Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello everyone, and welcome to the 159th episode of the Atlas Society asks, my name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. My friends call me Jag. I am the c e o of the Atlas Society. We are the leading nonprofit organization, introducing young people to the ideas of ayran in fun, creative ways, including graphic novels and animated videos. Today we are joined by Ian Miller. Before I even get into introducing our guest, I wanna remind all of you who are joining us on Zoom, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube. We are taking your questions live. So get to the head of the queue, you can start typing them into the comment, uh, threads. Our guest, Ian Miller, is back for a second star turn on our webinar. He previously joined us to discuss his book, unmasked, the Global Failure of Covid Mask Mandates, along with publishing covid related data models for news outlets such as the Brownstone Institute. He also, uh, runs the Unmasked CK column. We welcomed hi, we welcomed him back to discuss his latest book, illusion of Control, what, uh, COVID 19 and the Collapse of Expertise. Ian, thank you for joining us.
Speaker 1 00:01:29 Thanks so much for having me back. Really appreciate it.
Speaker 0 00:01:32 So, um, as mentioned, uh, in our first interview was a little over a year ago. Uh, your first book came out in January of last year, and this one was released last month. Uh, so in addition to broadening the subjects that you examine from masks to pandemic interventions into schools, vaccine passports, even vaccine efficacy itself, uh, but the book is more than a roundup of policy errors. It's a, a, a story of hubris expert hubris that in the fashion of, uh, a Greek morality play ends in tragedy not only for those harmed by these, uh, destructive interventions, but also for trust in expertise itself. So tell us a bit about what you set out to accomplish and how you see the relationship between the two books.
Speaker 1 00:02:30 I mean, that's a great summary, actually. I, I dunno if I could re uh, said it better myself. Uh, but that was, that was really the goal was to kind of expand on the first book because it was really about, just specifically on masks. Uh, and also it covered, I would say, kind of the first half of the pandemic. And it, even though it came out in January of 2022, I, I finished writing it in the summer of 2021. So there was this whole other, you know, story to tell about what happened with, like you said, vaccine passports, vaccine mandates, um, a lot of other policies, and also the continuation of masking and to see how they changed their messaging over time, where, you know, initially it was just roll up a t-shirt, put it in front of your face, you know, anything will work, any, any face recovering will work.
Speaker 1 00:03:10 That changed, uh, I think in really the second half of 2021, as pretty much everybody could see that the, the masks weren't working too well. We gotta wear higher quality masks, that's why it's not working. Um, and to, to cover that shift, uh, over time in messaging, and also to point out how many countries that that listened to that device that said, we're only gonna ma you know, we're gonna mandate higher quality masks only N 90 fives or surgical grade masks, whatever it was, what, whatever it would be, uh, and to show with the data and show over time that, that, that messaging didn't prove out to be correct either. So, um, I thought there was kind of a second half of covid to tell the story of, of what, how these policies to me even almost got almost worse over time, as opposed to better, even though we learned pretty quickly that a lot of what the experts were saying wasn't wor wasn't working, wasn't effective.
Speaker 0 00:03:57 Yeah. Um, it's, it's interesting. It reminds me of, there's a little gif out there about, uh, someone shining a light, you know, like you'd shine a light with the cat and it would follow you. And, and now it's kind of like we're shining a light and people are just jumping around and rather than, um, accepting reality rather than confronting, um, error, that they're just the kind of frantic pace of finding new ways to still cling to this idea that, um, that masks are effective. And, uh, it's, I would say it would be amusing to, to watch if it wasn't also so, um, discouraging. Uh, and speaking of which, over the past, uh, holiday weekend, I had dinner up in Truckee, uh, with a group of very sophisticated professionals, uh, mostly from the Bay Area lawyers, academics, and the like. And, uh, without exception, they continue to believe in the efficacy of masking.
Speaker 0 00:05:04 They'll concede that maybe school closures weren't such a good idea, maybe lockdowns caused some collateral damage. Um, but their faith in masks is just unshakable. I I mentioned, uh, in trying to kind of, you know, uh, get them to get outside of their, you know, uh, cognitive commitments to, uh, to these, these fallacious, um, ideas. I mentioned comparisons between countries, or comparisons between states or comparisons between counties, uh, with different policies on masking and little difference in the result. I mentioned, uh, the cockran review. I mentioned pre pandemic planning that specifically omitted mask wearing and, and discounted it as a defense against aerosol aerosolized viruses. But nothing I, uh, could say seemed to make any impact. So, um, I was looking forward to this opportunity to get your advice. Is there a better approach to getting people to think more objectively about the evidence? Or we ju do we just have to wait for the New York Times or the San Francisco Chronicle to ultimately, if ever, uh, change their tune on masking?
Speaker 1 00:06:25 Right. Well, I, my concern is if we do have to wait for them to admit that they're wrong about masking, we're gonna be waiting a really, really long time. Um, you know, I think that you, you hit the nail on the head, you can present the data and the facts and the evidence and just point out that there's a lot of scientific research that's gotten into masking, and virtually all of it has come up and said that masks don't work. They don't prevent respiratory virus transmission. Um, but it doesn't really sink in. And I think, I think we're dealing with a larger societal problem, really, but especially among that kind of ideology where people are, have it really ingrained that what smart intellectual people do is listen to the experts. And to them what that means is the experts that kind of agree with them politically or agree with their ideology, or have been promoted by the right people.
Speaker 1 00:07:07 So there are a lot of experts, and you can find them on Twitter that will say masks are not particularly effective. The evidence doesn't say masks are effective. And you mentioned the Cochran Review. You know, those people are incredibly qualified. They've had a evidence-based medicine, uh, you know, scientific, uh, blog and, and, you know, published tons and tons of reviews on many different subjects. But all of a sudden they, they come up with this, this lengthy review showing, oh, there's no evidence that masks work. And they're try to, and the media goes out to try to discredit them because it contradicts what they've been saying for multiple years. Um, trying to convince people that people, they agree with that, experts, they agree with that, you know, their ideology or partisan leaning, whatever, that, that that group has misled them about something is really, really hard.
