Nicholas Taleb addresses pubic health "thought leaders", non-devout libertarians and pseudo-libertarians in this commentary regarding the issue of recommending masks for the public.
Some of the points he made include:
1)A significant and vocal and authoritative portion of the public health coterie (PHC) mistook or ignored the important distinction between "absence of evidence of efficacy" and "proof of lack of efficacy".The PHC did not have anything in the second category in their argument tool box. They mistook or ignored the distinction between absence of evidence and evidence of absence,something emphasized in epidemiology 101.
2) The PHC failed to recognize how effective the widespread use of mask would be.If A and B both wear masks, both protect the other This Taleb labelled the compounding effect. Witness the hair care business in which 2 stylists were infected and none of the 140 patrons exposed developed covid19. The secret was both the stylists and all of the customers used masks.
3)Libertarians and pseudo-libertarians are admonished by Taleb to remember the primary principle of libertarianism which is the non-aggression axiom. Exposing fellow humans to a serious illness with whom a person comes in contract just might be considered an act of aggression.
On 6/15/2020 Dr. Fauci admitted that masks were not recommended earlier because there was a serious shortage of masks. Interestingly once masks or face coverings were recommended by the PHC masks of all sorts were available all over the internet. What if the public had been told earlier that cloth face coverings could help, would there have not been the release of entrepreneurial energy (and charitable efforts) to get masks to people that we see now. Wonder how many deaths could have been prevented.