Well, with evidence like that…

Currently, I’m one of the rare weirdos at my university wearing a mask. I’ll be wearing it when I teach. I’m mystified by the reluctance of administrators to follow simple, painless health rules.

Maybe it’s because so many doctors are saying it’s unnecessary, sort of, like this op-ed from a doctor in the Washington Post. She’s abandoning masking her kids for the strangest reasons.

I accept the risk that my kids will probably contract covid-19 this school year, just as they could contract the flu, respiratory syncytial virus and other contagious diseases. As for most Americans, covid in our family will almost certainly be mild; and, like most Americans, we’ve made the decision that following precautions strict enough to prevent the highly contagious BA.5 will be very challenging. Masking has harmed our son’s language development, and limiting both kids’ extracurriculars and social interactions would negatively affect their childhood and hinder my and my husband’s ability to work.

So no more masks because she is resigned to the fact that her kids will get a potentially debilitating, even deadly disease? Meh, if COVID doesn’t kill them, something else will, so don’t bother protecting them. It’ll be challenging, but not challenging enough to make an effort. Besides, it would mean not turning out for baseball or dance class, and most importantly, might hinder Mom & Dad’s ability to work!

Hint: if that’s what worries you, don’t have kids. That’s what kids do.

But then, I was interested in the one concrete thing she claims: Masking has harmed our son’s language development. It’s got a link that I presumed must point to a study demonstrating that specific problem, but no, it’s a news story about growing calls to take masks off children in school. It’s a collection of anecdotes about anti-masking people complaining about how hard it is to keep a mask on their kids, and claiming, like the doctor above that it is hampering their language or even smothering their empathy. It mentions (but does not cite) one German psychiatrist, Manfred Spitzer, who claims all kinds of deleterious consequences of using a mask, but this is also a guy who argues that children should be banned from having a cell phone until they’re 18. And then, this:

Diane Paul is with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the national professional association representing speech therapists. She says referrals of children to speech therapy have increased since the pandemic began.

But, Paul adds, there are no studies to prove — or disprove — that this is due to masking rather than, as she believes, the lingering effects of remote learning and other factors of the pandemic.

Is it hard to keep a kid masked? Sometimes, no denying it. Does it cause little problems? Sure.

But I will deploy my own anecdote to counter that: my granddaughter, Iliana, has been living under the cloud of the pandemic for practically her entire life. She cheerfully puts on a mask — it’s a fashion accessory, it’s the grown-up thing to do — and toddles off to the store with mom and dad without complaint.

Also, she is extremely vocal and will chatter away non-stop, with no real speech impediment.

Checkmate, anti-maskers. Put the damn thing on and do everything you can to protect your child from disease. Why is that even in question?


  1. billseymour says

    I hardly ever see anyone around where I live wearing a mask in public places like stores.  Yeah, it’s Missouri’s Second Congressional District, but they can’t all be Trumpistas.

    And it’s not just about protecting me from others.  Even more important is that it’s also about protecting others from me.  (I could have an asymptomatic infection that I don’t know about.)  I guess that’s where I differ most from anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers:  it’s not all about me.

  2. divineconspiracy667 says

    Where I live they’re really no longer testing for COVID anymore. But they do announce the numbers of people hospitalized with COVID. They don’t have historical data so I’ve been somewhat successfully tracking the numbers on my own.
    The number of “official” new COVID cases has dropped from over 150 a day back in January to less than 10 a day. Which makes sense because the number of tests has dropped from 300 a day to 20 a day over that same period.
    Interestingly, the number of hospitalizations peaked at 93 back on March 11. It dropped down to 25 hospitalizations on June 30. Shortly after that, masking requirements were dropped. We’re now back up to 72 hospitalizations, proving the pandemic is far from over.
    I haven’t stopped wearing an N95 mask everywhere I go, but I now find that I’m usually the only person masked now when I go to the store. It’s infuriating.

  3. says

    Everyone in my organization is fully vaccinated (Moderna 2vac+2boosters). We will wear KN95 masks for the foreseeable future (maybe until we are all dead, hopefully of old age). Masking is a simple painless means to effectively avoid covid19 which is still KILLING 150,000 a year.

    When I see someone else wearing a mask, I say, “good for you. a mask is a sign of intelligence and responsibility” I almost always get a very warm positive response. And, I thank PZ for his ‘service’ to the safety of himself and those around him by continuing to wear a mask.