Speaker 1 00:07:51 Um, you know, I think the only one other, the only other tactic I would kind of recommend is, you know, you can point out, we basically did the experiment, you know, never before in human history have masks been tried to this extent across the entire world, and if they were effective, what would you expect to see? And it's not what we've seen, right? If they were effective, you would clearly be able to tell this place did better, that place did better. You know, now we see South Korea where masks have been worn as long as anywhere with as much compliance as anywhere as I think, uh, fifth or sixth highest cumulative Covid case rate in the world. It's like 63% of their population has tested positive for Covid. And obviously that doesn't capture the many millions of people who were never tested but contracted covid anyway. Um, and so I think that, you know, if that doesn't get through to them, we're not really gonna get through to them. I think we can make all the cases we want, but until people are willing to gauge in some intellectual humility, it's, it's an uphill battle.
Speaker 0 00:08:49 Well, yes, in that case, I suppose in the future, I will just, uh, keep my mouth shut and, um, you know, <laugh> preserve the t tranquility of the social occasion and, uh, make up shopping lists in my mind because I, I just, I find it incredibly, uh, frustrating. Um, e especially when I know that, um, not only was it ineffective, but there, there were other, uh, collateral damage, uh, particularly with regards to, uh, masking children and, and the developmental delays and, and all of that. Um, but y you know, you, you mentioned the review, so let's, uh, stick with that for a moment. Uh, Oxford's Tom Jefferson, who, he was the lead author of the Cochrane, uh, that particular Cochrane review, he summed up its findings on masks, quote, there is just no evidence that they make any difference. Full stop, end quote. Uh, Cochran's editor then stepped in to say, no, the lead authors got their own review wrong. That's not what it says. And that gave mask at mask advocates cover to dismiss what ordinarily would've been considered the gold standard on the subject. So what did the review say? What did it look at? What did it not say, and what should we make of all of this?
Speaker 1 00:10:22 Yeah. It's one of the more frustrating incidences, I think, during the pandemic of, of, uh, you know, undermining research, uh, because it contradicts consensus. Uh, you know, the, the review basically looked at all of the kind of randomized controlled trials with the highest quality evidence that's available on masking. And it found as, as Tom Jefferson said, that there just is no evidence that it works. Um, that got twisted by the editor of the review because they disagreed politically, um, and kind of was made to, to appear in the media, like it only examined the impact of methods to increase compliance. Well, that was one part of one study, uh, was trying to increase compliance with how many people wore masks. That was not what the review actually looked at. And that's why Jefferson has felt confident in, in saying that and making those conclusions, because every single randomized controlled trial that has been conducted has shown essentially zero effect for masking and produ and, uh, reducing the transmission of respiratory viruses.
Speaker 1 00:11:20 And, uh, you know, the, you could, you can poke holes in some of the, the trials that have been run, but at some point, if they worked, there should be a trial that comes out that says there's a dramatic impact. It's 85% reduction, it's whatever the reduction would be that shows a statistically significant noticeable difference by people wearing masks. And the compared to those that don't, and every single evidence review that they, or every single the, uh, study that they conducted in this evidence review has said the opposite, that there's no effect. Um, and it's just, again, it's, it's one of those problems where you have all the evidence staring people in the face, and they won't accept it because it, it is just completely opposite of what they've been told by the media or told by government experts or told by, you know, people they agree with politically. And it's really hard to talk people out of that, even when we have this gold standard review, uh, pointing, pointing out that they're wrong. Um, and, and it's, it's, my hope is that, uh, as we get further away, maybe there'll be some more intellectual consistency among people. Uh, but you know, that that is one of the best examples of how frustrating it is to try to convince people that they're wrong, uh, even when the evidence says they are.
Speaker 0 00:12:29 So, uh, if the c d c in their recommendations that people wear masks, if, if they're not using, uh, studies like those in this particular review, what evidence are they using, uh, to justify these policies regarding mask wearing? And, uh, i, in, in your book, you mentioned some issues, uh, that you had with how that particular research was being used in, in one of the graphics, which I'm trying to find.
Speaker 1 00:13:02 Yeah, that, that's a great example. Uh, I think the, probably the one you're referencing is there was a study out of California that was conducted that said that, uh, wearing a mask reduced your chance of infection by 60% or 70%, or whatever it was. But the graphic, uh, there's a little atte risk, and at the very bottom of the graphic, it says, uh, the result was not statistically significant. Well, you can't publish it then because it was not static statistically significant. It's not a result that just, it could just be noise, it could be random variants and change. Um, that's, I mean, that's not a, a reasonable scientific process to, to publish it, but the CDC d did anyway. And, you know, there's a, the CDCs, uh, w r releases, which is what gets publicized by the media, what they rely on to make their decisions are essentially function as, as promotion for what the CDC wants to do.
Speaker 1 00:13:50 They're not peer-reviewed journal articles. They're just observational research, often observational research that confirms what the CDC wants to do. And there're, and we know this because there have been several other researchers like Tracy Hogue, who have used the CDCs own data, used the CDCs own study methodology, and shown that their results don't hold up over time, and it's been rejected because it doesn't confirm what the CDC wants people to think. Um, and in this study, that study in particular, just going back to that one for a minute, was extremely bad because it was essentially a phone survey where people were asked to self-report wearing masks use, you know, wearing masks in California. Well, that's not reliable. First of all, you don't base scientific conclusions on phone surveys. And second of all, you know, there's a lot of, uh, of underlying problems that could, could factor into the, that methodology where, you know, you have people that are, feel obligated to say that they were wearing masks.
Speaker 1 00:14:43 Um, you know, when they weren't, or, and, and buried into the details of that study was that the overwhelming majority of people that reported wearing masks always got covid anyway. But, um, you know, there's just, that's just one example of so many, so many flaws they would rely on this as One other quick example I brought up in the first book, you know, masks. Uh, they used this, this comparison of counties in Kansas, one that had masks mandate and ones that didn't and said, we know masks work because these counties did better with, after they put the mask mandate in, except if you just push the horizon out a couple of weeks after they, their, their time period that they chose to kind of cherry pick. You see that the counties with mask mandates did worse. They had a higher case rate, and the, the rate of increase or decrease was exactly the same regardless. Uh, but that's the kind of poorly done research that they've relied on to say that masks work. They cherry pick a time period, they don't examine, uh, they don't omi all the, the problems and underlying methodological problems that they have. And then they use that to, to launder information through the media to get people to do what they want to do.
