Popular Science or… Populist Science?
by Dariusz Leszczynski, betweenrockandhardplace.wordpress.com, 24 December 2017
On Dec. 19, 2017, the ‘Popular Science’, in its Health section, published a story “Cell phones aren’t a public health risk, no matter what California says. This “possible carcinogen” isn’t going to give you cancer”. Reading this story written by Sara Chodosh one can wonder whether it was publication in the Popular Science or, rather, in a “Populist Science”.
How trustworthy is the Popular Science? The author of this story on safety of cell phones doesn’t even know (fact checking!) that coffee is no more classified as a “possible carcinogen”. IARC re-classified coffee in 2017.
If I am considered harsh in my evaluation of the article in the Popular Science, there are reasons why I am. Here are few questionable quotes from the article that, in my opinion, are either false or misleading:
“…there’s no evidence that cell phones are dangerous to your health. Period…”
“…The scientific consensus is that cell phones are safe…”
“…cell phones don’t pose a health hazard…”
“…IARC’s role is not to find the weight of the scientific evidence, it’s to list anything that might conceivably be a carcinogen, even if it very likely isn’t…”
“…cell phones cause brain tumors. If that were true, we would have seen a massive increase in brain cancer cases over the past decade as cell phone use has shot up. But in fact, we haven’t seen any increase…”
There is a comment suggesting that if radiation does not damage DNA then there is no problem.
“…non-ionizing form of radiation, so it doesn’t damage DNA…”
Well, this comment shows a complete lack of knowledge about the human biology and physiology. There is an enormous number of biochemical cellular processes that affect human health without the DNA damage. Not to mention that the numerous studies have indicated that cell phone radiation causes generation of the free radicals that have the capacity to damage the DNA…
Equally, against the scientific evidence, but in line with ICNIRP’s “interpretation”, there are claims that cell phone radiation can’t be harmful because it causes only negligible temperature increases. The large body of the scientific evidence showing non-thermal effects is ignored by the Popular Science, similarly like it is ignored by ICNIRP.
The Popular Science story includes a completely irresponsible statement:
“…go ahead and leave your phone in your pocket. Talk on it for hours. Heck, you could duct-tape it to your face if you so choose…”
Even cell phone manufacturers are not so irresponsible and advise to keep phone at some distance from the body because, when phone touches skin it is not in compliance with the current safety limits. Whether, and how, dangerous it might be we do not know for sure. Appropriate research is still missing.
Of course, there is also a “jab” at the IARC, the organization that classified cell phone radiation as possible carcinogen. The Popular Science seems to be eager to advance glyphosate supporters’ job:
“…most national and international health organizations agree that glyphosate is safe to use…”
The Popular Science story points out, and rightly so, that more or less precautionary health advice can be “generated” on the basis of the currently available science:
“…CDPH [California Department of Public Health] has simply drawn a more precautionary conclusion than most of the other agencies based on exactly the same data…”
It is certainly possible to be precautionary without forbidding this technology. Precautionary approach, in situation of the current scientific uncertainty about the health effects of the very prevalent technology, is the only responsible approach.
I think that the Popular Science should be embarrassed publishing such inaccurate, simply “populist”, story.
If interested what is the current state of the knowledge, see the cautious & unbiased evaluation of facts here: https://wp.me/pBbF9-WV. Listen to the lecture and decide for yourself what your opinion is.