Episode 152: SandwichCast!

On this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Laura leads Ashlyn, Lauren, and Gem in a discussion of the history and science of sandwiches, then everyone attempts (and fails!) to define what, exactly, makes something a sandwich.

On this episode: Ashlyn maintains that open-faced sandwiches do not exist, Gem argues that soup in a bread bowl is in fact a sandwich, Ashlyn and Laura dispute whether pie qualifies as a casserole or a dumpling, and Lauren opines that once a sandwich is put in the Snackmaster sandwich maker, it ceases to be a sandwich entirely.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a podcast that delves into issues of science, critical thinking, and secular humanism.

John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich: Warfare on the Mediterranean in the Age of Sail: A History, 1571–1866, by David S.T. Blackmore (Google Books) | A Tour to London, Or, New Observations on England and Its Inhabitants, by Pierre Jean Grosley (Google Books) | Earl of Sandwich (Wikipedia) | John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (Wikipedia) | The Story of the Sandwich (History) | History of the Sandwich (PBS Food) | Trencher (Wikipedia) | Meze (Wikipedia) | Poker Night in Napa (Food & Wine)

Biphasic Sleep: Biphasic and polyphasic sleep (Wikipedia)

Processed Meat and Cancer: International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC (MSDS HyperGlossary) | This is the only known thing that is not a carcinogen (Business Insider) | List of IARC Group 1 Agents (Wikipedia) | Bacon, salami and sausages: how does processed meat cause cancer and how much matters? (Cancer Research UK) | Processed meat and cancer – what you need to know (Cancer Research UK) | Red meat, processed meat and cancer (Cancer Council NSW) | Q&A on the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat (WHO)

The History and Science of Bread: Wheat (Wikipedia) | Bread (Wikipedia) | History of bread (Wikipedia) | Bread in culture (Wikipedia) | Bread (History Magazine) | Science of Bread: Bread Science 101 (Exploratorium) | Science of bread making (Baking Industry Research Trust) | Bread Baking Clinic: Under-Kneading & Over-Kneading (The Kitchn)

Cultural History of Sandwiches: Important Sandwiches That Changed America Forever (Thrillist) | The History of Five Uniquely American Sandwiches |(Smithsonian Magazine) | To Evade Pre-Prohibition Drinking Laws, New Yorkers Created the World’s Worst Sandwich (Gastro Obscura) | Raines Law (St. Louis Public Library) | Who Invented the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich? (National Peanut Board) | The Curious History of Vietnam’s Bánh Mì Sandwich

Contact Us: Facebook | Twitter | Email

Listen: Direct Link | Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS Feed |Spotify

Episode 136: Patent Medicine

On this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem, Laura, Ashlyn, and Lauren discuss the history and future of patent medicine, from snake oil and Piso’s Cure for Consumption through Bovinine and bitters all the way to the Burzynski Clinic.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a podcast that delves into issues of science, critical thinking, and secular humanism.

Note: Additional music in this episode by Kevin MacLeod, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.

Patent Medicine: Patent medicine (Wikipedia) | Snake oil (Wikipedia)

Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound: Advertising Motherhood with the Lydia E. Pinkham Medicine Company (Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study) | Lydia Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound (The Embryo Project Encyclopedia) | Lydia Pinkham (Wikipedia)

Piso’s Consumption Cure: The Great American Fraud, by Samuel Hopkins Adams (Wikisource) | Piso’s Trio: One Step Ahead of the Law (Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors)

Micajah’s Medicated Wafers: Micajah’s Medicated Wafers (Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health) | The Fundamental Antagonism: Veritism and Commerce in Medical Practice (Bennett Holman)

Bovinine: Bovinine (National Museum of American History) | Bovinine Beef Food Tonic (National Museum of American History) | The Bovinine Co. blotter (National Museum of American History) | 15 Curious Quack Remedies From the Age of Patent Medicine (Mental Floss) | Bovinine, by the Bovinine Company (Google Books) | Bovinine Bottle | New Haven Morning Journal and Courier (1895-06-19) | Hand Book of Haematherapy with Clinical Reports, 1902, by the Bovinine Company | The Medical Times and Register (Google Books) | The Popular Science News and Boston Journal of Chemistry (Google Books) | Hemotherapy (Wikipedia) | Misbranding of Bovinina. U.S. v. Bovinine Co. (National Library of Medicine)

