Electromagnetic hypersensitivity

From RationalWiki
(Redirected from Electrosensitivity)
Jump to: navigation, search
Putting the psycho in
Icon psychic.svg
Men who stare at goats
By the powers of tinfoil
Style over substance
Icon pseudoscience.svg
Popular pseudosciences
Random examples

Not to be confused with the actual medical condition of sound sensitivity (Hyperacusis)

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity disorder — people who believe they have sensitivity to electronic devices claim that electronic signals from WiFi, cellphones and even television can cause them to experience headaches, fatigue and even heart palpitations. […] The symptoms you experience with electromagnetic hypersensitivity are identical to the symptoms of anxiety and stress. […] Over 46 studies were reviewed in 2009 in the Journal of Bioelectromagnetics, and they found that people who were exposed to electromagnetic signals were unable to determine when the devices were turned on or off. Bad hypothesis — should've used Occam's Razor.
Maddox, How to tell if you believe in bullshit[1]

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (ES for short) is a self-diagnosed[2] "medical condition" caused by a supposed "sensitivity" to the harmless radiation emitted by all electronical devices. The symptoms are in reality not a result of the "disorder" but of the nocebo effect.

ES is claimed by believers to present itself either directly in the crank "patient" as some unspecific form of nausea or tingling (or some other vague fever symptom), or — more asymptomatically — as an alleged long-term cancer hazard.

This despite the fact that the electromagnetic radiation in question is exclusively non-ionizing (read: unable to cause cancer), nor able to cause physical discomfort or stress.[3]

ES is surrounded by the usual hysteria founded on an inability to understand that radiation spans a spectrum from the harmless (domestic electrical power), through the benign (infra-red), through the not-so-benign (ultra-violet or UV), all the way up to the downright scary (gamma).


While some forms of electromagnetic radiation do cause sickness (e.g. UV from the Sun causes sunburn, and potentially skin cancer), this "medical" condition is only related to modern electronics, such as power lines or wireless devices. Incidents include:

  • Early studies made claims that power lines and other electromagnetic radiation doubled the rate of leukemia.[4] However, this was not confirmed under proper analysis.[5]
  • A man named Per Segerbäck claimed to suffer from electromagnetic sensitivity from cell phones. Phones that are making a call, receiving a call, or searching for a signal supposedly trigger the sensitivity, while an idle phone does not.[6]
  • Cell phones are generally claimed to increase the chance of brain tumors. However, no link was discovered.[7] Cell phones may still cause other health issues, most commonly hearing loss as some individuals find the need to yell in their phone to communicate.
  • A cell phone tower was erected on August 12, 2009 in the Fourways Memorial Park in Craigavon, South Africa. Residents of Craigavon complained about radiation from the tower causing headaches, rashes and other issues, despite the tower being turned off during the time the alleged symptoms took place.[8] The residents still wanted to get the tower removed, citing environmental concerns and public participation issues.

The not at all loony[9] "Citizens for Safe Technology"[10] tried to get a court ruling preventing the use of incredibly dangerous[11] wireless smart meters in British Columbia, Canada.[12] They lost,[13] and lost again on appeal.[14] But apparently they are still working on a class action suit for the damage caused by something they can't detect and for which there is absolutely no credible evidence.[15] Apparently they demand the right to live as they please, though for some reason they have not yet spotted that there is no law forcing them to have electricity in their homes.[16]

They should all be dead[edit]

The ultimate problem with the argument for electromagnetic hypersensitivity as an actual illness is that if it were an actual condition, people suffering from the condition would have died long ago, or be in constant pain. The civilized parts of the world are blanketed with electromagnetic signals from radio and satellite signal transmissions. Between AM/FM broadcasts, ham radio transmissions, C-, Ka- and Ku-band transmissions for television and satellite internet signal, GSM and CDMA cellular transmissions, GPS signals and any manner of private or government signals, most of them significantly stronger than the signals produced by individual cell phones or WiFi endpoints, people with electromagnetic hypersensitivity would be unable to leave their own yards, let alone their own houses, without writhing in hideous agony.

Then there is the curious fact that many people claiming to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity underwent diagnostic MRI procedures without any problems. In other words, they claim that electromagnetic fields in the milliwatt range cause all sorts of symptoms, yet at the same time they appear to be totally insensitive to electromagnetic pulses in the kilowatt range from an MRI device.

Additionally, electrical devices in general, including DC devices such as flashlights and kids' toys and AC devices that plug straight into the wall, and even the wiring in the walls, give off electromagnetic radiation, no matter how strong the shielding on the cables might be.


The proper treatment for radiation is to live isolated from society, become Amish, build a Faraday cage within your house, wear a tinfoil hat, or a combination of these treatments. However, the cheapest option is to be a normal person, and visit a doctor to find out what's actually causing your symptoms.

Some people say that when tested those claiming electromagnetic hypersensitivity are unable to tell whether the evil device is actually transmitting or not. This is funny (a) mischievous and (b) entirely true.

In a nutshell[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • ElectroSensitivity UK, "to help those who have become sensitive"
  • Prove-It, who wants a moratorium on all new public wireless technologies until they're "proven" to cause no harm
  • Best EMF Health, run by someone who claims EMF gave them six different cancers, and who now hawks "LifeWave patches".