Hansen: Do as you’re told and don’t question

By Meg Hansen

This month, I joined Rob Roper (President, Ethan Allen Institute) on WDEV’s Common Sense Radio show to discuss mandatory universal masking as a COVID-19 policy response. The segment features two callers that disagreed with my opposition to mandates.  The entire show can be found here

Meg Hansen, Ethan Allen Institute Board member and health care policy expert

The following transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Rob Roper: We’ve been dealing with the COVID pandemic for two years. We’re still dealing with school closings and mask mandates. And right now, we’ve got different communities, throughout our state, deciding whether they want to have mask mandates or not. From your perspective, as somebody with a medical background and who looks at and can understand the science, what should we be thinking about these potential mandates? What are the implications particularly as it impacts kids?

I’ve seen a story lately saying that the number of issues that are happening in our schools, and with younger adults in terms of opioid overdoses and depression and anxiety, all of these things are on the rise and a lot of it has to do with our reaction to the COVID virus. We’ve tried to avoid one problem but we have, in many respects, created others by taking that first action. So what should we be doing? Where should we be going? 

Meg Hansen: It’s a great question and a great way to look at this very complex subject. I would like to start off by saying that science is really politicized in America.

This is the way I look at it. When you want to make prudent and fact-based policy, it needs to be multifactorial, that is, it needs to consider multiple factors. It cannot be solely based on an appeal to authority. You will constantly hear people say that the CDC says X or the NIH says Y or a certain public intellectual says Z, and appealing to that person or agency’s authority alone makes the point valid. No, that’s not true.

When you want to make a good faith claim, it should be informed by scientific evidence that comes from clinical studies such as Randomized Controlled Trials and clinical observational studies. It cannot be based on an appeal to the authority of public health agencies. When we talk about masks, specifically whether children should be masked or not, even the public health agencies are not in consensus. If they are divided on this issue, how can you make a selective appeal to one of them? The European CDC, for example, does not recommend masks for students in elementary and middle school. Norway explicitly discourages masks for children under the age of 13, and has never required masks at any level of schooling. The same is true in Sweden. Denmark, England, Ireland, and Switzerland no longer require masks in schools. In the Netherlands, if you’re in elementary school or middle school, you don’t have to wear a mask.

Rob: And they have science in these countries. They have scientists and medical doctors and these are different consensus that people come to based on looking at different experiments, different conclusions and different ways. It’s one of the things that worries me a little bit. People look to the government to tell them what to do in terms of a ritual. So if you follow the ritual, then no harm can come to you. And that’s just not the way that this works. Even if you do everything like wear a mask every day and get the vaccinations and the boosters, you can still get COVID.

Meg: Yes, you can still get COVID. Initially, we were told that if you get the vaccine, you don’t have to wear a mask. And then, there was a narrative about an epidemic of the unvaccinated but we know that many people who get infected have been vaccinated. As I said, science has become politicized. A lot of people will cite the CDC or NIH. But I look at a July 2021 study by engineering researchers at the University of Waterloo, and they demonstrated that the cloth or blue surgical mask, worn by most people, filters only ten percent of the aerosol droplets that we exhale and that accumulates indoors. When you wear an expensive N95 or KN95 mask, which is usually worn by surgeons, those filter 50 percent. To claim that a mask is going to prevent 100 percent transmission of this particular virus is just not true.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t wear it. I always believe that it should be optional. If you want to wear it, wear it. But forcing other people to wear it because it’s a ritual or you’re following the faulty narrative according to which you need to wear a mask to protect others (so you don’t you kill grandma or anyone else), these are very reductive and politicized statements that insult the intelligence of Americans and Vermonters.

Rob: If you’d like to join our conversation, give us a call 802-244-1777. This is Rob Roper, in for Bill Sayre today, talking with Meg Hansen. Now what do you think about all of these local communities trying to decide whether or not to have mask mandates? Talk about turning up the dial to eleven on the politicization of these mandates. It just seems like it’s going to heighten the acrimony, if not lessen the danger of the disease.

