Response #4 to Chapman’s “study”

Professor Simon Chapman thinks that wind farm neighbours are making themselves ill (“nocebo effect”) through fear or envy or prejudice (Goulburn Post, 22.3.13). On the contrary, if neighbours are kept awake at night by audible low frequency noise in their bedroom, that is an adverse health effect, and no further proof is needed. Regular sleep disturbance can cause other stress-related symptoms. This is generally accepted by physicians and acousticians, including Professor Geoff Leventhall, who works for the British wind energy industry.

Where there is dispute is with inaudible infrasound. But even here the American medical researcher Alec Salt has shown that there are physiological pathways in the auditory and nervous systems such that infrasonic signals can be transmitted to the brain, causing the kind of symptoms complained of by neighbours. This hypothesis still needs to be conclusively proved ‘in the field’, but it is well founded in existing medical literature. Professor Salt has published on this matter four times since 2010. Professor Chapman should be familiar with this research, but ignores it. (For Salt, go to http://oto2.wustl.edu/cochlea/wind.html .)

The nocebo effect as an explanation for neighbours’ symptoms was first proposed in 2009 in a study commissioned by the wind energy industry (Colby et al). It was an unsubstantiated assertion. No evidence was adduced to support it. No evidence has ever been adduced to support it. Professor Chapman’s study merely cites a New Zealand psychological experiment that showed that a proportion of volunteers were liable to the nocebo effect. No attempt was made to connect this to the experience of actual wind farm neighbours, or the sound immissions received in their homes.

The studies to which Professor Chapman refers are mainly literature reviews, not original research. A literature review is a review, i.e. it is interpretation and commentary, and reflects the ideas and attitudes of the reviewer. Some of the reviews referred to were commissioned by the wind energy industry. Others are by government agencies whose governments have a policy of promoting wind energy. Professor Chapman would do better to look at the original research by Nissenbaum et al, published in Noise & Health (Sept-Oct, 2012), which proves the connection between wind turbine noise and sleep disturbance.

Health Canada is conducting a study on actual wind farm neighbours, which will combine acoustic and medical evidence. It will report in 2014. We shall see what Professor Chapman says then.

David Brooks
Vice-president
New South Wales Landscape Guardians Inc.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. To: Professor Warwick Anderson AM
    CEO, NHMRC
    We note that Professor Simon Chapman received a Grant of $1,897,375 from the NHMRC in 2008, to “examine the content and accuracy of news treatments of health issues”. The desciption of the grant states that “news media are highly infuential in setting health agendas and shaping health policy”.
    It would seem that Professor Chapman is aiming to be personally highly influential and, perhaps publicity seeking, by his own prolific use of many forms of media in which his florid comments seek to belittle, bully and vilify sick people who live on, or near to, industrial wind energy facilities and those professionals who are trying to help them. His very vocal opinions, and OPINIONS are all that they are, regarding the health impacts of wind energy facilities seem unethical, unprofessional and not befitting of an impartial researcher who represents esteemed institutions such as the NHMRC and the University of Sydney. His very public opinions are based on his personally selected literature reviews (much of this from wind energy developers) and not on rigorous, on-the-ground, face-to-face research. As he is not medically qualified to diagnose illness nor is he an acoustician, he should not use his postion as a Professor of Public Health to promote his personal agenda.
    We urge you to closely scrutinise Professor Chapman’s conduct and to be aware of the very real harm he is causing many vulnerable and suffering Australians whom he ridicules and to whom he exhibits no compassion.

  2. I have issued a personal Invation to The Professor of Public Nuisance S Chapman to do a guided Field Trip to the Mid North of SA to meet and greet local people suffering the negative experiences of living too close to Windturbines including Turbine Hosts at North Brown Hill and The Bluff Wind farm.As yet I have not recieved a reply to my generous Invitation.

  3. Paul, it is great to hear of someone who has been approached to host turbines, actually do some ‘homework’ on the matter & not just accept what is being told or the money being paid! I hope this has saved your friendship with neighbours. Good on you!

  4. Jackie Rovensky says:

    While some people may become ill for what appears to be no reason, the medical term for this I understand is hypochondria, and it is accepted this is not transmitted like a plague, that only a few in society would be susceptible, and they can be diagnosed, because someone at some time did the research and gave the condition a name.
    However, according to Chapman his necebo effect is transmitted via word of mouth and everyone who comes into to contact with it becomes infected.
    Bloom hec – why isn’t there worldwide research going on to find a remedy for this plague.
    Surely it’s more crippling to world population than anything ever recorded in history.
    No one is safe, Governments are falling because no one can function, industry’s coming to a standstill, there’s rioting in the streets as confused people gather to try and find a way to live with the confusion such a plague is rorting on society.
    How do we function as we automatically believe contradictory instructions – this is truly a serious plague Mr Chapman has reported – – – but hang on a minute if we have been infected with this plague and according to him we would most certainly have been – why are we believing only him?????

  5. Paul Hayles says:

    Sounds like a cop out…I wonder how much income Chapman gets from the wind industry funded studies? I would put money on it that he doesn’t live anywhere near turbines. Perhaps if farmers are so hard up that they have to pawn their land out for wind generation, we should all have to pay more for the goods that come from the affected yields imposed by the turbines. If the Government subsidised the primary producers instead of the foreign owned wind companies, primary producers and consumers would be happy. The turbines should be far from peoples houses (not a minimum of 1km) as they are industrial power plants.
    I am a farmer and I was approached to have turbines too but decided to educate myself to see that it was a farcical suggestion to host them, before jumping in to get my cut of the taxpayer funded swag of money all for the greening of Oz. When we whinge about overseas investment in Oz, why are we going to pay over $50million per year for the life (25 years) of just one wind project (Ceres on Yorke Peninsula) to an Indian company (Suzlon / REpower). Oh but that’s okay because they claim they will invest 150 thousand a year into the community. Hardly enough if you ask me! …especially when the effects of infra-sound remain to be studied and the wind companies cannot disprove the effects on human inhabitants near turbines, whether they receive an income from them or not.

  6. If you are hurt surverly & in major pain Chapman would say the pain is all in your mind and not real. He does not know what he is talking about when he is talking about wind turbine noise & the affects it is having on peoples livès.

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