Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman are at it again with their infamous efforts to scare as many people as possible about the effects of atomic radiation. With much fanfare and a coordinated issuance of press releases, they announced the publication of a new “study” claiming that radiation released by the three reactors at Fukushima Daiichi that melted in March 2011 has already resulted in the death of approximately 14,000 babies in the United States.
Fortunately, word travels fast in the internet era, so there are already well-documented articles that completely refute this new study and point to the almost unbelievably large errors in its methods, data and conclusions. You can find one of these on the Scientific American Observations blog at Researchers Trumpet Another Flawed Fukushima Death Study and on NEI Nuclear Notes at Joseph Mangano Contradicts His Own Press Release on Fukushima Research.
Though competitive debaters may be taught to shy away from attacks on the credibility of their opponents, one of the primary tenants of scientific inquiry is that researchers must strive to maintain their credibility so that others can trust their work. It only takes one example of fudged data or bogus claims for a scientist to be relegated to the dustbin and able to publish their work only in marginal journals with little or no respect or impact. They often manage to keep making a living, just as snake oil salesmen can continue to make a living by opening up shop in a new town.
Both Mangano and Sherman have a history of publishing questionable papers or documents that were specifically designed to increase fears of radiation, even if the radiation is at levels so low that careful researchers cannot find it.
Mangano is infamous for his efforts to use measurements of strontium-90 found in baby teeth to “prove” that fallout from nearby nuclear power plants is causing cancer. Those studies have been soundly discredited as employing faulty methods and reaching unsubstantiated conclusions.
Sherman was the editor of the book titled “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment” that claimed nearly a million deaths as a result of the accident. That claim is in complete opposition to the studies conducted by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and the book was soundly refuted by a review authored well after its publication and published on the site of the organization that initially printed the book without a prior peer review, the New York Academy of Sciences.
Mangano and Sherman teamed up in the summer of 2011 in an attempt to prove that fallout from Fukushima contributed to dying babies in the US. The poor science and lousy conclusions from that effort was the subject of an earlier review in Scientific American titled Are Babies Dying in the Pacific Northwest Due to Fukushima? A Look at the Numbers.
If you see a paper with the names Joseph Mangano and/or Janette Sherman you can be pretty sure of two things before you even begin reading it. The paper will attempt to correlate cherry picked data and it will reach conclusions that strive to make radiation as scary as possible. Neither of these authors can be trusted to tell the truth and neither deserve the title of “scientist”.
Atomic Power Review – Radiation deaths in US due to Fukushima Daiichi: Nope.
Capacity Factor (June 2011) A curious case of cherry-picking data for the greater good (This is a detailed statistical debunking of the Mangano/Sherman summer 2011 effort to correlate Fukushima fallout with infant mortality in the United States.)
MSNBC Vitals blog (December 21, 2011) – Experts discount claims of U.S. deaths from Japan radiation