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A Disconnect between cell phone fears and science

Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family by Devra Davis, PhD is touted as a book about the issue of cell phones and health. It is instead a tract that conspiracy theorists will love that sheds no objective light on the often confusing scientific data in this area. The tag line on the jacket sets the tone: The TRUTH about cell phone RADIATION. What the INDUSTRY has done to hide it, and how to PROTECT your FAMILY. In the area of EMF and health, there are a certain number of studies that appear to find biological “effects”. This is perfect fodder for alarmists like Davis, who ignore the fact that virtually none of these “effects” have been reproduced in follow up studies. If you were expecting an objective review of the often confusing scientific data in this area, you should avoid this book.

Disconnect focuses almost exclusively on studies that support its alarmist conclusions while either ignoring or falsifying information about studies showing no harm. The quality of scientific studies varies greatly. Disconnect is highly selective and totally biased in discussing only studies that support its point of view, it rejects contrary studies accepted by the majority of mainstream scientists as the product of some vast conspiracy, and it completely misstates the findings of key studies that find no harm from cell phones. She interviewed only a relatively small group of dissident scientists who are outside of the mainstream. The book is completely lacking in objectivity.

Major Factual Misstatements

There are so many things wrong in Disconnect that it is difficult to know where to begin. We will start by reviewing a few of the most blatant examples of how it misrepresents key findings of some of the most important cell phone studies.

Basic physics

Early in Disconnect, Davis gets some facts on basic physics wrong. On P. 17 she states: Electromagnetic waves ability to travel depends on how long they are. The faster a wave oscillates and the smaller it is, the shorter the distance it can reach. Hello, did she check with NASA? The Voyageur 1 is the most distant man made object. After doing a Grand Tour of the outer planets in the 70s and 80s, its still operating at a distance of 17 billion km. Travelling at the speed of light, it takes 15.4 hours for its signals to reach earth. Its transmitter operates in the X band at approximately 5X the frequency of a cell phone, and at 19W or only roughly 100X the power of a cell phone. A first year physics student could tell her that all electromagnetic waves follow the inverse square law. The frequency has no effect on distance.

Interphone & cell phone use for 10+ years

Davis only discusses a handful of the thousands of studies that find no harm from either EMF or cell phones. She gets some critical facts about these studies completely wrong. A prime example is the claim by Davis that all studies that have looked at cell phone use for a period of more than 10 years have found an increased risk of brain cancer. P 193 But when you look at those few studies that included people who had used phones for a decade or more, the results show that heavy cell phone use causes brain tumors. If you consider all of the studies that have been published, most of them have not followed people for a decade. But if you examine only those studies that have analyzed people for a decade or longer you find one thing: Every single one of them shows that long-term heavy use of cell phones has increased the risks of brain tumors.

This is totally false; several important studies find no harm. All of the studies that Davis refers to are a particular type of case control study. The case control studies she cites are considered much less reliable because they depend on memory to assess past exposure. People diagnosed with brain cancer and healthy controls respond to a questionnaire in which they are asked to remember how much they used their cell phones. Recall is known to yield different estimates than actual phone records. In addition, because people who have had cancer have heard about the potential link to cell phones, they are more likely to err by reporting higher exposure than controls. Therefore such studies are subject to a limitation called recall bias. Davis does not even mention this key weakness.

Most of the 10 year plus studies that Davis refers to were the work of a single Swedish researcher, Dr. Lennart Hardell. His methods have been widely criticized. Most of the others were components of the Interphone study (* 12). Some of the individual components of Interphone were released prior to the final comprehensive report. Contrary to Davis claim, not all of these found increased cancer risk for 10+ years. The final conclusion of the Interphone study is important: “Overall, no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma was observed with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma at the highest exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation. The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones require further investigation.” In the text, the authors discuss the considerable evidence for recall bias that they found during the study. The overall conclusion of no increase in risk is the key finding.