Meg: Here’s the thing, if you want to wear a mask, wear it. There’s no place or town that says you can’t wear masks. Masks are not banned. It’s very much in keeping with liberty and respecting individual rights and the freedom to live life the way you want. But when you want to push a mandate, it means that you want to coerce other people to behave a certain way or to do something of which you approve. I’ve been thinking about – what is the scientific reason for forcing other people to wear masks when a vaccine can’t prevent the virus? How can a cloth mask that only filters 10 percent of aerosol droplets do anything?

Rob: Well, it can do something for 10 percent. Filtering out 10 percent is better than filtering out nothing. But I think that psychologically, people will be much more open to being cooperative with one another if mandates don’t exist. Once you start to force somebody to try to do something, their backs get up and they get upset. “You’re not going to force me to do that. You can’t do that.”

When I go into a store and if the sign says, “Please wear a mask,” then I wear a mask. If they ask to wear a mask unless you’re vaccinated, then I don’t wear the mask because I have been vaccinated. I take the approach of “When in Rome or when in somebody else’s house.” If I go to somebody’s house and they ask me to take off shoes, I do so. The same applies with the mask. But once you start mandating things, people start to get upset and you get a lot less compliance than you would otherwise get.

It looks like we’ve got a caller coming on the line. What’s on your mind today, Mark?

Mark (caller): Well, I think that comments like N95 masks only filter 60 percent are part of what politicizes mask wearing. N95 masks filter 95 percent of particulates and mask wearing is effective. We’re being asked to do so by public health officials, not by politicians. I think that the politicization of these mandates is largely coming from folks like this radio show that for some reason or another, don’t want to wear a mask to help with the public health problem.

Rob: We just had a conversation where we said that we do wear masks. If I go to a store and there’s a sign on the door that says wear a mask, I wear one. The same thing with other people in their houses. If I sit down with somebody and they’re more comfortable with me wearing a mask, I wear one.

Meg: I have to push back about his 95 percent comment because I didn’t create that number [50 percent]. It came from the actual study by engineering researchers at the University of Waterloo, in which they constructed the experiment using a dummy. You’re right though; it’s not about 10 percent or 5 percent or 8 percent. If you want to wear a mask, wear it. The crux of this whole political divide lies with one faction – a small but very vocal one – that believes you need to do this or that, otherwise you will kill other people. And that’s just not true, especially if you’re vaccinated.

Rob: And again, the idea that you could have a conversation that talks about studies, actual studies that have been done showing how effective the mask is, how ineffective the mask is, how effective the vaccine is, what the vaccine does and what it doesn’t do is so alarming to some people. I really don’t understand why that is. It’s because [of the mentality]: “You have to do what I tell you to do. If there’s any information out there that causes you to question what I’m telling you to do, then that information needs to be suppressed and you need to be silenced.” That’s just not a healthy society. That’s not a healthy society at all. 

Meg: It’s because we’ve reached a point where these issues, for a particular portion of our population, have become a part of their personal identity. People have found meaning in COVID mandates. When you find meaning in something, it becomes invaluable to you. If it’s part of your personality and somebody questions that, then they’re questioning you. They’re questioning your worth. It is definitely worth defending when somebody threatens who you are, the rubric of your being. 

Rob: We got one more comment from Mark. And then, we’ve got another caller on the other line.

Mark (caller): A study does not evidence make. A study is a data set. You have to make multiple studies in order to come up with evidence, with proof. One study from the University of Waterloo is evidence, it is input into a problem, but the National Mine Safety Institute says that N95 masks protect against 95 percent. That’s what you have to go by when you’re a health professional and your fit testing people for N95 masks.

Meg: So why should you choose one over the other? That’s what I have been saying: everybody has his own point of view. But why make an appeal to authority as opposed to looking at this data set?? Is the Waterloo study wrong? No.

Mark (caller): No, Waterloo just isn’t supported by multiple studies.

Meg: So, if we can have an honest conversation about different studies and different points of views, then that’s healthy. There is back and forth and we can have an open, constructive conversation. But if one particular point of view is shut down as being horrible, for example claiming that this radio show “is not supporting public health,” then that is not conducive to robust, healthy conversation.

Rob: Mark, thanks for the call. I do want to squeeze in Marianne from Randolph before we run out of time.

