"Health Experts Are Telling Healthy People Not to Wear Face Masks for Coronavirus. So Why Are So Many Doing It?"

A blast from the not-so-distant past, plus a thought about the vaccine-cautious.

|

Ed Driscoll at InstaPundit reminds us of this Time headline from March 4, 2020. Of course, even the experts make mistakes, especially about new situations; no-one can be expected to get it right all the time. And on balance, I tend to go along with the experts' recommendations, not because they're guaranteed to be right, but because they're more likely to be right than nonexperts like me would be.

Still, it's a sobering reminder that we should be somewhat skeptical of everyone, including scientific experts—and that we should be open to the possibility that the skeptics might well be right, even if we ourselves stick with expert advice.

I'm reminded of this, incidentally, when I hear about people who are hesitant to get the COVID vaccine. I've gotten my first shot (rightly or wrongly, educators, including ones who won't be back in the classroom until August, have recently been allotted COVID shots in California), because I generally trust the medical establishment to get these things right. And once everyone who wants to get vaccinated is vaccinated, we might ask if those who aren't vaccinated should be pressured to do so. (For more on why I think compulsory vaccination might sometimes be proper, see this post.)

But it's perfectly reasonable, I think, for people not to want to be the early adopters here. It's a new vaccine, and like all new things it could have unforeseen problems. The experts tell us it seems pretty safe, and they're probably right, but we can't be sure—and the more time passes, the more we'll know about any possible problems. So long as there's not enough vaccine to go around, it seems to me quite sensible for suitably skeptical people to yield their place (for now) to someone who has a different guess about the relative risks, and to put off getting vaccinated until more is known.

(I'm speaking generally here; some people who might be in especially high-contact positions might have more obligation to run the risk of the vaccine, to minimize the risk of infecting others, but many people are in pretty low-contact positions these days.)

NEXT: Don’t Play Perry Mason in This Court, Counsel

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer.”
    — Stevie Wonder

    1. Most of the clingers around here don’t like that song much . . . reminds them that competent adults tend to choose reason over superstition.

      1. Whereas that song defines your entire existence.

        1. It is a great song . . . one of many.

      2. I, for one, would love it if you, Rev., and your fellow “competent adults” would in fact act like adults and choose reason over politics — because politics is your party’s superstition. You believe — against evidence to the contrary — that you have superior understanding.

        Allow me to challenge your superstition.

        Reason should tell you that if the rates of infection and death by C-19 are nearly randomly distributed among lockdown and non-lockdown communities, then those policies can be neither credited nor blamed. This isn’t even a case where we have to argue about correlation! The distribution is random.

        Reason should lead you to doubt that a policy which doubled and trebled nearly all the negative metrics of a well-functioning society — unemployment, crime, economics, excessive government borrowing, authoritarian dictates leading literally to death of the elderly — should never have been put in place for an entire year. We knew within months that these policies were ill-advised. The linked article above from 2020 shows exactly this.

        That is not being reasonable. That is not being rational. That is being superstitious. Believing in “The Experts” and “The Science” as if they were Bishops in the Church of Political Faith.

        You and your party need to own up to this. Take off those rose-colored glasses by which everyone else looks so inferior in your eyes. They aren’t.

        Now that would be awesome.

        1. Being a left-minded person looking at the phenomenon from the inside, I have to acknowledge that the brain-rot around COVID among the left has been astonishing. Everything you say about the way they think about “expert opinion” and the “science” is as you say. It’s superstitious, it’s virtue-signaling, it’s cherry-picking evidence to the extreme.

          Sitting in NYC, I have observed how much of the country has mapped out a different route, while our own mayor and governor seemingly conspire to kill the city. And the numbers just don’t vindicate it – none of it, the constant goalpost-shifting, the brief shutdowns that became year-long slamdowns, etc. I am not familiar with any studies that show how deaths and infection are distributed in jurisdictions that shut down vs. not. But things like the CDC’s recent study trying to shore up efforts to lockdown further smack of outcome-oriented policymaking.

          It is almost as bad as the Trumpian groupthink.

          1. Indeed, the only thing that redeems it is that the guilty parties are Democrats…

      3. Oh, and one more thing.

        Remember the Super Spreader (eeeekkkkk!!!!) event that were the celebrations following the Superbowl?

        Number of cases traced to them: 27. Rate, 1 in 4200.

        What was the US rate a week following (allowing for incubation) the Superbowl? Near as dammit to 1 in 4200.

        It’s almost as if there’s a conclusion that can be drawn there.

        1. Amen. There was no SuperBowl spike in the US. None.

  2. Sure I would get the vaccine. Oh but our governor decreed that only oldsters, the near dying, prisoners, illegals, and degenerates can have it first. You know, the people who contribute hugely to society.

    1. Well if you aren’t old then you have almost no chance of dying unless you are a week little turd.

      1. Well if you aren’t old then you have almost no chance of dying unless you are a week little turd.

        How does a 7-day turd differ from a regular turd?

        1. Well, as an owner of a sneaky, poorly potty trained dog, (Inherited it from my sister…) I can tell you that 7 day turds typically are a lot less smelly and sticky than fresh ones.

  3. Technocratic authoritarianism is the newest fad in Western countries for controlling the masses. Most people are over the whole obeying the King because God said so bit but how could you contradict ‘the experts’? Are you an ‘expert’? Even when ‘the experts’
    say/imply ridiculous things such as mass protests are safe from covid depending on political affiliation or are clearly and repeatedly wrong. Of course
    only the opinions of certain authorized ‘experts’ count. Heretics I mean misinformers/conspiracy theorists need not apply. Don’t think for yourself. Its really funny how everything is sort of reverting back to the whole tribal/shaman dynamic. Guess we should have listened to Eisenhower and the part of his speech everyone cuts off and ignores.

    1. I think it’s more a matter of generational lag than any intentional submissiveness. The politicians, of course, are always grabbing for power regardless of what current crisis can be ginned up, but I’m speaking the hoi polloi here.

      Which brings up the question of what changed with this pandemic, as opposed to previous one even in the 21st century. My guesses are (a) the Internet increasing the speed with which lies spread before truth gets out of bed, (b) a somewhat stronger flu than normal, (c) Trump Derangement Syndrome.

      This last, TDS, is the key; so many people simply refuse to believe that Trump was popular or won 2016 honestly, from so many people being fed up with the political class and political correctness run amok, now known as wokeness. Like him or despise him, Trump was in some ways the most honest and transparent President in history. Obama said he would shut Gitmo, gave up after one day; whereas Trump battled for his wall and tariffs for four years. You always knew what Trump wanted and what he would fight for, unlike almost every other politician, and all other politicians simply refused to believe it was anything so simple.

      And that left the left confused and scrambling for anything which would stick to the wall. COVID-19 was like manna from heaven for those desperate authoritarians. They suddenly had something they could do which Trump couldn’t block, and they sank their teeth into it 110%.

      1. You’ve hammered everything so thoroughly to fit into this narrative that even Thor is impressed.

      2. This guy is always a reliable source of the cranky, bigoted, disaffected, old White guy perspective. He could be the Volokh Conspiracy’s mascot.

      3. Á àß äẞç ãþÇđ âÞ¢Đæ ǎB€Ðëf ảhf,

        You’ve heard this before, but I am reminding you that “the hoi polloi” is a redundancy of the definite article. “Hoi” means “the.” There is no reason to repeat it except for ignorance.

        1. Do you also avoid referring to the “City of Indianapolis,” “Mississippi River,” or “Sahara Desert”?

          I suspect you don’t, because we speak English, not Greek, Ojibwe, or Arabic.

          1. Seamus you show your ignorance because those city names are proper nouns. Aside from that they are not words in any foreign language “hoi poloi” are and always will be. Wise up!

    2. Even when ‘the experts’ say/imply ridiculous things such as mass protests are safe from covid depending on political affiliation

      Literally nobody said that.

      1. Literally nobody said that.

        Really? Literally nobody?

        https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/06/us/Epidemiologists-coronavirus-protests-quarantine.html

        “And then the brutal killing of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis on May 25 changed everything.

        “Soon the streets nationwide were full of tens of thousands of people in a mass protest movement that continues to this day, with demonstrations and the toppling of statues. And rather than decrying mass gatherings, more than 1,300 public health officials signed a May 30 letter of support, and many joined the protests.”

        ““As public health advocates,” they stated, “we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for Covid-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health.””

        1. Curiously enough, that does not say ‘mass protests are safe from covid.’

          1. “Curiously enough, that does not say ‘mass protests are safe from covid.’”

            No, it goes further. It says that they are “vital to the national public health.”

            IOW, staying home and not having protests is unsafe.

            1. Not having THESE protests.

              1. The claim you were responding to:

                “Even when ‘the experts’ say/imply ridiculous things such as mass protests are safe from covid depending on political affiliation.”

                Nobody claimed that “experts” said all protest were safe, just some protests.

                1. They do not say the protests are safe from COVID.

                  They clearly are not saying that.

                  1. No, of course not. They’re saying that protests they approve of are important enough that they deserve an exception from the rules they’re promulgating, unlike icky protests.

                    They’re not being experts, they’re picking sides.

                    1. That’s exactly what they’re doing. Experts have opinions about whether protests are important or not. You really have fully retreated behind the position that everybody’s being incredibly unfair to you for thinking your politics are rubbish.

                    2. Yes, experts have opinions. When they express them about matters outside their area of expertise, nobody should really care what they are.

                      Regrettably, they’ll often try to make you think they’re expressing them within their area of expertise.

                    3. Yeah, police violence has some pretty strong implications for public health, and they were pretty clear that’s why they were invoking their expertise.

                      You don’t like what they say, but that doesn’t mean they are at all deceitful in what they are saying and why.

                    4. “police violence has some pretty strong implications for public health”

                      Perhaps, but mainly with respect to non-Whites and poor people in urban communities . . . and those are not the people clingers care about protecting.

                      Now, if something threatens White, heterosexual, Bible-hugging, immigrant-hating, racist Christian males . . . the clingers will be quite concerned.

                    5. But not in this instance.

                2. Nobody claimed that “experts” said all protest were safe, just some protests.

                  No, they didn’t say that either.

                  The letter was far more nuanced than You People (yes, I use the phrase ironically) are pretending. It acknowledges the health risks, advocates that the protesters use safe practices like distancing and masks, but says that the issue is very important and covid shouldn’t be used as an excuse to stifle the protests.

          2. While it does not say “safe from…” it does imply strongly that participation in mass protests (peaceful or otherwise) does not spread the risk of the disease and does not endanger public health. The statement is a clear trumping of science (however limited) by raw politics.

            1. No it implies that they think the protest is important enough to take the risk.

              1. Bingo.

                No person could read the claim in good faith as “protests are safe from covid,” let alone “safe from covid depending on political affiliation.”

                1. So, what do you think about ordering contract tracers not to ask about protests?

                  NYC’s contact tracers have been told not to ask people if they’ve attended a protest

                  At best a matter of avoiding finding out what you don’t want to know, I’d say. At best, since they were selective about which sorts of protests it applied to.

                  1. Or maybe it’s going to be too underinclusive to be useful.

                    Or maybe because it was outside.

                    After all, it doesn’t look like the protests acted like a super-spreader event anywhere across the US (which I hope is being studied) so this seems to have been the right call.

                    As usual, you’re reading invidious motives in stuff you disagree with when other explanations abound.

                    1. “After all, it doesn’t look like the protests acted like a super-spreader event anywhere across the US (which I hope is being studied) so this seems to have been the right call.”

                      We’ll never know. Information on that wasn’t ALLOWED to be collected. Funny how that worked out. Almost as funny as the Death Certificate I saw listing “Traumatic Head Injury w/COVID 19”

                    2. You can just look at the nationwide rate. It didn’t go up at all during those protests. Which is, as I said, pretty interesting!

