Posts Tagged media

Fukushima media coverage ‘may be harmful’ – health – 30 August 2011 – New Scientist

One report, in UK newspaper The Independent, quoted a scientist who predicted more than a million would die, and that the prolonged release of radioactivity from Fukushima would make health effects worse than those from the sudden release experienced at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine.

“We’ve got to stop these sorts of reports coming out, because they are really upsetting the Japanese population,” says Gerry Thomas at Imperial College London, who is attending the meeting. “The media has a hell of a lot of responsibility here, because the worst post-Chernobyl effects were the psychological consequences and this shouldn’t happen again.”

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency report that the release of radioactivity from Fukushima is about 10 per cent that of Chernobyl. “There’s very little leakage now,” says Thomas. “The Japanese did the right thing at the right time, providing stable iodine to ensure that doses of radioactive iodine to the thyroids of children were minimal,” she says.

Thomas said that Japanese researchers attending the meeting are upset too. “They’re saying: ‘Please tell the truth, because no one believes us’.”

via Fukushima media coverage ‘may be harmful’ – health – 30 August 2011 – New Scientist.

Not sure about the wisdom or practicability of “We’ve got to stop these sorts of reports coming out”, but I sympathize with the sentiment. The Japanese government has also tried doing the same thing, or at least trying to keep track of what is be written on the Internet, and then trying to counter the mis-information. The trouble is, no-one trusts the government!

Tags: , , , ,

WORLDbytes – After Fukushima: The Fear Factor | Atomic Insights

Why is anyone who suggests that the radiation news may not be all bad, immediately labeled an apologist for the nuke industry? Hint: it has something to do with Marxism. See below the video for my answer.

In the video, Ms. Fox tells how many of the journalists that she regularly serves from the Science Media Center were being told by their editors to find more sensational ways to frame the Fukushima story. She even mentions that several respected reporters were actually pulled off of the story because they continued filing reports that were measured, balanced and not sensational enough.She describes how hurtful and insulting it was to her experts, nearly all of whom are professional academics, to be referred to as “apologists” for the nuclear industry merely because they refused to blow the story out of proportion. She tells how one of her experts is a radiation health specialist who has worked with patients undergoing radiation treatments for many years and has never had any association with the “nuclear industry.” That expert knows a great deal about the effects of radiation on the human body, both from study and personal experience. She also talked about how often radiation is used to save lives and how she cannot understand why the media believes that it is the basis for unique levels of fear.

via WORLDbytes – After Fukushima: The Fear Factor | Atomic Insights.

Scrolling to the bottom, I see the article is penned by Rod Adams, a feisty type whom I’ve come across before.

A distinctive feature of Marxist rhetoric is the grouping of people into classes. According to Marx, people think the way they do because they belong to a particular class. Marxism does not recognize individuals. If you are a member of the proletariat, you will have certain values and philosophies and opinions which are wholly shaped by your class.  Whatever you say or think will be proletarian.  There may be some truth in this, but the disadvantage (or the advantage, depending on your point of view) is that it takes away the need to discuss a person’s ideas or opinions on their merits.  Whatever you believe, you believe it because you are a member of a particular social class. There is no need to delve into the merits of what you believe, and whether or not it is believable. If you are not a member of the proletariat, whatever you say can be dismissed as “bourgeois” or worse, “capitalist” (a term invented by Marx as one of sneering contempt.)

This thinking is so pervasive these days, many people take it as a given and think nothing of it: “Oh, he’s only saying that because he’s a politician/a Republican/a Democrat/a Japanese/etc.” (take your pick of group).

The Christian writer C.S. Lewis lampooned this way back when in “The Pilgrim’s Regress” (and I see I’ve quoted this before):

Jailor: “You there… what is argument?”

Master Parrot: “Argument is the attempted rationalization of the arguer’s desires.”

Jailor: “Very good… What is the answer to an argument turning on the belief that two and two make four?”

Master Parrot: “The answer is ‘You say that because you are a mathematician’”.