Soda Pop & Bitters: Angostura bitters (Wikipedia) | ‘Pop’ Culture: Patent Medicines Become Soda Drinks (CSI) | A Brief History of Bitters (Smithsonian)

Right to Try and the Burzynski Clinic: Right-to-try law (Wikipedia) | “Right to try” laws and Dallas Buyers’ Club: Great movie, terrible for patients and terrible policy (Science-Based Medicine) | The cruel sham that is right-to-try raises its ugly head at the federal level again (Science-Based Medicine) | Burzynski Clinic (Wikipedia)

Ian James and the Combo Breakers: The Broken Among Us by Ian James and the Combo Breakers (SoundCloud) | The Broken Among Us by Ian James and the Combo Breakers (BandCamp)

Contact Us: Facebook | Twitter | Email

Listen: Direct Link | Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS Feed

Does Dr. Gifford-Jones Understand Science?

Cross-posted from Skeptic North.

Dr. W. Gifford-Jones, a prolific syndicated pseudonymous newspaper columnist, has written yet another article on the purported dangers of “radiation” from electronic devices. Well known to Canadian skeptics for advocating placebo cures, blaming “dirty electricity” for a host of common ailments, and promoting accusations that Health Canada is “terrorizing” the proprietors of health food stores, his most recent piece cautions readers to limit their cell phone use or risk cancer.

Mobile Phone (Public Domain Image)

The article was published under a host of fear-mongering headlines, including “Are cellphones really dangerous?” and “Could smartphones be slowly killing us?”, bringing Betteridge’s Law of Headlines quickly to mind: if a headline is in the form of a question, the answer is probably “no”. Gifford-Jones makes his opinion known in his typical style: heavy on anecdotes, light on evidence, and simply recycling much of its material directly from past articles he’s written*.

He begins by relating the story of a young woman who had the habit of carrying her mobile phone in her bra. According to Gifford-Jones, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, “what shocked doctors was that the pattern of the cancer lined up precisely with the shape of the cellphone.” Gifford-Jones uses this story as a potent rhetorical device, and while he notes that it doesn’t constitute “proof”, the reader is left with the clear implication that radiation from the mobile phone is responsible for the cancer.

Usually I’d begin with an admonition about the plural of anecdote, but here we’re not even provided with more than one. We should also be wary of confirmation bias: it’s helpful to remember that one in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and given the dearth of functional pockets in women’s clothing, it would be surprising if none of them had the habit of carrying their phone in their bra. Dr. David Gorski (a practicing oncologist who writes for Science-Based Medicine) also notes that in this particular case, it isn’t at all strange that the cancer was just where the woman had a habit of keeping her phone, because she happened to keep her phone right where breast cancers are most common (I recommend reading Dr. Gorski’s discussion of the case over at SBM). Finally, I’d suggest that perhaps people often see what they expect to see.

The article also cites concerns by Devra Davis, whose views have been subjected to criticism on Skeptic North in the past. When Gifford-Jones finally gets around to presenting evidence outside the realm of the anecdotal, it doesn’t stand up well to close scrutiny. He claims:

In May 2010, the World Health Association released a 10-year study into cellphone use and cancer rates. WHO recognized a significant correlation between brain cancer and those who used their cellphone, wireless home phone or Wi-Fi for more than 30 minutes daily.

He seems to be referring to the Interphone study, published on 17 May 2010, but Gifford-Jones’ discussion of the findings is so woefully incomplete that calling it a distortion of the facts would be charitable. First, and most obviously, the study did not recognize “a significant correlation” between cancer and those who use wireless home phones or WiFi, because the scope of the investigation was limited to mobile phones (and did not, so far as I can determine, measure exposure to WiFi or cordless home phones at all).

