(don’t send me the bill for the replacement)

I’m sure others will cover more of the scientific details, but science aside, we should examine why today’s statement on cell phones out of Pittsburgh is so ridiculous. Setting aside the lack of data connecting cell phones and health problems, this is horribly irresponsible.

Here’s the thumbnail: an alarmist report was released by the UP Cancer Institute’s Center for Environmental Oncology. It was apparently targeted at the university community, and stated that despite lack of current evidence, the community should worry about cell phones this instant.

On the official website, no author is listed. But authority is invoked…sort of…

The Case for Precaution in the Use of Cell Phones: Advice from University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Based on Advice from an International Expert Panel

Advice from UPCI based on advice from a international panel…a panel whose names are deceptively listed at the bottom of the report, as if they have endorsed it.

So who wrote and released this irresponsible, panic-infused report?

A driving force behind the memo was Devra Lee Davis, the director of the university’s center for environmental oncology.
“The question is do you want to play Russian roulette with your brain,” she said in an interview from her cell phone while using the hands-free speaker phone as recommended. “I don’t know that cell phones are dangerous. But I don’t know that they are safe.”

Hey, I don’t know for an absolute certainty that my popcorn won’t spontaneously combust, but I’m not yelling fire either.

From NPR:
“She said 20 different groups have endorsed the advice the Pittsburgh cancer institute gave…”

Read carefully…these groups didn’t endorse the report…they endorsed advice similar to that given in the report. The irresponsibility is tumesceing rapidly.

The warning is also apparently based on unpublished data from a poorly done study, but that won’t deter the cell phone panic squad:

Really at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn’t wait for a definitive study to come out

Of course not. That would be too…scientific.

At least some of the students are smart:

“I think if they gave me specific numbers and specific information and it was scary enough, I would be concerned,” [the student] said, planning to call her mother again in a matter of minutes. “Without specific numbers, it’s too vague to get me worked up.”

I can’t think of a comparable event to this. Will the University distance itself from this rogue cellphone savior?

(all quoted news reports from http://www.npr.org)