Who says woo is harmless? How’s a school district blowing $172,000 over Wi-Fi “hazards”?
Oftentimes when those of us with a skeptical bent question ridiculous woo like homeopathy, we’re told, “Hey, it’s harmless! Leave it alone, why do you have to ruin these beliefs?”
Were people not putting their trust in things that won’t heal them–or, more importantly, heal their children, who have no say, or even their animals, who can’t talk–maybe we’d not get so riled.
Then again, maybe we would.
Is it ridiculous to believe, in the complete absence of scientific evidence of harm, that a Wi-Fi signal will cause gastrointestinal upset, infertility, and cancer? Sure is! But is it harmless?
Most folks can just say, “I won’t have Wi-Fi in my house,” and that’s that. But one parent decided to sue Portland Public Schools for having Wi-Fi in the public school. So far, his frivolous lawsuit has cost the taxpayers $172,000.
One year ago, the parent of a Portland Public Schools student sued the district with claims a new Wi-Fi network in his daughter’s middle school was poisoning her and potentially harming other students.
As WW reported, there’s no scientific evidence for such claims (see “Wi-Fi Woo-Woo,” WW, July 13, 2011). The parent, David Mark Morrison, who works as a rare-book dealer, is part of a pseudo-scientific movement that claims Wi-Fi and related technologies cause everything from brain cancer to infertility to digestive complaints.
Most studies that adherents cite as evidence haven’t been published or peer-reviewed in reputable scientific journals. Some anti-wireless websites sell literature and protective charms, including amulets and crystals.
Morrison’s case might have been easy to label as frivolous and, it seems, might have been headed for an early dismissal.
Not so. Portland Public Schools officials tell WW they have already spent $172,559 in public money to defend the district against Morrison’s claim that PPS’s Wi-Fi network has harmed his daughter.
The bulk of that cost has gone to investigating and deposing expert witnesses . . . including Morrison’s star (t)witness, one Barrie Trower. Who’s he?
Trower claims he worked on a “stealth” microwave warfare program for the British Navy (noting he had no rank because he refused promotions) and was assigned to a secret British prison housing “spies, dissidents, international terrorists [and] gangland killers.”
Trower claims a bachelor’s degree in physics earned in night classes, has been repeatedly turned down by Ph.D. programs, and says he recently traveled to consult with “the king in South Africa” on Wi-Fi dangers. (South Africa abolished the monarchy in 1961.)
Oh. A loon. Surprise, surprise.
We all know the arguments in favor of helping “the little guy” bring a lawsuit when there is a health hazard or other problem being covered up. Remember Erin Brockovich?
But it’s high time we found some middle ground. Teachers are being laid off and class sizes shrinking, and school districts are defending themselves against “experts” who have delusions about visiting non-existent kings?
I suppose “experts” who visit imaginary kings aren’t that much different from “experts” who have lengthy conversations with their imaginary friends and, instead of keeping it a secret or seeking counseling, instead advertise it as a qualification.
Note: If you’d like to make a donation to Portland Public Schools, visit this link. From there, you can either donate items (computers, school supplies, furniture, clothing, whatever), or cash (via DonorsChoose.org, SchoolhouseSupplies.org, or Greenbucks).