Speaker 0 00:15:45 You also mentioned a study that came out in April of last year, I think, published in Curs, not sure if I'm pronouncing that right. Uh, that measured mask usage in dozens of European countries, particularly during the surge in c during the autumn winter peak. What did that study look at and what did it find?
Speaker 1 00:16:08 Yeah, it's another really valuable one, I think, because a, a large part of the criticism that comes from people when, when you say, when I, you know, the work I've done or other many other people have done showing here's the mask usage, or here's the, the mask, uh, mandate in place in this area, and this one doesn't have a mandate and there's no difference, or the mask mandate did worse. The criticism that you get back is, well, that doesn't actually mean people were wearing masks. They weren't necessarily following the mandate. Well, this one looked at mask usage, and it is, to be fair, it is survey data, but that's the best that we have. We don't have any other way of, of checking, you know, checking this over a countrywide sample. Um, and it essentially looked at compliance and found that not only was there no difference, but that mask usage was, was actually correlated to higher mortality rates and higher infection rates than not having, than having lower mask usage.
Speaker 1 00:16:55 Um, I mean, and, and that's, you know, doesn't necessarily mean that wearing masks causes more covid deaths or causes more covid infections, but it does show as, again, as part of the evidence base that there is just no evidence suggesting that masks work, no matter how many people are wearing them. And, and that's another kind of expert lie that we heard to justify masks not working was, well, none of the people were following the advice. You know, Americans especially, oh, it's free dumb, right? D U M B, people just don't want to give up their freedom and liberty to wear masks. Well, we now have data from Europe, which is not America, and, and it showed across a very wide sample that no matter how many people were wearing it, the highest country, the highest, the countries that had the highest compliance did not do better and often did worse in the countries with very little compliance.
Speaker 1 00:17:42 And it, it's not the, you know, there's not one piece of evidence that says this is it. That's the, the proof that masks don't work. But when you take all these things into account, and you look at the Cochran Review, and you look at this, which measures mass compliance across Europe, you look at the comparisons. People have done direct comparisons like the C D C did, uh, and it keep showing over and over again consistently masks don't work. They're not effective. I mean, there's only one conclusion you can realistically come to, uh, unfortunately getting people to admit that conclusion has been like, like you experienced, uh, extremely difficult battle. But that's what all the evidence says.
Speaker 0 00:18:15 All right. Um, well, one way I think to be objective about the efficacy and the impact of various pandemic interventions would be to compare the experience of different countries that employed very different strategies. Sweden, of course, chose to pursue a very distinctive and consistent public health approach, avoiding lockdowns, never mandating masks, keeping schools open, as you observe in the book quote, this made them a virtual control group for the rest of the world. Uh, the W H O released a new report, uh, last year covering excess mortality among different countries, uh, over the past couple of years. How did Sweden Fair, for example, as compared with other European countries?
Speaker 1 00:19:08 Yeah, it's a great example. And I, I, that's why I continue to bring it up because, you know, fortunately, we did have Sweden, um, as kind of this, this outlier. And I think it's important to, to bring up as well, that they were only an outlier because they followed all the pre pandemic planning. You know, you brought that up earlier, but there's a lot of pre pandemic planning guidance that was published by the World Health Organization, by the United Kingdom's Health Services Agency, by the C D C that they spent decades working on and compiling the evidence base. And virtually all of it basically said, to follow the strategy that Sweden followed, which is imposed voluntary measures. Don't do mandates, don't do these strict lockdowns, don't do school closures because the damage is likely to outweigh the harms. And for some reason, and you know, I mean, you could go on for hours about what those reasons were, but for some reason, uh, the whole world other than Sweden panicked in March of 2020 and take, took all that documents, all those, all those guidance that hard that the scientists worked on and toss it out the window, and Sweden didn't.
Speaker 1 00:20:04 Um, and you know, that report, which I think was, it's very odd that it comes from the World's Health organization because it kind of contradicts what the W h O has been saying publicly about masks and lockdowns. Uh, but that report basically highlighted that Sweden vastly outperformed most of the rest of Europe in terms of ex excess mortality. And that a lot of people have said that's possibly even more important to look at than, than just covid outcomes, because it, it captures everything, right? So if you have disruption, deaths, lockdown deaths, and, and deaths with despair that happened, uh, that's a consequence of what you've chosen to do as well. So when you look at all cause mortality and how high it was above the expected level, Sweden was, I think, one of the two or three best performing countries in Europe according to the, the World Health Organization, right?
Speaker 1 00:20:48 You can't get more, you know, credible, uh, than that. And I think what that shows again and again is that if there was a consistent result, a consistent benefit to lockdowns school closures, mask mandates, vaccine passports, all these different things that governments try to do, it would show up somewhere, and it just never does. We always see these same results where countries that, that followed the pre covid planning or that didn't listen to the World Health Organization of the C D C, they did better, not just the same, they often did better. And that should not be possible if these, if these, uh, mandates and policies were effective. Uh, it just should't be possible.
Speaker 0 00:21:24 Y yeah, I, I found that sort of the, uh, I wouldn't say the talking points, but the, wherever people are in their kind of stage of resisting, uh, the reality and the, the facts, the current, uh, phrase seems to be, well, we, we didn't know, you know, we all did the best that we could. I just hear that again and again. And that's the sort of psychological way of saying, uh, yes, that, uh, mistakes were made, maybe, but that we, we were doing the best that, that we could and that we didn't know. But, um, I think, you know, the example of Sweden shows that yes, actually we did know, you know, we, we, we, we knew in terms of all of the pre pandemic planning, and certainly within the first, uh, few months through the, the middle of, uh, 2020, I think, I think that, uh, it was pretty obvious what the, um, the actual mortality and, uh, you know, the relative risk for the elderly versus, um, versus the young, uh, and who everyone was subjected to the one size fits all policy. Um, but, you know, sticking with Sweden for a moment, despite its vastly better results in terms of, uh, very low excess, uh, mortality, some critics of Sweden's approach insist that its performance can't be compared to other countries that took a far stricter approach like Germany or Port Portugal, and they should only be compared to, uh, their neighboring Nordic countries. Are there any merits to this criticism? And did, uh, Sweden and Nordic countries differ significantly in their policies and in their outcomes?
