A good lesson in critical reading: the nuclear phobias

You may have seen some of the recent headlines about a report that proclaimed apocalypse nearly averted or some such hyperbole. The Fukushima Question at Slate provides a good example of critical reading that the headline writers seem to have avoided.

With an eye to the first anniversary of the tsunami that killed 20,000 people and caused a partial meltdown at the Fukushima power plant in Japan, a recently formed nongovernmental organization called Rebuild Japan released a report earlier this week on the nuclear incident to alarming media coverage. … To say that Japan “barely avoided” what another top official called a “demonic chain reaction” of plant meltdowns and the evacuation of Tokyo is to make an extraordinary claim … The same day the New York Times published its story, PBS broadcast a Frontline documentary about the Fukushima meltdown that invites a somewhat different interpretation

The Rebuild Japan report seems, on its face, to have been produced by a highly credible team of “30 university professors, lawyers and journalists.” But even a seemingly legitimate study deserves a skeptical eye … It should have been a red flag that Rebuild Japan gave its report to journalists a full week before releasing it to the public, which prevented outside experts from evaluating its claims. Another hint that the report merited a contrary opinion was the fact that it excluded any account from Tepco executives, who refused to be interviewed by Rebuild Japan investigators.

There is another example going on right now about a constructed controversy. That is on the idea of mandating insurance coverage for lifestyle choices being paraded as either freedom for women from interference in their health decisions or as an assault on women’s health. The arguments don’t make sense and the allegations about a major talk show host are about as dishonest as they get.

Comments are closed.