Experts and anecdotes : shaping the public science of mobile phone health risks
This thesis reports on a case study of scientific and public aspects of the recent
controversy over the possible health risks of mobile phones and their base stations.
The research for this project involved 31 interviews with key actors (scientists,
advisory scientists and representatives from interest groups and industry) and
archive and documentary research. Using theoretical perspectives from Science and
Technology Studies, I recount the move from a style of scientific advice in which
non-experts were prevented from engaging with science to one in which their
concerns and knowledge were ostensibly considered.
These advisory discourses are described as constructing (and reconstructing) not
only a level of scientific uncertainty, but also the limits of public engagement. In this
way, scientific and-social orders are co-produced in the course of public science.
'Public concern' about mobile phones is revealed as a malleable, dynamic set of
interests and actions. Experts, in taking public concern into account, reshape it,
controlling areas of public engagement. As well as the narrative of changing
scientific advice which prompts these insights, I consider the meanings attached to
the term 'anecdotal evidence' as a site for the contesting of uncertainty and public