Dangerous Rituals: Face Masks – More Harm Than Good

This is a slightly modified version of an article that first appeared in Nexus magazine and the accompanying text to my contribution at the “Long Night of Masks”, the MWGFD Mask Symposium

Face masks are nocebos

Face masks are extremely powerful, ubiquitous nocebos. Nocebos are psychological stimuli that cause harm via psychological, neurological or immunological processes.

Face masks, in fact, trigger fear. This is because their presence is coupled with the message: “A powerful killer virus threatens us always and everywhere! We must all protect ourselves!” This message is a message of fear. For the very first public-media response to the pandemic was to spread fear [1]. Once fear is firmly installed, it is very quickly evoked again and again. The face masks are a visible symbol of the pandemic and psychologically conditioned stimuli that induce fear. And they do so extremely quickly and without our being able to resist them – because the emotional evaluation of sensory stimuli always occurs temporally before the conscious semantic analysis. This is because all sensory channels have an anatomically direct pathway to the amygdalae (sing. Amygdala), the small paired brain centres in the diencephalon responsible for threat evaluation. When “threat” is registered there, the entire mental apparatus is primed to perceive, act and explore behavioural alternatives accordingly. Worse still, involuntary physiology, autonomic processes such as blood pressure regulation, heartbeat and immune modulation, is also affected accordingly.

How quickly and unconsciously this can happen is shown to us by a now famous psychological experiment conducted some years ago:

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Modelling and Model Building

…using the example of our study: “Identification of different factors associated with Covid-19 deaths in Europe during the first pandemic wave”

A large group of statistical techniques designed to explain past data and also to predict future data is statistical modelling. This means that for a given data set with very different variables, one finds a mathematical structure that represents this data set as well as possible, firstly in a purely formal way. This procedure can be used to examine the influence of different variables on an outcome variable. In the language of modelling, the variable that one wants to explain is the dependent variable or criterion or outcome variable, and the different variables that are supposed to contribute to the clarification of this one variable are several independent variables resp. predictors.

I use our recently published modelling study [1] as a concrete example. It was conceived by me, I calculated the first analyses, then my colleague Rainer J. Klement got involved, who as a physicist is much more nimble in dealing with such models than I am.

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Face Masks Lead to Dangerously High Levels of Carbon Dioxide in Children’s Inhaled Air

The long version of our mask study has been republished

A workshop report and some thoughts on it

Our mask study measured carbon dioxide levels in the inhaled air of 45 children wearing face masks. It found that the inhaled air under children’s face masks contained unacceptably high levels of carbon dioxide, about 1.3% to 1.4% by volume, or 13,000 to 14,000 parts per million. Normal outdoor carbon dioxide levels are 400 ppm or 0.04% by volume. The Federal Environment Agency and various protective regulations have determined that 2,000 ppm or 0.2 vol.-% is the upper limit above which damage to health cannot be ruled out. For children, such high values, as we measured after only 3 minutes, are absolutely unacceptable. Especially against the background that children are neither at high risk of corona infections and Sars-CoV2 nor are they important spreaders of infections.

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Risk-Benefit Ratio of Covid-19 Vaccination

Thoughts on Easter, the risk-benefit ratio of Covid-19 vaccination and key sources of information

No matter how you feel about Easter, whether you actively celebrate it as a Christian, with nostalgic memories of hunting for Easter eggs as a child, or whether you are a modern, science-oriented person who thinks Easter beliefs are superstitions: It is a holiday and should be celebrated. The arrival of spring was already celebrated in pre-Christian times. Christianity has given these ancient feasts a new face with the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. What was ever truly alive – that is, standing in the fullness of God – does not die. At best, it is transformed. Or rather, it is resurrected into new life. That is Easter, and that is what is to be celebrated.

We have received a small Easter present, I think, in that the German Bundestag has rejected compulsory vaccination by a large majority. You can find out here how the parliamentary groups voted: the majority of SPD and Greens voted in favour of compulsory vaccination, most representatives of CDU, AfD, FDP and Die Linke voted against it. I suggest you write to your MPs, either thanking them, or admonishing and reminding them again. You can filter the results to see the MPs who represent your constituency and how they voted, and then write an email. Maybe our MWGFD action helped; because we sent our exit strategy to all MPs. You can download it there and send it again to the MPs who voted for compulsory vaccination, perhaps with a few more personal words.

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Why Do Germans Get Vaccinated…

…And What Distinguishes those Who Are Willing To Get Vaccinated from Those Who Are Hesitant?

Our representative survey is available

I was interested in why people in Germany get vaccinated, what their most important motives are, and also why people do not get vaccinated. In addition, I am of course interested in the question: what exactly distinguishes these two groups?

For readers in a hurry: The most important reason for getting vaccinated is fear of the Covid-19 disease (for 60%). The second most important reason is the desire to lead a normal life again (for 30%). The most important reason not to be vaccinated is that they did not want to be treated with substances whose long-term effects are unclear (for 40%), and the second most important reason is fear of side effects (for almost 40%). The two groups can be separated very well with a logistic regression model. Those who are willing to be vaccinated differ from the reluctant: they score higher on an “orthodoxy scale” that I developed specifically for such purposes and validated in our immunologist survey. They tend to not read the original scientific literature and rather follow conventional media. This model has a relatively good accuracy and is able to correctly match 78% of people.

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