M.I.A.'s $100 5G Hat: Science or Scam?

A clothing line launched by singer M.I.A includes a tin foil hat that allegedly protects people from 5G electromagnetic waves. Is the fashion trend a gimmick, or do 5G waves really impact human health?

Mathangi Arulpragasam, who goes under the stage name of M.I.A, is a famous British singer known for her hits like “Paper Planes” and “Bad Girls.”

She recently went under fire for creating a clothing line called OHMNI, marketed as “the last frontier at preserving your privacy, autonomy, and rights over your body and your data” in a time of indiscriminate tracking surveillance.

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While this may sound like a clever marketing ploy based on popular conspiracy theories, the OHMNI website provides a list of references, which includes articles in science journals and video blogs making wild claims, such as electromagnetic frequencies disrupting the gut microbiome.

The clothing line includes a data protection dump bag, an anti-trace phone case, and a wide variety of clothes.

However, the product that caught the most attention is a tin foil hat made with pure copper nickel shielding fabric, available for $100.

“Copper offers exceptional electrical conductivity, deflecting electromagnetic waves such as Wi-Fi & 5G with up to 99.999% shielding effectiveness,” the website says.

Where does the wavelength conspiracy come from?

The concept of a tin foil hat is believed to originate from The Tissue-Culture King, a science fiction short story written by biologist Julian Huxley in 1927. Later, it became a commonly used term when talking about individuals who believe in conspiracy theories.

In 2005, a group of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology students carried out an experiment testing the protection provided by three types of aluminum helmets. The study, conducted as a joke, found that the helmets were ineffective at blocking most wavelengths.

The cheeky authors even claimed that the helmets amplified frequency bands that coincided with those allocated to the United States government.
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“It requires no stretch of the imagination to conclude that the current helmet craze is likely to have been propagated by the Government, possibly with the involvement of the Federal Communication Commission. We hope this report will encourage the paranoid community to develop improved helmet designs to avoid falling prey to these shortcomings,” they wrote.

The emergence of fifth-generation wireless technology (5G), which was first widely deployed in 2019, prompted new fears despite the lack of evidence that these waves are harming human health.

A review that analyzed 15 studies on 5G health effects published between 2018 and 2021 found that the early phase of the research was dominated by authors with links to anti-5G campaigning organizations.

However, with an increasing contribution from independent and industry-linked authors who conducted better-quality studies, more evidence not supporting increased risks emerged.

Mobile tower installation.
Image by Maksim Safaniuk via Shutterstock

What do experts say about tin foil hats?

To date, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies, according to the World Health Organization.

Radio waves can damage human health by heating tissue. However, the waves used by current technologies are too low in intensity to cause burns, leaving no consequences on the human body.

Dr. Christopher Baird, a physics professor at West Texas A&M University, writes that all objects, including rocks, trees, dirt, and buildings, naturally emit waves as part of their regular thermal emission. These radio waves are physically no different from those emitted by a cell phone.

He calls the amount of radio waves emitted into the air by 5G telecommunications equipment “a drop in the bucket” compared to the radio waves already present in the air from other sources.

If the people responsible for implementing 5G technology were really causing harmful electromagnetic radiation to be broadcast into public spaces, they would also be harming themselves, their children, and their loved ones.

Baird

‘Saving the future of humanity’

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While scientists battle never-ending conspiracy theories amplified by social media, its users don’t miss the chance to mock those who believe in them.

“We used to be a proper country, where people who wore tin foil hats were properly ridiculed and stayed their tin foil-wearing ass at home. But something has gone around. There is a glitch in the Matrix,” said a TikTok user Prettyrabid.

@prettyrabid We need to put an end to Tin Foil Hat Movement before it picks up steam! #tinfoilhat #MIA #delulu #delulugirl #grifter #fashion #fashiontiktok #viral #fypage ♬ original sound - Pretty Rabid

OHMNI says that if the conspiracy theorists are wrong, its customers will end up owning beautiful clothes made with precious metals.

It adds, “But if they are right, you just might have saved the future of humanity.”

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