    Stay SAFE, people!

  4. says

    Also, regarding Iliana and her fashion accessory. Good for her. I have fun sometimes by drawing a grinning or grimacing face on my mask.

  5. raven says

    Masking has harmed our son’s language development, and limiting both kids’ extracurriculars and social interactions would negatively affect their childhood and hinder my and my husband’s ability to work.

    PZ Myers already said it.

    I don’t believe for one second that, “Masking has harmed our son’s language development,..”.
    Most language development is early, in the first few years of life, when the children are home with mom and dad. And presumably, not wearing a mask.
    There is no reason to think that it would and no data that it does.
    This is a lunatic fringe quality claim. It also destroys her credibility.

    At least in the parts that PZ quotes, there is no mention of the fact that her children and any and all children are…eligible for the Covid-19 virus vaccines!!!
    The vaccines go a long way towards keeping everyone including her kids safe.

  6. eliza422 says

    I just went to a quilting convention in Grand Rapids Michigan, and very few of us were wearing masks. Someone in one of my panels (who was masked) came over to me to tell me she and her friend were mask-shamed at lunch. Unbelievable.
    I’m still going go wear masks for the foreseeable future.
    I have never had COVID as of yet, and I’m trying to keep it that way.

  7. unclefrogy says

    I wear a mask so I won’t get what others may have and so I won’t give others what I have. yes it is a little more complicated but no differente to putting on a rain coat to walk in the rain or an over coat in the snow.
    Well the doctor in the article sure identified what her priorities are. She is a capitalist, her life is about the money and doing the work that provides it.
    That is the way we have accepted to live what can anyone do? no work no money, no profit, no money no debt payments and all the creditors are in the same position. Heaven forbid we make any change to the ever movement of money around for something like health and maybe even survival, No one can even imagine any way to do that! It is unthinkable?

  8. birgerjohansson says

    If we are talking about anecdotal evidence, I have an example that proves it would be safe to drink bleach to cure Covid.
    A very famous prophet (PBUH) was poisoned by some caustic substance after he had conquered an oasis, killed a lot of the men and made the rest slaves. Because if you have killed or enslaved a lot of people it makes sense to let the survivors make you a meal.
    But instead of dying, he went on living.
    For six years. It appears he had some intestinal injuries that kept getting worse. Just before his death he attributed his pending death to the unfortunate event six years earlier.
    However, his followers (who are still around) say that the poisoning failed. *
    And this clearly shows that the worry about consuming caustic substances is utter rubbish!
    * It also shows that the prophet miraculously survived. So do not say anything mean about him. He may have married a girl when she was seven and consunmated the marriage when she was nine, but he was god’s chosen Messenger and that makes everything right.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    I also find a lot of anecdotal evidence that having a crucifix will ward off monsters, but that is another story.

  10. Tethys says

    Yes, I still mask in public spaces, as I don’t want Covid and have family members who are at high risk for death if they contract it.

    I also wear masks frequently at work to protect my lungs from exposure to dust, mold, or various chemicals.

    I’ve never once found them more than an annoyance, mostly because my glasses tend to fall off when I look down.

  11. wzrd1 says

    Saturday, a week ago, I stood up from resting to catch my breath and promptly face planted on the floor for several minutes. Rest assured, this is far from a habit – indeed, it was a first and hopefully last for me.
    Fortunately, it was a harmless result of COVID induced endocarditis and now two leaking heart valves in a fully vaccinated and boosted adult.
    Totally an innocuous infection!
    Why, it’s nearly as harmless as stage 4 cancer.

    As for the quack and her oped, were she my physician, I’d have immediately terminated our medical association.

  12. raven says

    Fortunately, it was a harmless result of COVID induced endocarditis and now two leaking heart valves in a fully vaccinated and boosted adult.

    My old friend had something similar happen.

    He is 80, vaccinated, and caught Covid-19 virus in June. He was sick but not that sick.
    Without the vaccine, he would have most like died. So far so good.

    Shortly after that he came down with shingles.
    Which went for his eyes.
    It turns out that Covid-19 virus infection can reactivate the chickenpox virus.
    After two months of intensive antiviral therapy he is just now able to see again and move around.

  13. says

    From personal observation language development is weird. My son was born into a bilingual household. His live in grandmother could only speak her native language. As a result he is bilingual In fact as a child I was told he spoke his grandmother’s language better than many adults. The one problem was he had a speech defect which was noticeable in his first year at school and saw him referred to a speech pathologist. By the end of his first school year his speech was normal, not due to the pathologist but because of several hours of immersion in a solely English language environment. My grandson is in the same bilingual environment and has the same speech defect. He is starts school next year.

