Be famous for 24hrs; do research on how cell phone tower radiation hits bees, beehives or birds!

If budding researchers want to get 24 hr glory and honorable mention in the national and international media, there is an easy way. Do some bizarre research on how cell phone tower radiation  hits  bees, beehives or birds! some correlation will do! more of that in another post.

Stories on Cell phone tower radiation continue to get top billing. 

In December 2010, Matt Parker, a British mathematician, tabulated the number of mobile phone masts in each county across the United Kingdom and then matched it with the number of live births in the same counties. He discovered that the correlation was so strong that in areas above normal numbers of mobile phones, he could predict how many more births above the national average occurred.

Parker concluded that for every additional mobile phone base station in an area, the number of births goes up by an average of 17.6 babies!

In reality, mobile phone masts have absolutely no bearing on the number of births. Masts do not make people more fertile. There is no causal link between the masts and the births despite the strong correlation.

The number of mobile phone transmitters and the number of live births are linked to a third factor, the local population size. As the population of an area goes up, so do both the number of mobile phone users and the number of people giving birth. Instinctively we tend to assume that correlation means that one factor causes the other!

Parker published a phony press release highlighting his finding to see whether media outlets would jump to the incorrect conclusion that mobile phone radiation causes pregnancies. Main-stream media ignored the hoax release after checking out the facts. Some readers reacted differently.

“There were the expected people who clearly did not actually read what I wrote before seeing the headline and getting excited about this apparent scare story, but there were also seemingly endless comments from people who understood my correlation-causality project but could not help putting forward a possible causal link anyway” Parker said.

His headline to The Guardian article on December 20, 2010- “Mobile phone radiation linked to people jumping to conclusions”- was apt.

 

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About ksparthasarathy

I am a former Secretary of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. I am a former Raja Ramanna Fellow in the Department of Atomic Energy. Free lance journalism is my hobby
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