Betreff: Blood boil

Von: Mast Sanity

Datum: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 10:43:21 +0100




This really is getting too much!
Enough to make your blood boil!
Goldacre really on the attack with all guns blazing!!
Updated with lobby feedback - A thought experiment for the
electrosensitivity lobby July 24th, 2007 by Ben Goldacre in powerwatch -
alasdair philips, electromagnetism, bad science | The electrosensitivity
lobby are famously selective about the evidence they quote. They simply
ignore the large body of data finding that electrosensitivity symptoms are
not worsened by e-m waves, and they selectively quote only data which
supports their hypothesis, in a pattern which can be seen throughout the
I fear this may mislead their readers, and so here is a modest proposal.
On Wednesday, the results of yet another provocation study will be
published. Even before its publication, this is already a famous study. It
has been discussed on the internet among the electrosensitivity community as
a valid study. There has been much written about the methodology, and
prominent memebrs of the campaign have discussed their experience in it.
Most famously, the results of one subject have already been described as
positive in the recent and spectacularly flawed Panorama program on Wi-Fi.
So my question is to all the campaigning groups, Pow£rwatch, Ala$dair
Philips (who sells these but hates this), Electrosensitivity, Rod Read,
George Carlo, Panorama, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Independent, and
Will you commit, here and now, before the study is published, to cover these
results, regardless of whether they support your hypothesis or not?
And most crucially, will you make your criticisms of the methodology - will
you decide if you think the methods represented a fair test or not - here
and now, today, before the results are known?
It is a modest proposal, and would make for an interesting experiment. I
look forward to reading posts discussing the methodology on each of your
respective websites, some time between now and Wednesday morning.
My personal prediction is that tomorrow, although there have been well over
30 negative provocation studies already - and god knows how many
electrosensitivity scare stories - tomorrow will bring a new era in proper
news coverage of provocations studies. The results of this research will be
discussed in the media, and the electrosensitivity lobby such as Ala£dair
Philips will not be able to deny its existence. At best there will be a
sensible discussion of the methodology, instead of the results simply being
swept under the carpet.
This will be an absolute first for the coverage of this subject, and I think
the joyous outpouring of mockery that surrounded the ludicrous Panorama
documentary on the subject is in no small part responsible. To me this is a
classic example of overstretch: when the claims of aggressive lobbyists
become too prominent, and are covered too widely, they cease to fall beneath
the radar: eventually they are assessed not just by favoured, friendly,
credulous correspondents, but also by the wider community of journalists,
which contains a fair few clear thinkers.
I do not expect Panorama to cover this story in their ½following up previous
stories… slot. 
Nothing from Rod Read of Electrosensitivity sadly.
A cracking press release from ½Mast Sanity½, who I often forget to mention,
because they¸re so rabid, but that of course is quite wrong:
Alasdair Philips of Pow£rwatch (bespoke detectors and beekeeper hats
available at very reasonable prices, and cheap for the BBC) says:
Although we have been involved before the project began and helped design
the exposure system for the experiments, we cannot possibly comment on the
methodology or anything else until we read the full paper tomorrow. The
analysis of the results will be key, and we have no early insights into
what, if anything, that will show.
He would say no more, although I sent him details of the exposure as
described by the team publicly already, but he has personally assured me in
an email that they will be covering this research on their website, whether
it supports their hypoth£sis or not. This is a first, as they have routinely
ignored provocation studies that went against their hypothesis in the past.
Meanwhile George ½Andrew Goldacre… Carlo has also very kindly replied:
Here are my thoughts:
1. Based on what we have learned from our clinical experiences and the
symptoms reported by patients in our registry, a key to the integrity of the
Essex study is in how a ¸sensitive¸ person is defined at the outset. We
believe that the pathology of these sensitivities is cell membrane based,
but that the same pathology is present in conditions including multiple
chemical sensitivities, alcoholism, drug addiction, and neuro-behavioral
syndromes like ADHD and Autism. In addition, there appears to be a familial
predisposition component that involves inability to clear metals from the
system through methylation and an inability to adapt to oxidative stress.
Thus, the definition of patients selected in the Essex study is a key point.
