Essex electrosensitivity study results…

July 25th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, electrosensitivity | 162 Comments »

… 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:

electrosensitivity.pdf

The first responses are out.

This is Graham Philip$ from Pow£rwatch (aka topazg below, they sell these but hate this):

www.powerwatch.org.uk/news/20070725_essex_provocation.asp

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$.

www.electrosensitivity.org/essex_study.htm

“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.

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6914492.stm

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…


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
If you like what I do, and you want me to do more, you can: buy my books Bad Science and Bad Pharma, give them to your friends, put them on your reading list, employ me to do a talk, or tweet this article to your friends. Thanks! ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

162 Responses



  1. bootboy said,

    July 25, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Story currently on BBC front page (just a headline mind): news.bbc.co.uk/

  2. SpiderJ said,

    July 25, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Just as a little note – while I wholeheartedly support and agree with pretty much everything you write – could you stop it with the $ and £ signs in people’s names? It’s just a bit childish and peurile. We know that they make money – but making money isn’t a bad thing per se.

  3. Despard said,

    July 25, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    I think the most interesting result is that people reported lower levels of well-being when they knew the signals were on compared with when they knew they were off. In the double blind sessions they were at chance.

    A nice extension might have been to tell them the signals were on when they actually weren’t, and see what effect that would have had on the measures.

  4. le canard noir said,

    July 25, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    How interesting. I am most, most, most interested to see if Rod Read supports his colleages at Powerwatch and agrees that electrosensitivity may have a psychological origin.

    Will George Carlo concede that a proper signal was used with data being transmitted?

    Will we see the Independent climb down on its position and stop promoting quack devices?

  5. superburger said,

    July 25, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    nice.

    i’ve posted this elsewhere, but the question to ask the ES lobbyists is

    what experiments and results would kill your hypothesis? There must be one otherwise you are operating from a totally unfixed position immovable in the face of new evidence – bad science, if you like.

    i’d like to think i’m an open minded scienctist, and if the essex study had shown a positive result in favour of the mobile-phone hypothesis then I’d very excited about a new field of biology/medicine opening up.

    would have been interesting to asses the effectivness of the bee-keeping hats in this study…

  6. SpiderJ said,

    July 25, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    On a more direct response to the post – having read the Powerwatch piece it actually seems quite reasonable – or have I missed something? The conclusion they come to is:

    “So whilst it cannot be entirely ruled out that a small minority are truly sensitive, the proportions of any truly sensitive people are likely to be far lower than the 3% – 35% that has been quoted.”

    But I’m not an expert in deciphering this stuff – just wondered if I’d got it wrong?

  7. bootboy said,

    July 25, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    could you stop it with the $ and £ signs in people’s names? It’s just a bit childish and peurile”

    What’s wrong with childish and peurile? (apart from being tautological when used together as they are synomyms)

    One vote in favour of childishness here.

  8. Ben Goldacre said,

    July 25, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    www.powerwatch.org.uk/bias.asp?pf=1

  9. jj_hankinson said,

    July 25, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    I do agree re: the currency symbols being a little petty, but then I equally find it hard to sympathise with Alasdair / Powerwatch on this one.

    The study authors clearly state no conflicts on interest on this subject… I’m afraid Powerwatch really can’t do the same.

  10. topazg said,

    July 25, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Oh, and thanks for including my surname at the top, I was rather wondering how you’d convert my first name into a monetary symbol – perhaps a ruble symbol? (are those standard ASCII? – probably not)

    – Graham

  11. bootboy said,

    July 25, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    What a happy day. Not only are we even more sure than we were before that the exceedingly useful, cool and handy radio-frequency communication networks are safe, but Ben’s challenge is a pretty compelling demonstration of the evidence-based reasoning that is used by science-minded folks.

  12. SpiderJ said,

    July 25, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    What’s wrong with being childish? Well, aside from the fact that it undermines the serious arguments being made here?

    Surely the whole point is to take the higher ground and not bring ourselves down to the levels of the purveyors of woo, by using rational argument based on fact.

    If they started talking about ‘Doctor$’ then I’m sure we’d use it as evidence of how biased they are.

    Otherwise this just degenerates into a playground game of calling each other names – what next? Telling Rod Read that he smells like poo?

  13. Simon aka Biscit said,

    July 25, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Society seems to believe that people who suffer symtoms through a psychological cause are deserving of less sympathy than those whose condition has a physical route. That psychological problems are somehow less real than physical ones.

    It’s this idea that makes people indignant at the suggestion that a condition may be psychological, and call people who question dubious conclusions “insensitive”.

  14. le canard noir said,

    July 25, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    There is a very serious point here and it is that the people who have championed the causes of EHS sufferers need to start thinking hard about the next steps in supporting their clients/customers/members.

    Some groups have been violently hostile to the psychological theory, others have been deeply involved in selling useless products and some products look downright fraudulent.

    The great shame is that the people best placed to move the debate on with sufferers have pretty much ruled themselves out of the game. To carry on as if the science does not exist is just not tenable and I applaud Powerwatch’s first moves in a new direction.

    Whilst we may quite rightly mock the quackery and money grabbing surrounding the issue and condemn the bad science, there are still people out there who feel utterly disabled by EHS. Getting them to a place where they may start receiving appropriate therapy is going to be a huge challenge for all involved.

  15. DaveBlackeye said,

    July 25, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    All the controversy hasn’t stopped them promoting RF heating as a beauty treatment:

    www.cambridgelaser.com/rf/rf-treatment.php

    Just as well it’s perfectly safe, really.

  16. Gimpy said,

    July 25, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    19. “Getting them to a place where they may start receiving appropriate therapy is going to be a huge challenge for all involved.”.

    I hope that newspapers and organisations responsible for disseminating false information and lies that have led to some individuals having genuinely debilitating symptoms take a good hard look at their ethics. Would it be too much to ask for the media to stop promoting baseless fears and ignorant opinion as these are clearly having a very real and damaging effect on the psychological health of some individuals in society. That goes for MMR too.

    ++*

    *I like a good swearing.

  17. Gimpy said,

    July 25, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    Why can I not say c u n t s, c*nts, anymore?

  18. topazg said,

    July 25, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Sorry, got distracted by something else, that was a response to way back somewhere.

    Yes, I think it is vitally important that if most (my gut feeling anywhere between about 85% up to and potentially including 100%) ES sufferers have their causation from some form of psychological response, then psychological treatment seems like a sensible first port of call.

    Again, if this does not work, then shielding still remains to be worth a shot IMHO.

    It would be an interesting aside to claim that “all shielding stuff” doesn’t work and see if those that got better get worse again, but I don’t want to sound like I’m generally endorsing playing with people’s wellbeing.

  19. topazg said,

    July 25, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Yes, I agree. I will certainly be speaking to the powers that be about what we are to do about it.

    However, the amount of people that shield themselves from EMFs and then feel better are a spectacularly high proportion, and the Irvine report also summarised a questionnaire survey where the most effective cause of action was either removing the source, removing themselves from the source, or shielding.

    We started selling shielding stuff early this decade when people harassed us (Powerwatch only at the time, and entirely non-commercial) about what they should do about their problems. We provided the possibility of a solution, their problems went away – certainly those we deal with on that basis don’t feel that we have been particularly immoral thus far. Of course, the help might be entirely placebo, and in a lot of cases I suspect it is – but for some it might be very real, and I for one would have no idea which is the case.

    I will certainly look at making sure we have psychological recommendations for treatment on the Powerwatch website, but beyond that I really cannot say for the time being.

  20. DrJ said,

    July 25, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    As David Colquhoun points out on his webpage, the placebo effect is real and does help some people. The only problem is that to be effective people have to believe that the treatment is genuine and will do good.

    Surely if people are suffering from a psycholigical condition providing a psycholigical treatment is the simplest solution. If someone beleives that a wifi network is making them sick (and this then manifests as an illness) then giving them a crystal and convincing them that it will stop them being sick is a simple and effective treatment.

    I know this sounds a bit ‘trollish’ and probably is unlikely to work in practice but it does seem like a sensible solution which doesn’t affect the lives of those of us who are not electrosensitive. – My only problem with the Electrosenstive lobby is when their convictions interfere with the rest of the world – I don’t want networks and electricity supplies being removed to suit one lobby.

  21. Critical said,

    July 25, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    with respect to the methodological criticisms on the powerwatch site;

    “Firstly, of the original 56 selected to take part in the study, 12 withdrew before the double-blind exposures, of which some withdrew very specifically because of the severity of symptoms from the open exposure. To lose 20% of the “sensitive” category in this way may well remove the most sensitive, or “truly” sensitive participants in the study”

    This does not strike me as valid. The sensitive group as a whole reported positive symptoms in the non blinded test, but could not distinguish when the signals were present in the blinded test. Unless you assume that “true electrosensitives” have symptoms that are more severe than those whose symptoms are purely psychological, the drop outs behaved just the same as the remainder of the sensitive cohort. I can’t see any reason to assume that “real” symptoms are neccessarily more severe than psychological ones.

  22. jj_hankinson said,

    July 25, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    Yes… I find this whole information site vs. online shop situation with Powerwatch even more odd now.

    Graham (topazg) – have you spoken to Alasdair about this yet? Are you sure you’re following the party line on this one? What you’ve published on the Powerwatch site does rather seem to make the shop side of things seem a bit cynical.

  23. topazg said,

    July 25, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    @jj: No, at the moment this is me off on my own opinion largely – but I have authority to write on behalf of Powerwatch so I’ve chosen to make my point.

    I will speak to Alasdair later (currently in press interviews in London). I have spoken to the staff at EMFields and we will decide, probably by the end of the week, the most responsible stance between still believing that there is a possibility of genuine risk and the likelihood that it is psychological, and how it should be portrayed on both sites.

  24. grolsh said,

    July 25, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    I have wifi
    Since I got wifi, my laptop travels around the house.
    my laptop = work, & procrastinating like this, both of which cause me stress.

    You see where I’m going..

    Add in housemates laptops, the persistent background of quiet, hig h pitched whirs from the moving parts.

    I’m not sure it’s even psychosomatic[sic], the inescapable low level stimuli, the hardly unexpected work-stress associations.. somehow I suspect that when I go on holiday this summer, high up in the mountains away from the ‘electrosmog’ my health will improve.

  25. Norbury said,

    July 25, 2007 at 2:21 pm

    I’m going to send a nice letter to my local paper about this – they’ve been far too ready to publish scare stories from MAST members and try to whip up opposition to mobile phone masts. Getting the word out needs to go deeper than the national press alone.

  26. superburger said,

    July 25, 2007 at 2:39 pm

    “FYI: a £300 bed canopy costs us about £260 to get in, including delivery costs – it’s hardly a big markup !”

    The point is that cannot be moral to sell equipment to ‘treat’ an illness that might be 100% psychological.

    Like i say, it is not like you screen customers and sell only to those with a ‘diagnosis’

    The only pre-requisite to spending £300 with Powerwatch is a valid credit card.

    Powerwatch make crticisms of the wifi/mobile/electricity industry by pointing out their perceived bias and financial interest.

    but powerwatch are equally prone to bias and have a financial interest!

    Out of interest, i’d still be interested to know the experiment(s) that would blow your hypotheses out of the water. There must be one!

  27. jj_hankinson said,

    July 25, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    Superburger: “Out of interest, i’d still be interested to know the experiment(s) that would blow your hypotheses out of the water. There must be one!”

    Tell that to audiophiles, homeopaths, UFO-conspiracy believers, anti-vaccine campaigners etc.

    There is no point trying to get true believers to have a conversation about scientific evidence – they’re not interested unless it will back up their beliefs.

    I would suggest that this is true for many of the EHS proponents too.

    Although I must say that Graham comes across as very reasonable for the time being. I have a feeling the line might change when Alasdair cracks the whip a bit though.

  28. Norbury said,

    July 25, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    Not all mobiles do that nohassel. Particularly not the ‘smart’phones, ironically.

  29. elfy said,

    July 25, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    DrJ, “If someone beleives that a wifi network is making them sick (and this then manifests as an illness) then giving them a crystal and convincing them that it will stop them being sick is a simple and effective treatment.”

    Although this is true on an individual basis, the result is that it propagates the belief that wifi networks make people sick – which is just going to make more people suffer from a damaging placebo effect (is there a specific term for that? I’m not a scientist by training). There’s also the issue that lying to people isn’t entirely ethical, though that’s secondary.

  30. le canard noir said,

    July 25, 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Yes, thinking that you can cure someone of EHS by giving them a a placebo bee mask crystal pendant box raises all sorts of dilemas.

