A recent article in The Guardian discusses a deeply flawed study that claimed to show masks were not effective for protecting people from Covid. Of course the anti-mask crowd was overjoyed that “believe the science” was something that they could now claim for their “side.”
There are plenty of studies showing that masks do work. So how do we get these opposite sides of the same coin supported by “science?” Simply put, the word science has been abused, misused and manipulated so much that believing a scientific study as gospel today can be risky.
In the case of The Guardian article,
The analysis is flawed because it compares apples to oranges. The paper mixes together studies that were conducted in different environments with different transmission risks. It also combines studies where masks were worn part of the time with studies where masks are worn all the time. And it blends studies that looked at Covid-19 with studies that looked at influenza.
It looks like the “researchers” were trying to get a specific result—thus the use of ironic quotes in calling them researchers. Data manipulators is probably a more accurate description.
In this case the “study” being reported on is a meta analysis, which combines and analyses the results of a large number of studies. The data involved was the result of 78 studies, only two of which had anything to do with Covid-19. Thus the skewed result—which was probably the intention. And it gave the anti-mask, and anti-vax crew a talking point to say that science “proves their point” even when that is patently false.
This is just one type of manipulation of study results to get a desired PR talking point. Companies like Monsanto/Bayer and Big Pharma companies have this down to a fine art.
Monsanto used studies that they commissioned and owned to attack and discredit anyone who questioned their GMO product strategy. The company used black propaganda techniques to discredit and destroy author Rachel Carson, whose book Silent Spring called out the dangers of widespread pesticide use—Monsanto’s core business. Their strategy of protecting their GMO revenue stream involved not only the use of pet studies but academic “authorities” covertly on their payroll meshed into those same black PR techniques.
For example, two of Monsanto’s mouthpieces were Henry I. Miller and Kevin Folta. Miller was a former FDA official and Folta was a professor at University of Florida. Miller ran flanking articles in Forbes trying to discredit organic foods while Folta posted widely on social media with cut-and-paste Monsanto talking points. Forbes has now removed all of Miller’s articles and Folta was exposed in FOI docs as taking money from Monsanto while claiming he wasn’t.
Big Pharma has a much more refined technique of manipulating science. First they run a number of studies on a drug them want to market. Once they get one that looks “good” they hire a company to ghost write the results. A doctor or two are hired to put their names on the study. The study then is submitted to a medical journal or another publication for peer review. Once published the drug company then pays the publication a large chunk of money for the reprint rights and the “study” is sent out to physicians. Physicians, who are the real market because they are the sales outlet, prescribe the drug based on not only a suspect study, but a tainted publication process. Get the picture?
Let’s not forget the not-so-clean hands of Madison Avenue. Not too many years ago, advertisers were touting “studies” showing not only the safety but health benefits of cigarettes, sugar and other now widely known poisons.
Trust the Science?
So how can we trust that the science we are presented with is legit? It is not easy since bad actors have tainted this avenue so thoroughly. Now, for our own good, we have to question the science presented as the foundation for a product, a policy or a personal health practice, or even food.
The first question to ask when presented with scientific studies, is who paid for the study? What’s their real profit center.
With Monsanto and their GMO scam, that is pretty easy to do. With a tainted mask study, the question becomes a bit murkier and has a hard-to-confront evil component. The fact is that the more people who ignored masks during the height of the pandemic, the more people got sick. Why would anyone want someone or a lot of people to get sick with this nasty virus? And here’s where the evil part comes in. It costs a LOT more money to care for people who get Covid than has to be spent on prevention with masks and a vaccine.
Let’s be real and acknowledge that there are people out there who think it is their right to harvest profits from the illness, discomfort and possible death others. And these folks will happily throw “science” under the bus—along with you, your family and friends—to do it.
So, it is in your best interest to develop a sensitivity and a healthy distrust of anyone who defends something loony with “the science” as their anchor for their pitch. What science? Who paid for it? Those should be our opening questions. Logic, observation, trusting what you see rather than what you are told, or being sold, are still useful tools. If something smells, it is probably because something about the pitch is rotten.
Marty Kassowitz is co-founder of Factkeepers. As founder of Interest Factory and View360, he brings more than 30 years experience in effective online communications, social media management, and platform development to the site. He is a writer, designer, editor and long time observer of the ill-logic demonstrated by too many members of the species known as Mankind. After a long history of somewhat private commentary on a subject he totally hates: politics, Marty was encouraged to build this site and put up his own analyses as well as curate relevant content from other sources.