Speaker 1 00:23:32 Uh, you brought up some really couple key points there, I think, uh, one of which is that there is no validity to saying, oh, only Sweden, Sweden can only be compared to Finland and Norway and Denmark. Uh, if that was the case, if we can, if we could only compare countries to their neighbors, well, you know, for a long time, Australia and New Zealand were, were supposed to be the gold standard of how to handle Covid. Oh, they, you know, there's all these news stories, and I bring 'em up in the book that they beat Covid. They literally eliminated it from the country. But Australia and New Zealand obviously had huge churches afterwards, and they're also island countries. So can we not, you know, the United States could never be compared to Australia because Australia has no neighbors. It's just the ocean. So same with New Zealand. And similarly, you can only say Japan can only be compared to, um, similar to country like South Korea, for example.
Speaker 1 00:24:17 But that's not what we've done. We, we, what we did through all throughout Covid was we should be following the example of this other country that was thousands of miles away and completely different from the United States for some reason. Oh, well, you can only look at Finland and, and Denmark and Norway. Uh, that's not realistic. I don't think that's an accurate, uh, criticism. Uh, but even if you do there, I think that that's another valid, very valid point. There weren't that many policy differences between these countries. I mean, they, yeah, they, maybe Norway and Finland, Denmark had this, had small differences, but compared to the rest of the society, the rest of the world, they were all much lighter touch, especially Norway and, uh, and Finland than places like New Zealand or Australia. You know, they were, they didn't have these kind of really severe entry restrictions.
Speaker 1 00:25:02 And I mean, draconian mandates to the same extent that those other countries did. So if the argument is, oh, well, Finland and Denmark and Norway outperformed Sweden, then what? You're not really making the point you think you're making, you're still kind of arguing for a lighter touch on, on mandates and policies. Um, and I think over time, a lot of these numbers have kind of flipped, where Denmark actually did have wound up having significant surges of infection and hospitalizations and deaths, unfortunately, uh, but with a lot of the, you know, vaccine passports and mask mandates in place. So it is, it's, it's kind of a disingenuous criticism because it ignores other examples, and it's also kind of ignores that, uh, their policies weren't that different, and at their, at the end of the day, the results haven't been as different as people expected them to be initially.
Speaker 1 00:25:46 And again, just like we've mentioned in the last segment, just Sweden's, excess mortality was com comparable to those other countries, if not lower than some of them. And that's, that's really an important measure to, to look at, because how we count covid deaths is different across countries. How we count covid infections is different across countries. So exo mortality kind of takes that into account because it just looks at pure numbers and not just, uh, you know, in differences in, in methodology that could lead to, to different outcomes. Um, so yeah, that, I just don't think that's a legitimate criticism.
Speaker 0 00:26:19 All right. Well, we're gonna, uh, turn to audience questions shortly. Um, and I wanna encourage everyone who's watching to go ahead and, uh, type your questions into the chat bar. I'm gonna get to them in just a moment. Um, but I'll just ask one more question about another sort of case study, uh, in terms of pandemic policies, Israel, which, uh, Pfizer's chief scientific officer called a sort of laboratory where we could see the effect of vaccine, uh, vaccines and related policies. So what were those policies and what were their, their effects?
Speaker 1 00:27:02 Yeah, I, I think that that remark, um, was pretty illustrative of how, you know, they, they view even, I think from the outside, people would use Israel as a, as an example of what was going on with, uh, with the vaccines. And initially it seemed to be like it was a very positive outcome where Israel's case rates dropped dramatically and or near zero, but they kind of kept up their same, that same policy and the focus on, on increasing vaccinations and then doing boosters where they said, you know, we're gonna have, uh, this very strict vaccine passport system based off of how many doses you had, and you know, you're not gonna be allowed to do this, not gonna be allowed to do that. Um, and even after they did that, their, their case rates sort to a level that I don't think was, I don't know if it was ever reached by any other country on Earth, it was the highest Covid case rate in the world for a significant amount of time where they were reporting more new cases as a percentage of their population than any other country on earth with an extremely high vaccination rate, and with vaccine passports that were very strict and limited people's ability to, to engage in normal life.
Speaker 1 00:28:01 I don't know. And, and, and you have Pfizer themselves saying, we view this as kind of a laboratory for, for how effective our vaccines are at this specific outcome. I don't, I mean, what more do you want, right? I mean, you have them on the record kind of saying, this is, this is the example everyone should be looking to. And they were saying this because they thought it was going to be 95% effective at preventing transmission, preventing infection, whatever. And the evidence kept showing from Israel that that was not the case. And it showed it really early on. Um, and I think the kind of the, they did a lot of the media and a lot of other, uh, you know, pro Pfizer groups or whatever you wanna call it, swept that information under the rug just kind of ignored it once it became clear that Israel was showing how ineffective these policies were, were in fact going to be.
Speaker 1 00:28:45 And one of the more frustrating things to me is that if you look back in 2021, you had a lot of cities in the United States that were enacting vaccine passports, well, after Israel had already experienced this traumatic surge of infections. So they're doing a policy that they know if they, at least, if they had any awareness of the data from other countries, had no chance of working, would cause harm, would cause people to lose their jobs or, or to, you know, be, uh, ostracized from society. And they did it anyway because they couldn't, they just couldn't accept that they're the experts that they listened to or that their own, you know, political ideology could be wrong about how effective these vaccines were gonna be against preventing infection. Um, and it's one of the more intrusive things on, on freedom and liberty that I think in, in history in one of the recent history. Uh, it's completely inexcusable, especially because we had the example of Israel showing it had no chance of working.
Speaker 0 00:29:37 All right. Uh, we're gonna turn to some of these questions. We've got quite a few, Ian, you've got a lot of fans out there. So, um, my modern, some of them are comments, and I'll try to share some of those too, as long as they're polite. Uh, my modern golf, our friend on Instagram, uh, says he finds it odd when, uh, still seeing people wearing masks in public today. Is there some benefit for them or is this kind of more of an ingrained psychological issue?
Speaker 1 00:30:12 It has to be an ingrained psychological issue. I don't think that, I mean, there is, there is no benefit. Uh, and people will like to point to, to doctors and say, well, if, if masks don't work, why do doctors wear them? Um, but I think that's a really disingenuous way to look at it, mostly because, uh, doctors don't wear masks. Surgeons wear masks, you know, pre covid, uh, surgeons are very different from going when you go to see an ear, nose, and throat specialists that the doctor, they're not wearing a mask. They weren't in 2018 or 2019, but a surgeon would wear a mask. The reason they would is because they believed that if, uh, you know, doing an operation that if there was, you know, oper something that spiraled back on their face, it would protect 'em from that. Um, or to prevent, you know, kind of bacterial droplet, which are much larger than viruses from dropping into open wounds during surgery.
