Rodney Palmer: When Pseudoscience and Narcissism Collide

This ridiculous farce of an invented controversy got way out of hand way too fast.  My apologies for sleeping on this one.  I thought that sanity would prevail, and everyone would surely see the perpetrators for the fools they are.  It seems that I over estimated the Canadian media’s ability to be dedicated to journalistic integrity…a stupid mistake I will never make again.

I’m talking about the WiFi “debate” currently raging in some Ontario school boards, backed by embarrassing fringe academics and credulous media presenting the tired old “equal time to both sides” narrative on an issue where both sides are not equal.

As I previously discovered (and no media seemed to notice), at the head of this parade of delusory panic is one Rodney Palmer.  Rodney lives in scenic Collingwood, Ontario, and sells warmish wooden boxes that he claims can cure/treat asthma and prevent cancer.  Seriously.  I’ve had a run in with Palmer’s product in the past, and the woman working the booth thought I was a Chinese spy.  Seriously.

Had the media that credulously covered this inane story bothered to perform even a modicum of a background check on the man making extraordinary claims that don’t appear anywhere else in Canada (especially in WiFi saturated ares like Toronto and Ottawa), they would have given him the laughed-out-of-town treatment he deserves.

Instead, Palmer was granted a national audience, and instead of backing up his claims with anything more substantial than empty anecdotes, he continued his crusade of panic.  This is what happens when you feed a narcissist: they only grow stronger with attention.  Palmer and his group of “concerned parents” petitioned the Town of Collingwood to remove WiFi from the public library (which is an autonomous body under the Public Libraries Act, and not under the purview of municipal politics). By this point, Palmer’s name, face, and erroneous cause was national news on virtually every major Canadian news outlet, even catching the attention of Peter Mansbridge (who went with the tide, and presented the old media error of false balance) as he exclaimed, “It’s invisible, but it’s everywhere.”

Unstoppable narcissism never acts alone, and Palmer had brought in his trusty band of fringe non-experts-but-somehow-declared-experts Magda Havas (another narcissist academic whose entire career vests in the idea that cell phones, WiFi, and your laptop will cause cancer and sterility) and Barrie Trower (a cold war-era weapons ‘expert’ who equates ‘using’ WiFi signals with exploding bombs), whom Palmer and his group flew in from the UK to speak to the media on this story’s behalf.

And ho-boy does Palmer know how to manipulate the media.  It should be noted that before he sold warm wooden boxes to treat lead poisoning, Palmer used to be a journalist for CTV news. Maybe “former journalist” was all the credentials our 4th Estate needed to hear before giving every word Palmer spoke with more weight then it deserved.  I guess “purveyor of warm boxes” doesn’t have the same zing that it did in the good old days.

While most media outlets covering the story did point out that WiFi signals are well below the safe guidelines, and Health Canada is very clear that there is no evidence that WiFi causes any health risk, the narrative pushed was one of balance, not evidence.  It is a narrative that media-savvy skeptics are are too familiar with:

  1. X is not a problem. We know this for a FACT.
  2. But SOME people think that X is a huge problem, so let’s needlessly pursue this.
  3. Filling a 24-hour news cycle is hard, and we have bills to pay.
  4. Talk to one actual expert (out of 10,000 who agree) that says X is safe.
  5. Talk to one person (out of 3) who is not an expert, is probably just a concerned parent, and says X is dangerous.
  6. Talk to just about anyone we can find that will reinforce our preconceived narrative structure.
  7. Concerned parents get more screen time than the expert with 15 years of education.
  8. Close the story with a family, a child, and some playing.
  9. Shut up, that’s a better story.
  10. Brought to you by Vagisil and Capitol One.
  11. Stay Tuned for Canada’s Next Top Model….or something…..

Recently, Palmer’s parents’ group voted to shut off WiFi in a Meaford, Ont. school.  This is a decision which, much like the Library in Collingwood, does not rest with the targets of Palmer’s grandstanding, but with the Bluewater School District.  This is important to note, as it seems to be Palmer’s modus operandi: launch a loud, alarming, emotional plea against a target that has no ability to affect any policy at all.

Palmer’s track record of activist diversion includes:

  • Using a parents committee to vote down Wifi (which is the decision of the school board, not the school itself)
  • Petitioning Ottawa to place a moratorium on WiFi in Collingwood schools (which is a provincial matter, not federal)
  • Petitioning the municipal government of Collingwood to ban WiFi in its libraries (which are under the purview of the Public Libraries Act, not the Town of Collingwood)

Knowing that Palmer is such an accomplished journalist, I refuse to believe that he is so stupid as to petition an impotent political body.

I suspect that real change is not is primary goal: it’s making a huge public stink.  And he is doing this is droves, getting the entire country to have panic attacks about a perfectly safe and proven technology.

As you can expect, Palmer never once provides any evidence of his claims, but instead farms that job out to Magda Havas (an embarrassment to a university if there ever was one), while he yammers on with testimonials and anecdotes.

I have one simple message to Rodney Palmer, the Safe School Committee that he runs, and every media outlet that has given his voice a megaphone:

ANECDOTES AND STORIES ARE NOT EVIDENCE, NO MATTER HOW MANY YOU HAVE!

If you tell me that lots of kids are reporting headaches and accelerated heart rates at school but not at home, maybe you should take the time to rule out EVERYTHING that is different at school than it is at home.  Teachers, subjects, classrooms, bullies, friends, sleeping, recess, sports, girls, boys, the walk/bus to school….I can think of about a hundred different things that go on at school that don’t go on at home.  Palmer says that he “ruled everything else out,”  but has not provided one shred of evidence of his mythical study.  Instead, he show videos of interviews, and re-tells stories. So once again,

ANECDOTES AND STORIES ARE NOT EVIDENCE, NO MATTER HOW MANY YOU HAVE!