So what did the Interphone study find? Well, the World Health Organization (when Gifford-Jones references the “World Health Association”, I assume that he is referring to the same body) provides a useful summary of the results in their mobile phone fact sheet:

The international pooled analysis of data gathered from 13 participating countries found no increased risk of glioma or meningioma with mobile phone use of more than 10 years. There are some indications of an increased risk of glioma for those who reported the highest 10% of cumulative hours of cell phone use, although there was no consistent trend of increasing risk with greater duration of use. The researchers concluded that biases and errors limit the strength of these conclusions and prevent a causal interpretation. [Emphasis added.]

So the study that Gifford-Jones cites as evidence that mobile phones cause cancer found no increased risk of brain cancer in those who have used mobile phones for the longest, found no dose-response relationship between exposure and risk of cancer, and concluded that the data do not support a causal relationship between cell phone use and cancer.

If Gifford-Jones were publicly disagreeing with the methodologies or statistical interpretation used by the IARC researchers, I’d have no problem with that—but that’s not what he’s doing. He’s using the authority of the WHO to lend rhetorical weight to his argument while cherry-picking little snippets of their analysis out of its proper context. And, as usual, he fails to provide his readers with the name of the study he’s referencing (despite the fact that the results are available online), making fact-checking that much more difficult.

At this point, proponents of a cell phone-cancer link may well point out that the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields in Group 2B as a “possible carcinogen”. And this is true, as far as it goes; but what this means is that the evidence is equivocal. While this does put radio waves in the same category as DDT, it also puts them in the same category as pickles, coffee, and “being a carpenter”. I’ll also hasten to point out that beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages actually fall under Group 1 (that’s the “definitely known to be carcinogenic” group).

It’s important to remember that substances aren’t categorized based on how carcinogenic the IARC thinks they are; they’re divided up by how positive they are that a substance is at least a little carcinogenic. If they’re quite sure that something is a little bit carcinogenic (like alcohol), it goes into Group 1. If the evidence shows that something is probably carcinogenic, it goes in Group 2A. If the evidence is rather muddled (as is the case with radiofrequency EMF), regardless of how carcinogenic the IARC thinks it might be, it goes in Group 2B. So saying that cell phones are in the same category as DDT (or carpentry) can be misleading. It has nothing to do with how dangerous they think it might be: it has to do with how sure they are that it might be somewhat dangerous (in this case, not sure at all). Several large, randomized, controlled trials have found no link between cell phone use and cancer, while others have found a small correlation. Suffice it to say, I’m far from convinced.

Gifford-Jones is also a proponent of the notion that electromagnetic radiation is responsible for a host of symptoms that are often classified as “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” (EHS). Unfortunately, a careful review of the scientific literature reveals that there is no compelling evidence that the symptoms of EHS are caused by exposure to radiation, and a significant body of evidence disputing the link. Like “wind turbine syndrome”, electromagnetic hypersensitivity seems to be unrelated to its purported cause.

Talking about the dangers of “radiation” requires nuance, a skill that Dr. Gifford-Jones seems loath to display in his writing. Every time you turn on a lightbulb or have your photograph taken with a flash, you are being bathed in radiation—but it’s a harmless form of radiation. Not all radiation is created equal, and talking about the dangers of radiation in such sweeping terms does us all a disservice.

If you’re interested in further discussion of the purported ill effects of WiFi and cell phones, I presented a talk at SkeptiCamp Winnipeg on the subject last year. I also recommend taking a look at the results of Bad Science Watch’s investigation into anti-WiFi activism in Canada.

* The article even includes his usual porcupine lovemaking analogy. I don’t know what it is about this comparison that he loves so much, but I find it strangely amusing that so many of his articles admonish people to “use cellphones like porcupines make love”. At least this time he got the phrasing right. In the past a slightly mangled version has made it past the editors, which on a literal reading is rather unsettling: “Teach your children to use cellphones like porcupines — make love very, very carefully.”

