Cell Phones, Brain Tumors, and Cost/Benefit Analysis

I’ve always been lazy about using my earpiece, but I decided to start using it regularly today. Even though there are no conclusive studies linking cell phone usage to brain tumors. Yet.

We’ve talked about this before. Cell phones emit microwaves that don’t cause the same damage that other sources of radiation, like X-rays, do. Studies have found little to no correllation between cell phone use and increased incidence of tumors. The rate of brain tumor diagnosis hasn’t increased appreciably over the last decade. So we scoff and press our iPhones to our ears.

But Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Neurosurgeon and CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, posted an article (and aired a special) this morning that I thought was well reasoned for the cautious among us. In it he points out that

The latency period or time between exposure and recognition of a tumor is around 20 years, sometimes longer. And, cell phone use in the U.S. has been popular for only around 15 years.

And furthermore, while the international study Interphone didn’t show an overall increase in the incidence of tumors, the appendix noted an increase in Scandinavia, where cell phones have been popular for ~20 years.

So, it’s just possible that we don’t know for sure whether cell phones cause brain tumors because we haven’t been using them with frequency long enough. We may just not have enough information yet.

Using a cost/benefit analysis, I decided that using my earpiece just isn’t that inconvenient. In fact, for lengthy conversations it’s actually more convenient. So, in this case I choose not to cling to the current science & the fact that theoretically microwaves shouldn’t cause brain tumors, but instead to use my earpiece just in case. It’s like Pascal’s Wager, but instead of getting into heaven, I don’t get cancer in my brain.


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  1. The added advance also being that you can use an earpiece or hands-free kit if you need to answer a call while driving. Theoretically safer than using a hand-held device.

  2. I agree. Seems a small inconvenience while waiting for conclusive evidence. And +1 on the hands-free driving.
    I like headsets anyhow, so I’m biased.
    My first one was when I was a teen and our home had a rotary phone (yes, I just dated myself), I made my own headset and wired it into the phone handset.

    1. @spurge: the microwaves are emitted from the antenna in the phone, so the further the antenna is from your head, the less radiation you’ll receive.

        1. @spurge: I think this is a distinction between bluetooth earpieces and wired earpieces.

          1. That make sense. My lack of imagination strikes again.

            I rarely see people use a wired earpiece.

            I mostly use the speaker phone option myself.

        2. Listening to people causes brain cancer. It doesn’t matter if they are sitting next to you or are talking over a cell phone, earpiece, bluetooth or wired, speaker or just hand-held.

          Slightly more seriously, my biggest problem with an earpiece is remembering to plug it in before starting the car. If I just left it plugged in all the time, there would be the problem of what to do with the cord when not in use. I’ve never found an adequate solution for this for my iPod, so I just wrap it around the outside. Unwrapping a cellphone cord while driving would probably cause a crash. Or maybe it’s just the stress of trying to formulate a coherent thought and vocalize it that causes brain tumors?

          Time to stop thinking!

  3. A) Wireless (usually Bluetooth) hands-free units use radio waves just like cell phones. IF, and that’s a big if, cell phones cause brain cancer, then Bluetooth devices would be just as able to cause cancer.

    B) Studies have shown that hands-free use is no difference than non-hands-free when it comes to being implicated in accidents.

    1. The transmitters in Bluetooths (Blueteeth?) are probably much lower power than in cellphones, since they only have a range of about 5 meters, unlike several km for cell phones. (Notice how I used the metric system there to sound more sciency?)

  4. If cell phones caused tumors, wouldn’t we be much more likely to see a prevalence of tumors in the hands as the years go by? After all, we spend way more time with them in our hands than on our heads.

  5. I feel there is an unscientific premise in this. True, it takes ~20 years for cancer to result from an insult ON AVERAGE. However, the amount of time for this effect to occur varies, and so we should see gradual increases in cancer of the ear (or whatever) from day one until maximum effect is seen. What the studies show is that there is no effect. Period. Now bent elbow syndrome? I’m sure that is happening.

  6. What about wireless landline phones? What do they receive from the transmitter?

  7. Oh and should it be OK to keep a phone in a pants pocket when talking using a wired headset? Those pockets can be awfully close to one’s gonads.

    Just wonderin’.

  8. My overall thoughtful response to this is…. meh… if it makes you feel better.

    Let’s see what we have so far.
    – No evidence of a problem, I.E. no spike in cancer rates & no suspiciously phone shaped tumours.
    – Very low plausibility of an effect, including a pretty darn unlikely mechanism given the physics.

    Dr. Gupta’s article seems overly cautious given the evidence.

    To put it another way.

    There is no evidence of a problem, no reason to suspect a problem….. But there just might still be a problem! Sure, fine but there is no evidence of the uprising of mastermind mice planning to enslave the human race, no reason to suspect they could but yes I concede, I can’t say it’s impossible.

    1. Tell me more about these mice.Should I be buying traps?Moving to higher ground?Buying less cheese?

      1. No, we should be buying more cheese. Our only hope against annihilation is to placate our new murine overlords.

    2. This is a good point – you can’t take preventative measures against everything that could possibly happen. In the cost/benefit analysis you have to weigh (1) how important it is to you, (2) how likely it is to occur, and (3) what it will cost you to prevent it. (And maybe other things I’m forgetting here)

      In regard to the mice, while that is an alarming thought, here’s my analysis:

      (1) Not being a slave is highly important to me
      (2) It’s extremely unlikely that an uprising of mastermind mice will enslave the human race
      (3) The research necessary to find these mice & the means to exterminate them (assuming they are masterminds) would be very costly.

