The Body Electric / Cross Currents
Author: Robert O. Becker
These two books by a medical doctor who has spent years researching the effects of electromagnetic fields on humans warn of an unseen danger. We live our lives surrounded by electromagnetic fields, which emanate from power lines, radio and TV waves, and every electric appliance in our homes. These fields are invisible, but that doesn't mean they have no effect. The public has little knowledge or information about the effects of sitting near a computer monitor, or living near power generating equipment. Are electromagnetic fields causing rises in cancer? Could they be affecting our mental health?
Electromagetism and Regeneration
Dr. Becker, an orthopedic surgeon --which means he works with bone, the only part of the human body that can regenerate itself -- examines the role electric currents play in making living cells. In The Body Electric, we learn of his research, working with salamanders exploring how and why these animals can grow new limbs. Why can't humans be more like salamanders?
Perhaps they can. Dr. Becker discovered that at the site of a wound, there is a "current of injury" that has a negative charge. He worked with application of electric currents to wounds in bone in order to encourage and speed the regrowth. According to Becker, the very weak electrical currents that flow through our bodies have much to do with healing and regeneration of cells. He thinks the answer to regeneration of limbs lies in how cells can return to an undifferentiated state where they can become something else. These cells multiply and become arm or leg or blood or bone or whatever is needed. This kind of regeneration actually happens in young children. If a finger is cut off just beyond the fingernail, the rest of the finger will regrow. The Body Electric explains in detail many experiments Becker carried out that seem to show that knowledgeable use of electric currents in healing is a promising avenue for medical research. Despite the repugnance I felt as I read of the "sacrifice" and mutilation of many salamanders and frogs in this research, the resulting information is fascinating.
Not in the Medical Mainstream
The book also tells of the difficulties Dr. Becker had in pursuing this line of research, which is not in favor with the mainline medical establishment. Mainstream medicine has become mainly surgery and drugs. Electrotherapy, the use of electrical currents in healing, has surfaced in the past, but because the mechanism by which it works was not understood, it has tended to be debunked by the establishment. This kind of alternate method of treating diseases like cancer would also threaten the huge profits from the drug therapies currently in favor.
The Body Electric examines the roles of spontaneous healing, shaman healing, and faith healing. Because it is established that humans can affect the functioning of their bodies, if the mechanism involved is the body's electrical systems, we might be able to control and use this mechanism to help more people. For example, Becker describes how a patient, an average businessman who had been trained in yogic methods, could lay on a bed of nails with no pain, and when informed that a nail had penetrated his body, was able to instantly stop the bleeding through mental control. Biofeedback of various types has been used successfully for years to help people lower blood pressure and alter heart rates. More research into the exact way these feats work could bring about new ways to maintain good health.
The Dark Side of the Force
But Becker also sees the dark side to this unseen force. All electrical devices (such as computers, clocks, TV sets, etc.) emit an electrical field and a magnetic field which is perpendicular to the electric field. Our bodies also produce an electromagnetic field, and so does our earth. These are natural fields that work with the life force. But the author notes that "The global environmental alteration brought about by our use of electromagnetic energy has exposed all living organisms, from viruses to humans, to novel energetic fields that never before existed."
The author points out that in about the last hundred years, most of the earth's atmosphere is full of electromagnetic fields from the many radio and TV stations, military projects, electric generating stations, and wireless applications. Most indoor environments are also full of these fields from the electrical appliances we all use. Yet no one has really studied the effect on people. There is a certain amount of anecdotal evidence of adverse effects. If electric current can cause cells to multiply and grow (as is the case with limb regeneration), couldn't the same thing cause cancer, which is basically abnormal growth of cells?
In fact, military radar operators DO have a higher incidence of cancer. People living near radio towers were found to have more incidence of leukemia. Studies have shown that men whose occupation exposes them to electromagnetic fields not only were at risk themselves, but so were their children, indicating genetic damage. There are other sinister effects as well. The author says satellite measurements have shown that energies from power lines are amplified high above the earth. This more active energy could be giving us more severe storms. Controlling this phenomenon could be used as a weapon. Becker writes "It now seems feasible to induce catastrophic climate change over a target country…" This is the same worry (along with mind control, which Becker also discusses) in the book Angels Don't Play This HAARP, about the US government's HAARP antennas in Alaska.