                    3. “It didn’t go up at all during those protests.”

                      If 100 people protest today, how many people stay home from the office/restaurant/extended family dinner today because they want to avoid trouble, or stay home for the next while because the Target store they worked in got looted?

                      One effect would counterbalance the other in the overall stats.

                      (personally, I am 100% sure that … I wouldn’t hazard a guess either way without data)

                    4. “You can just look at the nationwide rate. It didn’t go up at all during those protests. Which is, as I said, pretty interesting!”

                      Indeed. I doubt the disinfecting power of Molotov cocktails had a lot to do with it. Likely that the riots were held outdoors; Plenty of ventilation.

                      The point, though, is that they were selective about what sorts of political or outdoor events they directed contact tracers not to inquire about.

                      This wasn’t a good call. It was a politically biased bad call, which luckily didn’t blow up in their faces.

                    5. The protests happened in 50 states. You have an example of 1.

                      Again, there may be reasons why they didn’t think it was worth the cost.

                2. Sigh. The claim is a little hyperbolic, but the experts were claiming that protests were safe enough from covid that a marginal benefit to the experts’ political cause outweighed the risk.

                  1. You’re assuming the cost-benefit they specify is due to lower than standard cost.

                    There is no evidence that’s their calculation. Indeed, they seem to say the opposite.

                    You’re misreading in order to make them liars.

                    1. They are liars and totalitarians.

                      Oh, their subjective cost benefit analysis says that protests are so valuable as to make them worth it? At least, protests that are for a violent felon who overdosed in Minnesota, and premised on lies and misinformation about police and systemic racism, and which come with an exceedingly high share of and propensity for violence and property damage, including arson, dozens of murders, untold assaults, etc, much worse than the Jan 6 capitol protest.

                      Well, my subjective cost benefit analysis yields that small businesses shouldn’t have been shut down while big businesses and China enjoyed an economic boom.

                    2. So you disagree with their take, and therefore declare they are bad people.

                      That’s pretty facile.

                      I see you are also a Floyd death truther along with a bunch of other actual factual inaccuracies about BLM and Jan 6.

                      That makes you a much more screwed up dude than anything those guys said.

                    3. You’re misreading

                      I doubt that’s true. Do you think a single one of the usual suspects here actually read the letter, as opposed to hearing something on Fox or Rush or reading Trump’s twitter feed?

      2. “Literally nobody said that.”

        Hahahaha. You are such a moron.

        1. Where did they say that?

          1. “Safe” means, “safe enough.” And as discussed above, it’s based both on cost and benefit, with the benefit turning on the political viewpoint of the protest issue. “they think the protest is important enough to take the risk.”

            1. Not the original claim, which was all about costs:
              mass protests are safe from covid depending on political affiliation.

              Sounds like you realize this is indeed nonsense hyperbole, and calling DMN a moron was pretty silly.

              1. Apologies for name calling.

                The political affiliation goes to the “benefit” side of the equation in determining what is “safe” or “safe enough.”

                As noted above, 1,300 public health officials deemed these certain protests to be extremely valuable, such that they not only outweigh the supposed health risks, but vastly outweigh them.

                As with all public health policy questions, this is based on their judgment of both costs and benefits.

                And yet, if you surveyed those same 1,300 public health officials, how many do you think would have said a Trump rally was “safe” last summer? Or how many do you think would have said churches should be open?

  4. “Of course, even the experts make mistakes, especially about new situations; no-one can be expected to get it right all the time.” But what was the March 4, 2020 mistake? I mean, was Galileo Galilei wrong for noting that the Earth revolves around the sun?

    1. It wasn’t a mistake. However, politicians are afraid of the Church of Masks mob and are now pushing their fetish and demanding participation in their rituals.
      Like “the science” about opening schools, PR considerations have taken priority (along with ambition – just look at what got passed in this “COVID relief” bill!) over actual effective measures.
      So peer reviewed metastudies covering decades of research about the effective of masks, from groups like the NIH, CDC, Lancet, or NEJoM, are ignored in favor of catering to the True Believers in Panic Porn.

    2. The March 4, 2020 mistake was telling people not to wear masks because they don’t help, rather than saying, “We don’t know.”

      1. Thank you. Did nobody remember this? Since the virus was so small, it flew through all but special medical masks designed for viruses.

        Some weeks later, up floated ideas masks would still help somewhat, by blocking coughs and sneezes (outgoing infection by clobules flying onto stuff) and touching your mouth or nose with your own infected finger from same of someone else.

        And here we are.

        I also noted at the time the conversion from it being about flattening the curve so as not to overwhelm hospitals to protecting you directly.

        These are the Chicken Times, as in chickens running around with their heads cut off.

        1. Exactly: In the beginning, the only justification for all these measures, which were known to be mostly ineffective unless taken to the sort of heroic lengths that would collapse civilization if maintained for more than a couple weeks, was to keep the hospitals from being overloaded.

          We were “flattening a curve”, where the area under the curve wasn’t going to change as long as the hospitals could cope.

          Then the moral panic took hold.

          1. Yes, the moral panic that wearing masks during the outbreak of an airborne respiratory disease is opression and tyranny.

            1. Yes, it’s a moral panic. You can see this from the demand, for instance, that people who’ve had Covid or been vaccinated continue to wear masks. When you’re forced to continue doing something even after it’s no longer necessary, you’re looking at a moral panic.

              The original justification for all these restrictions, even though it was known that they couldn’t really STOP the pandemic, was “flattening the curve”: By slowing the spread, hospitals could be kept from being overwhelmed, and would be able to appropriately treat all the serious cases, even though there would eventually be the same number of cases anyway.

              But once the moral panic kicked in, it became impossible to do any reasonable cost benefit analysis. Measures that had been justified to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed had to be maintained even after all threat of that was past. Justifications just keep shifting to keep them in place, because the goal isn’t to save lives anymore, it’s to be seen as taking the threat seriously.

              1. Until we have herd immunity, people with the vaccine may very well still be able to contract and pass along the virus.

                This is not a worldwide moral panic. You don’t know better than leaders the world over.

                1. “people with the vaccine may very well still be able to contract and pass along the virus.”

                  And people wearing masks are even more able to contract and pass along the virus. Why am I required to be safer that those yahoos, just because I’ve had Covid already, or have been vaccinated?

                  You’re maybe trying to remove all incentive to be vaccinated, so getting vaccinated anyway will demonstrate moral purity, or some such nonsense? People would be fighting each other to be vaccinated if they could just bypass all the BS rules they’ve been suffering under, once it was done.

              2. Refusing to wear masks for that reason and then tediously explaining why does not provoke moral panic but sheer eye-rolling tedium at time-wasting fools. Nonbody wants to hear your cost-benefit analysis, nobody wants to argue with you, nobody wants to see your vaccination scar, they just want you to buy your shit and get the fuck out.

  5. I still have my Polio Pioneer card from the Salk vaccine trials, so it should come as no surprise that I was an eager Moderna vaccine recipient. If that weren’t enough, one Covid death and one significant Covid hospital stay among relatives cinched the deal. Two shots, spaced four weeks apart, and the only side effects were a sore arm after the first shot (though not as sore as from a Shingrix jab) and a mildly off day after the second shot. Neither came with a political affiliation; they were just the end product of a genuine applied scientific achievement that ranks with any in my lifetime of 74 years.

    1. Mild soreness in my shoulder after the first show. Not sure if it was related but I went to bed the night of my shot and slept for 14 hours straight and took a nap the next afternoon.

    2. Micheal, when I got my first shot, I recited three blessings, because a vaccine like this in such a short amount of time is truly a miracle. Thank God I live in a country and at a time where this is even possible. It has been a terrible 12 months.

      1. It’s not a miracle. It’s science. God had no part in it.

        1. Bigot, it is biotechnology with science added plus beaucoup government money to make the activity risk free for big pharma

  6. In April of 1968 I was separated from the US military and quickly enrolled as a student at the University of South Florida. For a couple of years I made it a habit of taking advantage of the free news papers in the air conditioned library there.

    I was a little shocked to learn I had not been aware of the Hong Kong Flu pandemic. Maybe even more unsettling is this blurb from wiki about the death total from the Hong Kong Flu.

    “The estimates of the total death toll due to Hong Kong flu (from its beginning in July 1968 until the outbreak faded during the winter of 1969–70[30]) vary:

    The World Health Organization and Encyclopaedia Britannica estimated the number of deaths due to Hong Kong flu to be 1–4 million globally.[2][16]
    The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that in total, the virus caused deaths of 1 million people worldwide.[31]”

    Point is either the WHO or the CDC is way off in the death toll; and probably a lot else as well. So much for the so called experts.

    For the record as a 100% service connected vet over 65 I am at the first of the line for COVID-19 shots. Sad to say my experience with the first shot was not all that great. I showed up at the appointed time, sharing a ride with another vet who had an appointment at the same time (we trade rides to the VA). He parked his car and we both went inside, he to his appointment and me to the desk that said COVID-19 shots. Turns out I was told to get in my car and drive to the far parking lot. Seems you were suppose to stay in your car and roll down your window to get the shot from a nurse; problem was I did not have a car. Bottom line is I wound up standing in line in a light misting rain with cars on both sides of me to get the shot.

    Not sure who the expert was that came up with that idea but it confirmed my idea about experts.

    1. 1969 was when I graduated form high school, and I too was amazed to find there had been a pandemic then which killed more people than COVID-19. There was another about 11 years earlier, I think, but I don’t wonder I hadn’t noticed that one.

      1. I was in my first year of high school in 1969, I remember going to go see Easy Rider, even though I was only 15. I remember the acid scene in the New Orleans cemetery, but that’s my last coherent memory.

      2. You knew how many people died from COVID-19 in 1969?

      3. It did not, of course, kill more people than Covid-19.

    2. My mother was a nurse during in the 68-70 timeframe, and she *barely* remembers that pandemic.

      I browsed some of the free newspaper archives for the timeframe of the ’68 pandemic, and the paper barely mentions it. The lack of media coverage probably did a lot to keep everyone from obsessing about it. (The USFG deliberately chose to have no response to the pandemic, and let it resolve naturally. It was probably the right choice).

  7. The experts tell us it seems pretty safe, and they’re probably right, but we can’t be sure—and the more time passes, the more we’ll know about any possible problems.

    Of course, the closer we get to the desired ideal of the entire population taking the vaccine, the less objective basis we’ll have to measure “problems.” Reminds me a bit of William Tenn’s riff on time travel from back in the day:

    “See,” cried the thing that had been the acting secretary to the executive assistant on public relations. “See, no matter how subtly! Those who billow were wrong: we haven’t changed.” He extended fifteen purple blobs triumphantly. “Nothing has changed!”

    1. Now, THAT was a classic!

    2. William Tenn was the pen name for British writer Philip Klass, who very often is confused for the American journalist and engineer also named Philip Klass. The second Klass did a lot of research debunking UFO myths, making the confusion worse.

  8. Yeah, I remember thinking that the don’t wear masks thing sounded like bullshit, even as the twitterati were mocking people wearing masks.

    You should trust experts, except when you shouldn’t. And everybody has a different idea of when you shouldn’t.

    1. One side favors science, education, progress, tolerance, reason, expertise, modernity, credentials, and inclusiveness.

      The other side prefers dogma, ignorance, backwardness, bigotry, insularity, childish superstition, downscale populism, and pining for (illusory) good old days.

      One side operates our strongest research and teaching institutions; the other prefers backwater religious education and homeschooling.

      One side prefers and builds modern, strong, accomplished, educated communities; the other is the depleted human residue mired in can’t-keep-up rural and southern backwaters after generations on the losing end of bright flight.

      The results of the culture war — which isn’t over, but has been settled — have consequently been predictable and welcome.

      Carry on, clingers . . . but only so far as your betters permit, as always in America.

