These movements are gaining power, my friends.
Not just among right-wing fundamentalist Christians in the US either... but also among many lefty well-meaning people from hippy or alternative backgrounds. I don't presume that any amount of writing or reasoning or evidence will ever be able to change the minds of the kind of right-wing Trump supporting Christians in the south of US, and this article is not directed at them. But I do believe that some of my hippy-leaning friends are still open to changing their minds, if presented with the right information.
And so I keep trying.
One of things I hear a lot from lefty-liberal folk (who tend not to be tertiary educated) is that we should just respect all points of view, and that the way to fight the misinformation war is simply to be kind and not to try to be right. A lot of good-hearted people are baffled by the confusing array of different points of view that gets, shoved at them and their instinctive reaction is "how can both sides be right when they are both claiming scientific backing"? They come away from conflicting media reports feeling like the only way forward is to just accept that everyone has their own perspective and that's okay. They say "let people have their own whacky views - it's not harming anyone! By trying to refute people and tell them they're wrong you are just contributing to all the hate and division out there."
While this is an entirely understandable perspective to come away with, I don't think it's a helpful one. I actually think the fact that so many lefties think like this, is one of the reasons we have the current misinformation maelstrom.
The more we take a back seat, as lefties, and sit on the "pacifist" fence, refusing to stand up for facts, the more we are in effect enabling the right wing anti-science agenda, which relies on the spirit of anti-intellectualism and the degeneration of the education system for its propagation.
In order to successfully challenge power structures, you need to be able to think and discriminate between what's real and what's not. In order to develop systems that can solve problems, you need education, and you need verified data to work with. A tertiary degree provides you with a set of tools - in the Arts where you get to study things like philosophy, critical thinking, communications, anthropology, political discourse, social science, and in the Sciences, where you learn all about the rigours of the scientific method and data analysis. Among other things, you learn how to carry out effective research, analyse statistics, critique conceptual frameworks, question politic rhetoric, and understand the dynamics of historical polemics and inherent power systems and how they manifest. Education really does make a massive difference when you are presented with an enormous amount of conflicting information (as we are these days). It does help you to discriminate between bullshit and genuine facts. It arms you with a way to articulate forms of resistance to the power structures that are out there. When you don't have an education, no matter how intuitively smart you may be, you just haven't had the same kind of training in how to organise and evaluate narratives of truth. Sure, there are some very bright hippies out there who have taught themselves these skills - and cudos to them! But there are also many hippies out there who think they have taught themselves these skills, when in actual fact they have just been reading a plethora of echo chamber sites on the internet.
It is no wonder, then, that conservative governments consider a tertiary educated population to be a threat to them. This is not something new. In almost every fascist or tyrannical regime, the intellectuals are the first to be exiled or killed and education is always stifled. Trump is a great example of someone who is innately anti-intellectual. He pays no regard to truth whatsoever. He sneers at any journalist who attempts to present him with any kind of intelligent analyses or challenge. He is the champion of the uneducated and is King in a realm where truth, intellectual rigour, and the difference between bullshit platitudes and verified data, all means nothing. The Murdoch media empire is another example of where those in positions of great power know that the more ignorant the masses, the more their power goes unchallenged.. You can see this in action in Australia, with the defunding of the ABC and the Arts and the decrease in academic standards in Australian universities. These trends are direct political manoevres to keep the population as helpless pawns in a game where the uber rich and powerful stay uber rich and powerful, because the people are too stupid to be able to understand what is going on and to challenge it.
So to all my lefty, alternative, soft-hearted friends you need to unequivocally understand that the less educated we are as a population, the more vulnerable we are to fake news, and the more we are able to be manipulated by political forces who are only out to hoodwink us and who couldn't give a shit about our best interests.
So every time you say that all opinions are equal, and that someone with a tertiary degree shouldn't have any more authority than anyone who can read the internet - you are literally playing into the hands of people like Trump and Murdoch, and you are actively supporting their agenda.
The misinformation war is not some harmless problem we should be tolerant of. It's a really serious, destructive problem - socially, politically and environmentally. Just look at the climate-change denial machine and the impact of that on our future survival as a species. Look at the power of the Murdoch media empire and its capacity to manipulate the democratic process. Look at the power of social media sites to persuade people to side with specific political agendas. You can see the combined effect of these forces very clearly in what is happening in the US at the moment.
Fake news and misinformation are actually winning the fight.
This is really serious. It could not only mean the end of democracy, but also the end of our species.
