Technological disconnect : you mentioned tin foil hats
On 31st January 2022, writes André Fauteux (2022), Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister responded to truckers’ peaceful protest against Covid-19 vaccinations in Ottawa by stating;
"...the concerns expressed by a few people on Parliament Hill right now are not new, not surprising, are being heard, but [they] are a continuation of what we have unfortunately seen in misinformation and misinformation online - conspiracy theorists about microchips and God knows what else goes with tinfoil hats”.
Within two days Frank Clegg, the former President of Microsoft Canada, wrote Trudeau and asked him to clarify to whom he referred as '‘tinfoil hats''. Clegg stressed that his remark was unacceptable if he was ‘ridiculing people’ who wore tinfoil hats to protect themselves from pulsed electromagnetic radiation (EMR) because they suffered from electrohypersensitivity (EHS).
As the Chief Executive Officer of ‘Canadians for Safe Technology’, Clegg explained that there were Canadians “who are adversely affected by exposure to wireless radiation, experiencing headaches, sleep disturbances, heart abnormalities and other adverse effects when over exposed to wireless devices. Many are physician diagnosed” (Fauteux, 2022). His statement demonstrated a technologie-disconnect between governmental and industrial roll out of mobile and wi-fi technology versus advocacy that EMR is harmful from scientists and sufferers of EHS. One example of government rhetoric negating harm came in an executive summary from the British government in March 2022 when Ministers for State, Lopez and Andrew inappropriately, “delightedly” announced the implementation of a, “nationwide gigabit-capable broadband and 4G coverage, with 5G coverage” (GOV.UK, 2022). They claimed that their consultation process found no evidence that global wireless technologies had adverse health effects. Ironically, in denying evidence like Clegg’s, Lopez and Andrew placed Trudeau’s Canadian tin foil hatters and EHS at centre stage.
First do no harm
Understanding Clegg’s disputation of Trudeau’s dramatic remonstration, requires interrogating not the trucker’s anti-vaccine stance but how selective information about the global implementation of a technological singularity with its emphasis on ‘big data’ research has consistently undermined the ethical principle of ‘first do no harm’. In scientific research a singular report of physical injury and/or psychological perception of injury constitutes harm. One testimony should stand as a red flag warning for a potential violation of this principle; another case, the patterning of data, or witnesses’ testaments proves harm. Ethically speaking, Trudeau’s observation of not one, but a sizable number of Canadian citizens wearing tinfoil hats suggests harm and this Clegg’s research evidence and discussion of the politics confirms. Further, Clegg names and unifies them as ‘casques en aluminium’, an emerging but distinctive phenomenon. By virtue of the Declaration of Helsinki (2013), because this socio-political group manifestly suffer with mental and/or physical dis-ease, they are entitled to beneficence. The declaration specifically states that it is a doctor’s duty to “promote and safeguard the health, well-being and rights of patients”. Categorically Trudeau, by virtue of his ministerial status, and the recent political battles around the Canadian internet must hold to this mandate. This assumes that he was informed by physicians of the health status of those suffering with EHS. Afterall, their medical screening and report should direct public health and medical research to make what is unknown, known. On this basis, it is inadmissible, as Clegg states, for a government minister to ridicule sick or disabled person/s for political or economic gain.
A diagnostic of several autodeclared cases
Anecdotal evidence for EMR-related harm was reported in The Guardian on 17th May 2022, in an obituary for Ricky Gardiner, the lead guitarist with the musicians David Bowie and Iggy Pop. Dying at 73 years of age with Parkinson’s Disease, his obituary reported he had been, “diagnosed with electrosensitivity in 1998, which made him feel unwell when in proximity to electronic devices – he had to adapt his home studio to accommodate the illness”. A possible link between EHS and Alzheimer’s disease is described by Belpomme and Irigaray, who argue that not treating or protecting EHS sufferers from “environmental stressors such as EMF and multiple chemicals, EHS may evolve toward some neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders, possibly including some seemingly Alzheimer’s disease-related states” (2020, p.11). In 2014, Vivian and Johansson published in the BMJ Open on the case of 30-year-old James Lech, “a MIT post-graduate student who was the first person diagnosed as suffering with EHS and registered for medical disability in South Africa”. These two diagnosed cases sit in relation to Belpomme and Irigaray’s (2020) 2009 – 2020 database of 2,000 electro-hypersensitivity (EHS) and/or multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) self-reported cases. On the basis of, “sufficient clinical, biological, and radiological data for EHS”, they conclude that EHS should, “be acknowledged as a well-defined, objectively identified, and characterized pathological neurologic disorder” (Belpomme and Irigaray, 2020, p.15).
