Tin foil hats actually make it easier for the Feds to track you, your thoughts

Let’s say some malevolent group — the government, powerful corporations, extraterrestrials — really is trying to read and/or control your thoughts with radio waves. Would the preferred headgear of the paranoid, a foil helmet, really keep The Man and alien overlords out of our brains?…

In 2005, a group of MIT students, prodded by “a desire to play with some expensive equipment,” tested the effectiveness of foil helmets at blocking various radio frequencies. Using two layers of Reynolds aluminum foil, they constructed three helmet designs, dubbed the Classical, the Fez, and the Centurion, and then looked at the strength of the transmissions between a radio-frequency signal generator and a receiver antenna placed on various parts of their subjects’ bare and helmet-covered heads.

The helmets shielded their wearers from radio waves over most of the tested spectrum…but, surprisingly, amplified certain frequencies: those in the 2.6 Ghz (allocated for mobile communications and broadcast satellites) and 1.2 Ghz (allocated for aeronautical radionavigation and space-to-Earth and space-to-space satellites) bands.

While the MIT guys’ tongue-in-cheek conclusion — “the current helmet craze is likely to have been propagated by the Government, possibly with the involvement of the FCC” — maybe goes a few steps too far, their study at least shows that foil helmets fail at, and even counteract, their intended purpose. That, or the students are aliens who fabricated these results in an effort to get you to take your perfectly functional helmet off.

I have no reason not to believe the latter conclusion. If not under extra-terrestrial control, the NSA will suffice.

If there’s a difference.

Cell phones and brain cancer – another round of crap science headlines


I don’t mind radiation as much as the feeling of being watching all the time…

It’s the moment we’ve all been dreading. Initial findings from a massive federal study, released on Thursday, suggest that radio-frequency (RF) radiation, the type emitted by cellphones, can cause cancer.

…To present the authorized opposing viewpoint. I’m going to outsource it to Aaron Carroll, who’s pretty annoyed:

It was a rat study….9 hours a day, seven days a week….At the end of the study, survival was lower in the control group of males than in all the exposed males. Survival was lower in the control group of females for two of the three exposed groups. Yet no headlines blared that cell phones extend life

….I didn’t see any sample size calculation….power calculation….about 14%. This means that false positives are very likely. The cancer difference was only seen in females, not males. The incidence of brain cancer in the exposed groups was well within the historical range…

Also, this: Cell phones are UBIQUITOUS in the United States. If they were causing cancer, we would expect to see rates of cancer going up, right? That’s not what we’re seeing. They’ve been decreasing since the late 1980’s…

On the other hand, maybe it’s not the cell phones at all. Maybe it’s the cell towers. Has everyone here read Waldo? Maybe you should.

No doubt there are conspiracy nutballs on eBay offering up tinfoil-shrouded earphones at this very minute. Someone has to make a profit from lousy journalism.

Conservative PM in Oz has references to climate change removed from UN report


Click to enlarge

The lead author of a major UN report on climate change has expressed his shock that every reference to Australia was removed from the final version, following intervention from the Australian government.

Guardian Australia on Friday revealed that chapters on the Great Barrier Reef and sections on Kakadu and Tasmanian forests were removed from the World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate report, following the Australian Department of Environment’s objection that the information could harm tourism.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, which jointly published the report with the United Nations environment program and Unesco, published an independent statement on the reef this morning.

“The biggest threat to the GBR today, and to its ecosystems services, biodiversity, heritage values and tourism economy, is climate change, including warming sea temperatures, accelerating rates of sea level rise, changing weather patterns and ocean acidification.”

Adam Markham of the UCS, the lead author of the report, said he was “really disappointed” by the revelation that parts of the document had been excised.

He also noted that with the removal of every mention of Australia went a number of positive stories about research and safeguards, including the protected area management strategies being tested to make Australian world heritage sites more resilient to change.

Australia has a good story to tell about its climate science and it should tell it,” he said.

It never ends, does it. We had conservative thugs like George W in the US – and Harper in Canada – condemned by the world of science journalism for their creepy efforts at censorship. They think no one will notice, no one will stick a finger in their eye and point out their deceit.

Thanks, Honeyman