      1. The new progressive mantra:

        Don’t Question Authority!

        1. Progressives have been questioning a Dumb Authority for four years solid now.

          1. Progressives question Wrong Authority, without regard for any other considerations.

      2. Science? Newtonian Mechanics/E&M/Quantum Theory or “Climate Change” modeling? Education? Focus on reading/writing/math or 2+2=5 ,white math is racist..all western thinking is racist..algerba is racist, calculus is racist…all modern engineering is racist..

        Should I go on?

        1. Open wider, clinger. The shoving — progress, down conservatives’ whining, bigoted throats — has commenced anew. And you will comply.

          1. Bad news, Kirkland. The people who believe that 2+2 doesn’t equal 5, and the people who believe that the right answer matters in math, are the betters of those who don’t.

          2. Did you ever consider that your constant BJ references are a little gay?

        2. “white math is racist”

          Empirically racist

      3. On the hobby horse again. Those Christian school are your pornography.

    2. Maybe trust is the wrong word. People with a lot of research and experience on a particular subject are more likely to be right about that subject than anyone else. So it makes sense to follow their advice whenever possible, even though there is always a chance the advice is wrong. Just a matter of odds, I suppose.

      1. “trust is the wrong word.”

        How about trust but verify. And if you can’t verify, use your best judgement, taking into account the totality of the circumstances, including the expert advice.

        1. That works too.

  9. Not hard, lawyer. The billionaires of the US added $1.3 trillion to their wealth in 2020. Those elsewhere, like in China, added a total of $3.9 trillion. They used government, a wholly owned subsidiary of the lawyer profession, to enforce the shutdown. That drove people to their businesses.

    Most people died with COVID, not from COVID. Many had presumptive, lab result free diagnosis of COVID. Most of the excess deaths, the only real statistic out there, came from under treated cancer and heart disease, caused by the shutdown. They dropped the world GDP by $4 trillion, killing millions of people by starvation.

    This episode was the biggest mistake, the greatest score from a fraud scheme, the biggest and quickest mass murder, and the biggest growth in government size and tyranny in human history.

    1. Naturally, the lawyer vermin is an employee, and will do nothing about the greatest crime in history. This vermin has even refused to enjoin it, in the face of self evident argument in hundreds of failed lawsuits.

      After the billionaires are deterred. It will be time to deter the lawyer profession, the most toxic occupation in our nation, 10 times more toxic than organized crime.

      1. Wow, so you think Peter Navarro is a Chinese mole and Mnuchin is an America first patriot?? Because Navarro was sounding the alarm while Mnuchin was downplaying Covid.

        1. What you are saying is going over my head. Aren’t both those people Ivy indoctrinated, Deep State agents?

          I do know that since the 14th Century, quarantine practice has been to lockdown the infected, leave normal people alone. I do know the quarantine laws of the states say the same. Why can’t the lawyer read their plain language, and comply with the law?

          1. No, Navarro is America First while Mnuchin is a globalist Democrat.

    2. You might be saying to yourself, “Hmm; that sounds weird. Could that possibly be true?”

      The answer, of course, is: “No; Behar is batshit crazy.”

      1. He doesn’t seem to be overly fond of lawyers.

        1. Alphie. I love the lawyer. I am their best friend, their savior if they could lisren. Halve their number. Quadruple their income for their greater value. Multiply their public esteem by 10. That’s me.

  10. If everyone else is vaccinated, what is the rationale for forcing it on the more cautious?

    This isn’t a case of infecting infants with whooping cough.

    1. Because the vaccinated can spread the SARS-CoV-2 infection. The unvaccinated can develop COVID-19 and if numerous enough can still overwhelm the hospital system.

      1. Except that the vaccinated are, for all practical purposes, unable to spread it to any meaningful extent, and it’s pretty clear that the hospitals aren’t going to be overwhelmed because almost everybody who’s vulnerable has already been through it.

        It’s like standing in a burned over, soaked wet forest, and being told you can’t light a match because of the threat of forest fires. Sure, some day, after the forest has grown back up, that might make sense. Not when you’re standing in the ashes.

        1. Brett, we really don’t know this.

          1. Sarcastro, for any sane measure of “know”, we do.

  11. Coerced vaccination is a violation of the AMA code of medical ethics and the Nuremberg code. It just seems that no one cares when they are scared.

  12. On masks: They were right then, and not later. We’ve got 100 years of studies on face masks for flu, whose transmission dynamics are quite similar to covid, and no evidence that masks work to prevent transmission *even in a hospital setting*.

    Public health officials regularly flouted their own recommendations and guidance about responses to a pandemic. The epidemiological consensus in 2019 was lockdowns don’t work and should not be used, based on the scientific evidence. Then March 2020 rolls around, and many of the very same epidemiologists who made those recommendations backed lockdowns. The evidence hadn’t changed. It was just politically expedient.

    Don’t trust experts during a crisis. At best, trust what experts reasoned from evidence *before* there’s a crisis. (Better yet: trust the evidence, and draw your own conclusions, if you’re capable of accessing and/or reasoning from it). Experts during a crisis are going to be subject to political incentives that don’t encourage evidence-based reasoning. And, like Fauci very publicly admitted to doing, they’re going to lie to the public when they think they can get away with it.

    1. “…no evidence that masks work to prevent transmission *even in a hospital setting*.”

      I know you are not my research assistant, but do you have a reference handy?

      1. If you’re interested in a *scientific* analysis, the best one I’ve seen is by the Cochrane library: https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006207.pub5/full

        Their work is of the highest scientific caliber, quite independent and extremely thorough.

        1. Bottom line from that reference:

          Key messages

          We are uncertain whether wearing masks or N95/P2 respirators helps to slow the spread of respiratory viruses.

          Hand hygiene programmes may help to slow the spread of respiratory viruses.

          1. Yes, that Cochrane Library is the most recent meta-analysis I’m aware of.

            ‘Not certain’ is just being wishy-washy about there being no effect. Scientific testing of a hypothesis means looking for a significant difference. They found no significant difference in transmission of respiratory illness with and without mask, ergo, no effect of wearing masks. (And if there is an effect and they simply haven’t found it because the studies weren’t large enough, that means the *size* of any putative benefit is pretty small).

            Yes, hand hygiene helps. And while that study didn’t look into it, social distancing is also well supported in the literature. Masks? Not so much.

    2. They are still backing lockdowns under Biden though. So what’s political about it.

    3. As a follow up to those studies ; it should be noted that with covid-19, the infection rates and death rates are statistically insignificant between regions / states, etc with high compliance with masking are regions/states with low compliance with masking.

      1. That is interesting, though different states are differently situated, so it’s not dispositive.

        Again, if you think you worked out a simple answer overlooked by the medical community, you haven’t.

  13. The only thing known about safety is short-term safety. Nobody knows about long-term effects, because the vaccines haven’t been in existence long enough to observe them long term.

    As in any prediction of the future, there is a certain amount of guesswork, a certain amount of wishful thinking, and a certain amount of faith.

    Virtually all important decisions we make involve predictions of the future where we have no basis for certainty. We may feel sure, but our feelings aren’t always reliable, and the truth is we don’t really know.

    We have to muddle through, use guesswork, do the best we can.

  14. “Vaccine” is a misnomer. Vaccines are made from killed, or mostly killed, virus. This is an mRNA product that forces you to make a spike protein similar to the spike protein on the SARS-COV-2 virus. Gene therapy is a better term.

    1. If you’re trying to scare people without informing them, sure.

      Live vaccines are made from modified versions of the pathogen, which have been altered to be less virulent. This is sort of like a live vaccine taking to the nth power: The only part of the pathogen that’s still present is the RNA for some of its proteins.

      How does an actual viral infection result in immunity? You are exposed to a tiny, tiny amount of the virus, which then inserts RNA into your own cells, causing them to manufacture more viral particles, until there are enough around for your immune system to react.

      This does exactly the same, except that it doesn’t manufacture the entire virus.

  15. ” it’s a sobering reminder that we should be somewhat skeptical of everyone, including scientific experts . . . . ”

    Anyone who is somewhat skeptical of global warming / climate change “scientific experts” is not treated that well by the intelligentsia..

  16. That’s because scientists initially believed Covid was spread by fomites. Once the science said it was spread by airborne droplets everyone should have started wearing masks and goggles and social distancing and turning their head away from people that got too close to them…which is what I did in March!! I also started taking zinc, vitamin d, and elderberry because Germany did the best job early on. Once again, I only have a 125 IQ pea bwain but I was gifted with common sense…so listen to experts but also use your brain!!

    1. There are virtually no circumstances under which making sure your nutrition is up to par is a negative. It’s a really low risk safety measure.

      1. Correct, which is why I did it AND wear a mask AND wear glasses instead of contacts. So I never wore goggles but I bought really thick glasses years ago when everyone in Hollywood started wearing NASA engineer from 1960s glasses.

    2. SC, what is your evidence that fomites cannot spread the disease?
      I do not disagree that the most effective transmission is via aerosols, but your comment flies in the face of facts.

      “Managing the Risk From COVID-19” JASON report JSR-20-NS1
      July 10, 2020

  17. At the time there was a mask shortage and they had to be reserved for health care workers who desperately needed them. The experts were correct then and they were also correct later when they told us to wear masks. Masks were certainly never contraindicated. I’m surprised at the lack of thought that went into this post. This wasn’t that long ago. You should not have forgotten this.

    1. Well, captain, that’s exactly the problem. They didn’t say “you need masks but there aren’t enough and health care workers are more important than you”. Instead, they falsely invoked science, in order to get us to not panic buy masks.

      Maybe that fits your definition of “correct”. Which I’ll take into account when you post stuff here.

      1. Not what happened.

      2. There’s currently a worldwide consensus on masks.

        Maybe it’s wrong – the data on COVID is really messy right now. As the recent studies linked above say.

        But anyone who is sure it is wrong is putting narrative in front of science.

        So wear your masks; it’s not a big thing. And we’ll see how the more probative science shakes out in like 2026.

        1. Sure, there’s a consensus. It’s not a scientific consensus, though. It’s more in the nature of a moral panic combined with an unhealthy serving of sciencism.

          I wear a mask wherever the property owner or host wants me to, though it’s absurd given that I’ve already had Covid. That’s polite, I do it in spite of it being silly to do.

          1. It’s the policy consensus, made in coordination with scientists.
            And if you think you know better, you don’t.

            It’s an odds and risk game, so you may turn out correct in the end, but the chances are higher for them than for you, as Prof. Volokh says.

            Unless you want to posit bad faith in the scientists and policymakers, in which case you’re still wrong, but have layered your wrongness to insulate you from a factual argument.

            1. It’s Brett; he always posits bad faith.

            2. Again, it depends on what you consider “bad faith”.

              Some experts (e.g. Fauci) have admitted to telling some lies for paternalistic reasons. I consider that bad faith.

              1. “Some experts (e.g. Fauci) have admitted to telling some lies for paternalistic reasons. I consider that bad faith.”

                Especially given that he’s not an expert in supplying masks to healthcare workers.

                1. One would hope such an expert would have been involved somewhere in the process.

                  1. Do you think they got a bunch of logistics experts together who came to the conclusion that Fauci was going to have to lie about masks?

                    1. Who knows, with that administration, but no, just that it seems likely that he’d consulted with them (though again who knows, with that administration) and decided to make that announcment.

            3. “It’s the policy consensus, made in coordination with scientists.”

              Is there? It’s hard to tell, because there seems to be an effort by public and private actors to suppress information that contradicts the consensus.

              And I’m not sure how much it matters that they’re a consensus, given the fact experts appear to be under a lot of pressure to stay with the consensus.

              1. Saying ignore the outliers is pretty normal, actually.

                1. Maybe. Suppressing the views of people you claim are outliers? Not so much.

                  1. Saying they’re wrong is not the same as suppressing.

                    Neither is requiring peer review.

