Monday, November 9, 2020

Implicit biases promoting a more hostile world and political polarism

I often get asked about the underlying causes of certain human interactions. One domain that has been popular this year is political polarization, civil discord, and hostility in general.

The range of responses propounded by many which cite acute conditions, while quite plausible, do not address what I feel are the systemic conditions common to all of these concerns. I propose, instead, that the root of these conflicts is borne in childhood and reinforced culturally throughout the lifetime, particularly through language. I offer three scenarios in support.


Children have been raised on an implicit notion in the home that arguing is an offense. A formalized proscription is found in institutional settings where the notion is reinforced. However, arguing should not be shunned.

During arguing the participants are engaged in creating logical constructs to support or defeat a position. Arguing facilitates and promotes calm, rational deliberation. Participants demonstrate respect for each other by recognizing that each has reasoning ability. Through engaging in argument, instead of enforcing a position based upon a hierarchical structure or abandoning the debate, the participants tender their positions and open themselves to adopting the other’s position.

By arguing with others you show concern for them in that you are demonstrating a willingness to convince them and that you recognize the benefit to them of adopting your proposition.

An initial reaction to the proposition that arguing is for the benefit of the other party is that most people will argue for what they want. This is true. However, notice that I did not say that the purpose of the engagement was for them, but rather, there is a benefit to them. I will provide an example for clarification of this proposition.

As our introduction to argument has primarily been in the household my demonstrations will relate to that relationship dynamic.

Many parents have complained about the mono-syllabic retort or grunt from a child in response to the query about the school day or essentially any aspect of his or her personal life. Never more so than during the adolescent years. But argument enlightens both sides. It provides new information upon which an informed decision may be made. At times the rebuttal may defeat the proposition and the request is withdrawn.

Upon his or her evening departure you remind your child to be home by a certain time. Your child responds that it is unfair that he or she has to be in that early when “all my friends get to stay out later.” You could respond with something akin to “well that’s my rule so live with it.” However, if you invite your child to argue his or her position you have given yourself an opportunity to gain new information.

You may get the names of the friends, possibly parents names also, and where they go or what they do. You could find out the various particular offenses that your child’s friends engage in when he or she defends against your assertion that maybe they get to stay out later because they are better behaved.

So, your child argued to get his or her curfew extended. And did so selfishly. But, as a parent, it was a benefit to you. You got to find out who your child hangs out with and the type of activities they do. Your child even divulged the forbidden acts that his or her friends engage in which then gives you a heads up as to what to look for in your child. Hence, you benefit from arguing instead of asserting your authority.

Arguing is a good thing. This is why when someone says, “We have a great marriage, we never argue” I respond by saying, “That is unfortunate.”

Compare and Contrast

Compare: To examine the attributes of something to determine likeness and difference.
Contrast: To emphasize the attributes of something which demonstrate difference.
Complement: To emphasize the attributes of something which demonstrate agreement.

Compare and Contrast is a phrase that we likely got introduced to in grammar school and continued to see through matriculation. In adulthood the phrase surfaces during political programs, business news, or policy discussions.

This phrase may give a prima facia appearance as being a redundancy but rarely is that so.

In mathematical structure Complement has a value of +1 and Contrast has a value of -1. Compare is the nexus of Complement +1 and Contrast -1 which gives in a net value of 0. Thus, Compare is a neutral term. The phrase Compare and Contrast, having a value of -1 has an implicit negative bias.

In daily life we regularly compare. Often it is done without conscious consideration. We may compare two routes to the same destination. We may compare our attire to that of those surrounding us and conclude, “Oops, I am a bit under dressed for this occasion” -- or just the opposite. A personnel manager will compare applicants for a position.

The more formal Compare and Contrast is rarely undertaken spontaneously though. Unless a situation arises in which you are asked to but may not want to participate you would typically compare doing versus not doing the activity. In such a case as this you will naturally contrast also to support your bias.

There are times when others will be motivated for you to be in conflict. Conflict is profitable for someone. How broke would many a lawyer, judicial staff person, mental health counselor and many others be if all child custody cases were resolved amicably. The motivation to foster conflict is great. When profiteers are behind the scenes is when you will find Compare and Contrast as the standard. This is why it is an institutional standard. Institutions are profit driven.

While the instructive within the phrase demands showing likeness and difference the focus is then turned to the disagreement or discord within the comparative structure. That is, it seeks as a conclusion as a negative outcome.

OJ Simpson murder trial outcome

As a student of law I watched intently the proceedings of the OJ Simpson murder case. While the proceedings were ongoing I had no opinion as to the guilt or innocence of Mr Simpson as I had not seen the complete presentation of evidence. Upon presentation of the verdict my opinion became clear. He was not guilty.

