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Friday, December 1, 2023

Letter to the Editor – Keith Porteous

The Letter to the Editor from David Scruton has much in common with the assertions of Stephen Malthouse; that of confirmation bias. The Cochrane study of studies into mask efficacy that Scruton and Malthouse are debating, doesn’t conclude that masks are effective, nor that they are not. The Cochrane study finds flaws in the controls and methodology of the major research published. While it found little evidence to support the efficacy of cloth masks, it reasoned that other factors may have contributed to that result, such as poor fitting masks, people touching their masks with their hands, and the probability of low compliance within the participants of both the main study groups, and the control groups. Either way, we do not have certainty and scientific conclusiveness. Still, almost no one has changed the views they held 3 years ago, despite newer revelations.

I was somewhat surprised that Scruton ventured back into the debate, as a co-signatory to the letter from 20 local doctors insisting that getting inoculated would create herd immunity. It did no such thing, and that was never a possibility. There is a precipitous drop in the immune response to the mRNA jab after a couple of months, and it didn’t stop the spread of the virus. Scruton makes the absurd claim that the only reasonable explanation for the drop in influenza during that period was the mask mandates. Human contact was so limited and constrained, travel suspended, schools and workplaces closed, that lots of things dramatically decreased, from car accidents to pollutants causing poor air quality, and so much more. The best approach was always to protect and isolate the vulnerable, and let people make their own personal and private health choices, as was the approved public health pandemic protocol prior to COVID19.

Most people start from a conclusion and work backwards to confirm their bias, and argue vehemently in defence of their position, regardless of changes in understanding of the scientific evidence. Mark Twain said that it is easier to fool people, than convince people that they’ve been fooled. And it seems that the well educated professional class are the people most invested in never revising their views about anything. David Scruton will continue to insist that the mRNA inoculations, boosters, masks, mandates, and lockdowns were effective, and that the rest of us should trust the same “experts” who got it wrong, all in the same direction. I understand why Scruton believed what he believed back then, but there is no reasonable explanation for why he doubles down against the latest science he otherwise claims to observe. Until we can have an honest and reasoned discussion, there is no chance of improvements to public health policies. 

Author: TIG

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