There is almost always an alternative view (or more than one) ... that may lurk in fear out of sight of the consensus ... or it may be very visibly challenging the consensus.
No doubt the latter is a fair description of the situation today within that portion of the scientific community that concerns itself about the possible health hazards of EMF.
When Galbraith wrote his classic AFFLUENT SOCIETY in the early 1950s, he devoted an entire chapter to a discussion about consensus -- which he called the "conventional wisdom." He did this because it was the inertia of the conventional wisdom that he saw as the problem that had to be overcome. He went to great length to ensure that his readers saw that, too. Much of Galbraith's economic treatise is now argued (by some) to have been overtaken by events. But his chapter on the conventional wisdom -- its destructive as well as legitimate qualities -- remains a classic.
Most of what has been written about Daubert to date starts with the belief that what the Court tried to do was narrow the scope of scientific testimony by "screening out" so-called new and/or untested science, theories, applications that do not enjoy the approval of the consensus of the scientific community.
The whole idea poses a "new" science vs "old" science dichotomy.
Along with screening out "new" ideas, of course, goes the likelihood of screening out their advocates -- the witnesses who would present such new ideas.
Stop and think about it ... Copernicus, Galileo, Darwin (even Einstein in his early years) ... all would have been "screened out" under the Daubert criteria.
At the same time, the scientific "march of events" is surely revealing that nonionizing alternating-current magnetic fields can do harm to human cells and organs.
They do interact biologically ... sometimes with deleterious results. The research evidence that has been accumulated since Nancy Wertheimer's historic 1979 study in Denver leaves little margin to argue against the conclusion that EMF "electromagnetic radiation" clearly can pose a health hazard at certain -- as yet not well understood -- parameters of exposure.
We know far less than we need to know about those parameters. But we will never know ... if we continue to deny the existence of this health hazard.
They have not bothered to inquire deeply for themselves; but nevertheless they are willing to deny the potential harmful effects of nonionizing radiation (EMF) because it is more comfortable (and certainly easier to obtain research money) when one identifies with the "politically correct" consensus view.
Unhappily, that seems to be the "reality" of the American scientific community today ... in the post-Cold War era.
In the past decade, the epidemiological results have been bolstered by a series of biological studies.
According to Dr. A. R. Liboff, professor of physics and director of medical physics at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, "....weak ELF magnetic fields have been found to cause alterations in embryonic development, brain function, growth rates, regeneration and immune response."
There is also biological evidence suggesting abnormal cell behavior and an increase in the levels of free radicals.
To counter this scientific evidence, the consensus crowd resorts to "junk science" charges aimed more at the courts than at the scientific realities.
They criticize this biological research as not replicating conditions in the real world. Therefore, they argue, the results are not valid ... should not be admitted in court ... should not be taken seriously by the public. (Here's a fair question: How does one replicate in the laboratory the EMF environment of a child living in the shadow of a power-line for years?)
This 'apriori' kind of a judgement enables some of them to continue to claim that nonionizing radiation is having no biological effects even as the volume of observed effects continues to mount.
Professor Liboff recently wrote: "The physics community once claimed that the biological reports implicating ELF magnetic fields were good examples of 'pathological science.' Those allegations have apparently died down as the laboratory evidence continues to mount."
This unscientific criticism of the EMF research may be dying down, says guru, but it has not disappeared. And the continued presence of this very unscientific kind of thinking discredits the rest of the scientific community.
The Daubert philosophy has given it renewed momentum. And the Daubert philosophy does not belong in science.
It is but another in a long line of futile attempts by mankind to smother the "march of events" by arguing from the warm cozy confines of the conventional wisdom rather than coming to grips with a cold new reality. Galbraith had it right.
Back to home page http://www.feb.se