Monday, March 15, 2021

The Emperor’s New Mask: Where is the Evidence? – The Occidental Observer - by Thomas Dalton, Ph.D

On March 10, Texas effectively eliminated all restrictions related to the Covid pandemic.  The shutdown ended, restaurant capacities were restored to 100%, and perhaps most significantly for everyday life, mask mandates were lifted.  Masks are the most visible, and the most individually obtrusive, aspect of the pandemic.  At present, 34 states have some form of mask mandate; the 16 states without mandates include Texas plus Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Tennessee.  This means that around 100 million Americans are now free to go maskless, whereas over 200 million are still under mandates.

Among all states taking action against the virus, six are generally recognized as having been the harshest:  California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Vermont, and Washington.  Of these, Michigan seems to have suffered the most, economically; 32% of its private sector businesses were closed due to the lockdown mandated by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the highest in the nation.  This fact alone puts her in strong contention for Worst Governor in America, surpassing even such luminaries as Gavin (“The French Laundry”) Newsom and Andrew (“Strip Poker”) Cuomo.  At least we don’t have to worry about her sexually harassing any female staffers—though we can’t quite say the same for Whitmer’s Jewish-lesbian AG, Dana Nessel.

Along with the Michigan business lockdown, of course, came stringent mask mandates, which were initiated on 13 July 2020 and are still firmly in place.  The mask mandates in themselves warrant some investigation.

Recently, a correspondent of mine in Michigan contacted his local state representative, a Democrat, regarding the status of lifting the mask mandate.  He received a terribly snarky reply from a staffer, along the lines of, “the Representative has no interest in rescinding mask mandates anytime soon.”  Furthermore, added the staffer, “it is extremely unlikely that you will see any push to repeal mask mandates (by Republicans or Democrats) until the majority of our people are vaccinated and the virus is under control”—meaning, of course, say goodbye to breathing freely again in Michigan anytime soon.

To his credit, though, the staffer included a link to an actual scientific study, along with the claim that “masks have been scientifically proven to reduce the transmission of COVID and other airborne illnesses.”  The report, “An evidence review of face masks against COVID-19,” makes for an excellent case study in the whole mask debate.  As the one and only piece of evidence offered, it surely must be the most important.  Surely Democrats in Michigan and around the nation have been instructed to point to this very study in defense of masks.  It is therefore worthy of some critical examination.

A Few Preliminaries

Before looking at the study itself, let me make one initial point:  It is largely irrelevant to claim that “masks have been proven to reduce transmission”—this much is obvious.  Any mask, of almost any type, will, to some degree, “reduce transmission” of virus-laden droplets or aerosols.  The relevant questions are: To what extent does the reduction in transmission translate into reduced human suffering? (sickness and death) and, Does this reduction offset the disadvantages and costs of mandating masks?  If we don’t ask the right questions up front, we won’t reach any useful conclusions.  But it is a nifty trick, to pose a false or trivial question and then easily “prove” it to be correct—something like a Straw Man fallacy in reverse.  Nice try.

Let’s turn, then, to this most-important of mask studies.  Timing is critical in a fast-evolving global pandemic, so let’s consider that aspect first.  We see that the report was published in the prestigious PNAS on 11 January 2021—hence, nominally a very recent study.  However, we note also that the paper was submitted way back on 13 July 2020.  There is of course always some lag time, but amidst a global crisis, six months seems unduly excessive.  (Also strange is the fact that the paper was accepted for publication back on 5 December; there is no obvious reason to wait for almost two months to publish, on-line, a study of such urgency.)  Given a July 2020 submission date, all developments of the past eight months are of necessity unexamined.  This is significant; as we will see, there is one recent study that certainly needs to be included in any mask discussion.

Next there is the question of authorship.  The study itself has fully 19 named authors—more names make it more impressive, of course.  The lead author (always the main person of the group) is one Jeremy Howard.  If we look for Howard’s affiliations, we find two:  “, San Francisco,” and “The Data Institute, University of San Francisco.”  Take the latter first.  USF is a small, private university in central San Francisco, which indeed has a Data Institute, dedicated to “creating a new partnership between industry and academia.”  And this is perfect for Mr. (not Dr.) Howard, because “industry” is what he does best.  His other affiliation,, is a small high-tech startup run only by himself and a partner, Rachel Thomas.  A review of his bio (“About the team”) and his Wikipedia entry demonstrate clearly that Howard (“entrepreneur”) is in no sense a scientist or researcher; his forte is business and marketing, nothing more.  Indeed, Wikipedia only indicates that he “studied philosophy” at his Australian university, apparently not even graduating with a bachelor’s degree.  And this man is the lead author in a vital national, even international, study.  Both PNAS and USF seem to have very low standards these days for their “scientific” researchers.

