When I wrote about electrosensitivity for PC Plus a few months back, I mentioned that while every study to date had found no evidence that the condition was anything other than psychological, a key study at Essex University was taking place to look even more closely at the issues. The results are in, and guess what? There’s still no evidence that electrosensitivity is anything other than a psychological condition.
There’s much more here at Bad Science, and of course the newspapers are beginning to cover it too (although probably not on their front pages, I suspect).
Usual disclaimer here: I think that people who believe they are electrosensitive are indeed suffering. But while they believe that electromagnetic fields, particularly those from Wi-Fi and mobile phones, are causing their condition, there’s absolutely no evidence to support that claim. And the more scientists look at it, the more solid the “it’s got nothing to do with electromagnetic fields” case becomes. Something is making them sick, but it could be the nocebo effect: if you believe something will make you ill (mobile masts, a gypsy curse, a black cat crossing the road the wrong way) then it may well make you ill.
Aaaanyway. Comment number one on the Daily Mail’s report on the study, which notes that this is one of the largest and most detailed studies into electrosensitivity, is:
“In the short term at least.”
Note these words.
What about the long term?
The BBC quote from Powerwatch is interesting:
“So whilst it cannot be entirely ruled out that a small minority are truly sensitive, the proportions of any truly sensitive people are likely to be far lower than the 3% – 35% that has been quoted.”
Credit where credit’s due, that’s a decent response.
Even assuming that some people are genuinely electrosensitive (which I very much doubt), the research says the majority of ES sufferers are ill because of psychological factors. Hopefully some common sense will prevail and we can actually start treating them and making them better instead of chasing after electronic bogeymen.