By reader acclaim: “Wi-Fi foe sues neighbor for using electronics”

by Walter Olson on January 12, 2010

We’ve previously encountered Arthur Firstenberg of Santa Fe, N.M., and his anti-wi-fi litigation. Now the self-reported sufferer from electromagnetic sensitivity “is suing his next-door neighbor for refusing to turn off her cell phone and other electronic devices,” saying his efforts to avoid the fields threatens to render him homeless. He also thinks neighbor Raphaela Monribot should pay him $530,000. He’s represented by lawyer Lindsay Lovejoy Jr. [Santa Fe New Mexican, The Register, DSL Reports]

More: alt-paper SFreeper (which seems to have been on the story first) reports that attorney Lovejoy “is a graduate of Harvard and Yale, as well as a former Assistant New Mexico Assistant Attorney General who has argued cases alongside now-US Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM.” (via Chris Fountain)

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” Electrosensitives tortured by a radio tower that had been switched off for six weeks”
01.16.10 at 10:08 am

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1 VMS 01.12.10 at 6:15 am

http://eclectech.co.uk/mindcontrol.php

This guy needs some Risperdal! But he has a lawyer who should know better.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risperidone

2 Todd Rogers 01.12.10 at 7:10 am

So how does this (apparent) nut walk down the street or visit the store, or sit in his lawyer’s office and not come totally unglued? All those menacing street lights, telecommunications conduits, appliances…all of it. Perhaps the better solution would be for him to find solace in a rural setting and save everyone’s time. I bet he doesn’t wrap his home in Christmas lights.

3 Jim Collins 01.12.10 at 8:21 am

This is one of the few situations where an aluminum foil hat might actually help. A foil jacket and pants would also be in order here.

4 Richard Nieporent 01.12.10 at 8:23 am

The case has been assigned to state District Judge Daniel Sanchez, who has yet to set a hearing.

Firstenberg’s motion is accompanied by dozens of notes from doctors, some dating back more than a decade, about his sensitivities.

It is obvious that Arthur Firstenberg is stark raving mad and in need of psychiatric help. That being the case, why does the legal system allow his lawsuit to proceed even to this point? There should be a gatekeeper that prevents these types of suits from going to a judge. Also his lawyer and any doctor who humored him and neglected to treat his madness should be sanctioned by their respective legal and medical societies.

5 SmartDude 01.12.10 at 9:20 am

My deepest sympathies to to unfortunate Raphaela Monribot, being brutalized by a corrupt legal industry and a paranoid schizophrenic neighbor.

Raphaela is a poster girl for Loser Pays and consumer agency control of the lawyer industry.

6 Benjamin 01.12.10 at 10:52 am

This could have been all avoided if the victim would have just told him that she got rid of the iPhone and computer. There is a 99.9% chance he wouldn’t know.

7 William Nuesslein 01.12.10 at 1:09 pm

Is this the guy who wrote CPSIA?

8 Bryan C 01.12.10 at 1:36 pm

Things like this are a good reminder that irrationality and naivete are hardwired into humanity. Once upon a time it might’ve been a witch next door with an Evil Eye. Now it’s eeevil Wi-Fi rays and “electromagnetic sensitivity”. Oh well. At least our modern demons provide better bandwidth.

9 No Name Guy 01.12.10 at 3:10 pm

If the judge in this matter has more than 3 brain cells working, he should do the following:

Have Firstenberg in a room with a mechanical clock. Tell him that at 5 minute intervals, in an adjoining room, various electronic devices that he claims to be sensitive to (cell phones, wi fi, etc.) will be turned on or off in various combinations and that at some times, all items will be off. Mr. Firstenberg will record when he “feels” them and when he does not. A pretty simple blind test. Hell, the Judge could get Randi for it – he’s used to these whack jobs.

It should be a slam dunk for the judge to figure out in about 2 hours that this guy is a complete nutcase so he can dismiss the suit without imposing any more xpense on the neighbor.

10 MF 01.12.10 at 5:24 pm

How does he even drive a car? It’s got all kinds of electronics (unless he has something circa 1965) that undoubtedly emit EMR. And there are all of the radio waves that he can’t possibly get away from. So many other things out there.

