“Of course you must wear a mask…all the time if possible.  How else do you expect to avoid the disease; it’s airborne, y’know.  All the experts agree, from Dr. Fauci to the CDC and the WHO and anybody who’s anybody.  Even our political leaders – except for Trump and the Surgeon General and a few of their friends – and these leaders have so much more information than we do.” 

All this is part of the creed of scientism – as opposed to science.  Scientism is a religious faith that says we should obey so-called experts because they are experts.  Demonstrations of expertise are for the doubters; we obey Dr. Fauci’s exhortation to wear the mask because he is Dr. Fauci.  Most governors and mayors obey him – and the CDC guidelines – for the same reason.  Actual science tells a different story.

There are essentially four ways to contract a virus according to Scott Alexander in the Slate Star Codex, March 23, 2020.  They are contact, touching an infected person; droplet, contacting liquefied particles through sneezing, spitting, talking, or coughing; airborne, transiting particles lingering in air before dropping to the ground; and fomite, touching contaminated objects.  A fifth way is called aerosol, is a combination of contact with airborne or droplet particles. 

All contacts are not equal; particles must penetrate the body in sufficient numbers to attain a critical mass for infection.  This varies depending on the immune system of the contaminated person.  The issue, however, is whether the acolytes of scientism are correct to demand the public wear masks as a protective measure.  In fact, they are wrong…dead wrong.

Alexander reviewed the literature and concluded – as did the Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Fauci himself as recently as March – any masks below the grade of the N-95 respirator were essentially useless for protecting wearers from COVID-19. 

This was essentially due to the fact masks do not create a seal around facial entry points, although CDC and Fauci believed they did protect others from the wearer’s own discharges.  (Masks do not even cover the eyes.)  The article asserts the N-95 is effective for two-way protection against airborne and aerosol contamination but specifies only when worn by trained professionals.  It overlooks or underplays factors that negate even these modest claims.

For example, the studies Alexander reviewed claim masks reduce – without eliminating – particle penetration.  However, there were numerous admitted “confounders” in the studies – factors that invalidate results because they ignore variables over which researchers had no control.  This is the same issue cited by Fauci and company to challenge hydroxychloroquine with the exception HCQ is currently in clinical trials that account for confounding factors.   

Drs. Karlfeldt and Couchman, practicing in Idaho’s Treasure Valley, addressed these issues in a recent YouTube video.  Couchman was a paramedic before med school; he was specially trained – and forbidden to wear an N-95 – until certified in its use.  He logged many failures before getting that certification – this is typical – and noted that without proper use there is nothing but a false sense of security from wearing the respirator.  He and Karlfeldt agreed anyone lacking such training would receive no benefit from the N-95.  Surgical quality masks – with three layers of protection – were addressed in multiple studies demonstrating they too offer false security. 

Couchman and Karlfeldt assert proper use of the N-95 over long periods forces the wearer to re-breathe his own carbon dioxide – not good for the immune system and compromising for blood oxygenation.  Meanwhile, laboratory tests of several grades of masks found exhaled COVID particles, which are small enough to pass through molecular gaps in mask fabric, reached the outside of the mask in large quantities. 

The triple-layer masks were found to have more COVID particles on the outermost than on the innermost layer according to Seongman Bae MD, et al in The Annals of Internal Medicine, April 6, 2020.  Bae’s South Korean study found the masks created a petri dish-like effect because they provide a pathogen-friendly environment of warmth, moisture, and darkness after usage that actually increases risk to both user and contacts.  They retain a pathogen rich moisture from the forced re-breathing of one’s own air supply, inhalation of carbon dioxide, and reduction of oxygen intake.  Although N-95s were not part of the study, it stands to reason the better seal of the respirator would further compromise oxygen intake and aggravate rebreathing issues over mere masks.

The Bae study supported similar findings of Dr. Leonie Walker’s 2015 review of the literature; she found no evidence masks are of any serious benefit and strong suspicion they actually make wearers and contacts more susceptible to infection.  She cited as just one example The New England Journal of Medicine publication during the H1N1 pandemic by Shine et al – November 5, 2009 – to this effect.  Dr. Couchman referred to a study in The British Journal of Medicine indicating issues of moisture retention, re-use of masks, and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection.  Dr. Karlfeldt stated – in light of the oxygenation and re-breathing issues already mentioned – “Prolonged mask wear will compromise your immune system.”

Physicians for Informed Consent recently posted on their Facebook pages, “…Facemasks may not significantly protect from pandemic influenza?

“The primary finding was that regular hand hygiene was significantly protective in protecting from pandemic influenza infection, while facemask use was not significantly protective.
The significant protective effect of hand hygiene following contact with infected individuals or contaminated cases, which were found to be comparable to general hand hygiene practices; this supports the position that protective measures both during and immediately following viral exposure will drive intervention effectiveness. While this seems intuitively reasonable, an important implication is that the frequency of performing such maneuvers may need to increase in pandemic situations, where attack rates and viral loads are likely to be higher than during seasonal epidemics”.

One has to wonder why – with all the caution-and-warnings available in scientific literature to which doctors and government officials are privy – these experts who warned against mask use two months ago are now threatening the wrath of God and government against people declining their use.  One dares hope employers will rethink their policies about requiring employees to wear masks.  

And one may echo the title of this post, “Keep wearing those face masks…if you dare.”  Or we can ask the God we serve to resurrect common sense and respect for authentic science in the government and people of our land.  My money is on the latter. 

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Barnes and Nobles, Amazon, or at [email protected]

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