We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

It has been a well-known fact for the past hundred years that masks are useless against viral transmission. All one has to do is contrast the moon-suits used in virology labs with the “bandana across the face” to understand how actual protection works. I’ve designed military NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical) filtration systems (that I still cannot discuss) and the difference between those and the relatively simple gas turbine filter systems is enormous.

And yet the discussions in the lame-stream media all center on “when can we take our masks off”, rather than the central question of, “do masks perform any positive function in preventing or slowing the spread of viral diseases”. The Danish study alone (more than 6,000 people) of the ‘rona puts the lie to the latter. Every single study done has shown that non-rated cloth and paper masks have no positive effect, and have many negative effects. Hypoxia is only one of them; the negative effects also include higher rates of other infections, including bacterial and fungal. Major dental issues are also now arising from chronic mask use. Despite that, many of the government-funded studies conclude that, “masks should be worn anyway, mostly for the psychological benefit”. I guess that’s now considered “sciencey”.

This despite the fact that places that underwent lockdowns and mask mandates suffered higher infection rates and death rates than those without mandates.

– Commenter Blackwing1

61 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Fred Z

    I doubt there are many journalists that ever had any possibility of success in any of the rigorous academic or professional fields. Nobody was offering them places at some school of nuclear physics.

    They are almost entirely 2nd and 3rd rate minds, or worse.

    I can’t imagine a modern journalist understanding anything involving mathematics beyond simple arithmetic.

  • JohnK

    Fred:

    True enough, but it isn’t the journalists making us wear masks under the threat of prison is it? It is government which does that, advised by people who are “real” scientists. That is the true corruption. The secondary corruption of the MSM is, in this context, a lesser matter.

  • Sigivald

    Hypoxia?

    I need more than “some guy saying some study says so” to buy a hypoxia claim from a cloth face-mask.

    (Real rated masks are finer mesh. They necessarily restrict airflow MORE. Yet nurses and doctors do not get hypoxia from wearing them for hours, well-fitted.

    Thus … “your everyday cloth mask causes hypoxia” is an extraordinary claim requiring serious evidence.)

    (And frankly I’m gonna need more for “NO effect on viral disease transmission”.

    I can easily believe “not much effect”; “none” borders on implausible, as any two-layer close-weave cloth mask kinda has to stop many droplets and such.)

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    Should the state mandate mask wearing? That’s easy: no.

    Do masks have any beneficial effect? Ugh, I’m going to have to go and read some research papers to find out. The impression I’ve formed up to now is pretty much what Sigivald is saying: there is probably some reduction in transmission of respiratory disease. It might even outweigh any downsides.

    fullfact.org point out that the Danish study looked at rates of mask wearers catching disease but not on transmission as a whole. Logically I can see how the distinction could be important.

    So I don’t yet know, but I don’t see it as a political position. Government should not mandate it regardless. They should not mandate lockdowns regardless. They should not impede the economy to save the planet from global warming, either. It’s entirely separate from the question of whether global warming is real or not.

    Except that I can see how global warming is convenient for people who want the state to meddle in the economy, and therefore how incentives to produce the right kind of research might come about.

    It seems less likely that similar forces are at work wrt mask wearing. I don’t see any big winners whether masks turn out to be effective or not.

  • bobby b

    “Hypoxia?”

    I’ll repeat something I said in an earlier thread.

    ” . . . my 86-year-old father who has COPD has to take his mask off in order to walk up a flight of stairs. Without the mask he has no problem. With the mask he has to sit down on the top stair and try to catch his breath.”

    His doctor tells him this is common.

  • mmacg

    JohnK

    The media have been in the vanguard cheerleading the doomnfearmongering, stoking panic and whipping up the frenzy that panicked governments into lockdown.

    In March 2020, everyone faced a challenging uncertain situation.
    The media utterly failed its duty and responsibility to refrain from exaggeration and doomnfearmongering, to maintain a sense of proportion, to strongly challenge the prophets of doom, to not become the partners and cheerleaders of the doomnfearmongers and so promote and spread panic.

    In emergencies, panic is contagious. It can be contained if responsible persons act quickly to calm the panic. But when those who would attempt to calm the panic are shouted down by the reckless media doomnfearmongers, delinquent of their duty to provide responsible information and leadership, the panic exploded.

