Edmonton Journal grants space to debunked anti-WiFi conspiracies

Some parents in Alberta are trying to get schools to ban wi-fi on baseless fears and scare-mongering. The kicker: these same parents are fine with wifi in their house. 

It’s not so much the parents who bother me in this story as the Canadian Teachers Federation, the local school councils, and particularlu the Edmonton Journal who all give far greater space to these conspiracy theories than to sound science and expertise.

Continue reading Edmonton Journal grants space to debunked anti-WiFi conspiracies

I get email – Human rights and Climate change

Recently, I wrote about a ruling against APEGA, Alberta’s professional association for engineers, by the province’s Human Rights Tribunal.

Low and behold, the defendant in the case, Ladislav Mihaly, emailed me with a follow up request for help. Continue reading I get email – Human rights and Climate change

Troofer is no Gandhi

I subscribe to a lot of blogs and news feeds and read a lot in a day.

Out of all of these words that cross my eyes, some are worth sharing, and appear on my Google+ or Facebook streams. Some annoy me a bit more and I feel like writing about them. Sometimes I have the time and wit to feel like I can contribute, other times it sits as an open tab on my desktop for a week until it embarrasses me by not being written, and I close it.

And then there are the stories that I almost want to avoid because I don’t really want to add any voice to their absurdity. It’s a fine line between my need to spout opinions about these topics and my desire to see them go away. Some claims need to be addressed and dissected, others are barely deserving of ridicule.

I still can’t decide where this story fits, because it has several angles that are both intriguing and worthy of that derision.

A week ago Dick Cheney came to Vancouver to a backdrop of protesters and NDP MPs calling for the federal government to arrest him as a war criminal. The protests seem to go over well, with only one significant clash between the protesters and police who ensured the security of the event.

On the one hand, I strongly agree with the protesters. There is strong evidence that Cheney knowingly ordered American soldiers to torture Iraqis. While I don’t believe we should silence those who disagree with us, I would argue that our federal government at least ought to be consistent – considering it banned controversial British MP George Galloway from entering Canada in 2009 for his support of Palestine.

On the other hand, I am reticent to associate with some of these protesters

Pearson [charged with assaulting a police officer at the protest] is a founding member of the Vancouver 9/11 Truth Society, an organization that questions the U.S. government’s official version of the events of September 11, 2001.

Pearson even dropped by the Georgia Straight yesterday, who was more than happy to give him more space for his story

Pressed if he ever has been accused of being a government provocateur or agent himself, Pearson responded: “I’m a little too radical for most people to think that way, I think. One thing I will emphasize is that I’m an activist, not a pacifist. You might want to write that down.”

Asked what that means, Pearson replied: “Exactly. What does that mean? I’m an activist. I’m not a pacifist. I’m not Gandhi. No. When somebody assaults me, I will stand up. I won’t just turn my cheek and take the other slap. That’s the difference. A pacifist would just take the slap. I won’t.”

A little part of me just wants to point and laugh at Pearson, the rebel with a broken cause. Ridiculing him as a way to discredit his faulty conspiracy theory. The best line I see in that quote is that the Straight actually quoted him saying “You might want to write that down.”

But it’s hard for me to disagree with Pearson’s protest here. Cheney is evil (remember, Cheney shot a man) and has faced no consequences for his actions.

Although, unlike Pearson, I see no evidence that Cheney ordered the Twin Towers destroyed through some extravagant cover-up.

Conspiracy nut in the Senate

The NDP has been running an attack on the large paycheques and bonuses going to the unelected (which is all of them) senators of Canada. Their latest feature is Liberal senator Joseph Day.

Canadians can sleep soundly this holiday season knowing that Liberal Senator Joseph Day is hard at work making sure that federal legislation reflects the interests of oft-forgotten constituents … constituents like our nation’s conspiracy theorists.

For the past 178 days, legislation intended to protect consumers from dangerous products – legislation adopted by elected MPs in the House of Commons — has been held up by unelected Senators.

In committee hearings on the bill, Senators were told by one witness to ignore the campaign against the bill by the Canadian Coalition for Health Freedom. Prominent environmentalist Rick Smith cited the group’s website as arguing “that 9/11 was caused not by terrorists but by a global conspiracy run by David Rockefeller” and that “a global conspiracy” is responsible for the H1N1 virus. (Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, 29 October 2009)

Amazingly, Liberal Senator Day, the lead critic of the bill, rushed to the defence of the conspiracy theorists: “I think it’s incumbent upon us now, since they’ve been described as loony people, to have an opportunity to be here and to represent themselves."

It’s good to hear that Rick Smith is standing up for some sanity in the house of “sober second thought,” but it is concerning that Day feels that “loony people” deserve to have the ear of the government.

