Coronavirus

Is Face Mask Skepticism Beyond the Pale?

A rational debate requires acknowledging both the strengths and the weaknesses of the scientific evidence.

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Like many Americans, I do not like wearing a face mask, which hurts my ears, fogs my glasses, and makes my bearded face itch. And while I think businesses should be free to require face coverings as a safeguard against COVID-19, I am skeptical of government-imposed mask mandates, especially in K-12 schools.

At the same time, I recognize that my personal peeves and policy preferences are logically distinct from the empirical question of how effective masks are at preventing virus transmission. From the beginning, however, the Great American Mask Debate has been strongly influenced by partisan and ideological commitments, with one side exaggerating the evidence in favor of this precaution and the other side ignoring or downplaying it.

Last September, Robert Redfield, then the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), described masks as "the most important, powerful public health tool we have," going so far as to say they provided more protection than vaccines would. In a 2020 New York Times op-ed piece, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asserted that "wearing a mask has been proven to reduce the chance of spreading Covid-19 by about 70 percent"—a claim that even the CDC said was not scientifically justified.

The CDC invited skepticism about the value of general mask wearing by dismissing it until April 2020, when the agency suddenly began recommending the practice as an important weapon against the pandemic. Although that memorable reversal supposedly was justified by evolving science, the main concern that the CDC cited—asymptomatic transmission—was a danger that had been recognized for months.

When the CDC changed its advice, research on the effectiveness of face masks in preventing virus transmission was surprisingly sparse and equivocal. Although laboratory experiments supported the commonsensical assumption that almost any barrier to respiratory droplets, including DIY cloth coverings, was better than nothing, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) generally had not confirmed that intuition.

A January 2021 review of the evidence in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found "no RCT for the impact of masks on community transmission of any respiratory infection in a pandemic." The article, which also looked at observational studies, said "direct evidence of the efficacy of mask use is supportive, but inconclusive."

The authors then considered "a wider body of evidence," including epidemiological analyses, laboratory studies, and information about COVID-19's transmission characteristics. "The preponderance of evidence," they concluded, "indicates that mask wearing reduces transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected respiratory particles in both laboratory and clinical contexts."

In a "science brief" last updated on May 7, the CDC says "experimental and epidemiological data support community masking to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2." But it acknowledges that "further research is needed to expand the evidence base for the protective effect of cloth masks."

Where does that leave Americans who are unpersuaded by the existing evidence? Banned from major social media platforms, if they are not careful.

YouTube recently suspended Sen. Rand Paul's account because of a video in which the Kentucky Republican said "most of the masks that you can get over the counter" have "no value." Those statements ran afoul of YouTube's ban on "claims that masks do not play a role in preventing the contraction or transmission of COVID-19," which is similar to policies adopted by Facebook and Twitter.

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 leading social media platforms, partly in response to government pressure, seem to be insisting that users toe the official line on COVID-19. He has a point.

Paul's criticism of cloth masks was stronger than the science warrants, reflecting a broader tendency on the right to dismiss them as mere talismans without seriously addressing the evidence in their favor. But rational discourse entails rebutting arguments by citing contrary evidence instead of treating them as too dangerous for people to consider.

© Copyright 2021 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  1. “…reflecting a broader tendency on the right to dismiss them as mere talismans without seriously addressing the evidence in their favor.” Which evidence is that? Just one link to a RCT study showing the effectiveness of masks would round out this article.

    1. Funny how mask mandates make RCTs for masks impossible. Now that many locations are making them optional, it seems like a really simple trial to run. I personally really want to know.

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      4. Not really. You have too many confounding factors, and there is a strong pressure to lie if you get sick.

        This has been a major issue on seat belt data, as of course, ALL children in accidents were seat belted. I would NEVER drive without my kids buckled in. OBVIOUSLY the belt didn’t work.

        No. They didn’t belt their kids. It’s just easy to lie about on police reports. To compare, you can’t say you have a car seat if you don’t have a car seat.

        1. I am old enough to remember when seat belts were new. My parent got some installed voluntarily a decade before they were standard equipment. My parents were NOT bleeding liberals. But they had kids, so they got seat belts.

          I remember accidents where the driver got ejected through the windshield and landed dead in the front seat of tghe other car, but the passenger wearing the seatbelt survived with just a broken hip. “Gosh, a broken hip! Seat belts are useless because they didn’t prevent a broken hip! Hurr durr!”

          In both junior high and high school I had to sit through “accident” footage as part of driver training. Not pretty. Some students actually barfed. Seeing someone gutted by their own hood ornament will do that to you. We wear our seatbelts not because eebil government tells us to, but because we’re not idiots.

          p.s. I was first on the scene of a motorcycle accident. He didn’t have a helmet. I can still see him in my dreams forty years later. Wear your fucking helmet.

          1. Why is it “wear your fucking helmet”? Because you happened across someone who had a bad outcome? Should doctors in the cardiology department tell fat people to “put down the fucking Twinkie” because of the horrors they have seen? Should someone who played football and witnessed a kid get paralyzed tell current players to “hang up your fucking helmet and play chess”? Hey, mountain climber, one time I saw a dude fall off a cliff. Bad business. Stop having a fucking different risk tolerance than I do because mine is correct and your is not!

            I don’t know. People have Google. They can look up the data and decide for themselves.

            Mind your own fucking business? I absolutely guarantee you do something that someone else thinks is nuts. You know it and don’t care. The helmet guy, similarly, doesn’t care what you saw or what you say.

            1. Everyone I’ve ever known who owned a motorcycle eventually wiped out. My uncle’s life was saved by his helmet, and others were as well. It’s stupid not to wear one.

              1. I smashed my head into a tree while mountain bike riding. I would have been possibly dead without that helmet. I was flying sideways through the air down a hill when my head clipped the trunk of a pine tree.

                1. Now THAT explains everything LMFAAAAO

              2. Was this a response to the point that everyone has a different risk/benefit preferences? Because if so, it’s pretty stupid

                1. No, Full Of It. Your response is what’s stupid. When someone’s risk/benefit preference impacts others, it is no longer their sole decision.

                  1. Mmmm, taste the authority.

                    1. Tastes like… boot leather.

                  2. You can’t prove it does so your argument is pointless. I suppose we could all live marvelous lives locked inside our homes so we make sure we never effect anybody else negatively. I’m not going to do that though because I’m not insane.

                    1. Cool, you’re a true libertarian. I’ll move in next door to you with my rock band and we’ll practice loudly every night until 4 am. Because what others do doesn’t affect your because you’re not insane.

              3. Of course it is.

                But what does it matter to you if someone is stupid like this? That’s the real question.

                1. Because their stupidity can affect others. A dead, helmetless motorcyclist lying in the road is unable to flag down drivers to prevent other accidents.

                  1. A dead helmeted motorcyclist can’t flag down anyone either.

              4. And, at the end of the day, really, you need no motorcycle, do you. It’s a risk in itself. Free people evaluate risk in different ways.

                So, while I make my kids wear helmets and agree with your conclusion, it is no stupider to NOT wear a helmet than it is to ride the motorcycle in the first place.

                A huge part of the turn on of riding the bike is the “wind in your hair” as they say.

                Don’t slip on a banana peel. Do you wanna live forever!? Embrace freedom, not safety culture.

            2. “Should doctors in the cardiology department tell fat people to “put down the fucking Twinkie” because of the horrors they have seen?:

              YES.

            3. Come on, y’all. If Sam wants to be an organ donor that badly, don’t shame him for it.

            4. They can look up data on Google????
              You’re a fucking retard.
              Google shows you what democrats believe is true.
              Nothing else.

              1. true dat !!

              2. Don’t use Google search. Use DuckDuckGo

            5. Should the parents of an autistic kid tell other parents not to get their kids vaccinated?

              Because the kind and quality of evidence that vaccines cause autism isn’t all that much different from the kind and quality of evidence that masks provide any significant protection from covid.

          2. Cool story, Bro. Are you implying that your experience is comparable to masks and that we should “wear our fuckings masks?” I hope not, because that is clearly a category error.

          3. I love how everything is in this new context that only bleeding liberals do things for safety reasons.

          4. This isn’t the same thing. Not even a little.

          5. fair enough, I have no issues with seatbelts and use them myself but I don’t think it should be mandated just like helmets shouldn’t be mandated. I say let natural selection happen, we’ll all be the better for it.

          6. Seems like all of those gruesome films were filmed by Ohio Highway Patrol.
            I saw a guy die in a motorcycle wreck, as well. Dude hit a pothole at 60. Flew through the air and landed head first. All I could do for him is cover him with a blanket from my truck and call 911. No helmet.

      5. There’s been a 17-month long trial on mask mandates, and the evidence is very clear that they don’t work.

        1. Yup, “6-8 weeks will beat the virus” was 55 weeks ago.

          Now they’re saying, “Well, wear them HARDER!”

          It’s like socialism. Real masking has never been tried.

          1. Leftists can no longer be tolerated.
            Kill or be killed.

          2. wear 2 ………. or 3 ………or…..

      6. RCT evidence is needed if the question involves something which is not simple and easily understood. We to RCT drug studies because the body and drug effects are poorly understood and effects are not reliably predicted in advance. We do not need a RCT on the benefits of looking both ways before steeping into a street. Simple physics can reliably predict the result. Mask wearing effects are easily predictable. From lab data we know that Covid is spread by exhaled aerosol droplets inhaled by an uninfected person. We also know that masks reduce both the probability of droplet transmission. If a relatively poor mask catches 50% of droplets then masking both a carrier and an uninfected person reduces the transmission probability to 25%. So with even poor masks only 1 particle in 4 gets transferred. With N95 masks properly worn the transmission probability 0.05×0.05=0.0025=0.25%, only 1 in 400 gets transferred. We can be sure that masks reduce Covid transmission and fewer people will get a virus dose sufficient to make them sick. There is no need for a RCT in such a simple easily understood situation. For thinking people it was obvious that Fauchi was lying when he told people they didn’t need masks.

        1. The argument in the beginning was viral particles are too small to be filtered out. The CDC stated the virus mainly spread through droplets so as long as you could stop the droplets you were fine. This was somewhat controversial since studies were coming out showing over 20 feet spread in meat package plants where cool, dry, only recirculating air was perfect for aerosol spread. This is on the CDC’s “how covid spreads” page. They updated their webpage in October 2020 to state that “some” transmission was aerosol but most were droplet. In May of 2021 the CDC once again updated their page. Listing aerosol spread first and admitting it is a major driver of infection. The fact that masking does not work to stop aerosol spread has been an accepted fact for decades. Pre covid hysteria the only study showing some limited benefit was N95 masks properly fitted in a hospital setting. They only wore masks when in a room with infected patients. Not all day and most of the time. Made sure they swapped them out often and had good fits. The idea that all of humanity needs to wear masks every time they are in public is insane and it clearly does not work. If people have to wear the mask all the time they sweat, adjust it, touch it and their face. It won’t stay sealed… hence the need for a real world RCT test. To take into account that the world and people are not perfect. No matter how much we think we understand everything, or how much we think we can make everything perfect, or how much we believe we can put a gun in everybody’s face and make sure they do exactly as we tell them to do… you still need a RCT to show that it works in the real world. Or as least some empirical evidence. Australia is on what? Their 20th lockdown? New Zealand just locked down for one case. These are the supposed success stories? This just looks like insanity to me. We have 18 months of empirical evidence showing it doesn’t work. Why you would you push this when there is other things that work is also bizarre. Fresh air ventilation. Opening windows. Encourage people to meet up outdoors. You would be far better meeting somebody face to face outdoors unmasked than sitting in a small room both masked. The air becomes saturated with virus particles in a small enclosed non ventilated place. This is actually the primary driver. People wearing masks in cars would be better off taking off their masks and opening the windows. https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2021/cdc-rules-on-aerosol-coronavirus.html

      7. I keep remembering the push to wear masks as the pandemic surged at the end of the year and the more people masked up the higher the case numbers went. By January 2021 they claimed a 90% compliance rate which correlated with the highest number of cases. Later in January 2021 people wore mask less which was blamed on pandemic fatigue which seem to correlate with case numbers dropping with no logical explanation. This could be a coincident but strangely it is never discussed.

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    3. Observational studies are perfectly valid ways of ascertaining facts, where ethics or practicality is an issue.

      So it is with masking. We can compare states, rather than randomly assigning groups of people to a potentially dangerous situation.

      Florida vs California. Similar size, demographics, survival, deaths. Wildly different policies on masking. Proof that masks mandates have no effect on Coronavirus.

      But if you really want an RCT, 4000 people in Denmark did one. Result? Masks did nothing, not even a bit.

      1. The EPA actually did particulate analysis on different types of masks. Most common types had a 20-40% reduction in the particulate. That’s … not very much. If you would catch it from a person you pass in a grocery store, then halving a viral load might prevent you from getting sick. However, from co-workers, family, or classmates, you have extended contact, so the small concentration reduction is meaningless.

        Now, consider that those reductions are under laboratory conditions. In real life, what fraction of people mess up their masking? From my anecdotal evidence, most of them.

        1. Well said. Just compare case rates in LA County with a mask mandate instituted approximately 30 days ago vs Orange County California (which is next door) with no mask mandate. Currently, LA County case rate is 33 cases per 100,000. Orange County is 23 cases per 100,000. Granted OC does not include a large city like LA but we have Santa Ana, Orange and Anaheim. If you look at a graph of the waves since the start of the pandemic, LA and OC have had nearly identical courses despite LACounty”s stricter measures.
          While well fitted N95 masks work, surgical masks and cloth masks generally do not prevent transmission.

          1. The graph you’re talking about is one of the most damning pieces of data out there for maskers.

            https://imgur.com/a/2CvpzcG

            1. I suppose if you ignore income disparities and other social factors, comparing LA County’s 3.5 times higher population density to SD County makes perfect sense.

              1. The biggest issue isn’t population density. A grocery store is still a grocery store, and a bar is a bar. It really doesn’t matter if there are fields in between.

                The real fact of interest is the inflection points, which line up with seasons, global trends, and other major changes. What they do not line up with is any policy changes. If a mask mandate and closed beaches had a big effect, then when Florida stopped these, you should have seen SOMETHING in the trend. You don’t. This goes for every major policy change.

                1. San Diego County is 4,526 square miles in area with a 3.5 million population, or 773 persons per square mile. There have been 3,824 Covid deaths. That is 1.2 deaths per square mile.

