This week the New York Times published an article questioning the safety of wearable wireless devices such as the new Apple Watch. I thought the tech writer, Nick Bilton, wrote a thoughtful piece that pointed out some issues with wireless technology. Namely, that we probably shouldn’t be wearing microwave radiation transmitters on our bodies all day. Especially considering what the most recent science is saying.
Mr. Bilton ended the article by stating that after doing his own research, he will no longer put a cell phone (or Apple Watch) to his head. This isn’t exactly a revolutionary idea considering that your cell phone owner’s manual states the same thing.
What followed is the most interesting part of this story. The tech media quickly came out with all guns blazing. Within 24 hours, at least 20 media outlets such as Wired and Slate published articles attacking Mr. Bilton. Reading their pieces, I couldn’t help but notice a similar structure and the same derogatory language meant to attack the author and his article, rather than his basic premiss of precaution. This left me wondering if some of these articles were coordinated? Here is a sampling of the language used in the Wired and Slate articles. Note that the first five phrases were exact matches within both articles:
“Fear mongering, “expert”, poisoning the well, Creationist analogies, pseudoscience/anti-science, ignorance, bet-hedging, conspiracy-miners, quack, anti-vaxx bully, cherry picking, tabloid quality writing . . .”
Most of the articles also attempted to discredit Mr. Bilton’s reference to the 2011 World Health Organization designation of microwave radiation as “possibly carcinogenic,” even though the IARC is the world’s leading scientific body on this topic. It appears that the tech community would rather bully truthful journalists than accept that research on the health effects of microwave radiation is evolving.
All of this leaves me to question whether the wireless industry is following the same playbook as other industries that are selling unsafe products? Scientific American recently published an article about this practice. They call it “pseudoskepticism” and the art of forging doubt in the public’s mind. One of the primary tools they employ is to personally attack the messengers of truth. Mr. Bilton and the New York Times have now experienced the full fury of this practice.
We will be seeing plenty more of this in the coming years as the considerable issues with wireless technology come into the mainstream. With each honest journalist revealing some of the truth, there will be a barrage of attacks using the same talking points that are seemingly crafted by a PR firm.
Watch for this and call it out when you see it. This industry trick is as old as cigarettes and asbestos and our goal is to render it completely ineffective.
Wireless Wearables: The Future or a Fad?
Update: Due to the uproar this article generated, the NY Times ombudsman has published this clarification. Within it, Mr. Bilton sticks to his guns:
“The reality is, we still don’t know definitively the causes of cellphones and cancer, but I can tell you one thing, as a technology enthusiast myself, I approached this piece thinking all the research was bogus. But, as I noted in my column, after doing my own reporting on this topic, I’m no longer going to talk on my cellphone for long periods of time without a headset. And I will likely also keep my soon-to-be-born son away from cellphone use until his brain develops, as erring on the side of caution, until more research is done, seems to me to be the smart and intelligent approach to this issue.”
The NY Times editor also published this as part of an addendum to the initial article:
According to the World Health Organization, “To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.”
What the editor does not state is that the above WHO statement is from the highly controversial WHO Fact Sheet 193, as described in detail here. The film Microwaves, Science and Lies states that the head of the WHO EMF working group is a known industry insider and she (or her people) changed the wording of Fact Sheet 193 in a manner such that every wireless technology company can now use it for protective legal cover. Furthermore, the IARC (referenced by Mr. Bilton as the leading scientific body on this topic) has requested that the Fact Sheet wording be “corrected,” but that request has been ignored by the WHO. The WHO “Fact Sheet” should more accurately characterize the IARC declaration that wireless radiation is possibly carcinogenic as follows:
“To date, limited evidence supports an association between adverse health effects and radiofrequency (RF) radiation emitted by wireless devices, including mobile phones.”
Here again it appears the industry put considerable coordinated pressure on the New York Times to back away from what was actually truthful journalism.
Note: Reputable studies that show cancer/tumor formation in rats from non-thermal RF exposures include this, this and this.
Devra Davis PhD MPH
Please share our newest scientific paper confirming the wisdom of Bilton’s questions. Wearables have never been tested for safety. Phones clearly do increase cancer.
Precautions are in order, especially for our children.
Hi Jeromy, Thank you for the above article. This looks like a Public Relations operation to me also.
How powerful are PR firms? Hill and Knowlton is a wing of the world’s largest lobby group WPP, who employ 162,000 people in 3000 offices across 110 countries.
Hill and Knowlton, concocted the Kuwaiti incubator baby hoax, the Pearl Harbor event that swayed US public opinion to support the US invasion of Iraq. Millions of innocent people suffered and died as a result. The mainstream media collaborated with H@K by ignoring this glaring fact and instead talked about bringing democracy and freedom to Iraq.
Discrediting a science writer who steps out of line and reports the truth, thus threatening the profits of their clients in the wireless industry is their forte. Walt McGinnis
Great article, Jeromy. Something to also note is that America Movil, the giant telecommunications company owned by Carlos Slim of Mexico, now owns nearly 17% of the New York Times!