You can check out the CCHFs website, and note lines like “Federal Regulatory Harassment is Destroying Canada,” and their mission statement, which speaks for itself:

  1. To ensure that all sovereign spiritual human beings have the inherent sovereign right of informed freedom of choice when considering their personal health care options and in pursuing their livelihood in the profession and small family enterprises of their choice whether incorporated or not.
  2. To educate and inform all sovereign spiritual human beings and sole and aggregate corporations about the simple truth that the majority of modern day, chronic diseases can be prevented, treated and/or even cured by each human being making informed, healthy choices.
  3. To advocate for the appropriate regulatory environment by new legislation in order to harmonize with the 1994 US Dietary Supplements Health Education Act [DSHEA] and to ensure that our safe, effective, low risk dietary food supplements are not regulated as drugs and/or as a drug subclass.
  4. To act as an umbrella coalition organization in order unite all concerned privately owned small and medium family owned manufacturers, distributors, retailers, practitioners, consumers and their respective organizations into a single focused voice to protect our interests against Big Government and Big Business and their allies in “STATISM”.
  5. To advocate for the necessary legislative, regulatory and policy changes to create a truly level free market enterprise marketplace that nurtures and supports small and medium family owned enterprises.
  6. To advocate for all qualified non-allopathic health professionals in order to ensure that they have the inherent right to practice medicine without censorship, prejudice and / or interference from allopathic medical practitioners and/or their colleagues, regulatory bodies and/or the government and / or others and that non-allopathic health practitioners have the same rights and privileges as allopathic health care professionals.
  7. To advocate for the consumers’ rights of informed freedom of choice in health care and equal treatment under all legislation, regulations, policies including taxation, health coverage and the provision of all publicly funded health services.

The NDP calculates that Day is costing Canadians over $400,000 per year.

I’ve incited the Defenders of the Truth(tm) part 2

Any time you attack a conspiracy, the Defenders of the TruthTM always seem to crawl from the woodwork to smack you down with further gibberish and then scream of censorship.

So let’s look at MAnderson and AAW’s comments on my post “Wind Concerns Ontario, and the sun doesn’t?


Funny you should mention Wikipedia. Is this your master source of information you turn to in order to give validity to a subject?

My goodness. Give your head a shake. This is Wikipedia we’re talking about!

There has been a long standing battle with Wiki to get a balanced view on the subject. They immediately delete anything that offends their paridigm. [sic] One moderator even said “But this might hurt the wind industry” as his basis for removing the information. They are blinded by ideology (much like yourself) and refuse to allow anything to do with WTS on their site.

When the words “paradigm,” “blinded by ideology” and un-sourced quotes (remember, Wikipedia talk pages maintain most debates on the issues) are trotted out, you likely have one of two options:

A. Wikipedia is clearly biased against the TruthTM and won’t accept their articles without scholarly sources.
B. They have no scientific backing and are therefore not notable enough to even be worth mentioning.

Perhaps they might be able to get an article over at Conservapedia (which just so unfortunately is having server issues right now).

Why did I go first to Wikipedia? Maybe because while their information isn’t always the most thorough, it is generally unbiased, and a relatively high quality of encyclopedia (as good as real encyclopedias). Suffice it to say, if you’re not in Wikipedia, you’re not that important.

You didn’t mention the survey led by Dr. McMurtry, former Dean of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario. You didn’t mention the work done by Dr’s in the UK, Australia and the US. You didn’t mention that reports of these same symptoms are being reported by hundreds of people in Australia, Japan and the US. No, you chose to do what most who are confronted with this information do, attack Dr. Pierpont personally.

Of course I didn’t mention those studies! I don’t have the references to all your random articles. They aren’t listed by Ms. Pierpont on her website, and they aren’t linked to anywhere on your own WCO website. Who’s suppressing information now?

As far as I can tell from a quick Google Scholar search, shows only Ms. Pierpont showing up for “wind turbine syndrome,” a clear call that her views aren’t even narrowly accepted. You can find a pdf of a draft of her book this way though.

Unfortunately, I can’t find Dr. McMurtry’s paper (note: the survey link that’s buried on WCO’s website takes you to this 404 page), perhaps you could enlighten me with a real reference, as well as some others so I may be as privileged to the TruthTM as you are.

After my spam filter ate most of MAnderson’s posts (which I recovered after awakening this morning), he flipped out and posted this friendly response:

Censoring my information, are you? I’m no longer allowed to post here? Obviously your need to be “right” outweighs your compassion to people.

Yep, I’m officially as evil as Wikipedia. Don’t disagree with my obscure science/atheism/political blog or I’ll delete your comment! I get all of a few dozen readers and I’ll be damned before they see a competing view.

