Drive-by: San Francisco passes imbecilic cellphone radiation law

No, really, read it for yourself.

So, the largest global study detailing research into radiation and mobile phones plainly shows that there is no clear link between mobile phones and cancer.  The response from San Francisco is to ensure radiation labeling on phones.  Compare that with the science of cigarettes and cancer which has never been anything but unequivocal.

The Board of Supervisors approved the ordinance, believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, despite opposition from the cell phone industry which argued that it could impede sales and mislead consumers into believing some phones are safer than others.

And this will be both misleading and confusing.  Most countries have regulators that only allow phones that meet certain safety requirements onto the market.  Your phone, somewhere in the fine-print, says “FCC approved.”  So, except for illegally distributed phones, all US phones meet current safety standards.  This isn’t the same as food labeling where there is a benchmark dietary allowance and you get to add up your calories. What exactly will radiation levels be expressed as a percentage of?  And how will an absolute number related to emissions levels mean anything to people if they don’t know what “normal” background radiation is, or even the levels of radon in their own homes?

I remain convinced that people only accept scientific evidence that confirms their historical biases, which are frequently that things are getting “worse.”  Climate change science confirms the victim theory, so that is in.  But genetic science, mobile phone research, MMR vaccine research, all show no harmful side-effects worth discussing, so they must be clearly wrong.

Any time that science and the general public (and their elected representatives) happen to agree with a scientific recommendation it is purely a matter of convenience.

Frustrating ….

17 replies »

  1. Don’t most liberal neighborhoods impose restrictive laws for “The good of the people.” In NY, they’re trying to ban salt in restaurants for Godf’s sake. Banning transfats, that’s just nuts and taking away more freedom from citizens. Although I’ve never been a smoker, they’ve gone overboard with anti-smoking regulations. Banning guns equals higher murder and crime rates, and on and on. However, they don’t care, as long as their intentions are good and they feel liike they are doing something important then all is well. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. every law and regulation the government passes takes away another freedom. The real question is when the sheep will finally say no mas to oppressive government interference in our freedoms. Now, most good liberals will sacrifice freedom for the “good of society,” and denigrate those who espouse individuality, personal responsibility, and rugged individualism. The question is when will these excessive rules and regulations istop. It took 13 years in Nazi Germany for it to stop. The state is not your friend, despite what the union teachers brainwashed you in public school.. Hayek, Rand, Mises, and Nock all had it right although they had disagreements among themselves.

  2. Two words: Vaccines. Autism.

    One man’s entirely discredited, self-serving study. The terror and rage of desperate parents with no explanations and very little help. Chaos.

  3. Jeff, this isn’t about banning, it’s about labelling. I’m all for labelling … where there is something clear to label. Excess salt causes high blood pressure. Transfats cause high colesterol. Both cause heart attacks. Labelling is useful.

    But I also believe in free choice. So individuals should have the right to buy the things that are bad for them, as long as they are labelling.

    Labelling a device as harmful when it is not is tragic and misleading. Hell, I’d go so far as to call it criminal.

    And, Ann, Andrew Wakefield has single-handedly discredited science for millions of people. Now all they see is conspiracies. So now the pseudo-science of homeopothy is as credible as that for antibiotics and millions of children are exposed to a deadly set of illnesses we can actually prevent. I hope Wakefield stays a long time in Hell.

  4. If you have put “science based” in your organization’s title, it probably means that there’s no science to be found.

  5. Oh, no – sorry, that was misleading. That’s the “debunker” site.

    You could, however, make much the same observation about her employer: Thoughtful House.

  6. Gavin, but labeling is excessive government intrusion in the affairs of the private sector. ever know why ingredient labels look the same? Some government bureaucrat regulated that all ingredient labels look the same and have similar format. What a waste of taxpayer dollars. Somdeay, look at the CFR on labeling… will blow your mind if you can fiigure it out…..I couldn’t. I strongly resist the nanny state and this is a prime example of a government telling the citizens what to do, while that same government is incapable of running its own affairs.

  7. No, labeling is necessary for a well-functioning free market. If the market is going to decide winners and losers (and by market i do not mean Wall Street but the buying and selling of goods/services) then a well informed market is necessary.

    Well informed does not mean correct, only that people have the information on which to base their decisions. A good example is the labeling of foods containing GMO’s, and oddly enough, socialist Europe has a better market model than capitalist America. One cannot go grocery shopping in America and choose non-GMO food products because one doesn’t know what is and isn’t. It doesn’t matter whether GMO’s are good or bad. The market’s supposed to be able to decide that in a rational manner, but so long as the food isn’t labeled the market can’t decide.

    What people mean when they say that labeling is government intrusion is that they don’t actually want well informed markets to decide things; they want distorted markets where the winners and losers can be picked by a handful of people (generally Wall Street and its ilk, which likes to consider itself “The Market”) behind the scenes. No need for the plebes to be involved in decision making.

    Legislating behavior is not the same as providing information, or forcing producers to provide information, that the public may want and find beneficial.

    • Right. The key to a functioning market has a lot to do with the word “informed.” There can be no informed decisions when information is systematically concealed, and in the absence of information and informed decision-making you have something that is inherently corrupt and anti-market.

      It’s always worth stopping and paying attention when one entity or another is seeking to conceal what ought to be basic info. I’m not talking legit trade secrets here or anything, but if it’s going into my body, bet your sweet ass that the free market wants to know.

  8. Jeff, the purpose of labelling is to allow informed consent. All registered companies are expected to present their annual accounts in a set format. All publically listed companies have a duty to disclose all information relevant to shareholders, and potential shareholders, in a specific format. Presenting the ingredient labels on food, the energy use levels of electronic devices … all these things allow a potential buyer to know what they’re getting.

    Of course there is uniformity in presentation, how else to ensure that comparisons are possible?

    And if you don’t agree that disclosure is important then you’re basically saying that people have no right to informed consent of the things they buy? Some people genuinely don’t like genetically modified foods. I think they’re idiots, but I respect their right to make that choice and they should be aided in that with clear food labelling.

    The free trade in shares would come to a grinding halt if there were no data on a company’s accounts or if we couldn’t trust the data that they do publish. Oh, wait, that already happened.

    Lack of disclosure can create fear where none exists or is necessary.

    But disclosure is so important for informed consent that meaningless data must not be included. Blindingly obvious or frivolous information makes matters worse. Only what is important, and presented in a meaningful way.

    But, let’s not be silly here, GM research results are in the same place as mobile phone research; neither have been linked to any medical harm despite numerous efforts to prove the contrary. Lest I be accused of having taken the Hypocratic Oath, labelling in this case is really just to state that it complies with safety regulations.

    If that implies that there is FDA or FCC approval, then that should be sufficient. And that comes back to trust. Either you trust your government regulators to enforce meaningful laws, or you don’t.

    After the credit crisis and the Deepwater Horizon, I imagine the jury is out on that one.

    Most importantly, rules related to disclosure must not become anti-competitive rents levied against smaller businesses and favouring incumbents. Disclosure must be easy to do, and not cost a great deal.

    This isn’t the place to didactically list how this should work, but it is pretty straightforward and pragmatic minds can be brought to bear on the problem.

  9. You call food labeling “excessive government intrusion”. I call it a lifesaver–companies are required to tell me what ingredients they have used in their products and I can use that information to choose the ones that won’t kill me.

    • Jennifer: why do you think you have a right not to be killed by a corporation?

      This is the kind of liberal entitlement that’s sending this country to hell in a handbasket.

  10. Here’s a lovely, practical example of standardized labeling which works across language barriers.

    Click to access sp519.pdf

    Like any new symbol set, it looks a bit arcane at first – but to manufacturers and consumers who use it every day, it’s an easily-learned lifesaver.

  11. Ah, leave it to San Fransisco. I think we shoud start labeling cities. Starting with SF.