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Giving CASS a helping hand with some research…

I received an email the other day from Michael Kruse who is with CASS (Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism) which is part of CFI. Here it is the main focus of it:

Hi Patrick,

While I have you, you may be able to help us out on a current CASS project as well.. We are attempting to re-run a study by Ben Goldacre, the Guardian Bad Science writer and physician, that analyzed nutrition claims made by articles in the top ten UK newspapers for their basis in current research. We have identified a number of papers in Canada including the Victoria Times-Colonist. Do you have anybody that could go through the paper for the week of Nov 7, identify stories about food and nutrition that make scientific claims and send us the articles?

thanks for your help on this one!

Do any of you get the TC delivered to your home? and if so, would be willing to do the search for this project?

Please let me know, either on here or direct message me thanks

Patrick

Being skeptical about phonecalls…

Everyone in the Victoria area.
Please be aware, I have just received a call allegedly from Microsoft claiming that my computer was infected and they wanted to try to gain access to my computer. It is not infected. Microsoft does not call if your computer is infected. Just hang up and call your local police. Which is what I did. I hung up on them,and called the RCMP and was able to confirm this was a scam. I also called the federal government Scam busters (1-888-495-8501) and submitted a complaint. Just be aware that this scam is going on.

Patrick

Is WI-FI harmful?

 

For the last few months in Victoria, there has been a fair bit of talk about the fact that BC Hydro is switching from older analog meters to smart meters. These are the meters that monitor electricity usage in our homes, and your electricity bill is based on the information they record. The new meters will not require a meter reader to physically take a reading at every house in Victoria; instead, the smart meters will transmit information to BC Hydro via wifi.

 

Unfortunately, many of those opposed to the smart meters have confused speculation with facts, and have presented these speculations as fact. We will try to deal with some of these speculations over the next few posts.

 

One of the first points raised by those opposed to smart meters is that the World Health Organization (WHO) recently reclassified radiofrequency signals as a Class 2B carcinogen. What does this mean?

This reclassification was announced via WHO press release No 208, dated May 31, 2011 ‘IARC Classifies Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields as Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans.’ (The IARC is the International Agency for Research on Cancer). The press release can be found at <http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf>

It would appear that many people, including many in the media, reported this story without reading the press release, never mind the research methodology that led to the announcement. In the first paragraph, the press release states clearly that the the “classification of Radio Frequency (RF) Magnetic Fields is based on an increased risk for..a type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use.”

Not wifi. Cell phone use.

Furthermore, the classification is based on a possible risk, not an actual risk. That’s what a Class 2B agent means.

The IARC has 5 classes of agents that may or may not be carcinogenic. This list can be found at http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/index.php. The Group that is classified as ‘Carcinogenic to humans’ contains 107 agents. Group 2A, ‘Probably carcinogenic to humans’ contains 59 items. Group 2b, into which cell phone use falls, contains 267 agents. These include the following:

  • Bracken fern
  • Coffee
  • Gasoline
  • Nickel
  • Lead
  • Safrole (sassafras oil)
  • E-glass fibres
  • Talcum powder

Radiofequency electromagnetic fields (includes radiofrequncy electromagnetic fields from wireless phones).

Along with these items are a host of other chemicals that sound very intimidating, like Titanium dioxide and Sterigmatocystin. There are even scarier-sounding compounds classified into Group 3, ‘Not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans’ and Group 4 ‘Probably not carcinogenic to humans’. For most people who are not chemists, it’s pretty challenging to evaluate these agents.

However, the purpose of the lists maintained by the IARC is to let the public know whether their expert review of the evidence shows that there is, in fact, a proven, causative link between cancer and certain agents. Unless that link is proven, it should not be assumed. Wifi and smart meters are not on the list.

Perhaps there is a possibility that cell phones cause an increased chance of getting glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, but at the moment that is unknown, and there is no evidence at all that smart meters cause any kind of cancer. In fact, there is no evidence of harm whatsoever, but more on that later.