                    1. S0,
                      You know well that there are often peer-reviewed papers on all sides of scientific questions.

                    2. Censoring them on social media IS, however, the same as suppressing.

                    3. Absolutely, Don, which puts the lie to TiP’s claim of suppression.

                    4. “Censoring them on social media IS, however, the same as suppressing.”

                      Yup. Many of the public and private institutions that we depend on for information, have openly committed to censoring information that they believe to be incorrect.

                      So there will always appear to be a consensus around whatever view these guys believe is correct.

                      And we know that cancel culture has affected the peer review process in at least some fields, although I don’t know of any examples in fields related to mask wearing.

                    5. The people pushing snake oil cures are generally not peer reviewed, and deciding they are a legit public health menace seems quite reasonable to me.

                    6. Why would institutions publish or promote information they believe to be incorrect? That would be wildly irresponsible at the best of times, dangerous in a global health crisis.

          2. The closest thing to any kind of panic came when everyone realised Trump was going to turn the covid response into a culture war issue and everyone on the right was going to line up behind him.

        2. So wear your masks; it’s not a big thing.

          If only we were just playing a science-y version of Pascal’s Wager here rather than (1) perhaps actually making things worse; and (2) conditioning the entire population to be terrified of others around them who choose not to wear a rabbit’s foot around their neck.

          1. Anyone who goes with the conditioning the public as the real agenda is not worth engaging, as they’re writing their own reality based on some persecution complex nonsense.

            1. conditioning the public as the real agenda

              Of course, it can simply be an outcome regardless of whether it’s an agenda.

              And it’s crystal-clear from your weak attempt at deflection that you very well understand it’s well on its way to being an outcome.

              1. A global health emergency resulting in ‘conditioning’ people to take global health emergencies seriously isn’t really a bad thing.

                1. How platitudinous. Did you perhaps want to actually address any of the specific issues at hand in this particular discussion?

                  1. Actually I covered everything, thanks.

                  2. Not platitudinous. It is exactly the point. That is precisely what the global medical community is trying to do. Minus your anti-mask gibberish.

              2. An outcome without an agenda, eh? Well then you don’t need a worldwide conspiracy, just a complete lack of observation skills and understanding of humans as social beings.

                1. Wow, you’re really flailing with this one. You don’t need a worldwide conspiracy for an outcome if there’s no agenda? Pretty amazing stuff.

                  I’ll take your multiple rounds of pretzel-knotism as a clear acknowledgement that the outcome itself is Double-Plus Ungood. So yes, universal masking is indeed a “big thing” to do in the presence of (using your terminology to be charitable) “really messy” data.

                  1. Double plus ungood outcomes are dead people or people with long term chronic health conditions. Everyone wearing masks for a while is at the very worse a fad.

                    1. Everyone wearing masks for a while is at the very worse a fad.

                      Yes, that’s definitely the word that pops into my head when considering the shift in societal dynamics over the past year: “fad.”

                      Are you trying to convince us, or yourself?

                    2. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything except that I find the idea that people wearing masks during the global outbreak of a highly contagious airborne respiratory virus is somehow sinister utterly ridiculous. Maybe aesthetically sinister?

                    3. I find the idea that people wearing masks during the global outbreak of a highly contagious airborne respiratory virus is somehow sinister utterly ridiculous.

                      And that’s a lovely belief for you to hold as an individual. But as I said about a year ago now, once we as a society commit ourselves to that sort of position, the masks can never come off. Unless now all of a sudden influenza, RSV, rhinoviruses, etc., are no longer a “highly contagious airborne respiratory virus.”

                    4. Thanks for mentioning what could well be beneficial knock-on effects.

                    5. Thanks for confirming you’re cool with lifelong masking. I am not.

                    6. Back to crazytown.

                      There is zero evidence masking will become a permenent thing.

                    7. There is zero evidence masking will become a permenent thing.

                      Hey, welcome back. I take it you’re continuing to hide from the earlier subject of the thread and are looking for distractions?

                    8. Where should I be looking? I don’t see anything searching my or your name, but it’s a long thread.

                    9. No one knows if just being forced to wear is actually damaging to the severely mentally ill. It would be nice if those 5 million Americans were not just an afterthought.

                    10. ‘Lifelong masks’

                      Will only really be in danger of becoming a thing if we don’t tackle air pollution.

                    11. The mentally ill thank you for suddenly remembering they exist when you need a bloody flag to wave.

                    12. Don, not my area of expertise, but I’m quite sure the mentally ill are not some population that can be studied.
                      Mental illness comes in all shapes. It’s pretty ridiculous to talk about them as some cognizable cohort with respect to public health.

        3. Sarcastr0, I think you’re misreading me. I think the statements a year ago were the lie, and the consensus now is correct.

          But either way, someone was using “science full stop” as a disingenuous argument.

          1. Again, not really dishonesty, and not science full stop. At the time there was a serious shortage of masks among medical professionals and they were trying to prevent people from stockpiling them. Perhaps it wasn’t the best strategy to take, but it wasn’t a change in the opinion of mask efficacy.

            1. “Perhaps it wasn’t the best strategy to take,”

              That’s what I think was ironic. As covid flared, I remember seeing newspaper articles with pictures from one of the big chain drugstores, which had stocked an entire aisle with wall to wall N95 masks. And, obviously, those were badly needed for the health care system.

              And my guess is that a phone call from the president or CDC or Surgeon General to the CEOs of the few large companies who had significant inventory could have gotten those all pulled off the shelves and sent to hospitals (“Hi, this is the Surgeon General. I’m mask shopping, and I see you have a bunch. I want to buy them all for the going price. And if you don’t, I will give a press conference naming you as the person endangering America’s docs and nurses”). It’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t have gotten compliance.

              Instead, they decided to pull a fast one on the public, and planted the seed of ‘you can’t trust the authorities’ that has plagued us all through the pandemic.

            2. It was a complete and total lie knowing in contradiction of the actual science of mask usage, otherwise medical professionals wouldn’t wear masks, with or without covid. Nevertheless, it was done for a purportedly good reason, to preserve masks for medical personnel during an extreme scarcity.

              However, once you knowing lie to further an agenda, that credibility doesn’t return so easily.

              The excusal of mass, week’s long protests this summer because in furtherance of “social justice” , all while complaining that the much smaller protests against the various social restrictions were intolerable, also didn’t help the credibility of the experts (and accounted for various restrictions being struck down in places like New York).

              1. Considering there are a number of links above saying the actual science is still uncertain, perhaps you might want to rethink your cocksure narrative of deception.

                  1. He also acknowledged that masks were initially not recommended to the general public so that first responders wouldn’t feel the strain of a shortage of PPE.

                    He explained that public health experts “were concerned 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.”

                    By early April, the Strategic National Stockpile had been depleted, and around the same time President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to have manufacturing chains across the U.S. focus on making vital medical equipment such as ventilators and masks.

                    Fauci continued to say that they wanted to give as many masks as possible to front line workers and emergency personnel.

                    “We wanted to make sure that the people, namely the health care workers, who were brave enough to put themselves in a harm way, to take care of people who you know were infected with the coronavirus and the danger of them getting infected,” Fauci concluded.

                    I don’t see where he admitted that he lied…?

                    1. Is this your “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” logic?

                      Here we go: The Lie:
                      Fauci: “Right now in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks.”
                      HOST: “You’re sure of this, because people are listening really closely to this. ”
                      FAUCI: “Right. Now people should not be walk— there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.”

                      The Truth: Fauci needed to lie about masks to the American public, so they wouldn’t buy up the masks and limit the supply for hospital workers.

            3. “At the time there was a serious shortage of masks among medical professionals and they were trying to prevent people from stockpiling them.”

              Medical experts are not experts in preventing people from stockpiling masks. Why should we listen to medical experts offering medical opinions if they’re qualifying their opinion to achieve a result that they’re not qualified to try to achieve?

              1. It happened a year ago, you don’t actually have to worry about it any more if you really don’t want to.

                1. They won’t lie any more because they lied a year ago?

                  1. The one time they ‘lied’ they came out and admitted it. You’d be surprised how that helps rebuild trust, as opposed to doubling down on your lies or launching deranged attacks on the people accusing you of lying.

              2. Truly it’s an awful pity you all didn’t get as mad and concerned every time Trump lied about stuff he knew nothing about and his followers lapped it up like gospel.

                1. I certainly never told people to trust Trump. But clearly the medical experts aren’t any more credible.

                  1. Well SOMEbody thought he was worthy of a position of enormous trust and power and like you those people also think the medical experts aren’t any more credible than he is.

        4. There may be consensus, but there’s literally no scientific evidence masks are effective at preventing transmission of airborne respiratory illnesses. That’s not *scientific* consensus.

          And indeed, its not just respiratory illnesses. They did studies in the 80s on whether wearing a mask during surgery prevented infections (which would be bacterial) – no effect. In fact, the one paper I read, the no mask surgeries actually had a lower incidence of infection. (I don’t have the cite handy, it was published in 1989 iirc).

          Much of medical practice is tradition rather than evidence-based. It seems to make sense that wearing a mask might stop the transmission of an airborn virus. But the only way you get actual knowledge is doing the experiment. They’ve been looking for an effect of masks for ~100 years now, and haven’t found one yet. (See the Cochrane meta-analysis link higher in the thread for a recent look at the data).

          1. As noted in the OP, it’s pretty hubristic to declare you know the Real Science better than the experts.

            You can say you disagree with the public health recommendations, but you’re going a lot further than that.

            1. So, you’re saying he can disagree, but can’t give reasons?

              1. It’s that is reasons are not good.

                When his reasons are ‘I know the implications of the papers better than the scientists’ it’s not a really good reason.

                Similarly, explaining the culture of the medical community without citations is also just nonsense.

                1. Come now, that’s nonsense. The papers reached the same conclusion i did. They say so. (In fact, I reach that conclusion *because* the papers reach that conclusion).

                  If you bothered to actually read the literature, you’d know that.

            2. Please, read the literature. There’s no evidence masks reduce respiratory virus transmission. There have been dozens of studies. The meta-analyses universally fail to find any effect of mask wearing on disease transmission.

              The evidence is the evidence. If its not in the literature, its not evidence. The meta-analyses are the consensus of the evidence (as they pull together a large number of mask studies and render a scientific opinion on all the evidence taken together).

              You’re basically indicting the entire scientific enterprise. Science doesn’t reside in expert opinion, it resides in measurable facts and the use of statistics on those facts to assess the validity of hypotheses. Any ‘expert’ who doesn’t reference the literature to defend his thesis isn’t acting as a scientist. And when the literature pretty conclusively rejects that hypothesis, he’s misusing whatever authority he has to lie about what the research actually says.

              Don’t take my word for it. Here’s the Cochrane meta-analysis: https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006207.pub5/full

              1. And seriously, its not my opinion, its the expert opinion of the people who did the actual research. (Fauci has done no research on mask effects on transmission – he is *not an expert* on the subject).

              2. Please, read the literature

                I actually talk to the scientists. Part of my job.

                What about you? Weird how when you read the lit, you find it agrees with your priors every time, huh.

                1. Weird that I read the literature before forming an opinion?

                  My priors were that mask wearing would do something. Then i read the literature, because it was an interesting question. The literature changed my mind.

                  1. You are not shy about your ideology. Its a bit rich to claim your opinion was not already formed.

                    Ehen I talk to the scientists the main throughline is uncertainty and dirty, incomplete data.

                    Pretty different from your cocksure attitude about what the facts say.

                    1. Oh really. And what do you think my ideology is? What about that ideology would make me resistant to the idea that masks have a significant effect on disease transmission? If I thought masks had an effect, I would support voluntary masking as a good idea.