Being able to get a good education is something we should still cherish. If our society gives up on educating its people and encourages the notion that bullshit information is as valuable as hard- fought-for scientific data, then you have what's going on in the US: people who think wearing a mask is the devils work, who think climate change is a hoax, who think black people are inferior and who think Trump is a messiah. Ignorance is incredibly destructive and dangerous. Women like me stopped being burnt as witches because of education.
And please don't give me that bollocks that "knowledge without wisdom and compassion is only a tool for hate"... of course it would be great if we all had wisdom and fierce compassion too! But knowledge IS the gateway to developing genuine compassion and wisdom. Compassion without knowledge is idiot-compassion. It achieves nothing.
You can try hugging someone who's coming at you with a pitchfork or a gun...you can try hugging someone who refuses to wear a mask to protect you from covid... you can try hugging people who are tearing down forests because they don't understand the link between trees and climate charge...good luck with that!
It's a fact - the less educated people are, the more irrational, bigoted, intolerant, hateful, violent and war-mongering they are. You can try remedying that with love and compassion. I'm not sure how far you will get with that alone. But if you add education to that mix, you can really start to change these kinds of views from the ground up.
Fierce compassion is not only about understanding and caring, it's also about taking action with a sharp, clear mind. Helping people discriminate between truth and bullshit IS a way to protect wisdom and can be genuinely coming from a place of fierce compassion. It's not about being right. It's about trying to save a dying planet and a dying society. Standing up for education and scientific method and valid data goes hand in hand with standing up for compassion, truth and peace and a viable future. In fact, research suggests that there is a strong connection between people who have higher empathy and liberal lefty progressive political views.
How anti-intellectualism fuels conspiracy theories
I have so many friends who buy into conspiracy theories - such as the evils of 5G and anti-vaccination. I cannot count the number of times I have been sent what friends consider "verified research" to support their alarmist views, where that "research" is nothing but links to discredited new-age websites full of pseudo-science bollocks. This is why scientific research, or academic research is entirely different from random internet "research". Valid data matters. The scientific method matters. Peer review matters. All of these things have been put in place in academic institutions over the centuries for the very purpose of differentiating between data we can rely on, and data we can't rely on. The scientific method is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. It’s the best system we have for analysing the nature of phenomena and how it functions. It’s not mere conjecture. It’s the result of a lot of hard work and an admirable collective attempt to differentiate between that which is empirically cognizable and that which isn’t; between the way things validly function and the way they don’t. All of the technology we rely on every day, is founded on hard work done by people dedicated to championing that distinction.
If we say the scientific method of establishing empirical truth is of no more value than people’s own uneducated florid beliefs then you do end up with a situation where people think the earth is flat and ignore any attempt by anyone else to prove otherwise. Truth does matter – if you want a functioning society and technology that works.
The ravings of someone who has no tools to evaluate empirical data should not be given the same credence as a scientist who has spent a lifetime studying and testing how phenomena works. In the same way that someone who knows how to bang a triangle should not be given the same respect as a symphonic orchestra soloist… or a Byron Bay hippie who has delved momentarily and superficially into the power of crystals should not be given the same credence as a hermit who has spent a lifetime studying and experiencing the elaborate complexity of the nature of mind. It is important to differentiate between utterly false “truths” and tried and tested truths. Expertise, knowledge and understanding does make a difference.
Mere belief shouldn’t have the same status as scientific facts. When it does, you get the kind of situation we are in now - where people like Trump or climate-change-denying evangelical Christians have a lot of power and make decisions that have devastating consequences for the planet. If anti-vaxers had their way the world would be rife again with polio, smallpox, tetanus etc and if antibiotics weren't around life-expectancy would be reduced to 35 again.
I’m not saying science is a perfect methodology or that it holds all the truths or that it’s infallible. And I’m also not saying it can’t be used to do terrible things to humanity and to the planet…especially when it is institutionalised and enmeshed in a capitalist, materialistic political narrative. I think it does need to be made more inseparable from altruistic intention and a wider philosophical framework that distinguishes between benefit and harm.
I also think there are large areas where science has not yet made much progress – such as in examining the nature of consciousness, or in establishing what happens after death, or in deconstructing subjective experience and challenging the mind’s habitual ways of projecting reality, or in understanding the importance and power of intangible things like poetry, music, love, silence and the importance of our relationship to nature as a whole. And yes - I guess in these areas, one’s own experience and belief system and the wisdom of certain philosophical analytic traditions is all we have. But that doesn’t mean we get to throw all the progress science has made so far out the window.
Yes – it’s a constantly evolving method – but it’s also the source of an amazing, wonderful, rich tradition of knowledge about the material world we live in that has had enormous benefits in areas such as health, material comfort, and understanding the building blocks of this world. The logic and method it’s based on should be respected.
