Gareth Cook in The New Yorker:
Many of us hope to find Wi-Fi wherever we go, preferably for free. But some people devote their lives to avoiding Wi-Fi altogether. Sufferers of Wi-Fi syndrome say that the radio waves used in mobile communication cause headaches, nausea, exhaustion, tingling, trouble concentrating, and gastrointestinal distress, among other symptoms. Some of the most afflicted take drastic action. According to the Agence France-Presse, one woman left her farmhouse in southeastern France after the arrival of mobile-phone masts (which, like Wi-Fi, use radio waves) and fled for a cave in the Alps. A handful of others have moved to homes within the United States National Radio Quiet Zone, a vast area of mountainous terrain on the Virginia-West Virginia border, where Wi-Fi, cell phones, and other technologies are severely limited to protect a nearby radio telescope. Scientists have given the syndrome a mouthful of a name: “idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields,” or I.E.I.-E.M.F. But no one has found any good evidence that we are at any risk.
Wi-Fi syndrome does, however, make sense in the context of a larger phenomenon: the “nocebo effect,” the placebo effect’s malevolent Mr. Hyde. With placebos (“I will please” in Latin), the mere expectation that treatment will help brings a diminution of symptoms, even if the patient is given a sugar pill. With nocebos (“I will harm”), dark expectations breed dark realities. In clinical drug trials, people often report the side effects they were warned about, even if they are taking a placebo. In research on fibromyalgia treatments, eleven per cent of the people taking the equivalent of sugar pills experienced such debilitating side effects that they dropped out.
More here. [Thanks to Aditya Dev Sood.]