NHMRC Fails Science 101 in Continued Wind Farm Health Cover Up

warwick-anderson

Warwick Anderson: fails science 101.

 

Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council has long since disqualified itself as a body fit, willing, or even able to investigate and report on the known and obvious consequences to human health and well-being caused by incessant turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound.

From the get go, it’s been infiltrated by wind industry consultants, such as Norm Broner and wind industry advocates like Liz Hanna, who continue to direct traffic at, what is supposed to be, an independent medical research body, designed to protect public health at enormous taxpayer expense (see our post here).

A few weeks back, the NHMRC pumped out another politically inspired piece of propaganda, asserting that there was “no consistent evidence” of wind farms causing adverse health effects.

The inclusion of the weasel word “consistent” in the NHMRC’s puffy press piece is telling; and it’s a theme we’ll return to in a moment, when we revisit the concept of basic science, in the general, and hypothesis testing, in the particular.

But first to a recent performance by the NHMRC’s chair, Warwick Anderson before the Senate Estimates Committee.

Community Affairs Legislation Committee – 25/02/2015 – Estimates – HEALTH PORTFOLIO – National Health and Medical Research Council

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Senator MADIGAN: Thank you, gentlemen. I note that the NHMRC was aware of Steven Cooper’s research at Cape Bridgewater commissioned by Pacific Hydro. Given the endorsement of Mr Cooper’s acoustic investigation by senior acousticians internationally, such as Dr Paul Schomer and Dr George Hessler, both of whom worked for the wind industry, I would like to know what your acoustic expert Dr Norm Broner thought of Mr Cooper’s report.

Prof. Anderson: Thank you to the chair and Senator McLucas for those very kind words. It is actually a great privilege to be able to serve the people of Australia in this job and, I hope, use the taxpayers’ money as effectively as possible, so thank you.

Senator Madigan, thank you for your question. Specifically on Dr Broner’s membership of the reference group, the reference group has finished its work now, so I am not sure whether I can specifically answer your question. I could ask Dr Broner, I suppose. We are of course aware of that particular study. We are not aware that it has been published in peer review papers at this moment.

I suppose the general point is that, when we do rigorous scientific analysis of the literature, we try and take all the literature into account. Of course, any individual piece of research will have its own place and its own finding, but I am sure you will understand that one piece does not wipe out previous pieces of research. Of course, we are pleased to see that more research is being done in this topic as time goes by, but, with us and our expert reference committee and so on, we always have to have a line at some stage and make the conclusions at that time.

Senator MADIGAN: I am aware that the NHMRC insist on strict confidentiality clauses in their contracts with some parties involved in this process, such as Emeritus Professor Colin Hansen, who refused to sign such an agreement. How does this requirement help ensure transparency and accountability to the Australian people and robust and open scientific debate in such a difficult area?

Prof. Anderson: We have many committees on many topics from ethics through to science, health advice and public health advice. We always ask people to sign confidentiality so that other members of the committee can engage in robust conversation with confidence that their views will not be represented or perhaps misrepresented externally. So there would be nothing unique about that particular matter, and certainly we are aware of Professor Hansen’s work.

Senator MADIGAN: I have been advised that the NHMRC is refusing to make the independent expert peer reviewers’ reports public, despite indicating to some of the peer reviewers that it would do so. Could the NHMRC make all expert peer review reports public immediately? If you will not do so, could you please explain to the committee why you are refusing to do so and how that is open and transparent?

Prof. Anderson: To make a person’s opinion available, we have to ask them whether they consent to that. We are in the process of doing that. I believe – although I am subject to correction – that the reports are already in the public domain, and there have been some questions around the individual ownership of those. That is a matter of privacy for those people, but we are, right at the moment – in fact, I gather, quite close to – getting permission, with those who do consent, to make it available. I think things are moving along there.

Senator MADIGAN: Why were the public comments made by key spokespeople for the NHMRC – you and Professor Armstrong – prioritising research for residents in homes within 1.5 kilometres of wind turbines, when Mr Cooper’s acoustic survey included one home which is unliveable at 1.6 kilometres because of the infrasound from Pacific Hydro’s wind turbines, and also when Professor Colin Hansen has measured excessive levels of low-frequency noise out to 8.7 kilometres, in the case of Waterloo, which would cause sleep disturbance at that distance?

