Respectful Insolence

As I survey the lack of reason that infests–nay, permeates every fiber of–my country, sometimes I despair. Whether it’s because of the freak fest that the race for the Republican nomination has become, with each candidate seemingly battling to prove he can bring home the crazier crazy than any of the others, or antiscience running rampant in the form of evolution rejectionism, antivaccine lunacy, and anthropogenic global warming (AGW( denialism, it’s hard for skeptics and rationalists not to be depressed. Personally, however, I always looked to the north, to Canada, for a little more sense. Usually, Canada provided.

Not this time, unfortunately:

An Ontario teachers’ union is calling for an end to new WiFi setups in the province’s 1,400-plus Catholic schools.

The Ontario English Catholic Teacher’s Association says computers in all new schools should be hardwired instead of setting up wireless networks.

It also says WiFi should not be installed in any more classrooms.

In a position paper released today, the union – which represents 45,000 teachers – cites research by the World Health Organization.

Last year the global health agency warned about a possible link between radiation from wireless devices such as cellphones and cancer.

Some believe wireless access to the Internet could pose similar risks.


Yes, and “some believe” that vaccines cause autism, that evolution isn’t a valid theory to describe the diversity of life, that AGW isn’t happening, that the moon landing never happened (and neither did the Holocaust), and that scam artists like John Edward and Sylvia Browne can speak with the dead, too. We don’t pander to such irrational, scientifically unsupported beliefs. Oh wait. Unfortunately, yes we do sometimes, particularly creationists, antivaccinationists, and AGW denialists. I can only hope that our neighbors to the north (or, to be pedantic, to the south if you happen to live in the Detroit area) will find the intestinal fortitude to resist such foolishness. As I’ve pointed out time and time again, not only is there no good evidence that radio waves at the energies used in cellular phones cause cancer or any other health problems, but basic physics shows that electromagnetic radiation at such wavelengths and intensities are incredibly unlikely to have a biological effect that can result in cancer. Couple that with study after study (except from one group in Sweden) that have failed to show even a hint of a whiff of a correlation between mobile phone use and cancer, and the idea that mobile phone radiation causes cancer is pretty much an ex-hypothesis. Now take that ex-hypothesis and shrink it by ten-fold or more, and you get an idea of how implausible the idea is that radio waves due to wifi can have significant health effects, much less cancer, is. After all, unlike the case with mobile phones, which are held right up to the head, wifi transmitters are not.

Yet, none of this stops the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) from bravely marching away from where science should lead it with a position statement entitled, unimaginatively enough, A position regarding the use of Non-Ionizing Electromagnetic Radiation, including WiFi, in the workplace. It’s a lovely example of fear mongering winning out over science and Orwellian language touting fears of what dangers “might” exist without any real evidence that these dangers actually do exist. In short, it’s an embarrassment to teachers everywhere. The only way it could be worse is if it were science teachers writing this. If there were, I wouldn’t want them teaching my children science. I’ll show you what I mean. The badness starts from the very first paragraph:

There are growing health and safety concerns regarding the widespread use of technology, such as cellular phones and wireless computer networking (WiFi), which produce non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. It is estimated that at least 3 percent of the population has an environmental sensitivity to the radiation that is emitted by these devices and, as a result, experience serious immediate physical/biological effects when exposed. As has been the case with other known societal health and safety issues, such as exposure to cigarette smoke or asbestos, the health effects of unprecedented long term exposure to this radiation may not be known for some time. Widespread use of, or exposure to, wireless communication devices and WiFi technology in Ontario schools, can be positioned as a potential workplace hazard.

Note the language. “There are growing health and safety concerns.” No, there aren’t. At least not among the vast majority of scientists who study the issue there aren’t. There have been mild health and safety concerns, but they aren’t exactly “growing.” In fact, with each new negative study, what little concern there was gets even smaller, particularly among those who consider how incredibly implausible from a pure basic physics standpoint, a link between cell phones and cancer is. No, the only place there are “growing health and safety concerns” are among either the woo set or the fear-promoting set.

In a way, though, it’s hard to blame the teachers, at least not completely. After all, they’re only taking their cue from a really execrable report that the World Health organization published last year. In that report, the WHO classified cell phone radiation as a a “category 2B carcinogen.” What that means is that the WHO thinks that such radiation might cause cancer. The result was every credulous blogger on the planet likening cell phone radiation to other category 2B carcinogens, like the pesticide DDT, engine exhaust, lead and various industrial chemicals and Dr. Sanjay Gupta referring to the announcement as having “dealt a blow to those who have long said, ‘There is no possible mechanism for cell phones to cause cancer.’ By classifying cell phones as a possible carcinogen, they also seem to be tacitly admitting a mechanism could exist.”

Not surprisingly, the WHO report figures prominently in the OECTA position paper:

On May 31, 2011, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as a class 2b carcinogen (possibly carcinogenic or cancer causing to humans). They citied biological effects recognized in adult cellular telephone studies for their decision. This categorization by the WHO prompted Health Canada to issue an advisory calling for prudent avoidance of cellular phone use among children and youth. No long term studies have been done regarding mobile phones on children or regarding WiFi on adults or children.

What then follows is an unconvincing discussion of alleged health effects of wifi radiation, in which it’s blamed for cancer, “headaches, nausea, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, weakness, pressure in the head, and a racing or fluttering heart (tachycardia).” It’s followed by this:

A portion of the population are estimated to be affected in some way by an environmental sensitivity called electro-hypersensitivity, which is an increased sensitivity to non-ionizing radiation, and may become ill when WiFi is initialized.

“Approximately 3 percent of the population (over 1 million Canadians) has been diagnosed with environmental sensitivities (ES) which include multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) and electromagnetic sensitivity.”

The problem, of course, is that ES does not exist as a clinical entity. It’s been incredibly difficult to demonstrate that electrical signals or radio waves cause the symptoms described under blinded conditions. Indeed, double-blind controlled studies have repeatedly shown that people suffering from ES can’t tell the difference between real electromagnetic fields and sham electromagnetic fields. Indeed, one review of the literature concluded:

The symptoms described by “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” sufferers can be severe and are sometimes disabling. However, it has proved difficult to show under blind conditions that exposure to EMF can trigger these symptoms. This suggests that “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” is unrelated to the presence of EMF, although more research into this phenomenon is required.

It should be emphasize that people who claim electromagnetic field sensitivity (or ES, as the OECTA abbreviated it) have real symptoms, just as those suffering from Morgellons disease have real symptoms. It’s just that they symptoms aren’t due to what the suffers think they’re due to. Just as the symptoms of Morgellons disease are not due to skin parasites, the symptoms of ES are actually not due to EMF. Rather, they must be due to something else, given how it’s been shown time and time again that ES symptoms are not related to the actual presence of EMF. Indeed, a more recent review concluded:

Despite the conviction of IEI-EMF sufferers that their symptoms are triggered by exposure to electromagnetic fields, repeated experiments have been unable to replicate this phenomenon under controlled conditions. A narrow focus by clinicians or policy makers on bioelectromagnetic mechanisms is therefore, unlikely to help IEI-EMF patients in the long-term.

