For the past few days, Swedish skeptics have been shaking their heads in disbelief over Mora municipality’s office for the environment. The office had taken the complaints of a man with radiation phobia seriously and demanded that all radio transmitters in the area be turned down or re-pointed to ensure that the man’s house would not receive more that 50 nanowatts of radio – an extremely low value. The thing about radiation phobia (or “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” as it is called by sufferers, “electricity allergy” in Swedish) is that it is all in one’s head. These people have real symptoms, but they can’t tell whether a wire is actually live or a transmitter is on. It’s a psychosomatic ailment. But the office for the environment chose to ignore this information.
Yesterday we learned that cooler heads have prevailed in Mora and closed the man’s case without further action. But local newspaper Dala-demokraten then broke an even sadder and more bizarre story. A family in the same county has moved out into the deep woods to get away from all electrical equipment and installed shielding of some kind (à la tin foil hat?) all around their house. At least one of these poor people clearly suffers from radiation phobia. But despite all their attempts to get away from radiation, the malady persists. And they have a theory about why that is.
It’s the wolves. Wolves wearing radio tracking devices.
The family has made portable extra shielding to stave off the wolf radiation, but it hasn’t helped much. And yet, the county officials who have looked into the case have found that there aren’t even any wolves with tracking devices in the area. And of course, even if we put a tracking device on the phobia sufferer, s/he wouldn’t be able to tell if it were on unless it had a little lamp on it.
A good basic health care rule is that do by all means describe your symptoms, but leave it to a qualified non-fringe medical professional to determine what’s causing those symptoms.