Further down the WiFi Rabbit Hole I Go!

This is going to be a long post, folks.  But I promise you, it’s worth it.

Last week I wrote a post about the WiFi manufactroversey going on in my home county of Simcoe.  As a quick reminder:  An ad-hoc parents committee was formed to petition the Simcoe County School Board for the removal of the WiFi infrastructure because they claimed that the WiFi microwave signals were causing a list of non-specific symptoms (such as nausea, difficulty concentrating and insomnia) in several of the kids .  The apparent symptoms went away on weekends, and the parents group still blamed WiFi.

After writing my post (which was later re-printed at the National Post blog, Full Comment), I was content to let the issue pass.  Then earlier this week I noticed a related story that got a decent amount of traction.  It seems that Rodney Palmer (communications adviser of the Simcoe County Safe School Committee, or SCSSC) and his group flew in a “Cold War era-weapons expert” to talk to the media about the dangers of WiFi in our school.

Pictured: Another "Cold War era weapons expert"

This is not atypical behavior of those that peddle fear in the face of science.  They will often ignore vast amounts of scientific data and consensus opinion, and cling onto every fringe “expert” they can get their hands on who agrees with them.  Last week,  Professor Magda Havas of Trent University (who has a career vested in being generally anti EMF) was their principle supporter from the land of academia.  This week, it was a weapons specialist (in “stealth warfare”  please, oh please, let it be Solid Snake!), Barrie Trower (damn), who provided many soundbites, and no specific information beyond this empty quote:

“When I realized these same frequencies and powers (as weapons during the Cold War) were being used as Wi-Fi in schools, I decided to come out of retirement and travel around the world free of charge and explain exactly what the problem is going to be in the future,”

It’s never explained in what capacity these same frequencies were used for.  My guess is that they were used for communication between controller and weapon, but the way Trower explained it, you’d think that these frequencies were intended to decimate buildings or launch some kind of EMF warfare.

I thought it odd that the Simcoe County Safe School Committee would go to the trouble and expense of flying an ‘expert’ over from the United Kingdom so that he could speak to the press in support of the anti-WiFi cause.  So I did a bit of research into the involved actors.

Trower himself is of little concern.  He’s a retired British Military scientist who has made it his post-retirement career mission to preach bad science and fear mongering.  When an older English gentleman tries to scare you, it carries a lot of gravitas in the press, but he’s just a lone voice here.

Magda Havas herself is several kinds of wrong.  As noted above, she’s built her academic career on terrifying people in, and out of academia, about the hidden dangers of EMF’s of seemingly every kind:  from microwaves to laptops and cellphones.  She stands almost alone in her opposition to EMF’s in general and WiFi in specific.   I would hazard to guess that many of her supporters no doubt find this ‘other’ nature to her academics to be an appealing narrative, one where a heroic scientist dares to question the establishment of her colleagues who continually berate her and laugh at her, exclaiming, “They laughed at the Wright Brothers too!”  However, being laughed at and isolated from your colleagues is not a pre-requisite of rightness, and Havas remains, to the best scientific knowledge that we have today, wrong.

What about the Simcoe County Safe School Committee itself?  The same committee that started all this WiFi hullabaloo, latched onto a fringe scientist like Havas as an expert, and even flew over an antiquated non-expert from the UK?

Their communications advisor, Rodney Palmer has been the most vocal member of committee.  He’s on record as having equated WiFi signals to pesticides that were once thought safe, but now we know how dangerous they are (a non-sequitur if I ever heard one), and saying such a demonstrably false statement as  “No amount [ of WiFi exposure] is safe”.

The Rabbit Hole

I noticed that  the SCSSC’s “About Us” page listed Palmer as the operator of a “health related business in Collingwood”. Following a hunch, I did a little bit of digging into Palmer’s online presence.  Follow me on this one, and please remember, this is not searching for patterns in the noise on information: I was searching for information on Havas and Palmer themselves:

  • According to the About Us page, Palmer “operates a health related business in Collingwood Ont. Rodney worked for 20 years as a journalist in Canada and abroad. He was the CTV News Foreign Correspondent and Bureau Chief in India, China and the Middle East. He was nominated for a Gemini Award in 2002 for Best Foreign News Reportage, and was awarded the Canadian Radio and Television News Directors Award for Best News Reporting for his work in Israel and the West Bank.”  SCSSC Policy Advisor Patricia Naylor was also nominated for a Gemini in 2002 (more on her later).
  • In 2007, at the Whole Life Expo, a Rodney Palmer gave a talk titled “Our Toxic Marketplace what Every Family Should Know.” The Palmer on this page is listed as having ” worked as a journalist for twenty years and traveled to more than 40 countries.  For five years he worked and lived in China and India.”  Could these two Rodney Palmers be the same person?
  • Professor Magda Havas is on the testimonials page in support for the SaunaRay (Yes, THAT SaunaRay, based in Collingwood, in Simcoe County)
  • The President’s Message page for Sauna Ray is written by Rodney Palmer.
  • The domain for SaunaRay.com is registered to Patricia Naylor (Policy advisor for to the SCSSC)
  • The domain for the SCSSC (safeschool.ca) is registered to Rodney Palmer
  • As is public record, Rodney Palmer is the owner of SaunaRay, and there can be little doubt that this is the same person as the one who is in the press warning about WiFi.  It may not be a slam-dunk case, but it certainly is a 3-pointer from far-court.

