Chernobyl

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Desertrat, Feb 11, 2008.

  1. Desertrat macrumors newbie

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    #1
    A bit misleading on the title, but I thought I'd get your attention. Crichton on Complexity--and information flow and fear. Long, but IMO worth the read. A lot of stuff we thought we knew, but were wrong. His commentary on the results of reporting about Chernobyl is an eye-opener.

    http://www.michaelcrichton.com/speech-complexity.html

    'Rat
     
  2. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #2
    Crichton should stick to writing novels. His sensationalism and fear mongering make fascinating fiction but when it comes to non-fiction, he's a total and utter flake. He's a Chicken Little in reverse.

    He didn't provide any sources on Chernobyl and I've read plenty of articles that claim the long term impact is much more severe than has been reported.

    Chernobyl presents a goldmine for nuclear cheerleaders simply because Belarus and Ukraine and Russia are for the most part inaccessible to western NGOs. We'll probably never know how bad it was.
     
  3. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #3
    Crichton's essay is interesting because it does point out the inherent problem of cause and effect relationships especially in systems that are anything but linear.
    However, Crichton falls for this relationship by essentially blaming the media and governments for the overreaction of specific cases, such as Chernobyl and Global Warming. The problem is manifold, owing to bad science, bad communication, and a changing system.

    For instance, Crichton harps on poor Ehrlich but fails to mention just why the calculations Ehrlich relied on turned out to be so wrong. Much of the reason that the world didn't starve because of the "Population Bomb" had much to do with the sudden ramping up of global food production, owing to both the new oil-based farming and new machinery and techniques. Had the food supply stayed roughly linear, Ehrlich might have been right.

    As for Chernobyl, there were a dozen reasons why the radiation didn't kill as many people as originally thought and much of that had to do with the very fear-mongering that Crichton says was so dangerous. By leaving the area around Chernobyl and taking precautions, fewer people died.
    We should note that 56 people died of specific and easily inferred (through linear logic) causes. However, there are wildly ranging estimates on the rates of cancer and other health problems that are rather difficult to track, especially considering how the Soviet Union tried to cover it up.

    Chernobyl is a hot-button, almost Godwin-esque, in its ability to take over a discussion about nuclear power.
     
  4. geese macrumors 6502a

    geese

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    #4
    This'll probably get deleted, but I just had to get this joke off my chest:

    Why do Russians wear lead-lined underpants?



    Chernobyl fallout.

    (Joke only really works phonetically)
     
  5. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    The problem about Ehrlich is that after he was proven wrong, he was still cited in the media as an Expert. And, even after being proven wrong--and the problems of his science are irrelevant--he continued along the same predictive path--continuing to be wrong.

    Tying Crichton's commentaries to the problems of our media: Hey, we live in a world where for some unknown-to-me reason, creatures like Britney Spears are important, or a Paris Hilton. Look then at the backgrounds of our elected officials and their own understanding of technology--or lack of it, and how they react to media coverage of trivial events. So, simplicity instead of complexity. Hell's bells, look at this current presidential campaign: There's even a thread here about dissing Chelsea, as if that were important.

    Crichton in considering complexity at least looks at such things as "unintended consequences", which are rarely considered by Congressfolks or people on this board. People tend to quit with "If A, then B." Guys like me, and nice young fellers like Crichton and Lomborg get hassled for mentioning C, D, E...BTDT, too many times.

    And he's spot-on about the fear thing.

    Just like the brouhaha over climate change: It's been going on since before I was born. E.g., the elevation of the beginning of the timber in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park is higher now than 80 years ago. That merely confirms other archaeological commentary about the ongoing drying out of this part of the world over the last 800 years. The old tree-ring thing and such. Add in writings of the early Spaniards, who came here around 1583. Oh! Wow! Climate change!

    Pardon the bit of disjointedness. Just got back from a quick run to Mexico for gasoline for my fuel tank and broiled shrimp for a happy meal. :)

    'Rat
     
  6. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #6
    Crichton keeps worrying on global warming, but Lomborg has effectively accepted the concept and argues in his latest book that while the problem exists, we'd be better off spending the money on things besides mitigation efforts. Crichton is a media-star who plays scientist, but Lomborg is more reasoned in his debate.
    Crichton is right about the media to a point, however I think he takes the idea too far. The media's telling stories to sell papers, so to speak, so if we're consuming media with our attention we're part of the problem. Combine this with short attention-spans requiring sound-bites and blog-posts and we can see how difficult a large subject like global warming is.

    Remember, it's not just warming or change, but rapid change brought about by human beings in spite of the typical system that happens.

    Shrimp from Mexico is good stuff, I love heading down to Puerto Penasco and buying it off the fishing boats.
     
