Burden of Proof for Health Effects


22 September 2000

///Thanks to Louis Slesin for his editorial contribution and remarks to the exchange

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Burden of Proof for Health Effects (Slesin)..
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 19:56:40 -0500
From: Roy Beavers
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Hi everybody:

It is always such a rare (rewarding) experience when we hear from our esteemed colleague, Dr. Louis Slesin ... that it is very rude of me to respond as I do here..... But I totally disagree with Louis....

In his response to Susan Clarke below, he ties the question of "the burden of proof" in science to the need for a "consensus."

Now, Louis, YOU are talking like a politician!! I am the one who should talk that way..... Not you, Louis. You ARE a scientist. Louis, you know -- The truth is NEVER dependent upon consensus!!! Often, in history, it has NECESSARILY BEEN a minority view.....!!

Worse, rarely, in the history of science has "consensus" even recognized the truth in the same generation it was discovered!!!......

Your editorial below about the blood brain barrier is a good one. But it says -- implicitly -- we (whomever you want "we" to be) are not going to accept the evidence until it is "our" evidence..... We are not going to accept the work of Allen Frey or the others you cite (including the U.S. Army!) until "we" have done it....

Fine. There is certainly nothing wrong with "more research." But, does that also confer upon those who take such a stand ... the right to ignore the evidence others have produced??? Evidence that contradicts the "consensus" "they" find more comfortable -- for getting along with their political (bureaucratic) and industrial patrons???

Then -- as you correctly point out, Louis -- so long as "they" do not do the research, are "they" entitled to deny the validity of Frey's (and the others) work???

Or -- is it not incumbent upon them to use the best evidence they now have as a basis for their "official" position and policies??? --Rather than deny its validity ... while they procrastinate about the additional research that they "talk" about, but do-nothing about.....???

I submit the latter paragraph is virtually a self evident "obligation" that is the responsibility of any and all of our "science" public officials......

The "ostrich head in the sand" position that they are taking (like those you are writing about in your editorial) ... is not science -- that is rationalization..... That is bias -- against even the seeking of the truth.....

Those who have public health responsibility in such matters -- and who rationalize the existing evidence in that manner (for whatever reason -- but we DO know why) are guilty of malfeasance in office: failure to perform one's lawful duty..... (Just as surely as the Firestone officials who rationalized and failed in their lawful duty in the recent automobile tire case.)

Do you really want to provide to such "science" the additional rationalization -- as you appear to do below.....

Besides, Louis, as you well know ... there is MUCH MORE evidence than the blood brain barrier research....!!! There is PLENTY of evidence to say:

EMF can do harm to human health ... and it is doing so NOW ... in some work place and home environments (probably including the cell phones).


Roy Beavers (EMFguru)

It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness..

People are more important than profit$$

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Burden of Proof for Health Effects
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2000 19:11:50 -0400
From: (Louis Slesin / Microwave News)

This is a belated reply, with apologies, to Susan Clarke, about how much evidence is needed to meet some burden of proof about EMF health effects.

I cannot be as specific as Susan Clarke asks. It is really a matter of consensus for which there are no magic formulas. The only way to achieve consensus is to do the necessary studies.

And there lies the frustration with much of the RF/MW radiation health debate...Very little is ever settled because so little research gets funded.

For instance, at the present time, not a single study on cell phone radiation is being carried out in the U.S. This is a remarkable state of affairs given that over 100,000,000 people now use cell phones in the U.S. alone and that there are more than 100,000 cell phone towers (an educated guess) across the country.

We ran an editorial in Microwave News at the end of last year pointing to one example of an effect that has never been adequately addressed: RF/MW-induced permeability of the blood-brain barrier. It ran in our November/December 1999 issue and is available free on our Web site.

I reproduce it here:

A Simple Wish for 2000

A hallmark of electromagnetic health controversies is that they are never resolved. When an effect is reported, it is quickly countered with an opposing result and the contradiction is left to fester.

It's time to resolve one important microwave health effect: whether low-level microwave radiation can cause leakage through the blood-brain barrier (BBB).

This fall, the European and Australian press warned that Swedish researchers are concerned that mobile phones could cause chemicals to pass through the BBB, possibly leading to Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases. This was hardly news. The same Swedish team had announced a BBB-microwave effect more than seven years ago (see MWN, J/A92). And even then it was not news.

Dr. Allan Frey first reported the BBB effect 25 years ago, and U.S. Army researchers confirmed it in 1977.

The BBB work is as controversial today as it was then. James Merritt of the U.S. Air Force tried to debunk the BBB effect at the recent Moscow conference --just as he had tried to refute Frey's original work a generation earlier.

The impact of microwaves on membrane permeability has important implications for cell phones. The risk is not limited to the brain: The eye-blood barrier has also been shown to be vulnerable.

This is a clearly defined problem and could be settled without a major research program. It is about time.

Our wish is still a long way from coming true.

Louis Slesin

Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 10:56:13 -0400
From: Susan Clarke

Louis Slesin is right on in many respects, but not in his last clause, "we will not know if there are health risks".

I would ask Dr. Slesin to reveal to List members what types of studies and medical case reports, and how many of each, perhaps with which p values and CIs, he feels would provide, say, "reasonable medical certainty" that there are health effects (not "risks").

Then we can compare Dr. Slesin's criteria to other standard criteria - EPA, FDA, etc.

Susan Clarke

Louis Slesin, PhD

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