    For me, it is failing to take a holistic approach to the problem and tacking the underlying cause of the illness. You are just masking symptoms and failing to take into account the individual. You will need to give them another placebo next time the illness manifests itself in another way. kerching.

    Ih my god, I am sounding like a homeopath.

  31. Henrik Eiriksson said,

    July 25, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Dear Ben Goldacre,

    Would you please explain what you were doing at a MOA (that’s Mobile Operators Association) sponsored Labour Party event along with MOA top spin-doctor Mike Dolan?
    Info here:
    www.smf.co.uk/index.php?name=UpDownload&req=getit&lid=179
    (see entry: Monday 25th September, 5.30pm)

  32. DrJ said,

    July 25, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    The underlying cause is that people believe that electromagnetic fields make them ill. To tackle this it is necessary to change peoples beliefs and this is simply not viable.
    I have been made deeply cynical over the last couple of months reading the sites linked from here and DC’s page.
    People would rather believe that wifi makes them ill, that the governent is giving them autism, that a hippy with a crystal can cure breast cancer, that humanitarian workers give children aids and that Jews did 9/11.
    A typical comment was one in the observer when someone said methinks they doth protest too much, because Scientists passionately attempt to persuade people that vaccinations are safe and effective.
    I’ve come to the conclusion that if people are so determined to believe their own theories and ignore overwhelming proof then let them have placebos, as long as it stops them causing problems for the rest of us.

    Even this won’t work though, as Carnard noir points out, anything that is done to help merely adds credence to their beliefs, in a way I suspect the extensive studies into electrosensitivity as with the studies into the MMR vacine have led to a ‘no smoke without fire’ belief in the mind of the public.

  33. NeilHoskins said,

    July 25, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Norbury: My N95 has an “offline” mode, which we used to call “flight mode”. That is, it turns off GSM, UMTS, and WiFi but everything else works.
    ;-)

  34. le canard noir said,

    July 25, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Hi Henrik of mast-victims.org?

    What is your organisations response to the latest findings?

  35. mpc said,

    July 25, 2007 at 3:56 pm

    Harking back to comments earlier about psychological illnesses being considered less real than physical ones, a few years back I read a few really interesting books based on similar themes. One that I particularly remember was “Mad Travellers” by Ian Hacking, which talked about an “illness” called fugue, which was basically what would nowadays be called tourism. Anyway, he talked about transient mental illnesses, which exist only where certain conditions exist – what he calls an ecological niche. In any case, even if these are transient rather than abiding constructs (nobody gets diagnosed with fugue now, even if it’s still listed in the DSM), they are no less real for the people who suffer them.

    For me one of the big issues in mental illness is the overreliance on the medical model, which stems from psychological illnesses being somehow considered less real than physical ones. Thus all manner of vague, flexible diagnostic constructs are attributed to “unknown biological causes” to satisfy an unnecessary need for confirmation that your illness is real, and thus the shelf-life of transient mental illnesses is extended.

    This whole electrosmog issue is a symptom itself of the stigma and unreal status attached to psychological illness. That doesn’t mean the people who claim to suffer from it aren’t suffering from debilitating symptoms, but those who capitalize on it by selling pendants and paints are simply perpetuating and creating a transient mental illness.

    (but then of course you hit more problems: how do you tell people that the thing they’re suffering from now won’t exist in x number of years because it’s a transient illness without them thinking you’re telling them they’re making it up, and how can you tell people something exists when you think it won’t in x number of years)

  36. Norbury said,

    July 25, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Henrik Eriksson, looks to me like Ben was addressing the question of how politicians should address media scare stories, presumably from the point of view of a journalist. Do you think he shouldn’t?

  37. hairnet said,

    July 25, 2007 at 4:44 pm

    QUOTE:
    ‘Ben Goldacre, Science Editor, Guardian’ Naughty Naughty!

  38. manigen said,

    July 25, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    So now we see your true colours Ben. Caught flagrantly being on the same panel as some guy that has a vested interest. With all the shilling you do for mobile phones/wifi/pharma how do you ever find time to practice medicine?

  39. gadgeezer said,

    July 25, 2007 at 5:22 pm

    If Ben is really the Science Editor for the Guardian, why has he been pretending to have difficulty publishing his MMR-autism stuff?

    Maybe it is really his brother/doppelganger Andrew Goldacre who attends these functions.

    If he is paid agitator for MMR-autism mercury leaky-gut entrepreneurs as well as receiver of free canapes and the warm vinegar that passes for wine in UK, at public discussion where business paid for room-hire and nibbles, then I think we should be told.

  40. rosy said,

    July 25, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    The point that if placebos give relief then it is legitimate to sell them is utterly spurious. If, instead of helping someone to deal (by whatever means) with the fact that they are afflicted with some condition of psychological origin which brings on their “electrosensitivity” symptoms, we allow them to carry on believing that such vital adjuncts to modern life as telephones and computers are making them seriously unwell, then we are encouraging them to take themselves out of the real world, to become housebound (which will presumably, in most cases, lose them their jobs, social lives, relationships etc).
    Direct route to a wretched, lonely life on incapacity benefit, I should have thought. If it’s a psychological problem it must be treated as such from the off!

  41. Andy said,

    July 25, 2007 at 6:44 pm

    topazg – Thank you for a genuine shock.
    I must admit I had reached the point where I wasn’t expecting anyone within the electro-sensitivity camp* to ever admit error of any kind or acknowledge that they could be anything other than 100% correct.
    It is nice to have been proven wrong.

    *”electro-sensitivity camp” may not be the best description but it’s a lot quicker and I’m lazy ;-)

  42. Henrik Eiriksson said,

    July 25, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    re: 56 “le canard noir”,

    Yes I am Henrik of Mast-Victims.org
    I always post comments under my real name. You should do the same.
    I have not yet had time to look at the study in detail as it’s just hit the fan today and it’s not my privilege to answer on behalf of the organisation. Mast-victims started as a project to show that people worldwide are adversely affected by electromagnetic radiation from mobiles, masts, wifi etc. It’s a place where affected people can tell their story. We collect world news on the subject aswell.
    I am electrosensitive myself to a degree so naturally I am curious of how the study turned out such a “no effect” result.
    In the 3 years the Essex study has been under way, there have been reports of volunteers becoming too ill from the exposure to continue in the study so I think the “no effect” result is much due to these real electrosensitives being left out of the results.
    Actually I think the Essex results cry out for more concern because the objective evidence of harm from EMR is abundant and Essex shows that most people are unable to consciously detect that they are in harms way and thus avoid damage.
    Can you feel that ionizing radiation is slicing up your DNA? I doubt it – you just develop cancer.

    Speaking of recent studies, I can inform that a soon to be published Danish follow-up of the much debated Belgian TNO study has found significant levels of headache and cognitive disturbance from 45 minute exposure of “typical” 3G/UMTS signal. The studies exposure advisor Prof. Jørgen Bach Andersen has confirmed this in an email to me.

    Best regards,
    Henrik Eiriksson, mast-victims.org

  43. bootboy said,

    July 25, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    Speaking of recent studies, I can inform that a soon to be published Danish follow-up of the much debated Belgian TNO study has found significant levels of headache and cognitive disturbance from 45 minute exposure of “typical” 3G/UMTS signal. The studies exposure advisor Prof. Jørgen Bach Andersen has confirmed this in an email to me.

    You seem to be confusing the concept of “recent” with the concept of “forthcoming, unpublished, unverifiable, un-peer reviewed.”

    I am curious as to the nature of the research hierarchy that you are using. What formula do you use to dismiss evidence from recent, transparent, peer-reviewed studies in favour of evidence from unpublished and unverifiable studies?

  44. j said,

    July 25, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    topaz wrote
    We started selling shielding stuff early this decade when people harassed us (Powerwatch only at the time, and entirely non-commercial) about what they should do about their problems. We provided the possibility of a solution, their problems went away – certainly those we deal with on that basis don’t feel that we have been particularly immoral thus far. Of course, the help might be entirely placebo, and in a lot of cases I suspect it is – but for some it might be very real, and I for one would have no idea which is the case.

    Wouldn’t one way to avoid some – though certainly not all – of the ethical problems associated with this be to sell all anti-EMF widgets on a not-for-profits basis, or donate all profits to charity (I’d suggest a charity in a non-EMF-related sector, so it’s clear that you’ve got no commercial interest in what the money is used for). At least that way, while some of us may still doubt whether the devices you’re selling are useful, you won’t be accused of profiting from selling such devices.

  45. TroyKnight said,

    July 25, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    www.electrosensitivity.org/essex_study.htm

    The Study
    Essex University today published their results of a long-awaited study into whether electrosensitives can detect and suffer adverse consequences as a result of being exposed to electromagnetic fields from mobile phone base stations. This was supposedly the ‘biggest’ ever study conducted on electrosensitivity in the UK and cost £365,000.

    Results
    The results were that electrosensitives could not detect when mobile phone base stations were on or off. This means that electrosensitives are unlikely to be able to suffer ‘sensitivities’ to mobile base station radiation.

    Opinion
    Unfortunately, this is a completely wasted opportunity to design a proper study into electrosensitivity. The money was awarded to a team of psychologists who seem to lack an understanding of the fundamental aspects of electrosensitivity. Why was this study not conducted by specialists in electromagnetism, toxicology, dermatology and so on (along with perhaps a psychology component). And why was there not a proper consultation with various electrosensitivity organisations? As a result of the study being run by a psychology team, they seemed to have missed certain fundamental aspects of electrosensitivity.

    1) Most electrosensitives will not respond to mobile phone base station radiation
    Of 271 letters by electrosensitive people themselves to the Swedish Council for Working Life Research, statistically analyzed in the book ‘Black on White’, only 10 reported that Cellular Telephones & Masts caused their symptoms – 3.6% of electrosensitives. The other 96.4% did NOT list mobile phone masts as the cause for thier problems – citing computers, amalgam, general electricity, chemicals and photocopiers as the cause. This appears to be the most reliable data on what causes the symptoms available today.

    2) 21% of the electrosensitive proportion dropped out of the study due to ‘poor health’
    These are likely to be the most sensitive of all, and more likely to be the ones which DO react to mobile phones masts. This is a serious problem, becuase the symptoms can be so severe as to affect subjects ability to take part in a study (see Brian Stein interview on Rudy & Judy on the homepage). Only 4% of the ‘normal’ group dropped out.

    3) The proportion of electrosensitives who believed that they were significantly sensitive to mobile phone radiation was not declared
    They did however say: “Participants in the sensitive group self-reported experiencing negative health effects from electromagnetic field exposure; in particular exposure from mobile phones and/or mobile phone base stations”. Why are exact figures not mentioned? Every electrosensitive person seems to react to their own specific sources of electromagnetism, with potentially multiple subgroups and mechanisms behind the condition. It would, for example, be very unusual for someone with VDT sickness/screen dermatitis, to react to mobile phone base stations and vice versa

    The study is full of technical explanations and figures, and you cannot fault the level of precision in the results or depth of analysis, so why were the exact figures for how many believed that they would specifically react to base stations not released? The fact that it says ‘in particular mobile phones and base stations’ means that presumably there were some who did not specifically react to base stations that were included as ‘sensitive’ in the study.

    Likewise there would have likely been people who reacted to mobile phones but not to mobile phone base stations.

    The participants should have been filtered to include just those that specifically believe that base station radiation was a significant cause of their symptoms.

    Higher skin conductance
    The skin conductance of the sensitive group was significantly higher. This… “may reflect either a psychophysiological stress response to participating in the study, or a more general imbalance in autonomic nervous system regulation”.

    Less chronic illnesses
    “Significantly more controls (38.3%) reported having a chronic illness
    compared to sensitive participants (21.4% ; χ2 (1)=4.94, P

  46. TroyKnight said,

    July 25, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    continued…

    Final Opinion
    Mobile phone base station radiation is unlikely to be the cause of symptoms in electrosensitives. The applicability of this study to electrosensitives is debatable, but using the best available statistics that I can find to date (as published on this website 2 years ago) indicate that these results are valid to a subgroup of 3.6% of electrosensitives.

    In has long been known that there may well be different mechanisms for electrosensitivity. This study does not have any applicability to other probable subgroups of electrosensitivity such as VDT sickness/screen dermatitis, or those which react to mobile phones, but not to base stations, which accounts for upto 96.4% of sufferes.

    Troy

  47. le canard noir said,

    July 25, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    TroyKnight

    Now, if you had said that yesterday, I might have been a little more impressed. Electrosensitivity appears to be shrinking into the gaps.

