Dale Dougherty writes at O'Reilly Radar about supposed health hazards of wifi, and how a small number of residents used this fear to force Sebastopol, CA to stop a plan to permit city-wide public wifi. An excerpt:
One can see the fear spreading. Science should be a way to dispel such fears but it is clear with this group of people that science cannot be trusted. They put forth the idea that science should be able to prove that there is no harm and therefore eliminate any risk, and without such proof, we should not move forward. They use this logic to recommend a "precautionary" approach, which is their keyword for a "know-nothing, do-nothing" approach.
Now, I don't know that wireless (or electricity) is without harm. I can read the research that does exist and learn more -- if I have the time and reason to do so. However, I do not like the smell of fear, and when people justify actions based on their own fears, I become suspicious that the concern is unwarranted. If it wasn't wifi, it would be flouride. Something is needed to affix to their anxiety. I can only be glad that they weren't alive when the city decided on electrification a century ago.
Like Dougherty, I'm willing to bet that wifi isn't dangerous, but I still have problems with what he says. For example: "it is clear with this group of people that science cannot be trusted." Well, we do have examples where scientists has been wrong in similar situations and should not have been trusted as quickly -- think pesticides and radiation fallout from nuclear tests and accidents. How do scientists earn trust? By having a good track record and by providing evidence. Have they provided enough evidence that wifi is harmless? I don't know, but what I've read seems to suggest that more studies could be done. The precautionary approach does not (I think) call for absolute proof, but only for strong evidence -- I think Dougherty's characterization of it is simplistic.
Dougherty doesn't like people basing their decisions on emotion, but how different is it when he bases his decision on blind faith in the scientists' word? It's right to be suspicious when the critics offer nothing but blind fear, but I think it's also right to be suspicious when the advocates offer nothing but blind faith.