Ludwig von Mises analyzed this very clearly in a chapter of his opus magister Human Action called Polylogism (Human Action is available as a free PDF download thanks to the generosity of the Mises Institute):

Human reason, [Marx] asserted, is constitutionally unfitted to find truth. The logical structure of mind is different with various social classes. There is no such thing as a universally valid logic. What mind produces can never be anything but “ideology,” that is, in the Marxian terminology, a set of ideas disguising the selfish interests of the thinker’s own social class. Hence, the “bourgeois” mind of the economists is utterly incapable of producing more than an apology for capitalism. The teachings of “bourgeois” science, an offshoot of “bourgeois” logic, are of no avail for the proletarians, the rising class destined to abolish all classes and to convert the earth into a Garden of Eden.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Evacuation turns into chance to help victims | The Japan Times Online

More on the “fly-jin”. I don’t think this is a clear-cut, black-or-white matter, that those who “flew” were irrational cowards while those who stayed were hard-headed realists loyal to Japan, their families and their jobs. Comments below the quotes.

With so much information available and even governments disagreeing on the best course of action, many residents of the affected areas understandably became worried about the safety of staying in their homes as the nuclear crisis unfolded. Though their Sendai home is technically just outside the official evacuation area, British-born Dominic Jones chose to evacuate with his Japanese wife and two young children as soon as the British government recommended leaving the already shaken area. “They were saying that the situation on the ground was much more serious, in fact, on par with Three Mile Island. They also said its ongoing, so it might even get worse.”

It is, however, clear that because of discrepancies in the way that information is being interpreted, foreign nationals living in Japan are under a lot of pressure from family and friends overseas to leave the country.

“I found news reports conflicting,” explains one Nagano Prefecture resident, who will be called Emma for this story. She extended a holiday in Australia because of radiation worries.

U.S.-based channels like CNN were screaming ‘meltdown’ and Japanese stations remained calm and collected. Some of our friends, particularly those who have lived in Japan a long time, stopped watching CNN and sensationalized foreign news and reverted to Japanese and English updates and embassy reports due to the drama and fear-mongering of foreign channels. But for non-Japanese speakers, one problem was that Japanese channels only had limited news in English so most foreigners had to rely on overseas channels. If I had not already booked flights home, I am sure I would have experienced a lot of stress with pressure from my family and friends from home, to come home.”

via Evacuation turns into chance to help victims | The Japan Times Online.

There seem to be several factors in play here: Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Japan nuclear crisis: South Korea schools closed over Fukushima radiation fears | Mail Online

It is to try and prevent things like this happening, that the Japanese government yesterday asked foreign media to report objectively on the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday, as sensationalist or factually incorrect reports are believed to have fanned fears and led to import restrictions on Japanese products.

Notice that the Daily Mail article does not provide any figures. By ommission, it suggests that the parents’ fears were justified.

Scores of schools in South Korea were closed today as teachers and parents panicked over fears that falling rain could be carrying radiation from Japans crippled nuclear plant.As rain swept across the Korean capital, Seoul, and the surrounding Gyeonggi province, classes were cancelled or cut back and children were hurried to their homes.Seoul is around 750 miles from the damaged nuclear plant at Fukushima and since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami radiation has been

via Japan nuclear crisis: South Korea schools closed over Fukushima radiation fears | Mail Online.

教室出租 02 by Sharelady on Flickr

教室出租 02 by Sharelady on Flickr

Tags: , , , , , ,

Be objective, not sensationalist, foreign media told | The Japan Times Online

It’s official: foreign media sensationalized the Fukushima crisis and were even factually wrong. Shock! Horror! Shorely not!!

Shock Shock Horror Horror by Jeremy Brooks on Flickr

Shock Shock Horror Horror by Jeremy Brooks on Flickr

Interestingly, or perversely, some foreigners in Japan seemed to believe the sensationalist press rather than the restrained Japanese one, precisely because the restrained reports gave the impression of witholding information, leading to mistrust.

