Zeynep Tufekci is an academic sociologist, a New York Times columnist, and a middle-aged female urbanite, all of which make her affection for strapping synthetic plastics to her face massively over-determined. Her latest piece is an opinion column screaming against all reason and evidence that The Science Is Clear That Masks Work. Mostly, Tufekci is very mad about the Cochrane mask review, which found no evidence that masks do anything; and about statements by its lead author, Tom Jefferson, who has explained in various interviews that indeed there is no good evidence that masks do anything.
Tufekci is happy to report that – after what we can only presume is extensive harassment by legions of people like herself – Cochrane has decided to reword part of its summarised findings.
When you are facing absolute defeat, small victories become very important.
… Cochrane … says that the way it summarized the review was unclear and imprecise, and that the way some people interpreted it was wrong.
“Many commentators have claimed that a recently updated Cochrane review shows that ‘masks don’t work,’ which is an inaccurate and misleading interpretation,” Karla Soares-Weiser, the editor in chief of the Cochrane Library, said in a statement.
“The review examined whether interventions to promote mask wearing help to slow the spread of respiratory viruses,” Soares-Weiser said, adding, “Given the limitations in the primary evidence, the review is not able to address the question of whether mask wearing itself reduces people’s risk of contracting or spreading respiratory viruses.”
She said that “this wording was open to misinterpretation, for which we apologize,” and that Cochrane would revise the summary.
Soares-Weiser also said, though, that one of the lead authors of the review [Tom Jefferson] even more seriously misinterpreted its finding on masks by saying in an interview that it proved “there is just no evidence that they make any difference.” In fact, Soares-Weiser said, “that statement is not an accurate representation of what the review found.”
It is, in fact, an accurate representation of what the review found, and it’s also functionally identical to Soares-Weiser’s much more verbose representation about “limitations in the primary evidence” and those things which “the review is not able to address,” but all those syllables give the masktard faithful more places to seek solace.
While the review assessed 78 studies, only 10 of those focused on what happens when people wear masks versus when they don’t, and a further five looked at how effective different types of masks were at blocking transmission, usually for health care workers. … Of those 10 studies that looked at masking, the two done since the start of the Covid pandemic both found that masks helped.
The calculations the review used to reach a conclusion were dominated by prepandemic studies that were not very informative about how well masks blocked the transmission of respiratory viruses.
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