Junk science

Clickbaiting Misinformation: Your Wifi Will Kill You—NOT

Top story at Drudge is CBS article promoting discredited activist claims about electromagnetic hypersensitivity.



The New York CBS affiliate is running a story about a woman who hooked up wifi in her apartment and began to have headaches, body flushing, and "brain fog." The story is unfortunately at the top of the Drudge Report today.

The first questions might be why did she wait until 2015 to set up wifi and why has she never apparently experienced symptoms while sipping lattes at Starbucks? But never mind. In any case, the CBS report goes on to cite electromagnetic hypersensivity "researcher" David Carpenter. From CBS:

Dr. David Carpenter, an Environmental Scientist and expert on wi-fi's effects said the scientific link between wi-fi and health is clearly emerging.

"There is a body of evidence that is strong. it's not 100 percent understood, but it's strong evidence that this is a real syndrome that causes real harm to real people," he said.

Dr. Carpenter said it's a significant problem for about 5 percent of the population, many of them have no idea that wi-fi is to blame.

"They walk around feeling ill and they don't know what to do about it," he said.

Other doctors counter that the evidence connecting wi-fi to illness just isn't there.

"It's a psychological phenomenon," neuropsychologist Dr. William Barr said.

Dr. Barr said some people may have symptoms, but what causes them is something else altogether. He said the power of suggestion may play a role.

Power of suggestion? Well, yes. For example, this 2013 study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research reports the amusing results of an experiment in which 150 subjects listened to a TV story about the adverse health effects of wifi. The researchers then "exposed" the subjects to a sham wifi signal for 15 minutes.  More than half the subjects then reported symptoms that they attributed to the sham exposure. The higher participants scored on a psychological anxiety scale, the more likely they were to report symptoms. The researchers conclude:

Media reports about the adverse effects of supposedly hazardous substances can increase the likelihood of experiencing symptoms following sham exposure and developing an apparent sensitivity to it. Greater engagement between journalists and scientists is required to counter these negative effects.

Thanks a lot Drudge and CBS! Shame on you for scaremongering for clicks!

By the way, it's trivially easy to find non-activist information. For example, based on a review of the scientific literature, the World Health Organization states:

Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.

No convincing evidence.

NEXT: Is Bernie Sanders the 2016 Ron Paul? He Can't Win Either, Media Points Out

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I saw this one in Season 7. If you don’t click on the wifi network with the weird alien characters, you’ll be just fine.

    1. But that’s one doesn’t have a password and has the strongest signal…


    2. You know what else kills you? Greaseless bearings

  2. No convincing evidence.

    If 97% of scientists agreed the phenomenon is real…would you stand by this statement?

    /reviews survey results from Dr Carpenter and his four friends

    1. Well 97% is much more convincing than 8%!

  3. “Have you ever considered that you’re just fucking nuts?”

  4. More than half the subjects then reported symptoms that they attributed to the sham exposure. The higher participants scored on a psychological anxiety scale, the more likely they were to report symptoms.

    Whelp, that clearly explains the behaviors of college students, SJWs, progressives, and the state of society these days.

  5. I saw this discredited on the last episode of Better Call Saul.

    I get my scientific information from TV shows. Seems more reliable than getting it from the press.

  6. Wifi? How absurd. Anti-science morons. Wait a second, this soda has high fructose corn syrup in it?!? AIIIGGHHHH I’M COMING DOWN WITH DIABETES I’LL BE LIKE NUTRASWEET

    1. Dude, I just got hit by a cosmic ray particle. Fuck.

      1. Pro Libertate turns into Particle Man?

        1. There’s a nonzero chance that the right cosmic ray at the right time will give me superpowers.

        2. Thanks a lot. I’ll have THAT song in my head the rest of the day.

          1. Great – you just lit the signal for some asshole to swoop in and put something horrible into all our heads.

            1. I. Am. That. Asshole.

              Your prize, sir.

              1. Ha-Lair-Eyus.

                1. The reactions are the best.

              2. Joke’s on you… I can’t access that at work 😛

            2. My girl likes to party all the time, party all the time, party all the tiiiiiiiiiime…

              1. Oh, shit.

  7. I have conclusive evidence that wi-fi leads to increased masturbation.

    1. Elaborate…..

      1. …all over your face, neck, and chest?

        Btw, you spelled it wrong.

