dogma, consider for a second: maybe it isn't immigration that is the problem, but the government's reaction to it.

                      Consider that every year (prior to covinsanity) I would go skiing and EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. THERE. at the ski area was an immigrant. They were New Zealanders who the resort had gone and recruited, brought to the US, housed, fed and employed until they went home. For some reason this works just fine for Kiwis and worked fine for mexican laborers. But at some point we clamped down on south-of-the-border types, and all that recruitment has been driven underground and the costs of housing, feeding and managing immigrants is pushed on local towns.

                  2. You might consider that maybe it is abandoning your principles when you say a government should be free to intimidate and threaten as long as no tangible action is taken.

                    I don't think it is acceptable behavior. I don't think the government ought to be singling out specific people for being banned. But it is also *different* than claiming that it violates the First Amendment. I don't think it does.

                    1. So you are saying that the Hollywood Blacklists were not unconstitutional?

                    2. I don't think they were. An act can be both wrong and constitutional. They were most certainly wrong, but I can't justify how they violated the First Amendment.

                2. It is even simpler. When a major industry has a revolving door into an administration, receives billions in subsidies, and is also under consistent thread, the line is crossed.

                  Prof Volokh already cited precedence of the oth circuit in relation to this.

                3. Also we have direct of evidence and admittance from these companies of changing their policies to align with government.

                  It isnt a random coincidence like heff the fatwit is trying to claim.

                4. When a legislator threatens to ruin your business or life if you don’t censor specific speech, then you doing so is government censorship.

                  But my point is that with this position, you are classifying a lot of non-threatening speech as threats. For example, if Senator Huffalumps says, "If Facebook doesn't ban Overt, there will be consequences", is that "government censorship"? Or is that Senator Huffalumps making an idle threat as a part of ordinary political discourse?

                  And if that statement of "If Facebook doesn't ban Overt, there will be consequences", constitutes government censorship, then that should be illegal, right? So Senator Huffalumps should be thrown in jail? It's unpopular to recognize such around here, but senators have free speech rights too.

                  And if that statement does NOT constitute government censorship, then how much more tangible does the threat have to be before it becomes censorship in your view?

                  I do not mind defending my ideas, I just tire of being continually beat up by people who would much rather bitch and whine and complain rather than offer something constructive. I am not speaking of you specifically, just the general tenor around here. It is much easier to tear things down than it is to build things up.

                  When I read your “no tangible action” statement it strikes me as something that you would absolutely never take in other contexts. (Say a police officer who follows a black man around a mall for hours but taking no tangible action).

                  I wouldn't support a police officer doing that, but I also don't think he should be *thrown in jail* for doing nothing but racial profiling. Lose his job? Possibly, but not thrown in jail.

                    1. I know, right? Actually thinking through issues and considering multiple ramifications is a lot more difficult than emoting one's violent fantasies everywhere and indulging in nonsense paranoia

                    2. Do you believe the things you post?

                    3. Why should I believe that this is a good-faith question coming from you, R Mac, and not just another troll job?

                    4. I’ll take that as a no.

                    5. You should take that as "you're a fucking troll".

                  1. "But my point is that with this position, you are classifying a lot of non-threatening speech as threats."

                    No, I really am not. You are the one changing a real threat, "Stop allowing this specific speech (and here are account names) or we will break up your company" to "there will be consequences."

                    Are you deliberately changing my (and Ken's) argument to a weaker one we have not made? Why do you keep taking very specific actions (suing to break them up, hauling them in front of congress, etc) and broadening them to be vague threats? This isn't some senator going on CNN and pontificating off the cuff. These are actual powers of the Executive (prosecution) and Legislative (subpoenas) branch being exercised to these companies' detriment.

                    If it is just to figure out where to draw the line, fine. I am trying to do that. I have given you several examples including the Hollywood Blacklists, and recent activities with Google. I have said that subpoena'ing a company and suing it to be broken up are actual actions the government takes to force their censorship on those companies. **I am not suggesting that a senator pontificating on CNN is doing this**. So let's stop arguing that.

                    1. “Stop allowing this specific speech (and here are account names) or we will break up your company”

                      But that is not *specifically* what is happening. What is happening is, the executive branch is pursuing legal action in the name of anti-trust. The legislative branch is pursuing subpoenas in the name of neutral policy interests. If we are to say that these actions are *really* an *unconstitutional* attempt to subvert the First Amendment by government trying to censor people in a manner that they couldn't do so directly, then that means that we would be having to ask a court to try to divine the "true intentions" of Congress and the Executive Branch. And that is just really fraught with peril. There has to be some tangible action, that more objectively demonstrates this "true intentions" of Congress and the Executive Branch, that does not rely on some judge trying to read the minds of members of Congress or the President. We can say something is wrong without it necessarily being unconstitutional.

                  2. Why lose his job over taking no tangible action? Why any penalty at all?

            3. And since you did answer my question, I will answer yours.


              In The Constitution of Liberty, F. A. Hayek defines coercion as occurring “when one man’s actions are made to serve another man’s will, not for his own but for the other’s purpose.”

              I think that's a useful definition of coercion from a libertarian perspective. Now, there are times when the coercion *may* be justifiable, even from a libertarian perspective. For example, when an individual is subpoenaed before a court of law. That is definitely an example of the state coercing an individual to show up somewhere where he/she likely didn't want to go. But without this type of coercion, there could not be a functioning judicial system and no practical and fair way to decide on guilt or innocence.

              That is the type of coercion that the HUAC legislators were exhibiting towards the actors that were subpoenaed before them. Except they weren't trying to decide on guilt or innocence in some criminal or civil matter, as in a court of law, they were engaged in a witch-hunt to find the commies in Hollywood. They were abusing their legitimate coercive power of issuing subpoenas for illegitimate purposes. Many of the actors realized this and so they went to jail instead of complying.

              But even still I don't think it was *unconstitutional*. A thing can be very very wrong and yet still be constitutional after all. To declare even such unseemly abuses of power to be *unconstitutional* would be to open up an entirely new can of worms. Of course Congress, every time it exercises its subpoena power, will always present a neutral-sounding reason for the exercise of that power. HUAC was just trying to discover the degree of Communist infiltration in our Nation's institutions after all. To hear them describe it, how could that not be a legitimate national security issue? At least from their point of view. And if every individual who disagreed with a specific instance of the use of that power to compel testimony, were to accuse Congress of bad faith and bad motives and *unconstitutional* abuse of power, it would put the courts into the position of trying to second-guess Congress' motives. That would be a cure worse than the disease in the long run, I think. Not every abuse of power has a constitutional remedy.

