Idiotic WiFi study

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TerryJ2, Nov 21, 2007.

  1. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Arrgh! Some group just came out with-a "study" that WiFi either causes or contributes to autism.
    Uh, excuse me, WiFi has only been around for a few yrs!
    Then, there's a comment space below the news story. The comments were equally ignorant and aggravating, like, "Why don't they check these parents for drug use?" Arrrrrrrrrgggh. I wanted to jump through the computer screen.
    Thanks for letting me rant.
  2. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You know, my difficult child is not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) but he truely hates "germ" stuff. He had a project to make a complex machine in school and couple years ago and actually made this stick (lever) and pully system to open the supercan outside without touching it!!!! That story is leading somewhere....... he actually likes listening to the news. However, he seems to worry somewhat when he hears the reports about this causing that, etc.

    My words to him when he expresses concern,

    "Everything causes something!"

  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I said on another post, that a lot of things claiming to be 'studies' are really just someone having an idea and expressing it, without necessarily really doing any genuine research.

    Could WiFi contribute to autism? Clearly it couldn't be the only cause because as you said, WiFi is too new, we didn't have it in Kanner's day. Or when Hans Asperger was writing his papers, in German.

    And who is doing the research? While you don't have to be a scientist to do scientific research (example - Jane Goodall. She was only a typist and assistant when she first went to Gombe) it certainly does help. You do need to be able to think like a scientist.

    Correlation does not equal causality. What this means - you can have a strong correlation - two seemingly unrelated things which tend to occur together; is there a connection? For example, people's height and arm span tend to be within a few inches. But how do you study it? You basically would have to examine the numbers in connected pairs to see if their connectedness has an identifiable reason. And it does - we tend to be in proportion, when we are a certain height our bodies tend to have other measurements within a certain range also. We describe the size of the human heart to be about the same size as that same person's fist; so a child's heart would be the size of that child's fist, and so on. That is one example of correlation.

    Another example - a lot of autistic kids really love computer games. They will find this out as soon as they first experience them, in most cases. They gravitate to them, become very insistent on being allowed access to them. Often this occurs before the autism is identified. In our case, difficult child 3 was using a computer before he was a year old. At that age he needed some assistance but he was clearly interested and focussed, able to do some simple games and tasks on the computer. He was solving mazes and matching numbers and letters.
    So did the use of the computer cause his autism? This is where we go beyond correlation and start to consider causality. Did we do the wrong thing by letting him use a computer from such a young age? Have we, in doing this, made him autistic?

    Absolutely not. In this case, correlation is not causality. At least, not from that direction. However, you should also consider - did his autism cause his early computer use? This is far more likely.

    And finally - is there a problem in this?

    If you take the possibility that the autism was caused by his computer use, then you would be seeing the autism as a bad thing, and therefore anything that causes it is also a bad thing. You would want to limit computer use to 'protect' our children (and ourselves) from developing autism. And when you consider how much time people in the world spend on computers - boy, is this planet in trouble!
    But if you flip this, and consider that kids with autism, especially the high-functioning ones, are drawn to computers - is this a bad thing? The autism has led to the increase in computer use especially from an early age. And how are these kids managing their autism, compared to those who have not had access to computers? From my own experience, being adept at computer use has increased difficult child 3's social index as in the mainstream classroom he had teachers and other students asking him to help them solve various problems. He's even fixed a computer problem for a neighbour, and been paid for his efforts. He saved a school computer which was misbehaving, warned the teacher to shut it down because it was vulnerable, which meant that vital data was protected.
    In this case, I feel that the correlation between autism and computer use is fairly strong, the autism has been a strong factor in the early computer use but is not a damaging one.

    It really does make a difference depending on how you look at it. But it is all conjecture until you actually work the numbers.

    How many autistic kids have badgered their folks for WiFi access? And how many 'normal' kids? To determine if there is a genuine correlation, you would need to have RANDOM sampling, with enough subjects to reduce the 'noise' in the calculation. And yes, you have to do some calculating. You can't just look at it and GUESS - that is where the scientist comes in and first develops a theory. But a theory must be tested, you can't publish at tis stage declaring a result.

    Let's say we are going to sample ONE high school. Poll ALL the kids in Grade 6. You would need diagnosis (preferably independently assessed by ONE expert, over all the subjects). You would need to define what you mean by WiFi access. And because WiFi is not accessed all day every day, the degree of access is a variable likely to make this a much harder problem.
    You need to reduce all other variables as much as possible.

    Did the study do all this? Just the announced result gives me a lot of doubt on this score.

