PART 4: Critical Thinking about COVID-19 Conspiracies – Reuters’ “False claim: 5G networks are making people sick, not Coronavirus.”

By Nathaniel Doromal

We can now apply the framework outlined in Parts 1-3 to examine COVID-related conspiracies discussed in the media. A few COVID-related conspiracies were selected for this article; while this is not a comprehensive list, the same attack patterns outlined in Part 3 show up in many articles. Learning to recognize these patterns will make you a more critical reader.

Using What You Have Learned

First up is this Reuters piece, which attempts to debunk the belief that a relationship exists between COVID-19 cases and recently installed 5G infrastructure. The article ostensibly presents a strawman argument; you either believe the deaths are from 5G or COVID-19, but not both. By substituting the more extreme position for a more moderate concern, the article attempts to hide or minimize legitimate concerns regarding biological effects of 5G technology.

The Reuters article tries to make the case that 5G is safe by making critical assumptions and by presenting testimony from authorities including the World Health Organization, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), and Marvin C. Ziskin, Professor Emeritus of Radiology and Medical Physics at Temple University Medical School. In the article, these authorities say that non-ionizing radiation, like the kind from 5G cellular technologies, is safe.

Reuters is using both the appeal to authority and appeal to the consensus in this article. The following quotation by Dr. Ziskin demonstrates this principle: “I would add that there have been no health agency warnings about possible health risks of RF energy, including millimeter waves, at exposure levels that an average consumer would experience from communications technology. This is consistent with assessments of the issue by standards-setting groups such as IEEE and ICNIRP.”

Dr. Ziskin is essentially using his authority as a scientist to make an unsound argument. He makes an appeal-to-authority argument, asking us to trust the health and professional agencies without going into detail on the adequacy of safety testing done by those agencies. In doing so, the author of the piece implies the following message: “What gives you the right to question 5G technology when such credentialed authorities say 5G is safe?”

The question is an important one. No one can be an expert on everything, so we often defer to scientists or other experts. However, is public trust of these scientific authorities the best strategy?

Articles like the Reuters article espouse a dominant narrative or paradigm, implicitly asserting that the beliefs outlined are indeed the scientific consensus. However, scientific consensus can only occur after full examination of open questions and contradictory data, so one cannot help but question the validity of the consensus if open questions remain. And in the case of 5G, there is much contradictory data to consider.

Furthermore, science only works when the scientific process is fair and unbiased. However, we live in a time when conflicts of interest are pervasive, and unfortunately, public safety is all too often subverted in favor of industry interests, as was the case with Merck’s biased science around the dangerous drug Vioxx.

The public serves as an important check-and-balance for the fairness of the scientific process. Moreover, when new science and technology arises, especially when it will become pervasive in our lives, the public has a right to hold authorities to account to demonstrate higher safety. Critical inquiry requires the public to dig into the claims and assumptions made by authorities.

In the case of 5G, their health claims can be broken down according to the following assumptions:

  1. The only effect of electromagnetic radiofrequency is the increased temperature to exposed tissue.
  2. There is no evidence that electromagnetic fields are related to health effects like cancer and electrohypersensitivity.
  3. 5G exposure has no cumulative health effect.

The Reuters piece is one-sided; there is a conspicuous absence of discussion of any actual objections to 5G, and there is no mention of any contradictions to the above assumptions. This lack of discussion seems like a lie of omission. Relevant data from authoritative sources point to potential harm from 5G, but this side is not addressed in the Reuters article. This article is also a good example of “cherry-picking”, presenting only the data favorable to the 5G narrative.

Rather than accept these assumptions as fact, the original article can be researched to find the actual objections to 5G as voiced by its various critics, who may themselves have pluralistic views. Certainly, this is the case with COVID-19 and 5G. A wide continuum of opinions on any possible association between COVID-19 and 5G already exists. To fully understand the issues, one must see all the objections as voiced from multiple perspectives. Only then can the validity of the claims be assessed so a person can arrive at his or her own conclusions.

Assessing 5G and COVID-19

To begin to think critically about COVID-19 and 5G, find first-hand sources cited by the opposing sides, including medical or research studies and statistical data using resources like PubMed.gov or a more balanced search engine like duckduckgo.com. Far too often, we are content with surface-level thinking like scanning headlines or accepting the premises of material we already agree with rather than deeply examining source material to determine whether it supports the article’s premises. In the case of the Reuters’ piece, it does not take much digging to learn that the authors are seemingly ignorant of the latest criticisms of 5G.

Here is some of that evidence.