    You claim that the study should have been conducted by experts in ‘electromagnetism, toxicology, dermatology’. I am sure there were at least a few electromagmetic experts at NPL where the experiments were held.

    Why would this make a difference. What sort of experiment would convince you that EHS was not caused by EMF exposure? This is a very important question.

  48. le canard noir said,

    July 25, 2007 at 8:09 pm

    Barnacle Bill,

    funded by: www.mthr.org.uk/

    grant number RUM 20.

    Read the paper

  49. TroyKnight said,

    July 25, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    Hi le canard,

    It would have been very difficult to form a proper opinion with just preliminary details, but my opinion was just the same. I am suprised by the resutls, but if thats the case – that you cannot react to mobile phone base stations – then that’s fair enough. However, the majority of sensitivities lie outside the scope of this study.

    There was a very good post on the BMJ’s website which explained a what a good study would be:

    www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/334/7606/1249

    “As every doctor knows, for every person having a disease there may be several others who only think they have. However, these will confuse the whole issue and must be screened out from any provocation study on electrosensitivity if it is to give statistically meaningful results. To the best of my knowledge, this has not normally been the case; so we have another valid reason for the failure of studies based on self-reported symptoms to reach an acceptable level of significance.

    How you approach this problem depends on your objectives. If the object is to rubbish the whole concept of electrosensitivity then you do not screen.

    On the other hand, if you want to establish scientifically whether electrosensitivity does or does not exist, you have to do a preliminary screen and reject all subjects where their ability to detect the fields is no better than chance. If after doing this, you find that there are now one or two who can reliably detect the presence of the fields, then the condition does exist and must be taken seriously. “….

    I think this is a very good explanation. I would add to this that every electrosensitive person reacts to their own sources of electromagnetic radiation (perhaps due to the types of toxic chemicals in their system?), and each should be tested based on this. The Breakspear hospital has reported treating 500 electrosensitives, and they do test for the specific frequencies patients are sensitive to, so the technology is there.

    Covering these 2:
    1) specific frequencies for each person
    2) screening the participants adequately

    would I’m sure provide some very interesting results.

  50. Henrik Eiriksson said,

    July 25, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    hairnet: “religio-scientific”? well.. that’s a new one for me.

    bootboy: what part of “soon to be published” don’t you like?

    muscleman: if you want ME to take YOU seriously, either muster the guts to post that hulk picture of yourself or just stop calling yourself “muscleman”.
    For starters, go look up the work done by Dr. John Walker on the UK cancer cluster formations that sit exactly where the main beams of mobile phone mast hit the ground. The Times wrote about it here:
    www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1687491.ece
    As far as I remember, they feed aluminium smelters with direct current. Hardly a comparison to ELF modulated HF RFR. It’s not just about intensity, it’s about configuration: the modulations, the pulses, the patterns.

    Barnacle Bill:
    The UK Govt. & Industry funded it.

  51. jodyaberdein said,

    July 25, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Most intervention trials worth their salt would use intention to treat analysis, counting any drop out in the final analysis assigning them a null effect. Similarly you could analyse this data with I guess an intention to provoke analysis and see how that changes the result. I haven’t read the original yet so they may have infact done this. Otherwise it would be good to see how sensitive the finding is to dropout of presumed hypersensitives.

  52. bootboy said,

    July 25, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    what part of “soon to be published” don’t you like?”

    Specifically, the “soon to be” part. Less literally, the fact that nobody can read it, that nobody can assess the methodology, or the precise research question that it was addressing. Not to mention where it is to be published, nor how it has been reviewed and by whom.

    I also generally place higher value on findings that have been published in proper places rather than work that findings that I’m informed will exist in the future, via the medium of a post on a blog. Call me a traditionalist, I know…

  53. bootboy said,

    July 25, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    “On the other hand, if you want to establish scientifically whether electrosensitivity does or does not exist, you have to do a preliminary screen and reject all subjects where their ability to detect the fields is no better than chance. If after doing this, you find that there are now one or two who can reliably detect the presence of the fields, then the condition does exist and must be taken seriously. “….

    Troyknight, that letter makes a classical statistical error. If all participants just randomly select whether they think a field is present, some of them will be more right than others. If, as in this study, there are a small number of tests per participant, some of them are bound to get it right all the time. Happily there are things called statisticians who can calculate precisely how probable it is that a set of results signifies a correlation and isn’t just randomness.

    In this case, the fact that almost exactly the same proportion of people who claimed no EHS symptoms got it right every time as did people who claimed EHS symptoms.

    To reductio your complaint ad absurdam: if we filtered out all the people in this study who were unable to detect the signal presence all the time, we’d be left with 7 ‘true cases’ – trouble is five of them would claim no symptoms at all and would freely admit to just guessing.

  54. TroyKnight said,

    July 25, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    “Troyknight, that letter makes a classical statistical error. If all participants just randomly select whether they think a field is present, some of them will be more right than others. If, as in this study, there are a small number of tests per participant, some of them are bound to get it right all the time. Happily there are things called statisticians who can calculate precisely how probable it is that a set of results signifies a correlation and isn’t just randomness.”…

    I think the idea is that you run the tests, eliminate any who are sort-of borderline or not so sensitive and then re-run the tests with the most senstitive people again as many times is as necessary to eliminate the probability of it happening by chance.

  55. raygirvan said,

    July 25, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    > Henrik Eiriksson For starters, go look up the work done by Dr. John Walker on the UK cancer cluster formations that sit exactly where the main beams of mobile phone mast hit the ground

    Yeah. Work based on only looking at cancer clusters anecdotally reported around mobile phone masts – meaningless without information on the distribution of cancer clusters everywhere else (and appreciation that clustering needn’t have any cause at all, because it’s an expected feature of any randomish distribution).

  56. Andy said,

    July 25, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    TroyKinght, I’m getting confused.
    Until yesterday I would consistently hear that wi-fi is very similar to mobile phones and so just as likely to cause sensitivity problems.
    Since one was at 2.4GHz+ and the other around either 900MHz or 1.8GHz depending on band this always struck me as an odd claim to make but I’m only an EE, what do I know about it.

    Now it seems that cell phones were never the problem. So does that mean that since wi-fi is so similar it’s not a problem either? Or is the difference between them now suddenly highly significant?

    Or is it the unintended emissions from all electronics which is the issue despite it being orders of magnitude lower?

    Oh and in your post #74 ( www.badscience.net/?p=470#comment-15128 ) you give a list of what causes 96% of electro sensitivity that includes chemicals. Pardon my ignorance but short of building a battery out of them how do chemicals cause electro sensitivity? And while on the subject how do you separate effects caused by the toner from the electrical effects of a photocopier?

  57. TroyKnight said,

    July 25, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Andy..

    The study seems to say that mobile phone base stations are not likely to be a cause of electrosensitivity – I say ‘seems’, becuase without the 12 who dropped out due to poor health and without figures on how many people claimed to be sensitive to base stations in the first place, it cannot be said to be 100% accurate. Mobile phones were not tested in the study.

    With regard to chemicals and electrosensitivity, yes there is a very strong correllation. The Breakspear Hospital in London and the Environmental Health Centre Dallase both report it. Due to some unknown mechanism electrical sensitivites disappear when you remove/detoxify chemicals from the body. The point is that most people dont report mobile phone base stations as the major problem.

    Photocopiers and toner? I don’t know how you would seperate them. This is just statistical analysis performed a few years ago on people reporting themselves what causes their electrical sensitivitiy.

    On the topic of wi-fi and mobile phone base stations. There are two seperate but related issues here: long-term, very serious health effects such as cancer, luekemia and so on, and shorter-term health effects, ie electrosensitivity.

    This study concentrated specifically on the short-term effects of base stations. The longer term effects have been studied, and, in my opinion to anyone who has researched it, established.

    The worry over base stations and wi-fi is much more about the longer-term health effects and I’ve always said so. Bathing a city in wifi 24/7 for example is unprecedented and completly untested. If the long-term effects from mobile phones is anything to go by (www.emf-health.com/reports-carlo-att.htm), then wi-fi could potentially, in 10 or 20 years time, turn out to be a ‘health timebomb’

  58. jodyaberdein said,

    July 25, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    Troyknight:

    I’m intrigued particularly by the removal of chemicals from the body, partially because I’m a nephrologist. I wonder if you could specify the chemicals that were removed at Breakspear and how they did it?

    PS is this the same Breakspear that is in Hemel Hempstead and does allergy testing, mercury free vaccinations, single measles jabs, and , dare I say it, nutrition therapy?

  59. TroyKnight said,

    July 25, 2007 at 10:51 pm

    Hi Jody,

    I’m not too sure which chemicals they remove in particular. Yes it’s the same Breakspear Hospital. I didn’t end up going there because I was unable to ascertain exactly how the treatment worked. I beleive it’s some sort of chemical dilution therapy (no doubt Ben et al would have a field day with it). But apparantly it has been successful to a certain extent.

    The fact that both the Breakspear and the EHCD both report strong correllations, and that I myself have a large number of chemical sensitivities (exposed to CFC’s when I was 16/17, started getting severe chemical and electrical sensitivities soon after), is I beleive noy just a co-incidence.

    I can tell you though, that I am v.sensitive to formaldehyde, the chemicals in washing powders, new clothing etc. And also that sulfur (discovered by chance when I took Espon Salts/magnesium sulfate) has helped massively with both the chemical and electrical sensitivities simaltaneously.

  60. le canard noir said,

    July 25, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    Oh dear, I just ran the quackometer over the brakespear hospital. Steam came out of it, and now it is broken. I’m annoyed.

    chelation therapy, detoxification, allergies, electromagnetic therapy…

  61. jodyaberdein said,

    July 25, 2007 at 11:06 pm

    I think we’re way off Ben’s original thread here.

    My original point was designed to probe the depth with which you had confirmed the removal of chemicals before touting it as being relevent to electosensitivity, and I think that has been done.

    Secondarily I perhaps shouldn’t have been so naughty in pointing out the association with therapies of dubious background as discussed here and elsewhere, but it was very tempting.

    It is also probably not wise, although I admire your candour to discuss personal medical cases in a blog.

    None the less are you suggesting that your belief of more-than-coincidence is based entirely upon your own symtomatology? If not then what would be your standard of proof for cause and effect?

  62. bad chemist said,

    July 25, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    @ 91 j l smith. I’ve been doing the same but on PubMed and successively uncovered several papers by “John Walker”, a name that strikes me as probably relatively common, but bugger all with that name and anything to do with mobile phone masts etc.

    Henrik – Can you provide us with a reference? Preferably in peer-reviewed journal rather than a newspaper. Around here news stories don’t stand up on their own.

    Conflicts of interest: owns a mobile phone and uses wifi. Wishes they were cheaper.

  63. Critical said,

    July 25, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Troy.
    I think your comments reagrding the significance of the dropout rate are invalid.

    “2) 21% of the electrosensitive proportion dropped out of the study due to ‘poor health’
    These are likely to be the most sensitive of all, and more likely to be the ones which DO react to mobile phones masts. This is a serious problem, becuase the symptoms can be so severe as to affect subjects ability to take part in a study (see Brian Stein interview on Rudy & Judy on the homepage). Only 4% of the ‘normal’ group dropped out.”

    Most of this group dropped out after reporting positive symptoms during the “open” provocation part of the study – when they knew they were being exposed. Yet all of the sensitive group reported the same effect; thus there was no difference between this cohort and the remainder of the sensitives . We don’t know why they elected to drop out – anxiety, whatever. but there is no reason to assume its because their symptoms were in any way different or more severe than the rest of the sensitives. You have no basis on the available evidence to affirm this group represents “true” electrosensitives.

  64. TroyKnight said,

    July 25, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    “None the less are you suggesting that your belief of more-than-coincidence is based entirely upon your own symtomatology?”

    It’s based on the finding that the centre’s which actually treat electrosensitivity do so by treating underlying chemical toxicity.

    Considering that I myself developed chemical and electrical sensitivities in parralell and they have improved in parralell, I think it’s a pretty good theory.

    But of course, there is no proof.

  65. TroyKnight said,

    July 25, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    Superburger, refer to my earlier post on methods of testing electrosensitives.

    Critical, if you watched the Richard & Judy clip you would have seen that Brian Stein specifically said that he dropped out of the study becuase his symptoms were too severe. He predicted it 100%.

