You can hunt anything you want, animals, insects and, latterly, human beings, especially scientists. This happened to us and to Tom in the august columns of the New York Times (NYT), as we reported here, here and here.
The main problem appears to have been that the columnist took exception to the idea that the Cochrane Review A122 failed to find any better quality evidence of mask effectiveness, and of course, she proceeded to try to shoot the messenger.
Ever since her article, however, some of the background to her intervention has come to light, and Tom has written back to the NYT pointing out some of the consequences of its irresponsible behaviour:
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018
Dear Ms. Kingsbury,
Thank you for your reply dated March 18th to my complaint dated March 15th 2023.
Matters are not what you reported, although I understand your willingness to defend your columnist.
Dr. Tufekci seems to have forgotten to make clear that she has been lobbying CDC and maybe other organisations for over three years to impose mask mandates, although she has no scientific expertise in this matter. This happened after a somersault from her initial position against use of masks (she is in very good company in such a change of course in March 2020). Elsewhere she described creating a new symbolism around the use of masks, a clearly ideological standpoint which has naught to do with science.
Dr. Tufekci now publicly claims that she has corrected Cochrane (although it was hard work it took her almost a month). She has done no such thing, as no edits have been made to the review text.
You and Dr. Tufekci state that the Plain Language Summary of the review may have helped people misinterpret the review.
Possible corrections, addenda and edits in science (and in the Cochrane Library) are handled through the editorial peer review mechanism, not through the columns of a daily. It seems to me that by insisting on corrections and claiming “victory” the New York Times through its columnist is trying to subvert not just Cochrane but the whole scientific process, while launching a personal attack on me, one of the twelve authors. Her attack on our review and on me can perhaps be explained in her own words: “The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech itself. As a result, they don’t look much like the old forms of censorship at all. They look like viral or coordinated harassment campaigns, which harness the dynamics of viral outrage to impose an unbearable and disproportionate cost on the act of speaking out.”
Read More: The New York Times is Subverting the Scientific Process