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BBC Kicked out of School Over Wi-Fi Scaremongering

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the i-thought-the-beeb-was-one-of-the-good-guys dept.

Education 279

h2g2bob writes "Ben Goldacre reports that the BBC Panorama team, while scaremongering over the dangers of Wi-fi, were told to leave the school because even the kids could see it was dumb: 'When the children saw Alasdair's Powerwatch website, and the excellent picture of the insulating mesh beekeeper hat that he sells (£27) to protect your head from excess microwave exposure, they were astonished and outraged. Panorama were calmly expelled from the school.' Should we be pleased that the kids can out-think TV producers?"

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279 comments

That was the *WRONG* question (5, Funny)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285171)

Should we be pleased that the kids can out-think TV producers?"
The right question is: "Should we be surprised that the kids can out-think TV producers?"

Re:That was the *WRONG* question (3, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285509)

Also, should we be ashamed that TV viewers still put up with this crap? (or even watch TV anymore?)

Re:That was the *WRONG* question (3, Insightful)

celardore (844933) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286239)

I live in the UK, and I love being able to say I don't pay for a TV licence. I genuinely don't receive TV, and have even had a TV Licence inspector come into my home to verify this.

Which is an awful shame, because many television companies are producing quality entertainment worldwide, but I'm not allowed to view it because the BBC need the UK population to fund them directly through taxation.

*sigh* BBC, you command no respect from me. I like your news site, but as a British citizen, I don't appreciate the heavy-handed, guilty-until-proven-innocent tactics you adopt with regards to licensing. BBC, you are never going to get a penny out of me. I promise you.

Do I miss TV people ask. No, I have bittorrent.

Re:That was the *WRONG* question (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285809)

> Should we be pleased that the kids can out-think TV producers?

I think we should be scared that so many people are immediately jumping onto the "can't possibly be a problem" with wifi thing, completely ignoring the effects on people who ARE affected by wifi. Been there, done that, then tried to disprove a friend's ability to detect wifi access points. Putting her in one room of a house, with two wifi access points about 12ft apart in another room behind opposite ends of a wall, she can pick which one is turned on by the pain she feels, every single time. She can tell if there are none on, the left one is on, the right one is on, or both are on. Do it too long, and she's out of action with a killer headache for hours. Sneak a wifi source into a place she didn't expect to be around one, and she'll tell me where it is within seconds. Take one out of a place she expected one to be and she'll remark on how she can actually go into that place without being in a mental fog.

Yet her docs tell her she's imagining it. Got any other reason she can pick which of two wifi access points are turned on, through a wall, with no hardware but her own head?

Prove it? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285925)

No, I don't mean in your own setting, but in a double-blind one with actual scientists. If she could prove that, it might well be interesting.

As for me, I can't detect wifi, but I can hear very high frequencies, and you might be surprised by some of the annoying electronic gear that gives them off. Now *that* can sure cause a headache, but it's just sound, not radio.

Also, does she get like this around microwaves, too? There are more things to detect than radio, y'know, and if she was really sensitive to radio waves, I'd expect her to have gone batty long ago given all the broadcasts. So I'm not the least bit convinced that you've isolated the actual problem, sorry.

Re:Prove it? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285971)

As for me, I can't detect wifi, but I can hear very high frequencies, and you might be surprised by some of the annoying electronic gear that gives them off. Now *that* can sure cause a headache, but it's just sound, not radio.

Have you had that verified by scientists in a double blind study? I believe you're just imagining it every time you're around electronic equipment, and only believe you're hearing such noises because you're seeing the equipment.

Re:Prove it? (1)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286107)

i don't know if he has, but i have, when i was younger i had a hearing test, its somewhere in the upper 19khz-21khz range, its because of the capacitors (i've recorded it before on tape, it does exist)

Re:Prove it? (2, Interesting)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286229)

Have you had that verified by scientists in a double blind study? I believe you're just imagining it every time you're around electronic equipment, and only believe you're hearing such noises because you're seeing the equipment.

I hear cathode ray tube TVs every time they're turned on and am continually amazed when other people don't. It's not just from seeing the TV. If a fairly big CRT is on in the next room, I can hear it pretty easily if the room is only somewhat quiet. It's a light, but high pitched, constant whine. Very distinctive. LCD's don't emit it. Just CRTs.

I live in europe so all our video games run in 50Hz by default, but in recent years have offered a 60Hz option. Often I'll choose the 50Hz option because at 60Hz the CRT's whine becomes noticeably louder. After a while you sometimes get used to it, but not often at 60Hz.

Other people have given me funny looks when I ask them to the game back to 50Hz, or to turn off a TV on static or on mute. I'm not convinced that they can't hear the sound, but instead have simply mentally filtered it out. Sometimes I test them and the occasional one finally realizes that there is a sound, but not often.

If I had to make a wild, unsubstantiated guess, I'd say that most people, in the country where I live, have mentally tuned out the constant background 50Hz hum from each and every electronic device that surrounds them every day of their lives, and which is powered by the national electricity grid supplying AC power at 50Hz.