The Study that Wasn’t

Turning to the study itself, we read in the Abstract that “the preponderance of evidence indicates that mask-wearing reduces transmissibility per contact”—but again, as I said, this much is obvious.  From this fact, they recommend “the adoption of public cloth mask wearing…in conjunction with existing hygiene strategies.”  The Abstract closes with this:  “We recommend that public officials and government strongly encourage the use of widespread face masks in public, including the use of appropriate regulation”—implying, but not explicitly calling for, mask mandates.

The study can be functionally divided into two parts.  The first part covers some background and history, and then addresses the important issue of “direct evidence” for mask efficacy.  Part two is an elaboration of six questions relating to mask use and impact.  Let’s examine each part separately.

In part one, the authors rightly note that the best and only truly compelling scientific evidence comes from randomized controlled trials, or RCTs (or equivalently, a metanalysis of several RCTs).  In an RCT, one group of random subjects is assigned to the intervention method (here, wearing a mask), and another random group is assigned as the control (here, not wearing a mask).  The two groups are studied over time, and the effects are then compared.  Here, we would like to know, for example, the Covid infection rates for mask-wearers versus non-mask-wearers.  This would tell us if masks provide any protection to the user, and if so, how much.  (In the best of all worlds, RCTs would be “double-blind,” meaning that neither researcher nor subject would be aware of who was in the test group and who was in the control.  This works well for pills, because some subjects can be given a placebo.  But with face masks, it is obviously impossible to run a blind test.)

Unfortunately for us all, the researchers inform us that “for population health measures, we should not generally expect to be able to find controlled trials [RCTs], due to logistical and ethical reasons.”  Therefore, they add, “we should instead seek a wider evidence base.”  “There is no RCT for the impact of masks on community transmission of any respiratory infection in a pandemic.”  In other words, the gold standard for scientifically valid research—an RCT—is not possible for Covid, they say.  Therefore, we are stuck with a poor second-best, namely, observational studies—studies, which are, by nature, anecdotal, suffer from recall bias, and can point only to correlation, not causation.

But more to the point, the authors are simply wrong:  we in fact can have RCTs for this pandemic, and researchers in Denmark recently reported on just such a study—with very interesting results.  But I defer that discussion for the moment.

Howard and colleagues then note that, even with the second-best observational studies, we have only one: “Only one observational study has directly analyzed the impact of mask use in the community on COVID transmission.”  This study, of Beijing households, found masks to be effective, but only if all members wore them, and only if use was implemented before anyone displayed any symptoms.  This study thus has no relevance to broader public use of masks.  A few other small studies have been done on SARS and influenza, but the applicability of these to Covid is unknown, and in any case, “none of the studies looked specifically at cloth masks,” which is the explicit recommendation of Howard and colleagues.

They continue:  A 2011 study of 67 studies, both RCT and observational, on ordinary, non-pandemic occurrences of the flu and other respiratory diseases, showed that “there was insufficient evidence to provide recommendation on the use of facial barriers without other measures.”  Hence, masks alone seemed to offer no protection.  If they only work in conjunction with other measures, then it is more likely that the other measures were providing the bulk of the protection.

Most importantly, the authors then briefly mention an April 2020 study (Brainard et al) on masks and respiratory viruses that examined both RCTs and observational cases (pre-pandemic).  Using only the stronger RCT data, Brainard and colleagues concluded that “there was only weak evidence for a small effect.”  This, in fact, is what anti-maskers have been saying for nearly a year—of the actual, reliable evidence to date, we have, at best, “weak evidence of a small effect.”  This is the actual science to date.  And on this basis, we inflict mandatory masks on hundreds of millions of people, including millions of children.

Summing up part one, Howard and friends do their best to make lemonade out of lemons: “Overall, direct evidence of the efficacy of mask use is supportive, but inconclusive.  Since there are no RCTs [on Covid], only one observational trial [Beijing households], and unclear evidence from other respiratory illnesses, we will need to look at a wider body of evidence.”  In other words, since real, solid evidence is lacking, we’ll have to hunt around for indirect, anecdotal, and other dubious means of coming to the conclusion that we seek.

