COVID SCIENCE AND DATA ALERT!
FINALLY SOME EVIDENCE THAT MASKS WORK
This is a bit long but it’s my last mask post, promise. So if you’ve read any of my posts over the last 10 months, you know I am, let’s say, skeptical at best that face masks do anything for anybody in the way of mitigating the spread of the evil coronavirus. I have repeatedly shared actual SCIENCE AND DATA showing through both the existing literature of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs, previous to 2020 recognized as the “Gold Standard” of scientific endeavor) and empirical evidence (with pictures of cool graphs to prove it) that there is no actual science to support the use of masks and certainly not with the imperative with which mask-wearing has been ordered and supported. I recently posted a couple of pieces showing the natural decline in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths (irrespective of masks, lockdowns, vaccines, or political leaders) and then a piece comparing North and South Dakota which again proved no noticeable difference in the daily infection curves of the two states with one masking up and installing some business restrictions and the other taking no actions at all. In response to these recent posts I received from readers several articles or studies “proving” masks work. So I read them, and lo and behold, they actually showed that masks work…NOT! Sorry for the clickbait subtitle but I hope that if you have gotten this far and are now angry that I tricked you and you are of the pro-mask camp and you hate stupid, selfish, science-denying grandma-killers that you will please exercise some intellectual curiosity and continue to read on. We good? Good. Let’s move on.
The first article I received was one touting that masks provably work, which referred to a Duke University study as its evidence of said proof. That study used fancy laser beams and a cell phone to prove that masks reduce particulate flow from the mouth when talking. And in fact, they do exactly that. The only problem is, that study had nothing at all to do with viral transmission or the reduction thereof. This type of study (and there a plenty of them out there) looks at a particular endpoint (in this case reduction of particulate matter through mask use) to determine the efficacy of that particular intervention. The Duke study simply looked at 14 different types of masks to determine which was best at the desired endpoint – reduced particulate flow. The problem is, that experiment says absolutely nothing about the actual reduction of viral transmission in the real world, or anywhere else for that matter. They don’t address it at all. But because everybody “knows” masks work, you get headlines like: “Masks Save Lives: Duke Study Confirms Which Ones Work Best” To be clear, The World Health Organization states in their pandemic guideline book published in October of 2019, just before the world went completely to hell, that in reference to mask wearing (all capitalizations from here on are my emphasis) “Ten RCT’s were included in the meta-analysis, and there was NO EVIDENCE that face masks are effective in reducing transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.” But they do also state “Although there is NO EVIDENCE that this is effective in reducing transmission, there is mechanistic plausibility for the potential effectiveness of this measure.” We will revisit this concept of mechanistic plausibility, more commonly interpreted as the “precautionary principle” in a bit. But suffice it to say, Duke Study as evidence that masks work to reduce viral transmission: Debunked!
The next proof I received from a concerned reader was “Community Use of Facemasks and COVID-19: Evidence From A Natural Experiment Of State Mandates In The US”. The take home line here is (referring to analyses of RCT’s of mask-wearing) “Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of such studies have provided suggestive, although generally weak, evidence.6” First of all, kudos to the author for a rare moment of fairness in describing the “evidence” correctly. However, when you go to the footnote (superscript 6), upon which this statement is based, it takes you to a British Medical Journal (BMJ) paper entitled “Face masks for the public during the covid-19 crisis”. This paper is an analysis piece looking at meta-analyses of mask-wearing. Essentially, it’s an analysis of other author’s analyses of other author’s papers. The take home from this piece is “A pooled meta-analysis found NO SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION in influenza... They also identified seven studies conducted in households; four provided masks for all household members, one for the sick member only, and two for household contacts only. NONE SHOWED A SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION in laboratory confirmed influenza in the face mask arm. The authors concluded: “randomized controlled trials of [face masks] DID NOT SUPPORT a substantial effect on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”10 Citing another paper in the BMJ analysis: “The evidence is NOT SUFFICIENTLY STRONG to support the widespread use of facemasks as a protective measure against covid-19”11 I’m done wit dis guy (shout out My Cousin Vinny). Evidence from this paper that masks work to reduce viral transmission: Debunked!