Or maybe my inner ears are just deformed. Who knows.

Re:Prove it? (1)

Firehawke (50498) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286289)

Some people do grow up with that ability; I used to have it, until the constant ear infections destroyed that range of my hearing. Most who DO have it lose it by the time they're 30, though. Most others don't have the ability to hear that range-- it's not that it's tuned out, it's just that they can't hear sounds at the upper range of what humans typically can hear.

Some of THOSE people can hear stuff on the bottom edge that you can't..

Re:Prove it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19286343)

They're not *that* high. Most of them come from the damn wireless charging unit connected to these wireless headphones. When I put them in the charger, there's a nasty high frequency noise. Other than that, bad transformers tend to cause them. Fortunately, I can just avoid them most of the time, so I don't really worry about it. I'll probably get rid of these headphones at some point, they're pretty crappy anyhow, most of what I hear is just static.

Finally, I did have my hearing tested recently. They said it was very good.

Re:Prove it? (2, Insightful)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286427)

Have you had that verified by scientists in a double blind study?


Yes, because we all have everything verified by double-blind studies. Why, just this morning, I was all set to leave the house, but I needed to conduct a double-blind study to verify that my shoes were tied. I mean, I can't trust anything to my own senses.

Supporting the GP, I too can here the high-pitched hiss from some electronics. CRTs are the most noticeable. I verified this through years of my brother leaving the TV on after playing console games. He'd turn the console off (so there was no sound and a black screen), but leave the TV on drawing power. I didn't have to see him playing and leave. Sometimes he would turn it off, sometimes he wouldn't. Sometimes I would wake up, come downstairs in the morning, and hear it ringing before it was anywhere within sight. There was never a false positive.

I've got a TV that I picked up at the salvation army in my house now. When the screen is all white, it makes this hissing sound. When it's black, it doesn't. It's loud enough (and low enough) for normal people to hear it. That's probably why it was at the SA.

Can you not hear a monitor powering up? There are no audio components in there. Maybe one moving part to establish a physical electrical connection. But how do you explain the rest of the sounds? What about monitors that hum when their flybacks start to go? So we can hear them when they power up, and when they are defective, but no one can hear them when they are just "on"? That doesn't seem right.

What about the hum from a high voltage transformer? An old streetlight? These all make sounds, and are electronic equipment, but no-one doubts them. Why can't other electronics make sound too?

Electronics are not 100% efficient. Most energy is lost through heat, but it would be foolish to think that the electricity -> radiation conversion is 100% efficient. Some of it is lost to vibration. All of those electrons whipping around create little magnetic fields. All those transistors switching create oscillations in them. All those cheap metal components held in place be the cheapest possible metal solder and flexible plastic bits. It's not hard to imagine that sympathetic vibrations can be created.

Re:Prove it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19286385)

The way to prove it would be to use a wireless router or two. Leave them plugged in all of the time and only enable or disable the wireless transmissions.

Could the article summary be any MORE biased? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19286065)

Doesn't anyone else feel slighted when the article summary is so obviously leading towards a specific conclusion?

Sorry, but the reactions of a bunch of ignorant kids in a peer-pressured environment doesn't convince me that there are no dangers whatsoever of wifi, no matter what slanted language you maliciously use to present the article in.

Studies show that's not EM (4, Interesting)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286075)

Whatever might be causing their symptoms, it's apparently NOT electromagnetic waves. See this [badscience.net] for details. It may be a very real symptom, but you should be more careful when making claims about WHAT caused it and you need a proper scientific study to rule out any other causes.

Until then, I'm going to have to go with all the published studies showing that, whatever might cause people to feel "EM sensitive", it's not actually EM that's causing it.

Re:That was the *WRONG* question (1)

GrievousMistake (880829) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286275)

Then have the doctor do blind tests? They're all pretty eager to discover some new complex or syndrome, you know. I wouldn't be surprised if there have been rewards offered for demonstrating real electrosensitivity, either.
So if you aren't bullshitting us (and I think you are, does it show?), then find her a doctor who is willing to run blind tests on her. The reason it's not being taken seriously is that, to the best of my knowledge, they haven't been able to prove any such effects in controlled tests, and if people are having demonstratable symptoms, then they need to come forward and demonstrate them. If they do, they'll get the recognition they need.

*GASP* (4, Insightful)

VE3OGG (1034632) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285175)

You mean children might actually be able to differentiate truth from fiction? But that's unpossible, how can their schools control them then?

*Sigh*

I've seen similar situations -- namely when some high school students saw Bowling for Columbine. Teacher couldn't believe they might actually be able to see flaws in the reasoning...

Re:*GASP* (4, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285229)

An intelligent child can certainly possess a measure of critical-thinking ability, one which is unadulterated by the learned preconceptions of their elders. Adults are often blinded by their own mental programming, by their own expectations of reality: children have had no such limitations imposed upon them yet.

