We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
At the same time, a world run without or counter to advice from scientists would be Hell to. Consider the recent cases of Nevada's casino vs church decision, Michigan's continually capricious rules, and New York's intentionally killing the elderly.
Your point is that decisions are better made from groups that represent knowledge and experience of many fields and I agree.
There is a picture on the internet of a drywall installer who had worn a N95 mask. Of course his face is covered with the drywall dust that evaded the mask. Did the mask work? Sure it kept him from choking on huge amounts of dust but it still let through enough that had it been harmful he would be ill. So when someone says the masks help that is a both inaccurate and partly true. It may well cut the transmission of the virus by 8% for cloth masks to 20% or so for a N95 mask that is not correctly fitted to the hopeful but doubtful 95% with an N95 correctly fitted and sealed around the edges.
So the bottom line is you can say that the mask "helps" but it absolutely will not prevent transmission of the virus. So there has to be another reason for mandating the masks. For those who don't want to believe the popular conspiracy theories of why masks are mandated they are left with just one reason and that is mass stupidity on the part of our governors and mayors.
I think it's possible to believe that masks help but do not keep you "safe." They may lower your risk marginally. That's not much for an individual, but it could conceivably have a big impact across a population. Is it a big enough impact to justify a mandatory policy? Tougher question, and it gets even tougher if we're all lying to each other and ourselves.
BUT it does not beat that standard for viruses. If you need to reach six sigma filtering for viruses you need a better filter.
If you visit third world countries bring a filter that will filter out viruses to that same standard, i.e. 99.9999%.
The common cloth mask isn't even "1 log". It filters out 8% of viruses. That means 92% get through to your lungs and airway mucus membranes. This isn't in doubt. There is a standard for safe filtering of viruses and bacteria; 6 log. Anything less and you are likely to become sick. Can you semantically say "a mask helps"??? Sure just as a T-shirt "helps" to protect you from bullets fired at your chest.
This isn't rocket science. The experts and doctors know that the mask is not very effective. They also know that in a social situation, like a bar, a concert or gathering of people, that your eyes are as big a risk as your nose and mouth are. So why not wear googles??? The simple answer is that they would be too expensive, more difficult to wear all the time AND (perhaps most important) that the Hoi polloi would rebel against it. But we kind of got "conned" into wearing the masks and now we are stuck with them even though they do not work!!!
Actually, there's overwhelming evidence that the use of two atomic bombs was what it took to let the "peace" faction win out over the war faction (chiefly Gen. Korechika Anami). This made it possible for Hirohito to declare that Japan would accept the Allied demands for surrender.
In fact if you read the text of the Jewel Voice Broadcast (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewel_Voice_Broadcast), the emperor makes mention of how everyone has done the best they can, but the war had not gone as Japan wished.
Then starting a new paragraph, he says, "Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable..."
The bomb is the only reason singled out for specific mention.
Second, the use of both bombs was essential because after Hiroshima, the war faction was arguing that we had only one of them. The Nagasaki bomb told the Japanese, by implication, "We have many more of these."
The use of the atom bomb in Japan was a HUGE favor to Japan. The Japanese government/military were intending to use women and children to repel the invaders. Even the Japanese own experts expected to lose 20,000,000 of these women, children and old men in a futile attempt to stop the invasion. They were going to do this for pride and "bushido". The simple act of dropping those two bombs "woke up" Hirohito to the futility of continuing the fight in the Japanese homeland. The bomb was a godsend to 20,000,000 Japanese people and if they were honest they would acknowledge this.
It has been said that the most likely sources of bad decisions are not what you do not know, but what you think you know that is wrong. The role of science is to
reject ideas that cannot predict outcomes and so are wrong.
Science cannot say what is right, but it does say what is wrong.
Science gets a bad reputation because most people do not know the differences between science, engineering, statistics, and technology, and assume that all research is scientific. Very little of the data thrown around can be called scientific.