Science Editor Jonathan Leake skewered Bryan Sykes in The Sunday Times today [paywalled] over bigfoot claims. Sykes is publishing a new book in which he’ll present the DNA evidence he claims to have for the existence of yetis and bigfoot. This claim comes despite the lack of any good photographic evidence in the era of cameras in everyone’s pockets.
Sykes previously hosted The Bigfoot Files on the UK’s Channel 4. Leake has some sharp comments on Sykes’ credibility:
Bryan Sykes, who describes himself as a ‘professor of human genetics at Oxford’…
Sykes has not published any research on these creatures…
Sykes is a fellow of Wolfson but he admitted [his Institute of Human Genetics at Wolfson College, Oxford] was mythical. “The journal required some sort of additional address in the college and, hey presto, I became an institute!”
Sykes’s book says he has been professor of human genetics at Oxford since 1997, but university officials said he had not held that post for a decade or so.
My favourite piece is the final comment from another scientist:
Tom Gilbert, professor of geogenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, said: “Bryan’s data highlights that a lot of people strongly believe they have evidence for them (yetis etc), but none of it holds up under scrutiny.”
Some parents in Alberta are trying to get schools to ban wi-fi on baseless fears and scare-mongering. The kicker: these same parents are fine with wifi in their house.
It’s not so much the parents who bother me in this story as the Canadian Teachers Federation, the local school councils, and particularlu the Edmonton Journal who all give far greater space to these conspiracy theories than to sound science and expertise.
Out of the 17 paragraphs in her article, journalist Andrea Sands gives just two for a response from Health Canada. She even repeats tired arguments that the World Health Organization thinks wifi is caucing cancer in children. In fact they have studied the issues and have conculded the opposite. With respect to mobile phones:
A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.
…there are no substantive health issues related to ELF electric fields at levels generally encountered by members of the public.
Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.
For more on the anti-wifi industry in Canada, see Bad Science Watch’s 2012 position paper.
I’ll leave the last word to Paula Simons, a fellow journalist at the Edmonton Journal:
Why are human beings – especially that subset of humanity known as parents – so bad at assessing risk? Why can some sorts of parents shrug off or dismiss the known risks of deadly infectious diseases such as polio and whooping cough – and then fret over the largely imaginary, unproven “dangers” of WiFi? No, we can’t insulate our children from every possible harm. But surely, we can do more to protect them from the dangers of scientific illiteracy and modern-day Luddite-ism.