Prof. Dr Christopher Busby - controversial nuclear theories
Dr Chris Busby, is a British nuclear radiation scientist (born 1 September 1945) who is known for his debatable theories, connected with the nuclear industry and health effects of very low Dose Ionizing Radiation.
The Green party's former science and technology spokesman (C.V. ) has generated a prolonged scientific dispute with his experimentation, politics and recent promotion of anti-radiation pills, calcium and magnesium tablets, to people in Japan affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, that other leading scientists have condemned as "useless".
One of Busby's best-known contentions, widely repeated by anti-nuclear campaigners, is that there is a leukemia cluster among children living close to the coast of north Wales. This cluster, he maintains, is caused by radionuclides in the sea, from Sellafield and other sources. See video here.
His findings were self-published and released by the environmental consultancy and research organisation he runs, called Green Audit. This means that they were not subjected to the scientific assessment required by peer-reviewed journals. Data and claims have to withstand the peer review process if they're to be treated by other scientists as worthy of further investigation.
Busby's claims were later assessed by professional scientists working for the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit at the NHS, whose role is to record and analyse the incidence of cancer and monitor any trends in its occurrence.
They published their assessment in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, the Journal of Radiological Protection. Their paper reported a simple and devastating finding: there is no such cluster. Busby's claims, it seems, were the result of some astonishing statistical mistakes:
• He counted the overall leukaemia incidence for Wales twice
• He mixed up the figures from urban areas with those from small rural areas, "trebling the local incidence in north Wales" and creating "spurious clusters in various locations"
• He claimed there were ten cases of leukaemia in young children in Snowdonia. In reality there was just one case
Worst of all, the paper says:
• "We found clear evidence of data dredging which renders all subsequent statistical inference spurious … the dataset has been systematically trawled."
Though Busby's "findings" had not been subject to peer-review, they were repeated uncritically in the Welsh media, spreading fear and distress among local people.