Conspiracies, ticks, 5G, and more…


Coronavirus – Social media users more likely to believe conspiracies“Some 60% of those who believe that COVID-19 symptoms were linked to 5G radiation said that much of their information on the virus came from YouTube – while of those who believed that was false, just 14% said they depended on the site.”

Scientists synthesise tick spit protein for first time: It is always exciting when a new discovery shows potential for new treatments, particularly in chronic or inflammatory diseases. Professor Payne said: “It is entirely possible that our sulfated tick proteins, or modified variants of them, could find wide application for a number of inflammatory diseases in the future.” This comes with the usual caveats. This was not clinical research, and no treatments have been developed or tested yet. Most new things don’t pan out. But the more we know, the more it is POSSIBLE to develop. THAT’s why this is so exciting.

Great Moments in Health and Science 

Iodine Fortification: Like with several other examples of food fortification, iodine fortification has helped reduce diseases associated with its deficiency by incorporating it into common foods.

Today’s Abused Health Concept

Promotion of TCM by Government suppression – Paying the price for questioning Traditional Chinese Medicine – Beware! Any medicine or science requires scrutiny. China has been criminalising criticism of TCM, and speaking or writing on the matter can land people in jail. A sure sign of an invalid modality. Particularly concerning is the fact that Australia’s Free Trade Agreement expects that Australia will ‘cooperate and collaborate in trade in TCM services’ and requires Australia to ‘encourage future collaboration between regulators, registration authorities and relevant professional bodies of the Parties to facilitate trade in TCM and complementary medicines’.

Thanks to Science

We can find scientific evidence. Telstra trolls 5G conspiracy theorists who claim the wireless technology causes coronavirus with one hilarious Facebook post: On this page, we try to be a voice for evidence-based-medicine and rational, scientific approaches to health issues. We hope that through this work, we can combat some of the misinformation that spreads on social media platforms.

5G has no known role in spreading COVID-19 (though it probably has a role in spreading COVID misinformation…). But for some reason, some members of the community do not seem to accept “There is no evidence that the use of these radio waves in mobile networks is harmful to health or related to the current health pandemic.” And I notice part of this statement (‘there is no evidence’) is often used when combating common sources of misinformation (eg. there is no evidence vaccines cause autism, there is no evidence water fluoridation is harmful). So let’s break down what we mean when we talk about scientific evidence.

In science, we make hypotheses and find evidence to support or not support these hypotheses (often through observation, or through experimental studies). But I suspect when hearing ‘evidence’, some people think of the Sherlock Holmes style of evidence – footprints indicating a murderer, a lock of hair, a smoking gun. Evidence that is immediately apparent when you look at the scene of a crime. But the sort of scientific evidence we collect isn’t that apparent – it’s not one person with autism in the week following a vaccine. It is the result of study – of looking at events occurring in patterns, of hundreds or thousands of doses of vaccine and hundreds of cases of autism. When we say ‘there is no evidence’ it isn’t saying that something failed to jump out at us – it is because we looked, and if there were an association, we would find evidence. We did not find this evidence.

Tied into this is the impossibility of proving a negative. We cannot prove two populations are the same – but we can fail to prove they are different (fail to reject the null hypothesis). This is why we say ‘there is no evidence’ they are different rather than ‘they are the same.’ When we add up studies looking for the same effects, and each fails to find one we can become more and more confident there is no effect.

This cautious way of talking can make scientists sound unsure, or untrustful. Updating evidence can sometimes cause scientists to change their conclusions – this can make it sound like they don’t know what they are talking about. Thinking about uncertainty is intrinsically linked to scientific study, but in other facets of life people often speak in certain terms (which arguably they shouldn’t – there are many studies on the inaccuracy of human memory).

So that in mind, I will add a little context to our 5G statement:
“There is no evidence that the use of these radio waves in mobile networks is harmful to health or related to the current health pandemic.”

• There is no evidence 5G causes COVID-19 AND we know what causes COVID-19 – a virus called SARS-CoV2. We know this because we can infect animals with this virus and they develop symptoms, and because people who get COVID-19 have this virus while (the majority of) well people do not. People who have been sick develop antibodies that specifically detect this virus while people who test negative for the virus and are well do not. It is not ethical give people this virus and see if they get symptoms, but these findings of this kind are used for many infectious diseases which we have since found treatments for.
• Viruses circulate, recombine, and transfer from animals to humans all the time. We know that there is always a risk of a pandemic strain being created. Other coronaviruses and pandemics emerged in the absence of 5G.
• People in areas without 5G have contracted SARS-CoV-2 and become sick, so 5G is in no way required for COVID-19 disease.
• There is no evidence that 5G plays any role in the spread, development or illness severity of any other infectious disease.