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CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts, May 11, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has released a research paper examining the scientific justification behind groups which challenge the purportedly scientific basis of restrictions introduced on the back of COVID-19, admitting that such groups “value unmediated access to information and privilege personal research and direct reading over ‘expert’ interpretations.”

The paper, published in January and titled “How Coronavirus Skeptics Use Orthodox Data Practices to Promote Unorthodox Science Online,” aimed to show how “activist networks of anti-mask users [a term used to describe lockdown protestors generally] leverage the rhetoric of scientific rigor in order to oppose public health measures like mask mandates or indoor dining bans.”

A team of five researchers, comprised of four MIT academics as well as a mathematician from Wellesley College, observed online communities of “COVID skeptics” over a six month period by joining groups on Facebook and Twitter, where they collected data by “deep lurking,” a method described by the team as “a mode of participating by observing specific to digital platforms.”

The group reportedly analyzed “close to half a million tweets that use data visualizations to talk about the pandemic,” as well as “over 41,000 images” of graphs and charts used by “anti-mask groups” to demonstrate the myriad statistics from COVID-related studies.

Although the paper is permeated with an undercurrent of ridicule towards any lockdown skepticism, the authors frequently were forced to admit a high level of scientific competency and literacy among critics of non-medical interventions against the Wuhan coronavirus.

In order to further downplay the importance of critical thinking, the group asserted that “calling for increased media literacy can often backfire: the instruction to ‘question more’ can lead to a weaponization of critical thinking and increased distrust of media and government institutions.” According to the authors, skeptical groups have capitalized “on the skeptical impulse that the ‘science simply isn’t settled,’ prompting people to simply ‘think for themselves,’” a danger that they say has already led “to horrifying ends.”

For example, the authors at one point claim that their study “finds that anti-mask groups practice a form of data literacy in spades.” They went on to say that “[w]ithin this constituency, unorthodox viewpoints do not result from a deficiency of data literacy” but that, in fact, “sophisticated practices of data literacy are a means of consolidating and promulgating views that fly in the face of scientific orthodoxy.”

In addition, the study found that “anti-mask groups on Twitter often create polished counter-visualizations that would not be out of place in scientific papers, health department reports, and publications like the Financial Times.” Counter-visualizations is a term used to describe graphical representations of COVID-related statistics which refute or otherwise challenge the data used by public health officials to justify civil restrictions.

In essence, the research team admitted that skeptical groups have relied on robust datasets in order to challenge the opposing assertions of medical elites, like the radically pro-mask Dr. Anthony Fauci. However, the researchers framed their paper in such a way as to discredit or cast doubt on the skeptics’ conclusions, insisting government-backed views are “scientific orthodoxy.”

The team expressed their clear disagreement with the positions of so-called COVID skeptics, describing their temptation “to characterize COVID skeptics as simply ‘anti-science,’” as Fauci and many other elites have. However, the researchers ultimately commended skeptics as acknowledging “the subjectivity of how datasets are constructed” and their subsequent effort “to reconcile the data with lived experience,” thus ruling out Fauci’s blanket tarring.

“Far from ignoring scientific evidence to argue for individual freedom,” the researchers conceded, “anti-maskers often engage deeply with public datasets.”

“[T]hese groups seek to make the process of understanding data as transparent as possible in order to challenge the powers that be.”

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PETITION UPDATE (8/27/2020)

Thank you for continuing to SIGN and SHARE this petition, which asks policymakers at all levels of government to reverse mandatory mask orders within their borders.

Facebook has restored the share link for this petition, saying that the decision to block it was a 'mistake...'

Please share with your Facebook friends, but we should all take heed of this warning: when an organization or individuals have to beg, plead and cajole just to express objective truths, it may be time to start looking for other social networking platforms.

Facebook needs to treat its users with respect, no matter their political persuasion. Moreover, Facebook needs to treat objective reality and facts with more respect.

One-size-fits-all oppressive government mask mandates must stop!

