Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I wonder if a tinfoil hat would help?

A new study in Britain shows that people complaining of "electromagnetic sensitivity" brought on by cell-phone towers report about the same level of symptoms whether the towers are actually broadcasting or not. The symptoms are real--subjects had sweatier skin and higher blood pressure--and symptoms were worse when they were told the towers were on. But when they were not told whether or not the cell towers were transmitting, two (of 44) 'sensitive' subjects correctly identified whether it was on or off in six trials out of six, as did 5 of 114 control cases.

In other words, about what chance would predict.

Again, the symptoms are real--but whatever's causing them isn't the cell towers. I can't help noticing that sweaty skin and higher BP are both symptoms of anxiety.

Naturally, a group of 'electrosensitive' people called "Mast Sanity" denounced the findings:

"Isn't it time that the government woke up to the reality of electrosensitivity instead of attempting to persuade sufferers that it is all in their minds?" said spokeswoman Yasmin Skelt.
Well, um... here's the deal. You're the one claiming this condition exists. That means you have the burden of proof. The symptoms are real, but the evidence so far suggests your attribution of the cause is wrong.

Worth studying some more? Absolutely; this is one study, one piece of evidence. The question is far from fully settled. But hinting at government conspiracies doesn't advance the cause any.

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