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Ms (ex Dr) Sarah Laurie: shedding light on her claims and demands

One of the Wind Power Ethics pages*

For a short time Ms Sarah Laurie practiced as a medical doctor. Later she called herself Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Medical Director of the so-called Waubra Foundation; a group that is trying to make people believe that wind turbines cause illness, has no connection to the township of Waubra, uses the Waubra name against the wishes of the people of Waubra, and has no right to call itself a foundation.

On this page I will show that much of what Ms Laurie claims to be fact is actually fiction.

Ms Laurie and the Hippocratic dictum: "First, do no harm".

Ms Laurie unnecessarily frightened people and helped to make them ill. (See research by Fiona Crichton and others; here and here). Wind farms save lives by displacing the coal-fired power that causes thousands of deaths and serious illnesses in Australia each year by its air pollution. Ms Laurie's activities slowed the replacement of this killer industry. Even more importantly on the global scale, Ms Laurie slowed the critically important fight to limit climate change and ocean acidification.

The author of these pages has no financial connection to either side of the wind power 'debate' and is entirely independent.

Most of the links on this page lead to further explanation and supporting evidence.

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Written 2011/09/15, modified 2016/07/25
Contact: email daveclarkecb@yahoo.com
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As with all my pages, informed feedback is welcome. If you are disagreeing with some point please supply evidence in support of your argument. ©

Introduction

 

Author's note

I have known Ms Laurie for many years, she used to be my GP and she lives about twelve kilometres from my home. I once liked and respected Ms Laurie (she and I were both standing up for what we believe in) but her stance on this subject has changed that. I did not write this page lightly, but I needed to write it to try to counter some of the damage Ms Laurie has done.

Evidence

Supporting arguments and evidence for most of my statements on this page can be found by following the links provided on this page. Most of the links connect to other pages of mine. Should you want to go direct to original and independent sources go to my page Wind Links, or use this link for matters concerning health and wind turbines, or this for matters concerning wind tubines and noise.
Ms Laurie had ideas that were not accepted by 'the main stream', she had ideas that seemed outlandish, she had ideas that reasonable people should have rejected until her extraordinary claims were confirmed by extraordinary evidence. Not only was there no extraordinary evidence for her claims, there was never any acceptable ordinary evidence.

Prof. Simon Chapman and Teresa Simonetti of the Sydney University School of Health produced a list of scholarly reviews of the health literature; not one of them supports Ms Laurie's claims.

Apology?

Several wind power opponents have asked me why I don't apologise to Ms Laurie. Not one has specified anything that I have written that has wronged Ms Laurie and requires an apology. If I have wronged Ms Laurie I would be quite willing to apologise, but I don't see that pointing out her errors, when she has caused such a huge amount of harm, is something that requires an apology.

Ms Laurie has never contacted me to demand an apology for anything, nor has she ever provided convincing evidence that anything I have written on this page is wrong.

Readers; please point out anywhere you believe I have used ad hominem arguments unnecessarily and unjustifiably.

A simple lie

In an interview on Radio Europe in March 2013 Ms Laurie said "I'm certainly aware of a systematic campaign to denigrate and vilify sick people who speak up and say that they are unwell..." This is quite false; no one in the pro-wind lobby in Australia is denigrating and vilifying sick people.

On 2013/04/08 I emailed Sarah asking if she could substantiate this claim; I never received a reply.

By late 2014 the claims being made by Ms Laurie were not being taken seriously any more

At one time radio reporters seemed to always ask Ms Laurie to comment on any story connected with wind power. Not any more. In late 2014 everyone who has any respect at all for the truth seems to be treating her silly claims as they deserve to be treated.

With the latest claim from the Waubra Foundation, that loss of sleep due to wind turbine noise (not at all suported by evidence) amounts to torture the WF and Ms Laurie's credibility will drop even further.

Science versus scare-mongering

Both Ms Laurie and Dr Fiona Crichton set out to discovery the truth about whether wind turbines harm people. Dr Crichton used science (and, dare I say, common sense), and Ms Laurie ignored the science and seemed to be ready to believe anything said by those who opposed wind power.

Dr Crichton has demonstrated that the adverse symptoms that have been associated with wind turbines is more likely due to expectations, anxiety, and the nocibo effect than anything to do directly with the turbines and thus has provided a pathway for people suffering symptoms to get appropriate help.

