Friday, 3 October 2008

BBC One Show : Science Clown Declares Mobiles Safe Based on ONE, Seriously Flawed, Study


Jopson: "Time to debunk the top 3 mobile myths"


Jopson: "Your mobile phone is effectively a radio that uses high frequency microwaves coming in and going out. So, are we all frying our brains? Well, the largest ever mobile phone brain tumour study says "No". The survey of 400,000 Danish people who used a mobile for over 10 years found that tumours were no more likely than normal. Studies on longer-term effects are ongoing.

Mobile phones do get suspiciously warm when you talk on them for a long time, but that's got nothing to do with microwaves cooking your head. That's just the battery warming up as you use it. And that would have as much effect on your brain as using a hairdryer."


The BBC programme ignored recent research such as the peer reviewed Hardell study, published on PubMed and widely reported (apart from the BBC) when it came out last September (2007). I.e. more recent than the Danish study.:-

"Long-term use of cellular phones and brain tumours: increased risk associated with use for > or =10 years." by Hardell L et al. at Department of Oncology, University Hospital, Orebro, Sweden.

The aim: "To evaluate brain tumour risk among long-term users of cellular telephones."
Conclusions: "[The] Results from present studies on use of mobile phones for > or =10 years give a consistent pattern of increased risk for acoustic neuroma and glioma. The risk is highest for ipsilateral [same-side] exposure."

Marty quoting one - disputed - source and using it as the only basis of his piece to state to the UK population at large that "So, are we all frying our brains? Well, the largest ever mobile phone brain tumour study says "No". The survey of 400,000 Danish people who used a mobile for over 10 years found that tumours were no more likely than normal." You've categorically stated that Mobile Phones do not cause brain tumours, despite many studies and evidence to the contrary. This is highly irresponsible to say the least.

In the blog attached to the BBC One Show site the programme makers stated that the Petroleum Enforcement Officers guidelines including "Radio transmissions from individual mobile telephones are generally too low to induce currents in nearby equipment and the risk of incendive sparking from the battery is low, however they should not be used in the hazardous areas that exist when actually dispensing petrol." This should have been stated by Marty Joplin at the end of his piece, but wasn't.

Thirdly, giving the impression that mobile phones are OK to use anywhere in hospitals as long as they are not used in cardiac wards - "if in doubt, ask" is equally irresponsible. If signs say "don't use mobile phones" they are probably there for a good reason - perhaps the signs are adjacent to, below or above a sensitive area. And what about intensive care wards? No mention.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Slingshot Press Release : Expose of/Against Dr Ben Goldacre

Slingshot Publications


Cultural Dwarfs and Junk Journalism is Martin Walker’s fourth book charting the development of the corporate science lobby that has grown rapidly since New Labour came to power in 1997. One of the most recent exponents of the Lobby is Dr Ben Goldacre who has regurgitated a bad ‘Science’ column in the Guardian newspaper since 2003.

Like other quackbusters Goldacre claims to write factually based and scientifically accurate articles about health, medicine and science either supporting scientists and doctors or criticising individuals involved in alternative or nutritional health care. Goldacre’s writing, however, actually reflects the ideology of powerful industrial, technological and political vested interests.

Goldacre who it is claimed is a Junior doctor working in a London NHS hospital is actually a clinical researcher working at the centre of New Labour’s Orwellian spin operation that puts a sympathetic gloss on anything shown to create adverse reactions from MMR to Wi-Fi, while at the same time undermining cost-effective and long tried alternative therapies such as acupuncture and homoeopathy. Goldacre is involved with public health researchers well known for trying to prove that those who claim to be adversely affected by pollutants in our modern high-technology society, suffer from ‘false illness beliefs’.

Cultural Dwarfs and Junk Journalism, investigates Goldacre’s role in industry lobby groups and puts another point of view in defense of some of the people whom he has attacked, belittled, satirized, castigated, vilified, maligned and opined against in his junk journalism.

* * *

Cultural Dwarfs and Junk Journalism: Ben Goldacre, quackbusters and corporate science, is available from the Slingshot Publications web site as a free download, from mid-day on Wednesday January 2nd.

To be effective as a campaigning document, it is important that this book is distributed far and wide as quickly as possible. Please forward this publication information together with the Slingshot Publications web site address. Another thing that will help with the book’s distribution is the writing of even very short reviews for different web sites, this helps get the book onto Google listings.

