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Posts Tagged ‘fear mongering’

New Agora Uncovers Terrible Link Between Autism and Vanishing Bees!

Posted by Ethan Clow on May 7, 2012

The other day I was at a nice indy coffee shop and I picked up the latest edition of “The New Agora” It’s one of those hip, free, indy, newspapers that circulate around Vancouver offering the news that those fatcats in the mainstream press don’t want you to know.

The website for the paper has much to say in the About section, for example:

” All of us here working with The New Agora intend to live up to the responsibilities inherent in the work of truth tellers and truth showers.  Our hearts are demanding that we offer a larger perspective on what’s happening in the world, unbiased yet participant, balanced and personal, true and loving.

Truth must be told.  Some stories need to see the light of day.  Long ago the printed page served just such a purpose.  In this day of mass media controlled awareness it remains a potentially vital however rarified outlet for the voice of the People to be heard.

<snip>

…Cooperation is the antidote to the disease called ‘Corporation’ currently afflicting humanity with its paradigm of homicidal selfishness.”

Anyway, I have nothing against the leftist mentality described here. It’s the counter balance to the fear mongering far right and I’m sure they offer some interesting perspectives on social issues. Where I do take issue is with their rather shabby reporting on science and or skeptical issues.

The headlines that dotted the cover of the May issue of The New Agora included such gems as:

“Intelligent Energy”

“Cancer Free Life”

“Empowered Children of the Future” and “Dissolving the Matrix”.

I know, I went “What? What? What? and What??” too.

Reading through some of the articles I found myself face palming so much that I was in danger of causing severe nose and forehead cave-in-itus.

Some of the most demonstrable health fear mongering came from a contributor named Ethan Huff, this fellow Ethan however has some rather choice words for mainstream news. In one article he wrote about gardening he writes:

“Modern industrial agriculture is a disastrous failure, as it defies practically every natural law related to food cultivation…”

At least we can appreciate the hyperbole but then I saw his next article entitled “Vaccination Theory Crumbles”

Sigh.

So flipping to a different page we find this gem “Radiation Warnings you Won’t Get From Mainstream Media” (it was also typed in bold red letters in case it wasn’t scary enough) But at least this is an accurate title. You won’t get these radiation warnings from mainstream media, well maybe Fox News…

So as I was reading this article, in which they attest that radiation levels of seaweed on the west coast of Canada were contaminated with Cesium, a radioactive material. It also alleges that Canada and the US are buying radioactive seafood from Japan (for some reason) and goes on to say water samples on the west coast all show signs of unsafe radiation. In fact the article also urges readers (IN ALL CAPS) to “question the origin of ALL seafood. ” and that “rainfall and snowfall are all radiated.” As well as to not drink water from the tap as “your faucet has NOT been treated to rid it of radioactive particles.”

If that hasn’t got you sufficiently terrorized, wait to you see the next big headline:

“Autism and Disappearing Bees: A Common Denominator?”

That’s what it really said, I didn’t make that up.

The paper then takes a turn from ludicrously bad science reporting to vaguely transphobic pseudo science with an article “Are Boys Turning in to Girls Because of Man Made Chemicals?” by someone called only “Dak” Here’s a quote:

“Recently we are seeing accelerated puberty in young girls, an alarming increase in the men with extremely low sperm counts and transgender phenomenon growing at alarming pace.”

So I could go but obviously we all have better things to do with our time than wade through this garbage. But as an example of the kind of pseudo-science that exists out there for the conspiracy driven, leftist movements, this really shows that we often bemoan the crazy on the far right, but there’s just as much crazy on the far left too.

Posted in Blogs, Ethan's Blogs | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

[Funny WHO pun about Cell Phones and Cancer]

Posted by Ethan Clow on June 8, 2011

Recently the World Health Organization released a statement regarding cell phones and possible connection to cancer. Almost immediately newspapers and media took this release and ran headlines saying “World Health Organizations say cell phones linked to cancer”

What’s really going on here?

First, it’s important to know that the World Health Organization didn’t release a study or any research. They issued a press release – an actual report is scheduled to appear in The Lancet on July 1st. That’s right, their research, which no one has actually seen, remains…well, unseen. Instead, media and newspapers are reporting on press release, which in of itself isn’t too odd, rather, I have to wonder exactly why scientists at the W.H.O. thought it would be a good idea to release a press release on scientific findings that are not available to the public or other scientists.

