Maskers are an Anti-Science Cult

(See the video version of this report here.)

“...Indeed, 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 naive realism about the “objective” truth of public health data...” - MIT scientists1

“Most people are a little shy of putting that kind of thing on paper.” - George Orwell2

Before when it was announced from upon high that you no longer need to wear a mask I was writing a little piece called MIT Admits Anti-Maskers are Right (& Complains About Independent-Minded & Rational Americans)! Is This a Truth-Troll? Obviously many are still wearing their masks. But what is not as obvious is that many of these people will continue to wear their masks for a long time to come. Partly this will be due to their superstitions but they will also continue to wear it intentionally to display their groupthink in common with their political tribe. This tribe overlaps almost entirely with those who suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome. If, upon reading these words, you feel hatred towards me, you're in the cult!

I am using the word cult in accordance with Merriam-Webster’s definition as in a “great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement” and so on and, more specifically as in “a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator”.

Even in the Dark Ages in Europe, if people with intelligence (the ability to perceive patterns) had the opportunity to observe that wearing face coverings did not decrease their chances of getting the Black Plague they would, if they were also wise, not wear those face coverings (at least when and where others would not react violently, as some do today). Moreover, even in those times in which terror must have been at a fever-pitch (pun), in which far more than a fraction of 1%3 of people were dying from it, those people would consider maskers to be irrational fools.

We tend to look back on those times as superstitious and stupid. But are these times of dark ignorance any better? They were ruled more by fear than by reason with a minority of people being more level-headed. In that sense, how is our modern society any different?

In this dark era, even scientists at MIT can be obscenely superstitious (or else someone has played a prank to make it appear that way). I demonstrated this at length in my aforementioned piece but it is 16 pages long and that is perhaps too lengthy for most. Therefore I offer a few previews. Note that in the full length version it is demonstrated that the scientists who conducted the study and wrote the research paper are left wing, anti-Trump and can hardly contain their contempt of antimaskers for political reasons, not scientific reasons. Your credulity that research paper is not a joke will be sorely tested. You may want to get a drink because this will be hard to swallow…


Sometimes the funniest stuff comes from people who are being serious. Sometimes it’s impossible to tell extremism from parody of it.

They say “trust the science” while wearing masks that do about as much to stop a virus as a chain-link fence does to stop dust in the wind. The commonly used N95 mask, says the manufacturer, 3M, offers protection against sawdust, household dust and some protection against some molds but not against “contracting infection, illness, or disease”. So who actually follows the science?

We are going to look at a recent research paper from alumni of the world-renown Massachusetts Institute of Technology that argues that we need less media literacy (not more, less) because anti-maskers are able to read graphs concerning the epidemic and come to their own rational fact-based conclusions. In other words, they are mad that antimaskers can justify that they are antimaskers because they are media literate; they can understand the visual data better than pro-maskers!

…or it’s a parody!

The research paper is Viral Visualizations: How Coronavirus Skeptics Use Orthodox Data Practices to Promote Unorthodox Science Online apparently by MIT alumni, January 20th, 2021 (which can be found on the websites of the likes of Harvard and Cornel and which was to be read at a tech conference in Japan in May of 2021). It's abstract reads in part...

Controversial understandings of the coronavirus pandemic have turned data visualizations into a battleground. Defying public health officials, coronavirus skeptics on US social media spent much of 2020 creating data visualizations showing that the government’s pandemic response was excessive and that the crisis was over. This paper investigates how pandemic visualizations circulated on social media, and shows that people who mistrust the scientific establishment often deploy the same rhetorics of data-driven decision-making used by experts, but to advocate for radical policy changes…

Ah yes, “radical policy changes”, like returning to sanity.

Note their use of the terms “masker” and “anti-masker”. At 11:41 in a video about this paper for MIT Libraries, one of the authors of the research paper, Crystal Lee, indicates that she and whoever she means by “us” are mask wearers and are called “maskers” and “sheep” by people who identify as “antimaskers”.


…this study finds that anti-mask groups practice a form of data literacy in spades. Within this constituency, unorthodox viewpoints do not result from a deficiency of data literacy; sophisticated practices of data literacy are a means of consolidating and promulgating views that fly in the face of scientific orthodoxy. Not only are these groups prolific in their creation of counter-visualizations, but they leverage data and their visual representations to advocate for and enact policy changes...

At this point in this video about the paper they explain their methodology with some graphic representation.

Further on they whine…

Among other initiatives, these groups argue for open access to government data (claiming that CDC and local health departments are not releasing enough data for citizens to make informed decisions)…

How dare those ungrateful serfs! They are like peasants who wanted the Bible translated from Latin into whatever vulgar language they can understand! Why can’t they just trust their masters to tell them what to think?