Dr Crichton explained her PhD study in a talk on the ABC's Science Show 2016/07/23: Expectation influences reporting of adverse health effects from wind farms. The abstract of Dr Crichton's paper can be read at APA PsycNet.

Another blow to credibility

2014/11/09 – The Environment, Resources and Development Court of South Australia in a judgement on a proposed Stony Gap Wind Farm was scathing of the value of Ms Laurie's evidence.
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Created by poor journalists (and used by others)

 

Who is ignorant?

"There is a mass ignorance from the medical profession" said Ms Laurie, as quoted in an on-line article in Newspaper House. Which is more likely, the entire medical profession is ignorant, or Ms Laurie was wrong?
Ms Laurie, as a spokesperson for the 'wind turbines will make you sick' group, was largely a creation of lazy journalists looking for an easy, controversial and sensational story and who were unconcerned about facts, evidence and truth. If not for the media attention Ms Laurie would probably have given up on her unsubstantiated claims, but the media attention pushed her to go further and further, in the knowledge that at least some reporters were pleased to talk to her.

Ms Laurie's activism was also very convenient for those who support the fossil fuel industry and don't want to see development of sustainable energy. These people work behind the scenes through misleadingly named organisations like the Waubra Foundation, the Australian Landscape Guardians, the Australian Environment Foundation and the Institute of Public Affairs.

 
Feldheim, Germany
Feldheim
Photo credit: The Independent, UK
Feldheim, and many other German, Danish and Spanish villages, has turbines but no sickness.
The idea that wind turbines make people sick is hardly known outside of the English speaking world. Denmark, Germany and Spain, for example, have far more turbines in small areas close to people – there are millions in Germany who live within 10km of turbines – but very few people in those countries have health concerns about the turbines.

The nonsensical stories of ill-health caused by wind turbines, even at distances well beyond audibility, have been repeated by so many wind farm opponents and lazy or ignorant journalists that they have produced a level of epidemic hysteria in the English speaking world. It was, for several years, a self-sustaining phenomenon, where the belief led to fear and anxiety, the fear and anxiety led to illness, the illness fuelled Ms Laurie's beliefs, irresponsible journalists exploit and encourage those beliefs, more fear and anxiety was produced by the media, and more people experience symptoms.

It was the irresponsible media spreading naïve ideas from a few people like Ms Laurie in the English speaking countries that created the epidemic hysteria and it was they who should largely be blamed for the resulting damage to people's health. Fortunately, by late 2014, this is an epidemic hysteria that seems very much to be on the wain. It should make valuable case-study material for historians of the future.

There may well come a time when Ms Laurie realises that she is wrong and that she has actually added to an epidemic hysteria with no basis in fact. Such a realisation will be very hard on her. The irresponsible journalists and others who used and encouraged her, because it was convenient to do so, will have to accept at least some responsibility.

No problem in Copenhagen

All the area in pink, including central Copenhagen, is within ten kilometres of wind turbines.
Copenhagen
According to Sarah Laurie and the 'Waubra Foundation' the people of Copenhagen should be suffering from Wind Turbine Syndrome and 'Pressure Pulses'. Of course they are not.

For more see the article by Ketan Joshi.

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What common ground does Ms Laurie have with environmentalists?

Ms Laurie believes climate change and ocean acidification are happening, that their consequences will be dire, that they are largely caused by the activities of humanity and would probably agree that we in Australia have a moral responsibility to lower our greenhouse gas emissions. She says that she is not against wind power as such, but her objection is the ill effects that, she believes, it causes people.

It is probable that a small number of susceptible people who live very close (within perhaps one kilometre) of a wind turbine suffer from some loss of sleep because of the noise from wind turbines. Certainly some people find the noise annoying. People living in a quiet country environment have a right to expect that quiet to be maintained and a right that their health not be adversely affected by nearby developments. Most agree that balanced and quality research into any link between health and wind turbines would be welcome.

Where we differ

 
The information used to justify the statements on this page have been gathered from many sources; some of the more important of which are listed on my Wind power links page.

Some people who live near wind farms are ill and they honestly believe that the cause of their illness is the wind turbines. Ms Laurie believes the turbines themselves cause the illness, a more reasonable interpretation of the evidence is that the reported health impacts are due to anxiety, fear (about a possible health threat or negative impact from the turbines), and annoyance (about the sound, sight, or imposition of the turbines). The health impacts reported by a minority of people living in close proximity to turbines are common stress reactions. Some illness is also possibly due to sleep disturbance in people with high sensitivity to noise who live very close to turbines; especially if those people have negative views, or unrealistic fears, of turbines.

Coal-fired power stations produce air pollution that has been shown, by learned papers published in highly respected health science journals, to cause thousands of deaths and serious illnesses each year. Wind power replaces some of this polluting coal power and therefore save lives. By slowing the introduction of wind power Ms Laurie is also slowing the reduction in these unnecessary deaths and illnesses. (So far as I know, Ms Laurie has never publicly recognised that, by displacing fossil fuel-fired power stations, wind power saves lives.)

Ms Laurie spends a lot of her time talking to people who believe they have been made ill by wind turbines. It is not surprising that she has come to believe that this is fact; she "cannot see the trees for the forrest". She tells people to expect wind turbines to make them sick, they tell her how sick they are; the mass delusion feeds on itself.

Ms Laurie would have everyone believe that wind turbines are making people ill even when the people cannot hear the turbines! (See p48 of the Melbourne hearing of the Senate Inquiry into the Impact of Rural Wind Farms.) Give this a little thought. We can be absolutely sure that wind turbines do not produce any harmful radiation such as alpha, beta, gamma, x-rays, ultra-violet or even a significant amount of micro-waves. The only thing that we know that they produce, other than environmentally friendly electricity and some air turbulence, is low levels of sound. Sound, including infrasound, is produced by a great many natural and artificial sources; it is not harmful unless it is very intense. Yet Ms Laurie wants us to believe that turbines make people ill even when those people cannot hear the turbines! Ms Laurie tells us things that contradict our observations, experience and logic.

Ms Laurie knows that wind turbines do not produce much sound. As a means of trying to justify her allegations that turbines cause illness she has claimed that turbines can be louder at a distance than up close! This may be possible under certain unusual circumstances, but in general it is a foolish and naïve claim. (See inverse square law of physics.)


There is, so far as I have been able to find out, no scientific research published in respectable peer-reviewed journals linking wind turbines with illness beyond some sleep deprevation in some people who live very close to turbines. Considering that there are about 120 000 big wind turbines world-wide, many of which have been operating for a number of years, this should tell us something.
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Ms Laurie's errors

  1. She ignores the science: there have been many reviews of the research literature that show no link between wind farms and sickness;
  2. She seems unable to see that people who believe they are being made ill by wind turbines might be mistaken about the cause of their symptoms. She seems unwilling to seriously consider psychological factors like anxiety and stress as the cause of the symptoms that she is recording. She seems unwilling to seriously consider annoyance as a cause of stress and of symptoms;
     

    NSW Health's findings on Ms Laurie's work
    The following was published in the Blayney Chronicle, 2012/01/26

    Confidential briefings given to the state government, and obtained under freedom-of-information (FOI) laws, repeatedly warn there is no current credible scientific evidence linking wind farms to ill health.

    The briefings are also critical of Ms Sarah Laurie, who has played an influential role in local opposition to a planned wind farm at Flyers Creek.

    "NSW Health has met with Ms Sarah Laurie. There is a clear hierarchy in scientific evidence and case reports [as provided by Ms Laurie] fall into the lowest category of scientific evidence," one of the briefings advised.

    "On this basis, such studies can be regarded as hypotheses generating and not as hypotheses proving. In other words, they raise a question, but do not provide an answer.

    "To be widely accepted as evidence for adverse health effects, the study design, methodology and analysis has to be peer reviewed. This is lacking for the critical information presented by Dr. Laurie."

     

    Letter published in Goulburn Post, 2012/10/17

    "I feel I must put my position as a practising GP in the Bungendore community where a large number of wind turbines have been operating since 2009. I have not seen anyone with wind turbine syndrome and not even anyone who attributes any symptoms to wind turbine syndrome. There are some people who attribute their annoyance to the turbines, because they are there and sometimes because of the turbines noise as they hear it. The research throughout the world does not support wind turbine syndrome and nor does it (research) give credibility to the phenomenon of infrasound's ill effects: on this last matter there would be a range of credible data. I write this in an attempt to encourage some balance.

    Dr Marjorie Cross MBBS, FRACGP"

    I must express my appreciation to Dr Cross for writing this. (I have not had any contact with her.) Most doctors are reluctant to publicly state their opinions on this sort of matter, but it needs to be done if the truth is to be got out to the general public.

