Watch out: anti-maskers are in your midst
Contrary to confusing polls, over 1/3 of the population are against the latest move
It’s hard to remember a political group viewed with more widespread scorn and contempt than the so-called ‘anti-maskers.’ In the political status hierarchy, these appear to be the new lowest of the low. Grandees from the Left, Centre and Right have lined up in recent days to denounce them in the media for their selfishness and infantile libertarianism.
But while everyone is enjoying lambasting these easy targets, it’s worth asking: how many of them are there in the UK?
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Helpfully, YouGov published a poll earlier this week of whether voters think mask-wearing in shops should be compulsory or up to the individual and the particular scenario. The results were intriguing. Quite differently from America, where attitudes to masks align more and more closely with political affiliation, masks are still not a particularly political issue in the UK. Overall, 60% of people think masks should be compulsory in shops and 34% think it should be voluntary, and there’s a similar majority of mask enthusiasts across all groups: 65% of Labour voters, 57% of Tories, 69% of Remain voters, 55% of Leavers. For such a highly charged question, this is an unusually consistent figure.
The flip side of these same results, of course, is that those people who prefer a more voluntary approach make up a sizeable minority of every group in the country. In every demographic — not just political but class, age, gender — somewhere between 24% and 42% actively dissent from being forced to wear them in shops (except Liberal Democrat voters who, if there are any left, long since forgot about the ‘liberal’ bit). That means that, in the context of the current debate around masks in shops, whatever your politics, around a third of your own group are probably against. Anti-maskers in your midst!
Curiously, YouGov published and tweeted out a new poll today, which appeared to show very different results. Here’s YouGov’s Chris Curtis:
Would you support or oppose making it compulsory to wear face masks in shops while the coronavirus outbreak is still ongoing?
Don't know 4%
Looks to me like some members of the Westminster elite might be out of touch with real peoplehttps://t.co/yVy1N0sKTb
— Chris Curtis (@chriscurtis94) July 15, 2020
The huge difference — 60% support has suddenly become 80% support — is explained by the wording. This time the pollsters added ‘while the coronavirus outbreak is still going’ to the question wording. That is what moved it from 60-34 to 80-16 in favour. But an ‘outbreak’ implies something suddenly growing — it is quite hard to describe the current coronavirus situation in the UK as an ‘outbreak’. The synonyms I have found include ‘sudden occurrence’, ‘eruption’, ‘upsurge’, ‘flare-up’. None of these are true today. The levels of Covid-19 in the community have come down so much that it doesn’t even qualify as an epidemic — literally one or two people in every 10,000 as per the ONS study, and it’s lower than it ever has been since the peak.
So it’s worth remembering that, absent slightly dubious wording around ‘outbreaks’, over a third of the population are against this move — and that includes a chunk of almost every tribe you can think of. Including yours…
As a market researcher, let me give a further caveat. All such research in the UK today is done using panels. These are self-selecting groups where individuals volunteer to do research for small gratuities. Panels are generally very reliable barometers of public opinion for commercial purposes, which is where most research is done, and demographic weighting can be done to account for most distortions.
But panels have an important blind spot on selection bias that can’t be weighted out. The kind of person who signs up to a panel is, independent of their sex or age or location, massively more likely to believe that engaging in collective action for the greater good is worthwhile. That’s why they sign up to a community of people who are asked their opinion in order to make things better.
One is entitled to believe that this is an admirable stance, and wish that more people were like that. (Or you may think that they are the moral busybodies who CS Lewis warned us about!) But regardless of what you think about them morally, as a scientific question of measuring opinion, they are unrepresentative of the population, and this cannot be accounted for by any weighting. The small gratuity is an attempt to balance this out by enticing individualists, which is sufficient for commercial research, but not for research into social issues and public policy.
The consequence is stark for research about social issues and public policy: in any panel survey, if a question is functionally a proxy for “Are you pro-social?”, the pro-social response will always be heavily over-represented. In this case, support for compulsory facemasks is certainly being over-represented in every survey of this type.
Naturally so – my own straw poll, hardly representative, falls conclusively anti-mask. The general observation is that the decision is political and not evidence based. Some expressed real anger at what they consider an imposition, to others feeling we have transcended into the surreal. Which leads to the oft reflection – polls rarely reflect the reality of popular opinion. I come from a corporate background and long ago realised the odious and damaging nature of group think and the drivers of this – the people (described above?) involved.
Food for thought. Thank you.
History repeats itself, it would seem…
“When Mask-Wearing Rules in the 1918 Pandemic Faced Resistance“
I’m an anti-masker because being forced to wear a mask represents so much more than just being forced to wear a mask. Everyone, everywhere knows that a frightened and panicked population will succumb to authority and it should not surprise people to know there are always a few authoritarians about waiting for such moments – even creating them.
I’d be prepared to wear a mask if it meant all other restrictions were lifted and if it was definitely only for a limited time.
As for the polls – judging by my local area, I’d say no more than 10-20% of people are currently out shopping with a mask on. Therefore if my area is representative, the (manipulated) polls – and they always are manipulated to be weaponised later – do not reflect actual public opinion.
the (manipulated) polls – and they always are manipulated to be weaponised later
This is untrue, thankfully. Polls are not perfect, as it is a difficult task to accomplish, but we do it to the best of our ability. No profession manages to do its work perfectly, because we live in an imperfect world. But that does not mean that those professionals are devious manipulators out to get you.
