Posts Tagged reporting

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.

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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.

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