Masks for Children? YOUTUBE Censors, again.

Its simply bewildering why YouTube would censor any of this stuff. mrossol


I attended a public-policy roundtable hosted by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last month. The point was to discuss the state’s Covid policies in the months ahead. That 600,000 Americans have died with Covid-19 is evidence that the lockdowns over the past year, including significant restrictions on the lives of children, haven’t worked. Florida reopened in May and declined to shut down again. Yet age-adjusted mortality is lower in Florida than in locked-down California, and Florida’s public schools are almost all open, while California’s aren’t.

My fellow panelists—Sunetra Gupta of Oxford, Martin Kulldorff of Harvard and Scott Atlas of Stanford—and I discussed a variety of topics. One was the wisdom of requiring children to wear masks. The press asked questions, and a video of the event was posted on YouTube by local media, including Tampa’s WTSP.

But last week YouTube removed a recording of this routine policy discussion from its website. The company claimed my fellow panel members and I were trafficking in misinformation. The company said it removed the video “because it included content that contradicts the consensus of local and global health authorities regarding the efficacy of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Yet the panelists are all experts, and all spoke against requiring children to wear masks. I can’t speak for my counterparts, but my reasoning was a cost-benefit analysis. The benefits of masking children are small to none; the costs are much higher.

The scientific evidence is clear. Consider a study from Iceland conducted early in the epidemic when masking was uncommon. The study used a representative sample to track the source of Covid infections. The authors used contact-tracing methods paired with genetic sequencing analysis to establish precisely how the disease spread. The senior author of the study, Kari Stefansson, later told reporters that “even if children do get infected, they are less likely to transmit the disease to others than adults. We have not found a single instance of a child infecting parents.” Many studies in the scientific literature reach a similar conclusion: Even unmasked children pose less of a risk for disease spread than adults.


Consider also data from Sweden, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in February. Swedish primary schools have been open for in-person instruction throughout the epidemic, no masks required, even when cases were increasing. Of more than 1.8 million children in school in spring 2020 ages 1 through 15, not one died from Covid-19. This study also showed that teachers were at low risk for Covid; they contracted the disease at rates lower than the average of other Swedish essential workers.

But the evidence is overwhelming that masking can harm children’s developmental progress. Look at the World Health Organization’s guidance document on child masking, which says that up to age 5 masking children may harm the achievement of childhood developmental milestones. For children between 6 and 11, the same document says that mask guidance should consider the “potential impact of mask-wearing on learning and psychosocial development.” The WHO explicitly recommends against masks during exercise because masks make breathing more difficult.

The WHO recommends against masking children 5 and under and only tepidly recommends masking children between 6 and 11. My reading of the same evidence comes down definitively against masking children up to 11. My colleagues in the Florida roundtable agreed; so do many other doctors, scientists and epidemiologists. This sort of disagreement based on the weight of evidence is common in scientific policy; I place an enormous value on children flourishing.

As an expert providing advice on a complex topic, I believe I did my job responsibly to the best of my ability. By holding the hearing in front of reporters and posting the proceedings on the web, Gov. DeSantis fulfilled his duty to make the public privy to some of the advice that may enter his decision-making. This is good government.

YouTube’s action violates basic standards of scientific conduct. The company labeled our discussion on masking children as “misinformation” without providing any detail about its scientific reasoning. If YouTube wants to argue that we were wrong, it has an obligation to show its evidence.


Even worse, YouTube’s censorship runs contrary to American norms of free expression. It serves only to blind the public on a topic of intense interest; Americans have a right to know the contours of the Covid-19 debate. YouTube may have a legal right to censor a public hearing featuring the Florida governor. But companies with such tremendous power over the flow of information should adopt more responsible editorial standards in its censorship decisions. Or better, not censor at all.

Dr. Bhattacharya, a physician and economist, is a professor at Stanford Medical School.


Climate Media vs. Climate Science

WSJ  4/12/2021   By  Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.

A coal-fired power plant in Glenrock, Wyo., July 27, 2018.