In other words, the OECTA is demanding that all sorts of safety precautions be taken based on a nonexistent risk. And, yes, they want a lot of changes. For example, they recommend the continued use of wired Ethernet connections and that all new buildings be wired for Ethernet, not set up for wifi. In cases where networks need to be expanded, the OECTA recommends that more Ethernet cabling be used, rather than wifi. When wifi absolutely positively can’t be avoided (but it’s very clear in the report that the OECTA would prefer that there be no wifi whatsoever), the OECTA recommends the use of a PowerLine HD Ethernet Adapter (or similar technology) to pass a network signal through existing electrical lines, rather than a wireless router. One notes that this is not an inexpensive solution. The OECTA also advises that no permanent wireless routers be installed. Instead, it prefers that single application wireless routers be used that can be turned on only when needed.

In other words, the OECTA is making a whole bunch of recommendations that would be expensive to implement, inconvenient and far less useful than wifi, and highly inconvenient for school staff, all for no demonstrable potential benefit.

None of this is anything new, unfortunately. About a year and a half ago parents in Barrie, Ontario tried to blame wifi in their children’s school for a rash of nonspecific complaints. They were spurred on by an “expert” named Susan Clarke. The OECTA is also, no doubt, “inspired” by a woman named Magda Havas, noted woo-meister at Trent University in Ontario who is known for promoting the idea of “dirty electricity,” EMF sensitivity, “electrosmog,” and, of course, the idea that wifi signals cause all sorts of vague health problems. I sense her malign (to science, reason, and critical thinking, that is) influence in the EOCTA’s position statement. It’s clearly “inspired” by the sorts of pseudoscience Havas promotes.

Yes, sadly, Ontario seems to be a hotbed for this sort of nonsense, if not the epicenter for it. I can only hope that the politicians there are more resistant to this fear mongering than our own politicians are to Americans’ preferred forms of pseudoscience.

Comments

  1. #1 Tony Mach
    February 14, 2012

    After all, unlike the case with mobile phones, which are held right up to the head, wifi transmitters are not.

    Maybe they should teach the inverse-square law in these schools.

    Plus, cell phones transmit with higher power (up to 2 watts for our European GSM) than the puny wifi, which transmit with less than a 1/10 of that power.

  2. #2 Dunc
    February 14, 2012

    There are growing health and safety concerns regarding the widespread use of technology […] which produce non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation.

    Dear God – what about all these light bulbs?! Aaargghh!

    The OECTA is also, no doubt, “inspired” by a woman named Magda Havas, noted woo-meister at Trent University in Ontario who is known for promoting the idea of “dirty electricity,”

    You won’t be laughing so much after your office gets flattened by heavy electricity, falling out of the wires like a tonne of invisible lead soup!

  3. #3 Tony Mach
    February 14, 2012

    One more thing:

    Ten years ago I looked into “cell phones are causing diseases!” and the only thing I could find with regards to possible pathogenic effects was that if you used a GSM phone at full 2 watts for like an hour, it could raise the temperature in some parts of the brain by 1 degree celsius. Don’t know if this was theoretical or somehow measured in a real-life model. Don’t know how good the data was.

    There was a lot of commotion against cell phone towers in part of the woods back then, including one movement which had large signs in their village: “No cell phone tower in our village!” – the contact phone number listed below was a cell phone number… m(

  4. #4 Tony Mach
    February 14, 2012

    Lest I forget: The two CFLs I broke are probably more dangerous to my health than a lifetime of GSM usage.

  5. #5 Callum M
    February 14, 2012

    Amazing how much people talk about what they know nothing of. How can you take a position in the absence of fact? Next you will deny that people who feel electromagnetic radiation actually feel it. Thanks for your contribution to our grosing culture of preferred ignorance. Your brand of ostrich skepticism is a step down on the creationary ladder.

  6. #6 Fleegman
    February 14, 2012

    @Callum

    Amazing how much people talk about what they know nothing of. How can you take a position in the absence of fact?

    You appear to be doing so quite easily.

    Do you have any, you know, arguments to bring to the party, or is it all just bluster, good sir?

  7. #7 Kythyria
    February 14, 2012

    For example, they recommend the continued use of wired Ethernet connections

    That’s not entirely a bad thing. After all, wired networks can still outperform wireless networks.

    However, this doesn’t mean you should throw out your wireless routers. They can reach to a lot of places it would be a pain to get cables to, as well as being much easier to retrofit into buildings that predate the widespread use of computers in education.

    single application wireless routers

    Um, they do know that a pure access point is a layer 2 device, right? Any talk of “single application” at that level is a gross misunderstanding. The “application” of an AP is “bridge between a wired network and a wireless one”. All it does is move frames from one side to the other, without caring what’s in them.

    Thus I cannot imagine a policy for turning off APs that would result in a significant reduction in exposure to EM radation that does not defeat the object of installing APs in the first place.

  8. #8 novalox
    February 14, 2012

    @callum m

    Citation for you “argument”, please, or we all will assume that you are arguing from ignorance.

  9. #9 Dunc
    February 14, 2012

    Next you will deny that people who feel electromagnetic radiation actually feel it.

    Of course people can feel some electromagnetic radiation. It’s particularly easy to detect in the IR and visible bands.

    However, on the basis of multiple double-blinded provocation studies with negative outcomes, I’m quite happy to deny that people who think they can feel radio waves specifically from cell phones or wifi devices (how they imagine that can separate these out from all the other radio-frequency EM floating around I have no idea) actually can.

    I wonder: did Marconi have to put up with this rubbish?

  10. #10 wintermute
    February 14, 2012

    An Ontario teachers’ union is calling for an end to new WiFi setups in the province’s 1,400-plus Catholic schools.

    Bah, this is just their public justification. What they’re really concerned with is this:

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1643

  11. #11 palindrom
    February 14, 2012

    @Callum –

    “Next you will deny that people who feel electromagnetic radiation actually feel it. ”

    It’s incredibly easy to design an excellent test of whether people can “actually feel it” — simply have people sit next to a source that’s on or off, and see if they can tell the difference. [This makes it a lot easier to test than, say, acupuncture or surgical procedures where a patient can tell right away if something is being done.]

    Orac claims, and I believe him, that such studies have been done, and guess what? The people can’t tell any difference.

    So whatever is bothering these people, it isn’t EM radiation.

    If people are suffering, they’re suffering, and no one is discounting that. Wouldn’t you rather find out what’s REALLY bothering these folks, rather than obsessing about something that has been shown to NOT be the cause?

  12. #12 LW
    February 14, 2012

    Kythyria @7 : I don’t think they meant application the way computer people do. I think they meant the wireless router would be used for a single purpose (in this particular class from 1:30 to 1:45 while we demonstrate something or other) and then turned off.

  13. #13 Raging Bee
    February 14, 2012

    “Tachycardia?” They’re shooting tachyons into the poor kids’ hearts? Bet none of you smart guys proved THAT was harmless, have you?

  14. #14 Kythyria
    February 14, 2012

    LW@12: That sort of makes sense, I guess. Though it does make me wonder what use cases they had in mind where that could be considered practical compared to installing a computer and projector in the classroom permanently (with the associated wired network connection), or rescheduling to hold that particular lesson in a computer lab.

    wintermute@10: That makes me wonder if the next evolution of this will be woo in which the content of the signals has a physiological effect (and that this effect is somehow entirely unaffected by little things such as file formats and what else is using the same network, because it’s not proper woo unless it fails everything forever).

  15. #15 Vincent Iannelli, MD
    February 14, 2012

    “That’s not entirely a bad thing. After all, wired networks can still outperform wireless networks.”

