Face mask evangelism, trust and democracy

By | 19th April 2023

The Great Mask Debate is limping towards closure. While there is no single conclusive piece of evidence, the best research points towards there being little or no general benefit from the mass use of masks in the community. It is even doubtful whether there is much value from requiring masks in health care settings or care homes. My mask does not protect you and your mask does not protect me…

It is a fundamental principle that democratic states use their power with restraint and with clear justification. Democracies create the largest possible space for citizens to do their own thing, provided they do not harm others. Where imbalances of knowledge and power distort that space, states may intervene to level the playing field and prevent harms. But the burden is always on states to show that those interventions are effective.

Much Covid public policy conspicuously failed to do this because social interventions were not subjected to the same rigorous tests as medical ones…

The lack of high-quality research on masks stands for the wider policy failures of states that excessively privileged expertise from the medical and natural sciences without recognizing that its impact always depends on its translation into actions by ordinary citizens.

A Social Science Space Blog

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