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The mask slips

In today’s Sunday Times Camilla Long has a slight but amusing piece called “Jeffrey Toobin is caught with his pants down and he’s the victim? That’s a touch too much”. I realise that this audience would have little interest in the doings of the titular Toobin-

Oh, all right. Here it is:

If you thought the weak, the poor, the sick and the elderly had it bad during Covid, you might like to consider a new and extremely vulnerable and at-risk minority group: bored, rich, horny alpha males between the ages of 50 and 70 who have been shut away in their luxury triplexes with not a single sexy secretary or waitress to perve over.

In normal times these poor and lonely red-blooded millionaires wouldn’t go five minutes without putting their hands down their own pants or someone else’s — but now they must do everything for themselves, including, disastrously, setting up and managing Zoom calls.

My heart goes out, for example, to “the Tiger Woods of legal journalism” — Jeffrey Toobin — who was reported to have suffered some kind of extreme trouser event at his computer during a Zoom session with his colleagues at The New Yorker. During an “election simulation” — easy, fellas — with a radio station in which journalists assumed various roles, the 60-year-old writer — famous in America for his coverage of the OJ Simpson trial — apparently forgot to turn his camera off while his co-workers enjoyed a “strategy session” in “their respective breakout rooms”.

Toobin seemed to be “on a second video call”, said witnesses; when the groups returned, he had lowered the camera and was “touching his penis”. He then left the call, came back and, in the manner of someone who’s rarely been held accountable for anything — a boomer for whom life just falls into place — he seemed oblivious to the fact he’d destroyed his career, literally at a stroke.

Though as Ms Long points out later in the piece, working two jobs at once has not destroyed his career, because

…if there’s one group even more protected than a rich white alpha male in our society, it’s the rich white alpha male who hates Donald Trump.

All very amusing, but the last two paragraphs spoilt my mood:

It is true that the desperate scramble to shore up the hopeless Biden has reached extraordinary levels of deceit and manipulation — accounts are locked, reporting is pulled, likes and retweets seem to be managed.

Three months ago I myself got on the wrong side of Twitter’s political posturing by questioning whether masks worked — and my account is still down, with no response to appeals. If you think it’ll censor over that tiny issue, why not the presidential election?

My opinion is that masks probably do almost nothing to protect the wearer from Covid-19 and similar bugs, but they do confer significant protection to others. Feel free to discuss this question if it interests you, but I will not be participating in that particular debate. My uninformed opinion would add no value. And in any case the processing power that is available inside my head to think about any topic related to masks is entirely consumed by trying to deal with the revelation that Twitter censorship goes that far. I was naive. I did not know. Ms Long is quite wrong to call it a “tiny issue”. As with climate change, my now rather shaken belief in the “scientific consensus” was based on thinking it was a scientific consensus. I think it was Sir Peter Medawar in Advice to a Young Scientist who said that the dominance of the dominant hypothesis should be like that of a champion prizefighter: he is the champ because he has taken on and beaten all comers, and because he extends an open invitation to the whole world to displace him if they can.

But when people begin to suspect with good reason that the dominance of the dominant hypothesis is more like that of the champion golfer Kim Jong Il, it is no wonder that conspiracy theories spread like wildfire.

30 comments to The mask slips

  • bobby b

    “And in any case the processing power that is available inside my head to think about any topic related to masks is entirely consumed by trying to deal with the revelation that Twitter censorship goes that far.”

    Really? You didn’t know about this? They’re not even subtle about it anymore.

    I’m a fairly laid-back guy, who doesn’t engage in lots of hate-filled vitriol, and I’ve been perma-banned off of Twitter for months. Too much “targeting” of our Rep Ilhan Omar.

  • APL

    Natalie Solent: “My opinion is that masks probably do almost nothing to protect the wearer from Covid-19 and similar bugs, but they do confer significant protection to others.”

    No more than was traditionally afforded by carrying a hankerchief around in your pocket, and should you feel the need to cough or sneeze, you’d raise the hankerchief to your face and nose.

    Then, I can recall occasions where my sainted mother would pull her hankerchief from her handbag, spit on it and wipe an offending smudge from my face. Who would have thought, she was trying to kill me?