Prof. Anderson: Quite a lot of research was accessed that has been done on noise and distance as part of the report. You have mentioned a couple of studies, but there are quite a lot of others documented in our report as so-called parallel evidence. The overwhelming bulk of the evidence shows that, up to 500 metres, there are indeed effects on health of noise at the level that wind turbines do. From 500 to 1,500, the evidence is that there probably are, although they are probably modest. And the bulk of evidence shows that, after 1,500 metres, although some people may indeed individually attribute their sleep to the wind turbine noise, the likelihood is low. I want to assure you that the research we are going to call for is not going to restrict people from any of those conclusions. We will be looking for the very best research we can.

Senator MADIGAN: Miss Mary Morris’s research at Waterloo demonstrated that rural residents were reporting impacts on their sleep out to 10 kilometres at Waterloo, which is consistent with Professor Hansen’s acoustic data. Miss Morris’s research was one of the very few studies included by the NHMRC in its very selective literature review. Why is this acoustic and population survey information out to 10 kilometres being ignored by the NHMRC, which has a responsibility to adopt a precautionary approach in order to protect the health of the public?

Prof. Anderson: With respect, Senator, we did not ignore it. If you look at our documentation, it has been taken into account. What it did not do was fulfil the criteria we set up at the beginning. This is the way you properly do systematic reviews. You set the criteria at the beginning, and then you look at the evidence. What the group found was really only seven studies, 13 publications, that fell within the criteria of adequate scientific validity and relevance to health, because not all the studies were relevant to health. But, having said that, nothing else was ignored. The committee went over thousands of submissions from all sorts of bodies. There were two calls in the public for submissions, and the committee looked at all of that. So I would not accept your suggestion that those studies were ignored.

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Senator DI NATALE: Let me also go to the statements made earlier by colleagues. I want to thank you for your many years of great service. It is with a bit of a heavy heart that I have to finish on this note, and I think we both know where this is going to go.

Prof. Anderson: You flagged it in the press.

Senator DI NATALE: I wanted you to be prepared! I am going to ask about the statement made by the NHMRC which says:

After careful consideration and deliberation of the body of evidence, NHMRC concludes that there is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects …

However, the statement then also says:

Given the poor quality of current direct evidence and the concern expressed by some members of the community, high quality research into possible health effects of wind farms, particularly within 1500 metres, is warranted.

Let me go firstly to some concerns expressed by some of the people who were involved in helping to formulate those findings. Did the NHMRC receive correspondence from any of the New South Wales Director of Health Protection, Jeremy McAnulty; Wayne Smith, the director of the Environmental Health Branch at New South Wales Health; or Rosemary Lester, the Chief Health Officer of Victoria? If so, can you tell me what the content of those emails was?

Prof. Anderson: I am not aware of the first names, so I would have to take that on notice. Wayne Smith of course was a member of the reference group, not a member of council. The reference group delivered a signed off version to the NHMRC – our information paper – which was released at the time. I am assuming that Professor Smith had agreed to that document. I am aware that, since then, he has had some disagreement with the wording, but it is not the reference group that agrees to the wording; it is the CEO of the NHMRC on the advice of the council. I have been around academics a long time. Hardly any of them ever agree about anything. I respect different views that people might have had, but we did get formal advice, agreed in the information paper, from a committee that included Professor Smith. That is that issue.

As you would be aware, the chief medical officers of all the states and territories and of the Commonwealth are members of council. In the usual way, when members of council are sent something to discuss, they often discuss it inside their department. I do not know if those conversations went in, but of course the Department of Health have a different view to us, because they might be involved in state regulations. We are not involved in that at all. We just try to make comments on the basis of the evidence and the conversation that occurs at council. There certainly were some comments back from a couple of the chief medical officers when we were finalising this, including from Dr Lester. But, at the end of the day, Dr Lester and the other CHOs and CMOs signed off and agreed with the statement.

Senator DI NATALE: What was the basis of their concerns?

Prof. Anderson: You had better ask them. My understanding of it was that, for some reason, they disagreed with us mentioning that there was community concern. I do not understand that. You are about to have a third Senate committee on windfarms. I would have thought that the Senate would not go to three committees unless it – the Senate—recognised this community concern around it. I have been terribly aware, because we have been involved in all three of these Senate committees, of the many comments that have been made about this area. So I do not resile at all from the position that, when you are a body that advises in public health, you base it on two things – the science primarily and then the second thing is the community concern. On the science, the expert committee said, ‘The science is not good; there is not much of it and it is all poor quality’. If you get that from a scientific body, what are you going to do, dismiss it? Then, as I said, the second thing is the community concern, particularly as exemplified by the Senate itself.

