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Doctors admit: Masks are nothing more than “symbols”, do little

Researchers admit masks are nothing more than “symbols”, and may in the end increase the risk of catching the coronavirus, or other diseases.

From the original New England Journal of Medicine paper:

A mask will not protect providers caring for a patient with active Covid-19 if it’s not accompanied by meticulous hand hygiene, eye protection, gloves, and a gown. A mask alone will not prevent health care workers with early Covid-19 from contaminating their hands and spreading the virus to patients and colleagues. Focusing on universal masking alone may, paradoxically, lead to more transmission of Covid-19 if it diverts attention from implementing more fundamental infection-control measures. [emphasis mine]

The paper than bluntly concludes that masks are really no more than a “talisman” and a symbol for influencing others to do what the mask-wearer wants.

Masks are visible reminders of an otherwise invisible yet widely prevalent pathogen and may remind people of the importance of social distancing and other infection-control measures.

It is also clear that masks serve symbolic roles. Masks are not only tools, they are also talismans that may help increase health care workers’ perceived sense of safety, well-being, and trust in their hospitals. Although such reactions may not be strictly logical, we are all subject to fear and anxiety, especially during times of crisis. One might argue that fear and anxiety are better countered with data and education than with a marginally beneficial mask, particularly in light of the worldwide mask shortage, but it is difficult to get clinicians to hear this message in the heat of the current crisis. Expanded masking protocols’ greatest contribution may be to reduce the transmission of anxiety, over and above whatever role they may play in reducing transmission of Covid-19.

I am sick and tired of being forced to do empty, feel-good gestures that actually increase my risk, and do nothing except advance the political agendas of fools who are guided only by emotion and irrationality.

I will not wear a mask under these conditions, and I will tell anyone that tries to force to do it to go jump in a lake.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


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  • Max

    Even Rush Limbaugh refers to it as a symbol of fear and control.
    That’s when I realized that ceremonial masks from tribal cultures all over the planet have a similar function.
    Contact tracer missionaries from the local coronavirus cult came to my door today. Rather than be confrontational, I let them leave there religious material on my doorstep and walk away. The parking lot of the local church was full of cars lining up for their nasal swab DNA test like good little Sheep.

    Contact tracing appears to be a new form of police outside normal channels. It is political in nature to support who pays them.
    So far there has been 67,000 people released early from prison… All of them need jobs… Any guess where they’re working?
    Here’s a hint, they can legally wear masks to hide their identity.

  • Wodun

    The bolded section doesn’t say masks are more likely to make people sick.

    It would be nice if there was more rational thought but people are too worked up to think clearly. There is a difference between taking measured risks and being dismissive of actual threats.

  • Andrew_W

    . . . admit masks are nothing more than “symbols”,

    But that’s not what the sections you quote say!
    Masks are a genuine part of the mix to reduce transmission, but they’re part of the mix, not the whole of it.

    The paper than bluntly concludes that masks are really no more than a “talisman”

    And that’s also not what the paper says! As you quote:
    Masks are not only tools, they are also talismans . . .

    Again, the point being made is that masks are tools in the mix, not the whole of it, and yes some nutty people might think they’re the entire solution – but if there are such people I’ve never met or encountered them.

    That’s how things are in the real world, there are no simple measures that solve complex problems, if 20 things have to be done right to maximize the return you don’t focus of one of those 20, nor do you focus on only 19, you have to address every single one of those inputs. For reducing Covid transmission masks are just one aspect.

    As a dairy farmer using a pasture based system I had to get these things right to maximize production:
    Water supply, Animal genetics, calving date, fertilizer application & soil fertility, pasture species, rotation length, supplementary feed, animal nutrients, stocking rate, animal treatments, milking plant hygiene, labor force, livestock handling, milking plant functions, stock tracks (lameness), fencing, drying off, cow condition, AI & bulls, input costs, pay the bills and numerous other details, all of which, individually, added to productivity. If any one of those inputs was done drastically wrong the effect on production would be out of all proportion to it being “just one input” out of over twenty, eg cows without water produce no milk, low quality genetics can cut production in half even though every other input might be done near perfectly.

    Masks are part of the Covid control input mix, pointing out that they are not a substitute for other inputs (hand washing, social distancing) in the mix is just silly pointing out the blindingly obvious.

  • Phill O

    Had an interesting conversation with my resident veterinary pathologist who has worked in all levels of bio-security including level 4. Most diagnostic work is done in level 2. Research (where cultures are grown or animals are infected is a totally different situation. Generally, that work is done in level 3 if there is a cure, or level 4 if no cure is available. However, that is generally. Say if Ebola is strongly suspect, that diagnostic work would be done in level 4. Where the flu and corona viruses are worked on, she is not sure, but we know that the Chinese were working with it in level 4 (I think).

    Can anyone imagine us all wearing level 4 PPE? Or even level 3 gear? That is what would be required to stop the spread! So, the general use of masks seems silly IMHO. If some one is showing symptoms, I do not want them around even with a mask.