    You could argue that there is a correlation between having autism, and breathing. All autistic kids (at least the living ones) breathe. So does breathing cause autism? Does autism cause breathing?

    Statistics in the hands of ignorant people can do a great deal of damage. Running off at the mouth with statistics is like running with scissors.

    I have seen supposedly reputable, intelligent scientists make some very stupid mistakes using statistics. Either they were being thick, or fraudulent. I won't go into detail, but I had a chance to see them close-up, to be present when they presented their work at conferences and hear them complain when the reputable journals refused to publish their work (because it was shoddily done, boys!). I took plenty of notes which was a good thing, because even the conference where their work was first presented, pulled it from their (later published) proceedings - unheard of.
    And their biggest mistake was based on their misunderstanding of correlation.
    They had stated that they had found a very high correlation between patients excreting a certain chemical, and patients at some stage given a diagnosis of Disease X from a particular medical team. The probability factor they claimed was impossibly large, the equivalent of 99.995%. Therefore, they claimed, having Disease X meant you excreted this unique chemical. Wacko! We have a diagnostic test!
    But the problem - the team of doctors making the diagnosis went back over their own records and announced that they had got it wrong in about half their cases. So the correlation was NOT with having Disease X, but with having a diagnosis of Disease X from that team of doctors.
    Basically, the researchers had TOO GOOD a result, there was something very screwy with their theory. However, they were not willing to let go of what seemed to them to be such a good result, and therefore they became the laughing stock of serious scientists around the country (and internationally).

    But in making the mistake of falling in love with their own theory, they missed something very important - they had a high correlation to SOMETHING - what was it?
    I believe that the main factor that all the patients had in common was PAIN. Something in common with every patient, but there can be many different causes. However, pain affects us physically. I believe they had found something which is excreted by patients in pain. Now, having a chemical diagnostic test for pain is kind of stupid, most patients will tell you if there is pain. But it could have been useful, they could have tested it to see if at last science had an objective measure of pain. Pain researchers would have been very grateful.
    The last I heard of this mob, they were focussing more on pain management and had stopped fussing about Disease X. They had also stopped chasing the media for attention; there are only so many times you get egg on your face before you decide to get out of the henhouse.

    Where did these blokes go wrong? They didn't choose their subjects carefully enough. They had NO control subjects (who, if they also showed positive for this chemical, would have totally destroyed their beautiful theory). Their sample size was small. The study was not blind in any way - the researchers always knew which subject had tested positive, and what their history was. This mean they were developing AND testing their theory AFTER the fact, never a good idea. It's like having a cola taste test but knowing exactly which one you're drinking when you decide what you like.

    When you become a Warrior Parent you have to become an expert in so many things. Learning how to be a scientific researcher is only one of the many careers you have to embrace. Is your child on medication? On a special diet? Then you are testing your child, titrating for dosage and reaction. It's unavoidable. Or maybe you're testing the efficacy of the therapy your child is on. We are all testing the efficacy of the discipline and child-rearing techniques.
    Therefore by default, all parents are researchers. How well we do this will depend on how well we learn the skills of research as well as how well we carry out the studies on our kids. And while it's perfectly OK to love your kids, you should never fall in love with your theory. If something isn't working, you should feel perfectly OK about rejecting it and moving on to something with more promise.

    The idiots who pass comment on the 'Net are trying to bolster their own inferior sense of importance by belittling other people. They are ignorant but do not care; because to care is to acknowledge their own ignorance and to assign a sense of personal shame to it. Heaven forbid they should feel any sense of inadequacy, no matter how well deserved!
    Idiotic research deserves idiotic comments. And any media publishing this are only showing their own ignorance in this area; that, or the lack of any real story that day.

    You don't have to look very far on the 'Net to see rubbish like this. I get riled too, when I find it, I have to make a conscious effort to click away the page when I find this sort of rubbish.

    Life is too short to waste it reading nonsense which makes you angry. Instead, learn how to recognise reputable research and USE the information (where you can) to boost your own understanding.

  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Marg, this may be the original article (below), which actually makes more sense than what I originally read. (Of course, I can't find it now, but it was an AOL exerpt.) The headline and lead sentence were alarmist, to put it mildly. The big problem with-the article below is that the success stories are purely anecdotal; I don't see any scientific study being done ... just as you suggested, it is someone with-an idea that needs more work.
    I wouldn't mind seeing more research in terms of electromagnetic issues. It's got a lot of possiblities.