Thanks for pointing this out Michele. This could be another major reason why the editors/management at the New York Times so quickly backed away from Mr. Bilton’s basic idea of precaution.
How much of their advertising revenue comes from the wireless empire? What percentage of their shareholders have fortunes tied to technology?
That is why it was so wonderful to see the honesty of the original article.
Always, always, ALWAYS follow the money.
Well that explains it. I wrote a letter to them and sent it twice. I can never find it anywhere on their web site. Plus they bashed an electro sensitive person mercilessly in an articles that twisted the facts. . . I will put my letter on this website and see if anyone can get it through to the NY Times.
This was the letter I sent to the Times twice but it never appeared. This has happened to me on other sites as well when I sent in science info to mainstream media outlets after they interviewed me and wrote incorrect facts, omitted information or slanted the piece. If anybody has better luck getting this Letter to the Editor of the NY Times on their site, please go ahead. Here is the letter:
With Regards to the article in NY Times this Spring: “When Science Gets Lost Inside Legal Maze”
The US Navy hired Zory Glasier, PHD to keep a bibliography of scientific studies on the biological and health effects of EMFs. His bibliography contains over 2,000 studies showing the bio-effects of EMFs on humans, plants and animals. Even the World Health Org declared wireless devices class 2B carcinogenic in 2011. Some scientists urge a stricter class 1A designation.
Dr. William Rea performed reproducible double blind studies on EHS sufferers in the early nineties. Scientist, Andrew Marino and others at LSU performed scientific tests on a physician with EHS which showed proven physiological effects and was published in Neuroscience Magazine: Evidence for a new Neurological Syndrome.
Scientific studies by Jerry Phillips done for Motorola were censored and slanted without his permission when he discovered physiological effects that were disturbing to Motorola’s profit interests. The list goes on and on. An endless number of links to these facts are available upon request or simply found by Googling. The more these facts are ignored or “discredited” the more there will be lawsuits as industry “science” tries to trap the public in its own maze filled with its “products of doubt.”
Jennifer, based on my own experiments on myself (I’m electro sensitive.), the biggest problems we have are with strong transmitters of these non-ionizing emfs. The general, overall, ubiquitous non-ionizing emfs present in our air (and going through our body) can be subjectively dealt with by adding energy to our bodies. Distance from the strong transmitters is definitely something that should be employed by everyone. An easily repeatable experiment is the turning off and on (while sitting close to it) of your Comcast router as a hot spot. In time (without any protection, it’s like 10 minutes), one will feel exhausted, if you are near a hot spot.
Jim H. White
I took early retirement in 1998 when I was told that, as a civil servant, my job was to protect the industry from the public. When I refused I was told that I had an “attitude problem.” My response that I had an “attitude” and middle management had a “problem” with it did not seem to help much. I am not known for being discrete when the stakes are high. Industry associations have sold the Very Big Lie to government that “Industry is the engine of the economy.” Nothing could be further from the truth – “The public which is confident enough to buy not only what they need but what they want is the true Engine of the economy.” An efficient and effective industry may be the transmission, but transmissions do not drive the vehicle. Look at this problem that way and see where this is all coming from – “A Very Big Lie.”
Shirley Joy Jackson
Thank you so much for the short AND fully comprehensive glimpses of how simply questioning marketing efforts can trigger such attacks. It actually helps reasonable people start to understand that “something is amiss” — we need this type of eye-opening to go viral. No need for us to name-call or attack (as they have). Let’s keep turning up the heat and spreading the word with simple, pointed inquiry, so that those who are unaware start seeing the level of cover-up.
Robert James Parsons
I have just seen the film “Ondes, science et manigances” (“Microwaves, Science and Lies”) by Jean Hêches, shown in the framework of Switzerland’s Green Film Fesitval. It is an extraordinary piece of work, an hour-and-a-half documentary that started with the proposal to build a cell phone relay antenna near Hêches’s village of Breitenbach in Alsace.
Hêches, long an anti-nuclear activist in the most nuclearized country in the world (70% of its electricity from nuclear reactors), was at first loath to get involved, but finally agreed. His research took him to Finland and, of course Geneva (where I am based as a free-lance journalist) to the WHO.
What he reveals is one of the most blatant cases of corruption at the WHO (the cover-up of the nuclear danger is another — see “The World Health Organization in Thrall to the Nuclearists “: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/24005-the-world-health-organization-in-thrall-to-the-nuclearists ).
Electromagnetic radiation is NOT a possible cause of cancer, but a known human carcinogen. (For an introduction to the subject, see “WHO Knew: The Elephant in the Room”: http://www.radiationresearch.org/10-uncategorised/357-who-knew-the-elephant-in-the-room.)
According to Dr Lennart Hardell (cited at in the film), the research on which the 2011 classification was based was obsolete by the time the classification was published. By February 2014, when the World Cancer Report 2014 was released, scientific research had advanced to the point where electromagnetic radiation should have been raised from Group 2B (possible humans carcinogen) to Group 1 (known human carcinogen).
