I am not a scientist. There. I said it.
This is the sentence that so many pseudoscience promoters within our society refuse to say. In their minds, the scientific establishment, along with big pharma and big government, is out to kill them and their children- or something.
I do, however, understand how science works, and I understand the burden of proof.
First Una St. Clair and her pseudoscience group, which has now enlisted the always hyper-concerned PTA, wants to ban wi-fi in schools [Smart meters face opposition from Langley group, Dec. 27, 2011, Letters, Langley Advance].
Now people like Sharon Noble [Smart meters seen as a hazard, July 3 Letters, Advance] want to oppose smart meters based on the same faulty logic and unscientific thinking.
Ms. Noble claims there is a great deal of evidence on her side, yet cherry picks her data and takes one report out of context to exaggerate the negative effects of smart meters.
Non-ionizing radiation is classified as being possibly (a word different in scientific usage than popular usage) carcinogenic, but not proven to be. It is in the same category as coffee, orange oil, talc, pickled vegetables, nickel, and working in the welding, carpentry, joinery, textile manufacturing, fire fighting, printing, and dry cleaning industries. Class 2b is a catchall category, and the way she used it was incredibly misleading.
She then used the classic move of pseudoscientists and quacks everywhere: she reversed the burden of proof: prove to me that smart meters aren't dangerous!
To that, I say, prove to me there isn't a purple polka-dotted flying elephant living on the dark side of the moon.
The person making the claim needs to back it up. It's not the responsibility of skeptics to disprove a claim that is entirely unsupported.
The disorder used to justify the claim that some people are more susceptible to this particular type of non-ionizing radiation, electromagnetic hypersensitivity, has been debunked, and no mechanism has been offered by people claiming to have or observe the disorder.
What do true believers say when confronted with this? "Prove to me it doesn't exist" is usually the response.
Or they point to one study done by a fringe academic, and ignore the body of evidence. Such is the nature of pseudoscience.
To claim there is evidence of harm until proven otherwise is faulty logic. I am not a scientist, and I am certainly not arrogant enough to say that my ignorance is worth more than the body of scientific evidence being produced by thousands of researchers around the world, and refined and improved by thousands more through peer review.
Travis Erbacher, Langley