              And so it is in this case, where Congress is issuing subpoenas to Big Tech CEOs to DC under a neutral-sounding reason of "regulating the tech sector" but really abusing the subpoena power to make threats and demands against these individuals to perform certain actions. Is it coercive? Yes. Is it wrong? Yes. Is it an abuse of power? Yes. But is it *unconstitutional*? Still, no.

              In my view, it would transform into an unconstitutional abuse of power if Congress were to engage in a *tangible formal action* which had the result of wresting the formal loci of control away from the companies and put it in the hands of the government.

              So, there is your answer.

              1. “In my view, it would transform into an unconstitutional abuse of power if Congress were to engage in a *tangible formal action* which had the result of wresting the formal loci of control away from the companies and put it in the hands of the government.”

                So the government would have to completely take control of the company for it to be coercion? That was a whole lot of words to just say you don’t know what coercion means.

                1. "Nothing short of explicit, de jure nationalization is unconstitutional"

                  (Though, let's be real here: we all know collectivistjeff will try to find a way to justify it in about 6-9 months)

                2. When are you going to set forth your thoughtful argument about which speech constitutes legal protected speech, which speech constitutes coercion, and which speech is (or should be) illegal unconstitutional abuse of power, and how to tell the difference between them? Hmm?

                  Oh no, more fun to just sit back and throw grenades into the conversation.

                  You and about 90% of the other posters here would rather bitch and moan endlessly instead of actually presenting ANY idea based on libertarian principles that would vigorously protect speech rights while at the same time punish coercion.

                  You have no original ideas, you are just an outrage factory and a troll.

                  1. Collectivistjeff is describing literally all he does here

              2. "In my view, it would transform into an unconstitutional abuse of power if Congress were to engage in a *tangible formal action* which had the result of wresting the formal loci of control away from the companies and put it in the hands of the government."

                First of all, noone is arguing that the government's actions are unconstitutional. They are arguing that at a certain point, the threats ("Do this or else we will do this") are real enough that actions being performed by the company are essentially state actions. And those actions may, or may not be constitutional.

                I think you are unnecessarily painting yourself into a corner that is totalitarian in nature. If we were to live by your reasoning- reasoning that even our Supreme Court rejects (despite being less libertarian than us)- then it would have all sorts of bad consequences. You are basically saying that Fat Tony can threaten you all he wants, and you'll just have to wait for him to bust up your shop before a "tangible action" has been taken. That's silly.

                Indeed, just try applying this logic to many more liberal causes and it would have appalling threats. FBI Agents could use threat of prosecution to get you to search someone's house without a warrant. Police could randomly stop people of color for walking in the wrong neighborhood.

                But set that aside. The government in this case has done more- it has appointed a prosecutor who is on record stating that Google needs to be broken up, at least partially because of allowing bad types of speech, and they are *actually* suing Google to do so.

                I would advise you to go read up on Prof Volokh's post discussing this. He surveys several cases where the law is attempting to distinguish between freedom of speech for an employee of the state and the point where their power to back up their threats is enough that their speech becomes the power of the government.

                Unsurprisingly, not everyone has the same power, and so their speech is classified differently. Nancy Pelosi, or the District Attorney of New York have more power to follow through on their threats than Some rando DMV clerk in BFE. And so, on a case by case basis, you will have to review the merits.

                Also the style of the speech has consequence. A District Attorney giving a speech at a convention is different from a letter that they sent on DA letterhead. (c.f. the Backpage lawsuits).

                1. First of all, noone is arguing that the government’s actions are unconstitutional. They are arguing that at a certain point, the threats (“Do this or else we will do this”) are real enough that actions being performed by the company are essentially state actions. And those actions may, or may not be constitutional.

                  But if those state actions are censorship, then it would most definitely be unconstitutional.

          3. Answer the question.

        2. Nice social media platform you got there.
          Be a shame if somethin' happened to it.

    2. It's not a carve out when the government is involved in Google's editorial decisions, and the government has been quite open about their involvement in Google's editorial decisions.

      1. How has the government been involved in Google's editorial decisions? Be specific.

        1. "How has the government been involved in Google’s editorial decisions? Be specific."

          You are unfamiliar with the Whitehouse brazenly saying that they have been sending names of people they want deplatformed? That we know for a fact that YouTube was pulling specific videos when the State of California notified them that they felt the videos contradicted the State's info?

          1. He has to pretend he doesn't know any of that.

            1. Pretending he doesn’t know things that are common knowledge to people paying attention is one of the many different was lying Jeffy is dishonest.

              1. Different ways.

              2. Says the guy who is too chickenshit to own up to his own lies.

                1. You got caught lying this very morning. What lies are you referring to?

                  1. No, you invented a "lie" by twisting my words out of context, because that is the kind of slimeball that you are.

                    You lied just the other day. Remember how the government is supposedly saying vaccines are "completely safe with no side effects"?

                    1. Collectivistjeff is lying right now.
                      It's almost exclusively what he does.

                    2. Then you were provided multiple examples of Fauci, Biden, and the state government of Michigan saying the vaccines were safe, and instead of providing examples of them discussing side effects, you ran off.

                      But here’s your lie from this morning again, where you said Rand Paul was a swamp creature, then said you were just quoting an article.


                      So again I ask, why lie while attacking Rand Paul?

                    3. You claimed that the government claims that the vaccines are "completely safe with no side effects". That is the lie. You cannot present a quote from anyone in a position of authority who ever claimed such an absurd thing. And I can see why you want to change the subject on the matter because it was such an obvious lie.

                      Be a man for a change, not a troll, and just admit you were wrong.

                    4. Do you think Rand Paul is a swamp creature?

            2. I'm not aware of the State of California case.
              With regards to what Biden did, yes it was creepy and unbecoming and no president ever should be singling out individuals to be banned from anywhere. But again I don't know if that crosses the line.

              1. “But again I don’t know if that crosses the line.”

                You’ve dug your heels in so far, nothing Biden does could ever cross your line.