  • mmacg

    I have posted this before:

    https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/covid-19-face-masks-community-first-update.pdf

    European Centre for Disease Prevention and Cont
    Using face masks in the community: first update Effectiveness in reducing transmission of COVID-19. 15 February 2021

    Assessment of the evidence
    The evidence regarding the effectiveness of medical face masks for the prevention of COVID-19 in the community is compatible with a small to moderate protective effect, but there are still significant uncertainties about the size of this effect. Evidence for the effectiveness of non-medical face masks, face shields/visors and respirators in the community is scarce and of very low certainty.

    Translation from Bureaucratese: There is bugger all evidence that face mask or covering in the community have any positive effect.

    Amongst its recommendations:

    Based on the assessment of the available scientific evidence, no recommendation can be made onthe preferred use of medical or non-medical face masks in the community.

  • Dave Ward

    Not become the partners and cheerleaders of the doomnfearmongers and so promote and spread panic

    There’s a simple explanation for that – the government, in the shape of Public Health England, are now the largest buyer of advertising in the country. Since “traditional” media revenues are falling, it’s hardly surprising that the “lame-stream media” are happy to take what ever they can get, and also not surprising that they will spout whatever crap their paymasters want.

    It’s also worth considering that the WHO and most senior medical advisers were not in favour of masks up until June last year. Then there was an abrupt about-turn, without any scientific evidence given to support it. Apparently the WHO, when questioned about the change, admitted they had come under considerable political pressure! Draw your own conclusions…

  • Jon Eds

    They even advertise in the breaks during Julia Hartley-Brewer’s show on TalkRadio (for non-UK readers she is probably the most successful anti-lockdown radio host. Sadly she’s also a vaccine booster, boom tish, as it is ‘a way out of this’). I guess that might lead you to conclude that the advertising money is not influencing the editorial message. Or it might just mean that whoever buys the advertising space didn’t do their research. Very possible!

  • Thylacine

    I need more than “some guy saying some study says so” to buy a hypoxia claim from a cloth face-mask.

    Are you saying putting a mesh over your mouth doesn’t reduce the flow rate of air? Clearly it does & it doesn’t require a peer reviewed paper to prove it. So, if you have asthma or just low lung capacity for a wide range of reasons, even such as a poor fitness, how can wearing a face mask not cause issues even when doing something like walking up stairs? I’m not ill but I am 64. I can’t walk up a significant flight of stairs with a face mask on without gasping, so I don’t.

    (Real rated masks are finer mesh. They necessarily restrict airflow MORE. Yet nurses and doctors do not get hypoxia from wearing them for hours, well-fitted.

    Doctors and nurses use them & dispose of them after each use, treating them as clinical waste, and typically going through several per day. They don’t wear them walking down a street or in non-clinical settings.

  • Blackwing1

    Re: Sigivald

    I regret that your disregard for basic airflow physics has led you to this erroneous conclusion. A few millisecond search of the ‘net for papers on mask-induced hypoxia should probably lead off with this (unless, of course, you’re using Google or some other search engine dedicated to hiding this information):

    https://ratical.org/PandemicParallaxView/Bader-SurgMaskIndDeoxygen.pdf

    The study was as follows:

    Objectives. This study was undertaken to evaluate whether the surgeons’ oxygen saturation of hemoglobin was affected by the surgical mask or not during major operations.
    Methods. Repeated measures, longitudinal and prospective observational study was performed on 53 surgeons using a pulse oximeter pre and postoperatively.
    Results. Our study revealed a decrease in the oxygen saturation of arterial pulsations (SpO2) and a slight increase in pulse rates compared to preoperative values in all surgeon groups. The decrease was more prominent in the surgeons aged over 35.
    Conclusions. Considering our ndings, pulse rates of the surgeon’s increase and SpO2 decrease after the rst hour. This early change in SpO2 may be either due to the facial mask or the operational stress. Since a very small decrease in saturation at this level, reflects a large decrease in PaO2, our findings may have a clinical value for the health workers and the surgeons.

    Note that this particular study was concerned with surgeons performing operations, typically while standing upright. This is not even as physically challenging as taking a walk, although it is notably more stressful. This is merely one of dozens of papers written prior to the Covidiocy with regard to hypoxia due to masks. Note that many papers believe that the hypoxia is not caused as much by a reduction in airflow as it may be caused by the massive increase in the exhaled carbon dioxide being trapped behind the mask.