This book is free and can be downloaded from the Slingshot Publications site: Please distribute it as widely as possible and if you think that the work is worth it, consider making a small donation. Also on the Slingshot site, is Martin Walker’s last book, The Fate of a Good Man. The book tells the story of Jim Wright, the investigation into him, his prosecution and trial by the Big Pharma regulatory agency, the MHRA. A good read at £5.00

[I knew there was something suspect and selective about Ben Goldacre!]

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Flawed Essex Study Eliminates Sufferers to Get Desired Result

What a surprise!

After eliminating the most sensitive electrosentive volunteers for being made too ill to continue the Essex study finds that electrosensitivity is all in the mind.

The BBC predictably quote Rubin - the king of other similarly flawed studies - to give the thumbs up.

See the BBC's predictably biased account here .

Predictably "old friends" are cooing here .

Read the Mast Sanity Press Release here.

Read Powerwatch's comments here .

Good of the Psychology department to conclude EHS is psychological. Maybe the Biophysics department would have been a better place to look?

Still, you get what you pay for and this one was paid for by the Mobile Phone Industry and the Government (although not very well paid, since most volunteers grumbled at how stingy the expenses paid were for travelling - £30 max I'm told).

Sunday, 1 July 2007

People can be Biased and so can their Research Data

Bias is defined as "an inclination to favour or disfavour one side against another in a dispute, competition, etc; a prejudice."

Scientific research can be manipulated by individuals with a specific bias or agenda to fit the result that they are after.

If you wanted to show that electrosensitivity is purely psychological you would set out with that premiss and build in fundamental flaws to your study that slanted the findings in that direction.

I am reliably informed, that a recent study into electrosensitivity was undertaken by Psychologists at a London College, in an unshielded room. This was said to "make it more realistic!" - yet with a large number of mobile phone masts and wi-fi installations in the College how could the "no-signal" / "sham" exposure be valid?

The (single) frequency chosen of 900MHz is the same as for 2 Mobile Phone Operators with masts in the vicinity and is not necessarily the frequency that an electrosensitive person may be most sensitive to.

A large number of the electrosensitive participants had to leave early since they found the experiment made them feel too ill. The overall number of participants at 90 was not a large enough sample to make the general, sweeping, conclusions made in the conclusion.

Biological samples of saliva and blood was taken although blood pressure was not taken. Crucially none of the biological samples were included in the research results - the survey question papers were all that was used to determine the results.

Did the biological samples contradict the survey results? Only the researchers know.

The mobile phone units used in the experiment only had the 900MHz circuit disabled, all other parts of the phone were working even during the sham phase, so any sensitivity to the devices themselves, which many electrosensitive people have (in conjunction to the lack of shielding in the room) could well explain the results found.

The conclusion (surprise, surprise) "The signals produced by 900 MHz GSM mobile phones do not cause greater subjective symptoms than sham exposures in which no signal is present, even in people who report sensitivity to mobile phones. The symptoms reported by “sensitive” people may be the result of a nocebo effect and may be primarily psychological in origin".

The study in question? The much quoted Rubin study by Dr. Rubin.

Biased - you decide. The research slanted - you decide.

Incidentally, when was it decided to ditch the scientific idea that physical observations take precedence over scientific theories? If the physical evidence contradicts the theory it must be the theory that is WRONG - however well accepted (or entrenched).

[ As an interesting aside I spotted an article called "The false gods of scientific medicine revealed: It's a cult, not a science" which rightfully calls into question the dodgy science used to justify western medicine. One comment I have on the piece is that the 1000% increase in ADHD corresponds with the rise in electrosmog from Mobile Phone Masts and other wireless devices and can not simply be dismissed as a bogus disease. See also a recent addition to the EHS vs. 'Skeptics' debate.]

Monday, 25 June 2007

Get Back Wired!

Since we believe that Wi-fi isn't safe and that you would be better off using the wired alternatives I have joined together with some friends and associates to produce a few simple tips to help you to get back to life in a wired, wireless-free world.

See my other blog.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Bendetta : Very Bad Science

I've given up with Ben Goldacre - he has decided that microwaves are safe and that electrosensitive people are not affected by electromagnetic radiation.

More than that he appears to be embarking on a vendetta or crusade against the victims of electromagnetic radiation.

Instead of Championing a cause against many Wireless Goliaths he is siding with them.

I have just discovered that he was an invited guest speaker for a fringe meeting sponsored by the Mobile Phone Operators Association at last year's Labour Party Conference (with Labour's favourite grocer Lord Sainsbury) - the title "Science fact or science fiction: How should politicians respond to media scare stories?".