      So, since it is both costly and unlikely, I choose not to take preventative measures against the mice.

      Here’s my analysis of the cell phone/tumor issue:

      (1) I would rank cancer as one of my top 3 fears in life
      (2) It is unlikely, based on the current evidence and knowledge of microwaves that cell phone use causes tumors. But not completely ruled out.
      (3) It is either equally or more convenient for me to use an earpiece instead of talking into my phone.

      So, because there’s a very slight chance that one of my biggest fears will be realized, and the cost to prevent it is very low, I choose to use an earpiece.

      The cost/benefit analysis is a very personal thing – what is important to me may not be important to you & vice versa.

  9. This is supposed to be a site for skeptics.

    The first thing to ask is where did all this alarm about phones and brain tumours come from?

    Has there been an increase in brain tumours during the period that mobile phones have been in use? That information is readily available and shows no increase.

    Was it triggered by a research paper published by a reputable, peer reviewed, journal indicating an association? (Even former Dr Andrew Wakefield’s supporters could point to that.) I have never been able to find such a paper.

    Where does the hypothesis come from? After a diligent search, I have found that almost all references to the connection between brain tumours and mobile phone use are circular, they just keep referencing each other.

    When people actually do reference a genuine study, it pays to read the full report. The usual approach adopted by journalists is to scan the report to find an alarming figure and publish it regardless of the fact that it is statistically doubtful. Those 95% confidence limits are there for a purpose.

    1. That’s correct – there is currently no study that significantly correllates cell phone use with tumors. Any claims that it has been proven are bunk.

      I also agree with your assessment of media coverage of studies, in many cases.

  10. I know three people that are doing the earpiece route. One smokes. She will explain to you why cell phones cause brain cancer, while puffing away.

    Another person that does this drinks too much. Not an alcoholic but she’s been told to cut back and she’s “well you know we all have to die sometime and I enjoy a couple of glasses of wine at night and something more on the weekends”. But she will also tell you in detail why a cell phone causes brain tumors.

    Third person has my vice, a little too much to eat and a little too much fat. I have to remind her to take her high blood pressure medication (I know I take mine everyday) but she will scream and point if she sees me put a cell phone to my ear.

    Point is we often worry about small things. We ignore proven things we can change. Like wearing out seatbelt (yeah I know people that still refuse). Or like wearing a motorcycle helmet (“I like to feel the wind in my hair” hey you can choose not to wear one in this state). Driving while using a cell phone, even hands free, is dangerous. Yeah, even though hands free is SAFER it’s not as safe as just waiting until you are pulled over.

    If it makes you happy ok, but remember, there are a slew of other unproven things that in the future you will say “Man I can’t believe I did that!” It’s the proven harmful things we continue to do and ignore (I like my chocolate and don’t try to fool myself that by eating DARK chocolate…my favorite… I”m somehow giving myself a health benefit) that do us in.

    1. Kitty – good point about prioritizing the habits we know to be harmful. If someone is smoking, overweight, or riding a motorcycle without a helmet, I sure hope they focus on changing those habits rather than this!

  11. Given the type and intensity of radiation being emitted, I really don’t think that this is even worth bothering to worry about. Like homeopathy, the supposed link between cell phones and brain cancer is so distant from what seems physically plausible, that even if there’s not yet enough clinical evidence to rule it out, on the face of it the null hypothesis of “it’s all bunk” seems extremely strong.

    It’s really scary to hear about radiation and the associated cancer risk, but one has to remember that this is radiation that at most causes a slight heating, and often not as effectively as, say, a particularly bright reading lamp on your bed.

  12. If radio waves caused cancer or other serious health problems, you’d think we’d have noticed it in people who live next to radio and television transmission towers by now. High powered radio transmission has been around for about 90 years. And I haven’t heard about it cooking the brains of anyone who gets near the towers.

    1. There’s plenty implicating radio & tee-vee, but why not stick closer to the topic at hand, there are about a dozen studies re cell base station antennae, vast majority point to danger, early symptomology to eventual cancer, see eg best study yet, .
      So while you all use your earpieces, you can help irradiate the whole population, via infrastructure at the ready to handle to your calls anywhere, anytime.

  13. It’s not just that we have no data showing that there is not a link between cell phones and brain cancer there is significant evidence that there is no link. From what we understand of physics it cannot happen, we’ve radiated tissue to no effect and this type of radiation is found in nature and shows no link depending on dosages from natural sources. Everything not studied has a higher chance of causing brain cancer, that’s almost everything that exists. Why not hats? Hats literally have a higher probability of causing brain cancer than mobile phones. Take sun hats out of the equation (they can prevent skin cancer, an actual risk) and by your reasoning you have to stop wearing hats. You’re right that this is just like Pascals’s wager in that both calculations result from GIGO, garbage in garbage out.

    1. Well said. Yeeeaahh… based on what I know, I’m going to have to go with cellphones causing cancer is bulls**t. No data to back it up; no science to support any possible mechanisms for generating cancer.

  14. I would like to carry on from where I left off – it was getting late and I wanted to post before the world ended.

    I have heard of Dr. Sanjay Gupta but I had not realised that he was a person of some importance. So lets look at what he has to say.

    For a start, none of the what is in the CNN article (I just do not have the stomach to watch the TV programme – I have seen TV before.)

