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A Winnipeg scientist's belligerent attempt to defend mandatory masking backfires badly

 Oops.

While trying to slap down a group of clergymen challenging in court the province's shutdown of church services, a Winnipeg sciiiiientist has inadvertently proven that the science behind the mandatory mask order is bogus. 

The Science Emperor has no clothes.

In a letter to the editor of the Winnipeg Free Press, Dr. Peter Zahradka wrote:

A significant part of their argument is that the science is not being referenced as part of the action taken by the province on the advice of the chief public-health officer.

It seems like the main objection is contained within these few statements: “Show us the science. And if the science is there, maybe there will be fewer conflicts.”

Challenging science? What odious effrontery. Zahradka concluded his letter with this sneering comment:

"There is no reason not to produce the evidence for those who do not know how to search the medical literature to find it — which, surprisingly, seems to include the lawyers involved in this case."

Zahradka should know all about medical literature. His credentials says he is  Professor in the Department of Human Nutritional Sciences; Professor in the Department of Physiology and Pathophysiology; Chair of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolic Disorders and Staff Scientist in the Molecular Physiology Laboratory at the University of Manitoba Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

So its no surprise that before closing his letter, he threw down this challenge:

"Well, if the aggrieved parties would simply look to the scientific literature, plenty of evidence is available. One of the best articles was published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on Jan. 26, 2021. This article by Jeremy Howard and colleagues summarizes the results of numerous scientific studies previously published, and its main findings are: “The preponderance of evidence indicates that mask wearing reduces transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected respiratory particles in both laboratory and clinical contexts.”

As they say, Google is your friend. So we looked up this "best article".  

You can find it yourself here:  https://www.pnas.org/content/118/4/e2014564118

Almost immediately the first red flag popped up.  The article declares its findings are based on "the preponderance of evidence". We missed that in the letter.

It sounds so impressive, doesn't it?  Right, until you discover exactly what that term means.

You see, there are levels of evidentiary proof.  The highest, we all know, is 'beyond a reasonable doubt.'

Below that is 'clear and convincing evidence', which, in a nutshell means the contention is highly probable.

Then, below that, is 'preponderance of the evidence'. Way below. In short, it's barely above flipping a coin. As one source put it "Preponderance of the evidence is met if the trier of fact...believes the evidence shows the defendant is more likely than not---more than 50 percent likely to be---responsible."

In this case the provincial authorities have chosen to believe the contention that masks prevent the spread of Covid-19 even though the sciiiientists admit they can't prove it. It's a coin toss. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. Prove it doesn't, doubters.

You don't believe us?  Here's what the article that Zahradka relies on says: "Overall, direct evidence of the efficacy of mask use is supportive, but inconclusive."

That's it. A review of the findings of the best scientists in the world is that they can't prove that wearing masks prevents Covid-19.

Here's a handful of some of the other gems in this "best article":

* Overall, evidence from RCTs (randomised control trials)and observational studies is informative, but not compelling on its own.

* That review concluded that “there was insufficient evidence to provide a recommendation on the use of facial barriers without other measures.”

* On the other hand, a preprint systematic review that only included RCTs and observational studies (20) concluded, based on the RCTs, that there was only weak evidence for a small effect from mask use in the community

* There are currently no studies that measure the impact of any kind of mask on the amount of infectious SARS-CoV-2 particles from human actions.

* Simulation studies generally use a 30 L/min or higher challenge aerosol, which is around about 3 to 6 times the ventilation of a human at rest or doing light work (77).

Did you catch that? 

To measure how well masks prevented Covid-19 particles from spreading, the sciiientists forced air six times stronger than a real human being breathing through the masks. The next time you cough or sneeze, imagine coughing or sneezing six times stronger. Then imagine your funeral.

Sciiiiiientists referenced in the article weren't stymied by a lack of data.  Let's see, there was the study with 10 participants.... Yes, you read that right. Ten whole participants.

"The study did not use COVID-19 patients, and it is not yet known whether SARS-CoV-2 behaves the same as these seasonal coronaviruses, which are of the same family."

And there was that pair of studies from 1962 to 1975---that's studies conducted 45 to 58 years ago. Which is still more recent that the studies reported in 1926 by Wu Lien Teh, 94 years ago.  "He recommended that a silk covering for the whole head (and flannel sewed over nose and mouth areas), with holes for the eyes, tucked into the shirt, is a more comfortable approach that can provide good protection for a whole day (4)."

 * though it is not yet known to what extent findings from influenza studies apply to COVID-19 filtration.

* One of the most frequently mentioned, but misinterpreted, papers evaluating cloth masks as PPE for health care workers is one from MacIntyre et al. (25). There was not a “no mask” control group because it was deemed “unethical.” The study does not inform policy pertaining to public mask wearing as compared to the absence of masks in a community setting.

Way, way down in the "best article" was the true reason governments are forcing masks on everybody. It's not medical science. It's social science.

Masks are only of benefit to stop people with Covid-19 from spreading it through coughing or sneezing on others. But if only infected people wear masks, they will be " attacked, shunned, and stigmatized." But if we force everyone to wear masks, then the infected people will feel better about themselves.

Here's where we could all hold hands and sing Kumbaya. 

Except that holding hands and singing is banned in Manitoba.

The Black Rod commissioned its own scientific study of Covid-19 prevention measures. Our team of scientists determined that wearing beanies with propellers on top prevented the spread of  the virus.  

We know because since we've been wearing beanies with propellers on top, the infection rate has dropped.  Preponderance of evidence, or what?

Prove us wrong.

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