In recent years, lawyers have taken a stance on the issue of electromagnetic fields, and in the process, demonstrated, in often overt attempts to cast doubt on the impartiality and quality of scientific expertise, that it is never a good thing for men of law to pretend to be men of science.
Experts subjected to abuse …
In an article published in February 2017 in Le Monde Diplomatique , Olivier Cachard, Professor of Law and author of a book entitled “The law on electromagnetic waves”, admits to doubting “the relevance of studies conducted by certain national agencies that, under direct State supervision, do not have a pool of researchers publishing in the vast field where they claim expertise” and wishes that “researchers who have directly worked on these topics (…) would provide a qualitative study for government information“, discrediting by this the expert work of agencies like the ANFR, which he specifies is “not an independent administrative authority“. This idea that researchers’ work can be directly understood by politicians without mediation by the usual peer review process, could only be subscribed to by someone lacking knowledge about how science works in general and the issue of low dose effects in particular. In fact, unlike studies of the thermal effects of waves, relatively simple to reproduce, proven, and effectively protected against by the standards in force, the study of low doses is a complex area where biases can skew the results very significantly. For example:
- Exposure assessment may be accompanied by significant uncertainties, particularly in case-control studies.
- Statistical anomalies can lead to interpretation errors.
- Confounding factors can be missed or not properly taken into account.
- The occasional lack of multidisciplinary skills in research teams can introduce experimental errors.
- Publication bias may favour some more saleable results.
The potential presence of one or more of these biases in the studies necessitates systematic reviews, which would make it possible to decide on the value of the study and to identify the quantity of valid studies confirming or denying the phenomenon studied. This approach builds consensus around well-established facts as verified by peers. Asking researchers to present their results directly to politicians without the filter of peer review and replication, is to allow errors to become facts.
For some, however, such as Vincent Corneloup, the Reporterre Association’s lawyer, a body of consensual and multidisciplinary scientific work exists and demonstrates the danger of such waves . This is the Bioinitative Report. As a reminder, scientific expertise consists in assembling scientists recognised by their peers to:
- analyse published studies,
- eliminate unreplicated results,
- analyse the quality of the experimental protocols and the significance of the results, particularly from a statistical point of view,
- and produce a report approved by all contributors, or detailing minority opinions.
However, the Bioinitiative report ignores some recent studies, is based on unreproduced results, and consists of a series of chapters which are written with “the sole responsibility of the author” . Being a lawyer is therefore not enough, it seems, to distinguish a real expert report from a partial or potentially partial report.
… replaced by lawyers or judges without scientific legitimacy.
There are law firms, however, specialising in damage related to electromagnetic waves. This is the case of Lexprecia, whose mission is “ to provide clients with a proven method of proof in the context of technical disputes (inventions) in order to demonstrate in court – in the most rigorous manner possible – the factual reality of the causal link between exposure to electromagnetic waves and physical harm to people“, while considering that “an increasing number of people diagnosed with electrohypersensitivity as a result of various events (such as overexposure to electromagnetic waves, replacement of dental materials, heavy metal toxicity) means that such persons must have legal defence “ . In reply to this legal offering, it should simply be noted that the diagnosis of electrohypersensitivity does not exist today, that no specific clinical state can be associated with it and that no scientific consensus has led to any proof of a “factual reality of cause and effect” between waves and symptoms. But perhaps, for the benefit of science, biophysicists should give up their laboratory benches to the lawyers …
Case law in the form of court decisions are also regularly put forward to provide evidence where science does not furnish any … But court decisions in favour of plaintiffs are not a useful argument to demonstrate any health effect from waves. The analysis of judges, who have no more competence in science than the man on the street, is not admissible from a scientific point of view. Experience shows moreover that a court can confuse charlatans with experts. For example, in an interim injunction dated September 26th, 2016, the district court of Grenoble, having to rule on the case of a person claiming to have become ill after the installation of a wireless water meter considered “from the numerous medical certificates contributed to the hearing Mrs. (…) suffers from a hypersensitivity to electromagnetic fields, which urgently requires her protection from as many electromagnetic sources as possible, even of low intensity, at the risk of damaging her health in the form of severe brain damage” and was keen to point out that, according to an expert report compiled in the plaintiff’s home, “most of the high-frequency pollution was partly due to the various Wi-Fi connections of the flats in the block” But the expert was … a geobiologist. Housing geobiology is a fake science whose lies we have previously denounced, and which mixes esoteric concepts and scientific jargon to give an appearance of rigour and which maintains the confusion by using the same name as geobiology, an earth science that has nothing to do with it.
In the 21st century, seeing French justice settling disputes with witchcraft makes us almost forget that our country was the cradle of the Enlightenment and the fight against obscurantism … science is not determined in court, and a recognition of past and future disabilities cannot constitute an argument for demonstrating possible health effects of waves below the thresholds of thermal effects.
Science, first and foremost, is a matter for scientists, and conclusions or theories developed outside the scientific method by non-scientists have no value. On a subject as complex as the effect of low doses of electromagnetic fields, only expertise, ie the peer review of work in order to build a consensus, can determine scientific truth – which will never come from a courtroom nor from the uninformed opinion of a lawyer. To claim the contrary is to distort the scientific spirit and condemn our society, after several centuries of progress, to sink back into the Dark Ages of ignorance.
 Independence is never a guarantee of competence. In 2007, the CRIIREM, which vaunts its independent status, published a warning about the danger of fields emitted by compact fluorescent lamps, based on a faulty measurement system (S. Point, Toxic lamps: Beliefs in scientific reality, Editions Book-e-Book)
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