    Natailie Solient: ” Jeffrey Toobin caught with his pants down “

    Toobin, with his tubeout.

    Of a part with Hearvy Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Anthony Weiner, the Fraudsters daughter, what’s her face, associate of Epstein,

  • John

    I am reminded of the Virginia Governor Ralph Northam who recently called for an investigation into the Virginia Military Institute for its “clear and appalling culture of ongoing structural racism”.

    High level hubris there from a well-documented user of blackface who continues in high office and uses his position to preach about the shortcomings of others (see also Justin Trudeau).

    Toobin will be just fine. They’ve got his back.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    Is anyone aware of any study in the UK of the efficacy of masks? Specifically, a proper study with a control group. I have been unable to find one. I had to go to Denmark, but publication of the results has strangely been blocked.

    https://www.berlingske.dk/videnskab/professor-stort-dansk-maskestudie-afvist-af-tre-top-tidsskrifter

    English translation:

    Professor: Large Danish mask study rejected by three top journals

    The researchers behind a large and unique Danish study on the effect of wearing a mask are having great difficulty in getting their research results published. One of the participating professors in the study admits that the still secret research result could be perceived as ‘controversial’.

    For weeks, the media and researchers around the world have been waiting with increasing impatience for the publication of a large Danish study on the effect – or lack thereof – of wearing a mask in a public space during the corona pandemic.

    Now one of the researchers who has been involved in the study has said that the finished research result has been rejected by at least three of the world’s leading medical journals. These include the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Medical Association’s journal JAMA.

    “They all said no,” says the Chief Physician in the Research Department at North Zealand Hospital, Professor Christian Torp-Pedersen.

    However, the Professor does not wish to disclose the journals’ reasoning. “We cannot start discussing what they are dissatisfied with, because in that case we must also explain what the study showed – and we do not want to discuss that until it is published,” explains Christian Torp-Pedersen.

  • John in Indy

    Check the Sacred Cow Slaughterhouse site.
    SciFi author Michael Z Williamson has an article up collecting cases / studies on masks and their usefulness (non-).
    He doesn’t update that often, but I often enjoy reading an intelligent writer who takes no prisoners.
    John in Indy

  • llamas

    From the quote provided by Rodolph Hucker:

    ‘However, the Professor does not wish to disclose the journals’ reasoning. “We cannot start discussing what they are dissatisfied with, because in that case we must also explain what the study showed – and we do not want to discuss that until it is published,” explains Christian Torp-Pedersen.’

    Don’t worry, Professor – we’ve already figured out exactly what the study showed.

    llater,

    llamas

  • APL

    Rudolph Hucker: “Is anyone aware of any study in the UK of the efficacy of masks?”

    A study posted in the Samizdata archives that indicated fairly strongly, masks are counterproductive in the Surgical environment. No masks in the operating theatre led to a 50% drop in post operative infections during the trial.

    So, if you’re lying on the table with your belly open, you have a smaller chance of catching ‘MRSA’ or some other hospital acquired infection if your surgeon is not wearing a mask.

  • My opinion is that masks probably do almost nothing to protect the wearer from Covid-19 and similar bugs, but they do confer significant protection to others.

    I also had, and continue to have to some degree, this opinion, but my reasons are few and not so strong.

    1) Because I was told so: when the state switched from ‘masks are useless’ to ‘masks are mandatory’, this explanation was widely touted.

    2) Because, before I was told so, I questioned the earlier mantra that masks were useless. I recall posting about the famous ‘parachutes not double-blind-proven to affect chance of death when jumping from planes’ study, and certain similarities with the western masks-are-useless studies.

    3) APL above implies an argument from how we use handkerchiefs and hands to cover our mouths when we cough. In certain African countries, historically closer to the un-medicined reality of disease than we are, the social disapproval of coughing in a confined space was intense in my lifetime (and probably still is). There’s a commonsensicality about the idea of covering your mouth to confine a disease that makes you cough so it can spread to the person next to you.