    Q: Do cell phones cause brain cancer?

    A: It may be too early to say for sure

    Only ‘may be’, we are clearly off to a bad start.

    “It’s more like very low power microwaves.”

    It ‘is’ very low power microwaves (or radio waves if you prefer).

    “Anyway, who likes the idea of a microwave, even a low-powered one, next to their head all day?”

    Ah! now we get it – he is actually talking about microwave ovens.

    “But, as hard as it is to believe sometimes, they actually have thinner skulls than adults…”

    Only ‘sometimes’? Engage brain before putting mouth into gear.

    Now let us look at the science:

    When in a dangerously strong radio frequency field, just get a piece of wire, dangle one end near the transmitter and put the other in your ear – brilliant.

    The ‘they have thin skulls’ always gets me. Are the evil microwaves supposed to be reflected by thin skulls? That would rather mess up communication with the base station. If the evil microwaves are absorbed by thick skulls, ditto, but also would not the damage then be done to the bone rather that the brain (bone cancer – nasty)?

    Just more scaremongering.

  15. Disagree.

    a) I can’t even find the mention of Scandinavia that you refer to.
    b) The Interphone study has people reporting on their cell-phone habits 10-20 years ago and for the cancer cases years after their diagnose. That’s the best way to get reporting bias, and even then they don’t get a correlation.
    c) The hands-free is a hassle.
    d) Everything electric radiates, and that includes wired hands-free. It radiates at the same frequencies as all other earbuds though, so the cancer spike should have shown up already. But what if that particular influence gives a 40 year latency?

    1. I can’t find the Scandinavian thing either, in fact, I’ve found the opposite.
      Huge Scandinavian study suggests no link between mobiles and brain cancer (so relax)

      “The critical period in the mid-nineties when cellular use really spiked was the focal point for their study, and they found that while there has been a constant increase in glioma diagnosis since the 70s, and any deviations from the slow increase are explainable by other means than mobile use.”

      So, yeah, I’m not really concerned about cell phone use causing cancer. As for the question posed by the author. Your cost/benefit analysis doesn’t even need the cancer thing to use as a reason to use the earpiece, if you prefer them because it is more convenient, go for it. But using poor science as a reason to do it is not really valid.

  16. I disagree.

    While I mostly use a wired or bluetooth earpiece for convenience, I have no issues putting the phone to my head. Doing so just gets my hands tired or hurts my neck if I gave to take notes. I couldn’t care less about a tumor 20 years from now, that is not very likely to begin with. I prefer to worry about things I can do now that are proven to keep me healthy.

  17. My problem with this is that this is the same logic used for not vaccinating your child. As a preschool teacher I heard this a lot. “well there is no clear evidence YET, but I want to be safe.” Now using a hands free device isn’t going to hurt other cell phone users. BUT…giving in to this “logic” is dangerous. If as skeptics we can not trust the evidence and the science ourselves, how can we teach critical thinking to others. We must practice what we preach.

    Thankfully, a skeptic is someone that is willing to change their mind when the evidence indicates it. I hope that a skeptic afraid to use a cell phone will read the data and come away with a clear understanding of why it is alright. To give in to a vague unfounded fear without a clear and compelling reason is to engage in the kind of thinking, or non-thinking, the people we are trying to educate as skeptics engage in.

    Trust your commitment to skepticism, to show others that it really is a better way to live. Fear is what psychics, religious leaders, and Oprah depend on. Fear is never a good reason to make a decision. The best part about being a skeptic is living a life free from the fears others base their life decisions around.

    1. I don’t agree with this comparison. Vaccines have been around for a long time. Widespread cell phone use is a recent phenomenon, so the number of studies, particularly on long-term effects aren’t comparable.

      1. so you avoid anything that is new and not fully “studied”? even when the current studies show no link between cell phone use and brain tumor? How about that new sweetener Truvia? Would you use it, or would you wait 20 years to see what happens? Yes I recently heard that it has caused “cancer in mice”. Maybe. Perhaps.

        Also I recently heard from a tv doctor that we should not ever eat microwave popcorn because it causes “lung cancer”. Do you eat microwave popcorn? Have you? Actually there is evidence that exposure to what is used to keep the popcorn from sticking to the bag does cause lung problems for workers in the factory where the popcorn is produced. BUT… studies show you would need an extreme amount of whiffing the popcorn to become ill.

        Point is, unless you are Amish, and unless there is clear evidence…are you going to avoid everything that is new?

        THe danger IS the same as avoiding vaccines (and remember, new vaccinations come along all the time, will you be avoiding an HIV vaccination? Would you avoid giving your child the Chicken Pox vaccination as it is newer?). The DANGER is in not trusting the science and the evidence. The DANGER is in living your life based on tv doctor bad science rather than trusting your skeptic critical thinking skills. The DANGER is writing an article where you are “hey, I’m throwing all I know out the window for a poorly conducted study and what a tv doctor says…rather than trusting the very research and science I’m supposed to be telling people to trust by writing here on Skepchick.” Frankly, the bloggers here are leaders in the skeptic movement. Better and higher standards are expected of role models. It isn’t the decision made, it was how it was made.. and that it was made out of fear and not critical thinking.