And, in the analyses, it would be important to categorize the patients on
the severity scale in terms of these other conditions that have similar
underlying pathology. The point is that there is a continuum we are seeing
in terms of severity of effects, and the level of hypersensitivity to the
various types of EMR also scales along that continuum. Thus, without either
controlling for these other conditions statistically or through subject
category restriction, it is likely that associations that are present would
not be identifiedS¯..false negative findings because of imprecision in the
measurement of the dependent variables. That is one of the main difficulty
with the majority of provocation studies that have been done. Measurement
2. The other key is that depending on the severity of the
hypersensitivityS¯and that in large part is related to the points raised
aboveS¯.different EMR effect windows will have varying effects on the
persons being provoked with EMR. Thus, the EMR that is used in the exposure
scenario needs to be precisely defined as well. We know, for example, that
ELF operates through a field intensity dependent mechanism that exerts
direct magnetic effect on tissue (including disruption of gap-junction
intercellular communication) and thus the ensuing pathology. But there is a
threshold for ELF effects. RF has two different pathology mechanism
components: raw microwaves or RFR act through thermal mechanisms dependent
on field intensity Š there is a thermal effects threshold; microwaves that
carry information from wireless devices act through a biological mechanism
that is triggered as a protective cellular response Š for this response,
there is no threshold. Thus, in the Essex study, the provocation exposures
need to be defined along these effect windows, otherwise there is a likely
bias also toward false negative findings because of the lack of precison in
the measurement of the independent variables. For example, from what they
define, the question of base station ‘on or off¸ is key. For the effect
windows of ELF and raw microwaves, ‘on or off¸ would have an effect if there
was adequate field intensity to provoke the mechanistic pathways Š in other
words to go above the threshold. However, for the information carrying radio
waves, there would have to be talking on the signal or there would be no
biological protective pathway triggered. It is the modulation associated
with the carried information that we now know triggers the non-thermal
effect pathways. So, without talking on the signal, the biological pathway
would not be triggered. The result in the study would be a false-negative
3. Overall, the electrohypersensitivity response is dependent then on the
severity of the patients cellular pathology Š and that from all sources
including the conditions detailed in Number 1 above. The observed response
is also dependent on the mechanism that the EMR exposure provocation likely
will act through. At this point, we don¸t know how they defined the patients
recruited other than ¸sensitive or not¸. We don¸t know what the exposure
provocations actually were in terms of EMR effect windows and the likely
pathological pathways triggered by the provocations.
In short, there is not enough information given in their explanation to
really know whether it was fair or not.
Hope this helps. 
Dr. George L. Carlo
Science and Public Policy Institute
1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Š 7th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20004 
This is excellent, and very good of him to take the time (although one might
argue that all that ½cellular… stuff is a bit of a smokescreen on the simple
issue of ½do the signals elicit the symptoms?…).
However, in the ½Mast Sanity… press release he is more up front:
As Dr Carlo, Safe Wireless Initiative and former Chairman of the US $28
million research programme into mobile phone research, says:
… Because of the imprecisions in the Essex study [4],[5], findings of ‘no
effect¸ are likely to be false negatives in that the study was not designed
well enough to pick up all of the effects among the participants. … … Any
findings of ‘effect¸ are likely underestimates of the true risk for the same
reasons of imprecision in the study design. …
Well fair enough. 
All in all, this genuinely represents a new era in popular discourse on the
issue of electrosensitivity.
Bravo to all. Looking forward to the paper tomorrow morning.
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28 Responses 
Ithika said, 
July 24, 2007 at 9:03 am
Good luck with thatS¯
Ben Goldacre said, 
July 24, 2007 at 9:06 am
well, i¸ve emailed rod read, alasdair philips, and george carlo. i¸m hoping
they¸ll get back to me during today. it¸s a pretty reasonable suggestion.
media characters especially welcome to post their plans before the results
are published too. it¸s an interesting experiment in publication bias.
shpalman said, 
July 24, 2007 at 10:01 am
Where is it going to appear?
Ambrielle said, 
July 24, 2007 at 10:56 am
At best, you¸ll get a positive response from the quacks, who will then
proceed to ignore negative results after the study comes out.
Ambrielle said, 
July 24, 2007 at 10:58 am
^^Sorry, negative in terms of their interests.
pseudomonas said, 
July 24, 2007 at 11:25 am
What, if any, are *your* criticisms of the methodology?
Karellen said, 
July 24, 2007 at 11:31 am
Interesting. Do you have a link to the methodology used?
I was under the impression that generally the methodology and results for a
given study were published in the same paper, kind of implying that the
methodology is not revealed until the results are.
If it doesn¸t quite work that way, how does it work?
Ben Goldacre said, 
July 24, 2007 at 11:48 am
v briefly: this is known
more is about on the net elsewhere
Kells said, 
July 24, 2007 at 12:54 pm
Good plan Ben - I like it. They will ignore you and when the results
disagree with them they will bluster their way round them. just like the
Observer did with its rubbish ½clarification… on autism when faced with the
bootboy said, 
July 24, 2007 at 2:38 pm
But what if it turns out that the results are positive?