That was the proper opinion to have yet there was significant discord across the populace as to opinions regarding his guilt, innocence, lack of guilt, and culpability. However, “not guilty” was the most warranted and logical conclusion.

The jurors’ verdict form was signed, read in open court, and the jurors were polled -- that is they were each asked if they agreed with the verdict. The court entered the verdict into the record and Simpson was set free. To this day that verdict stands. The warrants for the opinion that he was not guilty is so strong that to have an opinion otherwise is to defy logic. Yet, there is no global consensus of opinion on the matter.

I attribute this to ignorance about the criminal justice system and standard along with a dearth of logical processing skills in the general population. Once I explain this process and provide the warrant for the verdict then it will become clear that the jurors reached the correct verdict.

In a criminal trial the standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt”. The two other legal standards are “preponderance of the evidence” which means 51% or more in favour. This is the basic civil judgment bar. The next level is “clear and convincing evidence” which is generally thought to be with surety of around 80%. This is a standard used in particular civil cases such as Child Protective Services proceedings when the state seeks to take custody of a child. The “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard is flexible according to the potential deprivation to the defendant. In a death penalty case jurors have tended to report wanting to sure to the high 90s, maybe 98% sure, while in a stolen toolbox case 90% has been sufficient.

In the Simpson case there was one critical revelation that must meet the reasonable doubt standard for any observer. That was the incident of perjury by lead detective Mark Furman. Furman was the one who allegedly found a bloody glove belonging to Simpson at the scene of the crime. The term “allegedly” must always be attached to any claim by Furman because he is a liar in court. Thus, any evidence connected to Furman cannot be used to warrant the charge. In essence, anything Furman said, purportedly found, or handled no longer exists as evidence. If he perjured himself on one issue then it must be assumed that he would do so on all. But the depth of Furman’s lying is what shattered the case.

Prior to the trial Furman gave an interview to a local screenwriter. In the taped interview Furman refered to black people as “niggers”.[fn1] Additionally, he implicated the Los Angeles Police Department -- his employer and lead agency on the Simpson case -- in a scheme where defendants were targeted by police although there was no probable cause. Furman indicated the false pursuits were racially based. Yet when asked, under oath, in open court if he had ever refered to black people as “niggers” Furman resoundly said “no.” There was the perjury that disqualified anything connected to him from warranting a guilty verdict. It was not just the act of perjury that held such great force but, rather, it was the particularities. The act to which he testified that he had not committed was done so during a video recording which was made and preserved with his full knowledge. This implicitly demonstrates that lying is a habitual act for Furman. It is so routine for him, that there is contradictory documentary evidence is inconsequential in his mind. There was more to the interview though.

Additionally, his revelation that the LAPD schemes to unlawfully create criminal cases against defendants disqualifies any evidence obtained by or connected to the LAPD from warranting a guilty verdict. Significantly this includes any evidence obtained from any area secured by the LAPD in which independent third party observers were not present to monitor the entirety of LAPD activities. The crime scene was such an area.

Thus, there remained only a smattering of ancillary physical evidence that could be considered. From the lack of any physical evidence tying Simpson to the crime scene, the lack of eyewitnesses and the required presumption that the LAPD may have “planted” evidence the only logical conclusion for a verdict was “not guilty”.

Yet, when presented with this absolute logical certainty there will be people who still hold an opinion otherwise. The admonitions against making logical arguments which were inculcated since early childhood and the lifelong programming of seeking contradiction, I contend, are at the root of such illogical opinions.


While cognitive dissonance may contribute to inhibiting people from considering new information that may dismantle a firmly held belief the greater barrier to harmonious and logical conclusions is the implicit combative bias. Political polarization will continue to increase. Civil discord will continue to increase. Hostility will continue to increase. That is, until such time as the deliberate effort to cause those increases is reversed.

If we encourage argument, especially by children. If we seek to compare and complement. If we require opinions to be validly warranted. Then we will be on course to a more enlightened, harmonious, and productive society.


1] Fuhrman boasted of fabricating evidence against suspects and expressed amazement about the racial makeup of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Division. “Go to Wilshire Division,” he said. “Wilshire Division is all niggers. All niggers, nigger training officers, niggers.” LA Times 30 Aug 1995.

