An Ill Wind

By Keith Kloor | March 21, 2013 12:07 am

When I first wrote about wind turbine syndrome last year, I was pretty dubious of it. Since then, I’ve periodically returned to the subject to explore the wider implications of its premise.

To refresh: Some people who live near wind farms say the noise from the whirring blades is making them sick. There is no good evidence for this, but several recent studies suggest that the adverse symptoms (such as headaches and vertigo) are a psychosomatic response to the fear-mongering of anti-wind activists and newspapers.

This week in Slate I discuss the new research on wind turbine syndrome and how the condition apparently spreads. What is interesting to me, which I talk about in the piece, are the commonalities between wind turbine syndrome and the great electromagnetic field scare.  Have a read.

Another new piece in Slate that I highly recommend reading is by science writer George Johnson (and a  fellow Discover blogger), who takes a cold-eyed look at supposed cancer clusters.

  • JonFrum

    So NIMBYs have learned to complain of environmental diseases when they don’t want something built near them. I wonder who they got that idea from….. – I’m looking at you, card carrying environmentalists.

  • harrywr2

    I’m out in Washington State…we have ‘mega windfarms’ out in the rural portions of the state. Falmouth Massachusetts is too densely populated for large wind turbines.

    Most places have something called ‘zoning’ that prohibits changing the character of an area. A wind turbine is a large industrial machine. They don’t belong in residential neighborhoods.

    • Pdiff

      Your stereotyping is ill placed. There are many in rural Washington who object to those windfarms because they feel it changes the character of the area. Likewise, I’m sure you could find people in Falmouth who would welcome turbines. I also note that zoning in itself is a poor guide as it can enforce unreasonable cookie cutter uniformity and limit personal choice. And, exactly what does belong in residential neighborhoods? Lawnmowers? Harleys? RVs?

    • JonFrum

      The turbines in the Cape Wind project would be so far off shore that they wound appear the size of your thumbnail at arm’s length.

      Cape Wind isn’t a bad project because it harms ‘the neighborhood – Cape Wind is a bad project because wind turbines are a poor producer of electricity. Never mind the fact that their location is at the heart of a major bird migratory route, and the thousands of birds they’d kill would never be seen.

  • kdk33

    You misunderstand the syndrome: It is a gastrointestinal disturbance brought on by the pondering of blighting otherwise pleasant landscapes with antiquated, ineffective, expensive, taxpayer funded machinery for no sane reason whatsoever.

    In other words: the wind energy scam is starting to make people sick.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.


See More

Collapse bottom bar