The other night, after reading horrifying new stories about the thousands of people suffering and dying from COVID-19 in my home state of New York, I came across a post from the World Health Organization (WHO) that stopped me in my tracks.
Unbeknownst to me, there is apparently a whack-a-doodle conspiracy theory out there that COVID-19 is actually caused by the 5G WiFi network. And this bonkers theory is so widespread that the World-Freaking-Health-Organization felt the need to call it out.
Yes, really. Instead of listening to the great scientific minds out there who are working their collective asses off to understand this virus, save lives, and keep us as safe as possible, people are latching onto the idea that the virus is somehow being spread by the freaking WiFi signals in their neighborhood.
WTAF? Didn’t most of us take biology 101, which taught us that viruses are spread by microscopic organisms (i.e., germs) from one infected person to another? I mean, hello. This is basic stuff, folks.
After doing a bit more digging, I found out a little more about this so-called theory. According to Forbes, there are two different variations of the theory.
One is that there actually isn’t any virus known as COVID-19. All those awful symptoms people are experiencing—high fever, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue … yeah, those are all caused by 5G exposure.
The other theory is that 5G simply makes your immune system weaker, which supposedly explains why so many people are getting so sick with COVID-19.
According to the New York Times, the theory has been spreading on social media for the past few months—including a few now-deleted Tweets by celebrities like Keri Hilson, Woody Harrelson and John Cusack.
Folks are linking the emergence of COVID-19 in China with the installation of 5G there, drawing up elaborate timelines of how the disease epidemics over the past 20 years are somehow linked to the emergence of fiberoptic networks.
First of all, correlation doesn’t equal causation, people. I could literally pick any chain of events and link a particular other event to it and theorize that Event #1 caused Event #2.
But besides all that, there is absolutely no scientist out there who believes these theories hold any weight. None whatsoever.
In fact, scientists are having to go out of their way to debunk the theory, when they have far better things to do (like, hello, developing treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19).
That’s just one of the many, many things wrong here.
First of all, it’s just plain wrong to think that something like a wireless network could cause illness (again, biology 101) and there is zero scientific evidence to prove that it could. All experts agree that COVID-19 was likely transmitted from an animal–most likely a bat–to a human, and spread from there.
As for the “5G weakens your immune system” theory, there is also zero evidence for that, either. According to the BBC, 5G radio waves are considered a form of low-frequency and non-ionizing radiation. If you were to look at the electromagnetic spectrum, you’d see 5G waves on the total opposite end of the spectrum, far from sources like X-rays and even ultraviolet rays.
What’s more, there’s no evidence that 5G waves can mess with your immune system. “The idea that 5G lowers your immune system doesn’t stand up to scrutiny,” Simon Clarke, an associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, told the BBC.
To me, though, the biggest problem here isn’t even how totally outrageously illogical and stupid these theories are. It’s that they are potentially harmful, too.
In a time like this—when folks are literally dying by the thousands, many of whom are being forced to die alone, without loved ones near because the virus they are battling is that damn dangerous—we need to focus on science more than ever.
We need to trust scientists and doctors to point the way toward the best science-based practices to keep the virus contained and to help those on the frontlines treating it. We need to enthusiastically back the folks out there working tirelessly toward treatments and a vaccine.
If you don’t believe that the virus is caused by person-to-person contact or droplet transmission (as the CDC says the majority of cases of COVID-19 are), why would you bother practicing social distancing rules? If you think 5G is how people get sick with COVID-19, why would you get yourself or your kids immunized once a vaccine becomes available?
I live in New York state, where we have seen 700+ deaths per day from COVID-19 over the past week. I am personally extremely angry and offended when I see people touting conspiracy theories such as these instead of listening to actual science.
Lives are at stake. Your life—or the life of someone you love—might be at risk next. This is not the time to fuck around with conspiratorial, pseudoscience bullshit. For real. So please stop.
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