Supervillains wear masks. The unmasking of America, and of me.
“There was truth and untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” -George Orwell, 1984
In a Star Trek Next Generation episode called “The Game,” the crew all play a game that Riker brings back to the ship. As they play it, they become convinced that everyone else has to play it too, not realizing that the game is hypnotizing them to enable an alien force to take over the ship. Only Wesley Crusher—a young smart ensign who disparages rules—resists the alure of the game, and in the end they hold him down, his mother and captain among them, and say, “Play the game, Wesley, you have to play the game.” For the crew of the Enterprise, the game supplants all sense, humanity, and compassion as it morphs into the one and only truth. Only Wesley’s skepticism and fear of that “truth” saves the ship and the crew from imminent disaster.
I feel very much likely Wesley most days now. Twitter trolls call me horrid things, from arrogant to ignorant to the worst doctor on the planet. They do this because I dare to resist their call to “play the game,” the game of universal masking that has swept all reason and sense away from our nation. Scientific arguments fall prey to their dogmatic science; their graphs and drawings, their scientific prophets, are more important the the reality sitting in front of them, a reality that means nothing to those who play the game. “Are you so arrogant that you think you’re right and everyone else is wrong?” the trolls ask. But I never knew that science was a democratic exercise. Surly, those who resisted the Eugenicists and racial scientists and the Nobel prize winners and doctors who supported Hitler’s theories were not in the majority, but they fought against “the game” nonetheless. Galileo, Newton, and Einstein would have been nobodies if they just “played the game.”
First, let me make this perfectly clear. My disdain for masks, first and foremost, is because the blood of science flows through my veins, and masks are one of the greatest affronts to science in my lifetime. My disdain for masks stems from my life-long passion to save lives, and as I watch countless people die from a disease that is preventable and treatable, I view our worship of masks as the greatest obstacle to preventing death and the primary reason that so many Americans died. My disdain for masks derives from my abhorrence of snake-oils sold to people as a cure-all, something that has littered our health care landscape for decades, and which has reached its peak with COVID and the masked zelots. I disdain masks because they have muffled intelligence, compassion, a love of liberty, and a concern about human beings, reducing a nuanced and complicated (but solvable) problem into a battle between good and evil, between mask wearers and mask doubters. To the mask zealots, super-heroes wear masks.
In my world in the trenches of COVID, a world enlightened by true science and humanism, a world bathed by an understanding of the rhythms of history that demonstrate how people have been manipulated into carrying out horrific acts by feeding them simplistic dogma, it’s the super-villains who wear masks.
Pardon my self-reflective, pedantic, interminable blog. But sometimes I have to vent and reveal my soul, if only for posterity after I’m locked up in a padded cell. As the CDC issues new absurd mask orders—taking its direction from CNN and MSNBC and their dogmatic audience and band of slanted second-rate doctor-guests and hosts—that will drape this nation back into its state of never-ending fear and top-down control of our lives, I can’t help but tremble. I am helpless, I am all alone but for a few who are in my camp and who have my back. I’ve written books and songs and blogs, I’ve protested all I could, but who am I—a real doctor who reads facts and is on the front lines of COVID—compared to the architects of the new American “science” who prognosticate and plot from their basement rooms. And so I look backward and forward, and I dwell on the insanity that has become the new normal in my nation, a nation that has lost its direction in the wake of deluded masked villains who voraciously peddle "the game."
I think of my lonely days during the pandemic outside of work, whether in DC or in my hometown of Columbia or in an airport or a national park. Zealots march around like zombies wearing masks, many are young liberals striding the streets of our nation’s capital or the trails of Shenandoah, wearing them in parking lots and in their cars, all just so cockily compliant, so sure they are helping to stem the worst outbreak of disease and death that history has ever witnessed. They think masks are “necessary and lifesaving” because they are told that, they are fed false correlations that pit the bad anti-maskers against the good pro-maskers, they listen to scientists on their favorite TV stations or in their favorite newspapers who create models of particle reduction to somehow weave a fiction that masks will save us all, never bothering to look at the copious data showing that masks have never saved anyone, not caring about the hundreds of thousands of trusting souls who are told “wear your mask and you’ll be ok” and then have died from COVID while wearing a mask or from someone in a mask who infected them.. Facts don’t matter, only appearance, only dogma. It’s all about the game.
