Mangano and Sherman have released another bogus study seeking to scare people about radiation

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”.

Related reading

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

About Rod Adams

25 Responses to “Mangano and Sherman have released another bogus study seeking to scare people about radiation”

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  1. Frank Jablonski says:

    Unless there is a strong, credible and sustained challenge to their credibility from a respected scientist who is seen as reasonably independent, you can reasonably expect this will be reported as more scientific proof of the dangers of nuclear energy. There will be no such attack, as scientists shy away.
    By the time the science comes out, the news cycle is past. Although I don’t understand why (since the facts are so impressive) there is little sensation, and thus no news value, in a perspective grounded in a scientific view.
    The transience of the news cycle, general ignorance, susceptibility to fear, and skill in exploiting it are the valuable currency of the anti-nuclear activists. And, as this “study” shows, they can just print that currency.

  2. Will Davis says:

    @Frank Jablonski: In case you didn’t see all of Rod’s links, you might want to check them out. Furhter, the nuclear blog community is all over this bogus report and actually has been all over Mangano for some time. I debated him publicly on a very high traffic social networking site page and showed just how bad his facts are. You can see the article I posted earlier this evening about the report here:

    @Rod: Glad you jumped all over this one! I think that the more debunking of these clowns there is everywhere the better.

  3. James Greenidge says:

    Great work of Rod and Will leaping on these dogs, but the big sobering question is will the media be as thorough debunking this report when they promote -er, cover the story? It’s amazing how swift it’s anticipated for the media to lap their press releases and possible CNN cameos! Rod & Will; if you issue press reports does the fourth estate come running for them or do you have to knock and take a number for their attention?? Sorry, but the media’s tacit anti-nuclear bias promoting baldfaced lies is practically criminal.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

    • Rod Adams says:

      @James – I maintain that the reason for antinuclear bias in the advertiser supported media can best be explained by noticing how much money the fossil fuel industry spends on advertising and how little the “nuclear industry” spends.

      (The quotes are there because there really is no “nuclear industry” to speak of. Nearly every company involved in using nuclear energy makes a much larger portion of its money selling other energy related products.)

    • Rod Adams says:

      @James – I am not sure if my little birdie’s story will amount to much in the near term, but he told me that there are some journalists at some major newspapers who are paying attention to his explanations of why Mangano and Sherman should not be trusted or provided with any platforms for promoting their antinuclear agendas.

      • Don Kosloff says:

        All of the press attention will be a flash in the pan. The comments from scientists need to be submitted to the journal that published the “study”. If that is not done, then the authors (and others) will be able to assert that the absence of any published comments in the journal is proof that the scientific community is in agreement with the “study”. That is a major disadvantage of such “peer-reviewed” articles published in obscure journals.

  4. Andrew G. says:

    That Capacity Factor link is right on target. The tricks that were used to game the numbers in that infant mortality study are the oldest in the book. Were the study’s authors really -that- obvious?

  5. John Englert says:

    How soon before Alec Baldwin and/or Christie Brinkley are quoting this study?

    Can we get a copy of Mangano and Sherman’s income tax return? I would like to see who funds their activities.

    • Rod Adams says:

      I do not know the answer for Sherman, but I do know that Mangano is paid approximately $82,000 per year by the Radiation and Public Health Project, one of the non-profit organizations for which he produces his bogus studies. Brinkley is a member of the board of directors for that organization.

      That number was unearthed by a friend who did some research on the tax forms submitted by the group because it is a 501(c)(3) organization that is required to provide certain details in a publicly accessible form. My friend shared the information via email. I think I can track down a link if required.

      • Don Cox says:

        So the real question is where exactly the money comes from that supports the Radiation and Public Health Project.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Don Cox:

          Do you really want to live in a society where it is possible to answer that question? Think about it hard before you answer.

          My effort is to attempt to use the murder mystery fan tool kit of analyzing “means, motive and opportunity” to recognize the real culprit, even if the evidence will not stand up in a court of law and even if the suspect never actually confesses – though I do have several examples in the smoking gun series where a fossil fuel interest openly paid for ads critical of nuclear energy.

          I support the right of people to give anonymously to causes that they support. It is really no one’s business to know exactly where anyone else gets their money or how much they make. Of course, if a person works for a government agency with a known rank or pay grade, or a non-profit group that has to file tax returns, or if they are an officer in a publicly held corporation that level of privacy might not apply. Otherwise, privacy rules leave people like me free to use logic to discern potential sources of income.

        • Don Cox says:

          If an organisation is claiming tax exemption as a charity, then I think those who are paying taxes are entitled to know whether it really is a charity, or is a front for some commercial organisation. If it is a front, it should be paying normal business taxes.