..and they use the language of data-driven decision-making to show that social distancing mandates are both ill-advised and unnecessary. In these discussions, we find that anti-maskers think carefully about the grammar of graphics by decomposing visualizations into layered components (e.g., raw data, statistical transformations, mappings, marks, colors). Additionally, they debate how each component changes the narrative that the visualization tells, and they brainstorm alternate visualizations that would better enhance public understanding of the data. This paper empirically shows how COVID anti-mask groups use data visualizations to argue that the US government’s response (broadly construed) to the pandemic is overblown, and that the crisis has long been over…

In other words, they aren’t convincing people to simply accept their bullshit and putting out “better visualizations” or trying to train people to interpret these visualizations the way they want them to isn’t working out in their favor.

…Indeed, 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 naive realism about the “objective” truth of public health data…

Again, is this a joke? Are they really all but admitting that they are wrong and we are right? Weird. Really weird. If this is not a hoax then one can easily imagine that since they are more-or-less openly politically partisan, they are downplaying just how wrong they are and how right antimaskers are and this apparently causes them distress. Lee, at least, displays tension in her video presentation about this paper. Here’s two examples; she places her hand to her head and shakes her head as she gives an example of a chart shared by antimaskers that she thinks is, “really, really compelling” and she groans before saying that, “There’s an appeal to using data and science in order to show how the response is completely overblown.”

Further down in a section on visualization literacy (the ability to understand graphs) they openly write…

…calls for increased literacy have often become a form of wrong-headed solutionism that posits education as the fix to all media-related problems. Danah Boyd [16] has documented, too, that calling for increased media literacy can often backfire: the instruction to “question more” can lead to a weaponization of critical thinking and increased distrust of media and government institutions. She argues that calls for media literacy can often frame problems like fake news as ones of personal responsibility rather than a crisis of collective action.

…* spits out drink *… Wait! WHAT!?! They want collective action rather than personal responsibility?!? Are they really oblivious to how wrongheaded they come across? This has to be mockery! Right? I looked into this Danah Boyd (who apparently is “researcher of technology & society, Microsoft Research, Data & Society, NYU”) and found that she does indeed argue against personal responsibility and against trusting one’s own experience rather than trusting the official recommendations of “experts”!

In “Did Media Literacy Backfire?”, Danah Boyd argues that the USA is “moving towards tribalism” and that…

…our culture of doubt and critique, experience over expertise, and personal responsibility is pushing us further down this path.

Media literacy asks people to raise questions and be wary of information that they’re receiving. People are. Unfortunately, that’s exactly why we’re talking past one another.

No, we disagree with each other because some people “raise questions” and are “wary of information that they’re receiving” while others accept the information they are receiving from so-called authorities without question, collectively, as in groupthink. In other words, they are authoritarian collectivists as opposed to libertarian individualists.

It’s distasteful but deserved when I point out that the quintessential authoritarian collectivist systems are those of nazism, fascism and communism - all are forms of totalitarian groupthink. Directly opposite to these is libertarian individualism - thinking for yourself and questioning authority. Thinking things out on your own independently with reason and intelligence rather than accepting what the group and authority wants you to accept is libertarian individualism. That is what these people hate. They prefer what Mao, Stalin, Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler dreamed of - obedient, uniform, masses of comrades collectively marching in lock-step, all thinking what they are told to think, all subservient to authority.

But that wasn’t the paper by Danah Boyd that the MIT paper cited. It was “You Think You Want Media Literacy… Do You?” wherein she writes…

…the narrow version of media literacy that I hear as the “solution” is supposed to magically solve our political divide. It won’t. More importantly, as I’m watching social media and news media get weaponized, I’m deeply concerned that the well-intended interventions I hear people propose will backfire, because I’m fairly certain that the crass versions of critical thinking already have.

Ah, the unwashed masses and their crass critical thinking, their disobedient independent thinking, their free-market crass capitalist critical thinking. Yes, well, according to these MIT people, that “crass” critical thinking is more effective than your obedient groupthink, Danah. She then complains that some people would prefer to learn more about climate change and to what degree human activity is a factor than to believe what they are told in conformity with the rest of the herd! She complains about a lack of editorial control of information and about those who “self-investigate”.

Cry, cunt, cry.



Near the end of this piece she makes clear that her call for less media literacy, reason, knowledge and independent thinking is all about her partisan ideology. It's all about left wing collectivist authoritarians (socialists/communists) winning the culture war.

Let’s return to the MIT paper…In section 4.2.1 they write in bold…

anti-maskers value unmediated access to information and privilege personal research and direct reading over “expert” interpretations.