So that is the brief tale of my ‘down the rabbithole’ afternoon where I discovered all sorts of links into various pseudo-sciences and vested interests.  The SaunaRay article I did a while back taught me plenty about the claims of that particular company, including their fear of EMFs (check out the person quoted in the link.  Does the name look familiar?), and laughably poor science.

They key players here are clearly Professor Havas, and Rodney Palmer. Havas’ career is deeply entrenched in this topic, and I suspect that she thinks that if she can influence policy enough to have WiFi at least temporarily banned in Ontario schools, that will be a nice feather in her academic cap.  Palmer sells wooden boxes that emit a small mount of heat.

The Non-Science

Now, admittedly, I’m no physicist (Surprise!).  But I do know that the EMFs that are being talked about (radio, microwave, and in the case of SaunaRay, infrared) fall under the category of “non-ionizing radiation” (visible light also falls under this category).  Ionizing radiation refers to an EMF emission that has sufficient energy to alter the structure of molecules.  For example: UV light ionizes molecules (which is why we wear sunscreen), so too do X-rays (which is why dentists get behind a lead shield when they look inside you).  Non-ionizing radiation simply doesn’t have enough energy to do cause damage to our cells, or our molecules (Sorry Solid Snake, Barrie Trower, you’re wrong) (addendum provided in the comments section here and here).  There *may* be cause for concern for workers who work  with radio waves over a long term, but to the best of my knowledge, the research has yet to determine anything concrete, and is far from conclusive.

I’ll repeat: microwaves and radio waves, and all other forms of non-ionizing radiation  CANNOT affect our molecules.  There just isn’t enough energy (sorry Magda Havas, you’re wrong too).  Since both infrared and microwaves are non-ionizing, I wonder why Palmer sells a box that emits one kind of safe radiation, but is trying to get you to stop using another?

Conclusion

Let’s be perfectly clear: this issue raised by the SCSSC is not about WiFi.  It’s all part of a larger narrative that involves a general phobia of all things even remotely related to EMF’s.  The names involved this time (Havas, Palmer) are long standing advocates of EMF safety (in much the same way as I am an advocate for pants safety), and they will continue to latch onto any public scare, no matter how real or invented.  I’m definitely not accusing Havas or Palmer as intentionally deceiving anyone, but I am challenging their ability to objectively look at their own arguments, the broader body of research, and to put their pride on the shelf for just a moment.  You don’t need to fly a guy over from the UK when an afternoon of skilled Googling would suffice.

While covering this story, I would expect any remotely credulous media outlet to point out that the principle actor in this endeavor to ban a perfectly safe technology (Palmer) is also in the business of selling some decidedly non-scientific overpriced wooden boxes, and is a bit of a small celebrity in the ‘Wellness’ community.  While that connection alone does not make Palmer wrong, or even dishonest, it does, however, throw serious doubt on his credibility, and the credibility of Havas, his known supporter for other issues.  It looks less like a rational attempt at protecting children and more like a tiny intellectual racket.  Emphasis on the “tiny”.

And Another Thing….

I’ll remind you, there is no cause for concern from EMF’s and anyone trying to sell you something to block them, is trying to scam you. Whenever anything related to EMF’s come up in the news, look into some of the people involved, and you’ll likely find a surprisingly small number of predictable people saying predictable things that go against much of what we know.  They’re not champions of truth, they’re just wrong.

When I’m not complaining about these sorts of things, I’m also on Twitter.

72 Responses to “Further down the WiFi Rabbit Hole I Go!”

  1. I wonder where the “energy” that crystal healers, positive thinking gurus, and acupuncturists talk about fits into that spectrum. Possibly on a second axis labeled “bunk”?

  2. Ian Gilmore says:

    Let’s be a little careful with the claim that “non-ionizing radiation” can’t damage cells. Clearly, infrared can cause burns, intense visible light (particularly in laser form) can cause serious damage, microwaves can cook food, etc. Your basic point is sound but exaggerating it weakens your criticisms.

    • Non-ionizing EMF radiation can only damage via heat. This is much different from ultraviolet, X-ray, and gamma radiation which can harm by breaking apart chemical bonds. So unless you’re feeling the heat from sub-infrared EMF, you’re safe.

  3. Steve Thoms says:

    @Ian Gilmore
    True, and I had considered that as I wrote it. I stand by what I wrote mainly because of the context: Intense laser light or microwave heat is not what is being discussed by Palmer et. al., but rather a low-level of background noise.

    I do concede your point though, but given the context, I stand firm. Thanks for the comment though, I’ll be a little more careful next time ;)

  4. Mr. Gilmore is correct in pointing out that “non-ionizing radiation cannot damage cells” is a bit general, though I am sure this is not what you meant.

    I think what you mean is that non-ionizing radiation does not have the energy to break chemical bonds, therefore cannot cause the destruction of molecules in our body (which you stated).

    This is a good article and I am thoroughly saddened at how much media play this story has gotten.

