Why So Many Americans Don’t “Trust the Science” On COVID
Is it real science?
If we’re going to talk about why we don’t “trust the science” on COVID, masks seem like an excellent place to start.
When the COVID pandemic kicked off, masks seemed to make a certain amount of sense. After all, doctors and nurses wore them, right? Plus, some of the Asian nations that initially did well against COVID had culturally embraced mask-wearing. Additionally, even if the COVID particles themselves were small enough to fit through masks, they were still attached to saliva particles the mask might help with. As any of us who have ever worn a mask with glasses can tell you, the first thing that tends to happen is that your glasses fog up because your stream of breath is driven up and down instead of outwards.
Since all of that seemed logical in the early days of COVID, I started wearing masks before a lot of other people in my area did. There was just one problem with that. As masks were increasingly adopted across the country and even became mandatory in most places, it seemed to make no difference in how many people were being infected. On the one hand, we were hearing things like this from government scientists:
“If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really think in the next four, six, eight weeks, we could bring this epidemic under control.” -- Robert Redfield, the then-director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in July 2020.
In fact, wearing masks was supposedly so important that Joe Biden promised to sign a day one executive order forcing people to wear masks:
At one point, there were only 12 states without mask mandates. Of course, for those of us that actually care about science (as opposed to the people shouting TRUST THE SCIENCE as a replacement for thought and debate), this raised some extremely obvious questions. For example, if masks were effective at stopping COVID, why didn’t we ever see big decreases in the infection rate in states that put mask mandates in place? At one point, more than 90% of Americans were wearing masks. So, if masks worked, then WHY WEREN’T THEY WORKING?
By late 2020, it was painfully obvious that cloth and paper masks did nothing of significance to stop COVID and a lot of Americans pointed that out. Just as a few examples out of many:
Of course, I suppose that saying these kinds of things made me a de facto “conspiracy theorist” and spreader of “misinformation” – except now, it’s becoming conventional wisdom:
Governors in New Jersey, California, Oregon, Connecticut, and Delaware have announced plans to roll back their mask mandates, citing declining coronavirus cases.
Here’s more from a piece in the Washington Post, which somehow never gets called “misinformation” no matter how many things it gets wrong:
It is intuitive that a barrier ought to prevent germs from being emitted into the air. But if that’s true, why isn’t there more evidence for the benefits of masking two years into the pandemic? Experts associated with The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota have laid out a more complex analysis: Given the current understanding that the virus is transmitted in fine aerosol particles, it’s likely an infectious dose could easily get through and around loose-fitting cloth or surgical masks.
...All those factors may explain why the states with mask mandates haven’t fared significantly better than the 35 states that didn’t impose them during the omicron wave. Rhode Island, where I live, has had a mask mandate since mid-December; nonetheless, we saw our January surge rise far higher than any other state. There’s little evidence that mask mandates are the primary reason the pandemic waves eventually fall — though much of the outrage over lifting mandates is based on that assumption. Many experts acknowledge that the rise and fall of waves is a bit of a mystery, as epidemiologist Sam Scarpino explained to me on my podcast.
Isn’t it fascinating that what the “science” says we should do seems so closely connected with what’s politically helpful for the Democratic Party with mid-term elections coming up? It’s almost as if “science” didn’t have much to do with it at all.
Now, I know what all of you are thinking:
I’d love to take a bow here and say that I alone understood what was happening with the coronavirus from the beginning and that only I, your humble correspondent, could have figured out that masks didn’t work so long ago – except none of that is true. The reality is that many people, me included, have gotten things wrong about this virus and an enormous number of other Americans long ago recognized that cloth and paper masks weren’t working.
This ties into another very interesting recent development. Joe Rogan has been relentlessly vilified on the Left for supposedly spreading COVID “misinformation.” By that, what they mean is that he actually spoke to people that disagreed with the standard line on COVID. The interview Rogan did that drew the most flak on that front was with Robert Malone. Malone is extraordinarily well-qualified to talk about the vaccines (he was the inventor of the nine original mRNA vaccine patents), but he was banned from Twitter, demonized, and labeled as “misinformation” for questioning how well the mRNA vaccines were working. I wrote a piece on his appearance on the Joe Rogan show and this particular part now seems extremely relevant:
Does the waning immunity of the vaccine have a negative impact on your natural immunity? “There are signs in some data, from Denmark, of negative efficacy against Omicron as a function of the number of vaccinations up to 3. Positive efficacy meaning it protects you. Negative efficacy meaning your probability is higher if you've taken the vaccine.
Now, here’s the new article out yesterday from CNBC, which is, of course, never referred to as “misinformation”:
An early look at the performance of Covid-19 booster shots during the recent omicron wave in the U.S. showed a decline in effectiveness against severe cases, though the shots still offered strong protection.
As someone who wrote a piece called, “There’s Not Enough Reliable Information to Know Whether to Get a COVID Booster” back in December, I’m feeling even more comfortable with that column today. Now the point of writing all of this is not that you should listen to me and Robert Malone about COVID while ignoring everything that Fauci and the mainstream media say. It’s that it’s impossible for anyone to “trust the science” on COVID because we’re not handling this pandemic in a “scientific” way.
Science is never truly “settled.” On the contrary, good science suggests theories, ways to test those theories, and changes the conclusions based on new evidence. Science can only properly function when there’s an open exchange of information and ideas that rise and fall based on their merit. Science requires that people care about the data, want to try to get the correct answers, and are willing and allowed to go wherever the data leads them.
What we’ve had in America has been something quite different. We’ve had politicians and scientists getting together to come up with theories. Then, those politicians and scientists, based on political considerations and best guesses, have released the information they want the public to know and have labeled anything that contradicts that as “conspiracy theories” or “misinformation.” Eventually, when they’ve been proven wrong, which has happened many times since the start of the pandemic, they wait until months after it has been obvious to everyone that they made a bad call, they change on a dime, and then they hope their previous errors are ignored. From there, as arrogant as ever, they proceed onwards as if they’ve yet to ever make a mistake.
So, the reason so many Americans don’t “Trust the Science” on COVID is that it’s not real science. It’s hubris and government propaganda masquerading as science, and everyone can see it. The reality is that the government, Anthony Fauci, the CDC, and medical “experts” relied upon by the mainstream media have been wrong an awful lot since the start of the pandemic. Yet, they’re still treated as so infallible that disagreeing with them is evidence of being “anti-vax” or anti-science. Yes, it may be easier to go that way than to admit that science is messy, we don’t have all the answers, and that we’re figuring it all out as we go along, but the trade-off for “easy” is “trust.” People aren’t stupid. They can see what’s going on.
It is important that Americans “trust the science” on COVID, but to get there, we need to start taking a genuinely scientific approach to the pandemic.