I recommend everyone who is interested or concerned about this issue, to read the press release, and also be sure to read the footnotes.

Many people cite the research conducted by Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University. Her research, which purports to link wifi to a variety of maladies, is unsupported by other scientists. Prof. Havas is not a cancer specialist, nor is she an expert in human health. Her PhD is from the Department of Botany at U of T. For a more thorough debunking of her work, see the following article by Brian Dunning at Skeptoid.com. <http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4273> .

It has appears that the concerns about the smart meters have been from an uninformed and kneejerk reaction. Many of the concerns posed are on the BC Hydro website. In my experience, representatives of BC Hydro have been open to comments and queries.

Here are some other links that you may find of interest:

BC Center of Disease Control (BCCDC) FAQs Do cell phones cause cancer? Statement from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall

As well, the folks at ScientificVictoria.org have also been addressing the issue of concerns about wifi in local area schools.

A letter to Elizabeth May, and her reply.. From and to a member of YYJ Skeptics…

One of our members sent a letter to Elizabeth May, the leader and only sitting member of the Green Party of Canada. The attachment is a scan of the response letter from Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada to my email sent to her regarding her reported opposition to BC hydro smart meters, etc.

She also included this link:

http://greenparty.ca/blogs/7/2011-07-28/twitter-fire-storm-and-why-i-said-what-i-said-about-wi-fi

—-Original Email sent to her below—-
Dear Ms. May,
I voted for you hoping to have a level-headed politician to represent the needs and wants of her constituents to the government. Now, I am very disappointed on your stand on smart meters as outlined in a recent Times Columnist article.

Your opposition to this technology seems to be more of a knee-jerk reaction to buzz words like “radiation” than an informed conclusion based on facts.

I suggest you obtain information from experts in the field before taking an opposing stand to the implementation of smart meters. As a representative of people in your riding you should adhere to what is beneficial to the collective, and not make a political stand (and oppose technological progress) based on the fear of a few, who I believe simply lack enough information to justify fear and panic over what the experts consider perfectly safe technology.

Sincerely,
Riaz

Here is a PDF of the reply he received:

GPlizmay

The comments made via twitter and at the meeting are a clear sign that the Leader and only representative of the Green Party in Parliament is party policy..  If Elizabeth May does not understand the science… Then would it not make sense to talk to the Subject Matter experts… or at least check Wikipedia  to get a better understanding on not only the issue, but the real science of Wi-Fi?

What are your thoughts… All comments are welcome.

To clear up some questions about smart meters.. Please check BC Hydro’s FAQs about Radio Frequency and Smart Meters… Although we here at YYJ Skeptics know that many people who believe that WIFI is harmful. We have also reviewed this site as well as the additional resources, and we believe that that all legitimate issues have been addressed.

An investigation of a UFO video in YYJ…

Last summer, I had a you tube video pointed out to me, showing a UFO that was filmed in Victoria:

I was told about this video, just a couple of days after it was released on Youtube.. After figuring out the general location of where the video was shot, I went down to have a look for myself.

I contacted a friend who is a meteorologist, and obtained wind directions, and conditions for that week. I also contacted some people who are in the community, specifically Chinatown.

Here is the breakdown of what I discovered:

From this picture I created on Google Earth, you can see the general area of the camera, as well as the neighborhood. Please notice that Chinatown is in the upper right corner of the picture.

I was told, over the weeks that this was taken, that there were numerous late night launches of Chinese lanterns…

Yep.. That’s right…

This video could have been preplanned as well. In the video, you can hear cars going by, however if these were real UFO’s being seen, the cameraman would have likely been making comments on what he was seeing.

My conclusion, is what was being filmed was Chinese lanterns. I did post my conclusions on the Youtube page, and those comments were deleted.

What are your thoughts? We welcome all comments…

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