Bleedin’ (nosed) straw men

Japan Focus never ceases to amaze me with the quality of their articles, with this one on the Oishinbo controversy being a non-stop parade of straw men. The executive summary is that we can’t be sure, so FOOKOOSHIMAR!

The controversy, centered on the issue of the main character suffering nose bleed after a visit to the plant, and another character modeled on the former Futaba Mayor, warning people against living in the prefecture.

Curiously, this most important point is not addressed; are we to take the author’s silence as agreement?

Essentially there are two views. One is “denial of the fact” that many people have experienced nose bleeding after the Fukushima incident, with the assertion that nose bleeding cannot be caused by the radiation emitted from Fukushima Dai-ichi. The other view is that it is reasonable that the nose bleeding observed among the people of Fukushima prefecture and surrounding areas including Tokyo could be caused by radiation, as suggested in the comic.

Just two views? It is reasonable that nosebleeds in Tokyo could be caused by radiation? Of course, they “could” be caused by a wide variety of things, but the point of science is to try to uncover the truth by examining whether observations fit a hypothesis, not spreading doubt for the sake of it.

The fact is that no scientifically definitive proof has been found for the cause-effect relationship in the case of nose bleeding.

Good, so that’s the article finished then?

No serious studies have been conducted on this issue.

Perhaps because there isn’t a serious hypothesis?

The question is then whether the scientific arguments “against” causality are more reasonable than the arguments “for” causality or the reverse.

Nope, it’s whichever is backed by more evidence.

If the former (against) is reasonable, and is very likely based on the best human knowledge available, it would suggest that it is not necessary to worry about the entire issue of radiation effects on living organisms at current levels.

Oh, for goodness sake! A towering giant of a straw man!

They deny categorically the facts depicted in the comic.

(My emphasis) No bias here from the author!

The incident suggests the desperation of the government and the industry to suppress the facts concerning the danger of radiation.

He’s still remaining quite neutral.

However, it is to be recognized that the damages caused by radiation are indeed more serious than rumors such as these.

By whom? Is he saying Fukushima radiation is even worse than nosebleeds?

Unfortunately, precise, accurate and detailed data are non-existent or have been hidden from public scrutiny.


This indicates that nose bleeding incidence was significantly higher (by 3 to 4 times) in towns close to Fukushima Dai-ichi compared to that in a place far from it. Other symptoms including headache, dizziness, nausea and fatigue were also high among people living in Futaba-machi.

OK, so we have an observation – what scientific reason is there for it? “The radiations did it” is not one. If I were from any town along the Tohoku Pacific coast having had my home destroyed, perhaps some relatives died, and living in a Portacabin, I suspect I would have many of these symptoms. This has been well-documented, with alcohol abuse being a serious problem, as it was in Chernobyl. 

The government is of the opinion that these [thyroid] cancers have nothing to do with radiation from the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident.

The incidence of thyroid anomalies in Fukushima is a concern, and ongoing real science will uncover the reason, I hope. Furthermore, it is not just the government that is of that opinion, many of the doctors involved also believe that it is the Screening Effect they are witnessing.

How low is the radiation level in Fukushima? This question cannot be answered immediately.

Yes it can.

How is Sv defined? Exposure dose of who? How is Sv determined, and how meaningful is the Sv value thus determined?

I think the author is just spewing out questions. All these questions have quite simple answers, but a “Think of the children!” cry attracts more ears than cold scientific fact, sadly.

A number of organizations as well as individuals have measured radiation in various locations.

I thought he just said “precise, accurate and detailed data” was non-existent? I suspect his come-back might be “Not precise enough!”

It shows that more than 40 kBq/m2 has been deposited over the area about 300 km from Fukushima Dai-ichi; this includes Tokyo.

That sounds like a big number (which is probably why he used it), but converting to mSv, it comes to somewhere in the order of 0.5 mSv per year, and most of that decayed or was washed away pretty quickly.

Common sense indicates that “internal” exposure is more serious than “external exposure”

We’re talking science, not common sense.

“NO, it is Not Caused by Radiation” – Mistaken Reasoning

Now we will try to see how reasonable or unreasonable the “NO” answers are.