    2. I was thinking similarly. I know plenty of people who turn into absolute retards when in range of a wifi antenna.

      Their sensitivity to 3/4G coverage is pretty dramatic too.

  8. Prove that wifi doesn’t hurt people! Prove it! You can’t! Ha! That means it does!

    1. Who are you and what have you done with trueman?

    2. You know what else is dangerous? Oxygen! Almost everyone who ever lived died in an oxygen-rich environment. And it contributes to dangerous fires.

      1. Like you never fucked with people’s heads about the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide.

        1. It’s in our lakes and rivers!

        2. Or mixing chlorine and sodium and feeding it to your children.

        3. Why yes. Yes I have.

          Mainly because my dad was an engineer and taught me to do such things from an early age. So. Much. Fun.

  9. “The New York CBS affiliate is running a story…”

    The soft heads that buy into socialist bullshit also buy into all kinds of other bullshit. It is no coincidence that lefty rags are full of the same kinds of shit you see in the supermarket checkout aisle.

    Maybe I am on the wrong side here. It would be easy enough to convince large numbers of people that if they don’t pay me ridiculously large sums of money that the world is going to end.

    1. All you need to do to make a shitload of money is to become an immoral con man scumbag. Go man go!

      Wait, why have I not done this yet?

      1. Well you have the immoral scumbag part down, now just figure out how to work in con man.

        1. I’m working on it!

          1. Try to keep in mind that “con man” is NOT pidgin Spanish for “with a dude.”

            1. What?!? NOOOOOOOOOOOO

          2. Pretend you’re diabetic like SugarFree does.

      2. That part in the WWZ book was lollable. About the only bit that was.

      3. Wait, why have I not done this yet?

        If you idiots jump all over this bandwagon, abortion takes off and people start falling all over themselves to do shit ‘for the children’, where the hell am I gonna find orphans?

    2. lefty rags are full of the same kinds of shit you see in the supermarket checkout aisle

      Not clear on how this is a “team” issue. There is plenty of horseshit to be found in righty media too.

      1. All: Lefty? Well, it is the top story at Drudge.

        1. And that redoubt of left-wing propaganda, Alex Jones.

          1. Can Alex Jones really be said to be on either side? I mean, some people are way out in left field. Some are way out in right field. Jones is on the other side of town at a bowling alley, shouting “Over the line!”

            1. MARK IT ZERO!

              1. Bullshit, Walter! Mark it eight, Dude.

            2. Exactly. Whatever he is, it’s not leftist. He doesn’t have the unreasoning emotive faith in government or the pathological desire to control society.

      2. There is plenty of horseshit to be found in righty media too.

        *Peruses One News Now*

        I’m inclined to agree with you sir.

      3. Jade Helm, fluoridation, North American Union, secret Muslim. Yeah, they don’t lack for insane horseshit at all. Plenty of people on the right who worry about GMOs and such too.

  10. a woman who hooked up wifi in her apartment and began to have headaches, body flushing, and “brain fog.”

    WiFi emanates from Hell, modulated by Satan. All properly sensitive people know this.

    1. It sounds like she is beginning menopause…


      1. Actually, that’s what I thought at first, too: WiFi causes instant menopause in some women. But that would be Blaming The Victim?, so the Hell/Satan paradigm is more politically correct.

  11. RF from cell phones is about 20x more powerful than Wi Fi. I wonder if this lady has a cell phone.

    1. Cell phones, nothing – how come nobody ever complains about AM radio making them sick? Or shortwave, which can be picked up from (sometimes) half the globe away? Every time I’ve ever mentioned this to somebody who actually takes RF sensitivity seriously, though, they just mumble something like, “Well, uh, maybe there’s something different about wifi…” But as they say, you can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themself into.

      1. The sun emits radio waves, you know. Oh, dear, I’m going to be rich again with a new, superior, cunning plan: Radioscreen. A cream that blocks radio waves. Holy fuck, my statue/space elevator will soon be a reality.

        1. Walmart beatcha to it; tin foil lids on aisle #6.

          1. No, no, no, they’re a dinosaur and don’t understand cutting edge science. Creams, you see, have to be used daily. And reapplied. And, most importantly, purchased again and again and again. The beauty of radioscreen is that you need it all of the time, every day of the year. According to the study I just performed, it needs to be reapplied every hour.

