Why face masks are a form of dehumanisation
In Joost Meerloo’s analysis of false confessions and totalitarian regimes, The Rape of the Mind, he coins a phrase for the ‘dumbing down’ of critical resistance – menticide. “In the totalitarian regime,” he wrote, “the doubting, inquisitive, and imaginative mind has to be suppressed. The totalitarian slave is only allowed to memorise, to salivate when the bell rings.”
Neolithic man had a similar problem dealing with his livestock. Homo sapiens’ success has relied not insignificantly on cattle – their dairy, meat, leather and manure. Yet the cow’s ancestor, the auroch, was quite a different beast. It was fast, aggressive and dangerous – hardly conducive to be corralled into predictable channels of behaviour. So, about 10,500 years ago, man started to deliberately breed the most docile aurochs for domestication.
The key word here is docile, which comes from the Latin docere, meaning “to teach” (as does, say, ‘doctorate’ and ‘document’). Being docile means being compliant and following commands, which means submitting to a system of thought.
Whereas animals, however, typically need to be bred to have a higher level of reasoning to be taught commands, human beings, already being quite smart, need to be dumbed down. You won’t disobey an order if you lack the cognitive ability to question it. This is particularly pertinent to the smooth running of a modern world system which relies on millions of individual souls, each with their own nuanced life history and perspective, thinking and acting in the same way.
The empirical literature has shown that compliance and suggestibility are negatively related to intelligence (e.g., Gudjonsson, 1991). In consumer psychology, there is even a technique called ‘disrupt-then-reframe’: bamboozle people first and they’ll be more likely to buy what you’re selling (Davis & Knowles, 1999). Ultimately, the common denominator for increasing suggestibility is switching off executive function in the prefrontal cortex – disabling the superego, the conscience, the internal monologue. Without Jiminy Cricket on his shoulder, Pinocchio would never have become a real boy – he would have always remained a puppet. Modern society is shot through with things that make us similarly dumb (literally, unable to speak).
Which brings us to face masks.
From a neuroimaging perspective, masks are known to inhibit identity and impulse control – both associated with executive function in the prefrontal cortex (e.g., Glannon, 2005; Tacikowski, Berger & Ehrsson, 2017). In other words, masks silence the Jiminy Cricket in the brain.
Not only do face masks make it hard to breathe, but the evidence that they even work to stop the spread of coronavirus is limited at best. A popular brand of mask even carries a warning on its packaging that it “will not provide any protection against COVID-19”; as for preventing carriers from spreading the disease, a meta-analysis found, for example, that of eight randomised control trial studies, six found no difference in transmission rates between control and intervention groups (while one found that a combination of masks and handwashing is more effective than education alone, and the other found that N95 masks are more effective than standard surgical masks; bin-Reza et al., 2012). Non-surgical masks, such as scarfs and cloths, are almost useless (Rengasamy et al., 2010). Masks may even be unhealthy, causing a build-up of bacteria around the face (Zhiqing et al., 2018).
The fact that masks likely don’t even work brings us to the final reason that wearing one inculcates stupidity and compliance: through a bombardment of lies, contradictions, and confusion, the state overwhelms your ability to reason clearly.
As Theodore Dalrymple wrote, “In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.”
The point of face masks is not to protect humans, but to diminish humanity – to rob people of their ego, their identity, and their autonomy. Masks are worn by disposable horror movie villains and ignorable background dancers; they make people less-than-human.
Dehumanisation is rarely followed by anything good.
Negative mask consequences range from the annoying, like headaches and bad breath, to the potentially harmful, as in impaired oxygenation and gum disease. Then there are the psychosocial and developmental aspects, especially for children.
As we have never been told to wear masks, or socially distance, during past flu seasons, masks for COVID are a new phenomenon. Is the actual virus that much different from the seasonal flu virus in terms of size or transmissibility such that we need new rules? What have the medical experts said about masks in the past?
Last March, the World Health Organization did not recommend mask use for individuals, “unless they are sick with COVID or caring for someone who is sick.”
"There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit. In fact, there's some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly," Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO health emergencies program, said at a media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.
In April 2000 guidance, the WHO was against routine public mask use.
Medical masks should be reserved for health care workers.
The use of medical masks in the community may create a false sense of security, with neglect of other essential measures, such as hand hygiene practices and physical distancing, and may lead to touching the face under the masks and under the eyes, result in unnecessary costs, and take masks away from those in health care who need them most, especially when masks are in short supply.
Infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci last March said,
There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences — people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.
Former Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams agreed,
"Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!" Adams purportedly tweeted on Feb. 29, 2020.
They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!
Yet masks became a staple of life, not only in America, but also in many parts of the world. Was it logical? Did it “follow the science”?
The Danish mask study provided some science to follow via a randomized controlled trial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The recommendation to wear surgical masks to supplement other public health measures did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50% in a community with modest infection rates, some degree of social distancing, and uncommon general mask use.
They did not conclude that there was NO protection, only not a significant degree of protection for the community. Are there any comparable studies demonstrating a significant benefit to mask wearing? Why haven’t those studies been performed to “follow the science”?
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