                  Los Angeles County is 4,753 square miles with a 10 million population, or 2,104 persons per square mile. There have been 24,967 Covid deaths, or 5.3 deaths per square mile.

                  Adjusting for population parity, LA County has had 8,738 Covid deaths per SD County. As you’ll recall, SD County only had 3,824 deaths. That would not be the case if population density did not matter.

                  1. You don’t count deaths per square mile. That’s a ridiculous measure. You count deaths per population. This is the same measure you use for all illnesses, deaths, and a host of other statistics.

                    And saying population density doesn’t matter assumes everything else is equal, something clearly not right. LA has a larger homeless population, a larger tourist population, and a different, more interactive culture. There could be numerous other differences that this Texan doesn’t know.

                    1. Deaths per square mile is a measure of density. But I did count deaths per population. Perhaps you missed that part? And totally ignored the last paragraph where I compare deaths per population between the two counties? Or maybe you’re confused because I normalized to San Diego’s population of 3.5M instead of to another measure such as per 100K? Redoing my last paragraph to per 100K results in 250 for LA vs 109 for SD. Unfortunately for your argument, there are not enough homeless dead of Covid in LA to account for more than double.

                2. RCT evidence is needed if the question involves something which is not simple and easily understood. We to RCT drug studies because the body and drug effects are poorly understood and effects are not reliably predicted in advance. We do not need a RCT on the benefits of looking both ways before steeping into a street. Simple physics can reliably predict the result. Mask wearing effects are easily predictable. From lab data we know that Covid is spread by exhaled aerosol droplets inhaled by an uninfected person. We also know that masks reduce both the probability of droplet transmission. If a relatively poor mask catches 50% of droplets then masking both a carrier and an uninfected person reduces the transmission probability to 25%. So with even poor masks only 1 particle in 4 gets transferred. With N95 masks properly worn the transmission probability 0.05×0.05=0.0025=0.25%, only 1 in 400 gets transferred. We can be sure that masks reduce Covid transmission and fewer people will get a virus dose sufficient to make them sick. The odds favor mask wearing. There is no need for a RCT in such a simple easily understood situation. For thinking people it was obvious that Fauchi was lying when he told people they didn’t need masks.

                  1. People don’t.
                    Weak, neurotic lemmings do.

            2. There are literally hundreds of these type of comparisons. They all shake out the same way, everywhere around the world. Masking and lockdowns are trivially shown to be ineffective.

          2. This is just about the dumbest most unscientific thing I’ve read. Wow if I compare a high density city against a different county and don’t control for any other variables I can draw conclusions about masks???!

            What fucking nonsense.

        2. And those particulates are 30X larger than a virion.

          1. I enjoy laughing at the idiots that say since a fart can be smelt through a mask, that means Covid can pass through it, too. If you ignore that Covid is not a gas and that Covid aerosol droplets are 3,000 times larger than fart molecules, that makes sense to the ignorant.

            1. Ed. The problem is that any mask that can be breathed through lets aerosols through. This is a fact. The larger drops don’t go through. However, there is nothing that prevents a PM2.5 droplet from carrying viruses, and nothing this side of emergency gear will stop that something that small.

              1. I disagree. Here’s a thorough scientific analysis of the subject: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/372/6549/1439

                This is the researchers’ conclusion: “We find that most environments and contacts are under conditions of low virus abundance (virus-limited), where surgical masks are effective at preventing virus spread. More-advanced masks and other protective equipment are required in potentially virus-rich indoor environments, including medical centers and hospitals. Masks are particularly effective in combination with other preventive measures like ventilation and distancing.”

                1. I’m glad you found one lab study to corroborate your opinion. Now, how about the studies in the real world that uniformly conclude no noticeable effect?

                  1. Answer this question: If wearing a mask is not more effective than not wearing a mask, what percentage infected with Covid were wearing their mask at the moment of infection? Statistically, it should be 50% if there’s no difference. Basically a coin toss.

                2. A few lab studies vs the weight of most every RCT ever done on the subject.

                  1. I’ll ask you the same question I asked Salted Nuts. You claim there is no difference in infection rate between wearing a mask and not. If that’s true. there should be an equal number that were wearing their mask AT THE MOMENT OF INFECTION as those not wearing a mask when they became infected. 50/50. Provide data that proves it.

            2. And soon we’ll enjoy laughing at your corpse.

              1. I suppose that made sense while rattling about in the vast wasteland of your underdeveloped brain.

                1. Aww, look at it try so hard to sound smart

                  1. Compared to you, my laughing corpse would have 100 times the intellect. When God was handing out stupid, you asked for a heapin’ double helpin’. In the dictionary next to the definition of ignorant is your picture. After the 3rd time your mommy dropped you on your head, she started calling you “my little dummy”. When you were given an intelligence test, they had to create a new scale to account for people like you that scored less than 0. If it wasn’t for your autonomic nervous system keeping you alive, your two surviving brain cells would be insufficient to support life.

                    1. No, I’m glad you’re impressed with yourself, but you demonstrate literary talent roughly equal to sqrlsy, and display all the try-to-hard hallmarks of one who really, really wants to be thought of as intelligent, but knows its just not there, and tries to assert it into existence. No, Ed, we both know that your greatest will never surpass mediocre.

                    2. Here’s the thing about truth – it has more mass than the lies you tell yourself and others. Your conscious mind may deflect or reject truth to its utmost, but truth penetrates to your nerves, where it will sit and fuck up your ego. One watches you post here and suspects that’s already happened quite a bit.

      2. I would upvote this if possible.

      3. While I have not doubt that masks help to an extent they are certainly not the magic solution that everyone says they. The vaccine is far superior in terms of preventing serious reactions. However if you don’t want the vaccine I’m fine with that; enjoy the ventilator and the morgue. Natural selection at its finest.

        1. Demanding everyone around you take experimental vaccines and wear masks over their faces to protect your invalid immune system isn’t natural selection, it’s neurotic totalitarian central planning.
          You pieces of shit are running out of time.

          1. It’s not an experimental vaccine. It’s the most well studied vaccine on planet earth right now

            1. LOL
              At least you admit it’s the very opposite of natural selection.
              Since it’s so well studied and you’re so knowledgeable about it, tell us what their effects are on the immune system 3 years after vax?

              1. You know what? You’re right. We shouldn’t try to fight this virus at all. 600,000 Americans dead wasn’t enough. Which side are you on again? The virus?

                98% of all new deaths and hospitalizations are from people who are unvaccinated.

                1. Yes, I am right.

    4. How about one RCT study that shows mask do nothing to prevent you contracting covid?
      https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/m20-6817

      1. One study vs dozens of other that say it’s false. You can try this shit at home and see that cheap ass surgical masks cut down the viral load by 90% at least and at least that much on projected average distance of particles. It’s simple physics. Now it you don’t want to wear a mask fine, I don’t give a damn, just don’t throw out one study and declare it the golden one.

        1. No they don’t. See the EPA study above. Standard masks are 20%-40% when new and worn properly. The best masks are only 70%. You need an emergency mask like an N95 to get better (hint, the “95” means that it’s 95% filtration).

          1. You’re forgetting that transmission occurs between 2 people. If the infected person is wearing a mask and the non-infected person is wearing a mask, the protection is substantially increased.

        2. What studies say masks are effective? Who conducted the studies? There is information on the CDC and NIH that give information and they imply cloth masks are not effective. When they thought it was spread predominantly by droplets they thought a cloth mask would help but since it is spread by aerosols they are not very effective. That is why hospitals when to ffp3 masks. Surgical masks were allowing to many healthcare workers to be infected.

    5. I’m sure Fauci would say “COVID is not the flu”

      CDC’s EID Journal:

      Volume 26, Number 5—May 2020
      Policy Review
      Nonpharmaceutical Measures for Pandemic Influenza in Nonhealthcare Settings—Personal Protective and Environmental Measures

      Face Masks

      In our systematic review, we identified 10 RCTs that reported estimates of the effectiveness of face masks in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infections in the community from literature published during 1946–July 27, 2018. In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.51–1.20; I2 = 30%, p = 0.25)

    6. Logical discourse says that 1) if you are coughing/sneezing you should wear a mask when around others out of common courtesy; 2) if you are run down or immune compromised, it would be wise to wear one; 3) if the general population you are around is or seems to be coming down with something, it would be wise to wear a mask yourself, and keep your distance. To force the general population to wear masks is highly illogical and counter to common sense!

    7. Exactly. Contrast that paucity of evidence favoring mask wearing with evidence that mask wearing has significant negative effects on health, especially children. The dialog should not be “are masks better than nothing?”; it needs to be “does the prophylactic benefit of masks outweigh their negative short- and long-term effects?”. Yes, I said prophylactic.

      1. Dude that’s bullshit. I’m an out of shape middle age programmer and I hustle around all day with a mask on testing servers and swapping them out to test them even more at my datacenter. Masks just take a little getting used to, they certainly don’t mess with my ability to get around and breath.

        1. and to be complete: I don’t believe in mask mandates, I think it’s a personal and business choice. Government shouldn’t be mandating it. If you don’t want to go out to places where people aren’t wearing masks then don’t. It should be left as a personal decision. When I’m not at work I don’t wear a mask and choose not to do business at those places that require them. I got the vaccine and think everyone should but again it’s a personal choice. Although natural selection might make it so that you wish you’d been smart and got vaccinated.

          1. You are a fatass programmer who external intervention to protect you from the slightest test of your inadequate immune system.
            Don’t appeal to natural selection when you couldn’t fucking exist without the outside world artificially supporting you.

            1. Shots fired lol

              1. Not yet.
                Just blunt truth.

          2. I think speed limits and seat belts and wearing clothing in stores is a personal choice. I wear clothes, but it should be up to the individual. Same with speed limits. If you don’t want to be around drunk people driving 140 mph, then you can stay home. Did I mention drinking and driving? Also a personal choice.

            1. Drunks can’t drink with a mask on. Masks reduce death by drunk drivers?

        2. So… You’re a fatty that sits around most of the day with keyboards.

          Hate to break it to ya, but that ain’t even remotely physical work.

    8. Agreed! This was going to be my comment, almost word for word!

    9. Are mask mandates about control of the populace or about stopping the spread of a deadly disease?

      Look at pictures leaked of Obama’s birthday bash then answer the question.

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  2. Shorter Sullum; Slavery makes sense. Critics shouldn’t dismiss the evidence but, instead, weigh the costs and benefits.

    Rand Paul was speaking as a Senator against a policy of masking. A policy being advanced by people who have been and are overstating the evidence in support of their mandate. The assertion that he not portray the evidence he sees fit is to insist he bring a knife to a gunfight. If you think he was lying, prove it. Otherwise, you’re supposedly a skeptic of mandates who would seem to be more skeptical of opposition to those mandates.

    1. The amazing thing is that prior to March 2020, there was a vigorous debate about masks. Most of the known science was either mechanistic studies (e.g. cfd analysis, physical testing, etc.) and at least 10 high quality RCTs. The strongest data was the conclusions that WHO inferred from those studies, there is no evidence they work.

      So we went from lots of churn with the best studies showing no effect to just assuming the opposite. An amazing turn of events.

      1. Medical Lysenkoism in action from the marxist totalitarians. Not sure how anyone could think this will go badly.

    2. Short Sullum continued: I don’t care about the aerosol spread part as long as we look the part.

    3. They’re putting a burden on those questioning the narrative to present and weigh all sides of the evidence, a burden they don’t place on those supporting the narrative.

  3. Masks don’t work.

    1. Shrink wrapping your head does work so I recommend that everyone who’s scared of Covid do it. It also blocks the transmission of idiot genes because dead people don’t reproduce. It’s win-win for society.

      1. That’s what they said about voting too.

        1. No, that’s what they said about voting Republican- there’s scant evidence for dead Republican voting regardless of party affiliation while living.

    2. Masks work.

      1. They’re not even doing a good job against facial recognition, supposedly.

    3. Wow, that’s very compelling evidence. I see a Nobel in your future.

    4. Masks do work to an extent and you’re wrong. Nice work following dogma rather than the science.

      1. You mean all the science the article went over explaining why masks don’t work…?

  4. “Paul’s criticism of cloth masks was stronger than the science warrants, reflecting a broader tendency on the right to dismiss them as mere talismans without seriously addressing the evidence in their favor. But rational discourse entails rebutting arguments by citing contrary evidence instead of treating them as too dangerous for people to consider.”

    YouTube refusing to let even elected politicians disagree with a government agency is troubling regardless of whether Paul’s opinion is wrong or right. If Paul is right about those masks, it’s troubling that social media won’t even let elected politicians express their opinions on their platforms. If Paul is flat out wrong, it’s still troubling that social media won’t let an elected politician express his opinions on its platform. Indeed, whether Paul is wrong or right is a red herring.

    And the troubling thing is that social media isn’t exercising its property rights by suspending Paul for engaging in free speech. The fact is that Google, the owner of YouTube, is under threat of being broken up by the Biden administration by way of an antitrust suit initiated by the Justice Department, and the Biden administration has embraced breaking these companies up for tolerating opinions like Paul’s on their platforms. Google isn’t exercising their property rights under those circumstances any more than the Hollywood studios were when they blacklisted content creators who ran afoul of the HUAC during the red scare.

    P.S If “the right” is dismissing mask mandates regardless of their efficacy, then they aren’t on the side of the right (vs. the left) so much as they’re on the side of liberty (rather than authoritarianism).

    1. If facebook really cared about “right” or “wrong” AOC (to just name one) wouldn’t have any social media presence at all.

      1. Facebook needs to go. As does Twitter. We’re really beyond basic libertarian concerns anymore. This is a fight to remain free.

        1. take it easy fed

          1. Some thoughts really need to be contemplated while there is still time

        2. I read Section 230, you can too:
          https://uscode.house.gov/browse/prelim@title47/chapter5/subchapter2/part1&edition=prelim

          Section 230, to my understanding is meant to protect growing, small companies so they can grow faster. Companies like Youtube are huge. In my opinion, there should be 2 Section 230s, one for growing companies, and one that has millions of users. The one that has millions of users doesn’t have to be protected to help its growth. Should be treated like a normal publisher of content.

          Sue the bastards.

    2. The Reason Writers should be spending a little more time on John Stuart Mill, and a little less time on Hegel and Rousseau.