Belpomme vs Merleau-Ponty
Remarkably, a quarter of a century after Gardiner’s clinical diagnosis for EHS, Lopez and Andrew (GOV.UK, 2022) claim no evidence for harm. Consequently, their misinformation fabricates an ongoing myth that the technology is completely safe, the construction of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) continues unabated and millions are subjected to increasing levels of non-ionizing radiation (NIR). Of note is that the long-term impact of NIR on human populations or the environment was not investigated prior to the roll-out of wireless technologies. Because EMR is unseen, unheard and supposedly not felt by most of the general public, their statement then casts suspicion on any person who claims to suffer, and ridicule on those who protest. Thus, the nature of harm remains unknown; obfuscation of evidence makes it unknowable. In respect of confounding around whether EMR causes EHS, Belpomme et al (2021) explain that early provocation research in EMR sensitive respondents failed to establish this as a causal link. In their molecular science paper, they argue that as public health research it delayed biomedical endeavours to clinically establish EHS as a pathological condition. This Belpomme’s French research team achieves in 2020, defining EHS as a distinct somatic aetiology characterised by symptoms associated with “headache, tinnitus, hyperacusis, dizziness, loss of immediate memory, and attention/concentration deficiency”. The authors motivate for clinical diagnoses for EHS to be based on self-reported symptoms. This addresses the unethicality in provocation studies especially as their finding for no causal link enhanced stigma and isolation of EHS sufferers. Moreover, EHS had already been recognized by the Nordic Council of Ministers as an occupational disease in 2000 in The Nordic Adaptation of Classification of Occupationally Related Disorders (Diseases and Symptoms) to ICD-10 which states that "symptoms disappear in non-electrical environments".
Alarm is palpable in Belpomme et al’s (2021) naming of EHS as, "an intriguing nascent environmental pathology with worldwide high-risk public health implications in our increasingly electromagnetically polluted world, due in particular to the widespread deployment of wireless technologies”. In calling for, “close collaboration between clinicians, epidemiologists and biologists—and also biophysicists and biochemists” to investigate this phenomenon, they fail however, to include medical anthropologists. This is strange when the embedding of technologies across landscapes has happened through a cultural and socio-political manipulation of knowledge and strategic operations. Understanding its effect, cannot therefor be confined to a clinical assessment of people with EHS, but requires in-depth investigation of how this complex, multi-dimensional paradigmatic shift has re-shaped our world. Operationally, for anthropologists, this begins with Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological methodology. As scientific enquiry the method names things as they are for anthropologists to map and interrogate cultural adaptations, linguistic shifts and symbolic references. Unequivocally, anthropology confronts and defends human rights to dignity, identity and citizenship, and because it builds trusted relations can engage with marginalised communities. The strength of medical anthropology is that it juggles between knowledge domains; social science is interleaved with economics and politics and inter-related with biology, medicine, ethics and the law.
A canopy of noxious radiation
If Belpomme et al (2021) urge that the consequence of saturating the stratosphere with EMR will be “a global plague” of EHS, Koppel et al’s (2022) studies shows this as an invisible but threatening canopy. Two studies refer, Koppel et al’s (2022) in Skeppsbron in Stockholm, Sweden, and Koppel and Hardell’s (2022) in Colombia, SC, USA. Here measured levels demonstrated that “EMR hot spots” exist where “exposure levels from mobile phone base stations antennas near the street level reached high levels”. They recommended that signs should be posted to warn those who are sensitive to avoid these areas. Distressingly their photographs depict city streets covered by a red canopy of dense electromagnetic radiation, with clearly marked deep-red danger zones. This leaves little doubt that multi-disciplinary, phenomenological research should evaluate the effect of this intense, unnatural radiation on populations.