Healthy adults and children should not be forced - by the state - to wear masks when the risk of infection is low and the benefit of wearing a mask is highly questionable.

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PETITION UPDATE (8/25/2020)

Facebook is actively censoring this petition, saying that some people find it 'abusive.'

How anyone could find alternate facts about oppressive mask mandates 'abusive' is incredible...that is, impossible to believe.

This is exactly the kind of censorship which Big Tech is getting a bad reputation for.

The fact that Facebook calls differing opinion and objective reality "abusive" says a lot about Facebook and their agenda to silence reason and logic, not just conservatives and Christians.

But, people are more intelligent than Facebook give them credit for.

And, the more this continues, the more reasonable people will look alternate platforms to share their thoughts and connect with their friends and family. The more that happens, the less revenue Facebook will generate.

All of us have a decision to make, and the time is coming where we might have to tell our Facebook friends that we are moving to another platform.

We are encouraging people to continue SIGNING this petition and SHARING it via other platforms such as Parler and Gab, and to share the link below with your family and friends on Whatsapp, Telegram, Threema and Signal.

Thank you!

________________________________________________________________________________________

One-size-fits-all oppressive government mask mandates must stop!

Healthy adults and children should not be forced - by the state - to wear masks when the risk of infection is low and the benefit of wearing a mask is highly questionable.

Please SIGN this petition which asks policymakers at all levels of government to reverse mandatory mask mandates within their borders

Public health policies should be based on science and logic, not on the type of political posturing and virtue-signaling which led Joe Biden to recently call for a national mask mandate.

And, public health policies certainly shouldn't lead to a situation where more people could become sick.

But, that is exactly what these mandatory mask mandates are doing.

Here are four inconvenient facts about masks:

1) Masks** are largely ineffective at stopping the transmission of viruses.

The vast majority of masks worn by the public are made from material which cannot filter-out viruses because virus particles are too small to catch or obstruct.  Wearing cloth masks to stop a virus is like putting a bee in a bird cage to keep it from flying away.

Wearing a mask for long periods of time ensures that the wearer has a warm and moist receptacle around his or her mouth, on which viruses and bacteria can land and accumulate.

Thus, masks are actually likely to have little effect in stopping the spread of COVID-19 acting as a barrier, but could actually make things worse acting as a receptacle.

2) Mandates which call for masks to be worn outdoors are both absurd and oppressive.

3) There are clearly documented hazards of wearing masks for long periods of time.

4) And, since school is on everyone's mind...

Notwithstanding the above information on the ineffectiveness of most masks against viruses, we don't know if asymptomatic children can even transmit the virus.

But, it was a reported in an article in the July 21, 2020 Uk Times that: "There has been no recorded case of a teacher catching the coronavirus from a pupil anywhere in the world, according to one of the UK government's leading scientific advisers."

And, we also know that children are extremely unlikely to get seriously ill or die from COVID infections. In any case, children cannot possibly be expected to wear a mask properly in a way that would cut transmission.

There are still a lot of unknowns about COVID-19, but we have grown in our understanding of this disease since the beginning of the crisis.

The knowledge we have gained should allow government and health authorities to make more nuanced policies than the current one-size-fits-all mask mandates.

Where are the legislative hearings in county commissions, and state, provincial or federal legislatures before these drastic actions are mandated? Where are the open and transparent debates among experts that provide our representatives with the necessary information to make good policy decisions?

The real pandemic is the panic and the resulting tyranny that is being caused by dictatorial governors, corporate media and the monopolistic Big Tech.

The truth is that COVID-19 is like a bad cold for most people; this is not ebola or the plague.

Of course, the very elderly and those with serious health conditions should take precautions or be quarantined, but the rest of society should begin the long process of returning to normality.

The frenzy to force everyone to wear a mask, at all times, has gone beyond all comprehension, and goes against science and logic.

Please SIGN this petition which asks policymakers at all levels of government to reverse any mandatory mask order within the borders of their county, state, province, or country.