Misstating Key Danish cell phone study

One of the most important studies on cell phones was a Danish study of 420,000 cell phone users (*13). It was a cohort study, not a case control study. Exposure was assessed based entirely on actual cell phone records. It also used actual medical records to verify the diagnosis. Such studies do not suffer from any recall bias. Because it is based on objective data, it carries much more weight than memory based case control studies. While this particular study has other possible limitations, it is one of the few that is based on actual hard data.

Davis gets most of the major facts about this key study completely wrong. For example on Page 193 she says it included only two cases that had used a phone for a decade. The real number of users for a decade or more was 53,204 (42,549 for 10 – 14 years, 10,655 for 15 21) years. No increase in brain cancer or any other illness was reported for any class of cell phone users including the long term users.

On P 182 She says: All of us have cell phone bills that provide detailed records of our use; and most of these can be accessed online. These were not used in this study, or in any study of the industry to date. This is also false. In the U.S. this information is private and confidential and to date has not been available to interested researchers. The Danish study used cell phone records to establish the number of years of use of a cell phone for each of the 420,000 individuals in the study. The authors obtained the approval of the required Danish government agencies such as the Danish Data Protection Board to protect the privacy of the information. The study was entirely based on record linkage.

Brain cancer trends & her unpublished result

Another example of a major falsehood in the book is the section she calls My Unpublished Result. She says: Papers showing no increase in the overall brain cancer rate adjusted to the entire population have been published, while those taking a more sophisticated look at growing rates of brain tumors in young persons remain under review. Davis claims she has unpublished results showing brain cancer is increasing in young adults. Technically these time trend data may have limitations. For example, in the 70s and mid 80s new technology led to apparent increased rates of brain cancer, due to better diagnostic equipment.

However, since the mid 80s, which happens to coincide with the introduction of cell phones, overall brain cancer incidence rates have been constant. Contrary to what Davis claims, at least 4 studies (* 14, 15, 16, 17) have been published for brain cancer by age group. None shows any significant increase for any age or sex group that can be linked to cell phones. For example, another Danish study (* 17) looked at incidence rates by age group in 5 Northern European countries. No significant change in brain cancer rates were found for any age group. A recent US study came to a similar conclusion (* 15). In science, unpublished results rank lower that self published articles, which are at least published.

Brain cancer is one of the rarest forms of cancer. For example it ranks at #15 in Canada. There are more that 4 billion cell phones in use worldwide. The absence of any change in the incidence of brain cancer is the simplest evidence against any connection with cell phones. Davis mangled commentary on these brain cancer studies are the most blatant examples of the many misstatements in Disconnect.

Bad science and sowing confusion

Defending scientific misconduct

She devotes a whole chapter of the book to defending Dr. Hugo Rudiger, who was found guilty of scientific fraud; the most serious offense in science. Rudiger had published a couple of papers purporting to show that cell phone radiation can damage DNA. If true, this would be quite serious. A couple of other scientists reviewed the data in his paper and found compelling statistical evidence that critical parts of the data were cooked (Lerchl et al. *6 ). An attempt to reproduce Rudigers experiments found no DNA damage (Speit et al. *7 ). The University of Vienna held two inquiries and found that Rudiger was guilty of scientific misconduct and recommended that the papers be withdrawn. Davis spins these damning facts into an elaborate whodunit claiming that Rudiger was the victim of an elaborate conspiracy and frame-up. This is simply not credible.

Mens fertility

Davis devotes another chapter to the assertion that cell phone radiation affects male fertility. On P. 140 she states: A report from researchers (*8).garnered headlines around the world, such as Cell Phones Lower Sperm Count. On P. 141 she continues with The Cleveland researchers referred to their results, in the customary voice of science, as preliminary, and duly called for more research. Despite this caution, she proceeds to tie together a handful of disparate sperm studies to back up her sensational claim that cell phones reduce male fertility.

She ignores the fact that all of the studies she cites have been criticized for poor methodology, and some have failed attempts at replication (9, 10). In its 2009 assessment Health Effects of Exposure to EMF, the European SCENIHR (5 P 32 – 33) had this to say: The authors reported (*8) that reduced sperm quality was associated with duration of daily exposure to mobile phones assessed by interview and with duration of use of mobile phones assessed by questionnaire. However, possible confounding due to lifestyle differences (associated with differences in the use of mobile phones) may have biased the results of both studies. Davis sums up her case with this bold claim on P. 146 We must remember that we live in a world in which some continue to believe evolution itself is a sort of preliminary theory.