Senator DI NATALE: There are so many things that I would like to go to there, but we will go to a couple of them. The basis of their concern, as far as I understand it, was that any recommendation from you to suggest that there may be a link has the potential to cause harm.

Prof. Anderson: Yes, and –

Senator DI NATALE: Do you accept that?

Prof. Anderson: I think there is harm both ways.

Senator DI NATALE: No, specifically about a recommendation to suggest there may be a link when there is no evidence to suggest there is one – that such a recommendation has the potential to cause harm.

Prof. Anderson: I am sorry; I do not agree with your comment that there is no evidence there is a link. That is what I am saying. The evidence is not strong enough to say that, especially on the annoyance side, the social-cultural side and the implications of that. So I do not accept the premise on which you are asking me the question, with respect.

Senator DI NATALE: Okay, so annoyance. On the basis of annoyance, are we going to recommend having studies done into people who live next to busy motorways because they are annoying, or tall buildings?

Prof. Anderson: Many such studies have been done.

Senator DI NATALE: Are you suggesting that we do that on the basis of annoyance?

Prof. Anderson: We are going to call for research. If the research community, which I guess is where you are coming from, feel that this is not worth studying then we will not get applications that are worth doing.

Senator DI NATALE: You are offering money to do research, in a pretty fiscally constrained environment.

Prof. Anderson: We are also going to peer-review it at our usual high quality, and we are not going to spend that money, let me tell you, unless there is high-quality research. But can I come back. Put yourself – sorry, I should not say that. If you were in my place –

Senator DI NATALE: I know exactly what I would do if I were in your place, and it would not have been to make those recommendations. It would have been consistent with the advice from Rosemary Lester and the other chief health officers.

Prof. Anderson: It was not the other chief health officers, with respect again.

Senator DI NATALE: With one of the chief health officers

Prof. Anderson: There are two that expressed some concern and then eventually agreed with the statement.

Senator DI NATALE: I have the email, and the email was very clear about their concerns.

Prof. Anderson: If you like, we can share with you the final comments by both those chief medical officers.

Senator DI NATALE: How much are we talking about in terms of the amount that is going to come from the NHMRC budget? Is it half a million?

Prof. Anderson: We will, hopefully, release it soon; we are just going through the last bureaucratic processes. May I interpolate that you are talking about the statement. The council signed off 100 per cent on the targeted call for research, and that happened before.

Senator DI NATALE: Surprise, surprise!

Prof. Anderson: The council members are not going to get any benefit out of that. So the call will be up to $2.5 million over five years.

Senator DI NATALE: Is that additional money? Is that new money?

Prof. Anderson: No, that is part of our –

Senator DI NATALE: From the existing money?

Prof. Anderson: That is part of the Medical Research Endowment Account.

Senator DI NATALE: So that is money that would have gone to cancer research or diabetes research or ischemic heart disease research or research for eye disease or research for –

Prof. Anderson: Or a fellowship or a partnership project. But that will be $5 million over five years when our total expenditure –

Senator DI NATALE: Sorry, $2½ million?

Prof. Anderson: Sorry, $2.5 million – $500,000 a year – while, according to our forward estimates, we will spend about $4¼ billion on cancer and diabetes in those –

Senator DI NATALE: Yes, but it is still $2½ million not going into any of those areas and being diverted into an area that is highly questionable.

Prof. Anderson: Yes. It is out of a small group that we keep for targeted calls for research which are driven by the council and the principal committees of the NHMRC.

Senator DI NATALE: I suppose getting to this –

CHAIR: This will have to be the last question.

Senator DI NATALE: I actually have a few questions here, and I made it really clear. You said we would have half an hour for this. We convened at quarter past –

CHAIR: Sorry, Senator Di Natale. I did not say. I said we would have about 20 minutes and we would have about 25 minutes left. Senator McLucas says she will come if there is time. So, if she is going to yield her time, we have till 25 to, if we are still cooperating. If you want to keep going, we will not get to –

Senator DI NATALE: Till when, sorry?

CHAIR: Till 25 to. We were initially going to go till half past, but we are going to –

Senator DI NATALE: I have been waiting all day for these.

CHAIR: Senator Di Natale, you have had no shortage of opportunities to ask questions. I said I would split the time roughly evenly. You have had more time than Senator Madigan had, so I am not sure what part of that is not fair.

Mr Bowles: I have my sports people, who have been waiting all night.

Senator DI NATALE: There is $2½ million going towards questionable research.

CHAIR: There is a lot of money in sport as well.

