On the “Expertise” of Simon Chapman: or how to become a “self-appointed wind farm health expert”

Gerard-Henderson

Gerard Henderson: a media watch dog
takes on the ABC’s Ministry of Truth.

****

In Australia, the ABC’s “Media Watch” represents the front line for the Green-blob’s Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” (see our post here); which, on a weekly basis, attacks any journalist with the temerity to question hard green-left shibboleths; such as imminent global incineration; or its other favourite, the wind industry (see our posts here and here).

Last Monday on Media Watch, Paul Barry launched an almost hysterical attack on Steven Cooper’s groundbreaking research into the known and obvious effects of low-frequency noise and infrasound on wind farm neighbours at Cape Bridgewater (see our post here).

Media Watch went on the attack at the direction of Pacific Hydro (see our post here) – the power outfit that operates Cape Bridgewater, and a company that faces damages claims from its victims that will run into 10s of $millions.

Now, one of Australia’s leading media commentators has weighed in; putting the ABC to proof over its claims that Media Watch was entitled to rely on comments made from certain “experts” critical of Cooper’s work. Over to Gerard.

CORRESPONDENCE
Media Watch Dog
Gerard Henderson
18 February 2015

STARRING PAUL BARRY, TIM LATHAM, SIMON CHAPMAN …

  • IN WHICH ABC’s MEDIA WATCH INSISTS THAT A SOCIOLOGIST LIKE SIMON CHAPMAN IS A “SCIENTIFICALLY” QUALIFIED “EXPERT” ON THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF WIND FARMS

Gerard Henderson to Paul Barry & Tim Latham – 17 February 2015

Paul/Tim

I watched, as is my wont, Media Watch on ABC 1 last night. I was particularly interested in the segment on wind farms.

I note that Media Watch quoted Professor Simon Chapman in support of the view that “scientifically” there is no proven causal link between wind farms and illness. In fact, Professor Chapman’s comments to Media Watch were quoted on three occasions condemning the research of Steven Cooper which has been reported in The Australian and elsewhere. The first citation read as follows:

And Sydney University’s professor of public health Simon Chapman was even more damning telling Media Watch:

Scientifically, it’s an absolutely atrocious piece of research and is entirely unpublishable other than on the front page of The Australian. — Professor Simon Chapman, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, 23rd January, 2015

Media Watch’s decision to associate Professor Chapman with the words “expert” and “scientific” gave a clear impression that he is qualified to assess scientific research.

However, Paul Barry neglected to advise Media Watch viewers that Simon Chapman had no scientific or engineering or medical qualifications. He has a BA (Hons) from the University of New South Wales and a Ph.D. from Sydney University. Dr Chapman’s Ph.D. is in Sociology.

In other words, Simon Chapman has no qualifications to assess the research of the acoustic engineer Steven Cooper.

Both Media Watch and Simon Chapman like to lecture-at-large about transparency and all that. Yet on Monday Media Watch falsely implied that Professor Chapman was a “scientifically” qualified “expert” on the health effects of windfarms. Not so.

Professor Chapman has as much authority to discuss health affairs as I do. Namely, Zip

Looking forward to a correction/clarification next week.

Best wishes

Gerard

Tim Latham to Gerard Henderson – 18 February 2015

Hi Gerard,

Simon Chapman is well placed to comment on the Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm study.

In 2013 he looked at complaints from residents living near all Australian wind farms for this research article:

“The pattern of complaints about Australian wind farms does not match the establishment and distribution of turbines: support for the psychogenic, ‘communicated disease’ hypothesis.”

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0076584

This report is also cited by the recent NHMRC report on human health and wind farms. http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/eh57f_review_of_additional_evidence_wind_farms_human_health_final_report_december_2014.pdf

He is also published in the BMJ: “Wind Turbine Noise Editorial ignored 17 reviews on wind turbines and health. BMJ. 2012;344:1”, http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e3366

And in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health with this paper: “How the factoid of wind turbines causing ‘vibroacoustic disease’ came to be ‘irrefutably demonstrated’. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 2013;37(3):244-9. 5 [review]”

Community concern about wind farms centre on public health. Do they make you sick? Do they cause any illness?

I am comfortable quoting a professor of public health on the matter, who has previously written on wind farms and health concerns and has, according to his CV, a PhD in medicine.

Also note, Pacific Hydro and Steven Cooper say their report is “not a scientific study” and “involves a number of hypotheses that are yet to be fully tested and contains information that may prove useful as a basis for further study.”

Cheers

Tim

Gerard Henderson to Tim Latham – 18 February 2015

Tim

How lovely to hear from you. Thanks for your reply.

This is my problem. Paul Barry and the Media Watch team frequently bang on about transparency and all that. And yet when someone points to a lack of transparency in Media Watch you – as executive producer – go into denial.

In your response, you have avoided to address my comment that Media Watch misled its viewers last Monday by implying that Professor Simon Chapman is an “expert” who is “scientifically” qualified to assess the heath effect on humans of wind farms.

The fact is that Simon Chapman has no formal qualifications in science or medicine or engineering. In your email you declared:

I am comfortable quoting a professor of public health on the matter, who has previously written on wind farms and health concerns and has, according to his CV, a PhD in medicine.

I note that you have not asked Professor Chapman whether he has any formal qualification in medicine, science or engineering. Rather you have accessed his CV.

When Simon Chapman addressed The Sydney Institute in June 2011, he told me that his Ph.D. was in Sociology. Dr Chapman should know.

If you go to Simon Chapman’s website, you will note that his Sydney University Ph.D. topic was: “Cigarette advertising as myth: a re-evaluation of the relationship of advertising to smoking”.

This topic is consistent with a research project in sociology but not medicine, science or engineering. Advertising is not a medical condition. Consequently, an evaluation of advertising does not require a medical or scientific or engineering qualifications.

By the way, Simon Chapman’s undergraduate degree was in sociology, psychology, philosophy and English. Not one of these subjects entails study in medicine, science or engineering. This material is also on his CV – if you care to examine it.

Simon Chapman’s qualifications were discussed in my Media Watch Dog blog in late 2011. Dr Chapman wrote to MWD but did not claim that he had qualifications in medicine, science or engineering.

Professor Martin Stockler MBBS, MSc, FRACP also wrote to MWD at the time in support of Simon Chapman. But Dr Stockler did not claim that Simon Chapman had medical or scientific qualifications.

Steven Cooper’s report may not be a scientific study. But, as Media Watch acknowledged last week, Steven Cooper is an acoustic engineer. Simon Chapman, on the other hand, is a sociologist.

So my question remains. Is Media Watch going to make a correction/clarification for giving the misleading impression that Simon Chapman is an “expert” who is “scientifically” qualified to study the health impact of wind farms?

Over to you. Lotsa love.

Gerard

Tim Latham to Gerard Henderson – 18 February 2015

Hi Gerard.

The answer to your question is no.

I outlined in my previous email as to why I believe Simon Chapman is qualified to talk about health and wind farms.

Therefore no correction or clarification is required.

I also understand from his CV that in the last 5 years he gave reviewed research papers for:

Tobacco Control

PLoS Medicine

PLoS One

BMJ

Am J Public Health

Med J Aust

AustNZJPH

Drug & Alcohol Dependence

Nature Oncology

NH&MRC

Nicotine & Tob Res

Noise & Health

Int J Acoustics & Vibration

Energy Policy

Lancet

J Epid Comm Health

Drug & Alc Review

Health Affairs

Int J Drug Policy

Also please note, he’s critiquing the size and design of the study, the lack of control group and the fact that the participants could see that the turbines were operating.

Cheers

Tim

Gerard Henderson to Tim Latham – 18 February 2015

Tim

I am not surprised by your response. ABC types rarely admit errors.

These are the facts:

On Monday, Paul Barry declared that Simon Chapman was an “expert” on the health effects of wind farms. This statement was not correct – since Professor Chapman has no qualifications in medicine, science or engineering.

Today, you wrote to me that Simon Chapman has a post-graduate qualification in “medicine”. This is not correct – since Dr Chapman’s PhD is in sociology. Dr Chapman has no qualifications in medicine.

Yet Media Watch will not correct Paul Barry’s error of last Monday – while the Media Watch team constantly calls for full transparency.

How about a bit of transparency concerning Simon Chapman’s undergraduate and post-graduate qualifications?

Best wishes

Gerard Henderson
Media Watch Dog

STT has a habit of not referring to the aforementioned Professor by name, it merely feeds an already rampaging ego. Instead we call him a “former tobacco advertising guru”.  For a taste of what Australian politicians have to say about the “guru’s” qualifications, conduct and character, see our posts here and here.

STT just loves the bootstraps approach taken by the Ministry of Truth in trying to defend the indefensible.

On Media Watch’s “case”, because the tobacco advertising guru has written a couple of “papers” about wind turbine noise, ergo (hey presto) he is then, and thereafter, qualified: as if he had graduated with firsts in acoustic engineering AND science AND medicine; and spent the following 30 years doing nothing other than running top quality research into the impacts of low-frequency noise and infrasound from wind turbines.

For those more ambitious souls, isn’t it heartening to know that, instead of slugging it out at University, in a particular discipline for seven years or more to pick up a PhD, and then another decade of postdoctoral research in order to qualify as top banana in a particular field of expertise, that you simply need to knock together a couple of essays (with a few fancy-looking footnotes, of course) and “bingo” you become an expert in that field on the spot!!

Now, perhaps STT is just being churlish? There have been, through history, one or two child prodigies (Beethoven, among others) and polymath geniuses (Leonardo Da Vinci, say) that shine brighter than most in whatever field they turn their hands to.

So, could it be that through serendipity Australia lucked into a true genius with the emergence of a man who can propound with supreme confidence on smoking rates and cigarette advertising; and with equal, if not even greater, confidence on the health effects of wind turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound on neighbours? We guess that’s why they call Australia the “Lucky Country“.

Maybe the proof is in the pudding? So why not have a look at the work of a genius in action, just to be sure?

In his magnum opus – the one trotted out by the wind industry as its “get of jail free card” and used by the Ministry of Truth to qualify the guru – (for a giggle, click here), the guru makes some pretty wild claims about NO “health or noise” complaints being made at numerous wind farms around Australia; one of which is Cullerin:

Cullerin SC2

But, for the guru’s thesis, the trouble is that there have been literally HUNDREDS of complaints made to the developer and the authorities by residents neighbouring Cullerin, which commenced almost as soon as operations kicked-off in 2009.

A proper survey (ie one which started by actually asking the people affected whether they had made any complaints) carried out in 2013, was put together by Patina Schneider (available here). It came to some slightly different conclusions than the guru’s brilliant piece of peer-reviewed, top-notch research. The meat and potatoes of that survey was that:

  • 68% (24 of the 35) households resident out to 10km from the wind turbines participated in the survey.
  • No household participating in the survey was adversely impacted by noise and vibration beyond 8km.
  • 91% of these households out to 8km were impacted by the wind turbine noise or vibration which was affecting the sleep and health of the residents, and all had lodged complaints with the developer or the responsible authorities.
  • In the 20 households this represents, there are 50 residents — 49 of whom are adversely impacted.
  • At the time the survey was taken, neighbours had previously lodged 322 complaints, including 93 with the wind farm operator.

CullerinPS

But, somehow, the guru’s “groundbreaking” study drew a blank?

Was it just a “rookie” error?

Could it be because he went no further than asking the wind farm operator, Origin whether there had been any complaints?

Could it be that the windfarm operator might have a teensy, weensy bit of self-interest in covering up those complaints?

For example, maybe, just maybe that its interests are better served by NOT publicly revealing the complaints being made, so that pesky regulatory authorities might actually start doing something about the problem? Or, worse still, writing some rules that curtail the operator’s activities at night-time, say?

One way or another, there’s more than just a minor gap in the guru’s data. A few misses here or there can probably be excused, where the general thread can be picked up and understood by someone looking at a piece of research; and the conclusion of the research lines up with the true facts underlying the data.  But a “clean miss” that gives an utterly false impression (upon which the central thesis depends) requires more than just a little finessing to explain.

Delayed “child prodigy”? Or, gargantuan, intellectual “polymath”? STT, thinks not.

Self-promoting, media manipulator, helping the wind industry to behave in precisely the same manner as the big tobacco companies that he railed against in his earlier incarnation? STT, thinks so.

da-vinci-profile

A once in a millennium kind of genius, apparently …

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Oddly enough, sadly really, the belief of the hard-green Left that we are in trouble from the carbon dioxide emissions of burning fossil carbon is in fact correct.
    As a hard core liberal, I grieve excruciatingly about the idiocy of those who recognise that problem, yet they imagine that it can be solved using the energy resources of the 18th century, and three millennia before that.
    There is NOTHING green about opposing nuclear power. The belief that trans-uranic elements, plutonium in particular, are especially deadly, is rank superstition. The mantra that nuclear is not renewable is also false.

    But the world is not doomed. China and Russia and even South Korea do not share our superstitions.
    Democracy, on the other hand, may be a failure.

  2. Sleepwatcher says:

    Professor Chapman did not publish in the BMJ. He merely commented on the editorial by Hanning and Evans. His 17 reviews turn out on examination to be largely old, discredited industry claims. A career attacking the tobacco industry is not a qualification for commenting on the quality of an acoustical study.

  3. Keith Staff says:

    Just follow the money trail. Class action and/or a Royal Commission should fix up a few things.

  4. If Simon Chapman is “The Expert” on wind turbines and health that ABC journalists always seem to quote, why has he never been hired as a medical witness in any legal cases?

