Radiation fears prompt kids’ experiment that appears to confirm radiation fears. [Biased much?]

Everyone hold up on the fear mongering about wifi in schools. One experiment in the classroom is not proof of anything.

School experiment discovers garden cress won’t germinate near a router | Science! | Geek.com.

A group of 5 girls have carried out a science experiment at Hjallerup School in North Jutland, Denmark that saw garden cress seeds placed in 12 tubs and split into two batches. Both batches were placed in different rooms that remained the same temperature, and were given the same amount of water and sunlight over the course of 12 days.

You’d expect both batches of 6 tubs to grow equally well, but one set didn’t even germinate. The reason? They were placed next to two routers. Although it’s unclear exactly why this happened, it is thought that the radiation produced by the routers is what stopped the seeds germinating.

Umm, the router may NOT be the reason. You can’t conclusively say that it is.

Here is another article. However, this one is from a scare mongering site, Citizens for Safe Technology.

C4ST – Danish Students Attract International Attention with Cress and Wifi Experiment.

It is a recipe for a biology test so brilliant that it has attracted international attention among acknowledged biologists and radiation experts. Behind the experiment are five girls from 9b in Hjallerup School in North Jutland, and it all started because they found it difficult to concentrate during the school day:

– We all think we have experienced difficulty concentrating in school, if we had slept with the phone next to our head, and sometimes also experienced having difficulty sleeping, explains Lea Nielsen, who is one of the five aspiring researchers.

Ooh, people are going to love this. But, just from the articles we can see major problems. First, blinding and bias. The girls already perceive that radiation is causing them issues. It is not noted that the router was hidden in the room and that the person(s) who took care of the watering was aware of that or not. If this is the case, the experiment is a poor one. A good start, yes. But the experimenters need to learn more about controls and experimenter bias.

However, this can be easily replicated with better controls in a laboratory environment. It looks like that may be happening. There could be several reasons why the seeds did not germinate. What we have from the articles is also a biased view of the story as they tend to promote the latest scary thing in the world. Many have now seen this and will inevitably be persuaded by this shallowly-delivered “proof” that there is something to radiation in school. Not good.

But here’s a thing… EMFs also caused accelerated germination. So… which is it? Always look for the counterpoint. The actual conclusion is probably way more complicated that X leads directly to Y.

No grow. But we can't conclude X is certainly the cause.

No grow. But we can’t conclude X is certainly the cause.

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  4 comments for “Radiation fears prompt kids’ experiment that appears to confirm radiation fears. [Biased much?]

  1. Tony
    May 24, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Even if it were confirmed that proximity to a wifi router affected germination rates in cress seeds – it would tell us nothing about whether electromagnetic radiation in the 2.4GHz bands have any effects on humans

  2. May 25, 2013 at 3:41 AM

    There’s a good review of this experiment on http://tjomlid.com/2013/05/19/om-karse-wifi-straling-og-en-snurt-naturfagslaerer/ it’s in Norwegian, but Google translate doesn’t do a bad job. The experiment was not very well controlled, effect of warmed air (from nearby laptops) cannot be ruled out. Endpoint for comparison was not pre-defined, biased teacher, etc etc.

  3. May 25, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    Some years ago there was an report going round on the Internet that plants die if watered with microwaved water. My son did a real experiment with a different result. He put alfalfa seeds in 3 different containers & watered them with well water (no chlorine), cooled water that had been boiled on the stove, and cooled water that had been microwaved to the boiling point.

    All 3 containers sprouted – the one with microwaved water actually seem to sprout a bit earlier. He did the experiment a 2nd time for the science fair. Results were the same. He also got a blue ribbon. :)

  4. May 25, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    Forget the radiation – do you notice how the seed formation looks like a map of the world? The Americas on the left, Europe and Africa in the middle and Asia (and even a rough looking Australia) on the right.
    Surely this can’t be coincidence! Are there ley lines involved? Global radiation (or magnetic) influences? I think this needs further examination, or at least some cress sandwiches.

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