  5. David Evans says:

    It is interesting that people dismiss the effects of no-ionizing radiation as harmless when we don’t yet know if it is really. It might not be “harmful” exactly ( and I do not think these kids are being affected by the Wireless, more likely stress) but it may have some effects that we are not aware of. Being a skeptic myself, I try to keep an open mind about possibilities because deciding that you know precludes further thought. People once thought that Tectonics Plate Theory was bunk too.
    Anyone here ever read “The Field” by Lynn McTaggart? Interesting reading about something you seem to know all about not existing.

    • Steve Thoms says:

      @David Evans
      I’ve not read “The Field”, but I am familiar with its absurd premise (“Science has recently begun to prove what ancient myth and religion have always espoused: There may be such a thing as a life force”). McTaggart’s science is about as deep as “What The Bleep Do We Know?”. That is to say, shallow. She spits out meaningless references to buzzwords like “quantum mechanics” and “intention”, and this is somehow presented as having depth.

      As to your mention that, “People once thought that Tectonics Plate Theory was bunk too,” I’m curious if you missed the point in the article where I mentioned the bit about the Wright Brothers also being laughed at. This is a non-sequitur on your part, because simply being told you’re wrong does not mean you’re eventually going to be proven right. After all, people also thought that phrenology worked, and they were wrong. But so what? We can only judge the claims of the moment based on what we know at that moment (and in the context of the broader relevant literature)

      To be perfectly clear, my stance on the effects of non-ionizing radiation echo that of today’s scientific consensus: Except in the most extreme cases (such as inside a microwave oven, or staring down a powerful laser beam), it’s safe. Period.

      Until I see a well-designed study that conclusively demonstrates that non-ionizing radiation can harm me beyond a simple heating effect and the general background noise of said radiation is a cause for concern, I’ll happily use my technologies that have a long proven record of safety.

      As an addendum, as a former student of Trent University who enjoyed the WiFi infrastructure there, anti-WiFi advocate Professor Magda Havas also enjoys this perfectly safe technology. I don’t want to call her a hypocrite, but I don’t know a way that I can end this sentence otherwise.

  6. David Evans says:

    I think I am too old for this. It reminds me of the arguments I used to have with religious people. They too adhere to their paradigm out of fear that their construct might be shaken, their certainty might more fragile than they suppose, so they stick to their guns…. like you.
    Read the book. It is a journalistic look at emerging experiments. Of course… you won’t because you already “know” that it is bunk.
    Hopefully you will broaden your horizons some day.

    • Steve Thoms says:

      I haven’t seen you made a single argument at all, merely that you asked if I read a book steeped in known pseudoscience that is not dissimilar to “The Secret”. If you want to believe in magical energy fields dreamed up by non-scientists like McTaggart and Ronda Byrne, that alter our DNA despite a growing body of evidence to the contrary, fine. But don’t insist I waste my time (and money) reading stuff without an *ounce* of plausibility, then admonish me for saying “not interested, but thanks”.

      But still, classy move there: accusing me of dogmatism without any evidence. I love the old canard that I (and other skeptics) am not open minded enough. Show me convincing evidence, and I’ll change my mind. I don’t want my mind so open that my brain falls out though.

    • Alex says:

      It takes a special kind of dunce to make an argument supporting the existence of mystical fields for which no evidence exists, while simultaneously likening those who are skeptical of his claims to “religious people”. David, you seriously need to give your head a shake. Being anti-religious doesn’t mean you’re skeptical or a “free-thinker” – it just means you’ve stumbled across the right answer to one question. Your approach to pseudo-scientific claims shows that you have more in common with theologians than you’d like to think.

  7. David Evans says:

    I think I misunderstood the point of the exercise.
    Have fun playing with your arguments.
    One more silly suggestion…. The Cave Analogy.

  8. David Evans says:

    In parting:

    “Well, OK, I quit, I lose, son, you’re the winner.”

    That is from this poem:
    http://sniff.numachi.com/pages/tiWINNR.html
    by Shel Silverstein

    Enjoy.

  9. Well done Steve…well done…

  10. Art Tricque says:

    The Safeschools team is even more intriguing. The “Family Health Advisor”, Dr. Ruth Hitchcock, and the “Child Health Advisor”, Dr. Melissa Vecchio, are chiropractors, and far to the woo side of that profession per their own web sites (Hitchcock http://hitchcockchiropractic.com/faqs-chiropractic-info/the-definition-of-chiropractic/ and Vecchio http://www.drmelissa.ca/chiropractic.php ). I am sure Mr. Palmer’s and Policy Advisor and former documentary director Patricia Naylor’s media contacts are the reason for the story breaking on the national news.

