Saturday, March 25, 2006

Irresponsibility All Around

Canada allowed material that could be used in hydrogen bombs to be sent to Iran. Can we be liberated now?

Also, I forgot to mention in my discussion of NBC Nightly News last night that they also included a piece on autism. While correctly stating that the exact cause of autism is in dispute they did not mention the fact that the evidence, shows that it has a strong correlation with several genes. Instead they gave two possible causes: vaccinations and mercury exposure (without mentioning any requirement for genetic sensitivity for mercury). From what I have read, these theories (especially the vaccination one) are about as respectable as denial of the link between HIV and AIDS. Further proof that NBC Nightly News is doing their research for science stories via Google and I am not talking Google Scholar. They could have picked up a phone and asked their family doctor for some information but why start trafficking in facts at this late date.

Oh, and several days ago local CBC Radio station in Fredericton, interviewed the president of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He is the guy who forbid Wi-Fi from the campus until he (him personally-not the scientific community) was convinced that it does not bake people's brains or snap their chromosomes. He was introduces as a doctor but I later found out that the doctorate is not in medicine or even veterinary medicine but in zoology. I wish I had had a pencil with me because I counted about four or five statements which were just completely untrue, including how respectable his views are among scientists.

The reason he is in Fredericton is because he has been so thoroughly refuted in the ensuing debate that he feels that he needs to take his dog and pony show on the road. If he can rev up some opposition to Wi-Fi in a city that has implemented a pioneering program of free Wi-Fi access as a public service like street sweeping, he can make himself look like less of a loon. CBC Radio gave time to the people responsible for bringing Wi-Fi to the city to refute the claims but not the same day. The fair and responsible thing to do would be to allow someone with a medical or scientific background to rebut, since people will ask themselves why they should believe nasty old civil servants about a medical issue especially when this nut was introduced as a doctor.

But is the term "nut" too harsh? Well, he has a science background and yet has implemented a policy that something will be forbidden until it is proved to him that it is not harmful. In science education they usually mention at some point that you can not prove a negative (he must have been absent that day. Also, you can not prove anything to anyone who:
if he can manage it, avoids laying down his head for the night near overloaded electric outlets.
Welcome to Fredericton, jackass. And contrary to what he alluded to (by refusing to completely correct the radio host) Wi-Fi is radio not microwave and Wi-Fi is not turning Fredericton into a giant microwave oven.

There is no belief too fringe for the media to not plug it uncritically, even if it scares people away from economic development or results in lower vaccination rates for serious childhood illnesses.

And why is there no agreed upon convention for the spelling of Wi-Fi, wi-fi, WiFi or even wifi? Can't people get together on this? (Grumble Grumble...)

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