A Clear Conscience
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000 05:40:28 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Roy L. Beavers" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: emfguru <email@example.com>
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Conflicting Studies Confuse Doctors (Ferguson)..
The following is an excellent "thought" message (news commentary) forwarded by Jim Ferguson firstname.lastname@example.org. I strongly recommend it to all....
"...Should this be applied to the EMF/EMR situation," he asks?
"If a lie is repeated often enough (a la Mueller), it becomes taken as truth and before we know it nobody listens to any contrary information..."
Jim's question is suggested by the thrust of the article below. Indeed, its thought might be applied to either "side" now engaged in the controversy that is swirling around EMF health risks.
That is not to accuse either "side" of deliberately lying, but merely to allow for the fact that some "honest mistakes" may be compelling the kind of "oft repeated errors" suggested in the article Jim has sent us below....
I also believe that there has been some deliberate lying in the EMF saga.....!!!! In polite company, it is called "dissembling" of the truth, which usually includes all the various "spin" devices of the Washington political world -- that is so deeply involved in the EMF issue -- obfuscation, "selective" omission of some important facts, conscious distortion, and ... yes ... Bill Clinton-like "technically accurate" but deliberately deceiving "lies." e.g., I didn't lie when I said that I didn't engage in "sex" because it wasn't the definition of sex I was thinking about at the time.
So, let us read the following piece recognizing that either side may (consciously or unconsciously) be "guilty" of passing "misinformation."
I have assumed that from the beginning. And, in fact, my own thinking about this issue LONG AGO went through the exercise suggested by the article below..... To this day, I often wonder, "How much of the information I am repeating from the various science information sources (I have TRIED to confine myself to) is misinformation?" Frankly, I assume that SOME of it must be!! That conclusion is simply a matter of mathematical probability.....
But, I have not consciously forwarded or repeated "misinformation" -- if I had reason to doubt its validity. Still, some of my information 'may' (unknown to me) fall into the category of that discussed below. And, no doubt, that is equally true of the "other side" in this EMF debate....
My problem with "the other side" in this EMF saga, however, is that I have caught them (industry and the government) REPEATEDLY passing "misinformation" to the public!!! ....And, given the frequency of those occurrences and the clear 'conflict of interest' ($$$$$$$ and "national defense" as well as the political "corruption" openly present) ... I conclude ... with good reason, I submit ... that the government/industry misinformation is OFTEN deliberate.....!!!!
Usually that misinformation is done with subtlety. Most often it is done through obfuscation or omission. It also often occurs in the form of "selective" presentation of the evidence. I call that kind of dissembling by its real name: deliberate distortion ... and there has been MUCH of it in this EMF saga.
These "problems," from time to time, also entangle the scientists as well.....!!! And, my fury with them ... over their willingness to 'knowingly' "go along" with misrepresentations of their work -- rather than correct the erroneous public record (as 'loudly' as it was misrepresented in the first instance) is the source of my having built-up (I am told) a substantial number of "enemies."
For example, the way the NCI (Linet) study results were interpreted and presented to the public, ... or ... more recently, in the U.K., the headlines which were used to report the "opposite" results of the childhood/power lines cancer study. The same thing had occurred earlier in the case of the NAS (National Academy of Science) study about the same subject.....
In BOTH of the latter cases, the public was given headlines that said "living near the power lines is safe" -- when, in fact, that conclusion was not contained in either study and the data in the studies strongly suggest the opposite....!! The distorters did this, in both cases, by headlining study results that "conclusive" evidence of harm was lacking.
Yes, "conclusive" evidence is lacking. But, that "begs the question," namely: what does the "balance" of the evidence (or the weight of the evidence) suggest!!! .... Or point us toward??? Are there ... or are there not ... substantial risks involved in the case of those families living near power lines?
I submit that ALL the evidence does not "point us toward" a "safe" verdict in the power line (ELF frequency) EMF case....!!!
It points, instead, to a "substantial risk" conclusion..... (Even though the "calculated" risk factors are low - the "bias" in those calculations, that is introduced by the ubiquitous presence of EMF in the surroundings of the population, requires that the calculated risk factors mentally be adjusted upward.....)
I consider that the evidence is more uncertain at this time in the RF/MW frequency cases, namely the cell phone antennas, or radio/TV antennas, radars, etc... Though the evidence in these, also, is not "comforting," and the frequently reassuring headlines of the industry people in that regard are surely "dishonest" ... in terms of what little we DO know.....!! I believe that much of the industry "propaganda" is aimed at discouraging further research -- when, in fact, the opposite is what is called for....
And those are the messages, Jim, that I am repeating and repeating and repeating..... To that extent, "I" may be guilty of the error suggested in the following piece. But, when I compare "my" actions to the actions of industry and the government in this matter ... "my" conscience is clear.....