      1. I love those Rousseau piano videos on YouTube.

    3. All that wall of text and you still can’t say that Youtube can ban who they want. That’s the only reasonable stance a libertarian can really take if they’re serious about freedom. Give odysee.com a try if you want a platform that is a lot more free when it comes to content, if not nearly as huge.

      1. So, in your mind, libertarianism really isn’t any different than fascism

  5. LOL what a fucking joke. There’s still no evidence from the real world that masks do anything at all. Instead, the virus continues along its seasonal pattern……

    1. Yep we really don’t need politicized pseudo science studies with a pre-determined outcome. We have a year and half of real life data.

      Pre-Covid mask studies show they aren’t effective against viruses this small.

      It is a fucking joke.

    2. Ok, so you’re cooll with doctors not wearing masks during surgeries?

      1. I wonder if there’s a difference between a surgeon wearing a mask over a gaping hole in your body, in a sterile environment where hands are vigorously washed before entering the chamber, the doctor is trained to not touch the mask, and the mask is discarded and reapplied if leaving/entering the chamber, vs my cube-mate who’s been wearing the same mask for the last 7 1/2 hours, regularly handles it, occasionally pulls it down over his chin to eat, lays it down on his desk at times, reapplies it.

        No, no difference. Masks are magical virtue-signaling garments which show you’re serious about protecting the ‘community’.

        1. Everything you said is completely correct. As is the way you compared and contrasted both situations.

          And it was all lost on him.

      2. Until I was in my late teens, myself, my brother, my friends… every time we skinned a knee or elbow, would rub dirt in the wound to stop the bleeding. Treatment achieved. I can’t count the number of in-office procedures my GP has performed sans mask. The time I was treated by EMTs for burns, nobody was wearing a mask. The time I took my middle son into the emergency clinic for stitches, no mask. The time I took my oldest son in for stitches, no mask. The time I took my youngest son to the hospital after he broke his toe, ER, radiology for X-rays, stitches, half a dozen doctors, nurses, and technicians… no masks. Nobody died. No infections of note. A doctor not wearing a mask doesn’t scare me.

        1. See my post below. CDC confirms, cloth surgical masks (the ones everyone are wearing): ineffective against pandemic influenza transmission.

          1. And pointing this out to people is usually pointless. Most people are weak minded sheep.

      3. I’m sure you’ve been told this by now, but surgery masks aren’t for viruses, they are for actual blood spatter and other fluids.

      4. Doctors carry bacteria. Bacteria cause post-surgical infections. Surgeons do not wear masks during surgery to prevent viral infections. Thanks for letting me educate you.

        1. Actually they do it as a general barrier to germs. There is such a thing as viral (and bacterial) load. All the magas won’t buy into it but it is quite real and quite deadly.

    3. There is PLENTY of evidence they work, you’re just choosing not to see it.

  6. “Paul’s criticism of cloth masks was stronger than the science warrants”

    This is, to put it gently, a level of hubris that only a columnist could hope to achieve.

    Mr Sullum makes this pronouncement based on what? Nothing more than his reading of the science. Why should we trust his review of the science over the review of a trained, practicing medical doctor?

    Perhaps we should trust that Mr Sullum, an economics and psych major turned journalist, is a better surveyor of science, based on his reporting profession. But oops. He cannot even report basic facts correctly:

    “Although that memorable reversal supposedly was justified by evolving science…”

    Stop right there. It is a well known fact that the CDC has justified their original position on masks as an attempt to protect supplies for medical personnel. Fauci even used that as a talking point. So the assertion that science evolved is not in evidence, and in fact is not the opinion taken by the CDC.

    So again, we come back to this basic point. There are countless studies on either side of this debate. What makes Sullum, the Economics and Psychology major’s read of the science so indisputable that he can confidently assert that Rand Paul, an actual medical doctor, is overstating the case against Masks?

    Spoiler: None of us can. We are going to pick the person who confirms our biases. And that really shows how ridiculous and fruitless Sullum’s constant, drip, drip, drip of articles are, despite his attempt to portray them as the unimpeachable word of truth (from an econ/psych major).

    This is why arguing the science is a stupid, silly game. Do you have a bias? I guaran-fucking-tee you that there is a scientific study that confirms it. One of those 90% of studies that cannot be replicated by others.

    Mr Sullum, I beg you to stop trying to pretend you are a scientist and get back to first principles. Forget whether masks work or not. Is it acceptable for a government to force you to wear one in order to protect some other person? If you say “no” then it doesn’t matter whether you are a medical doctor, or an econ/psych major- you aren’t a fucking libertarian.

    1. GAH! It should read, “If you say “Yes””

      1. Overt good position on this, framed much clearer and better than I could but you and Ken I think have expressed many peoples core issue with the Sullum(strazeles) of the world.

      2. Not to worry. Good post.

    2. No tldr, no read.

      1. That’s one way to indicate you’re retarded.

  7. To answer the question in the title: Of course not. Any rational person should be skeptical of almost anything until they’ve seen sufficient evidence to be convinced.

    But there’s not really much science being done these days, just a lot of politicking, with people shouting “Trust the Science!” when they really mean “Trust the Party!” There would be a lot less pushback if the science wasn’t being politicized and facts were simply presented as facts for people to draw their own interpretations.

    1. “Trust the Science!” when they really mean “Trust the Party!”

      Amen

      1. That is no shit.

    2. Nicely put.

      Yes, we should all happily accept scientific studies at the individual (and family) level, and use those studies to guide us in making the decisions that make sense for us. And we should call on all of our legislators and government officials to give us the maximum amount of freedom so that we are free to apply the science specific to our personal needs.

      We should *not* try to apply scientific studies to the entirety of this nation, where we have massively different genetic makeups, urban plans, climates, densities and other very confounding variables.

      When you dig into these studies, rarely are we talking about 100% effective treatments. We are talking about treatments where “twice as likely” means that 10% more people (in absolute numbers) had some effect. Often it isn’t even a majority of the nation- so it doesn’t make sense to apply draconian mandates to see these marginal increases- and it can often lead to unintended side effects for those people who aren’t part of the marginal increase.

      My favorite doctor got to know me specifically, and when we talked about specific treatments and studies, he was not just taking the top line recommendation. “Yes, Overt in the study people eating this had lower cholesterol but they were also people in this region of Italy, where there is a long history of eating it.” He knew that “The Science” wasn’t defining “One Path” by which we all lived. It was giving us options and data, so each person could pick the path that made the most sense to themselves.

      1. Government agencies use “X times more likely” frequently and intentionally for the deliberate purpose of misleading people, under the justification that it serves the greater good. For example, and using the CDC as a specific example, they often state that smokers are three times more likely than nonsmokers to get lung cancer. However, since the number of nonsmokers getting lung cancer is itself a very small number, the number of smokers getting lung cancer is not a very big number, and the odds of a smoker getting lung cancer are still relatively slim. “Three times more likely” sounds so much scarier.

        1. There’s another major factor: dose-response.

          If memory serves, a pack-a-day smoking habit increases your chance of lung cancer by 20 times. It’s still a minority of people who will get lung cancer, but it’s substantially more if you smoke, and it follows a dose-response where the heavier your smoking, the more likely you are to get side-effects. However, this is one of the clearest effects. Inhaling large quantities of toxic smoke directly into your lungs daily causing problems in your lungs.

          The problem comes when this is applied to more and more marginal cases with lower effect rates, no dose-response and a small percentage increase in seemingly unrelated areas of health. This is where P-hacking becomes a problem.

        2. The other big statistical legerdemain used is “relative risk.” This stat is very nearly a completely bullshit number.

          If out of 100 people, who received the placebo 3 get disease X.

          With the new drug, only 2 get disease X. This is touted as a “33% reduction” or even more dishonestly, “without the drug people were 50% more likely to get disease X.”

          Absolute risk is the real telltale. But the above is so much more effective in marketing than “only 1% of all people were helped by the drug.”

          Absolute risk is WAY more useful than relative risk.

          As has been said many times, statistics don’t lie, but liars can figure.

      2. lol wearing a mask isn’t a draconian mandate. “You can’t leave your houses during the pandemic. You can run bars or restaurants during the pandemic” are draconian mandates. The masks are next to nothing, people just turn them into swords to die on though because they lack the ability to be reasonable or make science based decisions.

        1. You ready to die trying to force others to wear a mask?

    3. At most, about 10% of people actually understand what science is, and a smaller number can think scientifically. Even fewer can do that and put aside their personal biases and ideologies.

      For the rest, “science” is no different from magic. Statements and claims from preferred (or abhorred) science-speakers are pretty much the same as coming from religious clergy and witch doctors, and people accept or reject these as they would any doctrine or ritual: purely on the basis of faith.

      Visible trappings, like masks, are nothing more that talisman that demonstrate submission to the faith, or apostasy by heretics.

      1. But I’ve been wearing my mask and I haven’t gotten sick!

    4. “There would be a lot less pushback if the science wasn’t being politicized and facts were simply presented as facts for people to draw their own interpretations.”

      It’s impossible to have a good faith, nuanced discussion about anything when anyone with a dissenting view is censored while simultaneously being hit 24/7 with propaganda about masks, vaccines, people dying, threats of vaccine mandates and passports. Those things make people less trustful.

  8. I work retail. From the beginning until I think July of 2020, we didn’t have to wear masks. Then we did until I guess April of this year.

    My store did not have any Covid cases until October. I got it December, myself.

  9. I’m sorry, if it’s not a RCT, it’s not evidence.

    The supposed evidence that masks work is comprised of a couple of types of studies:
    1. Mechanical studies on droplet dispersion. Note: emerging consensus seems to be that the primary transmission mode is not droplets, but aerosols. Droplet dispersion is meaningless in the context of aerosols.
    2. ‘Observational’ studies that look at before/after mask mandates, or with/without mask mandates. Besides the problem of not controlling for *actual behavior* (the existence of a mandate doesn’t mean people follow it, and the absence of a mandate doesn’t mean people don’t wear masks), none of the studies i’ve seen make any attempt to determine if conditions were otherwise similar between the compared areas are time periods. Frequently, the null hypothesis is nonsense, so you get a ‘garbage in, garbage out’ scenario.

    Take the big observational study from last summer, that compared before and after mask mandates. There were a number of problems with their implied null hypothesis and model. They used new cases per day in NYC, with the mask mandate date as the dividing line between no masks and masks – not allowing for a 4+ day incubation period. They then ran a linear regression through the ‘before’ cases per day, and the ‘after’ cases per day. This implies a null hypothesis that cases would keep growing at the same rate indefinitely – which defies all epidemiological common sense, especially since cases per day had *already peaked* in NYC a week before the mask mandate. (NYC experienced a classic Gompertz curve – normal for epidemics in temperate climates – which climbs exponentially, peaks, and then drops near hyperbolically. It was already going down when the mask mandate went into effect). The correct null hypothesis would have been an actual Gompertz curve, not a linear regression through the peak of the curve. It was never going to continue along the linear regression, mask mandate or no mask mandate.

    The fact that such a study survived peer review should be *embarrassing* to anyone in the field. But to call it real evidence of mask effectiveness? Only if your goal is comedy, not science.

    1. *or, not are, right before “time periods” in #2.

    2. An RCT isn’t necessary to prove a human needs oxygen; it’s not practical or ethical to perform certain experiments.

      To wit, depriving a random sample of newborns of oxygen, to see if our theory of oxygen is true. Instead we can observe that newborns without the ability to breathe end up dead.

      Observational studies are perfectly valid ways of ascertaining facts, where ethics or practicality is an issue.

      So it is with masking. We can compare states, rather than randomly assigning groups of people to a potentially dangerous situation.

      Florida vs California. Similar size, demographics, survival, deaths. Wildly different policies on masking. Proof that masks mandates have no effect on Coronavirus.

      But if you really want an RCT, 4000 people in Denmark did one. Result? Masks did nothing, not even a bit.

      1. -There are RCT mask studies. They don’t find a significant effect of masks. (I’m aware of the Denmark one. There’s also several involving flu and cold transmission from before covid).

        -Observational studies can only determine causality in exceptionally simple systems. (Your oxygen example is probably a case in point. Also, i’m pretty sure the oxygen experiment has been done with lab animals at some point – we’re so far past that point that we don’t just have a theory about why, we understand the chemistry and physiology of the entire system).

        In anything but a simple system, there’s just too many variables to control for all of them – no comparisons are going to be apt. Most importantly for your proposed Florida vs. California comparison, they were never at the same point in the pandemic at a given point in time, and there’s no way to know when the ‘same point in the pandemic’ is. Being off just a little bit matters greatly, because pandemics involve exponential growth. But climate is also different (which matters), other restrictions were different, and actual behavior (ie, actual mask use) is, as far as i know, unknown.

        And you’re again confusing government policy with actual behavior. Obviously the mandate itself makes no difference. But that doesn’t answer whether wearing a mask makes a difference.

        -It’s not unethical if you don’t have reasonably strong evidence that masks work, because that means you don’t have evidence not wearing a mask is dangerous. It can only be unethical if you know one of the groups is at significantly increased danger. (Your example is one where we know lack of oxygen is dangerous, so of course it would be unethical).

        1. And if I had a nickel for every person I saw wearing a masking under their nose I’d be effing rich AF.

    3. Their goal is compliance, not comedy.
      Like many scientific papers, it started with a conclusion in search of evidence.

    4. To your point 1. aerosol disperal is greatly dimensions as is the viral load and there is literally nothing you can say that will repeal that reality.

      1. goddamn tiny phone keyboards
        * dispersal
        * diminishes

      2. Citation lacking, and without evidence it’s not reality. I have seen no evidence proving masks have any affect on aerosol dispersal, and there’s a bunch of RCT studies on mask use vs. cold and flu transmission from before the pandemic which strongly suggest they don’t. Please link your RCT study that finds a significant effect of masks on aerosol virus transmission.

        -Aerosols pass right through cloth and even surgical masks. They’re orders of magnitude smaller than the mesh size.
        -It doesn’t even matter if the mask was 100% effective at stopping particles from going through, because masks don’t seal around the face (excepting only fitted N95 masks, which most people aren’t using).
        -Aerosols are suspended in the air – they diffuse and equalize concentration. Imagine the following model: You have two containers of water connected by a tube that’s blocked. One container has salt water of known salt concentration. The other is fresh water. Twist: the blocking object in the tube doesn’t create a perfect seal. What’s the concentration of salt in both containers after, say, an hour? (Masks are even worse than this model, because the mask wearer is *breathing*, which will blow the particles out of the openings – nothing about a mask traps a virus in place).