Will we get bad-science branded tinfoil hats?
dbhb said, 
July 24, 2007 at 3:03 pm
I predict that, if they answer at all, they will dismiss the research
methodology as inadequate, for one reason or another, just to be ‘on the
safe side¸. 
le canard noir said,
July 24, 2007 at 3:14 pm
You would think that they would comment as anyone with half a brain could
make this a win win scenario. Make sure you get some legit crit in first
(and there is undoubtedly lots of scope) and away you go - positive result,
winner, negative result, told you so.
I have a nasty feeling that their expectations are high for this one. But I
would not be so sure.
Zoomin said, 
July 24, 2007 at 4:25 pm
On a bit of a side note, i saw this article on the Imperial College website
that mentions increased chances of infections developing in people who are
exposed to intense electrical fields. I know it¸s not the same thing as
those who claim to feel worse the moment a field is switched on, but i
thought it was interesting nevertheless.
raygirvan said, 
July 24, 2007 at 4:46 pm
I know it¸s not the same thing as those who claim to feel worse the moment a
field is switched on It¸s also about electrostatic charge - big static
fields that make airborne guck stick to you the way VDU screens get dusty -
not electromagnetic radiation.
johnmccrae said, 
July 24, 2007 at 5:03 pm
Do you intend to reference Jonathan Swift by saying ½a modest proposal…, as
his modest proposal was far from it. Anyway, let¸s wish that these
electro-sensitivity people would follow your adviceS¯ but lets not count on
Ben Goldacre said, 
July 24, 2007 at 8:46 pm
press release just in.
good to see ½Mast Sanity… wading in with their mast sanity.
Mast Sanity Press Release 24th July 2007 MTHR Essex University Study The
results of the Industry and Government funded Mobile Telecommunications and
Health Research Programme (MTHR) study … to investigate whether emissions
from mobile phone base stations can elicit a variety of symptoms in those
exposed to them … [1] run by Professor of Psychology Elaine Fox at the
University of Essex [2] is to be published on Wednesday 25th July at the
Science Media Centre.
Firstly we should state that we don¸t know why this research is being done
by psychologists as there is already evidence showing changes in the
important mast cells in human skin upon exposure to microwaves [3] .
This Essex study will not be able to give us any insights into the long term
effects such as cancer and genetic damage as has been highlighted in other
research and so we think is just tinkering at the edges.
In doing this research one is subjecting the volunteers to harm. As such
this research is unethical. We know of at least one person who had to stop
doing it because it made him so unwell. Lab tests have already identified
disruptions to the immune system, surely if this were a drug we would not go
on to do further tests on human subjects as there is already enough
Some subjects of the study were sent summaries showing 90-100% ability to
identify the 3G(UTMS) and 2G (GSM) signals from the SHAM (No signal)
conditions without prior knowledge of which was which. Additionally,
physical markers such as anxiety was 2-4 times higher, tension and arousal
1.5 times higher, discomfort 4-6 times higher and fatigue 3.5 - 5.5 times
higher under the 2G and 3G signals. Clearly these individuals experienced
real effects, not psychological problems.
Yet being unable to complete the study has led to the exclusion of these
individuals from the results, we believe.
As Dr Carlo, Safe Wireless Initiative and former Chairman of the US $28
million research programme into mobile phone research, says:
… Because of the imprecisions in the Essex study [4],[5], findings of ‘no
effect¸ are likely to be false negatives in that the study was not designed
well enough to pick up all of the effects among the participants. … … Any
findings of ‘effect¸ are likely underestimates of the true risk for the same
reasons of imprecision in the study design. … We also do not know how much
of a part has been played by the so-called ‘Wessely School¸ of psychiatry in
separate earlier comparable studies with sufferers from farm Organophosphate
Poisoning, Gulf War Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME / CFS) [6] .
In each case the researchers¸ conclusion was that each condition was just a
case of unfounded mental anxiety, which would be relieved by their form of
psychotherapy and exercise. This in spite in every case findings of physical
evidence of nerve system damage. In the case of electrosensitivity studies
undertaken in Sweden are able to pinpoint the sort of damage that sufferers
endure [7] . 