Re:*GASP* (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285545)

I think knowledge is the true defeater of kooks and con-men. I suspect your average kid, living more and more in a wireless world, knows reasonably well that the frequencies and power levels most common-place consumer-grade WiFi equipment works at isn't terribly likely to cause any harm.

Re:*GASP* (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285729)

I tend to suspect that the kids capable of understanding it do, and the rest like their gizmos, and dissonance the question right on out.

Re:*GASP* (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285251)

You mean children might actually be able to differentiate truth from fiction? But that's unpossible, how can their schools control them then?

Not to worry, they're only 5th graders. By the time they "graduate" from high school, most of them will have whatever spark of intellect and curiosity beat out of them. They won't complain, just consume.

**Sigh**

[insert comments on home schooling, or at the very least, teaching your kids how to think and how to remain sentient beings here.]

Re:*GASP* (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285337)

While I generally agree, I do strongly oppose home schooling. What your kid would miss out is the contact with other kids, not just their friends but actually finding a way to work together with people they didn't choose but that were "forced" onto them. Much like they'll later encounter in business life.

Rather, I'd suggest schools that actually encourage pupil creativity and that promote the use of their intellect. Those schools exist, though you'll hardly find any public schools that are run like that. There, your kids would probably rather be dumbed down so they don't mess up the class average.

Re:*GASP* (3, Interesting)

Salmar (991564) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285449)

From my personal experience, I must disagree. I was homeschooled through grades 3-12, having no major lack of friends or teamwork situations. For example, I've just completed the second of two college courses in software practice, requiring collaboration on a multi-team scale, and not only was I in several respects the leading figure of our four-man team, but we were able to consistently impress the faculty. The proposal that lack of a more public schooling environment eliminates social interaction and collaboration is flawed.

Re:*GASP* (1)

ChaosWeevil (1004221) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286105)

I agree, I'm in much the same situation, but still in High School, or what would be if I was in Public School. Boy (Or Girl) Scouts is excellent for learning social and leadership skills.

I've had collaborate with people, especially those I don't know too well, through Boy Scout camps, and staffing at them. If Homeschooled kids don't get enough social exposure, it's because the parents suck at Homeschooling, not because of simple nature of the system.

Re:*GASP* (1, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285455)

"While I generally agree, I do strongly oppose home schooling. What your kid would miss out is the contact with other kids, not just their friends but actually finding a way to work together with people they didn't choose but that were "forced" onto them. Much like they'll later encounter in business life."

About a couple of years ago a home schooling advocate was telling me how the public school system was specifically created to push social programs through, and indoctrinate our children. When I first heard it, I chalked her up as a fringe nut case. Since then my child started reading at 2, and is now reading full books having just turned three. I started to consider home schooling, as putting a child with a 3rd or 4th grade education being put into a class full of kids where SOME of them have a kindergarten education, can only lead to problems. The only real argument anyone has ever made in favor of public schools is the same one you made, which is, coincidentally the same argument that the home schooling 'nut case' made. That is that public school is not about learning the three 'R's, but a social program.

Honestly, if all that you expect from public schools is to force your child to interact with the kind of people they don't want to be around, then you have already accepted that our public schools are no better than prisons. Of course even in you rationalization, you are incorrect. I don't know what country you live in, but here in the US, I have yet to have, or even hear of a (legal) job where if you decide to quit, someone with much more power than you, will come and drag you back to the job. Last I heard, the police can't arrest you for playing hooky from work.

Re:*GASP* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285739)

No offense, but have you seen how shitty a lot of parents are these days?
And you want them to HOME SCHOOL??

I think Home schooling will stay up there with private school as an option for the elite personally. Poor and uneducated parents will have to stick with the government program, which usually isn't bad unless you're in an urban city anyway.

Re:*GASP* (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286183)

I'm not saying you should send your kids to public schools. Personally, if I was in the US, the very last place I'd have my children "educated" would be public schools. Not only since the "no child left behind" public schools are a leveling field. I "enjoyed" a public education (which isn't as bad here as it is in the US), because my parents thought it would be wrong to separate me from my friends. Looking back, it would have been the right decision to put me in that school for "gifted" kids.

What I say is that homeschooling is not the perfect option. Not only because you're most likely not the best teacher in all the subjects, but also because I've met a few people who enjoyed homeschooling and turned out to be quite egocentrical and not very good team players. Most of them ain't what I'd want as friends.

Re:*GASP* (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286259)

What country is that, as I have not heard of any that ban home schooled kids from socializing with other children?

Re:*GASP* (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285685)

Actually, I have heard otherwise. I have heard from home-schooled adults that there exists programs that unite home-schooled children in a very similar manner, such as home-schooled choirs (some of which who outrank their public or private school ilk). Furthermore, there are many home-schooled children and teenagers that are able to go to top-level schools and participate in many school functions, mostly in a normal manner.