We would all do better to take a step back from imagining conspiracies all around us, and instead look calmly and rationally at the real world causes that affect performance.
Chris – I’m not blaming the polling companies – indeed I expect they have spent years and many pounds trying to get polling samples correct. But I do blame the people who commission the polls. In political polls like the one on facemasks mentioned above, they are all about manipulating the question then “interpreting” the results. They are almost guaranteed to get at least one headline out of it – even when the polling is not really what they want.
I expect that any polling company that cares about its credibility would be unwilling to just ask any question their client wants and then apply to the answers whatever “interpretation” their client wants. As soon as a polling company departs from trying to discern the truth, their market value becomes zilch.
In my area (North Hampshire) most people are wearing masks … usually just me without. I would suggest that the fact that I live in a middle class area of very ‘virtuous’ folk, is a contributor. I like to think the Yorkshire folk are sticking 2 fingers up 😉
Very well put, particularly towards the end where you state correctly “the levels of Corvid-19 in the community have come down so much that it doesn’t even qualify as an epidemic”.
Yet, we supposedly one of the best educated, sophisticated, nations on the planet are about to indulge in the most reprehensible outburst of ‘virtue signalling’ since the Reformation. Have we all gone mad? Or is this decadence at its very worse?
Such a collective outpouring of lack of moral fibre, is unprecedented in English history, although the writing has been on the wall for sometime.
Our clinically obese Prime
Minister and his worthless servants needs to “get a grip”, and stop pandering to a plethora of male hysterics, bed wetters and other feeble minded cretins before it really is too late.
I simply cannot wear one for more than a very few minutes. Neither can one of my daughters. Asthma makes it impossible. It feels like I am drowning. That means we are effectively excluded from public places as there is no way I am prepared to argue the toss with ignorant members of staff or the public. Actually it does not matter as everything i want is on line. There must be many thousands like me and that means more losses to the dying high street and to the hospitality sector. My daughter is excluded from train travel because of it.
Once again an ill thought out and very late in the day attempt by the useless government to curry favour with it’s critics in the liberal media. I can put up with it provided this government is not stampeded into making a mask compulsory the moment you leave your house. That would be like house arrest for me and many others. Given the lack of spine and lack of intelligence displayed by Johnson’s lot I am fearful of what is coming.
Dear Dave, as Asthma diagnosed person you are exempt and do not need a medical certificate to prove it. https://www.gov.uk/governme…
Although the guidelines are very vague.
Also, this has an interesting section of masks on public transport: https://architectsforsocial…
It was pretty late last night, I tried to find the conditions of carriage of my local train franchisee, could find it, to see if they have adopted it, or if National Rail regulations apply. More research needed.
Of course I understand how you want to avoid being challenged and having to explain yourself. As well, as proprietor of a shop, people can make their own rules who they allow into their building or to serve them. Sad times we live in.
I agree with you. It’s the logical next step. The “even more precautionary principle” is to wear your mask whenever you open your door, even to the postman or delivery driver.
Strongly agree – applies to claustrophobics too.
I’m anti for several reasons. First, the only randomised controlled trial there’s been shows decisively no protective effect whatsoever. I recognise why theoretically they should help somewhat but the data disagrees.
Secondly, once on, I doubt we’ll ever be allowed to be mask free. There isn’t a hazard worth speaking about now. It’ll be worse in winter due to flu. I just don’t foresee circs that will reverse it (even though they don’t work). This will permanently impact socialisation. That’s bad, how bad, we don’t know. But it’s not a positive,
It is mass insanity on a global scale. Assuming everyone is diseased and that our immune systems which have all protected us for all of human history has suddenly stopped working.
Is that crazier than assuming 1) no one we come across is infected and contagious, even though we know there’s a several-day asymptomatic contagious period, and 2) our immune systems are well-equipped to cope with a novel virus? You might want to look at mass deaths due to contagious illness throughout history. I think it would help you see our immune systems, alone, are not always adequate.
It is clearly not very deadly to anybody but the elderly. The elderly who are healthy seem to survive rather easily too. This is nothing in comparison to Polio or Spanish Flue which took a toll on the young as well. During Polio and serious Flue outbreaks the world didn’t shut down. This is mass insanity that will not end well. I am not sure if it is even real anymore. There is no explanation for this. http://inproportion2.talkig…
Masks assume that healthy adults should be avoiding contracting this years cold virus. This assumption is WRONG!!
The Covid virus is harmless to healthy adults and so we should be shielding the vulnerable, isolating the sick, and the rest of us should go about our business: contract it, recover and build immunity. This is EXACTLY how vaccine immunisation protects the population.
NB I believe the mortalities this year are due to an ADE reaction to last years flu vaccine. The correlation with those who routinely receive flu jabs and mortality needs to be investigated.
Stop obsessing about ‘cases’ and ‘infection rates’…this is the common cold! Its highly infectious and affects MILLIONS of people each year! Are we really going to keep count of every snotty nose?
On what basis do you say the UK would not be allowed to be mask free again?
