- Environmental Law
- Property Development
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By Stuart Lieberman, Esq
International Real Estate Digest
Last July, the New York Times reported that a prominent scientist lied concerning his 1992 findings that electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation can be linked to cancer. While other scientists still question whether EMFs pose a health risk, this scientist, who is now being scrutinized, was the first to make such claims.
Even when scientists play by the rules, its hard to determine what to believe and what to forget. But the federal government believes that this man did not play by the rules. The feds say that he discarded volumes of study results that did not support the finding that he wanted, thereby grossly skewing the results. In other words, this scientist allegedly cooked the books.
The scientist settled with the government, neither admitting nor denying the charges that he falsified study results. The scientist told the Times that it was more cost effective to simply settle under those terms, than to fight.
Why would some one cheat about something that is so important? Perhaps for many reasons. But in this case, the scientist apparently stood to receive sizable sums of grant money if the findings suggested a link between EMFs and cancer. So he might have cheated, if he did at all, for the money. Certainly, the feds think he cheated for the money.
If its is all a lie, was anyone hurt? Builders, developers and Realtors will quickly reply, “yes.” Try selling a home under a high tension wire. Developers and Realtors know that this can pose a rather interesting “challenge,” even in the case of homes that are otherwise readily saleable. (Realtors never have “problems,” just “challenges.”) When they are sold, ask a builder if the price had to be lowered because of the wires. I imagine that prices have often suffered 5 to 15%.
If it turns out that there is no connection at all, think of all the people who live near these wires and could not move. Many of these people believed that they were becoming sick, and that their innocent kids were being made sick, as a result of EMF exposure. How terribly cruel — especially if its true that it was all fabricated.
Scientists who falsify data cause harm that extends beyond the study at hand. Liars make us question everything, even things that we ought to believe. Liars make people disbelieve all scientists including the vast majority who are hard working professionals.
As an environmental lawyer with an interest in such matters, I followed the EMF issue for the past several years. I knew that scientists took both positions, and I also knew that nothing conclusive has apparently ever been produced.
But I never imagined that the books may have been cooked. If EMFs ultimately turn out to be a health problem, who will ever believe it? And if we learn that they represent no appreciable threat, look at how many people truly suffered because of one man’s hoax.
It goes to prove that you really can’t believe everything you read in the newspaper or watch on television. This is another important wake up call. Even slickly presented information may, in the end, be worthless junk. We were all blessed with brains in our heads, not sponges. People must not simply sponge up whatever people tell them.
Several months ago some scientists suggested that sunburns may actually be good for people. This thesis of the day was that burns teach your immune system how to resist burns in the future. Isn’t this 100% different than what the same scientists have been proclaiming over the last 10 years? Between scientists who can’t commit, and the few who apparently cheat, we are all being driven crazy. The heck with these people. I suggest we all sun bathe under some high tension wires for a little fun.
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