However, the only issue that I have with the home-schooled movement is that many people do it for religious reasons rather than scholastic reasons (please see the following Wikipedia entry on this. [wikipedia.org]), which can lead to other forms of indoctrination (more like prozletyzing) that I do not fully support, even as a Christian believer myself.

Re:*GASP* (1)

jaelle (655155) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286413)

Some of the homeschooling religious parents are just plain appalling, but even while thoroughly indoctrinated, they also generally come out with a good education in the functional aspects of readin' writin' and 'rithmetic. And there's always 'teenage rebellion.'

I have known several religiously homeschooled kids that became quite atheist adults after they got out and started looking around. People can change if they have the basic equipment to start with; something that isn't at all assured in most of our public schools.

And it occurs to me that educational failures on the scale of individual families is much less destructive to society than failures that involve thousands of students simultaneously.

Re:*GASP* (1)

uhlume (597871) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286143)

What your kid would miss out is the contact with other kids, not just their friends but actually finding a way to work together with people they didn't choose but that were "forced" onto them. Much like they'll later encounter in business life.


Sorry. That's an interesting speculation, but as someone who was actually homeschooled K-12, and not just, you know, engaging in uninformed supposition: I call bullshit. I never had any more opportunity than my public school peers to pick and choose who I interacted with, and I had a far greater sphere of social interaction, relative to the narrow sampling of similar-aged children most public school students are limited to dealing with in their daily lives.

Re:*GASP* (2, Interesting)

jaelle (655155) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286273)

The 'socialization' kids get in school is so skewed that it's quite harmful, actually.
Between bullying and nowhere near enough contact with adults, you end up with people who really don't know how to be adults when they get into the real world.

Homeschooling my kids was the best thing I ever did for them, and they remind me of it regularly. They're independent, employed, have many good friends, and are a blast to hang out with now.

Re:*GASP* (1)

DreadfulGrape (398188) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285395)

insert comments on home schooling, or at the very least, teaching your kids how to think

Glad to! We pulled our kids out of public school seven years ago, in part because no sort of critical thinking was being taught. Older one's in college now, younger one will be in 12th grade this fall. Best decision we ever made as parents.

Re:*GASP* (1)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285479)

They say that the Powerwatch guy was the only person with the specialized equipment required.

Hogwash, the BBC has plenty of RF engineers working for them in the engineering department. They invented an obscure device called T-E-L-E-V-I-S-I-O-N back in the 1930s.

Re:*GASP* (1)

kd5ujz (640580) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285567)

They invented an obscure device called T-E-L-E-V-I-S-I-O-N back in the 1930s.


Wrong. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philo_T._Farnsworth [wikipedia.org]

Farnsworth invented wholly *electronic* television (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285973)

I don't think anyone has reliably claimed that the BBC themselves invented television, but if you want to start arguing for Farnsworth as its inventor, then no to that as well. He (arguably) invented the first wholly electronic television system, but others- including perhaps most notably the famous John Logie Baird- had working television systems before that.

Admittedly these were electromechanical disk-based systems, and a wholly electronic TV system was a major innovation worthy of respect- certainly preferable, and it's unsurprising that it was the system that took off. However, there's a difference between the "inventor of television" full stop, and the "inventor of electronic television"; if there's any doubt that Baird was the former (and that's a can of worms), then Farnsworth definitely wasn't.

While the BBC (4, Insightful)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285187)

normally is an icon of good journalism, I see a tendency worldwide that scaremongering for the sake of getting more viewers takes more and more over. Call it how you will but Michael Moore basically brought this excellent into perspective in bowling for columbine.

This scaremongering is one of the causes why people are more concerned over a handful of dead people in the western world per year caused by terrorism than thousands and thousands of people dead caused by traffic. I personally think this scaremongering is a misuse of free speach and the problem is, if a system or right is misused too much in it will end up dead...

Re:While the BBC (4, Insightful)

rlp (11898) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285239)

normally is an icon of good journalism

No, the BBC used to be an icon of good journalism. They've gone downhill dramatically the past few years. What really saddens me, is that the same is true of "The Economist". I was a long time subscriber, but finally gave up about a year ago.

Information was yesterday, today is infotainment (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285369)

People don't want to listen to information. Information is like school, and school was boring, right? People want to be entertained, at best they can be convinced to sit through some spectacular show that gives them a few tidbits of "information" between the explosions and stunts.

I can see it in our TV program. About 20 years ago, we had talk shows (no, not the Springer kind. Talk shows where experts discussed controversal topics. And with discussed I don't mean "support the official opinion and nod heads", but real discussion), we had news that deserved the name (with reporters that did dig deeper, and didn't only bring up dirt but real information), and we had entertainment above the pie-in-the-face level.

Then we got private TV and the quality of our public stations went where the viewers are: Basement level.

