Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Electro-smog?

Folks who keep their eyes open for all manner of oddity may already be aware of the new "allergy" that is sweeping the nation and provoking discriminatory responses from the government. Okay, no, sorry, that's a blatant lie. What I should have said is: the new wing-nuttery that makes a mockery of both science and the law. Particularly, I mean this:



Yes folks, that's right: people in New Mexico are bringing suit against the government. Why? Becasuse their allergy to WiFi signals makes the installation of free WiFi in public buildings a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. That's not a joke, people, that's what they're actually doing.

Now, initially I was inclined to view this somewhat reasonably. It is true, after all, that some kinds of electromagnetic radiation can provoke changes in biological organisms and, indeed, some such changes can be rather unpleasant. A sunburn is a good example although, in most cases, is far less severe than the multi-day head and chest pains described in the above story. I say "initially" because... well... there has been research done on "Electrosensitivity" and, as it turns out, the supposed sufferers can't reliably distinguish between the presence and absence of the supposedly harmful electromagnetic fields. What this means, of course, is that they are probably not feeling poorly because of the EM fields since, if they were, they should be pretty good at figuring out when they are and are not being exposed. It's also telling that the most effective treatment yet noted for electrosensitivity is cognitive-behavioral. Much as your sunburn is not alleviated by counseling* electrosensitivity should not be most effectively treated by counseling unless... you know... it isn't really physical in nature.

Now, I mention this because it bothers me on two levels: legal and medical. On a legal level, I am annoyed that people are wasting the time and money of the government on something that has, thus far, received considerable empirical disconfirmation. I sympathize with the discomfort these folks are feeling but, at the end of the day, it would be more useful to identify the true cause of their condition rather than deprive the rest of the citizenry of a valuable service so as to preserve a placebo treatment. On a medical level this bothers me because, really, I expect that something really is wrong with a number of these people. Could those recurrent head or chest pains be an indication of something more serious? Could be. Will these folks figure out what, exactly, if they are fixated on WiFi as the cause? Yeah, not so much. So, more or less, I am annoyed that we are farting around with previously invalidated explanations when we should be getting to the bottom of things. Like it or not, scientific illiteracy and teh stoopid kill people.

And you know what really scares the hell out of me? Any day now these folks are gonna run into Mary Tocco and her ilk and then I'm going to have people telling me that wireless LANs cause autism. Oh, wait, never mind: we're already there. Give it time and I'm sure we'll have some "theory" about how vaccines and WiFi** combine like f-ing Voltron to produce autism. Doubtless the WiFi signals somehow energize the vaccines into some sort of horrible autism-inducing monster that can only be defeated with crystals and some guru who farts rainbows.

Bloody wonderful.


* "Now, Melissa, I want you to lie back and go to your happy place. There IS no sunburn. Ultraviolet radiation can only hurt you if you believe in it."

** And heavy metals. And poor nutrition. And measles. And... um... what haven't we blamed yet? Fried chicken? Sure- fried chicken causes autism! Why the hell not?

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

its a pity your parents weren't exposed to radiation prior to your conception

Wednesday, June 04, 2008 3:19:00 PM  
Blogger Drek said...

My parents were exposed to quite a bit of radiation before my conception. In addition to the typical exposure to electromagnatic radiation from the sun and the Earth's geomagnetic field, my mother had a number of health problems as a child that required numerous x-rays. And while I suppose it wasn't "pre-conception" I have been exposed to quite a bit of radiation myself over the years, particularly during some rather dreary medical nastiness a few years back. Nevertheless I remain here- whole and healthy- because quite a bit of the electromagnetic spectrum is benign to humans. You know, like WiFi signals.

That said, I will admit to a number of mutations that have made my life that much more interesting. One of those mutations enables me to find the shift key and, thus, use capital letters. I am also able to distinguish "it's" which is a contraction of "it is" from "its" which is the possessive form. Don't worry- I'm sure you'll overcome your genetic deficiency soon enough.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008 4:18:00 PM  

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