In terrifying times, we seek the comfort of simple explanations no matter how far fetched. We need someone to blame.

First published in April 2020.

You can tell that the lockdown is getting to some people. Maybe it’s a displacement activity from the fear of actual death that causes some folk to fear all sorts of other weirdness instead. And so it has come to pass with an utterly bizarre conspiracy theory which is doing the rounds that the virus epidemic is caused by the roll out of 5G, and it’s going to suck all the oxygen out of the air and the real reason that people who are ill with the virus are struggling to breath is because 5G has reversed the polarity of the oxygen atom or some other such Star Trekkish sci-fi babble. You know, like when the solution to the problem facing the crew in every episode is to reverse the polarity of the confinement beam. Or something. Only in reverse. A sort of reverse reversing then, but one where you don’t end up where you started off but instead somewhere up your own colon.

5G conspiracy theory: Reversing the polarity of the confinement beam... a sort of reverse reversing then!?!? / Wallflare

As death rays go, 5G is really pretty crap. 5G is not going to alter the fundamental characteristics of oxygen atoms, or indeed of any other sort of atom. That’s the kind of physics that you only get in episodes of Star Trek, not in the real world. That’s why they have replicators, warp engines, and Borg conduits that can transport you from one end of the galaxy to another in the space of a few minutes, and you’re stuck in Shettleston Road waiting for a number 60 bus to Tesco.

For the benefit of any doubters out there, 5G is basically a protocol which allows telephone masts to communicate more efficiently and faster with your device. It’s not some new form of radiation which is invading the atmosphere. It’s a bit like saying that whereas your mobile phone used to communicate with the network in French, from now on it will communicate in Gaelic. 5G is essentially just a different language, just one which is speedier and more efficient. Like Gaelic is. Agus is urrainn dhomh sin a ràdh oir a tha a’ Ghàidhlig agam. (And I can say that because I speak Gaelic.)

No 5G graffiti. / Wikimedia - MHM55

The 5G conspiracists are getting their collective knickers in a twist because the system will now make use of some additional wavebands in the microwave spectrum, which presumably because it has the same name as the machine you use to heat your soup up they think will also fry your brain. It won’t.

This is because a) you need to have a brain to begin with, b) because the wattage used is miniscule and extremely low power, c) parts of the microwave spectrum have been used for years for airport scanners and satellite communication, and d) microwaves have been used for line of sight TV repeater transmission stations since the 1950s and no one’s inner organs have been cooked as a result.

5G is not going to make your head explode like you’re an extra in a David Cronenberg movie. That will only happen if you take a Scottish Conservative party political broadcast seriously. Or indeed if you’re spending the time stuck at home during lockdown with nothing but the collected speeches of James Kelly MSP to keep you amused. In which case I really would suggest sticking your head in the microwave oven. It would be a kindness. (note of the editor: this is obviously only an image. Please never put your head in a microwave oven...)

5G is not going to make your head explode. / Pixabay

Nevertheless this hasn’t stopped people who really ought to know better from spouting garbage and getting people concerned at a time when we already have plenty of real things to get all concerned about thank you very much. It’s not just the usual suspects either, such as the David Ickes or Q-Anon conspiracists of this world. Although having mentioned them I have now merely proven that I am a fully paid up member of the global elite who protects himself from the epidemic by imbibing the blood of aborted fetuses before taking off my human form and revealing the lizard underneath so that I can moisturise my scales with some Nivea lotion.

David Icke. / Wikimedia Elekes Andor

David recently had a video deleted from YouTube. Naturally he’s claiming that this is part of the Deep State Lizard People conspiracy to prevent The Truth™ from getting out there. Actually it’s got more to do with the fact that he’s making idiotic claims like saying that a vaccine for coronavirus will contain nanotechnology tracking devices which will allow THEM to control you. While we are still some way off from having a vaccine that’s effective against coronavirus, spouting nonsense that might prevent people from using it is up there in the irresponsibility stakes with infected members of the royal family, sorry lizard aliens, moving to their holiday homes in Aberdeenshire with their entourage. Personally I am boycotting Duchy Originals. Not because they cause the coronavirus, just because Charles is a d**k.

But it’s not just folk like David Icke. It’s also people like Dr Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth and The End of America. This seems like the perfect moment to trot out the phrase “PhD in English literature, not an actual doctor”. And incidentally it gives us a perfect illustration of how it takes very clever people to be capable of a special kind of stupid. Naomi, in a now deleted tweet, told us – and I quote, “It was amazing to go to Belfast, which does not yet have 5G, and feel the earth, sky, air, human experience, feel the way it did in the 1970s. Calm, still, peaceful, restful.”


Yes she actually said that. Belfast. In the 1970s. Calm, still, and peaceful. In the 1970s. And yes, she did mean that Belfast. Not the Belfast in Maine in the USA where a major news story is the loss of a cat or a stray moose in the high street. And I’ve actually seen the telly from there, so this is a true fact. Sure in Belfast in Northern Ireland in the 1970s it might have been the height of The Troubles and there were soldiers on the streets, people getting blown up, shot, and kneecapped, but it was all holistic and locally sourced. Ah how the good people of Belfast must long for the bucolic days of the summer of 79, when they donned balaclavas home knitted from wool from hand reared grass fed sheep and threw organic petrol bombs in recyclable milk bottles at the neighbours. There was a real sense of community as you hunkered down with your family praying that the riot outside didn’t smash your windows and set your house on fire.

Being all nostalgic about the 5G-free days of Belfast in the 1970s becomes even more idiotic when you realise that Belfast already has 5G, and has had it for some time. But it’s not 5G that has made people like the DUP councillor John Carson blame coronavirus on abortions and the legalisation of gay marriage. It’s not 5G that made the Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman say that the coronavirus was divine punishment for homosexuality. Yaakov has now been diagnosed with the virus himself. Presumably once he recovers he’ll be having a very uncomfortable conversation with his wife.

People like John Carson, Yaakov Litzman, David Icke and Naomi Wolf are all seeking comfort in blaming something specific for a virus which could potentially strike any one of us. They want to blame someone, to hold someone guilty, to point a finger at the actions of specific scapegoats who have done specific things to cause this. In terrifying times, we seek the comfort of simple explanations no matter how far fetched. We need someone to blame. But the way we will get through this crisis is by washing hands regularly, by social distancing, by staying indoors, by testing, by supporting efforts to find a vaccine. You are not protected from the virus by the sense of self-righteousness that comes from wearing a tin foil hat.🔷

And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…


Check their Voting Record:

🗳️ James Kelly MSP

[This piece was originally published in Wee Ginger Dug’s blog and re-published in PMP Magazine on 10 April 2020, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Pxfuel.)

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