     

    Ms Laurie used to consult at Crystal Brook

    Sarah Laurie lives in Crystal Brook; as do I (David Clarke). Crystal Brook's medical practice is the closest to the Clements Gap Wind Farm. I have now asked about six doctors in the practice whether they have had anyone come to them with problems that they attributed to the wind turbines. Not one!
     

    Blood Pressure

    Ms Laurie's claim that blood pressure is increased as wind turbine activity increases seems to be contradicted by her own data; see Blood pressure and turbines.
     

    Recent research, March 2013

    Crichton et. al. published a paper indicating that people who are under the impression that they will become ill due to infrasound, and are then told that they are being subjected to infrasound, are likely to experience adverse symptoms.

    Chapman et. al. studied the history of wind farm construction and complaints about ill-health from wind turbines in Australia. They concluded that "complaints are consistent with psychogenic hypotheses that health problems arising are 'communicated diseases' with nocebo effects likely to play an important role in the aetiology of complaints."

     

    A quote

    "The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder's lack of rational conviction." Bertrand Russell (1872 to 1970), from Let the People Think, 1941
  3. She does not take seriously factors that mediate between wind turbines and physical symptoms, like people's perceptions of wind farms, attitudes to wind power, visual impacts, attachment to where they live, and financial benefits (or lack of benefits);
  4. She seems unwilling to believe that what she is doing is causing more fear and anxiety and making the problem worse. She says (with some justification, others had been active before she was) that people believed that wind turbines had made them ill before she started her campaign and from this she concludes, wrongly, that she cannot be any part of the problem;
  5. By failing to acknowledge that many symptoms are caused by stress, she is preventing distressed householders from taking steps to manage their stress and minimise their negative symptoms, and improve their quality of life;
  6. She is unwilling to see that she is creating anticipatory fear and distress for people who are living close to planned wind farms, and risks creating in them the very symptoms that she (erroneously) attributes to wind turbines;
  7. She is unable or unwilling to see that there is no credible physical mechanism whereby wind turbines could possibly make people ill from a distance of several kilometres;
  8. She seems to ignore the dose – response relationship and believes that the inverse square law of physics must not apply to wind turbines;
  9. She does not understand the nature of infrasound. In her (Waubra Foundation) submission to the NSW Dept. of Planning investigation of attitudes to the proposed Collector Wind Farm she showed that she was unaware that sound and infrasound was identical to rapid fluctuations in air pressure.
  10. She is unwilling to recognise that people who work on wind turbines and the great majority of those who earn income from wind turbines do not get sick, because this does not fit her model. She ignores the fact that domestic and wild animals live quite happily beneath and among turbines;
  11. She cannot explain why illnesses 'caused by wind turbines' are practically unheard of in WA and Europe. (No-one has told them that they should be sick so they are not sick!);
  12. She collects anecdotal evidence by finding people who believe they have been made ill by wind turbines and interviewing them. She is unwilling or unable to see that this does not prove anything about the causes of the illnesses. Anyone who is unwilling to do as she does – go out and talk to the people who have problems – is in Ms Laurie's opinion, unwilling to face the facts;
  13. She places much too high a value on her anecdotal evidence, and is not scientific in her statements and claims. She has said that "You can stand underneath the turbines and not hear a thing, but up to five kilometres away they can sound like a jet engine or a low rumble or a washing machine." This is absurd, a physical impossibility! (See Louder at a distance.)
  14. Ms Laurie claims that people have been 'driven from their homes by wind turbines' (without giving any evidence for her claim). She gave the township of Waubra as an example of where this is happening. The Pyrenees Shire Council has residential land valuations done every two years; these showed that Waubra values increased in both 2010 and 2012 – in fact in the 2010-2012 period values increased in Waubra more than in any other area listed by the council.
  15. She seems willing to believe any story that puts wind turbines in a bad light and doesn't consider whether there is any relevant independent evidence that sould be examined and evaluated;
  16. She seems to have little understanding of the importance of intensity. Dr Geoff Leventhall, whose work Ms Laurie likes to refer to, has said "I am appalled that Laurie asserts that experimental exposure to high levels of infrasound, around 125dB or higher, is relevant to the low levels of infrasound from wind turbines" (about a million times lower);
  17. Her lack of supporting evidence shows the weakness of her case. She claims that wind turbines can cause illness at distances of 10 or even 15km, yet she cannot support this with any credible evidence. The absurdity of the claim is obvious when one considers that lightning, which is about a million times louder than a wind turbine, can barely be heard at a distance of 15km under ideal conditions. (The sound of a wind turbine, close up, is about 55dBA; thunder is around 120dB.)
  18. She ignores the 'nocebo effect' (the opposite of the placebo effect) by which people will often feel ill if they believe there is something causing them to be ill;
  19. She neglects to compare the (alleged) health impacts of wind turbines with the well proven and very serious health impacts of burning fossil fuels. She ignores the many adverse health effects that will come with climate change if we do not seriously and quickly adopt alternative energy;
  20. She is intolerant of any view that runs contrary to her own, no matter how reasonable the grounds on which that view is based. She "knows she is right".
  21. Finally, her claims go against common sense. Stand beneath a wind turbine and listen. Stand a kilometre away, two kilometres away, and listen. They are not loud, they do not shake your body; they give the impression of total benignity.
Ms Laurie shows, by her activities, that she is incapable of taking a scientific approach to the problem of illnesses relating to wind power. She is unable to explain how wind turbines are able to harm people, other than pointing to some studies of infrasound – that do not show levels anywhere near high enough to cause illness. (As an aside, I have told Ms Laurie several times that I have slept beneath operating wind turbines. She repeated her point about them being 'louder at a distance' and ignored me when I pointed out that I was 400m from two other turbines, 800m from two more, etc.)
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Stony Gap Wind Farm court case judgement