Once we stop valuing this - we get the situation we are in now - where lefty new age alternative kind of people are actually actively peddling conspiracy theories and contributing to the anti-science agenda and anti-intellectualism of the conservative far-right.
And so against this background - let's have a closer look at the 5G conspiracy.
Firstly, please understand that when you spread hype about 5G giving us cancer, what you are doing is EXACTLY the same as the anti-science, right-wing Republican fundamentalist idiots who deny that there is such a thing as climate change.
You are both basically undermining the validity of science, turning conspiracy theories into "facts" and taking crucial time and energy away from the real problems that actually exist that need our attention. You are both contributing to exactly the same devastating increase in ignorance in the world.
Even the most hard core anti-science new age hippy would have to agree that on the whole, science has done a pretty good job so far in figuring out how phenomena works. It has given you your car, your electricity, your fridge, your clean drinking water, your healthcare, your mobile phone, your flights overseas, your LCD screen, your sound system, and the source of so many problems - the internet itself. You rely on these things working every day - but perhaps you don't think too much about the incredible amount of science and research that has gone into making these things work. The scientific method is not perfect or full-proof, but it's cured a shit-load of diseases, flown people to the moon, given you your modern life-style that provides the basis of almost everything you do and use. So let's not overlook or take for granted the incredible strides science has made working out the nature of things like cells, atoms, sound waves, light waves, force, speed, chemical reactions, and anatomy.
Of course there's still a lot of stuff science doesn't know and hasn't figured out.
But the functioning of the electromagnetic spectrum is not one of them.
So for us non-scientists - let's educate ourselves.
The electromagnetic spectrum and radiation.
Firstly, I think a lot of non-scientifically trained anti-5G people have this fuzzy notion that "radiation" is some special inherently kind of destructive energy that is always bad for you and that it is somehow different from "normal" energy. There's this bizarre misconception that radiation is "toxic" - whereas energy that occurs naturally is "pure".
This is a total fallacy.
In actual fact it's all the same energy.
Energy is the property that must be transferred to an object in order to perform work on, or to heat, the object.
Radiation is the transmission of that energy via waves or particles.
All electromagnetic waves - from wifi waves, to heat waves, to light waves to ultraviolet waves to ionizing waves - are all the exact same energy just travelling at a different frequency with different wavelengths. The longer the wavelength and lower frequency, the lower the amount of energy coming at you. It takes high energy waves to penetrate the skin.
Radiation is everywhere... it just depends on the force and power (wavelength and frequency) of how it hits you that determines whether it can damage you or not. And light that you can see and heat that you can feel are waves that have much more force (a much higher frequency) and potential to harm you than wifi waves. In fact the waves coming off a banana are more "radioactive" than the waves coming from your phone...(ie. the waves of energy emitted from a banana are of a higher frequency and shorter wavelength and hit you with more force).
That's all "radiation" is. It's wavelength and frequency of energy that can be measured and observed and replicated to see what it can or cannot travel through/ impact etc. It's not inherently toxic or bad juju in any way.
So in the electromagnetic spectrum there are two kinds of radiation: (see picture below)
- ionizing radiation; and
- non-ionizing radiation.
Only IONIZING radiation can produce enough energy to break apart the chemical bonds of DNA and cause cancer.
The sun is an example of ionizing radiation that can cause cancer. So are X-rays.
Non-ionizing radiation has lower frequencies and bigger wavelengths. It doesn't produce enough energy to even penetrate the skin! Things such as Wi-Fi routers, airport security scanners, mobile phones and visible daylight are all examples of non-ionizing radiation.
Because we can't see radiation or wifi waves and we don't understand how it works, we think it must be extra bad.
But the energy you can see or feel such as sunlight, or the heat coming off your own body, are all much higher/ stronger radiation waves than the waves coming off your phone or from wifi.
The microwave and millimeter wavelength radiation that 5G will use, is non-ionizing and doesn't produce the kind of energy that directly damages cells.
The reason microwaves can cook food is because the waves in a microwave get transformed into heat energy through being powered by thousands of watts which just happen to make water molecules move fast ... which creates heat.
But the waves that wifi, microwaves and mobile phones give off aren't even close to the part of the electromagnetic spectrum of radiation that can cause cancer.
Ionizing radioactive waves in things such as xrays and sunlight are capable of causing cancer because they have a certain wavelength and very high frequency which enables them to penetrate the skin and break DNA chains.
The non-ionizing very low energy wavelength and frequency of wifi simply cannot do this.
