Part One: Unnatural Frequencies
Have you heard the joke about the guy who plugs himself into an electrical outlet in his home for protection against disease-causing high frequency electromagnetic fields, then paradoxically zaps himself with an electrical device to kill pathogens?
Unfortunately, it’s not a joke. This is for real. The man’s name is David Avocado Wolfe. And he’s not just practicing this silly electrical voodoo on himself, he’s selling products that cost hundreds of dollars to innocent, scientifically illiterate followers, with the promise of similar protection. Sadly, it’s all a scam, and there’s the very real chance that seriously ill people are eschewing real medical treatment in favor of quack remedies like earthing and zapping.
In this multi-part series, I’ll be exposing Wolfe’s deception. In part one, we’ll look at the myth that’s the very foundation of “earthing” nonsense: the claim that high frequency radio waves–those in the gigahertz range–are “unnatural”, dirty, or inherently dangerous.1
This can be debunked in one sentence: there is no such thing as an unnatural radio frequency. All radio frequencies are natural.
There, we’re done.
Oh, you want a demonstration? Well, fair enough. This is a science blog, after all. Here’s some food for thought: David Avocado is an advocate of “sun gazing”–staring at the sun to absorb mystical healing energy.2 The problem for Avocado and his earthing buddies: the sun emits the very same high frequency radio waves that he’s selling protection from.
This is easy to prove. A simple twelve gigahertz radio receiver can be built using a discarded home satellite dish and less than $10 in parts from eBay or a local electronics store. Twelve gigahertz and below are right in the “Wolfe Danger Zone” for consumer electronic devices. But if we point our receiver’s dish at the sun– as natural a source as you can possibly find–we’ll quickly see how full of [expletive deleted] earthers are… we’ll pick up these very frequencies! Here’s a quick YouTube video of me doing this demonstration. If you don’t like video, scroll down for some captioned screen snapshots outlining the experiment.
For those of you who prefer pictures over video, here’s a simple photos essay of what’s happening in the video above. You can click any photo to enlarge.
The take-home message of this demonstration is that you cannot take a radio frequency out of context and label is safe or dangerous, dirty or clean, natural or unnatural. (Well, OK, all radio frequencies are natural, so Wolfe is just completely wrong on that one.) How strong is the electromagnetic field? How close are you to the source? Are we talking about ionizing radiation? There are a lot of factors to consider. The bottom line: neither the radio waves from the sun received in this experiment, Wi-Fi routers, or cell phones are harmful, just because they are measured in gigahertz. And this is David Avocado’s claim: high-frequency radio waves are unnatural and therefore bad for us.
Yes, there is harmful electromagnetic radiation (gamma rays come to mind), but Wolfe doesn’t begin to approach the subject honestly. The World Health Organization has a wonderful online resource on this subject. If you’d like research from experts who have studied this, you can get started here.3
What I’m here to shoot down is Wolfe’s claim that frequencies of billions of hertz–gigahertz–are unnatural and, by extension, somehow inherently dangerous to us. As you can see in the graph below, the sun does output more energy in the visible part of the spectrum than the radio, but it the radio waves are there, and they’re certainly natural.
Why Are Wolfe et al Frightening People?
So, their apparent lack of understanding of basic physics aside, why would David Wolfe and other earthers want to frighten you away from frequencies above 1Ghz? Let’s take a peek at the offerings from Wolfe’s online store, Longevity Warehouse, and see if we can divine an answer:
Wake the kids and phone the neighbors!
- “Grounded” pillow cases for $129.98.
- Matching wired sheets for $179.99.
- Step out of your grounded bed every morning and exercise on a $99 earthing yoga mat.
I think I’m seeing a pattern here. Do you, dear reader?
Ladies and and gentlemen, David Wolfe and his bank account thank you.
In the next installment of this series, we’ll show just how confused earthers are about electrical potential and the flow of electricity, batteries, and we’ll even delve into pH woo. In subsequent episodes, we’ll ask why these folks fret about voltages developing on their skin due to EMF, yet they outlay hundreds of dollars on devices that shock themselves (when the same devices can be built for pennies on the dollar).
From there, we’ll move on to the strange practice of plugging your body into the ground outlet of your home’s electrical socket, and how this might actually kill you.
If you think the world is a strange place, stay tuned. Pardon my poor grammar, but you ain’t seen nothing yet.
David Wolfe screen, product, and video captures used under Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.
Smoothed Solar Spectral Irradiance graph used with the kind permission of the Window to the Universe Project, derived from the NCAR Comet Program/High Altitude Observatory project. Use of the image does not imply that these organizations endorse or agree with the viewpoints presented in this article.
(1) Mind Blowing Experiment With David Wolfe
(2) David Wolfe Sungazing
(3) World Health Organization: What is EMF?