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Non-ionizing radiation - reliable net information
I see troubled waters building, on which I'd like to pour just a bit of oil:
Publications on the internet, in any field, are subject to doubt as to their
reliability. A recent publication I read had a couple of really good quotes.
1. The internet is devoid of "fact-checkers."
2. Many people accept science and pseudo-science in equal proportion
relative to validity.
I don't think there are very many people on RADSAFE who can't discern
the difference between REALLY junk science and science. Some of the
fringe people can talk a very good line, and sound awfully plausible.
However, I offer the following as a generic "filter," if you will, for quickly
determining whether a particular piece of information is valid or at least
likely to be reliable:
1. The publication is reported to be reproduced from an actual
peer-reviewed publication. I've seen an increasing trend in development
of independent publications which sound like a peer venue. For
example, while one might automatically know that Health Physics Journal
is peer-reviewed, a non-HP might easily misread Health Protection
Journal, which doesn't exist (a variation thereon, name forgotten, was
used as the front for an anti-nuclear diatribe and false "information"
venue about a year ago), if they did a web search on radiation
2. The web source is a reputable scientific or education site, known in
part by the domains .gov and .edu, which are still reserved for
government and universities, respectively. Just as in any other
category, even the .edu can be misleading, if the web page isn't by the
department which actually provides review of content. Beware of
domains with .org, .educ, .univ, and .com, as pretty much anyone can do
those, and if the domain is a number, consider it highly suspect, even if it
purports to be a particular university or college which is strong on
Sorry, Melissa, for the digression, but I've been looking for a number of
publications and run across a number of pitfalls and people trying very
hard to look legitimate, who use keywords in their web sites or modified
versions of actual publications that look very much like they belong to the
scientific community, when in fact their agenda was the opposite of
science, and felt the warning was appropriate.
George R. Cicotte
Health Physicist 3
Nuclear Materials Safety
Bureau of Radiation Protection
Ohio Department of Health
DISCLAIMER: The Governor and I may not agree on this issue, so the
opinions and positions expressed are mine unless notified otherwise. . .