Brownstone » Brownstone Journal » The Incredible Persistence of the Myth of Masking

The Incredible Persistence of the Myth of Masking


At this point, it’s no longer news that The Experts™ have lied to the public about masks.

It’s been proven time and time again that masks and the mandates enacted by terrified politicians do not work.

And yet, the inaccuracies spread by “experts” and their allies in the media have permanently taken hold for a significant portion of the population. 

For example, Taylor Lorenz, Washington Post writer and excellent avatar for the modern (young? middle aged?) urban progressive, remains committed to following their ideology no matter the evidence. She’s continually provided an example of how far down the rabbit hole susceptible people have gone:

At its heart, the debate around masks revolves around ideology.

For years, “experts” decried the importance of masking, quite literally laughing at suggestions that they would make a significant difference:

Ideology and groupthink has become so important and pervasive among “experts” that they easily abandoned their previously stated positions in order to conform to what’s expected of them politically.

When there was no pressure or tribalism connected to behavioral interventions, “experts” were honest about masking. 

Now it’s consistently been the opposite. And additional research confirms their pre-tribalism assertions were correct. Far from “The Science,” changing, their post-COVID actions can be explained by political signaling and lying to suit their needs.

Fortunately, intellectually honest researchers are continually striving to combat the dangerous, pernicious misinformation from “experts” that masks work and should become a permanent part of life moving forward.

One of the largest and most comprehensive examinations on masking was released recently, covering most of Europe.

And importantly, it didn’t look at just mask mandates, it looked at mask usage.

It’s often repeated by the defenders of the new mask faith that comparing outcomes in different locations based on mandates isn’t sufficient, because mandates don’t necessarily mean people are complying.

One should expect the arguments from the pro-mask zealots is that measuring outcomes based on mandates isn’t enough, because mandates don’t mean people are complying.

That argument has never made much sense, as anyone who’s lived in a major city during the past few years would tell you. 

Walk into a store in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles without a mask during a mandate and there will most assuredly be enforcement. There may have been the possibility of remaining maskless at certain businesses at certain times, but as Los Angeles County public health determined, more than 95% of people were complying with their mandate as late as December 2021.

LA County Press Release
“Masking requirements reduce transmission”

Of course, within a few weeks of this awe inspiring release, cases in LA had obliterated all previous records, rising more than 20x higher than in December 2021 when the 95% compliance was measured.

Cases Los Angeles County

There is undeniable evidence that compliance has proven to be utterly irrelevant.

But it’s reassuring to have a now peer-reviewed study to refer to when dealing with those who refuse to accept reality.

The study goals explain what the researcher was hoping to accomplish with his examination:

This analysis aimed to verify whether mask usage was correlated with COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. Daily data on COVID-19 cases and deaths and on mask usage were obtained for all European countries. The rationale behind the choice of European countries for comparison was fourfold: (1) availability and reliability of data; (2) a relative population homogeneity and shared history of epidemics (comparing countries from different continents may bring too many confounding factors); (3) similar age stratification and access to health assistance; and (4) divergent masking policies and different percentages of mask usage among the different populations, despite the fact that the entire continent was undergoing an outburst of COVID-19 at the time period analysed in this study.

In the absence of further randomized controlled trials on masking, after the two which once again showed that masks do not work, the comparisons presented here are the best method to measure the potential efficacy of an intervention in similar populations.

The researcher correctly identifies that many of the studies conducted in 2020, often referred to in desperate attempts to justify masking, are subject to the biases of early outbreaks when seasonality played a major role in controlling outbreaks in the Northeastern United States: 

However, these studies were restricted to the summer and early autumn of 2020. From March 2020 onwards, country after country instituted some form of mask mandate or recommendation. The stringency of these measures varied among the different countries and they, therefore, resulted in different proportions of mask compliance, ranging from 5% to 95% [8]. Such heterogeneity in mask usage among neighbouring countries provided an ideal opportunity to test the effect of this non-pharmaceutical intervention on the progression of a strong COVID-19 outburst.