Learn more about how it works here:
The only possible way wi-fi technology could negatively impact your health is by possibly increasing inflammation in a minor way (through oxidative stress)... but so many things do this - in fact almost everything we eat and do in the modern age causes an increase in inflammation!
You are much more statistically likely to die in a car crash than by any medical effect of radiation from mobile phones or wi-fi.
Cars are really dangerous. they are thousands of times more unsafe than wifi.
Yet people have no qualms about driving in cars.
There's a total illogicality there!
In fact, worrying about things like 5G just distracts us from the things we really should be worrying about - such as global warming and climate change - which have truly terrifying ramifications for the world, all humans and our health.
We should be concentrating our energy on problems that are actually real and imminent, don't you think?
The whole 5G scare started as a result of one doctor posting a graph that completely got the radiation scale wrong. It has become a big conspiracy theory but isn't based on verified science.
You can read about it here:
Now I can hear many of my hippie friends saying "but there are things that science thought were harmless which later on were discovered to be really harmful... so how do you know wifi isn't one of those? And isn't it better to be safe than sorry?"
There are a lot of you out there who think that, right?
There is a small possibility that at some point in the future they may discover some form of energy unlike any other energy in the world that maybe wifi has something to do with. There's a very small possibility that could happen. But that could also happen with absolutely anything!!
There is just as much chance for electricity, or petrol engines, or tar, or the internet itself to have some undiscovered property that might turn out to be harmful 50 years down the track. So why pick on wifi?
Don't you think it is more sensible to actually focus on the things that we know are harmful right now?
Like sunlight, fast food, excess sugar, alcohol, smoking, stress - all these things have been proven to cause cancer.
Or like pandemics and viruses.
Many of my friends say: "look what happened with tobacco. Everyone thought it was harmless and the scientists only discovered it caused cancer when it was too late". But that's not what happened. If anything, the history of tobacco supports my argument. It was the anti-science lobbyists that tried to suppress the evidence and scientific research that said tobacco was dangerous. It wasn't the scientists who were lying, it was the tobacco companies who were trying to pretend the science wasn't reliable. The same thing is happening with climate change now.
But this is totally different from people saying that 5G or vaccines are dangerous - where the scientists are the ones saying very clearly that they are not!
Similar to 5G alarmism is the anti-vaccination movement.
Vaccines work by stimulating the body’s natural defence mechanisms against infection. These defence mechanisms are collectively referred to as the immune system. Vaccines mimic and sometimes improve on the protective response normally mounted by the immune system after an actual infection. The great advantage of immunisation over natural infections is that immunisation has a much lower risk of adverse outcomes.
The anti-vaccination movement was started by a quack doctor called Andrew Wakefield.
Wakefield used to be a doctor until he was disgraced and forced out of the profession for making stuff up with no scientific data to back it up. He published an article in a medical journal stating that he had discovered a link between autism and vaccines.
"After years of controversy and making parents mistrust vaccines, along with collecting $674,000 from lawyers who would benefit from suing vaccine makers, it was discovered he had made the whole thing up. The Lancet publicly apologized and reported that further investigation led to the discovery that he had fabricated everything.
In the intervening years, millions have been spent on studying this further to see if there was anything that could connect autism and vaccines. This is what they found: "
Wakefield's claims were falsified and based on unverified pseudo-science methods that were shown to be utterly bogus.
He has since then made an enormous amount of profit form his claims and caused a whole lot of grief in the world.
Since Wakefield first spread such claims about, there have been many independent studies about links to autism etc and not a single one has shown any causal link between the two. In addition to this Andrew Wakefield is a renowned Trump supporter and is doing his very best to undermine the authentic scientific establishment, thereby contributing to the far right anti-science fundamental christian agenda is in itself a very clear warning sign about the politics and ignorance that lies at the basis of his claims.
Yet despite this, people still listen to him.
And even worse, people also listen to Dr Mercola who took Wakefield's claims and made them even bigger.
(read about him here) Dr Mercola is as much a fraud and millionarie conman as Wakefield. Please never take anything that either of these men or their acolytes say as being anything to do with truth or science backed "evidence". These men are charlatan quacks who are using you and your fear and ignorance to make money and spread anti-science hysteria.
I just recently had a dear friend send me a link to Wakefied's recent film Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe as evidence that vaccines are unsafe. This film is nothing but a harmful blend of misinformation and yet people are still watching it and believing the false claims in it and using it as fuel for their alarmism. I find it utterly extraordinary and bewildering that people still use material put out there by Wakefield - a renowned conman and charlatan - as "evidence" to support the anti-vaxxer movement.
