Cool stuff is happening!

There are two very nifty things happening this week that may be relevant to your interests.

Edwin appears in Meatspace

Co-blogger Edwin is giving a talk entitled “Digital Hatred: White Supremacy in the Information Age” this Friday night at the Oakridge Library in Vancouver (41st and Cambie):

The Internet has been something of a double edged sword for most of its existence. While offering people all over the world access to information they might never have seen otherwise, modern communications technology also proved to be a boon to racist organizations desperate to get their message out. To a great extent, their attempts have been successful; there are now more than 1000 known hate groups present in the United States, and their numbers continue to grow. These groups are religious, secular, white supremacist, black supremacist, anti-Semitic, anti-government, and many other flavours besides, with the vast majority hewing to one form of explicit (and violent) white supremacy or another. How has their message been adapted to fit into the digital age? How do they recruit? Who are their leaders, and who joins their causes? How does one counter an idea that can spread around the world in the blink of an eye? How can a person recognize racist speech – especially when it has been specifically tailored to appear non-racist?

If you’ve never heard Edwin speak before, you should know he’s an almost ludicrously eloquent and engaging speaker, and is abundantly knowledgable about this topic (as well as many others). The event is free and can be easily accessed by public transit, so if you’re looking for an opportunity to interact with some other Vancouver skeptics with an interest in social justice topics, this is your chance. I will be in attendance at the beginning of the event (my band has a gig that night so I will have to sneak out early), so keep an eye out for me.

Register either at the page, or on Facebook.

Bad Science Watch launches WiFi project

You might remember that some colleagues/friends of mine have launched a new Canadian scientific skepticism activism organization called Bad Science Watch. In addition to their inaugural project looking at the federal government’s policies towards homeopathic “medicine”, they’ve released this today:

Bad Science Watch has announced the launch of a critical investigation of the state of anti-WiFi activism in Canada. The independent non-profit plans to document the motivations, funding sources, agendas, and any conflicts of interest for those groups and individuals promoting misinformation about wireless networking technology (WiFi). These activists claim WiFi and related technologies can cause a variety of adverse health effects, and are attempting to convince city councils, libraries, and school districts across the country to remove or restrict the deployment of WiFi networks.

“While many of these activists are well-meaning yet misinformed, others are profiting from the uncertainty and doubt that has been manufactured.” said Jamie Williams, Executive Director of Bad Science Watch. “Some of the most prominent anti-WiFi scaremongers are tied to the sale and promotion of bogus products to ‘block’ WiFi, or promote sham medical diagnoses and treatments for false illnesses.”

Many activists blame WiFi’s low level radio signals for a broad variety of medical problems, from mild headaches and fatigue to chest pain and heart palpitations. When someone using or living near WiFi networks experiences these or other symptoms, they are told they have ‘Electromagnetic-Hypersensitivity’, or EHS. The existence of EHS is not supported by rigorous science, and has not been accepted by the medical and scientific community as a real condition. This distraction can lead to greater anxiety for parents who are worried about the well-being of their children, and may instead serve to delay the diagnosis of more serious and treatable medical problems like anxiety disorders or heart defects.

Bad Science Watch will use the findings of this investigation as a starting point to counter misinformation in the public sphere, and represent sound science to public officials who are confronted every day with requests to act on it.

Individuals who would like to support this and similar projects are invited to visit, subscribe to the mailing list, and make a donation to Bad Science Watch.

It’s a good week to be a skeptic in Vancouver! Please consider making contact with us and letting us know you’re out there!

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  1. says

    Edwin has given his talk in a few cities in the interior, everyone who attended was quite happy with it. Its good to see others are taking notice of his talents. He will be missed by skeptics in the Okanagan when he moves to Victoria at the end of the month.

  2. says

    Hey Thanks for the plug! I’m very excited to speak in Vancouver, and I hope to see a few faces from the FTB in attendance.

  3. says

    why is all the cool shit happening in Vancouver? and why was all this cool shit not happening in Vancouver when I was living in Seattle?!


  4. ischemgeek says

    Why must I be on the far side of the country? All the cool stuff happens in Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal. 🙁

  5. says

    If you want things to happen in your city you need to make them happen. I am from Kelowna with a population of about 130,000 and we have one of the most active groups in the country, we always have something interesting going on.

  6. says

    “How can a person recognize racist speech – especially when it has been specifically tailored to appear non-racist?”

    Wish I could attend, won’t be able to, but that quotation struck me because I have been in communication with the CBC president and board of directors over the issue of racist, anti-Aboriginal comments on the CBC website. I made a similar argument in my last correspondence, that overtly racist comments were now being dealt with by the website moderators a little better after my many complaints, but that subtle racism was still being approved. I contended that the moderators are simply not trained or experienced enough to recognize subtle racism, and speculated one reason for that may be that the website moderators are as racially homogenous as the CBC board so they may have no personal experience whatsoever in identifying subtle racism. The board, by the way, has no visible minorities. I’m still waiting a reply to my last letter.

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