  10. Dear Mister Sullum,

    Your post made me realize something. Like you, masks hurt my ears, they make my glasses fog up, they make my beard itch. Somehow, none of these inconveniences have ever stopped me from wearing them. My girlfriend labored to make me one with an outer space theme, a place where I hope to spend some time, and actually have, because Space is the Place. Let me add another complaint: in the humid heat that many of us have experienced this summer, they make breathing difficult. Somehow, none of these inconveniences have stopped me from wearing them. I guess it may be chalked up to the distaste I feel for breathing in anything that has been breathed out from one of my fellow human beings, including that of the deeply disappointing Rand Paul. I’m not a particularly big fan of them – masks- but I can see myself wearing them for the rest of my short life {62}. I haven’t had even a cold since I started wearing them. I ain’t no pussy, but I like not having colds. I respect each an every differing opinion, but I don’t want to breath in even a molecule that comes from your ugly faces. That’s just my opinion.

    1. “I guess it may be chalked up to the distaste I feel for breathing in anything that has been breathed out from one of my fellow human beings,”

      Oh. So you are a hypochondriac. You could have led with that. You realize that this tendency in Howard Hughes was never considered a virtue, right? People who act like this have something very, very wrong in the brain.

      1. Overt I’m not sure this isn’t a semi parody “Space is the Place”?

        1. Parody or not, Hughes Hypochondriac Syndrome is now seen as virtuous, part of the helpless victim remake of society.

    2. I haven’t had even a cold since I started wearing them.

      “Since I’ve been on Texas superfood, I ain’t been sick.” It is no wonder snake oil salesmen make so much money.

    3. Breathing your own exhaust is not healthy.
      Fresh air and sunshine are the best medicine.

    4. “I ain’t no pussy…”

      Liar

    5. lol Nice trolling. Also, fuck off slaver.

    6. I haven’t had a cold or flue in twenty years while not wearing a mask. My 20 years of no mask vs 2year of mask says no mask are just as good as a mask so why bother. That is real science right there. I’m 60 with medical issues but i see no need for a mask except for those who are sick not the healthy

    7. but I don’t want to breath in even a molecule that comes from your ugly faces.

      That’s much easier if you remain an incel.

    8. If you’re 62 you obviously have a functioning immune system. If you aren’t exposed to a virus you cannot become immune. Colds are coronaviruses. Catch, recover and live a long life. That’s science.

      1. You can become immune safely with a vaccine as well. Go get one please.

      2. Most colds are rhinoviruses, only a minority are coronaviruses.

    9. If you feel like you’re in an at-risk group, then by all means take whatever measures you feel are reasonable for yourself.

      You can politely ask me to help you protect yourself, but don’t expect me to make any effort to help you though and if you try to force me to do so, there is going to be backlash.

      If your kid is deathly allergic to peanuts, I expect you to teach your kid to not eat peanuts, to carry an epipen in case he accidentally does so, and to politely ask me if the cookies I’m serving might possibly have peanuts in them. If you inform me before hand, I’ll probably even make an extra effort to avoid creating an issue for your kid.

      But if you say “No one who sends a kid to this school can be permitted to have any peanut products in their home because they could be uncaring assholes and let their kids eat peanut butter toast and wipe their hands on their jacket before coming to school and killing my kid.” I’ll probably say “Fuck you” and slick my kid’s hair back with peanut oil and send them to school with a PB&J for lunch. Good thing I don’t have kids, I guess.

      1. No reason to go overboard. His kid is probably very nice.

    10. Your opinion is shit, and ignores medical facts. Feel free to wear your useless totem all you want though.

    11. Great. Enjoy your mask. Mask away. Get masked. Just don’t pretend you’re doing me any favors, or that I need to wear one because otherwise I’m a murderer.

    12. As long as you accept it as a personal choice then we’re cool. I have to wear a mask at work and I get around just fine. The glasses thing is annoying though. I found the antifog sprays work for a few hours though. All the magas acting like it’s the end of the world and they’ve been thrown in a gulag are hilarious though. You have to have a sense of humor about these things. Its like the toddlers on youtube who act like someone has taken everything from them when they can’t find the right shade of blue to color a cartoon.

      1. It’s hilarious how insecure about your intelligence and psychological health you are.
        With good reason though.

  11. Dear Mister Sullum,

    Your post made me realize something. Like you, masks hurt my ears, they make my glasses fog up, they make my beard itch. Somehow, none of these inconveniences have ever stopped me from wearing them. My girlfriend labored to make me one with an outer-space theme, a place where I hope to spend some time, and actually have, because Space is the Place. Let me add another complaint: in the humid heat that many of us have experienced this summer, they make breathing difficult. Somehow, none of these inconveniences have stopped me from wearing them. I guess it may be chalked up to the distaste I feel for breathing in anything that has been breathed out from one of my fellow human beings, including that of the deeply disappointing Rand Paul. I’m not a particularly big fan of them – masks – but I can see myself wearing them for the rest of my short life {62}. I haven’t had even a cold since I started wearing them. I ain’t no pussy, but I like not having colds. I respect each and every differing opinion, but I don’t want to breath in even a molecule that comes from your ugly faces. Not that mine is particularly pretty, but that’s just my opinion.

    1. Howard? I thought you were dead.

      1. Nah, just hitch-hiking around southern Utah.

      2. Call in the Mormons. But don’t tell KAR

  12. Did I apparently post the same comment twice? If so, that would be due to my idiocy. Sorry

    1. It’s just squirrels.

    2. Your post reveals your idiocy.

    3. first post revealed your idiocy, 2nd confirmed it.

    4. It wasn’t the double posting, don’t worry.

  13. Paul’s criticism of cloth masks was stronger than the science warrants…

    How the actual fuck can we be sure of this. There is clearly no open debate on the topic, even within the scientific community. “The science” has been compromised.

    1. The media defending government overreach citing “the science” has always sounded like ignorant use of language, much use actual science.

      I believe I first started hearing this kind of argument from “the great orator” Obama in defending his overreach due to climate change.

      You use what works, I guess.

    2. Even worse, “The Science” can’t possibly provide a policy effective for the entire country.

      Are masks needed out doors? When already social distancing? Inside at a restaurant? Inside a climate controlled environment? At the dinner table? At a bar? At a school? Are they effective on 6 year olds spending an entire day in class?

      The idea that “The Science” gives our leaders enough information that National Mandates- or even State Mandates- make sense is absurd, crypto-religious superstition. And that leads to stupid policies like, “Mask up outdoors, but you can remove the mask when sitting at a table in a restaurant as long as that restaurant is only kept at 50% capacity”. (Really? All restaurants at half capacity are of a geometry and density that masks aren’t needed? Really?)

      As I said above, Reason needs to stop participating in these “My study is bigger than his study” debates, and focus on principles. A country where we all do the “right” thing according to “the science” because of mandates is NOT a libertarian society. It is a techno-authoritarian regime. Who cares whether “the science” is right or not (and history suggests it won’t be), it is an anathema to our natural rights!

    3. Exactly. You can’t actually say what the science is, under conditions of censorship. It’s possible, likely even, that the medical journals are being censored, too!

      Once communications are compromised, you can’t depend on anything being communicated. You’re in the dark.

    4. How the actual fuck can we be sure of this.

      Whoa Fist! Did you quit drinking?

      1. I find the invocation of “the science” to be especially irksome.

    5. If one were to quote Dr Fauci from 2020 when he said he believed that not only with masks not be effective, but might actually increase the spread, AP and factcheck.org will flag it as “false” and “misleading” As it no longer reflects his opinion. It’s a fact that he said it, whether it’s scientifically true or not is separate issue.

  14. … fogs my glasses, ..
    That means it’s doing nothing .

    1. Not-a! Denier!

  15. Paul’s criticism of cloth masks was stronger than the science warrants

    Mr. Sullum, do you honestly not see how stupid this remark is– after the column you just wrote?

    It’s called Reason, for fuck’s sake. Does anyone who writes here still remember that?

    1. I am starting to think Sullum is just paid to troll the Reason comment board.

      1. If he actually is Lord Struddel, then he absolutely gets paid to troll and drive up clicks.

    2. Sullum is working hard to be a useful idiot.

    3. He wrote a balanced article, just because he’s not 100% on board doesn’t make him stupid. You’re free to move along to fox news for “fair and balanced” reporting lmfao.

      1. Lol, it’s trying so hard.
        Amazing how much leftists hate themselves.

  16. The Great American Mask Debate is nothing but the media’s love of making everything about DeRp. DeRps will always try to make everything about their own partisan argument because otherwise they might actually have to figure out how to be competent. And rather than focus on the real issue – the media focuses on the issue the DeRps want to argue about.

    1. Specifically everything about the Mask Debate here in the US has NOTHING to do with how masks actually work in Asia. And they do work in Asia. Not because they stop germs. But because masks COMMUNICATE – keep distance – in those places/situations where distance is not possible.

      1. And they do work in Asia. Not because they stop germs. But because masks COMMUNICATE – keep distance – in those places/situations where distance is not possible.

        “I’m not racist but, Asians can’t avoid spreading infectious diseases without being forced to wear masks that don’t prevent the spread of disease.”

        1. If they don’t, they aren’t smart enough to allow into the overflowing hospitals.

        2. Funny, I always stand closer to people when I see them in masks. They make me feel safe.

          1. This was Dr. Faici’s original point a year ago. If people believe that masks make them safer, they are more likely to go in places where there will be crowds and more opportunity for transmission. Mask mandates create a moral hazard.

          2. One of these days you’ll stand too close to somebody I’m sure.

      2. “But because masks COMMUNICATE – keep distance”

        Thus masks, as applied in the United States (and the rest of the world that chooses mandates) could never work. A person masked in Asia because they felt they might be sick and went out with the mask. In the world of COVID, such a person is expected to stay home. In a country of mask mandates, everybody “communicates” that they are sick, so it is impossible to decide who to distance from. And it is impossible to live your life distancing from everyone.

        1. Not to mention that he’s slowly slipping in a false equivalence. He plainly states that masks don’t stop germs. What function they do perform and do communicate is that “The air is fucking toxic here!” and they communicate that to everyone by turning black the longer they’re worn.

        2. You’re overthinking the problem with mandates. As long as a significant part of peeps believes ‘wearing a mask’ is really an opportunity to get in someone’s face to pick a fight about wearing a mask – or to spend all day in an unventilated room with a lot of people – then peeps just ain’t understanding that whole communication thang.

    2. I think those who wear a mask and get covid should get priority at hospitals then those who don’t wear a mask and get covid.

      1. How about if they have a face shield and two masks? Priority over the one maskers? What about 3 masks?

      2. Similarly, should married pregnant women get priority at hospitals over unmarried pregnant women?

        1. Never. That would be racist.

          1. lmao underrated comment

      3. Free healthcare only to people who show up in the ER with plastic bags ziptied over their heads. Everyone else can pay their own way.

      4. I think anyone with a BMI over 30 should have to wait in line for their diabetes treatment in favor of those with a BMI under 25. I think anyone who plays a sport should only get treated for any game-related injuries after anyone who was injured in non-risky behaviors. I think anyone who cannot afford to feed their kids should have their kids put in foster care.

        1. Don’t forget smokers!
          People who break a leg while snow skiing should be left to die!

          1. Smokers don’t go to the ER for smoking, they go to oncologists for cancer

            1. And this:

              A guy with congestive heart problems can’t get into hospital – 911 and ambulances clogged elsewhere – field hospitals and mobile morgues

              It will soon be very easy for many people to say the unthinkable – to tell the unvax to fucking die already.

              1. Your dream is coming true.

              2. You’re a monster.

                  1. You’re in Colorado, right?

              3. Please do, jfree.
                Please give us the fucking spark to put you down for good.

              4. You first, JSlave.

              5. A guy with congestive heart problems

                Reid has congestive heart failure and has had several heart attacks over the years. Last Sunday, he started having heart palpitations.

                Something tells me that Reid, even if vaccinated, has his own pre-existing/disqualifying co-morbidities. Good thing we passed a law forbidding this sort of thing from being considered for healthcare coverage.

          1. this is fair because hospitals are a private business and get to choose their customers.

      5. I think if you didn’t get a vaccine you should go to the bottom of the list and not get help unless there are plenty beds free. Let natural selection do its work.

        1. LOL

          “Natural selection” is demanding that other people keep you alive

    3. They’re trying to do the same thing with the vaccination debate, even though pro- and anti-vaxxers are on both sides of the political divide.

      1. Don’t be crazy. Only middle-aged and older white republican males are vaccine hesitant…any statistics showing lower vaccine penetration in minorities is because of systemic racism…not because minorities as a group generally don’t trust the government.

        Do masks prevent the spread of the disease of whiteness?

        Why didn’t the MSM cover what Charles Barkley said?

      2. There is no debate in Jfree’s mind: unvaxxed can duck off and die.

        1. You totally miss the point don’t you.

          The policy can either be announced ahead of time. when the unvax have a chance to do something about it.

          Or what happens will happen. when it’s too late for them to do anything.

          1. You really think you’re going to survive if you give people a casus belli?
            Lol
            Ok, boomer.

    4. Ah yes, name calling, the first fallback of every ill-conceived argument lmao.

      1. Rereading your own comments, soy?

  17. People who prefer to wear masks themselves are one thing. But those who insist on imposing masks on others at gunpoint ought to at least be able to show solid proof that they work. Not that it would make coercion right; but it would at least demonstrate that this is more than a cultural jihad.

    1. Anything imposed by the barrel of a gun should show solid proof.

      1. If you had the proof, you don’t need the gun. If you’ve got the gun, you don’t need the proof. Anything imposed by the barrel of a gun should be refuted with bullets. I’ve got proof that accepting ethics arguments being passed off as science and made at the point of a gun because the evidence supports them is bad for your health.

        1. Bingo.

          Well said.

        2. …and there’s that as well.

  18. No article at Reason will ever go beyond whatever is political/ideological. But in a different universe, investigative reporting still exists and is useful. In this case about how information gathering/reporting etc broke down during this entire pandemic. And apparently in that absence we chose to play politics instead.