Or maybe you just overposted or something, I don’t know what happened, my SpamKarma plugin ate them, and I made it spit them out. I’ve left worse comments online then yours MAnderson.

Then my favourite comment from AAW:

Bat Lungs are Exploding because of Wind Turbines…..do you think bats do this intentionally to create alarm to the NIMBY’ist position? Get real.

No link, no mention of a study, just a bunch of capitalized words that resemble a sentence. I have to assume it’s in reference to this University of Calgary study, which proposes the following explanation (which have no relation to claims of “infrasound” or noise levels) and solutions:

The movement of wind-turbine blades creates a vortex of lower air pressure around the blade tips similar to the vortex at the tip of aeroplane wings. Others have suggested that this could be lethal to bats, but until now no-one had carried out necropsies to verify the theory.

One solution could be to increase the minimum wind speed needed to set the blades in motion. Most bats are more active in low wind.

So remember my conclusion?

Some sceptics admit it’s likely if the low frequency noise disrupts your sleep there’s some cause for concern, but agree that it shouldn’t be that hard to just limit turbines to a radius of a few kilometres from residences.

Move wind turbines and people apart and no problem. WCO seems to find the only justifiable response to be to ban all wind turbines (of course they offer no mission statement on their website, and just vague attacks on “industrial wind power”). Now that’s reasonable.

So what does a real scientific paper have to say about wind turbine’s and health?

Abstract from: E. Pedersen et. al., “Response to noise from modern wind farms in The Netherlands,” J. Accoust. Soc. Am. 126 (2) pp. 634-643, August 2009.

The increasing number and size of wind farms call for more data on human response to wind turbine noise, so that a generalized dose-response relationship can be modeled and possible adverse health effects avoided. This paper reports the results of a 2007 field study in The Netherlands with 725 respondents. A dose-response relationship between calculated A-weighted sound pressure levels and reported perception and annoyance was found. Wind turbine noise was more annoying than transportation noise or industrial noise at comparable levels, possibly due to specific sound properties such as a “swishing” quality, temporal variability, and lack of nighttime abatement. High turbine visibility enhances negative response, and having wind turbines visible from the dwelling significantly increased the risk of annoyance. Annoyance was strongly correlated with a negative attitude toward the visual impact of wind turbines on the landscape. The study further demonstrates that people who benefit economically from wind turbines have a significantly decreased risk of annoyance, despite exposure to similar sound levels. Response to wind turbine noise was similar to that found in Sweden so the dose-response relationship should be generalizable.

Even from just the abstract, we see a lot of the annoyance is a psychological result of NIMBYism. If you don’t like wind turbines, they’re likely to bother you more and you’re likely to get more sick when you’re stressed.

I wonder if the first people to live near airports or roads got as annoyed and as sick. What if in 30 years when there’s wind turbines everywhere no one cares anymore?

Finally, this is for MAnderson:

I’ve incited the Defenders of the Truth(tm) part 1

In response to my post on H1N1 anti-vaxxers in Vancouver, I received the following email:

Hello Ian,

I just finished reading your piece re. Vancouver and “conspiracy theorists” which  put forth several flawed assumptions:

1- No one “crashed” the Kevin Annette event. Kevin Annette actually addressed the very  issue of the N1H1 flu and its relevance to indigenous populations at a downtown rally only a short while before he spoke at the VPL. Furthermore, he INVITED the audience to come hear him at the library where he said he would also address the issue of how smallpox was deliberately spread to such populations historically.

2- Infering that those who organized the rally are tied to/influenced by www.legitgov.org  has no basis. That same flyer cited The Center for Disease and Research Policy, The World Health Organization, The Times of India, The Telegraph and a number of other sources in the quotes included. Furthermore, the citation by legitgov.org re. vaccine manufacturers being exempt from liability in the event of vaccine induced damages has been alluded to by scientists like Professor Emeritus of Genetics, Joe Cummins of The University of Western Ontario, Dr. Tom Jefferson, European epidemiologist etc. Citing a source does not infer you are tied to that source… Our group is made up of individuals of diverse backgrounds and areas of expertize including teaching, nursing, science and research who’ve come together out of concerns re. the lack of transparency and questioning re. H1N1 and its fast tracked vaccine.