The film deals quite a bit with Dr. Michael Repacholi, who was in charge of the oft cited WHO norms currently in effect. He was driven to resign by a MAJOR civil society campaign when his close and highly lucrative financial links to the telecommunications sector were revealed. Yet, the WHO has never seen fit to question the work and norms that he championed. His successor is no less tainted.
I had had many encounters with Dr. Repacholi (all on the record at recorded United Nations and WHO press conferences and briefings), and I found Hêches’s portrayal of him a bit mild, for all its scathing elements. Repacholi was an amoral fraud from start to finish, a veritable thug, and I published this in major articles in the Swiss press and in Le Monde diplomatique. He was behind even more bogus WHO fact sheets on uranium and depleted uranium as used in weapons, as well as a major desk study of the literature on the subject (passed off as a “mongraph”; all articles reviewed dealt only with chemical contamination except those articles from the (Pentagon’s) RAND Corporation.)
I advise you to read the essay “WHO Knew: The Elephant in the Room” and see the film — and keep on questioning.
Mr Parsons, This is fascinating. Please write to the Editor of the New York Times and to the journalist, Mr Bilton!
Thank you for putting this on. I have been following quite a bit of this over the last 4 years – and you described it perfectly. Thank you and thank you again.
I wrote a book for an an elderly activist called Fighting Faustian Fission about the corruption involved in the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant in NY that was successfully closed (due in great measure to a consolidated activist movement) prior to opening commercially. I will be writing more on the topic of nuclear power and weapons as well as EHS and science, and am interested in any information you have about Repacholi. As a person with “EHS” that has nearly died three times from non-ionizing EMF radiation since 1996 at a weight of 77 pounds, I am not a fan of Repacholi. Thank you, for the forth time, for your work!
Dr. Devra Davis
Thank you for raising very important unanswered questions. We also just published a piece on this NY Times article:
We really are flying blind when it comes to the proliferation of wireless devices especially those that are being marketed for young children. We have to ask ourselves why has the government of Belgium banned the sale of a cell phone for a seven-year-old? Why does the government of France ban the use of Wi-Fi in programs with children age 3 and younger? Why has Israel set up a national research Institute to study cell phone and wireless safety and issue precautionary advice?
A serious national discussion on the science of wireless radiation is long over due. We have enough information now to know that we should be taking precautions in where and how and if we allow our children to be exposed to these devices.
My colleagues and I include two physicians who have worked with the World Health Organization for more than 50 years. Our new paper concludes that cell phone radiation should be classified as a probable human carcinogen based on the latest studies from France, Sweden and Germany.
Dr. Devra Davis
What we need is a list, and a way to determine the strength of these non-ionizing emfs used by wireless items. That is the science that needs to be done, and we can’t expect official sources to come up with it.
I believe the higher frequencies of non-ionizing emfs are worse than the lower ones, and a few years ago, cell phones doubled the frequency (it went twice as high.), because more information can be transferred this way. Expect higher frequencies in the future, due to this.
Robert James Parsons
An error slipped into my comment: Jean Hêches did not go to Finland but to Sweden.
Sorry (I should have slowed down a bit.)
Well written article! Thanks Jeromy.
The response from industry is understandable since they’re paid to defend their company’s reputation at all costs for the sake of their stock holders.
The response of Wired and Slate represents an unbalanced non-investigative journalism that is dangerous.
Personally I have pictures of my right ear with a bloody abscess resulting from overuse of a cell phone. Eventually it has healed and is scarred. Presently I am unable to even have any phone receiver up to my ear without feeling pain and inflammation in my right ear the following day. Therefore I only use a speaker phone.
Wearing a device that not only touches the skin bringing scalar waves directly into the human cellular system not only creates direct harm, it also increases the antenna potential of the human body’s exposure. Testing indicates this exposure increases if the person has metal within the body.
Thanks for sharing your story Michael. Very much appreciated.
I recommend that everyone watch this presentation by Jimmy Gonzalez. He was an attorney who was a heavy cell phone user who got tumors in 3 different parts of his body where he kept his cell phone for work (head, hand, heart).
It’s a powerful video.
Michael and Jeromy, I want to point out that the frequencies causing these things are non-ionizing.
We are going to have to prove these are dangerous (even though we already know).
Our own company was maligned in the media once after a journalist rang for a comment on the anti-radiation products we sell – http://www.mobilesafety.com.au. When she published the article however she took an opposing angle (that radiation concerns were a load of codswallop and our and other anti-radiation products were all scams). She quite maligned our business and it was very disheartening.
Thanks for the article Jeromy. It’s so good to see you articulate, spell out and shed light so clearly on the behind the scenes practice that escapes most peoples attention. I see it happening quite regularly in the mainstream media. Not just with phone radiation & health but all sorts of issues (different groups behind different issues of course).