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©2008, 2020 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in its’ entirety with credit given.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Face Masks Mandates are not to Protect You - The Mathematical Proof

Let me begin by saying that I strongly support the use of face coverings -- which meet minimum efficacy standards, are properly worn, and are disposed of or disinfected properly -- as a means to mitigate the potential infection of an individual from the spread of a viral contagion for people who feel that they need such assistance. I equally oppose the use of face coverings -- which do not meet minimum efficacy standards, are improperly worn, and are disposed of or disinfected improperly -- to give the appearance of mitigating the spread of a viral contagion but which actually facilitate it by inducing individuals to not take proper precautions.

It is my proposition that the face covering mandate imposed by Indiana Governor Holcomb and similar mandates do not provide for the protection of the individuals using them as expected by those individuals. In support I offer a mathematical proof.

To begin the analysis of the face covering requirements it is essential to know the stated purpose of these acute personal health care decision mandates. In general these orders are for the purported “prevention of SARS CoV-2 transmission”, “to reduce CoViD-19 cases” or for “the health and safety of the members of society.”

The next step is to then identify the stipulations within the mandates that fulfill those objectives.

For this analysis I am using Executive Order 20-37 issued by Indiana Governor Eric Holcombe on 24 July 2020. This order states that the purpose of the face covering requirement is “to protect the health and lives of Hoosiers” [apparently there is no concern for visitors to the state but I won’t address that here]. The filtration standard provided for in EO 20-37 to fulfill its objective is found in the definition of face coverings; “a cloth which covers the nose and mouth and is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is simply wrapped around the lower face.” This means that stretching a t-shirt up over the nose qualifies.

For comparison I considered standards previously established by nearly every government in the world for personal protection face covering filtration systems intended to protect the wearer against biological agents -- bacterium and virions.

I also considered ratings based upon standards prescribed by The American National Standards Institute [ANSI], National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, European Union: European Standardization Institute, or similar independent evaluators given to air filtration devices or systems for the removal of particle-based contaminants.

Ultimately my analysis and equations are a compilation derived from selecting criteria established by the various standards organizations for the mechanical removal of particle-based biological or industrial contaminants.

In this mathematical proof I created a hypothetical face covering, Standard [A], which I compare to Governor Holcombe’s, Standard [B].

In this analysis I begin by establishing a conservative contaminant [particulate] rate of expulsion by a diseased individual. I follow by applying this to the two standards. I conclude by providing the raw numbers followed by my assessment as to efficacy.

To determine the amount of SARS CoV-2 virions expressed by an infected person I used the typical respiration of a healthy adult male during times of moderate activity such as casually shopping or mingling. I found data stating tidal volume to be 400ml with 12 periods of respiration per minute which gives a total volume of 4800ml per minute [v/pm].

From an Italian study I got estimates of vapor droplets [particulate] by various sizes during a range of respiratory activities. The smallest vapor size quantified was 0.80μm. I selected this size because it is the most common particulate size and that size which disposable surgical masks are designed not to filter. This study found that 0.751 vapor droplets were expressed during unmodulated vocalization while 0.084 were expressed during normal breathing. These numbers represent Ni, part. cm−3 I have chosen N to be 0.15 as a compilation on the range of activities measured based on observations of group human social interactions. Multiplying the v/pm by 0.15 gives a 0.80μm droplet expulsion of 5760Np/m.

Thus, in the following I use a rate of 5760 micro aerosol particles -- those similar to cigarette smoke -- for the analysis. This is a conservative estimate of total virion expression as particles in larger ranges are not included. I later adjust for the full range of particulates up to 5.5 µm. EO 20-37 face covering standards are given after the criterion. Calculations assume an infected individual expressing 5760 aerosol particles per minute while breathing at a normal rate.

1] Target pollutant size and filtration efficiency
This standard is used to measure the efficiency of removing pollutants of a particular size range given in microns. For applications such as smoke removal, surgery, or hospital settings particulate matter in the range of 0.3 to 1.0 µm should be removed at >95%. Some of the best-rated filtration units have an efficiency rating of 99.995% which means only 5 of 100,000 particles pass through. A study done in Wuhan where COVID-19 had its initial outbreak found that the majority of aerosolized viral particles were 0.25 to 0.5 μm. Although no standard is given for this criteria in EO 20-37 a standard has been given based on observational data of what officials have determined qualifies as a face covering.
STANDARD A - filters particles ≥ 0.3 µm
STANDARD B - ≥ 2000 µm

2] Mask material minimum airflow capacity
This standard establishes the minimum amount of air that the filtrate should be able to process. It is given in liters per minute per square centimeter. This rate should at least accommodate the airflow of a moderately active healthy adult male -- 4.8 l/min. 1 l/cm2/min will easily allow for 100% of airflow to pass through the face covering medium.
STANDARD A - requires 100%
STANDARD B - allows any level ≥0%

