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  1. A new sport: how long will it take before Bob shows up to lob a stink bomb? Rod should start an Atomic Insights pool…

        1. @poa

          I like giving people the opportunity to ignore Lincoln’s dictum,

          “Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak out [or use your keyboard] and remove all doubt.”

    1. @ Applebaum:
      Well, that’s the thing, Bob. Prof Calabrese may be construed as accusing top level genetics scientists of falsifying data in return for grant funding. In this case external (Rockefeller), not governmental e.g. NSF. But the distinction will likely be lost upon those who have suggested certain climate scientists may have engaged in precisely this sort of supposed misconduct.

      Now, those more recent climate accusations have been thoroughly refuted by independently funded external researchers, notably the (ahem) Koch-funded Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study, and multiple university and parliamentary investigatory committees. But that has not stemmed the flood of fossil fud over Climategate, and it’s unlikely Prof Calabrese’s completely unrelated radiation genetics investigations, no matter how thoroughly documented, will either.

      Now, apparently Prof Calabrese would like to clear the air and invite a bit more rationality into radiation standards and public perception of risk, which would inevitably aid the nuclear power and climate mitigation interests. But in so doing he may inadvertently (or unavoidably, there is a difference) be aiding the very fossil energy interests he might otherwise wish were shuffled to the margin.

      As to your apparent suggestion that Prof Calabrese’s recent Environmental Research publication was funded by fossil interests, perhaps you may provide some evidence? Only fair, as I’m sure Prof Calabrese will no doubt be asked for further details of his own.

      Last, regardless of his funding source, Prof Calabrese investigations should stand on their own, and you are welcome to critique them on their professional merit. As the aforementioned Berkeley Earth study attests, not even special-interest funding agencies are completely immune from the Law of Unintended Consequences.

      1. Well that’s the thing, Ed. It’s the same dumb ass approach that Intelligent Design promoters use, called Haeckel’s Embryos.


        Unlike right wingers, people in science don’t just continue into the future clinging to the same old ideas. Even if Haeckel’s drawings were intentionally drawn wrong, it doesn’t mean they are of any importance to our understanding today. They are not.

        Even if Muller did something wrong (Calabrese doesn’t know, just seeing what will stick), it isn’t of any importance to science today. We have much better microbiology today.

        Slick Eddie will keep on manufacturing propaganda because that is what he has been hired to do. Just like Gish (if he weren’t dead).

        1. “. . .people in science don’t just continue into the future clinging to the same old ideas.” Really? If one is a scientist who has based their career and 25 years of research on a particular theory, and some upstart comes along with a piece of evidence (a fossil, a document, a double-blind test, a peer-reviewed study with open release of data and methodology) and says you’re wrong, won’t you fight tooth and nail to dismiss, discredit, and destroy the competing theory? Scientists, like police officers, lawyers, and politicians, are neither better nor worse than the population at large.
          And this isn’t the only evidence that the LNT model is fatally flawed. Look at the predictions of deaths and cancers from the Chernobyl disaster (based on the LNT) versus the facts on the ground (as reported by the IAEA- not exactly Fox News.) If your model doesn’t fit the facts, then the model is wrong, period. Evidence from radioactive locations like the Ukraine and Ramsar, Iran shows that the dose response is NOT linear, and that there is a threshold below which the risks to human health are too small to measure. How many billions of dollars have we wasted, and how many people have we killed from lung disease caused by power plant emissions, because of the LNT? I say that nuclear energy kills fewer humans per MWH of electricity than any other form of power generation. Refute that with facts, if you can.

        2. Bob,

          You’re unfamiliar with Thomas Kuhn’s pivotal 1962 essay: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”. Scientists *do* cling to old scientific paradigms, especially if they have a lot of time, personal energy, status, and self esteem invested in old ideas, which is almost always the case. FWIW Thomas Kuhn’s prose is nearly on par with his Ideas. If you haven’t read ” The structure of Scientific Revolutions” then you should do so.

          Thomas Kuhn didn’t say it, but the old adage holds true that science advances one funeral at a time.

        3. @ Bob Applebaum

          More of your predictable criticism of the proponents of Creation Science, oblivious to the irony that it is YOU who religiously hold to dogma; YOU that have marched “into the future clinging to the same old ideas”. You appear impervious to fact based documentation as you religiously defend the orthodoxy of LNT and AGW.

