Nothing to See Here: Idle Nonsense at the Expense of Genuine Concern

“[T]he most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted…”

– Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (more than two centuries ago, which was quoted in Lockwood 2010).

A great example could be Chris Monckton’s reference to Pinker, among many other fine moments. It is probably one of the easier ways to undermine understanding; to tweak it barely enough to jump to entirely the wrong conclusions. Almost anyone with a fully functional brain would be highly sceptical if they hear claims that “X” 100% disproves the greenhouse effect, but it’s not an all too uncommon claim on the blogosphere.

Yet, the conservatives seem to want to test just how much crap their fans are willing to chew.

The first I heard of this was Peter Sinclair’s post Ann Coulter: Radiation is Good for You, which Andrew Bolt has mindlessly parroted off. I’d like to see these character show some balls and back up their statements by camping out within the 20km region of the Fukushima plant. Thousands are already confirmed dead, many more thousands are still missing (thus the death toll is likely to dramatically increase) and the state of the crippled plant so bad that great efforts are being employed to keep the waste safely cooled and in the safe offices of Fox in the US and HUN in Melbourne, these bozos casually talk about the possibility that the victims of this tragedy may have been benefited by protection from cancer!

Mike’s provided an excellent post to explain what a melt down looks like – far from a a cancer-free utopia!

Tim Lambert puts it well, “Bolt might like to ask himself why, if low doses of radiation can greatly reduce your risk of cancer, can’t you buy Radium elixirs at the chemist?”

I’m not anti-nuclear. It certainly should, and will, play a role beyond fossil fuel addiction. However we have to be honest about the risks involved – it’s the only way to effectively address them and improve safety. Entertaining such selective and flimsy evidence base against overwhelming contrary evidence is foolish – but they seem to get away with it – behaviour Lichtenberg noticed more than 200 years ago!

“Reason has built the modern world. It is a precious, but also a fragile thing which can be corroded by apparently harmless irrationality. We must favour verifiable evidence over private feeling. Otherwise we leave ourselves vulnerable to those who would obscure the truth.”

– Dawkins, Slaves to Superstition, 2007

Just as with addressing climate change, food, water and energy security and biodiversity (Bolt’s also all in favour of extinction as well as completely ignorant on climate change); we must defend reason and the evidence available or else, as Dawkins states, we leave ourselves vulnerable. All the while this foolishness overlooks the genuine concerns and devastation shadowing the region. We should expect better from our communicators.

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