And in my mind as I meander through that wave of masked zealots, I see the misery of the patients I care for every day who are choked by those very masks and all that they represent, the all-powerful health department locking up frail elders and draping them and us with myths and telling us to shut up and comply, watching my dear patients getting sick from the mask and through the mask, dying of COVID and of misery and isolation, withering away in the last weeks or years of their lives, the all powerful eye of Anthony Fauci and Jake Tapper and Governor Hogan and the health department who count cases and lecture us: just wear the damned mask and shut up. These self-anointed disciples of “science and humanity” don every variety of mask, the N95, the surgical, the cloth ones with cute sayings or team logos. Everyone complies. Everyone but me.
This is Nazi Germany in my mind. It can be nothing else. My family, my friends; they know the hell into which I descend every day, they know that no one on the planet reads and studies more about how to save people from COVID and from COVID’s “cure” than I, that I write about it both through fiction and nonfiction day after day, that (as a student of history and as a doctor) I see this as the most frightening moment in American history, the moment by which our fragile democracy could unravel into a top-down autocracy justified by a national emergency (as Hitler did with the Reichstag fire) and instigate a diminution of our rights, a scapegoating of all those who don’t agree with our all-knowing charismatic leader (Fauci, not Trump), and with deception and ritual posing as science and being embraced by those who use it to shame others and desecrate everything good and decent about this nation.
To me, masks represent everything vile about our reaction to COVID. Masks are the symbol I most abhor, the swastika, the white hood, the burning cross. My family knows this, my friends know this. But as I walked through the streets of DC, or in a store or airport, as I scream about the “idiot Faucists,” in our midst, as panic overwhelms me and I can’t breathe from the mask on me and the site of this despicable tide of glorified brainwashing, my family and friends wear their masks compliantly, not wanting to offend anyone, not caring about how much they marginalize me and push me away, how much they are hurting me. They care more about not distressing the mask zealots, about following the rules and not being shamed, than they care about me or about the horror of what is occurring around them, a horror that their blind compliance only feeds. Even as I trounced through Annapolis with my young niece and nephew mocking masks and having a wonderful time, I knew that this was the exception. Most of my friends and family chose to play the game, viewing me as being just a bit nuts, sometimes even embarrassed by me as I shouted or wheezed besides them, they always dutifully wearing their mask of compliance and pushing me into a state of frenzied, lonely isolation and sadness.
It has been me against the world for the past year and a half; I’m like that guy in the Twilight Zone who wakes up and finds he’s in some dystopian reality where everything he knew to be good and true is now just the opposite, and he is considered insane, not those who truly are. In my book Geriatrics Vengeance Club, which was my diary of living through COVID, my way of coping with it bereft of much human support, most every chapter starts with an Orwellian quote, because to me, this is what we live in now, an Orwellian dystopia. Science is dogma, life-saving measures are empty ritual, the news is propaganda. At one point at the end of the book, Ben punches a cute couple wearing masks on a trail; one mask says I love Him, the other says I love Her. Ben then is tossed into an empty purgatory, abandoned by friends and family, as he decides to end his life, saved by someone who actually did care. This, too, reflects my own COVID experience.
To me, anyone who wears masks dutifully and without question, who promotes mask use vehemently as being scientific and good, who twists data and obscures reality to declare masks to be our most effective weapon against COVID, have chosen to promote the cause of dogma instead of science, listen only to charismatic leaders instead of the hundreds of thousands of muffled doctors who have studied this and have a more rational and humanistic approach, cling blindly to their slanted self-serving media instead of demanding them to provide facts. By elevating the mask to our most potent weapon against COVID, by not fighting the deception that the mask represents, they have promulgated a myth that has been the most dangerous and self-destructive force to grip our nation since the days of slavery.