          Evolution, LNT, and AGW may or may not be correct but because the Pontiff and Cardinals of these theories have descended the mountain to dispense authoritative doctrine, YOU have fallen in line. Are the clergy of your chosen church immune to the kind of influences you seem to accuse Calabrese of?

          Given the subject matter of this website, I’d prefer a spirited defense of LNT to the sophomoric attack based upon a researcher’s funding sources. As Leaver has pointed out, the research stands on its own merit and any criticisms should be directed at this research.

          Just curious, are you seriously suggesting that the Duane T. Gish who so manhandled his evolutionary opponents was just a hireling and didn’t personally subscribe to the positions he defended?

      2. The tale to be told will be the response this letter will recieve. Its almost impossible to have a conversation about this until seeing the response. I hope Rod stays on top of it.

  2. So what’s the backstory here, Rod? Ed Calabrese doesn’t strike one as the grandstanding spot-light grabber. That said, his (somewhat) evocatively titled “On the origins of the linear no-threshold (LNT) dogma by means of untruths, artful dodges and blind faith” (Environmental Research 142 (2015) 432–442) possibly invites a modicum of controversy, concluding as it does (page 440) with

    “The NAS Genetics Panel committed scientific misconduct by falsifying, fabricating and then publishing in the journal Science its doctored estimates of human genetic risk to radiation exposures. The Panel’s deceits were designed to prevent the scientific community and the general public from knowing the profound uncertainties entailed in its genetic risk estimates, thereby insuring the ready acceptance of its policy recommendations.”

    “Current cancer risk assessment policy and practices are based on fraud and deception by key leaders of the radiation geneticist community and by the U.S. NAS, BEAR I, Genetics Panel. Their
    deceptions were uncritically adopted by regulatory agencies and the scientific community worldwide and provide the foundation of cancer risk assessment and risk communication messages. The implications of such fraudulent actions are profound…”

    …so one supposes some sort of dust-up with Science was inevitable. But why public? Why now?

  3. Why now? He’s been doing it for decades. Why public? Because right wingers find a handful of unethical people with science degrees to spread science denial propaganda in order to slow government regulation. It has to be public to be effective.

    It is funded through right wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, the Heartland Institute and….the Cato Institute. They take money from the rich (like the Koch Brothers), and give to the unethical PhD’s, who fail to make meaningful contributions to science (scroll down within link):


    1. @Bob Applebaum

      The entire National Academy of Sciences / National Research Council Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation effort was 100% funded by the Rockefeller Foundation from 1954-1963. The majority of the members of the Genetics subcommittee were Rockefeller Foundation grantees both before and AFTER they served on the committee that created the LNT assumption. The Chairman of that committee was not a biologist, not a geneticist, and not a radiation physicist. He was a mathematician named Warren Weaver who had been serving as the program director of molecular biology and genetics at the Rockefeller Foundation since 1932 and continued to serve in that position through 1958. He was THE GUY who approved and distributed RF grants to scientists serving on his committee.

      Not only did the RF fund the studies, they initiated the request. An RF board of trustees member, Detlev Bronk, ran the NAS. Another member of the board of trustees, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, was the publisher of the New York Times and made sure that the 1956 committee reports were heavily promoted. The ENTIRE Genetics Committee report was published in full in the June 13, 1956 issue, filling up 3 pages of newsprint (with some allowances for ads that are not in the on-line archived copies.)

      I have no idea what “wing” of politics the Rockefellers inhabited during that period, but I do know that they and their board were firmly part of the hydrocarbon based economic establishment whose wealth and power was being threatened by a formidable competitor.

      1. The fact that radiation causes mutations has nothing to do with nuclear power or hydrocarbon power. Radiation causes mutations. Radiation is emitted by both fossil fuel and nuclear plants.

        Maybe you can go back to the Stone Age and fabricate some vast conspiracy about fire.