        Give us a scrap of good evidence, because this cell phone brain cancer thing has been studied and studied. I first heard about it 10 years ago when there was a major lawsuit about it that was thrown out. The people that understand the science behind this agree there is no merit in this claim. Paul is not dead. The Queen of England is not a lizard. Aliens did not land in Roswell. The cell phone/cancer connection is also an unfounded rumor that people without the correct education, or willingness to educate themselves, believe. It’s fear mongering to claim that they do. Skeptics don’t buy into that.

        1. Hi Kitty, I’m sorry to have upset you. I know you’re Evelyn’s mom & a beloved friend of the skepchicks. To address your questions, I agree that you can’t avoid everything that is new and could possibly be a problem at some point. You definitely have to choose your battles. If I ate Truvia or microwave popcorn several times a day, every day, I probably would be more concerned. But like book lights & hats, I have very limited exposure to them so I’m not concerned. I also still disagree with the vaccine comparison not only for the reasons above, but also because it fails the cost/benefit analysis. Pretty much all of medicine has negative side effects or risks, but the benefits outweigh the costs/risks, so we take it. Vaccines have done so much good that they’re one of the most important advances in medical history. Anyway, you’re clearly very angry with me and I’m sorry to have caused that. Certainly wasn’t my intent here.

  18. I agree that the consensus here is in line with skepticism. It’s simple – the science isn’t there, so there’s nothing to be worried about.

    I wrote about this topic last year, and was satisfied at that time that there wasn’t substantial risk – I made no change to my habits. Gupta’s article made me wonder if frequent cell phone use has been popular long enough to have properly tested for long-term effects. Unlike a book light or a hat, my cell phone is something I use several times a day. Every day. So I did the analysis referenced above, and am now using my earpiece just in case science uncovers an issue with long-term use – at least until frequent cell phone use has been popular for as long as it takes the average tumor to present.

    It’s interesting to me to learn how skeptics deal with day to day life decisions. Do you ever make a decision that’s not in line with the current science, and if so, why? It looks like in the case of cell phones & tumors, skeptics feel the existing science is enough not to worry. And, based on the information we currently have, I agree that is probably a more logical answer than mine.

  19. One thing I’ve observed from this community over three years is that it seems to be divided between skeptics, who are simply intellectually skeptical, and The Skeptics (like Kitty), who simply subscribe to a particular form of political correctness … The original article noted that it takes, on average, 20 years for the PARTICULAR harm in this instance to manifest itself (unlike, for example, the harms claimed by anti-vaxers). And there are no studies on this PARTICULAR device and this PARTICULAR harm spanning that period … But do Skeptics like Kitty challenge the actual substance of the observations? Not exactly … First come the ad hominems. (Are all “tv doctors” quacks, Kitty? Or is it just CNN? Because I’ve seen the Lord Almighty Richard Dawkins on CNN.) … And next comes the ridiculously drawn parallels. If children are not given vaccines, people will die. If nobody takes your hypothetical HIV vaccine (really ramping up the hyperbole there, Kitty), people will die. On the other hand, if people use headsets instead of sticking the phone against their ears, people in line at Starbucks will be annoyed. But somehow, by even posting the article and RAISING the question, Stacey is completely repudiating ANYTHING that is new and is to be equated with the worst of all fear mongers …

  20. We dont need decades of exposure to the public to determine cell phones dont cause cancer.
    We know exactly what type and amount of radiation they emit and a great deal about how it affects living cells.

    So my cost/benefit analysis would be:

    Do I disregard scaremongering BS wherever I find it?
    Or do I give it credence as long as it’s not inconvenient?

  21. Tell me, just how does a skepto determine which “science” to pay attention to? In all my encounters with your “movement” on this topic, the superficiality of skepto thinking is breathtaking. Here was one skepto book review with my comment after, , no answer of course, as to how on earth a skepto can’t see through the cell telephony etc disaster unfolding? If you rely on vision alone, and have a distaste for digging for the harder to see, you will not only be had again & again, you will effectively be in the service of those “having” you. The dissenting science is immense, and what is particularly crazy, is that this is pre-eminently a public & enviro. health issue, for which a single study can and sometimes should be determinative. Yet here we have 1000s of studies that point to the danger of latter-day wireless mania. Skepto=credulo, as far as I’ve seen so far, insofar as skeptic eyes are not trained on matters political, cultural.

    1. 1000s of studies huh?
      I will make this easy and ask you to cite 1 that is not sponsored by the “EMF Sensitivity is real crowd” that shows any effect. There are 1000s or studies but they do not show what you say they show.
      Your reply here sound like the reply of an alt-med supporter who has been told there is no mechanism for homeopathy to work; don’t explain the “science” that backs up their claims (because there is none) and attack the scientists as being blind while pointing out that some “scientists” have been hired to do anti-science propaganda before. You do not give any mechanism for which non-ionizing can cause tumors (I have not seen any mechanism beyond “well you never know” or “it’s better to be safe than sorry”)and simply point to a book where so-called-scientists (a small group I might point out) used the unwillingness of real scientists to proclaim things as settled to sew doubt using the media. Congrats but that is not science, you just proved that scientists are human and corruptible, it does not change the facts in this case.
      No one is advocating that we stop studying, we just don’t see any evidence.
      But that’s just how we skeptos roll.

      1. mrmis’, fine with me if you shift the focus to a more fundamental term, ‘evidence’, i’ll just re-ask what i did above, “Tell me, just how does a skepto determine which [“evidence”] to pay attention to?” Let me offer you the following example, since it is rare in my perception that a skepto will actually dig for his/her own material, and not rather wait for a mainstream source to dish it up/out, rarely questioning that source’s motivation, as if that were unimportant, all the while questioning others’ contexts & motives. The example is from a decade of topical research at the U. of Athens, and a summary of the work of one scholar there who testified before a Canadian Parliamentary committee last year:
        The Chair:
        We are now going to go to video conference, and we are going to start in Athens, Greece, with Dr. Dimitris Panagopoulos.

        Welcome, Doctor.

        Dr. Dimitris Panagopoulos:
        Hello. Thanks for inviting me.

        I shall try to describe, within a few lines, 10 basic conclusions from our experimental and theoretical work at the University of Athens over the last 11 years on the biological effects of mobile telephony radiation.

        Conclusion number one is that GSM radiation at 900 and 1,800 megahertz, from mobile phone handsets, is found to reduce insect reproduction by up to 60%. The insects were exposed for six minutes daily during the first five days of their adult lives. Both males and females were found to be affected.

        Second, the reduction of insect reproductive capacity was found to be due to cell death induction in reproductive cells. In the papers distributed to the committee members, we can see pictures of eggs from insects. In the first picture, we see eggs from a non-exposed insect. In the second picture, we see eggs from an insect exposed to radiation from a mobile phone handset. We can see the characteristic fluorescence denoting DNA fragmentation and cell death. You have more pictures like this.

        Third, the effect of short-term exposure is evident at radiation intensities down to one microwatt per square centimetre. This radiation intensity is found at a distance of about one metre from a cellphone or 100 metres from a corresponding base station antenna. This radiation intensity is 450 times and 900 times lower than the limits set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, ICNIRP, at 900 and 1,800 megahertz, respectively.

        It is possible that for long-term exposure durations of weeks or months or years, the effect would be evident at even longer distances or at even lower intensities. For this, a safety factor should be introduced in the above value, of one microwatt per square centimetre. By introducing a safety factor of 10, the above value becomes 0.1 microwatts per square centimetre, which is the limit proposed by the BioInitiative Report.

        Fourth, the effect is strongest for intensities higher than 200 microwatts per square centimetre; this is when we have a cellphone very close to our heads. Within that so-called window, around the intensity value of 10 microwatts per square centimetre, the effect becomes even stronger. This intensity value of 10 microwatts per square centimetre corresponds to a distance of about 20 to 30 centimetres from a mobile phone handset or 20 to 30 metres from a base station antenna.

        Fifth, the effect increases with increasing daily duration of exposure in terms of short-term exposures of one minute to 21 minutes daily.

        Sixth, the effect is non-thermal. There are no temperature increases during the exposures.

        Seventh, the effect at the cellular level is most likely due to the irregular gating of ion channels on cell membranes, which is caused by the electromagnetic fields. This leads to disruption of the cell’s electrochemical balance and function. This mechanism is a non-thermal one.

        Eighth, although we cannot simply extrapolate the above results from insects to humans, similar effects on humans cannot be excluded. On the contrary, they are possible, first because insects are, in general, much more resistant to radiation than mammals, and second, because the presented findings are in agreement with the results of other experimenters who are reporting DNA damage in mammalian cells or mammalian and human infertility. There are many references for these findings in papers also distributed to the committee.

        + -(0930)

        Ninth, reported observations during the last years regarding the diminishing of insect populations, especially bees, can be explained by a decrease in their reproductive capacity, as I described.

        Our tenth and last conclusion is that symptoms referred to as “microwave syndrome”, like headaches, sleep disturbances, fatigue, etc., among people residing around base station antennas, can possibly be explained by cellular stress induction on brain cells or even cell death induction on a number of brain cells.

        Thank you for your attention.


        Now what happened to this fellow right after that testimony? He had his academic office removed. He had previously been denied normal promotion, obviously in major part due to the irritating nature of his research perturbing to the industry-abettor nexus skeptos ignore. So fed up, he sought transfer, and was immediately accepted, to a prestigious research institute, that somehow got blocked. Further still, he had an irregular rejection of a paper at a journal where he has been an oft-cited contributor before. So there you have a nice ugly example, competent “science” – how is it not valuable “evidence” for a skepto? – and an accompanying obvious culture of corruption preventing its dissemination and public consideration. If skeptos have stuck imaginations, at least here you have an ugly scenario you can SEE. Let’s see what you reason about this. Like the vile idiot “scientific” gatekeeper, in that France3 film i recommended commenting on the thread listed above as a “related post”, who was responsible for curtailing propagation of damning lab REPLICATION evidence that cell mast radiation was crippling/fatal to fowl young, even as the film shows how some people’s lives were similarly devastated by nearby cell towers, so the lackey says something like, so don’t make phone calls to chickens.
        Will you say, so don’t phone fruit flies?