3] Respirator efficiency value
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-approved respirator masks have three non-powered particulate filter efficiency classes: 95, 99, and 100, for 95%, 99%, and 99.97% filtration of particulates down to 0.3 μm, respectively. This rating applies to the material of the mask not the mask as a filtration unit. N95 respirator material is expected to have a viral penetration rate of 5% but testing has shown greater than that. Some studies have shown penetration ranges of 8 to 82%. However, 95% should serve as a reasonable public milieu minimum although studies conducted in Italy have shown that numerous hospital workers wearing N95 masks have died from exposure to the SARS CoV-2 virus.
STANDARD A - 95% allows 288 droplets
STANDARD B - 0% allows 5760 droplets

4] Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value [MERV] at specific air velocity
This standard establishes the minimum efficiency of the filtration unit given at various airflow speeds as meters per second [m/s]. The lowest speed tested is 0.60 m/s which is commensurate with casual human exhalation. This standard is useful in determining whether the face covering can maintain gasket compression to the face under certain air pressures. Some face coverings may “blow out” during high pressure exhalation such as coughing or sneezing which allows air to bypass the covering. Sneezes -- these produce the greatest concentration of SARS CoV-2 virions -- can produce airflow rates of over 80 m/s in the nasal passages. I have selected 2.0 m/s as a minimum threshold speed in which the face covering should be able to maintain its integrity.
STANDARD A - ≥ 98% @ 2.0 m/s
STANDARD B - ≥ 0% @ ≥ 0.0 m/s

5] Minimum Arrestance and Pollutant Holding Capacity
This standard, usually given as a total weight, is used to measure the minimum amount of particulate that the filter can hold while still maintaining its filtration efficiency. However, this standard is applied to a specific filtration device to tell the user its capacity. Rather than try to explain how to convert a static standard volume to a particular mask I provide, instead, a time standard in which the face covering should be able to perform before becoming saturated and, thus, ineffective.
To better understand this criterion think about a filter in an HVAC system. Oftentimes the solution to feelings of not being warm or cool enough is to replace the filter. The new, unsaturated filter allows much more air to flow through and immediately the environment is warmer or cooler as desired. The air is also cleaner as less air has been forced through the far reaching gaps in the system in which air would not normally penetrate. The same applies to face coverings. Generally, typical face coverings reach a saturation point within a few hours. Observed usage by mask wearers has shown that a mask may be donned and used only momentarily or throughout an entire workday. The CDC recommends that N95 respirators not be used for more than 8 hours. Based upon these observations and recommendations I have determined that a mask should be effective for at least 4 hours, unless it is being used only momentarily before being discarded such as surgical masks.
STANDARD A - ≥ 240 mins
STANDARD B - ≥ 1 min

6] Minimum Bypass / Leakage rate of non sealed housing units
This standard is used to determine the maximum amount of air that may bypass the filtration material through gaps between it and the filter’s housing unit. For face coverings this is any gap between the face and gasketed surface of the covering. There is no particular rate for this standard but it figures into the overall MERV calculation. If the target removal rate is 95% and the filtration material removes 100% of the target pollutants then the leakage -- air passing between the face and covering -- rate could be as high as 5%. If you are using a non-commercial mask or one that does not give the MERV rating then you should test the mask yourself to ensure that it allows no more than 5% leakage.
To check for leakage, first time yourself exhaling under normal pressure and for a normal duration. Then, completely cover the filtration surface with a non permeable material and donn the face covering. While maintaining normal pressure, time the duration of tidal volume during exalation. Then divide the time while wearing the mask by the time without. If it took 3 seconds to exhale normally but 30 seconds with airflow through the filtration surface obstructed then the figure would be 0.10 or a leakage rate of 10%.

Masks should never be washed. Washing can damage the structure of the mask and detergents can degrade the impregnated filtration substrate -- the active filtration matter on which virions attach themselves. If a user wants to wear the same face covering a second or subsequent time then ultraviolet germicidal irradiation can be used for disinfecting. Disposable PPE should be donned by anyone performing the disinfection process.


Standard B has no requirement for removal of any particles size at any rate. Nor is there a material handling capacity or leakage limit. Efficacy has been set at one minute for calculation purposes although the standard provides no minimum time. At a rate of expression of 5760 aerosol droplets per minute this standard would allow the passing into the atmosphere of 1,382,400 droplets in just the 0.3 µm - 0.8 µm range. In addition, all particles up to 7000 times greater in size than Standard A, which are conservatively estimated to be 25% more, are allowed to pass through. These 345,600 larger droplets represent an additional volume of 125%, based on average size, for a total weighted value of 3,110,400 droplets over a four hour period. This standard allows 100% of particles to pass the filtration system.