I asked him "Do you receive income or benefits from Companies or Organisations other than “The Guardian” who are linked with the Mobile Phone or Wireless Operators?" to which he replied "don’t be pathetic, of course i’m not."

So there you have it Ben Goldacre's bias is entirely his own.

On another question of whether he had ever met an electrosensitive person he appeared to ignore the question 3 to 4 times. He did say "i have engaged with rod read [of Electrosensitivity UK] at length" - but I didn't take this to be an answer to my question.

Ben Goldacre's latest post is as follows ( ):-

"good to see that you admit you’ve simply not read the 37 [EHS] studies examining the central hypothesis of your lobby. i’m sorry you mock the notion of reading academic research and find it onerous.

i have engaged with rod read [of Electrosensitivity UK] at length, although it’s often not very easy. like many people including those from within your own lobby and the media i have found him to be abusive, incoherent and occasionally slightly threatening, i’m afraid. there are various examples of his correspondence on , and i should add i have been consistently very polite with him. i can happily provide you with my full email correspondence with him if he wishes to dispute that.

i would also strongly recommend that people read rod read’s own words on his own website here

in light of the above i must say i now do rather struggle to suppress a smile when i see him portrayed in the media as a measured and sensible authority.

rod, alasdair, and others have recklessly accused me of some very bizarre and regrettable things, i’ve made a little collection of them for a much larger piece i’m writing on the subject."

I for one, can't wait for more one-sided vitriol from this self-appointed "Expert".

One of the "37" studies was by Rubin however, this study has been criticised for flaws, with comments on the same BMJ site . Rubin is also the reviewer of many of those 37 studies mentioned. I will track them down.

For further background on Bad Science and the Guardian see the Mast Sanity forum for a thread entitled "Guardian in 'bogus' attack on Panorama".

Also see Powerwatch's reply to Ben Goldacre.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Bad Science Goes Bananas!

Ben Goldsmith aka "Bad Science" appears to have completely lost the plot with the recent Panorama programme dedicated to Wi-fi. He made some scurrilous accusations about Powerwatch's Alasdair Philips without backing up his claims with anything more than his own "bad science". Maybe he should stick to medical issues - he is at least trained in them!

He claimed that:-

1. Powerwatch is not independent and campaigns to stop WiFi and promote the products of Alasdair Philips' linked EMFields products.
2. Alasdair Philips is not a suitable person to advise or take measurements.
3. The instruments used (especially the COM monitor) were unsuitable.
4. What we measured and how it was measured was bad science.
5. The content of the programme was badly biased against WiFi.
6. Where is the scientific evidence of possible harm?
7. Where is the scientific evidence for Electrical Sensitivity?

Read Alasdair's reply that dismisses all of Ben Goldacre's claims here.

We got a reply back from Ben Goldacre, as follows:-

[1.] Powerwatch is not independent and campaigns to stop WiFi and promote the products of Alasdair Philips' linked EMFields products.
true, would you have been impressed if they used an engineer from t-mobile?
[2.] Alasdair Philips is not a suitable person to advise or take measurements.
true, he's a great person to commentate, i like him, he's a sensible lobbyist (with one very worrying recent slip which i suspect he is addressing) but not to take measurements, clearly not.
[3.] The instruments used (especially the COM monitor) were unsuitable.
they absolutely were, he designed it, he designed what "red" was. even kenyon accepts this.
[4.] What we measured and how it was measured was bad science.
yup. right up next to the computer while it was downloading a large file is not a real world measure of day to day exposure, as i said.
[5.] The content of the programme was badly biased against WiFi.
of course it was. i don't believe anyone would doubt that for one moment
[6.] Where is the scientific evidence of possible harm?
i am very happy with the idea that concerns have been raised and that further research should be done, as i have made very clear
[7.] Where is the scientific evidence for Electrical Sensitivity?
the symptoms are very real and very distressing, they deserve research effort and practical support as they receive in sweden, but there is little evidence to show that these symptoms are caused by EM. most unforgivably of all , the program completely misrepresented the evidence that does exist. this is completely unacceptable. i don't think your case needs to rest on misleading people about the evidence, i think you can make a perfectly good case without doing that.
Ben Goldacre