    But just as a reminder, in real life (where most of us live) the increase in pressure drop across a porous media goes up as the square of the flow rate (what we’ve actually found is that due to system effect, Δp = KQ^n, n is usually around 1.8 rather than the theoretical 2). For the mathematically illiterate, this means that if you double your breathing rate, the pressure drop across a mask goes up by a factor of about 4. If you don’t know what “Δp” is you probably shouldn’t be trying to have this discussion.

    What would be funny if it weren’t tragic are the slew of papers which have come out since many of the mask mandates attempting to assure everyone that wearing a mask, even during heavy exertion, is JUST FINE. This isn’t science, it’s political correctness run amok.

    I won’t even attempt to go through the literature on the effect of masking on viral transmission since it’s so well documented.

    The use of masks as a political tool was never about slowing or preventing the spread of the virus. It was simply a way for politicians and bureaucrats to exercise power and control. They will not voluntarily relinquish this power and control, so it must be removed from them.

    P.S.: To the folks at Samizdata, I am flattered that you chose my poor comments as a “Quote of the Day”.

  • The answer to all of this is to quietly refuse to comply. I’ve not worn a mask, nor have I indulged in anti-social distancing. When visiting friends and family, I have gone into their houses (ignoring the rule of six or whatever nonsense was in place at the time) and they mine despite rules telling us to meet outside in the middle of winter. And, no, I do not drive around with the windows open either. If enough of us did this, it would be impossible to police.

    On the subject of hypoxia – I have chronic rhinitis. A mask impedes my breathing. I do not wear anything over my face when on a motorcycle even in the winter months when many other riders do. I find breathing a fairly useful thing and will not do anything that impedes it.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Occasionally we have had some silly SQotD, and this is one of them, for several reasons.

    But this is a subject for tomorrow.
    Today, i’ll just confront one of the comments:

    The media have been in the vanguard cheerleading the doomnfearmongering, stoking panic and whipping up the frenzy that panicked governments into lockdown.

    This shows a serious disconnect with reality.

    Before Lombardy had a major health crisis, the Anglo-American media have been in the vanguard in playing down the emergency, telling us that we were in the grip of an irrational collective panic.
    A belief that too many “””libertarians””” still share.

  • Snorri Godhi

    In other words:
    It is not just on the subject of masks that there has been a U-turn in the official narrative.
    Stop pretending that it is only about masks, that there has been a U-turn.

  • But this is a subject for tomorrow.

    I can barely contain my excitement, but I am numerate enough to know this is not a *major* healthcare crisis. But it most certainly is a major political, economic & social crisis that has very little to do with a very discriminating disease.

  • Paul Marks

    To be fair to Dr Tony Fauci this post is what he used to say about the useless (indeed harmful – harmful for some people) masks.

    But then the line changed – not just in the United States, but in Britain as well.

    We used go into supermarkets (at the height of the pandemic) without masks – and the staff were not wearing masks either. But then, only late last year, the line changes – and the bizarre thing is that some people seem to think we always wore masks, and that there is some health reason for them.

    “We have always been a war with Eurasia” turned into “We have always been the ally of Eurasia and the enemy of East Asia” – and some people do not seem to have noticed, or they did notice and have somehow forgotten.

  • Paul Marks

    I recently blocked on Twitter a European Professor for accusing doctors who have have saved many lives from Covid 19 (he himself has saved none at all) of “industrial scale” lying.

    The “industrial scale” lie? Pointing out that Sweden does not have a higher Covid death rate than many European countries – the Professor jumped upon the word “neighbouring”, not typed by me, but typed by a medical doctor who is lot less experienced with the left than I am.

    Let us ignore, Italy, Britain, France and so on – because they they do not have a direct land border with Sweden, and only look at the countries that do (that was the trick of the Professor). The Collectivists are still at it – still defending lockdowns and mask mandates.

    In reality the Norwegians (the head of public health in an exchange with his Swedish counterpart) have admitted that their lockdown had no real effect, and the Danes have admitted (in a study) that mask mandates have no real effect either.

    There are things to condemn about Sweden – the neglect of the OLD (who often did not even get oxygen at home), and the lack of any real EARLY TREAMENT.

    But lack of lockdowns and mask mandates is to be praised – not condemned.

  • Paul Marks

    As a general rule of thumb I would advice NOT to get into a long exchange with the left (they will just report you as a “racist” regardless of the matter you are discussing) – answer them once, and then BLOCK them.

