The Shocking Truth About Facemasks

THE coronavirus menaces yet.

Maybe you believe a face shield is your sword, a colossal weapon against the microscopic barbarians at your gate.

Our agents inform us you can purchase a face shield for perhaps $10.

But let us suppose you perch upon the upper rungs of America’s social ladder.

Let us further suppose you wish to be seen upon this ladder, high aloft… all beneath looking up in heart-eating envy.

Well then, we have the personal protection equipment for you…

The Price of Vanity

A Louis Vuitton face shield you can have for $961 — some $950 above standard.


Is this viral barrier $950 superior to the plebian plastic that shields the lower 99%?

Our men have conducted a thorough scientific inquiry — in studies singly blind, doubly blind and triply blind.

As a barrier, they conclude, Louis Vuitton’s face shield is the precise equal of the socially inferior issue.

Yet the socially inferior issue does not bear the razzle-dazzle of Louis Vuitton.

“We are all in this together,” we are told. Yet even together… apparently… some insist upon standing apart.

Vanity, Louis Vuitton is thy name.

If You Must Settle

Perhaps a $961 plastic yet golden face cover is beyond your means.

You nonetheless aspire to radiate a superior air to the lessers around you.

May we then suggest a leather Louis Vuitton face mask?

The unwashed hordes may go about in their ten cent surgical masks. But you can advertise your aristocracy for a mere $50.


Gucci, meantime, will sell you similar “luxury masks.”

You may have difficulty breathing while wearing one. You nonetheless wallow in luxury, in opulence.

But are masks and shields — Louis Vuitton, Gucci, or Acme — effective barriers at all?

They are not, concludes physicist Denis Rancourt. This fellow is a learned master of “environmental nanoparticles.”

A Maginot Line

A facial covering is — he concludes — a Maginot Line of sorts.

It is no more effective at keeping out viruses than France’s Maginot Line was at keeping out Germans.

Both are easily outflanked.

As well erect a chain link fence to keep the flies out. Rancourt:

When I looked at all the randomized controlled trials with verified outcome, meaning you actually measure whether or not the person was infected … NONE of these well-designed studies … found there was a statistically significant advantage of wearing a mask versus not wearing a mask…

What this means — and this is very important — is that if there was any significant advantage to wearing a mask to reduce this [infection] risk, then you would have detected that in at least one of these trials, [yet] there’s no sign of it.

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 a positive effect cannot be detected.

Wearing a mask or being in an environment where masks are being worn or not worn, there’s no difference in terms of your risk of being infected by the viral respiratory disease.

There’s no reduction, period. There are no exceptions. All the studies that have been tabulated, looked at, published, I was not able to find any exceptions, if you constrain yourself to verified outcomes.

Yet we are ordered to seal our facial orifices in public venues indoors and out. All — evidently — to very little effect.

Why, Dr. Rancourt, are masks such hopeless sieves?

Aerosol Particles

We’re talking about the small size fraction of aerosols, so typically smaller than 2 micrometers… When you get down to those sizes, gravitational outtake is very inefficient and they basically stay in suspension. And, as soon as you have currents or flow of air, [the particles] are carried…

These aerosol particles that are the vector of transmission are completely suspended as part of the fluid air. They’re really part of the fluid air, so any air that gets through, [the viral particles are also] going to come through. That’s why masks don’t work…

Those fine aerosol particles will follow the fluid air. In a surgical mask, there is no way you’re blocking the fluid air…

In other words, very little of the airflow is going to be through the actual mask.

But masks block saliva. Saliva houses the virus. Is it then not sound to sport masks and don shields to keep saliva in?

No, argues Dr. Rancourt. That is because the virus is transmitted in the fluid air of which he writes — not through saliva:

The mask is only designed and intended to stop your spitballs from coming out and hitting someone… The large droplets drop to the floor immediately and are not breathed in. So, they’re not part of the transmission mechanism. You can do a scientific study that demonstrates that viruses survive a fairly long time on a surface…

That does not mean that transmission occurs through surfaces. It only means that a scientist was able to establish that a virus can survive a long time on a surface. It doesn’t tell you anything about the likely transmission mechanism of the disease. So, there are a lot of studies like this that are basically irrelevant in terms of transmission mechanism.

[Infectious respiratory diseases] are transmitted by these fine aerosol particles that are in suspension in the air. In a case like that, will a mask, will something that is preventing spitballs from coming out, protect you or protect others? And the answer is no, it makes no measurable difference.

Please, doctor, continue:

There are many studies that show how difficult it is to actually infect someone when you’re just trying to put something like a fluid or something you know is bearing the virus into their eye or into their nose. It’s hard to do this. That’s what the studies show.

But if you take a fine aerosol and you breathe it in deeply, that’s where the infection starts… So, by breathing in aerosols laden with these viruses, you’re going to be infected. Try to do anything else, and it’s going to be difficult [to spread infection].

In conclusion:

The most recent randomized controlled trial [published] this year basically concluded they could find no evidence that masks, hand-washing and distancing, in terms of reducing the risk of these types of diseases, were of any use. [They] didn’t help.

Thus the good Dr. Rancourt blasts the bedrock upon which public policy rests.

Yet the hocus-pocus of mask-wearing is mighty in the land. And the masked are horrified into white hot rages should you appear among them unmasked.

Can we guarantee Rancourt’s claims? We cannot. We are not a scientist.

Yet we have seen similar evidence elsewhere.

More importantly, they confirm our biases. They slant the way we lean…

And a fellow leans this way or that way in life, forever foraging for facts that fit his precious theories, forever picking cherries.

We are by nature skeptical of official policies — they are generally anchored in error, bankrupt.

These findings affirm our deep-dyed skepticism.

They soothe us. They massage our scalp… and caress our gills.


Must we endure the futility of slipping on personal protection equipment before entering stores?

Alas, we must. Yet we are consoled by this capital fact:

It affords us the chance to display our plumage, to strut, to showboat our popinjay superiority, to be a big deal in this world.

And it only costs $961, payable to Louis Vuitton — a bargain at thrice the price.


Brian Maher

Brian Maher
Managing Editor, The Daily Reckoning

The Daily Reckoning