  5. No guru, No method, No teacher. And no sense.

    The ‘professor’ aspires to ‘perfect pitch’ on windfarm health impacts, yet is tone deaf to acoustic science.

    He marches the eco-fascist goose step in perfect time to the ABC Drum, where ignorance and smear are the new aspiration in investigative journalism. Exhibit A; “dick brain” Crabb, Exhibit B; Media Watch.

    Partners in propaganda, not ethical journalism.

  6. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    Tim, before you stick your foot so far down your throat that you cannot extract it, perhaps you should assess the facts without your bias.

    This person is NOT an expert in Medicine, nor is he an expert in acoustics; he may be in Public Health (a section of ‘learning’ centred on the use of numbers and relationships of those numbers to humans).

    Mr Cooper is a fully QUALIFIED acoustician and so too are those from his Profession, who have actually read his report.

    The person you are trying to defend was not critiquing this STUDY, which was commissioned by Pacific-Hydro, and was conducted to a brief they agreed to, they also chose the residents to take part in it.

    Mr Cooper clearly states it was not a scientific research project.

    So it appears the person you are defending and yourself, either did not read the report, or could be seen to be incapable of understanding the difference. However, with your apparent experience and his actual qualifications, this is unlikely.

    I look forward to watching Media Watch provide a full retraction and apology for its unsubstantiated attack on Steven Cooper and a full disclosure of the true qualifications of the experts its recent program relied upon to mislead the Australian public about the ground breaking nature of Steven Cooper’s study.

    Truth is truth, lies are lies and misrepresentation is misrepresentation and never the twain shall meet.

  7. Take a look at fabricated stats for Cape Bridgewater wind farm, falsely listing no to few complaints at the Pacific Hydro owned wind plant. A growing list of (neighbours’) symptoms, so kindly collated for our benefit, although without viewing our environments, our homes, nor meeting with us.

    People lack or fail to understand the broad range of noise, vibration and sensation abuses spelled out clearly within Mr Cooper’s Acoustic investigation.

    Mr Cooper did the fieldwork, day and night in all types of weather, he questioned, probed and spent months in the acoustic lab triple checking everything and formulated the wind turbine signature theory. Later proving that theory in the Cape Bridgewater Study. It has been reviewed and highly endorsed by Dr Schomer from the US, and others.

    Read it, then try to understand the basics of noise investigation, before dismissing the integrity of the collaborative work by the residents, Mr Cooper and the wind developer. The purpose of the study was to resolve the complaints of the residents, which remain unresolved while turbines are allowed to continue creating adverse noise, vibration and sensation disturbances.

    A good education in sociology, (or even medicine or engineering) a huge ego and CV, do not an authentic, clever, professional person make. Authenticity is found by doing what Mr Cooper does …. honest work, talking directly to the people on the ‘shop floor’ (management typically, have no idea); because unless doing so, wind farm problems causing hazards to human health that require further, intensive investigation will remain unsolved.

    Where are the Sociology department ethics of protection of the welfare of the subjects i.e. neighbours of wind farms?

    I have a great nick name, funny too, but it seems pro-wind people who attack the innocent, are happy to dish it out, but can’t take it ….. tsk. Very poor form, and very un-Australian.

    • Media What? says:

      Very much appreciated Melissa.

      Authenticity and integrity are not qualities of either Media Watch or their preferred professor.

    • Agree, Martin says:

      @ Melissa re ‘Take a look at fabricated stats for Cape Bridgewater wind farm, falsely listing no to few complaints at the Pacific Hydro owned wind plant.’

      If the complaints procedure has been falsified or hasn’t been properly followed as set out and conditioned in the approved planning document, wouldn’t that indicate that there’s been a significant breach?

      Which authority oversees the complaints process? Is there an authority that’s obligated to look after the reasonable interests of complainants?

      Or is this just another case of Pacific Hydro regulating this wind farm to its own satisfaction?

      The Bald Hills Panel referred to the Toora wind Farm as an example of a rural council being burdened with the expensive and complex responsibility to assess acoustic impacts and to respond to noise complaints amid misunderstood and shabby regulation.
      The panel warned that ‘potential noise complainants must have assurances that someone is looking after their reasonable interests.’

      Who is looking after yours, Melissa? How about yours, Crispin?

      Are you simply to trust that to Pacific Hydro and their board?
      We know after the Cape Bridgewater Study that their interests are firmly with profits, not with the well-being of your family.

      I’d encourage anyone with both an industry super fund and a conscience to get out of the fund now and make it known that you refuse to let your retirement fund invest in Melissa’s misery.
      It would be a good time to do it too…

      Who would want to continue to support unethical industry super fund investments like Pacific Hydro and chance your fund’s potential profitability on the subsidy dependent, farce of the doomed RET?