  66. muscleman said,

    July 25, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    Raygarvan:
    “(and appreciation that clustering needn’t have any cause at all, because it’s an expected feature of any randomish distribution)”

    Thanks for that, you beat me to it (I was watching a docu on British Jazz history headed by the late great George Melly). My wife administered both the investigation into the supposed clusters around Sellafield and the EMF cancer epidemiology studies which both found that the clusters were simply random. Which is where I get my knowledge from, I have drunk with a number of the best epidemiologists in the country.

    If you ask most people to draw a random series of dots on a piece of paper they produce dots fairly evenly spaced with no clusters. But that is not random, that is actually highly ordered. Randomness is clumpy. The job of epidemiology is to tell whether clusters are real or random.

    The public learns that Fred has lung cancer, Joe two streets away leukemia and Mary over the way breast cancer and they think ‘cancer cluster!’. Despite the fact that all are different, have different environmental influences (smoke, viruses, hormones) and different genetics. But once they have decided they don’t want some boffin telling them it isn’t true. To Joe and Jenny public anecdote always trumps statistics.

    BTW my nom de post refers to my scientific speciality, not my physiognomy necessarily.

  67. superburger said,

    July 25, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    er, i don’t see you’ve given a good experimental design.

    but there is a result which would blow your hypothesis away, right?

    “Bathing a city in wifi 24/7 for example is unprecedented and completly untested.”

    Hmm, well, maybe not those frequencies, but certainly mass radio and TV broadcasts have ‘bathed’ us in EM for nearly 100 years without any evidence of harm…..just a thought.

  68. le canard noir said,

    July 26, 2007 at 12:11 am

    It has been an interesting day and Ben has done a damn good job of flushing out some real debate here (mostly about data and not about funding). We may well be witnessing the beginning of the end of worry about acute responses to mobile phone masts (although there will be stragglers).

    No doubt, we have to go through the motions of showing the same thing for mobiles, wifi and kettle leads, even though the ‘information content’ carried though a typical kettle lead is going to be low, eh George?

    Undoubtedly, Powerwatch will be able to carry on where they started with support from Dennis Henshaw and theories about long term exposure to overhead Power cables causing havoc. But, their ability to sell bee-keeping lead-lined tinfoil hats may well be diminished (if they want to stay in the game).

    But, what has shocked me, is not the usual shrill voices from some quarters of the electrosensitivity lobby, but the discovery of private hospitals (like brakespear) quietly chiseling away and offering ‘treatments’ for electrosenstives. GMC registered doctors offering Polish electromagnetic healing devices that neutralise food allergies, clear up sports injuries, aid bone healing and cure tennis elbow.

    They are making money out of sufferers and are somewhat under the radar at the moment. Work to do…

  69. Martin said,

    July 26, 2007 at 3:28 am

    Rats. I was going to post something regarding how Mr Stein knew he predicted with 100% accuracy when he didn’t complete the study (it was a blinded study, wasn’t it – who told him he was 100% correct?) but Dr J’s comments above (#107) are far better. Did everyone turn off their mobile phones and the local mast prior to him coming into the studio? How does Mr Stein manage to move around the country – he can’t drive because there are mobile phone masts alongside motorways.

    Also, is there any data from the 12 electrosensitives and 4 non-electrosensitives, prior to them dropping out? Were the electrosensitives 100% accurate, or were they stressed out by the tests to the point where their psychological fears became manifest?

  70. tom1 said,

    July 26, 2007 at 7:57 am

    Aren’t we getting sidetracked here? After more than 30 years of anti-emf lobying nobody should expect any effect to be found. I was reading Voodoo Science recently who quoted a Clinton White House estimate of the cost total cost to economy of the power line/emf panic as $25 billion.

    What I really don’t understand is why the anti-EMF loby don’t produce one from amongst their number whose symptoms can stand scrutiny and show them off on Richard and Judy. Surely that’s all it would take for them to blow the Essex Study out of the water? Why hasn’t such a person been produced since the whole Brodeur/power line stuff kicked off in the late 70’s? The burden of prood is on them and was long before the Essex study.

  71. hairnet said,

    July 26, 2007 at 9:11 am

    Henrik, your right I should call a spade a spade, your defence of your views comes across as following the logic of creationists, I know this is the modern internet equivalent of calling you a nazi but , i repeat, you state your view then you go about looking for this view to be proved, how can you have a view point without evidence?

  72. Critical said,

    July 26, 2007 at 9:22 am

    “Critical, if you watched the Richard & Judy clip you would have seen that Brian Stein specifically said that he dropped out of the study becuase his symptoms were too severe. He predicted it 100%”

    No. You still cannot comment on the aetiology of the symptoms in the dropouts. A group of people who believed themselves to be electrosensitive were exposed to to a field with their knowledge – the open phase. They all exhibited symptoms. A proportion of them then dropped out of the study, most before the double blind phase. We don’t know all the reasons why they dropped out, but perhaps it was due to their perceived severity of symptoms, anxiety about the study; we don’t know. But we know people respond to symptoms of sickness in very different ways. Some will huddle in bed complaining loudly at the first hint of flu, others struggle to work with high fevers. So the fact that some peole dropped out of the study because of percieved severity of symptoms tells you nothing about the cause of those symptoms – just how they reacted to them. You certainly can’t infer that all the dropouts were really electrosensitive just because they dropped out. And finally, I’m sorry but you can’t honestly attempt to critique the methodology of a scientific paper by referencing Richard and Judy.

  73. antongeek said,

    July 26, 2007 at 9:38 am

    Apparently non of the dropouts were able to identify whether the source was on or off in the double blind tests.

    From todays Guardian report:

    “Professor Fox counters…and of the dropouts none was able to identify correctly when the radiation was on or off in the first double blind test.”

    tinyurl.com/ytgo4g

  74. tom1 said,

    July 26, 2007 at 9:44 am

    But why bother with studies of this type? Select a handful of the best cases that Powerwatch or whoever are sure about and are sufficiently committed not to drop out and test them. This would surely save time and money. In a week Powerwatch could turn the whole story around.

  75. wilsontown said,

    July 26, 2007 at 10:10 am

    “Critical, if you watched the Richard & Judy clip you would have seen that Brian Stein specifically said that he dropped out of the study becuase his symptoms were too severe. He predicted it 100%”

    Also, statistically you would expect a number of people to ‘predict it 100%’. If you could show that the number of people who ‘predicted it 100%’ was statistically significant, you’d be in business. One person on the telly can’t do this. That’s why you conduct a trial in the first place, rather than just asking some random punter on Richard and Judy.

  76. Henrik Eiriksson said,

    July 26, 2007 at 10:26 am

    re 110 hairnet,
    Call me what you like. “Nazi” is fine. I don’t really like Nazi’s but at least they got a lot of things done and that’s what I’m planning to do with my life too. I don’t sit around and wait for someone else to answer my questions. I prefer to jump in and get wet and that’s why I’m keeping up with the developments in this field. Nice if someone comes along and does answer some if my questions but I’m not counting on it. So, when you say: “how can you have a view point without evidence” it shows your common psychological issue. You are a poor victim of the “diffusion of responsibility” syndrome – the “someone has gotta do something” attitude and then just sit back, twiddle your thumbs and wait for someone to solve that “something”.
    I am really fascinated by the Essex results but they don’t change my reality one bit.
    See, most electrosensitives have arrived at their diagnosis through extensive trial and error. Me too. So, for me all this is painfully simple – but I have a conscious choice here and you don’t. Allow me to explain:
    If I try and make a call on a mobile phone I get a splitting headache and nausea within minutes. If I stay within the main beam of a mobile phone mast for more than 10 minutes (especially 3G/UMTS ones) I feel ill. Same if I stay close to DECT’s or wifi routers for too long though my reaction to those are different and take about an hour to manifest.
    Think of this what you like and call me what you like but I consider myself lucky to own the ability to detect these emissions so I can avoid them.
    You on the other hand, obviously aren’t consciously bothered by EMR from mobiles, masts or wifi (or I assure you wouldn’t be arguing with me now).

    There is ample evidence for the physical damage from EMR of the configuration that mobiles and masts produce so you have to just sit there and suffer unconscious damage while even paying for it to continue.
    I and my fellow Mast-Victims can take measures to avoid getting hurt.
    I wish you luck.

  77. RS said,

    July 26, 2007 at 10:47 am

    How is it the case that this research both simultaneously shows that the effects of EM radiation is so bad that electrosensitives can’t even continue the experiments AND that electrosensitivity effects are due to chronic exposure and cannot be detected by acute exposure experiments?

  78. Suw said,

    July 26, 2007 at 10:59 am

    Or did the 12 electrosensitives just catch the ‘flu, or a cold, or have a particularly bad migraine? There are other sources of ill-health that can afflict even electrosensitives, some of them really very common. I haven’t had time to read the paper, so afraid i have no idea if it states the type of ill-health suffered by those who dropped out.

  79. Simon Howard said,

    July 26, 2007 at 11:07 am

    Although I’m a huge fan of bad science, I have to agree with the comments about dollar signs, etc. Whenever I see that done to somebody’s name to mock them, it always lowers my opinion of the writer. It’s kind of ironic considering that it was you yourself that was recently complaining about impartiality being seen as affected just because of industry financing.

    Reminds me of an old penny arcade strip:

    www.penny-arcade.com/images/2002/20020722l.gif

  80. Henrik Eiriksson said,

    July 26, 2007 at 11:31 am

    re: 119 j l smith,
    Dr. Grahame Blackwell has a piece on the clusters here:
    www.starweave.com/gallery/
    Hope this answers your questions.

  81. Dork said,

    July 26, 2007 at 11:53 am

    Ben Goldacre said,
    July 25, 2007 at 1:11 pm

    “oh god, the arguments about how to have an argument have come to badscience.net

    Ben, far better to put your faith in arguments about arguments than supernatural deities.

  82. prosthesis said,

    July 26, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    sorry henrik, these thinks don’t really answer any questions about whether this “clustering” is real or just normal random distribution. e.g. what about things like age? are these “clusters” associated with retirement homes/streets of sheltered accommodation? given age is the largest risk factor for the development of cancer, i think that’s pretty crucial.

    also the line about the data being collected by mast sanity somewhat prevents me from taking it all that seriously!

  83. megachicken(b) said,

    July 26, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    There’s a nice paper about cancer clusters and masts here:

    www.users.zetnet.co.uk/jil/ums/umj075/075(3)195.pdf

    Activists complained about 11 cases of cancer near a mast. But when researchers went in, they could only track down 6 of these people, two of whom didn’t have cancer at all.

    But they did also find another 17 cancer patients in the local area that the activists had never heard of, and showed that this prevalence was actually quite good compared to the national norm.

  84. Nanobot said,

    July 26, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    Henrik you said:

    “Call me what you like. “Nazi” is fine. I don’t really like Nazi’s but at least they got a lot of things done and that’s what I’m planning to do with my life too. I don’t sit around and wait for someone else to answer my questions. I prefer to jump in and get wet and that’s why I’m keeping up with the developments in this field. Nice if someone comes along and does answer some if my questions but I’m not counting on it. So, when you say: “how can you have a view point without evidence” it shows your common psychological issue. You are a poor victim of the “diffusion of responsibility” syndrome – the “someone has gotta do something” attitude and then just sit back, twiddle your thumbs and wait for someone to solve that “something”.”

    Now I’m not going to get bogged down with the details of the latter part of your post (after all I’m just a physicist and so I’m not taken seriously on issues by lobbyists concerning electromagnetic waves). However I take great issue with your interpretation of what scientific skepticism is. It is certainly not waiting around for others to do the work for you (which, in fact, you are doing, unless you are conducting research yourself – which you are not).

    Scientific skepticism is about waiting for the evidence before drawing a conclusion. I am most certainly a do-er, not a wait-er (I’m an active researcher in nanotechnology), but I don’t form a view and then conduct or look for research that supports that view. Why? Because I have not derived my view scientifically i.e. it has not been formed based on evidence, but upon pre-supposition. Remember, a conclusion supported by evidence is different to a conclusion formed by evidence.

    I’m afraid it is your failure to understand how science is conducted that is the problem here, not that other people are being complacent.

  85. prosthesis said,

    July 26, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    nice article megachicken. that’s exactly the kind of study henrik needs to do to demonstrate clustering (or not).

  86. shpalman said,

    July 26, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    So, what’s the problem now? Is it the frequency of the signals? No, because you have no way of detecting GHz signals and if you did it would be swamped by your own thermal radiation. The molecules of water in you are spinning around, emitting and absorbing microwave photons all the time. We already have limits on the allowed heating effect of microwave radiation.

    Is it the pulse or packet frequency? No, because a 2GHz signal pulsed at 10Hz contains signals at 2GHz plus or minus 10Hz – to get the 10Hz signal you still have to be able to pick up the 2GHz signal and then filter out the microwave part.