Re:While the BBC (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285511)

I too used to believe that the BBC was the Voice of God, but I've been disillusioned. Their straight (that is, nonscience) news seems to be good as ever, but around 1990 their science coverage started to go bad. My first experience of this was when they broadcast a "documentary" on how all human languages are descended from a single mother tongue that can be, and has been, reconstructed. The people interviewed were cranks, with one brief appearance by a mainstream historical linguist. It was just loaded with BS and extremely unbalanced. WGBH in Boston had a contract to rebroadcast such BBC material - when they got hold of this one they realized it was so bad that they almost completely redid it.

Since then, the BBC has done more and more fringe science. It is very sad.

Re:While the BBC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285527)

This scaremongering is one of the causes why people are more concerned over a handful of dead people in the western world per year caused by terrorism than thousands and thousands of people dead caused by traffic.

The real reason: terrorists don't buy ads.
Car manufacturers do.

Can't bite the hand that feeds 'em.

WRH! (2, Insightful)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285607)

Michael Moore? I think you give the man too much credit! What about William Randolph Hearst [wikipedia.org], whose scaremongering successfully helped start a war, and for whom the term "Yellow Journalism" was coined? I agree that it's a significant problem, but it's hardly a new or recent phenomenon. (Though I suppose an argument can be made for a primarily American origin, which makes it sad to see the BBC succumbing.)

Re:While the BBC (1)

ndogg (158021) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285753)

Bowling for Columbine is pretty much the only good documentary Moore has done. It wasn't scaremongering. If anything, it was anti-scaremongering.

Also, anybody who says it was an anti-gun movie has obviously not seen it.

Personally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285195)

...I'd be more concerned if the kids couldn't outthink TV producers. For once, our educational system is doing something!

Good on ya (4, Insightful)

Jayemji (1054886) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285221)

Those kids are alright. They were skeptical of something that was total baloney. Granted, it may have been obvious drivel, but the fact that they spoke up at all indicates that they will at least speak their minds.

Quick!! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285243)

Somebody forward this to Jack Thompson!!! His claim that children cannot differentiate reality and fiction from video games is now null and void!!

Conspiracy gear (2, Funny)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285253)

That hat seems to me like it'd make a nice tinfoil hat alternative.

Re:Conspiracy gear (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285961)

It's both funny and frightening... because that's exactly what he was going for. And here we thought the tinfoil has was just something people referenced as a joke. :(

Astonished and Outraged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285259)

Of course most kids would know or suspect the bullshit here, but they would not get astonished and outraged...only a teacher who wants to have a little media attention would. It's fine to glorify children--they are smart as hell--but this example is a little off. Perhaps, rather than victimizing the children, it would be better to ask, "Why did the BBC do this?"

Should we be pleased (2, Insightful)

DreadfulGrape (398188) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285295)

We should be pleased from the standpoint that these kids could clearly see bullshit for what it is. TV news & documentary producers no longer care about accuracy, so long as they can scare their audience and get them worked up over imagined fears.

Am I the only one? (3, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285317)

Am I the only one who misread that as the "BBC Paranoia team" after reading the headline?

Re:Am I the only one? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285389)

Yes, there can only be One!

Light a new candle in your parents' basement, Soulless Dragon.

Good Work on the Schools Part (3, Insightful)

Dulcise (840718) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285331)

What makes me pleased about reading this article, is that the school protected it's pupils from the producers pseudo-science, and didn't allow them to continue. Hopefully this will mean in the future these children will know to be weary of sensationalist TV shows & films.

I hope all schools are instilling the same sort of thinking (looking for scientific method) in their pupils, it might result to a smarter tomorrow :)

Re:Good Work on the Schools Part (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285749)

They might learn to be wary of them also.

Applicable to the evolution debate... (0, Offtopic)

Etherwalk (681268) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285339)

Kids can think. Furthermore, they're not going to not hear about either Creationism or Evolution merely because the other is taught exclusively in their school. The whole argument of whether we should allow one or the other or both to be taught is based on the premise that kids are remarkably stupid. You can say to a fourteen-year-old "Most scientists believe X, and much of the religious community believes Y," and it's not going to make his head explode.

So yes, kids can out-think television producers, just like they can out-think boards of education. Look up the relevant Mark Twain quote about school boards.

Re:Applicable to the evolution debate... (3, Funny)

VonSkippy (892467) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285391)

"Look up the relevant Mark Twain quote about school boards."

I went to public school - can you look that up for me???

Re:Applicable to the evolution debate... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285579)

The issue is not whether kids should be exposed to Creationism or not, but rather that every effort made by Creationists (and by that I mean IDers as well) has been to intentionally confuse the issue. They misrepresent science for the purposes of religious indoctrination. I mean, would you like kids to read a book by Ernst Zundel without any introduction revealing that his writings do not represent factual history, and that virtually no historian accepts what he says. Critical thinking is about recognizing bullshit, not about confusing bullshit for reay.lit

Re:Applicable to the evolution debate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285627)

As a von Däniken I reject both evolution and creationism.

And yes I did state this believe in high school to my science teacher.

