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), 6 Feb 2013 @ 8:44am

    Re: Studies show...

    "One thing you have to keep in mind to remain completely neutral and unbiased on the subject is that there are advocates on BOTH SIDES that have no information or evidence of what they're trying to prove. "

    Indeed. However, if somebody's going to start banning things "for the children" based on zero evidence (and while there is certainly evidence that access to it *benefits* their education), I'd prefer to demand proof. Rolling over just because someone thinks there might be harmful effects is as wrong as merely letting people ban vaccines, videogames, movies, TVs, books, music or whatever else the current nutjob scapegoat of the week is.

    The call for banning things just because there's a fear about them, especially from those who don't understand them, will never stop. Only the target of that call will change. But, it's down to them to prove that the ill effects outweigh the benefits. While those things you mentioned do seem obviously bad in hindsight, that's just a matter of perspective. There are many other things that have mostly positive effects that were called to be banned over the same timescale, and that same hindsight shows them up for the stupidity that those calls were.

    People should keep an open mind, but these things should only be happening when there's a real reason to believe that they are harmful. Until then, you're probably basing any ban on baseless fears from people who usually don't understand the thing they're talking about.

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