    Is it the low frequency current from the battery? Unlikely, given that weather (especially thunderstorms) creates large low-frequency electric fields – this also goes against those who claim that we can’t have evolved resistance to time-varying electric fields because they don’t exist in nature.

    Is it better or worse with UMTS compared to GSM or WiFi or Tetra? See above – if you don’t have any way to receive the carrier frequency in the microwave band it doesn’t matter how its pulsed.

    The 50Hz from powerlines? This one seems to have fallen by the wayside as the anti-microwave stuff picked up.

    Is it an acute or chronic problem? I don’t care, because self-reported acute electrosensitives don’t give results better than chance under lab conditions. If only had a few subjects to study – having supposedly screened out those whose symptoms were psychosomatic – how many tests would you need to subject them to in order to get good statistics?

    P.S. Physicist of semiconductors, if anyone’s playing argument-by-authority Top Trumps.

  87. prosthesis said,

    July 26, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    henrik, i think muscleman summed it up in much the way i would have done.

    i’d put my trust in qualified statisticians, medics and epidemiologists who do a sufficiently well designed study and report it in a peer reviewed journal. fortunately i’m (vaguely) competent to understand scientific literature so i don’t have to rely on mainstream media for my info!

  88. HowardW said,

    July 26, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    “If I stay within the main beam of a mobile phone mast for more than 10 minutes (especially 3G/UMTS ones) I feel ill. Same if I stay close to DECT’s or wifi routers for too long though my reaction to those are different and take about an hour to manifest.
    Think of this what you like and call me what you like but I consider myself lucky to own the ability to detect these emissions so I can avoid them.”

    Henrik – this is all very well, but the key point is to do tests to see if you are affected in the same way if: (A) you are close to a mast or other EM source (switched on) and you know it’s switched on, (B) you are close to a mast or other EM source and you don’t know if it’s switched on or not.

    If you’ve done such tests, I’m sure people would be interested to know more. If you haven’t then you are jumping to conclusions about the cause of your symptoms (i.e. you can’t rule out a purely psychological reaction to the knowledge that the source is switched on).

    This, of course, is why studies such as the recent Essex one are vital – they allow us to make these distinctions. So far, the evidence doesn’t support a direct effect of the EM radiation, but seems to support a purely psychological reaction to the knowledge of the source being on or off.

    Howard

  89. DrJ said,

    July 26, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Henrik Eiriksson
    I’m a Biophysicist with specialised knowledge of most of the topics of discussion. My point is that one way or another the professional scientists on this board have pretty much got their bases covered.

    I’m still interested to know what you have managed to accomplish in 6 years of hard work though.

  90. superburger said,

    July 26, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    “And please, grow some balls and post under your real name. All this bitching from behind pseudonyms is pathetic.”

    how does a’real’ name add to the validity of what someone says on a blog?

    If you don’t like, then find another blog, or pick a pseudonym of your own.

    “To explain how EMR affects organisms you have to marry physics, biology and the understanding of living things too.”

    perhaps. But the Essex study lends strong weight to the notion that the effects of mobile phone frquencies are psychological effects.

    NB “biology and the understanding of living things too.”

    Biology is the study of living things.

    What would convince you that there is no such thing as electrosensitivity? (i.e. real, non-psychological effects?)

  91. Dr Aust said,

    July 26, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Henrik

    Some of the pseudonyms doubtless reflect:

    (i) the fact that we do not want to end up being blizzarded with abusive mail and email from MMR-causes-autism (or similar) campaigners

    (ii) we (speaking for some scientists and perhap medics posting here) may be taking time out from our official scientific / medical jobs to post here…

    Personally, as I have posted before, I think combating scientific nonsense is one of the most important and neglected parts of what scientists do. But my University employers, sadly, would not be happy at that meaning I am posting here rather than cranking out grant applications and papers. In order to not make it too obvious to them I will be sticking to my pseudonym.

  92. Dan Lockton said,

    July 26, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    I’ve been reading this site on and off for a long time, and very muich enjoy following these debates, without getting involved. I’m sure there are plenty of others like me. But this has compelled me to register and make a comment.

    Here – www.badscience.net/?p=470#comment-15177 – Henrik says:

    If I try and make a call on a mobile phone I get a splitting headache and nausea within minutes. If I stay within the main beam of a mobile phone mast for more than 10 minutes (especially 3G/UMTS ones) I feel ill. Same if I stay close to DECT’s or wifi routers for too long though my reaction to those are different and take about an hour to manifest.
    Think of this what you like and call me what you like but I consider myself lucky to own the ability to detect these emissions so I can avoid them.

    Would you consent to double-blind testing of the above? If you stand one side of a thin paper screen (with no EM-shielding capability) and a phone (switched on or not, making a call or not, with the speaker disconnected or silenced) is held by a bracket on the other side, and the same distance from your head it would be when making a call, it should reveal fairly quickly whether there is a physical link between a call actually being in progress and your symptoms.

    Would you consent to this kind of test? If a link were established, it would greatly help your campaign; if not, it would also help your campaign, as it would rule out what you believe to be the cause of your symptoms, and allow you to focus on understnading the symptoms in another way.

  93. prosthesis said,

    July 26, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    “as it would rule out what you believe to be the cause of your symptoms, and allow you to focus on understnading the symptoms in another way.”

    or it would prove that wearing a paper hat would solve the problem!

  94. ayupmeduck said,

    July 26, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    @Henrik:

    You say:

    “If I stay within the main beam of a mobile phone mast for more than 10 minutes (especially 3G/UMTS ones) I feel ill… [I have the] ability to detect these emissions…”

    This is fantastic! Can you really do this? Have you tested and proven it? I have some great ideas for a TV show based on your 6th sense. Have you got an agent? We can make millions together. Seriously!

  95. bootboy said,

    July 26, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Incidentally, nobody answered this:

    “I find it a bit perplexing that satellite comms systems have a “safe distance”, yet GSM masts, which also use microwaves, do not.”

    I don’t know much about satellite coms, but I’m assuming that, due to the inverse square law, they need a fair bit more power to travel the 35,000 odd Kilometres than your typical mobile phone mast with a range of a few km.

    So, I’d assume that the field strength would be several degrees of magnitude greater than that emitted by mobile phone masts – sort of like a microwave oven.

  96. Henrik Eiriksson said,

    July 26, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    re: 143 Dan Lockton,
    Hi Dan, is this your site:
    dan.danlockton.co.uk ?
    If so, say hi to Clive Sinclair and tell him that the Sinclair QL was the best computer I’ve ever had! Years ahead of it’s time! :-)

    Yes, I live in Copenhagen, Denmark if you want to come and test me out. The phone that gives me head trouble is a Nokia 6210.

  97. sophotrope said,

    July 26, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Bootboy,

    yes, if you look here
    www.viasat.com/_files/_08fe203b613bc02b87de181a370e2bdf/pdf/8009A_005_web.pdf

    then you’ll see that it says

    “Standard power cross -axis transmit waveguide (2 kW C-band, 700 W Ku-band)”

    For satellite nomencalture (which is not strictly correct) C-band is between 3.4 and 6.8 GHz, Ku-band is 10.7 to 14.5 GHz. (Microwave ovens usually operate at 2.45 GHz)

    So for a large satellite transmission dish the beam could be a couple of kilowatts. It wouldn’t be a good idea to stand in the path of the beam, due to the heating effect of the microwaves.

  98. bootboy said,

    July 26, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    Cheers Sophotrope, I couldn’t find any power specs for them myself, but that’s what I expected. Standing immediately in front of one would be like standing in a microwave oven (typically about 1kW).

  99. prosthesis said,

    July 26, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    sorry to go off topic. does anyone know why the thread appears under the left menu (half on black half on white), so is really hard to read, rather than down the nice white middle section? this is a persistent problem with this site for me. any tips/thoughts welcome

  100. censored said,

    July 26, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    OK, so electro-sensitivity is bollocks.

    But what I’m also interested in is what the campaigners want to achieve? Do they want all EM switched off and all electric cables heavily shielded? Ban mobile phones even though the vast majority find them a benefit?

    You can’t campaign for something without a goal in mind and I’ve no idea what their goal is. Which makes them look even more like quack organisations.

    Why don’t hay fever sufferers band together to campaign for everyone’s lawn to be tarmaced?

  101. Dr* T said,

    July 26, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Careful Stuu, there’s nothing wrong with us beekeepers :)

    And the hats are too expensive.

    T

  102. Stuu said,

    July 26, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Nothing wrong with beekeepers. I was merely highlighting the beeekeping industry’s vested interest in the electrosensitivity lobby.

  103. j l smith said,

    July 26, 2007 at 5:49 pm

    Sorry, Henrik, the Grahame Blackwell piece doesn’t help much. The core questions are the same: if Dr John Walker was to pick any mast would he find the same clusters?

    At the moment it appears he’s proven the opposite, which is that in cases where there are clusters near a mast there are clusters near a mast, because the methodology appears to be that he’s called in when local anti-mast campaigners are concerned.

    It’s also worth pointing out that although you’ve referred to cancer clusters earlier, most of the clusters reported by John Walker are not cancer. The “Town in Staffordshire” chart for example is high blood pressure, as is the “Street in London” chart.

    There’s also something odd about both those charts, in that they imply that only people in mast hotspots get high blood pressure. Those outside the hotspots have what appears to be a zero risk of developing high blood pressure. I’d be extremely sceptical of that as a result: are there really no background cases? A cynic might suggest that the people gathering the data only looked at the areas where they knew RF to be high and didn’t bother surveying the low RF regions.

  104. Barnacle Bill said,

    July 26, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    j l smith,

    I live on a boat in a marina, and we have an inexplicable cluster of divorced men within the confines of the marina.

    ;o)

  105. elfy said,

    July 26, 2007 at 8:12 pm

    Troy’s argument reminds me of the hit-and-run attacks of creationists on evolutionary biologists, whereby any time someone explains something they’ve been using as proof of creationist theories – say, blood clotting – through evolutionary means they don’t concede the point, they just move on to find something that’s not yet been explained. It’s the great advantage of relying on anecdote and gut instincts over data. Show that WiFi doesn’t cause electrosensitivity symptoms and they’ll say that the sufferers who claimed it did may have been suffering purely from psychosomatic effects, but that doesn’t mean those sufferers blaming mobile phones are. Which is true, but at what point do you accept that if there IS a shown psychosomatic cause to these problems and there ISN’T anything to show it’s caused by the EMF itself then maybe, just maybe, it’s like that for the entire range of symptoms?

    On the other hand, Troy’s inability to keep his argument in one post did highlight the following for me:

    “Significantly more controls (38.3%) reported having a chronic illness compared to sensitive participants (21.4% ; χ2 (1)=4.94, P

  106. Andy said,

    July 26, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    prosthesis,

    On your off topic question:
    I would guess that you are using Internet Explorer 6 or earlier. I can tell by because I get a pain from the EM radiation it generates.
    Well that and that it has a broken CSS implementation.
    I’ve tried IE6, IE 7 & Firefox 1.5 and 2.0, IE6 is the only one with that issue.
    You should probably consider upgrading, if not to correct the layout then for security reasons.

  107. raygirvan said,

    July 26, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    1. Why you don’t seem to be aware of the objections to the clustering argument

    I don’t know about Henrik, but I get the general impression that people in this territory of campaign are well aware of it, but think it’s some kind of scam to diss their perception of the situation (see here

  108. raygirvan said,

    July 27, 2007 at 3:24 am

    Oops! I munged the link, so the end of that post got lost. I referred again to here as an example of this reaction to the statistics. I think it is a science issue in the sense that probability is very non-intuitive in some areas – such as here, how random data inevitably produces clustering – and it’s very difficult to get people to accept something that goes against what feels like common sense.

    You see a bunch of people getting cancer in one street: ergo something nearby caused it. It feels so obvious that anyone who says otherwise must be part of some evil conspiracy.

    Cognitive bias is always a blighter. People – understandably – get very suspicious and defensive if you try to explain that their memories, perceptions and conclusions can be seriously wrong.

  109. prosthesis said,

    July 27, 2007 at 9:09 am

    andy,
    cheers,i am indeed using ie 6 (damn work computer)…still, on a ‘positive’ note it may limit my ability to skive. the weird thing is that it was OK for a while yesterday, then the text shifted to the left, where it remains. could it be linked to thread length?

  110. sophotrope said,

    July 27, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Hello Barnacle Bill,

    Most satellite uplink beams (not just VSAT) are very tightly targetted.