SAM the standard head

Davis devotes large sections of the book to SAM (specific anthropomorphic mannequin), the model head that was developed by international standards bodies (IEEE and IEC) and is used by cell phone manufacturers to test and certify compliance with RF exposure safety limits. This limit, which is known as the SAR (specific absorption rate), is set at 1.6W/kg averaged over 1 gram of body tissue in the US and Canada (2 W/kg averaged over 10 gram of body tissue in countries adopting the ICNIRP guidelines). She states P 74 In coming up with ways to estimate exposures from cell phones, scientists in 1996 relied on a fellow named SAM, which stands for Standard Anthropomorphic Man (sic). SAM is not an ordinary guy. He ranked in size and mass at the top 10 percent of all military recruits in 1989 weighing more than two hundred pounds, with an eleven-pound head, and standing about six feet two inches tall. P. 75 These standards were set in 1993 and based on SAMs big brain, not for the much smaller heads of children, of women, or other adults.

She implies that regulators and the industry have callously continued to use SAM as the reference, without considering the issue of smaller heads. This is simply not the case. The IEEE 1528 standard for SAM was published in 2003. Dozens of studies have been published comparing the SAR exposures of SAM to various sizes of heads including those of children. Many of these studies have concluded that SAM absorbs more energy than any human head, and is therefore a conservative model for certification tests. For example in Beard et al. 2006 (*11) conducted an international study by 14 laboratories: The results show that when the pinna SAR is calculated separately from the head SAR, SAM produced a higher SAR in the head than the anatomically correct head models. Also the larger (adult) head produced a statistically significant higher peak SAR for both the 1- and 10-g averages than did the smaller (child) head for all conditions of frequency and position. In addition, it should be noted that the established SAR limits have a safety margin of 50X.

The fine print

Davis devotes an entire chapter to the so called warnings in fine print in the user manuals for cell phones. On P. 217 she says: The HTC Droid Eris cell phone from Verizon contains a Product Safety and Warranty Information booklet. On page 11 it is recommended that no part of the human body be allowed to come too close to the antenna during operation of the equipment.To comply with RF exposure requirements, a minimum separation distance of 1.5 cm must be maintained between the users body and the handset. Davis further states: A reader might think it was just a matter of complying with a silly rule that government had produced.

Well yes actually, such a procedure is called for in government regulations (FCC OET Bulletin 65 Supplement C, IEEE Standard 1528 and IEC 62209-1). When cell phones were first developed, they were quite bulky and could not fit into a shirt pocket. They were often carried in a holster and were always used with the phone held to the ear. The original testing standards were written at that time to reflect this. Todays ultra slim iPhones and Blackberries can be carried in a shirt pocket much closer to the body. They are tested and comply with SAR limits when held to the ear (or pinna in technical jargon). However, if the phone is used while near body such as in your shirt pocket, the SAR limit may be exceeded if it is closer than the required test distance of 15 to 25 mm. This is not considered to be a safety issue, since the SAR limit has a 50X safety margin (according to the new IEEE C95.1-2005). It is a technical compliance issue.

Davis implies that cell phone companies have included these fine print warnings as a potential defense in liability lawsuits from brain cancer patients. There is no record of this defense ever having been used in any of current liability suits and none of these lawsuits has yet succeeded. The separation distance is for body worn and not for the head position and therefore is irrelevant to brain cancer.

Expert Groups

Disconnect completely ignores the fact that each of the public health organizations of the industrialized world does regular expert reviews of the scientific literature on EMF and health. Virtually every one of these expert reviews has come to the same conclusion as the World Health Organization that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields. This conclusion is echoed by the expert reports of the public health organizations of virtually every industrialized country including the American Cancer Society, Health Canada, and the European SCENIHR (* 1 – 5).