3-Re. the “crazies” on the flyer. No one in Vancouver wrote the words from The Project of the New American Century re. “targeting specific genotypes”, nor did anyone locally write; it’s “not determined if the virus was a natural mutation or bio-engineered. Many fear the latter.” That came from the Pentagon’s ‘Air Force 2025’ written in 1996. Nor did anyone locally create the image ‘Epidemics Made to Order’ which was taken from ‘Science Digest’, April 1951. No one in Vancouver forced Washington DC medical director of the DCHHS to say “This strain of swine flu influenza that’s been cultured in a lab..” HE made that comment, not us. And Neurosurgeon and MD, Dr. Russell Blaylock gave his article that “omminus” title not us. As for him quoting the well respected journal Virology re. the strange origins of the 2009 N1H1, other respected scientists have rightly questioned the origins of the latest human-avian-swine concoction, too. The flyer was simply a compilation of a few of many quotes “from the horse’s mouth.”

Lastly, as one of a number of individuals who attended Kevin’s talk re. residential schools after leaving the Art Gallery, I find your accusation and, once again, assumption that those who came “craftily” only did so re. the swine flu absurd and insulting. I personally know individuals who raised questions at the VPL (at the Art Gallery) only one or two of whom alluded to the H1N1. These people have known Kevin for years and respected his work re. exposing the crimes committed by residential schools … Once again, it was Kevin who spoke to the implications of H1N1 re. indigenous grops at the rally, and invited people to hear him at the VPL comment further re. smallpox etc.

Your comments are way off base,

Alright, regarding point 1, I did not have access to the knowledge that the anti-vaxxers were invited by the host. So it wasn’t so much as a lecture that was “crashed” as one where everyone but the hosts (CFI-Vancouver) had drank the anti-vax Kool-Aid.

Point 2: The reason I linked them to legitgov.org is because that’s where the exact flier they handed out came from. It’s not a matter of citation, it’s a matter of handing out some wacky fringe groups propaganda. If I handed out Conservative Party fliers, but said it was merely about the information on them, I’d still be a Tory hack.

I’m really not sure what point 3 is trying to get across, but if you hand out information from someone who says wildly outlandish things, I can thereby accuse you of the same.

Now he makes another point (this one isn’t numbered), where he feels like my comments were “absurd and insulting,” which, ironically, is how I feel about people who fear-monger about vaccines which are there to increase herd immunity to the masses. The residents of the Lower Eastside and aboriginal reserves are likely at a higher risk of exposure to H1N1 due to unsanitary conditions, and therefore the government feels that vaccinating them could save lives and prevent further spread of the disease.

I’m not going to concede being off base, because frankly, a flier from some conspiracy site isn’t going to convince me that your conspiracies are anything but just that.

And as for Kevin Annette, who was asked by CFI to speak on the topic of residential schools, I’ll hold him at fault for hijacking our meeting and taking it into quackery.

While he may have done some good work with the victims of those atrocities, it doesn’t make him immune from irrationality.

Vancouver – Canada’s conspiracy breeding grounds?

Before I let the rest of Canada in on the next upcoming big conspiracy theory (since 9/11 and MMR vaccines), didI ever find a deal for anyone with $17 extra dollars in their pocket on October 16. Live at the Kitsilano Community Centre:

UFO Presentation & Discussion
Based on government documents released through the freedom of information act, Internet readings and You Tube videos, this course covers current ufology, the history going back to Roswell, and the secrecy suppressing this advanced technology which could help us and our environment.
Instructor: Brian Ruhe
45580.401KT $17/1 sess
Fri Oct 16 7:00pm-9:30pm

Anyone else feel like launching weather balloons in the park next to the hall after their session?

An article from NowPublic.com has been reprinted with sections highlighted and distributed around Vancouver. The article is omminously titled “Vaccine May Be More Dangerous Than Swine Flu.”

It makes such bold claims as:

This virus continues to be an enigma for virologists. In the April 30, 2009 issue of Nature, a virologist was quoted as saying,”Where the hell it got all these genes from we don’t know.” Extensive analysis of the virus found that it contained the original 1918 H1N1 flu virus, the avian flu virus (bird flu), and two new H3N2 virus genes from Eurasia. Debate continues over the possibility that swine flu is a genetically engineered virus.

While no, I’m not a microbiologist, I would be willing to bet that ALL flu viruses contain similar stands of DNA, seeing how they are all very related evolutionarily.

The group that presented this conspiracy crashed the CFI Vancouver talk last night on Genocide in Residential Schools. They were crafty to frame their concerns as suggesting that natives and residents of Vancouver’s poor Lower East Side will be among the first “test” subjects to receive this vaccines (allegedly in October, a month ahead of the “official” release).

Here’s the actual leaflet of condensed crazy that they were handing out.

One of the theorists accused a local CFI Organizer of being a member of the Illuminati.

This all looks like its tied to a group called “Citizens for Legitimate Government” whose website is orders beyond Time Cube (just try to read that website), but still calls 9/11 a coverup and talks about the “New World Order.”

So there you have it. H1N1 (Swine Flu) and the associated vaccine is the next conspiracy to make it out of the gates.