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Nuclear Risk and Reason - David Brenner and David Ropeik
Posted: 15 April 2011 03:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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OK. Perhaps you are struggling with language. “It’s the radiation equivalent of The Homeopathic Society.” does not mean “Hormesis is homeopathy.”

“Scientists get it wrong sometimes.” I think you’re struggling with science as well. There is no credible scientific support for radiation hormesis. You have simply found a website (anyone can build them) and a single paper that *discusses* the hypothesis.

Here’s an evolutionary biologist:

* Will radiation hormesis protect us from exploding nuclear reactors? “Radiation is *always* harmful — it breaks DNA, for instance, and can produce free radicals that damage cells.” http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/will_radiation_hormesis_protec.php

Radiation hormesis is often used by nuclear energy propagandists / apologists to try confuse people in to believing that radiation is not harmful. I’d suggest that you have been fooled by this. Look at the overwhelming scientific evidence and opinion. Don’t base your views on some sideshow website and a cherry-picked paper that doesn’t even prove what you think it does.

P.S. “Scientists get it wrong sometimes.” Yes, they do. You need to consider that ‘they’ have got it wrong about the fringe hypothesis, ‘radiation hormesis’. wink

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Posted: 15 April 2011 03:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Dear DavidC,
I am sorry to see that you are not really interested in a conversation. How about answering my questions too?
Your style is hardly consistent with the spirit of inquiry I was hoping to see in the POI audience. Paradigms shift in science, and we are living a revolution in toxicology at the moment, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19154090 for example. Fringe again? Maybe, but it does not mean it’s wrong. The Copernican Revolution took 200 years, so I guess it is early days.
Please take a brief look at how risk assessment/regulatory toxicology works. Is it in agreement with low-dose studies?
Is it science? Science should be based on evidence, not what most people believe. I guess you are not actively involved in toxicology? In order to have a conversation I suppose you need to learn some.
All the best,
Villem

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Posted: 15 April 2011 03:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Did you read the abstract of the next ‘paper’ you provide? “This essay summarises the author’s thoughts on the current paradigm change in toxicology.” An essay on the “author’s thoughts”. You find *that* more persuasive than all the credible, expert science that says otherwise?!

The Copernican Revolution took 200 years, so I guess it is early days.

And the phlogiston theory was pushed for a while and then died for lack of evidence. Guess which the radiation hormesis hypothesis is more like.

Science should be based on evidence, not what most people believe.

Do you really not see the irony of you making that statement?! It’s not an issue of what “most people believe”, it’s very simply that the vast weight of scientific evidence - which leads to scientific consensus - is that there is no “safe” dose of radiation.

It is very common for people to behave as you do. A refusal to accept the overwhelming science and expert consensus in preference for fringe views and cherry-picked papers that do not prove anything, but are just discussions of a hypothesis. As you begin to realise that you are being proved wrong, the ‘polite’ insults begin. Don’t shoot the messenger, dude! smile

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Posted: 15 April 2011 04:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Never meant to insult.  I was hoping you stop shooting at the messenger. Shall we review some of the evidence? Background radiation not interesting? You choose!

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Posted: 15 April 2011 04:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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lol. You can lead people to science, you can’t make them understand it. Good luck!

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Posted: 16 April 2011 09:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I can recommend this (unfortunately not very fresh) story in Discover magazine:
Is Radiation Good For You?
“...“You can sense a lot of frustration and some anger here,” Calabrese remarked. Hormesis has been a “marginalized hypothesis” for decades, he said, yet the data suggest that it’s a fundamental, unifying aspect of biology…”

http://discovermagazine.com/2002/dec/featradiation

It may be that radiation hormesis is often used by nuclear energy propagandists to try and confuse people, which I think should be condemned. It could also be that opponents of nuclear energy are refusing to acknowledge its existence. Time will tell.