        1. Yes, radiation causes mutations. Fire burns. Lead is toxic. Sunlight causes skin cancer. The question is, precisely what level of either acute or chronic radiation exposure is required to cause a measurable effect on human health? And is the dose response really linear, from either zero or a measurable threshold. If it is linear, is the slope of the graph correct?
          Honestly, this whole debate is starting to remind me of the flap about azodicarbonamide as a food additive. It is used as a dough conditioner and bleaching agent for flour at levels below 45 PPM. Neither azodicarbonamide nor its secondary reaction products (semicarbazide and ethyl carbamate) are toxic at this level. But try to share the MSDS for azodicarbonamide with someone who has read a random meme on the Internet stating that this chemical will kill them, and the response is “My mind is made up- don’t confuse me with the facts.” Their next comment accuses me of being “A paid shill for (insert industry.)” I have even been called a “Kochsucker” on occasion. :-/
          Seriously, if anybody knows where I sign up to get paid to support causes I already support by posting to online forums, please hook me up. The Koch Brothers’ money is as green as anybody else’s, and I have a kid to put through college.

          1. ostlandr……

            The accusation of “troll” is not rare here on this blog either. I think all blogs tend to have people leveling that accusation at anyone that strays from the mainstream mindset the blog represents.

            However, I have only seen indisputable evidence of one special interest group that actually trains and encourages trolls. Google “hasbara”.

  4. I love it when a liberal like Applebaum opposes a liberal like Adams. A house divided against itself shall fall. Who said that? Oh wait, I don’t care; as a liberal, history starts at my birth. So why should I care about something that happened in 1956 before I was born. Wait, that’s science – my very own little god science. Oh I am so smart. I know science!
    PS, Cato Institute that Applebaum referenced is no more conservative than that guy Bernie Sanders who worked for VY’s shutdown. It is libertarian – the people who think you can do whatever you what to do whenever you want to do it as long as you don’t initiate force.
    OK, delete my comment. Conservatives are persona no grata in liberal space. So much for open minds. Or maybe your minds are open – all the knowledge falls on out.

    1. Paul, I have never seen Rod delete a comment of yours. He has, however, deleted numerous comments of mine, often deservedly so. So accusing Rod of some sort of biased moderation against conservatives is BS.

      1. @poa

        I have deleted many of Paul’s more outrageous comments. They usually don’t make it through moderation, so you would never see them appear and then disappear when I realize a thread has gone entirely off the rails.

        1. Egads. I can’t imagine, knowing Paul’s comments that DO make it through…

          You mean he gets even MORE outrageous in his hatred?


    2. Paul….

      I’m a bit curious about how you feel about the Pope’s concern about GW, wieghed against the huge stock holdings the Catholic Church has in fossil fuel entities. For example, the Archdiocese in Chigago alone has over 100 million dollars of fossil fuel investment holdings. The church forbids holdings of stocks connected to contraception, abortion, and war, but seems to be extremely fond of investing in the fossil fuel sector.


    3. And, uh, by the way, Paul…..


      “In July, shortly after the deal with was reached, Bishop Oscar Cantú, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace for U.S. bishops’ conference, sent a letter to every member of Congress welcoming “the momentous agreement,” which he said “signals progress in global nuclear non-proliferation.””

      “In the letter, Cantú, who recently visited Japan for the 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, said, “The United States and its international partners have taken a remarkable step with Iran in reaching this agreement. We encourage Congress to support these efforts to build bridges that foster peace and greater understanding.””

    4. “Conservatives are persona no grata in liberal space. So much for open minds. Or maybe your minds are open – all the knowledge falls on out.”

      I really don’t get it. You constantly harangue against the “left”and “liberals”, painting their positions as godless perversities. Yet after dropping these bombs, you rarely offer any defense when challenged.

      Basing your hatred on religious piety, proclaiming to be a devout Catholic, you never bother explain the rational behind you holding positions that are absolutely polar to official church policies and positions.

      Are you unable to offer anything other than shallow expressions of disgust towards the left? Where are the substantive arguments that defend the positions you claim are a manifestation of your faith, when your actual positions defy those of your spiritual leaders?

  5. I never wrote “conservative”, I wrote “right wing”. I don’t oppose Adams on any liberal issue I’m aware of. I oppose the spreading of science denial propaganda, whether done by a libertarian or anyone else.

    Calabrese is just offering his version of Haeckel’s embryos.

    Just waiting on Adams to silence me….which he will.

