Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Study: Cloth masks provide “statistically insignificant” protection

The certainty of the COVID-19 panic: A large Danish study involving about 6,000 people has found that cloth masks provide “statistically insignificant” protection from infection.

From the paper’s conclusion:

The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use. The data were compatible with lesser degrees of self-protection. [emphasis mine]

I highlight the last sentence to nip in the bud the claims I expect from the Chicken Little crowd that will point to that “50%” number as proof that masks work. The last sentence points out that a 50% reduction in infection rate is what you also get by washing your hands and avoiding already infected individuals. The masks themselves make no difference.

The study found that 42 people in the in the mask group got infected, compared to 53 in the non-mask group. Since both groups contained 3,000 people, the percentage infected for both groups was about 2%, with the mask group having slightly less infections.

It is important to note the real scale of the virus as demonstrated by this study. Out of 6,000 participants, all older than 18 with no current or prior symptoms, very few people got infected. No one apparently died.

The study notes that it did not look at the effectiveness of masks worn by sick people. It is possible that in that circumstance the mask could prevent the infected person from transmitting the virus to others, but that requires more study. However, having people wear masks in the presence of a sick person had been the practice where masks were used for decades. And it certainly makes more sense than making millions of totally healthy people mask themselves wherever they go, twenty-four hours a day.

Either way, this study illustrates again that the mask mandates being imposed by edict by political leaders have no basis in science. The mandates do not require proper use, and even if they did it is unrealistic to expect that proper use. And even if the use was proper globally, this study shows that the mask would accomplish nothing.

But hey, it is important to make feel-good gestures, even if those feel-good gestures are pointless and cause our focus to shift away from more important tasks, such as immunizing children from measles. So what children will die unnecessarily from the measles and rubella! We will feel safe.


Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via Patreon or PayPal. To use Patreon, go to my website there and pick one of five monthly subscription amounts, or by making a one-time donation. For PayPal click one of the following buttons:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Patreon or Paypal don't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


  • Lee Stevenson

    The reason for wearing masks has always been to reduce exposure to others, not for personal protection… It doesn’t take a genius to work out if your breathing out ( or coughing out )a whole load of particles filled with virus, any form of mouth protection will help Vs no protection. Yes hand sanitizer, yes social distance, yes not blowing your top like someone had taken away your guns or something!!! I am starting to find this site (when not commenting on space matters) more like a satirical right wing site…. You complain about the left coming for your freedom, then complain about the uncertainty of science, then complain about the best advice science has until the results are in… It’s true it’s uncertainty, it’s true you hate it, it’s a lie you know the truth. How about you deal with it until the truth is known? Will it kill you to wear a mask to the doctor?, The answer is “no” , are you just getting annoyed because you don’t want to? The answer is “yes”… Have you waited until the science is in to deliver your opinion on a serious medical matter on a subject you have no standing in… ? The answer is a big fat NO… Have you considered that should your advice kill just one person that perhaps might have considered Corona more seriously than you do…well… It’s one person that might have lived without your opinion.

  • janyuary

    Lee, if you think you are protecting me by wearing that mask and keeping your distance, I say, leave off, I will handle myself, thank you. I will be responsible for my own health. And I will be responsible for my own fear.

    You are afraid because you’re gullible. You think that because some are smarter than others, it gives those smarter ones some imaginary moral right to force their fear onto us poor stupid people.

    If you are so afraid that you’re going to infect others if you don’t wear a mask … STAY HOME AND ORDER OUT. Keep trusting doctors and politicians if you want and live in fear, but PLEASE leave the rest of us to go about our business and live in courage that comes from trusting our common sense.

  • Edward

    Lee Stevenson wrote: “It doesn’t take a genius to work out if your breathing out ( or coughing out )a whole load of particles filled with virus, any form of mouth protection will help Vs no protection.

    Even the non-genius should have figured out that the fogging glasses phenomenon when breathing out demonstrates that the air goes around the blockage caused by the mask. The virus goes with the flow and avoids the mask, too. There is not nearly as much protection to others as Lee thinks.

    But some people think that they know more about physics and fluid flow than those who have actually studied them. To those people I say: go ahead and wear a mask, but do not force me to wear one just so that you can feel good at the expense of my health.

    If masks (which will be the death of me) worked, then we would not be in lockdown, and we could enjoy Thanksgiving and other holidays with our friends and families in large gatherings, and we could live life as it was intended, not in fear that someone might give us the ultra-super-deadly Wuhan Plague of Death. Now that we aren’t allowed to live our lives, is life worth living? Many people have started answering, “no.” Too many of those people have then chosen to stop living. Who cares about those people? Not most of those who want everyone to obey counterproductive directives (it took me months to get one of them to finally care, or at least to say he did).

    Isn’t it worse for us to lose more people than we save? Where are our priorities and our sense of perspective?

    If masks worked, then most people would be more than happy to wear them, just as we are happy to wash or over-Purell our hands and to stand an extra meter away from those we talk with.

    They don’t work, so now despite a summer of masks, which was supposed to make us feel safe as well as to end Wuhan, we are undergoing yet another wave of Wuhan Plague, which will be the death of us all. Or at least everyone over 60, or something. Or maybe it kills only a small percentage of those over 70, but only if they contract the Plague From Hell.

    Wouldn’t it be better to put our efforts into protecting those who are most vulnerable to the disease rather than placing our efforts on protecting those who won’t even get any symptoms? Aren’t those same asymptomatic people the ones we could have depended upon most to provide herd immunity so that masks, lockdowns, and broken food distribution systems wouldn’t even be issues?

    Instead we end up going to great loss and suffering in order to protect the wrong people, and in the meantime the vulnerable continue to die, and the disease gets worse, despite all the masks.

  • David Lohnes

    I’m not sure who writes the “Visual Abstract”, but the actual conclusion stated: “Although no statistically significant difference in SARS-CoV-2 incidence was observed, the 95% CIs are compatible with a possible 46% reduction to 23% increase in infection among mask wearers.” In other words their study couldn’t tell if wearing masks was helpful or harmful. Insignificant as we like to say. Sad, but I don’t trust anything I read about studies anymore until I verify it myself. This “Visual Abstract” for dummies is misleading and not trustworthy.

  • Andrew_W

    The title of this piece: “Study: Cloth masks provide “statistically insignificant” protection” Is of course misleading, the study claimed no such thing, “statistically insignificant” is a product of the limited rate of positive samples in the study, if, rather that 4862 participants completing the study with just 95 covid positive participants across both groups, there had been 4,862,000 participants completing the study with infections with SARS-CoV-2 occurring in 42,000 participants recommended masks (1.8%) and 53,000 control participants (2.1%) there would have been statistically significant levels of evidence that wearing masks does reduce the risk of contracting covid – by about 15%. And of course, as has been pointed out, the claimed purpose of wearing them is that masks worn by those infected reduces the chances of them passing the virus on.

  • Cotour

    The Biden crew must have taken this study to heart:

    I also found this little tid bit interesting:

    COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)

    Covid infections in America about 12 million? Deaths? Allegedly about 250K.

    Covid infections in China? 92,000? Deaths? Allegedly about 4700?

    I find these “FACTS” incredible to say the least. Just like most “FACTS” reported (Or selectively ignored) in the Main Stream Media these days. To say the least.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *