[ RadSafe ] scientific arguments and LNT

Clayton J Bradt cjb01 at health.state.ny.us
Mon May 11 09:38:41 CDT 2009

On 9 May 2009 Bob Cherry wrote:

"Physicists call arguments without firm data to support them, "hand-waving
arguments." A nicer term might be plausibility arguments.

I believe the LNT enthusiasts and the hormesis supporters both are making
hand-waving arguments because neither side has definitive data, but both
sides have plausible data. It will take something definitive to settle the

I learned while studying for certification in 1980 that the sample
population needed to establish definitive dose effect statistics at
near-background doses and dose rates approaches or exceeds the world
population. Unless things have changed, I don't see how the argument will
ever be settled scientifically.

If we can't prove either model to be true at these dose and dose rate
levels, then the choice between models is mostly or completely arbitrary."

I don't quite agree.  A scientific argument can be had without firm data on
either side so long as there is a rigorous underlying theory.  For decades
the only experimental evidence supporting General Relativity was
Eddington's famous observations during the 1919(?) solar eclipse.  It
wasn't until recently that people reviewing Eddington's data and methods
realized that the reported displacement of fixed stars by the sun's
gravitational field was within the error limits of his method.  But is
wasn't just the (erroneous) experimental evidence that convinced people
that General Relativity was correct - it was the rigor of the theory
itself.  It makes precise, and therefore falsifiable, predictions - and it
explains physical reality in a more elegant and comprehensive way than was
previously available.

In contrast, LNT and the underlying target theory of radiation cancer
induction, does not generate testable predictions, nor explain how
radiation causes cancer.  What is really lacking, I think, is a
comprehensive theory of cancer itself.

Clayton J. Bradt
dutchbradt at hughes.net

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