    Obviously, twitter-banning, and the reported Danish study that journals reject (like the problems climate scientists had getting off-narrative results published) are excellent reasons to question reason (1). Reason (2) is an argument from negation – an alleged demonstration of the opposite view is unsafe. Reason (3) relies on the value of long-establish culture and of common sense. That is certainly something – but it is obviously not a scientific proof (and it is potentially vulnerable to new conditions, for example, wearing an unwashed mask for hours at a time is not the same as putting a handkerchief to your mouth when coughing).

  • Paul Marks

    Yes both the “mainstream” media and the Social Media companies (Facebook, Twitter – and, worst of all, GOOGLE) are using every dirty trick to make Mr Biden President.

    Not because they love him – on the contrary they despise Mr Biden as the utterly corrupt (and now senile) excuse for a man that he is. Mr Biden is just a puppet – even his slogan “Build Back Better” is just a slogan of the international establishment elite and is used in many countries.

    They do not even hide their objective anymore – they wish that every industry be like the BANKING industry, which is now utterly divorced from Real Savers (ordinary people) and dependent on Credit Bubble finance backed by government, for example Hollywood would love a system where what ordinary customers thought of films and television shows did-not-matter.

    These people, the government bureaucrats, “experts”, and Corporate Mangers, hate free competition and customer choice – why should they, the educated elite, dance to the tune of the common herd of ordinary customers?

    That is why they go to their international conferences (the World Economic Forum is only one venue – there are others) planning to utterly exterminate freedom and replace it with “Sustainable Development” (the Green New Deal – Agenda 21, Agenda 2030) and “Stakeholder Capitalism” – i.e. FASCISM where Big Business and Big Government come together to exterminate free competition and the freedom of choice of ordinary people.

  • Fraser Orr

    I’m not an epidemiologist, but from what I can see masks have at best a very, very miniscule benefit, and they only benefit when used properly, which they rarely are. (Of course medical grade masks worn by trained professionals, with proper, replaceable filters, are very much more effective.) In fact, my uninformed opinion is that masks might actually be in a small way detrimental to the wearer, since they trap virus particles inside the respiratory system.

    However, masks serve a completely different purpose in our society. Wearing a mask means “I take Covid seriously.” It is a badge, a symbol of the club you belong to. When Karen sees someone not wearing a mask and starts to rage against them, what is really going on there? Does Karen really think that person is assaulting her or endangering her? Not really, what is being assaulted is her beliefs about Covid. What is being communicated is not a virus, but a view that Covid isn’t serious.

    Moreover, and I think this is the real key to understanding it, Covid is a big scary thing (or has been made out so in every channel of communication available.) A invisible pestilence that we cannot see, hear or touch. A mask is a talisman, it makes people feel they are “doing something” against some vicious, pernicious enemy that is otherwise out of their control. It gives people a sense of control in a situation where they have in reality very little control.

    It really is like wearing garlic around your neck to protect against vampires, or a magic talisman to prevent the evil spirits killing your baby in the night. And the putative power of these artifacts is promised to you by the experts, shamans, priests, or in this case scientists.

    And scientists only have credibility when they are using the scientific method, but the virus is so eaten up by politics that science is merely a veneer of respectability rather than an actual process of truth discovery.

    FWIW, I do generally speaking wear a mask in public, not because I think it does any good, but it does ward off that most troublesome of pixies — Karen and her righteous lecture.

  • APL

    I went into the off license the other night. No mask, the shop assistant sidled up to me. I thought, ‘Here we go!!’ Instead he said how nice it was to see a human face. He also told me a member of the city’s stazi had reported him to management for not wearing a mask.

    I swear, I was that close to gifting the guy the bottle of whisky I had in my paws.

  • bobby b

    “A mask is a talisman, it makes people feel they are “doing something” against some vicious, pernicious enemy that is otherwise out of their control. It gives people a sense of control in a situation where they have in reality very little control.”

    Wear a mask and a MAGA hat at the same time. Heads will explode in indecision. (I think the talismanic value of the mask has less to do with the virus than with political affiliation.)

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    Wear a mask and a MAGA hat at the same time. Heads will explode in indecision. (I think the talismanic value of the mask has less to do with the virus than with political affiliation.)

    Yeah, I like that — a MAGA mask, it would indeed drive people nuts.

