Reader's rebuttal: Are leading experts always leading experts?

Reader claims that Communities writer ignores scientific debate that was initiated by the creation of  Bioinitiative and the ICEMS (International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety) groups.

The following piece is a reader rebuttal and is published with only minor editing.  All views are solely those of the writer, and publication does not suggest support or agreement from the Communities @WashingtonTimes.com or The Washington Times.

Professor Daruisz Lesczcynski is the author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place 

ISRAEL, August 1, 2012 - “Errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it”.  Thomas Jefferson

Daruisz  Lesczcynski thinks that claims of scientific consensus are false. In his opinion, there is no scientific debate because of “group think.”

Daruisz  Lesczcynski ignores the scientific debate that was initiated by  the creation of  Bioinitiative and the ICEMS (International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety) groups. The creation of Bioinitiative group led the European Union to recognize a body of research that was  (and still is) downplayed by industry dominant groups.

Moreover, he fails to distinguish between corporation interests vs. private people and the public interests without posing the basic question whether industry interests should balance public interests in the first place, in  scientific debates with relevance to public health. 

By stating that “there is no doubt that the members of the science evaluating bodies are there because they are considered experts in their field” Dariusz  Lesczcynski  neglects politics of scientific expertise like promotions on the basis of industry funding, working for big companies,  and other influences on expertise even when the person has great talent and proven scientific abilities. All experts are human beings and their opinions may be influenced by other forces. 

Daruisz Lesczcynski refers to the ICNIRP, the group that sets non ionizing radiation (NIR) standards for the World Health Organization (WHO), as a group whose all members have “the same” opinion.

But the latest livestream ICNIRP conference showed that this is not an accurate assumption.

For example, ICNIRP’s member proffesor James Lin, chairman of the ICNIRP’s Standing Committee on Physics & Engineering, expressed his opinion that in order to decide whether electrohypersensitivity (EHS) and subjective symptoms are related to RF radiation, there is need to wait for further research.  Referring to provocation lab studies on EHS, in his opinion we do not know about reality conditions, in chronic exposure.

Daruisz Lesczcynski tries to compare groups in an way that is not comparable: corporations’  interests are not comparable to private individuals. Joel Bakan, a professor of law at the University of British Columbia, showed in his book “The corporation, the pathological pursuit of profit and power”, that corporation’s legally defined mandate is to pursue its own economic self interest, regardless of harmful consequences it might cause to others, individuals and society.

Bakan showed that governments do not control corporations and even give them greater authority over society through privatization and deregulation. Big corporations make billions of dollars in profits and the executives must prioritize the interests of their companies and  shareholders above all others and are forbidden from being socially responsible, at least genuinely so. All this is by law- because corporations are created by law and imbued with purpose by law. 

For example, Professor Anthony Swerdlow, the chairman of ICNIRP’s Standing Committee on Epidemiology, declared in a recent paper that he and his wife hold shares in the telecommunication industry.  Quoted from the paper:

“A.J.S. [Anthony J Swerdlow]  holds shares in the telecom companies Cable and Wireless Worldwide and Cable and Wireless Communications. A.J.S.’s wife holds shares in the BT group, a global telecommunications services company. M.F., A.C.G., and A.J.S. [Anthony J Swerdlow] are members of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection [ICNIRP], an independent body setting guidelines for nonionizing radiation protection”

It is worth noting that in this declaration it is stated that the chairman of ICNIRP’s epidemiology committee is not independent while the ICNIRP he is a member of, is said to be independent. This paper was published by several ICNIRP members in response to IARC’s RF classification as possibly carcinogenic.

In relation to the two questions posed by Daruisz Lesczcynski:

1. When evaluation of science is made by persons with conflict of interests, disclosure of conflict of interests exposes the context in which evaluations of  science were made. This can advance the scientific debate in the case that conflicts of interests are critisized as in the case of proffesor Anders Ahlbom 

2. Lack of challenge within the same group is not a proof in itself for false content. 

At  IARC’s evaluation there were experts who worked in the past or present for the industry, including experts who hold stocks from the industry or another member in their family holds stocks from the industry they were supposed to criticize.

Part of them did not disclose their conflicts of interests to IARC. This was later exposed by professor Angelo Gino Levis from the Association of physicians for the environment in an Italian programme on cell phones risks:

The way Daruisz Lesczcynski  presented this issue may lead the reader to think that scientific truth is only a matter of debate, no matter between whom the debate takes place, giving the same weight to corporations interests as to others.

In my opinion, scientific truth can be achieved with scientific basis,  personal and scientific integrity. When it is shared by a group of scientists, there is no problem if they think similarly. In the case of the Bioinitiative report, each independent scientist analyzed his own area of expertise. There were included also studies that did not find risks.

The scientists are not working for telecommunication corporations.

They recognize health risks as documented in the scientific literature, not just as a personal opinion. They show it with about 2000 references. They recognize the public right to know, putting public interest in the highest priority, in contrast to industry dominant groups. 


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Iris Atzmon

Iris Atzmon is author of a 700 pages book on health and public health policy with regard to cell phones and wireless technology proliferation.

 

Ms. Atzmon is a student of public health, with a MA in public health.  Her interest begin with the deployment of the technology became more aggressive without receiving informed consent from the public, without informing the public on health risks. 

 

Contact Iris Atzmon

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