Senator DI NATALE: What is the macro policy environment that dictated this decision? What is the macro policy environment? Samantha Robertson, who is the executive director of evidence, advice and governance, said that, when making this decision, they took into consideration ‘the macro policy environment’.

Prof. Anderson: I do not think I should be held responsible for what some of my staff said. It is what I said previously: we have spent a lot of time at the NHMRC working with Senate select committees over that period of time. I may be wrong, but I thought it was disrespectful to the Senate to think that that amount of focus on this issue – and I know there are different views around the Senate – but the fact that there have been three or will be three Senate select committees meant that as a responsible –

Senator DI NATALE: But aren’t you a scientific body? Don’t you make your decision on the basis of science, and not on the basis of some whim of parliamentarians, who might have an axe to grind. I thought that was the whole point of the NHMRC: you are at arm’s length from government.

CHAIR: So a decision of the Senate is now a whim when the Greens don’t agree with it?

Senator DI NATALE: This is the whole point of the NHMRC.

Prof. Anderson: It was available –

Senator DI NATALE: That is right. It is a Senate committee. You are a scientific body –

CHAIR: It was a majority of the Senate; it was not a whim of some. It was not a couple of Greens getting together –

Mr Bowles: We have heard different views tonight. I think that is a little unfair on Professor Anderson.

Senator DI NATALE: You either think science is a thing that exists or it does not. You are a scientific organisation and you are saying you are making a decision on the basis of what the Senate has decided. That is a disconnect.

Prof. Anderson: With respect, I do not think I said that. What I said was that as a scientific body an expert group gave us a report that said, ‘We are going to make conclusions on this but there is not much research and it is poor.’ The scientific committee also said, ‘Here is what needs to be done in research.’ It is in the reports in the public domain and I could read it out. Think about the situation where an expert group you have set up gives you a report and says, ‘There is not the evidence here and it needs a lot more work, and here is the research that needs to be done.’ That is the main thing –

Senator DI NATALE: Based on the macro policy environment.

Prof. Anderson: Please, I have not said that. I made the decision –

Senator DI NATALE: Your staff members said it. The executive director for evidence, advice and government has said that we are making this decision on the basis of the macro policy environment. The report says that ‘we are going to make the decision on the basis of community concern’. You are a scientific body. I do not understand how –

Prof. Anderson: You seem to be implying that we have made all the decisions on community concerns. I am saying that we made almost the majority of the decisions on the scientific feedback we got – that evidence is not very good. I think there is another issue here that I will put to the committee. With a lot of new technology – and I assume this is the sort of new technology that is supported by some people here – health issues often arise, and health issues can sometimes be used to try to stop a new technology. So, surely if you are a supporter of the new technology you want the best evidence there is so that if such ideas come up they can be brushed aside. We commission the best research in Australia. That is an issue. It is not the issue that we decided, but it is an issue others have put to us.

Senator DI NATALE: It is an argument to persist indefinitely with this sort of research, because you can continue to maintain this argument that we do not have strong evidence in this area, so we are going to continue researching the area.

Hansard 25/02/2015

Before we get to Warwick Anderson’s efforts to deflect, downplay and otherwise diminish the seriousness of the harm caused to wind farm victims in Australia and, indeed, around the world, we can’t help but notice the shrill and rampant hypocrisy dished up by so-called “Green”, Richard “Die Nasty”.

richard-di-natale

Richard Di Natale: hates Australian people, loves wind industry money.

 

When he sneers about neighbours’ health complaints being the result of “annoyance”, he’s engaged in a deliberately misleading use of that term.

In acoustics, and in the context of industrial noise sources, the term “annoyance” does not involve emotional responses – ie “antipathy” to the “look” of wind turbines – a fallacious argument on which the nonsense “nocebo” theory is based. And it’s most certainly got nothing to do with whether people like the look of “tall buildings”, as he squeals.

In the NASA research done during the 1980s into health effects caused by wind turbine noise, the “annoyance” being reported by neighbours was defined to include numerous physiological responses, which were described as “sensations”. These “sensations”, which they felt rather than heard, were sensations of “pressure”, “a sense of uneasiness”, “booming or thumping pulsations”. These sensations were at their worst in the bedrooms where they were trying to sleep (see our post here).

Sleep deprivation – defined by the WHO as in itself an adverse health effect – is the most common of the adverse health effects caused by turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound (see our post here): it too is included in the term “annoyance”.

But, quite apart from misusing, abusing and otherwise giving our mother tongue a desperate flogging, there is Die Nasty’s hysterical hypocrisy, as he attempts to assert that the Greens are (suddenly) paragons of fiscal rectitude.