              2. I posted the California case to you fuckwit.

          2. Lina Khan coauthored the House Democrats' 400+ page report, released back in October of 2020, in which they spelled out how they would break up each big tech company and why--with the tolerance for misinformation on their platforms being cited specifically as a reason to break them up.

            Joe Biden subsequently appointed Lina Khan to be the chair of the FTC, which has antitrust cases pending against both Facebook and Amazon. Biden voiced support for the Democrat plan to break big tech up during his campaign, and his Justice Department is suing to break up Google.

            If ChemJeff demands that someone prove the gun in the bank robber's hand was meant to intimidate, then he's being willfully blind. It's that kind of willfully stupid shit that made me mute him. And I bet I still haven't missed a single legitimate insight for not reading his silly comments.

            I used to get emails from princes in Nigeria who promised to pay me to help them transfer money out of their country, but then I got a spam filter. Who knows? Maybe I'm missing out on some real money making opportunities, but I doubt it. Chem Jeff is like an email from a Nigerian prince, and the spam filter is the "Mute User" button.

            1. This sort of reminds me of Napster back in the day. The 'powers' had one chance to 'control' file sharing, but instead they blew up Napster and spawned tons of clones that were never going to be controlled. Breaking up Facebook might have the same result. (if they were actually dumb enough to do it. I think they understand one FB is easier to control than 10 mini FBs.)

              1. Honestly the best thing that can happen is that this spurs people to create truly decentralized services. In many ways, BitTorrent solves the hardest part of being YouTube or Vimeo- the large capital costs associated with storing and transmitting video.

                A P2P file share could likewise solve for social media and even a search index. Then it is just a matter of creating decentralized layers above that which query your index. Imagine what happens to google when every owner of a Brave Browser basically helps power a competitor- getting advertising revenue for their own searches as well as for any compute/storage resources they donate to the distributed system. That is the end game.

                1. Mastodon solves this problem, but people are tied to their contact lists. What if your phone would only let you call people with the same wireless carrier? How would you get people to switch once they had all their friends and family on the same carrier? That's the real barrier to competition.

                  1. While I am a fan of Mastodon, I am talking about a distributed search engine. Google's hegemony exists because they get BILLIONS from Paid Search advertisements. They can be loss-leaders on countless industries for years because of one ad product- the paid search results.

                    This is a self perpetuating cycle. It costs billions of dollars to create a search index- crawling every webpage, making a local copy, extracting keywords, indexing and ranking the results. This enormous barrier to entry has ensured that essentially 2 companies (Google and Bing) are left to do this (even Duck Duck Go relies on Bing results).

                    There are thousands of bitcoin miners around the world. There are millions of p2p bittorrent nodes around the world. Imagine what would happen if a crypto-currency based distributed network were created. It is funded by advertisers bidding for search results. That revenue gets split against people performing searches and people giving their compute/storage resources to the network.

              2. It's kinda hilarious that the leftists aren't content with their Party's control via their de facto nationalization of Big Tech, which allows for the superficial and dogmatic pRiVaTe cOmPaNy argument to be made, but seem intent upon making it de jure.
                I guess it's not enough to manipulate and control the proles, the proles need to know they're being controlled.

                1. “How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?“

                  Winston thought. “By making him suffer”, he said.

                  “Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own?"

      2. I'm not sure what you're going for here, Moonrocks, but I am saying that this bill is Congress trying to punish social media platforms for tolerating certain kinds of speech that are well protected by the First Amendment.

        1. It's not a carve out in the first amendment for the government to order private companies to do their work for them, a la the government sending a list of persons "spreading misinformation" and having "private companies" silence them.

          1. To clarify, yes, I understand that it will be treated like a carve out in the first amendment by a large portion of the legislature, the judiciary, and almost the entire executive regardless of the law as written.

    3. If someone else can find a carve out in the First Amendment for laws that abridge the right to spread “misinformation”, I don’t see it.

      Well, I guess at least you're being honest that you don't see Section 230 as a carve out of the 1A that abridges people's right to spread "misinformation". Good luck convincing everyone else that invisible pink unicorns don't exist with that plank in your eye.

    4. I'm still trying to figure out how this law is even supposed to work. There are plenty of actual publishers that publish misinformation. Being wrong doesn't expose you to liability in the general case. If you are speaking as a professional...maybe. If you are harming someone's reputation, I guess... But unless Bill Gates suddenly gets interested in sueing YouTube for hosting a video claiming he puts chips in the vaccines, I am really not sure what removing a liability shield for activity unlikely to result in liability is supposed to accomplish.

  25. So, an interesting thought experiment.

    Senator Huffalumps puts up a Youtube video that says "Drink bleach, it can cure COVID".

    Bob watches the video, drinks bleach, and dies.

    Is Senator Huffalumps, or Youtube, responsible at all (at least morally, if not legally) for Bob's death?

    Here is another interesting thought experiment.

    Senator Huffalumps posts another Youtube video that says "Don't wear a seat belt, they are useless."

    Alice, watches the video, drives, gets in a wreck and dies. The responders report that Alice's lack of wearing a seatbelt contributed to her death.

    Is Senator Huffalumps, or Youtube, responsible at all (at least morally, if not legally) for Alice's death?

    1. When Fauci and the Surgeon General were telling the public not to mask up, only to then do a complete 180 and beat the drum that masks save lives and everyone must wear them, and Fauci says he lied* about the uselessness of mask wearing, are they at least morally, if not legally, responsible for the people who followed their original advice?

      *Fauci/Surgeon General were actually telling the truth originally, but that's beside the point.

    2. Literally no one in this debate is talking about liability. Liability can be proven in court on the basis of facts in front of a jury.

      We are talking about Prior Restraint here. Do you understand how that is different?

      1. I am asking a different question, which is why I posed it as a thought experiment.

        1. You switch questions when you lose the argument like most sophists.

          1. He's amazingly consistent with this tactic, as you can see throughout the covid threads just this week.

          2. Not only that, but switches in the face of current and widespread practice (as opposed to counter-conjecture).

            "Damn you reality! Quit addressing my problems and answering questions before I ask them and just indulge my fantasies!"

    3. This is not an interesting thought experiment.

      1. She is not terribly bright.

    4. So, an interesting thought experiment.

      Lying Jeffy doesn’t peddle his lefty bullshit here. How much better would the site be?