    As for GSM, it operates on 400, 450, 850, 900 , 1800, and 1900 MHz depending on which country you are in. GSM base-station antennae are never omnidirectional (there’s no point in broadcasting equal power into the earth under the mast, towards the horizon, and straight up. They may, occasionally, broadcast in an almost flat cone shape with the rim of the cone directed below the horizon, but in general, they will be more directional than that.

    If a highly directional satellite uplink pushes between 1 and 5 kilowatts, a GSM base station will be in the region of 5-100W fairly broadly dispersed.

    Experimental evidence for non-thermal biological effects of microwave radiation is sparse.

    As a comparison, the BBC Crystal Palace colour TV transmitter, from Wikipedia “The station carries the London regions of BBC One, BBC Two, ITV1 and Channel 4 in analogue, each with an effective radiated power of 1 MW, as well as all six digital terrestrial television multiplexes. These have an ERP of 20 kW, with considerable beam tilt to the south and east.” at 480-570 MHz.

    Similarly, in your own home, you are likely to have several sources of around 450-750 TeraHz radiation broadcasting at a couple of watts each. The latter can visibly show non-thermal biological effects, but have been in use for so long (many decades) that nobody worries too much about it.

    Cheers,

    sophotrope

  111. raygirvan said,

    July 27, 2007 at 9:35 am

    Every other evening I lose the cheese grater.

    This is digressing, but I’m exactly the same; some things in the kitchen become invisible if they’re not in their normal orientation (e.g. if the ketchup bottle falls on its side).

  112. Henrik Eiriksson said,

    July 27, 2007 at 10:15 am

    re 171 tom1,
    Your post really made me laugh :-) Thanks for that. I was beginning to worry that hanging out here could damage my sense of humor.

    Well, in response to your points:
    1. Yes, symptoms of EMF sensitivity are a part of my reality. I admit that at first the Essex results did get me second guessing my experiences as it’s been years since I dared to put a mobile phone to my head.

    Regarding 2 & 3 the answer has little to do with science, nor logic either really. You have to start looking at the politics and stakes in this area. Firstly, neither the phones nor masts were pre-market tested. Dr. George Carlo, who ran the US senate commissioned post-market mobile phone research, says that if a foodstuff or drug had gotten the same results as mobiles have (DNA breakage, BBB disruption etc.) in pre-market testing they simply would have been banned up front.
    Actually the phones were freed from pre-market testing simply because at the time there were no acknowledged non-thermal effects. The mobile phone, as any radiation emitting device should defacto have undergone pre-market testing. Anyway, today, there are established non-thermal effects largely due to Dr. Carlo’s research programme.
    So, mobiles went on sale without any health related testing and the market took off and here were are, blanketed with it.
    If mobile phones and masts are proven dangerous now, everything collapses, not only faith in Government and the Industry but your pensions vanish as well because of all the gold rush investments in the mobile telecoms plus the Government relying on tax and licence income from telecoms.
    So, problem is that the political and financial point-of-no-return has long been passed and they just can’t afford to loose now.
    Your now PM, former treasurer, Gordon Brown desperately needed the 22 billion pounds from bandwidth auctions to fill up a gaping hole in UK national dept.
    So there you have the deadlock:
    Telecoms want ROI and Government is forced to protect the playing field for them.

  113. j l smith said,

    July 27, 2007 at 10:27 am

    Tom, I would want to see if there was a correlation between you not seeing the cheese grater and your heroically excessive consumption of cheese.

  114. censored said,

    July 27, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Scientists In ‘Cheese Causes Blindness’ Shock Study

  115. superburger said,

    July 27, 2007 at 10:49 am

    “If mobile phones and masts are proven dangerous now, everything collapses, not only faith in Government and the Industry but your pensions vanish as well because of all the gold rush investments in the mobile telecoms plus the Government relying on tax and licence income from telecoms.”

    Nah, peanuts can kill some people. Yet their sale is not banned, as lots of people like a bag of dry roasted with their beer.

    If mobile phones were shown to make a tiny percentage of people ill, they still wouldn’t be banned, as they are too useful.

  116. icarusfall said,

    July 27, 2007 at 10:56 am

    Erm, OK, fair enough. The code was stripped out. Anyway, happy enough to email anyone the example if they like, although hopefully it’s clear from my murblings what I meant.

  117. Barnacle Bill said,

    July 27, 2007 at 11:52 am

    Sophotrope,

    Cheers for that info. Very informative.

    Yes – I realise I should not have used the word “omni-directional” in respect of GSM. But you get what I meant.

    As an aside, why has my Freeview box stopped pciking up the ITV channels? If I turn the antenna 90 degrees, I get them back, but lose the BBC channels. I thought all these new-fangled digital transmissions were sent together from all transmitters.

  118. Henrik Eiriksson said,

    July 27, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    re: 186 tom1,

    I agree with you on both points.

    1. I don’t think this forum is the right place for such a discussion and I’m sure most people here are already sick and tired of me. I suggest you start off a thread in the forum at www.mast-victims.org
    and I’ll jump in.
    Also, many others with a good knowledge of the history of this area will be able to participate there too. Everyone is welcome.

    2. I agree that people won’t be convinced until my head hurts in a double-blind, hands-tied, hanging-upside-down, ears-plugged & eyes-crossed trial ;-) I am a very open minded person, really, though I’ve been compared with Nazi’s in this forum. How do you think I could even consider myself to be EMF sensitive, despite all the hype suggesting otherwise, if I wasn’t open minded?

  119. Nanobot said,

    July 27, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    Hi Henrik:

    ‘You say: “unless you are conducting research yourself – which you are not”.
    Oh joy, you just managed to void six years of my hard work in one sentence.’

    I mean experimental research. Have you conducted and published any experimental research?

    “So you are a “do-er” and that’s good, and physics is good for a lot of things, but just not as a stand-alone school to explain the biological hazards of EMR.
    You do nanotech and in that you deal with itsy bitsy dead things.”

    Given that I was excluding myself from the technical discussion here I don’t see why what I do has anything to do with what I said and your response to those comments. However, for your information I have a Major degree in chemistry with a minor in biochemistry and a degree in chemical physics so I’m quite a multidisciplinary person myself. Also you will notice that nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary subject too and we have many pharmacists and biologists in the field who would disagree that it was all to do with ‘itsy bitsy dead things’ or that research has to be done on some holistic level to contribute to our understanding of the effects of EMR on biological systems.

    “To explain how EMR affects organisms you have to marry physics, biology and the understanding of living things too.
    It’s not just about intensities and how much energy it take to snap chemical bonds. The most important area here is understanding how living systems, all the way down to individual cells, extract information from EMR in their surroundings and how they react accordingly.”

    Information is stored in the chemical make-up and bonding of the molecules that comprise the biological systems. Are you seriously suggesting we ignore this? I agree that in vivo experimention is need to know about sheilding effects, etc. but to suggest that somehow there is some holistic mechanism independant of fundamental interactions has, in my opinion, no basis. What you said sounds like science, but it isn’t.

    “And please, grow some balls and post under your real name. All this bitching from behind pseudonyms is pathetic.”

    Well, you know my affiliations. The reason why I retain my anonymity is not because I am using it as a cloak to protect myself while I dish out the ad homs (which as you have so ably demonstrated can be most effectively done out in the open and against anonymous individuals). I do it so that people read what I have written without prejudice of who I am and also to reduce the risk of receiving abusive correspondance from people who don’t know any better.

    Rather than attempt to support your argument with an ad hom about people wishing to remain anonymous (which is a waste of time), how about respecting our reasons and responding to the content of our posts instead?

  120. zooloo said,

    July 27, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    You weren’t compared to a Nazi you were compared to a Creationist, which was noted as “modern internet equivalent of calling you a nazi”. As I assume English is not your first language I can see how confusion could arise.

    On being “open-minded”, Skeptico sum it up well

    “The appeal to be open-minded

    …at some point in a debate: “You need to be more open-minded” or “You’re too closed-minded”. This is presented as though it is actually a valid argument. In reality it just shows they have run out of arguments. They hide behind it to disguise the complete lack of any rational reason for you to accept what they are telling you. It’s the last resort of someone who has nothing – if they had evidence they would obviously present it.”

    Source: skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/10/the_appeal_to_b.html

  121. bootboy said,

    July 27, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Just had an interesting thought.

    Since now, more than ever before, we know that EHS is a psychological reaction to the ‘radiation’ scare. Could the anti-mast campaigners switch their litigative focus to the people who are actually making them sick?

    I’m talking about some good old-fashioned class action stuff against the Daily Mail. I’m sure if they went down that route, the entire scientific establishment would volunteer to be expert witnesses.

  122. Henrik Eiriksson said,

    July 27, 2007 at 2:33 pm

    re: 190 bootboy,

    What about the 2 ppl. that could consistently detect EMR in the Essex study? – and the 12 that got too ill to continue? How come you want to forget about them?

    Cute thought about the Daily Mail and why not take down the entire pharmaceutical industry aswell…
    Come on, we gotta nail someone!

  123. aphasia said,

    July 27, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    @190
    The number of people that correctly identified whether the EMR source was on or not were what would be expexted by chance. Remember also that some of the non-electrosensitive people correctly identified whether the signal was on or not too.

    Consider what would happen if you got enough people to guess on the outcome of several tosses of a coin. If the number of people is large enough relative to the number of tosses some of them will predict the result of each toss purely by chance.

  124. art16 said,

    July 27, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    The real issue is not the debate over the existence of “electrosensitivity”, but rather where lies the burden of proof. It is usual and customary to assign the burden of proof to those who claim something exists. Since no one can prove the negative, this narrows the field considerably. If you remove all anecdotal information, one is left with a few people who make the scientific claim that “electrosensitivity” exists. The flaw in the “electrosensitivity” ointment is that the science to date is flawed. This relegates “electrosensitivity” to a proclamation without fact.

    On another note, if you make the symptom list long enough, there is a very high probability that many people will have experienced some of the symptoms for other reasons. Having a handy cause for otherwise unexplained effects is very convenient.

  125. pv said,

    July 27, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Henrik Eiriksson @190 said,
    “re: 190(sic) bootboy,

    What about the 2 ppl. that could consistently detect EMR in the Essex study? – and the 12 that got too ill to continue? How come you want to forget about them?”

    Henrik, there were 7 people who could consistently “detect” EMR, not 2. Why do you want to forget about the 5 in the control group who were guessing? Are you suggesting that the 2 you mention weren’t guessing because they say they are EMS?
    As for the 12 who “got too ill”. Were you there? Do you know whether they “got to ill” for psychosomatic reasons? Can you answer these questions?

    The results of the study would imply their illnesses were psychosomatic. Do you know that a psychosomatic illness can be just as debilitating as a manifestly “real” one? Disabling in fact. Do you have any evidence that EMS isn’t psychosomatic?
    I’m struggling to see what point you are making.

  126. tom1 said,

    July 27, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    art16,

    Re the long symptom list… absolutely. The other issue is arguing from the assumption that something exists.

    An analogous argument (to the long term effects issue) is the number of Tom’s in my class at secondary school. I always tell people there were 5 in a class of thirty. Kindof unusual. Actually as I recall one was a Tommy and two were called Thomas (so there is the vague symptoms analogy). If from that I began to suspect that schools caused clusters of Tom’s I might be tempted to scout around for other Tom clusters and would almost certainly find hundreds of them. Unless I took a step back from what I was doing it would be very easy to fail to see the clusters of Peters, Pauls and Marys. The only way to tell whether their is an association between schools and Tom’s is statistics. At that point it would be time to start looking for a causal relationship.

  127. AlasdairPhilips said,

    July 27, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Hi, its Ala$dair here, back from the big smoke (well traffic fumes, anyway). What a lot of comments.

    The Essex study was well done and the team consulted widely (including us) at the planning stage. I was invited to the opening of their EMF-health lab. by Sir William Stewart. I then found a problem with the cellular-industry supplied base-station simulation rig programming which it took the comany (then CDS, now Red-M) over two months to correct (they had left out the guard periods between the GSM data timeslots). The lab was painted using ecological paints and the lighting is powered using DC voltage.

    So, I do take their results very seriously. I am surprised that they find “no effects” as I still believe that some people are genuinely ES and are helped by reducing their EMF exposure. I also accept that there are many people who believe that EMF is the cause of their problems when it isn’t. That is why the first thing we suggest is that they measure the fields they are being subject to. If they are higher than normal, then I believe it is worth thinking about screening. We tell people that it can be done cheaply and effectively using cooking foil (which we do not sell) as well as using EMFields “expensive” products. EMFields makes virtually nothing from the headnets which offer a quick and effective way of the person telling if pulsing RF/microwaves are effecting their headspace.

