Radiation Phobia and Wolves

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.

Comments

  1. #1 Eric Lund
    November 29, 2011

    installed shielding of some kind (à la tin foil hat?)

    A Faraday cage. Which should block the radiation inside the house (some restaurants and theaters in the US have installed such things in order to block mobile reception inside so that cell phone yakkers won’t disturb other patrons). So the fact that somebody is still feeling symptoms means either (1) the Faraday cage is not properly installed, or more likely (2) EM radiation is not the cause of this person’s problems.

    See also Bob Park of What’s New, who has had several rants on the subject. (Perhaps it’s even worth sending him these stories as a tip.)

  2. #2 daedalus2u
    November 29, 2011

    They need to live in caves. The EM radiation from Cosmic background radiation is ~10 microwatts/m2. Good luck getting two orders of magnitude lower than that without shielding.

    http://www.universetoday.com/86860/astronomy-without-a-telescope-backgrounds/

  3. #3 Mu
    November 29, 2011

    Daedalus, you’re forgetting that the cosmic radiation is natural, and therefore good. It’s only the bad man-made radiation that’s hurting them. Until they watch Man in Black and learn about the alien mind manipulations.

  4. #4 fancyflyer
    November 30, 2011

    Well now, if they haven’t found relief way out there in the sticks how do we know that good old cosmic background isn’t hurting them too? Just because it’s organic and natural doesn’t mean it is wholly benign. In fact, life itself might be just too much for them to bear.

  5. #5 Birger Johansson
    November 30, 2011

    Wolves shooting radiation!!! This could be a film!

    Slightly off-topic: Another thing to fear…
    Is *this* really a big issue? http://www.thelocal.se/37614/20111128/
    I am in favour of animal protection legislation, but I am unaware of any plague of animal bonkers.

    Teh Stoopid: “Sweden Democrat: ‘a negro is a negro’ to me” http://www.thelocal.se/37620/20111128/

  6. #6 Birger Johansson
    November 30, 2011

    Didn’t The Simpsons have an episode about this? Substitute “bear” for “radiation” and throw in a bear surveillance aircraft…
    — — — — — —
    Martin, have you seen this faux-Chinese building near Uppsala? http://www.thelocal.se/gallery/lifestyle/2216/

  7. #7 Martin R
    November 30, 2011

    Ah yes, Dragon Gate, I’ve seen it from the highway once when I did some metal detecting north of Gävle. It’s beyond words. People who have been inside tell tales of a great big empty mall with no customers…

  8. #8 Masks of Eris
    December 1, 2011

    Wolves shooting radiation!!! This could be a film!

    Well, then, roll trailer:

    The President of the United States has been assassinated. But the assassin is no normal man.

    Actually, he is no man at all.

    Join Buff McMuscle, ex-CIA and pro-NRA, as he is called to find the most insidious killer of them all… Mr. Radiation-Wolf.

    The journey will take him to the runestones of Minnesota, to the mead-halls of the Swedish Court, and to several other showy locations, also there will be nudity, until he finds… Mr. Radiation-Wolf.

    Except that in the forest you don’t find the wolf. The Radiation-Wolf finds you.

    And you wouldn’t like what happens to you when the Radiation-Wolf finds you. Buff McMuscle sure doesn’t.

    In fact, he has to fight for his life.

    And for all that is precious to him. And the world.

    Because a Radiation-Wolf is bad news.

    And Buff McMuscle knows bad news. Because often he’s the bad news.

    But this is worse.

    (title card, wolf howl, fade out)

    (10 min into the movie: “Wolves. Why did it have to be wolves?”)

    (20 min into the movie: “Dogs don’t shoot radiation. It must be a wolf.”)

    (30 min into the movie: “I have heard you can feel the wolves. Even when they are not there. Come with me.”)

    (40 min into the movie: “The wolves! They have mutated!”)

    (50 min into the movie: “Ah, but to a man a man is… A WOLF!” (mutates))

    (60 min into the movie: “Wait, why are you wolfing down your food like that?” (mutation ensues))

    (70 min into the movie: “Maybe I will… maybe I WOLF.” (mutates))

    (80 min into the movie: “There haven’t been wolves here for decades. Isn’t that the greatest proof that there are hidden wolves here?“)

    (90 min into the movie: “Now it’s just the two of us. Mano a… wolf.”)

  9. #9 Bengt O.
    December 1, 2011

    I recently watched a TV program (ARTE?) about radioactive wolves in the Tchernobyl area. They seemed to thrive and maybe some of them have invaded Sweden?

  10. #10 Birger Johansson
    December 1, 2011

    Eris, whatever you are smoking, I want some :-)
    Will my least favorite karate fighter/film “actor” be in the film? Not JCVD, the other one.
    — — — — — — — —
    BTW several species of fish have independently evolved an electric sense. Useful if you live in water with the transparency of mud. Wether some mammals have a magnetic sense remains to be confirmed.

  11. #11 Birger Johansson
    December 2, 2011

    Bengt, the Tchernobyl wolf explanation is no worse than the “flukeman” episode of The X-file. Man-fluke hybrid from Tchernobyl thriving in the sewers. U-uuuulp.

    — — — — — —
    In theory they could move into a deep excavated gold mine to avoid high-energy cosmic rays. That would only leave neutrinos, but the don’t interact with matter. Do neutrinos count as “natural”?
    A perfect scam! “New improved product. Now enriched with neutrinos!” Nobody could prove anything.

    — — — — — —
    “How do Swedes survive?: director David Fincher” http://www.thelocal.se/37670/20111201/
    Personally I think Siberian newts and tardigrades have it worked out. They literally freeze solid and thaw out in spring without injury. If you can work out how they do it, you can expect a call from the Nobel comitté.

  12. #12 Jon
    Finland
    September 27, 2012

    According to one theory, “electricity allergy” is really a psychosomatic reaction to sociogenic stress in modern society. Sufferers, unable to deal with the socio-psychological nature of their symptoms, look for a simple physiological explanation that would render the problem easily manageable. They locate the problem in electric devices, which for them have come to symbolize modern society, and find genuine psychological relief in the ritual magic of shielding themselves from electromagnetic fields.

    A very similar thing occurs when naive individuals seek for a simple explanation to depression. As opposed to understanding that depression is a complicated problem involving society as well as individual biology, they seek for simple pseudo-explanations in things like wheat gluten and certain minerals or chemical residues in tap water. There is a person writing on the Internet about the dangers of caffeine, which he argues is the cause not only of depression but all mental disorders known to man.

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