Sir Richard Doll, the ACSH and other "usual suspects"


9 March 2001

This post contains an exchange of three recent messages, plus some commentary by guru.  It deals with the past record of Sir Richard Doll and some of his friends.  It was occasioned by the recent developments in the U.K. which saw Doll, once again, rush to the defense of electric industry interests.  All three messages together illustrate the behavior of a  cozy "let's circle the  wagons to protect industry" cadre of scientists ... who seem to have pursued that professional "lifestyle" for many years....  (You may want to start reading from the bottom message by Stewart Fist.)

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Sir Richard Doll, Elizabeth Whelan, Robert Park, and the
ACSH (Dalen)(Fist)(Stevens)..
Date: Thu, 08 Mar 2001 04:51:44 -0600
From: Roy Beavers <>
Organization: EMF-L List
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

.........Response from EMF-L.......

Here is another good commentary about the "Doll" behavior.

Then, Donald goes beyond the "Doll" issue to make a very good point which I agree with....!!  Donald, it seems to me that the work recently reported out of the University of Bristol (by Alan Preece, principally) makes your point......  He is finding an EMF/power line association -- a stronger association -- with a number of illnesses other than just

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Sir Richard Doll, Elizabeth Whelan, Robert Park, and the
ACSH (Dalen)(Fist).
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2001 10:14:11 -0000
From: "donald stevens" <>
To: <>
References: <>


Sir Richard is a very old man that is being manipulated by the powers that be. Because he laid bare the tobacco/cancer link he can be used to downplay any other CANCER link. What he is not being asked to look at is ILL HEALTH, and, of course, there is little or no research done to look at such a broad subject as it is "unscientific". Whilst we play along with the idea of only looking for a cancer link we will have difficulties.

We need to concentrate on effects that can be shown in the short term. I believe that Prof Mikio Miyata at the Opthalmology Dept. of Kitasato University, Japan, showed very significant corneal damage and fatigue of accommodation after 4 hours at a computer. The measurements for such tests are quick, so research costs low. It is reasonable to expect non VDU fields to have similar affects, and health insurance would be increased. A sure way to get things to peoples attention.

Dont forget the cancer link, but look at other, quicker ways of exposing the fraud.

Donald Stevens.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Roy Beavers" <>
To: "guru" <>
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2001 12:57 AM
Subject: Re: Sir Richard Doll, Elizabeth Whelan, Robert Park, and the ACSH

........Response from EMF-L.......

Stewart and I simply disagree on this......  He makes apologees for the stubborn "old man" -- Sir Richard Doll.  I condemn him for lacking the "stuff" to rise above his "lackey" role within the "system".......

Stewart writes below, [Doll] "has had a lifetime of experience at how politics is played at the top level -- and [he] knows where the power lies in a corporate democracy."

Indeed that is true!!  If that justifies his inertia and "going along" with the $$$$$$$ power structure of a corporate democracy that he knows (by virtue of his "tobacco" experience) is not capable of putting the public interest above profit$$$$$, then we are lost.

A system that cannot be changed -- or even challenged -- by those who know it best ... and who have the knowledge to enlighten it ... is one that will always perpetuate itself on the shoulders of "old men" ... paralyzed by the comfortable confines of the status quo.....

Old men who are too comfortable -- or too cowardly -- to point the way for the "young men" to blaze new pathways for society.......

I paraphrase the Edmund Burke quotation I have been using recently:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil (the status quo) is for good "old men" to (continue) to do nothing........

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Sir Richard Doll, Elizabeth Whelan, Robert Park, and the ACSH (Dalen).
Date: Thu, 08 Mar 2001 11:09:43 +1100
From: Stewart Fist <>
Organization: Independent writer and columnist
References: <>

Per Dalen is on the right track with his condemnation of Elizabeth Whelan and ACSH, but he is overstating the case against Sir Richard Doll.