It’s also important to understand exactly what the W.H.O. have said here.  To quote them, they have classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

To quote them again:

The Working Group [the scientists doing the research] discussed and evaluated the available literature on the following exposure categories involving radiofrequency electromagnetic fields:

-occupational exposures to radar and to microwaves;

-environmental exposures associated with transmission of signals for radio, television and wireless telecommunication; and

-personal exposures associated with the use of wireless telephones.

According to their results, they classified the evidence for the possibility that cell phone use could cause glioma and acoustic neuroma as limited, further, they classified the evidence that cell phone use could cause other types of cancer as inadequate.

As a result of this, the working group moved cell phones into a new classification. These levels of classification are:

Group 1 Carcinogenic to humans

Group 2A Probably carcinogenic to humans

Group 2B Possibly carcinogenic to humans

Group 3 Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans

Group 4 Probably not carcinogenic to humans

Cell phones were placed into Group 2B Possibly carcinogenic to humans.

There’s a number of major problems when trying to research the relation between cell phones and cancer. One of the first being that there is no plausible mechanism for which using a cell phone could cause cancer. Basically, a cell phone emits to low amount of energy to mutate strands of DNA which would cause cancer. And since cell phones don’t contain any cancer causing carcinogens like asbestos or something, there really isn’t a mechanism that would cause the cancer.

In addition to that, we do have some rather interesting points of data to consider. There are currently over 5 billion cell phones in use right now and yet cancer rates have not increased in proportion to this figure. Now, this factoid alone isn’t science, but at the very least, people arguing that cell phones cause cancer need to find some way to address this discrepancy.

We should also consider the INTERPHONE study, whose results were reported last year, showed no evidence of a link between cell phone use and glioblastoma or meningioma. Of course, the study is now generally thought to be inadequate, for reasons laid out here.  Nevertheless, the study; which involved 13 countries looking for any sort of link between cell phones and two types of brain cancer, glioblastoma and meningioma, and had a case control study including 2,708 glioma patients and 2,409 meningioma patients, along with matched controls; does at least provide some evidence in the realm of proof of concept, or rather, a lack of proof of concept; since the study failed to show a credible connection between cell phone use and cancer.

Another interesting study that was quite recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the researchers looked at where brain cancer was forming in relation to the cell phone. The idea being that if cell phone radiation was causing cancer, the tumours would form in an area of the brain close to the source of the radiation. They based this hypotheses on the observed fact that that cell phone energy absorbed from the radio field created by cell phones depends strongly on the distance from the source.

Since the available evidence seems to indicate that it is virtually physically impossible for cell phones to cause brain cancer, now, that doesn’t mean it could never happen, but to say that it could, one would require significant evidence to essentially overturn some very established theories in physics and biology.

According to Orac, the medical blogger at Respectful Insolence, at worst cell phones are either Group 3 (Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans ) or Group 4 (Probably not carcinogenic to humans) , not Group 2B.

We are left again to ponder the bad choices of World Health Organization. My biggest concern is a matter of credibility. Because of the authority and influence the W.H.O has, one would think they would use a very strict policy to determine what they say to the media, especially about a contentious issue like cell phones and cancer. If the W.H.O stir up a controversy, which turns out to be a bust, they come across as alarmists and worse, even pandering to the evil drug companies that in turn get to sell expensive treatments. If the W.H.O don’t address concerns like this, they get accused of being in the pocket of big business like cell phone companies. This places them in a predicament that I can’t imagine they like being in.

Another concern for me is the potential for a misuse of policy because of such a pronouncement by the W.H.O.  And that may be what we get. The Ontario New Democratic Party, is now pushing for warning labels on cell phones after the press release from the World Health Organization.

NDP health critic France Gelinas has gone on to say that children should not use cell phones at all. Gelinas has pushed for such labels in the past but has renewed her efforts recently. Now best case scenario, Gelinas is just misinformed and this will be a minor embarrassment once the science is explained to her. Worst case scenario is Gelinas is in the camp that scary words like radiation are scary and must be stopped. I don’t want to lump her in with those who say wi-fi will kill you or that power lines cause cancer, but it does make me worry that such policy could act as a slippery slope for more fear mongering about scary sounding words.

Hopefully, that won’t be the case.

Posted in Blogs, Ethan's Blogs | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

 
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