Wednesday, 14 October 2020

"Just the facts [about 5G], ma'am..."


We are bombarded on a daily basis with 5G propaganda, both in terms of breathless, gushing articles extolling the virtues of the nascent technology (and of the necessity of 'winning the race' to saturate our respective countries with 5G coverage), and also of articles condemning - often in the most strident and offensive terms - those 'conspiracy theorists' and 'Luddites' who urge precaution in our adoption of the next generation of possibly carcinogenic technologies. Indeed, President Macron of France recently compared such people to the Amish.

I was confronted by an article in the Guardian this morning, reporting on the recent results of a study from the director of the 'Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab', Dr Sander van der Linden, who is a 'Social Psychologist', and also 'co-convener of the Cambridge Special Interest Group on Disinformation and Media Literacy':

Poor numerical literacy linked to greater susceptibility to Covid-19 fake news - Guardian, 14th October 2020

Alongside the obligatory '5G conspiracy graffiti' image that accompanies the article, it discusses how people with 'poor numerical literacy' are allegedly more likely to believe 'misinformation' and 'fake news'. The paper quotes from the Cambridge University study:

'Participants were presented with nine statements about Covid-19, some false (for example, 5G networks may be making us more susceptible to the coronavirus) and some true (for instance, people with diabetes are at higher risk of complications from coronavirus)'.

The study in turn refers to the World Health Organisation's 'Mythbusters' page on Covid-19. If you look at the entry for 5G (please see the link at the bottom of this post), you will see that what the WHO actually says is this:

FACT: 5G mobile networks DO NOT spread COVID-19

Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks.

The claim that viruses travel on radio waves, and spread Covid-19 is a completely different thing to the claim that the prevalence of 5G radiation, and the radiation from other wireless technologies, may increase our susceptibility to viruses. Conflating one hypothesis with the other proves absolutely nothing, and is of no scientific value.

Anybody who has studies the biological effects of the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from wireless technologies, including 5G, will know that there is substantial and credible independent scientific evidence showing that sustained exposure to these EMFs can have profound health effects throughout the body. For example, the $30m National Toxicology Program cell phone study results showed 'clear evidence' of a link between the radiation from 2G and 3G phones and cancer, as well as DNA damage.

Also, the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified the radiofrequency radiation that is emitted by wireless technologies (WiFi, smart meters, mobile phones, mobile phone masts, Bluetooth devices, etc. etc.) as a Group 2B Possible Carcinogen.

The statement '5G networks may be making us more susceptible to the coronavirus' is determined to be false by the authors of this paper, based on a misreading of what the World Health Organisation actually said. It is unclear to what extent the authors have conducted their own research in order to have arrived at their conclusion. 

My challenge to them is this: Please provide us with the evidence that clearly rules out the possibility that the radiation from 5G, and other wireless technologies, may be making us more susceptible to viruses in general, and to this virus in particular. This evidence can then be scrutinised, to establish its quality.

If the scientific evidence doesn't exist to back up the author's claim, then I'd suggest that they are themselves guilty of disseminating 'misinformation' and 'fake news', at least until scientific certainty, one way or the other, is established.

Please: just the facts, chaps...


Susceptibility to misinformation about COVID-19 around the world (Royal Society Open Science)

'Mythbusters': 5G - World Health Organisation

National Toxicology Program cell phone studies

IARC Monograph 102 Press Release

Dr Sander van der Linden - Cambridge University

Image: Dan Aykroyd in the film Dragnet


Saturday, 10 October 2020

Dr James 'Nocebo Effect' Rubin awarded an OBE


In a development that is likely to shock and infuriate EMF-aware and electrosensitive people around the world, Dr Gideon James Rubin, a psychologist, has been awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for 2020 [1], which recognises the 'the outstanding achievements of people across the United Kingdom'.

Rubin's name is notorious among the EMF/EHS advocate community, for his repeated claims that EHS is a 'nocebo effect': in other words, that electrosensitivity is a sort of irrational fear of technology, which precipitates symptoms which the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognises are 'certainly real', but which are not linked to electromagnetic fields.

According to the WHO, the symptoms: 

'include dermatological symptoms (redness, tingling, and burning sensations) as well as neurasthenic and vegetative symptoms (fatigue, tiredness, concentration difficulties, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitation, and digestive disturbances).' [2]

(Any EHS person will probably know that the actual symptoms go far beyond these, but the WHO's list is a useful starting point, and presumably anybody with more than half a brain cell would recognise the unlikelihood of a 'nocebo effect' leading to some of these physiological signs, many of which are experienced on a daily basis by sufferers such as myself).