                      No statistical effect is no statistical effect. If you had even more data, could you maybe find an effect? Yes. But the more power you need to find an effect, the smaller that effect size is going to be. So maybe the underlying reality is that masks reduce transmission by 1%, and we simply haven’t found the effect because its so small. But even then, the smallness of an effect questions the value of recommending (or worse, mandating) it as policy.

                      And sure, it’s messy because compliance with ideal mask wearing is hard to ensure. But that’s useful messiness for this question, because the studies are mostly done on the use of masks by *medical professionals* who have been trained on proper mask wearing. If their compliance is problematic, the population at large is going to be significantly worse. When considering the effectiveness of a policy, ‘ideal’ behavior can’t be assumed.

                      Let’s be clear, there are RCT trials of medical professional mask wearing and respiratory illness transmission. They find no effect. The study size of some of these studies is thousands of people. If there was an effect that made a large difference under real world conditions, they should have found it.

                      There’s always uncertainty. But when Fauci said early on that masks don’t have an effect, that sounded wrong to me, so i did a literature dive. (If you had asked me in 2019, I would have said masks probably have an effect). Turns out he was right then (and wrong later). It’s not cocksure to accept the literature finds no effect. Could that ultimately be wrong? Maybe. But it’s a pretty decent number of studies at this point, so it’s unlikely to be terribly wrong. (As acknowledged above, the most likely way to be wrong is there’s an effect, but its small enough that previous studies didn’t have enough power to find it).

                      What you portray as cocksure is a normal method of dealing with fields that you’re not actively working in. You reduce the literature to an operationalizable belief (masks have no statistical effect, so there’s no benefit to wearing them), and move on. I’m not going to design an RCT trial on mask wearing – the dirtiness of the data is of far more concern to someone doing research in this area. But all real world study data is ultimately ‘dirty’ in some way. Some of the same studies found a statistically significant effect of social distancing, so the dirtiness didn’t make a result impossible or even implausible.

                      (I’d be interested in seeing a power analysis of the meta data, and a bounding of the size of an effect of masks if one does exist but simply hasn’t been detected yet. Or any attempt to quantify the effect of the dirtiness of the data on the results.)

                      If the science definitively changes, I’ll change my mind again. I think you misunderstand – this is a technical question about the effect of masks. Data -> belief, not the other way around. My ideology doesn’t say anything about masks.

                      (Now, if it does have a significant effect, what kind of policy do you support? That’s informed by ideology. In that case, I’d support education of the population and encouraging mask wearing, but not mandating. I don’t think its worth pointing guns at people because they don’t wear a mask – and that’s what a mandate ultimately means).

                    2. You make prolix arguments for randian individualism every post of yours I see.

      3. @ducksalad, that is exactly what I remember them saying then. Except they of course didn’t say health care workers are more important, but rather health care workers are more exposed.

        1. They may not have said it, but I’ll say it: In this context, health care workers are more important. Not in a “their lives are worth more than our lives” sense, but in a “keeping a health care worker alive saves more other lives than keeping me alive does” sense.

    2. On the contrary, there was never a mask shortage. There was fear about a potential mask shortage but health care workers were never short of masks.

      More to the point, that is very much not what we peons were initially told. It’s not like it’s hard to look up. If the justification really was “leave enough for health care workers”, they should have said that instead of lying to us about it.

      1. “There was fear about a potential mask shortage but health care workers were never short of masks.”

        I don’t believe that’s universally the case. For example, we have neighbors who work in health care who got issued one N95 and got to reuse it for a couple of months before the supply shortage eased. I’d say that qualifies as a mask shortage.

        And that was people working in hospitals, with covid patients. We were printing face shields and giving them away, and we gave some to nurses at the local Veteran’s Home who were glad to get them, because they were no N95’s available for them. This was a few months into the pandemic.

        1. “For example, we have neighbors who work in health care who got issued one N95 and got to reuse it for a couple of months before the supply shortage eased. I’d say that qualifies as a mask shortage.”

          Most people I know have a box or two in their garage for woodworking and stuff, and didn’t wear them because they were told not to. It was probably a mask distribution problem as much as anything.

          1. One of my neighbors is an RN. She said the reports on the news were true and the hospital didn’t have enough N95 masks. We did in fact have a box in our garage for dusty home repair work and gave them to her.

            I’m not sure how you distinguish a shortage from a distribution problem. It seems to me that if nurses are grateful to be receiving masks from randos like us who have a few sitting around, there’s probably a shortage.

      2. “There was fear about a potential mask shortage but health care workers were never short of masks.”

        That is a comprehensively silly statement, even for a clinger at the Volokh Conspiracy.

        Does the Volokh Conspiracy generate stupid right-wingers, or merely attract them?

      3. I’m sorry, Rossami, but that just isn’t true. There was a serious shortage of adequate masks in some areas. AND there was potential for the shortage to become even more widespread.

    3. As a dyed in the wool FSU fanboy it pains me to give props to UF but in this case I have to.

      First I have to point that all masks are not created equal; some are better than others and some do really work. In the link below there are not only instructions for a DIY mask there are also details on testing that was done (in a medical setting by medical doctors) resulting in one mask actually passing a common and well respected medical test. As someone with basic sewing skills and the ability to go on the internet and buy halyard material (that blue stuff your dentist wraps up his tools in to keep them sterile after they have been sterilized in an autoclave) it takes me maybe fifteen minutes and about a quarters worth of material to sew one of these masks. I can easily substitute my InstaPot for an autoclave (an oven, pressure cooker, or a UVC light will also work) to sterilize my DIY masks.

      On the other hand the local shop where I buy my sewing supplies makes what I call fashion statement masks using patterns and material that are obviously for show (sports teams, political messages, match your clothes) and not protection.

      Even if you lack basic sewing skills this link should provide food for thought about getting a mask that has passed tests done my medical doctors (ugg at UF’s Shands teaching hospital, gotta admit it).

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZBbkn-g-vE

    4. “The experts were correct then and they were also correct later when they told us to wear masks.”

      Where the “experts” experts in logistics or economics?

      Medical experts were claiming that masks weren’t effective in preventing the spread of the disease to general public, but medical experts have no idea what the best way to provide masks to health care workers is. Lots of people still have n95 masks in their garage because they were told not to wear them, and there was no way to provide them to healthcare workers.

      1. Remember when the “experts” told us it would basically be impossible to get a vaccine by the end of 2020?

        1. Experts were clearly wrong about somethings in the spring of 2020. Warning about the risks of multiple “co-morbidities” by the CDC were grossly inflated. Even by the fall, study of correlations of COVID-19 fatalities with the most frequently cited co-factors such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus show correlations of less than 20%. In contrast flu-related fatalities with all these co-factors are much more strongly correlated.
          The strongly influential co-factor that CDC missed last April is chronic kidney disease. While the CDC may have done the best it could have at the time, one has to realize that its statements were more reasonable medical guesses than established “science.”

      2. As mentioned above, we simply gave ours to a healthcare worker. I’m also not sure how that kind of redistribution solves the problem. Yes, America’s garages, workshops, and basements contain masks, but how many days’ supply?

  18. I’m generally favorably inclined towards vaccines, and the reasonable recommendations of experts. But I’m also technically educated, including quite a bit of study of biology, so I can often notice when experts are BSing me.

    Which experts are at least as inclined to do as any group, thanks to being used to people taking what they say on faith.

    The Covid pandemic has involved a LOT of BSing by experts. Sure, they were worried about a shortage of masks. That was no reason to say they didn’t work, just to discourage people from using them.

    What really bothers me here, though, is that vaccines and masks are being fetishized. With the encouragement of the ‘experts’.

    People who’ve had Covid are being required to wear masks! Biologically, that’s total bullshit. Granted, it’s theoretically possible for somebody who’s had it to transmit it again, or catch it again, but the likelihood is so low there’s no point in bothering to guard against it.

    People who’ve had Covid are recommended to be vaccinated! Again, biologically, that’s total bullshit! The whole point of a vaccine is to simulate having a disease, so that your immune system will react in the future as though you had it.

    Had it? Mission accomplished, don’t bother!

    Continuing to wear a mask or getting vaccinated after having had this disease may be many things, but it isn’t science.

    1. People who’ve had Covid are being required to wear masks! Biologically, that’s total bullshit. Granted, it’s theoretically possible for somebody who’s had it to transmit it again, or catch it again, but the likelihood is so low there’s no point in bothering to guard against it.

      Here’s the thing: people lie. Even if the science were clear that those who had gotten covid and recovered couldn’t spread covid — and it’s not — there’s no way to tell if someone walking around without a mask is someone who had gotten covid and recovered or is just an asshole.

      “Hey, you can’t come in here without a mask.”
      “No, I had it and recovered, so I don’t need a mask.”

      That just won’t work.

      1. Well, the masks are finally slipping (sorry).

        So the only way people will eventually be “allowed” to remove their masks is after (1) there’s a system in place to verify in real time that a given individual has been vaccinated (a system that’s hopefully correct most of the time, and hopefully not subject to manipulation by bad actors, political foes, or bored bureaucratic data jockeys); or (2) everyone in the population is vaccinated, either voluntarily or involuntary.

        Either of which will require permanent, dramatic societal changes that most people would not favor in the least if their thought processes were not warped from a year plus of constant Big Scary Threat porn.

        1. Keep whining, clingers.

          It indicates better Americans are winning the argument.

          1. RAK, your better American have nothing to do with it.
            There is scant information about the degree to which vaccinated or previously infected persons can spread SARS-CoV-2 virions.

        2. My guess is that once an adequate percentage of the population has been vaccinated, the mask requirements will disappear. I also think that the percentage of people who voluntarily get vaccinated will be adequate. I hope so, anyway. Maybe I’m just more optimistic than you.

          1. If, like LoB, you’re invested in your political opponents being dumb and evil, that kind of pessimism is comfortingly bias-confirming.

            1. “If, like LoB, you’re invested in your political opponents being dumb and evil,”

              That’s Kirkland.

              1. And I criticize him for it. When I see you criticize any of the RW commenters here who routinely express the same, some with unapologetic racism and bloodlust, I’ll take your critique of Arthur more seriously.

                1. If you say so.

                  1. Really lol. Which part of that do you question?

          2. My guess is that once an adequate percentage of the population has been vaccinated, the mask requirements will disappear.

            That’s my scenario #2 above, with the expectation that “an adequate percentage” will ultimately be set to 100. In my view it’s nigh unto impossible for the control freaks and frenzied masses to retreat from their current “don’t breathe normally around me — you might be SICK and I might DIE” perspective with less than 100% vaccination — they’d effectively have to admit that they overreacted, and then they might actually be held responsible for the massive amount of societal harm that resulted from their overreaction. Maybe someday way down the road the world will be ready to take an honest look at this global mass hysteria event, but I doubt it’ll be any time soon.

            1. Grievance-consumed right-wing misfits are among my favorite culture war casualties.

              Watching them get overrun by their betters in the public debates and by our government is enjoyable and important.

              1. You do enjoy saying nothing.

                1. I like mocking clingers, and defeating them in the culture war.

                  Either you like being mocked, and losing — or you are in for a sad life.

                  Until replacement.

                  By your betters.

            2. What will you do if masks stop being a requirement and you look pretty foolish?

              1. I find it quite interesting (nah, from you really just predictable) that the entire world making worst-case assumptions about COVID is just playing it safe, but me making a worst-case assumption that the trajectory of human nature established and entrenched over the past year will continue merrily on its way is “pretty foolish.”

                What will you do if I’m right?

                1. Do you have a model? No, just ideology speculating yourself into dystopian fiction? Well, then it’s not the same.

                  Are you making policy effecting lives? No, just ranting on the Internet as though your assumption is self evident? Well, then it’s not the same.

                  These things are not the same. Being risk averse is not the same as paranoid ranting.

