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Monday, July 7, 2014

The "LNT-ALARA Promote Fear" Canard

The pro-nukes frequently point to LNT theory and the resulting paradigm of ALARA as promoting fear.

Let's dig in!

LNT theory is a scientific theory based on facts.  Like any scientific theory (none can be proven to be true) which seems to threaten someone's treasured belief or financial interest, it can become subject to manufactured attacks.

Whether or not LNT promotes fear is irrelevant.  The question is, what is the best theory of radiobiological effects for carcinogenesis?  And the answer is LNT.

Denying LNT because it may lead to consequences one doesn't like is engaging in the logical fallacy of appeal to consequences.

ALARA follows from that, because why increase someone's risk of cancer without some reasonable benefit?

It wouldn't make sense.

Now if LNT-ALARA scares someone, that person is overreacting.  LNT predicts about a 1% increase in cancer incidence from 10 rem excess radiation exposure.  We typically have a 42% chance of getting cancer from background radiation and other sources.

That's not scary to any reasonable person!

So, the pro-nukes shouldn't be attacking science, they should educating the public.

But they don't really understand the science themselves, and attacking is much easier.


  1. Yeah, you're right of course. According to the WHO report, even in the inner zone of Chernobyl (where 600,000 people are living) there will over time be an estimated number of cancer deaths of 4,000, from a total of 100,000 due to all other causes. So, if Chernobyl is a valid reason to be afraid or take to the bottle, then the mere fact of being alive should be a 25x more valid reason... even in this most-affected zone!

  2. Right! An associated canard has to due with evacuations (and with the recent NAS finding that regulators should focus more on low probability, high consequence events).

    It goes like this...the nuclear industry wants to build plants. They convince the community and government that the plants are safe. They acknowledge that evacuations may be needed at some point, though highly unlikely. So the government adopts evacuation criteria in the calm of day. The nuclear industry promotes, go ahead, but we're safe, it's a waste of resources.

    Years go by, everyone is lulled into thinking evacuation planning is pointless.

    Then an evacuation is needed and is carried out poorly because the planning was poor. Some people actually die as the result of the bad evacuations.

    The nuclear industry blames radiophobia on the evacuations, instead of realizing that their (and the government's and the citizens') complacency were to blame for poor evacuations.

    Then, as icing on the cake, since evacuations were carried out and population doses were low, the nuclear industry claims the radiation risks were trivial, no evacuations should have been done. Instead of realizing that because the evacuations were done, the radiation risks were lower than they would have otherwise been.

  3. Yep, your evacuation point is very, very true... pity it takes several sentences to explain as that exceeds the attention span of the nuke propagandists and those taken in by them.