The next one was sent by a friend who emailed me a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) which purported to again “prove” masks work. You know this one is important because they have the word “Academy” right there in their name, and I must admit I cannot find this one in my notes so I cannot go into detail but it started out almost immediately recommending cloth masks. As you will know if you’ve read any of my rantings (see my blog “Masks: The Emperor Has No Clothes” from September), the only RCT ever done on cloth masks (2015) showed they did worse than surgical masks and even worse than people whom sometimes didn’t wear masks at all. They did so poorly that the authors said “Cloth masks resulted in SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER RATES of infection than medical masks, and also PERFORMED WORSE than the control arm…as a precautionary measure, cloth masks SHOULD NOT BE RECOMMENDED...” Also, if you’ve been paying attention, Germany and now France have banned cloth masks because…well… they don’t do anything. Evidence from this study that masks work to reduce viral transmission: Debunked!
The last one is the best. It also comes from the PNAS and is titled “Face masks considerably reduce COVID-19 in Germany”. Since it comes from the same really important sounding organization as the previous one, I hope you will consider my critiques of this piece as being in the same spirit as essentially applying to that one as well, even though I did not delve into that one as thoroughly. I know this rant is already too long for most so I’ll try to keep it short (pictures coming up soon) but this is important stuff for those who are actually intellectually curious and trying to ascertain the truth. Here it goes.
This one starts out “The usefulness of facial protection for clinical personnel is beyond dispute, even though there are many questions left open (1).” First of all, that is a lie. I can and have shown you plenty of evidence (see RCT’s above as well as historical evidence) disputing quite clearly protection for clinical personnel. Although, at least the authors are honest enough to admit there are “many questions left open”. The authors continue “There is a general perception in Germany that the mandatory use of face masks in public reduces COVID-19 incidences considerably. This perception stems mainly from the city of Jena. After face masks became mandatory between 1 April and 10 April 2020 the number of new infections fell almost to zero. Jena is not the only region in Germany, however, that introduced face masks. Six further regions made masks compulsory before the introduction at the federal state level. Eventually, face masks became mandatory in all federal states between 20 April and 29 April 2020.” And “A detailed analysis of the timing of all public health measures in the regions we study GUARANTEES that we correctly attribute our findings to face masks (and not erroneously to other public health measures).” Continuing, “Our findings indicate that the early introduction of face masks in Jena has resulted in a drop in newly registered COVID-19 cases of around 75% after 20 d.” Well, case closed I guess. That “Academy” thing and all. But then the BS starts to become more apparent. Better put on your boots. “Ref. 11 surveys evidence on the POPULATION IMPACTS OF A WIDESPREAD COMMUNITY MASK USE AND STRESSES THAT ‘NO RANDOMIZED CONTROL TRIALS ON THE USE OF MASKS … HAS BEEN PUBLISHED.’ The study which is ‘THE MOST RELEVANT PAPER’ for ref. 11 is one that analyzed ‘exhaled breath and coughs of children and adults with acute respiratory illness’ (ref. 12, p. 676), that is, used a clinical setting. Concerning the effect of masks on community transmissions, the survey needs to rely on pre–COVID-19 studies.” First, both these citations (11 & 12) are mechanistic studies – we’ve gone over this before, they have absolutely no bearing on viral transmission in the real world. None. Second, if you’re relying on “pre-COVID-19 studies”, I’ve showed you multiple times that there is no evidence for mask efficacy and the authors themselves admit that authors who’ve actually done the work “STRESS” there is no evidence. But enough wordplay, let’s get down to the good old facts; what some might even call SCIENCE AND DATA!
Here’s one of the cool, and very convincing graphics in this piece:
While “Face masks became mandatory in Jena in three steps between 1 and 10 April.” The authors state “The most IMPORTANT MEASURE (in the sense of having the largest impact measured in terms of social contacts) requires face masks in public transports and shops and entered into force on 6 April. We therefore center our discussion on this date.” You will notice in the graph on the left the April 6 introduction of face masks and then by April 9 or maybe 10 the curve deflects and flattens out. There you have it, proof that masks work. Excceeept, as we have discussed previously, it is not possible to see that kind of effect from masks in that short a time (3-4 days). It would take at the very least 10-14 days to see an effect in the case count. The authors acknowledge this themselves when they state “Our findings indicate that the early introduction of face masks in Jena has resulted in a drop in newly registered COVID-19 cases of around 75% AFTER 20 D.” So there’s that. But maybe you look at the graph on the right and see that the campaign actually was announced on March 30, so if you assume that EVERYONE in Jena PROACTIVELY masked up the day the mask order was announced (instead of phased in over 10 days as the authors acknowledge), it’s feasible that by April 10 (10 days later), the deflection in the curve could be from mask wearing. There you have it, proof that masks work. Exccceeeppttt for some pesky facts. And by the way, that dashed line in the graphs above, the “synthetic control unit” which is used to compare the effect of masks in Jena with other places without masks, is a completely made up, statistically modeled piece of hokum. Again, if you look at my previous post on the Dakotas, you will see real life evidence of no difference in masks vs. no masks, but you know, “Academy” and all that stuff.
Here we see, as published in this study, when different parts of Germany masked up:
And here we see the Daily Case counts in Germany (I’ve added the vertical lines):
Please, I’m begging you, notice what’s going on here. By the time the mask order was implemented (by the authors’ own acknowledgement) on April 6, the case count in Germany had already passed its peak and had declined naturally by 11%. By the 10th (the end of the phase in of masks and the date of the flattening of the curve in Jena) the national case count had dropped by 24%. The authors state that “As a means to verify the generalizability of our findings for Jena, we move from a single- to a multiple-treatment approach and estimate average treatment effects of introducing face masks on the spread of COVID-19 for all regions that introduced masks BY 22 APRIL (about 8% OF ALL GERMAN REGIONS).” So they look at their “data” for Jena and a few other small cities, and extrapolate for the whole country using all kinds of mathematical gymnastics. Oh, researchers love their mathematical gymnastics. The problem with that is, if you take the three cities (Jena, Nordhausen, Rottweil – quite a bit less than the 8% noted by April 22) that could possibly have any effect on the curve by April 22, what you are being asked to believe, or more directly, what you are being TOLD to believe, is that three cities with a total population of about 183,000 people, who all just put masks on in the previous five to eighteen days, had the power to drop the daily new case count in a country of some 83,000,000 people by 61%. Wow! Thems some powerful masks!! Also notice that by the time the vast majority of Germans masked up (April 27) the case count had already dropped by 71%, naturally. Also please notice no discernable deflection in the curve (you know, like the one the authors showed you with the flattened curve in Jena) to show where masks had ANY effect on slowing cases nationally. The curve goes up, the curve comes down, in a nice smooth line. Just like every other community viral infection. This is the thing all these geniuses fail to recognize. So maybe the authors accounted for other mitigation activities like social distancing or lockdowns (another complete waste of time) but they (always) seem to forget to account for the natural progression and subsequent regression of the virus itself. Well isn’t that special? (shout out Church Lady) What makes more sense? That the natural decline of cases shown in the graph above accounted for whatever decrease they think they saw in Jena (and erroneously attributed to masks), or that one town of 111,000 people drove a national decline of 24% for 80,000,000 people in 10 days?
Honestly, I cannot imagine how much more proof one could need to understand that we have been manipulated by garbage science for the better part of a year now. If you cannot look at the evidence above and realize that every article or study you have seen over the last year concerning almost every aspect of the coronavirus is all but complete bunk, I don’t know what to tell you. They are ALL either mechanistic studies (which say nothing at all about actual viral transmission) or observational studies, which have long been known to be the weakest form of science (to put it politely), or perhaps worse still, they’re models that predict what could, would, might, or should happen. How are those models working out (shout out Joe Biden and “250,000 more Americans dead by January”) So instead of telling you anymore, I’ll now ask you some things. One. How or why, exactly, do you “know” masks work to prevent the spread of coronavirus? Really, how? Think about it honestly, if I had asked this question just over a year ago, there aren’t 10 people in the country who could’ve given me an educated opinion of the efficacy of masks to prevent respiratory viral spread. Most people would’ve just said “I dunno”. Now, everybody “knows” that masks are a “gamechanger” (shout out Gov. Murphy). The reason everybody “knows” this is because that’s what we’ve been told (supported by all kinds of junk “science”) for almost a year. This of course after the Great and Powerful Fauci told us not to wear masks, that they don’t do anything. Then his tune changed. And if you look up why he changed his tune you’ll be told because “new evidence” came to light and we’re just “following the science”. That’s also complete bunk. Fauci knew then and knows now damn well that the understanding of mask technology has been known for decades. Two, ask yourself what possible “new evidence” could have come to light between March and April of this year that could possibly change Fauci’s opinion from “don’t bother” to “you must”. And now it’s two or even three masks. But notice Fauci says “So if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes COMMON SENSE that it LIKELY would be more effective”. He’s a slippery little bugger, always equivocating, never committing. Three, what “new evidence” came to light just in the last month that now indicates two or three masks are better than one? And since when is one mask only 50% effective with two being 75% and three being 90%? I never heard any mention of one mask not being suitable until about a month ago. What happened there? Oh yeah, new “science” came to light. If you believe that, I have a really cool tiger-repelling rock in my yard I’d like to sell you (shout out Lisa Simpson). In closing, there seems to me to be three basic kinds of mask wearers. The first is people like me who only wear masks because they must if they want to function in society at the moment. The second group is people who follow and believe the “experts”, and because of what the experts and the studies say, they wear masks because as a friend put it, their “prosocial” values surpass their sense of autonomy. To them, masks are “known” to work (by the science) and so in the interest of saving grandma, they wear them. Because they know masks work…according to the science. And the third is people who may not necessarily follow the experts, but they believe masks must, as a friend has said, “do more than zero” to help protect people. It’s intuitive. If masks restrict particulate flow (and they do), they must, even if it’s just a little bit, slow viral spread. This harkens back to the “precautionary principle” we discussed earlier. None of these positions is entirely unreasonable (well, maybe the one that believes in the “science”) and my objection is really to the overblown emphasis, importance, and faith we have put in masks to save us, and the lies we have been told to support that position, at the expense of real actions that I believe would be much more efficacious (mainly metabolic health – a story for another day). And the real problem is the ever-present crackpot who will scream at a child and tell them they hope little junior dies because he’s not wearing a mask (you know who you are). For all of you who are convinced that masks are the answer, I wonder if you ever even considered the possibility that what you think you “know” might be wrong. Probably not. So here’s my final question for all you mask devotees. If you fall in to group two or three, that is you wear your mask either because the “experts” tell you to because that’s what the science says, or because masks must, logically do something, then why are you not now wearing three masks? The experts have now said that two masks are better than one, and three are better than two, and it is intuitive to believe this to be true (and Fauci says so) so why aren’t you wearing three? It’s a legit question. I have heard every possible argument as to why my position on masks (based on the actual SCIENCE AND DATA) is wrong, I have watched people twist themselves into Gordian Knots to try to explain away the evidence (unsuccessfully), and now I’m curious why you’re not wearing three, or at least two masks. If you’re a mask believer (and again, you know who you are), then if you’re not wearing three masks you are engaged in what is called cognitive dissonance (doing something inconsistent with your stated beliefs), which is a fancy way of saying intellectual dishonesty. Seems to me that if you think people like me are stupid, selfish, science-denying, grandma-killers because we don’t “believe the science” then it is an imperative, that you MUST be wearing three masks (according to the experts and common sense). You certainly don’t owe me an explanation. As I always say, you do you. But I’d be curious as to what logic you use to explain this one away. Asking for a friend.