Palmer providing testimony before the Parliamentary Committee

If anecdotes are all it takes to convince you, then I have one for you: I remember when I was a boy in school, I had lots of headaches, stomach aches, and trouble concentrating.  I couldn’t sleep very well and I had some behavior issues when I was at school.  Miraculously, all these problems went away at home, especially on the weekends.  WiFi wasn’t around in the 1980′s, so I wonder what it possibly could have been back then?

And yet, remarkably, the foolishness gets even foolishnessier. Palmer’s ego must be reaching a fevered pitch, because Parliament is launching a special committee to investigate his claims that WiFi is causing harm to children, and won’t somebody please think of the children!?

In this video produced by Global News, Palmer testifies before the Parliamentary committee that,

I’ve become an epidemiologist here, tracking down names of people phoning me and saying ‘My little daughter was brought home from school because her heart [was] pounding so much the teacher can see it through her shirt.’

No, Rodney.  “Tracking down names of people” making complaints does not constitute epidemiology, and it does not make you an epidemiologist.  You need an understanding of biology, statistics, demographics and then to actually publish the results.  So far, all you did is show interviews.  This is not epidemiology.  This is raving.

“How is it that this is MY responsibility to bring all these people in in?”

That’s the rub, isn’t it?  Rodney Palmer, this is NOT your responsibility.  You have assumed this role upon yourself because you’ve proven either unwilling or incapable of understanding the existing scientific consensus that WiFi is safe.  This is part of what makes you a narcissist.

In one of the most exaggerated uses of the word ‘expert’ I can imagine, Palmer was summoned to provide testimony before the Special Parliamentary Committee.   That’s right: the man who sells wooden boxes that he claims can cure asthma was brought in as an expert. Have we devalued expertise in this country so much as to accept this man’s ego-mania as “expert testimony?”  On the one hand, we have a doctor saying WiFi is safe.  On the other hand, we have a “Father of Two”, saying it’s causing headaches.  Like Mugatu in Zoolander, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

I have two clarion calls for this post:

1) National Media:  You still can act responsibly.  Put this man back to the fringe where he belongs.  I know he is probably a personal and professional friend to some of you, and I know that he once did some good journalism work.  But he is NOT an expert in this area…not in the slightest.  ‘Fatherhood’, box selling, and being really concerned are not credentials. If you continue to give his demonstrably false theories such a loud voice, you will serve to undermine education and science discourse in this country for years.

2) Rodney Palmer: Go Away.  You’re wrong, you’re an ego maniac, and you need to understand that you are not an expert, and being a father does not give you any special insight to the effects of non-ionizing radiation.  You need to listen to what more scientists than just Magda Havas are saying.  She is not a heroic scientist, challenging the paradigms and norms of her dogmatic scientist peers: She is more accurately lumped in with the lunatic fringe, screaming all the louder while no one listens to her ideas, because they’re crazy.  And you’re wrong.  You need to stop wasting the time and money of our government.  But I know you won’t, because your ego drives you now.

I humbly suggest readers might do well to take the time to write to their MP, informing them that WiFi is perfectly safe, and the government should continue to listen to the actual scientific experts who have degrees, training, and don’t have an ideological axe to grind.

P.S.

This post will inevitably attract some of the more angry anti WiFi chorus of pseudo-science, and they will leave crazier and crazier posts accusing me and all skeptics as being dogmatic, and insisting that I “do my homework”.  Wrong.  The impetus is on you to provide the evidence of your claim.  I’m not researching your point to make your argument, especially when existing science tells me you’re wrong.

**UPDATE, FEB 25, 2011**

If you scroll down into the comments section, you may notice that Rodney Palmer himself left a note, effectively threatening me with a libel lawsuit.  After several months, I responded to this despicable tactic, and you can read it here.

DISCLAIMER: The words and opinions expressed in this post are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the other authors of Skeptic North, or any of my past or current employers.

271 Responses to “Rodney Palmer: When Pseudoscience and Narcissism Collide”

  1. Iris says:

    IARC (international agency of cancer research) classified RF radiation as possible carcinogen to humans, and according to Dr. Robert Baan’s letter from IARC WiFi is included. I sent this letter to Steve Thoms, asking him to tell this to his readers honestly. Will he do it?
    Kim says Rodney Palmer is not a scientist- he does not need to be a scientist in order to do everything to protect his child. Surely it does not justify going to a crusader after him over the internet.

  2. Kim Hebert says:

    I pointed out Rodney’s profession only to illustrate the absurdity of a comment against Steve being a music teacher. Thank you for making my point explicit…

  3. Art Tricque says:

    “Kim says Rodney Palmer is not a scientist- he does not need to be a scientist in order to do everything to protect his child.”

    This comment illustrates a logical fallacy and an evidentiary double-standard.

    A logical fallacy, because it employs an appeal to emotion, the focus on children. I guess it would be OK to criticize Mr. Palmer if he were only trying to protect adults?

    Mr. Palmer applies a standard of risk analysis to EMF that most likely he does not apply to anything else in life. For example, if he drives his children around in a motor vehicle, he willingly is exposing them to demonstrated risks far greater than those for EMF. This is the definition of hypocrisy.

  4. Steve Thoms says:

    Pardon the error in the hyperlink above. Mea culpa. http://www.skepticnorth.com/2011/09/why-wifi-why/

  5. Iris says:

    What you do is slander, you exploit the blog trying to influence public opinion using slander. You have no right to do that.
    This is not the way to go, Steve.
    Do you want some pickles? they are only related to cancer, that’s all, not something serious, in your opinion.
    Otherwise they would not find their way to the list of course.
    The fact you don’t read the science on pickles and to which types of cancer they are related to, does not make your argument more impressive.
    Your arguments on the blog only shows you try to downplay risk.
    The fact you use slander to advance your interest does not serve your purpose, your interest as it emerges from your blog,
    is to convince the public there is no risk, or insist that there is no risk. Why would you do it, if you recognized the DNA breaks studies, the brain tumors studies, the heat shock proteins findings, the blood brain barrier damage, why would you ignore all this? I don’t know, but that’s exactly what you do.
    What “majority” are you talking about? whom do you quote as the
    “majority”?
    IARC’s decision is already the consensus, this IS the majority.
    Why do you deny it?

