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  1. If the authorities including the nuclear industry continue to treat radiation – or specifically man-made radiation in the precise context of nuclear power – as vastly more dangerous than it is then people, or at least rational people (the vast majority I suspect) will always be scared. The incessant banging on about safety is a huge mistake and is bound to scare people – how many genuinely safe industries keep telling us about it? This has to start at home. At least there is one bright light, the cancellation of yet another study into radiation effects. Whatever the result of such a survey the very fact that so many have been carried out proves how dangerous it must be.

  2. Wait a minute … Christopher Busby (the “Onion Johnny” of crackpottery) was selected as a reviewer for this paper?!

    I’m rapidly beginning to lose respect for this journal. I see that the other “non-anonymous” reviewer is also from the pseudo-scientific, Green Party organization ECRR. Not good.

    Then again, the journal decided to publish it over his objections, so that’s a point in its favor.

    Anyhow, thanks, Rod, for publicizing this. I’ll have a look.

    The comments from Busby should be … entertaining. Sadly, it’s probably not as good as the screeds he has written for Counterpunch, since I’m sure that the editors insisted on keeping him under control (and perhaps on his medications).

  3. Rod….did you purposely omit a comment option on your thread about your recent exchange with Lovins? If so, I can understand why, as the manner in which Lovins responds to you invites insult, and many of the commenters here would probably be far more feral in their comments than necessary for a constructive commentary. But at the risk of self imposed hypocricy, I feel the need to comment. (Actually, its not a risk, its a certainty.) On another thread, I note how I find Lovins to be an insipid looking little weasel. So naturally, it follows that his exchange with you was offered as insipedly as his appearance is. He’s like a Wally Cox with no balls.

  4. The amount of natural background radiation to which we are exposed varies greatly with location. Here in Albuquerque, NM, U.S.A., we are exposed to considerably higher than average background radiation because we are almost one mile above sea level.

    If the LNT hypothesis were true, then those of us who live in areas of higher natural background radiation would be expected to be affected by it in ways that could be measured.

    1. @Frank Eggers
      That, or actual cancer increase really is there, and would certainly be observed were it not hopelessly swamped by the relatively healthy lifestyles chosen by most New Mexicans.

      What part of “a study finding no detectable harm simply has an insufficient statistical power to detect a small signal” do you not understand?


      1. I see that explanation as nothing more than an excuse. It looks as though the LNT people have their minds made up and there is no evidence that would convince them otherwise.

        As for healthful lifestyles in NM, they really aren’t. We have about the lowest per capita income in the entire U.S. of A., about the highest high school drop out rate, etc. In any case, I’d suggest a study which would include large numbers of people from many areas of varying radiation levels.

        1. Hope you didn’t misunderstand me. A couple years ago I actually ran Pearson’s R test on cancer incidence vs. background radiation for 15 EU countries plus UK, Australia, and the U.S. Statisticians generally consider an R greater than 0.9 to be marginally significant, and anything greater than 0.95 something one can actually talk about.

          My Euro-weighted Pearson’s R came in at -0.36

          In other words, no correlation whatsoever, and what little there was is negative.

          It’s a crude and simple back-of-the envelope test that doesn’t really mean anything much. Other than to confirm your original assertion that if LNT actually does hold at background levels < 10 mSv/year, it's adherents should perhaps do a bit more than just wave their hands in support.

          1. @Ed
            Did you ever run your Pearson’s R test using log(dose)? Or alternatively, run a Pearson’s chi-square test using log(dose) with an exponential fit with offset?
            I ask this because this kind of regression test assumes that the “L” in the LNT hypothesis is true when most likely it is not. Indeed, your negative correlation my suggest a hormetic effect.
            My contention is that all radiation dose/effect models should use log(dose) for at least two reasons: most dose ranges of interest have an order of magnitude of at least two or more and, for biological samples, there is no such thing as zero dose. So the “origin” in these kinds of studies is totally irrelevant, especially for cancer incident studies.
            If you want to pursue this, try a quadratic fit with log(dose) and compute a Pearson’s chi-square statistic. And if you would, report your results. If not, would you want to share your data set?

      2. Apparently, the effect of living in areas with different background radiation rates does become measurable in analysis of the DNA of blood cells, and a positive relationship between so-called “chromosomal aberrations” and radiation dose has been repeatedly confirmed, at low dose rates.


        So it’s easy to see why some people who look at these clear effects of radiation can become spooked into thinking that LNT does hold down to zero dose.

        But what has not been confirmed in these same studies is a positive relationship between background dose and cancer incidence/death, and that’s what really matters.

        So rather than support LNT theory, these large studies which clearly show a link between chromosome aberrations and background dose, but which do NOT show a link between cancer incidence and dose, these studies appear to be confirming that the body is indeed quite capable of dealing with these low dose effects.

        It seems as if international radiation protection guidelines have noted only the fact that the tissue is affected by low dose radiation, but has neglected to address the more relevant question of whether these known effects are necessarily linked to negative health outcomes. The large studies all (still) appear to show that these negative health outcomes do not exist.

        1. Thanks Joris. Raises a raft of interesting questions, which I’m sure have already been asked by the medical folks, related to whether and how these DNA aberrations might be related to the modest up-regulation frequently observed in low-does radiation studies. Is this actual DNA radiation damage that triggers protective response elsewhere in and out the cell, or is it a DNA mechanism for storing information needed to counter radiation or similar damage elsewhere, or both, or something else?

          Correlation may not be causation, but it does lend a clue as to where to look. Information has to be stored somewhere, as up-regulation radiation protection is apparently more pronounced after chronic exposure rather than after acute.

          (I am not a biologist)

          1. I’m not a biologist either, but I can speculate.

            I imagine cell biology is a rather messy, inefficient affair with all sorts of processes and reactions taking place seemingly without purpose or meaning. Lots of damage is being done by internal and external factors. Lot’s of structures are being built and taken down. Toxins and nutrients are present in increasing and decreasing amounts. The cell survives and thrives because the sum total of all these varying and seemingly random conditions add up to it’s ability to maintain itself and perform whatever tiny task it has to perform.

            Now along comes an energetic particle every now and again, from external radiation. It careens through the cell structure, randomly causing this and that effect. AFAICT it’s like throwing a pebble in jacuzzi and watching the ripples that causes. Pretty hard to identify which ripple is which. Pretty hard to see whether something was improved or damaged. Can I imagine that damage was done, which otherwise would not have been? Yep. Can I imagine that beneficial reaction processes were stimulated which otherwise would not have been? Yep. Does any of this matter it matter much? Maybe, maybe not.

            I suppose the notion that radiation can trigger effects in cells which would not normally be exposed to such triggers, and thereby cause beneficial effects which otherwise would not occur (such as cleaning up damaged DNA in certain cells which would otherwise not be cleaned up), is not far fetched. I can imagine it is true, FWIW.

  5. I’d be careful with this approach. Nuclear power could also come under the regulatory authority of the FDA.

    I’m only (half) kidding.

  6. I’ll say it if Rod won’t. Bean counters promoting LNT statistics are not doing science. Science is a holistic set of interconnecting theories each supporting the others. An applicable theory within the domain of biology must respect what we know of cell biology. The LNT hypothesis is orthogonal to everything we know about the biology of cells and organisms.

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