Thursday, January 13, 2011

Should We Not be Alert?

There has never been clear evidence that mobile phone radiation can cause any form of biological effect. Well, I've said many times and again I'm going to say this: mobile phones utilize radio wave, and that is perfectly safe, since radio wave is even weaker than our visible light. So please be sensible.

Mathematician Matt Parker appeared on BBC Radio 4 maths show More or Less and wrote in the Guardian about the strong correlation between the number of mobile phone masts and the number of births in the same area. He reasoned that this was only a correlation based on the fact that both transmitter tower numbers and births are dependent on population size, and so the figures change in unison as a population changes. The more people you have in a particular area, the more transmitting tower you need. Make sense?

He put the story as a press release to see whether media outlets would jump to the incorrect conclusion that mobile phone radiation causes pregnancies.

He didn't have to wait for long. Reading the comments beneath his article, he realized people started to get excited about this latest effect of mobile phone radiation without actually reading what he wrote, but there were also seemingly endless comments from people who understood the correlation-causality project but could not help putting forward a possible causal link anyway. It is such a hard-wired instinct to assume there must be causality at play.

This raises a question: Are the so-called science articles we read in newspapers and the internet filtered by qualified journalists with proper scientific background or merely by casual reporters? We have repeatedly seen reports about the danger lurking within our mobile phone on newspapers, or even on national news cable, despite the fact that there is no written records about the danger poses to our health by mobile phone radiation.
It is disheartening to know that the media tend to take this issue lightly. They have the tendency to channel false information without actually filter the information first, and this could really affect the entire community, if not the entire nation. Channeling false information on certain products could easily affect the economy of a country, and to the very least, the health of those that use the product.

An even more worrying trend is occurring. Unethical companies are misusing science for their benefits. A perfect example would be the Diamond Energy Water Filter. Printing false information as well as faking up awards and print it on their company logo has misled a lot of consumers to purchase the miraculous filter.
It has already been proven as a scam by a news cable in Taiwan that sought out the researchers whose name has been printed by the company. When contacted, the researchers were upset that their names are being misused and they are currently seeking legal advice to deal with this.

The fact that the science behind the filter is quite crappy and so it can be easily busted, even if you only have moderate background in science makes it even more worrying because no one it seems, interested or even bothered to investigate the truth behind the claims, and thus enabling the unscrupulous company to thrive for so long.
Reporter: Do you think mobile phones are harmful to human?
Michael Jordan:..........  Image:
Nevertheless, hope is not at all lost. Places like the Science Media Centre work with the countless journalists who try hard to ensure health reporting is accurate, and there are people like Ed Yong, Martin Robbins as well as another science blogger from Malaysia, Darren Wong who blog about science issues. But these scare stories still consistently crop up. I guess we are the only animal that is most likely to overestimate its own intelligence.



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