The Dangerous Truth Behind Cooked Food

Brevity is not one of my strengths. For this reason, what often begins as a minor correction or a response to a question in the comments section often becomes its own blog post (the character limits imposed by various blogging platforms also plays a role).

This is a follow-up to a post from several months ago, in which I discuss the shortcomings of an article from the hilarious TruthTheory.com: The Not-So-Dangerous Truth Behind Microwaves. Here, I respond to some criticism that I received.

This blog is no more an authority than the ones you mocked.


Seriously, that’s great! I’m just some beardy dude who likes science and occasionally has the opportunity to do science, but my specialty is in artificial intelligence (although recently I’ve been helping out with research in robotics and psychology). I make no claim to either authority (something that’s pretty much worthless in matters of science) or expertise (something that’s a little more relevant) in this (or any) subject. I’m trying to instill in people an appreciation for science and critical thinking generally. If you think that I want people to consider me an authority on matters scientific in any domain, either I’m not getting a properly skeptical message across (certainly debatable) or you’re not paying attention.

Firstly, lets define “harmful”: carcinogens are harmful…


…as well as, destroying phytonutrients that the body needs to sustain itself and strengthen defenses.

I do not grant that the reduction of phytochemicals in food is harmful. Stipulating that the compounds in question are healthful, it does not stand to reason that reducing the phytochemical content of a given food is harmful unless it is also established that the subject has a deficiency.

To illustrate by example: I would not consider a carton of pasteurized orange juice to be “harmful” (although its high sugar content may be problemmatic for some), despite the fact that the pasteurization process destroys much of the vitamin C content in the juice (and not all manufacterers add supplemental vitamin C to their juices)—unless, of course, the person consuming the product were deficient in vitamin C and counting on the orange juice in this regard.

Returning to the point about carcinogenicity, I’ll remind the commenter that many common methods of cooking are implicated as cancer-causing, to some degree or other, including pan-frying, grilling, or barbecuing meat (source), smoking meats, roasting coffee beans, or even cooking with vegetable oils (source), or simply heating carbohydrate-rich food by means other than boiling (source).

This is complicated by the fact that several foods contain both compounds found to be carcinogenic and anticarcinogenic compounds.

What’s worse, these phenomena are much better established both epidemeologically and from a basic science standpoint than the carcinogenicity of some microwaved foods. So why the outcry over microwaves? If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it’s because they’re scary and new and complicated, and people tend to distrust things that they don’t understand. Luckily, I’m under no obligation to hazard such a guess, so I won’t.

Name the evidence that would be good enough to convince you there is “proof”?

The word “proof” is in scare quotes, as though to imply I’m asking for proof. I’m not. Science doesn’t deal in “proofs”: it deals in evidence, and no level of evidence constitutes “proof” in any sense but the colloquial.

But here’s what I think would qualify as good evidence that microwaved foods are harmfully carcinogenic (for example): Replicable (and replicated), peer-reviewed studies establishing from a basic science standpoint that carcinogenic compounds are formed in foods heated or cooked in microwave ovens (and that these compounds are not formed in foods heated by other conventional methods), followed by epidemiological studies showing both statistically and clinically significant correlations between microwave use and cancer incidence.

That’s a lot to ask for, of course, but I’d be happy to give my provisional assent to the proposition if it looks like a consensus is forming in the literature. It would also help if the IARC recognised microwaved foodstuffs as even potentially carcinogenic (Group 2B); but, as it stands, microwaved foods don’t even make the list of things that the IARC can’t rule out.

Is it possible that some foods are less nutritious when microwaved? Of course! I’d say that it’s likely! But the same could be said for boiling, for frying, or for just about any other method of cooking, depending on the food.

Is it possible that some foods are carcinogenic when microwaved? Again, of course! But let’s look at the specifics, and let’s not forget (while we make sweeping generalizations), that the same is also already well established for many popular methods of cooking.

Do these admissions run contrary to my previous article on the safety of microwaves? Hardly. Even if it were (somehow) conclusively “proven” that microwaved food was harmful, that would not make the article I was critiquing “true” in any meaningful sense!