    Yeah, but even you wire every classroom, it is hard to get a wired connection to every desk or table.

    But at least now we know what is happening to all of those kids in LeRoy, New York. Have they cut off the school’s WiFi yet?

  16. #16 OttawaAlison
    February 14, 2012

    As someone who lives in Ontario, I am just finding all this woo stuff coming from my province embarassing. I have had wifi for 8 years at my house. I even exposed my unborn child (now happy go lucky 5.5 year old) to the dangers of wifi… I have exposed my cats too. We’re all fine.

    Again this is so embarassing.

  17. #17 Politicalguineapig
    February 14, 2012

    Wireless internet and cellphones can pose a risk to people with pacemakers, if I recall correctly. Apparently pacemakers tend to skip around wi-fi. If any of the teachers had pacemakers, they might have a legitimate concern. I’m calling bull on the for-the-children stuff, though.

  18. #18 MikeMa
    February 14, 2012

    @LW,
    While I am sure you are right about the use of the word ‘application’, it is likely just as pointless. Wireless routers are not designed for single rooms. They service a wing or general area of a building. You can not turn it off for a single room in any practical way. If you turn it off, the entire wing is disconnected. Either this defeats the purpose of having wireless access for those in the area or there is no one left in the area to notice or be damaged by the (gasp) radiation.

    Maybe they can work out a scheme that says internet will be available between times x & y or only in areas a & b but again it defeats the point of having access at all. Back to the libraries and all those moldy books!

  19. #19 wintermute
    February 14, 2012

    Wireless routers are not designed for single rooms.

    But a room could be designed to contain a wireless signal. Of course, this adds even more pointless cost to solve a non-problem.

  20. #20 Calli Arcale
    February 14, 2012

    In fairness, I tend to favor Ethernet over wireless whenever possible, because of the bandwidth and for security reasons. Also, I have a nagging worry about using up all of our bandwidth. The number of wireless devices has exploded in the past five years, and this is going to present some serious practical problems as time goes on. None of them have to do with cancer, though, and in many applications, WiFi just makes too darn much sense not to use it. Classrooms are #1.

    Kythyria — if you jump on the data content bandwagon, you could be rich! There’s gold in them thar woo, if you’re sufficiently unscrupulous. ;-) I mean, hey, if people can sell bottled water that has had positive things thought at it, I’m sure they’d pay for someone to come and filter the content that’s being beamed through their bodies across the WiFi. :-D Mind you, I think someone may have beaten you to it — I understand some forms of “distance healing” woo can be accomplished via e-mail, which would be sorta along those lines. (I weep for our species, sometimes.)

  21. #21 Dianne
    February 14, 2012

    Oh for…can we tell them to just put on their tin foil hats and not worry about it any more?

  22. #22 trrll
    February 14, 2012

    Orac, you just can’t follow the subtle reasoning of those who are worried about the health hazards of wifi. Here, let me lay it out for you:

    “I didn’t used to be worried about health hazards of wifi, but now I am. And I’ve talked to a bunch of my friends, and I’ve convinced them that they ought to be worried, too. Hence, there are ‘growing concerns.'”

    QED

  23. #23 Sannica
    February 14, 2012

    In hopes of restoring your faith in us Canadians just a little, take a peek at the comments section after the article. I feel at least a little better…

    Re: Pacemakers – This is not my area of expertise, but I was under the impression that microwave frequencies were the ones that interfere with pacemakers, and not the longer-wave radio frequencies that all our fancy devices use.

  24. #24 Anton P. Nym
    February 14, 2012

    Dad has a pacemaker; he wasn’t cautioned against Wi-fi, which is good given how much he’s on the Internet these days. He was cautioned against careless use of a microwave, which led to an early replacement of an old microwave whose containment was debatable but probably safe. He was also advised against leaving his cell phone in his breast pocket as a precaution, but not out of any direct known threat.

    As for the Wi-Fi woo, well, as another Ontarian it does shame me somewhat but I am heartened to see how many folks are pointing out how ridiculous this all is.

    — Steve

  25. #25 Edith Prickly
    February 14, 2012

    Oh Jeebus, thanks OECTA — like I don’t have to respond to enough nonsense from the EMF nutters already.

    The stuff I get is usually about how the wireless “smart” meters the province is installing on the OUTSIDE of everbody’s homes are making them sick. Funny though – when we point out that they can have the smart meter replaced with a wired interval meter but will have to pay the cost of exchanging the meter and installing a dedicated phone line themselves, nobody goes for it. You’d think if they were really that worried, they’d pay up.

    It also amuses me no end that most of these complaints come via e-mail. I guess computer monitors give off “good” EMFs?

  26. #26 Andreas Johansson
    February 14, 2012

    Dunc wrote:

    (how they imagine that can separate these out from all the other radio-frequency EM floating around I have no idea)

    By not knowing that that other EM is there, I’ll wager.

  27. #27 Denice Walter
    February 14, 2012

    This usually comes up as woo-meisters recite a nearly endless litany of what to be afraid of: microwaved food, GMOs, cell phones, outdoor wires ( electrical et al), fluoridated water, chlorinated water, radiation from Fukushima( even if you live thousands of miles away), appliances and television ( even if shut off but plugged in). The message is generally: modern toxins, contaminants and radiation have saturated our pure environment and are causing illness at an unprecedented rate. And the toxic mainstream media- another source of unmitigated pollution- is not to be trusted when they call something “safe”: remember they said that about vaccines!

    A few advocate a return to Nature: move far from the cities (which are inundated with wi-fi, cafes *and* gangs!) out to rural areas where you can get back to the land, raise organic crops and free-range chickens- much like Mike Adams. Get off the grid, we’re told by the other idiot, solar storms will knock power out, so become free from enslavement by the power companies. Drill your own water wells- be self-sufficient and sustainable. Don’t relay on mass media and mass mechandising of products. However, you will be dependent on your friendly *progressive* woo-providers for both supplements, special foods, health and political-economic information so don’t toss that computer and you can buy shields for your cell phone at their web-sites.- btw- their websites carry products that address all of the aforementioned hazards.

  28. #28 idlemind
    February 14, 2012

    An acquaintance of mine is “sensitive” to unsecured wifi signals. He complained that one of his neighbors had an open access point that was giving him terrible headaches. But the story had a happy ending: the neighbor set up WEP and so this fellow no longer got his headaches.

  29. #29 peicurmudgeon
    February 14, 2012

    Ontario, particularly Trent University in Peterborough, is home to Magda Havas. She has almost singlehandedly created the fear of Wi Fi in Canadians.

  30. #30 Beamup
    February 14, 2012

    Too bad such things keep the acquaintance from finding out what ACTUALLY caused his headaches.

  31. #31 Composer99
    February 14, 2012

    WiFi woo does seem to be an Ontarian woo de jour. You should see the peanut gallery that stops in whenever a WiFi thread comes up at Skeptic North, the Canadian aggregate skeptical blog.

  32. #32 Denice Walter
    February 14, 2012

    What’s hilarious is that if you’re of a *certain age* you can remember pollution that you were able to *see*. Large western cities were not as clean as they are now because of changes in auto emmission standards as well as controls on industrial pollution of air and rivers. Of course, some of the greening and cleaning of industry has to do with the fact that it’s now localised elsewhere- where we can’t see it.