In section 5 they write…

Data literacy, for antimaskers, exemplifies distinctly American ideals of intellectual self-reliance, which historically takes the form of rejecting experts and other elites…

…Are they trying to complain or sing praises?...

…This to me sounds like an echo of Dr. Fauci when he implored Americans and the British to “do what they’re told” despite their natural independent spirit.


At 20:31 in her video about this paper, Lee says that antimaskers pervert humanism when they use the same approaches to this sort of data that humanists use - they apply logic and critical thinking to question the validity of sources and are “attuned to the ways that data and science are political…” by, for example, pointing out when science was used to lie to people to sell more tobacco products and how pharmaceutical companies have profit motives to misrepresent scientific data. She then says she thinks it’s “really, really horrifying” and “exciting” that antimaskers talk about the difference between what counts as scientific expertise and what counts as trustworthy sources.


You may be asking if these researchers offer any serious criticisms of antimaskers. Well, I can’t honestly call their ultimate criticisms serious but of course it’s up to you to decide. For what it’s worth, they offer the following 3;

FIRSTLY, these researchers say that antimaskers, “argue that there is an outsized emphasis on deaths versus cases: if the current datasets are fundamentally subjective and prone to manipulation (e.g., increased levels of faulty testing, asymptomatic vs. symptomatic cases), then deaths are the only reliable markers of the pandemic’s severity.”

This is echoed by Lee in her video starting at about 24:34. Notice, however, that this ‘criticism’ is actually a compliment. As they elaborate on this first ‘criticism’ they write that antimaskers…

…believe that deaths are an additionally problematic category because doctors are using a COVID diagnosis as the main cause of death (i.e., people who die because of COVID) when in reality there are other factors at play (i.e., dying with but not because of COVID).

So doctors are saying people died from covid when there are other factors present, such as those people not dying from covid. Got it. Indeed, at 22:34 in that video, Lee mentions how antimaskers are wary of how governors have a their own motive to inflate the death counts and how hospitals have a profit motive to inflate the death counts.

Since these categories are fundamentally subject to human interpretation, especially by those who have a vested interest in reporting as many COVID deaths as possible, these numbers are vastly over-reported, unreliable, and no more significant than the flu.

This is what I have been saying ever since the CDC said that doctors can say that a person who has not died from covid did die from covid and that there is a profit motive for these doctors to do so which means that the death toll is inflated.

Above is a screenshot from an official CDC release to health professionals. I added the red underlines.

In other words hospitals are profiting from death, profiting by providing death certificates that say patients died of covid (without testing testing for covid).

SECONDLY, they argue that antimaskers put more stock in personal experience than in trusting the mainstream narrative.

THIRDLY, they compliment, I mean ‘criticize’…

Most fundamentally, the groups we studied believe that science is a process, and not an institution. As we have outlined in the case study, these groups mistrust the scientific establishment (“Science”) because they believe that the institution has been corrupted by profit motives and politics.

Don’t be so silly! Of course it is! Normally, research is funded by outside sources. These outside sources must have a motives for giving their money to researchers. OBVIOUSLY there’s the money motive.

Science and scientists can be corrupted by ideology. To quote a bit from The Righteous Mind - Why Good People are Divided by Politic and Religion, Jonathan Haidt, a P.hD in social psychology…

The cognitive scientist Steven pinker was a graduate student at Harvard in the 1970s. In his book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, Pinker describes the ways scientists betrayed the values of science to maintain loyalty to the progressive movement. Scientists became “moral exhibitionists” in the lecture hall as they demonized fellow scientists and urged their students to evaluate ideas not for their truth but for their consistency with progressive ideals such as racial and gender equality.

Then there are scientists (and Bill Gates) who seem to share the motivations of evil masterminds like Lex Luther or Dr. Evil, Bond movie villains and Bill gates if he were a scientist or a doctor which he is not. He is not a scientist or a doctor. No one should ever take medical advice from a person who is not a doctor. Bill Gates is not one. He is not a doctor. He’s just a maldeveloped malignant goblin, a nerd who was bullied as a child (unfortunately) and who now wants revenge upon the world. I digress. Back to scientists and doctors. Since I published the first edition of this article, Dr. Fauci’s incriminating emails have been released. Despite what much of the media would have you believe, these emails can’t be ignored. Obviously, it’s unwise to have faith in the scientific and political establishment surrounding this issue.

So I ask myself if these are sincere but impotent criticisms or a sly way of supporting the antimasker argument?

