[LINK] electromagnetic fields effect brain activity

Stewart Fist stewart_fist at optusnet.com.au
Sat Dec 30 13:05:17 AEDT 2006

Stephen writes
> Would you agree with the Swiss report wherein they assert, 'The
> results showed for the first time that pulse modulation of the EMF
> is necessary to induce changes in the waking and sleep EEG.'?

I'd question the "for the first time" statement.

Pulse modulation (ie GSM) does appear to add another low-frequency problem
to the potential for R/F biological interactions.

But, as for the rest, I have no way of making an 'agree/disagree' decision.
I think it is possible that EMF has a direct effect on EEGs, but that would
be the least of my concerns about all the science to do with the long-term
adverse health effects cellphones.

But for a number of reasons I continue to sit on the fence:

1. There's such a lack of money in doing independent research of this kind,
so most of these findings are statistically marginal, and not very
convincing when the various findings from many scientists are consolidated.

Very rarely are positive findings followed up and confirmed because the
cellphone companies aren't going to fund this research.  And what
independent researcher at a university would spend his limited funds just
checking someone else's work ?

2. Also, scientists/adademics doing this kind of independent research are no
more trustworthy, in my opinion, than the average ambitious person in any
field of business. They are often willing to cut corners (and often need to)
or slightly 'modify' results to get noticed.

They often need to generate some 'sensational' finding just to maintain
their positions in a university, because they live or die on the basis of
how often their work is cited by others.

3. Some of the most intelligent - and some of the most stupid - people I
have ever met are involved in scientific research. You don't need to be that
smart to get a PhD these days in America, and if you are dubious about being
able to make a living out in the wider world, the idea of doing university
research has many attractions.

I've been at many scientific/medical conferences over the years, and so I
can report with confidence that many of them do live in ivory towers and
lack basic common-sense. Many are extremely gullible (especially when it
comes to dealing with PR people and journalists).  And most have exaggerate
beliefs as to their own ability to make judgements and decisions on the
basis of very little evidence.

4. The idea that all good scientists follow strict protocols ('blind trials'
etc) is dubious.  Also, the idea that scientists read all the relevant
material generated in their field is ridiculous these days - they only read
abstracts and the occasional full paper.

In my opinion, most of this science would benefit by fewer scientists and
less (but better) research.

5. Scientific methods are relatively effective when the consequences are
catastrophic and obvious - diseases of children, etc.   But the methodology
hasn't evolved to deal with long-term insidious problems - problems which
cumulate over a life-time.  It took 50 years for the public health people to
take action against asbestos, and even longer for tobacco.

It looks as if EMF effects are likely to be of this kind, but we can't be

6. Scientific publications can't always be trusted.  The peer review process
in some areas of public health concern (tobacco and cellphones stand out
here) have often been taken over by the industry concerned.

This is done by company-funding of specialist peer-review magazines, funding
of research for the editors, control of speakers at conferences, etc. And by
industry alliances with very shonky scientists.  Science-for-sale is an
expanding industry.

7. Those researchers with sufficient funding to perform the good, convincing
scientific research in the EMF area, usually work for the cellphone industry
under contracts which allow the companies to suppress or rewrite any adverse
findings.  So we often only see one side of the picture.

I can give you examples of all of these.

Stewart Fist, writer, journalist, film-maker
70 Middle Harbour Road, LINDFIELD, 2070, NSW, Australia
Ph +61 (2) 9416 7458

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