Thursday, April 21, 2011

The reason why Academics aren't publically providing analysis about Fukushima

There are a few reasons why academic and industry experts are not willing to communicate publicly about Fukushima and its fallout; primarily it’s because they don't know which way the learned herd is running. As all academicians so well know, the quickest death to one’s career is run opposite of the learned herd. From a prestige and monetary standpoint it is much better to be wrong but in agreement with the herd, than it is to be correct and in disagreement with the herd.

Of course, the strong risk of looking stupid is also holding some experts back from providing analysis. The risk of looking stupid is an especially great in a subject with such deep system of systems level complexities. There probably is no single subject matter expert that understands the entire scope of complexities we face as a result of Fukushima; there may have been someone with that skill set back in the cold war days, but he is long dead or senile by now. The odds are that any "expert" giving interviews and providing broadcast analysis has an agenda to sway the public in one direction or another. On the positive side, in such an environment it is also possible for lone voices to rapidly raise factual information to the surface.

Some of the more interesting public analyses I have seen are from Arnie Gundersen; I don’t know what biases he may have in the matter, but he certainly has given useful reverse engineering insight into the tangled web of assumptions , groundrules, and facts that would have to be the foundation lying down the rabbit hole of TEPCO’s status reports . The background required to make TEPCO’s status reports believable are often even more concerning than what TEPCO’s reports attempt to soothe; - but such is the way of tangled webs. The key to wade through an environment like the one we all face today is to maintain a critical mind regarding the wisdom of any “expert”; to quote Ms X: “ an open mind is like the town dump, everyone throws their garbage in”.

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