I have spent considerable time studying journal articles about or related to using face masks to control COVID-19.
The Perversion of Vigilance
The seemingly relentless push by government leaders to dress everybody in cloth face coverings has moved beyond tunnel-visioned, faulty reasoning, to new heights of blindness that I can only relate to a cult mentality. This mentality is well cushioned in official looking studies that are founded on shaky data, naive assumptions, questionable design, and ultimately undying faith.
One activist research organization with an impressive display of expertise and resources has gone so far as to publish the following statement on its website:
- Anyone not wearing a cloth mask in public puts everyone at risk of getting infected and they hurt our economy by increasing the chances of a second lockdown.
Anyone? This is utter hysteria, because it immediately and decisively labels everyone not wearing a face mask as a threat, regardless of individual differences in immune response or viral shedding, regardless of individual differences in health or health practices, regardless of individual differences in life choices or life activities, and regardless of the real clinical state of the person. Everybody, without question or further consideration, is immediately reduced to the same undocumented, unproven, unassessed threat, with or without symptoms of illness.
Has there ever been a mode of thinking in all of human existence that allowed everyone, at the same instant, without qualification, to be regarded as a threat? No. No rational way of thinking has ever allowed this manner of thinking. Has there ever been a simple article or implement that enabled everyone to be less of a threat to everyone else? No – no such article has ever existed in the awareness of rational people.
If there is no proven threat in an individual in the moment of encounter, then how is it even possible to know that such an unknown threat is less of a threat? How can something unproven be rendered less than something unproven? This is the absurdity of the claim that everyone not wearing a face mask endangers everyone else.
To fear anyone as a threat of anything without proof is, at worst, paranoia writ large. At best, it is extreme caution whose locus is in the individual harboring the fear, and the onus to deal with such fear is on the individual in whom it resides, not in everybody else around this individual.
If someone fears another person, then the responsibility to avoid the feared person lies in the person who is afraid. The person who is afraid has no right to dictate that another person alleviate fear of a threat that is not even proven to exist in that moment.
Interacting with other human beings in a shared society carries all manner of possible risks posed by other people. For example, a person might be a killer, but without evidence of previous attacks or without any outward hostile gesture in the moment of encounter, a certain amount of trust must operate in that moment. Likewise, a person might be a thief, but without some sort of outward proof or other evidence, we cannot operate under the assumption that everybody is a thief.
Would we ask that all people wear double arm slings to alleviate the possible threat of everybody’s being a killer or a thief? Would the confidence instilled by restricted arm movements and limited positioning that kept all arms always in view be reasonable?
Even in double arm slings, people could go about their daily activities in public. Reaching for objects and manipulating the implements of daily public life would be a bit awkward, but enduring this slight awkwardness to help reduce the threat of assault and robbery would be worth it, right?
Just picture it: a society where public exposure required everybody’s walking around, engaging with one another, and carrying on normal tasks of public life, looking like a herd of prehistoric lizards, with little arms dangling in slings, moving in odd ways to pick up a jar of pickles in a grocery store or bending in extreme ways, at odd angles, to pump a tank of gas. Reaching for a concealed knife or gun would be more difficult, as would using arms to inflict injury or grab purses and run. Everybody could always see everybody’s hands. No shirt, no shoes, no slings, no service. We’re in this together. My slings don’t work, if you aren’t wearing yours. It’s about showing respect for others. Best of all, the cost would be minimal – everybody could make their own slings out of everyday materials.
Back to Reality
Health leaders and government leaders currently gauge the spread of the alleged new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) by number of cases of infections and number of deaths attributed to infections from the virus.
While there are strong arguments against the very existence of the new coronavirus, as well as still stronger arguments against the scientific validity of tests that supposedly detect the virus, I will not deal with these arguments here. Rather, I will show examples illustrating that even widely accepted beliefs in a new virus and tests supposedly confirming its presence fail to support the widespread claim that simple cloth face masks reduce case numbers.
A reduction in case numbers after requiring whole populations to wear masks would indicate that masks limit the spread of SARS-CoV-2. But this is not what the data shows. Instead, the data shows that case numbers rise and fall, irrespective of face masks, often rising more than before government officials mandated the masks.
As you can see from Figure 1, the state of Hawaii began requiring indoor face masks near the end of its first COVID-19 growth-rate curve, meaning that, by the time a mask order went into effect, case numbers had already passed their peak and were well on their way to flattening.
Case growth was then flat for about a month. Some people would be tempted to conclude that face masks caused this flattening, as some people indeed mistakenly do.
At the end of this flat month, however, with a face-mask order still in effect, case numbers started to increase again, which indicates that masks did not work. Next, as case numbers continued to increase, government officials made the mask order stricter, requiring people to wear them outdoors as well. As you can see, however, this failed to reduce case numbers, which now grew at the greatest rate ever.