Speaker 1 00:30:56 Even then, there's no evidence that masks are effective at doing that, because there was a, a number of studies that pointed out, uh, at least one that compared, uh, post-operation wounds and infections with surgeons that were wearing masks to those that weren't, and there was no difference, uh, in fact, the ones that wore masks at a higher post-operation infection rate. So that would be, in theory, that would be the benefit in practice, there's no evidence that it works even for doctors in this specific setting who are trained to use them and dispose of them every single time. I don't know what possible benefit somebody walking around in 2023 think they're gonna have from wearing a mask, but it's not gonna prevent them from getting or spreading respiratory viruses. Uh, unfortunately now that experts have kind of committed down this path of saying masks work, there's no way out. And for a lot of people, uh, there's just no, there's no shot of them ever kind of giving up on, on doing something that has no impact on their health or wellbeing. Are you convinced 'em of that? I, as we've been talking about? Uh, I don't know, but there's no benefit to it there, there can't be.
Speaker 0 00:31:58 Well, um, I think a couple of hypothetical benefits. Uh, I know my, my mother who, who's still, uh, likes to wear her mask now, in fairness, she is 80. So I mean, at some point, like even if there was just a marginal benefit, although again, we haven't seen it, uh, you might wanna do that, but she says it keeps her nose warm in the cold San Francisco summers. So there's that. I suppose if you had a really ugly looking nose or terrible teeth, there might be, uh, at least a short term benefit in concealing that. Another benefit might be if, uh, you really didn't, you, it was psychologically important for you to continue to believe in masks and, uh, evade having to face up to past mistakes by wearing masks, you're much less likely to develop relationships with people who, uh, who questioned the efficacy of masking. So anyway, just trying to give people some benefit of the, of the doubt. Um, okay. On Zoom with us, Bruce Brown, uh, asks if you knew or were, or were to guess, when and how will all those responsible for this covid drama, uh, induced on millions of Americans will be held accountable? I think you just kind of had a on that today, if I'm not mistaken.
Speaker 1 00:33:28 Yeah. Uh, the best chance that we have, at least in the United States is this, this to cold people accountable through the court system, because I think a lot of these policies, um, you know, don't hold up other scrutiny, obviously, there was the, the major one, when the Biden administration tried to enforce vaccine mandates across private businesses where they, they wanted to force companies to fire unvaccinated workers or to not hire unvaccinated workers. And the Supreme Court struck it down. Uh, you know, we just had this, this ju federal judge rule the other day about the administration had been engaging in essentially legal censorship with tech companies to, to, for people like myself. You know, I, thankfully I was very careful, uh, you know, pre pre, uh, new Twitter ownership to, to be cautious about what I said and how I said it to ensure that didn't happen to me.
Speaker 1 00:34:13 But I even found that there was a recently that there was a New York, the New York government was contracting out with an organization that, and specifically mentioned my tweets as something that they wanted censored and took, taken down from Twitter because it questioned whether or not mask mandates and vaccine passports were being effective in New York. Um, so, you know, getting these tour cases and getting favorable rulings has been, I think, drawn more attention to how thorough and complete their efforts were to, to encourage or tech companies to remove information that they didn't like. And some of it they admit is accurate, but it's just inconvenient. Um, you know, I don't know that they're ever going to be really held accountable, unfortunately. I think that, uh, you know, the best chance for that is potentially a, a different presidential administration coming in that has a different c d C director, and things can kind of change there.
Speaker 1 00:35:02 Um, but even then, I, I worry that, you know, the momentum at that point may have kind of already passed where I think a lot of politicians, and we kind of saw this last year, where all at once, all these states dropped their mask mandates within a few days, and then it comes out later that there was polling showing that the public was ready to move on, and all of a sudden the politicians dropped their mandates. Um, so I'm worried that, you know, come 24, 24 later on 2025, that people will have kind of forgotten what happened. I hope that doesn't happen, because it is really important to hold them accountable. Um, but I think, you know, and, and there's, I'm sorry for a long answer, but there's been a lot of examples of people like Dr. Fauci, where he's caused immense harm with what he said and, and really caused, uh, a lot of damage to people and kept schools closed and, and all sorts of other things. And he gets rewarded with a, you know, a cushy new job as a professor at Georgetown. Um, the kind of in group of people that supported these measures and pr and promoted them, I don't think we'll ever allow 'em to be held accountable. There's always gonna be kind of a, a, a reward for just for being in the right place at the right time, having the right credentials, agreeing with the right ideology and, and so on. So, I, that's a little, I'm a little pessimistic about it, unfortunately.
Speaker 0 00:36:11 All right. Um, gonna try to get this name right from Instagram, Rick in, in red, not wel shell, uh, as asking keep me posted on future projects and shows. So let's put Ian, uh, Twitter handle E N M S C, as well as his ck uh, and also Rick, we're going to put in the link to sign up for our newsletter where we're, we'll always be posting, uh, the, the schedule of our, our weekly interviews and, and our videos and various, uh, publications and events. Um, Candace Morena on Facebook asks, seems like some states are far more covid fearing than others on a cultural level. Is this because of people's political leaning or is something else at work?
Speaker 1 00:37:07 Yeah, I, I, I do believe it's mostly data of political leaning. Um, I think, you know, there was a, a survey that came out, I, I forget if it was 2021 or 2022, but, uh, essentially it said that those on the left Democrats in particular overestimated the risks of covid by something like 20 or 30 times. You know, they thought if you got it, you'd have like a 20% chance of dying. And the real number was, you know, like 0.35% or something like that. Um, so, you know, I think it's a failure of predominantly left-leaning media outlets, places like the New York Times, like the Washington Post, the Atlantic, uh, to accurately communicate information about Covid. Uh, I think that they've, they kind of, and you can, it's very, very, very funny to go back and track how that's changed over time. But they, they essentially kind of threw in their lot with Anthony Fauci and, and the c d c and, and other, uh, experts that they agreed with and took their word as fact and, and really caused a lot of damage in the process where they promoted certain people that were almost universally wrong about Covid as having all the answers.
