The New York Times has reach, journalistic clout, and the power to influence the minds of the public. That’s why it was newsworthy when they published a recent article apparently debunking the “myth” around the dangers of 5G. But are the 5G dangers debunked, really?
We’ve already received some questions from readers and customers about the NYT piece, so we thought it would be worth delving further into the topic and addressing them here.
What we found was interesting.
5G Dangers Debunked: Where It All Started
On July 16, The New York Times ran a piece titled “The 5G Health Hazard That Isn’t”. As the title suggests, the article sets out to demonstrate that impending 5G technology poses no threat to human health. Its argument hinges on one thing: a flaw in a graph drawn up by physicist Bill P. Curry in the year 2000.
To summarize: While investigating the effects of radio waves on human cells, Curry produced a report with a graph titled “Microwave Absorption in Brain Tissue (Grey Matter).” The graph, says The Times, “purported to show that tissue damage increases with the rising frequency of radio waves”.
According to The Times, there was just one problem. Curry’s tests were conducted in a lab, with isolated samples of tissue. In other words, they didn’t take real world conditions into account. And in real world conditions, cells deep inside the body are shielded by an important protective layer—our skin.
The NYT is calling out an important point here. One can’t assume that a causal relationship in one situation can automatically be applied to another.
And to ignore the shielding effects of skin is a pretty big oversight.
It’s after this that things get tricky, though. The piece claims that Curry’s discredited graph was the seed that, almost single-handedly, led to all future concerns about radio frequency radiation.
“To no small degree,” says The Times, “the blossoming anxiety over the professed health risks of 5G technology can be traced to a single scientist and a single chart.”
This is not true.
An Incomplete Picture
Times writer William J. Broad dismisses Curry’s research outright based on the protective qualities of human skin.
“At higher radio frequencies, the skin acts as a barrier… Human skin blocks the even higher frequencies of sunlight,” he says.
But as we know, the skin is not a perfect barrier. It has limits: for example, too much sunlight (which is a higher energy form of EMF) causes melanoma.
What’s more, as Dr. Devra Davis points out in her excellent response to the piece, the graph refers to absorption, not tissue damage.
Indeed, research by Dr Paul Ben-Ishai et al at Ariel University in Israel has shown that the sweat glands in our skin act as antennae which amplify the absorption of radio frequency waves. “The presence of the sweat duct led to a high specific absorption rate (SAR) of the skin in extremely high frequency band,” they concluded.
The research, which Ben-Ishai, colleague Yuri Feldman and team have been working on for over a decade, proves that the amount of radiation your skin blocks or absorbs depends on a lot of factors, including how active your sweat glands are at the time of exposure.
You can already see how The Times’ assertion—that skin shields us from electromagnetic radiation and therefore 5G is safe—is simplistic to the point of misleading.
One Chart is the Cause?
What about the assertion that 5G health concerns can be traced back to a single scientist and a single chart?
The Times article seems to suggest that no other research exists that would lead to such concerns. This is simply not true. In focusing on one allegedly-flawed graph, Broad’s article ignores hundreds of credible studies, reports and expert warnings that draw links between EMF and various health issues.
So vast is the body of research that we can’t into all of it here—you need only read our blog, as we discuss new findings regularly. To make our point, though, here are a few random examples out of many:
A 2017 report from the Department of Oncology at Örebro University in Sweden looked at mobile phones and brain tumor risk. “Conclusion. RF radiation should be regarded as a human carcinogen causing glioma.”
A 2016 meta-analysis of 57 different studies found that “Accumulated empirical evidence points to an increased risk of lymphoma, leukemia, melanoma, breast and brain/CNS cancers associated with exposure to MW/RF radiation.”
A 2017 study that tracked more than 900 pregnant women found that “pregnant women exposed to high radiation levels from sources like cell phones, wireless devices and cell towers miscarried at nearly three times the rate as those exposed to low levels.”
And so on.
If such research isn’t enough to convince news outlets like The Times that 5G might be a problem, it should, at minimum, prevent them from ruling out concerns all together.
Why The Efforts To Debunk 5G’s Dangers?
There are plenty of reasons to trust The New York Times. It provides quality reporting in an increasingly substandard world of news. Mr. Broad himself is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist.
But even The Times can get things wrong, or be hasty to make a judgement call that gives the public a wrong or incomplete picture.
And the question of corporate interests looms large.
The New York Times have received paid sponsorships from Sprint and Qualcomm. In April they announced the launch of a 5G Journalism Lab: “We’ve partnered with Verizon, which is providing us with early access to 5G networking and equipment for us to experiment with,” they said.
Whether these partnerships consciously influence their reporting or not, the eye of The Times could easily be drawn in the direction of what is most in its benefit to see.
No Halting 5G Opposition
“Mainstream scientists continue to see no evidence of harm from cellphone radio waves”, writes Broad, ignoring the mounting opposition to 5G from hundreds of scientists and medical experts around the world.
The New York Times’ outright dismissal of 5G’s potential to cause harm is, in a way, a dismissal of citizens’ right to be concerned.
The paper’s reputability and reach means they have just as much power to engender an erroneous “fact”, if not more, than that of an expert like Dr. Curry.
Diligence is required, as is unbiased reporting, and the painting of a picture, if not complete—as no one denies the fast-moving evolution of technology is a complex issue—then at lease with space to represent both sides.
The evidence that radio frequency radiation causes harm to humans is ample, compelling, and continues to mount. The surge in exposure levels due to 5G will be significant. The testing and regulation of, and discussion around, 5G should be treated as significant too.
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