More gems from the MIT research paper (or prank)…

For anti-maskers, valid science must be a process they can critically engage for themselves in an unmediated way. Increased doubt, not consensus, is the marker of scientific certitude.

Yeah.

…anti-mask users in particular were predisposed to digging through the scientific literature and highlighting the uncertainty in academic publications that media organizations elide.

Yep.

This study forces us to see that coronavirus skeptics champion science as a personal practice that prizes rationality and autonomy; for them, it is not a body of knowledge certified by an institution of experts.

Yup.

For members of this social movement, counter-visualization and anti-masking are complementary aspects of resisting the tyranny of institutions that threaten to usurp individual liberties to think freely and act accordingly.

Yes! HELL YES!


∴ TRUTH ∴ JUSTICE ∴ WISDOM ∴ LOVE ∴ LAUGHTER ∴


SOURCES & FURTHER READING

ACM SIGCHI “Viral Visualizations: How Coronavirus Skeptics Use Orthodox Data Practices to Promote Unorthodox ...” Youtube - April 23, 2021

ACM SIGCHI “Viral Visualizations: How Coronavirus Skeptics Use Orthodox Data Practices to Promote Unorthodox ...” Youtube - May 7, 2021

Beaumont, Peter “WHO warned of transmission risk in January, despite Trump claims” the Guardian - April 9, 2020

Borger, Julian “Caught in a superpower struggle: the inside story of the WHO's response to coronavirus” the Guardian - April 18, 2020

Boyd, Danah “Did Media Literacy Backfire?” Apophenia - Jan 9, 2017

Boyd, Danah “You Think You Want Media Literacy… Do You?” Data & Society: Points - March 9, 2018

CDC “New ICD code introduced for COVID-19 deaths” National Vital Statistics System - May 24, 2020

CNBC Television “Anthony Fauci and top health experts discuss Covid-19 second wave and vaccine — 11/12/20” Youtube - Nov 12, 2020

Colton, Emma “Here are Fauci's biggest flip-flops and backtracks amid the coronavirus pandemic” Washington Examiner - Dec 1, 2020

Corcoran, Kieran “An infamous WHO tweet saying there was 'no clear evidence' COVID-19 could spread between humans was posted for 'balance' to reflect findings from China” Insider - April 18,2020

Guarino, Ben, Chris Mooney and Tim Elfrink “No matter what the CDC says, here’s why many scientists think the coronavirus is airborne.” Washington Post - Sep 21, 2020

Lee, Yang, Inchoco, Jones & Satyanarayan “Viral Visualizations: How Coronavirus Skeptics Use Orthodox Data Practices to Promote Unorthodox Science OnlineCHI '21: Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems Article No.: 607 Pages 1–18 https://doi.org/10.1145/3411764.3445211 - May 2021

MITLibraries “Crystal Lee: Visualizing Misinformation” Youtube - April 6, 2021

Orwell, George “The Road to Wigan Pier” print. First American 1958. Harcourt Brace and Company (first published in 1937)

Rogers, Michelle “Fact check: Hospitals get paid more if patients listed as COVID-19, on ventilators” USA Today - April 24, 2020

Sokal, Alan D “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” Social Text #46/47, pp. 217-252 - spring/summer 1996

Trouble, Justin “Why You Must Not Obey!” Bitchute - April 24, 2021

World Health Organization (WHO) @WHO (tweet) “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan#China Twitter - Jan 14, 2020


NOTES

2

Orwell, George “The Road to Wigan Pier” print. No Date. First American edition - 1958. Harcourt Brace and Company (first published in 1937)

3

World Health Organization (WHO) @WHO (tweet) “Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan#China Twitter - Jan 14, 2020

According to Census.gov, there are 330,000,000 Americans. According to Dr. Fauci (at 58:57 in this video) 560,000 Americans have been killed by it. 560,000 = 0.17% of Americans. Now take into account that the numbers of covid 19 deaths are inflated via various means. For example, way back in March 24, 2020, the CDC introduced a new WHO code for medical professionals with regard to death certificates related to covid 19 “mortality data”. It says that medical professionals can record a death of a patient as being caused by covid 19 without a confirmed test.

In other words, deaths that are not caused by it can be recorded as if they were caused by it. Consider that the higher the numbers they record, the more funding their facility receives. That's a financial incentive to lie, to inflate the numbers. It's inescapable that the covid mortality figures will be inflated.

Compare that to deaths by flu, drunk driving, smoking, auto accidents (not alcohol related), junk food, and so on…

Estimated Influenza Illnesses, Medical visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths in the United States — 2019–2020 Influenza Season

2019-2020 U.S. Flu Season: Preliminary In-Season Burden Estimates

Mortality in the United States, 2018