  33. #33 Edith Prickly
    February 14, 2012

    Denice@32 – no kidding. I lived in Sarnia, the centre of Ontario’s petrochemical industry, for a few years as a young child. I remember very well the stench and the weird colour of the sky around the petroleum refineries we’d pass on our way to the drive-in movie theatre (riding in our big-ass gas-guzzling station wagon with wood-panelled doors and no child seats, of course.)

  34. #34 VikingMoose
    February 14, 2012

    lol katholiks. lolz.

    although, of all their ass-douchery behaviors throughout their history, this is the least grievous. the “silent majority” catholics who refuse to go after the pedophiles more still trumps this.

    hell, ND getting such favorable treatment is higher ranked than this…

  35. #35 Karl Withakay
    February 14, 2012

    With some really quick and dirty (and possibly wrong) math, I figure the power from a 100 mW hot spot at 5 meters is roughly the same as the power from a 50,000 W clear channel AM transmitter at about 3.5 km. It’s time to stop AM broadcasting; it’s for the kids.

  36. #36 Ben
    February 14, 2012

    Someone needs to write a paper weighing a proven ethernet cable trip hazard vs unspecified wifi dangers.

  37. #37 missmayinga
    February 14, 2012

    Well, my home’s wifi has been known to produce headaches, fatigue, and irritability in me, but somehow I doubt that the mechanism is the same as what they’re proposing.

  38. #38 Mike
    February 14, 2012

    can’t tell the difference between real electromagnetic fields and sham electromagnetic fields.

    Would a “sham” field in this case be ‘we turned the transmitter off’? I actually remember an article where some guy was complaining that he was EMF Sensitive and was suing his local city for the damage their free WiFi system was doing to him, detailing how his symptoms got worse when he got anywhere near the AP’s. Only . . . the system hadn’t even been turned on yet.

    This sounds like yet another case of people with no clue seeming to have a desperate need to be afraid of something harmless.

    Now, I agree with them that a wired solution is often the better way to go. But that’s purely for technical reasons: bandwidth, security, etc.

  39. #39 Terrie
    February 14, 2012

    @Denise, I remember a teacher telling us how he was in LA and made the mistake of wearing white sweater outside. It turned gray from the smog. Do people not remember things like leaded fuel and acid rain?

    Personally, I’m not a huge fan of wifi, but that’s because I work in an old building that has a TON of blind spots in its coverage.

  40. #40 Kythyria
    February 14, 2012

    It also amuses me no end that most of these complaints come via e-mail. I guess computer monitors give off “good” EMFs?

    Add that to the list of woo-based panics that haven’t come up yet: van Eck radiation. Even sounds ominous! And it combines with the aforementioned data woo perfectly, too!

  41. #41 BenT
    February 14, 2012

    It is understandable when scientifically uninformed individuals come across misinformation about new technology and get scared. However, this is an official statement from a committee (OECTA Provincial Health and Safety Committee) that presumably has more than one person in it. A lone nut cherry-picking studies about cell-phones and using them as a basis to freak out about wifi is sad enough, but a committee who should be trying accurately to assess risks in schools shouldn’t ignore all the negative evidence regarding cell phone risks and use one or two ambiguous bits of evidence about cell phone risk to claim a risk for wifi (which is not a cell phone).

    Plus, those recommendations sound expensive. Disheartening.

  42. #42 Thom Denick
    February 14, 2012

    @Callum

    “Next you will deny that people who feel electromagnetic radiation actually feel it. ”

    I am sure you are almost certainly a troll, but if you are not and you really have a friend who can detect WiFi EMF radiation, then I am almost certain James Randi and Banachek would love to put him or her to the $1,000,000 challenge. That person in turn can put that $1,000,000 to whatever anti-EMF cause they choose, or even keep the money to buy a wifi-free estate in northern Alberta.

    http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/component/content/article/37-static/254-jref-challenge-faq.html

  43. #43 Scote
    February 14, 2012

    “Next you will deny that people who feel electromagnetic radiation actually feel it. “

    It is an absolute scientific fact that people can feel electromagnetic radiation.

    I was standing near a cell tower the other day and I started to feel warm. I’m sure it was due to electromagnetic radiation. Of course, that is because I was standing in full on *sunlight*, light being a form of electromagnetic radiation.

    Now, as to feeling WiFi signals–every double blind study I’ve heard of has shown that people who think they can feel it can’t. Sorry. Objective methodologically derived results that account for human biases trump subjective anecdotes. (My anecdote about the sun is merely illustrative–and is backed by science not against it the way the claims to be able to feel wifi are)

  44. #44 dandover
    February 14, 2012

    I’m with Dunc (@2) on this one. Removing the WiFi access points from the classrooms is not enough, now that we are aware of the dangers of non-ionizing radiation. We must also insist that all light bulbs be removed from classrooms. If it’s too dark they’ll have to use a candle… er, scratch that. Candlelight is another form of non-ionizing radiation, so no candles either. In fact, better pull down the blackout window shades, too. We wouldn’t want any of the non-ionizing (or ionizing!) radiation from the sun getting into the classrooms. Yes, the kids are just going to have to get used to learning in total darkness. Total darkness. Hmmmm, sounds like a good metaphor to describe the thinking skills being applied by some folks in Ontario.

  45. #45 MaryL
    February 14, 2012

    The CBC lunch hour call in show had some really touched people calling about the issue today. One woman described how her two kids started fighting at home, but as soon as she turned off the WiFi, the instigator stopped, looking slightly confused about what he was doing.

    I fear for our genepool.

  46. #46 Beamup
    February 14, 2012

    @ dandover:

    It’s even worse than that! Everyone who’s ever been exposed to DHMO emits EM radiation themselves!!! Including at WiFi frequencies!

    BAN DHMO NOW!!!1!!111!!eleventy-one!!1!

  47. #47 Sigivald
    February 14, 2012

    Next you will deny that people who feel electromagnetic radiation actually feel it.

    If they can tell me when the transmitter is on vs. off, in a double blind test, with well over 50% accuracy, I’ll stop denying it.

    Until then, they can pound sand, because so far their ability to actually “feel” it as demonstrated by, well, telling people when it’s there vs. absent, when tested, rounds to zero, last I checked.

  48. #48 GaryB
    February 14, 2012

    I’m not sure what they’re all excited about, I’ve been building wired and wireless networks for dec, I’ve been building wired and wireless net, I’ve been building…

    I’m fine, fine.

    Even the wires emit lectricicals because of inductance. Scuse me, I see an lectricical climbing up my office wall. Gotta kill it.

  49. #49 taylormattd
    February 14, 2012

    Pardon for the off-topic post, but I was wondering if any of you have come across this: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/how-your-cat-is-making-you-crazy/8873/#.TzqhpcHQFwM.facebook

    It’s an article in the Atlantic about Jaroslav Flegr, a Czech scientist who apparently believes Toxoplasma gondii is somehow responsible for almost all kinds of strange behavior.

    Has this been written up around here?

  50. #50 Anton P. Nym
    February 14, 2012

    The real irony is that there’s more carcinogenic threat from radioactive decay inside the bricks and concrete used to construct the schools than there is from Wi-Fi… yet I see no movement to insist that schools only be construted from wood frames.

    (Which, if one wants to be pedantic, also emit minor levels of radiation from absorbed carbon-14 etc… but even the direst of woo-meisters won’t object to that.)

