Geek Claims Wi-Fi Woman Makes Him Sick

24 Nov ’06

It’s a headline I just couldn’t resist, after picking up the thread on the Ripley’s-esque tale of a woman who claims Wi-Fi makes her sick. George Ou would like to run some tests.

Shades of Lakehead’s President Fred Gilbert, who some months ago rejected campus wi-fi there over EMF radiation health concerns (in a move that provoked a characteristically cantankerous reaction from John Dvorak). Shortly after, Gilbert was interviewed by the National Post on the issue and was quoted as saying that since wi-fi was a convenience technology, we ought to wait until we’re satisfied with its safety. I remember being surprised at the thought, because many technologies are seen as a mere convenience when first adopted, and only become essential when they displace their predecessors and are widely adopted. (I’m sure the telephone was seen by many as a convenience when it was first invented.) That seemed an awfully low bar, frankly, especially when viewed in the context of other comments Gilbert made to the effect that many environmental impacts are not apparent for 30 or 40 years.

But I was more bothered by the impression from his reported remarks that his concerns came from a generalized anxiety about EMF radiation, rather than an in context appreciation of wifi as a relative risk. How unsurprising then, to now see individuals emerging claiming specific health concerns. My first thought is that the clamour around stories like Gilbert’s have given the more suggestible among us something new to fret about. We’ll just to have wait for George’s tests.

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