This is where it gets fun.

nose bleeding can only be induced by damage to platelets produced in bone marrow. Damage to platelets can be brought about only by severe destruction of the bone marrow. Destruction would occur only at a high exposure dose, something like more than 2 Sv. Therefore, the current level of exposure, i.e., less than 20 mSv, would definitely not cause nose bleeding

This argument comes from a K Noguchi, who was published in the Oishinbo manga magazine. I have no idea who he is.

Besides, this argument entirely ignores a possibility that a minute radioactive particle may get into the nose through breathing and stick to the surface of the capillary vessel in the nose. The radioactive particle emits a, b or g rays (depending on the radioactive isotopes contained therein) in the surroundings and may destroy the membrane of the blood vessel. In this situation, a and b as well as g can cause damage to the tissue. How large this damaging effect is on the capillary membrane is yet to be studied, but it is likely possible9. However, to prove it scientifically may not be easy.

I have no idea about the validity of this argument, but it seems wonky to me. Looking at the reference, the argument is proposed by a Ochiai, E., none other than the author of this article.

Another “NO” answer depends on the notion that the damage causing nose bleeding is due to active oxygen produced as a result of radiation from the radioactive particle stuck to the surface of the capillary […] The argument includes certain quantitative calculations which themselves may be reasonable, though the assumptions are wrong.

They can be found on this random blog.

Anyway, the basis for the argument of denial is flawed, and hence its conclusion that the current low level would not cause nose bleeding is questionable.

Apparently the rebutter ignored hydroxyl free radical, thus s/he is wrong. However, the nasal demons theory is accepted as fact, but if it were true, wouldn’t there also be lots of cases of lung damage? Is there any evidence of this?

“Stress caused by fear of radiation effect rather than radiation itself is the cause.” This idea was first expressed by the Soviet government right after the Chernobyl incident.

It’s all a communist plot!

In order to absolve themselves of responsibility for the consequences of the disaster, particularly the ill health effects on people, they invented this excuse.

Err, nope, there’s studies from both Chernobyl and Fukushima on this.

This opinion is difficult to debunk but also difficult to prove. To prove it scientifically it would be necessary to start with defining “stress, what kind of stress, its causes, its seriousnes etc” and then see how it affects people’s health, and determine causality.

Unlike Mr Ochiai’s radical nasal demons, which are a scientific fact.

Yet, the so-called authorities are making many baseless arguments

Now, now, your biases are showing just a little too much!

“Yes, it could be Caused by Radiation” – some Scientific Reasoning

The argument for the causal relationship between nose bleeding and low-level radiation is based on a reasonable assumption that minute floating radioactive particles might enter a nose and stick on the surface of the capillaries. […] There is again not enough data to verify this hypothesis.

…but let us assume it is true. Scientific Reasoning indeed!

It has been argued, however, that the trade deficit has increased because Japan has to import more petroleum and natural gas, as a result of shutdown of nuclear powers. Yet the main reason for the trade deficit is not increased imports of energy sources, but lowering the exchange rate of Japanese “yen”. 

The reference for this is an anti-nuclear blog.

Moreover, nuclear power reactors are inefficient in using nuclear energy. They convert only about one third of the energy produced by the reactor into electricity, and the remaining two thirds of heat is released into the environment.

As does fossil fuels. Here the 10,000 figure represents about 30-40% efficiency, and the lower the more efficient. Furthermore, steam turbines, due to Carnot’s Efficiency Law, can never be more than 40% efficient!

Leave a comment ?


  1. precise, accurate, and detailed information on radiation.

  2. @Tom: You see, Tom, the problem is that all the fookooshimaars have problems with those sites for many reasons including:

    1) It is a government site which will naturally have lower number. The government is in the pocket of the nuclear power industry so they will of course lie. :roll:

    2) All those monitoring posts are on tops of buildings that are about 20 meters+ above the ground and only measure radiation in the air not down around the ground where it has all settled and where people are actually walking. :roll:

    3) Scientific method and controls mean nothing. Any health questions asked by the government is for human experimentation. :roll:

    4) The government will of course deny all illnesses being related to the accident. It is up to the people to collect anecdotes (data?) about all the people that have died since 14th Mar 2011 as a record of how dangerous all the radiation actually is. :roll:

  3. I’m a natural skeptic of governments, but I think this is a case where they have done a good job with transparency. The monitoring stations are in plain sight. The locations are all identified on the web site. If someone has concerns about the accuracy of the readings, all they have to do is trek out to one of the stations and take readings on their own geiger counter.