Brits wore masks during the Spanish Flu; in the US, masks were legally mandated in many cities.
That public health crisis passed. Life quickly returned to normal for the survivors.
This Covid crisis will pass too.
One tends to conclude that democratic societies are a little more resilient than you might be suggesting.
By the way, here’s a succinct piece by Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, on the mask/science issue:
“Reasonable scientists can disagree on important points, but the government still has to make decisions. Take the example of face masks. The gold standard of scientific evidence is the Randomised Control Trial (RCT) ““ where different groups of similar people are treated differently and the end result is measured. There is hardly any useful RCT evidence on whether face masks are effective in reducing the spread of this or the influenza virus.
However, many practices that we now consider essential for good hygiene, such as washing hands to reduce viral transmissions, or the wearing of masks by surgeons, were not based on RCT evidence. Rather they were based on our understanding of how infections spread. In the case of COVID-19, we know that you can be infectious even when you do not have any symptoms. We know that coughing, sneezing, and even talking or breathing release droplets from the mouth that are a key means by which the virus spreads. We also know that cloth-based face masks reduce the spread of those droplets.
So given the stakes, even in the absence of RCT evidence, it was this understanding of modes of transmission and the need for precautionary common sense that convinced over 50 governments to make the use of face masks mandatory in situations where physical distancing is not possible or predictable such as busy public transport, shopping and other potentially crowded public or workspaces.“
This covid crisis will pass too?
It has passed, and it has caused as many deaths as a bad flu year. That’s his point, it’s a pretty low threshold to start wearing masks. If we wear them now, it could turn into a thing. Not a country I want to live in.
Yes, and the mortality rates were far higher for polio and Spanish flu than for Covid. So if we are using this comparison, we should take off our masks immediately because clearly wearing a mask increases mortality rates.
I really do think that the average Brit has the cognitive abilities of a sheep. Let us look at just how farcical this mandatory wearing of face masks is. Every shop worker in this country is the daughter, sister, brother, or mother to someone. When 5-00 clock comes they whip off the mask and stuff it in their pocket and go home to you, or a friend, maybe to Grandma’s, and then they go out to the park, the gym, the hair dressers etc. They do NOT wear face masks at home. They do NOT have to social distance in their homes, so how exactly are they going to contract “the Rona” in shops? Where did it come from? Who are they going to spread it to? Add to this that dad works in the office all day, but is not required to wear a mask, so he is obviously exempt from being a “spreader”, and of course, the very people who are telling you to wear a mask in the shops, do exactly the same as you, in their private time. No mask, no social distancing. So, have all shop workers abstained from sex over the last 5 months?, (in the interests of keeping the public safe) have all nurses, doctors, policemen etc, lived a life of celibacy?. Should we quarantine all shopworkers on their premises of employment, in order to prevent them spreading it to householders? So, tomorrow when you dutifully don your medical burkha, ask yourself this question: Why am I doing this? What is the real agenda?
I’ve addressed my cognitive abilities to this by asking myself:
(a) Would increased wearing of masks by the public increase, reduce or have no effect on the number of opportunities for Covid-19 transmission; and thus
(b) Would increased wearing of masks by the public increase, reduce or have no effect on the rate of spread of Covid-19; then
(c) Do the answers to (a) and (b) provide an adequate and simple explanation for new government guidelines or do I have to resort to some loopy conspiracy theory.
Your hypothesis is flawed so your cognitive exercise is…. sorry to say… Neil Fergusonesque.
We should NOT be avoiding transmission amongst the healthy population.
I’ve read some of your other posts – you’re a nutter – don’t waste my time.
Just to provide some broader context, here are the advanced liberal democracies in which mask-wearing has, according to YouGov, been widely adopted during the pandemic.
United States (69%), Germany (65%), France (78%), Taiwan (85%), Spain (88%), Canada (60%), Italy (83%), Japan (86%).
Rather than some vast global conspiracy to deprive people of civil liberties, I suspect the reason behind these numbers is that citizens of these countries are simply taking a cool-headed, rational view as to the potential costs and benefits of mask-wearing, as the President of the Royal Society explains here: https://royalsociety.org/bl…
As was the case after widespread mask-wearing during the Spanish Flu — or in London during the Great Smog — life will rapidly return to normal once this pandemic is over. And I’m willing to wager that the hysteria over mask-wearing will only be dimly recalled.
Yes, exactly: Taiwan 85% and Japan 86%. Two countries with a VERY low number of Corona-related deaths. It is worth noting that mask-wearing is NOT and has never been compulsory in Japan. Japanese people almost all wear them simply because it’s common sense. It seems that common sense is a not-so-common quality in Western countries these days. I live in Japan and I wear a mask all the time when outside my home, and will continue to do so until the pandemic is declared over.
You are mistaking correlation with cause…. Taiwan and Japan have very low flu vaccination rates, and they have also treated their Covid sick with Hydroxy and steroid nebulisers; the NHS withheld treatment from our sick (ditto the US and Europe).
People are too ill informed about the risk to answer such a question. Added to this, people have been scared out of their wits by government fed media. Words like surge, flare up, outbreak are all helping fuel this fear. Making people wear masks in shops is likely to make them even more scared,
But yet, data from the London data store shows that positive cases in London are around 40 to 50 a day out of a population of 9m. My borough is running at 0 to 2 cases a day in a population of 300k. These numbers can hardly be called a surge, outbreak or flare up. But I am encouraged to worry about a scenario where I come into contact with one of these individuals, catch it, be admitted to hospital and then die. There are many more things I can die of before this.