The very fact that the VAXXED film has this as their video description: "Your Mother has ALL the anibodies in her , that put there BY God himself , that you will ever need YOU DO NOT NEED TO VACCINATE YOUNG OR OLD FOLKS !!" must surely make you think twice about believing anything it says?
Even hippies surely know enough science to realise that our mother's milk certainly does not contain antibiodies to every disease. Only to the ones she has been in contact with. Every child has to develop their own immune system from exposure to diseases.... otherwise how do you think diseases like smallpox or polio ever spread in the first place?
For those of you who are watching this film and spreading it around - know that you are propagating information that has been shown to be false by loads of experts in the field, you are directly undermining the validity of the scientific method for discerning between what is true and not true.
Of course, like most things, vaccines aren't 100% safe. There is some risk and a very small percentage of the population can have adverse effects But vaccines are rigorously tested and monitored and are among the safest medical products we use. Millions of vaccinations are given to children and adults around the world each year. Serious adverse reactions are rare. However, because of the high volume of use, coincidental adverse events including deaths, that are temporally associated with vaccination, do occur. When death occurs shortly following vaccination, loved ones and others might naturally question whether it was related to vaccination. A large body of evidence supports the safety of vaccines, and multiple studies and scientific reviews have found no association between vaccination and deaths except in rare cases.
The only potentially harmful ingredient in vaccines used to be Thimerosal, which has since been removed from all vaccines for children since 2001. Numerous independent studies and tests have been carried out by reputable scientists to ensure their safety.
(Click here to see the ingredients of vaccinations and the effect of each ingredient).
But again getting in a car, an airplane, exposing yourself to sunlight, or even crossing a busy road are all far more dnagerous than vaccination could ever be. And the benefits vaccination brings far, far outweighs any risk factors.
So please let's stop deomising vaccines! It's not some kind of black magic or part of some malevolent global conspiracy of mind control ... it' one of the greatest medical achievements in history!
So anyway PLEASE don't contribute to the anti-science, fake"facts" camp. It's not useful.
Do your research properly.
Don't visit or share links from websites that are obviously new age or propagating conspiracy theories... (do you have any idea how much money they make of you every time you click and share?)
But we need to support and help the expert scientists out there not undermine their good work.
Contrary to what you might think - most scientists are not in the pocket of big business.
There are so many independent incredibly smart scientists out there doing independent research.
Of course there are pharmaceutical companies that have put profit ahead of benefiting humans - all companies do this. That's the crazy capitalist system we are in. But to assert that all the academic researchers, medical profession and scientists are in their pockets is just ridiculous. All the scientists I know are actively trying to find solutions to real problems - they're trying to help the environment, trying to advocate for climate change action and trying to make progress in areas like medicine. They're not the enemy. It's people pretending to be scientists (who have been utterly discredited by all their peers for fraudulent behaviour) that we need to be concerned about and take what they say with a grain of salt, don't you think? Listen to real scientists instead and learn how shit actually works.
Conspiracy theories also presuppose a level of international political secret collaboration that just doesn't exist. The world is an incredibly volatile chaotic place and nobody is in control. Bill Gates is not controlling the world. The only companies really exerting influence on world events are the media moguls like Murdoch and the social media giants like facebook. They are the only powers that be that you really need to be worried about and trying to fight. Because they are actively undermining our democratic process and don't care about the truth at all. They care only about manipulating people so they can get richer and more powerful and absolutely ruin the planet. They are actively trying to undermine science and all the progress we have made in working out methods to prove things that are actually real.
If they win, any charlatan will be able to come up with outrageous claims and convince people that what they are saying is true and get millions of clicks and make millions of dollars and undermine all the good work done by serious experts in trying to do things like develop medicine that can save millions of lives.
So you need to know you are in cahoots with a very cold, cynical, right wing force when you support this kind of movement.
It pretends to be anti-establishment and radical... but it's not. It's actually just geared to undermine knowledge and education. Because ignorance and fear combined will always benefit right wing governments. And all they're interested in is money and greed and ruining the planet in the name of fundamental Christianity. It breaks my heart when I see my friends helping them do that.
It's such a waste of peoples' energy and anxiety when there are very real and pressing problems we could all be finding solutions for.
So let's dismantle the capitalist share-holder-profit-tyrannical system instead! Let's demand massive taxes for large corporations and demand stronger transnational corporation regulation!
Also let's make sure our children get a really good science education as well as a really good ethical, compassionate outlook. Then we can all start working together to fix the shit that actually needs our dire attention and make the world a better place.
Scientists and hippies together. ☺️