Joe Biden has put a presidential imprimatur on climate change being an existential threat, and he doesn’t mean in the Jean-Paul Sartre sense of man’s search for meaning in an uncomforting universe.

He means the end of humanity, a claim nowhere found in climate science.

This is odd because the real news today is elsewhere. Its movement may be ocean-liner-like, the news may be five years old before the New York Times notices it, but the climate community has been backing away from a worst-case scenario peddled to the public for years as “business as usual.”

A drumroll moment was Zeke Hausfather and Glen Peter’s 2020 article in the journal Nature partly headlined: “Stop using the worst-case scenario for climate warming as the most likely outcome.”

This followed the 2017 paper by Justin Ritchie and Hadi Dowlatabadi asking why climate scenarios posit implausible increases in coal burning a century from now. And I could go on. Roger Pielke Jr. and colleagues show how the RCP 8.5 scenario was born to give modelers a high-emissions scenario to play with, and how it came to be embraced despite being at odds with every real-world indicator concerning the expected course of future emissions.

In a simple model of the world, authority figures say absurd and false things, and the media calls them out. The reverse happened this time, with the climate crowd reacting to the media’s botched coverage of the Fourth National Climate Assessment in 2018, itself a strained compilation of extreme worst-case scenarios that still couldn’t deliver the desired global meltdown.

Even David Wallace-Wells, the author of 2019’s climate-crisis book “The Uninhabitable Earth,” was moved to call on fellow activists to revise their advocacy “in a less alarmist direction.”

To this day, the print edition of the New York Times has never mentioned RCP 8.5, the unsupported emissions scenario on which so many of its climate jeremiads rest.

The Washington Post has used it twice, once to say it portended a climate disaster and more recently to suggest its falling out of favor didn’t mean the climate wasn’t headed for disaster.

How did we get from reality to Greta Thunberg, Joe Biden and a Bloomberg columnist who says Exxon “threatens the continuation of human life on earth”? Decades ago, casual theorizing suggested global warming might cause the oceans to stop circulating and North America to freeze over, giving rise to the 2004 cinematic and scientific disaster of a movie known as “The Day After Tomorrow.”

Al Gore touted the same scenario but later dropped it, and climate catastrophism has had to survive ever since without scientific underpinning.

The strain of holding realism at bay is starting to tell. John Kerry, the new climate czar, recently blurted out that the Biden green agenda will have no effect on climate unless countries like China and India join, which they already declared they won’t.

A bigger moment of truth will come with a book by Steven Koonin, a theoretical physicist and chief scientist of the Obama Energy Department, demonstrating what the science—the plain, recognized, consensus science—says about climate change: It won’t be catastrophic. It’s unlikely to be influenced in a major way by policy actions. The costs will be large in relation to everything except the future, richer economy that will easily pay for them.


Let’s turn to a nearby letter from Tom Gjelten that breezes past the substance of his own NPR report as well as my criticism of it: his failure to tell listeners that 40% of U.S. refugee slots in 2020 went unclaimed because of the pandemic. Mr. Gjelten’s real focus is to defend a bureaucratic trope. His “refugees” are people under the care of friendly governments and aid groups whom the U.S. agrees to resettle, when the vast majority who seek succor in the U.S. nowadays are those he calls “asylees,” tens of thousands fleeing violence in our own hemisphere who show up directly at our border with only the U.S. accepting any responsibility for them.

His pet refugee program, known as USRAP, admitted just 801 people in 2019 from all of South and Central America, when more than 250,000 were known to have fled Honduras alone. It boggles Mr. Gjelten’s bureaucratic sense of propriety that I use the term refugees for people who are, you know, refugees. And the parody continues: Catherine Rampell, in the Washington Post, now accuses Mr. Biden of being the “most anti-refugee president in history” even as he adds to a 600,000-plus backlog of people admitted while their claims of persecution are being vetted.

There are terms that apply—reification fallacy, equivocation fallacy—for a journalism that loses sight of the world and plain meanings in its quest to situate itself among prefab talking points. Let this process run away with itself, and that’s how you get a climate journalism more founded in fantasy than in science, with Joe Biden feeling the need to blather about the end of the world.