    1. Bob, i have had my fights with Rob too, but he has never scilenced me. I have very high regard for scientist. My father was one, and he made notable contributions both to reactor material research, to Nuclear safety and to the chemistry of Molten Salt Reactors as well the transport of radioactive materials in the enviroonment and in the Fossil fuel industry. My father was a scientist who had great integrity. So, I might add did Alvin Weinberg, who is also like my father, one of my scientific heros. BNreaches of scientific integrity are possible. The scientific method is designed to catch both unintentional errors, but every now and then errors do slip through. This appears to be an extreme;y sgregious case of deliberate scientific error, intewnded to benifit the oil industry. The small investment of Oilmoney into the pay of tame scientists, I always use bruno latour’s black box theory, when looking at the possibility of scientific error. Very often when I opened up the black boxes and loked at the sources, the sources did not say what is attributed to them by the black boxes. It turns out that peer review is no protection from accidental or deliberate scientific error.

      Some times errors get caught, but all too often they stay ther in papers that are never examined carefully. It is not anti-science to care about the presence of deliberate or accidental errors in science. agree with Karl Popper who viewed controversy and criticism as the life blood of science.

  6. You are a hard nut to crack Bob.
    “Just waiting on Adams to silence me….which he will.” This seems to be a constant “dare.” So what’s in that for you? If you don’t want to be here you could simply go away. My bet is he won’t silence you. Step up your game Bob… issue a double dog dare.

      1. @Bob Applebaum

        They will also have some basis for believing me if I tell them that you have departed. I’ve been straight with people for a long time.

  7. “Only he and I will know you moron.”

    I had forgot all about you in your absence. You’re must be the left’s version of Brian.

  8. It seems to me relatively straightforward that Calabrese is incorrect (and revisionist) in his overstated and hyperbolic summary of the report and statements by Crow and others about variability and limitations regarding ongoing research on health effects and dose response at the time.

    From the second summary of the BEAR Committee on Genetic Effects (1960):

    In this connection particularly, we emphasize that present knowledge is all too limited as to the effects of low levels of radiation in inducing malignant neoplasms. We cannot say with any assurance whether the dose-response curve for induction of malignant diseases is linear or non-linear at low levels … We believe that studies of this kind on experimental mammals should be extended and expanded, even though they are difficult.(cited previously here)

    Is it scientific misconduct to be clear and astute in summarizing this research (“present knowledge is all too limited”) and recommending further research (“should be extended and expanded”) to more carefully develop and document these important scientific questions and observations at the time? Is the AES equally culpable of scientific misconduct as NAS, health professionals, foreign scientific review bodies (British MRC), university reps, ORNL, Argonne, Brookhaven, GE, and numerous others (both inside and outside the industry) … significant stakeholders in BEAR?

    The reply from McNutt seems well considered. It’s not one paper that forms the basis for prudent radiation protection standards and derived dose response models (which are well known and widely acknowledged to be highly variable in the low dose range), but 59 years of research,. There is no conspiracy of fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or research contucted to correctly summarize this research (as BEAR did) and adequately attests to the variability and “limited” results in the low dose range. I’m not sure what is being asserted here … that research scientists were correct at the time (and continue to be so), and that no adequate model has yet to emerge to more fully account for variability in human, lab, case control, and population studies in a low dose range than LNT (!), and a more precautionary approach? Historical revisionism (or exaggerated and overstated claims) that falsely characterize historical context and the assumed motivational bias of scientists at the time (across a broad range of specialties and disciplines) does little to advance the interests of nuclear. Capable, careful, independent, and routine science does better! Calabrese misses the mark, and distorts a great deal of history and actual observed data (the statements of his historical subjects) in the process. If he’s writing about history, he sure has me fooled, and appears to be starting off on the wrong foot.

      1. @Rod Adams

        As indicated in link, I can only find on-line source for second summary report from Committee on Genetic Effects (and not first). Do you have an on-line source for the first?

        1. @El

          I subscribe to the NY Times and obtained a full PDF from their archives.

          Please do not try to make the case that information unavailable online does not exist.

          1. @Rod Adams

            Here is an on-line source for first summary (1956) … after an extended period of sleuthing. I did not find the document on the NYT?


            I find many similar comments about uncertainties, limitations of data, importance of future research (extending current findings and filling in necessary gaps), balancing of risk, prospective insights and recommendations, etc. “We do know something, though not nearly enough to give definite answers to a great many important questions. There is a considerable margin of uncertainty about much of this, and as a result, there are naturally some differences of opinion among geneticists …” The document is circumspect, and offers a general guidance on radiation protection (10 roentgens from ages 0 to 30 above background radiation and from man-made sources). Section X makes “some remarks about approximate estimates,” and suggests precise answers are lacking … “there are many situations in which science can give only rough estimates.” More specifically “… it is seldom the case that one knows with much accuracy the numerical values that enter into the calculations.” Much of this remains to be explored and developed by future science and rigorous methods, and I find no indication in the text that warns against this (or suggests that this should not be done).