If he’s really that bothered by these things (whether mentally or physically is practically irrelevant), the onus is on HIM to move to some place where he isn’t bothered. The neighbor’s rights to technology have GOT to trump his “needs” here.

11 Aria 01.12.10 at 7:58 pm

Benjamin, the neighbor shouldn’t have to lie and go along with this guy’s claim to an allergy that, curiously, doesn’t seem to be effected by the wi-fi and phone signals of other neighbors.

I’d bet that this guy is afraid of new technology, so whatever he is feeling is a psychosomatic reaction to his own fear. I’d like to see this guy sit in a room carefully controlled so that there are no wayward wi-fi signals around, and then to hit a buzzer or something every time someone in the room next to him turns on a cell phone or boots up a computer with built-in wi-fi technology. Neither needs a receiving end to be emitting signals. This control test would should if he really is picking up on wi-fi signals. $10 on “he can’t.”

12 Jay Markowitz 01.12.10 at 10:35 pm

Forget technology –

The most powerful EMP producer is our Sun.

Suggesting Firstenberg should go someplace where the sun don’t shine? (and bring his lawyer)

13 Peter 01.13.10 at 8:32 am

@ Brian C.

A company I worked for a few year ago did almost exactly what you suggested. There was a lot of talk in the press about the Tetra system being really dangerous because the pulse transmissions matched you delta waves (or something) so we got a lot of resistance to fitting our transmitters.

The company instigated health research where they asked everyone surrounding a new Base station to fill in health monitoring forms to assess health effects before and after switch on.

Early indications were that something like 50% of people reported worse health after switch on (usually described a ‘feeling unwell’ rather that anything specific or serious)

A few weeks after switch on the research had to be terminated as we had notification that we were being sued. Apparently our transmitters were causing one person to summer from insomnia, dizziness, chronic fatigue etc etc and we were being sued as he was so ill that he was unable to go to work. The research was terminated because we had to come clean and tell the lawyers that we hadn’t actually switched the transmitter on at all.

We were doing the exercise to prove just how gullible and suggestive people were. We proved that if you hint that something may cause illness, half the population will feel ill and a few will feel really ill (or think they do).

This should not be a big surprise. If you suggest that X-Factor is good entertainment then half the population will watch it!

14 Le Mur 01.13.10 at 11:15 am

The guy might be crazy, or maybe he just wants some free advertising for his books (I’m guessing a bit of each): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Firstenberg

15 VMS 01.13.10 at 12:29 pm

@ Peter.

Your experiment was only half complete . You needed information as to the effects on the “population” when the transmitter was switched on. Your observation is akin to the “placebo effect” in a controlled study as to the side effects of a particular drug. Without actually giving out the drug, there is no way to demonstrate whether or not it has measurable side effects above and beyond what are caused by the placebo.

16 mojo 01.13.10 at 3:32 pm

I’d be setting up a large and powerful looking set of magnets, coils, sparking wheels and any electrical other crap I could find, just on my side of the property line.

Un-powered, of course. But I’d lay long odds Mr. Magnetic would bite.

17 nevins 01.13.10 at 3:32 pm

It wasn’t likely intended to be a rigorous clinical study with blinded cross-over design.
But it did have the effect of flushing out and exposing the charlatans and opportunists.

18 Peter 01.15.10 at 5:18 am

@ Le Mur

Yes you are correct, it was only half complete. What i did not say was that the intention was that about 6 weeks after the supposed switch-on we would switch it on for real, specifically to cope with the problem you outlined. Not a real double blind test but the best in the circumstances.

As I said we had to terminate it early because of the notification to sue.

Peter

19 William Nuesslein 01.15.10 at 10:41 am

The problem with experiments or demographic analysis in this case is that there is no mechanism by which radio waves by themselves to cause damage. The second half arguments above are sophomoric.

Peter’s testimony on the power of suggestion is persuasive, and applies to Gulf War Syndrome, 911 effects, and many other cases.

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