As part of their political pact with Labor, the Greens demanded that the previous government set up the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, to dole out $10 billion to “renewable” scams; including hundreds of $millions in high-risk loans to wind power outfits. Loans – using money borrowed at taxpayers’ expense, and taxpayers’ risk – to outfits like Pacific Hydro, that runs non-compliant wind farms, and which is losing money hand over fist – a situation that arose because commercial lenders rightly consider wind power outfits to be toxic lending bets (see our post here).

The unrecoverable costs (ie losses) that the CEFC has and will incur, at taxpayers’ expense, will run into hundreds of $millions, which makes the piddling $2½ million earmarked by the NHMRC for wind turbine health research look like chump change.

And compare that pittance with the annual value of the Renewable Energy Certificates that a single 3 MW turbine receives – soon to be worth over $800,000: a figure well in excess of the measly $500,000 a year for 5 years the NHMRC wants to spend on research that made Die Nasty so upset.

A REC is issued for each MWh of wind power delivered to the grid. A 3 MW turbine – if it operated 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – would receive 26,280 RECs (24 x 365 x 3). Assuming, generously, a capacity factor of 35% (the cowboys from wind power outfits often wildly claim more than that) that single turbine will receive 9,198 RECs annually. At $94 – the expected price for RECs once the shortfall penalty bites this year – that single turbine will rake in $864,612 in Commonwealth mandated subsidy, which is drawn from all Australian power consumers as a tax on their power bills. But wait, there’s more: that subsidy doesn’t last for a single year. Oh no. A turbine operating now will continue to receive the REC subsidy for 16 years, until 2031 – such that a single 3 MW turbine can pocket a further $13,833,792 over the remaining life of the LRET. But don’t expect Die Nasty – or any of his fellow “Green” travellers to start railing about that particular “macro policy environment” any time soon.

Throwing other people’s money around has never really troubled the Greens – indeed, when it comes to chipping into the Commonwealth’s pot, a few of them have trouble stumping up with their share of the tax burden at all, and are happy to leave the revenue side of the government’s coffers to everybody else.

South Australian Green, Tammy Franks couldn’t be bothered with paying her tax for over a decade, and eventually got whacked with $14,000 in fines and court costs for failing to play the game the Greens expect of everyone else (see this article).

No, Die Nasty’s sneering little rant is just an extension of his wind industry paymasters’ instructions (see our post here): to prevent any further study being carried out by the NHMRC, or anybody else for that matter, into the harm known to be caused by giant fans to human health and well-being.

The shills that front the Greens, and the wind industry that pays them, work in lockstep when it comes to preventing multidisciplinary, independent health studies.

When faced with the prospect of further studies along the lines of Steven Cooper’s ground breaking Cape Bridgewater study being carried out in Australia, wind industry spruikers, the Clean Energy Council ranted that it “would not support further research” into Cooper’s findings; findings which linked the “sensations” felt by residents to low-frequency noise below the threshold of hearing (ie infrasound); and at levels well below those considered to be a problem for humans (see our posts here and here).

Die Nasty’s disingenuous wailing is simply “set-piece” stuff drawn from the same hypocrite’s handbook.

You see, his “argument” – and that of his wind industry paymasters – is fairly easily tested: if wind turbine noise and vibration doesn’t cause health effects (like sleep deprivation, say) then the industry should welcome a full-blown study, along the lines of what Steven Cooper did at Cape Bridgewater (with medicos involved to look at the physiological effects in detail; and matched controls to support the findings).

That way it could clear its name as the cause of untold human misery; and, having been found innocent of that charge, could then simply focus on defrauding power consumers and taxpayers of $billions in subsidies; leaving tens of thousands of households no longer able to afford power at all, as the inevitable result (see our posts here and here).

But, actions belie words, most every time.

Big tobacco did it, the asbestos industry did it and the wind industry has taken to it like a duck to water: lie, cover up the facts and when the facts get out – run and hide (see our post here).

Now, to the NHMRC, and its pitched battle with the fundamentals of science.

STT has already covered the manner in which the NHMRC rejected high quality, peer-reviewed and published work done by Prof Colin Hansen and his team from the University of Adelaide at Waterloo because it was “too late”. While Prof Anderson says the NHMRC “is aware” of that work, and the work done by Steven Cooper, it has steadfastly chosen to ignore it. Precisely as it continues to ignore a decade’s worth of top level research performed by NASA in the 1980s, the substance of which has been confirmed by the work done by Prof Hansen and Steven Cooper, as well as America’s top acoustic experts at Shirley, Wisconsin (see our post here).