Six Questions

Part two opens with an ethical question:  Can we conduct true Covid RCTs, which necessarily require that we expose unmasked people to potential infection?  Howard badly wants to say ‘no.’  But of course, medical scientists do this all the time; they always strive to have a test group and a control group, the latter of which is unprotected, given a placebo, or otherwise placed at risk.  This is the only scientific way to establish efficacy of medical treatments, and thus it is standard practice.  There are only rare exceptions, such as treating children or pregnant women, in which the ethical concerns indeed usually outweigh the benefits of controlled testing.  But for adults, we take our risks, knowing that many more will be benefitted than harmed.  Despite all this, Howard is adamant:  “ethical issues prevent the availability of an unmasked control arm.”  Again, this is his lame attempt to excuse the utter absence of RCTs, and to force the argument to rest upon much weaker bases.

We see his desperation immediately thereafter, where Howard offers us a fine example of Orwellian doublespeak.  Lacking firm RCT data, “we need to consider first principles, alongside observational data, … natural experiments, and policy considerations”—a conglomeration that he wonderfully summarizes as “a discursive synthesis of interdisciplinary lines of evidence which are disparate by necessity.”  George O himself could not have concocted a better phrase.

He then moves to his six main questions:  1)  What are the population effects of mask-wearing?  2) What is required for mask efficacy?  3) Do masks prevent infected wearers from spreading the disease?  4) Do masks protect uninfected wearers?  5) Do masks have unintended drawbacks? and 6) How might we implement mask mandates?  I will restrict myself to a few key comments on each question.

First:  On population impact, Howard compares both mask and non-mask nations, and then mask and non-mask states in the US.  At the national level, one study found overall transmission rates to be 7.5 times higher in non-mask nations, but there are so many variables at work in different nations that the effect of any one action, like masks, is impossible to isolate (lacking an RCT).  Among the various states, another study claims 2% lower daily growth rate in mask states, versus non-mask.  But again, multiple and diverse measures were taken in the 50 states, over various periods of time, making it impossible to isolate the mask-alone effect.  This is precisely why we need RCT data.

Howard then cites—of all things—a Goldman Sachs study of July 2020, arguing that a nationwide mask mandate could save up to 5% of the US GDP (by avoiding harsh lockdowns), which translates to about $1 trillion.  Think of it:  compel 330 million people to wear masks, and save $1 trillion!  Who could turn that down?  Not Jeremy Howard.  One trillion dollars is too much for him to pass up:  “mask-wearing could be a low-risk measure with a potentially large positive impact.”  Of course, on the other hand, Congress is about to pass a $2 trillion package for “Covid relief”—thus for just half that price, we could all get to live mask-free.  That sounds like a deal to me.

Given the dearth of empirical data, researchers typically turn to computer models, and this is precisely what has happened with Covid.  Howard cites a study by Stutt, explaining that “it is impossible to get accurate experimental evidence for potential control interventions, but that this problem can be approached by using mathematical modelling.”  But math models can easily lead to absurd and unrealistic results.  As Howard explains, “the effect is greatest when 100% of the public wear face masks.  [Stutt] found that, with a policy that all individuals must wear a mask all of the time,” that viral spread could be eliminated.  Right—and if everyone donned spacesuits for the next six months straight, that would do it too.  In the end, as Howard admits, “models presented…are only as accurate as their assumptions and parameters”—but ‘unrealistic accuracy’ is worthless.  “Simulations and similar models are simplifications of the real world, and cannot fully model all of the interactions and drivers of results in practice.”  Of course.

Second:  On efficacy and transmission characteristics, Howard offers little of value.  He cites the widely-used statistic that asymptomatic individuals account for 40 to 45% of all infections, and then concludes, with no justification, that “everyone, adults and children, should wear masks.”

Third:  Regarding the importance of “source control”—that is, of masks blocking infected individuals from spreading the virus—Howard admits that “there are currently no studies that measure the impact of any kind of mask on the amount of infectious [Covid] particles from human actions.”  More bad news for the pro-mask lobby.  Howard is reduced to discussing old studies on other, non-Covid viruses.  In the end, he even cites the infamous “hamster study” that was used in 2020 to justify masks:  infected hamsters were separated in a cage from healthy ones by a “mask curtain,” and the curtain was found to reduce infections.  Nice—if you happen to be a hamster, or live in a cage.

