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Panorama Wi-Fi boffin bites back

The BBC's Panorama recently alleged that Wi-Fi causes kids to explode or cripples dolphins or something (I've been away, forgive the vagueness). Either way, the BBC caused all manner of rage among people who understand these things.

As one of my esteemed colleagues recently pointed out, the problem with the BBC Panorama investigation into the levels of radiation school Wi-fi networks are throwing at kids' brains - is that it's nonsense (I paraphrase, of course).

To quote none other than PC Advisor's Forum Editor, the BBC's attitude seemed to be: "There is no hard evidence, so let's make a programme that muddies the water, and scare the willies out of lots of people." Quite. My willy was scared off immediately.

Taking up the cudgels on behalf of non-brain-fried kiddies everywhere, Ben Goldacre of The Guardian's excellent Bad Science website pointed out that Panorama's story may be slightly tainted. It seems that the radiation meter used by the Panorama hacks was built by one of the anti-Wi-Fi experts interviewed in the programme, one Alasdair Philips. Which certainly doesn't meet the journalistic standards of PC Advisor, for one.

(When I want to prove radiation, for instance, I lick my finger and hold it up to the 'source'.)

And Philips has form - Goldacre reckons he has a grudge against Wi-Fi. (This seems like an arbitrary sort of thing to hate, but it takes all sorts to make a (wired) world.)

You can read Alasdair Philips' robust rebuttal here. His argument is, er, strident but, in my eyes at least, it falls down on the fact that you can buy all manner of expensive anti-Wi-Fi kit via the Powerwatch site. These include headnets, beds and snake oil. Alright, there's no snake oil.

So there you have it. An argument brewing nicely. I'm no expert (self-styled or not), but it's Friday evening and I'm off to drink ten pints of 802.11n juice and stick my head in a Wi-Fi router.

Anti-Wi-Fi headgear

Check out the headnet! Out damn Wi-Fi

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