I moved the over-the-top profanity below the fold

Here at ScienceBlogs we have a (very) informal agreement to try to avoid profanity-laden titles. Personally, they don't bother me at all, but I can see the point---there are lots of folks who probably don't want their feed reader to pop up with what I'm about to say.

What the FUCK hath swine flu wrought????

I warned you that swine flu would bring out the charlatans. In the course of hours to days, a virtual zombie army of immoral, idiotic, evil fucking quacks has risen to fan your fears and take you cash.

It's really hard to overstate this, but the people who engage in this fact- and morals-free exploitation are some of the worst people on this planet. Humans invented words for people who exploit and prey on your fears in order to benefit themselves (and, no, the word is not douchemonkey): evil.

Take "Dr" Wegmann at that execrable waste of bytes, the Huffington Post. This guy can't even write a title without lying: 3 Sure-Fire Strategies to Prevent the Swine Flu.

Hey, fuck face: we don't know enough about this thing yet to use the hack phrase "sure-fire". Of course, that doesn't really matter to you, you lying sack of excrement-filled kishkes. The lies pour out of you like pus from a diabetic foot wound (but less bonum et laudum). You actually go on to recommend fucking glorified massage therapy to prevent the fucking flu! That's not even wrong! You reason that since chiropractic enhances the immune system (according to some dude--what, did you hear that at the bar?), that it is a "sure-fire" way to prevent the flu.

Now, ignoring (if that is humanly possible) the fact that rubbing someone's back cannot prevent an infectious disease, and ignoring the vacuously meaningless statement of "boosting immunity", even if we could "boost immunity", who's to say that's a good thing? One theory for why the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 killed so many young people and spared the very young and elderly (unlike the usual flu) is that their relatively more robust immune systems killed them by over-reacting.

Oh, and you just "happen" to sell these "sure-fire" treatments. Yuck. I feel like I have to wash my brain out with bleach.


Of course, no one brings the cynical, I'll-make-up-the-problem-and-sell-you-the-fix paranoidwackaloongoatnuts insanity like Mike Adams. He actually does something clever with this one---he tells just enough truth to make a credible lie. It is true that data on wearing masks to prevent flu transmission is incomplete. Current recommendations are based on best available evidence and experience, skewed to the safer alternative. But let's let him show off his stoopid skillz. What he is doing is telling people not to be deceived into buying masks to prevent flu. Rather than explaining that is is largely unnecessary at this point, he sets of the mark:

They think wearing a mask protects them from swine flu. The mainstream media perpetuates the myth, broadcasting images of people wearing the masks, all while talking about people "protecting themselves" from swine flu. If it wasn't a potentially life-and-death situation, it would all be quite hilarious.

But let me ask you a question: Have you ever had surgery or visited a surgery room? Did you ever notice that the surgeons and medical staff are all wearing surgical masks that are very similar to the N95 face masks being used by people afraid of swine flu?

Did you ever wonder WHY they are wearing those masks? Here's the question: Are they wearing those masks to protect themselves from the patient's germs? Of course not! They're wearing those masks to prevent their own germs from infecting the patient!

N95 masks, you see, have but one purpose: To prevent the wearer from infecting others. To use blunt medical terminology, they work by preventing snot, spit or other virus-carrying particles from becoming airborne. Thus, if the wearer sneezes, coughs, drools, spits or talks excitedly, his or her infected fluids will be trapped in the mask and will not infect others.

What a fucking idiot. First, there are two main types of face mask: standard surgical facemasks, and N95 masks. Surgical face masks do, indeed, prevent contamination of the surgical field, and not much else, other than protecting the surgeon from some splashing, etc. N95 masks filter out a great deal of small particulate matter, and are used to prevent transmission of some airborne illnesses, such as TB. When entering a room with an active TB patient, we put on N95 masks to, you know, AVOID GETTING FUCKING TUBERCULOSIS! If we have to transport the patient around the hospital, we put one of those uncomfortable bad boys on them.