Tokyo has been asking foreign media to report objectively on the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday, as sensationalist or factually incorrect reports are believed to have fanned fears and led to import restrictions on Japanese products.State Foreign Secretary Chiaki Takahashi told a news conference that the government believes some reports by foreign media were “excessive,” and through Japanese diplomatic missions abroad has urged the news organizations responsible to correctly and objectively disseminate information.Ministry officials said some foreign media, especially tabloids, have overemphasized the danger of radioactive materials leaking from the Fukushima plant by focusing on extreme projections

via Be objective, not sensationalist, foreign media told | The Japan Times Online.

Tags: , , , , , ,


BNC, one of my regular stops for solid news and perspective on the Fukushima nuclear crisis (tho most posters and commenters are pro-nuclear power, so that should be borne in mind), hosts Guest Post by Dr. William Sacks. His article contains some sobering reminders of how we can be misled by the very media which is supposed to be the antidote, the “fourth estate” which is keeping government and the authorities honest. Ha!

Bill is a highly experienced physicist and radiologist. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physics from Rice University in 1959, a PhD in Harvard in 1966 (cosmology and general relativity), then did a medical degree and  two-year postgraduate training at Connecticut Medical School, finishing in 1979. He followed this up with a residency in nuclear medicine and radiology at George Washington University through to 1985. He subsequently worked for 10 years as a general radiologist at Kaiser Permanente and later as a medical officer in the Office of Device Evaluation in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health for more than 7 years. In that time he worked with statisticians, physicists, other physicians, and many other specialties. He later worked as a clinical radiologist in Tuscon, and recently retired to spend time researching and writing on energy, climate change, evolutionary biology, economics, history, and physics/astronomy/cosmology.

Early media concentration on the nuclear plant at Fukushima Daiichi created a great sense of fear in people around the world.  Reporting was distorted by both exaggeration and omission, focusing more on the reactors than on the quake and tsunami that killed over 20,000 people according to recent Japanese government estimates.  Media reports still contain phrases like “222 times higher than the legal limit,” “higher than normal,” “radiation found in the water,” all of which are meaningless without comparisons that permit us to evaluate their significance.  The patchwork of “experts” who were interviewed to explain the events, each with her/his own particular knowledge and set of interests, added to the confusion instead of replacing it with a sense of proportion.

An example of omission is the absence of follow-up on the oil refinery fire at Chiba, about 20-30 miles east of Tokyo and over 100 miles south of Fukushima. In fact, it killed 12 workers and required 10 days to put out the fire, which spewed toxic smoke and chemicals far and wide, as well as CO2 into the atmosphere that adds to global warming, and resulted in unknown numbers of latent cancers, heart attacks, asthma, and deaths. Yet once TV images of the flames, falsely linked through association with the nuclear reactors, lost their usefulness, they disappeared from sight.

Nor did the media report widely, if at all, on a hydroelectric dam in Fukushima prefecture, burst by the quake, that flooded 1800 homes, with unknown numbers of deaths.  In addition to the estimated 20,000+ tsunami deaths, homelessness and ongoing lack of water and electricity affect hundreds of thousands of people.

via BraveNewClimate.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Josef Oehmen and Fukushima – Would I have believed myself? « BraveNewClimate

Josef Oehmen, whose post “Why I am Not Concerned about Japan’s Nuclear Reactors” was posted March 13th and which quickly went viral, is revisiting his original piece, which is again being hosted by Brave New Climate. The comments are particularly interesting. Dr. Oehmen’s follow-up piece,  the title suggests, is about the media and how readers decide whether a piece of writing is trustworthy or not.

I haven’t read it, and don’t intend to. Who cares, at this stage, with the Fukushima crisis still critical (!), whether Dr. Oehmen thinks his original article was believable or not?

Personally, I was very pleased to read Dr. Oehmen’s original article. Although I was a little sceptical of the upbeat optimism, I was very glad for the detailed, technical information because it provided me with a framework of reference within which I could place the info coming from the TV and newspapers. I live in Japan and have friends and relatives in Tokyo, and I was very worried. This article helped calm me down, but I did not become complacent or stop watching the news. Over the following days, the Japanese TV pundits came out and explained all the things that Dr. Oehmen had explained. It was satisfying and calming to see them repeating or confirming much of what he had written, but following the story since the beginning has been an emotional roller-coaster ride.