Compulsory face-masks was the policy that pushed me over the edge and got me actively involved online.
I’ve been asking the same question over and over again and not one single person has been able to reply with the details & link to a long-term, large-scale, independent study that clearly shows the benefits of wearing a face-mask to diminish the effects of a viral/flu-type epidemic or just illnesses in general. Appears not to exist. Yet there are many published studies (going back decades) that show the opposite; that face-masks don’t make any difference and can actually make things worse. Even the wearing of masks by surgeons has been questioned in the past as being more of a comfort blanket than of any actual benefit (conclusion was that the masks are used more as a shield against ‘splashes’).
These days opinions & feelings win out over facts, and therefore drive policies; so I’ll just have to remain on the fringe as an anti-masker
How about a survey including the wording “now that corona virus is on the wane” ?
Was Covid not “on the wane” in California, Texas, and Florida last month?
Deaths that ‘mention’ Covid in the states are 150,000. Population 331 million. So even including all of the fraudulent data, that’s just 0.06% mortality rate. They’re more likely to die of an ingrown toenail. And yet all we hear on the news? If there isn’t a conspiracy, someone please explain this paradox to me.
Small shops with limited space and limited ventilation will already have a deficit of oxygen when people shop there. You will get a ‘double whammy’ if you wear a mask.
Large supermarkets are more akin to the outdoors – no need for masks.
Mr Sayers comments that ‘anti-maskers’ are viewed with widespread scorn and contempt. Odd, that. That’s exactly how a I view mask wearers. The only way I can go shopping in anything remotely like a sanguine frame of mind is to imagine all those with masks are medically frail and are having to don one of them. Sorry if that upsets anyone – I happen to feel very strongly about this.
Totally agree – When I’ve seen someone wearing a mask voluntarily this week I’ve been giving them a disapproving look
I’m sorry to hear that. I consider myself fit and healthy and have had neither a flu jab nor the flu in over 20 years but I’ll wear a mask in a shop out of courtesy to others. I don’t know if I’m carrying the virus. Others don’t know either. I see no harm and only good in providing others with some re-assurance. When someone stands behind me in a queue not wearing a mask, well, frankly, I consider that inconsiderate.
I have seen little discussion of or evidence about the reason(s) for people NOT wanting to wear masks. Having a medical conditions such as asthma is one obvious example. And a good many people are, to a greater or lesser degree, claustrophobic, a condition likely to be exacerbated into panic by having one’s face masked.
But the underlying cause of reactions against other people wearing masks may be the universal fear – in any age, any culture – of indicators of threat being HIDDEN. If you can see only a person’s eyes, and that not very well, how do you know if they are threatening you? Fear for one’s safety is pretty fundamental!
And hiding a person’s face diminishes still further our ability to communicate with each other. Human beings are social, tactile animals. The potential emotional damage to people (of any age) who live alone and, if they are working, work from home has already been incalculable. I understand why those living in family groups find this very difficult to comprehend. But it’s a serious problem, getting worse, that can only be exacerbated by reducing still further our ability to communicate..
And how can it be so important to make people wear masks NOW, when it wasn’t considered necessary in the first wave? Show us the science, and don’t fob us off with “There, there, dear, mother knows best” as is already being done over singing, a proven emotion-lightener if ever there were one.
Please read my posts above.
Instead of the childhood game ‘Simple Simon says’ it appears that we are all playing ‘simple science says’. Stand up! Sit down! Hold your nose!………
Thank you for the article . I had forgotten how important the wording of a question can be in eliciting a desired or skewed answer.
Can I offer another perspective ? Perhaps what is important is what people actually do ? After all , there is lot of difference between what people think they should do and what they actually do in real life.
Otherwise , adultery , drug-taking and drunkenness and obesity would occur only rarely whereas they seem popular past-times for many of us although few people seem to openly advocate for these activities. Obviously , the cynic in me thinks that some people could be in favour of masks as they might make adultery and buying drugs harder to detect
Currently , I observe only a small percentage of people actually wearing masks here in England but I have no idea as to whether I am seeing a representative sample of people. and can only guess whether actual usage is going up or not . Do we know if sales of masks to members of the public are increasing or not ?
Incidentally, does anyone know if rates of hand-washing have actually increased recently ? I vaguely recall that before Corona , there would be occasional surveys that would indicate that significant proportions of people would not wash their hands after a trip to the toilet . I believe that people in the food / hospitality sector as well as doctors were among the sinners but I have little grasp of any relevant details or percentages in this matter .
Many years ago I discovered through work that it’s virtually impossible to produce a totally unbiased survey as we have to use language to compile the survey.
As for the masks in shops, I’m willing to bet from personal observations that a lot of those people who oppose the wearing of masks are the more informed people about covid19 and that most of those who support them only listen to the BBC and the mainstream narrative. That observation can be extrapolated out to the general handling of covid9 by the govt and their very few advisors.