  11. gmcevoy says:

    RE: The Field – lifted from Amazon

    “McTaggart, an investigative journalist (What Doctors Don’t Tell You), describes scientific discoveries that she believes point to a unifying concept of the universe, one that reconciles mind with matter, classic Newtonian science with quantum physics and, most importantly, science with religion. At issue is the zero point field, the so-called “dead space” of microscopic vibrations in outer space as well as within and between physical objects on earth. These fields, McTaggart asserts, are a “cobweb of energy exchange” that link everything in the universe; they control everything from cellular communication to the workings of the mind, and they could be harnessed for unlimited propulsion fuel, levitation, ESP, spiritual healing and more. Physicists have been aware of the likelihood of this field for years, McTaggart writes, but, constrained by orthodoxy, they have ignored its effects, which she likens to “subtracting out God” from their equations. But, McTaggart asserts, “tiny pockets of quiet rebellion” against scientific convention are emerging, led by Ed Mitchell, an Apollo 14 astronaut and founder of the Institute for Noetic Sciences, an alternative-science think tank. McTaggart writes well and tells a good story, but the supporting data here is somewhat sketchy. Until it materializes, McTaggart may have to settle for being a voice in the wilderness.
    Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

    Arthur C. Clarke
    This is an important book.”

    Apparently it’s a good read, but appears to be woo all the way down. Ed Mitchell kinda guarantees that. I’ll bet the quantum does it.

    Here’s an interesting customer review:

    “Nothing new here; another in the long list of “investigators” selectively presenting the suspect experimental results of a fringe minority of “researchers”. A broad and thorough review of the current scientific literature shows McTaggart’s conclusions to be greatly exaggerated at the least. As an advocate of rigorous and methodologically sound paranormal research, I find such sloppy “X-files journalism” a disservice to the valid invesigation of same. Rather, I reccomend Radin’s The Concious Universe as a worthwhile alternative for the serious reader.” – Jack O Green

    http://www.amazon.ca/product-reviews/0060931175/ref=cm_cr_pr_viewpnt_sr_1?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&filterBy=addOneStar

  12. Michael5MacKay says:

    Excellent Post. I found the chart of the EMF spectrum particularly helpful in understanding the issue.

    My thoughts @David Evans. “The Cave Analogy”: Plato’s cave? Am I back in my freshman dorm?

    Bottom line: the Greek Philosophers had a lot of interesting ideas. Most were wrong. Most of the rest are unverifiable. None of them assist in proving that anything in particular exists

    :)

  13. Teshi says:

    Hey, thanks for writing this.

    CBC just ran a ludicrously scare-ridden story about this issue, complete with crappy animation of wireless points emitting red and blue lines (oh noes!). Journalistic integrity was lacking and science was overlooked and marginalized.

    So thanks for tackling this issue!

  14. Rick says:

    The author is totally wrong, uninformed, and unprofessional.
    You write that “I’ll repeat: microwaves and radio waves, and all other forms of non-ionizing radiation CANNOT affect our molecules”.

    PLEASE sit down, read, and do your homework. There are entire textbooks written about non-ionizing radiation, and its biological effects. You don’t need to debate this issue, you need to get informed, because non-ionizing radiation was for 40 years proven to have biological effects. Based on those effects, it is even used in clinical medicine.

    Sorry but your article shows a lot of ignorance. Inform yourself, you have the literature available. Or I will be happy to tell you where you can find the books to read.

  15. Rick says:

    And Steve – once you are able to understand how non-ionzing radiation changes protein structure and conformation, I can tell you more about the 1000 published studies. I don’t know if you understand terms such as three dimensional protein structure, oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, cell cycle, DNA replication, and chromosomal repair. But if you do some background reading and master those terms, I will be glad to continue and explain what the studies show. And again – do not deny published facts, because it makes you come trough as truly ignorant and unprofessional.

    • Steve Thoms says:

      @”Rick” Or we could both throw a blanket of 1000 published studies at each other, each showing opposite things. That kind of Gish Gallop has been done here before, and it’s not productive. The alleged deleterious effects of non-ionizing radiation (beyond a heating effect) which I’m sure you’re convinced that are backed up by your supposed 1000 published studies, do not reflect the existing scientific consensus, and such a viewpoint is limited to the fringe.

      Posting a copy-and-paste style of retort that says “read this mountain of evidence, then we can talk” is not an effective discussion strategy, nor will it convince anyone here. Do not chalk this up to narrow-mindedness, but simply economy of time: I’ve spent many hours looking into this issue, and see no need to waste any more time on it. As Erik mentioned in a different thread, posting a huge list of papers is meant to dazzle people. It would be wisest that you do not post 1000, or even a dozen papers. Instead, you could try to engage the author (me) in a discussion, but I’m not certain that’s what you’re here for. You’re here to yell at me.

      Just because I came to a different conclusion then you have, does not mean I did not do my research. I suggest you look a little bit into the people making these claims, and you’ll find careers vested in pushing this specious claim. This is not a guilt by association fallacy, but it clearly shows the bias that has not been accounted for.

      To borrow some of the tone you employed: PLEASE sit down and do some real research into the claims and results made about “electro-sensitive” people (ie: how the effects disappear under blinding conditions). You’re right about one thing though: we don’t need to debate this anymore. I’ve looked into the issue, and am convinced that WiFi (remember, that IS what this article is about) is a perfectly safe technology. You can continue to warn the rest of us all you like, but I’ll make sure that Ontario kids don’t have their education suffer because of the screaming voices of the fringe.

  16. Art Tricque says:

    The National ran a story on September 8, 2010 on this zombie issue; see http://www.cbc.ca/thenational/blog/2010/09/wi-fi-should-we-be-worried.html . Would be great if other skepticism- and science-skilled commenters could take part to counter th serious void of those discplines evident in the comments to date.

