Letter: With latest mask study, a hope for respect

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Sloganeering like “trust the science” has yielded once again — at least in the words of one New York Times columnist — to the tenets of the scientific method, where science is a process of discovery, not a foregone conclusion. The paper announced in an op-ed on Feb. 22, titled “‘Do Something’ Is Not Science,” that the latest Cochrane study out of England about masks seems conclusive: Masks did not make any difference.

States that mandated masks had similar outcomes as states that did not. Also, results from randomized control trials in multiple countries showed the same. From his consideration of the evidence, Bret Stephens states that “mask mandates were a fool’s errand from the start.”

Since the Times sang a different song just a few long days ago, I am assuming that they understand the irony of this announcement. Or, perhaps their columnist is just gaslighting his nonmasking readers because he did not apologize. I can’t know his intentions, but, when science becomes a battering ram, the evidence of these past few years seems crystal clear. We are out of scientific territory and in the political realm when rights and dignities are severely trampled in Asheville, and in almost every nation on earth, from fool’s errands.

It turns out that advocates for unencumbered breath for themselves and their children did not want to kill grandma or anyone else, for that matter. All free breathers whom I knew looked at studies on masks which had been done for over 20 years and came to conclusions based on the scientific record. The lead Oxford researcher, Tom Jefferson, states unequivocally that the recent mask studies were “nonrandomized,” “flawed observational studies,” a fact which my friends and I deducted years ago from our research.

Will these past few years of heated debates over personal freedom become more respectful with hindsight after this latest news? I can only pray that it will be so. May all humans who choose to breathe fresh air and not be masked be welcomed anywhere in the public sphere and be treated with dignity in the future. The spirit of science belongs to inquiry, not to dogmatic certainties that prevent our being able to even smile one to another.

— Christiana Dillingham


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13 thoughts on “Letter: With latest mask study, a hope for respect

  1. Grant Millin

    We all like being ‘ free breathers’… which means surviving pandemics like COVID 19; which may not be the last one.

    Wearing a masking and getting vaccinated remain core public health responsibilities for ethical citizenship. That’s how to be respectful, dignified; and more likely to survive and support the health of everyone.

    • WNC

      Dr Fauci said mask don’t work, then he said they do, then he said certain types work. Then actual studies show some of the most used mask have no benefits. Let’s not forget some ethical citizenship, do-gooder leaders said wear a mask while walking out side alone or be arrested . So much for ethnically citizenship.
      Talking about mask without mentioning the type of mask your speaking about ends credibility on the subject.

    • Aaronw

      Masks do not work, nore do the vaccines. I got sick and wore a mask consistently and contracted the covid 19 virus after getting my shot and I am nowhere near the only one with this exact story. Seriously. stop spreading false information. The Vaers website (which only reports only 1% of the death due to the vaccine), has made available the thousands and thousands of deaths due to this vaccine. It’s all public knowledge.

  2. Libertie

    Fact Check: “People online are touting the results of a Cochrane review to incorrectly claim that it shows masks “don’t work” against the coronavirus. But the primary conclusion of the review is that it’s uncertain from randomized controlled trials whether mask interventions in the community help slow the spread of respiratory illnesses.” https://www.factcheck.org/2023/03/scicheck-what-the-cochrane-review-says-about-masks-for-covid-19-and-what-it-doesnt

    • Aaronw

      Fact checkers do not have a degree, nore do they care what is truth. Fact checkers have only one mission and that is to silence anyone who goes against their (funded) narrative

  3. Anon

    And this is a local issue, which ostensibly the MX opinion section is supposed to be about… how, exactly?

    • Tracy Rose

      Thanks for the question. The letter writer relates the issue to our local area in this line: “We are out of scientific territory and in the political realm when rights and dignities are severely trampled in Asheville, and in almost every nation on earth, from fool’s errands.”