            1. You’re describing a multi-million dollar idea, you know.

              1. Mere millions? Only if I neglect to patent the process. Here’s the whole description: Cream, liquid, or other product applied to the skin to purportedly block radio waves, excluding light in the ultraviolet band.

          2. Ugh, Farraday hats. tinfoil hats were fine in the ’70s when the government mind control waves were new and unevenly applied, but in today’s world you need the only kind of hat that is proven to deflect dangerous mind-control rays.

            Science, bitches.

              1. It’s mostly harmless.

            1. I used to build room size Faraday cages for high sensitivity RF test equipment. Always wanted one in my house, just because.

      2. Most of the things you mention are much lower frequency than WiFi, which uses frequencies in the microwave range. I have no doubt that the sensitivity claims are bullshit. The power is so low on home networking devices. But in theory, a really high power 2.4 GHz signal could do something to you.

  12. I hope they come up with a catchy name for it, say Nerve Attenuation Syndrome for example.

    1. “Mongoloidism”

    2. Hi, I’m sensitive to gluten (no, no Celiac disease, just unmeasurably sensitive) and to wifi signals. No, other radio waves don’t bother me, just wifi. I have a sensitivity.

        1. Just wifi. Stop judging me, you can’t know what it’s like to feel what I feel! My chiropractor assures me that wifi sensitivity is real.

          1. You don’t need a chiropractor to prescribe Pedipads.

            1. Look, I put my faith in science, which I fucking love.

      1. Gluten sensitivity comes from living in an aseptic environment and taking antibiotics too often. Fuck up the balance of your gut fauna and your shit gets fucked up.

        1. Just like wifi. I blame modern technology.

        2. Your shit gets all fucked up? Do you get retarded and talk like a fag too?

          1. Not a Warren Zevon fan, eh?

            1. Missed the reference, eh?

            2. Only 3 things can help us now.

              1. Man, Nature, and The Empire Brain Building?

              2. Fear, ruthlessness and a fanatical devotion to the Pope?

                1. Nice.

                  Enjoy the comfy chair.

          2. It’s alright, scrote. My ex-wife is ‘tarded too, and she’s a pilot now.

        3. Kefir FTW.

          Which reminds me, I need to have my morning kefir.

          1. Spinach-kefir smoothie, and you’ll chase it with an avocado eaten off the thighs of a fifteen year old migrant worker. Because California.

            1. I’m finally learning to avoid that bullshit now that I know the code words.

              I took my 6 year old to get his cavities drilled at the dentist, and he was loopy and couldn’t eat solids. We go next door to the “juice bar”, and it’s all spinach and agave. No fucking smoothies. He took one of the samples, and made sure to tell the lady that it tasted like garbage.

              1. Well done, that boy. I like a child who has taste buds.

            2. Spinach!? What is this, Idaho!?

              Kale-kefir smoothie.

              Or better toss some totally bullshit descriptors in front “ethically-sourced, fair-trade, low-glycemic kale and macronutrient-rich kefir smoothie”

        4. Fuck up the balance of your gut fauna

          I’m assuming you’ve seen this XKCD, Brett?

        5. We don’t know that. It’s not even a sure thing that gluten sensivity exists.

    3. But what happens if PharmaKom hides the cure for it?

      1. If? You poor, naive fool.

      2. First, you need to steal a Navy cyberfish…

        1. Yeah, but how are you going to find a data courier that can hold a whole 16(?) Gigabytes of data?

          (Can’t remember the exact number, been a while since I watched it)

    4. They already have a name. It’s called stupidity. Sadly, there is no cure.

  13. “Brain fog”?
    I wonder if that’s that anything like a Brain Cloud: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAB9Y2CVqZU

    1. Awesome movie.

  14. Your wifi will kill. you all right. It allows daily access to moronic clickbait links and that shit can be fatal

  15. I was going to build a day spa with a Faraday cage around it for people like this, but market research showed that they couldn’t live without a cell phone that long.

    1. You could employ runners to take messages to and from their cellphones, located outside of the cage.

      1. “Kimmie and Madison just liked your selfie out front. Anne wants an inside selfie”

    2. Dude…just tell them you built a Faraday cage around the spa. Their cell phones will still work, they’re too stupid to understand why, and they’ll gladly hand you money. See? I’m getting my con man on!

