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Reply #117: Did I not just see a subject line like this: [View All]

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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-05-09 12:56 PM
Response to Reply #109
117. Did I not just see a subject line like this:
"You cite CERRIE which, according to this report, are industry hacks"

That certainly smacks of name-calling, and I didn't see any qualifiers like "mostly"

The thing is, I don't have a horse in this race. I do think there's good reason to re-examine the effects of low-level radiation, I'm not thrilled about the widespread use of depleted uranium in weapons (though I'd stop far short of the rhetoric I've seen calling it nuclear genocide), and there seems little question that the uranium mining business has had more than its share of scandals. Your rhetoric, including characterization of scientists with whom you agree as the only ones who care, is intrinsically polarizing. For instance, upthread is the claim

"Those who claim there is NO EVIDENCE for deaths from nuclear power plant operations are in denial of reality and ignorant of studies by qualified scientists who actually CARE about humanity."

which suggests that the scientists who fail to find such evidence persuasive do not "CARE about humanity." I don't see how this advances your cause in any way.

I might add that I am a physicist myself (though I don't work in nuclear physics today, I used to work in positron emission tomography and was a "radiation worker" in that capacity, so I do know at least a little about conventional radiation protection theory and practice). If someone wants to tell me that we don't know much about low-dose radiation biology, I'm listening. But when I go to the sites you recommend I see so much that tells me that the scientists doing this work are less interested in science than advocacy. For instance, from Chapter 2: Basis and Scope of the Report of the 2003 ECRR report we read

The committee believes that in the search for scientific objectivity it should 'look out of the window', rather than following the trend of increasing dependence on processes of mathematical modelling. Thus the committee has considered the results of studies published in the peer-review literature and also reports, books and articles which have not been submitted for peer review.


Well, one can certainly choose to do that. But it ain't science! To suggest one can develop any meaningful risk assessment without mathematical modeling is absurd on its face. And admitting into a survey like this "reports, books and articles which have not been submitted for peer review" pretty much proclaims a deliberate decision to divorce one's work from the scrutiny that allows real science to recover from mistakes.

It's certainly possible that ECRR is right and all of mainstream radiation health science is wrong. I also recognize that there is an asymmetry in career possibilities for scientists in these areas that gives rise to non-paranoid questions about possible bias in studies. But there was no profit motive in scientists determining that chlorofluorcarbons damaged the ozone layer. All the cards have always been stacked against scientists who studied first the possibility and then the reality of anthropogenic global climate change. Yet in these cases, the process worked. We went from "everyone knowing" CFCs were inert and harmless to banning their widespread production and use. We're in the middle of a huge fight against the biggest entrenched interests you can imagine on climate change, and on the science side the voices raising concern are winning. In the end, if you do your science and have the arguments, the data lead you to the right conclusions. If ECRR truly has the facts on their side, the best move is to work through the scientific community, and be responsive to legitimate criticisms of their work (of which there are many, even of the best science).

The 2003 report is clearly developed with a policy goal in mind, propped up by cherry-picked findings. Even logical consistency takes a beating. For instance, in the executive summary we read "The committee concludes that releases of radioactivity without consent can not be justified ethically since the smallest dose has a finite, if small, probability of fatal harm." This implies, for instance, that it is ethically unjustifiable to burn wood, since all wood has a certain fraction of carbon-14 and therefore, in being burned, radioactivity is released. What is the counter to this? That what you mean is that only radiation released by the nuclear power industry is subject to this ethical argument? That only radiation released by the nuclear power or nuclear weapons industries has a finite, if small, probability of fatal harm?
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