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Posted: 16 April 2011 12:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Can you really not spot the flaw in ‘citing’ another article in another non-scientific source where the exact same person pushes the exact same fringe hypothesis?

You need to look at the weight of credible scientific opinion. Not cherry pick one person who tells you what you want to be true. That’s known as ‘confirmation bias’. Or ‘stupidity’. wink

* The US National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements states that there is insufficient evidence for radiation hormesis and that radiation protection authorities should continue to apply the LNT model for purposes of risk estimation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormesis#Controversy

See? You keep referencing one person. I keep providing cites from multiple credible scientific organisations and independent scientists.

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Posted: 17 April 2011 04:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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DavidC - 13 April 2011 10:37 AM
Villem - 13 April 2011 10:12 AM

...small “hormetic” doses of radiation, that, as far as evidence goes, are indeed beneficial.

Nonsense. Radiation hormesis is a fringe hypothesis with no credible support.

* The National Academy of Sciences: “The committee concludes that the assumption that any stimulatory hormetic effects from low doses of ionizing radiation will have a significant health benefit to humans that exceeds potential detrimental effects from the radiation exposure is unwarranted at this time.” http://dels-old.nas.edu/dels/rpt_briefs/beir_vii_final.pdf

...

The reference you give doesn’t make the statement you quote.  In fact the only mention of Hormesis does not suggest it to be a “fringe hypothesis” but something worth further investigation. Quoting summary conclusions by a political body like the NAS doesn’t in any way negate studies that indicate evidence for such an effect.

“Continued research is needed to further increase
our understanding of the health risks of low levels of
ionizing radiation. BEIR VII identifies the following
top research needs:
...
“Evaluation of the relevance of adaptation,
low-dose hypersensitivity, bystander effect,
hormesis, and genomic instability for radiation
carcinogenesis”

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Posted: 17 April 2011 04:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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DavidC - 16 April 2011 12:43 PM

Can you really not spot the flaw in ‘citing’ another article in another non-scientific source where the exact same person pushes the exact same fringe hypothesis?

You need to look at the weight of credible scientific opinion. Not cherry pick one person who tells you what you want to be true. That’s known as ‘confirmation bias’. Or ‘stupidity’. wink

* The US National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements states that there is insufficient evidence for radiation hormesis and that radiation protection authorities should continue to apply the LNT model for purposes of risk estimation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormesis#Controversy

See? You keep referencing one person. I keep providing cites from multiple credible scientific organisations and independent scientists.


You can’t seriously be quoting Wikipedia as an authoritative source.  Really?  LOL

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Posted: 17 April 2011 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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DavidC - 15 April 2011 03:00 AM

OK. Perhaps you are struggling with language. “It’s the radiation equivalent of The Homeopathic Society.” does not mean “Hormesis is homeopathy.”

“Scientists get it wrong sometimes.” I think you’re struggling with science as well. There is no credible scientific support for radiation hormesis. You have simply found a website (anyone can build them) and a single paper that *discusses* the hypothesis.

Here’s an evolutionary biologist:

* Will radiation hormesis protect us from exploding nuclear reactors? “Radiation is *always* harmful — it breaks DNA, for instance, and can produce free radicals that damage cells.” http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/03/will_radiation_hormesis_protec.php

Quoting from your own citation “The most likely mechanism is an upregulation of cellular defenses that overcompensates for the damage the agent is doing. This is real (I told you there’s a grain of truth to what she wrote), and it’s been observed in multiple situations. I can even give an example from my own work.”

I read that blogger pretty often. 

I think both the pro-nuclear power and the anti-nuclear power both get it wrong.  The pro-nuclear would have us expand building with the current technology when far safer but much less known designs exist that provide solutions by working with the physics (safety, proliferation, cooling, waste) and the anti-nuclear crowd would have you believe that any release radioactive particles into the environment is a crime against humanity and disaster of epic proportions while at the same ignoring the uncontrolled release of hundreds of tons of uranium and other radioactive elements by coal burning power plants every year and blind to the unexpected releases at geothermal plants that happen from time to time.  Every mass power generation method has problems, risks, and waste, has advantages and disadvantages and that includes renewables like solar (copper production has toxic and radioactive wastes) and wind (high inconsistency require substantial backup with natural gas burning).

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Posted: 17 April 2011 05:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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cmol - 17 April 2011 04:50 PM

The reference you give doesn’t make the statement you quote.

Good catch. I must have added the wrong reference to my notes. However, the quote is 100% accurate and attributed to the National Academies. See http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11340&page=332

Also, the report I did cite states very clearly that “The report concludes that the preponderance of information indicates that there will be some risk, even at low doses, although the risk is small.” QED: radiation hormesis has no credible support.

In fact the only mention of Hormesis does not suggest it to be a “fringe hypothesis” but something worth further investigation.

You clearly did not read the PDF properly. See quote above. Many fringe scientific beliefs are worth further investigation. They are still fringe beliefs without evidence.

Radiation hormesis is a fringe belief with no credible scientific support.

You can’t seriously be quoting Wikipedia as an authoritative source.  Really?  LOL

Someone else doesn’t understand that Wikipedia is not the source - it’s a repository of sources! LOL

Quoting from your own citation…

Which in no way contradicts the clear message: “Radiation is *always* harmful — it breaks DNA, for instance, and can produce free radicals that damage cells. ... So: radiation is bad for you, cellular defense mechanisms are good for you.”

Just because cells have a defence mechanism to radiation does not mean it’s good for them. I could punch you in the face and your face would swell to cope with the damage - doesn’t mean it’s good for you. wink

...the anti-nuclear crowd would have you believe that any release radioactive particles into the environment is a crime against humanity and disaster of epic proportions…

Ignoring your hyperbolic description, yes - any sane person should view the release of toxins in to the environment as a very bad thing. If you educate yourself on things like species extinction you would understand why.

...while at the same ignoring the uncontrolled release of hundreds of tons of uranium and other radioactive elements by coal burning…

You seem very ignorant about environmental issues. I know of no one who is the least educated that does not realise coal is bad and needs to be phased out ASAP.

...wind (high inconsistency require substantial backup with natural gas burning).

Your ignorance extends far and wide! Here’s one clue to help you:

* Fukushima Nuclear Year-to-Year Reliability and German Wind. German Wind more Stable Year-to-Year than Fukushima Reactors. http://www.wind-works.org/FeedLaws/Japan/FukushimaNuclearYeartoYearReliabilityandGermanWind.html

P.S. Welcome to the forum. Good to see you joined just to comment on this thread.

[ Edited: 17 April 2011 05:44 PM by Davito ]
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Posted: 18 April 2011 06:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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* Fukushima Nuclear Year-to-Year Reliability and German Wind. German Wind more Stable Year-to-Year than Fukushima Reactors. http://www.wind-works.org/FeedLaws/Japan/FukushimaNuclearYeartoYearReliabilityandGermanWind.html

Anyone can build these websites, I remember you say smile (and my link was to a peer-reviewed journal, by the way).
This is no longer the topic of this forum, I apologize, but I guess the stability will increase with increasing number of reactors whereas the wind turbines, unless they are very far from each other, will all stop together once the wind calms. It probably boils down to cost since you need double capacity (wind+something else that can be switched on quickly), and probably a different kind of grid. Or why are’n there more windmills?

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Posted: 18 April 2011 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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No, the link to the hormesis fan website is not peer-reviewed. smile

The more wind turbines that are deployed and over a wider area, the more they become collectively reliable. That is already happening. Nukes are barely being deployed quickly enough to keep up with old ones going offline. This is because they are too expensive, too slow and unreliable to build.

> ...why are’n there more windmills?

Once again you confuse your ignorance with knowledge.

* USA: at 35 Percent of New Capacity, Wind Moves From Alternative to Mainstream. AWEA’s annual report shows that wind represents a third of the nation’s new power and that the industry has had an average annual growth of 35 percent for five years. http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/is-wind-still-an-alternative-energy/

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Posted: 18 April 2011 09:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Thanks for introducing me to the ideas of both of your guests.  I have been concerned about climate for more than twenty years but only in the last several years I have also become a pro nuclear advocate. 

I’m used to referring to independent expert panels such as those from the NAS, the Royal Society, etc., when I want to explain how unified the relevant scientists are about various aspects of climate science, or what it is they are clear about.  It came as a surprise to find this type of panel assessment has such low credibility in the nuclear industry and among pro nuclear advocates.  This goes for both climate science and radiation - pro nuclear types tend to reject climate science).  I was surprised that there is such controversy about the effects radiation causes to human beings.  I studied the NAS NRC BEIR VII “Health Risks From Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation” report and thought this at least would be non-controversial among people who wanted to be taken seriously in this debate.  Dr. Brenner’s ideas are very much in line with the assessment of this report.  But it quickly became apparent that many people who demand to be taken seriously utterly reject what they say is in this report, whether they understand what is in it or not, and their arguments quickly lead them to reject the people who did the report.  Because the people who do reports like this are some of the leading scientists studying radiation in the world, it is hard to see why people think that arguing that they are not scientists, or that they have no idea what the evidence is, or that they have motives other than to assess the science could possibly have credibility, but this is what you hear.  Then everyone finds out that for every PhD there is an equal and opposite PhD and this still does not slow them down.  The other side are criminals, they are stupid, they don’t know what evidence is, or they are only interested in the money they can make enforcing radiation standards that cost billions of dollars and give no protection, etc.  People are so hardened in their positions they hardly pay attention to any words anyone who disagrees with them are using.  Why pro nuclear people think that pretending that radiation is better understood than it is is going to get them anywhere in this debate is very hard to understand. 

I wish you had transcripts for the show - I’m making a partial one myself now to study.  I’m writing on LNT and I found the way Dr. Brenner expressed himself, both when he was at his clearest and when he wasn’t to be very interesting.  If I come up with anything useful I"ll let you know.  One preliminary idea I have is to use the same terms to express the possibly caused harm calculated by LNT so people can compare.  That is, if LNT is correct then it can be said that although no one can conclusively detect them, somewhere around 1,000,000 will die of cancers caused by Chernobyl, what of the introduction of airport scanners?  Usually the compared thing, i.e. the scanners, are stated to be very low risk and the risk is expressed in terms of what the risk is to an individual.  But the Chernobyl casualty list is stated to be to the whole population of the world, says Brenner.  Not always, but that was your question, how can there be such uncertainty where some say a few thousand cases of thyroid cancer mostly cured, and others say one million dead?  OK., then how many are going to die as a result of this one event, i.e. introducing whole body scanners at airports?  I haven’t done the calculations yet.  Stated this way perhaps it would be easier for people to understand what is being talked about.

[ Edited: 18 April 2011 09:49 AM by David Lewis ]
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Posted: 18 April 2011 09:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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David_Lewis,

One thing to keep in mind when assessing the claims of the nuke evangelists is that they try to conflate internal and external emitters. An x-ray scan at the airport or dentist is *very* different from ingesting radiation sources from nuclear fission.

The radiation from Chernobyl spread across a massive area of the planet. Fukushima is also depositing its toxic load over a wide area. And Fukushima is pumping very high levels of radiation in to the ocean. That can and will bioaccumulate up the food chain - a very big concern for a nation that relies heavily on seafood. And remember that sea life can feed around Fukushima and travel hundreds or thousands of kms before being caught and eaten by humans.

Fukushima is not close to be brought under control. It’s a different type of disaster to Chernobyl, but it could still match or exceed the cost to humans and the environment.

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