Celebs spread rumours that 5 G is connected to coronavirus, nutjobs burn mobile towers Fear of a pandemic brings out old concerns of emerging cellular tech.
There is a long history of fears over wireless technology, based on vague accusations that it causes health issues and claims that some people are “electrosensitive.” Those fears have been upheld by a handful of vague studies that had hints of possible links between mobile phone use and cancer, but most of them had significant problems. And plenty of other studies found no connection.
Nevertheless, the gradual arrival of the next generation of wireless technology, 5G, has rekindled health fears in some circles. And while arguments against 5G have been circulating for months, they appear to have found a new focus thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, with rumors of a connection between the two seemingly inspirational people mobile phone base towers on fire.
5G – The same as it has always been
Radiofrequency radiation is relatively low energy, and cannot break chemical bonds. Like the nearby microwave frequencies, it can warm tissues. But we are not aware of any mechanisms beyond heating that radiation at these wavelengths can damage human tissue. And, as noted above, there is no evidence at the population level that radiation from these sources poses any kind of risk.
5G tower on fire in Sheffield More attacks on 5g towers pic.twitter.com/xQDdSbXBrH
— London & UK Crime.. (@CrimeLdn) April 12, 2020
One of the challenges of this work, however, is that the technology is changing fairly regularly. Since the iPhone was introduced, we’ve seen WiFi using two different frequencies and multiple protocols while cellular service has gone from LTE through 3- and 4G, and we’re now witnessing the introduction of 5G. In fact, the introduction of 5G sparked a new wave of concerns that it posed health risks that earlier generations did not. After all, higher bandwidth means more power, right?
Not exactly. Wireless communication means compromising the service of getting as much information as possible across a limited connection while at the same time minimizing power consumption. Some of the methods of doing this include things like lowering the error rate or compressing the transmitted data and do not depend on the radiofrequency energy. Others, such as beaming, focus more of available bandwidth on the active device locations. All of them occur in a context – mobile hardware – where increasing the power consumed for transmission is strongly encouraged.
5G changes nothing of this. It transmits at different frequencies in some situations. But these frequencies are generally blocked by things like walls. And anyway, those frequencies are also low enough energy that they won’t cause molecules to break apart.
What is the …?
If the existing health concerns about 5G are not based on any established risks, then the presumed links to coronavirus actually have even less of a potential basis. Two basic ideas seem to float around how 5G signals are linked to the coronavirus. The first, while completely without evidence and mechanism, is at least somewhat credible on the face of it: 5G signals somehow suppress the immune system, increasing either the frequency or severity of infections.
A Dutch newspaper reported that several cellular broadcasting towers across the Netherlands have been damaged by arson or sabotage by opponents of a rollout of a new 5G network https://t.co/NoImohTNr0 pic.twitter.com/LBkllGMVa3
— Reuters (@Reuters) April 12, 2020
The second, completely divorced from reality, is that the radiofrequency signals from cellular services somehow produce the virus itself. Obviously, no mechanism is posted for this, because it is completely impossible. The fact that the coronavirus genome is clearly associated with a family of similar viruses is not explained.
In both of these cases, the only “evidence” offered in support is the timing of the introduction of 5G against the appearance of the coronavirus in some locations, as well as maps comparing the locations of 5G services with the locations with the highest number of cases of SARS -CoV-2. Neither makes sense as evidence. 5G was present in a variety of settings for a period without the presence of coronavirus.
The rest is just partial coincidence. The early 5G introductions have all been in urban centers, where high population density has improved the spread of the virus. But plenty of cities without 5G service have also had a high prevalence of the virus. In the United States, the virus is now present in many rural areas.
5G – Why shouldn’t it make sense to frustrate anyone?
So even a cursory glance at the evidence would show that these ideas are ridiculous. And yet, that hasn’t stopped some people. Unfortunately, those “some people” who spread rumors of coronavirus-5G have included celebrities, who generally have a large reach. And if celebrities are involved in ridiculous health claims, then you probably could have predicted that the links would trace back to Goop.
Soviet era study in 1974 revealed affect on viruses and microbes of ‘millimeter waves’ (5G as it became) and on diminishing reproduction – ‘they’ know exactly what they are doing as I have exposed for 30 years https://t.co/JPZncEeKEr pic.twitter.com/OqTSrllI9H
— David Icke (@davidicke) April 12, 2020
Of course, medical conspiracy theories often circulate widely without celebrities getting involved, so there’s no way to tell if they in any way inspired the attacks on cellular hardware. Since the beginning of April, the UK has seen 30 acts of vandalism directed at cellular network hardware, including several acts of arson. People working on the hardware have also been harassed.
At least some have attributed the spread of online conspiracy theories to state-backed misinformation campaigns. However, those campaigns would not work if they did not find a large audience of people willing to believe inaccurate information without checking for evidence.
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REF : Arstechnica