[ RadSafe ] More on the indefensible attack on dead scientists - Gofman et al

parthasarathy k s ksparth at yahoo.co.uk
Tue May 21 00:23:00 CDT 2013

Dear radsafers,

I am happy that my routine query on a judgment which describes the behavior of Dr John Gofman led to a series of reactions.

When Dr Gofman writes a scientific paper in a peer reviewed journal he uses the normal caveats, ifs and buts;but when he addresses the media or writes a popular book, his conclusions are clear. definite and final! In 1981 or 1982 when he addressed the media probably while launching one of his books he was very assertive though his conclusions were based on his own exaggerated radiation risk coefficients.

An influential antinuclear group in India believes that whatever he wrote is gospel truth. Believe it or not over 36 out of the 132 pages of an anti nuclear booklet titled "Nuclear energy:gateway to a disastrous future" are filled with references to Gofman's books. 

I  accept that his scientific contribution must be the only basis on which he should be assessed. But  I believe that this idea will hold if he  publicized his conclusions with the normal caveats. But while addressing the media if he colors his perception and exaggerates radiation risks to scare lay people, a few at least will not accept that he was an angel. Gofman the scientist was not the Gofman who address the media. If  any one noted this behaviour  and judged him on that count, it should not be considered as an indefensible attack a dead scientist.

With warm regards

 From: Steven Dapra <sjd at swcp.com>
To: radsafe at agni.phys.iit.edu 
Sent: Tuesday, 21 May 2013, 7:51
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] More on the indefensible attack on dead scientists - Gofman et al

May 20

    Gofman claimed a human exposure of 100,000 
man-rems from the Three Mile Island accident, and 
then claimed one death per 300 man-rems.  Since 
no one was exposed to enough radiation to cause a 
fatality, how can Gofman claim any deaths from 
exposure?  Andy took care of this nonsensical 
argument with his analogy about one million rocks 
each weighing one gram.  Gofman’s claim about 
deaths at Three Mile Island are worthless.

    No one is saying or suggesting that since a 
number of deaths is “only” this much instead of a 
much larger amount that the smaller number of 
deaths is acceptable.  Louis Ricciuti is being 
immoral in the way he twists around my line of 
reasoning.  (I am speaking only for myself, not 
Andy Karam.)  As far as any “inbred trait” in the 
nuclear industry is concerned, I have personally 
heard an anti-nuker publicly drag out the immorality argument.

    With respect to medical degrees, how does Louis 
Ricciuti know whether or not I hold a medical 
degree?  Permit me to inform him that John Gofman 
was not a health physicist, nor was he an 
epidemiologist.  So now who lacks the 
(presumably) necessary credentials to draw 
conclusions?  Furthermore, Gofman had a much 
larger following that I do, and had far more 
influence.  Perhaps he should have been held to a higher standard.

    John Gofman published a book in 1999 claiming 
that X-rays caused ischemic heart disease.  In 
his review of Gofman’s book, Stephen Musolino 
(2000), points out a number of its 
shortcomings.  One of Musolino’s points is this:

“According to the American Heart Association, the 
age-adjusted death rate per 100,000 from coronary 
heart disease [as shown in Gofman’s book] has 
dropped over 50% from the mid-sixties to the year 
1992.  Given that the collective medical x-ray 
dose to the population increased over the same 
period this is a contradiction within [Gofman’s] book itself.”

    Gofman enjoys the status of being a secular 
saint to the anti-nuclear faithful.  I doubt that 
much can be done about this unfortunate state of affairs.

    Like Andy Karam, I am not interested in 
discussing Gofman any further.  I am also telling 
Louis Ricciuti, publicly, DO NOT send me e-mails 
at my private e-mail address.

Steven Dapra


Radiation From Medical Procedures in the 
Pathogenesis of Cancer and Ischemic Heart 
Disease: Does-Response Studies with Physicians 
per 100,000 Population, by John Gofman 
(1999).  Book review in Health Physics, 79(2): 207-208; Aug. 2000.

[earlier posting today from Andy Karam follows]

May 20

Actually, you misunderstand the point that was 
being made. I doubt that anybody considers deaths 
to be acceptable. The point of this was that Dr. 
Gofman made a simple math mistake that inflated 
his risk calculations. You should also look at 
the number of lives lost in coal mines, in oil 
and gas fields, and in communities affected by 
the waste from mining and petroleum recovery – 
you will certainly find that even Gofman’s 
inflated numbers are far lower than the death 
toll from fossil fuels – and that doesn’t even 
get into the possible impact of climate change. 
If our goal truly is to minimize the loss of life 
from energy production then we have to consider 
ALL of the lives that are affected – not just the 
ones that help us to make our point.