But it’s this little statement, in response to Senator Madigan’s reference to Steven Cooper’s study, that’s attracted STT’s attention:

Prof Anderson: I simply suppose the general point is that, when we do rigorous scientific analysis of the literature, we try and take all the literature into account. Of course, any individual piece of research will have its own place and its own finding, but I am sure you will understand that one piece does not wipe out previous pieces of research. Of course, we are pleased to see that more research is being done in this topic as time goes by, but, with us and our expert reference committee and so on, we always have to have a line at some stage and make the conclusions at that time.

Any true scientist worth his salt will recognise the highlighted statement for what it is: utter scientific bunkum.

In science, ONE piece of research, ONE piece of evidence, indeed, ONE sliver of data, will most certainly, absolutely and forever wipe out EVERY piece of research that ever existed up to that point in time.

That’s precisely how (real) science has worked since we began the organised and disciplined investigation into human and natural affairs, that we call “science”, around 300 years ago.

Which brings us to “falsifiability” and hypothesis testing; the central tool in dealing with scientific theory.

In our earlier post on the results from Cape Bridgewater we set out the basics as follows.

In science, some hypothesis directed at a particular relationship is put forward; evidence is gathered in relation to that hypothesis; and then that evidence is thrown firmly against the hypothesis, in an effort to disprove it. What Karl Popper called “falsifiability”, which he defined as the essential feature of science; summed up by Wikipedia as:

Falsifiability or refutability of a statement, hypothesis, or theory is an inherent possibility to prove it to be false. A statement is called falsifiable if it is possible to conceive an observation or an argument which proves the statement in question to be false. In this sense, falsify is synonymous with nullify, meaning not “to commit fraud” but “show to be false”. Some philosophers argue that science must be falsifiable.

For example, by the problem of induction, no number of confirming observations can verify a universal generalization, such as “all swans are white”, yet it is logically possible to falsify it by observing a single black swan. Thus, the term falsifiability is sometimes synonymous to testability.

The black swan example is routinely used to help explain “hypothesis testing”; as to which, the stats boys tell us that:

A statistical hypothesis is an assumption about a population parameter. This assumption may or may not be true. Hypothesis testing refers to the formal procedures used by statisticians to accept or reject statistical hypotheses.

Statistical Hypotheses

The best way to determine whether a statistical hypothesis is true would be to examine the entire population. Since that is often impractical, researchers typically examine a random sample from the population. If sample data are not consistent with the statistical hypothesis, the hypothesis is rejected.

There are two types of statistical hypotheses.

  • Null hypothesis. The null hypothesis, denoted by H0, is usually the hypothesis that sample observations result purely from chance.
  • Alternative hypothesis. The alternative hypothesis, denoted by H1 or Ha, is the hypothesis that sample observations are influenced by some non-random cause.

Can We Accept the Null Hypothesis?

Some researchers say that a hypothesis test can have one of two outcomes: you accept the null hypothesis or you reject the null hypothesis. Many statisticians, however, take issue with the notion of “accepting the null hypothesis.” Instead, they say: you reject the null hypothesis or you fail to reject the null hypothesis.

Why the distinction between “acceptance” and “failure to reject?” Acceptance implies that the null hypothesis is true. Failure to reject implies that the data are not sufficiently persuasive for us to prefer the alternative hypothesis over the null hypothesis.

The process of hypothesis testing, starts with stating the hypotheses:

This involves stating the null and alternative hypotheses. The hypotheses are stated in such a way that they are mutually exclusive. That is, if one is true, the other must be false. (for more detail and examples, see the link here)

The white swan example is picked up in this analysis of the same point:

Although the null hypothesis cannot be proven true, it can be proven false. This is because science and hypothesis testing are based on the logic of falsification. If someone claims that all swans are white, confirmatory evidence (in the form of lots of white swans) cannot prove the assertion to be true. However, contradictory evidence (in the form of a single black swan) makes it clear that the claim is invalid.

The observation of one black swan is sufficient to falsify the claim that all swans are white. That single black swan proves that the claim is wrong. (for more detail and examples, see the link here)

Albert-Einstein-genius

A minor scientific mind recognised that: “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong”.

 

From its press releases, public statements and the guff pitched up before the Senate, the NHMRC’s null hypothesis reduces to this:

All humans are safe from wind turbine generated noise and vibration.