We’ll get into the details shortly, but the conclusion gives a fantastic overview of the results:

While no cause-effect conclusions could be inferred from this observational analysis, the lack of negative correlations between mask usage and COVID-19 cases and deaths suggest that the widespread use of masks at a time when an effective intervention was most needed, i.e., during the strong 2020-2021 autumn-winter peak, was not able to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Moreover, the moderate positive correlation between mask usage and deaths in Western Europe also suggests that the universal use of masks may have had harmful unintended consequences.

Emphasis added.

Not only was there no benefit, but there was a disturbingly positive correlation between mask usage and reported COVID deaths in Western Europe.

More mask usage correlated to more COVID deaths.

As he states, that does not imply causation, but the fact that this is even possible is a direct repudiation of Fauci, Walensky and the rest of the “expert” industrial complex claiming that masks are “science” or that we “know they work.”

If masks were effective, this would be impossible. Full stop.

There may be claims about variables, other factors, demographics — it doesn’t matter. This would not happen if masks worked.

Remember, this isn’t just about mandates, it’s measuring compliance. It’s irrefutable that the more people wore masks, the worse the results. 

Of course there was no positive benefit to mask usage in terms of reducing cases either.

The correlation chart makes it clear how completely useless masks were during the surge of fall and winter 2020-2021:


It just doesn’t matter. 

And this is just 2020-2021! It doesn’t account for the emergence of the Delta or Omicron variants with enhanced transmissibility.

The correlation coefficient chart also highlights the absence of any clear correlation between mask usage and cases in different parts of Europe:


The strongest correlation was mask usage and deaths in Western Europe.

The Data

Visualizing the data differently also shows how ineffective masking was throughout the continent:

Deaths Per Million with Average Mask Usage

The lowest death rates, visible as the black dots towards the bottom left of the chart, are from the areas with the least amount of surveyed mask wearing.

It’s the same story with case rates; there’s simply zero connection between mask usage and cases reported.

Cases Per Million with Average Mask Usage

Placing mask usage rates on a map of Europe and comparing the same map with death rates also creates a stark image of the disconnect between masking and outcomes.


Several other highlights from the dataset:

  • The lowest death rate in Europe was in Norway, which had the third lowest mask compliance at 29%
  • The highest death rate was the Czech Republic, famous for the USA Today article praising their mask usage and how their “remarkable progress” was the “lifesaving lesson”
  • Spain had the highest compliance at 95% and ranked in the middle of the pack
  • Portugal had the eighth highest death rate with the third most mask wearing 
  • Italy was thirteenth in mortality with the second highest mask usage
  • Hungary was second in death rate despite the sixth highest mask compliance

Everywhere you look, there’s either no benefit or a correlation with negative outcomes. The Czech Republic had the highest case rate. Finland and Norway had the lowest case rates with some of the lowest masking rates. Denmark had the seventh fewest cases with the second lowest mask compliance.

It’s useless.

This study was conducted with the intent of attempting to confirm or contradict older studies claiming benefits from masking or mask mandates from spring 2020. 

The results were unequivocal that mask wearing rates made no difference to outcomes, whether it be cases or deaths. Yet this doesn’t cover the Omicron/seasonal surge of 2021-2022 when the numbers worsened, regardless of mask wearing.

No matter the region, no matter the compliance level, there is zero benefit, and oftentimes the results are profoundly negative.

Actual science had always confirmed that mask do not work to stop the transmission of respiratory viruses.

Experts, the media and politicians around the world panicked and inflicted masking on the population anyway. We did the experiment, we tried masks everywhere. And every bit of available evidence continues to confirm that they do not work.

There has been observational evidence, comparisons and charts, and now it’s confirmed in published studies.

Masks don’t work. And jurisdictions and school districts continuing to enforce masking based on misinformation and fear are engaging in disgraceful theater. “Experts” continuing to push permanent masking are either dangerous, incompetent, or intellectually dishonest.

No matter how hard they keep trying, all the evidence shows that no matter how many people wear masks, they truly accomplish nothing.

Reprinted from the author’s Substack.

Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.


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