Canadian Schools Ban WiFi Based On Bad Science

from the and-what-are-they-teaching-our-kids dept

A decade ago, we first wrote about some freaked out, clueless parents suing a school district for wanting to install a WiFi network. The parents believed -- based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever -- that WiFi networks emitted "harmful" electro-magnetic radiation. Since then, we've heard of many such stories of people fearing the health impacts of WiFi, despite a near total lack of evidence of any harm at all. Studies have found that an entire year sitting next to a WiFi access point gives you the equivalent radiation of 20 minutes on a mobile phone. And yet, every few years, we hear about parents or politicians freaking out about the issue and trying to get WiFi banned in schools.

Amazingly, they've succeeded in some places, including 12 elementary and middle schools up in Canada, which are now being called out by a group called "Bad Science Watch" for making decisions based on absolutely and totally bogus science. You can read the full report here, in which they call out "anti-WiFi activists" who are "spreading misinformation." It seems they ought to call out schools as well. You would think that places of learning would investigate the actual science.
These claims are not substantiated by the scientific literature and have little acceptance from medical professionals and the scientific community. This activism therefore amounts to nothing more than fear-mongering by misguided special interest groups who are attempting to have these networks removed.

Nevertheless, the media has been all too willing to fan the flames of controversy and has contributed to a growing false uncertainty over the safety of WiFi. As a result many school boards, libraries, and town councils across Canada have been called on by concerned citizens to limit or remove WiFi networks.

Filed Under: canada, health, scared, wifi


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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 14 Jan 2015 @ 5:37am

    Re: Study on the effects of wifi on plants

    Nice of you to spam your own blog link here, though you could have been more honest about it.

    At a quick perusal, you seem to have based almost everything on a 3rd party account of a high school experiment (read: not conducted under laboratory conditions) that took place in Denmark, along with a barely correlated claim of similar effects on trees.

    A quick Google search will show you a breakdown of the common complaints on the first point. For example:

    http://www.pepijnvanerp.nl/2013/05/danish-school-experiment-with-wifi-routers-and-garden-cre ss-good-example-of-bad-science/

    Generally speaking, it's an interesting high school science class experiment, but not something that's proven. The methodology is poorly set out by profession standards, there's no blind tests and the study itself seems to have been prone to bias from the outset. I can't see any direct responses to the debunking outside of the usual "scientific conspiracy" and "you can't question them because they're kids" claptrap.

    At best, this to take away from this is "we should get some proper research into this kind of thing (which has been happening for years), not "wifi kills plants".

    Unless there's research under proper laboratory conditions you're aware of, of course? If this has never been proven - why? Are you in the "there's a conspiracy" camp, or open to more realistic reasons? Have you even researched this at all, given that much of the debunking predates your blog entry?

    "Although I haven't tossed out my router just yet (hope I don't have to)"

    I wish more people spreading bad science would do just this.

    "one has to wonder if this has any truth behind it."

    Yeah, yeah, you're "asking questions". Well done on using that particular clickbait tactic on your blog.

    "If that happens to plants, I'm sure it could be causing adverse health affects on humans."

    Or, it could be having no effect at all. Or, they interact with their environment differently so the comparison is meaningless. You wouldn't expect plants to interact with sunlight in the same way as humans, so why do you assume another part of the electromagnetic spectrum has equal results?

    That's what proper scientific research is for, not third hand translated accounts of a claim made by children.

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