The day after I read the Oehmen article, I got a call from a friend who lives in Tokyo and wanted to leave. He seemed very worried indeed, and I mentioned the Oehmen article. He said he’d come across it, but dismissed it because it seemed so positive!

On Sunday, March 13, my cousin in Japan posted an email I had written to him on his blog in the early morning at 3am EST. The email explained the context of nuclear physics and engineering, as well as discussed the events at the Daiichi-1 reactor until that point. It also featured my very strong opinion that they are safe. By lunchtime, it was the second most twittered site on the internet (you can read the whole story at At the end of the day, it had been translated into more than 9 languages (often multiple times), and after 48 hours had been read by several million people. Two weeks into my unwanted and luckily rapidly cooling off Web 2.0 stardom, I have begun working through the trauma and reflecting. Thanks for sharing, you might think. But one question in particular came up that also has some general relevance:

Would I have believed myself if I came across that blog and had no prior knowledge of nuclear physics and engineering? Or asked another way: How do you judge the quality of TV, radio, print and internet news reporting on topics that you are only superficially familiar with?

via Josef Oehmen and Fukushima – Would I have believed myself? « BraveNewClimate.

Dr. Oehmen, who cares? Perhaps once this crisis is safely behind us, assuming it has a happy ending, I might have the luxury to read your follow-up article, but not today.

I haven’t read all the (to date, 61) comments yet, but I was most impressed with this one by Francois Manchon:

Thank you so much Josef for putting together your original text. And many thanks again to Barry for his incredible information compilation task.

When the mass media talk about some topic that I *really* know of, I am very often struck by the blatant errors, simplifications, misunderstandings and superficial explanations. Of course, some journalists do better, but the whole media business is about making audience. I can understand why they prefer spectacular titles such as “the Fukushima nuclear plant is out of control” (yes, I read this) rather than facts.

Josef, your text was a crystal clear explanation of what happened. I would only blame the overly optimistic point of view: your text is clearly written to ensure the readers that they are safe. That is perfectly acceptable for a private communication. For a public post it opens the way to the attacks which you experienced.

Dogs bark, the caravan goes on. Please keep up the great job

There are even better ones further down on the BNC blog.

Tags: , , ,

U.S. no-go zone ‘overreaction’ | The Japan Times Online

It is information from the scientific community that, on the whole, has been of the greatest usefulness in this crisis.


  1. Dr Josef Oehmen’s letter to a friend in Japan, Why I am not concerned about Japan’s nuclear reactors, written a couple of days after the tsunami hit.
  2. The Brave New Climate blog
  3. World Nuclear News website
  4. Marketing Japan – for news about Tokyo situation and links to radiation level readings and general upbeat humour
  5. Excellent chart of radiation dosage levels and effects (which I found on the BraveNewClimate blog)

 It is media articles by journalists, whose job is to sell newspapers and eyeballs to their advertisers, not to purvey news, that have been not only much less useful but have fanned the flames of panic (because that sells, duh). Here’s another informed source, this one commenting on the 80-km no-go zone whcih was first announced by the U.S. military in Japan, then repeated by the U.S. government. The author also compares Fukushima with Chernobyl, based on his personal experience of the latter.

The U.S. government may have overreacted in setting an 80-km radius no-go zone for U.S. citizens near the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, an expert on radiation and cancer immunology said Tuesday in Tokyo.

U.S. hematologist Robert Gale, who treated Chernobyl exposure victims in 1986, said the current exclusion zone by the Japanese government that covers a 20-km radius around the plant is already “conservative.”

“There is no solid reason for the U.S. government to suggest a wider evacuation,” considering the current level of microsieverts detected in the region, he said.

Gale was one of the few doctors from the West who took part in the rescue mission at the 1986 Chernobyl incident, where he flew to Moscow and treated firefighters who were exposed to high levels of radiation.

