- December 25, 2020
Yesterday I had a brief telephone conversation with a dear aunt. At 84 years old, she is spending her Christmas isolated in a spotless assisted living facility. Her family is not allowed in to see her. All she really has to stay in the contact with the outside world is her television. Inevitably, our conversation drifted to the Coronovirus and its impact on our family.
“What? Wait...you don’t believe that all these deaths really happened?” she asked with barely-concealed anger.
“All I can do is work with the data, Auntie,” I replied. “The CDC’s own numbers establish a very low mortality rate.” I read to her the published infection fatality rate and the survival rate, by age group.” She said we needed to change the subject, and she did.
Though most people I know smell the proverbial rat, I do have friends and family that stubbornly hold to the COVID-19 “narrative” being presented by the mainstream media. They believe that masks are effective in reducing the spread of the virus, and wear them during the rare occasions when they leave their house. They believe our governors and mayors are justified in implementing their mandates to shut down or limit “non-essential” businesses in an effort to contain the spread of a deadly virus. They don’t ask questions: they comply because they believe authorities, and out of concern for others. Most of these people are intelligent, educated individuals that play by the rules.
I know what they are thinking. To them, the “science is in.” The perpetual mandates and lock downs are we face are “data-driven” and are in place with our best interests in mind. No reasonable person would question the overwhelming consensus by doctors and scientists: dark times lie ahead if we don’t “social-distance”, wear masks, take our vaccines and shutter our businesses. In a civil, educated society, we are bound to comply as one with a deadly disease which is clearly a threat to our way of life. We must be willing to engage in short-term sacrifice in favor of a long-term solution.
To them, we’re all in this together. Like it or not: this is the new normal. To the masker, it is selfish and irresponsible to walk into Walmart without a mask. We have to flatten the curve, and we have to be considerate of older, more vulnerable people who face the highest risk of a lonely, horrible death on a ventilator.
Maskers bristle when they are challenged. Without investigating the actual reasons why a person may not elect to wear a mask in public, only their objective makes the headlines: “It’s really easy: just wear the damn mask.”
Maskers cannot understand why a group of youths would troop through a Florida Target store, imploring customers to take off their masks.
Most maskers are not bad people. They honestly believe they are doing the right thing, and they honestly believe what they are being told. From the origins of COVID-19 in a bowl of bat soup in a Wuhan wet market to our our scientists being able to develop and distribute a safe and effective RNA vaccine for the first time in human history, these are people that really believe what they are told to believe.
The human dynamics behind masker thinking may not be as complex as you might be thinking. With some exceptions, most maskers normally are attracted to the “soft sciences” and are not predisposed to considering, in detail, critical observations leading up to a conclusion. Unlike the engineer or the technician, these are people that are content with scanning the bullet points leading up to a summary or a brief executive overview. Consequently, as a matter of preference, they never see the details found within the processes of discovery and discourse.
Maskers have difficulty in distinguishing the difference between “believing” and “knowing”. What maskers “know” is normally confined to authority figures that fall within boundaries of commonly-accepted limits. In other words: what is true is defined by majority consensus (real or imagined).
Maskers often hold to simply believing as being itself the highest expression of what is moral and right. When faced with something personally uncomfortable or challenging, maskers find comfort in platitudes, devotionals and music that place hope and faith above all. In dispensational Christianity, this thinking is ultimately expressed in the “Jesus is Coming Soon” eschatology; if the answer is hands-off and unarguable, the amount of personal responsibility in the here-and-now is minimized.
What is believed is often more easily absorbed than what is known. Simple beliefs – even the word “BELIEVE!” - will fit on a bumper sticker. Though this of course amounts to intellectual laziness, it’s important to understand that these are people that can be faced with personal challenges which facilitate and reinforce intellectual laziness.
