‘What happened to academic freedom?’: Scientist fumes as Facebook flags Covid-19 study questioning mask effectiveness as ‘false’


21-11-20 10:08:00,

Social media can’t be allowed to suppress scientific discourse, critics said after Facebook ‘fact-checkers’ flagged as ‘false’ an Oxford professor’s report citing a Danish study on the effectiveness of masks against Covid-19.

“[What] has happened to academic freedom and freedom of speech? There is nothing in this article that is ‘false,’” Carl Heneghan, the director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, said on Friday.

Here’s what happened when I posted our latest @spectator article to Facebook – I’m aware this is happening to others – what has happened to academic freedom and freedom of speech? There is nothing in this article that is ‘false’ pic.twitter.com/8Kdmw38ICC

— Carl Heneghan (@carlheneghan) November 20, 2020

He posted a screenshot of Facebook flagging his article for the Spectator magazine as ‘False information’, citing “independent fact-checkers.”

Heneghan was discussing the long-delayed study on the effectiveness of facemasks, conducted in Denmark and finally published this week. One of the few randomized controlled trials on masks, it suggested that masks alone don’t work to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Monitoring 6,024 adult participants for a month, half of them issued with masks and instructions on how to use them, Danish scientists found 1.8 percent of mask-wearers got the virus, compared to 2.1 percent in the control group. 

Also on rt.com
Landmark Danish study casts doubt on effectiveness of mask-wearing alone as effective Covid-19 strategy

While masks do have an effect, the Danish researchers wrote, they alone can’t stop the spread of the coronavirus. The political establishment in the West, however – including Silicon Valley tech giants – basically considers this heresy, and has flagged the study as ‘false information’. 

Health authorities like the American CDC recently updated their position, insisting masks are even more effective against coronavirus transmission than previously believed, protecting the wearer as well as others. 

Heneghan found himself under attack by other scholars, such as Thomas Conti of Brazil, for citing a supposedly “severely underpowered” study that was badly designed and showed a null result, arguing that masks absolutely work.

Critique the study then! The issue here, however, is social media platforms censoring stories about it because they don’t like the political implications.

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