  17. Art Tricque says:

    Apologies to Teshi who was already kind enough to highlight the National story. I guess I shall have to learn to read better …

  18. Rick says:

    Steve – with all respect, you don’t know what you are talking about. Electromagnetic radiation was long ago shown to cause heart rhythm and rate changes in dogs, and many other animals. You need to read about how non-ionizing radiation changes protein conformation and all the other biological effects, at the cellular level, which include calcium changes, signaling perturbations in cells, and protein phosphorylation changes (do you know that that is, by the way?)

    Oh, and when you talk about consensus, be precise which consensus it refers too. Is it the Canadian consensus? Because the representative from Health Canada recently, in a cbc interview, make a complete fool of herself and proved that her health agency does not care too much about the health and suffering of kids in several schools that are under her jurisdiction – you are not too worried about such a suboptimal health care management, are you?

    Or are you talking about the consensus in Germany, Steve? Where the EMF levels approved are several times lower than in Canada and the government along with 3000 physicians already advises people not to use Wi fi in their homes?

    Are you talking about the UK consensus where they are banning cell phone sales to kids under 12 based on the published and verified fact that their brains absorb more of this deadly radiation, that noone has ever tested whether it is safe in schools all day long

    If you show me proof that Wi fi 6 hours/day 5 days/week is safe for 8-14 year old kids, I will believe you. Until then, you are clueless. I am clueless too, but I know that many studies pointed towards very serious biological effects. The difference is that you are still in denial, and you are spreading false claims that ultimately bring a disservice to your readers – I mean, to the ones who are silly enough to believe you.

    • Kim Hebert says:

      I think Steve was referring to scientific consensus. Government politics has no bearing on scientific validity. For example, a government could be successfully lobbied to ban the sale of cell phones to kids, but that is not evidence of an objective risk.

      “If you show me proof that Wi fi 6 hours/day 5 days/week is safe for 8-14 year old kids, I will believe you.”

      Unfortunately that’s not how the world works. The claim that wifi was harmful to the kids in that school must be proved with objective evidence, eliminating other variables. The situation at that school has not been adequately investigated.

      • Rick says:

        Kim, you are wrong. You need to prove that an environmental exposure is safe, before exposing people – not the other way around. The burden is not on the people to prove that something is harmful.

        Do you have the same argument for drugs? Do you expect the burden to be on people worldwide to prove that a medication is harmful, and during that time the manufacturer can commercialize it? Come on, use common sense. Read about public health and policy. Nothing is allowed to be commercialized, before it is proven safe by the manufacturer – the burden is there, not on users to “prove” that it is harmful.

    • Art Tricque says:

      Rick says “3000 physicians already advises (sic) people not to use Wi fi in their homes”. I think he is referring to the many internet petitions that seem to exist in Germany. Using this argument is a logical fallacy. Or two. Suggesting thousands of people support an idea is an argument of popularity; it doesn’t make the idea correct. Secondly, it is an argument from authority; if doctors have signed, then it must be true. But doctors don’t have any special insight into non-ionizing microwave research. One can examine things further. There are some 270,000 physicians in Germany, so 3,000 signing a petition means it isn’t really very popular amongst physicians at all. And if one examines the list of people who did sign, one finds dentists, homeopaths, naturopaths and even veterinarians.

    • Art Tricque says:

      Rick says German government advises people not to use Wifi in their homes. It does not. He is welcome to link to any documents on the web site of the German Government (and no where else; go straight to the source) that suggest otherwise.

  19. Rick says:

    Steve- and I am not “yelling” are you, as you falsely asserted. I don’t know if you have the background to understand all the studies of basic research. I mean, the studies, not the comments that the wireless industry writes about them.

    Most European countries have a much lower EMF exposure level to begin with, and most of them, even so, are issuing warnings. You should read the studies showing how keeping a cell phone in the back pocket affects sperm motility, morphology, and generates reactive oxygen species. These studies are very robust and were repeatedly confirmed. Do you know which studies I am talking about? Or it is more convenient to leave them out because they do not fit your hypothesis and your propaganda speech? Sorry Steve, science does not work like that, you cannot dismiss studies that you don’t like simply because you don’t like them. Before reading science, read ethics. Regards.

    • Art Tricque says:

      For WiFi, the standards everywhere in the world are essentially the same. For other types of radio waves, no, most Western European countries — e.g. France, the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain — broadly follow the ICNIRP guidelines which underpin Canada’s Safety Code 6. A few countries have tighter standards. For example, Switzerland has overall standards according to the ICNIRP guidelines, and standards roughly 100 times tighter for special areas like residential areas where people sleep. In practice, however, the tighter standards make no difference. That’s because measurements of overall microwave levels conducted in the field in urban and rural settings in Europe, Canada, US, Australia, etc. have found that those levels are already hundreds to thousands of times below the ICNIRP guidelines.

  20. Rick says:

    By the way Steve, how do you know that Wi fi is safe? Show me a study to prove that. Not health agencies in Canada, which messed up time and again with everything.