Prince Philip Is Gone, Just When America Needs Him Most

And I, by golly, agree. mrossol

WSJ 4/13/21   By   Gerard Baker

Prince Philip at a visit with the King and Queen of Spain in London, July 14, 2017.


How does England’s monarch spend Independence Day? I had the privilege some years ago to be invited to a July 4 dinner at the American ambassador’s residence in London. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were the guests of honor, there presumably to bear witness that, after a couple of centuries, the unfortunate business over the repeated injuries and usurpations inflicted by one of her ancestors had been quietly forgotten.

The ambassador rose to give the not-so-loyal toast.

He began with the inevitable nod to the two nations’ divergent histories, noting that some time earlier, in their great wisdom, his compatriots had decided to go it alone.

“Oh yes!” cried the prince from a sedentary position, fortified, no doubt, by a couple of glasses of the embassy’s very good wine. “And how’s that working out for you?”

It was a good question then, and it’s more apt than ever now given America’s current predicament. The people that once boldly threw off the tyranny of a distant monarch now seem to be meekly submitting to the diktats of a regnant class and ideology that tolerate less independence of thought and action than King George III did.

The prince’s death last week, two months short of his centenary, presents a timely paradox for the modern United States. Forgive me for saying so to this staunchly republican nation, but what America desperately needs these days is a Prince Philip.

Not, I hasten to add, the sonorous titles, the silly costumes or the hereditary rule—though the U.S. probably now has more of a functioning nepotistic aristocracy than Britain does.

Nor, on this occasion, do I mean the spirit of service and duty he personified for seven decades as the (mostly) uncomplaining loyal lieutenant—though we could surely use more of that in the public life of the nation.


If the American vice presidency isn’t worth a pitcher of warm spit, in a gentle paraphrase of one of its more self-aware incumbents, imagine being the semi-invisible second-in-command to a ceremonial leader whose principal daily responsibilities involve opening schools and smiling politely as some behatted guest fumbles with the sandwiches at a garden party. Then imagine doing it every day, not for four years or eight, but for 69.


The Prince Philip America needs is the man who was completely unafraid to say the unsayable.

As the prince did at that dinner, he had an unerring capacity to ask awkward questions, speak inconvenient truths and challenge polite orthodoxies.

When we are obligated to toe an increasingly stultifying conventional line, the queen’s consort was the human antidote to the virus of verbal oppression that has us in a death grip. You’d search a very long time to find a less woke individual than the duke of Edinburgh.

“It looks like the kind of thing my daughter would bring back from her school art lessons,” he said once, on being shown some indescribable work of primitive Ethiopian art.

“That’s about the right number,” he told an interlocutor, who had explained that the Parliament of some foreign country he was visiting had only 200 members. “We have 650 and most of them are a complete bloody waste of time.”

Or how about just, “Ghastly”—his reply when asked what he’d made of his first visit to Beijing, in 1986.

It’s easy to portray the late duke as a human gaffe machine; an old buffoon mouthing the prejudices of a colonial age from the comfort of a gilded sofa.

But he wasn’t some clownish figure constantly saying rude things about foreigners and socialists. He was acutely conscious of his role as an iconoclast cheerfully smashing the revered verities of progressive modernity.

“Fashion is not restricted to clothes, and when ideas become fashionable they are just as resistant to objective criticism as the length of skirts,” he told the (unfashionably Thatcherite) Institute of Economic Affairs in the early 1980s. “That is why all economic ideas need to be freely discussed and judged against the facts of real life.’ ”

He could be offensive, of course. If the fragile little adolescent minds that now control most of our media and cultural institutions are “triggered” by an ugly word, God knows what they would make of an outspoken’ duke’s taxonomy.


But he understood well something we have lost—that being offended is part of life.

Fortunately for him, as the monarch’s husband, there was no canceling Philip.

At least not in the modern sense. As a proper European aristocrat, he knew there are worse things that can happen to you than having to listen to something you don’t want to hear. “I would very much like to go to Russia,” he said at the height of the Cold War, “although the bastards murdered half my family.”


I'm serious… usually. (Martin Rossol)