[ RadSafe ] At first I thought this completely off topic --on third thought I'm no longer so sure.
maurysis at peoplepc.com
Sat Nov 5 06:05:14 CDT 2011
Ed, please don't be offended by this -- it is not aimed at you but
rather is shared with you for the humorous perspective I thought it
might shed on this thread. Your email and the Barnum story just happened
along together at about the same time ... along with a whiff of $75
bottles of anti-radiation pills; an inevitable aspect of our humanity
that seems also a permanent part of us..
The Brick Man
Barnum knew the power of mystery. An unemployed man came to his museum
and asked Barnum for a job. Barnum handed the man five bricks and
instructed him to solemnly place the bricks in five specific places
around the outside of the museum. As he went from spot to spot, he was
to replace the brick at each spot with another one that he was carrying.
He was to answer no questions, speak to no one, and seem to be deaf and
dumb. Once an hour, he was to enter the museum, walk right next to the
ticket taker, seem to pay the fee, and then proceed through the museum
and out the door. A crowd began to form, watching the man and wondering
what he was doing. Many of the crowds followed him into the museum just
to see what was going on. In fact, the police had to ask Barnum to stop
the man, because the crowds that he was creating were stopping traffic.
Maury&Dog [MaurySiskel maurysis at peoplepc.com]
On 11/5/2011 1:28 AM, Ed Johnson wrote:
> There is little doubt that reactions based on fear were indeed an adaptation that contributed to our survival as a species over the course of tens of thousands of years, and for millions of years before that in our predecessor species. The genes that code for the complex protein structures that collectively are expressed as survival instinct behavior are certainly deeply ingrained in our genome. So it is likely that this inherited behavior is also a contributor to what seems to us (the experts) to be an over-reaction to the hazards that accompany the generation of nuclear power which are not detectable by the five senses (i.e., Ted de Castro has a valid point).
> But it is also true that such behavior was dominant before our species engaged its intellect into high gear. And there lies the heart of the problem. The growth of our technology from "stone knives and bear skins" (thank you Mr. Spock) up to the present day's zillions of applications that have resulted from an understanding of the quantum chromodynamic nature of our universe did not happen because people remained stuck in the "fear gear." The rise and acceleration of abstract and reasoned thought by bold and gifted individuals is what propelled technology to its current state. Those less gifted applied their intellect by trusting the intellect and uncommon abilities of the innovators, and went along with new technologies because they were immediately and personally beneficial, even though they remained ignorant of the details. This lead-and-follow pattern is still with us, but the current masses are not trusting the captains of our industry to lead them into reliance on what has become an extremely operationally safe and reliable energy source.
> There are numerous influential factors that have resulted in the masses of Western cultures not engaging their intellect to trust the leaders on this issue. Here are a few that I have noted over the course of my career in health physics: 1) the associated hazards are undetectable by the senses, 2) an ignorance/lack of education about the multitude of beneficial and life-saving applications of nuclear power (e.g., not just electricity generation, but also medical diagnostics and therapeutics, radio-labeling in bio research, food and materials sterilization, self-powered lighting, smoke detection, deep space probe power sources, and many other industrial applications), 3) an ignorance of the current state of highly refined and successful methods and practice of both reactor plant and radiation protection operations, 4) fear-mongoring-for-advertising-dollars by the media who also are uneducated on the subject, 5) the very loud, organized, and ignorant anti-nuke minority who are manipulated and falsely led by their leaders, but who are a perfect setup for the media referenced in 4) above, 6) the inappropriate and frustrating, but inevitable link with nuclear weapons by the media and the antis (it's just irresponsible journalism, which has become the standard in the U.S.), 7) oversight by a federal agency (AEC/NRC) that has also played the role of promoting the industry (yeah, that really fosters trust), 8) TMI and Chernobyl, even though depth-in-defense engineering of the TMI reactor vessel held up under the high temp of the largely melted core, and the Chernobyl plant's graphite moderated design is not, to my knowledge, used in any operating Western power plant--not to mention the fact that their engineers foolishly and purposely defeated the plant's safeguards to run a push-it-to-the-limit test, 9) let's face it, nuclear engineers and health physicists are perceived by the public as nerdy (myself included), and are not good promoters of their craft--I mean, really, how many of us have the telepresence of Michiu Kaku (love him or hate him) or Brian Greene, and last, but certainly not least, 10) political gain: politicos will say anything, and I mean anything, to turn the camera eye their way and get a vote. I have personally witnessed this many times: "Don't bother me with the truth, son, can't you see the camera is on and my lips are movin'."
> After many years of observing these factors, I have concluded that what underlies the fear and distrust reactions to anything nuclear is that people are responding via the emotional centers of their brain and not their intellect, and this relates to Doug Minnema's point taken from Pinker's book. We are hard-wired both for emotionally driven response and reasoned thought, but most folks' behavior is dominated by one or the other. It seems that when the individual's processing of and response to any issue is dominated by emotion, e.g., when he/she is in "fear gear," his/her intellect is suspended.
> I certainly don't want to be discouraging, but this, Jason, is the paradigm of Western society that must be overcome if nuke power is to prevail. I respect your noble effort to educate people on this issue; laying out the facts might lead some people to shift their opinion. They have to applynntheir intellect, however, even if it's only to reason that we know what we're doing and can be trusted not to fail them.
> Carl Ed Johnson, Jr.
> Still sometimes HP, unaffiliated
> cejjr56 at gmail.com
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