    1. Look, the devolution of American politics has reached the point where we have nothing but grade school taunting and bullying, with occasional cafeteria food fights.

      The founders has good reasons for trying to construct a republic with limits on democratic participation.

      1. The question is: why can’t leftists leave anyone the fuck alone?
        Only one side is unwilling to live and let live.

    2. An American government led by the Taliban is starting to look more attractive

  19. Sullum why not quote WHO’s assessment of the best high quality studies done prior to March 2020:

    OVERALL RESULT OF EVIDENCE ON FACE MASKS
    1. Ten RCTs were included in the meta-analysis, and there was no evidence that face masks are effective in reducing transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.

    1. Link needed.

      1. No. That is a cop out. Everyone who’s paid attention to this topic or had even rudimentary knowledge of it prior to March of 2020 knows that masks were not recommended. They were not recommended because “the science” did not support that they worked.

        1. Evidently science stopped working after March 2020 lmao. Remember that date folks.

          1. So your theory is that the laws of physics suddenly changed?

      2. Fair.

        In our systematic review, we identified 10 RCTs that reported estimates of the effectiveness of face masks in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infections in the community from literature published during 1946–July 27, 2018. In pooled analysis, we found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.51–1.20; I2 = 30%, p = 0.25) (Figure 2). One study evaluated the use of masks among pilgrims from Australia during the Hajj pilgrimage and reported no major difference in the risk for laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infection in the control or mask group (33). Two studies in university settings assessed the effectiveness of face masks for primary protection by monitoring the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza among student hall residents for 5 months (9,10). The overall reduction in ILI or laboratory-confirmed influenza cases in the face mask group was not significant in either studies (9,10). Study designs in the 7 household studies were slightly different: 1 study provided face masks and P2 respirators for household contacts only (34), another study evaluated face mask use as a source control for infected persons only (35), and the remaining studies provided masks for the infected persons as well as their close contacts (11–13,15,17). None of the household studies reported a significant reduction in secondary laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infections in the face mask group (11–13,15,17,34,35). Most studies were underpowered because of limited sample size, and some studies also reported suboptimal adherence in the face mask group.

        Disposable medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are loose-fitting devices that were designed to be worn by medical personnel to protect accidental contamination of patient wounds, and to protect the wearer against splashes or sprays of bodily fluids (36). There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure. Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.

        Lord of the Strazele hardest hit.

      3. apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/329438/9789241516839-eng.pdf

    2. These clearly don’t count because they don’t take into account Karen’s super-covid-fighting cloth masks!!!

  20. I’d like to reiterate that just because Sullum and the news media frame a question that should be about Rand Paul’s free speech rights as a question of whether what Paul says is scientifically accurate, that doesn’t necessarily mean doing so is appropriate or justified. Our free speech rights do not depend on their accuracy. The question isn’t whether Paul is right. Our right to free speech is protected by the First Amendment even if our opinion is wrong.

    The central question here is whether YouTube is refusing to allow speech that contradicts a government agency on their platform out of fear of the legal repercussions of angering the Biden administration by tolerating speech on its platform that contradicts the pronouncements of the Biden administration. Ignoring the implications of Biden’s Justice department’s suit to break up Google on antitrust grounds is like ignoring the presence of a gun when deciding whether the bank robber committed a crime.

    1. “…out of fear of the legal repercussions of angering the Biden administration by tolerating speech on its platform that contradicts the pronouncements of the Biden administration.”

      Under fascism, you don’t need to own the media [or anything else]; you just have to be able to control it.

      1. That’s why ‘Murca is great – they’ve done both.

  21. It’s very telling how butthurt people get over something so small. But hey, if people weren’t so adamant about using all their “freedoms” at every opportunity, we could be past this by now. ie. you have the freedom to not get the shot but it would serve you and your community well if you did. You’d be safer and the hospitals less full. Then we wouldn’t have to worry as much about masking, distancing, and shutting things down or putting restrictions in place. We’d be well on our way back to normal, if not normal.

    But no- the selfishness of others is what is causing this to never end. The people most opposed to all the restrictions are the ones doing the absolute least to get anything back to normal.

    1. There’s one in every comment section.

      1. there’s like seventeen here

    2. True, we could have beaten influenza, covid 19, and pretty much every other communicable disease if we’d all just wear masks all the time! My proof? Look at what masks did to the flu last year!

      Masks obviously work, because there are fewer flu cases than in prior years. Sure, covid is still spreading like wildfire, but that’s because people aren’t wearing their masks properly.

      Anyone who disagrees with these two points is obviously either a science denier or is selfish.

      1. My guess is that a lot of flu got counted as COVID.

        1. True, especially since the report that some PCR tests could not distinguish between flu and COVID. Check CDC if you don’t believe me.

          1. Not true

            The tests are highly specific. The CDC and others are moving to multiplex tests which can detect both at the same time. So you get two results, actually three since it differentiates influenza A from B from the same test.

            https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/multiplex.html

        2. your guess is wrong. 90% of covid tests were tested before hand. very few deaths were “attributed”, if you went to the hospital you got tested. Most people don’t lay in bed and die when they can barely breath, they take door # 1: the ER.

      2. that was more a product of shutting down schools and workplaces than it was masks.

    3. “You’d be safer and the hospitals less full. Then we wouldn’t have to worry as much about masking, distancing, and shutting things down or putting restrictions in place.”

      Are you still seriously trying to sell that revealed bullshit, “flattening the curve?”

    4. If I go out into public without a mask, while vaccinated, and carrying antibodies from my prior protection, I’m not part of the problem. Assuming you and Tony aren’t the same person, which is a big stretch, you guys should get together and while wearing 3 or 4 masks, beat each other off while thinking about the rest of us Rona infidels suffering.

      1. Prior Infection.

    5. Wear an N95 mask if you’re afraid. They work great.

      If you’re not willing to protect your own health with an N95 mask, why should others do anything to protect you? Stop being so selfish.

      1. Anyone who is,pushing makes but is only wearing one made of cloth just isn’t serious, and isn’t worth listening to.

    6. Except that getting the shot does indeed help the person getting the shot, and help society in general. Wearing the mask doesn’t help anyone.

      1. 75% of my state is vaccinated with at least one dose and we’re shutting down again because cases are on the rise.

        It’s a fucking flu virus. How effective have those vaccines been? How big do you need pharmaceutical profits to grow before you clue in?

    7. It’s just a little yellow star, what’s the big deal?

    8. We have a vaccine for the flu, true, but only about 60% of people get vaccinated each year. And we also have flu-specific drugs like Tamiflu. But flu still kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. With no vaccine for COVID, with no COVID-specific treatments, with no herd immunity, I say again, COVID is is not much of a virus, doing only about 2-3x more deaths than the flu? Flu fights through vaccines, mutating seemingly at will to break through the lines, it laughs at Tamiflu, and kills tens of thousands. COVID saunters around and barely does better than the flu.

      My point is that people keep saying “we have a vaccination for the flu”, which they seem to think absolves them from responsibility for spreading the flu that kills so many annually. They never looked up and saw 20l, 30k, 60k people (2017/18 flu season killed between 60k and 90k, estimates vary because flu deaths are not required to be reported) and said “Gee, we need to social distance and wear masks all the time to save these people!” and if/when COVID is solved, I suspect they will go right back to ignoring flu deaths. If preventing one COVID death is worth everything we’ve been through, we is preventing one flu death not?

      Also, flu vaccinations were not really a thing until after 2000-2004. Before 2005 or so, when a flu vaccine was rarely given except to very at-risk people, no one was calling for masks and social distancing. So “we have a vaccine” is an excuse now, but was not always.

      The willingness of people to do trillions of dollars of economic damage for a disease that is asymptomatic in about half of those infected, and mostly kills people with co-morbities who are also over 75 years of age is puzzling to me.

      But I reiterate: My sin is, to my mind, thinking no more about the people dying of COVID than I think about the people dying of the flu. COVID deaths are not more tragic than flu deaths. The vast (VAST) majority of people who get the flu will survive and it seems the vast majority of people who get COVID will survive, albeit at a slightly higher risk of dying. COVID *is* more deadly than the flu. Some people who get the flu will die, despite medicine’s best efforts; some larger number of people who get COVID will die despite medicine’s best effort.

      Virtually no one has ever advocated that people wear masks in public to prevent spreading the flu, despite the flu killing 30-50k people in the US most years. I never remember hearing anyone advocating that we wear masks around town just in case we might infect someone else with the flu.

      No one cared about those deaths. I didn’t. I don’t. I don’t care much about COVID deaths. Deaths of strangers from car accidents, falling off ladders, cancer, alcoholism, drug overdoses, flu, COVID, are all pretty much the same to me–it’s too bad, and I feel some sadness for their loved ones but that’s about it. Death of a loved one from any cause is a personal tragedy, so if someone in my circle dies of COVID, does it affect me more or less than if they die from the flu or a car wreck?

      COVID is nothing special. It’s apparently slightly more lethal than the flu OVERALL, but largely because it is about 4-10x more lethal in the 85+ age group, and especially for people in that age group who are in nursing homes. I believe something north of 40% of all COVID deaths have been from 85+ age group. I’m really not willing to submit to the upheavals for COVID anymore than I would be willing to do so for the flu.

      Are you now willing to commit to this level of effort forever to save 30-50k people from the flu annually? Or is it just COVID?

      1. Mic drop. Thank you.

      2. There’s a big fucking difference between 35000 people and 600,000, especially when the vaccine that can save 600,000 is 99% success rate at keeping people from dying. Flu vaccines are only 30-50% successful

        1. And no where in my post did I say anything about mandating anything so don’t bother saying I did. I’m trying to appeal to people’s common sense not put a gun to their head and make them wear a mask or take a shot. If you wanna throw hands with natural selection be my guest, better for the gene pool that way.

          1. I’m in Jax.
            Let me know when you get here, soy.

    9. If people had ignored the restrictions the whole time it would be over by now. To the extent that NPI’s ‘work’, all they do is drag out the time that it takes the virus to run through the population.

    10. It IS very telling. Your bleating let’s us know who the authoritarian fuck sticks are.

    11. That is the biggest bullshit ever. We are NEVER going to be “past” this you goddamned fool. It isn’t even pandemic…it’s endemic. Just like colds, seasonal flu, and such. It is never going away. The world has been changed forever.

      You can’t run from this type of respiratory virus, and you cannot contain it. This isn’t smallpox or polio…and we are already seeing how these vaccines are basically mediocre experimental drugs. They do help, but they aren’t anywhere near as effective as initially touted, and we still have no long-term safety data. It just doesn’t exist.

      1. Yeah but as it works through the populous it will burn itself out and become essentially the flu in severity. And yeah it is a lot fucking worse than the flu no matter what the maga reality dispersion field attempts to convince people of.

        1. Your delusion is not our burden.
          Man up and handle that shit yourself.
          Or you can keep begging for your comeuppance.

        2. Okay, pick one. Same post, and you’ve got it as a flu, and so much worse.

    12. Sacrifice your freedom just this once, and things will be fine. Normalcy depends on your abandoning the conclusions of your logical mind. No. Just as some gun deaths will occur because the 2nd amendment is in place, so will some virus deaths occur due to not imposing vax or mask mandates on individuals. This is the price of freedom.

  22. Paul’s criticism of cloth masks was stronger than the science warrants

    I’m just going to repost the correction to your OWN ARTICLE:
    *CORRECTION: This post originally stated that the Vietnam study suggested medical masks were effective at reducing infection, but that result was not statistically significant.

    So please, Mr. Sullum. Do explain to us, again, how Paul’s criticism was “too strong”. You have no evidence. Your own article stands corrected here on this very site testifying to that fact. You, a journalist with no medical training or authority are contesting, evidence free, that an actual medical doctor armed with actual scientific evidence and the results of decades of actual randomized controlled tests is criticizing “too strongly”. When you say that criticism is “too strong”, do you mean that it’s factually unsupported (i.e. wrong) or simply that it’s insufficiently deferential to the government? The government which the speaker is a duly elected member of! It is literally Rand Paul’s job, his profession, his raison d’etre, what he is paid to do, the task which the state of Kentucky has collectively chosen him to perform, to speak about (and criticize) the policies of the U.S. government. He’s a U.S. Senator. THAT’S WHAT SENATORS DO.

    1. Didn’t you know that Sullum took a few science classes in college? How dare you question his qualifications.

      1. I heard he even got a B- in biology in high school.

    2. Sullum’s article with the subsequent correction (referenced above) was posted here just last week (with the same false claim/smear about Rand Paul.
      https://reason.com/2021/08/12/rand-pauls-criticism-of-cloth-masks-was-stronger-than-the-evidence-justifies/

      Seems like Sullum believes that repeating lies about the scientific evidence and the most libertarian US Senator is journalism.

  23. I wonder why anyone needs masks.

    Those among us who judge the risk of COVID-19 swine flu measles mumps polio whatever to be too great can stay home until vaccinated.

    Why worry about the spread?

  24. If Sullum were objective, he’d praise Rand Paul for understanding the evidence, science and virology of covid.

    Sullum should should stick to writing about drug policies, as his TDS and other political musings are just biased smears against libertarians and libertarianism.

  25. There is no use trying to argue for mask use, because those opposed will not really accept any evidence. Since we were children we were taught to cover our mouth when couching for sneezing. Why do that if barriers don’t stop disease. Many years ago we were told to sneeze into out sleeve to stop the germs but keep out hands free. Masks are used in many parts of the world. Most people I talk to tell me that 2021 is the first year they did not have a winter cold. So the empirical evidence is out there and the science backs it up. The only reason for not using masked is because you don’t what to be told what to do. So show your independence and don’t wear a mask, shoes, pants or shirt. Don’t let people tell you what to do, its you life and if you what to risk death and the death of your family its your business.

    1. Because vaccines work. And masks do exactly nothing when you don’t have Covid. Which is 99.995% of vaccinated individuals where I live.

      Anyone who wants to mitigate their risk of getting Covid can wear an N95 mask and stop trying to police everyone around them. N95 masks are readily available and work great.

    2. Why do that if barriers don’t stop disease. Many years ago we were told to sneeze into out sleeve to stop the germs but keep out hands free.

      Indeed. What difference is there, really, between covering your mouth/nose during the act of sneezing and covering your face at all times everywhere even when you are not sneezing, just in case you do? I presume you are also wearing a seatbelt and a life preserver at this very moment?

