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Book Review - Unmasked: The Global Failure of Covid Mask Mandates by Ian Miller (2022)
One of the most insidious elements of the overzealous response to the Covid-19 pandemic was the unquestioned, heralded, and widespread socio-political acceptance of alleged “mask science”.
The imposition of which (through mandates and bylaw regimes) proved to be a radically divisive social signal that was uniquely adept at projecting a political bent as opposed to protecting public health. People were unrelentingly encouraged to judge their fellow citizens strictly on the presence or absence of a flimsy piece of polypropylene covering their face holes.
With hindsight, and aptly demonstrated within Ian Miller’s book, we live in a world where appearing to do something (regardless of lacklustre outcomes) is disproportionately valued over objective data analysis. Of which, the surgical and cloth mask policy promotion greatly epitomized the ‘feelz over realz’ phenomenon of an increasingly post-truth world.
Conversely, Unmasked: The Global Failure of the Covid Mask Mandates perfectly counterbalances this disturbing contemporary trend with cold hard data.
Miller thoroughly demonstrates that, as a public health policy, the masking mandates were a colossal failure that needlessly polarized an already unstable political environment.
Indeed, Miller’s quest to tear down the popular masking narrative is a necessary piece of realism for our plague-era historical record. For in order to prevent such wasteful and futile tactics from repeating themselves, we need to understand what did not work.
Scientism Needn’t Apply
“Can you pull that mask up over your nose please?”
~Every Karen at a Grocery Store (circa 2020-2022)~
To start off the book, Miller gets us up to speed on how ineffective masks were considered to be by the medical community in the pre-Covid timeline. The consensus as it were. Indeed, masks were never incorporated as a valuable non-pharmacological intervention for epidemics or pandemics up until April 3rd, 2020. That’s right. Masks were not considered useful until after the pandemic was declared.
Damningly, this was just weeks after Dr. Fauci’s own admissions (in March of 2020) wherein, on a 60 Minutes broadcast, he admitted masks are not an effective tool in the war against the virus. From there we are dovetailed into chapters about how completely new the mask “science” really is and just how absurdly oversold it was to the public.
There were claims floating around that they could reduce viral spread by up to 85%! This would hypothetically put it only slightly below the Pfizer advertised efficacy of its initial ‘vaccine’. Utilized in tandem, we should've experienced something approximating Covid-zero in late 2021. Yet here we are in late 2022 seeing ill-informed, but likely well-intentioned, folks still rocking cloth masks alone in their cars.
If these people had done even cursory research (or read Chapter 4 of Unmasked) on the ‘new’ CDC studies, they would see that almost all the data accumulated for masking was cherry-picked and quite misleading if viewed in their totality. Miller writes:
“[Pandemic era] studies published by the CDC all contain flaws that cast significant doubts on the researchers’ conclusions. The time periods used are often problematic, as is their reliance on small sample sizes and lack of comparative examples. Even when ignoring those flaws, the conclusions these studies present show minimal impact from mandates.”
Adding further still that the new masking studies had criterial defects and overly simplistic findings seemingly in service of creating promotional, and scary looking, graphics to pelt corporate news media with.
The criterial defects, for example, didn’t clarify if the study subjects were observed wearing cloth masks, surgicals, or N95s? Were they wearing them all day or only in public? Were they applying them properly? Were they changing them regularly? How can you make a study with so many variables unaccounted for? And if this was such a great policy path, why did we only start considering this in 2020?
It's all but obvious that the overarching theme of the studies was to serve a predetermined conclusion. Mask good, you wear, science man say so. Again, symbolically demonstrating to do something, even something useless, is preferable to low-information citizens who demand action. Any action. As long as ‘we are trying’.
Cold, Hard Facts
The latter half of Miller’s book deep dives into the masking data of the most notorious domestic and international examples of both mask compliance and defiance. These are California, Florida, Sweden and a couple of dozen examples from the international community.
And amongst these chapters lay the greatest strength of Miller’s approach to the masking data: its sheer simplicity when laid out with corresponding historical date tags. These are facts, figures, and most importantly, timeline charts, that are drawn solely from official sources like the CDC, New York Times, the WHO, and various governmental health departments from across the world.
Their data. Their statements. Their results. All presented back to them in mirror-esque fashion.
