Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Lloyd's new 'wind turbine syndrome' expert: A Computer Scientist Who Openly Dislikes Wind Farms

Yesterday, The Australian found itself in the odd position of having to defend an extremely unscientific report their environment editor has been covering regularly since earlier this year.

The defenders all took refuge in attacking the credentials of those critiquing the study. Senior Reporter Simon King writes:

"Other experts lined up to slam the report included the Australian National University’s Jacqui Hoepner and Will Grant, who wrote about it for The Conversation. Grant has a PhD in politics and Hoepner is a journalist and neither has either acoustic or medical training.
Then came the most damning of them all, Sydney University’s professor of public health, Simon Chapman. Professor Chapman is also neither an acoustician nor a medical practitioner"

Originally, King lambasted Chapman for 'not having a PhD in medicine' - something quietly altered after Chapman issued a correction. His focus changed to the topic of Chapman's PhD:

Confusingly, the author of the original report insists, a lot, that his study wasn't a 'medical study', so it's weird and inexplicable that King angrily insists one needs to be a medical practitioner, or have a PhD in medicine, to offer comment on Cooper's study.

Anyway, it gets funnier, today, now that Lloyd's published another follow-up:

"Richard Mann, at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, said scientists there had arrived at a similar position to Mr Cooper despite working in a different way. 
“Our results show that wind turbines emit a characteristic pulsation (change in barometric pressure) that repeats with every blade passage,” Professor Mann said.
“This is consistent with the infra sound ‘signature’ you have reported.” 
The Waterloo University research did not consider health effects from wind turbine infrasound. But Professor Mann said: “I join the many scientists and experts worldwide requesting a thorough investigation of wind turbine noise.’’"

Well, first of all, the research wasn't published by Waterloo University. In fact, it wasn't published anywhere. Obviously, Richard Mann is an expert in acoustics, or a medical expert, or perhaps both.

Mann's published work include "Detecting Hand-Ball Events in Video Sequences", "Categorization and Learning of Pen Motion Using Hidden Markov Models" and "Analyzing the kinematics of bivariate pointing". Interesting, probably quite fascinating, but it's a little hard to detect his acoustics and medical training. Perhaps I'm just not googling enough?

"You probably know me for my recordings of live music and also nature and ambient sounds (see above). 
Recently I have been recording Industrial Wind Turbines (IWT).  It is not because I like the sound.  On the contrary I am recording to show just how noisy and intrusive the sound really is.  They are enormous industrial machines that have been forced on rural communities by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE).  Below is my (ongoing) documentation of noise polution (sic), noise and vibration (aka "infra sound"), medical evidence for harm to humans, and scientific links related to Wind Turbines."

On Mann's website,, he details a long list of wind farm opposition groups. It turns out I once interacted with him on a comment thread, in an article from a while ago. He says:

"I am not (yet) a claimant. I don't know if they will impact me or not. However, I have met people who are suffering. I met a woman who drives 20 miles every night to another place to sleep. There are many like that. Not the majority, but a significant minority of people. I just find it hard to believe all these "coincidences" are an accident. If this were a "clinical trial" it would be called off. Any other field of scientific inquiry would put a probable hypothesis on wind turbines. Maybe you think people are somehow "hypnotized" to believe turbines are bad. Many were pro Wind until they noticed the problems."
His Disqus profile is revealing. He's active on the Guardian, too:

Mann's also a member of the succinctly-named "Ontario Coalition for Harm-to-Health from Industrial-Wind-Turbines":

And his public Facebook page gives us a hint as to his motivations:

Of course, he's free to say all these things, but it's really quite amusing that, after yesterday's angry retaliation from journalists at The Australian, they've now enlisted the expertise of a computer scientist who doesn't like wind farms.

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