    5. Morally, YouTube has zero responsibility in either case. YouTube identifies the source of every video. It is clear to anyone who has heard of social media that YouTube did not screen nor endorse the content. Should the media stop reporting on statements made by politicians that might be false? Because, effectively, all YouTube is doing is reporting on what Sen. Huffalumps said, with no commentary as to whether or not it is accurate.

      Morally, I suppose Sen. Huffalumps could bear some responsibility for using his/her voice to encourage harmful behavior. Though, ultimately, in any free society, people bear ultimate responsibility for their own actions, and anyone who trusts a politician on anything is an idiot.

      Further thought experiment: if a commenter on a libertarian website makes reference to common misinformation (specifically, that Trump encouraged supporters to drink bleach) but does so purely in a thought experiment that doesn't reference the prior administration, but is worded in such a way that everyone knows exactly what they are talking about, do they have moral responsibility for that misinformation continuing to circulate?

  26. "Paul did not address the substantial body of evidence cited by the CDC, which suggests that cloth masks do "work," at least to some extent."

    The same CDC that gets its data from a New York Times infographic? The CDC who based their policy recommendations on data from Provincetown, during Bear Week? The CDC, who's spent the past two decades studying gun violence and climate change, instead of studying infectious disease and pandemic? Those guys?

    That's entirely the point of citing other research, by different entities that are NOT the CDC- because the CDC has beclowned itself over the past 18 months, and there's more than enough reason to doubt their findings.

    1. The same CDC that decided it could seize rental properties from landlords and force them to quarter people on the government payroll, violating the 5th and 3rd Amendments.

  27. Literally all the data shows that mask mandates don't work in the real world. And it's obvious why when you look at how people wear them in the real world. No matter how awesome your fresh new mask works in the lab, that's hot how people wear masks.

    I can't believe we're 18 months into this thing and the "libertarians" haven't even looked at the actual data from the actual real world. It's overwhelmingly convincing. But don't take my word for it, go look it up yourself.

    1. Why don't you start with a few links that you found to be convincing.


        The virus is seasonal. It moves exactly when and where the seasonality theorists say that it will. You don't have to have links to convince you because the actual data from the actual real world tells you the truth. If masks worked, you'd see a separation between those places that didn't use them and those that did. Instead, the metrics are grouped by climate. It's why LA is once again having a summer spike this year while Idaho isn't.

        1. And this has been proven rigorously? Do you have a link to that?

          1. rigorously. move them posts.

            1. The CDC has never shown rigorous proof that its mask and distancing recommendations do anything significant to prevent transmission, but they get a pass.

              1. And they can't, because they don't. If there were any sort of correlation at all, they would be screaming it from the rafters just like they are yammering about the least vaxxed states with the most cases -- ignoring these are the exact states that had a problem last year at this time as well.

                They will once again have to eat shit when the winter wave crashes over the whole country.

                1. They will not eat shit, they will place blame on others.

                  1. The reason why they keep lying and taking away rights and freedoms is because none of them ever face any consequences for lying and taking away rights and freedoms.

                    Concentration camps/gulag, pogroms/genocides, and mass confiscations aren't like flipping a switch where everyone's a decent, sane person then all of a sudden goes along with mass atrocities. There are steps along the way.

                  2. Fuck. You're 100% correct.

            2. rigorously

              Pretty sure the muscles have all locked up on the thousands upon thousands of bodies after months and months of even hospital workers wearing masks at every opportunity...

          2. All the data says the same thing. If you don't believe me (and you shouldn't), you can look it all up yourself. A good place to start is California, where we have multiple counties with multiple rules all with the same curves. As a headstart here's some of the info contained in one page:


            The data tracks with seasonality, not NPIs. This has been obvious since last summer when the virus basically disappeared up north while moving into the sunbelt, exactly as predicted by Hope-Simpson. This is also how we were able to tell you exactly when and where the summer spike would happen. It's also how we're able to tell you what's next -- the sunbelt spike fades, there's a slight lull, and then starting in Mid-October we see the winter wave start in the midwest, where the weather turns first.

            1. I'm sorry but that is not a scientific study. That is some guy with charts and sarcasm.

              1. I'm showing you the data that you can see for yourself. As I said, you should look it all up yourself. Don't trust me or this guy who runs the page with the data on it.

                Of course you will never do that because you know exactly what the data shows, and if you look it up for yourself you can't impugn the source.

              2. As if you would know a scientific study from a gum wrapper. You have no credentials, and therefore no reason for anyone here to believe a word you say. What you do have is an obsequiousness that defies reality.

              3. Jeff continues to prove his ignorance thread after thread.

            2. Many will say that this proves nothing because people don't follow the rules. If only those wreckers and kulacks or the three trump supporters living in the city or whomever would have worn the masks, we would see this working.

              But pretty much nobody locked down as hard as Los Angeles. A friend visited me in OC back around October and was completely in awe that people were walking into restaurants (he hadn't been in one for 7 months) and walking around outside without masks.

              If Los Angeles couldn't get enough compliance to make mask mandates work, nobody can. Which is enough to say Mask Mandates don't work.

              Now as to whether or not masking in and of itself works, I don't know or particularly care. You should wear a mask if it suits you and let me make my own fucking decision. Letting individuals decide this without demanding some national one-size-fits-all policy used to be something libertarians cared about. But now it seems to be "Hey you are an idiot if you don't see the science my way, but I guess maybe you should have the freedom to do that maybe."

              1. Exactly the case! Even if masks COULD somehow work, we'd not only have to start policing mask/no mask but HOW YOU ARE WEARING THE MASK. This is clearly untenable. At some point you have to realize the limits of your ability to enforce rules. Tell people the truth and let them make up their own minds.

                1. Cop in DC got stabbed to death for harassing some guy about wearing a mask.
                  That guy may have been nuts (he killed himself so we won't know), but it would not be surprising if this sort of thing starts happening with some frequency as people finally snap.

                  1. 80% of these airplane flights you see on the news start with an argument about masks.