Fourth:  As to the question of protection of the user, Howard admits at the start that “it is much harder to directly test mask efficacy for PPE using a human subject, so simulations must be used instead”—with all the shortcomings cited above.  He then refers to three observational studies, in “health care environments” (e.g. in a hospital), showing some improvement with masks.  In discussing another study, Howard again laments the absence of a real RCT study, noting that “there was not a ‘no mask’ control group because it was deemed ‘unethical’.”  Most existing data on wearer protection was done with the flu virus, but “it is not yet known to what extent findings from influenza apply to COVID-19 filtration.”  In the end, Howard offers a pile of qualifications:  “Overall, it appears that cloth face covers can provide good fit and filtration for PPE in some community contexts, but results will vary depending on material and design, the way they are used, and the setting in which they are used” (emphasis added).  It inspires little confidence.

Fifth:  Of the sociological considerations, Howard and colleagues provide little of relevance.  They are concerned that mask-wearers may become over-confident and thus adopt risky behaviors.  They are concerned that mandating masks only for the sick—as has always been done in the past—risks “stigmatizing” them.  The same holds for blacks and other minorities, who (rightly) fear being seen as criminal threats if they alone are masked.  Howard concludes, unsurprisingly, that mask-wearing as “universal policy” is the best solution.

Best of all, says Howard, masks can create a “new symbolism.”  Mask-wearing “can provide feelings of empowerment and self-efficacy,” which can in turn “make masks symbols of altruism and solidarity.”  Talk about virtue-signaling!  Prove your moral worth!—wear a mask!

Six:  Howard’s “implementation considerations” are devoid of useful content.  Mask mandates can be “challenging” and “polarizing” (really?), but with sufficient scare-mongering, governments can drive up rates.

In his short concluding section, Howard ends with another highly-qualified statement:  “The available evidence suggests that near-universal adoption of nonmedical masks when out in public, in combination with complementary public health measures, could successfully reduce…community spread, if such measures are sustained” (again, with emphasis added).  He then again cites the Goldman-Sachs figure of $1 trillion savings with a national mandate.  In the end, Howard and friends have almost nothing to stand on; they have no valuable RCT study data, they have only weak “observational” results, and they must draw from older studies on non-Covid viruses that are of dubious value.  And yet, they can recommend that governments “strongly encourage” the “widespread” use of masks, in conjunction with the “appropriate regulation.”

Behold:  Real Data!

Had poor Mr. Howard been a bit more perceptive during the writing of his study, he would have encountered an astonishing situation:  a team of researchers had started, already in April 2020, to conduct an actual RCT test of Covid infections, in real people, living in real-life situations.  This is the very situation that Howard called ‘impossible,’ and something that was rife with ‘ethical problems.’  And yet there it was:  a team of Danish researchers had recruited 6,000 average Danes to test the efficacy of mask-wearing—specifically, whether masks protected the wearer, and if so, by how much.

A research team led by Henning Bundgaard—an actual doctor with an actual PhD and a professor at the top medical university in Denmark—gave high-quality surgical-grade masks to 3,000 random healthy people, and simply tracked another 3,000 random healthy people as their non-mask control group.  In Denmark at that time, mask-wearing was optional.  They followed people in both groups for one month, and then administered a standard Covid test to see how many in each group got infected.  The results were striking.  The masked group had 42 infections (1.8%), and the non-mask control group had 53 infections (2.1%).  So yes, the mask group had a slightly lower infection rate, but given the numbers, it is not statistically significant.  For all practical purposes, the two groups were the same; hence, the masks provided no effective benefit.  This was precisely their conclusion:  “The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers…”

There were the usual qualifications, as exist with any such study.  Due to low relative numbers of infections and other methodological limitations, the Bundgaard study had a confidence interval (CI) of 95%, less than the preferred 98 or 99%.  Thus, the data are compatible with a relatively wide variation of possible results; that is, there could actually be a significant reduction from the masks, or even a significant detriment from them, statistically speaking.  Hence, the study technically provides “inconclusive results,” as Bundgaard readily admits.  Only more research can answer this question more definitively.  Be that as it may, it was still a true randomized control test, and still provides useful and statistically significant results.