    — Steve

  51. #51 Beamup
    February 14, 2012

    (Which, if one wants to be pedantic, also emit minor levels of radiation from absorbed carbon-14 etc… but even the direst of woo-meisters won’t object to that.)

    I would advise against entering into any wagers on that proposition.

  52. #52 Sastra
    February 14, 2012

    I suspect that the fear of wi-fi will be at least partly tempered by the fear of looking totally un-cool to your kids. — or, worse, looking repressive. If you tell your children they’re not going to get vaccines they will probably give you little resistance; if you get between your kids and modern technology, on the other hand, they will almost certainly complain. Prepare for battle from within. It’s hard to see yourself as a sensitive and concerned parent protecting your cub when your 13-year-old is rolling their eyes in derision and slamming doors in anger.

  53. #53 Anton P. Nym
    February 14, 2012

    I would advise against entering into any wagers on that proposition.

    But they’re treeeeeez! They’re naaaachural, not like those artificial bricks and cables.

    — Steve

    PS: I suppose there’s a few out there shying away from the Hateful Daystar’s carcinogenic rays, come to think of it… though they’ve got better grounds than the Wi-Fidiots.

  54. #54 Calli Arcale
    February 14, 2012

    GaryB:

    Even the wires emit lectricicals because of inductance. Scuse me, I see an lectricical climbing up my office wall. Gotta kill it.

    Is it’s name “John”?

    (Oh wait, those are Lectroids. Send ‘em back to Planet Ten anyway.)

  55. #55 Marry Me, Mindy
    February 14, 2012

    (Which, if one wants to be pedantic, also emit minor levels of radiation from absorbed carbon-14 etc… but even the direst of woo-meisters won’t object to that.)

    Of course not. It’s organic!

  56. #56 Beamup
    February 14, 2012

    The trees may be natural, but cutting them down and chopping them up is Teh Evulz. Only buildings fashioned purely from natural deadfall, without any cutting tools, are safe. Damaging any plant matter (even already dead) releases deadly toxins intended to protect Gaia.

    I really wish I were kidding, but I actually have been told this. The fellow in question seriously intended to put it into practice once he graduated from college. I doubt he really DID, but he was entirely in earnest.

  57. #57 Edith Prickly
    February 14, 2012

    I suppose there’s a few out there shying away from the Hateful Daystar’s carcinogenic rays, come to think of it…

    Oh come now Mr. Nym, everyone knows that it’s sunscreen that causes skin cancer, not the sun! I know it’s true because I read it on http://www.mercola.com! [/sarcasm]

  58. #58 Edith Prickly
    February 14, 2012

    @Calli Arcale:

    It’s BigbooTAY! TAY! TAY!

  59. #59 Anton P. Nym
    February 14, 2012

    The fellow in question seriously intended to put it into practice once he graduated from college.

    May I ask what this guy ate? ’cause, seriously… (Though the demonstrated level of cognition doesn’t necessarily rule out autotrophy, come to think of it.)

    — Steve

  60. #60 herr doktor bimler
    February 14, 2012

    I suppose there’s a few out there shying away from the Hateful Daystar’s carcinogenic rays

    We hates the Yellow Face. Yess. It spies on uss!

  61. #61 Beamup
    February 14, 2012

    Eating apparently didn’t count as “damaging.”

  62. #62 Alcari
    February 14, 2012

    @idlemind 28,
    That’s amazing, so not only can she detect undetectable EM emmisions, she also reads and parses binary in realtime :D

    I used to go a uni that had one building that was pre-wifi. To fix this problem, many students would bring access points. One Teachers-assistant complained that “electrosensitive”. In a classroom full of geeks, this is NOT a smart thing to say, and she actually agreed to a little test.

    The test was pretty simple. 4 “EM emitters” (a WiFi access points, a CFL, A battery of IR leds and a cellphone) were placed near her one at a time. One would be switched on, or off.

    Now, she figured she’d get about 90%. And for those not schooled in statistics, random guessing would get her 50%. I don’t remember the exact figures, but out of 80 attempts (20 for each device) she scored around 40-45%.

    Another fun fact, ALL of those devices put out at least 20 times more power than the wifi access point. 100mW for the WiFi, 20 Watts for the CFL. Now, which one are we worried about again?

  63. #63 Denice Walter
    February 14, 2012

    Oh the hateful daystar and I are not of the best of terms- have you ever seen what really white people look like if they go to Jamaica or Rio or live in Australia- and bask or bake themselves in the sun at lattitudes for which they are not genetically suited? They look terrible- all pink or red- and *eventually* they become all crispy-looking and crepey. Not very attractive at all. I like places that are misty or shady and sunscreen at 100+ SPF.

    And yes, the woo-meisters do despise sunscreen as it interferes with anti-carcinogenic vitamin D production and is a near-pharmaceutical-grade chemical toxin. All of which is weapons-grade stupidity.

  64. #64 Scryer
    February 14, 2012

    To be fair, Ontario contains like a third of our population, so the idiocy is more concentrated there…
    Out in BC where I’m situated, the big scary thing amongst the reality impaired (aside from deadly wifi) is the even deadlier Smart Meter we’re switching to to measure our electricity use.

  65. #65 Roadstergal
    February 14, 2012

    From the statement: There are growing health and safety concerns regarding the widespread use of technology, such as cellular phones and wireless computer networking (WiFi), which produce non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation.

    I am reminded, as I am so often, of the inimitable Dara O’Briain: “Well, so what? Zombies are at an all-time low level, but the fear of zombies could be incredibly high; that doesn’t mean we need to have govermnent policies to deal with the fear of zombies…”

    The message is generally: modern toxins, contaminants and radiation have saturated our pure environment and are causing illness at an unprecedented rate.

    And our lifespan is getting shorter and shorter! Oh… wait.

    What’s hilarious is that if you’re of a *certain age* you can remember pollution that you were able to *see*.

    When I was young, we would often take roadtrips that went through Gary, Indiana. We’d have to roll up the windows, and I would crouch in the back seat in my little-kid way with my fingers closing my nose. The multicolored flare towers were cool to look at when we drove through at night, but for daytime trips, it was just chimneys venting ugly crap.

  66. #66 palindrom
    February 14, 2012

    Roadstergal @64 — I still remember driving through Gary when I was a kid in the 60s. It was truly awful — I couldn’t imagine living in that noxious stew 24/7. The demise of the domestic steel industry did have its upside, I suppose.

  67. #67 Remo
    February 14, 2012

    Hey, its is just em radiation. All they need to do is build a faraday cage where the spacing corresponds to the size of the wavelength.

    Put a laptop in a microwave and it loses WiFi. (don’t turn on the microwave. It could ruin the laptop. lol.) The grid on the front panel of the microwave is just about the right size. (Now you know why the grid is there, to prevent microwave emissions leaking out of the microwave)

    All you have to do is weave some steel wire into your clothing with a similar grid pattern. You could then make a burka-like headcovering with the same type of clothe. Voila!!!

    (It beats the aluminum hats crazy people used to wear to prevent the CIA from reading their thoughts) ;)

  68. #68 Gary Crowell
    February 14, 2012

    When I was younger, I could walk into a home and immediately know if a TV was turned on anywhere inside – behind closed doors, any number of rooms away, regardless of volume. The simple reason was that I could clearly hear the horizontal oscillator at about 15kHz, which nearly always had some component mechanically ringing at the same frequency (back when TV’s used CRT’s).

