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  1. Rod – Just so I understand, you are hypothesizing that the Rockefeller Foundation (through ostensible nuclear power advocate) Lewis Strauss fostered the creation of the LNT theory in order to cripple or stop civilian nuclear power development presumably to protect Rockefeller petroleum interests?

    This is similar to the hypothesis that the Carnegie Foundation sponsored the Flexner Report to re-orient the medical profession in order to favor particular financial interests.

  2. Rod you say “Aside: I’ve come to have some degree of admiration for the cleverness associated with creating a theory that is both acceptably frightening and exceedingly difficult and costly to disprove.”

    I suggest that posing the LNT hypothesis as a theory required the cleverness you attribute to its acceptance by both the scientific community and the general public..

  3. I don’t believe the original 1956 LNT report was fraud, or that anything Muller did was fraud. It was bias. However since then, LNT is shown to be false. The actual biological behaviours and many mechanisms involved in toxicity and, especially, carcinogenicity are far better understood today. Holding to the ancient bad science of LNT, proven to be false, is fraud. The fraud comes from today’s regulatory authorities, not from Muller, Rockefellers, or their proxies.

    1. @Mark

      What was the reason behind the bias?

      Have you read any of the numerous papers that Ed Calabrese has published documenting historical evidence of scientific misconduct and correspondence among the scientists involved in the BEAR proving they knew they were exaggerating the negative effects and overstating their confidence in predicting effects in dose regimes where there was no supporting evidence for their assertions?

      1. I think your theory is plausible. I would also offer an alternative hypothesis – That Muller and the RF were trying to accentuate the threat of nuclear war. Muller himself was at least what used to be called a “fellow traveller” with the Communists. I believe he actually lived for a time in the USSR. The RF and many of the other charitable foundations (Ford, Pew, McArthur, Carnegie etc.) had a strong Leftist bent. Several of these foundations were created by men who were actually very conservative and were infiltrated once their benefactor passed on. If a nuclear war was too terrible to contemplate, we would have to make some sort of accomodation with the USSR, probably some form of world governance. This organization could have been infiltrated and compromised as were the charitable foundations.

        My hypothesis does not explain Lewis Strauss’ promotion of Muller if he indeed do so.

        1. @FermiAged

          Your hypothesis also supposes that the desire for world government may be a stronger motive for effective propaganda development and propagation than a simple desire to protect an extremely valuable market from being lost to an upstart competitor.

          That might be true, but it is unlikely to attract the same level of financial resources. The RF Board of Trustees in 1956 was a very Establishment group of people. There might have been a few “lefties” among them, but there were also many capitalists who were keenly aware of the profit motive.

          There is no doubt that Muller was thoroughly immersed in Communist thought and action. One of the reasons his financial condition in 1945 was so fragile was that he had participated in the production and distribution of an underground student newspaper at the University of Texas during the late 20s & early 30s. That publication was openly supportive of Communist Party thought. When his participation became known to the University leadership, he was asked to find another job. Fortunately, he had been awarded a fellowship to teach in Germany. He departed Texas in 1932, left Germany in 1933 and took a position at a Soviet research facility. He remained there until 1937, when he had to escape after becoming embroiled in the Lysenko genetics calamity. He then worked in Scotland, served in the Spanish Civil War, and returned to the States in the early 1940s. He was virtually unemployable in his profession in the US by that time, but his patrons at the RF found him that biology teacher position in undergraduate courses at Amherst College.

          By 1945, he was tired of being poor, had a much younger second wife and a two year old daughter with health problems. His hagiographer (Elof Axel Carlson) described his rather desperate search for a job and even described how he broached the subject of becoming a businessman in a conversation with his wife. The prospect apparently horrified her; she loved her husband, knew he was a talented researcher and also knew that a man who had spent more than 30 years breeding flies and staring at them through a microscope had few skills that would be useful in the business world.

    2. And I add “Where are all of the people today that spent several minutes looking at their feet in the shoe sizing X-Ray machines in the 50’s?” Every year I was taken by my mother to the department store with my three younger siblings when school started for new shoes. Each of the three that were not in front of the shoe salesman were taking turns looking at are feet. we had to clock over ten minutes apeace. With that much of a dose, even though classified as an “Extremity” today and allowed a higher dose than the ridiculously low dose for whole body, there has to be some observable effects for those, like I and my siblings.

      Where are the studies supporting all of the lower extremity cancer and the genital cancer of these people? Where is the cancer I should have for the much greater than a once in a lifetime dose I received while making an emergency, at sea – on patrol, repair to SG Level instrumentation inside the Submarine Reactor compartment ~50 years ago?

    3. Note: Muller has had many high powered defenders of his reputation over the years.

      Carl Sagan once provided the New York Times with a passionate defense of Muller’s embrace of Marxism as well as his version of eugenics. That letter to the editor includes the following sentence expressing Sagan’s admiration for Muller.

      “In any case, the courage of Muller in defying the Soviet regime is beyond question.”