Marianne (caller): I didn’t hear the whole conversation, so I don’t know if I’m relevant. I don’t know why people have a problem with wearing a mask. It doesn’t bother anybody.  Some people have more problems. I have to wear oxygen, I wear hearing aids, and I still wear a mask. It takes me more effort to wear a mask than somebody else that could put it on for 10-15 minutes when they go somewhere. I don’t understand what the problem is. Wear the mask to protect people. You’re not protecting yourself. You’re protecting other people who have more severe health issues. I really don’t see why people are so up in arms about this mask thing because they would do other things to make people safe. So just get your act together. 

Meg: But that’s just the thing, Rob. Why this narrative that you have to protect someone else? I don’t understand that. Most people are vaccinated. Vaccines are available. You can protect your own self. You don’t need other people to protect you.

Rob: I do take Mary’s point. I think that we should be courteous to other people and if there’s something that we can do to protect somebody, we should. I really don’t have a problem putting the mask on. But let’s just be honest about what that means. How helpful is it actually going to be? I’d like to have an honest conversation about the science of mask effectiveness.

It seems like we’ve reached a point where we can’t have that conversation anymore, where if you bring up a study from Waterloo that is contrary to the dominant narrative, then it needs to be dismissed. We can’t bring that up as it might cause people to behave in a way that is different from the way we want them to behave. We need to be honest about the policies that we put forward. It shouldn’t be because it makes me feel good or it makes me feel comfortable because there are people who do have issues with mask wearing.

Meg: We never got to the point about children. One of the callers said that there’s no harm. There is harm. Prolonged mask wearing comes with several documented harms, especially for young children.

Rob: I wish we had longer to get into that, but we’re down into our final seconds of the program. Meg Hansen, I want to thank you for being our guest today on Common Sense radio.

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38 replies »

  1. WDEV quickly followed this segment with 3 minutes of MK Ultra / Operation Warp Speed “vaccination” propaganda advertising. A newsbreak from CBS declaring Omicron cases are skyrocketing out of control and Vermonters filling ER rooms who tested positive on their home test kits! Also, installed President Creepy Sleepy Joe Biden punted COVID plandemic control to the States and went on vacation. This marathon chicken dance known as COVID response and migitgation will never end – not in this State anyway.

    • Once a great institution of independently-owned radio and a beacon of freedom, WDEV has gone down the tubes just like WCAX, and their new ownership has turned it into just another generic liberal mouthpiece. The only way that freedom minded opinions can get espoused on WDEV is if a private group purchases airtime, as with Common Sense Radio. What a shame.

  2. People in masks make me feel uncomfortable and anxious. How come no one cares about me? Sad to see Meg took the injections. I was hoping she’d stick around for a while, maybe governor, congress or senate.

      • Meg, im sorry. I confused yours and Rob’s quotes. He said he didn’t wear a mask if the sign said unvaccinated must mask. I thought this was your quote until i looked twice. My bad, i own it. Long live the queen!

      • Meg, don’t tell anyone your Vax status. It’s nobodies business but yours!

        Anybody who wants my Vax status doesn’t get my time or money.

  3. We need to all we possibly can to keep pete welch from further enriching himself off our tax dollars. He made over 2 million dollars of pandemic stocks his committee had influence over. In fact we need to stand against all the other identity progressive socialists vying for welch’s Congressional seat.

  4. Re: “Meg: But that’s just the thing, Rob. Why this narrative that you have to protect someone else? I don’t understand that. Most people are vaccinated. Vaccines are available. You can protect your own self. You don’t need other people to protect you.”

    With all due respect – that no one ‘understands’ this ‘narrative’ concerns me. Perhaps they recognize it but can’t articulate it in terms that are easily understood by others.

    This is Marxist dogma. The debate between Individualism and Collectivism has been ongoing ever since those, who are insecure in accepting their own capability to succeed, have learned, through the construct of ever larger government, to demand ‘protection’ from those who have (or choose to exercise) individual responsibility. It’s a classic tyranny by the majority.

    “From each according to his ability to each according to his need”. What is it about this misguided dogma that we don’t understand? If I can get it, anyone can.

    The question is – how to respond to this Marxism? Be it their demand for protection from Covid, or their demand for protection from any of the personal risks we accept on a day-to-day basis, Marxists have a severe insecurity complex. They’ve been taught by those who profit from their dysfunction to be dysfunctional.

