On Friday, The New Republic published an article by Christopher Ketcham, under the thoughtful and modest title, “Is 5G Going to Kill Us All?”
It’s astonishing to see an article like this run in a publication of The New Republic‘s history and caliber, particularly at a time when 5G conspiracy theorists are actively destroying cell phone towers and wrecking installations thanks to baseless conspiracy theories linking 5G to coronavirus. There have been 77 arson attacks since March 30, with staff reporting 180 incidents of abuse. Articles like Ketcham’s only fan the flames.
Let’s Talk About the Author
I can’t speak to any of Christopher Ketcham’s writing on any other topic, but when it comes to wireless technology, he’s been banging the same drum for a decade — and using exactly the same rhetorical techniques to do it.
In a story written in 2010, Ketcham begins by telling us the story of Allison Rall back in 1990, a young mom with three children whose cattle sicken and children fall ill after a cellular tower is installed nearby. He immediately ties her case to a statement by an EPA scientist named Carl Blackman, who tells us/her, “With my government cap on, I’m supposed to tell you you’re perfectly safe,” Blackman tells her. “With my civilian cap on, I have to tell you to consider leaving.”
In the most recent story, we are introduced to Debbie Persampire, a woman “who believes cell phones are poisoning her children.” Ketcham presents this statement uncritically, even as he describes how the woman covers the rooms of her house in an EMF-reducing paint that sells for ~$66 per liter. Her family, we are told, “trusts her.” Whether her doctor trusts her is not discussed.
From that point, Ketcham pivots. Now, we’re told that a 2018 study by the National Toxicology Program discovered evidence that exposing rats to cell phone radiation can cause various forms of cancer. Again, it’s the exact same story structure — a sympathetic emotional hook, a mother in desperate straits, and finally, a government figure or body with critical information showing a major problem that somehow, somehow, has been swept under the rug.
The only problem is, it’s claptrap from start to finish.
Let’s talk about why.
As Ars Technica has detailed in multiple stories, the NTP report Ketcham uncritically quotes is riddled with methodological flaws to the point of uselessness. For starters, the control rats — the rats not being exposed to any radiation — died at nearly twice the rate of the exposed rats. Right off the bat, that’s a massive problem — the control rats died so quickly, they don’t represent a control group at all. Furthermore, the result makes no sense on its face. There is no known biological reason why rats being exposed to cell phone radiation would live longer. Clearly something else was impacting the male rate population.
Furthermore, the higher incidence of cancer that Ketcham refers to was only found in the male rats, where 48 percent of the control group died early. In female rats, where this did not occur, incidents of cancer between the two groups were identical. The control and exposed groups of mice, tested under the same protocols as the rats, saw no change in cancer rates.
Ketcham does not address these points. Instead, he pivots to a 2011 report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, finding that cell phone radiation is a “possible human carcinogen.” This is true. But he completely neglects to report any of the context of that finding.
The WHO classifies cell phone radiation as a Category 2B risk, meaning “This category is used for agents for which there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.” For comparison — because context is important — processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, and sausage are classified as Group #1 — “Carcinogenic to humans.” Red meat like beef, pork, and lamb is Group #2A: “Probably carcinogenic to humans.”
In other words, if you think it’s justified to get upset over the Group 2B classification on your Wi-Fi but aren’t worried about the bacon-wrapped steak you just ate for lunch, the WHO believes your priorities are vastly out of whack.
Ketcham loves to draw frightening associations in his texts. Readers, for example, are told that what little we know about 5G spectrum usage comes from military applications, which “gives some observers pause.” After all, the government has a weapon called the Active Denial System, which uses millimeter waves to make your skin burn painfully. The fact that the AWS is designed to hit targets with a 100kW output beam is conveniently ignored.
Pro Tip: Do not stand in front of anything that outputs 100kW of energy. No matter what it does, you will not like it.
Near the end of the article, Ketcham again grounds his critique of 5G in the poorly regarded, highly erroneous (as in, shot full of errors) Ramazzini study, again meticulously deconstructed here, by Dr. John Timmer of Ars Technica. Again, none of these errors are mentioned in the piece he writes, which collectively paints the picture of an FCC overrun by industry hacks and individuals less interested in truth than in a rush to judgment to placate the industry.
This is not a piece of journalism. It’s a piece of propaganda written by an author who knows exactly how to create a solid-seeming article, to feed a line of argument he’s been making for a decade using the same rhetorical techniques and half-disclosed facts. The New Republic is in desperate need of a science editor.
5G is a lousy technology. Qualcomm, Verizon, AT&T, and the other companies that deploy it have been more than willing to misrepresent various aspects of the service. The chances that anyone anywhere will benefit from 5G deployments right now are minimal.
But the reason 5G antennas are sprouting up by the hundreds isn’t that corporations want to saturate us in dangerous EMF. It’s because 5G signals are so short-range and weak, it takes hundreds of antennas to get any signal anywhere. The very facts that make 5G a laughable source of bodily harm are the reasons Ketcham leans on to paint it as an ominous threat.
5G does not cause cancer. LTE does not cause cancer. 3G does not cause cancer. 2G did not cause cancer. Your home microwave doesn’t cause cancer, either. They don’t cause coronavirus. Electrosmog does not exist. Wearing tinfoil around your head may treat your mental condition via the placebo effect, but it isn’t going to do anything else. Repeated tests of volunteers who claim to be sensitive to EM fields have demonstrated these individuals cannot tell when an EM field is active in a room.
By providing a platform to Ketcham, The New Republic has made itself a mouthpiece for a small handful of individuals who have maintained that wireless technology represents a massive threat to human life, even as the studies that they claim support their arguments collapse under the weight of methodological errors. Ketcham ignores the tremendous flaws in his own arguments. Don’t be fooled.
- YouTube Says It Will Remove 5G Misinformation After People Burn Cell Towers
- 5G Doesn’t Cause Coronavirus, but Coronavirus Might Cause 5G
- Don’t Believe the Scaremongering About 5G, Cancer Rates