        1. You think we’re going to fall for the exact same out-of-context cut&paste you trolled Bug’s Bee post with?
          They persecuted him, he must be right!
          No one outside the “EMS is real, I feel the badness (even though I can’t distinguish the presence or absence of RF in double-blind tests)” has replicated this. Last time, when I challenged you to provide any further evidence, all you came up with was a single small, poorly-designed, uncontrolled, unmatched, unblinded, self-reported pilot study of people living near a single (one, count them one) cell tower. No mention whatsoever of possible environmental, demographic or other confounding factors. And virtually all the “significant” symptoms were the typical vague nonspecific symptoms always cited by woo practitioners, with no independent confirmation from medical records or follow up visits.
          And this was a study based on proximity to a cell tower, not cell phone usage, so even if valid (highly doubtful), it is of limited or no relevance.
          You mention the disaster unfolding. I don’t think that word means what you think it means. There are plenty of real disasters in the world, ones that kill thousands of people, destroy the homes and livelihoods of millions, and cause trillions of dollars in damage. Worse case in your scenario is a handful of extra brain tumors, which of course is bad for the people who get them but hardly qualifies as disaster, and a windfall for the earbud manufacturers.
          If cell phones actually had any long term health effects, they would have started to show up years ago. If there was a doubling of brain tumor rate after 20 years exposure, there would have been a noticeable increase after 10 years and a large increase after 15. We don’t have to wait 20 years to see these things.

        2. So, you are asked for evidence and what you offer is a conversation, rather than a study, about insect research , rather than human research, from a man who was found so lacking that he lost his position, because of persecution, according to you.
          Well, I must admit I was wrong, with that much evidence in your corner why do cell phones still exist?
          If the statistics in this conversation are true, the validity of which is questionable considering the “reaction” of the man’s institute, it would warrant some more study. Just that and nothing more from this evidence.
          From your asking Buzz if he has “debunked” every book in the bibliography of some other posts elsewhere I can see that you are familiar with the Gish gallop.
          I don’t have time to study every single thing that may effect my or my family’s health, there are too many variables and only so much time. But I have come up with a pretty sound way of reasoning which people I should listen to when it comes to possible health dangers, it’s called past performance. Dr. Mercola, for example, will never tell me anything that I will accept as truthful because of the mounds and mounds of bs that spews forth from his hole each day. That is one end of the spectrum, the other end is not to accept everything that someone says without followup, people prove themselves to be fallible all to often, but rather to see if there is a consensus and, if there is, to see if there is any serious opposition. This is not foolproof and things can go awry but it has served me well thus far. So, when do I doubt the consensus? When serious doubts are brought forward by credible people and they have something more than a hunch to prove their point.
          The EMF Sensitivity crowd has a complaint that they have decided is caused by cell phones, wi-fi, etc. and will not persuaded from it even though there is no known mechanism to cause said effects. While I feel for people who believe they are effected in this way, I am not going to give up using my cell phone, or wi-fi, or walkie-talkie, or any other device around them to appease an irrational belief.
          Cost/benefit analysis shows that ear buds are not necessary and even though the cost is low I will not be switching, I also won’t be building a zero-point energy machine, or a perpetual-motion machine, or a ghost-detection device any time soon either, there is almost as much evidence for them as there is for non-ionizing radiation causing tumors.

  22. Buzz, the cut & paste, why are you ignoring it as “evidence”? I await what others say, maybe they can discuss or argue better. Why accept any scientist’s “evidence”? It is repeated here because it is unaddressed there. Except by tellingly unintelligent remarks about someone being a “troll”. Let’s elaborate on this case. He’s persecuted, so he’s right, is a mirror image of, he’s mainstream (manufactured) “consensus”, so he’s right. But certainly I do not reason as you so dumbly suggest. Yet the context should orient you — you really think that such a researcher has any interest in damaging his prospects for advancement by honest action? You really think that dishonest actions are not all too human where there is immense riches, for example, to protect? You like info suppression? I’ll save you the cut & paste from a post elsewhere, on a forum with a sufficient partial skepto flavour to connect it with this, so look at post #52 at , as follow up, for what was accepted as evidence and where and for what, right on topic, sticking with this same example. Teaser: more studies mentioned & quoted from.

    As for the Selbitz study, you must not really be able to read & consider it. A particular worth of such publications for the non-expert is the bibliography — did you go debunk all that? I recall one item that speaks to another ignorant remark above (but don’t feel overly blameworthy, this stuff is largely kept from mainstream view) in the biblio., that affected the Swiss national radiation standard, where study of FM antenna sleep effect led to a public exposure standard more stringent by orders of magnitude. But who are they, just stupid scientists & public health professionals.

    We all are supposed to take your say-so about latency durations and the singular importance of cancer vs paying attention to how people say they feel. I wqonder how you justify swallowing your breakfast every morning.

    1. It’s not evidence. It’s a testimonial. It’s argument from authority. And I did address it. There’s been no replication.

      1. A testimonial, I see. Typical skepto then, waiting to be fed the textbook chapter the guy has written replete with equations, and the journal articles that led to it. Won’t look on his own. Won’t wonder why his mainstream authorities will not tell him about it. Wonder why I waste time on you? On the off chance an impressionable few have been misled among you, and will be moved to exercise some real comprehensive skepticism, a few more silent onlookers, who because of social constraint among you will be little likely to speak out. Disprove the unlikelihood, go ahead…
        How many dissenting study-testimonials do you want, 1500? Read the BioInitiative Report bibliography, a good start.

        1. The BioInitiative Report is a scientifically dishonest propaganda product. A small group of researchers whose research goes against the scientific consensus put together a report purporting to be an overview of the field where they mainly reference research that support their conclusion and misrepresent the other references so they appear to also support the conclusion.

          I only know of one of the researchers, Lennart Hardell, but he’s well known in Scandinavia as the Swedish cancer scare champion. Cell phone radiation is only one of the dangers he’s created a media storm over with minimal scientific evidence and he’s learned nothing from the failure of the rest of the scientific community to replicate and support his results.

