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Communications Medicine

Wi-Fi Allergy a PR Stunt 174

ADiamond writes "There is no Wi-Fi allergy. The English DJ claiming a Wi-Fi sensitivity, chronicled earlier, was a PR stunt to promote his new album. It would appear that the stunt was highly successful, appearing in multiple high-profile media outlets like The Sun, The Telegraph, and Fox News. The article at Ars goes on to discuss the evidence, or lack-thereof, of electromagnetic spectrum sensitivity."
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Wi-Fi Allergy a PR Stunt

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:13PM (#28901291) Journal
    ... I wish downloading an artists album without paying actually did do the artist physical/economic harm. Here's to hoping that later in life he suffers from an actual ailment while everyone ignores him.
    • by jolyonr ( 560227 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:46PM (#28901941) Homepage
      to hurt him even more!
    • If you want to hurt him, then just make sure that when you bittorrent his album that your computer is connected wirelessly, since he's allergic to...DOH!
    • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <> on Friday July 31, 2009 @05:00PM (#28902137) Homepage

      He already has it. It's called Asshole disease. In rare cases, it cause a loss in popularity, being socially ostracized, and attempts to win back old friends as society turns their back on you for being a douchebag.

      • That sounds like one of those newfangled phoney-baloney diseases. He should get a real man's disease. []

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          Well asshole disease, and anal-retentive speaking disorder are semi-related to each other. The only cure is to pull their head out of their ass and beat with a clue bat. However in this day and age, we do have a few new ones including douchwaffle disease, shit speakers syndrome, and meme disorder.

          The last one is particularly vicious, and comes from people who use memes which are 8 months to 3 years out of date, and need to be beat to death with a large spongy bat.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JCSoRocks ( 1142053 )
      meh. The media spends so much time propagating garbage and so little doing background research I enjoy seeing them get owned like this. If you're a little guy trying to get noticed, I see no real harm in using their stupidity to your advantage. Guerrilla marketing ftw!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Joce640k ( 829181 )

        I wonder if they'll publish the retraction of the story tomorrow, with similarly big headlines. They usually do ... right?

      • by Nethead ( 1563 )

        If you're a little guy trying to get noticed, I see no real harm in using their stupidity to your advantage.

        Makes perfect sense coming from an Christan. It's how your cult was founded Mr. J.C. so rocks.

      • That is why you should rely on reliable news sources written by journalists who check their facts, not random blogs......

        Opps, I got that the wrong way round.

    • Oh it does, if you believe the RIAA's legal theories...
    • He got his cheap publicity in a way that we most don't agree with. So, the best we can do is ignore him from now on.

      But how are the artists that currently have the biggest chunk of the publicity cake any better? OK, some of them might be, but most aren't. And he's just some asshole. Too many assholes around, why care about this one? Even wishing him bad things you're caring too much. So don't wish him anything, instead go and download and/or *buy* music from artists that deserve it more than he does.

      That sa

      • ...except the damage is done. The hippies and new-agers have already latched onto the story as yet more proof that WiFi is harmful and their neuroses are real.

        Stunts like this aren't 'harmless'. We should publicly flog him, not ignore him.

        • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

          I agree, his claims are going to open up a wave of lawsuits against wireless operators.

          Bring back the cat-O-nine-tails.

          Better yet people who make such claims should be removed from society "for their own protection".

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        More accurately that person lied about a personal condition in order to profit and then wants more fame by public announcing the deceit and proclaiming that based upon their lack of intellect, that 'all' people are unaffected by electro magnetic radiation, why, because this uninformed liar says so.

        Here is an interesting example to review [] this is a wonderful example of how lies survive and grow based upon greed. It would appear that corporations will absolutely

        • by ColaMan ( 37550 )

          So cook away people and just think about the noble sacrifice you make to promote other peoples profit margins.

          Ah yes, the Evil Corporation. Don't forget that I get something in return as well from using these things - normally a lot of added convenience or usefulness.