In Australia hysteria is also being fostered by an apparent breakout of ‘cases’ in Melbourne, which is being used to justify another lockdown, and increasingly the wearing of masks.
This mask thing is a recent innovation, even though the virus threat seems to be abating, e.g. deaths in the UK peaked in late April and are now declining, according to info on the ONS website. (See: Weekly provisional figures on deaths registered where coronavirus (COVID-19) was mentioned on the death certificate in England and Wales.)
So what’s behind the push for masks now? And how long are people supposed to wear them? Until the fast-tracked experimental vaccines are ready? Is this part of the behaviour conditioning and compliance training to make people accept a questionable coronavirus vaccine for a virus/disease which so far hasn’t adversely affected most of the population?
Who is really set to gain from Bill Gates’ goal to vaccinate the entire global population, as he outlined in his article on his blog GatesNotes, see What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Is it really “hysteria” to want to reverse the increase in cases, after the city sacrificed so much to bring their numbers down to the single digits? Cases are rising again in NYC and I hope the governor and mayors there move more swiftly this time to contain them rather than waiting for exponential growth. NZ has zero cases, attributable to quarantining, hygiene, and wearing masks. Now they don’t need to take those precautions and their lives are back to normal. There’s evidence from other countries, too, that as the virus goes dormant, masks and social distancing are no longer recommended.
I’m fascinated by the paranoia around governments and individuals having devious plans under the guise of bringing a virus under control. I guess that’s the work of anti-vaxxers? It’s wild to me that people believe they’ll be forced to accept a vaccination, and that Gates will install a tracking chip into everyone who gets the shot, and related fantasies. (Not being able to enroll an unvaccinated child in school is not the same as “forcing” vaccine compliance. It’s merely a consequence of refusing to contribute to herd immunity.)
Bill Gates says: “One of the questions I get asked the most these days is when the world will be able to go back to the way things were in December before the coronavirus pandemic. My answer is always the same: when we have an almost perfect drug to treat COVID-19, or when almost every person on the planet has been vaccinated against coronavirus.”
Gates says: “We need to manufacture and distribute at least 7 billion doses of the vaccine.”
It seems Bill Gates is running international vaccination policy now, Gavi is his baby, plus he’s bought and paid for the WHO, with untold numbers of Pharma and academic passengers on his gravy train. World leaders are at his beck and call, donating billions to the cause…but who is providing transparency and accountability?
I understand virus deaths are declining in the UK, and people under sixty were barely affected. So who is in the frame for the well over a hundred vaccine candidates in play now?
Gates “suspect(s)the COVID-19 vaccine will become part of the routine newborn immunization schedule”. Why should children be burdened with yet another vaccine on the schedule, possibly on an annual basis, when most are not adversely affected by SARS-CoV-2?
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is wielding massive influence over international vaccination policy and has gotten away without scrutiny for years – it’s time for this to change.
See GatesNotes: What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine
Yes, Bill Gates is running international vaccination policy… How did this happen? Why is a software billionaire calling the shots on vaccination policy?
Consider Bill and Melinda Gates’ pledge of $10 billion for the ‘Decade of Vaccines’. Consider the Gates Foundation’s pledge of $750 million to set up Gavi in 1999, and that the Gates Foundation is a key Gavi partner in ‘vaccine market shaping’.
Since the US pulled the plug on funding the WHO, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is now the second largest funder of the WHO, behind the UK. Gavi is in third place.
Recently the Gates Foundation backed Gavi raised $8.8 billion from world leaders and companies to vaccinate children in the world’s poorest countries.
It all sounds so delightfully philanthropic doesn’t it…but is it?
Massive lucrative vaccine markets are being created and there needs to be scrutiny, particularly with vaccination increasingly being mandated by governments, e.g. in the US, Australia, Italy and elsewhere.
Given the apparent sensitivity to the wording, I wonder what the percentages would be if the question ended with ‘… after the outbreak has subsided’?
There is little understanding of statistics and risk mitigation in the general population. There is also little ability to prioritize or even an attempt to understand the world in which they live except in the most superficial of ways. To look at “opinion” polls as a source of guidance is not meaningful. It is waste of time. The only value it has is to the propagandists as it lets them gauge how far to go to achieve the level of panic and hysteria they are shooting for. If the government came out tomorrow and declared the pandemic over and that there is no reason to fear anymore the poll numbers would change in minutes. The vast majority of people are not capable of critical thinking so the poll numbers are not surprising.
Please note that even the WHO defines an “outbreak” as 2! people connected by address or work.
When the headline was earlier this week, “we deal with 100 outbreaks every (I forgot, was it every day or week/), when I saw it is 2!!! people, where is the rational proportionality?
Like Matt Hancocks 75% of shop workers die/ 75% of what?
According to the ONS there are now more people dying from the actual flu:
Maybe we need to pivot our testing strategy.
The issue is there is not clear evidence mask wearing actually makes a real difference. What we have been told over the period seems to be that there is benefit to protect others but there is also downside for the wearer in terms of catching it themselves. The argument seems to revolve around asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people having the potential to spread. When we look at the countries of UK and abroad there really is no consensus on the issue.
It is clear that given the choice most people prefer not to wear masks because they don’t now. I personally don’t really want to wear one, but now it is becoming compulsory I will comply and I know I will get used to it and in a few weeks I won’t really notice.