    • Kim Hebert says:

      Please enlighten us as to which sources of evidence would be acceptable to you. Then I’m sure Steve would be better equipped to respond to your inquiry.

      • Rick says:

        Oh, and Kim…you asked me about sources of evidence. Would you like to read and analyze together the study which demonstrated that wireless radiation damages sperm cells, their form, shape, the integrity of their DNA, and generates in the mitochondria reactive oxygen species, in a manner that is directly related to the length of the exposure?

        Or perhaps the study that demonstrated that several proteins in cells become phosphorylated within 5-15 minutes after their are exposed to wireless radiation?

        I have both those studies, with all the respective references, tables, and figures printed out. I leave it u to you which one you would prefer to discuss first. Let’s talk science! Warm regards.

  21. Rick says:

    Steve, and despite the fact that you mentioned that Wi fi is what the article is about, your article actually states that

    “microwaves and radio waves, and all other forms of non-ionizing radiation CANNOT affect our molecules”.

    You need to decide. If non-ionizing radiation “CANNOT” affect your molecules, why is it being used in clinical medicine for over 30 types of applications? Let’s see if you know that, Mr. Expert-with-many-hours-of-reading-on-this-topic.

    • Kim Hebert says:

      That’s just rude.

      • Rick says:

        No, Kim, that is not rude. Rude is when someone lacks the necessary basic background and preaches about health, without being knowledgeable about the topic. THAT is what is rude.

        There are sufficient studies out there, proving that non-ionizing radiation has biological effects, such as, I mentioned, damage to reproductive organs. It is all over the peer reviewed medical and biomedical literature. Oh, wait…those studies were not conducted with industry funding, thus they are not acceptable for your propaganda…right? :-)

      • Rick says:

        Kim – I have a suggestion. Take all the studies on the topic. Divide them into 2 groups, industry-funded and independently funded studies. Calculate what percentage of the two groups of studies (collectively) found that non-ionizing radiation is harmful for health. Do you know? I do. Curious?

    • Rick, your ad-hominem filled, evidence-less comments do not help your case, why should anyone take you seriously?

      BTW, just because non-ionizing EMF is used in medicine doesn’t mean it has an effect on tissue (beyond heating), it could be used for diagnostics.

      • Rick says:

        Hi, Jonathan, it is being used due to its effects on cells, not for diagnostics.

      • Rick says:

        Jonathan – I am still unclear whether you did reading on your own, on this important topic, or whether you are just repeating things that others are saying. Perhaps you can help me better understand that, and enlighten me as to the extent of reading you have done on this, so I can know how to express my arguments. I don’t want to get into terms you might not be familiar with and, at the same time, do not want to speak “down” if you have extensive background.

        However, since I saw on this web site that some people claim to have done the necessary reading to reach a solid opinion, can someone tell me what you think about the Velizarov article? And perhaps we could discuss the data from Table 1. Since I am talking to people who declared that they have done sufficient reading, I am sure I do not need to fully reference this important scientific article.

        Regards.

  22. Michael Kruse says:

    @Rick
    I have a better idea Rick, show us the epidemiological evidence that shows harm at the population level, with citations, and we can start a conversation – no cluster of cases = no health problem to worry about. If you can’t produce this evidence then there is no point debating the possible cause of a non-existent disease.

    All of the symptoms present are also present in anxiety disorders, which are very common and a much more parsimonious reason for these complaints.

    http://www.npadnews.com/anxiety-symptoms.asp

  23. Rick says:

    And Jonathan, my comments are scientifically founded and based on evidence.

    If you want evidence-less comments…scroll up to the person who wrote: “I’ll repeat: microwaves and radio waves, and all other forms of non-ionizing radiation CANNOT affect our molecules”, then declared that he read enough to be knowledgeable on the topic.

    The statement is factually wrong and can be refuted by any medical or science textbook on the topic. At least, you guys should post things that are true, not falsehoods.

    • Art Tricque says:

      I’ll take a stand then: non-ionizing radiation is not harmful to humans at levels below the threshold where heating occurs.

  24. Rick says:

    And by the way, Jonathan, why should anyone take YOU seriously?
    For the web site that abounds in factual errors and misleads people? yeah, sure…

  25. Rick says:

    lol you cannot seem to utter one sentence that is accurate, factually correct, and to the point. So much for your self-proclaimed “skepticism” – a.k.a. propaganda which dismisses all published scientific articles and relies on pre-conceived ideas. Thanks for the truly intelligent conversations, and this amazing ability to discuss scientific things.

    • Steve Thoms says:

      Rick,

      Forgive the lateness of my reply. I was at work all day until just an hour ago.

      Now,
      To the best of my knowledge, you haven’t even provided a single article, so it baffles me that you would admonish me and others for not reading your evidence (which you’ve not provided). You mentioned 1000 articles, and a Velizarov article. You then were repeatedly rude to several commenters here. If you had an honest interest in discussion, you would have posted one or two articles (that has public access), and left it as a challenge. Instead, you even sarcastically referred to me as “Mr. Expert-with-many-hours-of-reading-on-this-topic.” This is functionally no different than calling someone a “know-it-all” or saying, “How to do you explain THAT? Mr. SCIENCE!?”.