As I’ve said several times now, my problem with the original article had nothing to do with its conclusions and everything to do with the fact that it put ideology first and evidence second. It was horrendously sourced, made sweeping generalizations, got the basic science wrong, and cited as sources sites that were (to put it very mildly) disreputable and dishonest.

Episode 27: The Benefits of Religion

Episode 27: The Benefits of Religion

In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Leslie Saunders discusses the purported benefits of religion with Greg Christensen and Robert Shindler.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

Links: Drinking Skeptically | Microsoft Adds “Big Boobs” to Linux Kernel | 10 Benefits of Religion | Will the Earth Survive the Sun’s Death? (National Geographic News, New Scientist) | The Nonbelievers’ Beliefs | The Book of Genesis, Illustrated by Robert Crumb | Unwin Formula

Also on this episode, the third instalment of Where’s My Jetpack? This week Old Man Newman asks, “Where’s my cure for cancer?”

Where’s My Jetpack? Links: Cancer Fact Sheets (World Health Organization, National Cancer Institue) | Cancer Statistics | Dichloroacetate (Dr. Steven Novella, Orac) | Genetically Modified T Cell Therapy | Thioridazine Cancer Treatment

Contact Us: Facebook | Twitter | Email

Listen: Direct Link | iTunes | RSS Feed

Episode 18: WiFi, Mobile Phones, and Electrosensitivity

Episode 18: WiFi, Mobile Phones, and Electrosensitivity

Life, the Universe & Everything ElseIn this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem Newman, Richelle McCullough, Javier Hernandez-Melgar, and Mark Forkheim discuss recent attempts to ban WiFi in several Canadian schools and the scientific merits of health claims made about WiFi, cellphones, and other sources of electromagnetic radiation.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism presented by the Winnipeg Skeptics and the Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics of Manitoba.

News: Imagine No Religion 2 Conference | Altona Parents Protest LGBTQ Pledge (Initial Coverage, Response from Rev. Dr. Lesley Fox, Follow-up) | Catholic Teachers Urge WiFi Ban (Globe & Mail, CBC/Canadian Press) | Homeless Hotspots

Links: Illustration of the EMF Spectrum | National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet: Cell Phones and Cancer Risk | WHO Warns Cellphone Use is ‘Possibly Carcinogenic’ | The Not-So-Dangerous Truth Behind Microwaves | Elizabeth May on EFM (SkepticNorth, Winnipeg Skeptics) | Evaluating The Evidence for Cell Phones and WiFi | “Dirty Electricity” | Electrosensitivity in Sweden | Skeptics’ Guide 5×5 on WiFi | Skeptoid on Electrosensitivity | Lakehead University WiFi Ban (Ban, Repeal)

Also on this episode, the first instalment of our new segment …and That’s Why You’re Wrong. This week, we discuss the Cosmological Argument, and its increasingly popular cousin, the Kalam Cosmological Argument:

The Cosmological Argument
1. Everything has a cause.
2. A causal loop cannot exist, and a causal chain cannot be of infinite length.
3. Therefore, a First Cause must exist. (We call this cause “God”.)

The Kalam Cosmological Argument
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The Universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the Universe had a cause.

Contact Us: Facebook | Twitter | Email

Listen: Direct Link | iTunes | RSS Feed

Correction: On this episode I made an offhand remark about gamma radiation turning a person into a member of the X-Men. I obviously should have said a member of the Avengers (more specifically, the Incredible Hulk). I apologise in advance to any of my fellow Marvel nerds who are offended by this gross misstatement of comic book fact.

The Not-So-Dangerous Truth Behind Microwaves

I received the following message the other day from a close friend of mine.


I saw this and for a moment was terrified until I remembered that I’m friends with YOU and therefore a much more rational person than I might otherwise be just by sheer proximity. Regardless, please remind me again that microwaves aren’t destroying my baby and various loved ones.