          It's very convenient to have quick food, instant network/telecoms access, a cold beer after work and the smooth refreshing taste of a good cigarette (well, personally I'll pass on the last one). Whether its worth the risks involved with each on

    • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      What's more concerning is that people actually gave him their attention. When I heard that "Allergic to wireless signals" I just dismissed it. Humans are stupid creatures, why pay attention to one who makes absurd claims?

  • We know. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:16PM (#28901371) Journal

    If you read the comments below the LAST article you would know that you didn't need to inform us.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I mean how hard is it to get one of the people, put them in a room, and have them tell you whether or not you plugged in a router?

    • "I mean how hard is it to get one of the people, put them in a room, and have them tell you whether or not you plugged in a router?"

      They might guess that if they can hear transformer hum.

      Either they do an accurate mental Nmap scan or I call bullshit.

      • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

        Better yet tie them to the top of a cellphone tower for a week, if they survive then we know they were stupid and can then apply the death penalty. Sometimes Natural Selection needs a helping hand.

      • "I mean how hard is it to get one of the people, put them in a room, and have them tell you whether or not you plugged in a router?"

        They might guess that if they can hear transformer hum.

        Which is why a lot of these sorts of put-them-in-a-room tests (which have happened on occasion) deliberately play a humming or other "electrical" sound, desynched with the actual wireless signal (the source of which is often not even visible). If the person responds to the lights and sounds they see, then it's all fake or psychosomatic. If the person responds not to the lights and sounds but to the real wireless signal, then they've really got wireless sensitivity.

        So far, they've ALL responded to the ligh

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <> on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:19PM (#28901421) Homepage Journal

    Now this story will linger as 'common knowledge' for years and rational people will have to cnstantly explain it was a PR stunt.

    Well done jackass, you've made the world a worse place.

    • On the contrary (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Eevee ( 535658 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:26PM (#28901569)

      He's made the world a better place. Now anybody who claims to be suffering from this fake malady can be told to shut up with "Oh, that's a fake disease from an old PR stunt."

      You have to remember, people were already claiming to suffer from it; it's already in the 'common knowledge' bin. He's brought nothing new to the table as far as claims go.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid ( 135745 )

        He added cement to the idea.
        All this stuff, Bigfoot, UFO's, Homeopathy, reiki, only gets stronger when something like this happens. When it is proven to be fake, or shown that there is no evidence, it doesn't get reported in mainstream and when it does it gets put on page 8.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sorak ( 246725 )

      Now this story will linger as 'common knowledge' for years and rational people will have to cnstantly explain it was a PR stunt.

      Well done jackass, you've made the world a worse place.

      Didn't he do that by deciding to become a DJ?

    • by Thaelon ( 250687 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @05:09PM (#28902245)

      Quick, put it on

      It's the best we can do for now.

    • Congratulations, you just described "The DaVinci Code".
  • by Anonymusing ( 1450747 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:20PM (#28901437)

    I'm allergic to PR stunts. You have no idea how miserable they make life. I am dizzy all the time, and can't stop sneezing. And the rashes. And the boils. I may be going blind, as well.

    By the way, I have a new album coming out, called "Craposensitive".

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 )

      I may be going blind, as well.

      That's not the PR stunts. "Can I do it until I need glasses?"

    • by radtea ( 464814 )

      I'm allergic to PR stunts.

      It's an interesting question as to why no one would take this seriously, no matter how brain-dead stupid they are, but legions of the very same morons take equally idiotic claims of "wifi allergy" seriously.

      It isn't like everyone loves PR people and hates wifi, so it isn't as simple as that (the affect of how much people like something is dramatic--ask people about post-op pain and there answer will tell you how much they like their surgeon, and nothing else.)

      Wifi is relatively new

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by m.ducharme ( 1082683 )

        So why do the anti-empirical morons insist on taking things like wifi allergy seriously, and not PR-stunt allergy?

