Ben Goldacre at Bad Science is leading the way on opposing this new absurdity of “electric smog”, and one of it’s leading proponents in Britain, Julia Stephenson.
It all started when she got wifi in her apartment…
Within a couple of weeks she felt tired and fatigued, so she removed it, and then she felt better!
Two years ago I got Wi-Fi. It was convenient, as I could work anywhere in my flat. But within a few weeks began to suffer from a lack of energy and insomnia, and had difficulty concentrating. Other factors could have caused this, but I suspected that the Wi-Fi had something to do with it, so I returned to fixed broadband. My symptoms disappeared.
When I wrote about my experiences I incurred the wrath of a vocal few, who claimed that as I’m not a scientist I couldn’t possibly make such assertions. I am, its true, no scientist; I was simply recounting my experience. Disconnecting my Wi-Fi made me feel better. End of. I don’t need a degree in physics to work out if I feel well or ill.
You shouldn’t need a degree in physics to know better than argue a post hoc ergo propter hoc either. Ever think that maybe you just were sick? A virus? A simple cold wouldn’t be an equivalent explanation? And how much you want to bet that someone else in her building could turn on wifi and she wouldn’t be able to tell the difference?
Ok, so she’s formed her crazy idea, and it’s wacky. Radiowaves from wifi (RADIATION in the parlance of the technoparanoids) made her sick! Wifis can have health effects! Perfect! I’m very impressed. That’s a pretty glaringly dumb idea, what’s the next step? Well disseminate your idiot idea of course. She’s lucky, she get’s it published in the Independent which has some of the worst science writing in the world – a perfect start for a cranky idea. She even offers solutions to her RADIATION problem.
Fortunately there are steps that concerned individuals can take to reduce the amount of “electro-smog” to which they are subject. Like many people, I’m mobile-dependent, but I now use a headset that delivers sound through an air-filled wireless tube similar to a doctor’s stethoscope (but much smaller, so you don’t look like you’re on call). Conventional headsets transmit sound to the earpiece through a wire, but as wire is an electrical conductor it may also deliver radiation directly to your head. Since I’ve started using the tube I no longer experience headaches or a slight ringing in my ears.
You could also try the Q-Link pendant, which employs “sympathetic resonance technology,” something that the makers declare “repairs and tunes your biofield”. Friends who wear a Q-Link report that they feel healthier and more energetic.
The homeopathic medicine company, New Vistas, and the Australian flower essence company, Bush Flower Remedies, both make drops that claim to reduce the amount of radiation stored in the body.
Also, for the past two months I’ve been using an electro-magnetic field protection unit plugged into a wall at home. The device was created by engineer and homeopath Gary Johnson. Disturbed with the increasing number of patients coming to him with skin problems, exhaustion, blurred vision, and symptoms similar to chronic fatigue syndrome, he suspected that they might be sensitive to electromagnetic radiation (EMR).
Radiation drops and EM-field protection units! There’s a cure, aren’t we lucky? It just involves worthless woo. Some of her false experts she quotes are also priceless. They claim everything from memory loss from brain-damage to fatigue and cancer is being caused by cell phones. The reality is, that not a single credible piece of evidence exists that cell phones or cell towers do any of these things. Does that stop the purveyors of woo from just making things up? Of course not:
“Any imbalance in our electromagnetic field creates a disturbance in cell structure and function, which can lead to illness in sensitive individuals,” says London-based complementary health practitioner Dr Nicole de Canha.
Ah, yes. Humans have fields that influence our cell structure and function. And the evidence is, where exactly? Oh yeah, I forgot, “homeopathic” means that you can just make up whatever the hell you want, and act like you have a single good damn reason for believing it.
But we’re not done. We have to do step three – (not)responding to criticism.
She does pretty well here, she ignores the criticisms based on stuff like, well, physics, medicine, physiology, common sense(as any good crank does), alleges it’s all a conspiracy and goes straight to step four – persecution!
The men in white coats are on my back. They’re not lurking at the door with straightjackets, but they want me locked up all the same. Let me explain. Last week I sparked howls of protest from boffins when I described the negative effects of installing Wi-Fi in my flat. Many were absolutely apoplectic.
It’s a hot potato. The telecommunications industry generates around Â£13bn a year and brings in large amounts through taxes and licences. It’s a powerful and influential business, which obviously doesn’t like being threatened.
Meanwhile, a considerable amount of the research into the safety of mobile phones, masts and Wi-Fi is carried out by groups funded by phone companies. They say they are unbiased, but how can we be sure? How many of us would dare bite the hand that feeds us?
How does she finish off? It’s a triple-lutz with a perfect crank landing.
At one time scientists assured us the earth was flat and that mercury, asbestos, the atomic bomb and cigarettes were harmless. Today many assure us that GM crops, mobile phones and pesticides are safe. Yet history must surely advise caution before we rush headlong to embrace all that technology has to offer.
See – she’s just another paradigm shifter – like Galileo – because they made stupid assertions without any proof too.
Aside from the stupidity of the statement that the atomic bomb was ever called “harmless” – it’s a bomb – so I’m not sure where she’s getting that one, this is the classic “they laughed at Copernicus/Galileo/Columbus/Einstein” nonsense. But she wouldn’t be a crank if she didn’t make the comparison.