                  1. Stop ducking. What will you do if I’m right?

                    1. If people continue to wear face-masks post-covid – especially in cities where air pollution and crowding are issues – I, for one will not be attributing it to ‘control freaks and frenzied masses’ but to a sudden rise in global awareness of respiratory issues. People may also continue to be more careful about washing their hands, but this doesn’t seem to send you into paroxysms of terror.

                    2. Well, I guess I’ll say you were right.

                      But you’re not right, you’re paranoid, as I explained above.

                    3. Fully vaccinated people can:

                      Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
                      Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing
                      Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic
                      .
                      https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html

                      How does that comport with your histrionics about permanent masking?

            3. This is… stupid.

      2. Here’s the thing: People lie about having been vaccinated, too. How do you know they were?

        Medical records.

        How do I know I had Covid?

        Medical records, I got tested.

        ” Even if the science were clear that those who had gotten covid and recovered couldn’t spread covid — and it’s not.”

        If it’s not clear, we’re screwed, and are going to be wearing masks forever, because a vaccine can’t make you any more immune to a disease than having had the disease can, the vaccine just simulates having the disease.

        And that’s pretty well proven, because all the vaccine is doing is tricking your immune system into thinking you’ve got the disease.

        1. 1) We don’t know that having been infected means you cannot become infectious to others even as your symptoms are low.

          2) ‘Show me your vaccination papers’ his it’s own, I’d argue more burdensome issues compared with ‘mask up to go to Target.’

          1. Yeah, I’m getting the impression that a lot of people don’t understand basic biology. OK, maybe not so basic, mid range.

            Infection exists on a continuum, for any disease that’s not going to ultimately kill you. Even people who’ve had a disease, or been vaccinated, can still get infected with it.

            When somebody is “immune” to a disease, all it means is that their immune system is already acquainted with it, and can respond so quickly that the infection will normally be stomped before progressing far enough to cause any symptoms.

            So, yeah, if somebody with a bad case of Covid were to cough right in my face, just as I was inhaling, I’d get Covid again. As would somebody who had been vaccinated. Not a bad case, probably so mild I’d never notice.

            But there’s this thing called “viral load”; The number of viral particles you’re exposed to in a relatively short time. At high levels of viral load, the infection will get established enough to cause problems even if you have a robust immune response, because there are just so many cells being directly infected by the incoming virus.

            At low levels of viral load, your immune system has more time to respond before the replicating virus gets far enough along to cause symptoms. At low enough levels, even somebody without prior immunity will have time to mount an immune response before getting sick. You get an asymptomatic case, as about 90% of Covid 19 cases seem to be.

            Asymptomatic cases aren’t bad, they’re good, they’re like a natural public vaccination program, people developing immunity without ever having symptoms.

            What ties this together is that the nominal infection you get if you’re already immune probably does not cause you to shed enough viral particles to give somebody else a bad case of covid unless they’re immune compromised or very unlucky.

            Now, if masks were 100% effective, you might argue, “so what”.

            But since masks aren’t all that effective, you confront the reality that somebody who’s already immune to covid is less of a danger unmasked than anybody else is while wearing a mask!

            1. Print this comment on the mask you wear whenever you go out so everyone knows how unfair it is.

        2. Brett,
          It is not clear. At some point the public will rebel and throw caution to the winds. That will happen when the death count is less than seasonal flu.

      3. “Here’s the thing: people lie. Even if the science were clear that those who had gotten covid and recovered couldn’t spread covid — and it’s not — there’s no way to tell if someone walking around without a mask is someone who had gotten covid and recovered or is just an asshole.”

        OK, but that’s not a scientific reason for previously infected people to wear masks.

        1. Sure, it’s not a scientific reason. It’s a public health reason. I get that right-wingers oppose public health on principle. Too much chance government might do something beneficial and popular.

          1. Be careful, some people around here are pretty strict about moving goalposts.

            1. Except SL was had not posted about it being about science before, nor was he adopting someone else’s argument saying the same.

              So…no old goalposts mean he didn’t really move them.

              1. “no old goalposts mean he didn’t really move them.”

                What do you have, a rulebook? Just because he didn’t set the original goalposts doesn’t mean that he can’t move them.

                1. Dude, this is basic following the conversational chain.

                  I’ve seen you be smarter than this; stop arguing in bad faith.

          2. It’s not really a public health issue either. (If you’ve recovered from the virus or have been vaccinated, the mask isn’t serving a health function).

            It’s a security performance. The desirability of public security performances is not necessarily self-evident. (And popularity is not evidence of benefit or value).

            1. I don’t agree at all, Squirrelloid. Only if you atomize the problem and think only in terms of some kind of effect-on-me standard does your reasoning make any sense, and even then, not much sense.

              Public health success depends on practical ability to promulgate public health measures. For masking, that means winning high-percentage compliance, and keeping it customary until herd immunity is achieved. Accustomed human behavior works in favor of that while folks see almost everyone masked. It works against that when folks see increasing numbers ditching the masks.

              Nobody likes masks. Many folks with mask fatigue will take any sight of others unmasked as an all-clear signal. That would snowball out of control long before herd immunity from infection and vaccination could keep contagion in check among an unmasked population. “We are all in this together,” has to be the rule governing public health practice.

              I look forward to getting vaccinated on Saturday. It will be a bit of a drag to keep wearing a mask in public after I’m immunized. But on the other hand, I’ll enjoy freedom to do frequent business in public for the first time in more than a year. One step at a time, and all together. That’s how you pull a population out of a pandemic. Every corner you try to cut makes the road back to normal longer, harder, and deadlier.

              1. So, you’re going to force me to wear a mask, not because I could give or get Covid, but because you’re concerned about the message my not wearing the mask might deliver.

                Starts to sound like coerced speech, if the only thing you’re concerned about is the message communicated, not the medical effects.

                1. We live in a society.

                  1. Yes, a “society”, not “a totalitarian state”. “We live in a society” is not a general purpose excuse for every command you might feel like issuing. Even in “a society” people are entitled to tell other people to go pound sand quite a lot of the time.

                    1. Someone mentioned pants mandates a few threads ago. What’s your take on those? My sense is that the public health benefits of mask mandates likely outweigh the public health benefits of pants mandates. Yet one is controversial, and the other widely accepted.

                      Wearing a mask right, with careful fitting and so on, is a major PITA. I am really, really, really looking forward to getting vaccinated whenever my state finally allows it – because then I won’t have to worry about doing it right, I can just casually put on whatever old mask and get my groceries. But that kind of pro-forma mask wearing doesn’t seem any more difficult or intrusive than wearing pants or a shirt or shoes.

                      Not trying for a trick question – I am genuinely baffled by the intensity of objections to masks. I mean, if I thought they were useless I would do a low intensity grumble about the gosh darn gubmint, too, but I wouldn’t invest anywhere near the intensity that the more vocal mask opponents do. Why such a difference?

                    2. Yes, and anti-maskers really should go pound sand.

                    3. There’s no pants mandate: you can wear shorts, a skirt or dress, a swimsuit, hot pants, etc… Some cultures do allow you to go around naked or basically naked in at least some circumstances. (And you don’t even have to go to somewhere like Papau New Guinea – nude beaches are common in France, for example, and there are performers in New York City wearing nothing but body paint).

                      The socially and legally enforced decency norms also have nothing to do with public health. That’s not to say that decency norms are sensible (men can expose their breasts in a lot of situations women can’t, for example), but they’re aspects of culture. They don’t have to make sense. (The desire to render them into legally enforceable standards runs into tons of problems – witness the difficulty women had breast feeding in public areas for most of the last 100+ years).

                      Mandating something which isn’t already part of the culture is intrusive, which is why its controversial.

                      That’s before even looking at whether masks are actually effective at reducing disease transmission.

              2. On the one hand, masks being a public health measure depends on masks having a measurable effect on virus transmission in the first place. Evidence for this hypothesis is lacking (see https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006207.pub5/full for just one of many meta-analyses of studies of mask wearing on transmission – all of them reach similar conclusions). If there’s no actual effect, it can’t be a public health measure.

                But even if masks did have an effect, they only have an effect if the person in question is capable of transmitting the virus. If there’s no *health effect* of a given person wearing a mask, its not a public health measure, because _public health_ wasn’t improved.

                You pretty much describe the essence of security performance. You don’t focus on actual health effects, but on the perception of the performance by the population. It’s 1984-esque to call actions with no actual health benefits ‘public health measures’.

                As to how you pull a population out of a pandemic? You don’t. Pandemics end on their own. Pandemics in 1893, 1918, 1957, and 1968 ended just fine, and government responses were ineffective or non-existent. (For Covid-19, cases started dropping like a rock in January, well before any significant fraction of the population was vaccinated.) People are going to die no matter what you do, and there’s little to no evidence any official measures did a thing to decrease the severity of the pandemic.

                Indeed, jailing people for nonsensical reasons like *surfing*, if anything, increased viral transmission. Not to mention sending sick nursing home patients back to nursing homes. Any sensible analysis after the fact will determine that, on net, government actions actually made the pandemic worse. (Social distancing actually works – the scientific literature has evidence to back that measure up – but people voluntarily social distanced before any lockdown orders were given, and lockdown orders didn’t convince any additional people to stay home. The cell phone mobility data is pretty conclusive. So putting people in jails, and sending sick people to confined indoor shared environments like nursing homes, have actual, measurable bad effects).

                Meanwhile, our “public health” measures cratered the economy, put millions out of work, led to a massive increase in government spending, increased depression and suicides,
                scared people into putting off life-saving treatment for cancer (or even stopped hospitals from offering it), or even being unwilling to call an ambulance for strokes and heart attacks. Those weren’t necessary costs – government imposed them.

                CDC’s own estimates on pandemic penetration of a population are in the range of 25% (20-33%) for historical pandemics. (That is, the pandemic ends after ~25% of the population has been infected). The ‘herd immunity’ numbers of 60%, 70%, and more aren’t based on real world evidence, they’re based on ridiculous models that assume homogenous mixing (any person has an equal likelihood of encountering any other person). That grossly inflates the required number of immune people for population immunity to kick in. The real number is going to be in the ballpark of 25%.

                Let’s be clear: I’ve been staying home since early March, my employer sent everyone home two weeks before my governor ordered people to stay home. I wear a mask to the grocery store, not because the government said anything, but because the grocery store asks (it’s private property, they get to set the rules, even if they’re silly rules). I will get a vaccine when it’s my turn, because i believe in the efficacy of vaccines, even though i’m reasonably certain the pandemic is already ending and will be over before its my turn.

                But on questions of public policy, why don’t we actually look at the scientific evidence, advise people as to what that evidence actually says, and lay off the heavy handed government mandates. Government mandates are *why* responses became politicized in the first place, and the evidence is clear that voluntary adoption of effective measures (social distancing, handwashing) was quite high without mandates.

          3. “I get that right-wingers oppose public health on principle. Too much chance government might do something beneficial and popular.”

            And no chance that they might do something harmful and popular, right Stephen? Remember, compulsory vaccination created a slippery slope into some pretty bad stuff.

            1. Maybe we should keep an eye out for the actual bad stuff, not invoke eugenics in an attempt to handwave public health efforts as bad.

              You’re going to need to deal with the particular policies, unless you want to agree with SL that the right is against public health.

              1. “You’re going to need to deal with the particular policies, unless you want to agree with SL that the right is against public health.”

                One might want to deal with particular policies before saying something as outlandish as “the right is against public health”. There are individuals on either side that have some odd beliefs (flouride, anti-vax). There are ideological fights on public health matters, i.e. my sense was that the debates over whether gay bathhouses should be closed early in the AIDS epidemic, or last spring when the NYC health commissioner made a big thing that attending Chinese New Year festivities was a good thing to do were primarily ideological. But 99% of what public health agencies do is not a subject of partisan contention (monitoring drinking water, tracing TB contacts, inspecting restaurants and other food production facilities, running medical research of all kinds, yadda, yadda).