      1. “I don’t want to use my hi speed data, don’t you have Internet?”

        You know this would happen.

        1. Tell them your indoor Internet uses an organic radio signal.

          1. And provides access to only the finest, locally-made artisanal websites.

  16. I really don’t want to know what “body flushing” is.

    1. It’s probably just a niacin flush.

      1. Could be that cayenne and honey bullshit too.

          1. Ah. Misread that as a detox cleanse, not a symptom.

            I’ll narrow my own gaze.

      2. Or menopausal hot flashes.

  17. I have a sensitivity.

    Ask my dead grandfather what he did with the keys to his Cadillac, wouldja?

  18. You can add this to the list of indicators that the person you are dealing with is not a clear thinker, at best, looney as a toon, at worst. Belief in any of the following: Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, multiple chemical sensitivity, ethical veganism, accupuncture, chiropracty, homeopathy, crystals, past life regression, astrology, chi, feng shui, scientology. (Not a complete list).

    1. Yeah, Cloudbuster, I know what you mean.

      I guess I wouldn’t believe in anything if it weren’t for my lucky astrology mood watch.

      1. Mood watches are scientifically proven to change color sometimes.

    2. If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say.

      1. The steady paycheck’s for the ones who sell the crack, not the ones who smoke it.

    3. Chiropracty might be BS, but chiropracters can be miracle workers.

      1. Yeah. And you can find ones who don’t believe in too much of the woo-woo bullshit and just want to adjust your skeleton.

      2. This.

        I went to a chiro for sciatica symptoms in 2001- didn’t help shit for that- but I had a long standing issue(1978) with a pinched nerve in my neck.

        Never a problem since…

  19. Dr. David Carpenter, an Environmental Scientist and expert on wi-fi’s effects said the scientific link between wi-fi and health is clearly emerging.

    “There is a body of evidence that is strong. it’s not 100 percent understood, but it’s strong evidence that this is a real syndrome that causes real harm to real people,” he said.

    “They walk around feeling ill and they don’t know what to do about it,” he said.

    Funny: those statements are true, even if the cause of the syndrome is pure, unadulterated craziness.

    1. I’ve been feeling increasingly ill as the state has increased in power and scope. I call this disease statiphuckya.

      1. Due to the ADA, I demand that the government provide me with a “freedom zone” to accommodate me and my disability.

          1. Why do you hate people with disabilities, Playa?

    2. Look, electromagnetic signals that can ignite gasoline fumes must have some kind of negative health impact.

      1. You know, there’s never been an actual recorded case of that under real-world conditions, as far as I know. The one case they *thought* was an electrostatic ignition of gasoline was later determined to have a different cause.

        But those stupid warnings still began to appear at gas stations all over the country.

        1. But those stupid warnings still began to appear at gas stations all over the country.

          I used to help dispense LP. Occasionally the drivers would smoke while we filled the tanks. That shit scared me, but no one ever blew up. I can’t imagine a science class or teacher who hasn’t shown students that you can dowse a lit match in gasoline.

          Now, when appropriate, I walk away from the pump and sit in my car with the pump running. I have yet to have an attendant or anyone else harass me, shut the pump off, etc. I’m on the verge of tearing the signs down.

          1. Yes, the virtually undetectable electromagnetic pulses generated by circuits in your phone, or an electrostatic shock from you touching the carpet of your car, those are huge problems. But the catalytic converter under your car that can sometimes ignite dry grass under a low-slung car: not a problem. The running cars pulling in and out next to you the whole time you’re pumping: also not a problem.

            1. I’m pretty sure static discharge has caused gas pump fires. And phones have not. The warning to discharge yourself to the car when you get out is probably worth following if it’s dry out. The phone thing seems like utter nonsense.

              1. I’m pretty sure static discharge has caused gas pump fires.

                The evidence is disputed, at best (with the usual mix-ins of outright lies, superstitions, conflicting ‘truths’, etc.). It’s not difficult to light gasoline on fire, but considering the fuel mixture and timing engineering it takes to make spark fire inside your engine, assuming it would happen spontaneously, with any concerning frequency, out in the open is a little ridiculous. Moreover, plenty of compounds that are even more worrisome (Mineral Spirits, Starter Fluid, Toluene…) don’t carry any sort of similar warning. Even the stories themselves make little distinction between diesel fuel and petrol as though it doesn’t matter and focus on things like people carrying cell phones and whether they were wearing rubber-soled shoes.

