Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Mixed Messages

Medical myths

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39420.420370.25 (Published 20 December 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1288

Rapid Response:

Stupid? Words like that say more about those who use them.

Say what you will about Drs. Vreeman and Carroll, but they are
presenting
their work in the public venue in the time honored tradition of peer
review.
You may agree with them or not, but calling them "stupid" and
"irresponsible"
is unworthy of this forum and the hallmark of someone with little of value
to
say.

If you read the manuscript carefully, they did not perform "only" a
Google
search. They searched the medical literature AND Google. I am sure that
there were instances when no peer reviewed literature could be found. In
that
case, what would you have them do? At least they tried to continue to
look
for evidence before saying that none exists.

Another person claims that they were "shameful" for saying that "Lack
of
supporting evidence [should] be taken to refute a hypothesis." They did
no
such thing. A careful read shows that Drs. Vreeman and Carroll said that
lack
of any evidence should lead us to question the veracity of the "myth".
Why
should we claim something to be true that has no scientific evidence
behind
it? Is that not "shameful" science?

Yes, another person points to a very recent manuscript showing that
newer
cell phones may interfere with medical equipment. First of all, you
cannot
fault the authors for not citing it, when this paper appeared after theirs
was
accepted. They could not have "ignored" something that was not published
yet. Moreover, Drs. Vreeman and Carroll do not say that cell phones
cannot
interfere with medical equipment. They say the myth is "Mobile phones
create considerable electromagnetic interference in hospitals". We can
parse
the meaning of "considerable", but from my read of their manuscript, I
take it
to mean life-threatening. And, as they say, no reported deaths have ever
occurred from cell phone use, nor any serious injuries. Moreover, they
appear to be against banning cell phones from hospitals indiscriminately,
not
for removal of all restrictions. This bears out in interviews they have
given. It
is of note that the very paper you describe as damning evidence of cell
phones as death machines recommends in its conclusion that the "one
meter" rule continue. Even that paper does not recommend banning cell
phones, but instead concludes we should continue to keep them one meter
away from equipment. Is it shameful? Stupid? Irresponsible?

I applaud the BMJ for keeping this forum free for open discourse.
But you do
nothing to promote your arguments and everything to lessen the chance to
move debate forward by name calling and childish behavior. You have every

right to argue your points and offer alternative theories backed up by
evidence. But let's give the authors, the journal, and the peer review
process
the respect they deserve.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

26 December 2007
Jason S. Crenshaw
Researcher
University