Page after page delineating, in a thorough comparative analysis, just how poorly masks performed in one of the biggest social experiments in human history. And the results are even more abysmal than you may have already guessed. With near global unanimity (excluding minor blips here and there that can be explained by other factors like initial vaccine uptake, seasonal trends, and radically reduced social interactions) masking mandates were followed by massive spikes in infection rates and case counts.
Interestingly though, these observations lead to the book’s only downside; the tedious volumes of evidence that are virtually replicated on every single page across political units of the world.
But far from being a negative trait in its totality, this only serves to greatly reinforce the credibility of his thesis. That across the world’s different cultures, provinces, and political regimes, masking mandates had next to zero correlation with viral spread .
Through case counts, positive tests, or hospitalizations, we can discern that masking as a public health policy, regardless of whether there was near universal compliance or not, did nothing to mitigate infection spikes from 2020 onward.
Page after page, Miller reminds us of how masked US states performed against non-masked states, how masked countries compared to unmasked countries, and how compliance rates did not preclude either prevention or reduction.
This leads the reader to eventually surmise that not only were we led dangerously astray by ‘the experts’, but that it may have even been intentional. As character Sam Rothstein famously states in Casino (1995) regarding the seeming ineptitude in his workplace:
“Either he was in on it or he was too stupid to see what was going on.”
Many hypothesize that the masks were never actually intended to reduce infection as a medical device. Rather, they were a social cue and a vaunted ‘Noble Lie’. For not only did it create the appearance of “action” against the spread, but it also gave authorities time and public support to shovel loads of cash to Big Pharma while sanctimoniously heaping scorn on dissenters. The “anti-maskers” as it were. They were the ones ruining it for the ‘rest of us’.
Or maybe They wanted heightened pandemic awareness in the form of a bright blue facial obstruction on every face. One that increased fear of strangers and what they ‘could be’ aerosolizing. Better to be safe than sorry. So best to stay away and mask up.
Regardless of the shifting motivations the health authorities offered, masks were quickly transformed into a political symbology for keepers of The Science™
In but one of the dozens of examples, Miller notes that in March of 2021, when Gov. Abbott lifted the mandates for Texas, the advocates of Scientism (celebrities, lefty politicians, and medical personalities) chastised the reckless decision. Noting how this would inevitably kill tens of thousands of people for mere political points in a primitive pursuit to ‘own the libs’.
Yet weeks later, when Miller reinvestigated the case counts he found that “their situation presented an excellent distillation of the discourse around masks; assumptions based on limited or poor quality evidence, an ignorance of results contrary to those assumptions, and immediately disproven predictions were never revisited.”
Down the memory hole the headlines went as they yelled louder about trusting ‘the science’ with lockdowns, vaccines, and now “Tridemics”. Of which they are very decidedly uninterested in looking at in terms of comparative results.
It's Not Over Yet
The reason I sought out this book was that here in Ontario Canada at least, this issue is being perpetually resurrected by virus fetishists. Ones who seemingly live their lives to make everyone else miserable with their own societal version of long-Covid. Petty tyrannies abound from private workplaces to our university system, to various absurd school board trustees.
Indeed, the Canadian masking fanatics refuse to give up their quest for a Covid-zero world by using any and all discredited tools in their midst. These people’s wily-eyed zeal for enforcing health regimes would make Xi Jinping or a technocratic dystopian dictator smirk with delight.
But Miller’s rigorously analytic book is precisely the compilation required to help prevent these totalitarians from asserting Scienticism’s primacy again. Using this as a guide to knock down various masking arguments can prove invaluable in the fight for reason, evidence, and sound policy.
The medical fascists relied on your ignorance of these topics to usher in their preferred policies. And the ‘Mask Question’ struck not only at the core of so much Covid hysteria but also of the intrinsic fear humans have of unseen risks or enemies.
And in true tribal form, we were instructed to appease the gods of epidemiology by surrendering bodily autonomy, individual liberty, and medical privacy in the place of sacrificial virgins. Yet the plague raged onward and the shamans doubled down on their rain dances.
Further still, and much harder for most to comprehend, these two things can be simultaneously true:
As a public health policy, generalized masking has been a complete failure
Fit-tested, properly cleaned, properly applied, and properly stored N95s can be greatly beneficial on an individual level
Armed with these books we can correctly assert the basis for an accurate historical depiction of the Covid pandemic instead of relying on the expert’s account. The ones who have so often been proved to be dead wrong and whose track records are aligned with special interests yet to be fully understood.
Chart by chart, we can dispel their narratives with an unmasked smile.
RATING: 4.5 / 5
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