            If this document had any influence (“The LNT model essentially originated with this report,” as suggested by Doss), it gives us no insight to look at subsequent reports and statements made by the same Committee? You add: “That flaw formed the basis for many subsequent studies.” Ok … I suppose we’re not going to consider the evidence for this (we’ll just take you at your word)?

            I’ll pose the question again … what is the claim here, that scientists at the time made accurate and informed comments concerning the scope of research and objective findings at the time (including uncertainties, limitations in the data, what is generally accepted, and differences of opinion among geneticists)? I’m not sure what all the hulabaloo is about and why such a thing should merit retraction (and charges of scientific misconduct). Do you think this may be based on Calabrese’s misreading of these documents (and very selective sense of indignation and offense), rather than the reports themselves (and their subsequent follow-up and refinement). This would seem to be the case to me. Considering at the diverse stakeholders involved in report (AES, health professionals, university reps, ORNL, Argonne, Brookhaven, GE and other industry stakeholders) would seem to suggest as much as well.

            1. @EL

              Warning – This exchange may end up being elevated to the front page.

              You wrote:

              I find many similar comments about uncertainties, limitations of data, importance of future research (extending current findings and filling in necessary gaps), balancing of risk, prospective insights and recommendations, etc. “We do know something, though not nearly enough to give definite answers to a great many important questions. There is a considerable margin of uncertainty about much of this, and as a result, there are naturally some differences of opinion among geneticists …”

              While there are prevarications and statements of uncertainty, the report also contains statements that are overly confident and seem specifically designed to establish a foundation of “settled science” from which to begin future research. Here are some example passages from your link supporting my claim.

              (Section III) Single celled organisms, as well as fruit flies and corn plants have been specially rewarding objects of genetic study. In evolutionary terms, however, insects and plants are clearly a long way from man, and we are really just beginning to get genetic information about the effects of radiation on some of the lower mammals, such as mice. Even so, several matters of profound importance have already become clear: bacteria or fruit fly, mouse or man, the chemical nature of the hereditary material is universally the same; the main pattern of hereditary transmission of traits is the same for all forms of life reproducing sexually; and the nature of the effects of high energy radiations upon the genetic material is likewise universally the same in principle. Hence, when it comes to human genetics, where the impossibility of ordinary scientific experimentation are clear and only a tantalizing start has been made, we can at least feel certain of the general nature of the effects, and need only to discover ways in which to measure them precisely.

              (Section VII) Moreover, the mutant genes, in the vast majority of cases and in all the species so far studied, lead to some kind of harmful effect. In extreme cases the harmful effect is death itself, or loss of the ability to produce offspring, or some other serious abnormality. What in a way is of even greater ultimate importance, since they affect so many more persons, are those cases that involve much smaller handicaps, which might tend to shorten life, reduce number of children, or be otherwise detrimental.

              (Aside: That passage is better understood in the context of knowing that many members of the Genetics Committee were eugenicists before that term gained a bad reputation during and after WWII.)

              (Still in Section VII) Individuals bearing harmful mutations are handicapped relative to the rest of the population in the following ways; they tend to have fewer children, or to die earlier. And hence such genes are eventually eliminated–soon if they do great harm, more slowly if only slightly harmful. A mildly deleterious gene might eventually do just as much total damage as a grossly and abruptly harmful one, since the milder mutant persists longer and has a chance to harm more people.

              (Section IX) What, Then Can Geneticists Say to Help Resolve Our Problem?

              With the aground furnished by the preceding discussion, we can now state rather concisely certain main points on which geneticists are in substantial agreement. Some of these points will partially repeat statements already made, but they are included here in order that this section be reasonably complete of itself.
              1) Radiations cause mutations. Mutations affect those hereditary traits which a person passes on to his children and to subsequent generations.
              2) Practically all radiation induced mutations which have effects large enough to be detected are harmful.
              A small but not negligible part of this harm would appear in the first generation of the offspring of the person who received the radiation. Most of the harm, however, would remain unnoticed, for a shorter or longer time, in the genetic constitution of the successive generations of offspring. But the harm would persist, and some of it would be expressed in each generation. On the average, a detrimental mutation, no matter how small its harmful effect, will in the long run tip the scales agains some descendant who carries this mutation causing his premature death or his failure to produce the normal number of offspring.