For over a month after masks were required both indoors and outdoors, case numbers increased at the greatest rate in one month that they had ever increased. This completely fails to support face masks for controlling case numbers. And if case numbers indicate prevalence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, then this completely fails to support face masks for controlling the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
Figure 2 shows a similar situation in California, where the governor required face masks statewide on June 18, as case numbers were starting to rise steeply. But look at the curve – for about two months after the mask requirement, case numbers continued to rise at the same rate. Two months is about four incubation periods for a virus, and so four incubation periods with zero change in rate of case growth says absolutely nothing about the effectiveness of masks.
Case numbers then declined almost as fast as they rose, but then started rising again at the same steep rate, when face masks were still required statewide. This indicates that the supposed virus progresses in a rhythmic pattern independent of human efforts to control it with masks.
In Figure 3, we see a similar pattern on the opposite side of the continent. North Carolina’s statewide mask mandate went into effect on June 26, about two thirds of the way into its COVID-19 growth curve (late in the game). As we saw before, however, even allowing for several virus incubation periods, case numbers were still increasing at the same rate after the mask requirement.
A decline in case numbers happened, then a rise, then another decline, then another rise, where the most recent rise resulted in the highest daily case counts ever recorded on successive days, remember, while the statewide face mask order remained in effect. Four months under a statewide mask order has shown zero effect on controlling North Carolina’s COVID-19 case numbers. Yet, at this writing, the order still stands.
Once again, face mask effectiveness is discredited in plain view.
Figure 4 shows data for the Southeast Asia, island nation of the Philippines. With some of the most restrictive COVID-19 rules in the world and a face-mask compliance rate estimated at over 90%, this country serves as an excellent gauge.
As the chart shows, masks were required countrywide on April 2, but, as you can see, by July, case numbers were increasing faster than they ever had (before masks), reaching their highest level four months afterwards. Again, masks appear to serve no practical function whatsoever, as case numbers rise and fall in a rhythm that has no relationship with a simple cloth covering.
Tests, Cases, Deaths, and Masks in USA and Japan
My research indicates that, if there is a SARS-CoV-2 virus, then it exists in a far greater number of people than any selective testing could reveal. Tests would only detect what is already there, and more testing would detect more of what is already there. Cases, then, would follow testing. The more testing, the more cases detected. The less testing, the fewer cases detected.
The country of Japan has done very little testing. Compared to any other country, Japan’s chart of testing looks like a flat line underneath a mountainous curve of the other country.
For example, Figure 5 compares COVID-19 tests, cases and deaths for Japan and the United States. I could have chosen any other country, and the result would look very similar, with Japan at the bottom in a nearly straight line, and the other country towering over it with a monumentally greater number of tests.
Japan happens to have had a long tradition of voluntary mask wearing, but, as I have shown in previous graphs, even this does not seem to have any relevance to case numbers. What figure 5 shows is how a steady rate of testing or an increased rate of testing reveals more and more cases. Even at the point where most US states had some sort of statewide mask requirement (indicated by the red arrow), the same or increased rate of testing has detected more and more cases.
Think about it: if something exists in large numbers in a population, then continual testing might eventually show a dry spell, but, statistically, the odds of homing in on more and more of what is there will increase again, as testing keeps going on at an unchanging or accelerated pace. For example, flipping a coin might turn up two heads in a row over the time of flipping, whereas the next flips will turn up six heads in a row over the same time. Has the number of faces on the coin increased? No. The odds just work out this way. It seems to me that the relationship between testing and detecting is similar.
From August through November (top graph in Figure 5), the rate of testing in the United States increased, sometimes in steep blips. During this same time, case numbers (middle graph in Figure 5) increased sharply too. Japan, on the other hand, with little testing, shows no such increase. In fact, its tiny drop in testing is reflected in its tiny drop in case numbers.
In the United States, most mask wearing orders were in effect on the down slope of the case-growth curve, but those same mask wearing orders were in effect on the upward slope of the testing-growth curve. Cases, then, are not what was growing. Rather, detection of cases is what was growing, and face masks appear to have had no effect on the growth of what was being detected.
Italy, Sweden, Japan, Test, Cases, Deaths
Figure 6 compares tests, cases, and deaths, again using Japan, but this time compared to Italy and Sweden:
- did very little testing
- detected relatively few cases
- has a long tradition of voluntary mask wearing
- reported a relatively low number of deaths
- did a great deal of testing
- detected a high number of cases
- has a countrywide mask requirement with compliance estimated at over 90%
- reported a high number of deaths, more than a month after a national mask order
- did a great deal of testing
- detected a high number of cases
- never had a mask requirement, in addition to voluntary mask compliance being very low
- reported relatively few deaths (compared to Italy), but more deaths than Japan, although a third fewer deaths than the United States at the latest stage of the alleged pandemic
Italy, with its over 90% compliance in wearing masks, dwarfs Japan (with a long tradition of mask wearing) both in cases and in deaths. Again, no evidence appears here to support masking entire populations.
Shortsighted Thinking Enables Mask Bullies
It is important to see larger relationships between numbers, rather than having a tunnel-vision focus on one or two numbers in isolation. Otherwise, we arrive at where we have arrived in November of 2020 – a world where people without face coverings are defined as threats to society and trespassers in the public marketplace.