    Rodney Palmer bases his arguments on pupil’s experience, scientists he trusts, and data that was already published on risk. So he really does not need to be a scientist.
    He does not need to invent the wheel, other people did the hard work.
    But you need not use slander in order to “prove him wrong”, it does not add to your reputation.

  6. Steve Thoms says:

    No, pickles are not related to cancer. The list by the IARC lists them as “possible” carcinogens, in the same remote way that coffee and talcum powder is. If you want to live in a Faraday Cage because of that, go ahead. But don’t expect me to buy your hysteria.

    The IARC is not the scientific consensus, it is one organization of respected experts. But I certainly do not reject it: I accord it with a modicum of skepticism, proportionate to what the existing scientific data already says, as well as what the IARC actually says.

    I don’t know why you people from your group (EMF Refugees, for those following) ask for where I’m pulling my information, since I’ve linked to it over and over again. Last time, Iris: http://www.skepticnorth.com/2010/11/putting-the-emfasis-back-on-the-scientific-consenus/

    And as for Palmer: he’s basing his arguments on anecdotes, and his friend, Magda Havas (who has already promoted his wooden box that he claims can treat asthma and cancer). His word is not good enough, no matter how much he claims to be an epidemiologist.

  7. Raj says:

    I agree with Iris. Steve, I disagree with your core life philosophy in that you think that it is okay to slander people you do not even know about an issue about which you are not eminently qualified in a public forum. You cavalierly bash away with your libelous commentary about Mr. Palmer and Dr. Havas and I am quite ‘skeptical’ that even an apology will be able to legally undo the effects of your bullying behaviour as you have chosen to attack them openly on the internet, without just cause, I might add. You claim to be a ‘teacher’, but you are not like any teacher I know – your bullying behaviour is unprofessional to the absolute degree. No teacher I know would knowingly put his/her students in harm’s way, which is what you are doing by not carefully examining both sides of this issue of wifi in the classroom. I am truly glad that you do not teach my children.

  8. Steve Thoms says:

    Yep. My “core life philosophy” is that it’s okay to slander people. My “spawn” agree. You, sir, are insightful to gleam so much from a blog post written over a year ago.

  9. Art Tricque says:

    When one disagrees with Palmer and Havas, one is “libeling” and “attacking” and “bullying”. No, it is disagreeing, and to make the other claims is the typical irrational response of those without evidence. As for threats of legal action, this also is the last refuge of the quack without evidence on his or her side. And as a teacher who “knowingly put his/her students in harm’s way”, I would not wish this either. But I would wish their decision as to what constitutes harm to be based on a thorough, rational, scientific and skeptical assessment, rather than one that was emotional, cherry-picked, conspiracy theory-laced, and logically-flawed.

  10. Paul Doyon says:

    It`s glean btw — not gleam. Jeepers, I have to stoop this low to give this guy spelling lessons.

  11. Raj says:

    BTW, where do you keep your cell phone? Bet you won’t be able to keep it in your pocket anymore. A man-purse serves the purpose quite well. I of course will never know, but you will. And then you will truly know ‘what’ you believe. I am betting that you won’t be putting your cell in your pocket anymore and in that case, I win!

  12. Raj says:

    What I have gleaNed from your blog post is that you like to pick on people, for whatever obscure reason you might have… perhaps low self-esteem? Others have suggested that you are employed as an telecommunications industry lackey paid to quell public opposition to wifi and/or to discredit people like Mr. Palmer and Dr. Havas who can provide evidence of harm. This is a highly plausible supposition in my mind, especially after my ‘shocking’ BlackBerry revelation failed to alter your mindset. It is what it is … and it’s my job to raise the spectre of doubt about what your motives really are.

  13. Iris says:

    Steve,

    You avoid the point again, how easy.
    If you knew anything about Talc or coffee you would not use them
    as a way to downplay the IARC classification.
    Talc is also related to cancer as well, read Dr. Samuel Epstein’s books instead of writing rubbish and you will get the info, not from the ACS. Same about coffee, so no, you are not as cool as you think you are. The fact that the text was written a year ago does not make it less slander, it only shows that you did not understand during this year that you did something wrong.
    If you were a father, I wonder how much you would give your child to be exposed to radiation on which the maximum you can do is to play a song about, or copy paste from the FDA/ ACS etc websites.

  14. Paul Doyon says:

    Seriously, if I were you, I would be so embarrassed I would go hide in a hole somewhere and never come out. What amazes me is your brazen inability to your own foolishness!

  15. Paul Doyon says:

    to see your own foolishness. LOL

  16. Steve Thoms says:

    Paul, I asked you a question: How was your health before WiFi/Cordless phones/cell phones were ubiquitous?

  17. Steve Thoms says:

    Obviously, I keep my phone attached to the end of a 6′ javelin, and it’s guarded by a small, but ferocious army of worker bees.

    Duh.

    Why, where do you keep yours?

  18. Jack says:

    and don’t forget my question Steve – why do you feel so compelled to spend time and resources defending what is apparently the “general consensus”?

  19. Paul Doyon says:

    Excellent! I got sick living in the vicinity of several cell phone towers. It took me six months before I even imagined the cause — i.e. I did not get sick because I saw the towers and then imagined myself getting sick. I got sick and was very ill for six months looking for answers before I even suspected that these might be the cause. It took me another six months to recover I would say back to about 85% of my previous health. That was 6 years ago and I would say that I am 100% better now. Satisfied?

  20. Steve Thoms says:

    I believe I’ve already answered that. But if you need elucidation (though I doubt it would quell your concerns about my motivations), I can’t stand it when people spread fear, hysteria, and paranoia. I couldn’t care less about how you live your life, or the profits of telecom companies (who have screwed me over too, rest assured), but the second your pseudo-science starts to intrude on the lives of myself, and those I care about, I’ll fight back.