          1. What tripe you are uttering, Bjorn’.
            Read a chapter of the wrongfully maligned report, it is highly doubtable you have done so. Try Blackman’s ch. 14. The BioInit. report intent is to rescue from oblivion what has been shunted by your “consensus”, and has been consistently misrepresented by its attackers. What is this dangerous & ludicrous notion , ‘consensus’ , that’s trotted out by the credulous or corrupt? If you have not really looked into the corruption of science in the general bioeffects field in the century leading up to the unfolding wireless disaster, you are really unfit to commment — except, who hasn’t heard about asbestos, ddt, lead, & on & on & on. Want some book suggestions as background reading? Try, say, Michaels, Doubt is Their Product; McGarrity & Wagner, Bending Science; Krimsky, Science in the Private Interest; Ross & Amter, The Polluters; shall I continue? You are also apparently clueless about the status of Hardell’s work, about to backed up in a big way, I hear, by other Interphone-connected studies — a skepto has no suspicion about why the amazing delay. A skepto does not wonder why insurers have long dropped backing latter day wireless mania re physical harm.

        2. Yes, in fact I do expect references to specific research that explains the link, with whatever references are required to get the equations used to work out the conclusions of the authors. And I do expect studies to be repeatable and for any other factors to be accounted for. If those things can be provided and replicated, then it is good evidence. That is called science, and it is the standard for accepting something as good evidence or not.

  23. I am trying to be very careful while writing this because I think that the problem is in the information commonly available, not in anyone drawing the wrong conclusions from what is presented. I am working on my PhD in electrical engineering, specialising in wireless communications (pretty much the signals used by cell phones to talk to towers and other uses of RF signals). I agree that it probably has not been long enough to conclusively say that cell phones do not in some way promote cancers in humans, but I am going to claim that the RF radiation from cell phones has been used and studied long enough to be reasonably considered benign. First off, calling the frequencies used in communications systems microwaves is not very precise, as depending on which source you look at microwaves are defined as RF radiation with frequencies ranging anywhere from 300MHz to 300GHz. This is an extremely wide part of the electromagnetic spectrum and even if one portion of it has the potential to cause harm, that does not mean the entire spectrum is harmful. To put this in perspective the highest frequencies used by cell phones is about 2.1GHz, on the low end pagers and some old phones use about 800MHz. Wireless routers generally use about 2.5GHz signals, and microwave ovens generally use about 2.45GHz waves to cook food. Those last two are important, because microwave ovens leak radiation all over the place (seen when you try to connect to a wireless router when a microwave is being used between you and the router) but they have not been linked to an increase in cancer and have been around much longer than 20 years. This means that the part of the electromagnetic spectrum used by your cell phone has in fact been studied for over the past 50 years and aside from at very high intensities like used in microwave ovens it does not cause harm, and even at very high intensities the harm it causes is by heating not by any carcinogenic mechanism.
    So while it is possible that there is some link between cell phone usage and cancer, it is almost certainly not through the electromagnetic radiation emitted by your phone. The other side of the argument goes into wavelengths and energy. Microwaves use 2.45GHz because it heats water well, but it has a much longer wavelength (and thus lower energy) than something like UV light (UV starts a bit above 7THz) which has been linked to causing cancer and is energetic enough to damage DNA molecules, which is one mechanism by which it causes cancer.
    So sure, cell phones may cause cancer, but if they do, it is through some unknown mechanism that we have no reason to believe would be prevented by wearing a head set of any sort. The basis of the skeptical movement seems to be that things are not magic and can be understood. Any claim that cell phones cause cancer should be questioned and a rational basis for the belief should be presented. The scary word ‘microwaves’ is not enough to justify a belief that something causes cancer.

    1. A welcome more thoughful post than usual from among skeptos I’ve encountered here & elsewhere.
      Still, problems:
      Let me point out first, re the propagandistic use of terminology, you must not be old enough to know that those ovens, for example, used to called, “radar ranges”, and the terminological adjustment must have done much to enhance sales. “Micro”, as in wee, how can it harm ya; “waves”, like the sea, right?

      I believe that until the old USSR crumbled, based on research done there (which far outstripped that in the West in those earlier decades) they banned the ovens. That was reversed, I believe, under the influence of the West. Food quality & effect on consumers is in question — however subtle the danger, one’s attitude to nourishment is at issue, why would one want to denature food at all? Any “risk analysis” that could claim that convenience, e.g., surpasses the unclear danger, is stabbing in the dark, and has misplaced assumptions. As for leakeage, again, do let go of this cancer fixation! I expect that the epidemic of dementia, now expected in Canada where I am to encompass 1 in 3 (NOT really a function of aging populace), to be attributable to cordless phones & such ovens in the main, the main ubiquitous microwave usages pre-phones, post-phones to all of latter-day wireless mania.
      As for generic lumping together of various parts of the spectrum, I concur if you intend that that can be wrongful, as is done by regulatory agencies. Even in the example I gave about FM in Switz., on what “reasonable” (to use a variant of your word) basis to extrapolate to smaller & smaller wavelengths? Eg as wavelength approaches body part size, would one not expect all kinds of other “resonant” effects? Maybe sleep is not an issue (but it is! — see long-known effect on melatonin suppression, see eg
      int. j. radiat. biol 2002, vol. 78, no. 11, 1029± 1036
      Melatonin metabolite excretion among cellular telephone users
      J. B. BURCH†*, J. S. REIF†, C. W. NOONAN‡, T. IHINOSE†, A. M. BACHAND†,
      T. L. KOLEBER† and M. G. YOST§

