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MTHR mobile phones provocation study
King’s College department of psychosomatic medicine undertook a study for the Mobile Telecommunication and Health Research programme (MTHR) in 2005. Their results are widely cited as ‘proof’ that electrosensitive people are deluded as to the cause of their condition, and that it can be cured by psychiatric approaches such as cognitive behavioural therapy.
Here are links relating to the study:
Rubin’s team concluded that since the sensitive people reacted to everything equally but differently from the control group, their equivalent response to ‘sham’ shows it’s all psychological in origin.
What they assumed was that the standard MTHR mobile phone dummy fields were too low in ‘sham’ condition. The mobile unit in fact produces equal signals in all modes, it just runs to a ‘load’ rather than the external antenna.
There is a fundamental point here. The MTHR study clearly shows that the electro-sensitive subjects experienced syptoms massively more than the control subjects (people who did not rate themselves as sensitive to EM fields). The interpretation is that all the subjects experiencing headaches were nocebo-induced sensitives. Why? Because of the lack of differentiation between the sensitive subjects’ reactions to the MTHR ‘phone’ modes of GSM and sham. This is interpreted as proving that the people, rather than the experimental conditions, determined the outcome, based solely on the assumption that the actual radiated signal in sham mode was ‘too low’ to affect anyone. There is no dosimetric basis for this: if there was, this experiment would not have been necessary!
Lack of cross-disciplinary understanding
Three people out on a walk stumble over a sharp stone. One of them (a builder) picks it up, and says: ‘This is out of a wall, I recognise the shaping. I come across this when doing repairs.’
The second (an archaeologist) takes it excitedly and says: ‘No, this is a prehistoric hand-axe. I recognise where it fits the palm and the sharp edge has been created for scraping.’
The third (a geologist) then takes the stone and says casually: ‘I don’t know what you’re all talking about, this is just a piece of flint from the chalk strata around here; there’s lots of it, and weather damage and erosion sometimes makes it look like it’s been worked or used.’
Then the farmer, who has been listening from a distance, approaches and laughs: ‘That’s a piece of local flint alright, made into a hand axe and reused in that wall over there at some time. The way the local geology has been utilised for thousands of years is really interesting, but we have to make walls from what’s there!’
We all interpret the world with what we know best, not with what we do not know.
There is a real and fundamental problem in the business of EM radiation and health, because almost certainly there is physics at work in biology here, and biophysicists and bioelectromagneticists are few and far between in the UK. If your specialism is engineering you will not understand quantum effects well. If you are a psychologist you may well assume your explanation of neurology is superior to one where endogenous electromagnetics have a part to play and may be susceptible to external influences.
Too few researchers in this area have much appreciation of the role of electromagnetics in physiology, and by writing it out, ignore what is outside their field of knowledge. This is equally true in studies of CFS and ME, multiple chemical sensitivity and so on. A sweeping description of ‘idiopathic environmental intolerance’ with connotations of a solely mentally-induced condition, will not do as objective science.