                1. Yeah, that’s a bit of my point; I don’t think Brett is going to agree with SL that the right is against public health.

                  That being said, I do think the right’s philosophical underpinning is not well situated to deal with collective action problems, and they usually respond to them by attacking the facts that define the problem.

                  1. “That being said, I do think the right’s philosophical underpinning is not well situated to deal with collective action problems, and they usually respond to them by attacking the facts that define the problem.”

                    I might even agree with that – and its converse (that the left tends to look for collective solutions to problems best solved by individual action … it’s almost like both sides default to solutions congenial to their worldview 🙂 ).

                  2. ” I don’t think Brett is going to agree with SL that the right is against public health.”

                    Well, no. This would imply that the right was opposed to the public being healthy, which is an end I think almost everybody agrees with.

                    The disagreement is on the level of means. Both efficacy AND morality.

                    1. You seem to disallow all means other than individual choice.

                      This, as I noted, creates a lot of collective action problems.

                      As was commented above: “We live in a society.”

                    2. I think undermining public health policy might be immoral.

                    3. Will you please stop treating “we live in a society” like it’s some kind of “throw people in jail for free” card?

                      Of course we live in a society, if you’ve got more than one person that’s basically unavoidable. Cambodia under Pol Pot was a society. Nazi Germany during the Holocaust was a society. North Korea is a society.

                      We don’t aspire to be living in a society. We aspire to be living in a free society. A worthwhile society. Not an everybody lives the way some yahoo orders them to society.

                      You’ve got to actually justify imposing on people, Sarcastro. Not recite “We live in a society!” like it was a magic spell.

                    4. It’s not throwing people in jail that’s at issue. It’s people getting sick. We aspire to live in a society where we don’t transmit highly contagious diseases to each other just because of your politics.

              2. So can we point to the spike in unemployment, increased depression, decreased access to care for cancer treatments, fearmongering that led some people to not even call ambulances for heart attacks and strokes, or the significant loss in education of children as negative effects yet? Not caused by the pandemic, but caused by the response. Is that harmful enough yet?

                Britain is already estimating the increase in cancer deaths alone from delayed diagnoses and treatments could be on the same order of magnitude as deaths from covid-19 *within a year*. (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-53300784 the UK has had ~45k Covid-19 deaths, and the reported on study estimates 7,000 – 35,000 extra cancer deaths because of lockdowns within just the first year). That’s just cancer deaths, and just within 12 months.

                I think people discount individual action too much. For example, lockdown orders affected no behavior – people were already staying home, and compliance didn’t increase following lockdown orders in the US. The cell phone mobility data are remarkably clear on this. I trust individuals to make reasonable decisions when provided with accurate information. Collective action is almost always poorly conceived, poorly targeted, and poorly implemented. There’s a lot of truth in the adage “While a person may be smart, the people are stupid”. A large part of that story is probably due to the reasons outlined by Hayek – most relevant information is local and inaccessible to central planners.

    2. ‘Continuing to wear a mask or getting vaccinated after having had this disease may be many things, but it isn’t science.’

      Pretty sure the science is still trying to work out whether and to what degree people with vaccinations can still transmit the disease.

      1. Since literally all the vaccine does is simulate your having the disease, so that in the future your immune system will react as though you’d already had it, it’s kind of pointless to give the vaccine more weight than actually having had the disease.

        Either way it’s all up to your immune system after the fact.

        1. You’re apeaking with a level of confidence I haven’t seen from any health expert.

          1. I’m not sure he’s exactly right either. The vaccine doesn’t really simulate having the disease. Rather it preps your body to fight the spike structures that this and other coronaviruses use to attach to cells. At least that’s my understanding.

            1. Yeah, I’m no vaxpert, and I’m pretty sure Brett isn’t either.

            2. It doesn’t really simulate having the disease rather, it [does bigger word stuff that adds up to simulating the disease so far as your immune system is concerned.]

              How did you think your immune system fights the disease if you’ve had it? By identifying foreign proteins, and attacking them. The vaccine just provides some foreign proteins for it to identify, that’s all.

        2. Pretty sure the virus does things to body tissues which the virus doesn’t do. Why wouldn’t effects on the immune system be similarly at variance? Either effect, tissue or immune system, might account for unanticipated long-term phenomena.

          1. Oops, “which the vaccine doesn’t do.”

          2. Well, you’re right: In some cases, a vaccine produces more lasting immunity, in some cases the actual illness does. But they’re in the same general ballpark.

            The disease has, obviously, been around for longer than the vaccine, which means that we have a lot more confidence in the natural immunity, we have much longer data.

            The point I’m making here isn’t that you should hope to get the disease, instead of getting vaccinated. I’m generally a vaccine booster, getting vaccinated is almost always safer than getting a disease.

            But if you’ve already HAD the disease, it’s stupid to demand you get vaccinated. You already were, naturally.

        3. Brett,
          “it’s kind of pointless to give the vaccine more weight than actually having had the disease.”
          You are quite simply wrong.
          Detailed virological analysis of the decay of immunity in persons with prior covid-19 infection shows decay of immunity significantly faster that that in persons with only one shot of a two shot vaccine. the decay of immunity is slowest in those with both shots of the two-shot vaccines.

  19. When the risk of complications from an emergency vaccine exceeds the risk of catching the virus, then the answer’s obvious.

    For all those who stand by the efficacy of lockdowns, then you have to explain how the rates of infection have been essentially randomly distributed among lockdown and no-lockdown communities. Note, we don’t need to test whether or not this is so, we skipped right past any tests and went straight to implementation — for 12 months. Now we know beyond a shadow of a doubt.

    If masks made a difference, we would have seen a difference. But we don’t. If you “follow the data” you must conclude that nothing we did worked. We missed the boat completely.

    1. IMO, what you’re looking at is an extremely contagious disease, but one where most of the population was already largely immune due to previous exposure to related viruses. (There are at least 4 common cold viruses that will give you substantial immunity to Covid, without triggering the antibody test, because it’s T cell immunity.)

      The highly contagious aspect caused it to largely bypass less than heroic precautions, the widespread preexisting immunity limited the spread.

      Additionally, in areas where social arrangements would result in people being infected with a low viral load, (Exposed to a limited number of viral particles at once.) you had a lot of asymptomatic infections, because the infection got a slow start and was stomped before people got sick. In areas where large numbers of people were confined in tight areas with poor air exchange, (Subway cars!) you got high viral load, resulting in bad cases.

      In short, most of what modulated the severity of the spread was NOT masks and cleaning, but preexisting patterns of immunity and living arrangements.

      1. A very plausible explanation, I think.

      2. You mean Trump was right and there really are shithole places where it is more likely to get COVID-19.

        1. Yes, that’s why we Americans aren’t allowed into other countries right now.

      3. “most of what modulated the severity of the spread was NOT masks and cleaning, but preexisting patterns of immunity and living arrangements.”
        Please cite a couple of papers published after last August in a respected medical journal

        1. S Protein-Reactive IgG and Memory B Cell Production after Human SARS-CoV-2 Infection Includes Broad Reactivity to the S2 Subunit

          Prior infection with multiple strains of Covid produces Covid 19 immunity, and that immunity is long lasting.

          Since 4 of those strains are common colds, Covid 19 immunity is going to be widespread, even before anybody has gotten Covid 19.

          The rest follows logically.

          1. Thank you for the citation.
            However, you must know that there is considerable other evidence that indicates that your assumption is overly optimistic. For that reason CDc is recommending vaccinations fro people who have had COVID-19 develop after infection by SARS-CoV-2

            “Although immune memory is the source of long-term protective immunity, direct conclusions about protective immunity cannot be made on the basis of quantifying SARS-CoV-2 circulating antibodies, memory B cells, CD8+ T cells, and CD4+ T cells, because mechanisms of protective immunity against SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 are not defined in humans. Nevertheless, some reasonable interpretations can be made. Antibodies are the only component of immune memory that can provide truly sterilizing immunity. Immunization studies in nonhuman primates have indicated that circulating neutralization titers of ~200 may provide sterilizing immunity against a relatively high-dose URT challenge (66), and neutralizing titers of ~3400 may provide sterilizing immunity against a very high dose URT challenge (67), although direct comparisons are not possible because the neutralizing antibody assays have not been standardized (3). Conclusions are also constrained by the limited overall amount of data on protective immunity to SARS-CoV-2.”

      4. Brett,
        Numbers of SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19 show no correlation with the avregae number of persons perhousehold in any region of the world.

        1. Persons per household ≠ living in confined circumstances.

          My inlaws in the Philippines live in small houses, with large numbers per house, but their homes are so well ventilated they might as well be standing around outdoors.

          A single person in NYC has only one person in the household, but if they’re commuting by subway they’re routinely packed like sardines with other people with poor air exchange.

          1. ” so well ventilated ” they have no sidewalls.
            Standing outdoors within 2 meters of an infected person for 10 to 15 minutes does yield a fairly high chance of infection.
            I agree that subways are bad a Bill DeBlasio showed the world.

  20. But it’s perfectly reasonable, I think, for people not to want to be the early adopters here. It’s a new vaccine, and like all new things it could have unforeseen problems. The experts tell us it seems pretty safe, and they’re probably right, but we can’t be sure—and the more time passes, the more we’ll know about any possible problems.

    Individual reasoning is not the right paradigm to use here, I think. This is a collective action problem.

    1. No Sarcastr0, in this you are mistaken = Individual reasoning is not the right paradigm to use here, I think. This is a collective action problem.

      I applied my own reasoning to my specific individual circumstance, and got the shot. But that was not without significant personal research beforehand, and significant consultation with my HCPs. The mRNA vaccine is a novel vaccine; individuals should make efforts to look into it on their own.

      That aside, there is not a question that public health officials did deliberately lie to the American public, allegedly for “the greater good”. They themselves have admitted to that. In hindsight, this lead to some very unfortunate consequences. In my own state, the governor and the health commissioner made disastrous decisions to compel nursing homes to take covid+ patients. Thousands died from this.

      Had the American people been told the truth, they could have made better decisions for their circumstance. For instance, bringing an elderly relative home for nursing care. Once the door to China was shut (Jan), it was clear we had a problem. But public health officials lied about the risks, and mitigation strategies (like removing an elderly nursing home patient from the nursing home).

      If we cannot trust our public servants to tell the truth on a matter of such grave significance, how can we trust them at all?

      1. “In my own state, the governor and the health commissioner made disastrous decisions to compel nursing homes to take covid+ patients.”

        I don’t recall experts lying about THAT. In fact, I recall that basically nobody but the governments ordering it thought that it wasn’t a mad thing to do, most states were closer to banning it than mandating it.

      2. It is conservative dogma that the public was lied to; I don’t think that’s established.

        I also don’t think you’ve really addressed my main point about this being a collective action problem, where individual choice cannot be made in a vacuum.

        1. Dogma? No Sarcastr0, they have admitted doing so. Do I really need to rehash Anthony Fauci’s lies to the American public? He has said so directly that he mislead the public. That is a fact.

          I don’t buy the collective action premise. What exactly is a collective action problem?

          1. Herd immunity.

            You’re making your decision on behalf of more than just your own health.

  21. These comments have been great. Evidentiary pointers from the birther-Pizzagate-QAnon-stolen election-superstition side of the aisle are always a treat.

    Thanks for the laughs, clingers.

    And thanks for enabling unvarnished conservative thinking to be exposed to a slightly wider audience, Conspirators!

    1. More off-point crappola from the expert at that.

      1. You seem cranky and disaffected, Don Nico.

        Which is great.

  22. Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. The CDC recommends people wear face masks in public settings, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Wearing a face mask may limit exposure to respiratory droplets and large particles and may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus.. check site

  23. Deference to experts can make sense but only when the experts actually are expert and only when they are expressing opinions in their field. They deserve no deference outside their field and little deference when their opinions are not properly supported.

