This item appeared in the "Editor's File" in
The Textbook Letter, July-August 1995.

Good Field Work

William J. Bennetta

In the May-June issue of TTL, Max G. Rodel told how the book Environmental Science: A Global Concern propagates a superstition that has become popular during the past few years -- the belief that electromagnetic fields cause cancers and other diseases. That notion has no basis in evidence. It is bunkum. The writers of Environmental Science: A Global Concern, however, have tried to pass it off as science, and they even have given advice for combatting the imaginary "risks" that allegedly are attributable to electric- power lines and electric appliances. (Rodel quoted some of that advice and then commented: "In their zeal to make their book look trendy, the writers have made themselves look like fools.")

Teachers who want to learn about the electromagnetic-field scare, and about the fanciful claims that have been used for promoting it, will be rewarded if they consult "Electromagnetic Fields and Power Lines," by William R. Bennett, Jr., in the July-August issue of Scientific American Science & Medicine. Bennett, a professor of engineering and physics at Yale University, provides some good lessons in science as he discredits the pseudoscience and spooky conjectures that have kept the scare alive. His writing is skillful and intelligible, and teachers will find his information helpful if they have to answer questions from anxious students who have encountered hearsay or bogus "news" items about effects of electromagnetic fields on health.

William J. Bennetta is a professional editor, a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, the president of The Textbook League, and the editor of The Textbook Letter. He writes often about the propagation of quackery, false "science" and false "history" in schoolbooks.


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