Instead, Davis implies that there is a massive worldwide conspiracy to cover up data, and disprove or dismiss the alarmist studies. The book is full of anecdotes about data that was altered, or disappeared, funding that was cut off, and alleged threats. This is the stuff of a Hollywood conspiracy movie. Such a massive conspiracy, involving virtually all the worlds most prestigious health science organizations, is simply not plausible.

Conclusion

Davis and other EMF alarmists are attempting to do an end run around the mainstream scientists responsible for public health standards. They even have their own self appointed organization with the impressive sounding name: International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety (ICEMS). The goal of alarmists is to scare enough members of the public about the dangers of EMF in order to sway politicians to do their bidding. Davis was one of the organizers of a conference held in Washington, DC on Sept. 15, 2009 timed to coincide with Senate hearings on cell phone safety. Such tactics have already achieved some “success” in Europe and a few other countries where politicians have ignored the advice of their own scientists to impose new restrictions on EMF.

Disconnect is a good example of the kind of material used by the EMF alarmist movement. Virtually all the alarmist studies that Davis cites used a poor methodology and/or have not been replicated in follow up studies. In fact, most have been refuted by far more comprehensive and rigorous studies. In many cases, serious flaws have been found with studies that show harm. It is at odds with the conclusions of mainstream expert groups such as the SCENHIR (* 5 P 8): It is concluded from three independent lines of evidence (epidemiological, animal and in vitro studies) that exposure to RF fields is unlikely to lead to an increase in cancer in humans. Disconnect is designed to bamboozle and scare the lay reader, not to inform.

About the Author

Lorne Trottier is a co-founder of Matrox Ltd. and holds B. Eng., M. Eng., and Doctorate (honoris causa) degrees from McGill University. He has had a lifelong passion for science and technology and believes in the importance of combating pseudoscience. He is President of the Board of the Montreal Science Center Foundation, and is also a board member of a number of science outreach organizations including the NCSE, CFI Canada, and The Planetary Society. Trottier sponsors the annual Trottier Symposium at McGill University that deals with a variety of science topics of interest to the public, such as Confronting Pseudoscience. Trottier also maintains a web site on the subject of EMF and Health.

This article has been published in different forms at Skeptic North and EMF & Health. The current post is based upon these two previous posts, but has been significantly edited and altered for SBM.

References

  1. WHO. Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health: Mobile Phones http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/index.html
  2. WHO. About Electromagnetic Fields http://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/en/
  3. American Cancer Society Cellular Phones http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/OtherCarcinogens/AtHome/cellular-phones
  4. Health Canada. Safety of Cell Phones and Cell Phone Towers http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/prod/cell-eng.php
  5. European Commission. Health Effects of Exposure to EMF. Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) http://ec.europa.eu/health/phrisk/committees/04scenihr/docs/scenihro022.pdf
  6. Statistical tools used to identify scientific misconduct in mobile phone research (REFLEX program) Alexander Lerchl, Adalbert FX Wilhelm http://arxiv.org/abs/0807.2554
  7. Genotoxic effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) in cultured mammalian cells are not independently reproducible, Speit et al. Mut Res 626:42 47; 2007 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16997616
  8. Effect of cell phone usage on semen analysis in men attending infertility clinic: an observational study, Agarwal et al. Fertil Steril 2008; 89:124-8. http://www.fertstert.org/article/S0015-0282%2807%2900332-9/abstract
  9. Whole Body Exposure of Rats to Microwaves Emitted From a Cell Phone Does Not Affect the Testes, Dasdag et al. Bioelectromagnetics 24:182^188 (2003) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bem.10083/abstract http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bem.10083/pdf
  10. The Lack of Histological Changes of CDMA Cellular Phone-Based Radio Frequency on Rat Testis, Lee et al. Bioelectromagnetics 31:528^534 (2010) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bem.20589/abstract
  11. Comparisons of Computed Mobile Phone Induced SAR in the SAM Phantom to That in Anatomically Correct Models of the Human Head, Beard et al. IEEE Trans. Electro Comp, Vol. 48, No. 2, May 2006 http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=1634754
  12. Interphone Study Goup: Brain tumour risk in relation to mobile telephone use: results of the INTERPHONE international casecontrol study. Cardis et al. International Journal of Epidemiology 2010;39:675694 http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/39/3/675.full.pdf
  13. Cellular Telephone Use and Cancer Risk: Update of a Nationwide Danish Cohort, Schz et al. JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (6 December 2006) 98 (23): 1707-1713 http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/98/23/1707.full
  14. Trends in brain cancer incidence and survival in the U.S.: Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, 1973 to 2001, Deorah et al. Neurosurg Focus 20:1 (2006) http://thejns.org/doi/abs/10.3171/foc.2006.20.4.E1?prevSearch=allfield%253A%2528Deorah%2529&searchHistoryKey=
  15. Analysis of trends in incidence rate of brain tumors from 1992-2006 in U.S., Inskip et al. Neuro Oncol 12(11):1087 (2010) http://neuro-oncology.oxfordjournals.org/content/12/11/1147.abstract?sid=a27c5433-bb37-464f-8f8d-5130bb55b69a
  16. Cellular telephone use and time trends in brain tumour mortality in Switzerland from 1969 to 2002, Roosli et al. Eur J Cancer Prev. 16:77 (2007) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17220708
  17. Time Trends in Brain Tumor Incidence Rates in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, 19742003 J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009 Dec 16;101(24):1721-4. http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/101/24/1721.abstract?sid=776da054-2ba3-4894-9b15-a181bc786a4c

