USA Today has an article titled Actor Alec Baldwin blasts Obama’s call for nuclear power, citing safety risks that quotes Balwin and ends with a question to readers about his comments.
Readers: Is Baldwin right?
Here is my response:
Of course not. The real question is why do people pay attention to an actor’s opinion about technical matters where education, knowledge, experience and INTEGRITY matter?
My reason for emphasizing the word “integrity” is that actors are professionally trained liars. Their JOB is to be able to portray people they are not, to show exactly the emotion that someone else (the writers or directors) have told them to show, and to pretend mastery of subjects where they have difficulty upon first script reading of even pronouncing the words. Many of them, including Baldwin, make a tidy sum of money pitching for products that they might not even use themselves.
In my mind, the professional training provided to actors, even though it makes them good at what they do – which is to entertain the rest of us – makes them completely unqualified to make pronouncements about technical issues. I am not saying that you should just trust the experts, the people who spend nearly a decade in hard math and science courses AFTER high school in order to gain the credentials required to design and build power plants. What I do advocate is that people – AND REPORTERS – recognize that education and experience matter and not all opinions are equal.
Publisher, Atomic Insights
Host and producer, The Atomic Show Podcast
I have a sneaking suspicion that the author of the article is playing a bit of a game with her readers since she started off the article with the following explanation of Baldwin’s professional qualifications.
Alec Baldwin, Emmy-award winning star of NBC’s comedy show “30 Rock,” says safety problems at nuclear power plants — if known publicly — would kill any chance of an industry revival.
I just think she would have had more fun if Baldwin’s commentary had been published in a Pro/Con piece against something written by Dr. Steven Chu, whose introduction might read something like this:
Dr. Steven Chu, Nobel Prize winning physicist now currently serving Secretary of Energy, says the nuclear power industry has a 50 year safety record that will — as it becomes understood by the public — lead to a massive expansion of clean, safe, nuclear energy plants in America.