• 31 AUG 12
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    Margaret Heffernan: “Dare to disagree” (- a lesson lost on RF expert committees)

    As I have pointed out with numerous examples in my thesis The Procrustean Approach, the prime feature of expert committees given the task of setting RF exposure standards is that membership is determined by one’s unquestioning adherence to the thermal paradigm with alternative viewpoints treated as heresy – that which should never be uttered. The lesson for RF standard setters is: stay true to the dogma and never disagree and your career path is assured. Gosh, you can can even become a consulting expert to ICNIRP even if you have dodgy university qualifications brought and paid for by a telco.

    This blinkered situation has not always been the case. In the late 1990s the Standards Australia RF standard setting committee (designated TE/7) did include dissenting voices on the committee, including the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO),The Communications, Electrical and Plumbers Union (CEPU), the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC), Adopt Radiation Controls (ARC- New Zealand), and the the Australian Consumer’s Federation (ACF). The central issue of conflict was over the limitations of the ICNIRP RF guidelines and the inability of the various organizations represented on the committee (industry, govt, etc.) to be able to even consider other biological effects than thermal. The TE/7 committee was the only standards committee in the entire history of Standards Australia to be unable to reach consensus agreement.

    According to David Black, New Zealand’s independent telco industry expert on all things, the failure of TE/7 to reach agreement on ICNIRP was due to “the fundamentally idea that a scientifically based document could be produced by a democratic process of requiring virtual consensus from a group which deliberately included people with inevitably dissenting views”.

    In other words, in Black’s world the only way to come to “scientifically based” decisions is to restrict committee membership to those who believe the same as you.

    Now consider Black’s viewpoint with that of Margaret Heffernan as given in a TED presentation:
    “Dare to disagree”

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