[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: The Friendly Atom

     Well Andy, some of us were even grown up (though just barely) in 1954, 
     and I remember the friendly atom pretty well.  The friendly atom image 
     wasn't altogether a good idea: the benefits of the "peaceful atom" 
     were somewhat overstated, and the adverse effects downplayed or 
     concealed altogether.  In 1959, Edward Teller lectured at my graduate 
     school and said, literally, that the only way Sr-90 could get into 
     milk was from cow bone chips in the milk!
     Unfortunately the antis took a leaf from the pro-nuke book and started 
     exaggerating just when some of the more blatant pro-nuke exaggerations 
     were being exposed.  Many uninformed people are more likely to believe 
     negative exaggerations than positive ones, so it has become more 
     difficult to counter them.  Also, it's hard to prove or demonstrate 
     the absence of something.
     I have no original or earth-shattering suggestions.  However it is 
     wise always to tell the truth, to keep pointing out the exaggerations, 
     and to put some perspective on risk.  The perspective I suggest is 
     that a risk <0.001 is essentially intuitively zero: e.g., if the 
     weather man predicts 10% chance of rain, do you think it's going to 
     rain?  No.  If you have a disease with a 95% recovery rate, do you 
     think you are going to get well?  Of course.  I am also coming to the 
     conclusion that no respectable, credible, honest scientist can be 
     found any longer on the anti-nuke side, because, as more and more 
     questions are answered, the science is on the pro-nuke side.
     Clearly only my own opinion
     Ruth F. Weiner
     Transportation Systems Department
     Sandia National Laboratories
     fax 505-844-0244

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: The Friendly Atom
Author:  karam.1@osu.edu at hubsmtp
Date:    4/14/98 11:38 AM

I was recently reading an article titled "Man's New Servant, the Friendly 
Atom" from a 1954 National Geographic (I wasn't alive then, my wife bought 
me the new 30 CD ROM set of the magazine from 1888 through 1997).  As you 
can guess, the article was pretty upbeat, mentioning things like screwfly 
sterilization, thickness gauges, atomic energy, medical research, medical 
procedures, and so forth.
What struck me most upon finishing the article is that, in over 40 years, 
the arguments and examples we give the public have hardly changed while 
those of our opponents have.  Could this help to explain the feeling that 
we're on the losing end of the PR wars?  Can anyone suggest ways we might 
try to adapt our message in the same way the antis have?  Or should we be 
trying to come up with a new message?  At this point I have no answers, 
only an observation and a lot of questions.
The opinions expressed above are well-reasoned and insightful.  Needless to 
say, they are not those of my employer. (with apologies to Michael Feldman)
Andrew Karam, MS, CHP                         (614) 292-1284 (phone) 
The Ohio State University                          (614) 292-7002 (fax)
Office of Radiation Safety                         "The mind is not a vessel to 
1314 Kinnear Road                              be filled but a fire to be 
Columbus, OH  43212                              lighted." (Plutarch)