We say:-

[1] , [2] You could argue the case either way for these points. When does an 'Independent' stop being an Independent and become otherwise, once they realise the dangers of such devices as Mobile Telephoen Masts and Wi-fi? There are 1 or 2 retired experts who do not have a related income, so maybe they should have been used, but their experience isn't as great. I would say ALL experts are polarised either For or Against, so an accusation of bias was always occur.
[3] The COM meter as I recall was only being used to illustrate signal strengths in Norwich from the city-wide Wi-Fi, it wasn't part of the "Scientific" part of the programme. The "red" is illustrative and corresponds well to the scale that Alasdair mentions. The COM meter as a whole scales well with the levels set by the Scientists in Salzburg a few years ago for safe(r) mobile phone usage indoors and out. It is a consumer device and doesn't fully measure 3G signals, but is professionally calibrated, and correctly illustrates signal strength.
From personal experience a COM meter is OK to measure with, but is not ideal as it does not recognise 3G fully. I would have liked to see the COM meter used with the Acousticom [sound] meter or, ideally, a more complex professional unit. Even so, the COM meter gives correct or lower readings for illustration purposes.
[4] The measurements taken were not stated as constant, but are realistic for the levels found when files are being downloaded from the internet or the school's server - which would certainly be some or a lot of the time - the transcript excerpt below illustrates what was ACTUALLY said:-
"PHILIPS: Absolutely, yes that was definitely higher than I expected. It's only there.. not there continuously but it's obviously there quite a lot of the lesson if you're downloading files from the internet.

KENYON: So we took the first measurement here in what's called the beam of greatest intensity from the mast. The advice from Sir William Stewart to the government was that this beam shouldn't fall on any part of a school's grounds, unless the school and the parents agreed. But the levels of radiation inside the classroom were far higher, three times the strength of the nearby mast - not continuously but during downloads. These are controversial findings that must be repeated and verified."

[5] The content of the programme was, rather, bringing to the public's attention information that is not forth-coming regarding the emissions from Wi-fi and its connections to Mobile Telephone Masts. The program was straight talking using facts, rather than just using ridicule. In doing so, it has helped in a small way to redress the balance of other programmes which heavily promote wireless like the BBC News, Click and other tie-ins to Product launches such as the recent launch of "The Cloud" in the City of London.

[6] The volume of Scientific evidence of possible harm is already large and is growing all the time - it just isn't artificially pigeon-holed as "wi-fi" / "this" or "that" - it's the same sorts and strengths of microwave emissions at the same frequencies which produce low-level elctromagnetic fields. Wi-fi ticks many of the same boxes for many of the Scientific research programs already carried out. You do not need to start entirely from scratch with each and every device as and when it comes out if it uses similar technology - Wi-fi's characteristics are the same as many other wireless technologies including Mobile Telephone Masts.

Why should we be subjected to a huge experiment in the mean time? A post-code lottery of wireless hot-spots and Mobile Phone Masts shouldn't be turning residents into lab rats.

[7] The whole of human history is littered with precedence of changing lifestyles causing new diseases to become more common.

In the Agricultural revolution a diet of wheat led to diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other problems from eating foods for which our bodies had not evolved.

In the Industrial Revolution new pollutants led to the rise in diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and other problems linked to industrial pollutions.

In the "Modern Age" of electricity from the 1920's onwards diseases such as Leukaemia and other similar cancers have become more widespread.

Now mobile/wireless/microwave communications are bringing their sets of problems for our bodies to cope with - more rare cancers are becoming increasingly common - the types predicted many years ago by Dr. Cherry before these technologies were widely deployed. Electrosensitive (EHS) people are an extreme reaction to this latest "leap into the unknown" that we are all taking with Wi-fi and similar technologies.

I am in contact with several EHS people who were not even aware that Wi-fi etc. had been installed by neighbours or employers until their lives were turned upside down by pains and suffering. Many sufferers can "sniff-out" wireless access points without COM meters. Their symptoms wear off when they are not in proximity to wireless devices or transmitters. This is not psychosomatic - this is very real. It is down to an environmental pollutant and that common pollutant in the case of EHS is EM.

Many so-called "double-blind" tests carried out to date on EHS sufferers have NOT taken the source of EM down to zero for the supposed "OFF" test. Would you hold a pilot light near to the skin of a burns victim? No, of course not. The cynic in me would say that such tests were designed to fail to cast "FUD" (fear, uncertainty, doubt) on EHS sufferers. By discrediting EHS sufferers - the extreme of microwave damage - you can keep the cash rolling in for the wireless industry.

I counter by asking you Ben -

6. Where is the scientific evidence of safety for Wi-fi etc.?
7. Where is the scientific evidence to explain away Electrical Sensitivity?

Ben - If you want to find out about EHS for real I can introduce you to real sufferers - real people are much less easy to explain away than statistics.