          3. Lying Jeffy doesn’t want vigorous proof that masks DO work, just vigorous proof that they DON’T. Wonder why?

          4. Rigorously? You mean on like 300 million people? Is that a big enough data set?

      2. Jeff this is for fire smoke in my region but it can apply to everything

        1. Those cloth and paper masks you have been using are to contain water droplets. They can't block smoke. And Schmidt says even an N-95 mask doesn't help unless it fits perfectly.
          Viruses are smaller than smoke particles. Anyone who thinks they will stop viruses is kidding themselves.
          Also, the Covid travels in vapor, not droplets.

          1. Also, the Covid travels in vapor, not droplets.

            It travels both ways.

            1. 78% of covid hospitalizations are obese patients. When will you outlaw your precious cookies?

  28. Sullum would do so, so much better to make a libertarian argument. Any libertarian argument.

    There is a study, or a scientific critique of a study to support our every bias. No matter what Sullum or Paul puts up there, there is someone with competing data.

    Just look at Sullum. You can tell it kills him to agree with Paul, so he finds someone to criticize the study as somehow flawed because the masking-group in the study didn't use a hospital laundry service. How that is relevant in judging the mask's effectiveness in the public (a public that ALSO doesn't use a hospital laundry service) is beyond me. But it is enough to let Sullum tut-tut at Paul.

    So put away the damn studies and let's talk first principles. It is an infringement of liberty to force people to wear masks. It is an infringement of liberty for the government to call on dissenters to be silenced, and quite possibly for the private actors currently being investigated by that government to then follow through with silencing them.

    If there is one thing I have learned over the last year, it is that everyone needs to evaluate the science themselves. Our family of young, fit people has different risk profiles than our neighbors who have elderly in the house, or other neighbors who have someone that is immuno-compromised. If the public weren't so wrapped up in telling one another what to do, we could all make the decisions that impact our family at levels of risk we are comfortable with. But instead, Sullum wants to scold Paul for using facts that Sullum doesn't agree with. Why is that? How does that advance the cause of liberty?

    1. Stop saying "the public is obsessed with telling you what to do" - it's leftists, because they are totalitarians.
      Know your enemy.

    2. People are allowed to have opinions, and to cite studies that support those opinions. No one has a duty to consider any and all studies that might counter their opinion. Then other people can pick up that task, and try to show with data why they are wrong. That's the way informed debate used to work in this country. No need to deplatform anyone.

  29. But what about the CO2 we’re breathing in because of masks and dinosaur breath from the Pleistocene Age. Did those ivory tower pencil neck scientist geeks think of that? Geesch... science and objective reality are so 1996.

  30. Stating the obvious is now considered misinformation.
    Exaggerating slightly to make your point ("no value" vs. "very little proven value") now makes your claim "mostly false" according to the fact-checkers. And private companies will deplatform you from the public square for saying something that may be accepted wisdom a few months from now.

  31. Literally the only conclusion from the article is that cloth masks are worse than medical masks. It does not state either way (and that hurts Paul's claime too) whether cloth masks had a net positive or negative effect.

    "The study design does not
    allow us to determine whether medical masks had effi-
    cacy or whether cloth masks were detrimental to HCWs
    by causing an increase in infection risk. Either possibil-
    ity, or a combination of both effects, could explain our
    results. It is also unknown whether the rates of infection
    observed in the cloth mask arm are the same or higher
    than in HCWs who do not wear a mask, as almost all
    participants in the control arm used a mask. "

    They also mention the possible countervailing effects of the masks. Continuing in the same section: "The phys-
    ical properties of a cloth mask, reuse, the frequency and
    effectiveness of cleaning, and increased moisture reten-
    tion, may potentially increase the infection risk for
    HCWs. The virus may survive on the surface of the face-
    masks,29 and modelling studies have quantified the con-
    tamination levels of masks.30 Self-contamination through
    repeated use and improper doffing is possible. For
    example, a contaminated cloth mask may transfer patho-
    gen from the mask to the bare hands of the wearer. We
    also showed that filtration was extremely poor (almost
    0%) for the cloth masks. Observations during SARS sug-
    gested double-masking and other practices increased the
    risk of infection because of moisture, liquid diffusion
    and pathogen retention.31 These effects may be asso-
    ciated with cloth masks."

    1. Now now, we cannot have a discussion of science here. The dogma is settled:

      Masks don't work 100%, therefore they are 0% useless.
      At this point the governments of the world know this, but insist on imposing masks anyway as a naked exercise in power and control.
      Always, always, the most sinister explanation is the correct one. That is the Reason Way around here.

      1. So in your fallacy the powerful politicians know this, and yet continue to cavort maskless. If it even gives some percentage of protection why not continue to use them? Because they know it doesn't.

        You can continue to keep your lips firmly pressed to their buttocks, you can undermine them. I do not care which.

        1. Mistakes are made, politicians are human, they are flawed and deserve forgiveness, even while they offer no such niceties to their subjects. Mask have proven effective in sanitized laboratory conditions, therefore Masks Today, Masks Tomorrow, Masks Forever.

          Except for the Delta.

        2. Not only do politicians NOT wear mask - no 'managerial' class does be it cops or medical bureaucrats at their parties. We have Fauci on tape speaking in a mask and when the cameras are off he removes it. There are countless examples of this across North America. Yet, the useful idiot class still debate the merits of something that has NO VALUE.

          Sometimes I wonder if we deserve what's coming for being degenerate cowards. If there's one thing this scam showed me is how incredibly weak the West really is. And dumb as fuck. We laugh at Newfoundland and West Virginia but at the end of the day, Covid exposed Westerners ain't all that bright.

          And what could be more of an example than watching punkers act anything but like punkers submitting to masks, vaccines and government power. Losers.

          Last, I'm not convinced politicians didn't get a saline or placebo. And it's not just the low-educated turning on the vaxx, people with PhD's are the biggest class who aren't vaccinating and buy into masks. Maybe because they RESEARCH and know what's up?

      2. You just dismissed actual data above shithead. And now you say you can't discuss science here? Fuck off.

      3. Find a state, any state, where a mask mandate stopped the virus from spreading and prevented the seasonal spikes.

    2. “The physical properties of a cloth mask, reuse, the frequency and effectiveness of cleaning, and increased moisture retention, may potentially increase the infection risk for

      This right here is the crux of the mask issue, and the point Paul and MANY others have been making all along- outside of a healthcare environment, and without proper wear and sanitation, masks are not effective at preventing community spread. Sullum is just splitting hairs when he jumps on the "masks don't work" phrasing. He's well aware of the actual argument- that masks are not effective at preventing community spread specifically BECAUSE regular, non-HCW, people don't wear them properly and don't clean them properly, so mask mandates don't work and are an unnecessary infringement on personal liberty.