So when he says, in bold, "N95 masks have virtually no ability to protect the wearer from other people's airborne germs," he is lying, but lying smartly---he uses "virtually" to cover his immoral ass.

He goes on to explain why you should by A FUCKING GAS MASK!

Swine flu is not Sarin gas. It is a virus. Masks are not currently recommended for general use. In health care settings, N95 masks are being used (so far). It's not clear if an N95 mask is actually needed, but we are erring on the side of caution.

Remember, folks, exploiting people's fears for profit is wrong. This is real life, not some game. You're fucking with people's live here. You should be ashamed.

But of course...

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Plus, even if a N95 mask doesn't reduce your own risk of infection, it probably does reduce your risk of passing it on, which is a good thing. Unless you're so terminally self-centred that you don't care if you're exposing other people to a potentially fatal disease...

Damn, that is beautifully said. People SHOULD get passionate about this kind of evil evil shit. I don't know if there's a heaven or not, but I very frequently hope there is a hell because these ass gobbling douchetards should suffer.

Hey Pal,it's *easy* to swear in print: last year my Irish friend had just returned from visiting her brothers and sisters(who had remained in their home land),shaking her head, she said broguishly,"I can't believe these *Irish*- they're *terrible*!On the front page of the newspaper,they call the PM,*BIFFO*!Big Ignorant Fucker From Offaly!".While I don't know where Adams is from, I think just *BIF* would work for me.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 29 Apr 2009 #permalink

Don't people tend to swear to make up for lack of substance or add drama to make it more compelling?

You blog on topics that interest me and I ignore the hyperbole and just absorb the essential matter. Whether you swear in the title or body doesn't really make any difference to me. The fact that we punctuate our writings with the F* word seems to lessen the importance of the topic being written about.


By Praki Prakash (not verified) on 29 Apr 2009 #permalink

heh. i don't think this post will fucking get you your honcode certification or what the fuck it was. shit.


N95s may be poor choice in so far as they can't be relied upon the the standard that they're certified. This is because they are often incorrectly fitted by the lay public, and are pretty useless on children and men (or women) with beards; they're also relatively poor under any sort of activity that increases respiration. There's also whole aspect of hygiene with mask wearing that isn't addressed either - it's a fairly effective bio-accumulator.

There was a paper in PLoS ONE during the flu epidemics (and usual media brouhaha) last year discussing just this issue. It was only a rather small study, but indicated that N95s were still better than surgical masks, which in turn were better than a makeshift tea towel! Yet there was the suggesting that given the reduced efficiency of masks due to poor fitting, a tea towel was at least better than nothing, and there is no shortage of them.

Mind you, if we reach the point where we really need N95s, then we'd also need to discuss eye protection too, and that'd be beyond the pale.

Douglas Adams was right in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - don't forget your towel!

While your profanity does not shock me, it might limit those to whom I might want to refer your blog. The need for the profanity suggests that the remainder of the En\glish language does not provide for adequate expression of your passion. On the other hand, it's apparent that a number of your regular readers enjoy this form of expression.

Sorry, folks. Sometimes i'll write formally, other times, er, less so. And, Bil, look at "recent posts"

I can never read or hear the epithet "Fuck Face" enough. For some reason, I really crack up at that one.

Some of these commenters need to lighten the fuck up. Sometimes these fuck faces* need to be called what they are.

*That was for you, Strider ;-)

In years gone by, I would be agreeing with those who say the vulgarity is too much, but not now. When one is faced with evil and stupidity over and over again... just what difference does it make whether you patiently explain what's wrong over and over again or just say Fuck It?

Douglas Adams was right in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - don't forget your towel!
Here's mine

I'm sorry, but this topic deserves a few well placed swear words in the title. You have to love the drama of CNN's Dr Gulpa putting himself in danger by reporting straight from D.F. (and his mask was only around his neck).

I suppose if you buy the 3M branded N95's they would probably be of a decent quality, but I doubt you can find them outside of the US easily; besides they are really hot and humid to wear all of the time.