Needless to say, these results were not what the dominant pro-maskers wanted to see.  Consequently, ‘cancel culture’ swung into gear against Dr. Bundgaard and team.  Or rather, ‘pre-cancel culture’:  major medical journals refused to publish his study.  It was simply not welcome news.  This resulted in at least a 3-month delay, which is very unfortunate, given the urgency of the situation.  Finally, in late November, the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine published the report:  “Effectiveness of Adding a Mask Recommendation to Other Public Health Measures.”

The reaction was predictable.  The media almost entirely ignored it, as did all those in government and other positions of authority; evidently they felt it was inappropriate to “muddy the water” with such contradictory information.  Response from the UK medical profession was more extensive, more honest, and generally positive, though not without its critics.  On the negative side, doctors suggested that the low infection rates skewed the results toward ‘no difference’; some suggested that better results would have been seen in higher-infection Asian nations, and others pointed out that the sample size (6,000) was simply not high enough to resolve the difference.  A couple of critics argued that a one-month study could not catch all cases, given a 14-day incubation period.  But others were very positive about the study.  Dr. Simon Clarke wrote:

This is a well-designed and carefully presented study.  It provides very good evidence confirming what many people suspected: that wearing a facemask in public, while others around you don’t wear masks, does little or nothing to reduce your risk of being infected by the coronavirus.  In fact, it might even slightly increase your risk of being infected. …  Taken together, all the evidence shows that it is important for health authorities not to over-stress the effectiveness of facemasks as a way to protect wearers.  If people think that wearing a mask means they are reducing their risk of being infected, they are very much mistaken.

Dr. Paul Hunter added this:

The results of the DANMASK-19 randomised controlled trial on face mask use is a good study of the potential value of wearing a face mask to protect the wearer. … The DANMASK-19 study was a well-designed community study. … Swabbing and blood tests at one month would pick up most but not all infections, but this is unlikely to have biased the results and they are less likely to be biased than self-reported symptoms without a diagnosis confirmation. … This finding is in line with our own systematic review published in March, where we estimated the value of wearing masks as primary prevention was about 6% but in the range 20% to -19%.  Adding this study to our own review would not materially affect our conclusions.

Another researcher, Dr. Julii Brainard, had this to say:

This is a well-run trial with enough participants to have high confidence in the results—therefore the statistical analysis was adequately powered and inherently adjusted for possible confounders, unlike most studies that try to make conclusions about mask-wearing and catching respiratory disease. …  The findings are very similar to what emerged when we assessed earlier research on mask wearing to prevent influenza-like illness: that mask wearing appears to have [only] a small protective effect to the wearers.  The magnitude of the protective effect and its statistical significance are not at the thresholds that would normally be required to make a recommendation in favour of mask-wearing.

The situation was encapsulated by Professor Ashley Woodcock: “This is a very valuable community study.  The paper is very clear, the analysis correct, and the interpretation appropriate.”  And a short but widely circulated article in the Spectator (UK) by two prominent Oxford professors was simply titled, “Landmark Danish study finds no significant effect for facemasks.”

Subtler Arguments against Masks

The primary argument against masks, then, is this:  1)  They do not protect the wearer.  Based on limited data so far, this seems to be true.  Of course, we still want to know if they protect others, meaning, others who are not wearing masks—because we already know that others wearing masks are unprotected.

But if we think about it, we realize that there is a certain symmetry at work here.  The problem of transmission is one of output and input:  an infected person expels the virus, and a healthy person inhales the virus.  But if the masks don’t block the inflow (as proven above), then they don’t block the outflow.  Masks are not a one-way valve.  The same airflow patterns ‘in’ are reflected in airflow patterns ‘out.’  Yes, these patterns are different in masked people versus unmasked, but evidently they do not halt the ingestion of viral particles; hence, they do not halt the expulsion.  I suspect that future research will bear this out.

Granted, this seems to conflict with common sense.  It would seem that masks, by blocking at least some our expelled droplets, must be helping, at least a little bit.  And of course, they do block some of the germs.  But the evidence suggests that this does not prevent infection.  As long as the expelled air is not rigorously scrubbed of droplets—such as in a filtered respirator or full body suit—they still escape, and are still passed on to people, masked or otherwise, at roughly the same rate.  This is the moral of the Danish study.

But there are other reasons to reject mask mandates.  I set aside here trivial concerns such as cost and inconvenience.  Yes, it’s a bit of a hassle to ‘mask up,’ but I don’t put much weight on that.  Same with cost, given that one can cut up an old t-shirt to make a reusable mask.  Bulk paper masks costs perhaps 15 or 20 cents each.  I will also bypass the concern that masks cause us to breathe in our own carbon dioxide; this is true to a small extent, but I’ve seen no evidence that this is detrimental in any way.  So let me set all these aside.