              3) Any radiation dose, however small, can induce some mutations. There is no minimum amount of radiation dose, that is, which much be exceeded before any harmful mutations occur.

              The total dose of radiation is what counts, this statement being based on the fact that the genetic damage done by radiation is cumulative.
              6) From the above five statements, a very important conclusion results. It has sometimes been thought that there may be a rate (say, so much per week) at which a person can receive radiation with reasonable safety as regards certain types of direct damage to his own person. But the concept of a safe rate of radiation simply does not make sense if one is concerned with genetic damage to future generations. What counts, from the point of view of genetic damage, is not the rate; it is the total accumulated dose to the reproductive cells of the individual from the beginning of his life up to the time the child is conceived.

              And here are the final three sentences of the report:

              “We may find it desirable or even almost obligatory that we spend a certain amount of atomic power plants. But we must watch and guard all our expenditures. From the point of view of genetics, they are all bad.”

              You wrote I’ll pose the question again … what is the claim here, that scientists at the time made accurate and informed comments concerning the scope of research and objective findings at the time (including uncertainties, limitations in the data, what is generally accepted, and differences of opinion among geneticists)?

              The claim is that an identifiable, carefully selected group of scientists wrote a report that stated that they knew that all radiation doses, no matter how low, were harmful. They dismissed fifty years of prior work that assumed there was a threshold below which damage was too low to be measured and was thus safe. They confidently stated that all biological organisms, because they share a common chemistry, respond in similar ways to radiation. They clearly bounded future work to be limited to determining the precise effects, since they already knew the general nature of the effects.

              That certainty was based on experimental results — as admitted by the committee itself — from bacteria, fruit flies and corn plants with some preliminary results from mice. What they did not admit in the report, but which Calabrese has found through study of original historical correspondence, is that committee leadership purposely misled readers about the magnitude of the uncertainties. If they had accurately reported those, critically thinking readers would have recognized that they had no basis for any certainty at all about the health effects of low dose radiation. They had no way of ruling out the possibility that radiation might be a stimulant at low doses.

              In fact, they had to ignore numerous deterministic studies on humans — admittedly with relatively small sample sizes — to reach their conclusion.

          2. … critically thinking readers would have recognized …

            @Rod Adams

            Calabrese (and your) reading of these reports and summaries would appear to presume that there are no such thing as “critically thinking readers”. That nobody can read what is said and well described in these reports, consult reference and cited original source material, and scientists can’t challenge received thinking or do any better work to correct errors and extend findings. I already summarized why this is a flawed approach to these questions, doing history, and an unconventional view of scientific communities, practices, and communication (here).

            Where you and Calabrese see certainties, others see a testable scientific claim … as stated above, “One that is open to question, and can be scrutinized and advanced with future work.” When did 1956 and a single paper become the sole basis for assessing these questions? Just 4 years later, one finds the statement: “… we emphasize that present knowledge is all too limited as to the effects of low levels of radiation in inducing malignant neoplasms. We cannot say with any assurance whether the dose-response curve for induction of malignant diseases is linear or non-linear at low levels … We believe that studies of this kind on experimental mammals should be extended and expanded, even though they are difficult.” Odd, I would say, for a Committee that is referenced by some as the origin of the LNT model (wouldn’t you say).

            This is just poor history … and imputes motives to readers and scientists that are nearly impossible to justify (because they aren’t based on a reasonable view of these questions, human psychology, or a normal view of science). Not surprising from someone, such as Calabrese, who feels much the same way about other debates and discussions in the scientific community (such as climate change). If I had to label it, I would call it a “paranoid” view of science (where everyone is out to rig the game … and the duplicitous almost always win).

            I don’t think it serves the interest of nuclear, or of the site, to be so dismissive of science (as self-correcting, subject to peer review, often very narrow and ordinary in scope, and rarely settled about larger questions and the complexity of human understanding, histories, and science). Misreading the past and being insensitive to historical context is a poor way to go about making a best case for nuclear, advancing science, and improving regulatory standards to better fit with current understandings (summarized on a routine basis) over the last 60 years.