If industry and the government were being straightforward with the information they were disseminating to the public on this EMF matter, then I doubt that I ever would have started EMF-L in the first place. It was the OBVIOUS disparity between "facts" and "what was being reported" in the flow of information, which (as an "insider") I began to see early-on, that motivated me -- and nothing else.....!!!
So, I do recommend the "thought" in the following piece to all of my EMF-L readers.... Let us read it ... accepting that WE, ALSO, can be guilty of forwarding misinformation..... But we are TRYING not to do so..... Aren't we.....???
Can the "other side" say the same ... in good conscience.....????
Roy Beavers (EMFguru)
It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness
People are more important than profits!!
From the Associated Press
Friday April 21 1:14 PM ET
Conflicting Studies Confuse Doctors
By DANIEL Q. HANEY, AP Medical Editor
BOSTON (AP) - This time it is fiber, which contrary to the collective wisdom of the brightest minds in medicine apparently does not ward off colon cancer after all.
The specifics change, but the pattern is the same: Over and over, the conventional medical wisdom collapses under the weight of new evidence.
Remember when salt was evil? When eggs were the soul of dietary wickedness? When estrogen seemed like an iron shield against heart disease?
Now it is pretty clear that salt is not an important cause of high blood pressure. Most people probably can eat an egg for breakfast without triggering a heart attack. And estrogen? No one really knows how that will turn out, but there is doubt about the long-accepted assumption that it keeps the heart working smoothly after menopause.
So how does this happen? Why do health rules fall apart after they are chiseled in stone? And how do they get to be rules in the first place?
Many health professionals say it comes down to the willingness of all involved - the scientists, the news media and the public - to draw firm conclusions from a stew of often poorly conducted, contradictory and incomplete observations.
``One of the problems is that strong recommendations have often been made on very weak data,'' says Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health. ``It may have been the best guess at the moment. But often the recommendations are repeated so many times
people forget they were rough guesses in the first place and come to think they are hard facts.''
This is not to say everything is wrong or likely to be overturned tomorrow. For instance, scientists feel absolutely certain that smoking is bad.
Many are reasonably sure that obesity is harmful over the long haul. And they are comfortable recommending that people avoid saturated fat and eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, even though the exact benefits of some of these aren't entirely clear.
Willett says one reason for the today-it's-good-for-you, tomorrow-it's-not phenomenon is the well-intended ``missionary zeal'' of scientists who believe their own work and happily repeat the seemingly solid bottom line without going into the complexity and uncertainty of the whole business.
Another essential player in this process, scientists like to point out, is the news media.
``You get the two-sentence synopsis that turns a complicated issue into a black or white, a yes or no,'' says Lynn L. Moore, an epidemiologist at Boston University School of Medicine. ``That's not a great service.''
Dr. Thomas Pearson of the University of Rochester notes that some scientists seem bent on encouraging the boldest headlines for their research, and get plenty of help from the reporters who interview them.
``The probing question is, `What does this mean?' Reporters don't want the usual blah-blah answer, which is, `We really need more research,''' Pearson says. ``Between science and the press, we have confused a lot of people.''
The fact is, science is a messy process. No single study, no matter how large or careful, is likely to settle an important health question.
Sorting out the influence of genes, food, pollutants, living habits and all the rest requires drawing together information from many different scientific approaches. These include experiments in lab dishes, tests on inbred rats, observations of large groups of people and human experiments.
Data from all of these kinds of science went into the rise and fall of the idea that fiber prevents colon cancer.
The theory began in the 1970s. Scientists noticed that poor people in rural Africa get much less colon cancer than do better-off Westerners. Of course, the differences between these two populations are too numerous to count, but an obvious one was the Africans' higher consumption of fiber.
Over time, many lines of evidence seemed to support the theory. For instance, it was shown that people who immigrate to places where colon cancer is common take on a higher risk as they adopt the eating habits of their new home. In the lab, experiments showed that animals fed cancer-causing toxins seem to be protected by high-fiber diets.
Furthermore, the idea made sense. Fiber makes the stools bulkier and perhaps more likely to dilute cancer-causing substances. Fiber also makes these bad things flow more quickly through the digestive system.
The data seemed convincing enough for health agencies to recommend high-fiber foods as one way of preventing colon cancer, the second-leading cancer killer, even though the evidence was conflicting at best.
Finally, two large federally financed studies put the theory to the test by putting people on low-fat, high-fiber diets. The meticulously run experiments found no evidence this lowers the risk of polyps, which are the first stage of colon cancer.
Willett's team came to the same conclusion by an entirely different method. The researchers followed the eating habits of 88,757 nurses for 16 years and found no hint of an effect of fiber on colon cancer.
``When we published it last year, it was heresy to say the data don't support a major benefit of fiber in reducing colon cancer,'' Willett says. ``Now we know that if there is a benefit, it's not very large, because it is not just one study showing this.''