Consider, then, the following issues, rarely or never discussed:

2)  The present mask policy is irrational.  Here’s proof:  Find anyone in a position of authority—a teacher, an administrator, a restaurant owner, a politician of any sort—and ask them:  “What are the objective criteria by which we decide when to stop requiring masks?”  You will get—no substantive answer.  “When it seems right,” “when infections come down,” “when most of the people have vaccines,” “when we are confident…,” and so on.  But these are irrational answers.  A scientific, medical emergency should have quantifiable, objective criteria by which actions are taken.  This is not an unreasonable request.  But our authorities don’t seem to care.  Basically they are telling us, “We will maintain our mask policy as long as humanly possible, until the political pressure grows so high that we are forced to backtrack.”

3)  Masks are dehumanizing.  The most personal, most intimate aspect of our public person is our face.  I think we all have noticed how hard it is to interact with others, especially strangers, in a mask.  The mouth and lower face convey so much unspoken information about who we are, what we are thinking, and how we are feeling.  Lacking this input, we are left with the eyes, bodily movements, and the voice.  Obviously we can get by, but it is extremely unnerving for many, and undignifying for all.

4)  Masks for children are a form of abuse.  It’s bad enough for adults, but think about the effect on youth and children, who are still learning how to interact with others and how to make sense of all interpersonal clues.  It is a horrible abuse of children to make them wear masks, especially given data suggesting that they are at extremely low risk, both for illness and for transmission.  Think of a poor 5- or 6-year-old who has worn a mask, off and on, for a year now; this is a substantial portion of his or her life, and cannot but have a detrimental effect.

5)  Masks are ugly.  Say what you like, people in general are concerned about appearance.  And masks—all masks—are downright ugly.  No one, not even the most beautiful supermodel, looks good in a mask.  In fact, the better-looking the person, the uglier the effect.  (Believe me, no one cares if a Chuck Schumer or a Deborah Lipstadt wear a mask.)  That’s why, throughout history, masks have been used by performers, clowns, actors, and criminals; they warp and distort that most-personal of human features, the face.

6)  Masks represent mindless compliance with authority.  Present-day governmental figures, at all levels, are virtually devoid of credibility.  Thus, when they order us to wear masks, they had better have some truly compelling and transparent reason to do so.  Here, they have almost nothing at all—nothing but an appeal to history (“they used masks during the Spanish flu!”) and to so-called common sense.  But scientifically, neither of these hold up.  Lacking a compelling reason, it becomes strictly an obedience test, and a highly visible one at that.  It’s like a reverse scarlet letter:  it is physical, concrete virtue-signaling.  “I’m an uncritical rule-follower, I trust the authorities, I automatically yield to their directives”—this is what a mask conveys.

7)  Masks represent a kind of unquenchable sin.  Early in the pandemic, we were told that lockdowns, masks, self-quarantine, etc would only be necessary for two weeks.  In 14 days, the virus would cease to be transmitted, and we could all resume our lives.  But of course, that did not happen.  “People are violating the quarantine!” we were told.  “Not everyone is wearing masks!”  And so two weeks became a month, became six months, became a year.  Lately, Lord Anthony Fauci tells us to expect to wear masks into 2022, even with mass vaccination; now it is the dreaded ‘variants’ that are to blame.  And who knows what will come next.  The bottom line is this:  The sin of coronavirus can never be absolved.  Even fully vaccinated people are not allowed to go mask-free!  (“You can still harbor the virus,” we are told.)  This idea of eternal sin is extremely detrimental to human well-being; and there is something deeply Hebraic about it all.

8)  Mandates are a policy of enforced victimhood.  A mask mandate compels you to wear a mask, even when you are feeling fine.  Why is this?  Because you can be an “asymptomatic spreader.”  You can be sick and not even know it.  In fact, it’s worse than this:  We presume you are sick, and therefore we compel you to wear a mask.  The policy is:  Assume you are sick, and then act accordingly.  This is pathological.

9)  Mandates are cowardice.  Many low-level mandates—gyms, restaurants, libraries, malls—exist because those responsible for the local mandate are simply cowards.  They are afraid to buck the trend, or to be the first to drop the mandate.  Everyone operates on the mythical “abundance of caution” principle, which means that, in practice, nothing changes.  “I’ll drop my mandate if you do,” “No, you first.”  On and on, round and round.

