UNRESTRICTED | ILLIMITÉ
Your analogy to the bickering over Christianity it quite right. It’s a tragedy how this topic continues to divide the “good guys” – unnecessarily in my view since we all agree that there are no observed negative effects from low doses.
How to deal with “being rational” and “being human”? Ah, grasshopper, that is one of the great goals of public communication. Put more practically, how can Canadians be satisfied that their interests (primarily their health) are being protected, without (a) giving them a course in radiobiology, (b) oversimplifying to point of being untruthful?
The answer is the same approach we take when we protect our children: Tell the truth (always!) but not the whole truth. Be available to provide more details (i.e. tell the whole truth) if asked, and in fact encourage this kind of critical-thinking behavior. But don’t tell fibs.
When I take a teaspoon of cold/flu medicine do I fool myself that there is zero risk from ingesting those chemicals? No – but I trust that the recommended dosage somehow balanced off the risk and benefit.
Do I care how they did this? No.
Do I trust that this was done correctly? Yes.
Do I know I can look up the details if I want? Yes.
From: cdn-nucl-l-admin@mailman1.CIS.McMaster.CA [mailto:cdn-nucl-l-admin@mailman1.CIS.McMaster.CA] On Behalf Of Andrew Daley
Sent: Monday, February 21, 2011 7:09 PM
To: Canadian Nuclear Discussion List
Subject: Re: [cdn-nucl-l] Innovative radiobiology at Chalk River
Wow, what a great discussion! Just like the "good old days" when I first started reading on here.
And just my two cents on some of the various topics:
1. Rational Discussion
I posted on here a few months ago about a book I read: The Political Mind by George Lakoff. His point was the futility of arguing rationally with respect to politics. I thought it applied equally to nuclear.
In summary, We make rational arguments in support of nuclear not because they work (they probably don't) but because we are scientists and engineers and hold ourselves to a "higher standard".
I don't know how to reconcile the fact that humans aren't rational and we "have to be" rational as part of our jobs either. Jeremy's the expert in Memetic Engineering so I'll defer to him!
2. The little differences
There is an episode of the Simpson's where various branches of Christianity are fighting.
At one point Bart Simpson says: "Don't you get it? It's all Christianity, people! The little, stupid differences are nothing next to the big stupid similarities!"
Any time the topic of low dose response, hormesis, or anything like that comes up that is the quote that comes to my mind (seriously, apparently I think in Simpsons).
I mean it's all Nuclear Power, people!
Sadly, my impression is (and its only an impression. I'm not involved in the meetings) that the little stupid differences are what is preventing professional organizations (cough, cough CNS) from becoming a "voice of the industry's people" in the various debates.
Where was the people side of the industry when Helen was in Port Hope?
Where is the people side of the industry in the Bruce SG debate? (see today's Toronto star: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/941746--great-lakes-are-no-place-for-radioactive-cargo )... will the CNS respond to this? No. Why? Because the little stupid differences means we could never agreed on the content of a letter.
3. Combo of 1 and 2.
I think it was Bill who threw out "Trust" as an answer to the rationality problem.
So, who is more trustful? An industry or corporation or common people? I think the answer is self-evidently "people".
That's why when the "Unclear about Nuclear" ads ran a few years ago my main question was... fine but why not feature real, live people who work in the industry in the ads? You know a human connection.
Ironically, the Oil Sands right now in the middle of just such an ad campaign, just passed a bus shelter.
Now... are we saying that we cannot get our act together enough to project a consistent message but the oils sands can?
But the question becomes one of credibility. If the ad comes from the CNA... what is that... it is an industry group. There will be trust issues there.
The CNS... that is a group of people. Sure, we have a vested interest but we are still people. People who may be your neighbours. People you can talk to. People who have rational reasons why we support nuclear... and, oh, by the way... no need to be afraid.
So a potential (partial) solution to the rationality problem is blocked by the little differences one.
Guess which one is in our power to resolve, right here, right now?
*Please note: The views expressed in this e-mail are solely those of the author. The contents are personal opinion only. No further meaning can be attributed in any circumstance.*