Speaker 1 00:38:07 And, and obviously no one has all the answers, first of all, but second of all, uh, I think you can go back and look and see how many times that that fauci and people like him got things wrong. But because they were given this kind of credibility by the media, uh, people that followed that media in particular were very susceptible to believing whatever they were told. And I think there's also a, this is just a broader cultural thing, but there's, you know, partisanship has gotten so severe that, uh, any information that comes from a media outlet that people don't agree with, they're gonna kind of dismiss. So people that listen to the Atlantic or listen to the New York Times could be given something like my book or given, uh, something from the Iowa Society or some, some, I mean, any other publication that maybe doesn't have the same ideology that they do, and they kind of dismiss it because it doesn't come from a source that they agree with.
Speaker 1 00:38:57 Um, and unfortunately, I think we're kind of seeing the result of that now, where even though a lot of evidence and as we've discussed, has come out against mass mandates or, or other policies that Fauci and the CDC recommended, um, there's kind of a, a, a lack of willingness to engage with it because they don't view it as a credible criticism since it doesn't come from the New York Times, or, you know, the Washington Post or San Francisco Chronicle, whatever it would be. Um, so yeah, I, I do think that it comes down mostly to polarization. Um, some people may not even had access to the information, you know, they may not even know about it. So that's the goal with the work that I do and a lot of other people do, to try and reach those people that aren't sure what happened. They don't know what happened, they don't have the information yet. And to, and to show them, you know, here's the resource to say, you don't really need to be worrying about it because of here's what the data actually says.
Speaker 0 00:39:47 All right. Another marina on Facebook. Alex asks, do you think we need organizations like the C D C or other government organizations given their track record and the, uh, examples of their, their bias, their sort of non-objective orientation?
Speaker 1 00:40:04 That's a great question. Um, I wanna say yes, I think we do, but I don't know if the current iteration can be fixed or saved, if that makes sense. I think part of the problem is, you know, I, the book, the subtitle of my book is The Collapse of Expertise, right? Covid 19, the Collapse of Expertise. And it is true, I think the expert class during covid really revealed themselves at, at how little awareness they actually had, how little accountability they have, how committed they were to, to censoring different opinions and, uh, promoting what they wanted and not impartially examining evidence. Um, but obviously you need experts. You need experts in all sorts of areas. You need them to build airplanes, for example. You know, we don't want somebody who doesn't know how to build airplanes, building airplanes. The CDC is a little bit different, but there is value to having an agency that gives public health advice, but doesn't cause mandates.
Speaker 1 00:40:53 I think that's another thing that was, is really, uh, a disconnect that has happened recently where, you know, the C D C should be an organization to provide advice, but what happened during Covid is that their advice was taken as something that had to be forced, uh, even when, even though it was proven wrong, uh, and I think that their, their, the real increase in their, in their power and their authority, uh, caused a lot of harm, caused a lot of damage, especially because they were wrong. But, uh, it, especially because they were also weren't willing to accept that they, that they admit that they were wrong and tell the politicians that they were wrong. Um, so I think that there does need to be something like the C d C, uh, it just, I think that unfortunately over time it's become so, so politicized and, you know, the people that work there are overwhelmingly politicized in one, in one specific direction, uh, that it's really hard to get a lot of intellectual honesty out of it. Um, we've seen that with the mm W r and we've seen it as Rochelle Lewinsky leaves the former head now. And, and what she said about policing misinformation and not acknowledging that so much of the misinformation came from her, came from her organization. You know, she said not too long ago that their masking recommendations are never going to change, uh, especially for children. And I mean, that, that is just completely denying, denying reality, denying signs, denying data, uh, to enforce the political ideology. And that's, that's problematic and needs to be fixed.
Speaker 0 00:42:16 Here's an interesting question also from, uh, Facebook, Jack Sears asks, where is the line between healthy skepticism for experts and people just being contrarian to authority?
Speaker 1 00:42:32 That's another very good question, and I think it's, um, you know, that's, that's, again, that's a lot. I, I try to, to walk very carefully where I don't, I won't make any claims that I don't believe aren't backed up by a significant amount of data and evidence. You know, if, if somebody asked me a question about something I've written, I'm gonna be able to point them to here's exactly why I think that, and here's the data. I didn't make it up. It's not my own opinion. It's, it's information that anybody could be recreating. Um, and I think that that's one of the reasons why, you know, thankfully, I'm, I'm very grateful and humbled by having many people have found my work on Twitter or other places and, and promoted it and helped support it, um, is because it's all sourced. It's all there. It's all comes from the same places that the government was using to create their, their charts and their recommendations.
Speaker 1 00:43:17 Um, and I know that firsthand because, you know, fortunately, I've been able to have contact with people that were in those rooms at, at, at the time. And, uh, you know, the information that the, the White House Covid Task Force was working on was no more detailed or, or informative than anything that you or I had access to, and stuff that we used to create charts and, and books and articles from. It's not just me, it's many other people. Um, and I think that one of the problems is in modern society especially, it, it comes back to the media where the media's role throughout most of, uh, American history has been to be a kind of critique of authority in holding them accountable. And they really abandoned that during covid. And you can go back and look at so many different times where media outlets would just kind of repeat word for word whatever the C d C said, or it, even if they covered something about math being ineffective or some new study, it would say at the end, oh, well, you know, experts universally agree that masks are effective, so you don't have to take these people seriously.
Speaker 1 00:44:08 Um, and I think that's the real problem. I think the skepticism of, of expertise, uh, is very justifiable based off of what they did and what they said, and we can all go back and look at it and find it. The issue is that media outlets kind of took their side and didn't, they weren't skeptical themselves, which is what they should have been doing the whole time. You know, that's their role is to, is to inform the public not to just be a, you know, stenographer, people use that word a lot, be a stenographer for whatever the C d C or other experts said. Um, so I, you know, I think that is, that is a, an important question. It is an important line to line to walk. Um, so for me, the, the answer is to stay on the side, stay on things that are evidence-based, that are science-based, that have, can be backed up by data. Um, and that's what I've tried to do, you know, since this all started.
Speaker 0 00:44:58 All right. Um, also from Facebook, George Alex Apolo asks, what pushback have you faced with your work and how has it, uh, affected your professional personal life? You mentioned, um, being targeted for, uh, suppression by one of the government agencies, but generally, um, has it ruptured any friendships or, uh, led to any professional difficulty?