  4. cecil bothwell

    Cochrane issued a correction. Their compilation of multiple studies DID NOT show that masking didn’t work. It showed that encouraging people to mask did not work. In fact, in the largest of the studies, covering about 360,000 people, it was shown that in the towns where masking was more prevalent the spread of COVID was reduced together with the death rate. That one op-ed in the NYT got it all wrong has led to massive misinformation..

    • christiana

      Mr. Bothwell’s comment here only gives the political picture, not the scientific one. The Cochrane study showed that masks did not make any difference and that conclusion stands. The Cochrane editor issued a correction due to political pressure. The lead authors of the study, including Tom Jefferson, did not retract their findings. When Mr. Jefferson was contacted by substack author MaryAnne Demasi, he said “Cochrane has thrown its own researchers under the bus again. The apology issued by Cochrane is from Soares-Weiser, not from the authors of the review.” Demasi writes that many believe the editor responded to pressure because of a grant of one and a half million dollars to the organization by the Gates Foundation. This is exactly the problem that my letter addressed.

      Mr. Jefferson and his colleagues looked at 78 randomised trials with over 610,000 participants. Mr Bothwell refers to the Bangladesh study, one of the 78 trials that the scientists reviewed. In an interview with Demasi, Mr Jefferson said that the Bangladesh study was not about whether masks worked but about “increasing compliance for wearing a mask.” Also, there was a reanalysis of the Bangladeshi study which showed significant bias.

      My point is highlighted by Mr. Bothwell’s comment. Citing one study without knowing the scientific history of studies on masks – and viruses, for that matter – can lead to politicians and others forcing policy based on insufficient and very flawed conclusions. This is a devastation of freedom. Poor science should never mask babies who need oxygen desperately for brain development, nor any other person who chooses to breath freely.

  5. MIke Rains

    There is so much fake news out there (on both sides) that anyone without much intelligence will be easily taken.
    Anyone with half a brain would realize that a well fitted N95 mask offers marked protection against all sorts of airborne nasties. It’s not perfect; nothing is, but efficacy has been well proven. Of course, during the epidemic, we had people putting bandanas over their face to qualify for masking. And yes Dr. Fauci did a great disservice to the country by initially donwplaying mask effectiveness. He did this because the US got caught flat footed with low inventory of N95’s for medical workers on the front line of COVID.

    • WNC

      By stating Dr Fauci lied to purposely caused people to use less mask ( which is true ), that renders any future statement he made of no credibility.

  6. Aaronw

    The masks don’t work, they only trap what ever is air borne in the mask. Anyone can read on the box that they are sold in, it clearly states that it does not prevent the transmission of viruses.

  7. Denise Lynn

    Thank you so much, Ms. Dillingham, for giving voice to the many thousands of us here in Asheville and throughout Western North Carolina who did our own research on the scientific literature regarding masks, and came to the conclusion that not only do they not work, they can also cause significant harm.

    I was going to include a list here of all the scientific studies, including randomized controlled trials, reviews, and meta-analyses illustrating the above conclusions, but gave it up as the list of citations grew to 30 and there were hundreds more. No one is here to read a scholarly dissertation, but let’s just say, the citations are there.

    Besides, while masks are an important to consider, this debate does beg a more fundamental question: Is asymptomatic transmission really a thing? Not according to a massive study in China. The researchers said that “A mass screening programme of more than 10 million residents of Wuhan, China, performed after SARS-CoV-2 was brought under control, has identified 300 asymptomatic cases of covid-19, none of which was infectious.”

    If asymptomatic transmission is not real, as the mists of time and our common sense tell us, why do we need to wear masks, exactly? If the PCR tests have been shown to be bogus and change results radically depending on how many amplifications there are, why exactly are we believing the numbers put out by the media? Especially with the unprecedented consideration of a positive PCR test as a “case,” even in the absence of symptoms?

    Like Ms. Dillingham, I would also like to believe that moving forward, public policy about medical interventions like masks in Asheville as elsewhere, would no longer be based on faulty scientism that ignores the nested dolls of lies that we have all been traumatized by as a result of the COVID experience.

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