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Leave a Comment (20) ↓

20 thoughts on “A Disconnect between cell phone fears and science

  1. S.C. former shruggie says:

    Thank you for this post. Some family friends are adamant cellphone radiation conspiracy theorists and, well, while I recognise the information you provided here will probably meet with the usual shill gambit and concocting even wider conspiracy theories, it’s still good to have on hand in case I find them arguing with a neutral party.

    Thank you.

  2. CLamb says:

    Thanks for the information. Statistical studies of people who use cell telephones can be easily misinterpreted by those with poor knowledge of statistics–which includes most of the general public. I’ve wondered why a simpler to understand animal study has not been done. Take a cage full of animals and expose them to high level of RF from a cell telephone for a period of time. Of course, also maintain the same number of animals as a control. This is so simple it could even be done by High School students. I think results of this sort of experiment would be more readily accepted by the general public.

  3. cloudskimmer says:

    Thanks for writing this article. I heard her interviewed on the radio about a month ago, and while not in possession of the facts presented in the article, was immediately suspicious of her simultaneous assertions of “we don’t know/more studies need to be done” and “cellphones damage brain cells and cause cancer.” I wrote to the public radio station (drat! why do they pollute public radio?) complaining about the uncritical presentation. She was slated to appear as a speaker at the Commonwealth Club, another annoyance, since I thought they chose their speakers more carefully; did anyone hear that broadcast?

    About format: the italics don’t show up very well, so it was hard to tell sometimes when you were quoting the book. Quotation marks or indentation might result in a clearer presentation.

  4. You know, I’ve never had enough faith in the competence of humans working as a group to believe in conspiracy theories…

    I’m not sure if that makes me cynical or naive.

  5. Lorne Trottier says:

    CLamb

    In response to your question about animal studies, a lot of animal studies have been done. I’ve posted a few on my website at: http://www.emfandhealth.com/InVivo.html. One of them is a review of 44 animal studies. One of its conclusions: “The weight of evidence of 44 animal tumorigenic studies supports the conclusion that RF exposure within current internationally accepted limits, when given alone or in combination with carcinogens, is unlikely to affect tumor development in human beings”.

  6. Anthro says:

    This is very welcome as I have been hearing this woman and her book touted in several media areas, with no criticism. Her educational credentials are “different”–science-wise, anyway. The PhD is in something called “science studies”, which seems to be a philosophy-oriented course of study. She got a BS in 1967. She is supposedly an epidemiologist (Wikipedia–the entry has no references), but I didn’t see any education that indicated that. She is affiliated with the Center For Environmental Oncology cancer unit at Johns Hopkins, and I’d like to know more about that. She doesn’t seem to be listed at the website:

    http://www.upci.upmc.edu/ceo/index.cfm

    They have a page of research studies they have done. Comment anyone?

