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“Everything emits invisible waves, which kill you” could be an update to the old aphorism “everything kills you.” Nathaniel Rich’s article in the current issue of Harper’s Magazine investigates cell-phone radiation. Industry lobbyists insist that everything emitted by cell phones is innocuous—but can we trust them? Should we all be wearing headsets or even not using certain electronic devices at all?
In the past decade, hundreds of experiments have been conducted to determine whether cell-phone radiation might have any effect on human health. Rich’s article attempts to make sense of such baffling findings as these:
Exposure to cell-phone radiation hampers one’s ability to fall asleep. Exposure to cell-phone radiation makes one sleepy. Exposure to cell-phone radiation has no effect on sleep patterns.
Cell-phone radiation slows one’s cognitive reaction time. It makes one think faster. It has no effect on cognitive ability.
Cell-phone radiation reduces sperm count and sperm motility and increases the number of abnormal sperm. Cell-phone radiation does not harm the testicles.
Exposure to cell-phone radiation leads to single- and double-strand breaks in DNA and to numerous other forms of genetic damage. Exposure has no significant effect on DNA. The negative (no effect) studies outweigh the positive, and the reason the incriminating studies showed anything at all was that they were poorly, even incompetently, designed.
The brain of a child absorbs a much greater amount of radiation from a cell phone than does the brain of an adult. No, it does not. The absorption rate is twice as high, but only for children under eight.
The majority of studies on cell phones and human health have received funding from the telecommunications industry. Industry-funded studies are significantly more likely than independent studies to show that cell phones are safe.
To read Rich’s report in its entirety, click here to subscribe. By subscribing to the magazine, you will gain immediate online access to this article as well as all of the articles in the complete 160-year archives of Harper’s Magazine.
More from TedRoss:
In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.
Chances that a Republican man believes that “poor people have hard lives”:
A school in South Korea was planning to deploy a robot to protect students from unwanted seductions.
Nuremberg’s Neues Museum filed a criminal complaint against a 91-year-old woman who completed a crossword puzzle that was in fact a $116,000 piece of avant-garde Danish art.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”