    It’s interesting that you say “spend time and resources”….when this post was written over a year ago (and you still haven’t noticed the dozen+ articles written on the subject at this site), and I’ve not spent any “resources” to speak of, other than, you know, research.

    More pressingly, why do you think you know better then the 35,000+ studies I’ve cited?

    And again, how was your health before WiFi, Cordless phone technology was ubiquitous, say, 15 years ago

    The more you, Paul, Raj and company avoid this question, the more I’m convinced that I’m dealing with trolls.

  21. Raj says:

    At the risk of repeating myself and the BlackBerry Safety Manual, as you seem to not get it, I quote: “When you wear the BlackBerry device close to your body, use a RIM approved holster with an integrated belt clip or maintain a distance of 0.59 in. (15 mm) between your BlackBerry device and your body while the BlackBerry device is transmitting. Use of accessories, other than RIM approved holsters with an integrated belt clip, might cause your BlackBerry device to exceed radio frequency (RF) exposure standards if the accessories are worn on your body while the BlackBerry device is transmitting. The long term effects of exceeding RF exposure standards might present a risk of serious harm”. I have made the suggestion of a ‘man-purse’, but from your pic this might not be quite ‘you’, so perhaps something a little more rugged such as a backpack would be more of a fashion statement for you to transport your cell phone.

  22. Steve Thoms says:

    If I were a telecom lackey, I’m sure I could do better then driving a Toyota Corolla.

    I suspect *you’re* funded by some industry backers. It would be a highly plausible supposition in my mind. I suspect you’re in the pocket of the huge multinational Faraday-Cage manufactures. You’re probably just another shill for Big Cage. Don’t ask me to present evidence, it’s just a likely scenario.

    Here’s hoping I don’t wake up tomorrow with a big Chain Link fence around my apartment.

  23. Art Tricque says:

    Wow, that is a slam-down, the “pharma shill gambit” applied to the telecom situation … not at all. It is logically flawed. Even if Steve were employed by the telecom industry (which he emphatically has stated he is not)…yea, if he were Satan or any religious or non-religious evil entity you would care to chose, it would not make the substance of his arguments incorrect.The Blackberry revelation is hardly “shocking”: it is simply the result of having a standard testing mechanism so that results from different transmitting units (in this case mobile phones) can be compared.“Low self-esteem” Funny, I do not recall that making such personal accusations is part of the best practices of argumentation and rhetoric.Finally, re “…people like Mr. Palmer and Dr. Havas who can provide evidence of harm.” Palmer and Havas are experts at communication, which I mean with grudging respect. They are poor proponents or scientific rigour, skeptical thought, and rational discourse.

  24. Steve Thoms says:

    That’s me: Mr. Rugged n’ Manly. Rwar.

    What you don’t see, cropped out in that photo is a chainsaw, a six pack of Bud, and, like, 30 pounds of body hair.

    Of course, I’m standing on piles, and piles of money from Rogers and Bell (but really, there’s too much sawdust and hair covering it up anyway).

  25. Jack says:

    ah finally an answer: you hate it when people spread fear, hysteria, and paranoia. I don’t much care for it either but usually truth prevails and false fears, hysteria, and paranoia will not amount to anything in the longer term.
    It annoys me even more when it’s whipped up as a money making scam such as with the great swine flu hoax.

    In any case it’s curious you seem to feel the need to push the points that is already in “general consensus”.
    As for the 35,000+ studies – not sure where your link is (many here don’t work).
    However quantity does not equal quality (Skeptic handbook pg 7).
    As an example here in Australia (where I live) the now disbanded ACRBR (a govt body charged with the responsibility of studying the impact of rf-emr on health) did a number of studies.
    One was to survey 100 or so homes to check that radio frequency levels (caused by wifi, cordless phones etc) were still below the govt guidelines. And guess what, they were.
    Here’s another study that gets dropped into the “rf-emr is safe” basket.
    BTW this independent body had as a business partner local telco Telstra. Like they say in court, never ask a question that you don’t already know the answer to.

    And never mind that the govt guidelines are set only to avoid us getting cooked.
    In fact if you want to learn about industry influence down under have a read of this http://www.emfacts.com/the-procrustean-approach/
    How was my health before the wireless age?
    Pretty good, about the same as now, thanks for asking.

  26. Steve Thoms says:

    I claim no special knowledge about how things are done in Australia vis-a-vis the regulatory standards, but with regards to broken links, here is, for the umpteenth time, http://www.skepticnorth.com/2010/11/putting-the-emfasis-back-on-the-scientific-consenus/ a quick primer on tens of thousands of studies by independant, university and government studies tasked with evaluating EMF/EMR safety.

    Agreed, quantity does not equal quality. However, poor quality (such as the studies performed by Havas, and Lai) equal poor quality.

    Similarly, the plural of anecdotes is not data (Skeptic Handbook, pg 9). Palmer, and the EMF Refugees cite personal anecdotes, and supplement them with poor studies, and then are shocked when skeptics don’t find that convincing.

    If your health has remained “pretty good” before and after the “wireless age”, does it not tell you that there is little to these claims, and there is a huge placebo effect going on here?

    As a side note, emfacts.com is an activist cite, and is an unsuitable source for evidence (conflict of interest, and all that).

    Also, Swine Flu Hoax? 18,000 deaths and over 200,000 hospitalizations (in the US alone) from swine flu, in addition to the regular influenza deaths (which annually kill anywhere between 250,000 to 500,000, depending on the strain, and the season). This is a hoax to you? You and I, sir, have drastically different definitions of the word “hoax.”

  27. Jack says:

    Flu deaths yearly in the U.S are ESTIMATED to range from 3500 to 49000. Deaths from swine flu for the year 2009 (to which you refer) are not yet finalised and even then will be an ESTIMATE.

    As a side note: any site/person/entity that questions the “follow the leader” approach or contradicts the BELIEFS of a skeptic, for THAT reason alone is an unsuitable source of evidence.
    LOL – critical thinking at it’s best!