The South Australian Environment, Resources and Development Court released a judgement on a case concerning the Stony Gap Wind Farm in November 2014. Ms Laurie (then calling herself Dr Laurie) gave evidence against the wind farm construction proceeding.

The judge, in her ruling, included the following:

"There is no basis for the refusal of development plan consent to the proposed development on the grounds of health effects."

"Dr Laurie's evidence does not contain evidence (whether from her own research, or that of others) of a causal link between contemporary operating wind turbines and the kind of health problems reported by the deponents, which is consistent with any accepted scientific or legal method of proof."

"Dr Laurie rejects all of the studies, including the EPA studies, which are not consistent with her theories. She admits that evidence showing a causal connection between contemporary wind farms and health effects does not exist, and she seeks to have more research done in the hope that such evidence will be generated in the future."

"Dr Laurie wishes to have investigated the theory that some people are "so exquisitely sensitised to certain frequencies that their perception of very, very low frequency is right off the shape of the bell curve", such that they can, for example, from Australia, perceive an earthquake in Chile."
The judge ruled that permission should be given for the wind farm to be constructed.
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More errors

On the ABC Radio's PM program Ms Laurie was interviewed by Tim Palmer (2013/02/14). The interview, which also involved the Clean Energy Council's Russell Marsh, mainly concerned a report by the Environment Protection Agency that showed that nearby wind turbines do not significantly increase infrasound in homes. Ms Laurie made some more errors in the interview:
 
Mike Barnard has written an extensive piece titled Seven things you must know about the Waubra Foundation and Sarah Laurie. His main points:
  1. They have no relevant expertise and reject independent expertise and peer reviewed science
  2. They misrepresent themselves as well as the work of others
  3. They were formed by a coalition of wealthy, NIMBY landowners
  4. They are consistently unethical in their operations
  5. They are global warming deniers
  6. They have close ties to fossil fuel and mining interests opposed to wind energy
  7. They live nowhere near Waubra and the town is outraged at them
He provided detailed justifications for his statements.
"SARA LAURIE: The report itself, the authors only measured down to 10 hertz by using what we call the G-weighting. They ignored the frequencies between 0 and 10 hertz. And they're the frequencies that many of us believe are the problem frequencies. So they didn't actually measure those."

This is quite wrong. For example look at Figure 27 in the report. Measured frequencies go down to 0.25 hertz.

"SARAH LAURIE: I think there's interests from all sectors of politics that would rather this problem was not addressed."

Ms Laurie has apparently not noticed that the Liberals are running a war against sustainable energy. They would love to see some convincing evidence that wind turbines harm people; but most of them know that such evidence does not exist.

"SARAH LAURIE: Well they're reporting serious harm to their doctors. Their doctors are reporting harm, their psychologists are reporting harm."

Some people might be reporting some problems to some doctors in some places, but:
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Ms Laurie's ridiculous demand

Ms Laurie

Ms Laurie demands that no wind turbines should be built within ten kilometres of a home until research, that is acceptable to her, is done. She believes that turbines can cause illness up to that distance.