First, under the auspices of the US National Toxicology Program, the US government conducted a study in which rats and mice were exposed to cellular radio frequencies. The study found associations between exposure to these energies and tumor incidence and DNA mutations. Such findings not only challenge all three of the above assumptions but also challenge the conventional understanding of the science regarding non-ionizing electromagnetic field radiation. In connection to 5G radiation (which falls into the millimeter-wave definition), the National Toxicology Program (NTP) stated: “scientists do not know if millimeter waves may cause toxicity in the skin and other human tissues. Since the NTP’s studies have demonstrated that there is some interaction between RFR exposure at the tested frequencies and cancers of certain tissues, there is a need to understand the interaction between RFR and biological tissues and the factors that affect that interaction.”

Given the study’s findings (interaction between radiofrequency exposure and certain cancers), shouldn’t the Reuters article address the safety of 5G radiation? Surely, we should expect a higher standard from a “fact-checker”, especially when public safety is concerned?

Second, a tremendous amount of research spanning more than 50 years exists regarding the negative biological effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic field radiation. The Reuters article does not acknowledge any of these studies, but instead, cherry-picks certain testimony to justify a predetermined position.

A report released by the Bioinitiative Working Group (composed of scientists, researchers, and public health policy professionals) citing hundreds of studies in the literature, reported: “In the last few decades, it has been established beyond any reasonable doubt that bioeffects and some adverse health effects occur at far lower levels of RF and ELF exposure where no heating (or induced currents) occurs at all; some effects are shown to occur at several hundred thousand times below the existing public safety limits where heating is an impossibility. ”

It is clear from looking at the Bioinitiative Working Group report that the group collates and references a large body of research regarding the health effects of radiofrequency radiation. The fact that the Reuters article makes no mention of this large body of research is a lie of omission. Instead, Reuters “fact-checking” is based on a one-sided and seemingly shallow treatment of the issue. This lie of omission contributes to the illusory view that a scientific consensus exists when in fact it does not.

Finally, it is important to ask the question, “Who benefits from the dominant narrative?”

According to this industry analysis of the 5G market, the global market is indeed very lucrative, reaching $41 billion in 2020 and expected to grow at 46.2% each year. The players involved have a tremendous financial incentive to push the benefits of 5G technology while minimizing the public perception of any ill health effects.

With such a lucrative market comes Wall Street exerting pressure on the industry to deliver earnings growth, so there is a tremendous incentive for the industry to sponsor research that paints 5G technology in a favorable light. Unfortunately, there is evidence that the telecom industry does utilize its power to influence science. This paper indicates that a significant number of studies on the health effects of mobile phone use are industry-sponsored and therefore may be prone to sponsorship bias, the tendency for a study to reflect the interests of its funder.

Where is the Truth? 

Whenever two polarized positions are present, gradients of truth exist. A better understanding can come from reconciling these opposing viewpoints. When examined in this light, it becomes easier to see the logical biases and problems in the Reuters ostensible “fact-check” article.

The extreme position of “5G, not COVID, is making people sick” obscures the more balanced question: Is it possible that negative health effects from 5G could be contributing to the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that hinders full recovery from the virus? In fact, this question can be even more fundamental: Does 5G exposure have negative health effects? This is a wholly legitimate question and, one would think, an important question that authorities should ask and answer before 5G technology is widely deployed.

Stories about 5G and COVID are presented as conspiracy theories but are more akin to scientific controversy, a substantial debate among scientists on the state of the science. The scientific controversy itself creates its own winners and losers among established stakeholders. Dominant interests have an incentive to weaponize conspiracy theory; inconvenient hypotheses are attacked to prevent inquiry that could damage vested interests. The greater the financial incentives, the higher the call for objectivity should be.

Rather than fall prey to attempts to polarize scientific issues, we actually need more science to escape this conundrum. We should all think like scientists, because this mindset enables us to navigate the two polarized extremes, and sort the truth out for ourselves.

We must put aside preconceived notions, and instead try to recognize that the other side might have a valid argument and carefully weigh the scientific evidence on both sides.

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Nate Doromal is an activist and writer within the Vaccine Awareness and Vaccine Safety movement. He is a veteran software engineer, formerly with Google. Doromal now works in finance. He holds an MS and an MBA in Computer Science from the University of Chicago. He holds an Executive MBA from the Smartly Institute. He was originally trained on vaccines and vaccine activism by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny in her Mastering Vaccine Info Bootcamp. He has also studied immunological science extensively with Dr. Tetyana Obukhanych through her Building Bridges Course. He is a contributing writer for Children’s Health Defense.



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