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The friend from the last post just sent me another batch of ‘evidence’ about facemasks.

I tried to dodge it, I really did.

I’m kind of getting a bit tired of having to deal with debunking all the lies being passed along by social media ‘influencers’ as the gospel truth. It’s so similar to what happened with Rabbi Berland, where fact and hard evidence got totally thrown out the window, replaced by salacious headlines, fake stories and strong opinions.

Anyway, I tried to dodge the bullet 3 times, but my friend was pretty insistent on sending me this information, so today, it landed in my inbox.

It’s split into two sections: Section 1 is 2-3 Facebook videos from people in blue scrubs measuring their oxygen levels for approximately 38 seconds while wearing masks.

To put this in perspective, it takes 40 seconds + for a person to lose consciousness when they are being totally asphyxiated to death. This from Wikipedia:

Unconsciousness in cases of accidental asphyxia can occur within 1 minute. Loss of consciousness results from critical hypoxia, when arterial oxygen saturation is less than 60%. “At oxygen concentrations [in air] of 4 to 6%, there is loss of consciousness in 40 seconds and death within a few minutes”.

So, showing a ‘healthy’ oxygen level at under a minute, when someone isn’t having a pillow forcibly held over their face with pressure applied, kind of strikes me as pretty dishonest.

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Section 2 contains statements from rabbis apparently saying that anyone who doesn’t wear a facemask in public is a murderer.

We’ll park that side of the argument, for now, as unpicking it will first depend on understanding the science and the facts about whether facemasks are a) effective at stopping viruses from spreading and b) whether wearing facemasks long-term can harm your health.

If a medical doctor tells a rabbi ‘yes and no’ to the above points, they will get one response. And if they tell the doctor ‘no and yes’, then they will get another, probably totally different, response. So, having accurate information is a crucial part of our rabbis being able to make the correct psak din about these issues.

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So, back to the Facebook videos. One you can see here:

It shows a person in blue scrubs with a stethoscope around their neck and an oximeter on their finger. The AI-supplied voiceover tells us that this is a doctor, who is so sick of his patients asking him if wearing facemasks all day is safe, he’s decided to measure his blood oxygen while putting on 6 masks at once. (See screenshot, below:)

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There’s a few things ‘wrong’ with this video, in order:

  1. There is absolutely no identifying information for who this guy really is. What’s his name? What’s his position? What hospital does he work at? If you’re going to go to the trouble of doing this at all, why do it anonymously?
  2. The guy is wearing an awful lot of ‘germ trap’ hippy bracelets, in direct contravention of NHS hospital guidelines. You can read those guidelines for yourself HERE, and here’s a screenshot of the relevant part:

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3. The video was put out by Storyful.

Storyful is a social media agency whose listed clients include Google and Facebook. Storyful was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp back in 2013. When they bought Storyful, this is how News Corp described the motivation behind the purchase:

[Storyful has] become the village square for valuable video, using journalistic sensibility, integrity and creativity to find, authenticate and commercialise user-generated content”, and that with the purchase, News Corp would “define the opportunities that the digital landscape presents, rather than simply adapt to them”.

In plain English, that means that News Corp decided to buy Storyfulu so they could start manipulating social media to tell the stories they wanted to tell, instead of simply ‘reacting’ to the stories real people were telling.

4. Can anyone really claim that taking less than a minute to put on 6 facemasks while measuring ‘blood oxygen levels’ proves anything? You can hold your breath for a minute, and still retain full consciousness. Once we’re done debunking this stuff, I’ll have some more real scientific studies for you at the end of the post, with real findings about what facemasks do to people who wear them for 8 hour days at work, or in the heat.

Hold on.

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Because before we get to that, I have to (unfortunately….) deal with the second video my friend sent me, another social media spec-tac-u-lar event.

You can see it for yourself, here (shmirat eynayim friendly):

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Me being me, I went to check out who Dr Josh Wolrich actually is.

It’s probably easiest if I just replicate the email I just sent to him, below, with some screenshots to illustrate:

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Hi Josh,
A friend of mine sent me your post about facemasks.
I’m an investigative journalist (yes, they still exist…) so naturally, I went to check out your credentials, and also your education history, so I could evaluate your expertise in making the statements you’re making about masks.
I’ve hit a few anomalies, and I’d like you to please help clear them up for me.
1) There are currently 6 different profiles for you on Linked In (see screenshot), all listing you as working at a different hospital, in a different position. Can you please explain what’s going on with that?
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2) I’m puzzled how you can be working as a General Surgeon, when according to the NHS guidelines, you need the following qualifications in order to do that:

Essential qualifications

  • A five-year degree in medicine, recognised by the General Medical Council (GMC)

  • A two-year foundation course of general training (a paid position)

  • Core surgical training in a hospital (a paid position lasting two years)

  • Specialty training (a paid position lasting up to six years)

Your Linked In profile shows that you have the first two criteria, but left 7 months in to your Clinical Fellowship at Chelsea and Westminster, so you didn’t appear to complete criteria 3, and of course, have no specialty training.
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3) Lastly, what hospital are you currently working at, and what is your position there?