Speaker 1 00:45:28 It definitely has. I have lost a number of friends, unfortunately, uh, who kind of disagreed with what I thought about Covid and what I said, and it, what, you know, what's funny about it is you can tell how how politicized this has become, how partisan has become, where, you know, we didn't even really talk about it directly with friends, but it would just be, you know, they followed me on Twitter and didn't like what I said there, and so they're just couldn't be friends anymore. Um, you know, and obviously that's hurtful, but I felt like it was the right thing to do, and it was, you know, telling the truth was the right thing to do. And, um, it has, you know, professionally I was working, let's put it this way, I was working at a different job when this started, and that job got, uh, went away.
Speaker 1 00:46:05 And I don't know how, what the explanation was, or any number of possible explanations, I'm not gonna blame it exclusively on Twitter, but it's certainly possible, and I'll never know the answer. Um, you know, that being said, I've been incredibly fortunate that there were people that found my work that were very supportive of it, and, and understood the importance of, of contradicting expert consensus and pointing out the data and what it actually said. And I've, you know, I've had professional opportunities come up as a result of what I, what I posted. So, um, you know, I think at the end of the day, I felt like it was, it was such an important time period and, you know, something that hopefully none of us ever lived through again, but it was just this, you know, monumental historical event that, you know, myself and many other people kind of thought we were handling wrong, and that there were gonna be immense consequences as a result. Uh, unfortunately, I think we've been proven right over time, but it was worth the potential sacrifice to get it, to tell the truth, to be, to do the right thing. Um, and hopefully that, you know, down the road, that'll be something that you can look back on with pride and, and say that it added something to your life to, to, to point out these, these flaws and, and what, what we got wrong as plus of taking away. So hopefully that answers the question,
Speaker 0 00:47:16 Okay. On Instagram. I am, yes, you are. No, that's a cute handle. Asks vaccine passports. We didn't get to cover them that much, except, um, in talking about Israel, a little bit flight of fancy or something that will return with vengeance.
Speaker 1 00:47:35 Yeah, it's another great question. And, um, you know, the, the real answer is, I don't know. I hope that, I hope that this is, doesn't become a recurring issue. I think it unfortunately might. Um, one thing that that gives me a little bit more hope is how quickly they all went away. You know, and I, I cover this a lot in illusion control. That was kind of the point, was showing players like Los Angeles and San Francisco and, uh, international locations, New York that tried these vaccine passports, and you can make direct comparisons of their neighbors, which I do. And it shows, again, just like mass, they were not effective at, at getting to lower covid incidence rates. Um, and I think that within a few months, it was abundantly clear that everybody that had gotten vaccinated got covid anyway. Um, and so that caused these, these cities and governments to kind of have to pull back really quickly within a few months because it was so obvious and nobody could argue with it.
Speaker 1 00:48:26 Um, and so my hope is that because they were so dramatic of a failure, it was so obvious a failure that it'll be more, more either more resistance or more kind of, uh, hesitancy on the part of the politicians to impose these policies going forward. You know, that said, I think one of the problems is that we've, we've been, uh, you know, we kind of got lucky to something, I don't know, lucky is the wrong word, but we were right about how the vaccines weren't gonna be stopping infection or transmission, so there was no justification. But if there is something that comes along where, you know, they do have a vaccine that's 95% effective in reducing infections, they may feel more comfortable in doing that. Uh, and I don't think that that's justifiable, even if it is 95% effective, I don't think limiting access to, to social services or buildings is appropriate. Um, but my hope is that they, they were so ineffective and they were so obviously ineffective that, you know, there will at least be some more hesitancy going forward.
Speaker 0 00:49:22 All right. We've got just about 10 minutes left, so, uh, I would love to try to get to a few more of these questions on Facebook. Drew Berra asks, what is coming next for you, Ian?
Speaker 1 00:49:36 Yeah, I mean, I, I, like I said, we've been writing the ck i I write for, uh, for Ick as well. Um, so, you know, you can find, I'm writing a lot, always writing. Um, you know, I, I think the books are pretty comprehensive and obviously, thank God a lot of these policies have disappeared over the last year. So I'm not sure if there's, there's gonna be another book coming that seems unlikely, but, uh, yeah, continued writing and hopefully, you know, maybe expanding on that, doing more other, other content, whatever it would be. Um, no, I think that there's, there's a lot of issues to cover that have a very similar, uh, problematic tone as covid for, for lack of a better word, where there's a lot of, you know, kind of consensus that builds up over time that isn't backed up by a lot of evidence.
Speaker 1 00:50:16 And, um, you know, it's important to continue pointing out that we should be making decisions based off of evidence, not based off of opinion as much as possible. And unfortunately, uh, you know, I think a lot of people have learned the one other example being the, uh, during the protest during summer of 2020, how in spring of 2020 when there were lockdown protests, people wanting it to be, to be open society back up, or give kids back in schools, they were called science knives and they were dangerous, and they were gonna be killing people by being out in public. And then two months later or a month later, there are much bigger protests in the streets, and the scientists were saying, oh, well, this is justifiable because this is a bigger problem than Covid. Or, you know, these protests are different because of what they're protesting. Um, and I think that there's, you can see with that, with those statements that there is a lot of opinion that filters through an expert, you know, how they communicate with the public. Um, so that's the hope is to continue kind of that work of pointing out how, you know, pointing out hypocrisy wherever it exists, or pointing out these, these kind of, uh, uh, unsupport evidence based unsupported conclusions that experts are making.
Speaker 0 00:51:23 Okay. Uh, on YouTube, NC asks, uh, whether you would agree in applying the, uh, great Barrington Declaration as a template for future outbreaks?
Speaker 1 00:51:37 Well, it, it, obviously, it's gonna depend on the dynamics of each specific outbreak. I think the Great Barrington Declaration was a, was an outstanding response to what Covid was. And this is one thing that I've brought up before that I, I just don't understand. You know, once we knew, and as you brought up Jennifer, that, that, you know, this is a, uh, the disease that primarily affects the elderly, that younger people are at little to no risk, thankfully, of serious complications that should have been good news. You know, we should have been saying immediately, well, we gotta get schools back open. We gotta let young people get out back into the world because we need to restart the economy, or, you know, get people back to normal and, and try to decrease these, you know, increases in depression and substance abuse that we've, we've now seen.