Mast Sanity Spokesperson Yasmin Skelt says ½Isn¸t it time that the
Government woke up to the reality of electrosensitivity instead of
attempting to persuade sufferers that it is all in their minds?… ½History
has shown that many now commonly accepted physical conditions were initially
dismissed as psychological, with the patients subjected to all kinds of
tests and quack remedies.… ½Electrosensitivity has been recognised by medics
in Sweden since 2000, and its government calculates 3.1 per cent of its
population - 200,000 people - suffer from the condition. In fact this figure
has more recently been revised upwards to nearer 9%. That is an awful lot of
people.… ½This study has been such a waste of money. The World Health
Organisation already recognise electrosensitivity [8] . Why was the money
not used to translate the 1500-subject Russian long-term epidemiological
studies into English?… Mast Sanity reiterate their call on the Government to
stop talking and start doing something. The UK should adopt the
Precautionary Principle and halt the roll-out and proliferation of microwave
transmitters of all types. If the new Brown Government is serious about
protecting public health then they will readily accept our recent request
for urgent talks and take action. Too many lives have been blighted or
completely ruined already.
END . 
The Mast Sanity Press Office can be contacted on 08704 867 807 .
Notes and References:
[2] EMH Lab:
Professor Fox Profile:
[4] Previous electrosensitivity studies:
[5] The electrosensitive volunteers¸ degree of electrical sensitivity and
sensitivity to other environmental factors such as chemicals and heavy
metals combined with imprecise measurements has invalidated the results from
many previous so-called ½provocation… studies (see [4] above) . With only 56
electrosensitive volunteers the sample in the Essex study is certainly not
large enough to even out the degree of sensitivity.
Electrosensitive people are not all sensitive to the same frequency ranges,
so the use of only two ranges for 2G/GSM and 3G/UMTS, might not trigger a
response in some genuinely electrosensitive volunteers. Also multiple
research studies have found that using empty ½carrier… signals without
speech or data does not trigger the ½biological pathway… that a non-empty
signal does. The Essex study appears to use ½scaled… signal strengths, which
are unlikely to be realistic.
[6] Previous ½psychological… studies:
[7] Physical evidence of electrosensitivity (Search on ½You mention mast
cells in the skin…)
[8] The World Health Authority recognises that EHS … symptoms are certainly
real and can vary widely in their severity ½. The WHO urges that
Governmentsshould provide appropriately targeted and balanced information
about potential health hazards of electromagnetic field to EHS individuals,
health-care professionals and employers. Ref: Fact sheet NĀ°296 December
Contact List: 
Please contact any of the following scientists for comment:
Roger Coghill 
Admin: Joanne Strange 
Dr Grahame Blackwell
Alasdair Philips 
Barry Trower 
Ex government scientist and author of the TETRA Report for the Police
Dr med. Gerd Oberfeld
Salzburg Public Health Dept
Austria +43 06 62 
Prof Olle Johansson
Karolinska Institute
Sweden +468 524 
Dr George Carlo 
Science & Public Policy Institute,
Washington, USA 
Secretary Personal Mob
Voice mail: (202) 756-
Also you can contact the following Electrosensitive people:- Phil Watts
(took part in the Essex study) 01782 599 Andy Davidson (took part in the
Essex study) 01273 678 Karen Wren (applied to take part in Essex study)
01333 Brian Stein 01807 0 The Mast Sanity Press Office can be contacted on
08704 . 
(Please See Attached Version in PDF/Acrobat format) Yours faithfully, Mast
Sanity Press Office
bootboy said, 
July 24, 2007 at 9:54 pm
You know, something makes me think that mast sanity have already arrived at
their conclusion and aren¸t really interested in evidence.
Ben Goldacre said, 
July 24, 2007 at 10:06 pm
dude. i can¸t imagine what leads you to that impression. they look pretty
open minded to me. 
simongates said, 
July 24, 2007 at 10:07 pm
Well, we should all be happy if the study shows that electrosensitivity is
real because they have told us what a load of rubbish it is, so we can
safely ignore that result.
simongates said, 
July 24, 2007 at 10:15 pm
I don¸t understand the repeated references by George Carlo and Mast Sanity
to ½imprecise measurements…. The subjects (in the ½electrosensitive… group
obviously) claim to have electrosensitivity. In the test they will have
symptoms or they will not. The question is whether there is an association
between their symptoms and the presence of electromagnetic radiation.