    BTW I don’t own a mobile phone and have no wireless devices what so ever in my home or workplace – the precautionary approach. And I don’t need to live in a cave to achieve that.

  28. Nathan says:

    “follow the leaders…..of the scientific community” Remember that the majority of the people on this site are not scientists and need to rely partially on the science that scientists do. Following the mass scientific majorities are only a small part of the system used for not fooling ourselves. Accepting only credible sources is also important. Again, when proper evidence is presented and studied, peer reviewed, studied some more by independent sources who don’t stand to gain from such information, I and many others believe that the “truth” will win out. If you are right, then in the future, it will be known. Until that time we are not jumping on the band wagon with you because it’s a dangerous slippery slope. We follow what most of the scientists say, where you follow only a few. How is it that you think your argument has more validity than ours?

  29. Art Tricque says:

    “I don’t own a mobile phone and have no wireless devices what so ever in my home or workplace.” Yet you have been bathed in the electromagnetic energy from microwaves from long-distance point to point microwave communications links, two-way communications radio (like those used by all public safety agencies such as police, fire and ambulance) and paging systems, GPS, satellite communications, garage-door openers and other home electronics in your neighbourhood, and broadcast communications for decades, as have every man, woman and child in Australia, Canada and in the rest of the developed world. There are no massive outbreaks of cancers that have been discerned.

  30. Nathan says:

    What is it that makes you think your studies are so compelling? Just going with a gut feeling on this one?

  31. Nathan says:

    Also, skepticism is not a belief. It is a method, much like science. Tried and tested and a great way to reduce the margins of error. This requires no belief.

  32. Iris says:

    You have got it wrong.

    Pickles are associated with stomach cancer in studies. RF radiation is associated to cancer in studies, both epidemiological and laboratory. Whether you like it or not.
    I sent you a letter which says clearly that the definition is based on studies that show the effect of cancer.

    ***you ignore*** the fact you do not have the right to use slander even if you think differently from Rodney Palmer.
    The right thing to do is to apologize to Rodney Palmer on your blog.

    You quote bodies that have conflicts of interests.
    Why being an uncritical parrot is such a high priority for you as a musician?
    If you look at history, all the big advances were thanks to those who did not go with the “majority” opinion.

    You use a doubtful excuse “to prevent hysteria”. Why are you so bothered whether there is “hysteria” or not, as a musician?

    It is very strange that you feel so much the urge to prevent “hysteria” with slander, towards informed citizens.
    They invested their time in learning while you were occupied with how to prevent this critical voice to be heard.
    Using slander just shows you are run out of real arguments to the point.

    IARC is the international body that has the authority to determine what is carcinogenic and what is not.
    Not the FDA, ACS, etc. ACS is funded by industries, what do you expect them to say?
    What do you know on funding sources of the FDA?

    Moreover, What is your interest that society will wait more before it takes precautions?
    what is your interest to ignore evidence and warning signs?
    what is your interest to turn precaution interests of the public to the word “hysteria”?

    As someone who shpritz his ignorance all over this blog, sit and read the Bioinitiative report with the 2000 references,
    and then come back to tell us about the “majority”.
    The same about the group of cheer leaders you raise here. All of them should read the Bioinitiative report.

    Again, what is your interest to “prevent hysteria”?

  33. Dianne Sousa says:

    Paul,

    “Satisfied?” Nope, not one bit. The above is a claim that you make about the state of your health and a specific cause. You didn’t provide any evidence at all that you were ill, what that illness was, or that you recovered from it and are now illness free. Before I can judge what caused your illness you need to show me that you were sick. Proof please.

    Yet, you say you suffered an illness that was caused by the cell phone towers that were in the vicinity of your house. Those specific towers and not any others whie you were out of your home? Not only do you claim these towers made you ill, you claim that they were able to do so even though you do not spend 24 hours a day there (I think this is a safe assumption). Again, proof please.

    You also think there is a conspiracy composed of millions and millions of people that work in a masterfully coordinated way to make it look like all these technologies are safe, and in the process make you look ridiculous when you claim the opposite. Why do they need to conspire so? Apparently the vast majority of us are too stupid to understand what’s really going on, and too closed minded to be swayed by your evidence even if you had it. In that kind of environment there is no need for a conspiracy.

    Paul, if you have decent proof of anything you say take it to court. March every person who claims that they are suffer from EHS and have been harmed by wifi and related technologies into court and have them lay out their anecdotes.

    But it won’t make for a compelling case. Anecdotes are not data, as you say (this is ridiculous), they are unsubstantiated claims. A pile of anecdotes is just a pile of unsubstantiated claims.

    You’re not a victim of wifi, you’re a victim of your faulty thinking.

  34. Nathan says:

    The “major advances” you speak of are yes, often lead by a few, sometimes even one. However, that being said, all this means is an idea starts somewhere. Science found the advances you speak of to be obviously reasonably truth, because those advances were verifiable. Just because science says “EMF- doesn’t seem to be a problem right now” doesn’t mean that they won’t figure out that it is or isn’t in the future. It’s perfectly reasonable to reserve judgement until all the evidence is in. Which ties into the hysteria you’re talking about. I can’t speak for Steve but to me it seems it’s important to prevent hysteria because well… How about humility? Or perhaps just simply, not wanting my fellow man to get taken in and hurt by something that hasn’t been verified with very little reasonable doubt. Your agenda has plenty of doubt currently, and until that changes, science has it’s position.