      That defense, published 20 years after Muller’s 1967 death, provides a hint of the effort that has been invested to maintain his credibility over the years.

      Another bit of evidence is the Science Magazine article from Oct 18, 2011 titled “Attack on Radiation Geneticists Triggers Furor”

      Here are the opening paragraphs from that article.

      Allegations that two radiation geneticists suppressed scientific evidence over 60 years ago have triggered a fierce debate among scientists and historians of science. At stake is the legacy of two towering figures in the field, both of them long dead: Hermann Muller, who won the 1947 Nobel Prize in physiology medicine, and Curt Stern, with whom Muller collaborated on several key studies.

      The allegations come from Edward Calabrese, a toxicologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In two recent papers, Calabrese concludes that Muller and Stern downplayed evidence that very low levels of radiation might be harmless, and he contends that Muller knowingly misrepresented the scientific state of the art in his Nobel acceptance speech in Stockholm. Those distortions, Calabrese says, are still affecting risk calculations today.

      Later in the article is the following quote, which describes part of the reflexive response to defend Muller’s scientific reputation–and, by extension, his still influential “no safe dose” assertion.

      The broadside has outraged supporters of the two scientists. “Calabrese makes some scurrilous accusations, he accuses a dead man, [Muller] of being a liar. That’s character assassination,” says James Schwartz, who wrote about Muller in his book In Pursuit of the Gene: From Darwin to DNA. “Muller had a reputation for being a scientist of the utmost integrity.”

      As part of my research on this topic, I attempted to contact Mr. Swartz. Unfortunately, I learned through his literary agent that he had suffered a stroke and was no longer able to engage in discussions on the topic.

    4. So Mark, you think that looking at doses in the 10000, 20000, 30000, 40000 mSv range, which Muller did, and then concluding from this dose range, that “low doses” of radiation are still harmful, is bias?

      How is 10000 mSv a “low dose”?

      How is this not a fraud?

  4. The problem delves into trans science. It is rather irrelevant what model is correct for low dose radiation is as we should ideally only regulate on proven harm not hypothetical harm. At low doses any potential model is unprovable as the magnitude of any potential harm is less than the background noise in a statistical data set.

    Personally I think there is a problem with how regulators have approached radiation protection in the concept of ALARP. It would make more sense to link acceptable radiation limits at a point with a suitable margin below proven harm.

    1. The problem with ALARA is that each year it advancements make it possible to detect lower doses and new methods are devised to reduce the dose workers receive. Thes cost money and make the old equipment obsolete. Then INPO and the NRC grades each plant on the total dose received. This is not a Pass/Fail on meeting the minimum requirements as there is NO MINIMUM, The Minimum is ALARA!! The grade system places each plant into a Quartile. The top Quartile has no problem, The second highest knows the need to improve, The third highest or second lowest knows they have major problems to resolve, the Lowest Quartile knows their job is in jeopardy. And I knoW three plant managers that are no longer managers because they could not extract them self from the Lowest Quartile. Thus BIG money is spent trying to achieve an impossible goal – there will always be 25% of the plants in the lowest quartile.

    2. It should be easy enough to do a scientific experiment to prove LNT is not correct.

      Take 2000 mice. Half of them in the control group, half in the experiment group. Same living quarters, male/female distribution, food, etc. Give the experiment group 1 mSv/day of x-rays or something. Let both groups live out their normal lives. Register when each mouse dies. Make a graph. Compare the two graphs.

      How hard can it be?

  5. BEIR VII states in the body of the report that no conclusions can be reached at radiation levels less than that for which measurable effects have been noticed, 100 units but I disremember which units.

    However, somebody else wrote the executive summary which compares LNT with a nonlinear model using a wrong statistical method, the old Fisher-Nyman-Pearson “rejection of the null hypothesis”. So with LNT as the null hypothesis, the available data did not reject it at the 95% certainty level.

    The unbiased statistical method is the Bayes’ Factor test which treats both hypotheses equally to see which better explains the available solid cancer data. Using even AIC as the criterion suffices to see that the nonlinear hypothesis, a quadratic formula as I recall, is far superior to LNT.

    There is an even better hypotheses, one with backing in cell biology, with a slight hormetic effect. See Wade Allison’s “Radiation and Reason” or his Oxford University web pages.

    There is also the Calabrese & O’Connor 2014 article in Radiation Research v. 182 which gently lays LNT in its grave.

    1. There is an interesting section on low dose radiation risk in Weinberg’s autobiography. Essentially his view was at low doses there are too many variables whose affect on cancer rates are as or greater significance that to prove a model on dose response is largely impossible. It therefore in his terminology is “trans-science” in that it is a question that can’t be proven by science.

      The question of radiological protection should therefore in my opinion not be based on theory rather observed quantities which could be one of the following:

      – Point at which radiological harm is proven from observation

      – A level above maximum background (1 standard deviation) radiation where a significant part of the human population (say 1million people) currently live.

      – A level where predicted risk using current models would be significant vs the background noise in cancer rates. I.e. the point where you would be expected to see radiation harm in a data set and not be masked by all other cancer risks.