Maskers can hold to two or more mutually-opposed ideas simultaneously. Double-minded people have trouble identifying logical problems. For instance, maskers have no problem embracing the effectiveness of face masks in preventing the spread of viruses, even though decades of research has established that face masks are not effective in preventing the spread of viruses. Maskers have no problem believing that lock downs are effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, though numerous studies have concluded the opposite is true. Maskers have no problem believing that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are claimed to be over 90% effective, yet scientists are still waiting for a safe vaccine for our children.
Heads-up: maskers can “blue-screen” when confronted in their logical dilemmas. If there is one characteristic flaw in masker thinking which can invoke their wrath against you, this is this one!
Maskers have support networks to reinforce their conclusions. Their employers force them to wear masks. Established organizations like the CDC tell maskers that nomaskers are ignorant and potentially violent, forcing maskers to surround themselves with like-thinking maskers.
Of course, the mainstream media as beaten the “pandemic” drum for months. These are major networks, with trained, experienced journalists; how can mainstream be wrong? How can there be any dissent among university professors and scientists for something as simple as whether a mask can stop a virus? How can there be disagreement on whether the primary means of transmissiblity of COVID-19 is when it becomes airborne? The major media addresses this problem by simply not reporting dissenting views and legitimate studies. This is why most maskers are unaware of existence of the Barrington Declaration. Additionally, supporting theories, like the “droplet theory,” are presented as fact.
An effective tactic employed by the major media to motivate people is to apply a face for both the good (Anthony Fauci) and bad players (Donald Trump) in a conflict. Good people are intelligent, learned and surely justified to be in authority. They have acronyms, separated by commas, after their name. Bad people are ignorant, untutored and potentially dangerous upstarts who refuse reason. Let’s face it: here in America, everyone in my generation has been trained to think this way. We are either standing, with our hands over our hearts as we pledge allegiance to the flag, or not. We are good, or we are not.
Maskers are willing to redefine science. There are obviously a great number of people that believe that “global warming,” Darwinian evolution, systemic racism and transgenderism are examples of what is often considered “settled science.” When the lines of distinction are blurred between what is known and what is believed, what we conclude as being real is up for grabs. In the context of COVID-19, I have read apologists claiming that true “science” is characterized by ever-changing investigation and interpretation. Of course, the opposite is true!
Those involved in the hard sciences inwardly suspect (or know) the “narrative” is inconsistent with the scientific method (built upon observation, demonstration and repeatability). It is not easy for these people to miss statistical anomalies or the absence of important test controls. For instance: a software, mechanical or electrical engineer cannot design, build, test and implement solutions which do not reliably perform in accordance with their requirements. These are solutions which are built from the ground up upon the scientific method – not the other way around! Consequently, it is hard for such a person to be a bona fide masker.
When discussing our response to the COVID-19 threat, it’s hard not to use air-quotes. What is presented as “settled science” and “good data” is nearly always characterized by ambiguity and inconsistency, the selective ignoring (or removal) of contradictory data and effective distribution of intended message. Dissenters are dismissed as “unscientific.” In many cases in recent months, doctors and scientists who dissent not only loose their jobs, but loose access to any platform which would serve to effectively counter that popular message.
Unfortunately, some activist maskers actually regard nomaskers as being gap-toothed, untutored hill-jacks. When pressed, they cannot present any real support for their views on mask efficacy – but that won’t stop them. They will approach you, then point and hiss. These are angry “Karens” that consider themselves front line advocates for what is good and true. These people will snitch on business that fail to meet their expectations, by submitting online forms set in place by their local or state health departments. Fortunately, these maskers appear to be the minority, but they have caused a lot of hurt and damage to people.
We must remember that most maskers wear a mask because they have to (or think they have to). They have to pay the bills, feed the kids and meet the mortgage payments. They have to run businesses or commute via air travel. They have no choice. Whether or not they have thought it all through, these are folks who are just trying to cope. They only have so much time. If they have to deal with a nomasker, the confrontation is viewed by them as just another obstruction.
About Fielden R. Nolan
You can reach Fielden at firstname.lastname@example.org.