N95s are horrid to wear for any more than a couple of minutes.

I actually think CNNs coverage has been pretty good, though

Even now I just don't understand the idea of swearing, exactly when and why did society pick some random words and say they were bad? And why do some idiots seem to believe it in any way weakens a persons argument or has any bearing on their intellegance? Am I the only one who finds the concept totally stupid? Why am I asking all these questions?

because you're a fuckwit

Or a Denebian slime devil...


What I meant to say, is you are a swaggering, overbearing, tin-plated, dictator with delusions of godhood.

Who are you calling tin-plated????? Still, thats a draw for the best thought out answer to the questions I had to date.

but somehow being a swaggering, overbearing, tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood is less serious than saying your ship is a garbage scow....or should be hauled away as garbage. :)

This is too fucking much, PalMD! I'm going to fucking have to stop reading your fucking blog, you scruffy-looking nerf-herder!

;), because I cannot refrain from putting smileys on, even when it's obvious I'm joking. *lol*

Random off topic question, a while back there was a post that included an equation that described oxygen absorbtion into the bloodstream, can't remember what the equation was called any chance of a little help finding it? Or will I just get accused of having cheap rust-proofing again?

Well, as a long-time reader and first-time commenter, all I can say is for shit which is this fucked up, no amount of arbitrarily inappropriate language is too much. Damn it.

Don't people tend to swear to make up for lack of substance or add drama to make it more compelling?

I call bullshit on this theory.

The way some people use it, invective can be used to "make up for lack of substance", no question. But usually, it's simply to add emphasis to your message, not disguise it. And Pal was obviously feeling plenty emphatic here.

I didn't have a problem with it because that's not his usual tone. If someone were continually writing in this manner on their blog, I would quickly tire of it.

Has there been any real scientific testing done to see how well these basic masks help prevent the wearer from being infected? For someone who advocates nothing be accepted as fact without scientific studies to back them up, this seems like a real failure to be scientific about this.

My own impression is that surgical masks are a pretty poor way to protect oneself form infection. They are too loose fitting, don't create an airtight seal, and the filtering mechanism is probably too permeable to viruses. I don't know if one has to go the full "gas mask" route to get genuine protection, but I'd think at least one could get the basic hardware store filtering masks used for spraying pesticides, etc. Costs about $29 at home depot. Seems worth it if there's a genuine deadly outbreak. Maybe you should reconsider the kind of advice you give, as in a genuine deadly flu outbreak people's live will likely be lost if they follow your advice and use only standard surgical masks, thinking themselves safe, rather than something more effective. Or will you just start swearing at me for spreading misinformation and leading people to doubt your righteous infallibility?

I heard somewhere that they are better to keep you from spreading the flu to other people by preventing droplets from being spread.

btw, according to Wikiflu, surgical masks are completely ineffective at preventing the wearer from contracting viral infections. Their filtering mechanism prevents bacterial infections, but viruses are much smaller and slip right through. I'm not sure what quality of filter is required to screen out viruses. Will continue to look into it.

N95s are horrid to wear for any more than a couple of minutes.

Ugh, I had a patient with TB for most of september. He and his wife were good people, talkative, so I spent hours a day in a negative pressure room, answering their questions in that damn N95.

I think it's a little odd that PalMD would write a post righteously condemning giving out the "false information" that wearing an N95 mask won't protect you from influenza infections. He even accuses the writer of lying, and fucking with people's lives for profit. It turns out PalMD is completely wrong about this issue, that N95 masks only protect against bacterial infection, and not against viral infections. So does that make PalMD the liar here? Is he guilty of fucking with people's lives? Is he an incompetant doctor? Someone who followed his advice in the event of a genuinely deadly flu pandemic could well lose their life, thinking themselves safe from infection by using the useless N95 mask. But we haven't heard any apologies or retractions from PalMD. What's that all about? Is there no accountability here? Shouldn't PalMD apologize openly to the fellow he accused of lying and spreading misinformation?