In Cross Currents, Becker explores further the negative effects of electromagnetic fields and his findings are pretty alarming. He begins with an interesting tour of medical history and the use of electricity in healing. Becker explains that there are two opposing views of what life means, the vitalists believing in some substance that makes a thing alive, while the mechanists believe that life is just about chemical reactions -- bring together the right chemicals and you have life. Gradually the vitalist idea lost out to the mechanist and Becker feels this set medical practice on the wrong road. While he feels the vitalists were correct that life is more than a chemical reaction, he does not buy into the idea that there is a substance involved. Rather he sees the vital part of life as energy. Could it be electrical energy that makes us alive? (Wasn't that the idea in Frankenstein, which used electricity to bring back a dead body?).
The book discusses the "magnetic gland" that humans possess -- the pineal gland which is in our heads. He calls it a remnant of the mystical "third eye" that humans are said to have once had. He postulates the pineal senses and works with the earth's electromagnetic field and gives us our cyclical biorythms. Migrating birds also use their magnetic organ to find their way on cloudy days when visual clues and polarized sunlight are not available to them.
Becker uses a lot of space in this book to warn us of what he feels are the dangers of electrical fields that are not usually considered harmful. The electric power industry claims the fields created by their generating stations are not harmful, and people generally don't worry about any harmful effects from their TV set or their electric blanket. But Becker says the industry, and the government, have failed to heed the research that shows such fields can be harmful, that even small currents have effects on living tissue. More common is the worry about use of cell phones, which are held right next to the head and emit microwaves. If Becker is right, regular use of these phones could be damaging brain cells and could lead to cancer or brain tumors.
Conspiracy to Mislead the Public
Worse, Becker thinks a host of new diseases ( AIDS, SIDS, and Alzheimers, for example) and a new virulence in old diseases (Cancer, Parkinson's) could be the result of our constant exposure to electromagnetic fields. He also thinks the government and industry have conspired to create their own cadre of "experts" who regularly testify that these fields do no harm. I wondered, though, as I read both books, why Becker makes no mention of Royal R. Rife and his work with frequencies as a way to kill harmful viruses (see my review of The Cancer Conspiracy). I also found a web site with articles by a former associate of Dr. Becker's who does not agree with all his conclusions. It's difficult for the average person to sort this out, but Becker's case is convincing enough to have affected my personal choices. I've always loved electric blankets; I live in a cold climate and sometimes being really warm on a freezing cold night is just a wonderful luxury, but after reading these books I've unplugged my blanket and put flannel sheets on the bed and piled on an extra (non-electric) blanket to keep warm.
The most frightening aspect of the issues raised by Becker is that the military rely on electromagnetic fields for much of their work and are not likely to be honest with the public about harmful effects of their various defensive and weapons systems. They can be expected to rationalize that national security is more important than "collateral damage." Most alarming is military use of ELF (extremely low frequency) waves, useful because they travel through ground and water. These are particularly harmful to humans and have been shown to cause mental confusion in people exposed to them (see my review of Angels Don't Play This HAARP). And I found this interesting item in the January 2003 issue of Discover magazine: Will The Navy's New Sonar Harm Whales? In a test of sonar equipment near the Bahamas, its use was implicated in the death of 6 whales. Three had ear damage and one had bleeding around the brain. These were with a group of 16 distressed whales that were found beached after being exposed to the sonar testing. As a result, some restrictions have been placed on the use of the sonar equipment which uses sound waves. It shows the disregard on the part of the military to harm to living things by their technology.
In a strong warning, Becker says in his Epilogue "Present strategic doctrine rests on an unlimited, and expanding, use of electromagnetic energy. Without this capability, sophisticated weapons systems are useless. As a result, any attempts to acquaint the general public with the potential hazards of electromagnetic fields are viewed by such forces as inimical to state security and so are ruthlessly suppressed."
You have to ask yourself if defending ourselves from potential enemies is worth the price we're paying for it. These books give you plenty to think about.