      You’ve not taken the time to read the commenting policy, as this is a clear violation of our most basic (and generous) rules of civility. Despite your initial aggressive tone, some commenters here have tried to engage you, and you have offered nothing but derision and insults. You’ve proven yourself to be incapable of an honest discussion, and I’m not wasting my time with you.

  26. Rick says:

    Hello Steve,

    I mentioned a study that you, since you declared that you read sufficient to know about this topic, should be very familiar with. Studies do not have public access, they can be found on Medline and in the respective journals. I mentioned the Velizarov paper because, based on your statement that you read enough to learn about this, you should know that study inside out. It is a landmark study about non-ionizing radiation. At least, I never stated that I read sufficient on ANY topic, as you stated above. Because I am aware that there are so many studies, that every day we learn something new. I am open to that process, because I am not a “skeptic”. That implies that I read all the studies, even the ones that might not fit my initial hypothesis.

    If you want to engage in talking science, feel free to read that paper, and we can discuss their hypothesis, materials and methods, talk on whether their conclusions are supported by other papers in the literature, talk about the implications of their conclusions, and talk about whether they same result was ever tested and shown by any other research groups, by using similar or different experimental tools. I am very open to talking science, and presented above several scientific concepts that your co-workers summarily dismissed. Thus, wasting time is on *my* part, for being on a web site where people declare that they read sufficient to know all, but are not familiar with the major names in the field.

  27. Michael5MacKay says:

    Rick

    You don’t know what you’re talking about. You said that non-ionizing EMFs were being used in medicine. When challenged you said on cells, rather than any theraputic use. Presumably you’re referring to the claimed biologic effects of non-ionizing EMFs. I can guess at some of the more frequently-cited studies that you’re referring to.

    It’s nice of you to only refer to 1,000. Magda Havas refers to 2,000 or even 6,000. They don’t say what she claims they say, and I suspect the 1,000 you refer to don’t either.

    Feel free to point me to them. Or feel free to actually list what you claim are the 5 best pieces of evidence in support of your claim that there are non-thermal biologic effects, and I’ll tell you why they don’t support your position.

    • Rick says:

      Michael yes, I was right, non-ionzing radiation IS being used in clinical medicine, for a variety of applications, and most of them are due to the effects non-ionizing radiations have on cells. Such as stimulating cell division. Check the textbooks, they are available for everyone.

      • Rick says:

        And Michael…let’s start with the Velizarov paper. Since you already know it does not support what I said, you must be familiar with that study.

        FYI, in the European Union there is a consensus about non-thermal effects. Canada lags way behind. Just like with other toxins, history can prove it.

  28. Rick says:

    Michael…I re-read your sentence, it was very confusing. Effects on cells, I meant, therapeutic effects, due to the way non-ionizing radiation affects cells in biological systems. I emphasized that they are not solely used for therapeutic purposes. That is what I wrote.

  29. Michael5MacKay says:

    Rick:

    You say there is consensus in the European Union as to the non-thermal effects of non-ionizing EMF. Citation please.

    Since you are so familiar with what you refer to as the Velizarov paper (as if he never co-authored more than one), tell me which one you are referring to and what you think it proves? You’re the one making the claim that it supports your position. The burden of proof is on you.

    Similarly, you are the one claiming that non-ionizing EMFs are used in medicine for their therapeutic effects. Where and how, given that you are also claiming that non-ionizing EMFs are hazardous to human health and that current safety standards are inadequate.

    • Rick says:

      Michael, the Velizarov paper (as approximately 250 additional ones) prove non-thermal effects at levels much lower than the ones required for thermal ones.

      Did you actually read and analyze the paper? Are you familiar with it inside out?

      What I find sort of strange, is your very attitude, you wrote
      “feel free to actually list what you claim are the 5 best pieces of evidence in support of your claim [...] and I’ll tell you why they don’t support your position”. So let me see if I got this right: you want me to tell you which papers support my position, you *are convinced* that you can tell me why they do not support my position, *yet* you do not seem to be familiar at all with the literature, and I am not convinced you actually read the existing literature. This is sort of strange, unfortunately and with all respect it shows that you are guided not by existing scientific evidence, but by some sort of conviction that your opinions are right no matter whether they are or they are not supported by facts. This is unprofessional.

      When you are able to discuss scientific papers, we can talk. I am willing to engage into scientific discussions with people who are able to analyze the literature. It is not constructive to discuss science with people who are convinced that their position is supported by the literature without knowing, in fact, what is published in the literature.

      Again, with respect to the clinical use of non-ionizing radiation, you are welcome to read the textbooks. I am not here to introduce you to 400-page textbooks on the topic, that you can easily read, and if you are not sure, and you have to ask me this issue, it means that you need to do your homework first. I can talk science when you read the literature, nobody can do your homework instead of you, and the questions that you just asked prove that you still have a lot of reading to do.

  30. Art Tricque says:

    Rick is correct when he says that “FYI, in the European Union there is a consensus about non-thermal effects.” The scientific consensus in the EU is “Research has found no evidence that exposure to radio frequency fields at levels below existing safety guidelines could cause symptoms like headaches and dizziness.” (SCENIHR Report, 2009; third revision, conducted in response to EU Parliament resolution based on the BioInitiative Report)

  31. Art Tricque says:

    US National Institutes of Health Pubmed search turns up this article, from 1999: The effects of radiofrequency fields on cell proliferation are non-thermal. It’s this eleven year old in-vitro study to which you are referring Rick?