    This is especially important when helping someone who lacks political experience with the Collectivists and is being attacked by them – go into help, answer the attack (and correct any mistaken language the pro liberty person may be “guilty” of), but then BLOCK.

    I speak as someone who used to try and reason with them – that, I have come to see, was a mistake.

    Do not waste your life on long conversations with the Collectivists – as they wish to exterminate or enslave, they are not people of good will.

    Many years of experience has taught me this – give everyone a chance, but if they insist on evil, guard against them.

  • mmacg

    Snorri Godhi.

    I’ll meet you half way.
    Up to the 2nd week of March 2020. the media was not unanimous. But then it flipped and went into full doomnfearmongering mode. Boris was ridiculed and vilified for following the pre-existing MOH/NHS pandemic plan. The media bounced him into lockdown. Ever since, the media has ridiculed and marginalised opposition to lockdowns and the other excessive mandates.

    Lockdowns, masks, social distancing,etc., all mandatory measures are contrary to the pre-existing pandemic planning by all major national ind international public health agencies.

  • Bobby b

    Paul Marks: I would disagree with one small thing you wrote. I would not block such people, as we do need to know what they are saying for their science declaration du jour. I wouldn’t engage with them, as it is not worth the time.

  • Flubber

    Isn’t that why you mute them, not block them?

  • Robbo

    @Paul
    Thank you for your comment re Sweden
    For me the bigger issue is the attitude of the government towards the people. In Sweden there are restrictions on businesses, upper secondary schools and public events, enforced through Environmental Health regulations, but individuals are given advice – if you take the bus, wear a mask; try to avoid crowds, etc – and you can choose to follow it, or decide that the particular circumstances you face warrant an exception. Many bars, cafes, etc are having a tough time but the law has allowed them to continue trading as best they can.
    The contrast with England, and dozens of pages of regulations, backed up by police, courts, fines and ultimately prisons, is stark.
    And yet the world is told Sweden is doing it wrong!

  • Stonyground

    OT but I have been unable to access Samizdata for the past few days, the site simply wouldn’t load. I tried loading via the link on Longrider’s blogroll and got a page from Sky broadband shield, which is the built in nanny program. As far as I’m aware, the settings on this are exactly as they came when we got the package as we don’t generally encounter the blocker at all. The reason given was that the site contained “Weapons, violence and hate.” I thought that you should know about this.

  • Dave Ward

    @ Stonyground – you could try using a different DNS service, rather than your ISP’s own version.

    https://www.opendns.com/setupguide/

    If you’re worried about changing, make sure you note all the existing settings, so you can revert if needed.

  • Lee Moore

    Having long been satisified that masks are doing little or nothing to stop the flow of virus into or out of my breathing parts, Blackwing1’s learned equations are worrying me.

    If a mask can slow the flow of oxygen, why wouldn’t it also slow the flow of virus ?

    Asking for a friend.

  • Snorri Godhi

    mmacg:

    Snorri Godhi.

    I’ll meet you half way.
    Up to the 2nd week of March 2020. the media was not unanimous.

    I was thinking of February, although i don’t remember the exact dates.
    Scenes from Italian hospitals hit the web in early March, and then the tune changed.

    “Not unanimous” is true, but while i remember articles saying, or at least hinting (to have plausible deniability) that fear of covid was turning into an extraordinary popular delusion, i do not remember any early articles saying that this might possibly turn out to be a major disaster. Even “Lockdown” Ferguson only approached Boris in March if i am not mistaken.

  • Snorri Godhi

    As for the SQotD.
    We have been told for over a year now that the virus spreads from person to person via microscopic droplets of saliva.
    While i can see that a viral particle might be too small to be blocked by a surgical mask, i see no reason to think that micro-droplets of saliva cannot be stopped and absorbed by a mask.
    In fact, i seem to remember reading that the main problem with surgical masks is that they do not make a seal at the sides.

    Perhaps Blackwing knows of some recent study that has found that viral particles are exhaled in free form, but is keeping this knowledge to himself?

    (I was kind of hoping that somebody else would have noticed this problem with the SQotD if i gave everybody a day to think it over.)

  • Jim

    “We have been told for over a year now that the virus spreads from person to person via microscopic droplets of saliva.”

