Karl Lauterbach Cites New Mask "Mega Study," Punks Himself Brutally
The German Health Minister has long demonstrated a fundamental inability to understand simple studies and evaluate scientific, but this error is on a totally new level.
I’m late to point and laugh at this one, but it’s too good to let go.
On Sunday, Europe’s most prominent stupid person Karl Lauterbach betook himself to Twitter, to admonish all those “who are still uncertain about whether masks protect from COVID.” Triumphantly, he presented “a new American Mega-Study”, which he claimed “evaluates over 1,700 studies”, ultimately demonstrating that “the benefits of masks are very great, undisputed and applicable in many areas.”
So, I clicked over to the paper to see what was up, and I noticed immediately that there’s something really, really wrong with it. Admittedly, there’s something wrong with a lot of mask studies, but that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that this isn’t an ordinary paper. It reads like it was written in crayon.
While the authors claim to have “screened” over 1,700 earlier analyses, they ultimately consider the results of only thirteen papers, all of them bizarrely low-quality items, and none published later than 2020. Among them is the infamous hair-salon CDC study. Another is on Early containment of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) – from 2004. It reports that nobody at the Bamrasnaradura Institute in Thailand contracted SARS, after the admission of a SARS patient in 2003, and notes in passing that most staff washed their hands and wore N95 respirators regularly.
Happily, Twitter sleuths saved me further investigation.
Another paper included in the analysis addresses the use of “military gas masks to protect surgeons when performing tracheotomies on patients with COVID-19.” The piece, from BMJ Military Health, occurs in a subsection of the journal entitled “Images in clinical practice,” and is accompanied by two pictures of surgeons in gas masks.
There’s no data anywhere at all, aside from the assurance that “we performed 20 tracheotomies without any complications.” In the Megastudy though, it is suddenly endowed with “Results” showing “low risk for transmission when wearing masks.”
Also too – and possibly even more astonishing – is the totally meaningless and nonsensical statistical analysis provided by the authors.
Paul Mainwood thinks the study is a hoax, but we may not be that lucky. Googling suggests that the authors were students at a middling American medical school when they threw this together, so stupidity is at least as likely an explanation.
However that may be, it should be clear to everyone by now that Karl Lauterbach has no idea what he’s doing, and that he’ll sing the praises of any study that flatters his preconceptions. Germany would be better off with a goldfish heading the Ministry of Health. He should resign.
Lauterspeak for a metastudy that you superduper agree with, I guess.
When I worked as a graduate student our research director had one student who was consistently wrong. I mean EVERY time. It wasn't random either. He claimed to reason it out, but he always came to the wrong conclusion. One day in total frustration I heard our boss tell him "Ron, if you flipped a coin at least you will be right 50% of the time." So profound, but one of the most devastating insults to someone in a Ph.d program ever. Let's give Karl a coin.
Confirmation bias masquerading as science. Yet again. Does anyone understand what science is anymore?