Standard A requires removal of particles ≥ 0.3 µm at a rate of 95% with the material being able to handle 100% of airflow but allowing for up to 2% leakage around the gasket. Efficacy should be maintained for 240 minutes. At a rate of expression of 5760 aerosol droplets per minute this standard would allow the passing into the atmosphere of 96764 droplets over a four hour period. This represents 3.1% of particulate.

Standard A would allow passage of up to 3.1% of droplets in a four hour period.
Standard B would allow passage of an equivalent of up to 3,110,400 droplets in a four hour period which is >32x Standard A. For a further comparison an N100 mask would have allowed 69 particles to pass. Thus, Holcombe’s standard would allow over 20,000 times more contaminant to pass through the filtration system than the best.

When examining the efficacy of face coverings to reduce the spread of a bacterial or viral agent it is essential that the testing procedure uses an “as employed” procedure. That means that a test that measures filtration by placing the material in a sealed system is useless just as those which use a static human model. Effective testing of face coverings uses real world simulations which include a covering being “rehandled” after application. That is, it accounts for the structural damage [micro tearing] to the covering from being stressed by repeated donning and doffing. As-employed testing also accounts for loose fits, intermittent use, and fomite transmission from handling the covering.

Although there is no standard for handling face coverings, users should be instructed on standard operating procedures when using a mask more than once to minimize contaminant transference between face side and environment side portions of the mask so as to not contaminate the opposing side.

Additionally, while there is no standard in EO 20-37 for usage design, it is important to note that mask selection should be based upon intended use. That is, does the wearer want to prevent exposure to himself or exposure to the environment. An appropriate covering should be selected from these two types.


Standard A provides a minimum filtration limit that would serve to protect a wearer from exposure to mildly detrimental contagions. It would still allow hundreds of times more contaminants to pass than would be acceptable for exposure to deadly bacterial or viral agents.

Standard B provides no effective guidance for the use of face coverings to protect the wearer from infection or the environment from an infected wearer. Holcombe’s standard fails to meet the minimum requirements to meet the stated objective and is, thus, invalid. If Standard B were applied to car safety seats for infants and children it would allow something like this; A booster type seat used in restaurants with a bathrobe tie used to secure the child to the seat and vinyl lawn chair webbing used to secure the seat to the automobile by stapling each end to the existing lap belts. Would you feel comfortable with your child using such a seat constructed by Holcombe or would you consider it nothing more than a symbolic gesture?

Clearly the standard established by Governor Holcomb is in no way designed to prevent exposure to the SARS CoV-2 virion. The lack of a standard of action for these devices renders them to be classified as a placebo. While there may be a slight positive placebo effect in some people -- it reminds one to take other precautions which may actually mitigate contagion -- there is a greater likelihood that users will assume that the face coverings provide sufficient protection and thus will forego effective mitigation protocols. This confidence seems to follow a linear progression consistent with ignorance as to viral etiology and epidemiology, and psychological motivation. That is, the less one knows about the origins and spread of contagions and the neurological processes involved in decision making and judgment the more likely one is to assume the false claim Holcombe makes and wear a placebo mask.

By requiring the vast members of society to donn a placebo medical device, which cannot meet the declared purpose of mitigating the spread of a contagion, the true purpose becomes clear. It is not to serve a physiological outcome but a psychological one instead. The logical evidentiary conclusion is that the purpose of EO 20-37 is a psychological study comparable to those pioneered by Asch and Milgram related to conformity and compliance. As such every person at each instance should be provided with an appropriate Informed Consent form before being required to wear a face covering. I may explore that legal requirement later but this can be confirmed if you exercise any right in a public forum such as voting. No one can legally require you to undergo an acute medical procedure -- wear a face mask -- unless you are supplied with Informed Consent and your consent is voluntary.

If you choose to donn a face covering you should wear one that, at least, meets Standard A described herein and test it for efficacy. Unless your chosen face covering is an isometric mask it should be discarded after each use and replaced. If this is not practical for you then no mask should be worn and effective mitigation protocols should be adopted instead.

When mask mandates were issued and effective mitigation protocols were abandoned a dramatic rise in the number of cases ensued. So, there is your mathematical proof. Do with it what you may.

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Parents who would like to achieve the best outcome for their children in a contested child custody case should visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. Attorneys may request a free consultation to learn how I can maximize their advocacy for their clients.

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©2008, 2020 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in its’ entirety with credit given.