  35. Art Tricque says:

    Questioning the motivation of Steve is a logical fallacy: it does not address the substance of his arguments. Any argument one makes along these lines can be dismissed.Alleging conflicts of interest and industry associations is conspiracy mongering. There is plenty of evidence from publically funded sources assessed by public bodies that suggests that there is little to fear from EMF. EMF fear-mongerers have lost the scientific battle, and must resort to ad hominem, conspiracy and emotional hysteria attacks to make their case. That is why Steve has written as he has.The Bioinitiative Report cannot be taken seriously by any skeptic or official public scientific commission. Why? A self-selected group of evaluators; using a ridiculously cherry-picked subset of the evidence (I have read the whole report; it is easy to point out examples of this); publishing by press release and on the internet, and only later in a journal…edited by one of the report committee’s members; need I go on? That is why serious organizations from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Committee on Man and Radiation (COMAR) to the European Commission’s EMF-NET to the French government authority Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety to the German government authority Federal Office for Radiation Protection criticized the report. The French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety said: “…the different chapters of the report are of uneven editing style and quality. Some sections do not present scientific data in a balanced fashion, do not analyze the quality of the articles cited, or reflect the personal opinions of their authors …, [the report] is tinged with conflicts of interest in several chapters, does not reflect a collective effort, and is written in militant style.”

  36. Nathan says:

    It’s also important to preserve skepticism (by using it) so that we don’t start down the slippery slope that I mentioned in a . Taking precautions when there isn’t enough evidenceto suggest a real problem is not a good idea because if we did that for every little thing that came up there would never be progress. All it means isyou continue studying it to make sure. And when you’ve exhausted that you must put the idea aside, maybe on a shelf somewhere, and when or if new evidence shows up that suggests that there might be a problem, you can go dust off your idea and give it a go with the new information. But there is a point when you have to stop beating a dead horse and abandon ideas that are comming up empty.

  37. Nathan says:

    Sorry, hit send button before completing. Should have read “mentioned in a previous post” and “empty” was going to read “comming up with negative results”

  38. Paul Doyon says:

    Hey Sweetie Pie, I do not have to prove anything to you! And please do not put words in my mouth! Do you want me to prove that the Sun rises in the east and sets in the west? If you are running a fever, have a runny nose and diarrhea, do you have to prove to me that you are sick? I think I would probably be able to take your word for it. Or would you like me to ask you for a note from your doctor? Or do you really think a give a flying banana? Stop making laugh! Seriously! The plural of anecdotal evidence is DATA! Hello! Please stop making an idiot of yourself. Please do go crawl in a hole with Thoms and save the world from your embarrassment!

  39. Steve Thoms says:

    Every year police receive thousands of reports that there is a UFO above their community. These cases eventually turn out to be the moon, or Chinese Lanterns. Just because a large number of people report their personal, unsubstantiated reports of something, is no reason to assume it’s a legitimate claim.

    The plural of anecdote is anecdotes. What you call “anecdotal data”, taken by themselves, scientists call them unsubstantiated claims.

    But since you’ve worked it out that scientific data that runs against your claim is therefore crooked, telecom-funded science, and data that supports your claim is the good science, tells me that you’re a conspiracy theorist, who won’t accept any answer other than “I agree with you”.

    Don’t pretend that you’re here for debate, when it’s clear from your tone (such as your calls that I need to “crawl into a hole”, or calling others “Sweetie Pie”) that you’re here to troll (and rant, and yell). I’ll not spend time dealing with you any further, especially in light that you instructed your group to “Swamp” this post.

    But by all means keep posting crazier and crazier comments that keep undermining your own position.

  40. Kim Hebert says:

    Yeah, someone is making an idiot of themselves, alright. :) Take care, honey bun.

  41. Dianne Sousa says:

    Paul,

    You could have taken one of two routes to deal with my challenge of your claims. It seems you’ve chosen to dismiss them through a lame attempt to belittle me. The other more appropriate route would’ve been to refute my points. You’ve failed to do this.

    You don’t seem like a completely stupid man, so I’ll make my point one more time in a different way. You claim that wifi and related technologies are harmful, and can cause illness in people. You want to see policies changed and people held responsible for this harm. To justify this, you use the pile of anecdotes from people who claim to be ill from EMF’s including your own. When challenged to provide evidence for your own personal claim, you say that you should not have to prove anything. I should take this on your say so alone, and presumably I should take everyone elses claim as factual as well, in the absence of any evidence. On top of this, you want us to accept that these anecdotes constitute data, even though each bit of datum is completely unsubstantiated.

    This is riduclous in the context of your calls to reduce EMF use. These policies affect everyone, so you need to provide a strong justification for any changes you advocate for. If you want EMF policies changed because you’ve been hurt by cell phone towers, people will expect that you will provide evidence of the illness and evidence of its cause so that they can judge for themselves.

    If you can’t provide this, the small amount of scientific work that you think supports your cause is irrelevant. Without any independently verified victims of EMF, it is far more likely that the illnesses that people claim to have suffered from were caused by something else. This is why I called for proof of your personal story.

    While you continue to beat your anti-EMF drum and balk at our insistence that the onus is on you to provide good evidence for your claims, there are those whose lives are worse because of your fear mongering. If their illnesses were caused by something other than wifi, it is possible that their suffering would end with appropriate treatment. I wonder, do you have an honest concern for the victims that you claim exist? If so, it would be wise for you to engage in debate in a meaningful way.

  42. Jack says:

    lol, no shit sherlock

  43. Paul Doyon says:

    Diane,

    You are doing it again. You are putting words in my mouth and twisting the facts, which is obviously what this website is all about. I do not have to prove to you that I was sick. However, you are more than welcome to try to prove that I wasn`t. Good luck. I hope you can speak Japanese, because the doctors that I went to see do not speak English very well. ;)

    There are thousands of studies going back to the 1960s showing biological effects. Is that so difficult to understand? Along with this, there are Yes, anecdotal accounts from all over the world of people getting sick. Is it so difficult to put two and two together? Is it so difficult to connect the dots? Do you seriously think that all these people from all over the world are making it up?

    Like I stated before. People, who when presented with the facts, still don`t get it can be classified into four categories: (1) the pathological liars, (2) the compulsive arguers, (3) the psychological deniers, and (4) the willfully (or not) ignorant. And as I asked before and to which I did not receive an answer, “Which one are you?” I suspect a combination of “all of the above.”

