USA Today < US Weekly

USA Today’s Rick Rouan Hypes Masks, Misunderstands Science

  • Religious faith in masks overrides scientific process, dissenting views and alternative explanations
  • Scientific consensus of the liberal media on masking ignores all contrary data
  • Rouan cites mostly fake and unrelated experts to make his claim
  • In order to rate false any claims about negative side effects of mask-wearing, Rouan ignores contrary studies

OUR RATING = #FakeNews. This is what you’d expect on CNN playing to an empty airport.

Indicted Outlet: Rick Rouan | USA Today | Link | Archive

In this USA Today fact check, the author works to eliminate any data contrary to the perfect effectiveness of masks. “Face masks in the COVID-19 era: A health hypothesis,” was a study by Dr. Baruch Vainshelboim that was published in the January issue of the journal Medical Hypotheses, but eventually retracted. [1] Rick Rouan promotes a partisan and unbalanced view to debunk this study and quell any fears about mask effectiveness. Rouan also nitpicks in order to smear Gateway Pundit. 

Major Violations:

  • Nitpicking
  • Partisan
  • Unbalanced

This USA Today fact check seeks to silence dissent by nitpicking in order to prove “[the] claim that a study linked to Stanford University showed masks are harmful and ineffective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 is FALSE, based on our research.”

Rouan takes issue with the Gateway Pundit’s post on April 19 calling a study on the effectiveness of masks a Stanford study. Rouan writes:

“Stanford University said the author of the article is not affiliated with the university…As of Friday, the far-right website The Gateway Pundit’s April 19 post still attributed it to Stanford.” 

However, the updated version of the Gateway Pundit includes this addendum [2]: 

“We reported this study was related to Stanford University based upon the author’s bio in the report (Cardiology Division, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System/Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, United States). However, Stanford University now claims that Dr. Baruch Vainshelboim was not connected with the University at the time of this study.” 

The post then includes a tweet from Stanford that essentially disavows the study and researcher [3]. Since Stanford issued this kind of statement, the Pundit made an amendment to the story. However, to relate the report to Stanford is reasonable since Vainshelboim was listing himself as a graduate of their program. Furthermore, the Stanford Daily reports [4]:

“the study’s author, Baruch Vainshelboim, had submitted the article with the Stanford Medicine affiliation, which inaccurately describes him as an affiliate of the Cardiology Division of the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University…Vainshelboim was a postdoctoral research assistant in a VA Palo Alto-affiliated research lab for a year-long period ending in September 2016.” 

So, the Pundit did not intentionally “misattribute” the study. It was only once the findings of the study became contrary to the leftist agenda that Stanford and other media outlets began the hunt. This is why Rouan goes on to “debunk” the claim that masks are ineffective and smear the journal that published the study 

The journal, Rouan reports, “publishes ‘fringe science and hypotheses,’” according to David Gorski, a surgical oncologist. But this paints the “anti-mask” crowd as being anti-science, when in reality, science as a discipline is suffering a replication crisis. 

A survey of 1,500 scientists found that “More than 70% of researchers have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments.” [5]

According to one analysis in 2005 by John P. A. Ioannidis [6]: 

“Published research findings are sometimes refuted by subsequent evidence, with ensuing confusion and disappointment. Refutation and controversy is seen across the range of research designs, from clinical trials and traditional epidemiological studies to the most modern molecular research.”

The ongoing crisis of fraudulent or unserious scientific papers does not mean that doubts about mask effectiveness are fringe. Perhaps the only way the study could make it online at all is by being published in a fringe journal. Discrediting the publisher doesn’t make this an incorrect theory. 

So, is it possible that masks potentially pose negative health effects? 

Rouan writes:

“Claims about oxygen deprivation and other harmful health effects from wearing masks also have been debunked.” 

He cites one professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech who says the masks can’t block oxygen or carbon dioxide. Not exactly a scientific consensus. 

One paper titled, “Is a Mask That Covers the Mouth and Nose Free from Undesirable Side Effects in Everyday Use and Free of Potential Hazards?”, referenced 44 experimental studies and found 65 publications to determine if masks caused adverse side effects. Here is a preview of the side effects they documented [7]: 

“lowered O2, uppered CO2, increased humidity and temp, increased breathing resistance, increased respiratory rate, increased blood pressure, cerebral vasodilation, increased heart rate, respiratory impairment, exhaustion and fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, psycho-vegetative effect, decrease in empathy, itch, skin irritation, acne, rhinitis, voice disorder, false sense of security, bacterial contamination, fungal contamination, and viral contamination.”

According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published Sept. 11, 85% of COVID-19 patients report having worn a mask “always” or “often” [8]. The study also found that “In the 14 days before illness onset, 71% of case-patients and 74% of control-participants reported always using cloth face coverings or other mask types when in public” [9].  

A report from the National Academies of Sciences published April 8 said there is not enough evidence to say by what percentage masks prevent coronavirus [10]. 

A study from the Technical University of Munich shows that mask wearing can increase rebreathing of expelled carbon dioxide and significantly increase respiration, respiratory rate, and hyperventilation, while also increasing heart rate and carbon dioxide in the blood [11]. 

One study showed that even where mask mandates have been put in place, cases of the virus have not decreased, but have actually increased [12]. Daily cases in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura counties either continued to increase or spiked after mask mandates were put into place in all four counties. The highest spike for Los Angeles County occurred more than a month after a mask mandate was put in place. 

Rouan effectively denies the active and organic process of the scientific method. Instead, he opts for propaganda by denying the legitimacy of opposing viewpoints. One study titled: “Viral Visualizations: How Coronavirus Skeptics Use Orthodox Data Practices to Promote Unorthodox Science Online” sheds light on the basis for fundamental differences on issues like mask- wearing [13]: 

“This study shows that there is a fundamental epistemological conflict between maskers and anti-maskers, who use the same data but come to such different conclusions…In other words, anti-maskers value unmediated access to information and privilege personal research and direct reading over ‘expert’ interpretations.” 

So, there is certainly contrary evidence that casts doubt upon the effectiveness of masks. Instead of presenting both sides of the argument, Rouan reveals his bias and goes all in on mask wearing. This is not the job of a fact-checker. 

OUR RATING = #FakeNews. This is what you’d expect on CNN playing to an empty airport.















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