        Well, because if I don't take is wifi allergy seriously, then why should he take my fibromyalgia seriously? Or your chronic pain disorder? What I think is happening is that there are two main effects at work here. One is a result of a kind of "post-scientific" thinking, the same kind of thinking that drives the New Age movement, basically the idea that nobody is wrong, everyone has their own opinion about the world, and that opinion is valid. If you subscribe to this school of thought, one of the rigours

        • Most of the mysterious illnesses of our society, from wifi allergies to "travelling" pain, to fibromyalgia and chronic pain disorder, are all manifestations of dysthemia and depression.


    • You lucky lucky bastard! I have an allergy allergy. I get sick from people claiming they have allergies that will never ever be healable. (While I know for a fact that they are and have seen many allergies heal.)

      And the believers only hung me the right way up yesterday!

  • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:24PM (#28901517) Journal

    Misleading and deceiving people for notoriety and financial gain. How the fuck is this not fraud?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Hmm. So if I have ads on my blog and I post "misleading and deceptive" blog posts that are "fun to read" or "sensational" (sounds like the mass media), is that fraud? Or how about advertising that implies "If you drink this, you'll get a girl like the one in this ad!"? ...

      Summary: I don't see this as being particularly any worse than most publicity. Heh, for that matter, all of Hollywood is misleading and deceptive for the sake of financial gain

      • by syousef ( 465911 )

        how about advertising that implies "If you drink this, you'll get a girl like the one in this ad!"? ...

        Fuck yes. It's called false advertising. It use to be prosecuted more vigorously. Ever since society let that slip, advertising has become a synonym for lying.

    • Its only fraud if he had people give money (such as, help me build a new wi-fi proof house because I have this condition) simply blogging about fictional events is not fraud.
    • How is this fraud?? What exactly did he *take* from you? What did it hurt you?
      I can claim I got three buttocks all year long. So what? If you decide to pick it up and run with the story, the shame is on you.

      This one needs two people. The one stating the bullshit, and the one believing in it. ;)

      • by syousef ( 465911 )

        This one needs two people. The one stating the bullshit, and the one believing in it. ;)

        If I claim I own a bridge and that I'll sell it to you for a small fee, that also requires the other person to believe the bullshit, but it clearly is fraud. Fraud legislation is there to protect the weak/vulnerable/gullible too. If it wasn't it'd be the law of the jungle with the smartest person winning, and stupid people would have to resort to violence. You don't want to live ina world like that.

  • by Hawthorne01 ( 575586 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:24PM (#28901529)
    Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh, It burns!!!!!!!!! (Buy my new album) Arrrrrrghhhhh, AgonyAgonyAgony!!!!!!!
  • Do we censor the news outlets that failed to do even the most basic fact checking? Put them on notice somehow?

    Do we boycott those sources? As groups or individuals?

    Do we just ignore it, as status quo, and bitch about it on slashdot?

    Now that we know, and people can prove we know, I wonder if we aren't supposed to take some kind of action.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I say we email the hell out of, let us show this guy there is no wrath like that of /.

    • by davmoo ( 63521 )

      If we boycott the outlets that spread the story as news and real, we then would not be able to bitch about it on Slashdot...Slashdot was just as guilty of spreading the story as factual as anyone else.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      I've noticed boing boing [] has had increasingly bad and misleading posts/articles lately, down to "what caused these waves in the snow" and other random BS. Whatever draws an audience, and the clicking of advertising links, I suppose. You don't see crappy articles like these in the NYT.

  • Amazing... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Foobar of Borg ( 690622 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:27PM (#28901589)
    It was reported by The Sun, The Telegraph, and Fox News. I'm surprised those bastions of journalistic integrity and careful, measured reporting didn't check their facts better before releasing these reports.
  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:30PM (#28901641)

    The ban Dihydrogenmonoxide stunt also got the media messed up in a comical frenzy over bad science.