    Breaking News

    Research on Correlation Between Autism, Cell Phones, and Wireless Computers by Tamara Mariea
    Apr 16 2007, 3:17 PM EST
    News source: Business Wire

    Today the incidence of autism in the United States is 1 in 150 children, according to published CDC reports, a horrific increase from the end of the 1970s, when the ratio of autism in our society was 1 in 10,000, before the cell phone, wireless and similar technologies were introduced into the environment that produce radio waves. Tamara Mariea, founder of Internal Balance(TM), Inc., is releasing findings from more than five years of research on clients with autism, and other membrane sensitivity disorders that point to electromagnetic radiation stress, which increases with the proliferation of cell phone and wireless use, as one of the potentially major root causes of the explosion of autistic cases in the past two decades. Electromagnetic radiation stress in people's lives continues to explode as radio waves in the air that carry the latest communication technology such as cell phones and wireless computers bombard our bodies.

    "My recent awareness of the research being done by Tamara Mariea, CCN with autism and EMR (Electromagnetic Radiation), suggested to me that it may be an important missing link. Since we know that electrical currents at microvolt levels in the body are of vital importance, it makes a world of sense to research the potential of electromagnetic pollution in the etiology of disease. There is no doubt that we are seeing a severe epidemic rise of autism in children and the widespread use of electronics and wireless devices may well be a factor that has been ignored," said Derrick Longsdale, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.A.C.N., CNS. Dr. Longsdale is a DAN! Protocol practicing doctor.

    Mariea's clinic receives calls from physicians around the world on a weekly basis seeking cutting-edge treatments beyond traditional western medicine for their patients. Mariea is quickly becoming highly regarded with her expansive knowledge in physiological detoxification.

    "My association with Tamara Mariea, CCN has been truly inspiring. She has impressive knowledge and insight into both biochemical and electromagnetic contributions to illness and healing. In particular she has opened my eyes to the potentially groundbreaking link between electromagnetic pollution and the crippling of cellular detoxification. This may play a central role in autism as well as chronic illness of all types in all ages," said Stephen L. Reisman, M.D.

    The Safe Wireless Initiative (SWI) based in Washington, D.C., has just appointed Mariea Director of Clinical Protocol Development and a member of its Board of Directors. Dr. George Carlo, world-renowned scientist, epidemiologist and attorney, is the founder of the Institute. He and Mariea have worked closely for the past year to help educate those on the front line of treating disorders regarding the hazards of electromagnetic radiation on people.

    "I am proud to have my research and clinical data presented by Dr. Carlo as he lectures throughout the United States and Europe. We are working together on the front-lines of one of the greatest public safety issues to ever confront our children," says Mariea.

    For the past five years at the Internal Balance Inc., clinic, Mariea and her staff have been tracking and collecting clinical data that measures the heavy metal excretion patterns in children with autism. Clients who have traveled from across America to Tennessee have been detoxified in an electromagnetic radiation clean environment at the clinic with remarkable results. In 2005 she began controlling the environment in which her clients were treated. It was then, with the electromagnetic radiation mitigated environment, that she began to see increased levels of heavy metal excretion.

    She has addressed electrical pollution from a direct magnetic effect on the body as it relates to dirty power as well as electromagnetic radiation (EMR) created from cell phones, computers, radios, cell phone towers, etc.

    This toxic pollution entering the body is created from transmitting data as information carrying radio waves. Mariea's research has validated a direct biological effect on the cell membrane discovered by Dr. George Carlo. She has developed therapeutic interventions to detoxify these trapped toxins from the body.

    Mariea's soon-to-be-published paper will include her research which explores electromagnetic radiation as a cohort effect with heavy metals as a strong component of the etiology of autism.

    In simple terms, Mariea explains to parents struggling to help their children that what her research is pointing to is with more cell phone towers being erected, more cell phones in use globally and more WiFi technology utilized, the risk for autism continues to rise. She says that Thimerosal (the mercury containing preservative in scheduled children's vaccines) has for the most part been eliminated from regularly scheduled childhood vaccines, according to public record, and that the incidence of autism should be decreasing based on progress made in that area in recent years. But it is not decreasing, she says. This is where Mariea and Dr. Carlo began to collaborate in the search to find what the larger contributor to the increase in autism is. The epidemiologic curve of autism parallels too closely with the increase usage of wireless devices to not look at it.

    "My son is currently 11 years old and we have been researching and utilizing many types of biomedical services since Michael was four years old. We have chelated, detoxified, and supplemented with many different types of nutrients. This has been in addition to all the other traditional recommended therapies for autism, such as Occupational Therapist (OT), ABA and Speech Therapy. One of the most important discoveries in the last seven years that has made a dramatic impact toward my son's recovery was the realization that Michael was severely sensitive to EMR. Not only was he sensitive, but it was holding his body hostage from freeing toxic heavy metals. In addition, every time Michael was in the car with me while I was on a cell phone, he would literally flip out. I did not realize until Tamara educated me that I was radiating my son's body with EMR. After looking at the impact that EMR had on his neurochemistry it made terrific sense. We have implemented the strategies suggested by Tamara and we are moving faster toward his recovery than ever," said Bob Claeys, father of Michael, a client.