The alternative hypothesis, is the mutually exclusive statement that:

Not all humans are safe from wind turbine generated noise and vibration.

That set of statements is, in scientific terms, precisely the same as the white swan/black swan example, used to describe and illustrate hypothesis testing above.

And it’s precisely what occurred at Cape Bridgewater, with Steven Cooper’s study – which Pac Hydro deliberately limited to only 6 residents – and the very point that America’s top acoustic experts, Dr Paul Schomer and George Hessler were making with their observation, in relation to the data gathered by Cooper, that:

This study proves that there are other pathways that affect some people, at least 6. The windfarm operator simply cannot say there are no known effects and no known people affected. One person affected is a lot more than none; the existence of just one cause-and-effect pathway is a lot more than none. It only takes one example to prove that a broad assertion is not true, and that is the case here.

In science, all it takes is a single observation and the null hypothesis (here, the NHMRC’s continued public assertion that “all humans are safe from wind turbine generated noise and vibration”) must simply be rejected: it is no longer valid.

Moreover, the alternative hypothesis – being the mutually exclusive statement that: “not all humans are safe from wind turbine generated noise and vibration” cannot be rejected: the null hypothesis, having been rightly rejected, leaves the alternative hypothesis standing.

swan

Science: where one black beauty is always enough.

 

With half-a-dozen “black swans” popping up in Cooper’s Cape Bridgewater study, the NHMRC, and its mates in the wind industry, as Schomer and Hessler put it: “cannot say there are no known effects and no known people affected”.

So, with a few basic scientific principles in mind, quite to the contrary of Prof Anderson’s line “that one piece [of research] does not wipe out previous pieces of research“, that’s precisely what scientific endeavour does; indeed, anything less is not science at all. It’s simply advocacy for a cause.

And that is exactly what the NHMRC’s well-rehearsed mantra on the adverse health effects caused by wind farms is all about, a position that jumps out of this rather curious statement:

Prof Anderson: … With a lot of new technology – and I assume this is the sort of new technology that is supported by some people here – health issues often arise, and health issues can sometimes be used to try to stop a new technology. So, surely if you are a supporter of the new technology you want the best evidence there is so that if such ideas come up they can be brushed aside.

Hmmm.

STT’s not sure that a “scientific” research organisation – paid for by taxpayers, and charged with looking after the health and well-being of Australian citizens – is meant to be looking at the evidence of “health issues” caused by wind turbines, simply because that evidence might be used to “stop a new technology”.

But we’re pretty confident that the NHMRC isn’t paid for by us to generate the “best evidence” it can muster, in order that adverse health effects related to that “new technology” can simply be “brushed aside”.

The NHMRC has shown itself, time and time again, to be nothing more than a group of wind industry apologists and advocates – that defers to the “expertise” of a tobacco advertising guru, who calls wind farm victims “wind farm wing nuts” (see our post here). It’s been infiltrated, co-opted and corrupted by an industry which exhibits a callous disregard for human health and well-being (see our post here); and which does everything in its power to prevent any proper investigation into the harm known to be caused by its uncontrolled operations (see our post here).

Those unfortunates forced to live with turbine generated low-frequency noise and infrasound can only look on in disgust and dismay.

Those of our political betters in Canberra who fail to take on the cronyism and institutional corruption within the NHMRC, should hang their heads in shame.

Ashamed head-in-hands

The NHMRC is a disgrace to be sure, but worse still are the Federal MPs that fail to challenge its malign indifference to wind farm victims.

 

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Dear Senator Di Natale,

    Community Affairs Legislation Committee – 25/02/2015 – Senate Estimates committee – HEALTH PORTFOLIO – National Health and Medical Research Council

    In 2008, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated –

    “ensure that economic and social policy responses to climate change and other environmental degradation take into account health equity while addressing the exclusionary policies and processes that lead to rural poverty, landlessness, and displacement of people from their homes.”

    “Have these admonitions been heeded?

    Evidence from adverse event reports indicates this may not be the case.”

    http://shr.sagepub.com/content/5/10/2054270414554048.full.pdf

    What you appear to be saying Senator is the research proposed by the NHMRC is a waste of money and time because there are no adverse health issues associated with living adjacent to or within the vicinity of wind farms.

    What you may also be stating is that the word of those suffering adverse health effects by living adjacent to, or within the vicinity of wind farms, cannot be trusted and therefore medical research is not required.