    Anyone with an IQ over 100 will be able to discern this website for what it is: a load of horse shit. I am not sure who is funding it, but I imagine that he, she, or they are probably not too happy that you are losing your weak and full-of-holes arguments. No one is going to be convinced of your arguments unless they are really really stupid. Would you please stop speaking out of your asses! The onus is on you to prove that this technology is safe and not the other way around. Good luck!

  44. JJ says:

    Paul, thanks for that list. Projection’s a funny thing.

  45. Art Tricque says:

    “The onus is on you to prove that this technology is safe…” This is the “prove it safe gambit”, which for irrational fearmongerers usually means “prove it has zero risk”. This is a logical let alone a scientific impossibility. It is also a standard that those who request if apply very selectively. And even then, one would need to contrast the benefits of using a technology against any risks. On that basis, the use of microwaves measures up well: it provides economic and social benefits on a vast scale — everything from improved location services from GPS to faster and better responses to emergencies from public safety radio communications to greater productivity for business and personal users of mobile telephony — with, after 60 years of study, low probability of the risk of health issues.

  46. Dianne Sousa says:

    Paul,

    The point you ignore is that you have to be able to prove that you were ill because of the cell phone towers to have any reasonable expectation that you will be seen as credible. Every one of the anecdotal accounts you uncritically accept must be supported by strong evidence.

    Yes, it is difficult to put together the weak scientific evidence you provide with unsubstantiated anecdotal accounts. The conclusion you come to by doing this has very little chance of being correct. This is why we use a high standard to judge what is true from we simply want to be true. Never have I suggested that people who claim EMF induced sickness were making it up. I claim that they are simply wrong about the cause.

    The fact that you end your non-argument with a charge that this blog must have some type of shady funding shows that you are unable to deal with simple challenges to your claims. Do you honestly expect to tell a court or regulatory agency that they should prove that you were not sick? Prepare to be laughed out of the room.

  47. Steve Thoms says:

    Paul, you said,
    “Anyone with an IQ over 100 will be able to discern this website for what it is: a load of horse shit. I am not sure who is funding it, but I imagine that he, she, or they are probably not too happy that you are losing your weak and full-of-holes arguments”

    Paul, I’m so very glad you’re here. Really. I think I love that you’re commenting this way.

    Just….keep it up. If our mutual tactics are to help readers make their own minds up, You’re doing a wonderful job.

  48. Paul Doyon says:

    You are exactly right. Skepticism is not a belief. It is a disbelief. The kind of skepticism promoted on this site is Blind Skepticism. Another term we can use is Willful Ignorance. It is certainly not science and it is certainly not “critical thinking.” Critical theorists were skeptical of Positivism and Scientism. The Scientific Method is a tool. It is based on reductionism. It is a linear process. It is not an end in itself and it has its limitations. It is not a reified religious dogma as you seem to treat it here. Chaos/Complexity theory certainly has little use for it. And it cannot predict emergence, it cannot measure nonlinearity, and it does little to explain complex systems. Positivism is based on exactitude of measurement. Complex systems are not exact. The world is complex and there are many interacting variables involved in complex systems, which the scientific method cannot measure. Hence, the real world is not a test tube in which you can control variables. “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” “What you can count does not always count, and what counts you cannot always count.” Do you understand? Probably not. LOL

  49. Iris says:

    NO, this is twisting what I am saying. the libel is not because of the side one takes, the libel is a fact that this is what Steve is doing. If he had real arguments he would not need libel.
    But the point is that he is not entitled to exploit other people like that on his blog, no matter what his opinion is. It is not a legitimate method to do X on people for the sake of advancing anything.

  50. Dianne Sousa says:

    Iris,

    To be clear, in Canada a valid defence for libel is “fair comment”. This means that people are free to comment, even very harshly, on matters of public interest. Mr. Palmer hurts his own reputation by claiming expertise that he cannot reasonably claim to have, failing to provide credible evidence for any of his claims, and certainly for selling questionable products (though this does not affect the validity of his claims on wifi, it does raise questions about ethics). By publicly claiming that wifi is unsafe, and defending his own claims not with valid evidence, but by using his reputation as a concerned parent, he invites close scrutiny.

    Since Mr. Palmer has hurt his reputation more than anyone else, I suggest he sue himself for “gross negligence of reason”.

  51. Art Tricque says:

    Steve’s comments are not exploitative by any rational definition of the term. His comments are well within the bounds of polite discourse on the internet, let alone the rough-and-tumble world of blogs.

  52. Art Tricque says:

    Mr. Doyon commits yet another logical fallacy: we cannot win on the science, so we’ll attack the messenger instead. The attack is also illuminating, for it is another projection: labelling science as “religious dogma”. Skeptics here and elsewhere have enumerated and are quite aware of the limitations of the method. But it seems to be the best method around. Mr. Doyon certainly offers no other approach, except that we should believe people’s anecdotes about symptoms — symptoms like headaches and insomnia that are non-specific, that is they could come from any number of causes including psychosomatic ones, and for which no thorough scientific investigation is typically undertaken.

    I say “religious dogma” is a projection, because of the contrast between the skeptical approach and Mr. Doyon’s own stand: he believes the outcome that EMF causes health problems, and he does not care that the methods and evidence to suport the claim do not stand up to scrutiny.

    Finally, comments such as “Do you understand? Probably not. LOL” are quite tiresome. If it is his intention to engage in serious debate, and win over converts to his point of view, this approach — while within the bounds of the rough and tumble discourse on the internet — is undignified and offputting.

  53. Iris says:

    Iris says:
    November 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Art Tricque:

    Contents: first, show me the contents. He should get rid of slander first, as this is his contents right now. Quotes of others is hiding behind big bodies no matter who funds them.
    Despite that, I did relate to the ignorance presented here, and called all of you to read the Bioinitiative, of course, remembering that you are part of the big experiment we all take part in whether we like it or not.
    One of the people who responded me, Michael, I saw he admitted he thinks there is no value in books. How does this look for someone who wants to claim he is educated on any subject?