    Now, nearly every electronic device uses switching regulators in their power supplies, and some of those operate in the 10’s of kilohertz range. And there are often components in the circuit resonating at that frequency or fractions of it. I suspect that in the few positive tests of electrosensitivity, the subject can simply hear if the device is turned on. Hasn’t -everyone- heard a CFL; the early models at least?

    The other possibility is that some people may be sensitive to the evil chemicals used in electronics manufacture. Fiberglass resin in the printed circuit board, inks, cleaning agents, plastics… something may outgass to trigger a sensitivity in some cases. Outgassing more when the equipment is on and warm perhaps.

  69. #69 puppygod
    February 14, 2012

    I have WiFi, microwave radio relay, bluetooth headphones, wireless mouse and wireless keyboard, not to mention cellphone. I guess I’m as good as dead.

    On more serious note, I think that many of the “EM sensitive” folks are just mistaken. Electronic (and electrical) devices often do generate subtle clues when they are on – barely audible static from the speakers, reflected light from LEDs, slight hum from cooling, CRT squeak on the verge of human hearing range or just mains hum. Many people may be not consciously aware of that and interpret it as somehow “feeling” when these devices are powered. Add fear of change to these experiences and we have ready recipe for “EM sensitivity”. They just don’t realize that their accusations against WiFi are like fear of drowning from air humidifiers.

  70. #70 tim gueguen
    February 14, 2012

    If people want to worry about the dangers of wireless technology they should worry about the huge increase in problems with hands, wrists, and arms that are likely to result from the incessant texting some people seem to do, especially younger folks. I would imagine hunching over looking at a 2 inch screen for hours on end probably aren’t good for your neck and back either.

  71. #71 Technogeek
    February 14, 2012

    The funny/depressing thing about the “zomg WiFi is a group 2b carcinogen IT WILL KILL US ALL!!!11!!one!” dementia is that group 2b is pretty much the best case for anything that’s been studied as much as cell phone signals have.

    There are five categories that the International Agency for Research on Cancer assigns potential carcinogens to. Group 1 is “confirmed carcinogenic to humans”; group 2a is “probably carcinogenic but we aren’t 100% certain”; group 2b is “might be carcinogenic but we have no solid evidence at this time”; group 3 generally means “insufficient data for meaningful answer”; and group 4 is “confirmed not carcinogenic”. Group 4 has a total of one entry on its list — a nylon precursor called caprolactam.

    In other words, panic mode will be justified if WiFi and cell phones reach group 2a, and not before.

  72. #72 James
    February 14, 2012

    Magda Havas’ name appears in the position paper as a citation to her awful paper on cordless phones causing heart rate changes. Someone should have told Magda to actually read the manual that came with the cordless heart rate monitor – the interference almost certainly caused the observed fluctuations. The same advice goes to the editor of her paper and to the authors of this position paper.

  73. #73 palindrom
    February 14, 2012

    puppygod@67 — I think an interesting twist on the blind sensitivity experiments would be one in which subjects sit in a room for an hour with a ‘device’ that either emits EM radiation or does not, but which also either emits a slight audible ‘electronic’ sound — like a high-pitched whine or hum — or does not. The sound would be independent of the EM radiation, so there would be four possible combinations of EM and sound (on/on, on/off, off/on, off/off).

    If you’re right, and I bet you are, the ‘sensitive’ subjects would complain when the sound was on, and complaints would have nothing to do with whether the EM was on or off.

    I used to hear TVs and ‘ultrasonic’ burglar alarm motion detectors. Those days are, I’m afraid, long gone.

  74. #74 nastylittlehorse
    February 14, 2012

    @28 – idlemind

    Had a very similar experience in London (UK). I used to run an open and unencrypted network, back in teh days when geeks thought that was a good and neighbourly thing to do. Evidently our neighbour had bought a new laptop and a friend had come round to set it up for her, and had told her of our network (it was named after the house number).

    She came knocking on the front door and told us that her techie friend had told her we were running an open network and that she was concerned about the negative effect it was having on the health of her children, and would we mind shutting it off please. So I switched on WPA and that was the last we heard of it.

    This woman was, of course, also ‘psychic’ and occasionally used to scream in the middle of the night, so loud that it would wake me up next door. Other than that she was a great neighbour…

    I also recommend the use of wired networks and homeplug, but that’s ‘cos they’re better. Much more expensive to retrofit wired ethernet to a building though, and homeplug gear isn’t cheap. Homeplug really annoys the HAMs too because (get this!) of the radio frequency emissions that it causes from the building powerlines!

  75. #75 Vince Whirlwind
    February 14, 2012

    1/ I have to concur with Kytheria – if you can at all avoid the use of wireless, do so – it should be a last-ditch option where its poor performance is outweighed by the immense cost/inconvenience/asbestos-in-the-walls of putting in wire. It is over-sold, unfortunately.

    2/ The mobile phones and wi-fi affecting medical devices is crap. I worked in a hospital where this was tested and it was proven to be crap. It didn’t stop some of the staff continuing to be fascists about mobile phone usage. Mostly the nursing staff, and nowhere more so than in Maternity. (The doctors used to tell the mums to sneak a phone in and use it discretely without upsetting the woo-prone maternity nurses).

  76. #76 davidp
    February 15, 2012

    They can’t do numbers either.

    In the “first paragraph” they say “at least 3 percent of the population has an environmental sensitivity to the radiation that is emitted by these devices” but later “Approximately 3 percent of the population (over 1 million Canadians) has been diagnosed with environmental sensitivities (ES) which include multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) and electromagnetic sensitivity.”

    This is equating “environmental sensitivities (ES)” with “electromagnetic sensitivity”, which is quite untrue. Many (probably most) of the “environmental sensitivities” are responding to paint solvents, adhesives outgassing formaldehyde, detergents, or other chemicals.

    It’s a standard propagandist’s trick to give a misleading figure like the 3% “environmental sensitivities (ES)” (and I find that number dubious – seems too high) but it’s simply wrong to explicitly switch that number to be “radiation sensitivity”

  77. #77 nature's way
    February 15, 2012

    Call me off if you like, but I thought our senses were tuned to detect the visible spectrum given off by food and not worry about the microwaves from space, blocked by clouds etc?

    Now that microwaves are here, human bodies will start to sense them, if evolution has her usual way.

    The plaintiffs may be the next level in human evolution…

  78. #78 nastylittlehorse
    February 15, 2012

    @77 nature’s way

    “The plaintiffs may be the next level in human evolution…”

    Lovely thought, unfortunately in every case tested there has been no evidence that they are sensitive to any of this stuff, so no X-men yet I’m afraid. (Though there is a guy over at slashdot that’s had some sort of replacement lens put into his eye after cataract surgery and can now see UV, which is pretty cool)

  79. #79 herr doktor bimler
    February 15, 2012

    Now that microwaves are here, human bodies will start to sense them,
    Focussing is going to be a challenge but perhaps Evolution can do something with a Fresnel zone plate on the forehead.

  80. #80 Mojo
    February 15, 2012

    @nature’s way:

    Now that microwaves are here, human bodies will start to sense them, if evolution has her usual way.

    Only if sensing them confers an evolutionary advantage. “I’ve got a headache” does not tend to lead to procreative activity – quite the opposite, in my experience.

  81. #81 palindrom
    February 15, 2012

    Herr Doktor Bimler @ 79:
    I suppose the Fresnel zone plate must be an explanation for this.