      The last one on the list isn’t based on an observation per say but would be a sensible step in the right direction vs current approach of trying to achieve ever lower levels of radiation. It would also possibly be easier to implement as it wouldn’t require a significant departure from current radiological approaches.

      The LNT model isn’t all bad from a regulatory perspective, however the mistake has been not to set a sensible minimum level based on observation where radiation levels can be ignored.

      In my mind the mistake was to create systems where the goal is always to reduce radiation levels irrespective of how low they are already, going against any sensible assessment of risk and taking radiation risk in isolation of all other risks. Basing any regulatory health protection levels which are not confirmed by scientific observation in my mind is inappropriate.

      1. In short we need to use a ‘worth worrying about’ threshold somewhat below the level where there is actual evidence of harm.

        1. @Jim Baerg

          There was a time when the NRC was studying declaring certain levels of radiation dose as “below regulatory concern (BRC).” I wish they hadn’t caved in to political resistance from the antinuclear lobbies/political leaders.

          For those who insist that the Republican Party has historically been pro-nuclear, the withdrawal of BRC policy statement occurred during the Bush I Administration.

      2. Rod

        Do you know what they were intending to set the limits at? If this could be revisited then a great deal of sense could be brought to radiological protection

  6. Muller is definately a suspect.

    He never did studies below about 10000 mSv or so total dose.

    Now, I think I’m safe in saying, that even the most staunch nuclear advocate will agree, that that is not a “low dose”.

    The dose rate (which is more important than total dose) was also high: greater than 500 mSv/hour. This is an extreme dose rate that would overwhelm any biological defences and repair mechanisms.

    Obviously when such parameters are chosen, health effects will be seen, on fruit flies or other animals. And the overwhelming radiation dose will definately appear linear.

    Muller could easily (much easier in fact) have done studies on lower rates and doses. For example such studies have been done, here’s a decent overview that mentions a case with about 22 mSv/h. Not exactly a low dose rate yet, But no negative effect is seen, at low doses there is even a positive health effect.

    Muller wasn’t stupid, so he must have looked at this as well and subsequently decided not to include real low dose. It didn’t fit his thesis and his work, so it was best left out. Nobel price caliber, indeed.

    1. The 1958 UNSCEAR report listed a paper which found some striking results showing massive radiation hormesis.,%2013th%20session%20%28Suppl.%20No.17%29/1958final-3_unscear.pdf#page=30

      In a more recent experiment with Sprague-Dawley male rats exposed throughout adult life to 0.8 r/day of Co-60 gamma rays, the median survival times were as follows:

            Temperature of            Survival time (days)
            environment      Control      Irradiated
            5°C ………………………. 240      305
           25°C ………………………. 460      600

      This should be a relatively cheap and simple experiment to replicate.  The only reason it would’t have received a grant is if nobody wanted to draw attention to this narrative-destroying fact.

      1. Cyril, Engineer-poet, The problem with presenting experimental evidence against LNT is getting it recognized. There are perhaps 1000+ peer-reviewed published papers that show this. The problem is the the people in charge of organizations like ICRP, NCRP, etc simply ignore these papers in their recommendations. They do not respond to criticism. They are the progeny of the original Muller-inspired anti-nukes concerned with all-out nuclear war. These are self-perpetuating bodies. Leaders will not condemn the mistakes of those who appointed them. Check for examples. has many papers.

      2. Thanks. Yeah that would be a great test to replicate.

        .8 r of gamma is 7 mSv. That actually sounds like a high dose rate. Amazing that the mice would still have a higher life expectancy at those doses.

      3. Not just the dose rate but the striking increase in lifespans.

        Rats aren’t humans, of course.  Trying to replicate the results in e.g. rhesus macaques (normal lifespan ~25 years) would be a much longer and more expensive affair, though you could get some results much sooner by examining proxies for aging such as strength, telomere length and other physiological data.

      4. Beagle dogs are suitable for accellerated testing. They’re more prone to cancer than humans.

        There have been tests with gamma irradiations on beagles, these tests did not show a higher cancer rate even for the higher dose rates. Unfortunately the tests were not done with low level radiation – the lowest exposure group (apart from the controls) was 3 mSv/day. These showed a few percent reduction in life expectancy. The higher dose groups showed further reductions in life expectancy, mainly blood related diseases. This pretty much disproves that chronic radiation (even >>10 mSv/day) causes cancer since the dogs are more prone to cancer than humans and did not show an increase.

        The data trend with the groups suggests that there is no or hormetic effect at the 1-2 mSv/day level, but unfortunately this wasn’t actually tested as the lowest group was 3 mSv/day.

        This test should be repeated with a 1 mSv/day exposure and a background control.

  7. The amount of HLW produced (including used fuel when this is considered as waste) during nuclear production is small; a typical large reactor (1 GWe) produces about 25-30 tonnes of used fuel per year. About 400,000 tonnes of used fuel has been discharged from reactors worldwide, with about one-third having been reprocessed.