    This woman passes herself off as a public-health expert, but I really do not see the education for that.

    Here is a damning review of her previous book (The Secret War On Cancer) by Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD (a breast oncologist) which cites her New Age thinking. She takes on cell phones in this book as well.

    http://www.powells.com/review/2008_03_27.html

    I am getting tired of the NY Times and NPR (formerly trustworthy sources) doing totally uncritical pieces on people like Davis.

  7. desta says:

    Hmm, I’ll be impressed if it changes anyone’s behavior like, say, the antivaxers, since this conspiracy theory involves using the coveted cell phone less often, rather than avoiding needles. Who will be willing to do that in this day and age? Only those who are truly committed to the bit. Fewer dropped calls for me, then?

    @Anthro:
    I’ve also heard some of the NPR coverage; they should be ashamed of what is passing for journalism in this case—the “danger” of cell phone stories were credulous. So disappointing.

  8. Werdna says:

    Devra Davis reminds me of someone who shows up in Canadian news from time to time. Magda Havis she espouses some similar points of view. Last time I heard her speak (and I debated her on a number of points) she claimed essentially that anything showing no correlation was biased by money. Cited a study by Eggers et al…which when I read it it seemed a lot like she hadn’t. She also misquoted the WHO about EMF sensitivity and produced a lot of “Evidence” which was difficult to judge (unpublished studies, video data, graphs with no units on them).

    What cheezes me off the most about her is she has almost no published work in the field. Why are people in such a hurry to have out-of-field speakers tell them how they should think? Might as well get computer advice from your podiatrist.

  9. “Who will be willing to do that in this day and age? Only those who are truly committed to the bit. Fewer dropped calls for me, then?”

    I would guess very few people. I believe the increased risk of injury due to texting or talking on the cell phone while driving is well documented, but the public’s response to that has been underwhelming.

  10. drat – former quote from desta…must improve my quoting process.

  11. desta says:

    @micheleinmichigan:

    Texting and driving is the big real risk of cell phone use, isn’t it?
    I’ve informally polled many fully grown (ages>=35) people who guiltily admit they text while driving, after which they invariably add an explanation that they text while driving because they are “good at it.” Yah. No need for evidence of risks, real or imagined. Nobody can put down the phone.
    Won’t be the cell phone cancer that gets ‘em.

  12. MartinM says:

    A first year physics student could tell her that all electromagnetic waves follow the inverse square law. The frequency has no effect on distance.

    This is the weak point in an otherwise excellent review. While the inverse-square law is indeed independent of frequency, it’s not always the only factor in play. As an electromagnetic wave travels through a medium, it interacts with that medium, and those interactions tend to damp the wave. This process of attenuation is indeed frequency dependent; the exact dependence is a function of the medium, but for most terrestrial purposes it’s broadly true that attenuation is greater at higher frequencies.

    To be clear, Davis’ claim is also wrong since, as you point out, it doesn’t apply in vacuo.

  13. Scott says:

    I’m also concerned by the number of people who think that hands-free setups make talking on the cell while driving safe. Less dangerous, certainly, but being distracted is as bad or worse than not having your hands on the wheel. (See also, yelling at the kids in the back seat, and especially turning around to do so.)

  14. BillyJoe says:

    Scott,

    “…yelling at the kids in the back seat, and especially turning around to do so.”

    The son of one of my employees was killed instantly (as he was getting out his parked car) by a driver who had turned around to yell at her kids in the back seat. She was travelling in the opposite direction and had inadvertently pulled the steering wheel around with her as she turned around to shout at her kids.

    (The response of my employee was nothing short of remarkable. She searched out the driver and forgave her. She told her that she understood that it was an accident, and that she did not blame her or feel any antipathy towards her, and that she understood that this was a tragedy for her as well.)

