Senator accuses Public Health professor of ridiculing Wind Turbine Syndrome victims (Australia)
Jun 18, 2014
Editor’s note: Simon Chapman. Simon is a Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney, Australia’s flagship university. Simon is quoted in media all over the world, dismissing Wind Turbine Syndrome as baloney. (He goes a step further. He ridicules WTS victims.)
It’s important to understand that Simon has zero clinical credentials. (It’s difficult to define what his PhD is in. As best I can tell, it seems to be in sociology with some health-related whistles and bells. Simon came to fame by investigating the tobacco industry for deceptive advertising.)
Hence, when Simon trashes WTS, he does so not as a scientist or clinician.
Let me put it this way. I, too, was a university professor. My PhD degree is in history with a minor in anthropology. My BA degree is in biology and I was briefly enrolled in a PhD program in molecular biology and, after that, in immunology.
Nevertheless, I don’t call myself a biologist. Simon Chapman’s pronouncements on Wind Turbine Syndrome are no more credible than mine.
Surprised? My credentials lie in the humanities, period. Simon’s are in the social sciences, period, even if his academic appointment is in a school of public health. Neither of us is in a position to speak with anywhere near the authority of a clinician like Dr. Nina Pierpont, or a scientist like Dr. Alec Salt, each of whom has the requisite scholarly credentials and at least one of whom has done clinical interviews of victims (Dr. Pierpont). Neither Simon nor I has done anything remotely resembling Dr. Salt’s laboratory research on inner ear neuropathology triggered by infrasound. (Dr. Salt is considered a world leader in neurophysiology.) Nor has either one of us done anything remotely like Dr. Pierpont’s research into the health effects reported globally by people living in proximity to wind turbines.
Forgive me for laboring the issue, yet it’s time that Simon’s credentials be clarified.
The obvious conclusion is that when Simon Chapman dismisses WTS as moonshine, it should be instantly apparent that the man doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about. The question becomes, “Does Simon realize he’s making a fool of himself?”
On the other hand, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he’s not making a fool of himself. Maybe Simon Chapman is really saying, “I’m neither a scientist nor a clinician. I’m a social scientist with some health-related whistles and bells. That said, in my opinion as a scholar I think the evidence for WTS is weak.”
There would be nothing foolish in his saying this. In this case, Simon Chapman is not a fool; the people who take him seriously and credit his opinion are fools. It’s sort of like people believing Barack “Barry” Obama if Barry toured the country announcing WTS is horseshit. Barry’s a lawyer. He’s a prominent man — he was even a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago — but his statements on WTS would fall within what’s called “personal opinion.”
Same goes for Simon Chapman.
In any case, Simon has gotten under the skin of Senator John Madigan in the Australian Federal Senate. Evidently Madigan appeared on a radio “talk” show recently and expressed doubt about Simon’s academic credentials to speak authoritatively on WTS. He questioned, as well, Simon’s financial relationship with wind energy companies.
Simon responded with a threat of lawsuit for libel. Sen. Madigan’s response is printed, below.
Personally, I think the senator should be dancing in the streets. I think he should welcome the opportunity to deconstruct Simon before a court of law. (Incidentally, I know nothing about Simon Chapman’s connections with wind energy companies.) What I know is what I said above: the man speaks with no more authority on the subject than you or I.
I rise to speak tonight on the privilege of this parliament to operate without fear or favour. Members and senators have the right to undertake their duties freely to represent their constituents—it is the reason we are here. Any attempt to gag a senator or member of parliament, any attempt to exert influence by means of threat or intimidation is a breach of parliamentary privilege. This could incur the most serious penalties. Tonight I will speak of such an attempt by a high-profile Australian academic. This academic has a track record of making fun of people in regional and rural communities who are sick. He trades in scuttlebutt. He makes consistent attacks on anyone who makes a complaint against his network of corporate buddies. This academic has become the poster boy for an industry which has a reputation for dishonesty and for bullying.
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