[ RadSafe ] Well said! Was Re: Radiation exposure and the power of zero

Doug Huffman doug.huffman at wildblue.net
Mon May 9 05:13:27 CDT 2011

Well said!  Thank you.  Tersely too.

On 5/9/2011 02:32, Chris Hofmeyr wrote:
> Hi, Bill,
> Being alive of course incurs a 100% integrated risk irrespective of the meaning
> of safety!. However, the LNT crowd treats living organisms as dead matter, i.e.
> with no biological response to (radiation) damage. That is most probably a poor
> assumption. Higher forms of life are not possible without vigorous and efficient
> DNA repair mechanisms. Aging probably results from the fact that the repair
> mechanisms are not quite 100% effective to begin with and weaken with time.
> Regards,
> Chris
> chris.hofmeyr at webmail.co.za
> On Fri, 6 May 2011 13:42:16 -0400 "Bill Prestwich" <prestwic at mcmaster.ca> wrote
>> Hi John,
>> This is a longer thing I sent regarding a local discussion here at Mac
>> arising from the 86 billion radsafe posting.
>> I don't think the radsafe posting was meant to be a rigorous discourse, and
>> neither is this reply. To set the record straight, the Linear No Threshold
>> (LNT) theory is really an assumption that the probability of a harmful
>> effect resulting from  exposure to ionizing radiation is directly
>> proportional to the effective dose. Ionizing radiation is the capitalist
>> form of radiation which evicts electrons from their molecules. Dose is
>> defined as the ratio of energy deposited by the radiation to the mass of the
>> object in which it is deposited. The adjective effective indicates that a
>> crude attempt has been made to take into account the variability of
>> effectiveness of different radiation types and the variability of radiation
>> sensitivity of different organs. It is not possible to make a quantitative
>> assessment for the scenario described in the article.
>>             The logical conclusion of the LNT, which has not been validated
>> empirically, is that any finite dose produces a finite probability for harm.
>> This is incorrectly translated into the statement that science has shown
>> there is no safe level of radiation. This is an Orwellian tactic which takes
>> advantage of two facts. First there is no scientific definition of safe, and
>> the proponents are implying it is zero probability of harm. Second the
>> concept of safe is generally treated as binary. Something that is not safe,
>> ie is unsafe, is dangerous. Hence the implication is that any radiation
>> exposure is dangerous. Now, given that we live on a radioactive planet, eat
>> radioactive food, breathe radioactive air, have radioactive bodies and are
>> bombarded by radiation from outer space, this means we must conclude that
>> the act of living is dangerous.
>>             This does however open up an interesting legal possibility. It
>> seems to me humanity has a right to launch a class action suit against the
>> religious organizations as representatives of God who, after all, bears the
>> ultimate responsibility for all this.
>>             Finally the general consensus is that it is not possible to
>> obtain statistically significant empirical data with which to test the LNT
>> assumption in the range of dose equivalents below the regulatory limits. The
>> situation is similar to attempting to detect a signal buried in noise
>> without the ingenious signal to noise enhancement techniques employed by our
>> electrical engineering colleagues. However, given that the assumption
>> ignores the known complexities of biological responses and fails to predict
>> observed radiobiological phenomena it is clear that the assumption does not
>> have a substantial scientific basis.

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