The bottom line is that the availability of 
relatively cheap energy is the most important 
factor globally in helping people to have 
healthier, longer, and better lives. We can 
continue burning fuels – as we have for tens of 
thousands of years – and pumping greenhouse gases 
into the atmosphere. We can continue holding out 
for “alternative” sources of energy – none of 
which are environmentally benign – while millions 
are deprived of the energy that they need. Or we 
can use nuclear energy to help fill the gap 
between the fossil fuels (that are polluting and 
that are running out) and whatever comes next.

Incidentally, I’m not sure what points you’re 
trying to score by pointing out that neither 
Steve Dapra nor I are medical doctors – unless 
you are being uncharacteristically modest in your 
e-mail signature, neither are you. But holding 
(or not) a medical degree has no impact on the 
ability to multiply two numbers (as Gofman did) 
and arrive at the correct result (as he did not).

But I suspect that whatever I say will make no 
dent on your utter certainty, and I will not 
discuss this matter with you further.


Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but 
certainty is a ridiculous one. (Voltaire)

From: NiagaraNet at aol.com [mailto:NiagaraNet at aol.com]
Sent: Monday, May 20, 2013 1:09 AM
To: sjd at swcp.com; KARAM, PHILIP
Cc: niagaranet at aol.com
Subject: More on the indefensible attack on dead scientists - Gofman et al

Dear Mr. Dapra and Mr. Karam:

So, you both will argue that John W. Gofman, 
M.D., was "wrong" but yet you both expound 
instead on "it's only 50 to 150 DEATHS." Just a 
simple math equation to you both, eh? Sorry guys 
but in "anyone's world" that's just immoral. It 
seems that's an inbred trait throughout your 
industry - that immorality thing! As long as you 
can make a paycheck, 50 to 150 deaths is "OK" in 
the nuclear industry for the general public? You 
wonder why the general public thinks so lowly of this business?

Wonder no more.

And, to boot, neither of you hold a medical degree!

With chagrin,
Louis Ricciuti
Niagara Falls _ Lewiston - Porter, NY
"Los Alamos East"

[ RadSafe ] Gofman on TMI and Chernobyl deaths

Steven Dapra sjd at swcp.com
Mon May 13 19:13:25 CDT 2013
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May 13

          Plus, it's my understanding that 300 rems is LD50, which
reduces the death toll to about 150.  Whatever the case, Gofman was
talking nonsense --- as he was wont to do.

          Thank you, Andy, for your analysis.

  Steven Dapra

At 07:58 AM 5/13/2013, you wrote:

>Boy, even if you accept his numbers for population dose and accept LNT
>at any level of exposure the math still doesn't work out. Using a risk
>coefficient of 5% per Sv a dose of 300 rem (3 Sv) gives a 15% chance of
>fatal cancer. So (if I remember how to do this, which might not be a
>good assumption), instead of 333 cancers we'd have 333 x 15% = 50 fatal

>But even this is likely an over-estimate since virtually all off-site
>dose to exposed individuals was so low, and since his population dose
>figure is so high. It brings to mind the ICRP statement that, if the
>dose to the most-exposed individual is trivial then the dose to all
>individuals must be considered trivial and it's inappropriate to assume
>that the collective dose will somehow have an impact. Or to use an
>analogy I posted earlier, we can't throw a million one-gram rocks at
>everyone in Cleveland and assume that, because the cumulative weight is
>a ton, a few people will be crushed.


>-----Original Message-----

>From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
>[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Steven Dapra
>Sent: Friday, May 10, 2013 11:22 PM
>To: radsafe at agni.phys.iit.edu

>Subject: [ RadSafe ] Gofman on TMI and Chernobyl deaths

>May 10

>Gofman claimed a human exposure of
>100,000 man-rems from the Three Mile Island
>accident.  He then claimed one death per 300
>man-rems.  Dividing 100,000 by 300 gives 333
>deaths from Three Mile Island --- at least in Gofman's world.

>He made this claim in the Foreword to
>the 1979 printing of his book "Poisoned
>Power."  The Foreword will be found at this link:


>To find his specific claim about the
>number of deaths, scroll down the page about
>two-thirds of the way to the paragraph beginning
>"Now we are ready to solve our equation."

>For Gofman's claims of deaths resulting
>from the Chernobyl accident, see a 1994 interview
>with Gofman in "Synapse," the student newspaper
>published by the University of California in San
>Francisco.  In the interview, Gofman said:
>"After Chernobyl, I estimated that there were
>going to be 475,000 fatal cancers throughout
>Europe - with another 475,000 cancers that are
>not fatal. That estimate was based on the dose
>released on the various countries of fallout from Cesium-137."

>The link is:

>The quote is near the beginning of the interview.

>Steven Dapra

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