  32. Skwire's Law: All politicians are asshats. That includes Rand Paul. Hell, it includes Ron Paul, who was the inspiration for Skwire's law. No matter how godlike you think your politician, they are still human and subject to human frailties and foibles and shit. Especially politicians.

    If he runs for Prezident I'll probably vote for him, but because he's a politician I'll still hold my nose when I do.

    1. At least Ron didn't want to run your life. Of course he's human but that's as close to a super-human trait as we see -- having power but not being interested in using it. (Of course, maybe if he was elected he would have turned evil, who knows!)

  33. Paul has a point. But in this case, his flat, categorical statements about cloth masks are stronger than the scientific literature supports, relying on a couple of cherry-picked studies with known limitations while ignoring countervailing evidence.

    Except social media constantly hosts categorical statements based on favorable research and omitting countervailing evidence. It's called argumentation. Paul's presentation wasn't a symposium on the meta-analyses of the scientific literature on medical hygiene. It was an argument that we shouldn't impose new mask mandates. In case you haven't noticed, those arguing the opposite position (including the government) have presented selective data supportive of their position. Hell, if you look the social media companies themselves have selectively omitted data that contradicts a particular narrative.

    1. Moreover, at least traditionally and nominally in US history, the law presumes innocence and strives for a least burdensome approach. The burden of irrefutable proof is on those trying to pass the law and convict the guilty. The accused need only provide a rational basis, a shadow of a doubt. When Paul provides evidence that masks don't work at least a portion of the time for people with the virus, and the unequivocal evidence is that masks do literally nothing to stop people who don't have the virus from spreading the virus, the correct moral and legal response is for the law to be drawn back and/or retailored so that only those susceptible or affected need masks.

      Even if you hate democracy and individual liberty, this is the(/a more) rational path. The only way you would desire otherwise is if you wanted the government to be more intrusive, waste more money, and foment more resentment.

  34. *sigh*

    Pay particular fucking attention to the part about the importance of incorrect ideas-- and in addition, the value of free speech, not just from the speaker's point of view, but from the listener's POV.

  35. I'm just going to leave this here, and I'd like to read the followup comments.

    My company just reinstated its mask mandate because CDC guidance (that apparently came from an infographic at the NYT) said they should do so.

    So here I set, vaccinated, amongst other people-- also vaccinated, for 8 hours a day with a mask on (except when I eat and drink, except when they eat or drink, or when they just wear it around their chin. I eat with my hands, with often rest on the surface of my desk. I wash my hands... here and there, but not studiously or every few minutes. I don't act like a Howie Mandell germophobe, so if those so-called covid droplets are in the air and settling on my desk, there's probably somewhere around 100% chance those virii are entering my mouth/nose.

    Having become particularly frustrated with our national COVID policy, and the fact that I'm a vaccinated, rule-following idiot who's done everything I've been told in this pandemic with the promise that everything would get back to normal (after two weeks of curve-flattening), I'm beginning to feel emboldened about talking to my coworkers. I took an informal survey. I asked several of them, if this disease is the plague of the 21st (and 20th-- according to Fauci) century, wouldn't it be realistic that at least one of us knew someone who had died from it. I know of people who know of people who have died. But I don't know, nor do/did I have any friends or associates that died, or even got particularly sick.

    One person said that a person they knew was hospitalized with it. When I asked about the details of that hospitalization-- was he in ICU, on a respirator, etc. She said that he was kept overnight with IV fluids because he was dehydrated.

    Isn't it reasonable that many of us would be directly connected to... SOMEONE who died of this disease?

    I fully understand this is entirely circumstantial, but the so-called hard data has become so theoretical and disconnected from the reality of anyone I know, I'm getting increasingly suspicious.

    1. The people I've heard about who died were friends of friends or friends of family elsewhere in the country, and most of them seem to have been healthcare workers or family members that lived with them.

      1. In my case it was a housemate who'd also been a friend of 30+ years. It went thru his church (including the pastor), closing them. Might not have affected him so badly if his diabetes drugs hadn't stopped working shortly before he caught it. I miss him badly.

        1. So sorry for your loss.

    2. If you assume the numbers are accurate, the deaths from this have been 1 in 600 people in the US. Do you know 600 people?
      Oddly enough, the average American knows 600 people.
      Your instincts may be correct.

      1. But this is also a clustering effect with the disease. In some parts of the country, it is 700 deaths out of 1 million while in other parts of the country it is 3000 deaths out of 1 million.

        It is entirely likely that there are people who know noone who died while there are people who know 5 or 6. I have a work colleague who has lost 3 family/friends back east, and a parent of my kids friends who lost his uncle and father. But then many more acquaintances (and myself) who have lost no one in 1 degree of separation.

    3. The further people's everyday experience of reality deviates from the (mass psychotic) narrative the powers that be push as reality, the more brainwashing they need to broadcast and the more censorship they need to engage in.

      I'm not confident in how I've worded the above, so I'll say it more succinctly: they are censoring Rand (and others) and constantly blasting scary numbers with no context precisely because their story doesn't match reality.

      1. One might call it an issue of the "sensory gap" that exists between what people are actually experiencing and what they want people to think they're experiencing.

        Your direct experience does not match the plague infested world they're selling and using to justify their actions, so they have to bombard your consciousness with messages telling you what to feel to overcome that absence of direct sense.

        It's the attempt to manufacture common sense via central planning...

    4. Obviously anecdotal but I have only heard of someone who knew someone, that one person had cancer and was not going to make it anyway.

      I don"t discount there were extra deaths, we'll see it in the stats, but honestly destroying our nation and economy is not worth it. The line between life and death can be pretty thin sometimes, we just have to accept we cannot control this. The insane left won't come to grips with that, they have thrown in with the worst of the 20th century's totalitarians, and must be banished from power.

      1. The real question we'll have to suss out is -- how many of those excess deaths were caused by our reaction to the virus? Throwing covid patients into nursing homes obviously was a huge factor, because the states that did that still top the death charts. Suicides, overdoses, deaths of loneliness, missed medical treatment.....the number must be staggering. And we'll be adding to that price for years and years to come.