Elizabeth Whelan was a protege of Fredrick Stare at the Harvard School of Public Health - and Stare was a tobacco scientist, to the degree that he chased cigarette funding for himself and for other Harvard associates (mainly Carl C Seltzer) and organised the laundering of these funds through Shook, Hardy & Bacon.  SH&B used attorney-client priviledge to protect their work from legal discovery, and therefore give the tobacco scientists deniability ("I have never worked for or received money from a tobacco company!")

Whelan formed the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) in 1980, and at the same time she was behind the establishment of the American Industrial Health Council (AIHC) which was openly funded by the Chemical Manufacturers' Assn.

Stare joined her in ACSH, and they jointly wrote a number of books. He apparently does the tobacco work, and she does the chemical industry stuff.

At this time in the early 1980s the chemical manufacturers were blaming the cigarette companies for causing lung-cancer, and the cig companies were blaming the chemical manufacturers (mainly asbestos and pesticides).  So they were (at that time) at war.  Later they made up and formed numerous coalition

However in the 1980s, Whelan became known then as a fierce anti-tobacco fighter -- and I have no reason to believe that this opinion wasn't genuinely held.  It was also convenient and gave her media status as a "public health and environmental activist", which she wasn't.

The success of Whelan with ACSH was in having just a few associated scientists at the top, (herself, Stare, Alan Moghissi, and a few others) who actively ran the organisation (they did the Alar backlash operation for Uniroyal, and some other similar battles).  However the credibility came from the fact that they also signed up a few hundred genuine scientists as "Advisors" and put them on "Advisory Boards" -- and pretended that this was a genuine scientific "grassroots" operation.

These scientists just signed what is essentially a motherhood statement, about the need for better quality control over science, and better science reporting.

This is a perennial question (a utopian vision?) in scientific circles, and it only requires a certain type of pedantic concern, arrogance and gullibility among the scientist to get them to join your organisation -- and these qualities(?) are plentiful in all sceintific areas involving regulation and controvesial research programs like passive smoking, pesticides, GM foods, etc.

The fact that Whelan was openly anti-tobacco gave ACSH a credibility which wasn't justified, since many of those with her at the top of the organisation were still receiving money from the tobacco companies (but Whelan herself was fiercely disliked). This is all well documented in the court-released tobacco papers.

The tobacco industry responded to ACSH by creating a "sound science" organisation of its own, using the PR company APCO& Associates.   The Advancement for Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) was run by "junkman" Steve Milloy who still runs the <> pages.  It later took on some chemical companies as clients, and led part of the battle by Energy companies against the Kyoto Accords.  Milloy was a registered lobbyist for some chemical and energy companies.

TASSC was modelled on ACSH with its upper echelon of scientists in the know about the tobacco financial support (one of whom was Dr George Carlo).   Below them, in the same way, was a whole mass of scientists who had just signed another "motherhood" statement and hoped to get invited to some seminars, and perhaps receive some special funding for research.  Again, they were mainly gullible people, not corrupt.

So it is important not to attack Doll simply on the grounds that he is a member of ACSH's Advisory Council -- a lot of good scientists were.  He is generally recognised as being uncorruptable, and, until I see evidence otherwise, I'll continue to accept this judgement.  It is not his corruptability that should be questioned, rather his gullibility and judgement (and he is very old now, also).

The fact that he hasn't come out as hard as people would like, is no reason to attack the man, only the opinion.  He is probably no better or worse than thousands of other epidemiologists in his judgements -- and, as the old saying goes, if you have two epidemiologists in a room, you will have at least three firmly held opinions.

The key to EMF regulation is the application of the precautionary principle. And it seems to me that Doll is lending support to this approach -- as did Stewart in the Stewart Inquiry.  They are just ultra-cautious men, who have had a lifetime experience at how politics is played at the top level -- and they know where the power lies in a corporate democracy.

Stewart Fist - writer and columnist
See         (some archives)              (main archives)
70 Middle Harbour Road, Lindfield, 2070,   N.S.W,   Australia
Phone +61 2 9416 7458                        Fax  +61 2 9416 4582

Back to Top