  4. :facepalm: :headdesk:

    These people:

    The Editors

    Andrew DeWit, Rikkyo University
    Norma Field, University of Chicago
    Geoffrey Gunn, Nagasaki University
    Laura Hein, Northwestern University
    Jeff Kingston, Temple University
    Gavan McCormack, Australian National University
    David McNeill, Sophia University
    Matthew Penney, Concordia University
    Norimatsu Satoko, Peace Philosophy Center
    Mark Selden, Cornell University
    Yuki Tanaka, Hiroshima Peace Institute

    are disgracing their profession being in charge of this kind of shit.

  5. @Tom:

    Yeah that’s right Tom. Anyone can measure radiation levels, who needs professionals with in-depth knowledge to do it?

  6. @Jeffrey: Swing and a miss there buddy. Care to read his comment again and try to comprehend it a bit more this time?

  7. @Simon: Actually I think Jeffrey has a bit of a point. There are a number of crack pots out there posting youtube videos of HIGH LEVELS OF RADIATION EVERYWHERE!

    Only that if you look at some of them, you can sometimes note that the way they have the detectors set, it is showing LARGE numbers that don’t mean anything near what they are purported to represent.

  8. @Tom:

    Which many people have done, and found that monitoring posts display a lower reading to the immediate vicinity.

  9. Why is there always just one crusading individual in each of these threads.

    Is there a bunch of concern trolls just sitting around jankening for the right to take part?

  10. iLikedolphins

    If Debito goes into a Japanese Restaurant in Hawaii, do they give him an English Menu?

  11. I believe that “nose bleeding can only be induced by damage to platelets produced in bone marrow” is a medical fact that was first established by doctors observing boxing matches and noticing that the shock of a fist to the center of the face is transmitted directly to the marrow of bones where blood cells are produ—ah fuck this

  12. @iLikedolphins:
    you better bloody hope not !

  13. Go up to Fukushima and tell the concerned mothers “your kid’s nose bleeds have nothing to do with radiation, stop spreading nonsense” and see what kind of reaction you get.

    Easy to lambast people for being concerned from the safety of your keyboards eh.

    Imagine how it feels, if you have young children, to be living in constant uncertainty, strung along for a ride by TODEN and the local government. Daijobu, daijobu, Just get back to your lives.

    Some of the posters on these polemicised blogs are just as bad as the “Fookoshimars” (Busby etc.) who they love to harangue.

  14. @Jeffrey:

    Ooh, look, it’s another one who thinks it’s lots of fun to make shit up to scare people.

    Or is it the same person, again and again?

    Jeffrey, why do you enjoy telling people that lots of their children are going to get cancer when they’re not? Is it a sexual thing? Is there something in fantasising about children having nosebleeds that gets you going? I really can’t fathom why you’re addicted to it.

    If you want to get some experience, why don’t you try having children before you think it’s such a great thing to spread bullshit about other people’s kids’ health.

  15. @VK:

    Where did I mention cancer anywhere?

    You are a class-A bullshitter through and through who likes nothing more than long drawn-out arguments on the internet. The very definition of a loser.

  16. @Jeffrey:

    No, your mum.

    Do you have any evidence (ie numbers) for increased nosebleeds beyond a twat counting tweets or Ochiai’s obscure references to college article dumps that obscurely reference the unpublished work of dodgy researchers?

  17. @Jeffrey: Jeffo if we’re so stupid and obstinate then why bother preaching to us, eh? Obviously we’re not going to listen, and it’s not like the readership of this site reaches three figures so who’s going to care what hysteria you mash into your keyboard? :roll:

  18. @VK:

    Zip up your pants VK, you’ve had your fun for today.

    I’m waiting for you to retract your comment about children getting cancer, what a terrible thing to say.

  19. @Simon:

    “If we are so stupid and obstinate”

    your words not mine Simon. :wink:

  20. @Jeffrey:

    I am terribly sorry for implying you possibly get a sexual thrill from scaring parents with the threat of cancer, and that any possible perversion may only be limited to fantasising about kids getting nosebleeds.

    Ok? So where’s your evidence for all these nosebleeds? Why the complete lack of interest in whether or not it’s all made up by anti-nuclear activists?

  21. @VK:

    Now you are accusing me of a “possible perversion” that “may only be limited to fantasising about kids getting nosebleeds”

    And you wonder why no-one takes you seriously . . .

  22. So, no evidence then. Thought so.

  23. Here’s what’s interesting: given the choice I gave Jeffrey between

    a) dealing with whether or not he had been insulted on the Internet, and
    b) providing evidence to show that there is a major health crisis from the radiation in Fukushima

    Jeffrey chose to stick steadfastly with a). This gives weight to the conclusion that for these fearmongers (the ones not simply making money out of it), it’s not about people in Fukushima, it’s actually all about themselves and their vanity. Fukushima is just a way of them expressing their psychological hang-ups and self-obsessions.

    What’s striking is their total lack of interest in the consequences of their actions for other people. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Fookooshimar acknowledge the issue of what if they are wrong in their doomsaying. They seem to feed off panic. It seems to nourish them. They are addicted to it. Perhaps it’s why they show zero interest in whether or not they’re right or wrong.

    I tried to track down the source for Ochiai’s nosebleed claim (see, Jeffrey, I take evidence seriously, even if you don’t, you perve). Ochiai claims that someone called Shigeharu Nakachi did a survey of people in three places, Futaba which is 5km from, Marumori in Miyagi 60km from and Kinomoto, Shiga, 600km from the plant, and found a much higher rate of nosebleeds in the places much closer to Fukushima. It’s radiation!! Or is it?

    There are a host of problems with this survey (which is reported on page 18 in an article published in an in-house social welfare journal from a private university in Tokyo that doesn’t have a medical faculty (these things have minimal peer-review anyway). The actual details of the survey don’t appear to have been published anywhere that I can find.)

    The biggest problem is the attempt to compare sites. Kinomoto had no tsunami, no evacuation, no radiation, no perception of radiation. Marumori had the tsunami, the post-tsunami economic and social effects, little radiation actually (judging from radiation maps), but the perception of radiation. Futaba had the tsunami, higher radiation exposure, the perception of higher exposure (encouraged by the now ex-mayor) and, to top it all, evacuation of the whole damned city and life in temporary accommodation . So it’s not clear what the results would mean in terms of causes. Indeed, Nakachi states that they’re looking at the effects of “radiation or evacuation”. Interesting approach. No mention of tsunami on page 18, btw. There’s just a wee bit of agenda showing.

    The results too, are not quite what Ochiai presents, who’s been rather selective. It’s true that Nakachi picks out nosebleeds as a case in point of something reportedly worse in the two places closer to the plant. However, what the researchers basically did was go on a fishing trip: ask about lots and lots of different conditions and then pick up on the conditions that are worse for that particular survey, regardless of what they expected to find.

    If you look at the whole package of what they found, what should come to mind is not “radiation”, but stress…

    Here’s what was worse in both places close to the plant:
    Feeling sluggish, headaches, dizziness, blurred eyesight, nosebleeds, nausea, getting tired easily, digestive problems.

    Here’s what was worse in the people from Futaba:
    obesity, depression, Parkinson’s disease, illness of the duodenum and other digestive issues, skin problems, menopause and postmenopausal issues, ear problems, nasal inflammations, anaemia, high blood pressure, diabetes, teeth problems and stiff shoulders.

    (As per any data fishing trip, Nakachi doesn’t tell us if there were any conditions that were better in Futaba or Marumori than in Kinomoto. One of the other people involved has a bit of history in doing bad science over Fukushima, so, remembering the lack of transparency, there are causes for concern over how the researchers gathered and are handling the data.)

    Anyway, if we go along with the survey, what we’ve got are the symptoms of stress, depression and inactivity. These are the symptoms that people like Jeffrey think are best cured by adding more fear to the mix.

    It would be lovely for him to explain this great new theory of How to Deal with Stress, but I fear he may have gone off in a huff.

  24. iLikedolphins

    I don’t know man, trolling like this doesn’t suit you. It’s all so dry and dull.
    oh wait….

  25. iLikedolphins

    What can I say? I like to poke fun at the guy but he’s trying so hard. Everyone’s met a klutz like that once in their lives. The people who claim self-awareness the most are the least self-aware. Ipso facto Orchid64. She’s a classic berater though. Better put that on Havill’s quirky list of ‘gaijin’ types.

  26. KT88 (my verily, virile yet at times vexing verbosity is my vigil against vain vigilantes of simplicity)

    @iLikedolphins: Trying harder than anyone can try. Still trying to wrap some sense around this faux literary… err, sentence? Paragraph? dafuq?

    @Japan Times Columnist and underemployed writer: “If someone had told me — as I stood on the international-limbo side of immigration at Narita airport, drawing my inaugural breaths of Asian air — that in 10 years’ time I would no longer identify myself by any of those attributes without feeling either overly modest, hypocritical or downright deceitful, I would have said, “Wow, so this is your thing: peddling prognostications to strangers in airport terminals?” before telling him how ludicrous his prediction was. ”

    Sweet fist fucked in the face baby Jesus on a Japanese wedding chapel cross – Baye needs his an an editor. Shiyat, even a friend in that very lonely life would be all it takes to whisper:

    “One idea per sentence Baye-chan and at least one per Japan Times article”.

  27. That JT post may be overwritten but it is by no means the most objectionable thing I have read there, and is not unlike a lot of confessional pieces you read in the Anglo-American media. I am not going to get bothered by it, for now.

  28. Judging by the comments and upvoting patterns, it looks to me like members of the Church of Arudou are a bit confused by this. There’s already a bit of whitesplaining going on.

  29. @Pessoa:

    Don’t you understand? Some of us like living here actually ! So much that we spend nearly all our time writing blogs attacking other foreigners who dare to venture an opinion about less than desirable aspects of living here.

    ‘Cos unlike those fools, we actually like living here

  30. iLikedolphins

    Well I think the price of butter in the supermarket is way too high and mayonnaise is not something I’d serve to dinner guests. I guess I’m going to get attacked by full-time apologismbloggers now. (takes and holds protective stance.)

  31. iLikedolphins

    Also the seat next to me on the train is empty. I mean, there’s not a lot of people in the train right now, but why wouldn’t they sit next to me first?

    It’s because I’m a foreigner, innit?

  32. KT88 (drawn and quartered by the newcomer who done brung the shit!)

    @WASABI_QUEEF: (Another?) untalented crusader trying to whip up a post-ironic, post-troll, intra-gaijin web beatdown. Wo-ah!

    Ouch baby, ouch! I know at least my superior gaijin outrage organ is starting to sting!

    Try harder, cos your steez is done. We all have slumps (yes, even the esteemed cetacean ami) but to fudge your debut so terribly…

    Hey, there’s always the reset… err, alias change button.

  33. iLikedolphins

    It is true that Loco and friends seem to believe they are ‘going against the flow’ with their timid and reckless Japan-bashing. Given that most foreigners in gaijin bars shit on Japan almost constantly, where indeed are all these upright defenders of the Yamato Motherland who police our thoughts and suppress dissent?

  34. Have you guys seen the responses to that Japan Times piece on foreigners as a haven for the mentally ill?

    “The root cause behind a majority of these so-called psychological cases is unbalanced vaata. When excessive vaata enters the srotas (“carrier channel” of the mind), the person concerned starts behaving in an erratic psychological way. Ayurveda [Hindu traditional medicine] offers a wide range of safe medications and a variety of therapies like nasya (administering medicated drops into nostrils), shirobasti (holding medicated oil/ghee over the head), shirodhara (pouring a small stream of medicated oil upon the mid-brow zone), etc.

    Homeopathy and Bach flower remedies also give us very effective medicines for treating a wide spectrum of mind disorders.”


    I don’t want to be culturally insensitive but that some crazy dark ages shit.

  35. @Greg: No need to worry about being culturally insensitive – assuming he is Indian, you’ll find as many bonkers Americans, British, etc, etc. :facepalm:

  36. KT88 (my verily, virile yet at times vexing verbosity is my vigil against vain vigilantes of simplicity)

    @Greg: Yeah, crazy it may be – likely it’s not gonna kill your liver, innit? And anyway, it’s not that far from the traditiona Japanese approach to mental illness either, is it? Eat right, exercise, have something to do and get enough sleep. Cures what ails ya!

  37. The Japan Times was just being culturally inclusive, I guess? Indians are after all a growing population in Japan.

    Anyways, I just saw this writer on Charlie Rose. Haven’t read the book because I just heard of it now but it looks like it could be a shit-storm. It’s reminiscent of The Bell Curve.

    Nicholas Wade.

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