Create an Account
username: password:
  MemeStreams Logo

MemeStreams Discussion


This page contains all of the posts and discussion on MemeStreams referencing the following web page: Hijacking Science. You can find discussions on MemeStreams as you surf the web, even if you aren't a MemeStreams member, using the Threads Bookmarklet.

Hijacking Science
by unmanaged at 3:41 pm EDT, Aug 9, 2008

In recent months, I have been made aware of two such instances of this scientific rumor mill. In May of this year, I received an e-mail from someone describing himself as a cancer researcher who wanted to know why I was ignoring the proven danger of cell phones: My colleagues in Sweden and Japan tell me that exposure to microwave radiation from cell phones are potentially dangerous -- and that this should be acknowledged by the phone companies which they don t bother acknowledging . He went on to describe his colleagues experiments with mice in RF fields that had increased incidence of brain tumors. I found the description of this research to be surprising, since no such research has appeared recently in the scientific literature.

In July of this year, a more extreme example of the same type of underground science hit the news. Dr Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, circulated a memo to 3000 faculty and staff members at his Institute, warning them that children should use cell phones only for emergencies because their brains are still developing. He also said that everyone should keep the phone away from their heads and use the speakerphone or a wireless headset. He even warned against using cell phones in public places because it exposes others.

On what does Dr. Herberman base this warning? Early unpublished data. He says it takes too long to get answers from science. Really, at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn t wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe, rather than sorry later, he stated.

Hijacking Science
by Lost at 10:06 am EDT, Aug 10, 2008

To make sense of this large body of research, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) commissioned a review. From 2002 to 2004, each paper was re-read by at least three expert reviewers and critiqued for its applicability to the field of knowledge based on what we consider to be a good study with today's understanding of EM exposures. The results of this literature study netted 1411 publications that were considered to be the best work in the field; these were used to develop the latest edition of the IEEE safety standard: C95.1 -2005: IEEE Standard for Safety Levels with Respect to Human Exposure to Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Fields, 3 kHz to 300 GHz. Human exposure from cell phones and Amateur Radios alike is limited by FCC regulation to be lower than what the safety standard calls Maximum Permissible Exposure (MPE).

After 50 years and 1411 good scientific studies, what additional research could my correspondent and Dr Herberman know about that is vastly different? Certainly it was not research that was peer-reviewed, much less independently replicated. As scientists, they should know better than to base their scientific beliefs on such weak evidence. Granted, they are not experts in the field of electromagnetic bio-effects and are probably not aware of the wealth of knowledge that has been developed on this topic. But that's all the more reason that they should not overreact to anecdotal information that has not been subjected to scientific confirmation. Unfortunately, when the director of a large cancer institute makes such a proclamation, it is widely believed by people who know even less about the science than he does.

You could tell the good doc didn't have a clear understanding of what he was saying once he started warning about the dangers to others, of using cell phones in public places.

Powered By Industrial Memetics