    I estimate that over %90 of mask wearing are not doing it correctly. They need to be changed frequently!!!!!

    Let us get on with life and the risks. If one is symptomatic, stay at home. Keep kids out of hospitals and during flu seasons, out of old folks homes.

  • pzatchok

    I have to ask everyone.

    Do you wear a mask out in public? If so why.

    To protect yourself or to protect the other person?
    Or just because its a new social custom and you do not want singled out by some paranoid idiot?

    And if your do wear that mask to protect someone do you do so at home and thus protect your family?

    And if those n95 paper fiber masks are proven germ breading grounds unless changed several times a day why not just have a few simple cloth masks like they had in the 60s and wash them everyday?

  • Andrew_W


    Was wearing cloth mask in shops, not now because now only 1 known active case in the country, I’m still keeping to 2m distance where possible.

    To reduce chances of transmission, even though unlikely, I had a mask, so there was no cost in using it, also encourages by example anyone who might be infected to wear one.

    There isn’t much point wearing one at home, if covid were in the household it would likely infect others no matter what measures taken, also tracing household members is not an issue, with community transmission in a shop setting it’s hard to trace those who could have become infected.

    I also wear a seat belt, make the kids wear seat belts, and keep the car road worthy – even though there were only 353 road deaths in NZ last year. But who knows, if no one wore seat belts and no one kept there cars road worthy, possibly, just possibly, there would have been more road deaths – though I couldn’t prove it.

  • Edward

    Fauci told us that we would see 2 million deaths if we did nothing, 200 thousand it we banned certain travel and washed our hands, 100 thousand of we wore masks and stayed six feet apart, and 60 thousand if we locked down and shut down for three weeks. The Great Oppression was intended to save 40 thousand lives and to last only three weeks.

    We now have suffered from the governors’s mission creep and remind shut down for an extra two months, and now we have lost all of the lives that the three-week Great Oppression was supposed to have saved. We have reached the 100,000 deaths mark that Fauci said we would reach if we didn’t lockdown.

    The mission creep and the extended Great Oppression was all for naught. All the lost jobs, livelihoods, businesses. All the lost rights. All the collateral lost lives and lost medical care. And the trillions of dollars that we are spending in order to make up for the lost jobs and lost business.

    Add to that the new fear we have of government, which has made examples of businesses that tried to keep from failing and people who exercised their rights to travel, and the new fear we have of busybodies turning into the government anyone who remotely violated rules — especially those who do not misuse masks, where such misuse makes the mask more dangerous than helpful.

    Properly used, wash your hands before installing the mask, then never touch it until you take it off again. Wash your hands after removing it, because it is now supposedly full of Wuhan flu virus. Do not reuse your mask but dispose of it properly, or if it is washable, launder it before reusing it.

    Out of 300 million Americans, how many do you suppose properly use their masks? Yeah, only those in the medical profession, and only because they have a ready supply of masks that someone else pays for.

    Once again, wishy washy Fauci changes his tune, this time telling us the masks are useless and all our angst, difficulty in finding masks, and harassments when we didn’t have them also were for naught. Which healthcare experts can we ever believe again?

    What a cluster bleep this Fauci moron foisted upon us.

  • pzatchok

    Andrew W

    You seem to be more worried about tracing someone who might have come in contact with you.

    But you don’t seem to worried about infecting your own loved ones.
    Claiming that if it gets in the house your all already infected no matter what.

    Well the rest of us just consider our home as being as big as our nation.

  • Andrew_W


    If measures I take and others take prevent spread I and they prevent infection of my family.
    As I said NZ now has 1 known active case, we’ve had no new cases in over a week, no cases outside of known clusters for weeks. Enemy defeated, problem solved, nationwide fatalities 22, family uninfected.

  • pzatchok

    Its not defeated.
    Its not even contained.
    Are you positive that 100% of NZ is vaccinated? Either by that non existent vaccine or by previous infection.

  • Andrew_W

    There are several diseases that have existed in this country in the past that are not here now or have been reduced in frequency and mortality as to be negligible as public heath issues (Typhoid, Small pox, Polio, Rubella, Hydatids, Leprosy, Rabies, Cholera etc.), diseases that few people here are vaccinated against. They’ve also been defeated through using whatever the strategies were required.

  • Tom Biggar

    Ask the next mask Nazi you meet: Why do hospitals waste so much money on masks when an old T-shirt can make one that protects you from the virus? Since they will be wearing a mask, you won’t get to see the stupid look on their face, but it’s still worth doing.

    I’m thinking of making a mask from some nylon window screen material. A free speech mask. Since I don’t know of any state that has specified a level of filtration, it should pass muster.