Why this is absurd

Wind turbines are rarely audible from distances greater than about 2.5km. How can they harm anyone at distances several times as great? Sound, including low frequency sound and infrasound, is common in the environment; there is no evidence that anything but sound (of many different frequencies) is coming from wind turbines.

So far as I know, nobody with any credibility is suggesting harmful effects from wind turbines at distances greater than 1.5 to 2 km, and then only some loss of sleep in those who find the sounds made by turbines to be particularly annoying.

And becoming more absurd

In a submission in regard to the NSW Government's review on wind turbine guidelines Ms Laurie wrote of 'credible reports' of people affected by turbines at 12-14km from turbines. In an email to me she wrote of people getting sick at 14-15km from turbines!

Some of Ms Laurie's beliefs are beyond what would reasonably be accepted by a rational and intelligent human being; turbines can rarely be heard or detected by an instrument other than an exquisitely sensitive seismometer beyond a couple of kilometres, how could they make anybody ill? As mentioned elsewhere, the illnesses attributed to wind turbines have to be a form of epidemic hysteria.

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Are there medical doctors who hold views contrary to those of Ms Laurie?

Very much so; see Australian Medical Association, Doctors for the Environment Australia, Climate and Health Alliance and recent research by Professor Garry Wittert. Professor Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health and Director of Research of the School of Public Health of the University of Sydney has also been vocal in discrediting claims that wind turbines harm health. See also the opinion of Dr Sarah Edelman, clinical psychologist.

Also see Letter from Dr Marjorie Cross and Professor Peter Seligman's statement on sound and infrasound within the body.

Finally, there is my own experience asking doctors at a medical practice close to a wind farm.






Why does Ms Laurie get so much attention from the media?

Ms Laurie has no credible science to support her stand, her claims of sickness at distances of 10 or even 15km from wind turbines go against both informed reason and common sense, she is completly at a loss to explain why people who have wind turbines on their property and wind farm workers (who have far more exposure to turbines) are unaffected and she can point to no credible mechanism by which turbines could make people ill. Yet the media give her a lot of attention! Why?

There are several reasons:

  • She holds a controversial view about an issue that is important to many people – and the media love anyone with a controversial view, whether it has any factual basis is much less important to the less responsible journalists and commentators;
  • She was once a practicing medical doctor – people have a lot of respect for medical doctors;
  • She is readily available to lazy journalists who don't have the ability, or don't want to take the time, to find a real story;
  • She is a good 'grab' for the media, she speaks well.
The media, in recent years, has a love affair with what they think of as balance; they feel they always need to get a contrary view, and as can be seen when they cover climate change they are not concerned about whether the contrary view they get has any scientific standing. Balance is commendable, but when one side of a debate has a high level of credibility and the other side very little, that is not balance. "Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story."

As discussed elsewhere on this page, Ms Laurie, the public personality, has largely been created by an irresponsible and lazy media. The journalists and radio personalities involved should be considered responsible for spreading unjustified fear and anxiety about wind turbines and thereby making people ill.

While Ms Laurie receives attention at least partly because of people's respect for medical doctors, she is harming that respect by her unsupported claims and ridiculous demands. Ms Laurie has consistantly used the honorific 'Dr' in her name until early 2014, but then agreed with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulatory Agency to stop calling herself doctor. As of 2014/01/10 I do not know any details of this agreement.






Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

This is called the Sagan Standard, and similar sentiments go back at least as far as Pierre-Simon Laplace with his "The weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim must be proportioned to its strangeness."

Ms Laurie's claim that something coming from turbines is harming people at large distances is certainly an extraordinary claim. If the 'harmful emanation' is sound, then the extraordinariness is in the necessity of this sound being somehow much more harmful than other sounds of similar intensity. If it is something other than sound, then the extraordinariness becomes even greater; what could it possibly be?

Ms Laurie is unable to show even ordinarily convincing evidence in support of her claims, let alone extraordinary evidence.






What if Ms Laurie got her way?

Over two hundred wind farms have been proposed in Australia and not yet built. Few of these could be built if Ms laurie's 10 km no-go radius (an area of 314 square kilometres around each home) was enforced. If these were not to be allowed, it is very difficult to see any quality wind resource where wind power could be developed, recognising that high capacity electricity transmission lines cost in the order of a million dollars per kilometre to build.