        1. Not only that. How much of it PROLONGED the health crisis?

          My bet is the strategy of mass vaccination will trigger Bastiat's 'unseen'.

          Like the New Deal prolonged the Depression and ushered in the age of the technocratic interventionism in the economy thus killing off capitalism as we knew it then and the vaccines and masks were ineffective during the Spanish flu, this will fall under this category.

          In fact, this is going down as the greatest moral panic in history because it also has the added feature of miscreants and medical malpractice galore and crimes against humanity. We've destroyed our Constitutions and behaved unethically to levels no person with a properly set moral code could accept.

          But it looks like we have a lot of people who would gladly segregate against 'unvaccinated' people who made a free choice. It's not like these vaccines stop transmission. Heck, they don't even stop the vaccinated from spreading it. So what the fuck are we talking about passports and mandates?

          For a man-made virus with a high survival rate we're ready to sacrifice what little of real liberty we had? Are you insane? 9/11 is gonna look like a pic-nic by the time the criminal incompetent medical bureaucrats are done with us and Reason will be there clapping and cheering them on because - mumm, mumm, mumm - COVID.

          Covid and people gave me cancer. 18 months of me staring in shock at the utter stupidity of all this - and Jesus fucken Christ what the fuck is going on at the CDC? Walensky is a lunatic. How the fuck can a health agency control landlords? America is off the rails like Canada is. You should see the winners in Quebec. I seriously believe they're just above median IQ.

          And then we have dear old Tony Fauci the Keebler elf still out there sprouting off orders sounding more and more like Abe Simpson.

          I bet you he wears slippers when he talks. He's 80 years old. He brought nothing but misery. Stopped early effective treatment and is creating a universal vaccine nightmare.

          Fin rant.

    5. You're 100% correct and it was an interesting change from where I stood. At the start, everybody was scared. Then this winter suddenly everybody knew people who tested positive. Almost everybody knew MULTIPLE people who tested positive. And, except for the already very sick, nobody had an issue at all. Even in idiot-laden Washington, the tide started turning.

      This year I expect a completely different scenario. This winter, everybody is going to know somebody who got jabbed and then got sick.

      1. Or another popular thing is getting sick twice.

      2. The vaccines are an epic failure.

        1. The vaccines have proven highly effective (they are not foolproof, nor risk free, of course). In LA, 70% of people were vaccinated. 99% of the people hospitalized for COVID were unvaccinated. So your risk is reduced about 230 times if you are vaccinated.

          That said, most people are at very low risk from COVID-19. The point of the vaccine is mostly to do your part to not spread it to other people. Getting vaccinated helps, a lot. Mask mandates are just theater.

          1. I personally know 5 people who have had breakthrough cases and 2 who have been re-infected. I know 1 who died from covid (with many underlying conditions) and 1 who tested positive only after death but who had pneumonia (over 90 years old.)
            This is before pointing out the number of prominent public figures who have had breakthrough cases. While it is anecdotal, I do have trouble believing in the efficacy of the vaccines. I'll grant that they are more effective than my anecdotal experience, but it does seem the data is being massaged and messaging about them is vastly overstated

          2. The Vaccine does not form a hermetic seal around your body. It doesn't suddenly make your body poisonous to the Coof. COVID still gets into your body, and infects cells, multiplying faster and faster until your body is able to mount a defense and eradicate it. The vaccine merely improves (by great amounts) your body's ability to fight the virus off.

            So it is stupid that the Vaccine is being painted as a tool for "Stopping the Spread" of the virus. Because vaccinated people who are infected will still have the virus replicating in their body, shedding off (to one extent or another) until their body is able to fight it off.

            I am not saying that the vaccine is ineffective at slowing the spread. It most surely is. But it doesn't make us immune to super spreader events. An infected, vaccinated person who is only infected for one day while his body defeats the virus, is probably contagious for that day. And if they go to a club in Provincetown to bump and grind with a bunch of other sweaty bodies, they will probably pass the virus on to some others.

            People should take the vaccine to lower the chances that they die or have other complications. Trying to sell the vaccine as a way to stop the virus cold was always doomed to failure while also needlessly dividing the country. If the government had just said "This is how you survive the virus" and stopped trying to condition societal freedoms on our decisions, we would not be in this position where half the country doesn't believe the experts and the other half wants to hide in the shadows like a beaten wife.

            1. Instead, they're scapegoating the unvaccinated for the 'breakthrough' cases, pushing vaxx passports and now restricting movement. Here in Canada, it's getting worse by the week as the Feds announced mandatory vaccines for Fed workers and proof of vaxx to fly or take the train. It only gets worse from here.

              And for a vaccine with waning efficacy - now down below 60%! - and studies showing won't do anything against Lambda.

              They should have done what you said but didn't. Now what? They're painted themselves in a corner with a vaccine that's not only incapable of stopping transmission or provide full protection but may in fact be the cause of deadlier variants as several virologists warned would happen (Montagnier, Vanden Bossche, Bhakdi and Yeadon are the main ones) is going to be useless in a few months. All they had to do is say 'It's here come get it and we'll see.' Instead they're unethically ramming it through. That's why it's an epic failure.

              It has frayed the social order for little gain. It's trench warfare.

  36. Is this the same Rand Paul who 16 months late said his spouse bought stocks in Gilead in regards to covid 19 treatment?

    That same shitbag who is selling us the fuck out so he and his missus can make some money?

    Fuck him and fuck the fact that nothing will come of it. His ass should be in prison, not banned from some stupid social media platform.

    1. Jeff already tried this leftist talking point this morning. It went badly for him.

      1. Just another sock.

    2. "Fuck him"

      Leave your fantasies out of the thread, bro.

    3. Oh look, another use for that Mute User button. Awful jackass.

  37. God, go fuck yourself Sullum. Do the world a favor and shut the fuck up. You're no Libertarian, just another asswipe Authoritarian.

  38. Saw this pop up in a search, and figured it would be some leftist libertarian bullshit.


    1. No, just leftist. Nothing libertarian about it.

      1. It really is interesting how out of the way Reason goes to outright attack or at the least not defend Ron and Rand Paul. Here we have the most libertarian Senator and they can't find the motivation to openly stand on his side of issues. Who they choose to attack and defend reveals that the writers here are in no way libertarian.