      1. rofl underrated comment

    3. Or people didn’t get to congregate and we are correlating mask efficacy with shutdowns and prison time. I’m still not sure why we don’t talk about the forcible separation of the public as a reason for a reduction of colds last year.

    4. That is simply not true. But all “science” has been politicized on both sides, so we have a big, fat, batch of nothing.

      Over a virus that kills about 1% of the people that get it, with the vast majority of them being over 70 and in poor health.

      And I wear a mask if I think the situation warrants it, even though I doubt it really accomplishes much. Your anecdotal bullshit about people you know not getting a cold shows how little you understand science. Maybe it was because they barely went out and hardly had any human contact in general. Or maybe it’s what you want to see and hear because it fits your preconceived narrative.

      Think. I know it hurts, but just try it.

  26. Masks help a little sometimes. Stop making mask-wearing a religion.

    Covid is a low risk disease for the vast majority of people. It’s not the bogeyman.

    If we had public health doctors and nurses instead of public health police, everything about the pandemic would be going better.

    1. The problem is not the policing per se but the fact that our society has, by and large, accepted the notion that people have no choice to exercise when it comes to their health provided the “experts” make an official sounding pronouncement. Laws are a reflection of the culture, and our culture is the rotten corpse of a once freedom-loving people. Policing is not creating medical totalitarianism; medical totalitarianism is creating policing.

      1. Most people don’t realize that they’re acting like jerks when they want to police everyone around them. We need to keep telling them.

        1. They do not see themselves as jerks, but saviors. Heroes. Righteous citizens, scientifically and medically informed, fighting hordes of ignorant dupes that cling to antiquated notions of “freedom.” Even if they are capable of realizing they are being jerks, they are far more likely to excuse their behavior as ultimately necessary because “we tried being nice, and people still did not do what we wanted them to do.”

          There is virtually nothing that a person genuinely in fear for their life would not do, or would not excuse other people doing. Undermine their instincts of fear, and you may ultimately convince them to cease encroaching on other people’s freedom. If that does not work, then the only way to stop them is to make them fear you more than they fear the virus.

          1. Tell them to wear an N95 mask. They work great.

          2. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” ― C. S. Lewis

        2. I already figured out that other people getting vaccinated solves the problem of any COVID-19 need to be troubled with people who don’t want to comply. Freedom works.

      2. I do not think that all of the population have functional appreciation of what blessings of liberty look like as such have in earlier times. There were highly-intelligent people then as now, but they could not engineer an accessible modern consciousness where hope of fact being an issue could prevail so potentially. So they raised their chickens or sold their widgets instead rather than even try to challenge what has been perceived at times as an unchallengeable monopoly. Public schools appeared with greater ubiquity around 1905 due to Henry James, so literacy has had to come about as popular phenomenon.

    2. The Deseret News pushed coercive masking back in 1918–complete with face-punching. See Google News Archives.

  27. What the masks that most people wear (disposable surgical or piece of cloth) do is reduce the throw distance of our breath, coughs, and sneezes. That could make a difference if a significant mode of transmission of this virus were brief contact between people who are a certain distance apart. But it’s not. These masks do not reduce the concentration of virions in the air of an enclosed space, where people pass thru and the air mixes anyway, and that’s how we have evidence the virus is transmitted.

    1. exactly.

      but you’re supposed to include all of the contradictory studies, even if they don’t really apply, since you’re going against the official narrative.

  28. I remember when Sullum used to respond to critics. Disappointed but not surprised tosee he’s too good for that now.
    Reason used to be so good.

    1. Lord of Strazele = Sullum

      1. Lord of Strazele = Sullum = fucking dinger

        Thanks!

        1. No need to insult dingers like that

    2. Sullum is trying out for a job at the NYT.

    3. Sockpuppet confuses critics with butthurt crybaby snowflakes in MAGA caps.

  29. Of course mask skepticism is beyond the pale. It’s more heavily censored by social media and vigorously derided by mainstream media than the Taliban.

  30. Amazingly my state of NC included this study in their list of proof masks work.
    https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M20-1342

    The conclusion: Neither surgical nor cotton masks effectively filtered SARS–CoV-2 during coughs by infected patients.

  31. Both sides are wrong. Which is why both sides will say I’m a communist/fascist.

    The Right is wrong that masks are worthless. The Left is wrong in that most masks are indeed worthless.

    A proper mask is an N95/KN95 mask sealed to the face. Most masks are not. Most ad little better than dust filters that don’t block the virus from leaving through the sides, top, or bottom of the mask.

    Double masking? Ir original recommendation was a mask with a double layer. As most masks are. It does NOT mean double masking. The second mask don’t prevent the virus from exiting out around the side of the first mask.

    The truth is, masks are effective at stopping droplets and microdroplets. They do not prevent the transmission of all viruses. They are better than nothing, but they are not the bulwark against a pandemic. Double masking is just cheap symbolism. Refusing to wear a mask is just cheap symbolism. Wear a fucking mask when you are out in public in close proximity to others not in your family or close circle of friends.

    But the number one thing you can do to end this pandemic is to get vaccinated.

    Gregg Abbott got infected. But Gregg Abbott was vaccinated. Meaning the seriousness of his infection is much much MUCH less than if it were not vaccinated. I had a friend who got infected and he didn’t even know it. Because he was vaccinated. The vaccine reduces transmission and reduces severity.

    Masks are just yellinig points for tribes to hate each other over. Common courtesy says you wear a shirt into a restaurant. Common courtesy says you wear a mask as well. It’s only a political symbol if you choose to make it one.

    1. No. I don’t have Covid so masks don’t do anything.

    2. You’re full of shit.

      “Both sides are wrong. Which is why both sides will say I’m a communist/fascist.

      The Right is wrong that masks are worthless. The Left is wrong in that most masks are indeed worthless.”

      “They are better than nothing”

      They are NOT better than nothing. Not only do they have real, verifiably physiological negativities, they also have psychological negativities. Not the least of which is to promote an overly false sense of protection.

      “Common courtesy says you wear a mask as well.”

      Common courtesy says don’t be a fucking liar.

      1. Unless someone is spitting in your mouth at the local Wal-Mart, masks are worthless in public. If you want to wear a mask in private social settings, go right ahead. If you want, mandate it to come into your house. There is 0 value in public masking policies.

      2. “promote an overly false sense of protection.”

        While simultaneously promoting an overly false paranoia that everybody you encounter in person is a constant threat just by existing.

    3. Finger-pointers and social police like to say “common courtesy” but since when is trying to police everyone courteous?

      Want others to do you a favor? Try being worthy of it instead of finger-pointing and making demands.

      If you’re sick wear a mask. If you’re afraid wear an N95 mask. Leave the rest of us out of your magic face talisman rituals.

      1. Guarantee you that “common courtesy” people also text while driving.

        1. Common courtesy is a thing to be demanded from other people. Karens know exactly how you are obligated to behave for them and they’ll absolutely go off on you unless you comply.

      2. No kidding. Common courtesy says stay off my lawn.

    4. >>Meaning the seriousness of his infection is much much MUCH less than if it were not vaccinated

      nobody knows this.

    5. They are better than nothing

      Becoming an incel recluse is “better than nothing” if you don’t want to catch COVID-19. Are you going to force that upon the country too?

      But the number one thing you can do to end this pandemic is to get vaccinated. Gregg Abbott got infected. But Gregg Abbott was vaccinated. Meaning the seriousness of his infection is much much MUCH less than if it were not vaccinated.

      In other words, Abbot was still infectious and vaccination did nothing to actually “end the pandemic”.

    6. But the number one thing you can do to end this pandemic is to get vaccinated.

      Untrue. It’s been well established, a fact confirmed by your own statements, that the vaccinated can still contract and transmit the disease and it’s widely asserted that there are large pools of mammalian vectors. Short of a massive retooling of society and human mammalian physiology from the genes up, there’s nothing that can be done at a societal level to end the pandemic. The best that can be done is the personal decision to get vaccinated, seek treatment, self-isolate, or not.

      Even the much-touted eradication of polio didn’t happen because everyone around the last person to contract it was vaccinated.

    7. Show me a link to the long-term safety data of these yet to be approved, experimental vaccines.

      And with the politicization of this whole fucking thing, if the FDA does grant full approval, one has to question in a “normal” environment whether they would have. Under the best circumstances the FDA caves to political pressure too easily. In this environment, it becomes even more unreliable.

      We are in uncharted waters.

      1. Somewhat charted – Soviet five year plans come to mind

    8. Allowing the mob to dictate behavior like this will end badly. Next, they will say your speech is harmful to someone else’s health (words are violence!), but you probably don’t care, because you like being in the mob, pushing people around. Anyway, let’s talk about kids in school. Have you worn an properly-fitted N95 or KN95? Have you tried talking while wearing it? How about playing outside in it? I have. I am required to wear an N95 that was fitted to me with official testing. They are very restrictive of airflow. Forcing kids to wear face diaper masks in school is useless, and forcing them to wear N/KN95s is criminal.

    9. Yes. And let’s point out as well that some people wear transparent face shields that cannot be penetrated directly by COVID-19 … haven’t seen this in America, tho’.

  32. Funny how humans can send someone to the moon… or it least create the technology to video tape it in a warehouse, but it wasn’t until 2020 that someone was smrt enough to say, “Hey, MaYbe iF we PUt cLotH in FroNt oF ouR fAceS, We wOn’t GeT thE CooTieS.”

    1. Magic rituals have been around forever. They ward off teh evil spirits.

      1. Less magic ritual, more branding

  33. iike i have such a simple question it should boggle your minds that it hasnt been answered yet….

    can anyone please explain to me WHY THE FUCK DON’T WE HAVE REAL PROOF ONE WAY OR THE OTHER IF THE STUPID CLOTH REUSABLE MASKS WORK OR NOT?

    like…with the billions that are spend on science by our government, can’t someone somewhere just do a real RCT about the fuckings masks and let everyone know if the work or not?

    but i mean seriously…how the hell can a mask that you take on and off actually work lol?? there is no damn way a reusable mask can prevent you from catching shit.

    masks compliance are simply those damn busybodies…like the stick thin nutrition lady in your high school who told you if you ever ate anything you actually enjoyed that you would probably be dead by the end of the week…who live for control over others finally getting something scary enough to allow them to force you to jump through their hoops.

    1. Because they work but not very well. They’re better than nothing sometimes, but only a little.

      The mask police don’t want you to know masks only help a little bit sometimes.

      People are afraid and masks are a magic talisman. Seeing masks calms fears and brings a sense of community to the emotional and fearful.

      1. Because they work but not very well. They’re better than nothing sometimes, but only a little.

        Is reducing your risk of infection from 68% to 65% worth walking around with a diaper strapped to your face 24/7?

        1. No. If I was 90 years old or something I might say something different. But that should be up to me to decide, not a matter for policing everyone.

      2. People are afraid because everyone’s wearing a fucking mask

    2. can anyone please explain to me WHY THE FUCK DON’T WE HAVE REAL PROOF ONE WAY OR THE OTHER IF THE STUPID CLOTH REUSABLE MASKS WORK OR NOT?

      We know mask mandates don’t work because there is no clear, measurable impact of such mandates on the spread of COVID-19. That is, the reduction in disease due to mask mandates are not large enough to show up in statistics, which means that mask mandates are useless. No RCT will change that conclusion.

      1. I remain open to the possibility that an actual RCT could demonstrate that masks are effective within the controlled environment of their study and that knowledge might show that whatever is going on with public masking ordinances isn’t working and highlight or inform ways to fix it, but there aren’t any studies showing that so it’s really a moot point. The fOlLoW tHe ScIeNcE crowd has aggressively not followed anything resembling science.

        1. I remain open to the possibility that an actual RCT could demonstrate that masks are effective within the controlled environment of their study and that knowledge might show that whatever is going on with public masking ordinances isn’t working and highlight or inform ways to fix it

          Cloth masks are probably moderately effective in controlled settings at preventing transmission in controlled settings for individual exposures, but that is known to be insufficient for having a significant impact on the spread of the virus.

          So what exactly do you expect from additional RCTs?

          1. Think of it like the “is it plugged in?” step of problem solving. If masks don’t actually protect anyone under any meaningful circumstances there’s no point in trying to figure out how to use them “correctly”. If it were shown (which it hasn’t been) that there exists a use case for masks where they can help in a statistically significant way then you can look at the real world and go “Okay, how do we make the cows in the pasture more spherical?” and from there you can ask meaningful questions like “is it worth it?” and “how much will we really benefit from this?”

            None of this has been done though. There is no evidence, however controlled or nuanced, that the ubiquitous cloth masks covering society today do anything at all. Scientifically, it’s pure placebo. I wonder how people would feel if the CDC mandated daily sugar pills for all Americans in order to stop cancer.

            1. Think of it like the “is it plugged in?” step of problem solving.

              That’s how I am thinking about it. Given the data we have, we know that masks simply don’t have a strong effect. Any weak effect we can demonstrate in a lab setting is simply not relevant.

              There is no evidence, however controlled or nuanced, that the ubiquitous cloth masks covering society today do anything at all.

              I agree. And we have enough data to know that no RCT is going to change that conclusion.

    3. If mask mandates actually worked, the pandemic would be over by now

    4. You can’t patent a face diaper, so no one is motivated to spend the $$ and effort to prove the point.

      1. How about if everyone wore a Jacob’s Ladder in front of their head?

  34. >>by reducing transmission of infected respiratory particles in both laboratory and clinical contexts.

    ya, something over your mouth will do that. hanging your piece on the biggest no shit Sherlock ever …

    still not worth the liberty exchange.

  35. “The preponderance of evidence,” they concluded, “indicates that mask wearing reduces transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected respiratory particles in both laboratory and clinical contexts.”

    And modest reductions of per contact transmissibility are meaningless for epidemiology. But this meaningless drivel passes for “the science” at Reason.

  36. Youtube (Google) used to ban you for making scientific claims that weren’t from peer reviewed papers. Now they’ve banned a medical doctor (Rand Paul) for making claims that were in peer reviewed papers, but didn’t match the official narrative.

    The CDC initially dismissed masks not just to prevent shortages, but because they really are ineffective against tiny virus particles, unless they are N95 or better. They started to change their tune when they saw COVID case rates rising more slowly in some Asian countries where mask wearing was commonplace, even though practicing social distancing and following rules against large indoor gatherings more willingly may have been the main reasons for that difference.

