We are writing to express our concern about the recent series of talks and teach-ins regarding EMF/EMR/cell phone radiation and their effect on biological organisms, the most recent being the teach-in on the health risks and politics of cell phones on May 27.

At this point in time, scientific consensus does not support the claim that the nature of EMF/EMR, discussed in these recent talks on campus, causes harm. The majority of high quality scientific studies show no biological impact. While some studies show possible harm, other studies have actually shown their benefit on health.

As scientists, we seek to find the highest quality evidence possible that either supports or rejects an assertion. This can take various forms, such as large, randomized trials or, even better, systematic reviews. At this point in time we find no high-quality studies to support the frightening claims presented.

The Science Division faculty listed below, and it would appear the scientific community at large, consider current statements regarding the health risks of EMR/EMF to be myopic, focusing on weak forms of evidence while at the same time ignoring a large body of conflicting evidence.

The selective usage of the data and the anecdotal arguments used to make the case for the harmful effects of EMR/EMF are dangerously akin to pseudo-science arguments used by the climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers, and anti-GMO activists.

In the future we hope that the Peace Center considers contacting the in-house experts (art instructors for art talks, civil rights instructors for civil rights talks, science instructors for science talks and teach-ins) before presenting content that is potentially misleading, possibly embarrassing and having the appearance of pseudo-science.

The science faculty listed below support evidence-based discussions. Had the goal been a scholarly review of that evidence, then we likely would have encouraged such an endeavor. However, discussions about policy and social justice first require the science be well-established, which it is not.

We believe that when the college sponsors topics not supported by scientific consensus, the framing of the issue should exclusively be on academic discussions on the question of where the evidence points, not on calls to action. This was clearly not the case this year with the Peace Center talks about EMF/EMR impacts on health.

Contributors:

Christine Andrews, Biology Faculty

Paul Bunson, Physics Faculty

Stacey Kiser, Biology Faculty

Gary Mort, Chemistry Faculty

Paul Ruscher, Earth and Environmental Science Faculty

Brooke Taylor, Chemistry Faculty

John Thompson, Chemistry Faculty

Doug Young, Chemistry Faculty

[adrotate group="3"]