And no I wasn't sent to the principal.

"kids can think" - "science teachers can think" (4, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285403)

Uh, did anybody read the article? I don't find anything in it about the kids detecting the BS. It was the science teacher who realized that the Panorma crew was pulling a scam and threw them out. Kudos to him, but this episode doesn't tell us anything about the ability of the kids to detect nonsense.

A few more details (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285471)

The one point at which the kids are reported to have been outraged was when they looked at his beekeeper (tinfoil) hat, which isn't really the same point. Otherwise, they are reported as having made some valid points (e.g. that they don't get such high levels because they aren't allowed to download files), but they're points of detail that don't necessarily invalidate the whole thing (wifi might be dangerous even if those particular kids aren't in danger - after all, other people do download files). The critical points about the meaninglessness of the thresholds used, the question of what exactly the meter measured, etc. all appear to be due to the science teacher, not the students.

Re:"kids can think" - "science teachers can think" (2, Interesting)

malsdavis (542216) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285719)

The summary really doesn't reflect the story at all. Plus, the article itself takes a few factual statements and then adds a large amount of speculation on the matter also.

Ironic that an extremely misleading program should be examined in an extremely misleading article (not to mention the summary being completely wrong, but we've come to expect that nowadays on Slashdot).

/.'s editorial standards (or the lack thereof) (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19286089)

Yeah - this is third or fouth article I read in a row having an outrageously misleading summary. Worse, they all seemed to be intentionally misleading. Take the summary of this article as an example. If you've even so much as glimpsed at the article, you cannot come up with such a summary without the intent to mislead the audience. This has got to stop, but the only solution I can think of would be to give all the editors the boot and start over with new ones. In the meantime I'll be looking for a Slashdot replacement.

Re:"kids can think" - "science teachers can think" (3, Funny)

lixee (863589) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286525)

Uh, did anybody read the article?
You must be new here.

Emperor, new clothes, etc. (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285415)

Anyone who lisens to the BBC world service is already used to this. Biofuels will cause deforestation and starvation, hydroelectric dams cause the release of greenhouse gases, etc., etc.

Are you being ironic? (2, Insightful)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286045)

Or are you genuinely comparing reportage of the verifiable doubling of corn prices because of US bioethanol policy and resultant riots in Mexico, the verifiable destruction of rainforest to grow palm oil and soy beans for fuel feedstocks [biofuelwatch.org.uk] and the verifiable release of methane from rotting vegetation, submerged below hydroelectric reservoirs with the speculative ramblings of a journo with no statistic evidence that 2.4Ghz spectrum microwave emissions cause anything other than mild localized tissue heating?

Re:Are you being ironic? (0)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286079)

Yeah, well, the wifi thing will probably get "verified" too.

Re:Are you being ironic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19286185)

My laptops wifi card sits almost directly on my balls. I sure hope you're wrong!

Re:Are you being ironic? (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286235)

Well, as I lie here on my bed, TV in front of me (a Hannibel Lecter movie of one sort or another running - pigs are involved), laptop slightly closer and also in front of me, NETGEAR WG511 doing its thing, I sorta feel your worry.

Though, being married, my balls aren't something I have to worry about any more. They're in a jar somewhere around here. Sigh.

Doesn't work? (2, Funny)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285421)

What do you mean doesn't work? I wear mine all the time and I still haven't gotten any excess microwave radiation in my head. Also, no bee stings.

Re:Doesn't work? (2, Funny)

10Neon (932006) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286063)

More people die every year to bee stings than quite a lot of thing people are generally terrified about. Maybe you're onto something!

Big file = more power? (1)

GeeksHaveFeelings (926979) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285441)

They set about downloading the biggest file they could get hold of so the Wi-Fi signal was working as powerfully as possible - and took the peak reading during that, says our noble science teacher.
Wait, so the size of the file downloaded affects what the power output of the Tx now? What kind of science teacher is this, who would confuse power with energy? Neither side knows any better than the other in this one...kids versus media?

Re:Big file = more power? (2, Funny)

bigdavesmith (928732) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285705)

Wait, so the size of the file downloaded affects what the power output of the Tx now?
It's obvious that you do not understand the technology we're talking about here. Let me try to explain:
The Internet is a series of tubes. If you want to send a bigger file, you need a bigger tube or it will get stuck. When you try to download a large file, the wireless access point automatically creates a large tube, which leads right to where you are sitting. I will leave the dangers of this to your imagination.

Re:Big file = more power? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285899)

Presumably to ensure the signal is constantly emitted. I wouldn't test wireless output power with a 2k file for example, I'd try and make it transmit continuously - the only way to do that is with a large file.
Nowhere do I see it implied in the article that file size relates to output power.

wifi is nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285467)

what about all the other shit that isnt limited to the range of a wifi router?

cell phones aside too, what about all the satelite data from directv,xm radio,etc beaming into my head no matter where i go on the planet.

sure i can find an area with no cell phones or wireless, but im still getting hit with XM radio feeds and all those satelite tv channels that i dont want at all either.