  • llamas

    Well, obviously Joe Biden doesn’t think masks are necessary or effective, and he’s deep into a high-risk group.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z10tvLskVw4

    llater,

    llamas

  • APL

    llamas: “Joe Biden doesn’t think masks are necessary or effective,”

    That public appearance drew all of two individuals on the other side of the playing field, that were it a Trump appearance might be expected to be seething with folk.

    And another thing. Biden a seven decades old man, what’s with the ‘fist bump’? Which he couldn’t even execute properly? Is that some sort of attempt to be down with the ethnic vote?

  • llamas

    @ APL – I counted. More people in the entourages than in the audience.

    To be fair, I think Biden was doing the elbow-tap greeting, not fumbling a fist-bump.

    But now he’s forgetting who he’s running against.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj0DRjlfvhw

    His wife has to sotto-voce his cues. Truly, this borders on elder abuse.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Jacob

    This dispute about masks is ridiculous.
    Lamentably, not everything we do is, or can be, unequivocally proven in a scientific way.
    Masks might help, that’s commonsense – and they are costless. So, wear a mask! (among strangers). You lose nothing.
    And Covid is dangerous, a million people+ have died of it. Stop denying the obvious.

    Here is what happened to me: a stranger approached me in the street (not wearing a mask), pushed his face close to mine and asked a question. I felt very uncomfortable.

  • Jacob

    It has not yet been proven, scientifically, that masks are useless… So wear one, just in case…

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @John

    Toobin will be just fine. They’ve got his back.

    So long as it’s just his back…

  • APL

    Jacob: “It has not yet been proven, scientifically, that masks are useless…”

    It has not yet been proven, scientifically, that masks are useful..”

    In fact as has been discussed ad nauseam at this venue, the type of mask is crucial to the purpose. The loose fitting elastically restrained mask – has no seal so 95% of the air breathed in or breathed out, goes around the mask. If the purpose of the mask is to filter out particles, then since only 5% of the air might go through the mask, to all intents and purposes, the mask is useless.

    Next point. The mask you are typically wearing, the ‘compulsory’ face mask, is utterly useless for the purpose. The weave of the material used is too large to filter anything but the larger particles, if it were any smaller, you probably wouldn’t be able to breath through it. For the purpose of capturing and removing virus particles from the airstream a cloth mask is .. rubbish. The ‘surgical’ mask I see people are wearing is probably the worst. ( Too much ER, or Scrubbs ) – And a rare point of agreement with NiV. People at large are pretty clueless, and that is largely the fault of the education system. Whereas NiV sees that as a feature to be exploited, I don’t.

    If you were actually serious about filtering out particulate matter or other agents in the air, you’d need something like this. Notice, the mask is clamped to your face, there is a seal all around the mask, by the way, if you wear a beard and are serious about keeping yourself virus free, you should shave it off.

    Jacob: “So wear one, just in case…”

    No, in my estimation, my risk of dying from COVID-19 is tiny, probably less than my risk of being seduced by Miss World. So, I will not wear one.

  • Jerry Musial

    You lost me at alpha male.

  • itellyounothing

    Whereas your risk from bacterial pneumonia goes up and thanks to mandated cloth masks…..

  • Plamus

    Rudolph Hucker, define efficacy. Is it filtering particles? If so, what size? Is it it reducing disease transmission in general? Is it reducing Covid-19 transmission? If so, is it in the short run (by reducing aerosol emission and/or inhalation) or in the long run (by slowing down herd immunity? Do most people wash their masks as frequently as they need to in order for any potential beneficial effects to materialize, and can you realistically expect them to?

    FWIW, here is a study that, unsurprisingly, shows that masks do filter certain particles. I do not think reading it brings us any closer to an informed opinion, but YMMV.

  • Paul Marks

    We are constantly told to “believe the tests” – fair enough then.

    The massive INCREASE in cases (according to the tests) in all the places that imposed mask mandates clearly shows (by the “logic” of the Collectivists themselves) that cloth MASKS DO NOT WORK against the virus.

    As for “the mask slipping” – today it was reported that “immunity only lasts a few months” – so we may all “need two injections a year”.