    So, why might the Essex study have come up with “no effects” at all? Actually, they didn’t – skin conductivity was significantly changed (whatever that means in practice). Well, I believe most of the 12 who dropped out did so because they were badly effected by the first session (I have spoken to many of them). BTW, all participants were sent their own individual full testing results by the Essex team last December – so they do know exactly how they scored in every test.

    That left 44, self referred, apparently ES/IEI-EMF people. We have no idea if they are ES or just have a psychological belief that that is the case. The Essex team have developed a good Questionnaire that detects ES symptoms and guides as to whether it is likely to be “all in the mind”. It is a pity that they did not use this to sort the 44 into 2 bins. However, I think the problem was that 44 people were really not enough even in one group for the statistics to work (see the paper). If there were many psycho cases, then that would have significantly diluted the results.

    My main belief if that there was not enough of a relaxation period between travelling to Essex and the testing. Even in the Sham exposure the ES people showed significantly elevated VAS scores. A German ES test centre states that at least 24 hours in a low-EMF environment is necessary before ES testing can begin. In Essex, this was typically only 30 to 60 minutes for each of the three double-blind sessions.

    I know, from repeated tests, that I sleep very badly in base-station fields over about 0.1 V/m. We have a twin BS about 70 metres from our house. I was not eligible for the Essex tests as I had a serious head injury about 35 years ago (cracked skull).

    Anyway, I agree that it shows that ES/IEI-EMF is not as “big” a problem for most people as I had thought it was. It may be widespread, but the effects are probably only strong for a relatively small minority of people (maybe 1% or less).

    That’s me done for now.

  128. Andrew Clegg said,

    July 27, 2007 at 6:21 pm

    Jumping in very late here with a couple of points.

    Firstly, re. the conspiracy idea — scientists would love electrosensitivity to be real. It would mean a lot of research money being rapidly thrown into a virgin field, a blank slate to make exciting new discoveries in. Plus it would have plenty of scope for people from several different disciplines to be able to earn their reputations very rapidly.

    I’m only tangentially related to biomedical science but I can already see ways to spin my research into ES-related grant applications. Sadly I think there’s a bit of a flaw in that plan, going by the, err, evidence.

    Secondly, even if it were true, has there been any research into (for example) the number of lives saved each year by blanket coverage with mobile phone networks? Ringing 999 sometimes used to involve finding a phone first — not these days.

    No-one campaigns for peanuts or lawns to be banned even though they actually cause demonstrable health issues.

    Andrew.

  129. Andrew Clegg said,

    July 27, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    For a public health campaigner, this seems a little insensitive:

    “If there were many psycho cases, then that would have significantly diluted the results.”

    If you do decide to come back, Mr Philips, please explain how taking such an attitude towards the mentally ill (particularly the debilitatingly mentally ill) helps your credibility in any way.

    Andrew.

  130. Ben Goldacre said,

    July 27, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    jesus dude, “psycho cases”? it’s great to have you here, and i really dont want to sound sanctimonious, but i take stigma and mental health pretty seriously, i’m not sure i approve of that kind of talk.

  131. AlasdairPhilips said,

    July 27, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    In retrospect “psycho cases” does sound pejorative, and I apologise. That is not what I intended to convey. People with mental health problems can have very real physical pain caused by their distress. My wife is a psychologist and hypnotherapist who opened and ran a successful joint NHS/social services mental health centre for some years. I have great sympathey for the problems these people have to cope with. What I meant was that there was no filter in place in this study to prevent people putting themselves into the “sensitive” group and being included in the study.

    Over the past 15 years I have come across quite a number of people who believe they are being “zapped”, both on purpose and by default of living near a mast (etc), and it becomes clear after a time that that is not the cause of their ill-health. These people fit the psychological model (that the Essex team were probably subconsiously looking for, being psychologists), but their inclusion would significantly reduce any real microwave-caused ES effect in the test results.

  132. raygirvan said,

    July 27, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    Over the past 15 years I have come across quite a number of people who believe they are being “zapped”, both on purpose and by default of living near a mast (etc), and it becomes clear after a time that that is not the cause of their ill-health.

    Quite. So where’s the disclaimer – “Your symptoms may be psychosomatic” – up-front of PowerWatch?

  133. tom1 said,

    July 27, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    AlasdairPhilips,

    good to have the man himself to talk to.

    One of the frustrating things about this debate is the way the claims feel to shift. The impression I had of EMF sensitive peoples symptoms is acute and pretty immediate. Perhaps I’m inferring this incorrectly from the degree of certainty with which people link their symptoms to EMF. Often waking up with a headache if you leave your router on seems very different to the claim that people can’t use mobile phones or have to drop out of studies because their symptoms are too painful…

    My question is, given the number of EMF sensitive people you doubtless know, what level of symptoms are you sure of?

    As an asside, telling people who think they might be suffering from EMF to measure the field surely presupposes the existence of EMF sensitivity. Why not market a device that would generate an EM field at random intervals and test whether the guinea pig can tell?

  134. tom1 said,

    July 27, 2007 at 10:06 pm

    Henrik,

    Dr Aust is touching on an important point here. Assuming EMF sensitivity is bunk, given a bunch of studies you would expect to be able to point to one or two that indicated a small effect. Pointing to individual studies good or bad is all but pointless. You need to interpret the study in the context of the totality of similar studies and in the context of the confidence associated with those studies.

    Tom

  135. Andrew Clegg said,

    July 27, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Tom’s right (and this is why the words meta-analysis are an anathema to woo). One study showing a link, amid a whole cluster that don’t, is as much of a red herring as two people that could tell when the field was on amongst a whole cohort who couldn’t. The whole point of doing the stats is that anomalous things do happen for no reason other than chance.

    Dr Aust — you’re kidding right? The one about swear words had 231, cos that’s how mature we are :-)

    Andrew.

  136. tom1 said,

    July 27, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    A less stats based analogy would be if you asked 100 people whether they thought Elvis was alive and one person said they did. Unless that one person was Priscilla Presley it would be disingenuous to claim that opinion was divided on the issue. For a small percentage of studies to carry any weight against a large number of studies (cunning meta-analysis maths asside) their needs to be something very special about the small number of studies.

  137. Henrik Eiriksson said,

    July 28, 2007 at 8:29 am

    re: 205 Dr. Aust,

    I went to pubmed and did your suggested search. I got 4 pages of studies and judging from the abstracts I collected the ones that didn’t mention microwave induced hypothermia or greater microwave power intensities.

    Of those, I found 6 positive and 5 negative.
    There’s 1 positive study I’m not 100% sure of as it mentions microwave induced alterations in gene expressions related to the blood-brain-barrier but does not report and actual increase in permeability. Even if I leave it out, it’s a tie.

    I’d like to be able to sort these studies by funding.. does anyone know where to find funding info for a study? Pubmed doesn’t seem to help in that respect.

    Not to start on conspiracy theories again but if you haven’t seen this article from Microwave news: “The Cult of Negative studies” www.microwavenews.com/docs/mwn.7-06.RR.pdf
    it puts these type of studies in another light.
    I’m including this here because it seems that a lot of posters here are oblivious to what goes on behind the science linked to the fate of huge vested interests.

    Also this one is informative:
    “Source of Funding and Results of Studies of Health Effects of Mobile Phone Use: Systematic Review of Experimental Studies”
    www.ehponline.org/members/2006/9149/9149.pdf
    It comes from 2 of the scientists that participated in the 2006 Swiss follow-up of the controversial 2003 Belgian TNO UMTS provocation study, that showed significant levels of decreased well-being under UMTS exposure.
    The Swiss UMTS study found zip even though they blasted subjects at high levels. Most people in the ES community were convinced the Swiss study was “fixed” due to reports along the way about participants that got too ill (just like Essex), the sparse information in the final report and the telecom & govt. funding. 2 scientists from that study (A.Huss & M.Roosli) doing a funding-versus-results review right after completing the Swiss study does prompt suspicion.

  138. tom1 said,

    July 28, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Henrik,

    apologies for commenting before I’ve had time to read the links. But it just occured to me… who after 30+ years would still be interested in funding research into EMF health effects other than bodies with some kind of an interest? If there IS a conspiracy then following the money is a good strategy, but a trail of money isn’t in and of itself proof of a conspiracy. You’ll find lots of jokes about Powerwatch selling £400 anti-wifi mosquito nets. This doesn’t prove they are corruptly perpetuating a health scare to fund a lifestyle of fast cars and lap dancers (unlike poor Ben’s fake computer problems/fund raising drive of a short while back to fund his crack habit).

    On the whole I believe full on tabacco company style conspiracies are, IMHO, rare. Most trails of money are more or less innocent. Of course my view point depends to a degree on whether most conspiracies ever get encovered.

    Again, I will read those links.

    :-)

    Tom

  139. Robert Carnegie said,

    July 28, 2007 at 3:38 pm

    Grand conspiracies on the incidental-corruption-of-public-officials level must be rare, I think. You can only take bribes from a few different gangsters at once – I’m thinking of Al Capone, maybe John Dillinger. Otherwise it gets to be too damn confusing. But I think we’ve learned here that alternative nutritionists do a lot of networking, homeopaths and flower fairy water merchants and the like don’t piss in one another’s swimming-pools, and various electrosensitologists all know each other and are on the boards of each other’s companies and magazines, too. I blame prison. It’s like seniding young people to a university of crime. Or at least a college of further education of crime.

  140. art16 said,

    July 29, 2007 at 2:38 am

    Conspiracy theories in general are not new. They seem to be bounded by an assumption that there is premeditation to do evil on the part of a vested interest to make money or achieve a kind of gain at the expense of the well being of others. I guess I must be one of the evil ones, participating within an international consensus standard body for many years. Of this I am certain, I have yet to observe any conspiracy to inflict harm on anyone through commission or omission. The process in which I work is open to anyone, and I mean anyone. Shame on those who do not take advantage of that opportunity and just flail around making accusations.

    Statistics is an odd duck taken out of context. It is convenient for people to omit the fact that the earth is not statistically flat. If it were, any departure from the null surface would be significant. I asked the question years ago about anti-whatever clusters and got an annoyed look. Look at the surface of water boiling in a pot and then talk statistics and significance. There are as many “ups” as “downs” and a mean.

    A spectrum analyzer display would add realism to the electromagnetic environment and avoid misconceptions. I wish one could be piped in here!

  141. desoi said,

    July 29, 2007 at 11:46 am

    I get the ie6 display problem too and just right click, then Select All. Makes it a lot easier to read

  142. tom1 said,

    July 29, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Henrik,

    In regard to your link to your EHPonline review, I think we can all agree that bias caused by funding can be a problem. To repeat myself without giving you a chance to repond… www.badscience.net/?p=251 The genuinely is acknowledged as a BIG probem. I’m sure the HPA and the WHO are aware of it (corruptly or otherwise).

    In regard to your other link to Microwave News, I think you might have a bit more of a fight over this one…

    1. They investigated a subset of studies. How was this subset chosen? This can completely change the result. Having chosen a subset of the integers (2,8,10,4,36,102) I can demonstrate that all integers are even.

    2. Microwave News pick on Radiation Research. Perhaps Radiation Research are good, perhaps not. I’ve no idea, but finding that Barbrah Cartland novels are shit doesn’t in and of itself prove that all books written by women are drivel (more research would be needed). Why do they only pick on one journal? Was the choice entirely random? If one were to do a survey of the studies mentioned in glowing terms in the pages of Microwave News would they turn out to be entirely representative of the field?

    3. Do they only feel that military and EMF industry funding effects the result? Who are funding the studies written in black who presumably declared a funding source but Microwave News don’t mention it. If there had been a bunch of negative results funded by cancer charities it wouldn’t have looked so impressive. If there had been a bunch of positive results from the military/EMF industry it might indicate…. oh wait ;-)

    4. Slightly more positive studies than negative seem to have undeclared funding. Is this significant?

    5. Doubtless there are bad studies on both sides. Pointing to one study in one journal doesn’t prove anything, particularly not which side has the greater share of sloppyness. Does the Birmingham 6 mean that we should assume all cops are corrupt and everybody who claims to be framed is telling the truth?

    Microwave news goes back to 1981. Over that time the debate has covered a lot of ground. Power lines, mobile phones, wifi, microwave ovens….. pretty much anything giving off EMF. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but they are an issue driven journal. If they admitted EMF was safe they’d have to shut up shop, admit that they’d been wrong for 26 years and go home, do they have a conflict of interest?