  14. Paul Davidson says

    BA.5 finally caught up with me and my vaccinated family a few weeks ago, and it was not a good time. We spent about 24 hours in active fever management for our two kids, who spiked up to 41°C at times. My ability to taste coffee properly is still slow in returning. I shudder to think of how it would be for unvaccinated people.

  15. silvrhalide says

    @13 I am just getting over Covid 19. Roommate brought it back home. He got sick and a week later I got sick.
    Lost 12 lbs in 9 days. The new variant has some very different symptoms–I didn’t realize I had Covid until Biden got it. Nonstop coughing, nausea & vomiting, which caused some fairly serious dehydration, then spent the next 3 weeks seeing what foods I could still tolerate. (Not many. Fruit, fruit juice, tea and toast for 3 weeks. Not joking.) Never had brain fog, never spiked a fever. But the at home test had the second purple line show up in record time, so there’s no doubt that it was Covid.
    Got both shots and the booster. Don’t like to think about what getting sick with Covid would have been like without the shots.
    And this doctor is okay with her kids getting this thing?!
    I hope the kids stick her in a grade D nursing home when she’s a senior citizen. She will have earned it.
    When her kids are busy puking up their guts, I hope she enjoys cleaning up after them.

    @14 Shingles is no joke either. The Better Half’s brother in law got it, prepandemic. He wore the Ray Charles glasses for 2 years because it went for his eyes too. All my sympathies for your friend.
    Turns out there is also a link between Covid 19 infection and dementia and mental illness.
    ““Abnormal brain imaging has emerged as a major feature of COVID-19 from all parts of the world,” the paper said, adding that brain abnormalities have been observed even in a person whose only symptom was anosmia, or loss of smell.”
    Also, it’s worth noting that the increase is only in Covid 19 survivors who have shown symptoms so far. It will be interesting to see what happens with younger survivors further down the line–will they show earlier and/or more severe cognitive deficits as they age?
    Things to look forward to.

  16. bachfiend says


    I still wonder whether I mightn’t have had COVID-19 last year. I had a second episode of shingles 15 years after the first in the same left T4 distribution. At the time of the first episode, my virologist said that second episodes of shingles could occur, but they were an indication just of living to a very ripe old age.

    I’m planning on living longer than a further 15 years, so I had the vaccine for shingles too.

    Regarding masks – they mightn’t prevent infection, but they’d reduce the viral load inhaled, so it might reduce a mild infection to an asymptomatic one.

  17. torcuato says

    “…her kids will get a potentially debilitating, even deadly disease”
    Come on, PZ! You are being extremely disingenuous here. The probability of a child getting a serious or deadly case of covid is vanishingly small. This has been true since the beginning of the pandemic. On the other hand, the vast majority of people getting a serious case or dying of covid are over 65 or have a serious comorbidity. Serious covid is a sickness of the old, mostly.
    Let’s face it: at this point, the “masks forever” crowd is a very small minority. They complain of being mask-shamed, and yet they walk around with an air of superiority, proud of how smart they are, and believing that the rest of us are idiots. Do you want to wear a mask? By all means, do! Wear two, for all I care. But please don’t expect everyone else to do the same.

  18. StevoR says

    @ ^ torcuato : Sheesh, how dare PZ (& others) expect people to take modest, easy, scientifically and medically advised steps to protect themselves and others from a deadly virus that has killed millions of human individuals around the globe including, actually, quite a lot of children and leaves people damaged for a long time likely – in many (most?) cases – the rest of their lives?

    See :


    A relatively small percentage of dead kids? Sure. Now go tell that to those families who have lost their children to it and how large does the number have to be before it isn’t okay by you?

    Plus :


    Among so many other sources.

    Then, of course, we have the impact on the children as well as our wider society of having many older people die needlessly too. It’s not like covid orphans are a thing and, of course, kids are fine with losing parents and older family members aren’t they? Oh wait..


    Guess there’s only five point two million and counting with the stats all being likely under-estimates, hey?

    But, nah, guess we can’t expect people to be other than selfish, complacant, science-denying, self-destructive fools who make life needlessly worse for everyone and need to join the majority of those who are those things in your view? Coz that sounds like a good plan right?