Critical thinking skills are important, as Ann-Marie Swanson argued in her May 29 letter to the editor. However, critical thinking skills are effective only if they’re actually used.
For example, Ms. Swanson cited an interview with Dr. Fauci concerning the use of face masks.
In the URL for that interview, a critical thinker would have noticed that this interview was conducted on March 8.
At that point, the CDC was recommending conserving face masks, which were in short supply, for health care workers and those who had COVID-19 and were showing symptoms. So, Fauci’s answer was in line with CDC recommendations at that time.
By early April, the CDC had updated its advice on mask-wearing based on new scientific findings about how the virus spreads. In an April 3, 2020 PBS News Hour interview, Dr. Fauci revised his face mask recommendation based on “more and more accumulation of data [which] indicate that people who are without symptoms at all can transmit the virus, but importantly, they can do it merely by speaking.”
A critical thinker would also have recognized that the “scroll.in” link was irrelevant to the current “controversy” about wearing face masks. The linked article was published in 2017, long before the novel coronavirus emerged.
A critical thinker would recognize that the headline of the “www.news-medical” article is misleading.
The expert quoted in the article was Dr. Jenny Harries, England’s deputy chief medical officer. She didn’t say that mask wearing increases the risk of infection, full stop, as the headline implies. Instead, Dr. Harries expressed concerns about people who don’t use masks safely. She stated, “What tends to happen is people will have one mask. They won’t wear it all the time, they will take it off when they get home, they will put it down on a surface they haven’t cleaned.”
And she added that people increase their risk of infection when they “go out and don’t wash their hands, they touch parts of the mask or their face, and they get infected.”
Ms. Swanson urged us to ask “questions about vaccines, their content, side effects, and efficacy.” A good idea. Scientific researchers will surely be asking these questions as they work to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. But, as we all know, such a vaccine does not yet exist.
I also believe it’s worth it to question claims about our loss of “freedoms and rights” as Ms. Swanson does. How does trying to protect others from disease diminish our freedom? What “constitutional right” do we have to put others at risk?
No one has a “right” to endanger others in the midst of a pandemic just as no one has a “right” to place a knee on another human being’s neck—a person gasping for air—until they’re dead. It’s all of a piece for me.
North East resident