    The first thing to do is discredit the thinking that human beings function more productively in a Collective setting than they do as Individuals. Plato and Aristotle debated the issue. The English began to recognize the concept with the Magna Carta. The Pilgrims figured it out anecdotally. John Locke, Adam Smith, and our Founders figured it out and created what has proven to be the most elegant form of governance in human history. There are even extensive, contemporary peer reviewed academic studies that discredit Marxist dogma – Self Determination Theory.

    It seems that many of us inherently understand the principles of self-determination. But we don’t know how to academically debate those with a cognitive bias preventing them from accepting it. The fact is – not only can we protect ourselves as individuals, in the process of doing so we more successfully protect those around us. The paradox being that Self Determination Theory shows us that the best way to achieve the utopian goals of the Collective is to promote Individualism. And the sooner we realize this individually, the sooner we will all thrive.

    • One thousand percent, yes!

      I’ll go one step further. The kind of fuzzy, politicized conversations Roper and Hansen are having here are not only failing to win anyone over, they are also deleterious to the cause.

      • Feel free to explain how this conversation is fuzzy and how it is deleterious? What would your appoach be? I think it is a conversation that needs to be had and what better time to have it than now.

      • Well, Stu, this conversation needs to be framed correctly. The Left is winning this battle because they have framed their collectivist desires for everyone to wear masks and get vaccinated as an issue of virtue. “It’s just a mask!” “It’s just a jab – what are you afraid of needles!?” “Do it for your family.” “Think about your friends.” “It’s the patriotic thing to do!” “This isn’t about you!”

        So anyone who refuses masks or vaccines is being selfish or malevolent, right? No! And we – as Americans – with our inalienable innate rights do not have to apologize just because we choose to exercise our rights.

        To frame this as anything other than “Marxist dogma” (as OP describes it) is to dilute and weaken the argument. If you know of anyone who – before they listened to this conversation – were staunchly in favor of mask mandates, or even on the fence about them – and were convinced to join Camp USA by listening to it, I would be astonished.

        It should also be remembered that Hansen is entirely the wrong person to be a spokesperson against mandates of any kind. She revealed herself as staunchly in favor of vaccination mandates (even before COVID) – claiming that public health trumps individual freedom. As such, she has absolutely no credibility in this area.

      • Jon, You do understand that millions of Americans have taken the red pill in regards to the political and economic skullduggery we are witnessing regarding the mandates. Whatever MegHansen may have once believed before the plandemic like many of your fellow citizens she does not believe now. The same goes for me. I can assure you that you will not find a more fierce defender if liberty and the constitution than Meg. With the exception of maybe me and possible you. Better not to alienate your Patriot brothers and sisters.

      • Well Stu, it’s nice that she has finally seen the light in that regard, but disappointing it took a crisis of tyranny for her to understand perhaps the most important tenet of the US Constitution – that of individual bodily autonomy.

        It takes absolutely no courage to put your finger in the air and change a firmly held belief simply because it’s currently popular. That’s not the kind of attribute I want in my leaders – it reeks of insecurity, demagoguery and carpetbaggery. Bleh.

      • “She revealed herself as staunchly in favor of vaccination mandates (even before COVID) – claiming that public health trumps individual freedom.” This is a laughable lie that you are wedded to. I personally followed the exchange on facebook and I spoke to Mr. Bliss and Ms. Hansen about it. You have a personal vendetta. So you saved your screenshots and pass it around looking for people to commiserate with. 

        I’m not sure what Mr. Lundberg means about changing views but COVID-19 in VT has been eye opening for many of my liberal friends. Why do you think anyone who changes their views does it for a selfish reason? What made you so cynical? Was it growing up in Socialist UK? My dad’s friend only voted for Democrats for 60 years. He’s a leader in our town. No one who speaks to him can say his views changing are finger in the wind changes. Have you spoken to Ms. Hansen? Can you read her mind? No. Why do you think whatever she does or thinks comes from a negative reason?

        It’s great that you quote our Constitution. You didn’t have it growing up so good to see you value it. But it’s time to learn that patriotic conservatives in America don’t try to pull each other down. That’s Bernie’s MO. Thanks to him, there are thousands of liberals dancing that dumpster fire dance. 