  39. For the love of fucking God. Over one year about the masks and still people claim these stupid pseudoscientific amulets work? The CDC is citing junk science. Most mask studies supporting masks are garbage.

    And let's forget this useless habit is noxious and comes with all sorts of potential mid-long term impacts.

    This is getting tiresome and WORRISOME. Aside from all this, the tribal righteousness that has settled among the mask-vaxxed is frightening and legitimately has me concerned. I don't expect Reason to explore this psychological phenomena (masks have all but assured Stockholm Syndrome has set in) and how it relates to, you know, LIBERTY, but this situation is NOT GOOD.

    Here you go Jacob. Feel free to peruse. Try and come back and defend this stupidity.

    1. Over 100 studies here:

      Sweden and Norway. NO MASKS.

      Go. Fuck. Yourselves. Cucks.

  40. The masks aren't pseudo scientific amulets, they're collars to mark you as owned.

    1. That too.


    In our modern era, people cannot merely be ordered to submit at gunpoint, at least not right away. They must be tricked into conforming, and not only that, but they must be made to think that it was THEIR IDEA all along. Without this dynamic of self censorship and self enslavement, the population will eventually rebel no matter how oppressive the regime. A thousand year tyranny cannot exist unless a number of people are conned into applauding it, or, they directly benefit from it.

    And this is where we find the true key to totalitarianism – It only thrives because there is an inherent portion of any given society that secretly loves it and wants it to exist. We might call these people useful idiots, but it is much more than that. They are not necessarily unaware of what they are doing; they understand to some extent that they are helping in the destruction of other people’s freedoms…and they revel in it. Sure, there are elitists and globalists that levy core conspiracies and seek out more and more control, but they could not accomplish much of anything without the aid of the army of sociopathic aberrations that live among us.

  42. The literature consensus in Jan 2020 was that masks have no significant effect on respiratory virus transmission. Paul could have cited significantly more than 2 studies. There have even been meta-analyses done that could find no significant effect.

    AFAIK, the studies the CDC cites are not controlled studies, but mechanical performance studies (which assume droplet transmission - a transmission mode that the literature currently disfavors for covid-19), and observational 'studies' with questionable to outright false assumptions and null hypotheses.

    In short, the CDC's studies are hopelessly flawed, and certainly not enough to displace dozens of studies prior to covid which reject any robust effect of masking.

  43. Reality --- Rand Paul got blocked for being conservative (period).

    If the CDC, the Sitting President and every valid organization said the same thing; the DNC Nazi-Regime would still have it all classified as 'misinformation' BECAUSE it came from conservatives.

    Anyone who doesn't worship the almighty *POWER* of the Nazi-Regime will be blacklisted, de-stained, bullied into submission.

    BECAUSE that's what [WE] mob gangs do. It's at the very foundation of the principle of Democracy. To gang-up on conquer the opponent. People really need to get over this idea that the USA is a democracy. It's a Constitutional Union of Republican States.

  44. Fortunately Dr Paul can now post his videos on Rumble.

  45. "Paul would have been on firm ground if he had said cloth masks offer less protection than N95 masks. But the claim that cloth masks "don't work," meaning they offer no protection at all, is inconsistent with multiple studies suggesting that they reduce the risk of infection, especially when worn by carriers but possibly also when worn by other people in their vicinity."

    This is called a strawman, Sullum. "Don't work" does not mean "offers no protection at all." It means it does not offer a level of protection that constitutes "working."

    What does Paul mean by work? Maybe if you were an actual journalist, you would ask him to clarify his vague and confusing language.

  46. used to be daily reading for me. This article remind me why I only visit once every 3 months now.

  47. If you wear the right kind of mask, fitted properly, and strenuously observe proper handling procedures, you might experience some minimal positive effects.
    But that is just not what is happening. People touch their masks all the time. They take them off and put them back on without sterilizing them. Most people just wear a piece of cotton cloth as a mask, which neither fit properly nor filter the sort of particles we are concerned about.

    Most of the push for masking is about making people feel empowered that they can wear them, and go about their essential business feeling less helpless. It is more symbolic than preventative.

    The studies that support mask use seem to all rely on correlating mandates with decreased infection rates. But those are outnumbered by studies showing that masking is useless or even slightly elevates infection risk. Those studies are more likely to use actual trials in hospitals and the real world. The subject has also been previously researched with other similar diseases, like flu.
    "Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza." CDC
    "It is also clear that masks serve symbolic roles. Masks are not only tools, they are also talismans that may help increase health care workers’ perceived sense of safety, well-being, and trust in their hospitals." NEJM

  48. Ahaha! That correction is fucking gold. Pure drive by media. You run out calling Paul a big fat liar, then quietly correct the piece days later after the outrage has passed. I guess it's too much to hope for an article tomorrow about how YouTube banning senators of the opposition party for stating unambiguously true facts which are inconvenient for the ruling party isn't doing democracy any favors.

  49. So, as long as everyone washes their cloth masks in a hospital laundry...

    If you want to protect yourself, cloth masks are probably a very poor way to do so. But the small amount of decreased transmission they confer would likely play a significant role in population-wide transmission decrease if everyone used one, compared to if nobody did. Every incremental effort adds up to slowing the spread.

    That being said, everyone *should* be using respirators instead. The evidence is stronger. KN95s are readily available online. Thanks to Google and others banning the advertising of PPEs (on the recommendation of the WHO), several American manufacturers have huge N95 stockpiles that they cannot sell (look up the news articles, and contact those companies directly to get some).

  50. No mention at all of the cloth masks people use over and over again. They are not like a hospital where people get fresh sterile medical grade masks when they see a new patient.
    The mask mandates are indeed a sick joke.

  51. ". . .flat, categorical statements about cloth masks are stronger than the scientific literature supports, relying on a couple of cherry-picked studies with known limitations while ignoring countervailing evidence."

    Yeah. Such as, categorical statements that cloth masks are proven to do ANYTHING to help at all!

    And the burden rests with those who want to force people to cover up their faces. Unbelievable.

  52. The only thing a cloth face mask is good for is hiding the face of a thief during a robbery. Thieves everywhere applaud the mask mandate.

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