Speaker 1 00:52:16 Uh, and instead they just almost completely ignored it and continued to do, you know, these, these impositions and mandates and policies that affected all of society. Um, and the Great Parenting Declaration was saying that was saying, you know, we know who's at risk, we should be focusing on protecting those that are boast at risk. And, you know, we need to let the rest of society go back to normal because at some point, the harms are gonna outweigh whatever benefits there might be. I mean, that stands alone. That should be a template for everything, how we handle Covid, you know, pandemics going forward. Um, but I, I just don't understand. I mean, I, I, you know, I guess I do, but it's still frustrating to think that they expert class and the government didn't accept the good news that young people were not at risk. Um, and I, but I think that's another a, a key key point that the Great Barrington Declaration Authors did, that other experts didn't, is they looked at this situation individually, what should we do? What's the best path forward based on the evidence that we have learned and what we know? Instead of saying, we made our decision in March, 2020, and we're not changing course now, which is essentially what Fauci and the CDC did.
Speaker 0 00:53:22 All right. I'm gonna just slip in this final audience question before, uh, we'll wrap up and, um, may have a couple more of my questions for you, but I think that this is an important one. Um, this is from, uh, let's see, uh, also from YouTube, uh, asking would masks work if they were really well designed with no openings on the side, that kind of thing. I mean, is it, is it, is it possible, is there a possible future scenario in the future where technology advances and whether it's, you know, masks or some other way that, uh, that that would be effective?
Speaker 1 00:54:09 Yeah, there's been some research done on this kind of exact topic, and the Cochran Review actually covered it to some extent, saying that there's no evidence that n 90 fives are effective, uh, in preventing respiratory virus transmission, even when worn by healthcare workers who get it in general are supposed to be properly fitted. Uh, and again, dispose of them pr properly, use them properly. Um, for the general public, I don't see how it's possible. I mean, in theory, maybe it would be most effective if they were sealed to the face and properly fitted, but that brings up a whole host of other problems, which is that, you know, it's gonna be hard to breathe. You're not gonna be able to wear them without experiencing dis extreme discomfort. There might be other harmful side effects to it from, from the, you know, lack of oxygen that you could be getting.
Speaker 1 00:54:50 Um, you know, I, I don't, I don't think that any potential efficacy would be worth the potential trade off of having something that's sealed to your face. And there again, there's not really a lot of evidence that it, that it's effective. You know, aerosol transmission is so small, the, the virus is so small and, and transmitting through aerosol is so small, pretty much every fiber is just gonna go right through it. Um, you know, that's, that's, we've seen that happen over and over again. Um, there's lots of great videos out there of people breathing through these masks and the cold, and you see the breath go right through the mask no matter what type it is, it's just, it, it's really, really hard to design something that would be that effective, uh, preventing aerosol transmission. Uh, and, and that's again, what's funny is if you look back at pre pandemic guidance, all these agencies kind of admitted that, but to throw it out when, as soon as it became convenient.
Speaker 0 00:55:37 All right. Well that brings us just about to the, uh, top of the hour. I know we didn't get to talk that much about vaccine efficacy. Um, you will need to pick up this book, uh, in why no audiobooks, is it because these, uh, books are so heavy on the, uh, the graphs and, and the charts and the statistics
Speaker 1 00:56:00 Yeah, that I asked, I've asked the publisher about it a couple times and they basically said that it would be really hard to do because there is, there is so much charts. And I even tried to, you know, tone it down a little bit because I think there, the charts are very valuable and useful, but it's also people want to want to hit, you know, ste the information written out as well. And I tried to be a little bit less, uh, chart heavy this second go around, but it just kind of wound up having, you know, there's something like 90 to a hundred charts in that book too. So it's, uh, it's tough to, tough to work around with audiobooks, unfortunately.
Speaker 0 00:56:27 Any, any final topic that you wanted to touch on? Um, or, you know, let us know where we can stay in touch with you? Uh, I mentioned a couple of ways. Yeah,
Speaker 1 00:56:39 No, I think you covered everything. Twitter, you know, ck whatever. Uh, I, you know, I would think the, the vaccine efficacy, efficacy stuff is, is important to cover. Uh, and I do, I, like you said, I do cover it in the book. And, um, you know, I think that there's, again, one of the big, the big problem to me is that disinformation, if I can find it, anybody could. And if, you know, and many people did, and the, the lack of willingness to engage with it, um, from the experts, from the c d c, from Dr. Fauci, whoever it would be, the media, um, was really infuriating and frustrating. And I think it's caused immense harm. And that's something that, you know, we're gonna be dealing with for, for years and decades to come. Um, so it's really important to tell, tell the story and, and point out how how many people are involved in making this a failure and, and how little accountability there's been. Um, hopefully there is more going forward. And, and, you know, we appreciate all the people that are read and watched and are, are here today, cuz you're, you're contributing to it and hopefully, hopefully getting some more, uh, evidence-based thinking going forward.
Speaker 0 00:57:40 Yes, as Ein Rand, one of my favorite quotes of hers is, um, you can evade reality, but you can't evade the consequences of evading reality. And as those consequences become more and more apparent and documented, I know, Ian, that you'll be there to, uh, to catalog them and spread the, the news. So we really appreciate it. So thank you Ian, and uh, thanks. Oh, thank
Speaker 1 00:58:05 You so much for having me. Appreciate it.
Speaker 0 00:58:08 Absolutely. And we will always have, have you back. Um, I wanna also thank all of you as Ian just did that, joined a lot of great questions today. I really appreciate, especially since we had to do a bit of a change on the timing. So I appreciate all of you guys out there and our guests today being flexible. And I wanted to remind you, if you are watching, if you want to see more content like this, uh, if you like the kind of work that we do at the Atlas Society, I hope you will not just be a passerby, but you'll consider, um, putting something in the, uh, in the tip jar, so to speak, to help fund our work. Uh, it's, again, it's a nonprofit and it's tax deductible, so you can go and make that [email protected]
and I hope you'll again join us next week. We're gonna be back on Wednesdays our usual time. Um, my old friend Armstrong Williams is going to be joining us to talk about his book Crisis in the Classroom. Thanks so much.