I’d be very grateful for your prompt response to this, as I am currently working on a story and I want to ensure I have all the facts correct, before potentially misleading the public about such an important issue.
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I’ll let you know as soon as he comes back to me….

In the meantime, Dr Wolrich has a grand total of three people endorsing him for his medical skills on Linked In, one of whom is an account manager at Fanbytes, another social media marketing company:

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The last thing to tell you about Dr Joshua Wolrich is that he is quite the social influencer…..

He’s such a ‘social influencer’, that he’s even on the books of a 84 World, a talent and entertainment agency:

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And here’s an excerpt of Dr Josh’s bio, on the 84 World website:

Having grown up with a love of amateur dramatics, Joshua is no stranger to public speaking. He has given talks to secondary schools, medical students and also regularly gives presentations to his peers in the hospital environment.
In order to spread his message even further, Joshua has recently turned his talents to podcasting. A big proponent of staying in his lane, he collaborated with a nutritionist colleague to start “Cut Through Nutrition” in order to address nutrition misinformation. The first season, comprising of six episodes, currently has over 115k downloads. After that resounding proof of concept, further seasons and additional podcasts are in the works.
There are very few full-time doctors on social media doing quite as much as Joshua is. If his engagement rates and current growth is anything to go by, look out for a foray into traditional media soon.
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Well, now his rant about facemasks went viral, with over half a million views, that ‘foray into traditional media’ is probably looming much nearer than previously….

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And now, for some more hard science about facemasks, from real doctors who aren’t moonlighting as social media influencers with a weight loss program they are trying to flog.

This is an excellent, balanced article about facemasks from Dr Joseph Mercola:
And here’s Dr Mercola interviewing PhD Denis Rancourt, who went through all the peer-reviewed scientific papers on the effectiveness and risks of face masks, and discovered that no trials ‘found a statistically significant advantage’ in wearing a mask, vs not wearing a mask.
I.e., even surgical masks don’t block virus particles, because most of the air you breathe when wearing a mask is coming in over the top of it and around the sides of it.
(Again, you have to click to view this, as youtube is deliberately making this as ‘unshareable’ as possible.)
If you prefer a written transcript, you can download that HERE.
Here’s an excerpt:
Denis Rancourt:
Out of all of the many trials that were done, none found that there was a statistically significant advantage for this application to wearing a mask versus not wearing a mask. And likewise, there was no detectable difference between respirators and surgical masks.
So that to me was a clear sign that the science was telling us that they could not detect a positive utility of masks in this
application.
And so we’re talking many really quality trials. And so what this means, this is very important, because what it means is that if there was any significant advantage to wearing a mask to reduce this risk, then you would have detected that in at least one of these trials, and there’s no sign of it.
Denis Rancourt:
So that, to me, is a firm scientific conclusion, there is no evidence that masks are of any utility either preventing the aerosol particles from coming out or from going in.
You’re not helping the people around you by wearing a mask, and you’re not helping yourself preventing the disease by wearing a mask.
This science is unambiguous in that such an effect, positive effect cannot be detected.
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And let’s end with a story, and a suggestion.

The story:
My friend lives on a quiet moshav in the south of Israel. This morning, she was stopped by a policeman while she was walking around pushing her small toddler son. As a busy mother of 5, this is my friend’s only form of ‘exercise’.
The law states that when you exercise, you don’t need to wear a mask.
The policeman pulled her over, and they got into a heated argument because the cop claimed that because my friend wasn’t wearing hot pink spandex, wasn’t running, and was walking while pushing her child in the stroller, it didn’t count as ‘exercise’ as she should get a fine.
In the end, she just got a stern warning – but her blood was boiling so much afterwards at how ‘unfair’ and totally farcical all this is, that she had to call me to share.
Rivka, I thought you were joking when you were telling those stories of the cops stopping you a few months back. I couldn’t believe it was happening in my yishuv, that it’s spread to here now.

Welcome to the police state, that’s so beyond parody I feel I am living in a epic full-length Monty Python movie.

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And now, the suggestion.
If you want to have a mask that won’t get you fined, but still lets you breathe, try this:
Cut out the white gauze ‘padding’, and just leave the blue layer.
I did this for my kid and myself this morning, and it’s amazing – we can breathe almost totally normally, even with it over the noise, and the fuzz can’t fine us a cent, because it’s still ticking their stupid boxes for what a facemask should look like.
Genius.

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UPDATE:

Here’s another article looking at the science behind facemask use:

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