A wireless internet network in the UK is being blamed for all sorts of illnesses, from headaches to pneumonia, according to the Telegraph newspaper:
…the residents of Glastonbury, which has long been a favoured destination for pilgrims, are at the centre of a bitter row in which many blame the town's new wireless computer network - known as wi-fi - for a spate of health problems.
Some healers even hold that electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) generated by the wi-fi system are responsible for upsetting positive energy fields of the body, which are known as chakras, and positive energy fields of the earth, which are known as ley lines.
Oh noes! Wi-Fi is messing up “ley lines” and “chakras” – things that are entirely imaginary! And how do they know? Because “some healers” think so. But wait, it’s not just the healers:
Meanwhile soothsayers, astrologers and other opponents of the wi-fi system have resorted to an alternative technology - known as "orgone" - to combat the alleged negative effects of the high-tech system.
Well if soothsayers and astrologers think it’s a problem then case closed. Well, almost. I would just like to hear where dowsers stand on this issue before I give my final verdict.
What to do about this? Fortunately, a local man who “campaigns against EMFs” has the solution:
Matt Todd, […] has started building small generators which he believes can neutralise the allegedly-harmful radiation using the principles of orgone science. The pyramid-like machines use quartz crystals, selenite (a clear form of the mineral gypsum), semi-precious lapis lazuli stones, gold leaf and copper coil to absorb and recycle the supposedly-negative energy.
That’s what I like about new agers today. They don’t just want to get rid of the negative energy, they want to recycle it. This is sustainable woo!
But what is this “orgone science” solution, exactly? The Skeptics’ Dictionary has a piece on Orgone Energy and its creator, Wilhelm Reich:
Reich claimed to have created a new science (orgonomy) and to have discovered other entities, such as bions, which to this day only orgonomists can detect. Bions are alleged vesicles of orgone energy which are neither living nor non-living, but transitional beings.
Reich died on November 3, 1957, in the Federal Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where he was sent for criminal contempt. The criminal charge was levied because Reich refused to obey an injunction against selling quack medical devices such as the Orgone Accumulator and orgone "shooters," devices which allegedly could collect and distribute orgone energy, thereby making possible the cure for just about any medical disorder except, perhaps, megalomania and self-delusion.
Also, read The Straight Dope’s What's the story on Wilhelm Reich and his orgone energy?
[Note: the above headline should really have been “Orgone Conclusion,” but Connie beat me to it.]
So there is there is no such thing as Orgone energy. You have an imaginary illness. Don’t worry, it can be cured by an imaginary therapy. Perfect. Good woo cancels out bad woo. Well, recycles it, anyway.
On a more serious note, there’s no good evidence that Wi-Fi networks like this can cause any of the illnesses suggested. On the contrary, there have been several studies that show supposed Wi-Fi sensitive people can’t even tell if there is a Wi-Fi signal present or not when tested double-blind. Which would tend to support the Nocebo hypothesis (a placebo in reverse – giving the appearance of harm rather than the appearance of good). Plus there is no known scientific reason why such illnesses should result from Wi-Fi, which is a relatively low power signal. TechSkeptic’s article on DECT scares, although written to cover a slightly different aspect of microwave scares, is a good primer on the general issues, and includes links to the double-blind studies I mentioned. You could also read the World Health Organization’s Electromagnetic fields and public health article.
Let’s get real. Quoting soothsayers and astrologers as authorities to support these claims is a bit like getting in a Feng Shui practitioner to tell us if a bridge is safe or not.
… for pyramidiots.