Masking Is Effective


Random mask-wearer

In response to my suggestion that DeSantis should be impeached for getting in the way of local mask rules, comment trolls have been suggesting that mask-wearing is not an effective strategy for battling the COVID pandemic.

I happened to see an email on a list I belong to that mentioned studies on mask-wearing and thought I would share them for those who wish an evidence-based-approach to their politics:

…and there’s the one I cited in the earlier comments, KXAN, Do face masks work? Here are 49 scientific studies that explain why they do (Aug 7, 2021).

I believe these overwhelmingly substantiate my claim that the weight of current scientific evidence highly supports the value of mask-wearing in public and especially indoors (such as in classrooms). Science moves at it does: that was not the initial consensus view, and someday the weight of hypothetical new contrary evidence might push to a different view, but today, I think any rational person who wants their personal decisions, and the decisions of political leaders ,decided by science must accept that right now this is the far-better supported view.

Does that end the debate? Of course not; even without new data there could be countervailing considerations — although I think these largely are absent at present. I think the evidence tends to show that the downsides of masks, even for most kids, is low to zero. It’s possible there might be a religion I don’t know of that prohibits mask-wearing (there certainly are some that forbid vaccination, e.g. Christian Science). There might be the rare true respiratory disease that allows going out and about, but can’t cope with a mask.

Barring some rare edge cases, though, I think the evidence here is pretty clear: DeSantis and a few other governors are ignoring the clear evidence on the value of masks, and the direct effect of their crass and evil choices will be illness–some of which will be serious and long-lasting–and death. That really ought to matter to people.

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5 Responses to Masking Is Effective

  1. Eric says:

    Mask wearing has not altered the seasonal peaks of this respiratory virus.

    Back when I used to debate masks on Reddit, I studied dozens of articles prior to 2020 and found no evidence they worked. Suddenly in 2020 this all changed just like mRNA therapy suddenly worked after decades of never getting past pre-clinical animal trials.

    That’s the power of censorship and the illusion of expertise by exclusion.

  2. Asian countries have been wearing masks for decades to help prevent disease transmission. That, too, is evidence. Nothing sudden about it.

    Not enough by themselves, though, but nothing is. Also need ventilation, vaccines…

    Eric, I’m not going to argue with you. But that is how science works, like banktruptcy: slowly and then suddenly.


  3. Vic says:

    If you go off the Approved RightThink sites, you can find all kinds of studies suggesting that wearing a “mask” in the generic sense, like you in that photo, may not be helpful. The reason you don’t know about this is because there is an embargo on said information on the places that most people will turn to for information. Look elsewhere, and you will find it.

    And note: I did not suggest “that mask-wearing is not an effective strategy for battling the COVID pandemic.” that’s your motte and bailey version of what I was saying.

    All I am really suggesting is that “masks,” the way most people understand and use them, including, I dare say you in that photo, are not necessarily very good disease safety. SOME masks are, most masks are just a teddy bear. MOST people do not wear the masks that WILL actually help prevent disease. Most people do not wear hazmat gear. Most parents will not be putting their children in hazmat gear. Most children will not be treating their masks like hazmat gear. Putting cloth on your face is a mask, but it is not a mask from disease, especially if it is not ALSO treated as one. Maybe Google doesn’t hide THIS information, but look up how you have to treat a real mask to ensure safety. I can pretty much guarantee that you are breaking numerous rules there, as are most people. Studies show the ineffectiveness of how people wear masks – THAT is my point.

  4. Eric says:

    Hi Wendy,

    With respect to science, I remember learning about the methodology in my middle school class. My mother was so excited to watch me perform as Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier during my class presentation of this mystical art. One of the lessons of my childhood introduction into science involved the ability to test a hypothesis. If my theory was falsified by the actual data then I would have to start again. That is how I was taught that science works.

    Concerning the usage of face masks: if the Asian community wore them as a matter of course for decades then how exactly did SARS-CoV-2 spread in the first place?

    Moreover, every single study has plotted cases against mask mandates and shown absolutely no significant difference: “Case growth was not significantly different between mandate and non-mandate states at low or high transmission rates, and surges were equivocal.”

    As I suggested to Professor Froomkin in the other post which derailed into my blathering about my autism and vaccines, the other side of this health mandate coin requires much more proactive health measures in general for the entire population including the immune compromised. When I watched my father rapidly deteriorate just a few months before starting law school due to his poor lifestyle choices creating end-stage renal failure, I realized that his problems were a result of the entire system in place. A year before he died from his diabetes causing multi-system organ failure, I convinced him to go to the gym with me and workout his muscles. His health improved drastically for a few months until he said he hurt something and stopped.

    So I am not sure why some people think I’m a troll when I suggest they are possibly in need of further health measures that some would say could help them become tougher not just to this virus but everything in general. It’s a continuation of their logic forcing everyone to change for them so perhaps the limiting principle is reciprocity.

    That being said, I didn’t realize that Professor Froomkin was having such issues that he alluded to in the former post – being unable to stay conscious. I honestly had no idea he was going through all that and I truly feel ashamed for my negative attitude last post (especially in light of my former positive post about his article).

    Everything about this virus has gotten me so on edge that the mere reading about it triggers such a negative reaction that I think the only solution to everyone’s situation is positive mental health. Every study suggests that mind over matter is key to the immune system.

    I will strive to do better by bringing light and joy to the discussion from now on. I am sorry for being anything less than positive.



  5. It is true that as of a year+ ago, there was not a scientific consensus as to the effectiveness of masks in general or regarding coronaviruses in particular. Several factors contributed to this, among them that even the Asian data was not considered definitive as it wasn’t controlled studies for ethical and practical reasons. It was, for example, very unclear how much compliance there was in the ‘mask wearing’ vs ‘not-mask-wearing” groups.Another problem was an ancient, leading, and it turns out erroneous, study that said coronavirus didn’t aerosolize (it does!). Correcting that greatly changed how scientists viewed the value of masks.

    But recent urgency has motivated new research. If you follow the links above, you’ll get a good taste of what that looks like and why it is that the late 2021 consensus has shifted hard in the direction that masks have value. Vaccines are #1, masks/distancing are #2. Both masks and vaccines help not just the wearer but the community at large. Indeed, I wonder if as vaccinations may increase the chance of largely symptomless so-called ‘breakthrough’ infections, the mask rule may do more to protect other people than it does the wearer. The new studies certainly provide very telling evidence that they help the community at large by reducing transmission rates – maybe a combo of less virus getting out, and less virus getting in?

    [And the ‘staying conscious’ issue was a while ago, and mercifully brief-ish, and cleared up by blood transfusions.(Sometimes I have even better reasons than work not to post or respond to comments.)

    [This is another way in which I’m a beneficiary of a commons – someone gave that blood. COVID has reduced the supply of donors. I’m multiply ineligible, but if readers are willing to jump through the online hoops to donate in socially distanced circumstances, via the Red Cross or other easily googled local blood banks, that’s a mitzvah. ]

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