To mask or not to mask

I’m not sure what the question really is. I had to listen to someone while working the other day explaining that masks are just encouraging us to breathe in our own carbon dioxide, killing our brain cells.

Now, that’s a lot to deconstruct. First, masks really catch respiratory droplets.

One category of evidence comes from laboratory studies of respiratory droplets and the ability of various masks to block them. An experiment using high-speed video found that hundreds of droplets ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers were generated when saying a simple phrase, but that nearly all these droplets were blocked when the mouth was covered by a damp washcloth. Another study of people who had influenza or the common cold found that wearing a surgical mask significantly reduced the amount of these respiratory viruses emitted in droplets and aerosols.”

Second, will wearing a mask kill brain cells?

COVID-19 can kill. Now, according to a misguided Internet-fueled theory, masks can kill, too.

All it takes is a mask-wearer who inhales freshly exhaled carbon dioxide repeatedly until dizzy, unconscious or dead. That, no doubt, would be a shocking development. In the real world, the average mask user without preexisting respiratory illness has nothing to worry about — except COVID-19.

Only an airtight mask could possibly cause any breathing difficulty. That eliminates cloth masks, the preferred personal protective equipment in public. It actually eliminates N95 respirators, too, usually reserved for healthcare professionals. They fit tighter than a cloth mask but still not tight enough on the face to kill. Surgeons wear even more substantial face coverings all day without endangering their health.”

And finally, what does it mean for people to think that conspiracy theories are gospel truth? How can we fix that issue? How can we be more intelligent, more diligent about how we access truths in the world?

At the end of the day, it comes down to thinking – to using those self-same brain cells in an effective way.

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