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“LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS”, THEY SAY

By Pete Moore On November 21st, 2020

Facebook: “Not those experts!

Whether or not you agree with Professor Carl Heneghan is irrelevant. That he is renowned and ought to be heard is very much relevant. He is a GP (a physician, in colonialese), the Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University and the Editor of the BMJ’s Evidence-Based Medicine journal. Not good enough for Facebook’s “fact-checkers”. My goodness, their inner Stalin is bursting out now.

11 Responses to ““LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS”, THEY SAY”

  1. The “fact checkers” could have validly pointed out that the study deals only with the lack of protection that a mask gives the wearer and says nothing about the extent to which the mask reduces the chances of the wearer infecting others. But to label the study as “misleading” is out of order.

  2. The study is not misleading and has not been labelled misleading. The spectator article isn’t misleading either – it’s false. Because the headline is false.

    And anyone including Heneghan who says otherwise is bluffing hard, without so much as a pair of twos. Too bad.

  3. Frank –

    Even if the Spectator article is false, that you seem gleeful that Facebook’s gauleiter’s presume to choose for the public what they may or may not read rather puts your liveral credentials in the crapper.

    The headline, which you say is false, is: “Landmark Danish study finds no significant effect for facemask wearers”

    Therefore you think that the study finds a significant effect for facemask wearers. It does no such thing.

  4. Pete,

    “you seem gleeful that Facebook’s gauleiter’s presume to choose for the public what they may or may not read”

    I’m not and it doesn’t. You can still follow the link and read it, if you like, even on Facebook. But you don’t have to use Facebook either.

    “The headline, which you say is false, is: “Landmark Danish study finds no significant effect for facemask wearers”

    Therefore you think that the study finds a significant effect for facemask wearers”

    Doesn’t follow, and no I don’t. The study was inconclusive about an effect for facemark wearers, and didn’t address at all whether the masks protected others. The headline would be OK if it said “statistically significant” instead of “significant”. And it isn’t a “Landmark study” either, that is pure spin.

    The most important limitation is that the findings are inconclusive, with CIs compatible with a 46% decrease to a 23% increase in infection.

    This is statistically insignificant (because the CI includes 0 effect) but it probably still means that a decrease is more likely. The most likely values in a CI are generally in the middle (where the normal curve peaks).

    And the actual conclusion from the study:

    The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use. The data were compatible with lesser degrees of self-protection.

    No such qualifiers in the headline.

  5. “But you don’t have to use Facebook either.”

    Indeed. For someone accusing Facebook of having an “inner Stalin” Pete seems to want to interfere heavily in Facebook’s property rights.

  6. Frank –

    It doesn’t matter if the headline, which would have been drafted by an editor, is true or false.

    Professor Heneghan is not a fringe crank. The point is that a renowned academic and clinician has been – de facto – censored by Facebook’s “fact-checkers”. If they are justified in doing so then we should shut down all of higher education and all research activities and let Facebook “fact-checkers” decide everything.

    My view is that it’s ever more dangerous when even renowned people are censored by widely-viewed social media publishers because their views are not in accordance with official opinion.

  7. “The point is that a renowned academic and clinician has been – de facto – censored by Facebook’s “fact-checkers”.”

    It hasn’t been censored. The link was posted on Facebook and can be accessed on Facebook. How is that censorship?

  8. As Seamus points out, Facebook hasn’t censored the article, just posted a red flag in front of it. Why falsely claim censorship Pete when no such thing has occurred.

  9. Ironically I just added a comment which has gone down the plughole. Censorship! 🙂

  10. Take 2:

    Pete,
    “The point is that a renowned academic and clinician has been – de facto – censored by Facebook’s “fact-checkers”. If they are justified in doing so then we should shut down all of higher education and all research activities and let Facebook “fact-checkers” decide everything.”

    I don’t think it rises to the level of censorship, and I consider myself a bit of a free speech fundamentalist. If it were up to me I would take nothing down, short of direct incitement to violence and the like. In my opinion it’s about as close to an absolute right as you can get. But it doesn’t mean you get to tattoo your message on the inside of someone’s eyelids.

    I’ll agree though that the direction of travel is not good. I’ve long thought that these technologies only end in one of two ways – a police state or anarchy. The same basic technologies enable both. Personally I’d rather take my chances with anarchy. But I would be more worried about the coming generation which for the most part doesn’t value free speech, not at all, nor have they much interest in privacy. Voltaire would probably be no-platformed by some of these people.

    This kind of debate has being going on forever though, long before Facebook. Back in the 90s, Ross Anderson proposed an uncensorable internet archive called the eternity service. It’s pretty readable I think even for a non techie: https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/Papers/eternity.pdf

    He wasn’t messing about:

    We will imagine that an ignorant or corrupt judge has issued an injunction that a given file be deleted, and we wish the design of our system to frustrate the plaintiff’s solicitors in their efforts to seize it. We will also imagine that a military intelligence agency or criminal organistion is prepared to use bribery, intimidation, kidnapping and murder in order to remove a file; our system should resist them too.

    The political arguments are quite predictable. Governments will object that child pornographers, Anabaptists and Persian spies will use the service, while libertarians will point out that the enemies of the state also use telephones, faxes, email, video and every other medium ever invented. Software publishers will be afraid that a pirate will Eternally publish their latest release, and ask for an ‘escrow’ facility that lets a judge have offending matter destroyed; libertarians will object that no judge today can destroy the information contained in a personal advertisement published in ‘The Times’ at the cost of a few pounds.

    Every now and then somebody has a go at making one, e.g.: https://news.bitcoin.com/pr-archain-building-uncensorable-internet-archive-inside-cryptocurrency/

  11. https://nypost.com/2020/11/22/florida-bar-closes-after-its-packed-with-maskless-crowds/

    It has never been true that Americans and British are wearing masks the way they have been asked to.

    Even, amazingly, now.

    The lazy, leaderless, ignorant, English speaking peoples continue to spread disease everywhere you look,despite all the warnings

    They whine about lockdowns that they personally have caused to be necessary

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