The Experts Lied to Us about Masks

Coronavirus Girl wears mask National Review | James Alexander Michie

A girl wears a mask as a preventive measure against the coronavirus outbreak in Bangkok, Thailand, February 7, 2020. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

When masks would have helped us fight coronavirus early, our supposed betters misled us.

When the stakes are highest, the truth counts the most. Or maybe when things get really serious, that’s when the people really can’t be trusted with the truth.

It’s pretty clear which of these two ideas is the one that has been guiding elite medical, political, and journalistic institutions, isn’t it? They all lied about the masks. Our leading doctors lied. Our elected leaders lied. In retrospect it’s obvious they were lying, because the explanations were silly. “Don’t wear a mask, they’re only a good idea if you’re a medical professional.” Huh? They work only if my paycheck comes from a hospital?

“Don’t wear a mask, it could give you a false sense of security?” Oh, okay, I won’t wear a seatbelt either, because then I might feel indestructible and drive dangerously. I won’t put life jackets on my boat, either. Heck, why don’t I just stop washing my hands?

“Don’t wear a mask, it might trap droplets when you cough.” Yeah, it would be terrible if I caught the virus from myself.

“Don’t wear a mask, they’re very, very complicated and only experts know how to use them correctly.” I need six years of medical school to figure out how to put a piece of cloth over my nose and mouth?

There has been a lot of talk since, oh, approximately November 8, 2016, about the relative use and reliability of experts, elites — our betters. We’re told that we need experts more than ever. One guy out there has profitably positioned himself as the meta-expert, the expert on expertise who expertly informs us of what the experts are saying over at the Experts’ Club.

In the U.K., the debate on experts hit a new level on the third of June, 2016, when Conservative cabinet minister and leading Brexit campaigner Michael Gove said, “I think the people of this country have had enough of experts.” This instantly became the defining absurdity of the Brexit referendum, and was pilloried and mocked nonstop. Ho ho, said the pundits, when Gove goes in for gall-bladder surgery, I’ll bet he’d rather be cut into by an expert than a bloke from down the pub!

The mocking changed its tone when Brexit carried the day on June 23, 2016, with more Britons voting for it than had ever voted for anything in the thousand-year history of the country. Now Gove’s remark became the source of the ashen taste in the mouths of Remoaner metropolitan elites bewailing how provincial troglodytes, geriatrics, and Little Englanders had dashed their rationalist, internationalist dreams.

And then Gove was fully vindicated. He turned out to be 100 percent correct.

The full Gove statement was this: “I think the people of this country have had enough of experts from organizations with acronyms saying they know what is best, and getting it consistently wrong.” The remark was true on the surface — the U.K. voters genuinely were fed up with experts — and it was true in its underpinnings. Gove was referring to the dire economic forecasts of the consequences of Brexit, many of them made by Conservatives such as the then chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, St. George of the Banks, who issued a stern report forecasting an “immediate and profound economic shock” defined as a GDP plunge of 3 to 6 percent, accompanied by a massive increase in unemployment. None of that happened. The economy grew. Employment surged to record levels. Osborne never apologized for getting it spectacularly wrong. Other elites (academic economists, banks, the BBC, the Financial Times, the prime minister, the guy who played the prime minister in Love Actually) who made similar dire projections largely declined even to admit error. David Cameron at least fell with honor upon his sword. The others just continued to burble new expert warnings.

Could it be that experts have their own interests, that like most other members of homo sapiens they look at everything through the lens of what is best for them and people like them? A post-Brexit academic study found that those economic forecasters employed by banks who figured to lose the most in Brexit issued the most dire forecasts. Quelle coincidence.

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Source: Kyle Smith | National Review

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