Are you ready to wear masks forever? Some are, but their positive attitude toward masks is likely the result of misleading and false information. The resulting magical thinking about masks has sparked one of the most polarized debates in U.S. history, leading to mask opponents being labeled “granny killers.”
Masks Have Little, If Any, Effectiveness
To be clear, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has blatantly lied about the effectiveness of masks. On November 5, 2021, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky tweeted, “Masks can reduce the risk of COVID19 infection by more than 80%.
But as Vinay Rasad, MD, MPH, a hematologist and oncologist and associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California at San Francisco, put it at the Brownstone Institute, “I don’t know how to put this politely, but it’s a lie, and a really incredible one … The idea that masks could reduce the likelihood of infection by 80% is simply untrue, implausible, and cannot be supported by any reliable data.
Walensky did not cite any sources for her claim that masks reduce COVID-19 infections by 80%, but a large study4 by researchers from Yale, Stanford, and the University of California Berkeley found far less impressive results with masks.
The study involved 342,183 people from 600 villages in rural Bangladesh from November 2020 to April 2021. In villages that received masks, the number of symptomatic COVID-19 infections was 9.3% lower compared to villages without masks, and 11% lower in villages that received surgical masks instead of cloth masks.
So why wasn’t Walensky’s tweet flagged as misinformation and targeted by “fact checkers” who exposed the blatant lie? Rasad posted a tweet from Carnegie Mellon University mathematician Wesley Pegden that said:
The head of the agency responsible for providing Americans with accurate and trustworthy information about interventions (like vaccines) that we know are truly effective should not also be making bogus quantitative statements to support poorly proven interventions.
Antibiotic-Resistant Pathogens Live on Face Masks
Although face masks are repeatedly recommended or mandated, little is said about the risks associated with covering the mouth and nose with fabric or other materials. Both cotton and surgical masks collect pathogens that can increase the risk of infectious disease – a factor rarely considered when discussing their merits.
When researchers from the University of Antwerp, Belgium, analyzed the microbial community on surgical and cotton face masks from 13 healthy volunteers after they had been worn for four hours, bacteria such as Bacillus, Staphylococcus and Acinetobacter were found – 43% of which were antibiotic-resistant.
To best rid the masks of the bacteria, they were boiled at 100 degrees Celsius, washed at 60 degrees Celsius with detergent or ironed with a steam iron, according to the study. However, only 21% of respondents reported cleaning their cotton masks daily. The researchers stated, “Taken together, this study suggests that the bacteria in the masks are best removed.
Overall, this study suggests that a significant number of bacteria, including pathological and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, accumulate on surgical face masks and even more on cotton face masks after use. Based on our findings, facial masks should be properly disposed of or sterilized after intensive use. Clear guidelines for the general population are critical to reduce the bacteria-related biosecurity risk of face masks …
Researchers from Germany similarly questioned whether a mask that covers the nose and mouth is “free of undesirable side effects” and potential hazards in daily use.
It turns out that this is not the case, and instead significant adverse effects and pathophysiological changes occur, including the following, which often occur in combination:
- Increase in dead space volume
- Increase in breathing resistance
- Increase of carbon dioxide content in blood
- Decrease of oxygen saturation in blood
- Increase in heart rate
- Decrease in cardiopulmonary capacity
- Feeling of exhaustion
- Increase in respiratory rate
- Difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- Dolor de cabeza
- Feeling of dampness and heat
- Decreased empathy
- Impaired skin barrier function with acne, itching and skin lesions
Mask-induced Fatigue Syndrome Is Widespread
The study referred to this symptom complex as mask-induced exhaustion syndrome (MIES) and warned that children, pregnant women, and people who are ill or have certain chronic conditions may be particularly at risk from prolonged masking. Short-term effects include microbiological contamination, headaches, fatigue, carbon dioxide retention and skin irritation, while long-term effects can lead to chronic problems:
According to the facts and correlations we found, prolonged mask wearing could induce a chronic sympathetic stress response triggered by blood gas changes and controlled by brain centers. This, in turn, induces and triggers immunosuppression and metabolic syndrome with cardiovascular and neurological disease.
They go on to say, “It can be assumed,” they write, “that the potential adverse mask effects described for adults apply all the more to children. … physiologic internal, neurologic, psychological, psychiatric, dermatologic, ENT, dental, sociologic, occupational, microbiologic, and epidemiologic adverse effects….
The masks currently used for children are exclusively adult masks, manufactured in smaller geometric dimensions and neither tested nor approved specifically for this purpose.
