In our supposedly liberal and transparent democratic country, it seems that it was a group of remote and unnamed scientists, outside of the formal SAGE infrastructure, who effectively imposed masks on British citizens. Were they well-meaning academics offering their expertise, or conflicted ideologues engaged in a global endeavour to control the masses? You decide.
What are the roots of the technocratic and transhumanist policies currently being pushed onto society? In this essay, Matthew Ehret traces two centuries of British imperial grand strategists who adapted Thomas Malthus’ system of scientific governance of useless eaters in opposition to the deeper creative impulses of the human species.
Some experts argued that masks would help slow the infection rate.
Others pointed out that improper use of face masks can amplify risks, for instance by acting as a reservoir for virus particles.
It seems that today’s mantra of ‘listen to the science’ is not as straightforward as it seems.
Claims to wear masks are untested and unchallenged, then elevated to the status of ‘the science’.
The hasty assembling of research articles in support of a policy position is not science. This is as likely to be to be dangerously misleading as it is to yield even negligible benefits.
Scientific controversy in the 21st century is settled by institutional weight and muscle, not by experiment.
The president of the Royal Society wants to have his cake and eat it: he wants the government to defer to institutional science, but not for science to be accountable for this influence.
The government, weakened by its capitulations to breakfast TV anchors, politically motivated scientists and scientific institutions, may find itself unable to roll back policies which turn out to do more harm than good.
The study, from Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, is freely available for download from The Royal Society website. Nevertheless, we doubted that many people would take time to verify the claims so we took a look. What did we find?
The bulk of study is in fact an investigation into policies and behavioural factors behind face mask usage. Only a small section is dedicated to analysing the effectiveness of cloth face coverings and even this provides nothing new. Further, rather than performing randomised controlled trials (RCTs), which form the highest level of evidence in medical science, this report simply looked at existing research.
From this existing research, the authors forced a conclusion that ‘face masks and coverings work’ but with some very important caveats:
The tests were carried out in medical and lab settings, not within the community.
There were other factors that contributed to the masks’ effectiveness.
The conclusions were based on small studies.
The study limitations can be found in the document appendix, table A5.1.
What can we conclude from the release of this study?
The Royal Society published, on 26 June, a ‘rapid review of the science of the effectiveness of different face-mask types’ – a dense, 37-page tract which made the case for face masks. It was neither peer-reviewed nor opened to wide expert and public debate before being used to argue for policy.
…the hasty assembling of research articles in support of a policy position is not science, and demanding that the government introduce new ‘taboos’ is naive and clumsy social engineering, not careful examination of the facts.
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