    1. And vigilant contact tracing, and law enforcement going door to door looking for the infected, seriously enforced quarantines and limitations on travel.

      Even so, the Chinese have failed to stop the African swine fever that killed half of its pigs and continues to spread. Believing that you can ever stop the spread of viruses is a fool’s errand. This especially applies to coronavirus as that mutate rapidly based on how they work.

      China shut down their largest marine transmodal container terminal a week ago due to a resurgence of Covid. When we get to Christmas, there may be a shortage of Chinese made spongebob Squarepants toys.

      1. Dammit – thanks for ruining my Christmas. I love SpongeBob.

    2. Previous exposure was likely the difference. The virus was around long before we started looking for it.

  37. Banning Face Mask Skeptics is beyond the pale.

    A one point in history the prevailing “Science” was that the sun revolved around the earth. Brave skeptic of the time battled the ignorant positions of the prevailing “Science” with facts.

    The problem is that “Follow the Science” is a political movement and isn’t grounded in actual fact. Many of the “Follow the Science” positions have been proven incorrect, immaterial or being insignificant. It is very apparent that the “Follow the Science” political movement have political objectives.

  38. If the standard of pushing a point further than the science supports is going to be the litmus test for loosing your voice, fine, but then apply it evenly. Any political issue seems to devolve down to this level of absolutism at this point, maybe it’s time for folks on both sides of all the big (and silly) issues to grow up a bit and learn to get along.

    1. I’m happy to get along.
      Live and let live.
      But this isn’t a both sides issue.
      Leftists refuse to get along, or let anyone live, who doesn’t completely submit to their dictates.
      So it’s a bit of an impasse.
      Growing up in this case means removing the ability of leftists to impose their orders upon you.

  39. Btw, Sullum, if you have a beard, there is no way that your mask is creating the kind of seal necessary for it to be effective. When will the government mandate facial hair requirements? I think I’ve seen those before, maybe in the utopia that is the DPRK.

  40. Woke maskophiles to the left of me, Trump-humping maskophobes to the right of me. Here I am stuck in the middle trying to figure out what is true.

    1. It’s all lies.

  41. Noble lies deliver swift blowback in the information age. The best policy is to be truthful about what you know and what you don’t know. When recommendations are based on an educated hunch, they need to say that.

  42. “Although that memorable reversal supposedly was justified by evolving science”

    As I recall, Fauci lied to the people initially to attempt to preserve critical PPE for medical personnel.

    A few days earlier, he tweeted that masks were “not effective in preventing” COVID-19 in the general public, saying, “Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!” He later reversed his advice.

    Fauci explained the early advice against masks by saying: “The public-health community — and many people were saying this — were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply.”

    Later Fauci was telling his friends “Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection,” Fauci wrote back in a Feb. 5 message. “The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.”

    The country’s leading infectious disease expert went on to say he would not recommend the writer wear a mask during travel to a “very low risk location.”

    Fauci later changed his position a few more times, even at one point seeming to support wearing TWO masks.

    “So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective,” Fauci told TODAY. “That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”

    He reversed course on that a few days later.

    “The CDC does not recommend that you should wear two masks, nor does the CDC recommend that you have to wear an N95 mask. They just say, ‘The most important thing is get everybody to wear a mask,'” Fauci said during the town hall.

    How does this *NOT* invite a certain amount of skepticism?

    Also, I think most “mask skepticism” does not include people telling people to *not* wear masks, so much as it is pointing out that mask mandates don’t seem to make much sense AS IMPLEMENTED (i.e., the loopholes render masks to be little more than theater; consider wearing a mask in a restaurant except when eating as if the virus knows you’re eating and won’t be transmissible; consider the whole BLM protests are more important than masks).

    1. Don’t forget that last year the virus only came out after 10 PM in many places. These coronaviruses have the latest Apple watches, you know.

  43. Bud: ‘You can’t come in here!’
    Lou: ‘Why not?’
    Bud: ‘Well because you’re unvaccinated.’
    Lou: ‘But I’m not sick.’
    Bud: ‘It doesn’t matter.’
    Lou: ‘Well, why does that guy get to go in?’
    Bud: ‘Because he’s vaccinated.’
    Lou: ‘But he’s sick!’
    Bud: ‘It’s alright. Everyone in here is vaccinated.’
    Lou: ‘Wait a minute. Are you saying everyone in there is vaccinated?’
    Bud: ‘Yes.’
    Lou: ‘So then why can’t I go in there if everyone is vaccinated?’
    Bud: ‘Because you’ll make them sick.’
    Lou: ‘How will I make them sick if I’m NOT sick and they’re vaccinated.’
    Bud: ‘Because you’re unvaccinated.’
    Lou: ‘But they’re vaccinated.’
    Bud: ‘But they can still get sick.’
    Lou: ‘So what the heck does the vaccine do?’
    Bud: ‘It vaccinates.’
    Lou: ‘So vaccinated people can’t spread covid?’
    Bud: ‘Oh no. They can spread covid just as easily as an unvaccinated person.’
    Lou: ‘I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. Look. I’m not sick.
    Bud: ‘Ok.’
    Lou: ‘And the guy you let in IS sick.’
    Bud: ‘That’s right.’
    Lou: ‘And everybody in there can still get sick even though they’re vaccinated.’
    Bud: ‘Certainly.’
    Lou: ‘So why can’t I go in again?’
    Bud: ‘Because you’re unvaccinated.’
    Lou: ‘I’m not asking who’s vaccinated or not!’
    Bud: ‘I’m just telling you how it is.’
    Lou: ‘Nevermind. I’ll just put on my mask.’
    Bud: ‘That’s fine.’
    Lou: ‘Now I can go in?’
    Bud: ‘Absolutely not?’
    Lou: ‘But I have a mask!’
    Bud: ‘Doesn’t matter.’
    Lou: ‘I was able to come in here yesterday with a mask.’
    Bud: ‘I know.’
    Lou: So why can’t I come in here today with a mask? ….If you say
    ‘because I’m unvaccinated’ again, I’ll break your arm.’
    Bud: ‘Take it easy buddy.’
    Lou: ‘So the mask is no good anymore.’
    Bud: ‘No, it’s still good.’
    Lou: ‘But I can’t come in?’
    Bud: ‘Correct.’
    Lou: ‘Why not?’
    Bud: ‘Because you’re unvaccinated.’
    Lou: ‘But the mask prevents the germs from getting out.’
    Bud: ‘Yes, but people can still catch your germs.’
    Lou: ‘But they’re all vaccinated.’
    Bud: ‘Yes, but they can still get sick.’
    Lou: ‘But I’m not sick!!’
    Bud: ‘You can still get them sick.’
    Lou: ‘So then masks don’t work!’
    Bud: ‘Masks work quite well.’
    Lou: ‘So how in the heck can I get vaccinated people sick if I’m not
    sick and masks work?’
    Bud: ‘Third base.’

    1. I proceeded to tell him the story of the Alice’s Restaurant Outbreak, with full orchestration and five part harmony and stuff like that and all the phenome… – and he stopped me right there and said, “Kid, did you ever go to court?” And I proceeded to tell him the story of the one, three-by-five color printout of ‘my’ vaccine passport and he stopped me right there and said, “Kid, I want you to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W … NOW kid!!”

      And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W’s, where they put you if you may not be moral enough to go to a bar after committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people on the bench there. Mother rapers. Father stabbers. Father Rapers! Father rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me! And they was mean and nasty and ugly and horrible crime-type guys sitting on the bench next to me. And the meanest, ugliest, nastiest one, the meanest father raper of them all, was coming over to me and he was mean ‘n’ ugly
      ‘N’ nasty ‘n’ horrible and all kind of things and he sat down next to me and said, “Kid, whad’ya get?” I said, “I didn’t get nothing, I had to pay $500 and can’t go out in public.” He said, “What were you arrested for, kid?” And I said, “unvaccinated.” And they all moved away from me on the bench.

      1. I love Arlo Guthrie

        1. By no means the biggest fan, but the shaggy dog story is entertaining enough and the chorus is catchy enough for the kids, the message is still relevant enough, and, while I don’t mean to disparage him, it absolutely beat the hell out of listening to Adam Sandler 6 more times every Thanksgiving.

    2. Governor Abbot in Texas has tested positive for Covid, but he has no symptoms, and his wife has not become positive.

      He was fully vaccinated and this is exactly what you want. This was not a failure.

      Even if you assume it was not a false positive, the virus never gets enough of a foothold to start replicating and the duration of the infectious period is shortened, if it exists at all. That’s why herd immunity matters, whether through vaccination or prior exposure and recovery. Eventually the probability that an unprotected person will come in contact with an infectious person becomes close to zero. Then it dies out.

      1. Written BEFORE science became politics:

        https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002198

        And I have asked before – please show me the long-term safety data on these novel drugs. You obviously have access to it.

    3. I like it.

    4. This is by far the best thing I’ve seen all day. Solid gold punchline.

    5. That got a pained chuckle. Nicely done.

  44. Stick to your lane Reason, it makes for a stronger argument.

    Masks may or may not work
    The data is kinda weak to really make a solid determination.

    Howver the data is very strong in showing that Mask Mandates are in effective. You can mandate people wear masks every time the go grocery shopping, but if they go straight home and hang out with their friends in car for a 30 minute drive then that mask wearing at the grocery store isn’t doing squat to stop the spread.

    Masks may be effective at reducing risk if spread, but Mask Mandates just don’t work.

  45. Mr. Sullum why don’t you apply this same level of analysis to the evidence for the purported harms of masks?

    Could it be because none of your hysterical doomsaying about their negative impacts is rooted in anything besides baseless conjecture to support your political position? Funny calling for an evidenced based approach to masks when you’re hypercritical of the evidence of a benefit but claim there’s associated harms that you just presume are a given, even though they’re laughably hyperbolic and unsupported by any evidence whatsoever.

    1. You must be an ugly person

  46. No. Sorry. But there is no real world data that masks do a damn thing.

    1. So? The AMA lied and helped the Kleptocracy send men with guns to shoot citizens and jail Tim Leary. Now the CDC does the same thing, and the ignorant thugs with guns they send fanning out in all directions “do” all kinds of things… none of them good. Their motto: “Data?! We don’ need no steenkin data!”

  47. Sullum is not a scientist. CDC is a government agency, and that’s not where independent-minded scientists go to conduct or review research. Government and science should always be separated if you want to avoid corrupted science.
    Numerous random-controlled trials have been conducted in the past 75 years, studying the effectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of various infectious diseases, including influenza and more recently, Covid-19. These studies (not “observational” or anecdotal studies, which are not good science) generally show inconclusive or negative results – i.e., effectiveness not shown.
    See “Do masks actually work? The best studies suggest they don’t.”
    https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/do-masks-actually-work-the-best-studies-suggest-they-dont/ar-AANfurl?ocid=sf

  48. Paul is a victim of people trying to play semantics.

    For all intents and purposes, we did fund gain of function research at Wuhan. It’s perfectly correct to say “over the counter masks don’t work” in the same way it’s correct to say red light cameras don’t work. It doesn’t matter that the camera saves some lives. It fails to achieve its ultimate goal, which is any significant reduction in fatal accidents. And it’s an intrusion on privacy.

    Paul said OVER THE COUNTER masks don’t work. His point is that most masks worn Americans are less effective than M95. The CDC said cloth and bandana masks are useless. If you’re intellectually dishonest or choose to read that in the most obtuse manner, you can arrive at the conclusion that Paul is saying masks play no role in stopping the spread of disease.

    What is it that people don’t fucking understand? Maybe they should go outside once in a while. 70-90% of Angelenos wear the blue masks or the cloth masks. The blue masks are paper thin and super comfortable compared to N95. And yet, I see tons of people have the mask BELOW their nose. As soon as the vaccine protections wear off LA will be covid buffet zone once again.

    Do you ever wonder why cities don’t mandate N95 masks, even after the CDC declared that other masks are less effective? Because people will revolt. You can’t work in summer heat wearing N95 masks, which restricts your breathing more. I see some nurses in hospitals wear blue masks.

    1. There were always diggers looking to get more info than they presently have. Like gold-diggers may be trying to get more money than they otherwise have. Words being tools or weapons, words should be considered as to if they need to be threatening. The most legitimate of threats, to remind our audience, says (but rightly), “Back off of my property.” So at some point words can potentially be legal instruments, too.

  49. Various members of the populist swamp have tagged “wearing a mask” as more symbolism than anything else. However, at this point, “not wearing a mask” is by far the most symbolism-only shibboleth.

    This is ESPECIALLY the case in the context of returning to in-person instruction in schools. *That’s* the true need, folks, and if your sixth grader has to wear a mask while indoors while doing it, that’s far better than another year of online-only classes. Period.

    The anti-maskers are almost as bad as the anti-vaxxers in terms of keeping the rest of us from getting back to normal.

    1. My irrational perception of anti-maskers/anti-vaxxers sees a tactic called “deflection” to embellish persons whom do not advocate mask wearing nor vaccine consumption but have not been vocally “anti-” to the body politic, just noncompliant.

    2. and if your sixth grader has to wear a mask while indoors while doing it, that’s far better than another year of online-only classes. Period.
      ———-
      But he DOESN’T have to and the rest of the world proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Hell, THE US PROVED IT LAST FALL!

    3. Yes, it’s totes the people who aren’t demanding what everyone else wear that are preoccupied by symbolism and shibboleth, and those living normal lives are totes the ones responsible for others not living normal lives.
      Great logic.

      By the way: 2+2=4

  50. How about the WHO’s 2019 meta-analysis on 10 RCTs of masks which concluded, “Ten RCTs were included in the meta-analysis, and there was no evidence that face
    masks are effective in reducing transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.” and “There is a moderate overall quality of evidence that face masks do not have a substantial effect on
    transmission of influenza.” Not to mention, “Reusable cloth face masks are not recommended.”

  51. Skepticism of every scientific claim is not only warranted, but required. That is doubly true when made by government.

    The problem with the mask mandate claims isn’t just that the science supporting them is rather inconclusive, but that government still insists it is unassailable. Once government starts mandating something, of course, it becomes political. In our hyper-political environment, that means there’s just a certain amount of free-thinking people who won’t comply.