It is pertinent that Ricky Gardiner’s life, his whole universe, was significantly compromised by this canopy of pulsed radiation. Like him, the evidence shows that those who are sensitive live with tinnitus and headaches that are ever present and distracting. Once they associate their symptoms with EMR, it becomes inescapable and they become disconnected. Unlike non-sufferers, related anxiety prevents them from adopting a supine, passivity to global communication infrastructure and devices. Inactive as receivers or conveyors of information technology, they stay marginalised and shamed but acutely aware that it is EMR that has commandeered their cognition, damaged them somatically and detached them from a tangible, lived experience of their intimate world. For them, mobile phones bombard the mind with electrified data, sensory images flickering across vast platforms of unregulated, often morally harmful information. EHS means however, that they cannot be duped by social media that s/he is valued and their screen content can transform his/her reality into a quite unique, super wonderful, 2D personality.
This technological disconnect streams 24 hours a day; a planned technological singularity operating with energy sources from new technologies aspires to function in perpetuity, for all time, all around the world. There is no escape. Presumably techno-scientists implementing this programme intend through gene selection that humans who survive will function in a non-diurnal, non-circadian rhythm-based environment. The irony of this is that the very nature of our environmental soup with its passing through night and day, dark and light sets our and other species most intuitive, bodily and neural, circadian rhythms in place. Unlike other species seen natural radiation triggers sensations within our species for our conscious survival and yet, bizarrely science understands even less about this clearly visible stratosphere than it does about NIR.
The cost of non benefits
In conclusion, drawing on substantial evidence this letter has described the radically altered world experienced by EHS sufferers because their physiology and neurology has been damaged by pulsed radiation. Phenomenologically, their protest becomes apparent in Trudeau’s ridicule of them as Canadian tin foil hatters. However, as Belpomme argues, a more sinister metaphor that speaks to the untold costs of this plague underlies the way that governments have obfuscated evidence about a causal link between EMR and EHS. Simply put, Koppel et al’s public health research demonstrates that people like Ricky Gardiner actually perceive and feel the phenomenal damage brought by increasing levels of unseen radiation. If as suggested by Belpomme, we extrapolate on Gardiner’s case a million times, we get a glimmer of insight into the tinfoil hatters’ current suffering and an estimate of the degree to which EHS and cancers are embedded as somatic disease in human populations. Stigmatised and suppressed by mainstream culture these cases manifest as social withdrawal within families and communities, chronic mental illness, social disruption, absences from work and suicides. However, the EHS plague Belpomme refers to will have a far greater public health cost in prolonged, severe disease processes e.g., ‘Alzheimer’s disease-related states’, and untimely deaths. Those who could care, will require care and the dead will need to be buried.
It is a metaphor about the costs incurred when governments unethically deny cases of harm and the tinfoil hatter’s right to protest about this, that brings this letter to a close. Undoubtedly, those suffering with EHS will seek restitution, not in clinical research declaring them sick or dysfunctional but in legal action. Essentially, EMR devices and mobile phone masts are commodities and services which citizens in democratic countries have the right to refuse. In upholding this right, a German court recently “clarified in a lawsuit that property owners who rent space for base stations and mobile towers assume responsibility for health consequences of the activity. Although the radiation is lower than the relevant reference values from the authorities, this does not mean that the property owner is not responsible for negative health consequences” (Swedish Radiation Protection Foundation, 2022).
Beaumont-Thomas, B. (2022) ‘Ricky Gardiner, guitarist for David Bowie and Iggy Pop, dies aged 73’, The Guardian, 17 May 2022. Available at:
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2022/may/17/ricky-gardiner-guitarist-for-david-bowie-and-iggy-pop-dies-aged-73 (Accessed: 15th July 2022)
Belpomme, D. and Irigaray, P. (2020) ‘Electrohypersensitivity as a newly identified and characterized neurologic pathological disorder: How to diagnose, treat, and prevent it’, International journal of molecular sciences, 21(6), p.1915.