Dr Rubin received his OBE specifically in recognition of his 'services to Public Health particularly during Covid-19' [3]. He sits on the UK Government's SAGE Committee (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behaviours (SPI-B) - which is a SAGE sub-group, and the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), which is another SAGE sub-group [4].

The Times newspaper noted on 10th October 2020 that:

'The government’s scientific advisers on the coronavirus have received honours for their work before a public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic...Boris Johnson promised in July to hold an independent inquiry into the pandemic so that “lessons could be learnt”. Sage was criticised early in the pandemic for a delay in advising the lockdown. Jeremy Hunt, who was Britain’s longest-serving health secretary, accused the advisers of giving ministers the wrong advice by failing to propose a test and trace strategy in the early stages of the pandemic.' [5]

Given what many people feel to be the shambolic and ineffectual way that the UK Government has responded (and is responding) to the Covid 19 issue, and the role that it's scientific 'experts' have played in this response, the critics of the honours awarded to SAGE members, including Dr Rubin, surely have a point.

However, it is EHS individuals who have surely suffered more than most, as a result of the work of Dr Rubin, and people like him. To this day, denial of EHS as a real and incapacitating condition that is directly linked to EMF exposure usually cites Dr Rubin's flawed EHS provocation studies, and the equally flawed Essex University EHS studies, which were carried out by Dr Stacy Eltiti and Professor Elaine Fox [6].

At around the same time as Dr Rubin was producing papers denying that mobile phone technologies are harmful and claiming that EHS is a psychological issue [7], he also worked on behalf of the wireless industry, in a test case concerning Wispire Ltd., which wanted to install 'WiFi transmission equipment' in a Norwich church spire.

Objections to this were lodged by Electrosensitivity UK and a number of electrosensitive individuals, but unfortunately the Church Consitory Court, with the assistance of Dr Rubin, and Dr Azadeh Peyman from Public Health England, ruled in its favour [8] and [9]. 

(Dr Azadeh Peyman, principal radiation protection scientist at Public Health England (PHE), has co-written a number of papers which state that the transmissions from smart meters are safe, and she has appeared in a number of media articles making similar claims - eg. [10] ).

Below, I've included a number of direct quotes from papers on electrosensitivity to which Dr Rubin has put his name. All references are included at the end.


'These (EHS) symptoms can be associated with the presence of a wide range of electrical devices including visual display units (VDUs), mobile phones  and domestic appliances: devices which do not cause illness in the large majority of those who use them and which produce EMF levels far below those believed to cause adverse physiological effects'. (JR1)

'Some people report symptoms associated with mobile phone use. A minority also report 'electrosensitivity', experiencing symptoms following exposure to other electrical devices. Research suggests that electromagnetic fields do not trigger these symptoms'. (JR2)

'Mobile phone use in the United Kingdom has grown exponentially since the mid-1990s, with almost all households now owning at least one handset. This rapid uptake has been accompanied by a persistent low level of concern, with the perceived association between mobile phone use and the onset of nonspecific symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and concentration problems being of particular concern to the public. There exist no generally accepted bioelectromagnetic mechanisms that might explain this correlation, and experiments that have exposed healthy adults to mobile phone signals under blind placebo-controlled conditions suggest that exposure to this form of electromagnetic radiation is not causally linked to symptom onset'. (JR2) 

'Previous research into processes that cause people to attribute symptoms to innocuous exposures has suggested that the presence of negative effect is a risk factor for developing this association'. (JR2)

'To date, 46 studies involving 1175 volunteers with IEI-EMF have tested whether exposure to electromagnetic fields can trigger the symptoms reported by this group. These studies have produced little evidence to suggest that this is the case or that individuals with IEI-EMF are particularly adept at detecting the presence of electromagnetic fields. On the other hand, many of these studies have found evidence that the nocebo effect is a sufficient explanation for the acute symptoms reported in IEI-EMF. Thus while continued experimental research in this area will be required to clarify the role of chronic exposures and to test the effects of new varieties of electromagnetic emissions, the best evidence currently available suggests that IEI-EMF should not be viewed as a bioelectromagnetic phenomenon.' (JR3)

