CO145 Steven Koltai on the Business of Peace

Steven Koltai is an entrepreneur, long time business executive, and foreign policy expert with a focus on entrepreneurship. He’ s also the author of ‘Peace through Entrepreneurship: Investing in a Startup Culture for Security and Development‘ published by Brookings Institution Press in 2016.


Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the idiots are getting more numerous, or just louder. Whichever it is, there certainly seems to be a cacophony of stupid out there. I won’t even bother discussing whether it’s a good idea to tell people to drink disinfectant, or to actually drink disinfectant, or to tell people who’ve seen the recording of you talking about drinking disinfectant that you didn’t say that at all, that’s been done to death.

You might laugh at that, and laugh at the possibility of anyone taking it seriously, and then move on to laughing at the people who did take it seriously, but you might not be aware that there exists a whole subculture out there of people who convince each other that forcing their kids to drink chlorine, that’s the highly toxic stuff that you disinfect swimming pools with, they force their kids to drink it, and when they can’t drink any more because they have vomited too much, they force it into their anuses with an enema.

Many children have suffered serious poisonings as a result, and wouldn’t you know it, there is a hugely profitable cult religion that specializes in selling the chemical and convincing people that it’s God’s one true medicine.

But as soon as anything hits the news, conspiracy theorists seem to be able to build it into their crackpot ideas. The Corona virus is no exception. One of the theories, entirely unburdened with evidence, is that 5G cellphone antennas are the cause of Corona virus. This is totally contradictory of the previous anti-5G conspiracy theories, but if you’re looking for consistency, you’re in the wrong place.

There are some vague claims that someone somewhere got Covid19, after 5G towers had been installed, but they totally ignore the fact that there is no correlation at all, between countries with serious outbreaks, like Iran, which have no 5G connections at all.

These people also prey on an uneasiness that most ordinary people have about radiation, without understanding it so well. I explained this in an episode last year, episode 116 if you want to look it up. 5G just means the fifth update to mobile phone technology. All technology is being updated all the time, but where, new cars for example, can have updated engine or tires any time, with mobile communications these updates must come in organized waves, because all the handsets have to talk to the base stations, and they must all have the same interoperable standards.

It’s still just data and voice traffic being transmitted over radio waves, as has been happening for more than a century. It’s true that higher frequency radiation has more energy, and can seriously harm people, but lower frequency radiation, such as light – light is just radiation that can be picked up by specialized organs in our body called eyes – lower frequency radiation just doesn’t have the energy to do us any harm. Radio waves are lower frequency again than light, and on top of that they are far, far less powerful, millions of times less powerful than normal daylight.

But that doesn’t stop the idiots and, you know, most of the time I’m happy to let the idiots have at it. If they amuse themselves by imagining conspiracies around every corner, then let them do that.

But when they start interfering with other people, it’s time put a stop to it. There are couple of reasons for this. One is that in the UK, dozens of cellphone towers have been seriously vandalized, apparently by people deluded into believing this 5G conspiracy theory. The fact that only a minority of the towers that the vandals set on fire actually have any 5G equipment is hardly important to such deluded people.

But if it’s cellphone towers today, it can be some other public utility tomorrow. And that’s not an accident. There are strong indications that these conspiracy theories are being stoked online by thousands of organized social media accounts that bears ‘hallmarks of a state-backed campaign’. Why should an enemy waste resources attacking you when they can get us to attack each other?

So some of that stupid you hear may seem to be getting louder for a reason. And it’s not all that stupid after all, it’s actually smart pretending to be stupid.