Monday, 25 March 2013

Inventing Victims - Wind Turbine Syndrome in Ontario

Today's guest editorial comes from Richard (Dick) Hill, a retired researcher who is interested in the social advantages of wind power and environmental protection.   As a former mayor, he is also intrigued by the political and activist hypocrisy approach in attacking this new energy source.

The effect and non-effect of Ontario wind turbines is a topical discussion.  I have just read a book, The Righteous Mind by Jonathon  Haidt (Pantheon 2012), which provides significant thought on how humans react with something new and what drives people who are resistant to change.  Haidt basically comments that if somebody doesn’t like change or the appearance of wind turbines, they will invent victims to justify their assumptions.

In Ontario, the anti-wind turbine syndrome is mainly a creation of the Conservative Party in an effort to minimize any environmental and economic effects initiated by the Liberal Party, in particular the Green Energy Act of 2009.  It is used as a political wedge issue to create FUD - fear, uncertainty and doubt.  The unsubstantiated issues of public health and economics are secondary to the political challenge of defeating the opposition by any means.

There are over 250,000 large wind turbines around the world producing environmentally friendly electricity with little social or economic comment.  Even in Ontario the most effected people, with operating wind turbines on their property, do not complain.  If the anti-wind activist statements were true, most of Europe would be dead by now.  The wind turbine syndrome is essentially an Ontario illness.

The well-funded anti-wind activists talk of supposed harms without scientific or technical evidence that stand jurisprudence.  It is an issue searching for a problem with reasoning in support of emotional reactions for the judgements they have already made.  Most people make first judgements quickly and then search for reasons to support them.

Many of the supposed harms from wind turbines are fabricated myths with preposterous victim claims. The anti-wind zealots are not searching for veracity, but are reasoning in support of their emotional reactions using distorted scientific studies, social media and Google to find support.   This confirmatory mindset is a one-sided method to rationalize a particular point of view in support of their decision.  This extreme partisanship can be addictive, forming a consensual hallucination.

There are multiple ills attributed to wind turbines with headaches, nausea, and sleep loss being most prevalent. These problems are common with modern living of which around 20 to 50 percent of the population complain whether or not they live near wind turbines.  The symptoms are real but the causes are general.

This situation is political opinion that is not based on real facts.  Well-funded lobby groups have the skills and resources to distort reality making it difficult for the medical community to overcome.  Most of the anti-wind evidence is based on personal stories without medical certification or judicial review.  Also myths and mischief Information are provided by vested interests.

Front organizations such as Wind Concerns Ontario and Ontario Wind Resistance spread misleading stories and faux facts about wind turbines that scares people in the manner of a flu or small pox epidemic.  Other social scares have been created for cell phone, WIFI, wireless phone towers, high-voltage power lines, fluoridated water and vaccinations to which the same illnesses such as headaches and sleep deprivation are attributed.  The medical community has not been able to find any linkage causing human adverse health.  Studies have shown that attributed symptoms continue as long as the sufferer believes they are exposed to the source even when the source no longer exists.  This is known as psychogenic illnesses, otherwise known as the nocebo effect - belief that something causes real harm- and is the opposite to a placebo.

Some Ontario residents are suffering genuine health symptoms but the source of these symptoms should not be attributed to wind turbines.  Possibly these illnesses are caused by the extreme hype of the anti-wind organizations that spread misinformation and bully citizens at public meetings.  It is the misinformation from vested interests that causes harm, not wind turbines.  The syndrome is mainly a communicated disease causing medical panic related to either hysteria or NIMBY-ism.

Haidt’s ‘The Righteous Mind’ helps to understand the anti-wind political aspects and how balanced information can help the wind industry to proceed with the their environment friendly and cost effective energy programs.  Ontario residents are foolish to be consumed by fear of hypothetical harm from the supposed health effects of living next to wind farms.


  1. Agree 100%. Seems our aging boomer generation is far more prone to fear tactics and resistant to change of any kind than are younger people. There remains a huge audience for these negative tactics being used by anti-everything groups and political parties who know how to manipulate fear in ways that suit their goals......votes and funding! If only the under 35 group would get out and vote in large enough numbers, this situation would have a chance to quickly change for the better.

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