Again, taking on these unknown risks – both short and long term – to wear masks is highly questionable benefit and is intended to ward off a pathogen that has a low fatality rate for most populations:
Recent studies of SARS-CoV-2 show both significantly lower infectivity and case-fatality than previously thought, calculating that the mean corrected infection mortality rate (IFR) was 0.10% in locations with a lower than average global population COVID-19 mortality rate.
In early October 2020, WHO also publicly announced that projections show that COVID-19 is fatal in about 0.14% of those who become ill, compared to 0.10% for endemic influenza – also a much lower rate than expected. On the other hand, the side effects of masks are clinically relevant.
The Mask of Your Enslavement
It is clear that the evidence for the physical protection from disease provided by masks is lacking, while their potential for psychological harm is immense. The Brownstone Institute highlighted the story of folk saint Escrava Anastácia, a slave of African descent who lived in Brazil in the 19th century.
She was forced to wear a metal mask that looked like a muzzle during her lifetime to prevent her from speaking out about the oppression and injustice she faced. Roberto Strongman, associate professor of Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, writes:
The emergence of Anastásia at anti-enclosure rallies presents an opportunity to understand contemporary medical tyranny as a form of enslavement and to forge bonds of solidarity among communities whose freedom is threatened across racial groups. The claim of co-optation deserves to be unpacked because a legitimate claim of cultural usurpation could easily lead to the shattering of important alliances in a model of divide and conquer.
Although there are clear specificities between the suffering of Africans under the system of slavery and the deprivation of civil liberties endured by most citizens around the world during the current pandemic, Anastásia reminds us of certain transhistorical constants in the process of dehumanizing and subjugating populations by gagging and muzzling their bodies to suppress their protests.
Strongman pointed to several indisputable reasons why face mask mandates “turn citizens into slaves” and act as symbols of enslavement. These include:
- Lead to oxygen deprivation and promote a state of physical and mental weakness
- Are symbols of submission and are used as part of the master-slave dynamic
- Enforce the creation of a barracked culture
- They erase personality and homogenize the masses – “The collectivized wearing of masks leads to a forced uniformity in which the individual as a neo-metacitizen gives way to the nameless collectivity.”
- They are theatrical and conceal identities, make us strangers to others and ourselves
- Erase facial expressions and inhibit nonverbal communication, including that necessary for social organization that can lead to revolution
- Reduce verbal performance
- Are visible signs of allegiance to the “system of medical-technocratic control”.
- Are part of preparing individuals for new social roles – “However temporary the current regime of face concealment may be, the population must come to terms with the fact that we are being forced to undergo a rite of passage, a process of resocialization into the new normal.”
- Promoting a culture of fear
- Deterring solidarity by making the neighbor a “nameless pathogen rather than an ally”
Magical thinking about Masks
The CDC not only lies, but makes nonsensical statements like this, “Cloth masks won’t protect you from wildfire smoke … They can’t catch small, harmful particles in the smoke that can harm your health.
But we’re supposed to believe they protect us from an aerosolized virus? “The virus is 25 times smaller than a smoke particle,” writes Steve Kirsch, executive director of the Vaccine Safety Research Foundation. “So it’s like trying to stop a mosquito with a chain-link fence.
Yet magical thinking – the belief that you can influence outcomes by doing something that has no causal relationship to them – persists. Robert Dingwall, a consulting sociologist, questioned why the U.K. health authority’s expert panel used only a second-rate evidence base that showed no clear benefits on which to base its conclusion that community face masks help reduce transmission. He wrote:
The state of the face mask debate is much as if Galileo had published his account of the heliocentric universe and then inserted a paragraph at the end telling the reader to ignore all the evidence because the Church had declared that everything revolved around the Earth.
In the absence of better quality work – and we have to wonder why this research has not been done – some of the claims about face masks look much more like magical thinking than anything that shows the kind of casual connection that might be recognizable as science.
As the pandemic continues to spread, the science continues to be ignored, and recommendations are made based primarily on emotional justifications and triggers. If the science were actually followed, universal mask-wearing for healthy people would not – and could not – be recommended.
Initially, health authorities actually discouraged masks for healthy people, but eventually – early on – they changed tack. And why? According to Strongman:
Just as masks function as boundary artifacts in rites of passage and as part of animal training, these Covid masks are harbingers of yet another intrusion on our integrity.
Wearing the masks is only one step away from receiving the vaccinations, then accepting the vaccination passports and implantable neural connections until the original personality is buried by a cyborg. The masks act as an empirical test for the acceptance of future physical control technologies. Where will you draw the line?