… and they’re negative. Subjects were unable to distinguish whether the signal was present or absent. It is truly fantastic that for almost the first time ever the discussion around electrosensitivity is actually addressing the evidence, rather than anecdote. Cue a barrage of abuse from the electrosensitive lobby.
I’ll be updating as responses from lobbyi$ts and news coverage comes in, do please post links and text below and I will link to them.
Most importantly, I have a close personal relationship with knowledge, and it has disclosed to me its desire to be free. Therefore here is the original academic paper, so you can make your own mind up about it:
The first responses are out.
Their first argument is that the drop outs may have been the “true” electrosensitives, leaving only people who are not. So interestingly, they are accusing people who believe themselves to be electrosensitive of not being electrosensitive. This would traditionally elicit a barrage of abuse from people like… Rod Read of Electrosensitivity, and indeed Pow£rwatch themselves. It will be very interesting to see how the subjects who did stay in the study, who genuinely feel themselves to be electrosensitive, react to this dismissal by Philip$.
“Electrosensitivity” say this study merely shows that mobile phone base stations do not cause symptoms, but other forms of e-m still do cause symptoms. And they don’t like the fact that the research was done by psychologists.
The BBC are reporting it as real symptoms, not due to EM but rather psychological.
Amusingly the last time the BBC discussed the Essex study it was on hard-hitting fact based news documentary show Panorama. I described it at the time thusly:
… A recent Panorama documentary on BBC 1 covered the possible dangers of Wi-Fi computer networks, and what little evidence the programme did present was flawed in a number of ways.
A large chunk of the programme was devoted to electrosensitivity. It covered the question of testing the phenomenon, in a double blind study.The programme makers even followed someone into a lab at Essex University where they had participated in one provocation study. We are told that this subject did correctly identify when the signal was present or absent two thirds of the time, to a visual backdrop of sciencey looking equipment.
But this was anecdote dressed up as data. The study is currently unpublished. We don’t know the protocol, or whether 2/3 for one subject would be statistically significant (there may be only three exposures in total, for example). We don’t know the results of the other subjects. But most crucially, there is no mention that this single selected subject in a single unpublished study produced a result that seems to conflict with a literature of 37 studies that have been completed, published, and are overall negative. If this whole Essex study was positive, while it might make an interesting small splash next to the other 37, it would need to be replicated and considered in the context of the negative findings. The alternative is chaos, and being blown in the wind by every Type I error…