A letter to the editor published in the April 19 issue [“What the Mask Study Really Said,” Xpress] included several statements that were either incorrect or misleading.
Cochrane did not “correct” the results of the Cochrane Review in question. Instead, it stated its opinion that the conclusions of the study should refer to “interventions to promote mask wearing” rather than “mask wearing” itself. However, opinions are subject to conflict-of-interest pressures, and in this case, it is notable that Cochrane officially partners with the World Health Organization and receives major funding from the National Institutes of Health. Both organizations asserted strongly that masking was an effective way to stop the spread of COVID.
Ironically, the one study that the letter writer championed as proof of masking effectiveness (the “Bangladesh study”) was one in which the researchers were tasked with both promoting mask usage for Bangladeshi policymakers, and evaluating the effectiveness of those promotions with respect to COVID-related outcomes, a clear conflict of interest.
If you are promoting mask-wearing, then you must communicate the importance of masking for the purpose of preventing COVID transmission. But if your study conclusions do not confirm your claims of effectiveness, then you look a bit foolish, as though the information you distributed was really propaganda, rather than factual. Thus, there is great incentive, at every decision point in the study, to make a decision that favors the claim of mask effectiveness.
To assess that high risk of bias, the Bangladesh study data were re-analyzed by Chikina and others [avl.mx/crz]. They were able to confirm that anomalous differences in sample size were due to study bias, thereby destroying the scientific validity of the Bangladesh study results. Moreover, their unbiased analysis of the data showed there was no valid evidence in the data that masking (or a greater amount of masking) prevented COVID infections, according to the usual scientific standard (95% confidence).
Sadly, the repudiation of the Cochrane Review by Cochrane governance bodies gives only a tiny hint of the unprecedented level of breathtaking censorship that became the new paradigm during the whole sordid COVID affair. Social and mainstream media, political figures, governments, scientific journals, medical licensing boards and academic institutions all participated with gusto, proving that they no longer deserve your trust.
Of all the bad advice and misinformation peddled to you nonstop in the last three years, perhaps the worst advice was that you should not do your own research because you are not smart enough to distinguish between genuine people and hucksters. If you seek out alternative sources of news, you absolutely have the ability to see “red flags,” to understand conflict of interest, to connect the dots and to note who is censoring the data and the truth. And that is exactly why you are dissuaded from doing so.
But how do you find the truth, given a censorship structure that has the goal of destroying the reputations and livelihoods of researchers who reach conclusions that differ from the mainstream narrative? For those of you who are willing to think for yourself and trust your own judgment and instincts, I would encourage you to start watching the weekly video episodes posted at TheHighWire.com or the shorter episode segments, such as the recent ones that highlight the stunning censorship and suppression of budesonide and ivermectin, effective COVID treatments that could have saved millions of lives.
Science and censorship cannot coexist. Neither can science and conflict of interest. Follow the money and the censorship, and you will find the truth.
— William Stanish, Ph.D., biostatistics
Editor’s note: While supported by some studies for treatment of COVID-19, ivermectin, an antiparasitic drug, is currently not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of COVID-19, and the National Institutes of Health’s COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel recommends against the use of the drug in the treatment of COVID-19 (avl.mx/cs0).