Suicide deaths linked to cellphones – and other equally silly deductions

It’s the big stories I enjoy the most. “Suicides linked to phone masts” roared the Sunday Express front-page headline this week. “The spate of deaths among young people in Britain’s suicide capital could be linked to radio waves from dozens of mobile phone transmitter masts near the victims’ homes.”

Who is raising these concerns? “Dr Roger Coghill, who sits on a government advisory committee on mobile radiation, has discovered that all 22 youngsters who have killed themselves in Bridgend, South Wales, over the past 18 months lived far closer than average to a mast…

I contacted Dr Coghill, since his work is now a matter of great public concern.

He was unable to give me the data. No paper has been published. He himself would not describe the work as a “study”. There are no statistics presented on it, and I cannot see the raw figures. In fact Dr Coghill tells me he has lost the figures. Dr Coghill is sadly unable to make his material assessable…

Who is Dr Coghill? He says he doesn’t have a doctorate and that the Express made a mistake. Does he “sit on a government advisory committee on mobile radiation”? Sort of. Mr Coghill participates in something called Sage, a “stakeholder” group which discusses power cables (not mobile phones) and is run at the request of the Department of Health by RK Partnerships Ltd, who specialise in mediation, facilitation, and conflict resolution.

Readers worried by the front-page story on Mr Coghill’s inaccessible research may have visited his website for more information. There they could buy his electromagnetic field protection equipment, and a £149 device called the Acousticom for “finding out if your home is being exposed to microwaves from cellphone masts”.

There are also other interesting products, including a magnet that makes wine taste nicer, and the “Mood Maker” treatment for impotence at just £22.32 including VAT (“the small unit discreetly attaches to your underwear … [and] will gently and gradually increase circulation in the pelvic area”). It gets better.

His next headline will probably be his discovery that cellphones are the real cause of global warming. There will be a crowd of Know-Nothings ready to join in, proclaiming “we knew our corporate masters had no responsibility whatsoever”.

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