Belpomme, D., Carlo, G.L., Irigaray, P., Carpenter, D.O., Hardell, L., Kundi, M., Belyaev, I., Havas, M., Adlkofer, F., Heuser, G. and Miller, A.B. (2021) ‘The critical importance of molecular biomarkers and imaging in the study of electrohypersensitivity. A Scientific Consensus International Report’, International journal of molecular sciences, 22(14), p.7321.
Fauteux, A. (2022) ‘Trudeau « désobligeant envers les personnes handicapées »’, La Maison Du 21 Siecle, Saine et Ecologique, 17th February 2022. Available at:
https://maisonsaine.ca/article?id=100223&omnisendContactID=60a4ff32b211cd2a8b462aef&utm_campaign=automation%3A+Workflow+Hebdo+%2862101011ec5c72001d2bdd00%29&utm_content=60c8e2db6aea1mailf001a621200source&utm_medium=utm_medium=utm(Accessed: 15th July 2022).
GOV.UK: Ministerial Foreword. (2022) ‘Consultation outcome: Changes to permitted development rights for electronic communications infrastructure: Government response to the technical consultation’, GOV.UK. 7th March 2022. Available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-permitted-development-rights-for-electronic-communications-infrastructure-technical-consultation/outcome/changes-to-permitted-development-rights-for-electronic-communications-infrastructure-government-response-to-the-technical-consultation(Accessed: 15th July 2022)
Koppel, T., Ahonen, M., Carlberg, M. and Hardell, L. (2022) ‘Very high radiofrequency radiation at Skeppsbron in Stockholm, Sweden from mobile phone base station antennas positioned close to pedestrians’ heads’, Environmental research, 208, p.112627.
Koppel, T. and Hardell, L. (2022) ‘Measurements of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, including 5G, in the city of Columbia, SC, USA’, World Academy of Sciences Journal, 4(3), pp.1-12.
Swedish Radiation Protection Foundation. (2022) ‘German Court finds property owners can be liable for health impacts from base station antennas on their property’, EMFacts Consultancy, 6th July 2022.Available at:
https://www.emfacts.com/2022/07/german-court-finds-property-owners-can-be-liable-for-health-impacts-from-base-station-antennas-on-their-property/ (Accessed: 15th July 2022)
Vivian, L.M.H., and Johansson, O. (2014) ‘First officially recognized case of the functional impairment electrohypersensitivity in South Africa’, BMJ Open; 3(8).
Vivian, L., and Johansson, O. (2021) ‘Technological Singularity: Knowledge Translation and Ethics’, Academia Letters, Article 1988. https://doi.org/10.20935/AL1988— Open Access.
Dre Lauraine VivianLauraine Vivian est docteur en psychiatrie et en anthropologie et enseigne l'anthropologie médicale et l'éducation médicale depuis 1995. En 2011, elle et sa famille ont développé une électrohypersensibilité après l'installation d'une tour cellulaire à moins de 500 mètres de leur maison alors qu'ils vivaient au Cap, en Afrique du Sud. Avec le neuroscientifique suédois Olle Johansson, elle a développé un outil d'évaluation pour cartographier les effets néfastes sur la santé survenus après le déploiement massif de cette technologie dans toute la péninsule du Cap. Les recherches ont été arrêtées car on a considéré que son état d'électrohypersensibilité diminuait son approche. Elle a toutefois rédigé un article sur les effets néfastes sur la santé des personnes vivant à proximité des antennes relais au Danemark. Dre Vivian collabore avec des chercheurs indépendants sur les CEM, comme l'urgentologue britannique Erica Mallery-Blythe et l'oncologue français Dominique Belpomme, entre autres, qui documentent cette maladie émergente.
« Je crains que ce problème ne disparaisse pas et nécessite une attention urgente de la part de l'éthique médicale, dit-elle. Outre l'inégalité économique instanciée et les injustices sociales qui y sont liées, trop d'entre nous souffrent de l'exposition aux CEM. Malheureusement, des scientifiques hautement qualifiés, mais non financés, du monde entier, signalent ses effets nocifs depuis 1980. »