    This is exactly the totalitarian agenda (the agenda of total control of the population of this world) that the most “paranoid” people suggested at the very start of this crises in early 2020 – the agenda of “Bill” Gates (whose father was on the board of Planned Parenthood – the Eugenics and abortion outfit) and the other so called “Vaccine Criminals” of Big Business and Big Government with their Fascist (for it is Fascist) agenda of “Stakeholder Capitalism” – “Sustainable Development”. Big Business and Big Government coming together to exterminate free competition and the freedom of choice (in all aspects of life) of ordinary people.

    Now this totalitarian agenda has been confirmed (by Imperial College and other such) certain people need to apologise for everything they have written. Now it has been shown that, even if they did not formally develop the virus (although they may have done – in China, but with more than the Chinese dictatorship involved) the international elite have taken advantage of it (from the start) for their totalitarian agenda.

    Yes this does mean YOU Nullius. You need to apologise, and you need to apologise now.

    It may not make any “material difference” – but it is something you need to do, if you have a scrap of moral conscience left within you.

  • Jacob

    “No, in my estimation, my risk of dying from COVID-19 is tiny, probably less than my risk of being seduced by Miss World. So, I will not wear one.”

    Yes, but the probability of getting infected and passing on the infection to others is considerable. So, consider wearing.

  • Paul Marks

    Jacob – we are constantly told to “believe the tests”, very well then I will act on the assumption that the tests are true.

    In which care places (including here) that have introduced a mask mandate have seen a massive INCREASE in cases – so, by the “logic” of the Collectivists themselves, masks-do-not-work. Which is hardly a surprise considering that the holes in the fabric are vastly bigger than the virus.

    And drop “consider wearing” – when this is actually about THREATS OF VIOLENCE from the state. You remind me of Steve Baker (MP) who today “thanked” people for obeying government orders (as if we had any choice).

  • Paul Marks

    There is hope.

    Today there was yet another peer reviewed study showing that those medical doctors and university epidemiologists who said we had the means to deal with the virus (whether or not it was deliberately developed) were CORRECT.

    First obviously keep up your Vitamin D levels – and, as it is winter, this will mean taking a supplement.

    But if you do get the disease…..

    Go to a medical doctor at once (do NOT delay – do NOT follow the advise of the bureaucrats, especially if you are in a vulnerable group) and get EARLY treatment.

    The correct doses, prescribed by a medical doctor, of hydroxychloroquine, ZINC suphate, and (for non Covid problems that may hit the body in its weakened state) either azithromycin or doxycycline.

    Early treatment with cheap and well established medications is the key – NOT masks and lockdowns.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Today there was yet another peer reviewed study showing that those medical doctors and university epidemiologists who said we had the means to deal with the virus (whether or not it was deliberately developed) were CORRECT.”

    Excellent! Link?

  • APL

    Jacob: “Yes, but the probability of getting infected and passing on the infection to others is considerable. So, consider wearing.”

    Do me a favor and characterize ‘considerable’? Spokeswoman for the WHO said asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 is very rare. – Yes, she walked it back but then, she probably wanted to keep her extremely well paid job.

    Apart from the fact that I believe I had it in December/January, and therefor have a high chance I will have immunity now therefor unlikely* to be contagious. I have been in fucking quarantine for thirty weeks for a condition that has an incubation to death of four or so weeks. So, either Covid should be extinct or I should be dead by now. ( Clue, I’m not dead ).

    I have considered wearing a mask but dismissed the suggestion in this scenario, for the ignorant superstitious nonsense that it is.

    *If it was good enough for Neil Ferguson, then it’s good enough for me.

  • APL

    ” It is currently not clear what contribution T cell immunity and T cell memory responses will play in protective immunity during re-exposure.
    As such it is not possible to say with certainty that the loss of antibody positivivity would correlate with an increased risk of an individual
    being reinfected.” — Report – Professor Paul Elliot. ( Chairman in Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine – Imperial College )

    Talk Radio

    ” Why is everything exaggerated over-interbated [sic], why is fear promoted the way it is? Why can’t we look at things in a more ballanced way.
    I think its just a sort of group think hysteria that is going on at the moment and has been for some time …” — Professor Anthony Brookes ( University of Leicester )

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