    This site is still up for your reading pleasure. []

    The environmental impact of the stuff is huge. It's found most everywhere. []

    For those who don't get the joke the punchline is here; []
    n 1989, Eric Lechner, Lars Norpchen and Matthew Kaufman circulated a Dihydrogen Monoxide contamination warning on the UC Santa Cruz Campus via photocopied fliers.[8] The concept originated one afternoon when Kaufman recalled a similar warning about "Hydrogen Hydroxide" that had been published in his mother's hometown paper, the Durand (Michigan) Express, and the three then worked to coin a term that "sounded more dangerous". Lechner typed up the original warning flier on Kaufman's computer, and a trip to the local photocopying center followed that night.

    • by ivan_w ( 1115485 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:32PM (#28901691) Homepage

      Awww.. come on !

      The dihydrogen monoxide/hydric acid/hydrane stunt was just *brilliant* !


      • Awww.. come on !

        The dihydrogen monoxide/hydric acid/hydrane stunt was just *brilliant* !

        And the press and some governments fell for it hook line and sinker.

        In March 2004, Aliso Viejo, California almost considered banning the use of foam containers at city-sponsored events because dihydrogen monoxide is part of their production. A paralegal had asked the city council to put it on the agenda; he later attributed it to poor research.[13] The law was pulled from the agenda before it could come to a vote, but not before the city received a raft of bad publicity.[4]

        Quote from the wikipedia linked above.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 )

      Anybody at slashdot who doesn't know wht dihydrogen monoxide is should turn in his nerd card. Saturday Night Live had a skit about that very thing, back when the now Senator was a cast member. He played a Dow executive saying that chemistry always made life better, and drank some of the DHMO to show how good chemistry was.

      So Gilda Radner gave him a glass of H2SO4, and hilarity then ensued.

      • Little Johnny was a chemist
        Little Johnny is no more
        For what he thought was H2O
        Was H2SO4

        - Author unknown, but a very old poem
    • At least dihydrogen monoxide can be dangerous, unlike 2.4 Ghz low-power equipment. It's known to fill in low spaces and force out breathable air. People with more dihydrogen monoxide in their lungs than air tend can suffer brain damage and even death. An unconscious human can asphyxiate in even a shallow pool of this stuff. It's so common, in fact, that there's a special word for it. It's called "drowning".

    • This is different, somehow, from the actual people out there with very real sensitivities to EM radiation. Sure it's not an allergy, but people tend to misuse the term allergy when they mean sensitivity and the main reason to be skeptical of WiFi sensitivities is due to the low power of them.
  • Did the DJ confirm ? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by droopycom ( 470921 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @04:39PM (#28901811)

    I mean, I would call this a stunt if the DJ did indeed acknowledge it, and said that he has no condition.

    But as of now, this article is just another opinion from a journalist that the the condition is BS, and might indeed have been used as a way to promote an album.

    There is nothing fundamentally wrong to promote an album based on what one believes. If the DJ really believes that he is electro-sensitive, then it makes perfect sense for him to promote an album called "electro-sensitive" by talking about his "disease" (even if everybody knows that the disease is only in his head).

    What's more scary is not that its used as a PR tool, but the fact that the media was so gullible to just pass it along....

  • Check out this link: [] Double-blind study with repeatable results, showed some subjects were sensitive. Remember, the scientific method means that nothing is ever proven definitively; all we can do is hypothesize, experiment, lather, rinse, repeat.
    • Hmmm, a so called study, posted on the website of one of the guys who performed the study. Said website being a storefront selling dubious 'environmental' products. Color me skeptical.

    • by Rycross ( 836649 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @08:25PM (#28904297)

      Its a fairly interesting study, I'll admit. However, after a brief reading of it, I noticed:
      1) The methodology doesn't say whether the generator is in view of the subject, and the phrasing suggests that it is. The generator could have had tells.
      2) Doesn't mention how the administrator was isolated from the subjects in the double-blind experiments.
      3) It states that a single-blind was first conducted, then goes on to say that the double-blind was conducted with "the same parameters."