        Zach H. 

      • Hi Zachary! I really did not want to belabor this, but you’ve accused me of lying, so I suppose I should set you straight.

        Here is the exact post from November 2, 2108 on the “802VT Alliance” Facebook Group where Hansen explains why she is pro vaccine-mandate.

        Hansen had just joined the group and came out as pro-vaccine mandate on one of her first comment. It was my first (and last) “discussion” with her on any subject at all. She went on to make many comments on the same post in a rather bizarre state of animus with many strangely personal insults against me — all of which she promptly deleted (except for this one – before she abruptly left the group.

      • Stu, while I agree with you, Jon is also correct – which is why I raised the issue of ‘understanding’ in the first place. Clearly, we’re all ‘Patriots’. But there’s a difference between stating a problem and articulating its cause and effect.

        “Why this narrative that you have to protect someone else? I don’t understand that.”

        This is the point. Understanding the narrative is the first tangible step in addressing it. I think what Jon is saying is that when we constantly point out the symptom of our demise without describing how it manifests itself, we are continually frustrated. If Meg and Rob would articulate the mechanism that creates this demise, its cause, and its effect, they would go a long way in describing the cure.

        As it is, we know we’re sick. We all know we should be courteous. We know we’re all Patriots.

        The question is – what should we do?

        In that regard, Meg’s last comment is telling. “We never got to the point about children.”

        Here’s my segue to further discussion – It’s ALL about the children. Not only with regard to masks and vaccines, but with regard to who is raising them.

      • My comment is to Jonathan Lynch. Yea you proved my point. You created a special web link and highlighted words from years ago ready to share at the drop of a hat. Which is more sophisticated than the screenshots you were passing around.

        You read whatever you wanted to in your interaction. It’s clear your problem is she chose not to interact with you. Not the first time you’ve brought up her leaving the group.

        Meg Hansen ran a superb campaign giving voice to thousands. She has put her neck on the line and published more on covid and mask mandates than anyone in Vermont. She was viciously attacked by major newspapers and stood her ground. Good luck sharing your tiny url around.

      • Zachary, with all due respect, you’re wrong again. I didn’t create a “special website” at all. The link I sent you is on the Facebook CDN website itself ( the “tinyURL” website is simply a URL-shortener which redirects to the Facebook site on which the post is hosted. You called me a liar for stating the Hansen said she was pro-vaccine-mandate. I proved to you that she was and that I did not lie about it. Now, an honorable gentleman would apologize for calling me a liar, but no, you just make up yet more clap-trap, all of which is easily refutable.

        If you’d like to have a discussion, I’m quite open to it – give me a call. Alliteratively, certainly feel free to keep spewing your lies on here – I really don’t care what you think.

      • You have proven nothing. You NEED Meg Hansen to be for mandates so you can keep criticizing her. Her full life is not one ancient online interaction with you. She’s a living breathing human being who you can have conversations with. She’s not a statue of stone.

        Mr. Guy Page will censor my comment or cut it down so I don’t know if you will see it. I hope he does not so Jonathan Lynch answers my question. What is the basis for you to “know” that Meg’s positions are demagoguery and finger in the wind?

        Mr. Page, this is personal hatred. You said critics of public figures don’t get a free pass. You are giving him a free pass.

        Jonathan Lynch, Vermonters are not foolish. You are pretending you are sharing the full context. You want us to believe you were a perfect gentleman and you spoke with perfect politeness while she is the Devil. You are fooling no one.


      • Let me guess, you’re for freedom of speech as long as they agree with you?? How come you can’t understand that masks do not work and the vaccines are not working?

  5. You know what else prevents the spread? Never going anywhere or doing anything. If you want to be (almost) 100% sure of ‘protecting people’ then leave society. I’m not going to spend my whole life wearing masks, polluting oceans w/ the trash, never seeing faces again. Not going to happen. So for those worried, you make the sacrifice. It’s a typical liberal argument – you have to change b/c of my feelings. No.