    Well you’ve been told wrong. Even the CDC is now beginning to admit that aerosols (ie very small viral particles floating in the air, rather than droplets of saliva containing the virus) play a large role in the spread of covid. Just stopping droplets being expelled from one’s mouth with a mask won’t cut it, you will be leaving trails of viral aerosols everywhere you go for someone else to breath in. A mask won’t stop that at all, either in or out.

    https://www.wired.com/story/the-teeny-tiny-scientific-screwup-that-helped-covid-kill/

  • We have been told for over a year now that the virus spreads from person to person via microscopic droplets of saliva.

    We have been told it can be passed via surfaces (fomite transmission), now discredited by multiple sources starting from middle of last year. It apparently spreads via aerosol effects rather than ‘droplets’. I saw a much bemused doctor making a video last year (I looked but can’t find it) in which he puffed on a vape, put a mask on & then exhaled: clouds emerged from the side. “Masks are largely pointless in a non-clinical setting when the disease is passed via aerosols.” he said (or words to that effect).

  • Snorri Godhi

    I saw a much bemused doctor making a video last year (I looked but can’t find it) in which he puffed on a vape, put a mask on & then exhaled: clouds emerged from the side.

    How is that different from what i wrote:

    In fact, i seem to remember reading that the main problem with surgical masks is that they do not make a seal at the sides.

  • Snorri Godhi

    WRT this:

    it most certainly is a major political, economic & social crisis that has very little to do with a very discriminating disease.

    Perry can rest assured that i am not trying to argue for mask mandates.
    In fact, i regard arguing either for or against mask mandates, as an exercise in futility.
    All what i am trying to do is my bit in keeping bullshit out of Samizdata.

  • SteveD

    ‘The Danish study alone (more than 6,000 people) of the ‘rona puts the lie to the latter.’

    The Danish study did not prove that masks have no positive effect. It simply wasn’t able to prove that masks have a positive effect. Those are not the same thing. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    In the study the overall level of infection was low but the masked group had approximately 20% lower attack rate than the unmasked group with p = 0.069. That’s getting pretty darn close to significance (p < 0.05) if you ask me. Based on the study it is more likely that masks had a small effect than that they had no effect.

    The study does suggest that any effect masks might have on Covid19 transmission is small. They may have some value for personal protection in certain circumstances, but they probably won't have a discernable effect on the macro data. They are no silver bullet to stop a pandemic.

  • Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    Quite so. Any study trying to discern the effectiveness has found no evidence – or at best, very minor evidence. It’s a bit like trying to prove a negative. That said, the real world exercise in the UK this last year saw a predictable increase during the winter months despite people wandering around with masks. So a cursory conclusion from this is that any effect was minimal at best (given no control groups or formalised protocol). They are a useful placebo to appease the gullible.

  • Snorri Godhi

    WRT the DANMASK stury, Rob Fisher got it right:

    fullfact.org point out that the Danish study looked at rates of mask wearers catching disease but not on transmission as a whole.

    The author is in fact pro-mask, because he believes that masks protect others from the wearer. His study suggests not much protection for the wearer from others … but that is actually an argument in favor of mask mandates, since it is obvious that, if masks do not protect the wearer, fewer people are going to wear masks.

    Quoting the “Danish study” as evidence that masks ‘do not work’ is actually the most damning thing about the SQotD.

  • Snorri Godhi

    SteveD:

    In the study the overall level of infection was low but the masked group had approximately 20% lower attack rate than the unmasked group with p = 0.069. That’s getting pretty darn close to significance (p < 0.05) if you ask me.

    As i remember, to get enough data points, DANMASK conflated 3 pieces of evidence:
    * number of people testing positive for covid-19;
    * number of people testing positive for antibodies against covid-19;
    * number of people diagnosed with covid-19 based on symptoms only.

    Since only the first piece of evidence is reliable (few false positives), the following numbers are of interest:
    * number of mask non-wearers testing positive for the virus: 5;
    * number of mask wearers testing positive for the virus: zero.

    So the strongest evidence goes as heavily as possible (given the small numbers) in favor of a protective effect for mask wearers.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Jim: thank you for the link. It was quite an interesting article.
    It is clear, however, that you have not read it, since you wrote:

    Even the CDC is now beginning to admit that aerosols (ie very small viral particles floating in the air, rather than droplets of saliva containing the virus) play a large role in the spread of covid.