    Regarding funding: you misunderstood.He should present his website and who funds the website from the beginning, as a part of the website, honestly. That’s what an honest person does. But Steve Thoms has a very interesting motive, which he stated himself: to “prevent hysteria”- why is he bothered by “hysteria”?
    what is his interest to calm it down? No person has such an interest, “to prevent hysteria” without a reason.
    Instead he is calling other people, in a childish way, to prove who funds him.

    SCENIHR – you relate scientific approach to them: one of the key people of them was kicked out of IARC committee because of conflict of interest so he could not participate in the decision to classity RF as possible carcinogen? They are not the neutral symbol.

    Bioinitiative: don’t tell me what I read and what I don’t, because I did my homework. I do not see you relate to the DNA breaks that you support in making to people RIGHT NOW by ignoring REFLEX project, Henri Lai’s works, and other independent laboratories that showed this effect, and that are also presented in the Bioinitiative.
    As one example.
    Reply

  54. Paul Doyon says:

    ????? Attack the messenger?

  55. Paul Doyon says:

    Art, You are full of crap! This whole thread is just about what you are condemning. It is an Attack on Rodney Palmer. Talk about projection!

  56. By the Bioinitiative, do you mean the non-peer reviewed report by people who have a vested interest in keeping a controversy alive?

    As far as Steve’s interest in “preventing hysteria”, that sounds like a laudable goal in and of itself. If there was a fire in a crowded theatre, should one scream at the top of their lungs, or promote an orderly departure, or even look around and say ‘there is no fire, everyone sit back down”. Why would you criticize such an approach.

    I might ask why you and your group are promoting hysteria, because, clearly no one would do that without an ulterior motive.

  57. Iris says:

    Tell me why you call 2000 references an interest to keep controversy?
    What is your interest to shut up science? This is science.
    Are you skeptic only about people who show you risk?

    So you agree that the funding source was not disclosed on this website. If as you claim it’s a valid and positive interest, why is the funding source hidden?

    We don’t promote hysteria. Don’t you see the difference between emotions and scientific findings?

  58. Dianne Sousa says:

    Iris,

    I’m doing everything I can to consider you merely foolishly wrong, and not irresponsible, but it’s comments like this one that try my patience.

    There is no funding source of this website to disclose, as we are all volunteers. There is no hidden funding source. There is no funding source at all. You have no cogent reason to think otherwise. We are all individual skeptics with an interest in promoting science and critical thinking. Your suspicions are unfounded.

    Allow me to use a little of your own logic against you. If YOU had “real arguments” you would not need to throw around accusations of clandestine funding.

    Simply because you have some references, does not mean that they are scientific, or that they should be considered with the same weight as studies that show the opposite. Some of the studies you think are so convincing may be of low quality, some may be irrelevant, and some will consist of findings that show that EMF has negative effects in error.

    Tell me Iris, what standard are you using to decide what is good science and what is not?

  59. Iris says:

    Dianne,
    What makes you downplay findings of risks that were peer reviewed
    in scientific journals for the past 20 years?

    Why do you care about my standards, I did not see you explained yours. Don’t tell me what I have reason to believe and what not.
    You downplay risk findings as what? as a “Scientific argument”?
    so your whole idea is to call risk findings non scientific?
    what a ridiculous approach is this? if you are a thinking person,
    you should not classify risk findings as non scientific just because they imply that the env. you live in is not safe as you would like to assume.

    Tell me, Dianne, what is YOUR interest to downplay risk?

  60. Dianne Sousa says:

    Iris,

    I just explained to you why you should be skeptical of study findings that show risk. If they are in error, which they almost certainly are, there is no risk to downplay. You know, because there is no risk.

    Madam, the consensus science that is being discussed here is also published in peer reviewed scientific journals. Do you dispute this fact? You need to explain why you reject the consensus in favour of another position. If the answer here has to do with industry influence biasing findings, you have to show the presence and nature of the bias.

  61. Paul Doyon says:

    It sure is JJ. You would know!

  62. Paul Doyon says:

    OK, Art. Whatever you say?

  63. Iris says:

    Dianne,

    A. The fact that your basic assumption is that a risk is probably a mistake in the findings, shows you ignore actual peer reviewed findings that were replicated. What is your reasoning to ignore peer reviewed, replicated findings?

    B. As you wish, I present it to you and your friends: you asked for it:

    In addition to industry funding involvement in the Interphone, several authors participating in the Interphone
    received additional funding from their national mobile phone companies ref: Schoemaker 2005; Lahkola 2005; Schuz 2006; Hours 2007; Vriheid 2009 or by other private companies: Christensen et al 2005; Johansen 2001; Schuz 2006. These funds are not written in the Interphone protocol.

    Interphone and other studies: Muscat – two studies industry funded, Lakhola 2005,Schoemaker 2005; Christensen 2005; Lonn 2005; Christensen 2004; Lonn 2004; Hepworth 2006; Lakhola 2007; Sadetzki 2008; Lakhola 2008; Morgan (Motorola) 2000; Johansen 2001 industry funded-

    all these negative studies do not make declaration on conflict of interest

    Three: Schuz 2006; Lonn 2006; Schlehofer 2007; state “conflict of interest – non declared”, not clear if it’s coming from the editor or authors; and Takebayashi 2006 (Japan); Klaeboe 2007 (Norway); Hours 2007 (France); Takebayashi 2008 – declare: “conflict of interest: none”

    Source: Mobile phones and head tumours. The discrepancies in cause-effect relationships in the epidemiological studies – how do they arise? Angelo G Levis et al Environmental Health 2011, 10:59 2011

    These are facts, Dianne, that you and your group insist of ignoring, not realizing that the joke is at your expense.
    Instead of recognizing it, you deny and deny and deny.
    Wake up.

  64. Paul Doyon says:

    Like I said, the (1) Pathological Liars, (2) Psychological Deniers, (3) Perpetual Arguers, and (4) Pompous Ignorami. It has a bit of a ring to it, doesn`t it?

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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.