  82. #82 Calli Arcale
    February 15, 2012

    nature’s way:

    Call me off if you like, but I thought our senses were tuned to detect the visible spectrum given off by food and not worry about the microwaves from space, blocked by clouds etc?

    Actually, we are not particularly sensitive to the light actually generated by our food; we can sense the light reflected by it, however. Some animals *can* sense the EM radiation actually generated by food — pit vipers are a prime example, having actually developed binocular IR vision that can help them strike accurately in complete darkness — and also to distinguish live food from dead food.

    There are two major flaws in your idea, totally ignoring whether or not it is plausible for complex organisms to develop a new sense in less than a century:

    1) Microwaves aren’t new. Yes, clouds interfere with microwaves, but just ask a radio astronomer; they are still able to work on cloudy days. Or try using your cell phone when it’s foggy; it’ll still work. In fact, we’ve been exposed to microwaves since the beginning of life on Earth; most of it comes from the Sun, some of it comes from radio sources such as Jupiter, some of it comes from the upper atmosphere, and some of it comes from the afterglow of the Big Bang itself — tune a radio into static, and about 1% of what you hear is the cosmic microwave background radiation (the CMBR).

    2) There’s no reason why humans would evolve to detect microwave radiation. There are already many frequencies which other animals can sense but which we cannot. We cannot sense infrared or ultraviolet, yet many animals can. And there are already animals sensitive to magnetic and electric fields; we do not share their sensitivity simply because there is no need to. Evolution isn’t like climbing a mountain, where the only reason is “because it’s there”. Evolution needs more reason. Life will find a way if it needs to; otherwise it won’t waste the effort.

    The plaintiffs may be the next level in human evolution…

    Perhaps so, but if that’s the case, they could collect more money simply by writing to the James Randi Educational Foundation; if they really can do this, then they’d be eligible for the million dollar prize. (And yes, the prize is real; the JREF has taken pains to ensure it would be able to pay out in the event someone ever prevails.)

  83. #83 Calli Arcale
    February 15, 2012

    nature’s way:

    Call me off if you like, but I thought our senses were tuned to detect the visible spectrum given off by food and not worry about the microwaves from space, blocked by clouds etc?

    Actually, we are not particularly sensitive to the light actually generated by our food; we can sense the light reflected by it, however. Some animals *can* sense the EM radiation actually generated by food — pit vipers are a prime example, having actually developed binocular IR vision that can help them strike accurately in complete darkness — and also to distinguish live food from dead food.

    There are two major flaws in your idea, totally ignoring whether or not it is plausible for complex organisms to develop a new sense in less than a century:

    1) Microwaves aren’t new. Yes, clouds interfere with microwaves, but just ask a radio astronomer; they are still able to work on cloudy days. Or try using your cell phone when it’s foggy; it’ll still work. In fact, we’ve been exposed to microwaves since the beginning of life on Earth; most of it comes from the Sun, some of it comes from radio sources such as Jupiter, some of it comes from the upper atmosphere, and some of it comes from the afterglow of the Big Bang itself — tune a radio into static, and about 1% of what you hear is the cosmic microwave background radiation (the CMBR).

    2) There’s no reason why humans would evolve to detect microwave radiation. There are already many frequencies which other animals can sense but which we cannot. We cannot sense infrared or ultraviolet, yet many animals can. And there are already animals sensitive to magnetic and electric fields; we do not share their sensitivity simply because there is no need to. Evolution isn’t like climbing a mountain, where the only reason is “because it’s there”. Evolution needs more reason. Life will find a way if it needs to; otherwise it won’t waste the effort.

    The plaintiffs may be the next level in human evolution…

    Perhaps so, but if that’s the case, they could collect more money simply by writing to the James Randi Educational Foundation; if they really can do this, then they’d be eligible for the million dollar prize. (And yes, the prize is real; the JREF has taken pains to ensure it would be able to pay out in the event someone ever prevails.)

  84. #84 Autistic Lurker
    February 15, 2012

    How about MRI? For research purpose, I had an fMRI session and a DTI session (oooooooooh…both 4 tesla) and yet, when I spoke to my landlord, she told me they aren’t the same waves as wifi (I guess she’s not even wrong).

    Of course, when I suggested her to install electronic thermostat (for a sizeable saving on her electricity bill), she told me she won’t do so because of the waves emitted from the devices.

    A.L.

  85. #85 ebohlman
    February 15, 2012

    nastylittlehorse#78: Apparently the human retina has a non-trivial number of cones whose sensitivity peaks in a range of UVA that can’t make it through an “original equipment” lens. A real tribute to the Infinite Wisdom of the Intelligent Designer. Not.

  86. #86 Andreas Johansson
    February 15, 2012

    Now that microwaves are here, human bodies will start to sense them, if evolution has her usual way.

    If that were evolution’s usual way, we’d had IR vision long ago.

  87. #87 Old Rockin' Dave
    February 15, 2012

    I’ve had three MRI’s. I’m DOOOMMMMMED!!!!!!!!!!!

  88. #88 Ender
    February 15, 2012

    “lol katholiks. lolz.

    although, of all their ass-douchery behaviors throughout their history, this is the least grievous. the “silent majority” catholics who refuse to go after the pedophiles more still trumps this.”

    Yo, yo VikingMoose, I’ve got the ‘silent majority’ who refuse to go after Paedophiles right here, with a bunch of baseball bats. We’re ready to go after them now… Moose, you here?

    Damnit. Another garden variety bigot, damning large groups of people for shit they weren’t involved in, then fucking off before we do anything about it.

    I did vote “No” in the secret Catholic poll “Paedos, shall we do anything about them?” though… so I guess you can blame me.

    p.s. Is Katholik like Amerikkka and Sheeple? Because it sure as fuck sounds it.

  89. #89 Anton P. Nym
    February 15, 2012

    For what it’s worth, the Premier’s office (USAians, “premier” is roughly equivalent to “state governor”) has put out a statement saying that wi-fi can stay in Ontario schools, and that the government will adhere to Health Canada guidelines when determining workplace safety standards.

    Yay for sanity!

    — Steve

  90. #90 drksky
    February 15, 2012

    I feel I must link to WiFi Routers Eat Babies!

  91. #91 Scott Cunningham
    February 15, 2012

    nature’s way

    The plaintiffs may be the next level in human evolution…

    Given evolution by natural selection always selects whoever has the greatest number of successfully reproducing progeny, I’m thinking no. Prolific sperm donors might be in the running, but not people afraid of em fields.

    Besides, succeptability to environmental stressors is not an asset. Immunity is good. If their claims were true, the em vulnerable crowd would be the ones selected against, and we the em ignorers would be more fit. We’d be like methecilin resistant staph. aureus.

  92. #92 Scryer
    February 15, 2012

    (Sent this yesterday, but it apparently got caught up in moderation for unknown reasons)

    To be fair to Ontario, they have like a third of our population there, so the stupid is concentrated.

    Out in BC where I’m situated, the Big Bad of the moment amongst the reality-impaired (aside from deadly Wifi) is Smart Meters.
    They send our electricity usage info to the power company so we don’t have to have guys on foot coming out to read the old meters. This, of course, gives the crazies something to whine about due to “dangerous” EM non-ionizing radiation, even though it’s nowhere near as high as a cellphone or microwave, and they’re outside the freaking house/building.

