Surprise, Surprise: WiFi Scaremongering Marred By Shoddy Reporting, Bad Science And Conflicts Of Interest

from the hatchet-job dept

There's been a lot of noise being made in the UK about the supposed dangers WiFi presents. It's been clear for some time that these stories are little more than scaremongering, but Glenn Fleishman points out just how bad the reporting was on this latest BBC show about the dangers of WiFi. As he notes, the work by the show's producers and reporters was pretty shoddy: the show was largely based on the claims of the head of a group that extols the harm of electromagnetic radiation, though it never pointed out the guy's clear profit motive, as a seller of protective headgear, anti-radiation paint, and other tinfoil beanie-esque products. A columnist for The Guardian goes into further detail about the bad science the program used, noting that even the elementary schoolers the show wanted to film could see problems with it. What makes the whole thing slightly more amusing is that other people from the BBC have been trashing the show's report, and it's pretty clear that somebody there realized that it was going to cause some problems, since the form letter sent as a response to claims about it was written before the show even aired. As Ben Goldacre, The Guardian's Bad Science columnist points out, the show's shoddy reporting has ensured that the debate is focused on the show itself and its correspondents' poor work, rather than the actual issues at hand. But does the BBC, or any other media outlet running these scare stories really care, as long as people are talking?
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Jamfish, 29 May 2007 @ 2:48pm

    Oops

    I think that should read... "the supposed dangers WiFi presence." :) ..although WiFi presents are always welcome!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2007 @ 2:52pm

    it's presents, as in pre-zents, not prezants

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Casper, 29 May 2007 @ 2:53pm

    Duh

    The people are hypochondriacs. It's what smoking pot will do to you. Hell, I bet most of their symptoms would go away if they just started eating healthy and exercising...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    whargoul, 29 May 2007 @ 3:10pm

    But does the BBC, or any other media outlet running these scare stories really care, as long as people are talking?

    Nope

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    GetYoid, 29 May 2007 @ 3:17pm

    Forget about wireless

    I will never, ever use wireless anything. People cant seem to secure WIRED connections and now we have data flying all over the place to be grabbed by any schmuck who feels like having it? No thanks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, 29 May 2007 @ 3:20pm

    Scientific evidence

    What do the following things have in common:

    • ESP
    • Cold fusion
    • Health effects from non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation

    Answer: they have all been studied for close to twenty years (or in the case of ESP, even longer). Every now and then somebody comes up a with a result that seems to indicate that the effect is real. But then nobody else is able to replicate that result. In other words, you get this ongoing, low-level intermittent background of spurious positives. Which is exactly what you would expect if the effects do not exist, but a whole lot of people are continuing to dig in the belief that they do.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    clive, 1 Jun 2007 @ 2:20pm

    That BBC program

    I couldn't actually watch the whole program all the way through. It was obvious that the reporter had made his mind up at the outset and everything flowed from that.

    Hopefully producers will think twice about taking him on again, or at the very least scrutinise his work and get greater substantiation.

    But then shouldn't ehy have been doing this from the outset?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Advertisment

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.