This will be just a quick post to log a thought that I just had on the web, where I can find it later. (By the way, that was one of the original purposes of a web log, aka a “blog”.)
There are many reasons to doubt the credibility of people who have made a profession out of fighting against nuclear energy. They frequently overstate their academic backgrounds (as is the case for Amory Lovins) and most members of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Sometimes they try to transfer credibility earned in one profession – like being a pediatrician – to imply that they are a credible source of information about nuclear energy or radiation health effects. Sometimes, they actually work for companies that sell competitive products or they have significant financial interest in keeping nuclear energy suppressed in the market.
However, when a nuclear energy advocate introduces these matters of credibility, they are often loudly accused of violating the rules of polite debate by engaging in ad hominem attacks. The concept of avoiding those kinds of personal attacks against their opponents rarely protects a pro-nuclear advocate from frequent accusations of being a mere “shill” for the nuclear industry.
I realized a few minutes ago that there are excellent reasons for addressing the lack of credibility of the opposition. First of all, deciding whether or not to use atomic fission energy instead of coal, methane or oil combustion is not simply an academic topic for polite debate. The fate of all humanity will be affected by the decisions made in the next few years.
Secondly, when you are doing battle with a guy who has a machine gun and uses it as indiscriminately as Lovins, Wasserman, Grossman, Caldicott, Gunter, Mariotte, Lyman or Lochbaum use falsehoods about nuclear energy, it is just plain dumb to aim at the bullets instead of aiming at the hands holding the machine gun. As my Marine Corps buddies have always told me – aim at the shooter.
I am not advocating ad hominem attacks that destroy my enemies, just attacks that effectively disarm them and remove their credibility layer by layer.
Have a great day. Keep up the good fight.