  32. Michael5MacKay says:

    @Art Tricque: The Velizarov study I’m familiar with is a 2001 one from Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine.

    Since Rick is so niggardly with information — he still hasn’t told us which paper he’s referring to — I don’t think he possesses much.

    Rick:

    I can’t discuss the literature if you don’t tell me what it is that is worth discussing.

    You’ve claimed superior knowledge over everyone else on this thread, but you don’t provide any any specific details that could form the basis for discussion.

    I asked you for your best evidence. You’ve provided nothing. Evidence or GTFO.

    • Rick says:

      Dear Michael,

      No, I am not the one in the thread who claimed superior evidence. Someone else stated that they read enough to know it all.

      Could you also please enlighten me, as to what the “GTFO” that you wrote, directed towards me, signifies? I am eagerly waiting for your reply, and thank you.

  33. Rick says:

    Dear Steve,

    I am writing to inquire what the “GTFO” that one of the people who posted, and directed towards me, signifies.

    I am sure this obeys the politeness rules on your site, unless they are random and selective. I will be delighted to also address this with people hosting your web site. Thank you.

  34. Rick says:

    In light of the expletive and derogatory remark that was directed toward me on this web site, I will no longer engage in discussions.

    Unless you are able to talk in a civilized manner, without using derogatory expressions and expletives, which by the way – only show immaturity and lack of professionalism, do not expect civilized people to get into conversations with you.

    Yes, I believe you are not worth my time and my explanations, if this is the language that you are using with me. I am a respectable person and do not engage in discussions with people who are not able to use proper language.

    I will convey my experience on this web site to everyone I know.
    Bye.

  35. Art Tricque says:

    Boy, that was only a gentle push to stop spouting platitudes and get down to business, and yet the exit was mighty speedy. However, if an eleven year old in vitro study was his rock, it probably wasn’t going to be a difficult scientific argument to win.

  36. Michael5MacKay says:

    I’m sorry if anyone other than Rick was offended by my last comment.

    I was going to say “put up or shut up” but I thought “Evidence or GTFO” was a nice play on the cliche and so third millennium. I wonder if Rick would have been happier if I said “Evidence or GO.”

    I and several other commenters asked politely for the evidence to support his assertions several times. He did not respond. I felt a blunter request was in order.

    As for his comment about my rudeness, I call pot versus kettle equivalency in light of many of Rick’s comments, particularly his first two to Steve.

    For someone who commented twice to ask what I understood, it seems that Rick knew precisely what my suggestion meant. It was a lot less cryptic than his numerous references to evidence that supported his position.

  37. Michael5MacKay says:

    Clicked submit too fast. I should have said “evidence that Rick claims supported his position.”

  38. mussen says:

    Even Wikipedia nods to studies that indicate problems from exposure to EMF under recommended maximum levels:

    There are publications which support the existence of complex biological effects of weaker non-thermal electromagnetic fields (see Bioelectromagnetics), including weak ELF magnetic fields.[5][6] and modulated RF and microwave fields[7] Fundamental mechanisms of the interaction between biological material and electromagnetic fields at non-thermal levels are not fully understood.[8]

    DNA fragmentation. A 2009 study at the University of Basel in Switzerland found that intermittent (but not continuous) exposure of human cells to a 50 Hz electromagnetic field at a flux density of 1 mT (or 10 G) induced a slight but significant increase of DNA fragmentation in the Comet assay.[9] However that level of exposure is already above current established safety exposure limits.

    • Kim Hebert says:

      That Wikipedia merely notes the existence of 3 papers without any accompanying content description or contextual analysis (i.e., including the papers that do not support any such association) is, unfortunately, not a terribly persuasive argument.

  39. Ian_Frazer says:

    Wow, I had no idea at the level of paranoia, delusions, and/or poor education that are shown in this thread by some respondents.

    For those looking for “the standards”, open up any user manual for a cellphone, mobile phone (i.e. in your house), WiFi mouse/keyboard, Bluetooth anything. Take a look at the back of the manual. Usually listed are all the standards that the device complies with (i.e. FCC, UL, etc.). You can then read up on those standards and the industry or government organization that made the standard and the approach used to develop said standard.

    Be warned – you have to think when reading.

  40. Dean says:

    They’re back – this time they’re after the Collingwood Public Library. Makes sense, since the ‘medical advisors’ are from there.

    http://www.theenterprisebulletin.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2775183

    *Sigh.*

  41. I’ll take a stand then: non-ionizing radiation is not harmful to humans at levels below the threshold where heating occurs.

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  • Steve Thoms

    Steve is a professional music teacher living in Kitchener, Ontario. He studied recorded music production at Fanshawe College, and Political Studies/History at Trent University, where he specialized in political economy and global politics. He is an amateur astronomer, and an award-winning astro-photographer. Steve also runs the blog, Oot and Aboot with Some Canadian Skeptic." can can be followed on Twitter, @SomeCndnSkeptic.