 
Wind farms improve health and save lives by replacing polluting coal-burning power stations that have very serious, and proven, effects on health. By opposing wind power, Ms Laurie is slowing the reduction in the illnesses and deaths caused by fossil-fuel pollutants in Australia.
Wind power has the greatest potential of all sustainable options Wind power in Australia is currently generating many times more sustainable energy than is solar, a single wind turbine generates about as much power as 2000 roof-top solar systems. There is little scope for increasing hydro-power in Australia, biofuels can help but their total capacity is quite limited. Geothermal, wave and tidal power are yet to be proven viable on a commercial scale. The cost of solar power is declining, but at the present it is more expensive than wind power – we cannot afford to wait; we must act on climate change now. So wind power is by a substantial margin the leading sustainable energy option available at present.

Ms Laurie is, in effect, demanding that expansion of renewable energy in Australia be stopped in spite of the fact that no research scientist could accept her 'evidence' as sufficient to justify her demands.

Fortunately no-one in any position of authority seems so far to have taken Ms Laurie's demand for a 10 km exclusion zone seriously.

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This section written about June 2011

Pierpont-Laurie Syndrome

.
 
This is discussed more fully on a dedicated page.
Dr Nina Pierpont coined the term Wind Turbine Syndrome. As discussed on my page on wind turbines and health there is no evidence that wind turbines cause illness; yet many people believe that they have been made ill by wind turbines. Dr Pierpont and Ms Laurie are making people believe that turbines will make them ill. This causes anxiety and fear and this can lead on to stress. Long term anxiety, fear and stress can and does cause symptoms such as those described by Pierpont under her Wind Turbine Syndrome.

Since it is not the wind turbines that make people ill, but rather anxiety and fear such as pierpont and Laurie are spreading, a more accurate term for the condition would be Pierpont-Laurie Syndrome.

Evidence that Ms Laurie is making people anxious and fearful

The following was given as evidence by Mr Johnathon Upson, Senior Development Manager of Infigen Energy at the Melbourne session of the Senate Committee on the Impact of Rural Wind Farms:
"I would like to draw the committee's attention to submission No. 815, submitted by Frank Brennan, the Chief Executive Officer of Wattle Range Council. Wattle Range Council has four wind farms operating there. Three of them are ours and one is from another company."

Mr Upson then read several excerpts from Mr Brennan's submission, which included...

"Council has received no complaints or advice of concerns about excessive noise and vibrations being emitted from the wind arms operating in the Council region ..."
and
"Council has received no complaints or advice of any adverse health effects suffered by people living in close proximity to the windfarms operating in the Council region."
Mr Upson went on to say...
"We are talking about over 100 turbines, almost 140 turbines, operating there. Very interestingly, we completed Lake Bonney stage 1, Lake Bonney stage 2 – 99 turbines up and running for years. We proposed a third stage, another 13 turbines. Do you know how many objections the council received? Zero; not one objection to another stage of the wind farm.

Interestingly enough, we are in the planning process for another wind farm nearby, called the Woakwine project. Sarah Laurie came to town a couple of months ago and told everybody who would listen that they are going to get sick from being near wind turbines. Now the Woakwine project has got 10 objections, solely based on health concerns. To me, there is only one inescapable conclusion from that – that is, there is a much higher correlation between wind turbine health concerns and Sarah Laurie visiting than there is between wind turbine health concerns and over 130 turbines operating near neighbouring residences."

It seems from this that people like Nina Pierpont and Sarah Laurie are, in effect, doing their best to change what has been a very few people with health problems that they blamed on wind turbines to epidemic hysteria.

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Conspiracy?

Australian Broadcasting Commission complicity?

Below are a few extracts from a long diatribe against the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the South Australian Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and even the Clean Energy Regulator, written by Sarah Laurie in an email on 2013/11/28.

She wrote:

"The ABC is very much part of perpetrating the ongoing abuse of rural citizens in this country, by the sort of blatantly biased reporting such as your program. If the ABC in particular had honest objective journalists who were capable of critical analysis and independent thought and an intellectual curiosity rather than a bunch of ideological groupthinkers, who ignore credible known science, this story would have been exposed a long time ago."
Considering the air-time that the ABC has given Ms Laurie over the past three years (from 2010) and taking into account the lack of credibility in her message this is remarkable. A scientifically-minded person would think that the ABC has given her, and her unbelievable claims, far too much attention.

She also said:

"Perhaps for you it is an ideological bias that you (and many of your colleagues) have with respect to understanding that there is a noise pollution from wind turbines, known for over thirty years."
This came just two days after the South Australian EPA released a ten-week study showing no noise problem at one of the more controversial of Australia's wind farms. Ms Laurie was well aware of the EPA research at this time, as shown by another of her comments.