Information on the effectiveness of facemasks1 and respirators2 for the control of influenza in community settings is extremely limited. Thus, it is difficult to assess their potential effectiveness in controlling swine influenza A (H1N1) virus transmission in these settings. In the absence of clear scientific data, the interim recommendations below have been developed on the basis of public health judgment and the historical use of facemasks and respirators in other settings...

...If used correctly, facemasks and respirators may help reduce the risk of getting influenza, but they should be used along with other preventive measures, such as avoiding close contact and maintaining good hand hygiene. A respirator that fits snugly on your face can filter out small particles that can be inhaled around the edges of a facemask, but compared with a facemask it is harder to breathe through a respirator for long periods of time. For more information on facemasks and respirators, visit the CDC H1N1 Flu website...

According to Fluwiki, NIOSH (the National Institute for Safety and Health) has this basic information about N95 masks:

What is N-95?
Filters and infectious particles
Particles greater than 5 microns fall out of the air
Particles 1 â 5 microns in diameter can enter upper airways
0.1 â 1 micron particles enter lower lungs and alveolar ducts

Examples of particle size:
Viruses 0.02 to 0.3 microns - N95 mask not effective
Bacteria 0.5 to 10 microns - N95 mask effective
Mold spores 1 to 70 microns - N95 mask effective
Fungi 2 to >200 microns - N95 mask effective

NIOSH says it doesn't test for biological filtration, only using inert salt particles, but the basic size of viruses are well known. It seems pretty clear from NIOSH that N95 face masks simply don't have the proper size filters to protect against viruses.

So it also seems clear that you are dead wrong. And I do mean dead. As in dead patients. As mentioned above, you need to retract your accusations and apologize to those you slandered. You also need to go back to school and learn how to practice basic medicine. You're obviously incompetent at basic biology. Even I knew that viruses are much smaller than bacteria, and that most filters don't protect against virus infections, and I'm a total layman with no medical or biological education at all. That you could be this incompetent, and then righteously accuse others of lying and deliberately misleading the public, is simply beyond belief in medicine.


Thats alot of allegations.
1)Noone said the viruses themselves are filterd by N95 masks.
2)Viruses don't travel on their own, inluenza travels in droplets. The droplets are not the same size as the virus.
Go do your homework.
You're a total layman with no medical or biological education at all, so look up the facts before you call someone incompetant.

I very much dislike it when people don't do their homework. If you want to troll a blog, at least pretend to care enough to google before insulting all of our intelligences.


Funny that you didn't complain about PalMD going ballistic on the subject of N95 masks without knowing what he's talking about, making all kinds of allegations, and being wrong to boot. He has no medical science to back up his assertion that the poster he quotes was lying, or even wrong. The best he has is a very weak statement from the CDC that N95 masks "may be helpful". Well, echinacia may be helpful too.

Again, the National Institute for Safety and Health clearly states that N95 masks are not effective against viruses. Plain and simple. The fact that water droplets containing the virus won't go through the filters as water droplets meanings absolutely nothing. As you might be aware, water conforms to whatever shape it encounters. If the water droplets land on a filter, the water will makes its way through the filter. Particles in the water too big to pass through will be stopped, but those small enough, such as viruses, will pass through. And you people seriously went to medical school? Are you as incompetent as PalMD, or are you just stuck in some kind of thin-blue-line obligatory defense of your peers thing? Do you lack even common sense? How any of you can seriously defend the use of N95 masks as a meaningful defense against viral influenza is simply beyond me, and how you can allow PalMD to get away with making allegations of lying against people who state the simple truth about the ineffectiveness of N95 masks is just ludicrous.

Honestly, Whitecoat, don't you think PalMD stepped way over the line in accusing this guy of lying?

And before you accuse me of trolling, you better have some actual evidence to back up the notion that my information is false. Give me a cite that shows that N95 masks are shown to be effective against viruses. If you can't, you owe me an apology too.

Show me the data regarding N95 filtering of airborne viruses. I'll decide myself.

By Ian McGhee (not verified) on 26 May 2009 #permalink