NC Policy Watch published a piece yesterday by Rob Schofield entitled “When it comes to the pandemic, the NC political right should #StoptheStupid.” It was accompanied by a graphic featuring a quote balloon of “I’m with STUPID!” flanked by coronaviruses.

Part of Schofield’s piece ostensibly addressed an October 15 article of mine. Not content to argue with the actual contents of the article, Schofield decided to provide a badly limned summation of it for his readers.

This was apparently a difficult process, given the length of time it took Schofield to produce … this:

Just a few weeks ago, for instance, Jon Sanders of the John Locke Foundation authored an embarrassingly ill-informed post in which – we are not making this up – he spent 800-plus words vehemently denouncing Gov. Cooper and state Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen for urging North Carolinians to wear masks.

According to Sanders, Gov. Cooper and Dr. Cohen (as well as Dr. Anthony Fauci and the CDC and scores of reputable and respected global public health experts) are all completely wrong. Instead, they are bent on a diabolical plot to control people’s lives for no good reason other than that they feel like it. As the essay noted in conclusion: “’Because We Said So’ is the unscientific answer from an administration grown far too comfortable in ordering people about.”

By all means, read the article to which Schofield objects. Compare and contrast; chuckle and chortle. Here are highlights in brief:

  • A member of the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board and highly decorated statistician, Dr. S. Stanley Young, wrote how he requested research from the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) behind Cooper’s mask order, and DHHS sent him research with the finding that “Medical masks were not effective, and cloth masks even less effective.”
  • I followed with previous research briefs reviewing Cohen’s earlier, unconvincing research as well as research counter to the administration’s case for asymptomatic people being the most infectious.
  • I explained that “This virus behaves as others do: the more you’re in close contact with someone infected and symptomatic, and the more severe the case, the higher your risk of contracting it.”
  • I pointed out that “DHHS’s ‘Get Behind the Mask’ campaign includes no references to science. None. It’s nothing more than a heavily propagandized ‘Because We Said So’ campaign with middling graphics.” (This was the antecedent of the “Because We Said So” line in the conclusion.)
  • I cited the CDC : “the recent CDC finding that 85% of symptomatic people testing positive for COVID-19 had always worn face coverings (70.6%) or often worn them (14.4%), with roughly the same proportion of symptomatic people testing negative (88.7% — always, 74.2%; often 14.5%).” Proportions of symptomatic people testing negative also were roughly the same, mask or not.
  • The full concluding paragraph was this: “That is a very good question. ‘Because We Said So’ is the unscientific answer from an administration grown far too comfortable in ordering people about.”

The sharp readers we have here will have noticed the first sentence, which Schofield omitted. What is the “good question” to which I refer?

It’s Dr. Young’s, from his piece. I quoted these two paragraph immediately before my concluding paragraph (in which Young cites the CDC):

Mechanistically, masks have always only been thought to stop large droplets. Transmission through very fine droplets cannot be stopped by ordinary masks. Most recently, the CDC has confirmed that the virus can be transmitted through fine droplets. The meta-analysis [DHHS] sent me supports this claim because, again, it showed no benefit to wearing masks. Incidentally, the Netherlands recently dropped the mask mandate saying the research did not support wearing them. 

So why does Dr. Cohen insist that we wear masks?

A helpful tip

It shouldn’t take anyone, not even Schofield, 47 days to produce a straw man of my article. Perhaps it was counting the words that created the delay. I propose that Schofield copy and paste future articles into a word processing application and let it do the counting. Automation can be your friend.