Disapointed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285477)

It seems to be the way all these investigative shows go, they run out of decent things to investigate, and chase after stupid things... Not realising that this discredits them so when something worthwhile comes along like say... the strange death of the man who wrote a damning report about the government before it's publication, people will just think it's the same usual paranoia peddling.

The sad thing is... (1)

Imexius (967514) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285491)

The sad thing is that some teachers actually believe this bullshit. For example, Lakehead University's President Fred Gilbert had all wireless internet taken out of the University because he was afraid of the harmful effects of EMF (electric and magnetic fields).

http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/home/News.as p?id=38093&PageMem=1/ [itbusiness.ca]

Re:The sad thing is... (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285563)

That isn't right. First, here's a link that works [itbusiness.ca]. Fred Gilbert (whom I knew, slightly, ten years ago) did not have wifi removed from Lakehead. He merely decided that no further wifi would be installed until the health risks were clarified. This was not a big deal since the university had an extensive wired network. Lakehead had wifi in a few areas not reached by the wired network - he left that wifi alone. His position on the health issues is at the conservative end, but he hasn't drawn any conclusion about the dangers of wifi and explicitly said that in the future he might allow further use of wifi - he just wants a clearer picture of the risks.

mobile phone near to my reproductive organs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285499)

Media & School Kids aside,

If all this EMR is a tall story, then its interesting that business (in Australia) continue to evacuate building when unusually high levels of cancer (usually breast cancer) are detected in offices adjacent to mobile phone tx/rx.

I also wonder why they put up huge fences, and warning signs around transmission towers?

I'm not keeping my mobile phone near to my reproductive organs any longer than necessary.

I wouldn't dismiss the health effects just yet. Give it a generation with high intensity signals and see how we are going.

N

Re:mobile phone near to my reproductive organs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285513)

You raise some good points. Unfortunately, that's all I have time to say, because I left my bear-repelling rock in the other room, and I'm getting more nervous by the minute...

Re:mobile phone near to my reproductive organs (1)

CriminalNerd (882826) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285529)

They put up fences near transmission towers because they emit STRONG levels of radiation. They have to transmit data over large distances, while short-range equipment do not. It is like comparing a flashlight and a high-powered laser being shined in a person's eye.

RF exposure risks... (2, Insightful)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285553)

>I also wonder why they put up huge fences, and warning signs around transmission towers?

So people won't climb them and fall off, or steal the copper ground wires. Lawyers are much more dangerous than the electromagnetic radiation from those towers.

>I'm not keeping my mobile phone near to my reproductive organs any longer than necessary.

It's probably your brain you want to watch out for...it doesn't transmit when it's on your belt (only for 5 seconds every 10 minutes). It's full on when you're holding it up to your ear.

>I wouldn't dismiss the health effects just yet. Give it a generation with high intensity signals and see how we are going.

I agree with you there.

Re:RF exposure risks... (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285981)

Your cell phone is max. 2W, even if it malfunctions it can't give more than say 5W before the batteries asplode or a fuse trips. WiFi is in the mW ranges. That's near to nothing, it can hardly warm up your skin, let alone give a significant difference in temperature for your organs (as in cooking or killing tissue). However, microwaves at 700-1500W heat your food and it's not advisable to put your reproductive organs or babies/puppies in a microwave oven since, yeah, it's designed to do that. Radio towers are kW-MW range. Radar installations for example have/had tenths of dead birds in front of them and both of those installations have to be turned off or at least down before being serviced. The power level is significantly different, that's also why there is a big difference in security for those type of installations.

Cell phones transmit more often if I'm correct, but it's again in the mW range, not the full power. And even while you're calling, the cell phone doesn't transmit at it's full power (2W), only the power that is necessary to maintain the connection (at least the modern ones do, the old ones that were the size and weight of a small brick (used to have one) were blazing their power all over the place.

Re:mobile phone near to my reproductive organs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285671)

Years ago my mother, a nurse, said "watch what happens the next 10 years, I am worried that there may be a cancer epidemic" and she was referring to the explosion in cellular device usage and its effects on people's health - of course the point being we do need to "wait and see".

Whats funny is, for the past 3 years i completely forgot about her comment, until now. Cancer is wiping us out like never before, I am constantly hearing stories of people I know, or know 2nd hand, being taken by cancer, at very young ages. The Canadian Cancer Society quotes in their latest stats that 1 in 4 will contract some form of cancer in their lifetime, 50% of those people will die from it, and the incidents of cancer in younger individuals (below 40) is increasing.

Thinking back to my mother's comments now, in line with my own suspicions from day one regarding these "magic" devices that allow us to stay connected anywhere, I would not be the least bit surprised if payback time has already begun.

As one small side-note, for some strange reason the only place I have gray hair, and thinning hair, is where i have been holding my cell phone to my ear for the past 7 years. Does that not seem like one hell of a coincidence to you?