'The aetiology of 'electromagnetic hypersensitivity' is contraversial. While most patients and some scientists believe that the condition is caused by an as yet unrecognised 'bioelectromagnetic' mechanism, most mainstream medical bodies maintain that there is not sufficient evidence to support this theory and that the symptoms experienced by sufferers are unrelated to the presence of electromagnetic fields'. (JR3)

'...when faced with someone who describes subjective symptoms that are apparently associated with exposure to an electrical device, it would be wise for clinicians and policy makers to begin with the assumption that an alternative explanation for these symptoms may be present, either in the form of a conventional organic or psychiatric disorder, or in terms of the more subtle psychological processes associated with the nocebo response. In the latter case, treatment based on cognitive behavioural therapy may be helpful for some patients'. (JR3)

'Previous systematic reviews have found no causal link between the presence of electromagnetic fields and the reporting of adverse symptoms'. (JR4)

'Most expert groups, including the UK's Advisory Group for Non-Ionising Radiation * and the World Health Organisation, agree that electromagnetic fields and probably not the cause of the condition. Instead, studies have shown that believing that one has been exposed to electromagnetic fields is sufficient to trigger the symptoms associated with IEI-EMF, regardless of whether or not exposure has actually occurred, suggesting an important role for psychological processes, culminating in a 'nocebo effect' '. (JR5)

'Evidence concerning the most appropriate treatments for the condition corresponds with this (the nocebo effect): while reducing electromagnetic fields provides no more than a placebo effect for sufferers,cognitive behavioural therapy may provide more in the way of long-term benefit...'. (JR5)

'We know from past experience that promoting precaution to the public is often viewed as a sign of danger: people often assume that there is 'no smoke without fire' and studies have consistently shown that providing people with precautionary advice about mobile phones has increased anxiety levels and made mobiles appear more threatening. In addition, the type of alarmist media reporting that often accompanies precautionary recommendations has also been experimentally shown to increase the chances that someone will mistakenly attribute physical symptoms to a device or substance. So because precautionary advice exacerbates precisely these psychological variables that may help to trigger electrosensitivity in the first place, it is entirely plausible that increasing the level of precautionary advice that is given out about mobile phones, wifi and related technologies will increase, not decrease, the number of people who come to believe that exposure to these technologies is making them ill'. (JR6)


Considering the excessive harm that has been experienced by EHS individuals as a direct result of Dr Rubin's industry-friendly dismissal of EHS as a psychological condition, and even leaving aside for now his contribution to the UK Government's 'management' of Covid 19, the idea of honouring him for his 'services to Public Health' is deeply offensive, and it sets a terrible example (deny the value of non-conflicted scientific and medical research on EMFs in order to support Big Wireless, and you will be rewarded).

Instead of receiving awards for their contribution to 'Public Health', people like Dr James Rubin must one day be held to account for the Public Harm that they have caused, and the unrecognised daily misery experienced by electrosensitive people all over the world.

General References:

1. Birthday Honours Lists 2020

2. Electromagnetic fields and public health - Electromagnetic hypersensitivity, World Health Organisation, 2005

3. Awards for BD2020 (Covid-19) Recipients

4. List of participants of SAGE and related sub-groups

5. 'Too soon to honour SAGE, say critics of pandemic response' - Times, 10th October 2020 (subscription required)

6. Mobile phone mast sensitivity: is it all in the mind? NHS, 26th July 2007

7. Dr James Rubin - Kings College London Research Portal

8. Wi-Fi mast: conditional permission - Church Times, 19th October 2011

9. Re All Saints, Sharrington - Judgment

10. Smart meters on trial: how safe are they and how will they affect my bills? Express, 17th May 2018

Papers with Dr Rubin as author or co-author

JR1. A Systematic Review of Treatments for Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity. Rubin et al

JR2. Psychological factors associated with self-reported sensitivity to mobile phones. Rubin et al

JR3. Ideopathic Environmental Intolerance Attributed to Electromagnetic Fields (Formerly 'Electromangnetic Hypersensitivity'): An Updated Systemic Review of Provocation Studies. Rubin et al

JR4. Can exposure to a terrestrial trunked radio (TETRA)-like signal cause symptoms? A randomised double-blind provocation study. Rubin et al

JR5. Ideopathic Environmental Intolerance Attributed to Electromagnetic Fields: A Content Analysis of British Newspaper Reports. Rubin et al

JR6. Electrosensitivity: A Case for Caution with Precaution. Rubin