            I believe I’ve said as much on the topic that is worth saying. I’m not sure Calabrese’s paper merits anything more?

            1. @EL

              I’m happy to hear that you are running out of arguments.

              The report of the BEAR I Genetics Committee was not a mere “paper.” It was not a scientific effort begun by someone with an observation and a curiosity intent on understanding and explaining.

              The report was an interim deliverable of a strategic, coordinated effort to push the public and future studies on an important topic in a particular, selected direction. This is not an unknowable mystery solved by guesswork. It is a statement of historical fact based on diligent, multi-year, multi-person investigation of a virtual mountain of historical documents, original correspondence, and contemporary press reports.

              The BEAR effort was initiated, not by scientists or by a responsible government agency, but by the board of trustees of a “charitable”, tax exempt foundation formed by one of the largest and most influential family fortunes ever accumulated. That family had a deep understanding of the importance of controlling the supply of energy sources, a foundational commodity that enables our industrial economy. That understanding is what gave them the wealth and power they had accumulated – John D.’s Standard Oil was not an oil producer, it dominated the industry by controlling refining, defining products, controlling markets and owning transportation access and capital. In addition to understanding energy, the RF was also deeply involved in the medical industry and pharmaceuticals. In several areas, radiation-based treatments competed with chemical drugs for markets. The RF also had many board members that had deep understanding of Bernays’s studies and advice about public relations and marketing, which he wrote about under the title of “Propaganda.” (At least one of the Rockefeller brothers – David – was an intelligence agent during WWII.)

              The RF board approached the most respected body of professional scientists in the United States with a checkbook and told them they wanted to produce information that would influence public opinion — “reduce confusion” — because they recognized that the public was losing faith in the information they were being given by the AEC, the government agency responsible for protecting in the area of radiation exposure. (The fact that Lewis Strauss — the Chairman of the AEC, one of the primary leaders of the atmospheric testing program and the radiation information/protection program — was also a Rockefeller investment advisor is a part of the story for another day.)

              Not only did the RF go to the NAS with a checkbook, but they also provided Warren Weaver, one of their key program directors, as the chairman of one of the key committees. Weaver exercised some influence on the selection of his committee members, purposely leaving out Bruce Wallace, one of the most respected experts in the field of radiation genetics. Wallace actively questioned the stridency with which Muller promoted his “no safe dose” assertions.

              When the work of this committee — one of six committees formed for the Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation study — was complete, it was announced with far more fanfare than is usually applied to scientific reports. There was a press conference and extensive coverage in the “paper of record” including a full text copy of the report. None of the other sub-committee reports were similarly promoted or published. The publisher of the New York Times, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, was a member of the RF board of trustees. Apparently, he was involved in — perhaps put in charge of — the publicity campaign to promote the findings of the Genetics Committee.

              That full text report was republished in Science, one of the most respected general purpose science publications in the world.

              I am not being dismissive of “science.”

              I am viewing this history through the lens of 35 years of professional experience with many different kinds of people and recognizing that even some of the most admirable people I have ever met have occasionally be heard to say things like “Topics that interest my boss fascinate me.” Money is a powerful tool of influence among people. Scientists are, as a lot, not that much different from other people. They can be persuaded to make statements and take actions with which they do not fully disagree in order to obtain money — perhaps not for personal consumption, but to support their important work. That is the reward that Weaver, representing the RF, offered to smooth over differences of opinion and come out with a report that acknowledged uncertainties about the MAGNITUDE of the slope of the dose response curve, but also expressed CERTAINTY that there was no threshold. The report did not mention the possibility that the effect could be beneficial at certain doses.

              The RF effort to influence publicly known “facts” about radiation health effects did not stop with the issuance of that first report. They continued providing all of the money for the BEAR studies through 1962. They also supported the work of people like Ed Lewis from Cal Tech, who applied the BEAR I assumptions in another influential paper in 1957 that computed the leukemia risks of fallout from the atomic bomb testing program.

              History is messy, especially when it involves people who take actions to further their personal as well as professional interests. Science is not immune.

  9. But in the same story, John Beatty, a professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of British Columbia in Canada who has studied Muller’s career, agrees that given the paucity of data, Muller may have been too confident about the linear model.

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