    Reading scientific reports is not that hard for anyone with rudimentary training. Assessing the reports requires some knowledge of the field but much more, it requires an understanding of statistics. When the alleged experts make obvious statistical mistakes, they no longer deserve deference.

    1. When the alleged experts make obvious statistical mistakes, they no longer deserve deference.

      Bingo. Statistical illiteracy is an increasing problem across a variety of disciplines. And once a paper employing elementary mathematical/statistical gaffes to reach a desired conclusion is published, its “peer reviewed” imprimatur and copious thought-free citation by others can bake the rot into the system for a disturbing amount of time.

      If the various “experts” we’re regularly bludgeoned about the head with had to defer to statistical experts to the degree we’re expected to defer to them, precious little of their research would get published in the first place.

  24. A question for those of you defending the initial decision to lie, or at least get way ahead of the actual science, about the effectiveness of masks. Do you think:

    (1) Such public announcements aren’t listened to by any significant number of people, OR
    (2) People listened and therefore (we now know) some number of people died as a consequence of fewer masks being worn.

    If it’s (2), do you believe:
    (2a) It’s OK because the number of health workers saved by the announcement numerically exceeded the number of general public killed by the announcement, OR
    (2b) The numbers didn’t add up but it’s OK because great men in times of crisis must make decisions and they have a right to be wrong.

    Furthermore, If it’s (2a), it would be interesting to hear your moral theory. If you think it’s like the Trolley Problem, that raises a bunch of new questions. Even if we concede that people like Dr. Schaffner quoted in the article, and Dr. Fauci, have medical expertise far superior to the average person, it doesn’t follow they have superior knowledge about which lives are more worth saving, or market behavior during a shortage, or even the long term effects of dishonesty versus immediate gains.

    1. Back in my Philosophy 101 class we were introduced to the concept of unknowable knowledge. There is also the problem of knowable knowledge that is not known. At one time there was the idea that the moon was made of green cheese. Problem was that since no one could get to the moon there was no way to know if that was true or not.

      The same is true of a lot of things about COVID-19 and how to cure, prevent it’s spread, and protect from getting it. Maybe next week, month, year, or decade we will have answers to your questions but currently we do not have adequate knowledge to answer them.

    2. I think getting the messaging wrong and betraying public trust during a health crisis is always dumb and deadly, but that it would have been easier to correct if anti-mask wearing hadn’t become a culture-war rallying cry and therefore beyond reason and messaging and drowned the issue’s signal-to-noise ratio. I think a lot more people have died because of that than because of the original message (if any), but none of the deaths are ‘OK.’

      1. getting the messaging wrong

        Oh, now there’s a flowery euphemism for you. Sorta like Bernie Madoff “got the messaging wrong” to his investors.

        1. No. Nothing like that at all, though another dodgy financial fraudster was in a position of power and influence at the time and committed all sorts of disastrously wrong messaging that caused confusion and obstruction and really puts Fauci’s one poor choice in perspective.

    3. “defending the initial decision to lie”
      Would you like to provide compelling evidence that the error was a deliberate, calculated falsehood?
      Many here would love to see it.

  25. The recommendations to not wear masks in March 2020 was much more than a police or PR failure, it was a huge disgrace for science and scientists.

    At the time, they said that there was no scientific evidence that masks (except N95) were effective. But that was false, there was ample evidence and many studies published in Asia on that topic. US scientists were guilty of the “Not Invented Here” syndrome. They ignored all evidence that did not originate in the USA by USA scientists.

    The next time you hear pundits trying to weaponize the phrase “follow the science”, keep this incident in mind. Scientists can be just as pig headed and head-in-the-sand as anyone else.

    1. “But that was false, there was ample evidence and many studies published in Asia on that topic. US scientists were guilty of the “Not Invented Here” syndrome.”
      That is a gross misrepresentation of the facts.

      “Scientists can be just as pig headed and head-in-the-sand as anyone else.”
      That is certainly true.

      1. Not only is it a gross misrepresentation, but at least one study I’m aware of out of Japan found no effect of mask wearing with respect to respiratory illness transmission. It’s not clear what studies he’s referencing – citations definitely needed.

    2. This anger is so wildly performative and out of proportion. The worst damage the recommendation did was it provided anti-maskers with ammunition that ‘Fauci lied’ or ‘chaged his mind’ and the real fault there lies on those eager to sabotage public health for their own political ends.

      1. I suppose Fauci lying DOES give people ammo for saying “Fauci lied”. But is that really the worst thing about Fauci lying, or is the lying the worst thing?

        1. Lying is bad, Brett. I was talking about outcomes.

  26. I don’t “follow the science”, because I’m not a scientist. Unless you are a scientist, you don’t either. What we are usually hectored to do is “follow [certain approved] scientists”. When we find that they have lied to us, as they did about masks at the beginning of the pandemic, our inclination to follow them is eroded.

    Still, I’ve “followed the scientists” and gotten my vaccine shots. I had no adverse reactions (I don’t recall ever having an adverse reaction to an innoculation; just lucky I guess). I still wear a mask and socially distance, even though I think it’s bad policy: If you tell people that they can stop masking and distancing if they get their shots, more people will get their shots. I know people who don’t wear masks when they’re supposed to — one of them is named Joe Biden — and I leave them alone. Other people than me have been selected by Heaven to call down divine judgement on the imperfect.

    1. “I still wear a mask and socially distance, even though I think it’s bad policy: If you tell people that they can stop masking and distancing if they get their shots, more people will get their shots.”

      That is a rich vein of stupidity.

  27. Eugene seems to often show his authoritarian (dare I say slightly bolshevik reasoning at times)..this is one example. I’ve found folks from Eastern Europe and Russia in particular to have a propensity against liberty and freedom…

  28. Meanwhile Biden is taking illegal immigrants with COVID and releasing them so they can travel throughout the country….

    https://www.foxnews.com/us/108-migrants-released-border-patrol-texas-positive-coronavirus

    1. Which is it, AL? Is COVID not a big deal and we should all reopen, or is it a big deal and we should start mandatory quarantines?

      1. Among other things, that’s a false dichotomy.

        But it illustrates the point nice. COVID is a “big deal” for liberals, and you need to “trust the science”…until it gets in the way of your liberal social priorities. Then…eh, whatever.

        1. No, AL, you’re the one with the double standard here.

          I think COVID is serious, but that mandatory quarantines are just not viable in America.
          That is consistent with supporting the policy you linked to.

          You, on the other hand, think COVID isn’t serious, but also that the policy you linked to is bad. That is not consistent – you need to choose one or the other.

          Get yourself straight, lest people think you’re a hypocrite.

          1. Come on, this isn’t hard….

            An illegal immigrant who actually has tested positive for COVID right now… Should NOT be allowed into the US, should NOT be allowed to get on a crowded bus and travel to every corner of the country.

            Why is this even a question? Why are you defending it?

  29. Politicians and so-called health experts and ‘scientists’ often lie, and are often wrong, or wrong headed. That’s why my initial take is always that when they say something they are being deliberately manipulative, and have an ulterior motive.

    It’s their own version of Taqiyya.

    They lying and flip-flopping about masks and safety regarding the virus when it first emerged, and continuing to this day, is stunning. Few could accurately recite Fauci’s current guidance, it changes so often.

    The climate science field is more religion than anything else. So little science, so much scam!

    The medical profession is morally bankrupt. You shouldn’t treat a mental disorder like gender dysphoria with hormones and surgery.

    The FDA is wrong more often than not, and since government involvement in health and nutrition the general public has become obese, and they have been wrong about dietary fiber, salt, cholesterol, fat, and so on.

    Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

    1. In conclusion: Trust Trump!

    2. It’s their own version of Taqiyya.

      Yes, lets include some Muslim-baiting from days of yore!

      Glad you know the science better than the scientists, due to the fact that scientists have sometimes been wrong and had to revise their understanding, unlike you who have never been wrong a day in your life.

  30. I mean, they didn’t do anything remotely resembling a normal clinical trials period. Previous standards tossed out the window. They know very little. I actually think the FDA should operate more like this, but the point is they know little by their own standard.

    But I liked how the first one came out and said 90% effective, Moderna I think. Then the next day Pfizer announces theirs and says 95%. Later that afternoon Moderna updates itself and says ours is 95%, too. SCIENCE! I F-ing love science.

    Step 1. Public use of masks is pointless, no evidence or science for it, only reason for it is to make people feel better, i.e. security theater. – Dr. Fauci

    Step 2, a few days later. Everyone must wear a mask. – Dr. Fauci

    Step 3. One day we’ll have a vaccine and can go back to normal. – Dr. Fauci

    Step 4. Might need to wear goggles too. – Dr. Fauci

    Step 5. Need to wear mask after having vaccine. Two masks, actually. – Dr. Fauci

  31. Jacobs, J. L. et al. (2009) “Use of surgical face masks to reduce the incidence of the common cold among health care workers in Japan: A randomized controlled trial,” American Journal of Infection Control, Volume 37, Issue 5, 417 – 419.

    N95-masked health-care workers (HCW) were significantly more likely to experience headaches. Face mask use in HCW was not demonstrated to provide benefit in terms of cold symptoms or getting colds.

    Cowling, B. et al. (2010) “Face masks to prevent transmission of influenza virus: A systematic review,” Epidemiology and Infection, 138(4), 449-456.

    None of the studies reviewed showed a benefit from wearing a mask, in either HCW or community members in households (H). See summary Tables 1 and 2 therein.

    bin-Reza et al. (2012) “The use of masks and respirators to prevent transmission of influenza: a systematic review of the scientific evidence,” Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 6(4), 257–267.

    “There were 17 eligible studies. … None of the studies established a conclusive relationship between mask/respirator use and protection against influenza infection.”

    Smith, J.D. et al. (2016) “Effectiveness of N95 respirators versus surgical masks in protecting health care workers from acute respiratory infection: a systematic review and meta-analysis,”

    “We identified six clinical studies … . In the meta-analysis of the clinical studies, we found no significant difference between N95 respirators and surgical masks in associated risk of (a) laboratory-confirmed respiratory infection, (b) influenza-like illness, or (c) reported work-place absenteeism.”

    Offeddu, V. et al. (2017) “Effectiveness of Masks and Respirators Against Respiratory Infections in Healthcare Workers: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 65, Issue 11, 1 December 2017, Pages 1934–1942,

    “Self-reported assessment of clinical outcomes was prone to bias. Evidence of a protective effect of masks or respirators against verified respiratory infection (VRI) was not statistically significant”

    Radonovich, L.J. et al. (2019) “N95 Respirators vs Medical Masks for Preventing Influenza Among Health Care Personnel: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” JAMA. 2019; 322(9): 824–833.

    “Among 2862 randomized participants, 2371 completed the study and accounted for 5180 HCW-seasons. … Among outpatient health care personnel, N95 respirators vs medical masks as worn by participants in this trial resulted in no significant difference in the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”

    Long, Y. et al. (2020) “Effectiveness of N95 respirators versus surgical masks against influenza: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” J Evid Based Med. 2020; 1- 9.

    “A total of six RCTs involving 9,171 participants were included. There were no statistically significant differences in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza, laboratory-confirmed respiratory viral infections, laboratory-confirmed respiratory infection, and influenza-like illness using N95 respirators and surgical masks. Meta-analysis indicated a protective effect of N95 respirators against laboratory-confirmed bacterial colonization (RR = 0.58, 95% CI 0.43-0.78). The use of N95 respirators compared with surgical masks is not associated with a lower risk of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”

    https://www.rcreader.com/commentary/masks-dont-work-covid-a-review-of-science-relevant-to-covide-19-social-policy

  32. It’s 2021 and a “D” is in office. Facts are over rated.

Please to post comments