  • wayne

    ref: “353 road deaths in NZ last year”…
    In the State of Michigan alone, we have about 3X’s that number in yearly traffic fatalities.

    pivoting to riots in the mid-west…

    I-94 Westbound Into Minnesota
    The Highwayman

  • wodun

    “And then the potential benefits of universal masking need to be balanced against the future risk of running out of masks and thereby exposing clinicians to the much greater risk of caring for symptomatic patients without a mask.”

    Masks are just a feather to cling to except that in the hands of the “right” people, they are an effective tool. I’m tired of the “experts” telling the public they are too stupid to use a mask, that they aren’t as important as other people, or providing no information but disinformation.

  • Ken

    Where I live, Southeast Pennsylvania, I am required to where a mask in order to do my grocery shopping – otherwise, I don’t wear one.

    I do think they are little more than theater.

  • James Street

    May 29 the World Health Organization changes it’s mind about masks. Again. Says “don’t wear masks if you’re healthy”.

    Healthy people should wear masks only if caring for coronavirus patients, WHO says
    “If you do not have any [respiratory] symptoms such as fever, cough or runny nose, you do not need to wear a mask,” Dr. April Baller, a public health specialist for the WHO, says in a video on the world health body’s website. “Masks should only be used by health care workers, caretakers or by people who are sick with symptoms of fever and cough.”

  • m d mill

    I agree with many of RZ’s overall views of the U.S. covid response…but his continuing blatant and gross misrepresentation of articles and published information is now bordering on the psychotic.

  • David Lohnes

    I think everyone is missing the bigger point. These doctors are questioning if everyone in a HOSPITAL should be masked. Even they don’t think there is any valid reason for healthy people to wear masks out in PUBLIC.

    They even state this in the 2nd paragraph:

    “We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.”

  • Alex Andrite

    Mr. Z., thank you for making me chuckle:
    “I am sick and tired of being forced to do empty, feel-good gestures …”

    I am glad that you are healthy !
    Thanks for your good write ups regarding this sick and tired subject.
    I await patiently for this subject to die, knowing well that “it” will just morph into the next fascist boot on neck subject.

  • Andrew_W

    The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal.
    Community transmission is happening and the major reason the virus is so hard to track, I’ve no idea what “minimal” means in this context, but stick a lot of people in a crowded venue like a cruise ship and they’ll happily pass the virus around in their public space.

  • wodun

    Minimal isn’t zero and there isn’t anything wrong with taking steps to mitigate risk. People can spread the virus before showing symptoms. Waiting until people show symptoms before doing anything isn’t a good way to stop the spread of the virus.

    I didn’t trust the experts when they said not to wear masks, or when they said everyone needs to wear them, or when they went back to saying no one needs to wear them. Very little is known. There is a lot of uncertainty. Everyone needs to take the various studies and articles floating around with a dose of skepticism.

    Everyone should remain calm and take prudent steps to mitigate risk knowing that nothing is going to be 100% perfect.

    I don’t know if forcing everyone to wear masks in all situations is the way to go but wearing masks has a place in the mix. The flip side is that some people are so stubborn and close minded that they prevent themselves from taking rational action. What rational action is varies depending on where you live and what activities you do.

  • commodude

    Wodun, legal mandates to wear masks have little to no basis in science. I have yet to see a legal requirement to wear a particular TYPE of mask, only that you wear a facecovering of some sort.

    For people with a fairly common chronic respiratory condition, masks are impossible. This allows businesses and governments to bar people from entering businesses and government agencies due to medical conditions, which is a violation of the ADA and patient privacy.

    The more they’re studied, the more the science behind wearing them is questionable.

  • Cotour

    Dr. Fauci, an empowered government official, admits that he employed principles of S.O.M. when initially speaking about the usefulness of masks during the early days of the “Bat soup” Chinese Communist leadership world wide contagion. He chose to mislead / use a modified truth reality in his communicating with the public so as not to cause a shortage of PPP for the front line healthcare workers.

    From S.O.M.: “Strategy Over Morality describes a two-tiered “conversation” between a Public and their Empowered Leadership where the Public believes there is only a single, no tiered conversation occurring and that single conversation is assumed by the Public to relate to the Public’s morality and truth model perspective.

    A model in which leadership or their empowered subordinates within government can subjectively justify to choose to formulate an interpretation of their core fiduciary responsibilities which becomes paramount over and above the public’s truth and morality model. Where plausible deniability can be claimed when “immoral” acts or modified “truth” strategies are employed or executed by leadership, their subordinates or by arms length leadership proxies.”

    “He also acknowledged that masks were initially not recommended to the general public so that first responders wouldn’t feel the strain of a shortage of PPE.

    He explained that public health experts “were concerned the public health community, and many people were saying this, were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply.”

    It makes perfect sense, but it also demonstrates that the government must choose between the public and what is in the best interests and the best policy during extreme situations. We, the public, as a group in reality are push comes to shove just numbers. And the lesson? Always take what ever the government says with a grain of salt and use your common sense, and learn to run fast if and when necessary.

    The real potential that government is misleading or flat out lying to the public is always present. And that is just the way it is and needs to be.

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