Thank you!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

'Explosion in mandatory masking isn’t driven by science, but fear', PART I - https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/explosion-in-mandatory-masking-isnt-driven-by-science-but-fear

'Explosion in mandatory masking isn’t driven by science, but fear', PART II - https://www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/explosion-in-mandatory-masking-isnt-driven-by-science-but-fear-part-ii

OSHA Document on Surgical Masks and Respirators stating that surgical masks do NOT prevent airborne particles (e.g. viruses) from being inhaled - https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3219.pdf

'PETER HITCHENS: Face masks turn us into voiceless submissives - and it’s not science forcing us to wear them, it’s politics' - https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-8537489/PETER-HITCHENS-Face-masks-turn-voiceless-submissives.html

**Here, we are referring to the masks worn by the vast majority of the public, not to specialist masks or respirator-type masks.

***Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

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The study found that both pro-lockdown and anti-lockdown groups utilize public health data to bolster their claims for and against public health mandates, though drawing different conclusions. The researchers noted that lockdown skeptics in particular “are critical about the data sources used to make visualizations in data-driven stories.” This leads more skeptical groups to “engage in lengthy conversation about the limitations of imperfect data,” according to the study.

“These anti-mask activists therefore conclude that unreliable statistics cannot be the basis of policies that actively harm people by isolating them and leaving businesses to collapse en masse,” the authors wrote. Furthermore, “anti-maskers often reveal themselves to be more sophisticated in their understanding of how scientific knowledge is socially constructed than their ideological adversaries, who espouse naive realism about the ‘objective’ truth of public health data.”

MIT researchers fret about ‘weaponization of critical thinking’ making more people distrust media, government institutions

Failing any statistical or scientific refutation of the logic behind lockdown skepticism, the researchers then offered an alternative prism through which skeptical groups can be seen to be erring in their analyses.

The team compared lockdown skeptics to rioters at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, an event that they said has “similarly illustrated that well-calibrated, well-funded systems of coordinated disinformation can be particularly dangerous when they are designed to appeal to skeptical people.” The researchers unqualifiedly claim that “the coup relied on a collective effort fanned by people questioning, interacting, and sharing these ideas with other people,” placing any person or group questioning of common assumptions into the category of criminal instigators.

“Anti-maskers often reveal themselves to be more sophisticated in their understanding of how scientific knowledge is socially constructed than their ideological adversaries, who espouse naive realism about the ‘objective’ truth of public health data.”

In order to further downplay the importance of critical thinking, the group asserted that “calling for increased media literacy can often backfire: the instruction to ‘question more’ can lead to a weaponization of critical thinking and increased distrust of media and government institutions.” According to the authors, skeptical groups have capitalized “on the skeptical impulse that the ‘science simply isn’t settled,’ prompting people to simply ‘think for themselves,’” a danger that they say has already led “to horrifying ends.”

The study characterized the skepticism of mainstream media-touted COVID data as “an act of resistance against the stifling influence of central government, big business, and liberal academia.” Such groups, they said, are “highly reflexive about the inherently biased nature of any analysis, and resent what they view as the arrogant self-righteousness of scientific elites.”

Most fundamentally,” they wrote, “the groups we studied believe that science is a process, and not an institution.”

So convincing is their painting of the lockdown-skeptical rationale that the authors made direct clarifications that they are “not promoting these views,” but are seeking to “better understand how ‘analyzing data’ can take on different meanings during a time of crisis.” Expanding, they wrote that “simply increasing access to raw data or improving the quality of data visualizations will not bolster public consensus about scientific findings,” but they did not offer a reason why more access to information appears to divide opinion.

Accordingly, “[c]onvincing anti-maskers to support public health measures in the age of COVID-19 will require more than ‘better’ visualizations, data literacy campaigns, or increased public access to data,” the researchers concluded.

“For these anti-mask users, their approach to the pandemic is grounded in more scientific rigor, not less.”

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