Podcast: Why do people think 5G makes them sick?

A professor of health psychology explains.


No, 5G didn’t start the coronavirus pandemic. But that’s not stopping the current wave of conspiracy theories and anti-5G protests. And despite the science saying otherwise, plenty of people are convinced that 5G is actually hurting them. To figure out why, Cherlynn and Devindra chat with Omer van den Bergh, a tenured professor of Health Psychology at the University of Leuven in Belgium.

Engadget · Why Do People Think 5G Makes Them Sick?

He’s extensively researched idiopathic environmental intolerance, genuine physical symptoms that arise when some people encounter electromagnetic fields, chemical substances (like fragrances), and even vibroacoustic sources like wind mills. While tests prove that these factors don’t genuinely cause illnesses, the mere belief that they do is enough to cause physical reactions. Instead of just telling people it’s all in their head, he argues, Western medicine might need to take these symptoms more seriously.

Additionally, Devindra and Cherlynn discuss the surprisingly confusing launch of HBO Max. It’s basically a rebrand of HBO Now, but somehow HBO managed to bungle it. (And maybe we just have too many streaming services to manage now.)

Listen above, or subscribe on your podcast app of choice. If you've got suggestions or topics you'd like covered on the show, be sure to let us know! And check out our other podcasts, the Morning After and Engadget News!



  • Here’s one reason why the 5G harm myth won’t go away: 1:02

  • Interview with Prof. Omer van den Bergh: 4:17

  • HBO Max is very confusing!: 24:49

  • What we’re working on: 31:00

  • Pop-culture picks: 36:22


Hosts: Devindra Hardawar and Cherlynn Low
Guest: Professor Omer van den Bergh
Producer: Ben Ellman
Music: Dale North and Terrence O'Brien

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