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Letter: Mask facts need to be separated from opinions

Accepting scientific opinions a good place to start

Something in public discourse and public decision making has gone astray.

Showing respect for people and treating them equally does not mean that all views and representations are equal and should be given equal consideration and time. Statements of principles and morals should be made and received with respect even if you disagree. Each of us is entitled to argue for or against a certain position. 

Facts, however, need to be separated from opinions, and false facts need to be corrected. Statements such as masks cause COVID-19, should be called out as nonsense and given short shrift. Similarly, misunderstandings of what scientific and medical professionals have said about how masks work should be immediately countered. Correcting facts is legitimate and necessary, especially in this age of misinformation and “alternative” facts. It is not appropriate for a decision-making body to say they will take some false fact into consideration.

When discussing facts, the truth should be sought. Arguments over which facts are correct means one or both parties is unwilling to step back and honestly look for the truth. Some facts are not known or not ascertained definitively at any particular point in time. 

Accepting scientific opinions which are generally agreed upon by those who are trained and have access to the best data and information available is a good place to start. That is why we now have cellphones, amazing health procedures, and the myriad of products and services we use daily. Following the consensus of scientists and medical professionals in dealing with a pandemic is our best choice.

I submit that the present emergency unfolding in Alberta and in many other jurisdictions establishes two facts. 

First, the “experts” were correct and the science deniers and conspiracy proponents were wrong. The virus is harmful, it is deadly, it spreads easily, and it will overwhelm health systems if not controlled. 

Secondly, the delays by governments throughout the world to heed sound medical advice, and the failure to impose and promote sufficient procedures to control the spread when the number of cases starts to explode, is a major reason we are now in this crisis.

Whatever the reasons, I fear we will ultimately see that the benefits arising from those delays in Alberta will not outweigh the tragedy of sickness and death that are most likely to arise. 

James Wilde,