If nobody gets any symptoms at all obviously the experiment won¸t be able to
test the association. Probably the researchers have built into their design
something demonstarting that symptoms occur when sufferers know they are
being exposed to radiation.
bootboy said, 
July 24, 2007 at 10:37 pm
½Mast Sanity Spokesperson Yasmin Skelt says ½Isn¸t it time that the
Government woke up to the reality of electrosensitivity instead of
attempting to persuade sufferers that it is all in their minds?…… What makes
them so insultingly dismissive of people with mental illnesses and
psychological problems? Illnesses of the mind are very real and personally,
I can¸t think of too many pathogens that I wouldn¸t welcome into my body
before I¸d have something seriously wrong in my mind.
dbhb said, 
July 24, 2007 at 11:05 pm
Do I win a monkey? 
le canard noir said,
July 24, 2007 at 11:08 pm
Dr George $arlo also has a nice line products to compete with the likes of
A nice range of magic boxes to neutralise EMF in the home:
Some qlink pendant rip offs:
and the compulsory vitamins.
It would be rather a shame if the electrosensitivity evidence started coming
back negative. 
jodyaberdein said, 
July 24, 2007 at 11:18 pm
Sorry to be impatient. I was ready to sit back and watch this all pan out
when someone mentioned mast cells, and then ‘unethical¸ cropped up as well.
I dropped Mast Sanity a line telling them my interest had been piqued:
was reading with interest your press release regarding the expected ‘Essex
Study¸ results on electrosensitivity, having found them posted on Ben
Goldacre¸s site:
In this release you state ‘In doing this research one is subjecting the
volunteers to harm¸, and that therefore it is unethical. I wonder if you
could elaborate on why you consider it prima facie to be unethical, perhaps
with comparison to other large modern intervention trials? I am particularly
interested for example in whether you consider it to be unethical to persist
in studying the use of treatments which we know certainly cause some harm,
particularly I would be grateful if you could comment on trials of say
aspirin, statins and immunosupressant drugs.
I was also interested to note your comments on Rajkovic et al.: ‘evidence
showing changes in the important mast cells in human skin¸. I wonder if you
could provide clarification on which mammalian species the biopsies in the
studies given in the linked pdf were from. Certainly from my reading of Int
J Rad Biol 81, 7:491 it sould seem the authors were studying Wistar rats. I
wonder if you would care to elaborate on the implications of the statistical
testing results in this study, and the lack of randomization or blinding
(needless to say all the numbers came back as NS). I¸ll let you know of any
response I get if it doesn¸t come direct here.
jodyaberdein said, 
July 24, 2007 at 11:23 pm
PS oops, actually there were 2/10 significant results overall from the
fishing trip. Could go on about multiple measures and defined end points but
it¸d be much better to wait for the reply.
Dr Aust said, 
July 25, 2007 at 12:34 am
Good digging, Le Canard.
For anyone interested, check the following verbals from the site - refers to
one of the cheapest of BIOPRO¸s products, the US$ 34.95 BIOPRO Cell Chip:
½Day in and day out, you may be exposing yourself to more stress than you
thought by simply using your Cell Phone, PDA or Bluetooth headset, etc.
Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted from these devices has been linked
to various stress-induced problems and illnesses and could very well be
compromising your health and well being. As a leader in the field of
bioenergetics, BIOPRO has introduced the BIOPRO Cell ChipTM, the most
advanced dual action technology designed to significantly address this
newest source of stress in our daily lives.
BIOPRO¸s Cell Chip combines the benefits of two powerful, innovative and
scientifically substantiated technologies: BIOPRO¸s patented noise field
nano-technology MRET (Molecular Resonance Effect Technology), and its
proprietary subtle energy innovation ERT (Energy Resonance Technology).
Individually and collectively, these cutting-edge technologies offer a
groundbreaking and effective way to deal with the cumulative stress
associated with living in today¸s electronic environment.… Not immediately
clear what you are supposed to do with the ½Cell Chip…. I wondered if you
were supposed to swallow it so that your body would repel the evil rays, but
since they sell it in multi-packs I think you must be meant to stick one to
each of your evil EMF emitting devices.
My scientific bullsh*t detector was ringing at the combination of
½nano-technology… with ½Molecular Resonance Effect Technology…, and the
following site about the latter speaks for itself:
This woeful (Woo-full?) site uses the classic ½bogus science… trick of
dragging in the names of some eminent real scientists, here Alfred Gilman
and (the late) Marty Rodbell, who won the Nobel Prize in 1994 for their
discovery of GTP-binding proteins (G proteins) and their role in signal
Needless to say their work had nothing whatsoever to do with ½resonance
effects…, or ½magic water….
Jut said, 
July 25, 2007 at 7:16 am
heh sounds like the excuses are flooding out from the EMS lobby before the
paper is even released.
Unfortunatly Ben I believe your prediction is either sarcasm or over
optimistic, I doubt this will see coverage in many national papers, if any.
Despard said, 
July 25, 2007 at 9:05 am
Can¸t find it on PubMed. Which journal?