  93. #93 Edith Prickly
    February 15, 2012

    @Scryer – the EMF whackjobs in Ontario are having conniptions over smart meters too. This video is making the rounds of the conspiratorially-minded:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JNFr_j6kdI

  94. #94 nastylittlehorse
    February 15, 2012

    @85 ebohlman

    And now I want completely unnecessary cataract surgery!

    Although I’d take a guess that unfiltered UV is going be bad for your retina sooner or later.

  95. #95 CC
    February 15, 2012

    As has been the case with other known societal health and safety issues, such as exposure to cigarette smoke or asbestos, the health effects of unprecedented long term exposure to this radiation may not be known for some time.

    This actually worries me.

    Not because I think EM is particularly dangerous, but because it’s an open invitation to countering any proof that EM isn’t dangerous with something along the lines of “experts thought cigarettes weren’t dangerous once, too” or “cigarette companies fought against the research that cigarettes caused cancer once, too”.

    And regarding the brouhaha over smart meters, I have actually heard (both on facebook and in person) the radiation emitted by the smart meter transmitters referred to as “nuclear”. I corrected them immediately but “radiation” is associated with “radioactive” in many people’s minds. (Personally I’m looking forward to them, but them I love my graphs and trends, and I heard hydro is going to let us see our own data!)

  96. #96 evilDoug
    February 16, 2012

    ” The mobile phones and wi-fi affecting medical devices is crap. I worked in a hospital where this was tested and it was proven to be crap.”

    If the testing was actually done in the hospital, I would regard it as next to worthless. EMI/RFI susceptibility testing demands some very elaborate and expensive test equipment and test chambers. Many recently produced devices are subjected to such testing during design.
    ~~~
    I wonder how many people who get all worked up about this sort of thing are aware that all ordinary low-cost smoke detectors actually contain a radioactive ionizing source.

    I have said, on several occasions, that if wireless devices continue to proliferate as they have in recent years, you’ll be able to hold up a fluorescent tube in your hand and have it light up from all the RF energy. I don’t believe it, of course.

    I recall seeing something many years ago saying that a small number of people, usually those who are very blond IIRC, can see a bit into the UV spectrum. I think the military found them useful for something.

  97. #97 evilDoug
    February 16, 2012

    “…smart meter transmitters referred to as “nuclear”.”

    It’s a good thing those big noisy machines are called MR imagers and not NMR imagers!

  98. #98 Matthew Cline
    February 16, 2012

    @evilDoug:

    It’s a good thing those big noisy machines are called MR imagers and not NMR imagers!

    I’ve heard that the people who make MRI machines decided to leave “nuclear” out of the name so as to avoid worrying people.

  99. #99 BrianX
    February 16, 2012

    nastylittlehorse #93:

    Suddenly it occurs to me that the entire day could have been saved in the book “Day of the Triffids” if only there was an eye surgeon to replace solar-flare-scorched lenses and corneas…

  100. #100 DLC
    February 16, 2012

    Tell them to get rid of their microwave ovens too.

  101. #101 DLC
    February 16, 2012

    And their computers, especially laptops and tablets.
    And get rid of fluoridated water too, it’s polluting our essence!

  102. #102 Ande
    February 16, 2012

    Our school district recently made a deal to rent space on school campuses for cell towers. You would not believer, or maybe you would some of the lunacy that has come out of the opposition to the towers. Yeah, they are a bit unsightly but not of the schools are exactly IM Pei buildings.

  103. #103 Narad
    February 16, 2012

    Yeah, they are a bit unsightly but not of the schools are exactly IM Pei buildings.

    They must be pretty bad.

  104. #104 adelady
    February 16, 2012

    wi-fi, radiation, other-scary-stuff affecting schoolkids.

    I take it that these kids who go to school are not the same kids who eat, sleep, spend every possible waking hour in certain bedrooms. Such bedrooms well nigh bristle with electronic equipment, 2 or 3 computing facilities, gadgets, games and signalling devices and various lights glowing and blinking and indicating activity all through the night.

    So where exactly do these delicate, super-sensitive schoolchildren come from if not from these caves of electronic wizardry?

  105. #105 Pareidolius
    February 17, 2012

    Callum and Fanta.Panda (in the Bullshitzki post) are both terribly disappointing as trolls go. All hit and run and no stamina for a good brawl, so unlike the dementedly persistent AR folks.

  106. #106 puppygod
    February 17, 2012

    Tell them to get rid of their microwave ovens too.

    Well, actually microwave ovens are well-shielded (unless damaged) and very safe as far as electromagnetic smog is concerned.

    Now, el-cheapo hair dryers have three times more power output and without any shielding blast EMI around like there’s no tomorrow.

    I wonder what are brain cancer rates among people with frilly hairdos ;)

  107. #107 LW
    February 17, 2012

    “I recall seeing something many years ago saying that a small number of people, usually those who are very blond IIRC, can see a bit into the UV spectrum.”

    My ophthalmologist told me once that it’s important to shield babies’ eyes from UV because their lenses are so clear at birth that UV gets through. It was thought at the time (I don’t know whether it held up) that this early UV damage might play a role much later in macular degeneration. (A quick google indicates this is still believed on the Internet, at least.)

    So if these blonds really can see a bit into the UV, they’d best get some good sunglasses.

  108. #108 VikingMoose
    February 17, 2012

    “Damnit. Another garden variety bigot, damning large groups of people for shit they weren’t involved in, then fucking off before we do anything about it.”

    *looks at cardinal’s mansion without protesters*

    nope. *sweep sweep*

    nice try. another outraged catholic whining and crying. join this nunnery. they have made a habit out of it.

    you guys and penn state, “we are penn state” people. yes. guilty until all is aired, all injustices are addressed, and all guilt is pursued.

  109. #109 Soapbox Jill
    February 17, 2012

    The American Academy of Environmental Medicine recently came out with a statement that the smart utility meter program should be halted and reversed due to enough evidence in the scientific literature to show harm from exposure to pulsed radiofrequency radiation. I don’t find any sources in your opinion piece to consider. Maybe you should look into finding some?
    http://emfsafetynetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/AAEM-Resolution.pdf

  110. #110 herr doktor bimler
    February 17, 2012

    Or maybe the AAEM are a bunch of single-issue quacks and cranks whose ideology-led statements deserve little attention from anyone.

  111. #111 Robert Serrano
    February 17, 2012

    @Soapbox Jill:

    Maybe, just maybe, you might want to re-evaluate the quality of your sources. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine seems way to crank-like to be taken seriously. Especially in light of the way their papers regularly seem to go against, you know, any actual science.

    But that’s just me.

  112. #112 Narad
    February 20, 2012

    If people are worried about the damaging effects of wi-fi, the should visit blockemf dot com. Amazing devices there that block EMF. No need for tinfoil hats anymore with this stuff.

  113. #113 Narad
    February 21, 2012

    Ah, that was not I. Handy things, these static addresses.

  114. #114 Prakash
    February 22, 2012

    Good post, i done some research and wrote a research review in this medical physics topic. Check this:

    http://medicalinformationforyou.blogspot.in/

  115. #115 Melissa G
    February 22, 2012

    @ 96 and 107–

    Those very blond people were elves. They have Ultravision, you know. ;)

  116. #116 Narad
    February 22, 2012

    OOps. I forot. I did make the comment. Must be getting senile in my old age. Good thing I can chelate plaque from my brain.

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