The link she provided was The Dangerous Truth Behind Microwaves by Mike Barrett of TruthTheory.com. Ah, EMF scare-mongering. It’s been too long, old friend!

I didn’t have much planned for the next few minutes (aside from playing some Super Meat Boy), so I dove right in.

The article is, as you might expect, riddled with misinformation. That misinformation, however, is crammed cheek-by-jowl with accurate statements, leading me to suspect that the author is guilty only of sloppy research, and readily accepted claims from both scientific and unscientific sources—with perhaps a modicum of cherry-picking thrown in. (This is borne out upon an examination of his source list, but we’ll get to that later.)

How Microwaves Work

Let’s start with the author’s description of the process by which microwave ovens heat food:

In order for something to heat in a microwave oven, water must be present within the substance. If water is not present, heating will not occur and it would remain cool. The reason for this is that water molecules within the food vibrate at an incredible speed, creating molecular friction which is responsible for the heating of the food. The structure of the water molecules are torn apart and vigorously deformed. This is much different than any other method of cooking, as other methods such as convection ovens heat up food by transferring heat convectionally from the outside inward.

This description is almost correct, but is guilty of much hyperbole. First of all, it is not true that, lacking water, heating will not occur. What we’re talking about is dielectric heating. While it’s true that dielectric heating works best on water or substances containing water, it will also work on fats, sugars, and anything that contains electric dipoles.

Second, while stating that “the structure of the water molecules are torn apart and vigorously deformed” sounds scary, I’ve been unable to find any evidence that this occurs, and it’s unclear what the dangers would be even if it did. While the molecules certainly do increase in kinetic energy (they move), the author seems to be suggesting that the molecular bonds are actually broken, which would cause the water to decompose into its component hydrogen and oxygen, as occurs in electrolysis. This is a fairly incredible claim that I’ve been unable to substantiate.

The Dangers of Radiation

The author admits that microwaves are not a form of ionizing radiation, although he stresses that non-ionizing radiation can still effect physical alterations. Sure! Like cooking stuff! He then says:

Other forms of ionizing radiation are visible light, ultraviolet and infrared waves, and waves emitted from televisions, cell phones, and electric blankets.

This is completely false. These are forms of non-ionizing radiation. While it is certainly possible that this was simply a typo, it remains irresponsible misinformation.

And then the real absurdity begins:

Although we’ve conducted study after study concluding that no amount of radiation is safe, we don’t really know what all of this means in the long term.

I’m not even sure the author knows what he means, here. He seems to be conflating all forms of radiation, and then stating that the body of scientific literature on the subject concludes that there is no safe amount of any form of radiation.

Of course some amount of radiation is safe! If there were no radiation, we would be blind and we would freeze to death! Just lumping all spectra of electromagnetic radiation together is eggregious, irresponsible nonsense.

The author claims that “Tissues directly exposed to microwaves are subject to the same deformities molecules go through”. This is very misleading.

Sure, microwave radiation can cause burns: that’s why microwave ovens have doors on them specifically designed to block microwave radiation. You don’t want to bathe your hand in high intensity microwaves for the same reason that you don’t want to stick it in a campfire: it’ll burn.

Now you might be worrying that your microwave door could be broken or cracked, and you’re being exposed to dangerous invisible microwaves without your knowledge! Well, stop fretting. If this were happening, you’d know it pretty quickly, because the microwaves would literally be cooking your flesh, and that’s something that we humans tend to notice.

Remember: microwaves are non-ionizing. They don’t cause cancer: they cause heat.

“Microwave Sickness”

The author of the article then provides a laundry-list of nonspecific symptoms that he attributes to so-called “microwave sickness”:

  • Impaired cognition
  • Nausea
  • Vision problems
  • Depression and irritability
  • Weakened immune system
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia and/or sleep disturbances
  • Frequent urination and extreme thirst

Sound familiar?

This so-called “microwave sickness” is just a repackaging of electrosensitivity syndrome, a discredited (and probably psychogenic) disorder that has been shown in controlled trials to no correlation (let alone a causal relationship) to EMF exposure.