      It would be nice to see these clarified and the results reproduced. If there were issues with the "double-blind" (either the administrator or the generator being observable), then the first run of the single blind, and subsequent weeding out of the test subjects, would select for those who would be able to recognize the tells.

      This particular paragraph gave me a bit of pause too:
      "In our experience, the patients' clinical responses could not always be reproduced completely, but the objective Iriscorder, EKG, and respirometer could be. However, the responses were definitely different from controls or placebo challenges. In our experience over the years, we have found partial reproduction of symptoms on repeat challenge to be as significant as total reproduction. Therefore, significant differences from controls in objective ineasurementa were deemed valid."

      There are some other questionable assumptions in the discussion section as well.

      Still, it would nice to see the experiment reproduced, since they did manage to obtain some interesting results that would be worthwhile investigating.

  • Trifecta (Score:3, Informative)

    by jafiwam ( 310805 ) on Friday July 31, 2009 @05:03PM (#28902169) Homepage Journal
    "appearing in multiple high-profile media outlets like The Sun, The Telegraph, and Fox News."

    Lol, that's the tard-trifecta right there man. I sure hope Bigfoot doesn't get angry about the coverage of him this crap displaced.
  • Ok, so not an allergy, but what about these cell-phone cancer studies? If confirmed, it would also confirm electromagnetic sensitivity, although not an allergy, but it still would be having adverse affects.

    I'll let you all debate the validity of those studies.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gnupun ( 752725 )
      The slashdot title for this story is highly misleading: it's trying to insinuate all people complaining of Wi-Fi allergy are phonies just because some greedy joker pulled a stunt.

      Let's look at the facts:
      • Sticking your head or any body part in a microwave oven will severely injure or kill you -- microwave energy is highly dangerous.
      • Overuse of cellphones is likely to cause brain cancer after several years of use. Cellphones emit the same microwave radiation as the microwave oven, only with much diluted po
      • Putting your head in a boiling pot of water or in a working oven is dangerous as well. Ergo standing several feet away from it is going to kill you as well... NO.

        The microwave kills you because it cooks you. In fact, you will be CURED of any cancer because cooked cancer cells are just as dead as anything else that is cooked.

        Guns kill, so carrying a gun gives you cancer because cancer is caused by lead and since guns kill with lead... BAD LOGIC.

  • He'll get sued for copying the music on his album. Sonata Arctica already wrote the song Weballergy.
  • Can we sue him now, for all the profits he may get from this album of his? Or at least, can the news services sue him for fraud or something to that effect? People shouldn't be allowed to get away with crying wolf like this.
  • It would appear that the stunt was highly successful, appearing in multiple high-profile media outlets like The Sun, The Telegraph, Fox News and Slashdot


    • by maugle ( 1369813 )
      I don't think it counts if almost every single comment for the article runs along the lines of "There is no such allergy. This man is an idiot."
      • Running the headlines means that Slashdot was reporting it as a "media outlet," and based on /.'s traffic, I would consider it "high-profile." I said nothing about how the general reading population regarded this alleged allergy.
          Said "stunt" is effective if it gets publicity - good or bad.

  • The fact that Fox News and The Sun got hosed in by this stunt comes as no surprise to me. News media by the morons and for the morons. But the Telegraph? They're normally a bit smarter than that.

    Still, the fact that the news media were so easily fooled serves to illustrate how little the mainstream media understand about science and technology.

  • My wife's friends, who sell this medallion that supposedly shields you from EM radiation, especially WiFi and cell radiation, have been calling and emailing everyone they know quoting this incident and going on about how we M U S T H A V E T H I S P R O T E C T I O N .

    Pus. Can I beat this guy down? Please? Please?

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Your wife needs new friends. She might want to consider some that can think.

      Also, challenge your wife's friend to email everyone back as say it was a PR stunt and she was wrong.
      That would be the ethical thing...not that she demonstrates any ethics.

  • Wow, what an amazing surprise that this psychosomatic illness turned out to be... fake!

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972