Shoot this down all you want, there may very well be something to this cellular and wi-fi fear, and it is too soon to dismiss this fear.

Idealize Children (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285565)

It's a nice change to see a news article about children being intelligent and using critical thinking skills. I am only sorry that this is considered news.

Scientology & BBC Panorama (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19285571)

Am I the only one that thinks smells of Scientology's recent crusade to slander the BBC, after Panorama did a show about the cult?

*sigh* (3, Interesting)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285691)

This is the same BBC Panorama that sent one poor bastard out alone to do a report on Scientology. Maybe it's the same person, and they made him crack.

Bad science but can we discuus? (1)

JavaManJim (946878) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285769)

The "light" spectrum or energy spectrum is vast. Starting at the upper end with Gamma rays (10^-11 meters) on down to radio waves (10^-1 meters).

So if some people want to make their homes free of intruding energy waves, that's their thing and maybe we can learn something.

The above is not an easy task for two reasons. First energy spectrum our society produces. We are quite dependent now and getting more so on these. From cell phones to RIFD to WWV time updates to plain old electric power (ever stuck a tubular fluorescent bulb under a large multi KW power line? Lights up quite well). Second the energy spectrum of nature. We need some of the sunlight spectrum. So how to filter undesired spectra? That would be perhaps UV, gamma rays, or cosmic rays? Each spectra involves different strategy to avoid. The beekeeper microwave hat was an example. Sure protect your brain but leave the rest of your DNA to bake a little bit.

Wait a minute, the above might seem more a bit ridiculous. What would a picture of a planet of energy wave avoiders look like? Should we instead emulate the energy spectrum exposure that our paleolithic ancestors adapted to? Or should we emulate the energy spectrum exposure of long lived peoples like the Okinawans?

Taking my tin foil hat off now, have a great weekend everyone,
Jim

   

Re:Bad science but can we discuus? (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286333)

You, yourself, are a source of EM radiation. Lookup "black-body radiation". What are you going to do? Freeze yourself in liquid helium?

The Beeb used to fill me with British pride (4, Insightful)

21st Century Peon (812997) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285771)

While I still think that the TV Licence is a great way to pay for my TV, and can often produce splendid telly (Life In The Undergrowth, The Day Today, Doctor Who, What The Victorians Did For Us to name but a few), the dragging down of the once-great Corporation to the level of the lowest commercial channels (yes, Reality TV - I'm also talking about you) brings a mournful tear to my eye.

Britain used to make really good documentary shows, too - Dispatches, anyone? Q.E.D.? Channel 4's Equinox, I seem to recall, could also be counted on for a refreshing brain-jiggle. You wouldn't catch 'em making anything like that anymore, of course - not when there's slaggy morons to build into role models.

And if they produce a "Deal Or No Deal"-aping enormobrowed-yahoos-receive-unearned-prizes celebration of dimwittedness, I'm fairly certain my head will explode. (Man Alive, I sound old.)

Re:The Beeb used to fill me with British pride (1)

mrsmiggs (1013037) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286429)

Channel4 still make dispatches and it is still very good but the BBC are ripping the heart and soul out of their factual content. Horizon has lost it scientific rigor to the extent that the cover anti-ageing products and seem to include a great deal of phoney science. Panorama is a scaremongering issue skimming shell of what it was since it moved to a 'Prime time' slot. And every show they commission for BBC1 and 2 about natural history and space exploration as characters and a plot, half the time I expect them the next show to be a remake of Dinosaurs [wikipedia.org] and just be done with it. You can still find some good stuff on BBC4 but the viewing figures are lower than the BBC1 and 2 flagship series ever were. Patrick Moore recently blamed women in middle management at the various UK channels for the banality of television, and he's right of course but it doesn't matter they're women they just insist on winning the ratings war forgetting of course that they are a public broadcaster and should the Dinosaur themed soaps to Five and the scaremongering to ITV.

For a website called bad science... (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 6 years ago | (#19285947)

There's some bad science on right there. They effectively say radio waves are the same kind of radiation as light. Whilst this is true (being on the electromagnetic spectrum) his use implies that it has similar effects. Not even even all types of light are without risks (UV for example) let alone things far apart on the scale. Gamma radiation is also on the scale, I doubt he'd suggest that's harmless.

low level microwave exposure is thought to be (mostly) harmless but it's not known 100% and large level exposure is known to have bad effects. Even if there's a 1% chance that longterm exposure could have some effect we don't know about, then it's well worth having studies done. You can dismiss things you think you already know about and be safe most of the time but very occasionally something unexpected happens and these can affect huge numbers of people.

Oh and BBC stuff is copyrighted, posting the entire episode hardly counts as fair usage.

No more dons in the Beeb? (1)

ishmalius (153450) | more than 6 years ago | (#19286035)

I was under the impression that all BBC employees were Oxford profs, who compose poetry during tea, and stand atop mountains to sing opera.
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