The research money-go-round, and round

One of my colleagues alerted me to a Daily Telegraph piece last week on another brain tumour caused by mobile phones study. What – another one I thought, is there another grant up for grabs? It turned out to be a reasonably balanced piece of journalism by Robert Uhlig highlighting a study from Sweden published by the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.

Once upon a time when mobiles were the size of blenders, an analogue cellular standard called NMT was used in Sweden (among other places). Some remote parts of Africa still use NMT but the rest of us use unrelated digital technology and have done since the 90s. Two points struck me about this story – The European Journal of Cancer Prevention, as Mr Uhlig quite rightly says, published the study – it’s a web-based publisher of material, that’s all it does – more librarian than interested informed commentator. And the study’s leader is a well-known serial-researcher in this surprisingly lucrative part of the research market. It’s a shame when a respected national paper makes headline news again from the research money-go-round, raising the anxiety levels of ordinary people in the process.

So, not quite in the same league as a piece The Times was once duped in to writing – about a person ‘allergic to technology’ who could only shop in establishments with manual tills and could watch black and white TV but not colour TV – (sorry I can’t find a link but at the time I wrote to The Editor in alarm) – but sadly not a million miles away.

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