  6. My opinion on this matter is, if they don’t know what the (HE double LL)they’re doing, then do nothing…Doing something authoritatively simply because they can, makes little scientific sense almost always…Yet here they are, doing things unscientific yet authoritatively, simply because they can…and the end results are predictable chaos

  7. To quote Ben Shapiro….

    “Here’s the plan to end the pandemic:
    1. If you’re vulnerable, get vaxxed.
    2. If you’re symptomatic, go home.
    3. Stop testing the asymptomatic.
    Live your life. Enjoy Christmas.
    That’s the whole plan.”

  8. Thank you Meg for trying. I have done the same with no success. Here is an interesting piece of information. The CDC has notified laboratories that the PCR test, approved via EUA, is to be replaced. Because the PCR test can’t distinguish between the flu and COVID-19. This admission is extremely disturbing, as the media and our federal and state governments have declared these results as positive COVID-19 cases to scare the public and justify mask and vaccine mandates.

  9. This, like “global warming”, is a Religion now with the faithful duly wearing their useless masks as a talisman more powerful than crucifixes or garlic necklaces. It is a badge of the faithful followers of Saint Tony, never mind his utterances spin like a weathervane in a thunderstorm, he can do no wrong in his followers eyes. When confronted with his funding of the Wuhan Lab (“it’s worth the risks”, 2011) with OUR tax dollars through his cut-out Eco Health Alliance (Peter Daszak) & Dr. Ralph Baric, and now the revelations of horrid Beagle torture (see PETA & White Coat Waste), they shrug it off as “misinformation” as there’s NO coverage by Saint Tony’s other enablers, the “mainstream” or corporate media. If he told them to wear Scuba Suits to “be safe” at this point, they would. And if he told them to disavow their own families as “unclean”, they would. If he told them to stand in line, at a “super spreader” event to get “tested”, they will. It’s WAY past time for this Rat-Tat-Tui weasel look-alike and his Brooklyn accent to ride off into the sunset. Antibodies? Memory B-Cells & T-Cells? IGNORE them! Treatments? Never mention them! Vaccines ONLY for THIS one-trick pony Tony.

  10. The point that was made in the phone call by “Mark”. “That’s what you have to go by when you’re a health professional and your fit testing people for N95 masks”, seems to have gone over peoples heads. I have read many long reports about the effectiveness of various masks. Many did not impress me due to the various political agenda that the writer was from. The statement about the N95 masks though refreshed my mind about one particular study that I found informative. In that study they also said the “only really effective mask was the N95” BUT it had to be “professionally” fit to the wearer. Professionally FIT. Who is wearing the N95’s daily and who is professionally fitting these wearers? How many times are these masks changed daily. I asked about that and was told by a doctors office that they wore the same one all day. Does your medical office wash their hands between patients? Why are they not changing their masks? Won’t the germs from one patient travel on the mask to the next patient just like on their hands? Why was it ok all summer long not to wear a mask and suddenly in September they have to go back on? Where can we buy an N95 and have it professionally fit?

      • I know one thing for sure. After reading VtDigger previous to find VDC and TN, I am so happy to find people here with intelligence and common sense. We don’t always agree with each other but we touch on all points, we research and we think. Liberals think science is a study when actually science is really never settled until absolutes are achieved. Science should be questioned continuously. Tony Fauci is a fraud, the CDC and NIH can’t be trusted, The WHO belongs to China and our own government here has no credibility because they obfuscated, censor and hide facts. Those are the people closest to us. We should all be very, very pis–d off. But thank you everyone for being a sane place to visit and learn. Hoping 2022 will bring us to the end of this nightmare. Remember, LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS!

  11. Why can’t I see my comment? Jonathan Lynch writes unsubstantiated hateful posts here and on facebook and you published it all but if I poke holes in his bubble, I get censored. Why do you allow comments if your going to censor what you don’t like? Go the VT Digger way and censor us all. Don’t pretend like you allow free speech.

  12. I think it is a pity that the vaccine debate and the mask debate have been lumped together.

    An experimental technology never been tried on humans before “vaccine” that is not a vaccine that must be INJECTED is a completely different debate than masks.

    Masks are noninvasive.
    Requiring masks in public places in the middle of a pandemic with a virus that is mostly airborne spread is on the level of requiring shoes and shirt for service.

    Not the same debate.


    Looks like it is going to continue to be a long, divisive pandemic.

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