    Again, the fact that people are funded is not surprising. The fact that people are funded by people with an interest in the outcome of the research isn’t surprising (particularly after 30 years without much to show for it). The fact that Microwave News couldn’t find or didn’t mention anybody doing the funding who wasn’t part of the conspiracy they believe is going on IS kind of surprising.

    I’ve skimmed both pdf’s so apologies for any errors.

    Tom

  143. tom1 said,

    July 29, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    One of the things this shows is the irresolvability of the whole debate. Is there any point in the Precautionary Principle when there clearly is no study that is going to resolve the question to everybodies satisfaction.

  144. tom1 said,

    July 29, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    Um, Ben. The site’s seemed kind of slow and then I got the dreaded…..

    Error establishing a database connection

    Has your popularity grown so much, so soon that even your new best friends can’t cope?

  145. art16 said,

    July 30, 2007 at 2:14 am

    THE WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD.
    BEING AN ACCOUNT OF THE TRYALS OF SEVERAL WITCHES LATELY EXECUTED IN
    NEW-ENGLAND.
    BY COTTON MATHER, D.D.
    TO WHICH IS ADDED A FARTHER ACCOUNT OF THE TRYALS OF THE NEW-ENGLAND WITCHES.
    BY INCREASE MATHER, D.D.
    PRESIDENT OF HARVARD COLLEGE.

    The precautionary principle at work. A little dated, but then again, human nature is very predictable.

  146. bazvic said,

    July 30, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    tom1,

    The Precautionary Principle is a phallacy.

    This is because its proposition is that if you are uncertain of the risks you should not do something fails to to account for the risks associcated with failing to take an action.

    Because the knowledge is lacking to know what the risks of doing something are it follows that the knowledge of the risks associated with not doing something are also lacking.

    Likewise the benefits.

    Ignorance is not a basis to make a decision.

  147. tom1 said,

    July 30, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    Bazvic,

    to the extent that the Precautionary Principle is used in a dogmatic, won’t somebody think about the children, kind of way I absolutely agree with you. It is also a con. Unless the minutes of a meeting between the WHO, the mobile phone companies and the illuminati are discovered this issue will never be finally resolved. People will just get bored of it and move on to other things. The claim that we should wait until a study that resolves it all is at best nonsense and at worsed a trick. There’s no more likelyhood of a study coming out that convinces everybody than there is definitive new evidence from the Kennedy assisination.

    Tom

  148. paul77 said,

    July 31, 2007 at 6:18 am

    I don’t know why my comment doesn’t seem to have appeared. I’ll post it again:

    The problem in understanding electrosensitivity is that on one side you have the anti-mobile industry lobbyists, including electrosensitivty sufferers, whose emotions tend to get in the way of sticking to the science. On the other side, you have the multi-billion dollar mobile communications industry whose CEO’s have a lot to lose if a health problem is discovered. So there are a lot of vested interests on both sides in seeing the outcomes they want to see.

    From a personal perspective, I have found myself to be electrosensitive. I have noticed symptoms develop gradually during exposure to certain EMF’s from mobile devices (such as phones and pocket PC’s) when in very close proximity (usually holding the device). The symptoms build up during exposure and often last for hours following cessation of exposure. Even though I have never had any aversion to using such technology, I am finding it is having a real effect on my health. Given the correlation I have noticed between usage and exposure over a long period of time, I would find it hard to accept that it is purely some sort of psychological problem. I’m not sure why studies into electrosensitivity to date (as far as I’m aware) have not yielded results that could show a link between mobile device EMF’s and electrosensitivity symptoms. But perhaps there needs to be more objective ways of testing (such as blood tests, nerve tests etc…) rather than relying on reports of the participants. Perhaps also, given what I have noticed of the latency in symptom development and decline, there needs to be a longer period following each test to allow any symptoms to clear.

    The symptoms I have experienced from electromagnetic fields (EMF’s) using mobile devices (like a phone and pocket pc) are: altered tinnitus (from a buzzing to a ringing sound), snowy and less sensitive vision, dizziness, rapid and repeated nerve twitches (at random locations all over), prickling and tingling sensations (again at random locations all over), pressure in the sinus region and vibration sensations particularly in the lower legs. These are the main symptoms I have been experiencing.

    I first began noticing symptoms after using a GSM mobile phone some years ago and was surprised that not many other people I knew had the same problem. After noticing a strong correlation between usage and symptoms, I thought maybe the cause could be something to do with the (approximately) 900Mhz signal from the phone. But some years later after using a pocket PC (also called a personal digital assistant or PDA), I began noticing the same kinds of symptoms developing just from carrying the device around in my pocket–even with the wireless function switched off! I never expected to have this problem from using a pocket PC! This has lead me to think that EMF’s from the internal electronics could be to blame–perhaps even extremely low frequency (ELF) EMF’s. As I understand, if ELF EMF’s are to blame then shielding will be very difficult.

    Before having used these digital mobile devices, I used to use CB and even amateur radio for a while. So I have some expertise in dealing with radiofrequency (RF) EMF’s. I never once recall having had any kind of electrosensitivity problem using a CB radio (that emmitted as much as 4 watts of power in the 27Mhz band) or amateur radios when near to the radiating antennas. I also have an old analogue cordless phone and likewise have never had any electrosensitivity problem using it.

  149. tom1 said,

    July 31, 2007 at 9:30 am

    Man, talk about confirmation bias. I failed to spot the pun.

  150. Henrik Eiriksson said,

    July 31, 2007 at 4:58 pm

    re 211, pv:

    I got a chance to read the full Essex report and you’re right. Yes it is interesting. There are degrees of electrosensitivity. Those ES participants who had to drop out of the study are so badly affected that “exposure” leaves them ill for days.
    Others can detect the “exposure” but their ES is not anywhere as debilitating. It’s perfectly possible to be electrosensitive without it affecting every move in your life. Threshold might be the keyword here.
    You can check out one badly affected participants testimony here:
    www.next-up.org/pdf/TestimonyBrianSteinAnEssexVictim28072007.pdf

  151. pv said,

    July 31, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    Henrik, what is interesting to me is the way you doggedly stick to the “electrosensitivity exists” line, just like Dr Wakefield’s supporters stick to the “MMR causes autism” line, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary and not a shred of supporting evidence.
    It’s interesting how you religiously discount the possibility of a psychosomatic cause of the effects you like to ascribe to EMS, in spite of the well conducted research evidence that points precisely in that direction.
    And, I repeat, why do you want to ignore the five members of the control group who guessed correctly each exposure to EMR? The only way it appears you can accept them is by including them with the electrosensitives and insisting they couldn’t possibly have been guessing.
    It seems to me you are looking for ways to “interpret” the study to fit with your world view, rather than listen to the researchers. That’s interesting.

  152. Robert Carnegie said,

    August 1, 2007 at 1:40 am

    paul77, that’s interesting – but it must be difficult to exclude the possibility of another cause. One that comes to mind is that your devices may produce radiation of sound, perhaps beyond the range of hearing, or vibration when held in the hand. Or you could react against the material they’re made from, or some contamination. I wonder if an asthma sufferer would have a long-term problem with a smoker’s second-hand phone? Or you may use the phone at the end of a train journey, in which case it’s the air conditioning or a hundred other minor discomforts of modern travel and modern life. Or it’s the electronics. But anyway, maybe you could volunteer for someone’s next experiment? Or carry the thing in a muffling case, or wrapped in sandwich-wrap plastic? I take it you don’t have a heart pacemaker?

  153. tom1 said,

    August 1, 2007 at 10:31 am

    Paul,

    you cover a lot of ground. One thing to point out is that over the years CB radios have been credited muddled up in this as well (cancer risk for one thing, I’m not sure about EMF sensitivity).

    Do you get symptoms from power lines? Again, these have traditionally been seen as causing both the cancer and the sensitivity.

    Can somebody suggest a good readable paper on this whole confirmation bias/misattribution of cause thing that we :-) all feel is going on here? Preferably with a killer anecdote or two. An anecdote is afterall worth a thousand statistics.

    Tom

  154. tom1 said,

    August 1, 2007 at 11:55 am

    I suppose all the homeopathy/crystal healing confirmation by anecdote would apply.

  155. tom1 said,

    August 2, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Paul,

    you mention various frequencies in the MHz range. Generally speaking the anti-EMF movement has been concerned with frequencies around 50-60Hz because of the link to AC power transmission. The argument generally is that there are ‘pulses’ within the higher frequency waves in the 10-100Hz range that cause the trouble. In so far as I’m aware of it though the vast bulk of 30+ years of research indicates that there is no effect even within this range. One question though, what kind of EMF field will be given off by a pda running off the battery? All the talk about fields given off by hairdryers etc have been with them plugged into the AC mains.

    Tom

  156. paul77 said,

    August 2, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    One more thing: yes, I’d be happy to participate in a blind or double blind study. But I think in order to prove what I am claiming, it would have to be done with the actual device (or same model device) obviously in such a way that I wouldn’t be able to tell whether it’s on or off. I’m confident that, given enough trials, I’d be able to tell if I’ve had had a recent exposure to the EMF’s.

  157. tom1 said,

    August 2, 2007 at 1:34 pm

    Paul,

    in the cold dank world beyond the reach of the warm sun that is Ben Goldacre, this issue has been investigated to death. I’ve been reading up on it for the past couple of weeks.

    The reason for the 50-60Hz thing is that if it’s a static field then it would be drowned out by the Earths magnetic field, the theory goes that an alternating field is new and artificial and therefore we aren’t adapted to it.

    Tom

  158. paul77 said,

    August 3, 2007 at 12:38 am

    Tom,

    I understand what you’re saying, but I’m sure the symptoms are not “physiological noise” or anything like that because I can’t simply tune out from them as though they were there all the time and I was just being introspective. They are very uncomfortable to say the least.

    Why no study to date has shown electrosensitivity to be correlated with EMF exposure, I don’t know. But perhaps the way the experiments are conducted needs to be reconsidered and perhaps a larger sample size used. I don’t know. But I am confident that one day there will be a study able to be repeated that will show electrosensitivity symptoms are not simply “all in the mind” and that EMF’s from the devices are the most likely explanation.

    -Paul

  159. tom1 said,

    August 3, 2007 at 9:32 am

    Robert,

    I absolutely agree. There are a whole load of other ‘real’ causes that need to be discounted. Given that the effect is not immediate, it may not even be the device. It is so easy to see faces in the wallpaper and impose structure on random coincidence.

    Paul,

    Are you effected by wifi? Are you effected by power lines? I find the whole pda thing troubling because I don’t see that that would be generating much of an alternating field. Could somebody confirm this?

    I can see that perhaps your pda could cause a localized effect, but spots in front of your eyes? What mechanism could be causing this? Are you sure they aren’t just common or garden floaters?

    Tom

  160. madtechie said,

    November 1, 2007 at 10:52 am

    I’m surprised that the electro-sensitive lobby haven’t had a tilt at medical MRI scanners (or have they, and I’ve missed it?)

    An average 1.5T scanner operates at a peak RF power of 16-20KW (at around 63MHz) – though obviously the duty cycle is low, or thermal effects would cook the patient.

    Even so, an average power deposition in the body approaching 0.4W/Kg is usual.

    If we believe some of the worst rantings of the electro-sensitive lobby, we should be able to detect a substantial group of patients whose health has deteriorated after an MR exam, due to EM effects.

    I don’t recall seeing any such correlation reported…must be Big Pharma’s cousin, Big Scanner Manfacturer suppressing the data.

  161. paul77 said,

    November 9, 2007 at 12:51 am

    Madtechie, your suggestion that we should expect to see a substantial group of patients who’ve had MRI scans complaining of electrosensitity isn’t necessarily true.

    Firstly, MRI scanners use different frequencies to devices like mobile phones or handheld computers that electrosensitive people like myself have complained about. Electrosensitivity may well be frequency related in which case there might not be any effect from an MRI scanner in spite of the intensity of the fields it produces.

    Secondly, how many people have regular MRI’s? Sure, you might have a once off MRI for something. But suppose you are electrosensitive to the MRI machine, how would you be sure unless you’re having regular scans to know of a correlation?

  162. diudiu said,

    December 21, 2009 at 6:04 am

    links of london links of london
    links london links london
    links of london jewellery links of london jewellery
    links of london sale links of london sale
    links london sale links london sale
    links of london bracelet links of london bracelet
    links of london charms links of london charms
    links of london necklace links of london necklace
    links of london bangle links of london bangle
    links of london earrings links of london earrings
    links of london ring links of london ring