    It seems that you have not listened closely to questions and answers during Senator Madigan’s session where Professor Anderson categorically stated:-

    “The overwhelming bulk of the evidence shows that, up to 500 metres, there are indeed effects on health of noise at the level that wind turbines do. From 500 to 1,500, the evidence is that there probably are, although they are probably modest.”

    indicating a need for further medical research.

    You suggest that funds could be better directed, for example, to cancer research, heart disease, diabetes. On that subject, how do you know, without rigorous scientific research, that people, including some of your constituents, living adjacent to, or within the vicinity of wind farms, are not, as a result, becoming vulnerable to these diseases? Stress can play a part in causing, aggravating or exacerbating these conditions.

    I can assure you that living adjacent to, or within the vicinity of a wind farm, causes some people to experience adverse health symptoms –

    Some people living adjacent to, or in the vicinity of wind farms, experience –

    • audible noise can be intolerable making it difficult for some people to work in the fields or sleep in their beds at night

    • for others the infrasound adversely affects their ability to sleep –

    (Complications of insomnia may include:

    Lower performance on the job or at school

    Slowed reaction time while driving and higher risk of accidents

    Psychiatric problems, such as depression or an anxiety disorder

    Overweight or obesity

    Irritability

    Increased risk and severity of long-term diseases or conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes

    Substance abuse)

    • loss of visual amenity

    • financial concerns/loss of property values i.e. –

    • those wishing to sell may experience difficulty selling due to a reduced pool of prospective purchasers

    • those who cannot sell they may end up with reduced funds for retirement, and may not be able to access the Age Pension due to the size of unsaleable land holdings

    • those who sell cheaply may not have sufficient funds to retire and may need to access a part Age Pension. (Many people on the land rely on their piece of dirt as the only way to provide for their retirement – they may not have succession plans, they may not have children and many do not have superannuation. Their land is their superannuation.)

    • fractured community relations/spirit and personal relationships (and in the country, possibly more so than in cities, people rely upon their neighbours/families for friendship, celebrations and especially during difficult times i.e. bush fires, farm accidents, etc.)

    It is entirely understandable that some people become angry and upset at the unfairness of living near a wind farm without any hope of being compensated for their losses. I am justifiably angry. And you should be angry too. You should feel anger and concern for your constituents who are suffering as a result of being placed in a position they never asked for. I was of the opinion Australia was a democracy. How wrong I was. I voted Labor in the House and Greens (Bob Brown) in the Senate in fairer times – times when Labor and the Greens were there for ordinary Australians and not for the, mostly overseas owned, wind industry juggernaut.

    A quick question – How then, Senator Di Natale, do you categorise research into many health conditions that rely, to a large degree, on patient/doctor discussion and observation for diagnosis as unscientific?

    Medical practitioners observe facial expression, mannerisms and speech and ask questions of the patient aimed at eliciting patients’ experiences and symptoms. (Of course, where this is obvious trauma emergency medical intervention without consultation with the patient may be required.)

    On science, and this, of course, includes medical science, the British Science Council spent a full year developing a definition of “science.” Their definition is succinct and yet radically insightful:

    “Science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.”

    http://www.sciencecouncil.org/definition

    Senators – State/territory role

    ‘Helping constituents who may be having difficulties with issues such as taxes, immigration, health or pensions.’

    Please note ‘health’ here.

    Sadly, Senator Di Natale, during this Senate session you did not present as an unbiased representative of the people you serve and, on that basis, you should immediately step down from a role that requires you to remain true and fair to all of your constituents.

  2. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  3. 50 Shades of Green says:

    The endless self righteous Green moralising by the whining Die Nasty is tiresome and insulting. He is either profoundly ignorant or so deep inside the wind industry he has lost any independant objective scientific or ethical analytical capacity. Oh, I almost forgot. His party is paid by Big Wind, so of course he is deeply rectally fistal!

    Indeed the Greens have become the Spinal Tap of Australian politics, a parody of conservation principles which is turbine-trashing the environment and rural communities with contempt for the health and well being of residents and wildlife alike.

    Unlike Spinal Tap, they are not aware that they are the joke. Even the NHMRC get that.

  4. When is the Government of the day, going to get rid of all of the corrupt grubs in the NHMRC, or get rid of the NHMRC, and start afresh? This organisation is supposed to be there for the good of the people in this nation, NOT for the benefit of windweaesel grubs. Why should we throw our earned cash into the NHMRC’s coffers, if they can’t be bothered looking at the health problems caused to those people stuck next to giant fans by infrasound and low-frequency noise.

  5. So, apparently, anyone affected by ILFN and EMF from Industry or Wind Farms can go jump in the lake?

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