      Keep complaining until they listen, Melissa. We are all right behind you.

    • p.s…. wind developers COMPLETELY lack integrity towards their neighbours. Pacific hydro’s collaborative efforts, such as they were; …to set and follow their own agenda from the start of the community consultation meetings, a year or more ago; to ultimately achieve their goal to dismiss our complaints, wipe the slate clean; negate Mr Cooper discoveries by the most astounding rubbish I’ve ever heard; and send us back into our toxic homes. Without batting an eyelid, and with ‘be patient’ resounding in my ears!

      They will not listen and they will not learn. Of course it’s never too late to change path, apologise and mean it; and make Australia proud to find an equitable way to make this work, but of course it can’t, because as I have been told …. ‘big business comes before people’.

      The guy who said this should know better. And should know that this broad sweeping dirt (i.e. the noise, vibration and sensation abuses) under the mat never works, it just grows and leaks out under the edges. There’s not enough fingers or toes now to plug the leaks.

      I and all the acoustic microphones, monitors and heavy duty equipment still fail to understand how the volunteers at the Waubra Foundation manage to shake my bed or wake me with a jolt in the dead and dark of night over and over again. I was taught no point arguing with idiots, these ones are uselessly green.

      Pacific Hydro told us they would never turn the wind farm down or off, but we were falsely led to believe they wanted to get to the bottom of the problems, like I did; and that they were going to restore the quality of my life to what it was before the wind farm arrived. We ask how could our reasonable interests stop being protected in the first place? And who will do so?

  8. Crispin Trist says:

    Err … it’s pretty hard to see the turbines at night folks.

    Especially when there are NO street lights!

    And, in certain weather conditions, it can be virtually impossible to tell.

    A full moon on the other hand is a different story.

    Crispin Trist
    Cape Bridgewater resident.

  9. The almighty Simon Chapman is nothing more than a fool, when it comes to giant fans; and the Media Watch mob are fast becoming the same, with their uninformed comments about Steven Cooper’s research.

    Steven Cooper’s work is truly ground breaking research – it is important to note that no other acoustic people in Steven’s field have come out to dispute his findings of the problems caused by infrasound and low-frequency noise from wind turbines. It is only unqualified people who have disputed his findings, and that says it all.

    It makes one wonder where Chapman and the people at Media Watch have their super tied up, maybe it’s too close to home, hey?

    • Martin Hayles, Curramulka says:

      The most obvious question that should be asked and will eventually be asked by a Royal Commission, is why the most obvious questions have not been asked.

      It is obvious. The system, through all levels of governance and planning departments is/are/have been corrupted.

      Disgraceful.

      It has nothing to do with greenhouse gases or global warming/climate change/climate disruption.

      It is all about a drastic change of world economics.
      “Agenda 21” is well worth a read.

      • Agree, Martin says:

        Good call, Martin.

        People need to start asking what the hell is going on and why we have all been put in this position.

        Refer to Rio in 1992 and google the Principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development.

        It’s not a conspiracy theory when ‘Jo Blogs’ can transparently read all about its implementation into Government on the Australian Parliament House website!

        Point of interest from 1992 Aus’ ESD paper:

        The Commonwealth Government has:

        “obtained assurances that the National Health and Medical Research Council, Worksafe Australia, the Australian Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Council, and the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Committee apply ESD principles in areas for which they are responsible.”

        Look at the Public Health Association of Australia, (PHAA) website which tells us the PHAA subscribes to the principles of ‘ecologically sustainable development- aka Agenda 21. Add Climate and Health Alliance, Doctors for the Environment etc…
        The fanatical ESD principles of 20+ years ago are alive and well in Aus.

        The cause is championed by our anti-coal, pro-renewable public health dick brains to make the changes happen despite the human, social and environmental cost.

      • Under agenda 21 aka ESD, the push toward renewable energy technologies like wind energy is justified by the agenda’s instruction to move away from burning fossil fuels with the intent to improve air quality.

        Notice how any complaint we might make is instantly compared to all the studies about poor health associated with coal? How about the air quality defence exploited after the Morewell fires?

        I used to think the refusal for public health officials to accept that there may be a problem with wind energy was ignorant and comparisons with coal, irrational but after reading the plan, it’s really no coincidence.

        Google Chapman’s affiliations and I expect you’ll find he too is prepared and motivated to advance the 23 year old agenda of the international ESD principles – to the peril, detriment and reality of what this has done to today’s rural communities.

        Shame on you, Simon.

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