      Conclusions : Exposure-related reductions in 6-OHMS excretion were observed in Study 2, where daily cellular telephone use of
      >25min was more prevalent. Prolonged use of cellular telephones may lead to reduced melatonin production, and elevated
      60-Hz MF exposures may potentiate the effect.
      How can you say that no athermally-describable harm is caused, to take just the industry-admitted example of Frey effect hearing? Unless you contend as industry & abettors do that this is non-adverse — tell that to sufferers, and to courts which have awarded damages for tinnitus…Also, the “consensus” basis for microwave auditory effect is highly contestable — infinitesimal temp. increase leading to thermoelastic expansion of some head tissue somehow communicated to the inner ear..a desperate attempt to stuff everything in to that thermal-only paradigm.
      As for wanting to see studies — no substitute for going and looking oneslef, it is worth it. Fellows with technical capabilities like you need to turn their attention to alternatives.
      If you properly accept that cancer latency is too long to judge too early on, what sense focus on cancer to determine “risk”? More like, nonsense – except that those cancer studies are coming in, and for a carcinogen, in record time. It is also good of you to point out possible dangers of using a headset (airtube could be better, but better still, throw out your phone, be no part of an immoral enterprise, you have been lied to).

      1. If you are going to insist on your flawed propaganda studies you should at least get your terminology correct. “Radar Range” was a name brand owned by Amana, the name was changed because of trademark concerns not because of some weird expectation that “microwave” would be better accepted.
        Buy the way, you may wish to stop using Teflon (didn’t they used to call that Silverstone?) coated aluminum pans, and wait NutraSweet…no wait artificial color.., oh to hell with is, it’s all going to kill you right?
        Living your life by the latest piece of paranoia is no way to live. Please, Mr. Kaczynski I beg you to put away the manifesto and live.

        1. Deever, you also need to stop eating anything that contains proteins and has been browned by heat. Hardell “proved” that potato chips and bread crusts give a large increase in cancer risk before he moved on to cell phones.

        2. Where did deever say that the oven name change was made for any reason at all? Another example of skepto inability to read?

          The three items listed, never ever use them, of course not. Do you? Why, in the name of “progress”, which seems to be a frequent religious recourse of skeptos?

          “Live” — what kind of reasoned remark is that? Is that your resort when studies are tabled that show that skeptos have been had?

          1. Here I thought you were deluded, but you are clearly just a troll. Why did you bring up the oven name change if you now claim it has nothing to do with your argument? Throwing out random incorrect factoids and then criticizing the people who call you on them for delving into irrelevancies? Pure troll.

            If you aren’t a troll, why are you posting on the Internet? Do you have any idea how much RF a computer emits?

            All your massive bloviage, and you finally get to the point that you are mostly concerned about dementia, not cancer. We were supposed to guess that? Or are we all supposed to be intimately familiar with your insanity? (I never heard or you before your comment a few days ago on Bug’s Bees and Cell phones post. So much for your Internet fame.)

            You do know that a well-grounded Faraday cage around your head will totally block all RF with a wavelength longer than the mesh size. I recommend a metal colander.

            BTW, do you know what the word “tabled” means?

          2. Buzz’, you can call ‘troll’ all you like, I’m quite used to seeing stooping to name-calling by those who seem to’ve attended some skepto skool. I did not bring up the terminology thing, I was responding to a more thoughtful reply than you seem capable of making, sad to say. The “factoid” was not an irrelevancy, you misread it as well. I do know about the emissions of my computer, and unless I take certain measures, e.g. make sure there is metallic screening over screen (very fine) & computer, I suffer. I cannot use a regular mouse without getting a numb thumb — I know, it’s all in my head. Where do you get that dementia is the main concern? I must have said pretty explicitly here somewhere above or in one of the links provided for those who have not dispensed with their curiosity (another all-too-common severe skepto limitation), that how people say they feel is paramount, taking that seriously in the first instance, quite as E.Euro researchers did decades ago, and what they found is corroborated to the hilt today, never should have been allowed to come close. I asked above, how do you justify swallowing your breakfast daily? If you screen, you should make sure about 1/4 wavelength apertures, and even then there is not full attentuation, which can put severe sufferers over the top. I know people who must wear very finely woven metallic fabrics lest they be unable to travel almost anywhere now, the insanity has gone so far. Such people are your proverbial canaries, and skeptos choose to look the other way, to what inheritors of a century of getting-away-with-what-you-can tell ’em. “Tabled”…you mean there is actually more than one meaning?

  24. I felt a little guilty about being so dickish, so thanks for a nice bit of post hoc justification.
    I finally got you to state your point, more or less clearly and succinctly.
    how people say they feel is paramount
    So that trumps evidence, including studies that specifically show those feelings have no basis in reality?
    Therefore arguing based on science, evidence and logic will have no effect on your conclusions. No wonder you mock skeptics.
    P.S., I’ll grant you “tabled.” My dictionary has not 2 but 4 definitions of table as a transitive verb. Paraphrasing, 1) form into a compact listing or arrangement; tabulate. 2) to place on a table. 3) to postpone indefinitely the discussion or consideration of (a bill, motion, etc.) 4)[Brit] to submit for discussion or consideration. I assume you were using the 4th definition, unaware that it meant precisely the opposite of the 3rd definition. Oh well, clarity hasn’t been your strong suit.

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