Dan Popp
Face masks, freedom, and fake science
By Dan Popp
July 3, 2020

If we want to be able to go out and live our lives, this mask is a symbol of freedom. – Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, in a quote I am not making up.

War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. – George Orwell, 1984

Here in Ohio we were told that we Shouldn't wear face masks to control the spread of the coronavirus – non-professional users would just mess them up, and do more harm than good. Then we were told by the same government/expert elite that we Should wear masks. Oopsie. Then, that we Must wear masks. (That order was rescinded within hours – perhaps someone alerted Governor DeWine to the old Sophocles chestnut, "What you cannot enforce, do not command.") And now we're at Should, placed on full standby for Must, again.

As citizens of the rubble of a republic, we should demand that our employees in state and national governments answer one question:

What is the factual reason you would require healthy people to wear face masks?

The reasoning behind the use of face masks has varied. It's a little slippery. The best I can make out is that a face mask is supposed to keep the wearer from spreading the disease through the mechanism of exhaled droplets of moisture.

And here we already have a science issue because the WHO has said that the coronavirus is rarely transmitted by asymptomatic people. This would mean that only sick people would need to wear face masks, but why would a sick person be out in public, anyway? The CDC disagrees. C'mon, guardians of our health, asymptomatic transmission should be easy to prove if there's evidence for it. If you read the article you'll find that the WHO's actual science (months of documentation of how cases are transmitted) is supposedly cast in doubt by computer models (certainly not the same computer models that prophesied 2.2 million dead in the US. These are way more science-y).

The first time I wore a (homemade) face covering it immediately caused my glasses to fog up. This is not just an inconvenience to us bespectacled folk, a lighthearted "We're All in This Together" moment; it undermines the whole rationale for the mask. The fog on my glasses is condensed water vapor from my breath.

Moisture. From my breath.

It's going AROUND the mask, you see, and out into the world. And if you're exhaling moisture that escapes the mask, then the mask is not preventing the release of the virus via exhaled moisture. That, Dear Reader, is actual science that you can do at home – not computer-model "science." People today are entirely too deferential to "experts." You have enough experience and common sense to debunk a lot of the shamanism coming our way.

Shame the shaman. Think.

When we got "real," manufactured masks at my house, the result was the same.

Here's another superstition-bashing piece of personal science. The other day I went to a hair salon where I was required to wear a mask. OK, no problem. Wondering how the stylist is going to cut around the elastic, but "whatever." At the appropriate time the stylist asks me to remove the elastic bands and hold the mask to my face while she trims in those spots.

Now, the biggest objection to non-professionals using masks is that we may touch the outside of the mask, negating any benefit we would have gained from wearing it. So I had to wear the mask, but I also had to do the thing that makes the mask useless. Sweet.

Another objection to masks is that the user will get a false sense of protection, which was obviously going on all over this salon.

It seems clear from reading arguments on both sides that the pro-mask people can't tell us how the theoretical benefits of masks will translate to real life; they can't quantify the potential risks vs. benefits, or tell you which groups of people might be better off barefaced. That would be real science, you see. Still they insist that we must wear a mask just in case their intuition might be right.

Today I saw a couple of taxpayer-funded ads on TV from doctors and such advocating "distancing" and wearing a mask – there's probably another one about handwashing. The spots end with the expert saying, "That's what I believe."

Oh, it's about your beliefs, then?

I thought it was about science.

© Dan Popp


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