  7. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #7
    Actually that thread was about how Hillary is making a big deal out of something that isn't. Figured you'd agree with me on that one. I don't see how it's any less important than a science fiction writer, who like the person you mentioned on the other side has also been discredited, talking about something that no one else seems to be talking about because it's not really coming up at all. Global Climate Change isn't really coming up that much anymore either, but I guess if you believe the scifi author, erring on the side of caution is fear mongering. And since it's not like those who say there is nothing going on have an agenda either or anything, we should just not worry about it.
     
  8. MikeTheC Guest

    MikeTheC

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    #8
    Yeah, and I'm the one who's bemoaned the dearth of Photoshopped images of Chelsea. Until that happens, Chelsea hasn't been trully dissed. :p
     
  9. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #9
    Discredited? If Crichton is wrong about the body-count from Chernobyl, I guess he's wrong when he says folks live in Hiroshima or Nagasaki. And all that source material is nothing but lies.

    Spare me...

    Parents generally get bent out of shape about anybody dissing their kids. So, if Hillary said nothing, that would have been mildly abnormal from the standpoint of her feelings, but logical on a campaign trail. "Consider the source." To resent the dissing and speak out is normal. Why would one start a thread about normal behavior? :D:D:D

    'Rat
     
  10. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #10
    I knew someone who was in Chernobyl afterward to help clean up the mess. He couldn't tell me details, but he said it was astonishingly horrifying. He knows how bad it was. he also told me that what we were fed was the G-rated version.
     
  11. solvs macrumors 603

    solvs

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    #11
    The discredited comment was about his views on Global Climate Change, of which his book State Of Fear “received strong criticism from climate scientists, science journalists, and environmental groups, for inaccuracies and misleading information”.

    http://ideonexus.com/2007/11/22/

    Indeed.

    If you read the thread, you'd see my problem was with her overreaction, which seems to have backfired on her.

    Don't tell me you're defending Hillary here. :p
     
  12. Desertrat thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #12
    Well, I stay so bent out of shape at all the front-runners...Mostly over the absence of rational commentary about economics and other issues. "Change"? What changes in monetary policy, if any? Energy? Is there any rational "plan"? While my opinion is that the government cannot D-O "do" much of anything, directly, it can enable some ratonal programs...

    Fifteen or so years back, my mother bemoaned of the lack of Statesmen; she was harking back to folks like House Speaker "Mr. Sam" Rayburn. I responded that I'd given up on Statesmen; I'd settle for a mature adult. Well, I don't see any, yet...

    'Rat
     
  13. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #13
    Unfortunately, rational commentary was taken out behind the barn and shot. I do hear a lot of platitudes and simple-minded policies, however if you start looking at who is advising each current front-runner, you can get a very clear view of where they might be going.
    I don't see a lot of statesmen, but then again, I don't see a polity that is capable of having statesmen. Look at the hysterical reactions in just this very forum, and we can see that while you and I can have a serious talk, there are others who are simply incapable of it.

    I don't love nuclear power, but I want it to be rationally considered within a sound energy policy, one that looks towards the future, and isn't created by a cabal of oil executives and snake-oil salesmen from Enron.
     
  14. Leareth macrumors 68000

    Leareth

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    #14
    Why dont you guys watch these two excellent documentaries

    Chernobyl Heart(2003) - effects on the children

    Battle of Chernobyl(2007) - effects on the biorobots sent to clean up.
     
  15. hulugu macrumors 68000

    hulugu

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    #15
    Next time Crichton comes around to speak, someone should ask him about the 'Liquidators.'
    Has anyone found a study on the mortality rate of those guys? The only thing I can find is a Lawrence Livermore study.
     
  16. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #16
    Okay. So:

    • Media is not a responsible source of information
    • Human intervention even with the best of intentions can backfire
    • The world is more complex than we can currently understand

    Thanks Michael, I never would have been able to figure that out on my own. BTW, I loved that EARTH =/= CHART infographic.


    Isn't Michael actually making a fantastic argument in favour of halting global climate destruction? If it's such a complex system, we probably shouldn't be so eager to ravage it, no? If you remove his fear-mongering rhetoric, it's actually a very sober position to take, that because it's impossible to accurately know the extent of the damage we're doing, we should treat complex environmental systems with more respect.
     
  17. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #17
    Crighton is a hack fiction writer. Why anybody takes what he says seriously is beyond me. I guess it just comes from a pre-disposition towards uncritically accepting things that reinforce your own world view...
     
  18. Sdashiki macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

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    #18
    Great documentary. Great footage I bet youve never seen.

    Lots of stuff you didnt even know about Chernobyl.

    :D
     
  19. stevegmu macrumors regular

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    #19
    http://www.nrer.ru/liquidators_eng.html#abstract
     
  20. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #20

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