    As will be obvious to anybody who actually reads the article that you link, aerosols are clouds of microscopic droplets.
    (That is also obvious to anybody who has used a nebulizer, as i have.)

    ‘Your’ article also says:

    Along with 237 other scientists and physicians, they warned that without stronger recommendations for masking and ventilation, airborne spread of SARS-CoV-2 would undermine even the most vigorous testing, tracing, and social distancing efforts.

    In other words, it is exactly because the virus spreads via aerosols that masks should be recommended. You need to take stronger precautions against an airborne virus.

  • Bee Boy

    As will be obvious to anybody who actually reads the article that you link, aerosols are clouds of microscopic droplets.

    That sound sensible but it’s quite wrong. Aerosol and droplets are not the same thing. It is the different between sneezing on someone and breathing in the same room.

  • If I thought masks slowed the spread I’d be against them on the basis that just slows getting to herd immunity, and genuinely vulnerable people should be isolated anyway by now. But as there is little evidence that masks make much difference in a non-clinical setting, I’m against them on the basis they are bullshit pandemic theatre, so either way I oppose them

  • Snorri Godhi

    Bee Boy: have you actually read the article?
    The whole point of it is that what you say is wrong.

  • Jacob

    “But as there is little evidence that masks make much difference in a non-clinical setting”

    Well, if they do make a difference in a clinical setting – how is this function lost in a “non-clinical” setting?

    Common sense tells us they may help somewhat. How much? I have no idea. Do they prevent infection? Doubtful. Do they reduce the quantity of viruses inhaled? Maybe.

    Common sense could be wrong… so far I’m not convinced it is.
    Masks should no be mandatory… and certainly not for sick people climbing stairs. But people who are not inconvenienced by them should wear them indoors, in crowded settings.

  • Paul Marks

    Bobby b – the difference between us is that I do not have to read it to know what the left are saying, and that is not a good thing about me.

    I know what evil says – because I have have so much evil inside myself.

  • Well, if they do make a difference in a clinical setting – how is this function lost in a “non-clinical” setting?

    In a clinical setting, medical professionals only wear masks for a limited period of time & change them for fresh ones. They wear them carefully to maximise seals. They don’t go up and down stairs or exert themselves all that much with the mask on. They only wear them when interacting with patients.

    In a non-clinical setting, non-medical people wear the same mask for weeks/months, until they pose a vastly greater risk to themselves that any imaginable diminution of risk to others. They don’t care about the seal (can’t say I blame them). They are typically interacting with people who have a minute risk of serious harm from Covid-19.

    Hardly a trivial difference.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Jacob:

    Masks should no be mandatory… and certainly not for sick people climbing stairs. But people who are not inconvenienced by them should wear them indoors, in crowded settings.

    Amen to that.

    (Although there is just a bit of ambiguity:
    What exactly is a ‘crowded setting’?
    But that determination can surely be based on common sense, until it can be based on solid ‘science’!)

  • But that determination can surely be based on common sense, until it can be based on solid ‘science’!

    None of this bullshit is based on ‘solid science’, it is pandemic theatre relating to a highly discriminating disease. This whole things is being approached arse-about-face.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Perry:

    as there is little evidence that masks make much difference in a non-clinical setting, I’m against them on the basis they are bullshit pandemic theatre, so either way I oppose them.

    You have in the past, quite sensibly, reprimanded people for posting off-topic comments.
    So it is with perverse pleasure that i note that you are going wildly off topic :}

    This SQotD is not about absence of evidence: it is about evidence of absence, and it makes 3 bullshit claims (and no sensible claim) about evidence of absence.
    If you shift the ground to absence of evidence, you are shielding bullshit from criticism.
    Needless to say, that is not a good look for Samizdata.

    It would be better if you made your point in a post of your own about absence of evidence.
    Then we could have a sensible debate.

  • Snorri Godhi

    … and i said:

    can surely be based on common sense

    I NEVER SAID that you can trust ‘solid science’.

  • bobby b

    First line of the OP:

    “It has been a well-known fact for the past hundred years that masks are useless against viral transmission.”

    PdH’s line:

    “as there is little evidence that masks make much difference in a non-clinical setting, I’m against them on the basis they are bullshit pandemic theatre, so either way I oppose them.”

    SG, I think you’re setting the “on-topic” bar quite high here. I doubt if many of my past comments would survive such a test.

