Why Do Some People Refuse to Wear Masks?

Why Do Some People Refuse to Wear Masks?

Our host and Dr. Ken Duckworth, the Chief Medical Officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), exchange theories on why some Americans refuse to wear masks during the pandemic.

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Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. Today, I’m having a conversation with my great and dear friend, Dr. Ken Duckworth who is the medical director of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mentally Ill and former commissioner of Mental Health of Massachusetts and an all around wonderful man, psychiatrist, father and just superb human being. And we got to talking about why people wear or don’t wear masks. I hope you’ll find this interesting because I think we make a few points that are not exactly what you’d expect.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That if only people would play by the rules of the game. I mean, this country, we lag so far behind Europe in controlling it. We could control it if everyone would wear masks, wash their hands and keep the distance. What is it about the Americans that they’re so stubborn, that some people say it’s my personal right not to wear a mask?

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Ned, this is such a fun question because I majored in political science as I told you, and no one ever asks me a major, a political science question.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
So I think my answer would be that America was grown up on distrust of government. You go back to the American Revolution, right, the king, control, government, right, the three branches of government. The idea that people were inherently corruptible and that if you gave one person too much power, so you had to have the three branches. So in Europe, people like the government. Per square inch, they give more money to it than we do. They trust the government. They give everyone health insurance. College is pretty cheap in most of the countries, not in every country, but it is a different orientation.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
We also just have this longstanding concern, which I think Ronald Reagan articulated, that government is the problem, right. I mean, I’m not sure that the French have ever gone that far. I mean, maybe since the French Revolution in 1789. But I think, in general, I don’t think there is this inherent distrust. And of course, when your leader says don’t wear a mask.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
And a quarter of Americans genuinely follow what the leader says, plus or minus, that’s a lot, that’s millions and millions of people who are like, “Well, we’re not buying this.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. There is another strain. Like you say, we were born and bred to mistrust government and we were born and bred as revolutionaries, but there is another big strain in the American grain, I think, that contributes to this, which is intense anti-intellectualism.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Ah, yes. Yes. That’s a subject I know less about. But, I think this whole idea that scientists are elitists, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
The overeducated.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Science gets to bat last, and this is going to be true in the pandemic. It’s going to be true in climate change. You can’t really argue science.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I’m, unfortunately, concerned about our ability to integrate scientific information. And I do think people should have the freedom to not wear a mask when they’re hiking in the woods or on a beach.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Sure, exactly.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Right. I think that’s fine.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Just when not around other people.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
But, if you’re in your little coffee shop and there is 18 square feet, it would seem to be a perilous freedom to pursue. But obviously, I’m a doctor.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
No, but I mean, the Europeans get it and we don’t. So the mistrust of government and the anti intellectual strain, it equals people dying. I mean, it’s high stakes poker.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
It’s quite high stakes. And that’s a interesting thing that I’d like to understand better, how people think about that because to me, that’s a terrible price to pay for a transitory quote, “freedom,” end quote.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I mean, it’s stupid is what it is, I mean.

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
I have a daughter who lived in Madrid for this whole pandemic and I said, “Claire, I can fly you home. You want to be here?” And she says, “Well, I think America is looking just as bad as Spain is.” And this was in March when Spain was, Madrid was the hotspot, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Uh-huh (affirmative).

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
Now superseded by Florida, perhaps. And what’s interesting is she didn’t leave that apartment for 100 days or 90 days, something like that. She literally didn’t leave the apartment. And she went out once to take out the trash and a policeman accosted her and said, “You are not to be out of your apartment except to go to the store. Are you going to the store?” She said, “No, I’m taking the trash out.” “Okay, fine.” And she reported to me that she had a friend who took an Uber to see a friend and was fined a thousand euros.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Holy Moly!

Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI:
So I think have a different interpretation of sort of the public good versus individual freedom. And I’ll just leave it at that, right. I think they’ve come to some different conclusions about how society functions.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Yeah. Well, did you like that? I think Ken Duckworth is just one of the best guys in the world. In fact, I know he is. And I hope you found that discussion interesting. It is funny why it’s hard to get Americans to do things that even are in their best interests. If only we would all wear masks. But, it’s hard to get us, as a nation, to get onboard and do what we’re supposed to do. Okay. That’s it for now. This is doctor Ned Hallowell for Distraction. Be well and take care.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And remember to check out our sponsor. They help us stay on the air, so check out our sponsor OmegaBrite CBD. That’s O-M-E-G-A-B-R-I-T-E, intentionally misspelled, C-B-D. I’ve been taking it for a little over three months now and I highly recommend it. It’s good for mood and cuts down on impatience and reactivity. OmegaBrite CBD is safe, third party tested and it works. And if you go to omegabritewellness.com and use the promo code Podcast 2020, you’ll get 20% off of your first order.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Please reach out to us, [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is the always reliable and always delightful, Sarah Guertin. And our recording engineer, is an editor as well, is the very multi talented and very socially engaging, Scott Person.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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