    Masks may provide some small amount of protection against COVID, depending on the type of mask and how its worn and who is wearing it and the environment in which they’re wearing it. Mandates ignore all that and require universal compliance.

    Remember when masks were required outside? It’s clear now that is complete nonsense, but the same folks are still tasked with interpreting the science and making decisions thereupon and we’re expected to just to comply without question. That’s a bad idea.

    The responsible way to handle this is to look at the scientific data, explain what it shows and its limitations and even go so far as to make recommendations and let each person decide for themselves based on their own risk tolerance. If you think masks protect you, then wear one. If you don’t, then don’t. Freedom – it’s always the right answer! Unfortunately, magical thinking and fascism was the first choice.

    The logical problem with the pro-mask argument is that it doesn’t even support itself. If masks only work if everyone wears one, then masks don’t really work.

  52. My background is as a military instructor in defensive measures against chemical and biological warfare agents.
    From that perspective, what we are doing with masks seems almost entirely performative.
    Wearing the right kind of mask, and wearing it correctly, may provide some protection against inhaling pathogens. A cotton face covering from Walmart is not the right kind of mask.
    Even if we handed out the proper masks, they would need to fit properly, be put on with clean hands and never touched again until properly disposed of. Once you do touch the mask, you need to wash your hands properly before you touch anything else.
    Those steps are the barest minimum. If you follow them strictly, you might see limited protection against viral infection through inhalation.
    I frequently use the analogy of being on a spaceship in one of the alien films. You never open the airlock. Keeping it closed 98% of the time will not keep you safe.
    In surgery, everyone wears a mask to keep exhaled bacteria to a minimum. It is important to remember that bacteria are a lot larger than a corona virus. Additionally, nobody pretends that normal surgical precautions completely block those bacteria. It is just hoped that doing so keeps the levels down to that which the patient’s immune system can handle, usually with the help of antibiotics. That minimum spread is only accomplished by following very strict rules about keeping the sterile field. Touch your glasses or anything else, you need to go back outside, wash and gown up again.

    The only advantage I see of public masking is that it gives people a sense of control, and lets them go out and do the things which must be done, without feeling totally helpless.

    1. The only advantage I see of public masking is that it gives people a sense of control, and lets them go out and do the things which must be done, without feeling totally helpless.

      Perspective difference. I consider that a disadvantage- it’s feeding people a falsehood.

      I’m still waiting for public health authorities to recommend Vitamin D blood level testing as a routine part of physicals. There are decades worth of studies linking low Vitamin D to worse outcomes in virtually every URI.

  53. Face masks reduce breath draw range. However, mere cloth masks do not filter out COVID-19 but instead let it in — only if present in a given breath of air.

    I really think Rand Paul called attention to a very important issue: If wearing masks really happens to be the most effective tactic to employ to discourage COVID-19 transmission, then who really has the sort of credibility that can sell the idea of promoting effective masks over the compliant ones?

    Clearly people do not want to hear this from their elected leaders. They probably need to hear it from their doctors, as if there were someone actually qualified to care.

    However could the medical community come to the aid of mask-wearers?

    1. Mask wearers don’t need aid (well, in this limited context of just wearing or not wearing a mask; psychologically is a whole other issue).
      People who don’t want mask mandates and/or to wear one themselves, or who argue against the effectiveness of masks, ARE NOT PREVENTING ANYONE WHO WANTS TO WEAR A MASK FROM WEARING ONE.
      So gtfo of here with your plea that someone come to your aid.

      1. Maybe you do not see a problem.

        However, I maintain that if consumers have no viable marketplace option to purchase effective masks then they won’t. Of course, many an advertiser often praises disease to purport intimation of its relief.

        I can’t imagine why you’d be dissing supply & demand, period.

  54. Even if masks helped Jacob, your admission at the start of having a beard means they will not work for you. You cannot get a seal on a bearded face.

    But masks don’t matter. At this point papers and models don’t matter. We have over a year of empirical evidence. And most critically: the mandates haven’t made a difference. Isn’t that what a libertarian should be concerned about? People can freely mask if they wish, but the authority of the government to impose this is antithetical to freedom.

    But let’s put your money where your mouth is. The coronavirus is about the same size as a particle of asbestos. If I send you or Fauci or any other person who believe in the protective power of mask in to remove asbestos and gave you a cloth mask, would you do it?

    https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.1001
    See 1910.1001(g). And hint: they don’t OK cloth masks or N95.

  55. with one side exaggerating the evidence in favor of this precaution and the other side ignoring or downplaying it.

    With one side exaggerating the evidence in favor of this precaution and ignoring or downplaying the contrary evidence, and the other side pointing out the actual scientific research to no avail.

    Fixed it for you.

  56. Meanwhile, the CDC website portrays the Danish RCT (with its 4,800 participants) as being far less relevant or important than the observational study of Missouri hairdressers with no control group, dismissing the former as “inconclusive” and “too small” while praising the latter, amazingly, as “showing that wearing a mask prevented the spread of infection”—when it showed nothing of the sort.
    Each of the RCTs discussed so far, 13 in all, examined the effectiveness of surgical masks, finding little to no evidence of their effectiveness and some evidence that they might actually increase viral transmission. None of these 13 RCTs examined the effectiveness of cloth masks.
    https://www.zerohedge.com/covid-19/do-masks-work-review-evidence

  57. Ah Rand, our dear friend who is always libertarian until it counts (going up against Trump’s insanity)

    1. Aww, it’s trying so hard

  58. “From the beginning, however, the Great American Mask Debate has been strongly influenced by partisan and ideological commitments, with one side exaggerating the evidence in favor of this precaution and the other side ignoring or downplaying it.”

    Now tell me, was which side what? Or what side who? Or was, in fact, the Progressive Left BOTH SIDES, playing each against the Other whenever convenient? Don’t wear masks; it’s pointless! Wear masks, or else? Was not that the same side? And evidence?

    If we speak of “ignoring the evidence” does not that deliberate ignorance fall only on THAT side of the equation?

    Let me refer you to a masterful summary in City Journal: https://www.city-journal.org/do-masks-work-a-review-of-the-evidence

    “In truth, the CDC’s, U.K.’s, and WHO’s earlier guidance was much more consistent with the best medical research on masks’ effectiveness in preventing the spread of viruses. That research suggests that Americans’ many months of mask-wearing has likely provided little to no health benefit and might even have been counterproductive in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    It’s striking how much the CDC, in marshalling evidence to justify its revised mask guidance, studiously avoids mentioning randomized controlled trials. RCTs are uniformly regarded as the gold standard in medical research, yet the CDC basically ignores them apart from disparaging certain ones that particularly contradict the agency’s position. In a “Science Brief” highlighting studies that “demonstrate that mask wearing reduces new infections” and serving as the main public justification for its mask guidance, the CDC provides a helpful matrix of 15 studies—none RCTs. The CDC instead focuses strictly on observational studies completed after Covid-19 began. In general, observational studies are not only of lower quality than RCTs but also are more likely to be politicized, as they can inject the researcher’s judgment more prominently into the inquiry and lend themselves, far more than RCTs, to finding what one wants to find.”

    The author then goes on to detail the results of the 14 RCT’s (generally ignored by the CDC and the Progressive Left) which have been performed to test the effectiveness of mask wearing, hand hygiene, etc. He ends with the following:
    “In sum, of the 14 RCTs that have tested the effectiveness of masks in preventing the transmission of respiratory viruses, three suggest, but do not provide any statistically significant evidence in intention-to-treat analysis, that masks might be useful. The other eleven suggest that masks are either useless—whether compared with no masks or because they appear not to add to good hand hygiene alone—or actually counterproductive. Of the three studies that provided statistically significant evidence in intention-to-treat analysis that was not contradicted within the same study, one found that the combination of surgical masks and hand hygiene was less effective than hand hygiene alone, one found that the combination of surgical masks and hand hygiene was less effective than nothing, and one found that cloth masks were less effective than surgical masks.”

    It seems clear, that one side is clearly “downplaying or ignoring” the evidence, but Mr. Sullum, sadly missed which side that was…which side that is.

    Besides, in true Alice-in-Wonderland fashion, better to be seen to do something — no matter how silly — than to admit that doing nothing (when it comes to masking) is probably better.

  59. I’ve seen quite a few graphs depicting “cases” (however defined in that one study) agaisnt time, with dates along the bottom line. When one examines the simple graph, one might attempt to determine WHEN the masks went on or came off, per local mandates. One would be no more often correct of one had tossed darts over their shoulder, or closed one’s eyes and dropped afinger along the time axis. Next frame will have a “waypoint” at the date masks were mandated. Impossible to make any reliable correlation with an error greater than when looking at the graph misisng the mask mandate dates.

    Then lets look at some other nations where use of the mask was strictly mandated, or not, and again there is NO predictability to tie masks and “cases” together. The actual case data, or death stats, or whatever else one might use as the variable, are wholly UNPredictable. Then consider nations like Sweden and their lack of policies. People pretty much did as each one decided to do. Their rates are amongst the lowet anywhhere.

    Sore, if a business owner is petrified he’ll catch the WuFlu, fine. Maybe HE should stay home, or remain in the locked back office, out of contact with (shudder…PEOPLElll Gaaaakkkk.

    If masks actually WORK, and he’s REALLY scared, let HIM wear a mask or three. I’m NOT worried, nor at risk. Let me wear none. MY chioce, MY consequences.

    News flash regrading “asymptomatic spread”… balderdash.
    IF I have a high enoug”viral load” in my body to be ABLE to spread the thing then I WILL be symtomatic. If my viral load is low enough I am asymptomatic, I CANNOT spread it. Simple numbers game.. Long before anyone is capable of spreading this thing, that someone WILL have noticeable symptoms. If that one does not, that one’s ability to spread is nil. READ some real immunologists I have. They DON”T work for da gummit. They are just tellling it lie it is. No dog in the fight. How much study in the field of immunology and pathology and epidemiology to YOU have? Less than I do, for sure. And I ain’t worried. about “catching the WuFlu”.

    1. I agree with you- mostly- that you have to be symptomatic to spread. However, it appears the vaxed can carry a viral load similar to an unvaxed with symptoms- and won’t show symptoms. It’s possible, possibly even likely, it’s the vaccinated spreading the variants because they’re symptomless unless they get a REALLY high viral load.

  60. This article only confirms — without bias, I think — what I’ve thought all along: masks are probably a good idea but there’s insufficient reasonable, science-based cause for mask mandates.

  61. The Methodist White Terror in Houston fired 150 skeptical nurses, and alluva sudden there is a shortage of nurses. Imagine social-pressure politicians and bureaucrats having to empty their own bedpans!

    1. Inslee re-enacted our mask mandate because of the hospitals. Not because they are full, but because there’s a huge staff shortage. Now he’s told them to get jabbed or get fired, just as Biden says everybody needs boosters.

  62. The left’s claim to “follow the science” is a lie. The left does not follow science; it follows scientists it agrees with and dismisses all other scientists as “anti-science.”
    Surgical masks protect you from droplets and bacteria. They have very little affect in preventing viral particles. The best masks filter to 1 micron. Viral particles are much smaller. All a mask is going to do is decrease the size of a viral plume you may emit and prevent droplets from hitting your face. That’s it. The number 1 way to stop viral spread is frequent hand washing and social distance is #2. The only effective mask is a full coverage bio chem gas mask with the proper filter.
    There is no science that supports masks!! At one point the CDC said that 85% of those who tested positive through testing wore a mask either all the time or part of the time.
    The truth is that even the best N95 allows 5% of particles to penetrate the mask. The Covid 19 virus is half the size of the pores in the best 95 mask. Do the math.

  63. It used to be that if you could not support your argument with facts, you just repeated your points louder and louder, and denied the other side to even speak. Now you get social media to ban them. Different tactic, same result – no reasoned debate.

  64. I have a simpler idea.

    We have delegated these decisions to county health boards and local school districts. Just let them fucking do their jobs. If you don’t like some of the decisions, get over yourself. That’s nothing new. I deal with people every day at work who make decisions that aren’t the way I would do it.

    1. Their jobs aren’t to impose totalitarian conditioning symbolic mandates on Americans.

  65. Does your underwear stop a fart?

  66. You can’t have an RCT on the efficiency of masks against viruses because there are no instruments that can count viruses, hydrated or not. An RCT would require one to count the incoming viruses vs the infiltrating viruses. Since you can’t count the viruses, that study would be impossible. Accordingly the “studies” used to support mask mandates are stories, as in “we started using masks and Covid infections started dropping a week later.” Whether or not that is sufficient for you depends on whether you wanted to support mask mandates in the first place. For an average scientist, stories are not sufficient. At least I hope they wouldn’t be. They aren’t for me.

  67. A few months ago, social media companies were punishing people for questioning the notion that the virus could have originated in a lab…

  68. The mask efficacy arguments are now moot (until the next pandemic). We have vaccines, so we can all get protection if we want it (enough to no longer be “naive” anyway). Anti-vaxers can live (and die) with the consequences without making me mask up for their sake.

  69. Just a little research will explain that all masks are not made equal. A cloth mask is barely worth wearing if you have the right kind. A medical surgical mask is better but not good enough to protect from infection if around someone infected. If you don’t wear a N95 or N99 respirator you are wasting your time.

  70. Wear a properly fitted N-95 mask. Spend 1 whole entire hour, or even a half hour, cleaning soot out of an oil burning boiler. Get in a clean area and blow your nose. Then explain how a mask will stop viruses.

    I understand the same experiment can be performed with sanding drywall. I don’t sand drywall. I’ve cleaned lots of soot.

    1. I like your comment. This is where I wanted to go. Spend some time in a paint booth with any mask or respirator you want (aside from full face or scuba) is my suggestion. Do it and look at the paint patterns on your face that appear under your mask.

      I would add, in industrial environment you would be respirator fitted for seal to comply with regs. Not just the lame ass efforts I see in the supermarket ( much less the mask handling issue).

      Paint particles are LARGE compared to viruses.

      My bearded friend who wrote this article, ya, beard makes it worse.

      Masks are stupid, a lie, foolishness, fake news.

      Fauci was right the first time on 60 minutes, masks are feel good uselessness.

      Would I go into the paint booth without a mask, no. But the math is different with a virus now isn’t it. The particles can intrude at what rate now?

      I’ve looked at the “studies”. It would be cool if masks worked but they don’t.

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