My biggest issue though is this is another area where there is totally illogical inconsistency and where despite Boris saying we need to trust the commonsense of the British people the government a. Isn’t, b. Isn’t applying any commonsense itself, c. has created such confusion that nobody really knows what the commonsense answer is.
On this basis I would much rather the government came out and explained clearly what the benefits and downsides to mask wearing are, even if they don’t have full scientific evidence to support those claims, and then made a clear directive on where and when they are to be worn and then allowed everyone to get the benefit by relaxing a lot of the nonsense restrictions and other annoying measures, because masks are now providing the necessary mitigation.
As part of an argument I have been having with my county council over HWRCs (dumps) I suggested why not get them back to full or near full capacity and ditch the booking system (I have a load of packaging from a new cooker delivered today which I would like to dump on my way to the shops tomorrow but I can’t get an appointment at the dump which is on the way until Tues) by making people wear masks. To which I got a very firm negative response. My argument is more about just proving to myself what I already knew and that is that despite CEOs of county councils being paid more than the prime minister they really could not run a piss up in a brewery and that is why they put up council tax continuously and still run out of money to waste.
PS I think the difference in the 2 survey results is down to: Would you rather vs support or oppose. I would rather the government got its act together at all levels of government, I don’t believe these sorts of issues are the sort of issue that anyone should oppose the government on, as I know that I can’t be don’t know, so I must support even though they are making it hard for people to really support them because of the mess they have made and continue to make on this and many other issues.
The research makes very clear that masks are completely unhelpful. There’s a very thorough article you can read here:
This C-19 business is challenging many of my assumptions. A year ago, I’d have said I was an anti-masker. Now… Only 7 Covid-19 deaths in Taiwan (0.3 deaths per million) that has half of England’s population vs 45,572 Covid-19 deaths in the UK (674 deaths per million). (From https://ftp.worldometers.in…
In HK the stats are 2 deaths per million and 18 total.
Put another way, Taiwan has done 2,246 times better than the UK!
For cases (ie not deaths) the numbers per million are ” UK 4,409, HK 351, Taiwan 19.
I wonder, could masks have anything to do with it or is it just a coincidence that HK and Taiwan are two countries in which mask-wearing as a matter of courtesy to others when one has a cold is the norm?
There is no science-medical research to support mask-wearing unless one is working at the coalface so to speak.
Masks, logically are unhealthy and keep toxins/pathogens which need to be exhaled in the body and impair the intake of fresh air/oxygen.
From the look of things, the more mask-wearing and the stricter the lockdown the worse it all gets. Only a fool keeps doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
Hardly anyone will read this post as now dated – simply amusing myself. The masks are about symbolism and as such are an affront to my personal dignity and freedom. If I seriously felt (no pun intended) they were clinically effective, then I would reluctantly wear one. I am not going into the tedium of reviewing the evidence about the efficacy of the things. They make me nose run, upper lip sweat, and sneeze! Yes sneeze. Then touching me face and mask. In and out of a shop in a flash. Rarely go shopping now – used to enjoy going shopping with my daughters. For us a social event. Now no more as we all cannot abide the things. So the Government want to encourage people to go back to the shops? Whatever the effectiveness of masks are in reducing the transmission of covid, ultimately what are the statistical chances of you catching and dying of covid regardless of masks? Not a lot. Pure black comedy. Already planning my exit strategy from work when I have to wear one – only a matter of time before that diktat emerges regardless of a certain individual saying otherwise.
It’s an interesting interpretation of what it should mean to be a “liberal” if the implication is that it entails deference to the wisdom of a third of the population over evidence-based policy.
I had always understood that political “liberals” (in the classical/Adam Smith sense of the word, not the American usage) believe in taking reasonable measures to prevent harm to others. John Stuart Mill’s “Harm Principle”, etc.
Nor have I ever understood the Precautionary Principle to be incompatible with classical liberal beliefs.
Incidentally, as Nassim Nicholas Taleb argues, the absence of evidence (of benefits of mask wearing) should not be confused with evidence of absence (of benefits of mask wearing): https://medium.com/incerto/…
Would also provide interesting context to compare this polling on mask-wearing to public attitudes towards seatbelts and drink driving when those public welfare measures were first introduced.
“There’s another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something does exist does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn’t exist.” Donald Rumsfeld about Iraq and the lack of evidence for WMDS
I disagree that mask wearing might be considered in the same breath as drunk driving (around 10x greater risk of fatalities) or seat belts (10x reduction in fatalities),
With masks, evidence has been sought for their efficacy including in one large formal study, with a design which was equivalent to testing a new pharmaceutical. Outcome was clearly negative: no difference in rates of influenza like illness in mask wearers vs not. Cloth masks were actually associated with worse outcomes than wearing nothing.
Also, the decay of the pandemic for example in U.K. has been relentless, unaffected by demonstrations, crowding on beaches and reopening of shops. Whatever is involved in control leaves virtually no possible role for masks, since we’re at 95% reduction since the peak without using masks.
as Nassim Nicholas Taleb argues, the absence of evidence (of benefits of mask wearing) should not be confused with evidence of absence
The distinction between absence of evidence and evidence of absence long pre-dates the supposed mega-genius Mr Taleb, and will probably long post-date him too.