Let's be clear. Mask zealots aren't intelligent, humanistic, or liberal. They are dangerous. Someone wearing a mask outside shouldn’t be respected because she is trying to do the right thing. She should be chastised for her ignorance and blind obedience to a deceptive gospel. She is, as I have said in a previous blog, one of Fauci’s willing executioners. We’ve seen such gung-ho submission to mangled science, charismatic leaders, and biased zealotry in our history, and we condemned people for it. We saw it in the south where the mass of whites supported the slave system and then segregation. We saw it in Nazi Germany where the majority of Germans embraced Hitler’s message. We saw it when Joe McCarthy incited his witch hunt in the 1950’s. Such blind submission to a myth is not innocuous. It is not naïve or honorable. It is uninformed fodder that enables our leaders to take us down a very deceptive and dangerous path, one I have seen close up in the trenches of COVID.
Why are masks so perfidious in my mind? Why do they represent everything vile and dangerous to a free and open and scientific society? Why does their embrace send me into a panic attack? Read my books and blogs if you want to know, especially Geriatrics Vengeance Club. I put masks into a historical and medical framework, and I spell out all the data about mask use and why masks are perhaps the most deceptive snake oil ever concocted by our medical establishment.
To me, the mask myth is disputed by every sliver of science we have at our disposal: by the Cochrane report, and the one randomized study,; by the reality that virtually all the millions of health workers and long term care residents infected by, and the hundreds of thousands who were killed by, COVID were wearing a mask or infected by someone wearing a mask; at the fact that as mask mandates increased and were more vigorously enforced, the death toll from COVID rose and that every sudy of influenza outbreaks similarly showed that masks are ineffective protection. In fact, other than some modeling studies build from false assumptions (that I describe through the mouth of my false Fauci in a prior blog, and which are similar in design to model studies that caused the 2008 economic crash, that justified Mayor Bloomberg’s stop and frisk policy, that proved that certain races are superior to other races,to name a few uses of these model), there was not a single study or slice of reality to demonstrate any efficacy of masks. Just weak correlations that could easily be shredded.*(see below) And, to top that off, there is emerging evidence that prolonged use of masks may cause physical and psychological damage, especially to kids and elders, who are being forced to wear them “for their own protection.” Masks reflect same “scientific” logic as signs imploring us to wash our hands “for exactly 20 seconds” and to use hand cleaners to stop the spread of COVID—something to which our COVID zealots comply eagerly—even though we know COVID doesn’t live on surfaces. It’s kind of like those signs that say to keep a six-foot distance, even though COVID particles dissipate and become non-infectious once they are mere inches away from someone’s mouth, especially outside. All of this is myth and ritual that has been draped in a wrapping of faux science and proselytized by zealots who refuse to accept any other truth but the one that have created; the mask is the most visible reminder of just how far off the rails we’ve traveled from logic and science.
*Observation data: Mask zealots often claim, wrongly, that areas of the world and our country that wear more masks have fewer cases of and deaths from COVID. In fact, their data is selective. But, even if true, it doesn’t prove that masks are responsible for lower deaths, there’s just a correlation. People who are diligent about masks also tend to be wealthier, healthier, and less apt to die from COVID. It’s like saying: areas in the country where people drive more Subaru’s have lower heart attack death rates than areas where they drive pickup trucks. If that’s true, it’s because Subaru drivers tend to exercise more and eat better than the average person, and thus are likely to have fewer heart attacks. But mask-logic would cause people to say: "This proves that Subaru’s prevent heart attacks!" It’s a great sales pitch! And no less fictional than the one spit out by CNN that masks prevent COVID deaths!
Many, maybe even a majority, of level-headed scientists and doctors in the world, have a much more nuanced approach to masking than Fauci and the TV docs, explaining that our dogmatic all-out mask-based assault on COVID may well cause more harm than good. Vinay Prasad’s articles are quite illuminating; he’s a mainstream guy who no one can really dispute. The Great Barrington Declaration signed by almost a million prominent scientists is worth a look. These are not the guys you’ll see on MSNBC or CNN. They aren’t Fauci’s guys. Many of them have been condemned by the very doctors who do go on TV and spread myth as science. Many have had their careers threatened by daring to tell the truth. We’ve seen this act before. It’s what always happens whenever we let dogma take over science. Nazism, McCarthyism, Eugenics; it’s all a repetitive and discordant harmony now being played by the mask zealots.