He has taken part in medical rescue efforts after the 1999 nuclear chain reaction accident in Tokaimura, Ibaraki Prefecture, and Brazil’s Goiania nuclear incident in 1987.

“Generally speaking, the public, even the educated people, have (little) knowledge of radiation risk, and do not trust authorities and information — even if it is correct,” Gale said of reactions to nuclear accidents.

Tens of thousands tried to flee Kiev, a city about 100 km south of Chernobyl, when the nuclear meltdown occurred, but that turned out to be unnecessary, he said.

via U.S. no-go zone ‘overreaction’ | The Japan Times Online.

Tags: , , , , , ,

iPad cads scalping buyers –, or why I don’t read newspapers (3)

Here we go again.

A cutthroat Asian group has set its crosshairs on the flagship Apple store on Fifth Avenue at 59th — scoring nearly every iPad 2 it can get its hands since the hot gizmo went on sale last week, to re-peddle at exorbitant prices here and in China. The illicit, highly orchestrated scheme was in full gear yesterday, with a ringleader doling out massive wads of $100 bills to about five cohorts. The sidekicks then went up and down a line of about 200 Asians outside the store and around the corner, handing out the money.

via iPad cads scalping buyers –

Why is this happening? Because Apple has priced the iPad2 at exactly the same price as the original version, and then it is limiting purchases to 2 per customer, hence the “cutthroat Asians” 200 “cohorts”. 

Are they cutting anyone’s throats? No. What are they doing? As Gary North puts it,

The scammers in line then went inside and bought iPad 2’s — wiping out the store within minutes.

Wiping out the store! How? Buy paying the listed price. I mean, this is Pearl Harbor stuff!

“We buy from here, then sell,” one of the organizers gloated outside the store, standing near one of several bulging, oversized shopping bags filled with the hot devices.

Can you imagine the mendacity? They buy, then sell. There ought to be a law!…

A legitimate would-be customer said she’s been to the store three times since Friday — only to be thwarted by the creeps.

What is a “legitimate” customer? Someone who got to the store late.

What is a “creep”? An Asian who got there early.

Great stuff. Read the whole thing. (It’s free!)

Although this article is free, I would (and do) pay good money for this kind of journalism. Unfortunately,  journalists don’t wrote this stuff in the newspapers. They think that writing crap like “iPads cads scalping buyers” makes better journalism.  They are probably right. It sells newspapers. It sells eyeballs to advertisers. That is what journalism is. Not purveying the truth. Not the sacred duties of the fourth estate.

Thanks to the New York  Post for giving such a glaring and excellent example of what journalism truly is. Mr. Leo Lewis, are you reading this?

Tags: , ,

Foreign media take flak for fanning fears

It’s official. No doubt from now we will see the edifying spectacle of the media industry eating itself: making news out of its own incompetence. My relatives abroad have been most concerned about my safety: I sent them 3 articles. None of them were from a mainstream source.

Some foreign media coverage of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has been so extreme it has fanned fears of a deadly radiation cloud descending on Tokyo and turning residents into walking zombies, before drifting across the oceans to menace the United States and Ireland. According to another “fact,” authorities have been warning those in a position to leave Tokyo to flee the city immediately, because another severe quake or an eruption at Mount Fuji could spark a meltdown at the “Shibuya Eggman nuclear reactor” – which in reality is a live house, or concert hall, in Tokyo [as reported here by Marketing Japan]. Laugh if you want, but a large number of domestic and overseas critics charge that such fear-mongering is responsible for causing the international panic over the Fukushima plant, and for persuading many foreign and Japanese residents of Tokyo to leave, either temporarily or permanently. Japan Times, Mar 21 Link:

via Foreign media take flak for fanning fears.

The Japan Times article includes this quote from Leo Lewis of the London Times:

“It is a very fine balance. But if the price paid for having a vigilant media is occasional bursts of sensationalism, I’d probably take that over a more acquiescent press whose worst failure is the dereliction of its fourth estate duties,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , ,