AW: [ RadSafe ] Excess relative risk

John Jacobus crispy_bird at
Tue Feb 12 20:53:48 CST 2008

Dr. Cohen,
  So how should we view your often quoted epidemiologica studies?  I have read your papers a number of times and am impressed with your work.  Nevertheless, not being an epidemilogist, I would really like to know how did you treat all the confounding factors in your studies if not by regression analysis?  that if you think regression analysis is risky what other methods are there? 
  As a reader of history, I think that quantum mechanics and relativity would have been formulated within the Twenty Century.  While Lord Kelvin may have prounced that there was nothing to discover in physics, it was obvious that the Planck's explanations of blackbody radiation in 1900 lead to Einstein's paper on the photoelectric effect in 1905. There was a problem that needed to be solved.  It is also clear that Lorentz was close to discovering special relativity.  If not him, then certainly someone else.
"Bernard L. Cohen" <blc+ at> wrote:
  I hope this does not sound too radical: In my experience, 
epidemiologists are not *scientists* in the broad sense of that term. 
They practice a *technology* which has been "boxed" and they are not 
willing to think outside that box. For any new ideas or approaches, it 
is "their way or the highway"; they reject them with only the shallowest 
reasoning, or more commonly ignore them. That is not the way scientists 
have traditionally operated. If physicists operated that way, we would 
never have had quantum theory, relativity, or any of the many great 
advances of 20th century physics.
Their box has been successful in many applications, but it is prone 
to failure where statistics are marginal or where there can be multiple 
confounding factors. They customarily treat the latter with multiple 
regression analysis which is fraught with dangers -- they call this 
"adjusting for confounding factors", factors they select with something 
less than air-tight reasoning.
If 2 or 3 epidemiologists take a position, a "consensus" forms 
without those who constitute the consensus spending any time or thought 
on the subject. They just don't like to think outside their box. They 
seem to have no experience in doing that.

John Jacobus wrote:
> One of the purposes of a skeptic is not so much to challenge as to present what is unknown. 
> I have been accussed of being silent. I am not an epidemiologist, so I have to relie on those who are recognized experts. (If you choose to ignore the conclusion of experts, that is your choice.) The consensus has been that there are no demonstracted effects below 100 mSv. Neither harmful or beneficial. All studies are individual pieces of a puzzle. To date, the well-known epidemiologists have reached the conclusion stated above. Individual studies may support your position or mine, but the concensus has always remained the same. 
> Your uncited comments below are interesting, but how do they fit in the overall study of radiation effects? I have seen some studies that do show negative slopes. We can all cherry pick the data that supports our positions, but what do the experts say? 
> Rainer.Facius at wrote:
> "Of course, there is no proof of negative excess risk."

"If history teaches any lesson it is that no nation has an inherent right to greatness.  Greatness has to be earned and continually re-earned."
- Norman Augustine, Chairman of the National Academies Committee 

-- John
John Jacobus, MS
Certified Health Physicist
e-mail:  crispy_bird at
Never miss a thing.   Make Yahoo your homepage.

More information about the RadSafe mailing list