As Fauci and our Goebbels-like media--and a squad of myopic scientists and doctors who see the world through particles and correlation rather than humanity and fact--trumpet compulsory mask use as being necessary and effective, data and facts don’t matter to them since their sales-pitch works without such things. People cling to the words of charismatic leaders, as they did to the words of other charismatic leaders in history. Let’s not forget that Germany’s doctors and Nobel-prize winning scientists declared Hitler’s racial theories to be proven fact. The German people were not dummies, but they bought Hitler’s dogma hook, line and sinker, especially once the scientists promoted it; Hitler remained very popular in Germany right until the end of the war and few Germans questioned the validity of his underlying assumptions and ideals. That’s why I have called mask zealots Faucists, because they too believe what they are told without question, they hold that anything that comes out of their “scientist’s” mouth is valid, while anyone who has the effrontery to question "their scientist" is flawed and dangerous. As such, they are a grave threat to both democracy and to science.
But it gets worse than that. By commandeering the mantle of science and draping it over empty dogma and ritual, mask zealots have decimated the very core of scientific integrity, a core built on open discourse, hard data, and constant revision. They are the anti-scientists. And in doing this too they have created a binary polarization. You are either pro-mask (pro science, pro-life, pro humanity) or anti-mask (anti science, murderous, unfeeling, moronic). You’re either in one camp or another. Mask or no mask. That’s the ugliness of masks. It creates an artificial division that prevents constructive, humane, and scientific discourse.
But it’s even worse than that. Because of all those zealous mask-wearing zombies out there, the ones who declare that masks are good and necessary and there can be no debate about it, we have a policy that has lofted mask use to being our first line of defense against COVID. We saw the results of that policy where I work, in long term care. When the first wave blew through long term care facilities, COVID infected and killed tens of thousands of vulnerable elders through those masks. Everyone was wearing a mask, and that didn’t slow the rate of infection and death. So, because the mask zealots refused to back down and question their gospel, we were told to wear shields, two masks, and got lessons on how to wear them right. When the second wave blasted through all those shields and double masks in the fall of 2020, and tens of thousands more frail elders died despite universal enforced mask use, we were still told that masking was the only solution. When we demanded other solutions, we were essentially told to shut up and put on our mask.
Masks have become such a symbol of compliance to the scientific Fauci-driven narrative upon which so many zealots hang their reputations that they refuse to abandon the mask myth despite the sting of reality in long term care and across the country that, to anyone with a functioning brain and open eyes, shows that they simply don’t work. The health department dictatorship won’t tolerate any deviation. We can’t get a sensible policy of limited quarantines and of rapid daily testing for every resident of and visitors to long term care, both of which would save lives without killing them with our cure. My patients died of COVID because of the mask mandate that forced us to rely on a strategy we knew didn’t work, and my patients died from these “life-saving” masks because they choked them both physically and psychologically.
And thus, all you mask wearers out there who believe you are saving the world, all you mask zealots who preach the gospel and shame the sinners who dare question it, this is your legacy. You have blood on your hands. I knew this a year ago and I fought as best I could against our reliance on masks, even as those around me complied with masking and thought it was a good idea. But in the trenches and through my research, I saw what was happening. I saw that because people were so willing to embrace and proselytize this simplistic solution to COVID, we in long term care had to suffer the consequences. Likely 250,000 people died in long term care because we relied on masks to protect them and never opened our eyes and said, “Geeze, this ain’t working, let’s try something else.” We couldn’t open our eyes because the zealots wouldn’t let us. Every time I yelled about the dangers of our mask-first approach, every time I called Dr Fauci and Governor Hogan short-sighted morons for pushing a solution that was both deceptive and dangerous, I was handed modeling studies and particle studies and observational data and told that I was arrogant, ignorant, and unscientific. My open eyes that witnessed the deaths and despair I had to live through every day because of our reliance on masks fell pray to a dogmatic belief that no one was willing to question. “More would have died without the mask,” the zealots say. “Probably people were wearing it wrong.” Reality means nothing to zealots, who refuse to blame these hundreds of thousands of deaths on our reliance on masks. Correlations, particles, and models are more important than human life. And thus my governor kept saying to “just wear your damned mask" as the deaths piled up.
