[ RadSafe ] Jeff Purcell Cornell Article ..
Brennan, Mike (DOH)
Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Thu Apr 26 11:31:09 CDT 2007
I think it can be worthwhile to contact the reporter (at least in a regular paper, I am not so sure about a college paper) and discuss the article with them. Often they have little knowledge about the subject and take what the "expert" says at face value. I think a reasonable goal for people in radiation protection is to be the default expert for at least one reporter.
As an example, several weeks ago there was an article in one of our daily papers about a plutonium power source the CIA lost in a glacier in the Himalayas in the 1960s. There were several quoted statements from "experts" that undoubtedly seemed reasonable to the uninformed, but that were questionable (or clearly wrong) to someone who knew something about rad.
I asked the lab that (supposedly) did the analysis for more detailed information and I contacted the reporter. She was receptive to discussing the details and where there might be misleading statements. She did not seem to be amused when I demonstrated, using the lab results, that the sample taken was not positive for plutonium, but that the guy from the lab had crafted a statement that made her think there was plutonium, without actually lying in a way that would get him in trouble in court. She did not seem favorably disposed that he had manipulated her into printing something that supported his cause but that he knew to be not true.
I am hoping that the next time she has a story that involves radiation she will give me a call, rather than the lawyer-activist "expert" who didn't quite lie to her last time. We will see.
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl] On Behalf Of Sandy Perle
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2007 7:23 AM
To: 'Franz Schönhofer'; 'Roger Helbig'; 'radsafelist'
Subject: RE: [ RadSafe ] Jeff Purcell Cornell Article ..
I'll agree and disagree with Franz's comments.
* I agree with the comment that "To complain about those obvious
nonsensical news on mass media is in my opinion not enough."
* I agree with the comment "but it might be necessary that
electricity supply would have to break down in order to demonstrate the dependency on electricity."
* I disagree with the comment that "Political considerations are
opposed to such activities in most countries and in my own country (Austria) the relevant webpage of my former Ministry deals with the "anti-nuclear politics of Austria".
Where there has been any involvement in US Govt. websites, most notably NRC, DOE, etc., there is positive information provided on nuclear energy. In France and many other countries the governments do post pro-nuclear information. So it's not all negative.
Once can debate what should be scanned from the media and then provided to a professional forum. Here in the USA we have freedom of the press and the right to free speech. That doesn't mean that all speech is legitimate, doesn't mean that it's accurate, honest or with integrity. Some, a very few individuals who I can count on less than the fingers on one hand, have questioned why some of my postings include articles that are anti-nuclear or do not include all the facts as they truly are. The point has been and remains, I post what the media posts and what the public is "exposed" to ... pun intended. We in the industry to better educate the public have to understand what the public is being told and determine what they believe in order to provide the facts and then let the public decide. The nuclear option while mostly a political debate is also one that the public has a large stake in and they do have clout when it does come to decision making.
I disagree with the statement
* "I can only say that any "education of the public" could only
occur by the government.
It is well known that the public generally does not trust government or the power companies either. Scientists aren't believed because for every scientist who states a pro-nuclear view, there is one or two that directly oppose that view. Imagine, if the scientific community can not agree on the basis of LNT, for how many decades, what do you think the public believes?
Look at the scandals in Japan for instance, regarding the lies told to the public about the safety of their nuclear plants. Do you think that the anti-nuclear entities would have any problems debating their government when it comes to attacking nuclear power?
In summary, the public has the right to read what they read. The press in this country is free. Professional organizations have the right and duty to provide accurate information. In the end, the public needs to hear all sides of an issue and then they need to form a decision, an opinion, based on the best information available. Nobody is going to force a decision either pro or anti down the throats of an educated public.
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>From Franz Schönhofer
Sent: Monday, April 23, 2007 3:36 PM
To complain about those obvious nonsensical news on massmedia is in my
opinion not enough. To use the ridiculous term of "educating the public",
preferably by sending answers to papers etc. is of no use."
Having been for an unfortunate and unsatisfying five-years period a
"regulator" in Austria and having been involved actually decades before that
in the debate on nuclear power in Austria I can only say that any "education
of the public" could only occur by the government. Political considerations
are opposed to such activities in most countries and in my own country
(Austria) the relevant webpage of my former Ministry deals with the
"anti-nuclear politics of Austria". Sorry to say, but it might be necessary
that electricity supply would have to break down in order to demonstrate the
dependency on electricity - sorry, not correct, this would be reported in
the news media as blackmail of the Nuclear Lobby.
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