George Gilder <g...@gilder.com> writes:
> Since cell phones are not exactly a rare technology, why on earth
> should we pay any attention to the claims of carcinogenic effects
> until the incidence of relevant cancers rises in the population
> using the devices?
Maybe because people would rather not subject their offspring to a
global epidemic of serious health problems. Most people I know would
rather science and technology looked ahead at the long-term
consequences, rather than wait for problems to be solved (as they now
are with cigarettes and asbestos) by litigation after the event.
> For all the mumbo jumbo from the radiophobes with their
> tortured rodents in tow, the fact is that there are fewer, not
> more, brain tumors and other cancers among users of cellular
> phones, computers, and other radiators, than among non users.
Where in God's name did this 'fact' come from. George, if this is an
example of how economists think then I have a new insight into the
problems of trickle-down economics.
You aren't distinguishing incidence of these diseases from the
mortality rates (we can now cure many forms) and you are not
distinguishing between gliomas (brain and nervous tissue), leukemias
and lymphomas, and about fifty other problems -- many of which are on
the rise. Only cancers related to smoking and smog seem to be on the
decrease in developed countries.
Why brand all people interested in this problem as 'radiophobes'. I
was praising the virtues of CDMA mobile phones in print before you
were, and I have long been writing about the benefits of shifting back
to Digital Terrestrial Television system, rather than sinking billions
in HFC cable. I think radio systems are superb - but that doesn't
mean I think it is safe to stick a small microwave oven against the
side of your head and pulse it on and off 217 times a second.
The main researchers in this area can't remotely be described as
radio-phobes. This is a cheap shot -- trying to label everyone who
disagrees with you as being a 'nut'. That is childish.
> Thus there is no problem whatsoever to explain. Period.
That is about the most banal certainty that I've heard since the
fundamentalists discovered the world was created in 1440BC.
> On the contrary, voluminous recent evidence supports the
> proposition of hormesis -- that radiation below a threshold not
> approached by cellphones imparts a statistically significant
> increase in resistance to cancers among humans.
We seem to swing from one fundamentalist certainty to another. While
hundreds of legitimate scientific studies are dismissed in one phrase
-- suddenly, a miraculous cure for cancer is offered in another.
I can only guess you are talking about Dr. Ross Adey's work -- which
is on analog R/F.
If so, you obviously aren't making the distinction between the pulsed
stroboscopic nature of GSM digital (217Hz) and analog, and this
difference is fundamental to everything that is being discussed in
these questions. GSM has a R/F component and a pulsed (square wave)
ELF component -- and it is generally thought that the ELF may be the
R/F may indeed become a useful tool in medicine, but only when we know
what the mechanisms are. In the past radio engineers and
manufacturers have denied there are any mechanisms -- or any problems.
I'm not sure that anyone involved in this research now feels certain
about the threshold argument -- nor to most scientists have any
feeling as to what exposures (to humans) may be significant. However
the Adelaide research did strongly suggest that exposure problems with
pulsed GSM are cumulative in time.
> Perhaps that is why cellphone rich regions such as Scandinavia
> and Japan lead the world in longevity and US users of PCs and
> cellphones live longer than non users. In general, all around the
> globe the use of electricity and other electromagnetic oscillations
> correlates almost perfectly with greater longevity.
Dare I suggest that another factor could be poverty, and perhaps
exposure to another thousand other environmental and nutritional
factors. I can't believe that any serious economist would deal with
cause and effect in such a simplistic way.
> Unfortunately among the beneficiaries of this public health boon
> are product liability lawyers and their junk science accomplices
> causing lucrative plagues of hypochondria and litigation.
Do you count in here the liability lawyers working for the State
Attorney-Generals in prosecuting the tobacco companies?
This liability lawyer problem is an American one; it is almost
irrelevant in Europe and Australia (where this research was
conducted), and it is a problem resulting from your fanatical
'let-the-buyer-beware' approach to non-regulation.
Robert Weller writes:
> The Royal Adelaide Hospital study is an "outlier," inasmuch as
> most other studies failed to detect any increase in the cancer
> risk ratio
"Most other" is a rather vague term. If you mean cell-phone research,
then this is only correct if you include all those studies that came
to inconclusive results. You can't prove a null hypothesis.
There are plenty of well known, well conducted studies which say the
opposite -- and none of them is conclusive, because no individual
study of this type will ever be conclusive. Each, in its own way, is
> Dosimetry <SNIP>
There's a hell of a lot more to dosmetrics than this. Each research
protocol has its problems. Mice are a bit too small to strap
cell-phones to their ears, so they had to do with an antenna over the
cage. This placed the mice in the far field, but at power-densities
equivalent to the side of the head. The aluminium would simply have
evened out the distribution and reduced the variations in body
orientation. Scientist can actually measure power-densities, and set
their experiments accordingly.
> Subjects. While I am less familiar with this area, the transgenic
> mice used in the research had genetic alterations in areas that
> are not contained in the human genome.
The study set out to establish whether GSM phone radiation could
promote (not cause) tumorous changes in mice cells. Since at the cell
level DNA-is-DNA, and this is the most likely cause of tumours, then
surely it established something worth while which has a high degree of
relevance to humans. It does not prove that GSM phones produce cancer
-- but it says loud and clear, "We had better find out damn quick".
The other criticisms here are objecting to this being a part-solution
to a long-term problem; the writer want it to be a total solution.
Scientists can argue for days about the use of different strains of
mice, so I doubt that this engineer's opinion of which mice should
have been used is necessarily better than the combined resources of
the Australian National Health & Medical Research Council, Telstra,
and the scientists involved.
> The FDA has been pushing the Wireless Technology Research
> (WTR) organization, funded in the US by an industry blind trust,
> to use rats rather than transgenic mice.
From what I can see, the FDA has been pushing the WTR to spend the
last few million of their $25 million budget just doing anything.
Pete <ast...@cloud9.net> writes about the findings of double the
tumour rate in exposed mice, and the 1% level of significance.
> It is easy to make instant judgments on statements like this, but
> I would like to see some specific data.
You got the 'relevant' data -- the tumour rate doubled in only 18 months.
The specific is in the paper itself, available for anyone to read.
> For instance -- how many of those 100 "exposed mice" actually
> had tumors? Suppose in a group of100 "unexposed" mice, one
> develops a tumor, whereas in a group of 100 "exposed" mice two
> mice develop tumors. Is this significant?
The 'level of significance' concept used in all scientific work grades
results as either 5% (the results could have arisen one in every
twenty times by chance) or 1% (once in a hundred). These results were
above this higher level of significance.
That is why the scientists provide these figures, so non-scientists
will have some judgment of the relative importance of the evidence
and chance factors.
It doesn't help you to know that the transgenic control mice had 22
tumours, and the exposed had 43 (after an adjustment down), because
you don't know whether the 22 is a high or a low figure. Some
'normal' lab mice strains have 100% tumour rates in 18 months, some
are down at the 5% level. These mice were from a low-susceptible (5%
strain) which had the gene inserted about 10 years ago to make them
'sensitive' to environmental effects. (Note 'sensitive')
In other words, these mice are sensitive detectors - and the better the
signal-to-noise ratio they have, the more trust we can put in the
Stewart Fist, Technical writer and journalist.
Current Australian columns: <http://www. australian.aust.com/computer/>
Archives of my columns are available at the Australian and also at the ABC
Development site: <http://electric-words.com>
Phone:+612 9416 7458 Fax: +612 9416 4582
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Not that it is critical or important to
Mr. Fist's response at all, but I would like to correct one small
error. The religious fundamentalists do not claim the 'world was created
in 1440 BC'. Most fundamentalists agree with the conclusions drawn
by Archbishop Usher in the early seventeenth century after considerable
study and calculations done by the Archbishop: the world was created
on Tuesday, October 14, 4004 BC at 9:30 AM. He did not say what time
zone that was; ie. Greenwich Mean Time, Eastern, etc. However King James
had his own scholars review Usher's work and they concluded he was
accurate. Thus when King James ordered a revision and updating of the
scriptures in 1612 AD, Usher's calcuations were used in the
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