From my righteous brother in Chicago:
Dear Mr. Barker-
I am a relatively new subscriber, and a refugee from the New York Times, a paper I read for 38 years. I ceased reading it because of its panic-inspiring presentations of the SARS-CoV-2 crisis. No doubt writing an email like this is a quixotic undertaking, as I’ve emailed reporters before (not many editors) and if I get an answer at all it is simply a recitation of what I’ve already read that prompted my email. I did get a long response from the editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education who was willing to consider what I had to say.
I realize there is a certain orthodoxy in reporting about COVID, and that many newspapers share certain principles, articles of faith, really, that have no firm scientific basis, but are repeated ad nauseam until the whole world is swaying to the music of those frightening, hypnotic and dire words of warning and threat.
I read this sentence in your newspaper today:
“fatigue with social-distancing rules and mask wearing has been one of the main drivers of infections in Europe’s second wave.” There is absolutely no scientific basis for this assertion.
As for masks, the Dutch government recently announced they would not impose a mask mandate, and there are other countries that have rejected that approach as well. Oxford University’s Center for Evidence Based Medicine (CEBM) is an invaluable source of information for anyone writing about the crisis. That is, for anyone who sincerely wishes to “follow the science.”
There is no evidence masks block the transmission of airborne viruses, and in some cases (see the Hanoi Hospital study from 2015 https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/4/e006577.short) such as with hospital workers wearing cloth masks, the masks made flu infection of the wearers much more likely.
Furthermore, what is meant by “infections” involves a real sleight of hand, since PCR test positive results depend on the cycle threshold used in the test, the higher the number the more people who are not infectious test positive.
I am sure you know all this already and I am sure none of this will change what is published in the Times, the WSJ, the Washington Post, but, you do the country a great disservice by enabling the lockdowns that have destroyed our economy and countless lives. I recently learned of an annual conference (AUP Association of University Presses) that will be held virtually in June, 2021. In light of the great public fear, what a French philosopher as described as “bioterror,” what will become of our downtown business districts, our transit systems, our workers, the remaining (and struggling) retail stores? I urge you to consider the truly dire consequences of your actions in fueling public fear and aiding political leaders who impose damaging and medically questionable measures without public consent.