The SA EPA a part of the conspiracy?

Ms Laurie said:
"With respect to the EPA, why would the SA EPA choose to put their monitor underneath a very big gum tree, to falsely inflate the background noise levels? The ONLY reason is to deliberately deceive people as to the true background noise level, so they can say that the development is compliant, when in fact it is not."

And the Clean Energy Regulator?

Ms Laurie again:
"What is going on here? What precisely is the Clean energy regulator regulating?"

Walkley Award

Ms Laurie wrote:
"Whoever breaks this story will certainly get a Walkley [Award for Excellence in Journalism], and it is only a matter of time."
Ms Laurie, the conspiracy does not exist outside of your imagination.


Is everyone conspiring against Ms Laurie? Or is she out of touch with reality?

It seems that to Ms Laurie one of the few people who speaks the truth about wind power is Senator John Madigan! She must be desparate for supporters.

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Professional ethics

 
Hyppocratic dictum
Hippocratic dictum
If Ms Laurie was a registered medical practitioner she would be obliged to comply with the Health Professionals Act.

Section Four of the Australian Code of Conduct for the Responsible Conduct of Research refers to the requirement that, in relation to the responsible communication of research findings that:

"4.12.1 Discussing research findings in the public arena should not occur until the findings have been tested through peer review."
Ms Laurie does not have ethics approval for her 'research', nor has she published her research in any peer reviewed journal. In spite of this, she has claimed, in her 'Explicit Cautionary Notice', that the Waubra Foundation has undertaken its own field research and that the Foundation is "the most technically informed entity in Australia upon the effects of wind turbines on human health". (Considering that Ms Laurie is the only medically qualified person in the Waubra Foundation and the lack of any published papers in the professional literature this last statement is remarkable hubris.)

It seems that if Ms Laurie was to re-register as a medical professional she would be very much at risk of being struck-off because of her unethical claims and so-called 'research'.

Ms Laurie is harming people by spreading unfounded rumours and causing fear and anxiety that lead to health problems. She is also causing death and serious illness indirectly because she is slowing the replacement of highly polluting coal-burning power stations by clean renewable power.

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Background

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It happens that I have known Ms Laurie for many years, she used to be my GP (she is no longer practicing), she lives about nine kilometres from me, and we have had quite a bit of correspondence about the health effects of wind turbines.

Ms Laurie became interested in the health effects of wind turbines when Origen proposed to build the Crystal Brook Wind Farm near her house in 2010. There is no convincing objective evidence linking wind turbines to health-effects, so Ms Laurie relies almost entirely on anecdotal evidence, of which she has collected a large amount. I suspect that to the Waubra Foundation and Australian Landscape Guardians – with which the Waubra Foundation has strong links – she is little more than a useful tool in their fight against renewable energy.

Ms Laurie's desire for independent primary research into the health effects of wind turbines is quite reasonable, but her claims of turbines causing health problems are unconvincing.

She goes looking for people who claim to have been made ill by turbines and, not surprisingly, finds them; and no doubt many find her. If she visited Africa and looked for people who claimed to have been made ill by witches, or the USA and looked for people who claimed to have been abducted by aliens, she would find many of those too.

She believes there is a direct link between turbines and ill-health in a minority of people, but is unable to point to any convincing mechanism that could allow wind turbines to directly cause illness. She dismisses any psychosomatic cause for the illnesses.

What if, as Ms Laurie claims, people within 10km of turbines are becoming ill?

Ms Laurie has asked for a moratorium on building turbines within 10 kilometres of homes. Worldwide there are around 120 000 operating turbines and millions of people live within 10km of them. If the turbines were causing illness then Europe, the United States, China, India and other countries would have experienced a plague of biblical proportion. This is not happening!

Where will it end for Ms Laurie?

Will she ever realise that she is wrong? That realisation would be very hard on her. Or will she 'go to her grave' believing that she was right and science was wrong?



Index

Background
Common ground
Conspiracy?
Created by poor journalists
Ms Laurie's errors
Ms Laurie's ridiculous demand
No problem in Copenhagen
Extraordinary claims
Introduction
Letter from Dr Cross
Medical doctors with a contrary view
More errors
Pierpont-Laurie Syndrome
Professional ethics
Stony Gap Wind Farm court case judgement
Top
What if Ms Laurie got her way?
Where we differ
Why media attention
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