  15. earlwer says:

    Mr. Trottier: I only wish that you had used this kind of research before giving Suzuki piles of money.
    From his web page: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/reduce-your-carbon-footprint/what-you-can-do-at-home/

    “We have just over 30 million people, but we use as much energy as the entire continent of Africa, home to 700 million!”

    Another ‘useful’ statistic to prove how BAD our energy consumption is.

    Africa is a tropical country. Canada has snow 25% of the year. Africans are impoverished and millions are dying of starvation. Canada has a high standard of living and exports billions of $ of food every year. Africans have dictatorships, kleptocracies and genocide. Canada has a mixed-economy, trending to socialism.

    Perhaps Mr. Suzuki would prefer we cut our energy consumption by 20x, so we would be closer to Africa… and dead.

    If Mr. Suzuki _really_ cared about people, he would ensure that Africans could use as much energy as us Canadians.

  16. daniel says:

    MartinM, thanks for that. I had to stop and go to the comments when I saw that.

    There’s a reason that a 760 kilohertz signal cannot get under a bridge, while a 104.3 megahertz signal can, while the former can be heard across 30 states.

    (The modulation matters as well.)

  17. Lorne Trottier says:

    Thank you all for your comments. As an electronics engineer and former amateur radio operator I am well aware of the propagation characteristics of radio waves. Perhaps I could have provided more detail in my review, but Davis statement that “The faster a wave oscillates and the smaller it is, the shorter the distance it can reach” is nonsense any way you slice it.

    I agree with the comments about the risks of using a cell phone while driving. Perhaps I should have mentioned that in my review.

    As for the comment from earlwer about the Energy Futures Project that I am supporting, this is a joint project between the Suzuki Foundation and the Canadian Academy of Engineering. The goal of this project is to identify energy solutions that are based on the best scientific and engineering data available.

  18. squirrelelite says:

    @Courtney_Ostaff,

    There is nothing particularly new in the JCAT article referenced in the Science Daily new release you linked to.

    It is not a new study of different data, but just a reanalysis of existing studies which Lorne Trottier referred to in his article.

    As Science Daily states,

    “the study authors, led by R.B. Dubey of Apeejay College of Engineering, Sohna, Gurgaon, India” disagree with the Interphone studies which “concluded that cell phone exposure did not increase the risk of brain tumors” because of industry funding and short duration. Instead, they prefer the “series of studies led by Swedish cancer specialist Dr. Lennart Hardell”.

    His work was mentioned in this blog article which stated “His methods have been widely criticized.”

    At present, the Danish study has the considerable advantage of being based on actual cell phone usage records, not just recalled memories. It tracked over 53,000 patients for over 10 years and showed “No increase in brain cancer or any other illness”.

  19. weez says:

    MartinM is mistaken on his criticism of Davis’ comment on frequency affecting the distance a signal can travel. Terrestrial VHF and higher frequency signals generally propagate no further than line-of-sight, mainly because they do not bounce off of the ionosphere as do lower frequency signals; rather, they pass right through it, into space.

    The ‘medium interaction’ MartinM describes has no scientific basis. I have no idea what ‘medium’ MartinM thinks is attenuating radio signals; atmospheric gases do not attenuate radio signals.

    However, there are certain temporary conditions under which VHF and higher frequency sigs do ‘skip,’ or return to earth beyond the horizon, such as tropospheric ducting, sporadic E-layer and F2 layer reflections, in which VHF and higher frequency signals can be detected beyond the horizon.

    As regards daniel’s comment about MW (medium wave, 550-1600kHz) signals fading while passing under a bridge while VHF signals don’t suffer this effect (to the same degree- it still happens but is generally not as noticeable to radio listeners; multipath propagation of VHF sigs minimises the listener’s detectability of the signal fading), this is a function of the length of the wave. An RF shadow is created by the bridge, the size of which is dependent upon the size of the wave. However, this effect is independent of the modulation applied to the signal. A frequency modulated wave at 1MHz, in propagation terms, will behave identically to an amplitude modulated wave at 1MHz. Same for a 100MHz wave, modulated either by frequency or amplitude.

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