Sunday, 29 June 2008

Mobile phone masts and suicide... not

There's a stupendous article in one of Britain's newspapers, quoting a certain 'Dr.' Coghill as saying that a "spate of deaths" in a town called Bridgend could be linked to... nearby mobile phone masts.

This is a quite extraordinary claim and, as Carl Sagan said, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." So what evidence is there in support of this (superficially, at least) implausible link?

Fortunately, a certain Dr. Ben Goldacre - doctor, columnist and blogger - has bothered to check the facts. (If you've never heard of him, he's a hero of rational medicine - go here for his blog.) This is the part of Ben's article I liked most:

"I contacted Dr Coghill, since his work is now a matter of great public concern, and it is vital his evidence can be properly assessed. He was unable to give me the data. No paper has been published. He himself would not describe the work as a “study”. There are no statistics presented on it, and I cannot see the raw figures. In fact Dr Coghill tells me he has lost the figures. Despite its potentially massive public health importance, Dr Coghill is sadly unable to make his material assessable.

This - if he truly believes his results - is a bit off."

I'll say. The rest of the article is even more damning. Do read it - it really is good!

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