  • Wrong, Snorri. The OP suggests masks are not meaningful ways to prevent transmission of viruses.

    I said much the same in my comment. I also double down by saying I would oppose masks even if they did work because spreading covid-19 to *most* people is not actually a bad thing, but I don’t think masks really do make any meaningful difference.

    Hardly off-topic.

  • Blackwing1

    Let us see what the US CDC used to say about the difference between a well-fitted N95 respirator and simple face masks before they censored it, and then completely changed it to suit their collectivist political masters. This was all wiped out somewhere in early 2020 when they realized what an opportunity it was. Note that all of this has been completely whitewashed from the CDC sites and is available only on the WayBack machine or web archives.

    Source:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20200302220102/https://www.osha.gov/Publications/respirators-vs-surgicalmasks-factsheet.html

    Quote:
    Surgical masks are used as a physical barrier to protect the user from hazards, such as splashes of large droplets of blood or body fluids.

    Surgical masks also protect other people against infection from the person wearing the surgical mask. Such masks trap large particles of body fluids that may contain bacteria or viruses expelled by the wearer.

    Surgical masks are used for several different purposes, including the following:

    Placed on sick people to limit the spread of infectious respiratory secretions to others.
    Worn by healthcare providers to prevent accidental contamination of patients’ wounds by the organisms normally present in mucus and saliva.
    Worn by workers to protect themselves from splashes or sprays of blood or bodily fluids; they may also keep contaminated fingers/hands away from the mouth and nose.
    Surgical masks are not designed or certified to prevent the inhalation of small airborne contaminants. These particles are not visible to the naked eye but may still be capable of causing infection. Surgical masks are not designed to seal tightly against the user’s face. During inhalation, much of the potentially contaminated air can pass through gaps between the face and the surgical mask and not be pulled through the filter material of the mask. Their ability to filter small particles varies significantly based upon the type of material used to make the surgical mask, so they cannot be relied upon to protect workers against airborne infectious agents.

    Do any of you commenting that you believe, despite all of the evidence and physical factors which make single-layer cloth and paper surgical masks completely and utterly useless in preventing transmission of viruses, comprehend what this says? It’s exactly what I pointed out originally, that the disparity in size between human respirable aerosols and those mask media precludes any functionality.

    Okay, perhaps you’d prefer a different version of basically the same information.

    Source:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20200305072846/https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/respirator-use-faq.html

    Quote:
    What makes N95 respirators different from facemasks (sometimes called a surgical mask)?
    Infographic: Understanding the difference between surgical masks and N95 respiratorspdf icon
    N95 respirators reduce the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles, from small particle aerosols to large droplets. N95 respirators are tight-fitting respirators that filter out at least 95% of particles in the air, including large and small particles.
    Not everyone is able to wear a respirator due to medical conditions that may be made worse when breathing through a respirator. Before using a respirator or getting fit-tested, workers must have a medical evaluation to make sure that they are able to wear a respirator safely.
    Achieving an adequate seal to the face is essential. United States regulations require that workers undergo an annual fit test and conduct a user seal check each time the respirator is used. Workers must pass a fit test to confirm a proper seal before using a respirator in the workplace.
    When properly fitted and worn, minimal leakage occurs around edges of the respirator when the user inhales. This means almost all of the air is directed through the filter media.

    You can tell who uses actual sealed-fit respirators since they usually have a bruise around the perimeter of their nose and mouth in order to achieve the necessary air-tight seal. Beards and other facial hair are not allowed.

    Another quote:
    The role of facemasks is for patient source control, to prevent contamination of the surrounding area when a person coughs or sneezes.  Patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should wear a facemask until they are isolated in a hospital or at home. The patient does not need to wear a facemask while isolated.”

    So basically a cloth or paper face mask can help you prevent spewing great big globs of goo (a technical phrase) when you hack or hork, but do nothing at all otherwise. Well, you mother should have told you to freakin’ well stay home if you’re coughing or sneezing, and don’t go visiting the grandparents if you’re sick.

    The Dem-wing blow-up of the Covidiocy had absolutely nothing to do with the prevention of illness, and had everything to do with an exercise of power and control.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Blackwing1
    FWIW both the links you give above are actually still on the OSHA and CDC web sites.

    OSHA is here and the CDC quote you give is here.

  • Blackwing1

    Re: Fraser Orr:

    Thank you for the correction; I couldn’t find them when I looked yesterday.

