Cell Phones Making People Sick --Is It All In The Mind?

"With WCF, all messages are SOAP messages" -- Juval Lowy

A lot of noise has been made lately about the supposed health dangers of WiFi and other types of wireless communications. -- The media stories about them are generally full of crummy reporting and bad science. The reports usually feature a person who claims to have "electrosensitivity," and that radiation from WiFi or mobile phone networks (or the phones themselves) makes them sick. I have some personal experience with this as my S.O. (Significant Other - who is perfectly normal in all respects) claims she has electrosensitivity and in fact I remember one time when I was sitting in a chair on the other side of the living room, and my cell phone vibrated (no noise at all) because of an incoming voicemail, she suddenly startled and complained of a sharp pain in her leg. Coincidental, yes - but it doesn't prove anything.

Despite the claims, these people generally fail double-blind tests to see if they really can feel the presence of WiFi or other wireless networks, and several studies have now confirmed this. Researchers said that people claiming to have electrosensitivity weren't faking it, and really were displaying the symptoms they claimed -- but that they were brought about by the people's belief that they were being harmed by radiation, and not by the radiation itself. Just two of 44 people claiming to be "electrosensitive" correctly determined when the wireless signals were being emitted in six out of six tests; this compares evenly to the 5 out of 114 control participants.

In fact there are well over thirty published studies looking into this question. The studies typically ask electrosensitive volunteers to record their symptoms in the presence of suspect devices like mobile phones. The trick is, though, that the researchers and the subjects are not told if the devices are really on or not, i.e. the trial is blind. The thirty or so studies all do things a little differently, but generally center around this theme. Of the studies, only seven so far have shown there is a difference between on and off, that is, that the mobile phone had some sort of effect. However, five of these positive results could not be repeated by the same researchers and the other two are thought to be statistical flukes. In other words, the vast majority of the experiments have shown that electrosensitivity has not been demonstrated to be due to exposure to EMR emitting devices.

Now, we can continue doing studies for the next 30 years, but as long as the studies are scientifically accurate and conducted fairly with no hidden agenda, I strongly suspect that the results will continue to be similar.

A systematic review of most of the studies that have been done concluded, "The symptoms described by “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” sufferers can be severe and are sometimes disabling. However, it has proved difficult to show under blind conditions that exposure to EMF can trigger these symptoms. This suggests that “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” is unrelated to the presence of EMF, although more research into this phenomenon is required."

For some strange reason this whole thing smacks of that "Al Gore Apocalypse" global warming theme. I leave you to draw your own conclusions. Maybe we should just ask Uri Geller to come in, bring his cell phone, and bend a few spoons over it, hmm?