Here’s the list of symptoms attributed to electrosensitivity:

  • Fatigue and mental impairment
  • Poor memory and reduced concentration
  • Headache
  • Altered sleep pattern
  • Skin rash

And here are some of the (many, many) symptoms linked to so-called adrenal fatigue:

  • Excessive fatigue and exhaustion, chronic fatigue
  • Sleep disturbance, insomnia
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty concentrating, brain fog
  • Low immune function
  • Low blood pressure
  • Sensitivity to cold or frequent influenza
  • Anxiety, irritability, or depression
  • Reduced memory

Dr. Steven Novella calls these “the common symptoms of life”. Talking about this purported adrenal fatigue, Dr. Novella notes:

Some of these people may have a real underlying disease, and can get distracted from pursuing a proper diagnosis by the offer of a simple fake one. Many people need lifestyle adjustments, and that is where they should focus their efforts – not on magic supplements to treat nonexistent syndromes.

And finally, just for fun, here are the purported symptoms of being attacked by a psychic vampire:

  • Leaky or diminishing aura
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of energy
  • Muscle tension
  • Mental confusion
  • Headaches
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Depressed mood
  • Physical illness

I’m convinced.

And while we’re on the subject…

It’s true that mobile phones, WiFi, etc. use radio waves in the microwave spectrum, but they are hilariously low-intensity. One of the ways that you can tell is that even the tiny bit of radiation that leaks out of a microwave oven is enough to interfere with wireless router traffic: and, as I said earlier, that’s obviously not enough to do any damage.

Cell phones and WiFi, and their related impact on health, are heavily scrutinized, and there is no strong or even middling evidence linking these devices to health problems such as cancer. There are a small number of studies by a few fringe researchers which have failed reproduction by the scientific community. Many of these experiments have startling methodological flaws. Dr. Steven Novella has a great summary of some new research on the subject here.

Also worth noting: any case or covering that purports to block the EMF emitted by cell phones, laptops, etc. (and such devices are popular!) will fall into one of two categories: (1) it won’t do anything; or (2) it will work, and your cell phone/WiFi will immediately stop working, because its signal is blocked.

So… keep that in mind.

The Nazi Connection

And this is where the author of this article really jumps the shark:

Microwaves were first invented by the Nazis in order to provide a method of cooking for their troops during World War II.

Godwin always makes me laugh. Also, I can find no evidence that microwaves were invented by the Nazis, and substantial evidence to the contrary.

The Sources

The author of this article has obviously taken no care in choosing his sources, which all seem to share strong (and fairly transparent) ideological convictions that bias them against good science. They are also uniformly hilarious.

Here are the websites linked to in the “Sources” section at the bottom of the article:

  • Relfe: “Valuable natural health, mind, spirit, financial and other information unifying the whole, rather than just educating a part of the whole.” The main page contains multiple embedded Alex Jones videos, which describe in detail exactly how the government and the scientific establishment are trying to kill you.
  • The Library of Halexandria: “Halexandria is a Synthesis of new physics, sacred geometry, ancient and modern history, multiple universes & realities, consciousness, the Ha Qabala and ORME, extraterrestrials, corporate rule and politics, law, order and entropy, trial by jury, astronomy, monetary policy, scientific anomalies, religion and spirituality, and a whole host of other subjects ranging from astrology and astrophysics to superstrings and sonoluminesence to biblical and geologic histories to numerology, the Tarot, and creating your own reality.” Need I say more?
  • Lita Lee: The website of “nutritionist” (and Ph.D. chemist) Lita Lee. She would love to sell you all sorts of herbal concoctions, so why not mosey on over?
  • Global Healing Center: An online pharmacy! Except it only seems to stock those shady end-cap items that cause pharmacists to hang their heads in embarrassment, saying “We don’t decide what to stock, it comes from corporate.” Lots of cleanses and detoxifying foot pads!
  • Natural Society: This site seems to be the evil twin of Skeptic North.

And here is a list of the peer-reviewed literature cited by the author:

That is all.