  • Jacob

    “non-medical people wear the same mask for weeks/months”
    Who said that? You can change your mask every hour…. they are not expensive… it’s up to you.

  • Jacob

    I fail to understand this obsession with masks. They are the least bad or damaging part of covid measures.. they are trivial.

  • I fail to understand this obsession with masks. They are the least bad or damaging part of covid measures.. they are trivial.

    It is a bit like being told to wear a dunce hat to warn off evil spirits. Not everyone is going to be okay with that, Jacob.

  • Who said that? You can change your mask every hour…. they are not expensive… it’s up to you.

    It is a demonstrable fact. Perhaps you chance your mask several times a day, but ask everyone you know if they also do that… better yet, do not ask, just watch to see if they change them, ever. I’d be willing to bet the vast majority wear the same mask, day in, day out.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Perry: with all due respect, you wrote yesterday at 5:00pm:

    But as there is little evidence that masks make much difference in a non-clinical setting

    That is a claim about absence of evidence, which i am not prepared to dispute.

    But then, at 10:50pm you wrote:

    The OP suggests masks are not meaningful ways to prevent transmission of viruses.

    I said much the same in my comment

    The OP makes a claim about evidence of absence.
    (Several claims, actually, and 3 of them look to me like obvious bullshit, but i’ll expound and you are welcome to tell me why i am wrong.)

    Just because there is no strong evidence FOR mask mandates (that i know of), it does not mean that we have to swallow bullshit evidence AGAINST mask mandates — let alone against voluntary mask use.

    In fact, we should reject bullshit evidence even if there were ALSO solid evidence against mask mandates.

  • There is very little evidence that dunce hats reduce disease transmission either. But hey, let’s wait for the peer reviewed papers, right?

  • Snorri Godhi

    Prove me wrong: bullshit #1:

    It has been a well-known fact for the past hundred years that masks are useless against viral transmission.

    It has been a well-known fact for the past year that doctors & nurses, early in the pandemic, were complaining about a shortage of surgical masks. Why were they using so many masks, if it was “a well-known fact” that they are “useless against viral transmission”?

    Plus, from Blackwing’s OSHA quote:

    Surgical masks are used for several different purposes, including the following:
    Placed on sick people to limit the spread of infectious respiratory secretions to others.

    Plus, from the article kindly provided by Jim, I learned that it was not doctors, but ‘aerosol scientists’, who pressured the WHO into recommending mask wearing.

    Even assuming that masks ARE useless, it looks to me like obvious bullshit to say that this has been known “for the past hundred years”.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Prove me wrong: bullshit #2:

    “do masks perform any positive function in preventing or slowing the spread of viral diseases”. The Danish study alone (more than 6,000 people) of the ‘rona puts the lie to the [above question].

    I have already discussed this here, yesterday at 3:57pm and 4:03pm.
    People who claim that the DANMASK paper proves that masks are not effective, obviously have not read it.
    Either that, or they have very poor reading comprehension.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Prove me wrong: bullshit #3:

    places that underwent lockdowns and mask mandates suffered higher infection rates and death rates than those without mandates.

    I’ll leave aside mask mandates, because i have not looked at the data. I have looked at the data from select countries and US States only in the 1st wave, in which there were lockdowns but few mask mandates.

    And there is something that seems bloody obvious to me:
    Jurisdictions with high death rates had FULL lockdowns AFTER lots of people were already on the way to the grave.
    The direction of causation that seems obvious to me:

    high death rate –> lockdown

    Which is why i tried in the past to argue (not very clearly) on Samizdata:
    If you don’t want a FULL lockdown, you should pressure your government to adopt a “Pareto lockdown” early on.

    A Pareto lockdown being one in which 20% or less of the lockdown achieves 80% or more of the reduction in R.

    Countries which adopted EARLY Pareto lockdowns in the 1st wave (including the country where i live), have suffered much lower death rates than countries that adopted LATE full lockdowns, such as the UK.
    AND less economic damage than Sweden (let alone the UK).
    AND we had no full lockdown in subsequent waves: it is difficult for a government to justify to the voters a full lockdown in the 2nd wave, if a Pareto lockdown worked in the 1st wave.

  • Snorri Godhi

    BTW if you are of a Scottish disposition (as i am), then you might be happy to learn that “disposable” surgical masks can actually be re-used at least 10 times.

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