10)  Mask-wearing has become cultish.  It is irrational, or at least hyper-paranoid, to demand that everyone wear masks.  We are not allowed to ask for evidence, not allowed to question authorities on this matter (lest we be called ‘racists’ or ‘White supremacists’), not allowed to press back on Emperor Biden, Lord Fauci, or the Jewess in charge of the CDC, Rochelle Walensky.  It is functionally a cult—obey, don’t question, don’t challenge, don’t think for yourself.

So, why do they do it?  Granted that there may be some, small rationale for encouraging mass usage of masks, why do the powers-that-be go to the extreme and issue mandates?  Are they really that concerned about our well-being?  Or are there ulterior motives at work?  It would seem that they relish the opportunity to enforce conformity in the population, to frighten them into subservience, and to effectively suppress individual thought, individual identity, and individual personality.  Masks, indeed, have a homogenizing effect:  People lose their individuality in masks.  They become, just a bit more, the mindless citizen, the anonymous consumer, the faceless cog.  Somehow our leaders relish this idea; individual free-thinkers, after all, are nothing more than trouble-makers for those who would impose uniformity of thought and action.  They are the “domestic terrorists”; they are the “White supremacists”; they are the “insurrectionists.”  In a mask, people look just a bit more alike, and therefore they can be treated just a bit more alike.

Who is really at risk?

The final question to ask is the larger one, beyond mask mandates: Who is really at risk in this entire pandemic?  We have long known that children, youth, and the middle-aged are less vulnerable than the elderly; 59% of all Covid deaths occurred in those 75 and up, and 80% in those 65 and up.  We have also known that whites are generally less at risk than non-whites, specifically, than Blacks and Hispanics.  The age differential is obvious, but the racial disparity has only recently come to some explanation.  A recent study indicates that, of all things, Neanderthal DNA may confer some degree of protection.  If so, this would explain why whites suffer less than nonwhites, since only a European ancestry provides any Neanderthal genetic material.  Higher white survivability may indeed be “biological,” despite previous protests to the contrary.

Recent studies have also confirmed what was long suspected, namely, that obesity is a prime driving factor in severe Covid illness.  The CDC reported that 51% of all hospitalizations occurred in those who were obese, and another 28% in those overweight.  In other words, only 21% of hospitalizations occurred in people who were of normal weight or underweight.

One other group at notable risk is Jews, especially the Orthodox variety.  A report from October 2020 notes that Jews “from Jerusalem to New York” are being decimated by Covid.  In the UK, Orthodox Jews have an infection rate approaching 75%, versus 7% for the British public at large.  The same article states that “Jewish men are twice as likely to die from Covid-19 than Christian men in the UK, even after adjusting for socio-economic factors.”  A death rate double that of Gentiles suggests, again, some genetic factor at work.

Putting it bluntly, the dominant Covid risk factors for severe illness or death seem to be:  old, fat, Black, Hispanic, or Jew.  These are the people most at risk, and these are the people dying from it.  Perhaps there is a sort of cosmic justice at work; perhaps Nature never intended such people to exist in numbers like those at present; perhaps she is correcting her error.  Correspondingly, there is some good news here: if you are white, reasonably fit, and under 80, your risks are minimal, to say the least.  But with our Jew- and minority-obsessed government and media in the US, perhaps we can now understand why there is a “coronavirus crisis” in the first place, and why we must wear a mask.  It’s not for us; it’s for them.

In the end, we get something like a distorted version of the Emperor’s New Clothes.  In the traditional fable, the mad emperor walks around naked and yet his cowed subjects all claim to love his new clothes.  Only the virtuous youth is willing to speak the truth.  In the real world of today, the mad emperor Biden walks around wearing something—his mask—and his cowed subjects all claim to love it, and yet in reality he wears nothing—that is, nothing that works, or that works very well.  We need to be like the virtuous youth, and show it to be what it is.

Thomas Dalton, PhD, has authored or edited several books and articles on politics, history, and religion, with a special focus on National Socialism in Germany.  His works include a new translation series of Mein Kampf, and the books Eternal Strangers (2020), The Jewish Hand in the World Wars (2019), and Debating the Holocaust (4th ed, 2020), all available at  For all his writings, see his personal website