And there’s more. My friend Alan and I are writing a book about how the Flexner report in 1911 led the medical establishment down a dangerous road that focuses more on numbers than people, on models than on reality, on profit than on healing. Doctors have been pushing snake oil for decades, deceiving patients with “easy fixes” draped in a veil of scientific credibility. Revealing such medical deception has been the fight of my life. I have tons of stories and data in Curing Medicare, in my blogs, and in our Flexner book. Whether it’s a cardiologist promising a patient that a stent will save their lives (it won’t) or a neurologist pushing a dementia drug to help someone with memory loss (causes more harm than good) or someone who demands that you lower your cholesterol with drugs like Zetia lest you die (it doesn’t help you at all), doctors feed their patients simple solutions to complex and nuanced problems and then patients embrace these snake oils as though gospel.
To me, this is the mask. It is a snake oil beyond all snake oils. It is deceptive, a simplistic solution that the medial community is selling to us because they know we’ll buy it and we won’t ask them any questions, we won’t demand something better. In my last blog I compared it to a girdle for an obese person. Rather than tackle obesity, which causes more deaths and hospitalizations than COVID will moving forward, the girdle can make you look thinner and thus, problem solved. That's what a stent does. What non-statin cholesterol medicine does. It fixes a number without helping anyone. It's what a mask does too, reducing particles perhaps but not saving any lives. It is a girdle, a rouse, and a horrid one, because by tricking people and then pretending it’s based on science, our medical community has put masks on a pedestal and prevented us from devising solutions to COVID that actually work. Any doctor who promotes mask use, whether publicly or in private, should, in my opinion lose his or her license. That doctor is not fit to practice and is in violation of the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. Those very mask-loving snake-oil dispensing doctors were quick to want to strip medical licenses away from doctors in the trenches like me who were using novel treatments to try to save people from COVID because Fauci and the CDC had nothing of value to tell us. Thankfully I didn’t lose my license and I was able to save most of my patient’s lives by treating them sensibly against the dictates of CDC recommendations. So, now it’s time to point our fingers at the real villains, the masked doctors, the doctors who push snake oils, who are proselytizers of dogma and ritual and don’t take the time to understand what they are preaching, who triggered hundreds of thousands of deaths through their irresponsibility. Every one of them should lose their license. Some should go to jail.
COVID has instigated the most horrific self-inflicted slaughter in American history, and masks are its enduring symbol. Masks are a symbol of ignorance, dogmatism, medical negligence, partisan bickering, and autocracy. They are anti-democratic and anti-science. They reveal the worst aspects of us as a people and of doctors as a profession. They are not innocuous, no less dangerous than a swastika or a white hood. Symbols mean something, especially to those of us who care about science, about our patients, and about our country. When I get panic attacks around masks, when people isolate me and call me crazy because of my reaction, it’s because America has swallowed a venomous snake oil and has embraced it. They are playing the game and want me to play too. But I will spend every day of my life fighting those who push the mask myth and who believe in the myth, and also the culpable multitudes who comply with the myth so they don’t offend anyone. I still have to wear masks at work; I’d be fired if I didn’t. But I mock them every time I do, and I fight them every second of my life.
People like Fauci and Jake Tapper and Governor Newsome and CNN’s troupe of TV doctors, they don’t want masks to go away. A sea of masked zombies keeps up the charade of a never-ending threat, of an emergency that will scare us into a blind submission. It keeps people complaint. It justifies politicians to take our rights away. It feeds the fuel to keep CNN on top of the charts. it helps doctors and scientists feel important, since they are viewed as heroes by promulgating a simplistic myth. It feeds the sense of self-righteous arrogance and superiority that mask zealots derive from deriding those who oppose the mask. Democracy is fragile, as is science. We have seen both crumble from fear and dogmatism and a hunger for certainty. We are seeing it now in America. And the mask is its most prominent symbol. Those of you who preach the mask myth, who shame those who have other views, who believe you’re being scientific by clinging to bogus data that satisfies your desire for simplistic solutions: you are the architects of the murder I witness every day and of the dissolution of our democracy that is occurring in front of our faces. Keep wearing those masks. In the end, it will be you who are infected by a far worse plague than COVID. Because when science and democracy die, so too will everything good and decent in the world.