                All that aside, the events are extremely rare and documenting static electricity in them is nigh impossible, meaning any proof that your measures are working are pretty poor (kinda like SIDS). Considering people were accidentally spilling gas and setting cars on fire at a some rate before any of this occurred, it is, rather literally, like posting a sign about how to avoid getting struck by lightning in an attempt to not necessarily prevent any future fires (with the usual ‘do as we say’ meaningless bullshit thrown in).

  20. OT:

    Felipe Mujica, 54, said he woke up at 4 a.m. Thursday to join the march. He said he’s worked at a McDonald’s on Milwaukee and Western for 32 years and makes $8.95 per hour.

    Mujica joined the Fight for 15 about six months ago. It’s the first time in his life, he said, he feels motivated to speak up for better wages and working conditions. He’s fueled, he said, by victories in other states, including this week’s decision in Los Angeles.


    Take a moment and let that completely sink in.

    1. Frankly I don’t see why burger technicians and grill operators shouldn’t get $15/hr. But you know you’re going to have to pay your customer-facing sales reps more than that.

    2. You’re just a cruel and heartless monster because you are wondering what kind of fucking loser is incapable of getting a better job that McFriffinDonalds for 32 years

      1. Yep. If I took an entry level job at a McDonalds, I guarantee you that I would be the manager in less than a year.

        1. The cruelest irony in that guy’s story is that the particular McDonald’s that employs him sits on a piece of deliciously prime corner real estate in a neighborhood that’s been rapidly gentrifying for the past fifteen years or so. I’d be genuinely surprised if it doesn’t get demolished to make way for a condominium high rise within the next two years.

        2. If I took a job at McDonalds, I’d spend all my time figuring out who the goons were who forced me to take a job at McDs and how I was gonna kill them.

          If I were still working there in a year the goons could shoot me.

        3. At one point in my younger life, I took a job at a Burger King. Within two weeks I was asked to train for management.

    3. You have to wonder if his age is catching up to his IQ, or if it’s already past it.

    4. If you have worked at McD’s for 32 years and you aren’t a manager yet, the problem is probably with you and not your mean employers.

    5. I’m guessing “illegal alien”.

  21. Thanks a lot Drudge and CBS! Shame on you for scaremongering for clicks!

    MOAR of this, Reason. These idiots and the irresponsible media that reports their nonsense need to be slutquack-shamed.

    Bout time the media started policing their own.

    Maybe a smack-down on the History Channel for Bigfoot Hunters and Ancient Aliens could be arranged as well? Life is hard enough for the stupid without the media lying to them.

    1. You’re worse than Adam Lanza.

      1. Adam Lanza’s unindicted co-conspirator was Bigfoot.

    2. Ancient aliens is the worst. They present some not-entirely crazy stuff about interesting technologies that plausibly might have existed in the ancient world and then insert some insane speculation about aliens as if it is just as worthy of consideration. Way worse than your standard UFO show.

  22. She should cut the hard wire at the mainframe.


      1. The only bit of Community I’ve ever watched is Alison Brie doing the sexy Santa song. I’ve never watched anything else, because what could possibly top that?

      2. I have been, FoE. I have. It’s…not really the same any more.

        1. I am enjoying the episodes, even with the cast changes.

          And you’re an idiot for different reasons then.

  23. Apparently there’s this entire community of nutcases that have located themselves in a National Radio Quiet Zone around some listening facility in Green Bank, WV:


    1. Bwahahahaha:

      “During our conversation, her voice would occasionally get cracked and raspy if I got too close with my audio recorder.”

      1. if someone nearby turned on his phone, if she drove past a signal tower, if a neighbor next door used a coffee maker. “It would be like a sledgehammer on top of my head,”


    2. Check out Glastonbury and Totnes in England.

    3. Green Bank is also known as the world’s most boring place. I’ve known people who worked those arrays, most of them developed a mild drug habit.

      1. I can imagine. “Well, nothing to do. Maybe I can play a video ga– damn it! Or call my frie– damn it! Or surf the ne– DAMN IT!”

  24. This is nonsense, but the Windsor Hum is real and probably related to electromagnetic frequency.

  25. No convincing evidence.

    So you’re saying there is evidence.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.