Empathy for anti-maskers, or, I disagreed with airport security theater but I never hid C4 in somebody's luggage to make my point

I was trying to imagine the mindset that scoffs at mask-wearing and even gets violently angry at people wearing masks. And I remembered what I thought about the security theater that followed 9/11 in the US, that it was a pointless waste1. I still think that2 3. But I never completely ignored the possibility I could be wrong.4 What was my personal decision matrix?

Annual cost Choice 1: Look serious while waiting in line Choice 2: Opt out of body scanner as futile gesture of resistance
Reality 1: Security Theater (98% likely) Waste billions of dollars and billions of hours of life Waste billions of dollars and billions of hours of life, plus a few hours a year of my own time
Reality 2: security deters attacks (2% likely)

~3 dead5

~3 dead

So, if I personally ‘protested’, which I did until I had kids and needed to conserve my patience, I changed the world from the left column to the right column, which was basically no impact at all. And even if I was wrong, and nudie scanners really did stop terrorists, my skepticism would still be warranted: airport security spending would still cost a hundred times more per life saved6 than we pay in any other area of life.

But even allowing an equally skeptical view of mask science, the logic of contagion is very different:

Choice 1: Wear a mask Choice 2: Refuse to wear a mask
Reality 1: Masks are theater (98% likely) Mild discomfort and cost. Complete facial freedom
Reality 2: masks help (2% likely) Reduce deadly contagion Increase deadly contagion

The tradeoff for going from Choice 1 to Choice 2, even granting an extreme skepticism of mask-wearing7, is gaining a slight comfort in exchange for a small chance that you are killing people. If you are wrong about masks, your behavior is incredibly harmful. And that’s where my empathy ends: It never crossed my mind to try and hide C4 in a stranger’s luggage to own the libs.