A group of MIT researchers have published their findings on how the science on the effectiveness of masks is analysed by mask-critics, and they found that mask-critics were well informed and engaged deeply with the published data.
They reported that: “Far from ignoring scientific evidence to argue for individual freedom, anti-maskers often engage deeply with public datasets”.
After ‘infiltrating’ online Covid skeptic communities to study their methods, the MIT research team concluded that “anti-mask” critics are as well informed as the pro-mask experts. They found that they understand the data as well as the pro-mask side, but that they have just come to different conclusions based on the assessment of risk.
It appears from the MIT research findings that the only people who don’t ‘follow the science’ are the mask enforcers – the people who patrol public spaces harassing non maskers.
The MIT study concluded that “anti-maskers often reveal themselves to be more sophisticated in their understanding of how scientific knowledge is socially constructed than their ideological adversaries, who espouse naïve realism about the “objective truth of public health data.”
In short, the data experts at MIT suggested that some of the people who insist that mask enforcing is ‘following the science’ are naïve and don’t understand the science.
The researchers said that facebook had banned some of the groups they studied, ‘who have since moved to more unregulated platforms (Parler and MeWe)”.
Although the report’s authors had a critical position against ‘mask-skeptics’ it did admit skeptics place a high premium on data analysis and empiricism. They added “Most fundamentally, the groups we studied believe that science is a process, and not an institution.”
They found that mask-skeptics were very well informed; scientifically literate; and “value unmediated access to information and privilege personal research and direct reading over ‘expert’ interpretations.”
The report said that members of this community “value individual initiative and ingenuity, trusting scientific analysis only insofar as they can replicate it themselves by accessing and manipulating the data firsthand.”
“They are highly reflexive about the inherently biased nature of any analysis, and resent what they view as the arrogant self-righteousness of scientific elites.”
They reported that many of the users believe that the most important metrics are missing from government-released data. What the report revealed was that rather than being badly informed conspiracy theorists the mask-skeptics “approach to the pandemic is grounded in more scientific rigor, not less.”
This is an significant paper as it reveals that the picture painted by the media of mask-skeptics can be dishonest.
The establishment media – such as RTÉ – hunt high and low for conspiracy theorists to straw-man in their propaganda game, but when real researchers (who, by the way, were supportive of the government covid measures and mask-mandates) went looking, they found that influential mask-skeptics were analytical, and understood the risks very well.
The report also found that mask-skeptics were also adept at representing the data in graphs and graphics in visually compelling ways.
The report has many surprising statements and findings. The following selection included:
“The lack of transparency within these data collection systems—which many of these users infer as a lack of honesty—erodes these users’ trust within both government institutions and the datasets they release.”
“While these groups highly value scientific expertise, they also see collective analysis of data as a way to bring communities together within a time of crisis, and being able to transparently and dispassionately analyze the data is crucial for democratic governance.”
“In fact, the explicit motivation for many of these followers is to find information so that they can make the best decisions for their families—and by extension, for the communities around them.”
The message that runs through these threads is unequivocal: that data is the only way to set fear-bound politicians straight, and using better data is a surefire way towards creating a safer community?
So there you go. Insisting on masking is not ‘settled science’. Like most of the covid response (which has been extremely damaging and will bring a colossal bill for decades to come) it is sometimes political. The mask debate is just another symptom of the absolute mess of the covid hysteria. Our children won’t thank us for it.