The Current has been given a copy of a document being distributed to local residents that attacks the wearing of face masks. The reader who provided it says she is aware that other Valley residents have also received it. Image above shows the document’s inflammatory headline attributing irreversible brain damage to mask wearing.
To anyone who might be inclined to believe its contents, you should be aware that the source is the blog of the infamous James Fetzer; we encourage you to Google him, where you will learn that he is a notorious conspiracy theorist whose many “alternative facts” have been repeatedly debunked and his conduct condemned. A former professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, the university disassociates itself from him by stating on its website, “His theories are his own and are not endorsed by the University of Minnesota Duluth or the University of Minnesota System.”
Fetzer achieved particular notoriety as a co-editor of a book alleging that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre of Connecticut school children never occurred. In addition to receiving universal vilification for his manufactured mischief-making, in a recent high profile case he was successfully sued for defamation by the family of a 6-year-old victim of the Sandy Hook shooting for cruelly publishing that the child’s death certificate was a fake. A jury in Wisconsin in October 2019 ordered him to pay $450,000 compensation to the father of the dead child.
One can only speculate about the motives of those who are actively spreading false information for the purpose of frightening those who wear face masks. Unfortunately, as with all conspiracy theories no matter how preposterous, some people will still believe them, thus in this case jeopardizing their own health as well as those they come into contact with. Is it a coincidence that this is happening as the wrecking ball known as Donald Trump continues to pour scorn on mask wearers?
Many scientists and medical experts, including the World Health Organization, who are far more qualified than Fetzer and the German neurologist he cites, have discounted any link between correctly worn masks and brain damage. After all, many healthcare professionals wear masks daily through their careers. Is it not strange that during the centuries that people have worn masks for health and hygienic reasons, there has not been any authoritative published medical support for such a theory?
Unfortunately, in an online world when conspiracy theories are everywhere, how do you know what to believe? It all boils down to accessing independent, reliable sources and asking sensible questions. Does the claim offend your common sense, is there evidence to back it up and is there any missing information? Are you being influenced for political or other reasons? If so, what does the source of the claim stand to gain?