Meanwhile this comprehesive article shows that there is clear enough evidence of absence:
I find it really intriguing that this debate has become so charged. We accept the benefits of washing our hands and protecting others from our sneezes but when it comes to the benefit of protecting others from our excretion of breath we get very agitated. I wonder how much this has become inextricably mixed in people’s subconscious with the otherness of face covering? I am a bit older and a bit frailer and am reassured by masks. I am also reassured that a majority – however measured- agree with me. I may be having unusual experiences but I also find people wearing masks smile more by which I mean they seem to have smilier eyes. So that is also a small pleasure.
Sneezing yes.Washing hands no. The excessive hand washing is insanity just as wearing masks are and just so you know. Eyes don’t “smile”.
Look, if you want to stay in your home forever, or wear a vile, dehumanising muzzle forever, that’s fine by me. Just let those of us who actually have a life get on with living, as opposed to just existing.
As someone once said: “Better to die on your feet than to live on your knees”.
And I suspect your mask-wearers’ “smilier eyes” are actually the eyes of terrified sheep.
Controlled trials so far show that masks are completely ineffective, so what’s the point? I’m open to studies showing their effectiveness, but haven’t found any.
Someone posted a link to a comprehensive meta-analysis of studies on mask-wearing above, published in Nature, that concluded masks are useful against this virus.
I’m not sure controlled randomized studies of mask-wearing are possible now, as there is quite a bit of evidence that masks prevent transmission and failing to wear one makes people more susceptible. Human subjects boards would not approve such a study.
Ah Nature, isn’t that the rag that published Flaxman’s embarrassing article “Estimating the effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in Europe”? Please see the comment on this article at https://s3-eu-west-1.amazon… — one of the key points in their analysis is that you need to look at ICU admissions 23 days downstream from the social intervention.
The only meta-analysis in Nature I can find is https://www.nature.com/arti… — their article uses a MODEL based on meta-analysis, and the results will only be as good as the model. In real life, there are no studies I can find that show any significant effect from masks, and especially because they don’t look at the right metric — a noticeable drop in ICU admissions or deaths 23 days following the intervention.
No, none that I would trust. The WHO and big pharma have done their best to suppress the research that concludes that they are pointless when controlling a virus. You can see Lancet and Harvard Reviews feverishly withdrawing previously peer reviewed and published research for various bogs reasons; big pharma probably threatened to withdraw their advertising revenue 😉
The main objection is that the measure is wholly without objective benefit. I’m qualified to review the scientific literature & it is clear that mask wearing, whether medical grade or homemade face coverings, have zero impact on the frequency with which people acquire ILI (influenza like illnesses). I’m aware that theoretically, it ought to have some effect, even if small, but the data are what they are.
Given their uselessness, they are not neutral, they have a negative effect on sociability. Add it this the rational concern that, once masked up, Govt may choose never to lift the requirement, and perhaps you can appreciate the degree of dystopian fear & cognitive dissonance many of us hold at this time.
Anyway, that’s my take. By the way, I comply completely notwithstanding the above.
It’s a bit misleading to speak about the effects of masks on contracting influenza, when covid is transmitted differently (through aerosolized particles).
Could you give me an idea of why a government would like its citizens to wear masks any longer than necessary? What purpose would that serve?
One last thing — there’s lots of anecdotal evidence of groups being infected when even one infected is present, say at a house party, held indoors, while no one wears a mask. 35 people in the Hamptons caught it at a 4th of July house party, for example, and 82 kids and adults caught it at a Missouri summer camp (no masks in either scenario).
Conversely, we have the excellent in vivo example of a Missouri hair salon in which both stylists worked while covid-positive. They were very strict about themselves and clients wearing masks, and not a single client contracted the virus.
Good heavens, you’re stupid. Correction- I’ve just read the rest of your posts. You’re unbelievably stupid.
I would be reasuured if all drivers agreed to drive at 30mph max. I would be reassured if my doctor entertained the idea of nutrition to cure chronic conditions rather than feeding me drugs – which incedentally is one of the biggest killers. The death rate from crashes and a lot of diseases would fall dramatically. My risk of disease and death would be lowered considerably. My risk of getting ill and dying from covid is way below both of those combined. It’s not going to happen despite both of those producing more deaths than covid overall. Our govt are pandering to emotion and I’m not sure what, rather than fact. We now have months of covid data from around the world and thousands of clever people shouting at govts that we have the wrong measures. Not good. And I’m in the ‘risk’ gorup apparently.
I’m curious, if medical treatment is taking years off your life and diet would extend it, why not drop the meds and eat what’s best for you?
You’ve managed to miss the point entirely.
Hi SaphiÃ©. Getting some down votes for your post is a bit unfair, unless a down vote means “don’t agree” rather than “don’t like”. Anyway, I’ll not down vote your post as it is a reasonable position if that is what you think.
However, a lot of us sceptics do not believe that CV19 has been out of the ordinary. From the start with Tom Hanks and his wife to the highly suspect statistics, many of us have smelt a rat. Therefore, I have ignored all the restrictions and gone where I liked when I liked. Naturally I couldn’t go down the pub or the cafe but I haven’t missed anything much. But facemask wearing will force us to play their game, and that is why we don’t like it and why the debate is so charged.
