This past week, Arnold Schwarzenegger took to Instagram to tell all Americans who are getting a bit antsy about the overreach of their government that we are foolish science-denying rubes who are selfishly focused on that inconsequential thing we call human liberty. His exact quote was: “I think people need to be reminded over and over that the experts are saying you have to wear masks… [For those of you shouting] ‘My freedom is being disturbed….’ Screw your freedom.”
Well, maybe we should do exactly what the Terminator implies and attend to what the real scientists have to say about all this. In other words, rather than spouting off on Instagram, let’s look at the longitudinal data presently available and ask some good questions. Questions like, Is there anything that demonstrates wearing masks is an efficacious strategy for mitigating the spread of Covid19? Is there any statistical proof that validates Mr. Schwarzenegger’s scold? Is he right in telling us to “screw our freedom” and, thereby, don a porous piece of paper or cloth to prove we are a science-believing and virtuous people?
Interestingly, when you take the time to read a bit, you quickly discover that this mask-shaming from America’s intelligentsia is – well, how should say this scientifically? – Stupid.
Cultural commentator, Allie Beth Stuckey, has done us all a favor in providing the following compilation of pertinent research and science-based information concerning the question of masks.
Since the onset of this pandemic, Sweden has never mandated masks. In January 2021, only 12% of Swedes said they wore a mask all the time, and 59% said they never did. The logical question is, how have they fared? Surely, their death rate is astronomical compared to the United States, where 93% of adults report that they sometimes or often wear masks and 72% say they always do. Well, the fact is the Swedes haven’t fared any worse than Americans, and their death rate attributed to Covid19 is lower than that of other countries such as Great Britain, which has imposed draconian mask mandates on its people.
That’s not good enough, you say. You want more than just one sample from a relatively small country in northern Europe. I agree, so consider this:
Israel reinstated its mask mandate for fear that not doing so would overwhelm the health care system (sound familiar?). What did this accomplish? Apparently, nothing in that Israel’s cases have risen at basically the exact same rate as other countries, such as the Netherlands, which did the exact opposite.
The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University wrote as far back as 2010 that masks present no significant effect in interrupting the spread of an influenza virus in the general population or within the ranks of health care workers.
Norway’s Institute for Public Health says that masks are so ineffective as to have minimal effect on the infection rates of the general population.
The New England Journal of Medicine told us as recently as May 2020 that “We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection” and that, “In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.”
A study from Japan concluded that “Face mask use … has not been demonstrated to provide benefit in terms of getting colds and that a larger study is needed to establish noninferiority of no mask use.”
A 2010 study by Cambridge University found, “There is little evidence to support the effectiveness of face masks to reduce the risk of infection.”
A study from Oxford Clinical Infectious Diseases found that “there is no evidence [that cloth masks provide] protection [from the] transmission of pathogens when used repeatedly without adequate sterilization.”
A Danish study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in November 2020 found “no statistically significant effect of high-quality medical face masks against SARS-CoV-2 infection in a community setting.”
Senator Rand Paul (who is a real doctor, by the way) has recently said, “No one should follow [these] anti-science mask mandates… No more! [W]e will not allow [the government] to do more harm to our children [who are not statistically] at any more risk from COVID-19 than they are for the seasonal flu… We are at a moment of truth and a crossroads. Will we allow these people to use fear and propaganda to do further harm to our society, economy, and children?… Or will we stand together and say, absolutely not. Not this time. I choose freedom.”
Call me crazy, but I think I’ll stand with a legitimate scientist who says he will fight for my freedom rather than some Hollywood RINO who’s telling me to “screw it.”
“The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he breaks, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” John Philpot Curran
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host. He is the author of “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery) and, most recently, “Grow Up: Life Isn’t Safe, But It’s Good.”