Regular readers of the Stroud News and Journal ( yes, they do exist ) will have noticed a running correspondence on the dangers or otherwise of wifi. It began a few weeks ago when a correspondent claimed that there were 25000 studies proving that wifi and similar signals were dangerous to human health. I responded pointing out that the World Health Organisation report which refers to the 25000 figure actually says that a review of the studies to date provides no conclusive evidence of a risk to health.
Note there is no mention of Steiner in this but I do know that the writer is a local Steiner teacher who has previously written to the SNJ promoting an anti vaccination stance. In this she referred to the link between MMR vaccine and autism ‘proved’ by Dr Andrew Wakefield. Yes, that’s right – the same ( ex) Dr Wakefield struck off for malpractice and dishonesty following the scandal of the thoroughly debunked MMR autism link.
Anyway, the wifi debate continues until this week it was joined by our old friend Richard House, another Steiner supporter though still without mention of Steiner. This was a gem of a letter full of ‘paradigms’ and ‘science as a social construct’. Once again it seeks to portray the scientific viewpoint as narrow and reductionist compared with the “post materialist” science expanded by spiritual cosmologies. This view he claims is supported by ‘prestigious’ organisations such as the Scientific and Medical Network. I looked this one up as I was not familiar with it. I’m still reading through the material but it seems a very mixed bag. It does indeed have some serious names involved – I noted Jocelyn Bell Burnell as one speaker. It appears to provide a forum for scientists who are also religious to discuss matters of interest, which is all perfectly reasonable. However reading through the lists of papers and talks I also saw an awful lot of guff about cosmic consciousness, how quantum entanglement provides a theoretical foundation for astrology and so on. I think that ‘prestigious’ is being used in the archaic sense of the word – pertaining to illusion or trickery.
I particularly liked Dr House’s claim that empirical science is incapable of investigating the effects of radiation on the human organisation because of its faulty or distorted metaphysical assumptions about reality. So does he mean that wifi is damaging some part of me that exists in his imagination but not in mine? Well I think I can live with that!
We have seen before how the anthros love to clutch at any shred of scientific support whilst at the same time never missing an opportunity to disparage science. The original writer on the wifi risk claimed support from another ‘prestigious’ outfit called the British Society for Ecological Medicine which on closer examination proved to have a membership drawn mainly from the alternative medicine field – homeopaths, reiki practitioners, reflexologists and the like. Whilst criticising the vested interests of ‘big pharma’ she was quite happy to call on the evidence of those selling radiation protection devices of questionable value.
No doubt this debate will continue but let’s try to remember that scientists and those preferring the scientific viewpoint are human and of course can sometimes close their minds. That often happens when a new theory emerges which challenges the current one. But if sufficient evidence emerges to support the new theory it is rare for science not to come round and accept it. It is not the sign of a closed mind to dismiss something for which there is no evidence ( such as spirit realms ) or which the available evidence contradicts ( such as homeopathy ). To go against this seems to me the sign of a mind so open that it lets in every bit of rubbish that is blowing in the wind.