Hi Geoff, would you be able to elaborate your position please? I ask with respect, and am genuinely intrigued.
Are you suggesting that the excess death statistics reported around the world, as well as the huge spikes in hospitalisation rates, have somehow been fabricated/exaggerated? If so, is this the result of a vast global conspiracy, or is it that the overwhelming majority of leading statisticians/epidemiologists/virologists/doctors etc are simply misinterpreting the data?
I understand the existence of scepticism over public health measures such as mask-wearing. After all, reasonable scientists can disagree over those based on the available evidence.
I also understand that some people are willing to accept in principle higher death rates among vulnerable groups as the price for fewer social distancing restrictions or other public health measures. There are moral justifications on either side of that debate.
But are you in fact suggesting that the pandemic (and it’s human and economic consequences, including in places such as Sweden where there was no “lockdown” or government compulsion) is not actually that serious in objective terms? If so, that’s an opinion I guess, but you must surely admit you will not find much empirical support for that position?
Hi PB. To put it simply the CV crisis has been exaggerated and used to reduce civil liberties all over the Western world. Many of these will stay in place and, next time, Governments and the Police will be very much sharper in seeing that we all obey the rules – few of which have been properly passed into law.
Then there are the statistics which are being used to justify all this. As I’m sure you will agree, they are dubious in the extreme and I’ve read things about death certificate manipulation which has massively inflated the number of “deaths from CV19”.
I mix with other old(ish) folk like me and only one has had the virus. I don’t know anyone else who has had it for certain let alone died from it. Someone I know had a stroke and went into hospital where, I’m told, he contracted CV19 and subsequently died. But I never found out whether he was actually tested for it or not.
To be honest, I’m not really interested in medical stuff, so I can’t give you chapter and verse. In any event, it would only be one person’s opinion v another’s opinion. But I have been an observer of government over the years and I don’t like what I see.
Thanks Geoff, appreciate your response.
I think it’s important to remember there is a difference between opinion and fact. And between anecdotal evidence and scientific evidence etc.
Moreover, we don’t need to believe what the government tells us (or pay attention to what other liberal democracies are saying/doing, although I think that’s instructive).
Instead, we can look at the data and the analysis of experts and specialists from around the world.
I would highly recommend you read the analysis of Sir David Spiegelhalter, Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University and President of the Royal Statistical Society. He’s one of the world’s top statisticians and is not a government stooge.
Spiegelhalter relies on excess death data (which avoids the concern your raise over death certificate manipulation etc).
Spiegelhalter calculates approximately 50,000 excess deaths since March. That’s actually higher than the “official” UK death toll.
See the data here: https://wintoncentre.maths….
As reported in the FT:
“Covid has not appreciably increased the already tiny risk of dying for those under the age of twenty five. For those over 45, already facing a variety of ways to drop dead, Covid has been a large additional risk factor. During April and May, the risk of death increased by about 50 per cent for everyone over 45 in the UK, according to calculations by Professor David Spiegelhalter.“
And if you’re interested in the evidence concerning virus transmission and mask-wearing, the Nature scientific journal recently published this succinct article covering some of the peer-reviewed and preprint research:
At the end of the day, there is the broader philosophical question about how far we as a society want to go to protect the minority who will be worst affected. There are valid moral justifications on either side of that debate. These are hard questions.
It is far easier to simply dismiss all the numbers as dubious. I hope you’ll agree that on the data, we must be led by experts like Professor Spiegelhalter, not by excited news headlines about discrepancies in death certificates etc.
On the political decisions such as to whether to impose lockdowns or wear masks, society will have to find a consensus one way or another, having carefully considered all the available evidence.
Totally agree Geoff
I agree with Geoff;s first paragraph, you should wear a mask if it makes you feel safe. But I think it is important to remember, wearing a mask saves no lives. We all die in this world. A mask may prolong life in certain circumstances. But this is about what is reasonable and risk. I have heard people saying they will wear a mask if there is a small chance it saves a single life. Well on that logic, they are agreeing to wear a mask for ever in all circumstances. In fact, they should do penance for not wearing a mask for previous flu epidemics. They are also agreeing to stop driving cars just in case they inflict a lethal asthma attack on a passer by. They are also agreeing to a whole host of other activities that we all know are harmful to others around us. Life carries risk. Living life is an acceptance that some of us will die from the actions of the masses. Whilst the numbers are so low, it is my belief that mask wearing oversteps what is acceptable. In fact I have spent most of this epidemic arguing it is the vulnerable we should be protecting; care home residents who do not visit shops but have died early due to government incompetence, along with other vulnerable groups
I think for you, the misinformation campaign has worked. They whipped up a hysteria at the beginning because of a genuine fear born out of wildly inaccurate modelling.
They realised early on the virus wasn’t that bad, but had to then keep the fear levels up to justify their draconian measures
They then realised lockdown was unsustainable and tried to get people back to work. However, they’d done such a good job on people like yourself they had to dictate mask wearing to get you out of your house and comfort you. it seems as though you have followed them down every path, which is almost touchingly trusting.
The problem is that many of us are very sceptical about whether this virus is exceptional enough to necessitate an ongoing impingement on human rights
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