Rumours, fake news and conspiracy theories all belong to the same stable of potentially dangerous misinformation that can kick off social unrest and even panic in some cases.
You would think that with so much information at our fingertips these days that getting to the bottom of an unfounded rumour should be straightforward. The reverse seems to be the case. Too much information, all readily accessible, makes it hard to separate the truth from the lies.
It also makes it even easier to lie to us.
5G – What theories are out there they and how valid are they?
Around 8 percent of the UK population believe that 5G is spreading coronavirus according to a recent poll. 5G conspiracy theories are rife and the repercussions are getting really serious. Over 60 masts have been damaged in the UK as of May Day 2020 and telecoms engineers have been verbally abused. It may not be long before physical assaults take place
There are some very fanciful theories flooding social media right now including:
- 5G microwaves transmit Coronavirus
- 5G waves caused the pandemic
- 5G masts are actually secret weapons and the lockdown is only a cover story to install more of them
- 5G emissions are radioactivity that damages flora and fauna, and humans too
- 5G harms the immune system ,meaning we contract more diseases
- 5G is unproven science and the microwave frequency is actually harmful
There are even “awareness groups” promoting their own theories and drumming up support. Some extreme ones encourage damaging 5G masts as an act that supports public health. And some people have taken that a step further and carried out attacks on masts.
Why are 5G theories so popular?
Here’s the thing. Nobody trusts the government or large corporations any more. Lying has become the norm, and so it’s not surprising that individuals cook up theories that seem to explain what they suspect we are not being told.
Also, governments and corporations have a very bad track record of misinformation, which leads many people to suspect every utterance and denial.
Sometimes people are right to be suspicious and even cynical – but perhaps 5G really is harmless.
Or is it?
Why Do People Believe in Conspiracy Theories?
One of things that is difficult for us to manage as human beings includes uncertainty,
At a time when many people feel powerless and isolated, it can give comfort to believe that secretive forces are plotting against you and your welfare. It can be driven by the human need to find order in that confusing world, to find certainty and a degree of security and self-assurance. Not knowing is a gnawing worry – a vacuum.
Therefore a plausible solution that fits with other beliefs feels comfortable and reassuring. It fills that empty space. Worried people will listen to any narrative that sounds half plausible. Some latch on to the first theory that explains things in terms they can believe.
The fact is that they can provide far more seemingly satisfactory answers than reality.
Here is a good article in Psychology Today that explores these motivations and why we find conspiracy theories attractive.
Why have mobile communications masts always caused concern?
In a word: radiation. All magnetic radio waves are a form of radiation. Your microwave uses this type of energy to heat your dinner. Unfortunately, the very word itself immediately conjures up images of the atomic bomb and Chernobyl. This is unfair and inaccurate but it’s at the root of fears surrounding mobile communications and its radio masts,
But (and it is a very big BUT) only a fraction of these waves are potentially dangerous. They are at the “atomic” end of a very wide spectrum – a long way from 5G microwaves.
2 major differences between 5G and its predecessors, 4G, 3G and 2G.
Of course there are many differences but the two that are raising particular concerns are:
Far more transmitters are needed. This could mean a mast every 12 to 20 houses, as well as masts in shopping malls, hospitals and almost everywhere you look. This is because the radio waves used in 5G do not travel over long distances.
The volume of radio waves will increase tremendously. The Internet of Things (IoT) is basically where devices talk to each other using WiFi over 5G. This has a vast number of useful applications when many sensors can detect scenarios and report instantly to a central hub.
** To be continued **