    Mariea has a degree in Biology/Biochemistry from Bowling Green State University and her post-graduate work in Human Clinical Nutrition. She is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and detoxification specialist. She has been conducting research and providing strategic interventions in the field of nutrition and detoxification for more than a decade. Tamara has also developed highly respected Nutrition Detox and Performance Programs for many top professional athletes, including well-known professional MBL player JD Drew and NBA player Allan Houston.

    Optimized by Newsforce

    Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Thanks for this transcript.

    Here is what I can glean from it:

    First, they begin by mentioning the massive increase in the incidence in autism (it's "horrific") carefully NOT mentioning that the understanding has changed, the diagnostic parameters have broadened a great deal and the attitudes have changed to the point where we tend to be more likely to find autism where it exists anyway. Then it mentions that at the same time, society has seen a massive increase in the use of electrical equipment, other things which emit electromagnetic radiation.
    This is what I was talking about - is this coincidence, correlation or causality? By neatly mentioning the things together, the reader is made to think, "Wow! So they think there is a connection!" But that is carefully not said.

    Next we come to the credentials of the researcher. Not only her qualifications (which may be perfectly fine) but who she works for. In other words, what sort of vested interest does she have, in identifying a problem as really bad?

    Back to the EM radiation thing.
    When radio first came out, it was called "wireless" because the radio signal travelled without the need for telegraph wires. it was a wireless signal. But what were these early radios made from? They used valves. The amount of electricity they drained was much greater than today's. The heat generated by these large boxes was amazing. You would turn them off and still hear the sound slowly diminishing over several seconds (due to the size of both the capacitors and resistors in the circuitry). If anything was going to cause a wash of electromagnetic radiation pollution, it was the early radios of the mid-20th Century.

    When high-tension power lines began sprawling across the country, there was a corresponding increase in lawsuits against power companies, for the electromagnetic pollution. The trouble is, the courts won't recognise what scientific research cannot verify. The only scientific experts called in as witnesses were the ones making money by proclaiming themselves as experts in 'environmental medicine'. Few others would step forward and say, "Yes, this causes problems."

    A few years ago there was some talk that mobile phones caused brain tumours. This was an idea born out of an observation of an apparent increase (based on anecdotal evidence) of brain tumours in an area near where the aerial of a mobile phone would be, when calls are being made. We were told to use an ear piece and microphone, for safety. Then tests were done which showed tat the earpiece acted like an even bigger aerial, it actually increased the risk (if risk there really was).
    Then after exhaustive work in a number of countries, it was decreed that there is no danger and we could all use our mobile phones with confidence. Since then the number of mobile phones in use has greatly increased here in Australia (I think we have one of the highest user rates per capita in the world) and we have NOT had a rash of brain tumours. Our autism rate is high, but it hasn't increased at the same rate as mobile phone usage. I do stress, this is based on my own observations, but I do feel that if there was a genuine correlation between autism and electromagnetic radiation such as from mobile phones, then we would have seen a significant increase, enough to set alarm bells off even more. But I've been trawling for incidence figures over here, for the last few years the quoted incidence has been the same.

    And another point about this article - by quoting incidence statistics from a reputable organisation, it lends a certain amount of credibility to the rest of the article, which could well be undeserved. By being able to say, "According to CDC reports" it makes it seem as if CDC are responsible for even more in this article, when in fact they would probably be shaking their heads in despair at this.

    So I looked up Tamara Mariea. Yes, she is the founder of Internal Balance. This is where the article was first published (on their website) and the last couple of paragraphs read like an ad for her and her business. Testimonial stuff. Very suspect in an article like this.Having someone quoted as saying that she is inspirational only adds to the testimonial feel. You do not get this sort of personal promotion in genuine research papers.
    So who is giving her such a glowing report?
    Dr George Carlo, to whom Tamara in turn also gives a glowing testimonial.
    I looked him up in Wikipedia and found most of the Wikipedia reference was based on Dr Carlo's own blog. And yes, he is another person with a vested interest in finding bogeymen under the beds when it comes to mobile phones and electromagnetic radiation. He headed an investigation into mobile phone hazards which initially found no problem, but he later came out and declared that despite this research mobile phones COULD BE dangerous. I do wonder why he changed his mind. A quote of his I found from 1999 indicates that he's not saying they're dangerous, just that there is no proof that they are safe and therefore he feels it's wrong to say they are. And the more he tried to say, "How do you feel about the massive increase in mobile phone use and ownership, when there is no proof tat they are safe?" the more criticism he copped, which is enough to turn someone into a rabid campaigner.