      • John Englert says:

        I guess what’s disappointing is not that these two release the bogus studies (gotta pay the bills), but that news outlets just publish the RPHP press releases without doing any investigating. Every “tooth fairy” press release should be accompanied by a detailed analysis of the money trail from Mangano & Sherman all the way to the source. There should also be a statement from someone at the NIH or CDC on what those organizations think about the study. I’m sure that if someone discovered that NEI was funding bad research on the effects of fracking on water supplies that the news would cover that.

  6. Jason C says:

    I find it rather amazing these people could be earning a living off this garbage. It makes one wonder where their funding comes from.

    I think this latest stunt proves they are despicable and have no compunction in constructing deliberate lies with the sole intent of smearing nuclear energy. If science fraud was a crime, these two would be facing charges.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Jason – I keep telling you all – fighting against nuclear energy is a money making profession because it helps to protect the wealth and power of everyone involved in the business of delivering our next fix of fossil fuel.

      Cheap, emission free, abundant nuclear energy is a disruptive technology to beat all previous disruptive technologies. The powers-that-be believe it must be resisted at all costs.

      Fortunately, as my friend’s bumper sticker says “Reality Bats Last”. My addition to that pithy thought is that “Reality is pro-nuclear.”

  7. SteveK9 says:

    You have to think the fanatics are overreaching here. Hopefully this sounds absurd to the general public (or is that assuming too much). That, and the commentary provided by Rod, Scientific American will put these people in the dustbin of the anti-technology cranks that have always been with us.

    • James Greenidge says:

      But how much of the gullible or regular public on the street read or even know about Scientific American?

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY

      • Rod Adams says:

        @James – George Monbiot and Mark Lynas are on the story as well as SciAm. There may be some key journalists on this side of the Atlantic involved soon. I’ll keep you posted.

  8. DV82XL says:

    In my opinion hyperbole like this shows just how scared the antinuclear side is getting.

    Fukushima did not have the impact on public opinion in regards to nuclear energy that they expected. True, it was an effective reason to kill nuclear in Germany, but policy had been going that direction in that country for some time, the accident in Japan only pushed ahead something that was going to happen there anyway after the next election. In general, polls have shown very little change and certainly nowhere near the backlash that Chernobyl precipitated.

    And the public is becoming inured to nuclear fear mongering. Sunday and Monday the Montreal Gazette ran stories on Canadian ‘nuclear waste’ (used fuel) the second, a full page in the first section. Naturally it was the usual misinformed hand-wringing, and quoits from a washed up old antinuke still claiming to speak for the movement, but the funny thing is that there was nothing about it from any other media outlet in the city, and this is a first. The more important story this week is the replacement of the hockey team’s coach with an Anglophone.

    The fact is that the medias ability to whip up antinuclear buzz is slowing down. As I always like to compare the path of nuclear power with that of commercial aviation, I’ll point out that this is exactly what happens in the early Eighties with how aircraft accidents were reported. Over time, they stopped being major news unless there was a significant loss of life, and more to the point, even these have a very short news cycle now.

    Thing will improve for us over time simply due to this effect alone.

    • Joel Riddle says:

      Also, DV8, the Internet will serve well to let the truth be known. Inquisitive people will explore the facts for themselves and will eventually realize where they should stand.

  9. Alan W. says:

    There have been no major airline deaths since a plane went down in NYC in 2001 after 9/11.

    • DV82XL says:

      That’s not quite true as this list shows (scroll down for more recent.) The fact is that most of the ones that do not involve nationals of a given country rarely make it into that country’s news anymore.

      This is not the way it used to be. Every incident involving loss of life was raked over in all news markets at one point, along with the pontifications from the usual suspects. Now, no one gives a damn unless its happening in your backyard. In fact it now takes an event of the magnitude of 9/11 for anyone to notice.

      I firmly believe that interest in nuclear accidents, particularly those without casualties, will reach this point sooner than most think.

    • Don Kosloff says:

      So airline crashes that kill 50 people do not involve major airline deaths?

  10. nuke roadie says:

    The damage is already done. the report is everywhere and those who were anti nuclear to begin with will simply dismiss any debunking. This was a well thought out attack and i believe the authors knew it wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny in the long run. They got the press they wanted and most people will only remember the sensational headline and not the aftermath.

    • James Greenidge says:

      @nuke roadie

      I’m afraid you’re right 1000%; anti-nukers don’t ever have to be right; just strike a hit-and-run attack to press an indelible stain of FUD which their allies in the media seldom ever refute and laypeople rarely research.

      I wonder, would we even have a space program were NASA held so strictly to these capricious radiation exposure limits?

      James Greenidge
      Queens NY