Lets get all fookooing excited about some vague data trend!

I’ve noticed in the recent months Jake Adelstein getting a bit more excited about Fukushima. Previously he focused on the links between the Yakuza and TEPCO and their subcontractors, obviously his area of expertise, but recently he’s been straying into not quite Fookooshimar territory, but at least into overexaggeration of the contamination. It used to be just on Twitter, but now I have seen an article on The Daily Beast looking at birth defects which is trying to find controversy where there is most likely none.

The article leads off with:

The prevalence rate—the frequency of malformations among childbirths, such as holes in the heart (atrial septal defect)—was 2.43 percent, a number that is still below what is considered a normal figure among radiation experts.

So, err, nothing. I’m also trying to parse exactly what “a normal figure among radiation experts” means, but reading ahead shows me that it should actually be “a normal incidence rate among medical experts”. (Please feel free to correct my paraphrasing!)

Near one group of tanks the levels reached 2,200 millisieverts per hour. An unprotected person standing close to the contaminated areas would receive a lethal radiation dose within hours.

Where “unprotected” means “nude” and “close” means “within tens of centimetres”.

The 2011 Report on Congenital Malformations notes the prevalence of malformed infants as 2.43 percent

I don’t like the word “malformed” here – the report title is obviously a medical understanding of the term, but “malformed infants” suggests extra legs or whatever, whereas both I and my step-nephew have the holes-in-the-heart menioned above but the requisite number of limbs. Furthermore, the survey was for children born during the 2011 calendar year, but as far as my Googling goes, the reasons for holes in the heart are not well known; is it hereditary (yes to some extent), a genetic artifact at conception (don’t know), or something during pregnancy (smoking, perhaps?).

British radiation expert Dr. Ian Fairlie

Get Googling guys! He has real qualifications, but he hangs around with the usual suspects. :roll: Here is an interesting paper that he has produced which I think takes about the worst-case scenario that he as a scientist can honestly produce, and assumes the Linear No-Threshold Model to get 3,000 additional deaths over 70 years, which also assumes everyone who doesn’t die from radiation manages to keep going for another 70 years, yet for the majority of Fukushima Prefecture residents, medical X-rays, airplane flight, and even natural background radiation is likely to be a bigger factor.

Of the roughly 360,000 children, there were 44 suspected cases of thyroid cancer. […] In the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, thyroid cancers cases started to show up after four to five years after the accident.

I think we can all read between the lines. :roll:

BTW, I wish I could find a link to it, or even remember what the name was, but one of the towns near Fukushima Dai-ichi paid for all children to have some expensive DNA-level blood test (I think that was what it was) to see if their genes had been spliced by radiation. About 20% of the children have been tested so far, and the one child they covered came back 100% clear, no dodgy DNA. Cynics would say that of course NHK would make sure they covered someone who was OK, especially as they didn’t report overall statistics on what percentage had been found to have damaged DNA.

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11 Comments.

  1. This is full-on Fookooshimar bollocks. I have to start to question Adelstein’s reporting in general if he’s using shockingly bad sources like Yablokov. Will he give credence to any old fantasy so long as it suits his purposes? How do we know he’s not using his sources about the Yakuza with the same lack of care and diligence?

    As for birth defects, they didn’t even find radiation-induced birth defects at Chernobyl for pity’s sake. This is well-known. Except, it seems to (sigh) yet another journalist who thinks he doesn’t have to do the reading; he can be a massive nuclear expert just because he lives in Japan and fights The Man.

    As for Ian Fairlie, he is an interesting fish, and as Ken is our leader, I have done as commanded and googled. tl; dr fans, here we go:

    He has a PhD and what appear to be quite a few peer-reviewed papers on the topic in hand. However, something interesting happens if you look closely at his list of publications. Noticeable is the number of publications in a single journal: Medicine, Conflict and Survival.

    A common way to check the standing of a journal is to look at the impact factor: how often articles are cited elsewhere. (For more obscure subjects, the IF is lower across the board; you need to look compare the IFs of journals in the same area to get something meaningful). However, I couldn’t track down an impact factor for MCS, which indicates it’s not a high-ranking journal. Instead, I found that it is the house journal of an organisation called IPPNW and its British affiliate MEDACT. IPPNW is International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. A fine aim, and one I hope we all share. However, in reality the IPPNW turns out to be the international offshoot of Physicians for Social Responsibility – the vehicle revived by renowned anti-nuclear fruitbat and New World Order conspiracy theorist Helen Caldicott.

    MEDACT is similarly styled as being against nuclear war (hurray), but is actually part of the Low-Level Radiation scare industry (boo), best shown by their close working relationship with the Low Level Radiation Campaign, run by the ludicrous snake-oil merchant and data-fiddler “Professor” Chris Busby.

    (I do find it interesting how they all end up being linked with each other. Fairlie was at a meeting in New York recently run by Caldicott, attended by all the cranks: Yablokov, Gundersen, Mousseau, Mangano, Koide…)

    A few of Fairlie’s publications are in Safe Energy, which it turns out is part of the UK No2nuclear campaign. There’s stuff for the anti-nuclear Labour party affiliated Socialist Environmental and Resources Association, and there’s a lot for Greenpeace. Curiously, there’s one in Energy and Environment, a journal whose editor deliberately doesn’t simpy publish controversial material with almost no peer review, but specifically caused a major scandal by publishing climate-change denial articles from known fossil fuel shills (in the true “they get paid to say this stuff” sense, not the conspiracy theorist’s “I disagree with you” sense); it’s since been referred to as the “journal of choice for climate skeptics”. What a Greenpeace person is doing touching that journal with a ten-foot barge pole is anyone’s guess.

    Anyway, if you take away commentaries, book reviews and letters to the editor, one is left with a total of perhaps five actual respectable peer-reviewed journal articles. Which isn’t great. He isn’t employed by a university (where one’s income is independent of one’s views). Instead, he earns money selling his consultancy services to anti-nuclear groups.

    So he doesn’t look like the world’s most neutral or respected expert. One wonders why Adelstein chose him. :roll:

    Fairlie’s bag is low level radiation and nuclear reactors. He likes to begin his articles by making two false claims: one, that the evidence for leukaemia clusters around nuclear power stations is almost universally positive, and two, that the LNT model of radiation is well-supported and generally accepted. He generally ignores all the studies that contradict these claims, which isn’t done. Actually, he’s probably in a bit of a bad mood at the moment because there’s been yet another British study showing that there is no direct relationship between nuclear power stations and leukaemia (instead there is most likely a relationship between leukaemia, the kinds of places people build nuclear power stations, and the population influx that building a power station causes – ie it’s an oncovirus.) Fairlie incessantly champions a German study written by Alfred Korblein of (drum roll….) the IPPNW – the offshoot of Caldicott’s Physicians for Social Responsibility. Except that even this study (known as KiKK) doesn’t say we can connect nuclear power station radiation to childhood leukaemia.

    (One way of explaining the LNT model in the way Fairlie likes to use it: If one person takes a hundred aspirin, they will probably die. Therefore if 100 people take 1 aspirin each, probably one of them will die. This is called the collective dose approach and it’s frowned upon. There are reasons why you shouldn’t apply LNT at low levels).

    Anyway, Fairlie is the only published reviewer anywhere who had praise for the Yablokov 985,000 Chernobyl dead book. The rest (ie proper scientists) thought it was anti-scientific arsedribble. After a UN research body concluded that ultimately maybe 9,000 out of tens of millions would eventually have their lives shortened by Chernobyl, Fairlie was commissioned by an outraged Greenpeace specifically to come up with a higher number. Which he duly did (30,000 -60,000.). It’s called The Other Report on Chernobyl (TORCH) and pretty much nobody serious cites it as a serious source. The UN has since reduced its estimates.

    In short, Ian Fairlie is, academically speaking, a marginal figure whose work is mainly published in partisan journals with weak or no peer review, and who has a financial interest in producing work with a limited range of permissible conclusions. Insofar as there is academic respectability in considering the viability of the LNT model and looking into the long-term affects of marginal changes in environmental radiation levels, he’s not entirely unrespectable, but he’s very much an outlier. And he has some very dubious associates.

    Basically, the only reason I can see that you would go to him for expertise as a journalist is the reason anti-nuclear groups go to him: he gives them the opinion they want, not the opinion that mainstream science supports. He’s window dressing for a pre-determined opinion.

    I had hope for Adelstein. Alas, it looks like he’s given up on proper investigative journalism, and is now simply trying to look like an investigative journalist (someone who measures their quality by the extremity of their results, not the integrity of their work), just like all those people on the Internet who run brightly coloured websites with a thousand different fonts of different sizes. All those people who just know they’re right, regardless of the evidence.

    And now, rest your scroll wheel.

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  2. I just checked Adelstein’s twitterfeed:

    We did our best not to stoke fear but to encourage more research. New Data on Birth Defects in Post-Meltdown Japan

    Yes, Jake, sure Jake, that’s why you tweeted a link to this story ten times in one day. Even though you know you haven’t actually haven’t got a single f*cking clue on the topic. How about a new spin:

    “Jake Adelstein does his level best to increase Japan’s abortion rate in order to get website traffic.”

    http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/03/fukushima_update_on_pregnant_w.html

    What is wrong with people like Adelstein? Why can’t they do the simplest thing of going to a recognised expert rather than these blindingly obvious fringe hacks, quacks and professional fearmongers?

    There is of course, the horrible possibility that Adelstein does know what mainstream scientists found, but he deliberately chose to ignore it, as it wouldn’t make a story for him.

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  3. yawn . . more circle jerkism
    :facepalm:

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  4. @Everyone: Jim Di Griz, Baudrillard and Fight Back do it so much better. Try harder, troll harder. Way too low tier, way too low… :wink:

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  5. 1) reactors 1, 2 and 3 at Fukushima Daiichi went into meltdown within days of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
    2) the only information the outside world gets about what’s going on at Fukushima comes from the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Japanese government. Both have lied consistently since the start of the disaster (ie, in December 2011 the Japanese government announced that reactors 1, 2 and 3 were ‘cold shutdown’ – here).
    3) No one knows where the melted cores of the three reactors are, because neither humans nor robots can get anywhere near them due to incredibly high radiation levels.
    4) it’s estimated that up to 1000 tons of groundwater flows beneath the plant and out into the ocean every day (here).
    5) The storage tanks at Fukushima are not used to store ‘cooling water for the reactors’ (how can you cool reactors that have melted down, particularly when you don’t know where the melted cores are?). The tanks are an attempt to remove some of the groundwater that is flowing through the sub-levels of the three wrecked reactor buildings.
    6) most of this highly radioactive ground water ends-up in the Pacific Ocean, and this has been going on since the start of the disaster two and a half years ago.

    But if you have any doubts you are a FOOKOOSHIMAR

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  6. @J O’Reilly: Oooh, lovely straw men you have there! :facepalm:

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  7. @Dfmoss: The first would be funny if everyone wasn’t actually so serious about it. :roll: And “Niku Benki”?!? :shock:

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  8. @Ken Y-N:

    At least it is getting the right kind of attention.

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/satire/hornets.asp

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  9. The fookershimar thing is getting out of hand:

    http://www.gocomics.com/lacucaracha/2013/10/06

    (Upper right panel.) :headdesk:

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  10. @J O’Reilly: Oooh, lovely straw men you have there! :facepalm:

    Care to refute any of these claims? No, thought not :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm: wanker :facepalm: :facepalm: :facepalm:

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