    George Carlo and Tamara Mariea both work in the field of electromagnetic radiation-induced health problems. My concern is, this is a field which is not currently accepted by the mainstream scientific and medical fraternity. Both these people have a vested interest in scaring people into believing in them. Interestingly, I just found a letter reported to have been written by Dr Carlo in June 2007, in which he blames the increase in WiFi for a lot of health problems. Some of these health problems are ones which he is defining, and then treating. This is like me saying, "I have just identified a condition which I am going to modestly name after myself; Marg's Disease. The symptoms are fatigue, listlessness and a sense of annoyance with your children. But if you take this little blue pill I give you (at some cost, but I need to recoup my initial research and development) and also make sure you reduce your contact with children, then you will recover." Note: I do not define how much you need to reduce your contact with children. Also, it's not always possible to do this. So the failure of your symptoms to go away can always be ascribed to you not following the instructions right. And while you're following my program faithfully (and part of following my program also includes clearing your mind of any scepticism) you are NOT seeking treatment for other possible (and potentially serious) causes of fatigue.

    Are they right? IS there a danger? Or are they simply trying to drum up business?

    I don't know. It needs INDEPENDENT, impartial research to verify this. And from my experience working with people like this - those whose life's work is in a fringe area of health which is not fully accepted by mainstream - they tend to have a massive chip on their shoulder about their lack of acceptance and so use every opportunity to try to prove their point. Their research is often suspect because they just don't do it right (like the group I mentioned earlier) and then they cry foul because mainstream journals won't touch their work. They then publish in the popular press, which only scares away the big journals even more. They don't follow the rules of research and publication, then get upset when they are not accepted because of this.

    So much of alternative complementary medicine ideas are contradictory. We are told to worry about electromagnetic radiation, told to be careful about electrical appliances in the home, told to be careful about the way we align our bed according to the magnetic ley lines of the earth's magnetic field - and yet we see ads for magnetic bracelets, medallions, etc. So which is it? magnetism - good or bad?
    When electricity was first beginning to be used on an industrial scale, magazines were full of treatments administered by electricity. Electric shocks, for example. It was the latest fad.

    Ms Mariea has admitted to following the progress of her own patients. So her samples are going to be biased. "improvement" is not likely to be getting measured objectively. She's combining the concept of chelation therapy for heavy metal toxicity with electromagnetic radiation pollution which is bringing in even more fields which are subject to debate as to whether they are legitimate concerns or not. What she has apparently observed may well warrant further research, but to say she has proved a connection is a huge leap of credibility here.
    Dr Carlo may well have genuinely found, as he claims, reasons to be concerned about mobile phone usage. It should be independently studied (and by that, I mean without funding from the phone companies, who controlled too much of what was permitted to be researched - not acceptable research, fellas). But a lot of what he is saying now is based on his old phone company research, from what I can glean he hasn't done much more since then other than collect anecdotal evidence. He is at the ideas stage; no further. And to say yes, it's a serious cause of a lot of health problems which can be fixed by shutting off all power and living like a hermit - sorry, there is insufficient proof.

    This is akin to my old friend who announced to me that he had been healed at a special healing service - the healer had diagnosed one leg longer than the other, and healed it - all within five minutes. A miraculous healing! Of course, not miraculous if he never had a problem in the first place. I'm not being critical of miraculous healing experiences in general, but there are shonks out there who are fraudulent and the 'one leg longer than the other' is a common trick used by the more fraudulent 'faith healers'. A faith healer who diagnoses a previously unknown and unverifiable problem and then heals it (so nobody could identify it afterwards anyway) is immediately suspect.
    It's like the old elephant joke:
    Q: Why did the elephant wear a green hat?
    A: So he could walk across a billiard table without being seen.
    Q: Have you ever seen an elephant walk across a billiard table?
    A: No. Because it's such a good disguise!

  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Wow, thanks for the info (and the elephant joke). :laugh:
    What bugs me is that this was a major story on AOL, but maybe some people like myself complained, because it was taken down later in the day. They, like other media, like to use alarmist tactics to get people to read their stories, never mind whether it's a valid news source.
    I would never buy a house next to power lines (such as those that cover 1/2 a city block in a network) but I would spend one night in a hotel next to them, the diff being one night compared to a lifetime.
    It's sort of like eating--everything in moderation. :smile: