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Monday, November 29, 2010


I have an ongoing Google alert for "nuclear radiation + danger" appearing in newspapers worldwide. This recently brought up this article Cancer Spikes around Asse Nuke Dump which is a fairly typical "one sort of cancer is above average - it must be the fault of nuclear power" type article, though in this case they have 2 types, one of which is above average in men & a different sort in women. They don't, of course, report anything about all the other sorts of cancer around & the numbers are in any case, too small for statistical significance. I posted this which I think is worth keeping available simply because such scare stories are common & the error tediously familiar.
Radiation, at low levels is not only not harmful it is beneficial. This has been proven repeatedly, the process is known as hormesis, but there are a lot of political careers tied up in promoting the scare.

Here is how the fraud is being done:

"Men in the area have twice the rate of leukaemia cases as the rest of Germany. Among women, there was a tripling of the rate of thyroid cancer between 2002 and 2009."

Sounds bad but whenever somebody tells you the proportion always ask about the basic numbers. In this case the total number is 18.

That's 9 men & women. So "twice the rate of leukaemia" is in men 4.5 people (probably 4). The article doesn't say if there is any increase in women for leukaemia so I think it is fair to bet there aren't - instead the article focuses on another illness, which presumably men don't share in the increase in. This is just cherry picking data. These illnesses are random, this year it may be 4 more, next year it is equally likely to be 4 less but if you go through all the possible groups & all the possible diseases for all the possible years you are bound to get an outlier. If you toss 50 coins in a row you will probably get 6 heads or tales in a row. It is nothing to do with radiation or God.

But false scare stories sell papers.

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Which of course is why the Government won on appeal the right to keep statistics on this secret in the recent FOI reuqest from Scotland. Nothing to hide they just like kepping secrets. What are they afraid of?


Rob Edwards, Environment Editor
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30 May 2010

Scotland’s first, longest and most disputed Freedom of Information case has ended up keeping vital cancer statistics secret.

After two investigations by the Scottish information commissioner, Kevin Dunion, plus appeals to the Court of Session in Edinburgh and the House of Lords in London, numbers that might shed light on the links between children’s blood cancer and radioactive pollution have been kept under wraps.
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